Bodyweight Pyramid Workout with Sprints

Bodyweight Pyramid Workout with SprintsYou could do this workout out on a track, in the gym using a treadmill, or anywhere outside. When I want to run a measured distance outside, sometimes I’ll use Google Earth—you should try it! It has a ruler tool that allows you to plot out different distances so that you can easily figure out ok, if I sprint from the end of my driveway to the big rock down the street, that’s 100 meters.

I’m sure there are easier ways to do this with a smartphone app, but Google Earth is just so fun/creepy…

Bodyweight Pyramid Workout with Sprints

There are only three exercises in this workout. The first time you go through them, complete 10 reps of each. Next time you go through them, you’ll only do 9 reps of each. Continue this way, reducing the number of reps until you reach 1 rep of each. In between each completed set, sprint 100m. If you want an added challenge, time your sprints and try to match or beat your time each of the sprints.

For clarification, here’s what the start of the workout looks like:

  • 10 Push Ups with Crossbody Tap
  • 10 Back Lunge to Knee Raise Hop on the right
  • 10 Back Lunge to Knee Raise Hop on the left
  • 10 Side Plank Swimmer Kicks on the right
  • 10 Side Plank Swimmer Kicks on the left
  • 100m sprint
  • 9 Push Ups with Crossbody Tap
  • 9 Back Lunge to Knee Raise Hop on the right …

Bodyweight Pyramid Workout with SprintsPush Up to Crossbody Tap | Start in a plank position. Do a push up, keeping your body straight (abs in tight; don’t let your low back sag towards the floor). Press back up, and as you return to the plank position, crunch your left knee in towards your right arm and tap the knee with your right hand. Step back into plank and go into your next push up. At the top, crunch your right knee in to meet your left hand.

Back Lunge to Knee Raise Hop | Start standing with feet hip width apart. Step your left foot back behind you as you bend the right knee, sinking into a lunge. Get as low as you can, trying to bring the right knee to a 90-degree bend. From here, keeping your weight in the right base foot, swing the left knee forward and up, engaging your abs to bring it in towards your chest. As you do, straighten your right leg and push off the foot, hopping straight up. Land softly on your right foot and step the left foot back, sinking right into your next lunge.

Swimming Side Plank Kicks | Think of your kick while swimming the breaststroke. Start in a side plank position with supporting hand stacked underneath your shoulder. Hover your top leg (the goal is to not rest it on the ground the entire duration of the exercise). This is your starting position. Crunch the top knee in towards your chest. Next, kick that top foot straight out in front of you (as if you were trying to kick yourself in the face). From here, sweep the leg straight back into the starting position. That’s one rep: bend, kick, sweep. Try not to let your hips sag while doing these; engage the bottom oblique to keep hips lifted. Bodyweight Pyramid Workout with Sprints

WEARING | hoodie c/o The North Face // shorts c/o Cory Vines // sneakers Nike (similar here)

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Cheers to a productive, healthy week ahead! signature


What I Learned from Getting a Runner’s Assessment

running-form-assessmentI feel like the theme of April has been running—and not just because of the marathon. A couple weeks ago I had a really fun opportunity to get a runner’s assessment done at the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention. It was awesome! I learned a ton, so fair warning—this post may turn into a novel.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I used to run just about every day but recently it’s fallen to the wayside because it wasn’t feeling good. I had problems with Achilles tendonitis flair-ups from running which I pretty much resolved by switching to a minimalist sneaker, but then I found that my feet would hurt me if I did anything over 6 or 7 miles. I become frustrated and couldn’t see the point in doing something that seemed to be beating up my body. I still run here and there and in shorter bursts, but nothing like I used to (which is sad because I loved running—it was my favorite form of “me time”).

micheli-center-runners-assessmentI did the Running Injury Prevention Quick Start Program, which is a private hour-and-a-half session that identifies inefficiencies in your running gait by evaluating posture, cadence, foot strike, stride, flexibility, movement patterns and muscle imbalances. Based on all that, you then receive instruction on how to improve your running form, and which exercises/stretches will help strengthen and stretch the necessary muscles.

You start by answering some basic questions about your running history and getting flexibility and strength measurements. Next up, video is taken of you performing a single-leg squat test and running on a special treadmill equipped with force plates. The treadmill and camera are synced to a computer so that you can watch yourself afterwards (awkward haha) and have your specialist talk you through what you’re seeing. The final part of the assessment is spent going over exercises, stretches and running form corrections that are catered to your individual needs.

I gained a ton of insight from my assessment—not just as a (former?) runner, but as a personal trainer. Even though it was a while ago that I got certified, it was crazy how much this runner’s assessment made things click for me. NASM focuses a lot on imbalances and how to strengthen and stretch the right muscles to correct them. I had a good understanding before, but now that someone has walked me through an assessment of my own muscular imbalances, I feel like I see it with a whole new clarity. It was so beneficial! Why haven’t I done something like this sooner??

Major Takeaways from My Runner’s Assessment

15+ years of tap dancing has had a big impact.

