Arm (+Core) Workout with Hand Weights

Arm (+Core) Hand Weight WorkoutI get tons of requests for arm workouts, and since this upper body workout using light hand weights was a big hit, I decided to do another. This time, I’m making all the arm exercises a little more dynamic so that you work your core as well. Instead of just doing a shoulder press, you do it while holding a boat pose; instead of just doing a triceps kickback, you do it while in plank. This one is quick (12-18 minutes, depending on the intervals you choose) so it’s great to pair with a cardio workout or to do on days you’re “too busy” to workout.

Arm (+Core) Workout with Hand Weights

Equipment I Used:

  • Set of 5-lb hand weights
  • Set of 8-lb hand weights

As you can see, I used two different weights (light and medium), but you could definitely get away with just using one light pair. I only used the heavier ones for one exercise.

This workout flows from right to left. You’ll start with exercises isolating the right side, move into exercises with both arms, and then end by isolating the left side. You go through that a total of 3 times, taking a 30 to 60-sec rest in between each round (try not to rest between individual exercises; push to make it through the entire sequence before shaking out those arms!).

Your fitness level and the weight of the dumbbells you’re using will determine how long you stay in each exercise. To start, do each exercise for 20 seconds. If you’re more advanced, spend 30 seconds on each exercise. To help you gauge where you should start, when I did this workout using 20-second intervals, I was able to make it through the complete sequence without breaking. When I did it with 30-second intervals, I had to cheat and put my feet down a few times during the boat pose exercises.

Arm (+Core) Hand Weight Workout


  • One-Arm Flys: Start in a plank position with your left hand stacked directly under left shoulder and right hand gripping a hand weight. Hips should be level—fight to keep them this way throughout the exercise (your right hip will want to open up, shifting weight towards the left—don’t let it happen!). From here, squeeze your right shoulder blade in towards your spine as you lift the hand weight up and out laterally, keeping a soft bend in the elbow. Pause at the top and then slowly return right arm down to starting position.
  • Triceps Kickbacks: In a plank position, have left hand stacked directly under left shoulder, right hand holding onto a hand weight, elbow bent. Keeping your hips level as you do this (fight your body’s natural tendency to shift all the weight into your left side), extend your right hand straight back behind you, really squeezing the back of the arm (triceps) as you do. Hinging at the elbow, bring the weight slowly back to starting position. This is the one exercise I used an 8-lb weight with instead of 5.
  • Serve the Platter: In a plank position, keep left hand stacked directly under left shoulder, right hand holding onto a hand weight, palm facing up, elbow softly bent. From here, keeping your hips level (resist your body’s tendency to lean into that left side), reach that right hand forward, getting as close to a straight arm as you can. Slowly return to starting position.
  • Push Ups: Use both arms for these! If you need to modify, drop down to your knees.


All the following exercises are down while holding a boat pose. For boat pose, you balance on your tailbone, leaning back slightly, legs and upper body lifted in a “v” shape. To do this, engage your core (I think of trying to squeeze my belly button and spine together). I keep my knees bent in boat with shins parallel to the ground (except for during shapers), but if you’re more advanced, you can try keeping them straight the entire time.

  • Shoulder Press: Start with arms in goal post position: elbows bent at 90 degrees at shoulder height. From here, press your hands up overhead, bringing weights together above your head. Lower back down, but only so far as brings your elbows back to shoulder height. Don’t let them dip down lower than that. As you do these, be careful not to shrug your shoulders up towards your ears.
  • Shoulder Shapers: Start with arms in goal post position: elbows bent at 90 degrees at shoulder height. From here, maintaining those 90-degree bends, bring your forearms and hand weights together in front of your face. Return back out to goal post position. Elbows should stay at shoulder height the entire time. As we do these, we’re going to bend and extend our legs in boat pose so that it almost feels like a crunch. When arms are out wide, legs straighten, when forearms come in together, bend the knees, pulling them in slightly towards your chest.
  • Arm Circles: Extend your arms straight out to the side, a weight in each hand. Keeping arms straight, trace small, controlled circles with your hands, not letting your hands fall below shoulder height. Each round, alternate the direction in which you trace those circles.
  • Crossbody Punches: These are pretty self-explanatory: twist and punch! With a weight in each hand, start by holding them in towards your chest. From here, punch the right hand across your body, twisting your torso to the left along with it. Alternate, doing the same thing with the left hand. These should be quick—punch, punch, punch!


Repeat sequence you did on the right.

You will go through the entire sequence (right side, both, left side) three times. If you choose to stay in each exercise for 20 seconds, this workout will take you 12 minutes (plus a couple breaks). If you shoot for 30 seconds, it’ll take you 18 minutes + breaks.

Arm (+Core) Hand Weight Workout

WEARING | tank: Nasty Gal // leggings: c/o Puma // strappy-back sports bra: c/o Cory Vines // sneakers: Nike

Happy hump day!signature

Beginner Bodyweight Interval Workout

Beginner Bodyweight Interval WorkoutI’m up early this morning to sneak in a workout (on the blog and in real life) before hitting the road and heading down to New Jersey for Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his family. I have been crazy busy lately, so these next couple days of relaxing and eating amazing food are so incredibly needed!

To follow up Monday’s blog post, which was packed with general rules and tips for modifying exercises, I wanted to share a workout that was suitable for beginners (without much modification needed). As you’ll see, this is a workout you can grow with—I give an exercise and then show you how to advance it once you’ve mastered the move. I also show you how to modify it further if it’s still a little too tough for your current fitness level.

While I created this for beginners using basic, functional exercises, I don’t want you to brush it off as easy. If you’re more advanced, just do the harder variations given for each exercise.

Beginner Bodyweight Interval Workout

Set an interval timer for 30 rounds of 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest (I just realized that in the pictorial below, it says 10 seconds rest–ignore that! It’s 15). You’ll go through the following sequence of exercises 6 times. If you’re a true beginner, do the easiest modification given for each exercise (pictures on the left). After you’ve been working out for several weeks/a couple months, go through it again, trying the unmodified exercise (featured, top picture). More advanced? Do the harder versions of each exercise (pictures on the right).Beginner Bodyweight Interval Workout

Squats | With feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, toes pointing forward and weight in your heels, squat down, sending your butt and hips back (not knees forward!). Press through heels to stand back upright.

  • Modification = Squats with a Chair | Use a chair to help you get into your squattin’ grove! Start by sitting down completely in the chair each time. As you gain confidence, try to squat down and just lightly touch your bum to the chair before coming back upright. Once you’ve got it down, take away the safety net (chair) altogether.
  • Advancement = Squat Jumps | Instead of just standing up from your squatting position, explosively press up and jump, landing softly and sinking right back down into a deep squat.

Push Ups from Knees | Good ol’ fashioned push ups with your knees on the ground. Be careful not to stick your butt up into the air when you do these—from your knees to the top of your head should be one straight, diagonal line.

  • Modification = Push Ups against a Wall | Changing your body angle can make push ups easier. Start by doing them against a wall.
  • Advancement = Push Ups from Feet | Make these harder by doing your pushups from a plank position, toes on the ground.

Side-to-Side Lunges | Start standing up with feet shoulder-width apart. Step your right foot out wide to the side (toes still facing forward), and bend that knee, lunging to the right and bringing your left hand to the ground by that opposite foot. Your left leg stays straight as you do this; it’s like you’re sitting in a chair on just that right side. Press off the right foot and come back upright to starting standing position. Repeat to the left.

  • Modification = Don’t Touch the Ground | To make these easier, just don’t bend down as far. Instead of bending the knee to 90 degrees so that your hand can touch the floor by your foot, start with just a small bend with every lunge.
  • Advancement = Add in a Hop | Pick up the pace, switching feet in air between lunges as you add in a little hop side to side.

Thread the Needle in Side Kneeling Forearm Plank (RIGHT) | Start in a forearm side plank position with your knees stacked on the ground. Squeeze the oblique to keep your hips lifted. From here, you’re going to wrap the top arm around your torso, weaving it through the space between the floor and your rib cage. Twist from the waist when you do this so that you face the ground. Return to starting position and repeat.

  • Modification = Hip on Ground | If it’s too hard to hold that hip off the ground, plant the side of your hip on the ground along with that forearm. In this version, really emphasize the twist while you thread the needle so that your obliques are still working.
  • Advancement = Full Side Plank from Feet | To make it harder, thread the needle from a full side plank position: feet stacked on floor, hips and legs lifted so that body is in a straight diagonal line.

Thread the Needle in Side Kneeling Forearm Plank (LEFT)

Beginner Bodyweight Interval WorkoutWEARING | leggings: c/o Cory Vines // tank: Lululemon

Big thanks to my friends at Cory Vines for the leggings I’m wearing in today’s post—aren’t they cute?? I love the colored pattern on the back of the legs and they’re SO comfortable.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow! This workout is a great one to bring with you if you’re traveling for the holiday—no equipment required!


45-Minute Treading Workout

45-Minute Treading Class WorkoutI know this picture makes the workout look totally overcomplicated, but I swear it’s not—bear with me…

Hope you all are enjoying the weekend! I’m off to Btone in a couple hours to take a class before teaching a couple. For all you Boston peeps, Michele’s class is worth waking up early on a Sunday for—kicks my ass EVERY time. Add it to your must-try fitness list.

Anywho, I’ve got a fun cardio workout for all you gym-goes and treadmill owners. The treading class at Hilton Head Health was probably my favorite of the many varied exercise classes I tried there, so I thought it’d be fun to share one of my own creation and talk a little bit more about the fitness aspect of my stay at H3. If you missed my first post about the blogger trip to Hilton Head Health, I talked about the education component, specifically a lecture on portion control I attended.

All throughout the day at H3 there are fitness classes offered, ranging from yoga to TRX to aqua boxing in the pool. Some have capacity limits and require sign-up the day before, but for the majority of them, you can just pop into whichever ones sound appealing. That’s something I really liked about Hilton Head Health’s programming—they don’t force you to do anything you don’t want to. Yes, the majority of guests are there to lose weight, and there is guidance and encouragement to do certain classes, but there’s no drill-sergeant mentality. You make your own decisions about what you want to do.

trx-hilton-head-healthSarah and I at a TRX class at H3

During my stay, I tried a bunch of classes: Pilates for Flexibility, Yoga Flow, TRX Circuit, Muscle Mobility (SMR with lacrosse balls) and Treading (twice). A lot of the guests at H3 are just starting out on their road to health, and the instructors do a great job of teaching to beginners while also offering modifications for those who are more advanced in the class. As someone who’s in the industry, trust me—it’s a sign of a damn good instructor if a group of people ranging from young fitness bloggers to 60+-year-old beginners leaves a class all feeling like it was an awesome experience. So let’s slow clap it out for Camila at Hilton Head Health—her treading class had everyone sweating (and dancing).

45-Minute Treading Workout

This workout is made for the treadmill, but you could easily adapt it to another cardio machine (stationary bike, elliptical, etc.) The numbers used are for a treadmill with a 0-15 incline range, so adjust accordingly if your machine uses a different scale.

All levels can do this workout! You’ll see I use the terms walk, jog, run and sprint to describe the speed you should go—these terms will mean different speeds to different people. If you’re advanced, sprint might mean 10+mph. If you’re a newbie, sprint might mean power walking at 4+mph. Both are great! These terms represent more of an effort scale than a numerical speed value:running exertion speed scale

As you’ll see, the workout is broken up into sections. The numbers always represent incline. For speeds, I use walk, jog, run, sprint. The image at the beginning of this post is super detailed (you can print it out and bring it to the gym with you), but if you’re a treading pro, the following summary might be enough to guide you.

WARM UP | 0:00 – 3:00
At a 0 incline, do a minute of slow walking lunges (set treadmill to .5-1mph for these) then jog for two minutes.

STEADY CLIMB | 3:00 – 13:00
Maintain a steady jog-run pace throughout the 10 minutes. Every minute, you’ll change the resistance up by two points, starting at a 3 and peaking at a 15. You’ll then decrease the incline by four points each minute, returning back to a 3 incline.

Using 30-second intervals, you’ll run, sprint, and then walk (recover). Do this at a 3 incline, then a 6, then a 9.

BREAK | 17:30 – 19:00
Walk it out, grab a drink of water, catch your break. You can jog if you’re ambitious.

ROLLING HILL | 19:00 – 29:30
Maintain a steady jog-run pace the entire time. You’ll change your incline every 60 seconds climbing up to the top, staying at the top for 30 seconds. Incline changes are in increments of three and get less steep with each of the three hills: 6, 9, 12, 15 (first hill); 3, 6, 9, 12 (second hill); 0, 3, 6, 9 (last hill).

BREAK | 29:30 – 31:00
Walk it out, grab a drink of water, catch your break. You can jog if you’re ambitious.

SPEED INTERVALS | 31:00 – 36:30
These are done at a 0 incline. You recover for 30 seconds between each of the five sprints. The first two sprints are 60 seconds long and the last three sprints are 30 seconds long.

BREAK | 36:30 – 38:00
Walk it out, grab a drink of water, catch your break. You can jog if you’re ambitious.

FINAL PUSH | 38:00 – 41:00
Run for a minute each at a 10, 5, and then 0 incline.

COOL DOWN | 41:00 – 45:00
Walk for three minutes, gradually slowing it down. Finish with a minute of those slow walking lunges we started with.

hilton-head-health-blogger-tripAndie from Can You Stay For Dinner?, Beth from Beth’s Journey, Monique from Ambitious Kitchen, Sarah from Sarah Fit and I before our first treading class at H3. Not pictured is Lisa from Snack Girl who joined us for our second treading class the next day. :)

In addition to taking classes, I also got a tennis lesson (I LOVED it!) and went for a couple beautiful runs on the beach by H3. The sand there is hard so it’s perfect for running and even bike riding. If you follow me on instagram, you’ve already seen the view, but it’s just too pretty not to share again:hilton-head-beach hilton-head-beach-sunrise tennis-lesson

Have you ever taken a treading class (or something similar) before? I find running on a treadmill painfully boring alone, but in the group setting it was so fun!