About five minutes into my assessment, my Injury Prevention Specialist, Jen, was like “did you dance growing up?” That obvious. Tap dancing is 90% on the balls of your feet and constantly having my heels lifted has resulted in ridiculously tight calf muscles, shortened Achilles tendons (hence the tendonitis flair-ups I’ve suffered from!), and perma-lifted toes (the top of my foot is tight). Think of what a foot looks like when it’s in a high heel—that’s essentially the shape my foot just naturally wants to assume at all times. I actually lift my toes so much when I run that I usually get holes in the tops of my sneakers! shoe-toe-holes

Things I need to do to correct my tap dance imbalances:

  • Stretch out the top of my foot. I can do this easily by scrunching my toes and rolling the top of my foot onto the ground.
  • Foam roll the f**k out of my calves. The F bomb is necessary—when Jen rolled out my caves for me it was literally like I had marbles underneath my skin. After SMR I need to make sure to statically stretch the calves as well.
  • Use a resistance band to isolate the shin. I over-use the top of my foot and toes when flexing my foot rather than engaging my shin to lift it. Jen showed me how to flex my foot against a resistance band while keeping my toes scrunched would force me to pull using the shin area rather than the top of my foot.
  • Reduce the angle of my foot when I heel strike the ground running. Jen explained that it’s not necessarily a terrible thing that I’m a heel striker when I run, but that it shouldn’t be such a dramatic heel-first landing. If I stop pulling up with my toes so aggressively, the angle with which my foot hits the ground won’t be as bad (and I won’t get holes in the tops of my shoes anymore).

I need to strengthen my hamstrings and glutes/abductors.

When we tested the strength of various muscles during the assessment, it turned out that my quads are much stronger than my hamstrings. To put it in perspective, it should be a 4:3 ratio (quad strength to hamstring strength) and mine is more like 3:1. Just as important as strengthening those muscles is stretching my hip flexors so that their tightness doesn’t inhibit me from activating the glutes and hamstrings properly. I need to do some major TFL foam rolling!

Jen showed me a bunch of resistance band exercises to help with this and I’m going to share a workout inspired by them on the blog soon.

My legs are staying too straight as I run and as a result I’m over-stepping.

running-assessmentAn over-step means that my heel is hitting the ground in front of my knee. I sort of leap as I run instead of creating a smooth pedaling motion with my legs. To fix this, I need to lift my knees a little higher when I run—by adding more of a bend, my foot will hit the ground in a supportive position underneath my knee rather than ahead of it. In the assessment, they had me start by sort of marching in place and then gradually speeding it up into a run in order to practice this.

I think part of the reason I leap when I run is because I was always told to “lengthen my stride” when playing sports and running cross county in high school. Jen confirmed it’s something they hear a lot. She said to compensate for the couple inches I’m losing in my stride by not over-stepping, I just need to pick up my cadence. The Micheli Center suggests a cadence of 170-180 steps per minute (for longer distance running) and right now I’m at 161.

I need to engage my lower abs when I run to prevent a pelvic tilt.

This is something I’ve been working on for a while in other forms of fitness and everyday movements to help prevent low back pain. But I didn’t realize I was doing it while I ran, too (duh—figures I am!). It’s a common postural imbalance and something I’m always reminding my students of in class—engage your low abs! I think of it as pulling up on a pants zipper—take out any over-arching of the low spine by tucking your tailbone and pulling the lower abdomen in. I know, ladies, your butt does not look as cute when you do this, but trust me, your body (especially your low back) will thank you. 😉 runners-injury-prevention-assessment

As far as running shoes go, I should find one with a neutral sole (an even thickness from toes to heel).

While the Micheli Center doesn’t make specific shoe recommendations because there are so many options out there and a lot of it has to do with personal preference, they did suggest I stick to a sole of even thickness because I strike with my heel. I should stay away from shoes that are thick at the heel and gradually get thinner towards the toes.

With all these takeaways, my next challenge is to integrate all this knowledge into my running form without over-thinking it. This past weekend, I hung out at the Intel and SMS Audio booth at the Boston Marathon Expo and was demo-ing their BioSport headphones on a treadmill. It got to the point where I had to just shut off my brain because I found my mind racing with tips from my runner’s assessment: Stop pulling up with your toes so much. Am I over-striding? Lift your knees higher. Engage your abs. Is my heel strike too aggressive?

boston-marathon-expoOveranalyzing on the treadmill aside, the Expo was a lot of fun—even though I’ve lived in Boston for five years now, it was actually my first time attending! There were countless exhibitors and an overwhelming number of things to see and try. All the excitement actually made me a little sad I wasn’t running the marathon. Next year?? During my time at the Intel & SMS Audio booth, we shot a bunch of video footage so I’ll be sure to keep you posted if I get any face time in the final cut. I tend to dramatically talk with my hands (it’s the Italian in me haha) so I’m guessing I produced a solid blooper reel. And there’s still a chance to win your own pair of BioSport heart rate monitor headphones coming Sunday! In the meantime, you can listen to the playlist of workout favorites Intel has put together on Spotify here.

But back to my assessment—I’m now trying to just focus on one thing at a time. To start, lifting my knees a little higher when I run. Next, those dang tap dancing toes ripping holes through my shoes.

If you’re in the Boston area and interested in a runner’s assessment, you can get more info at the Micheli Center’s website. The quick start program I did is $90 and I’d highly recommend it!

Have you had this type of assessment done before? What’d you learn?


Full-Body Dumbbell Workout with Compound Exercises

Full-Body Dumbbell Workout with Compound ExercisesCompound exercises are great because they work multiple muscle groups at once. This workout is tough as-is if you’re looking to strength train, but I’ve also included a 5-minute treadmill blast that you can do at the end of each circuit if you’re looking for some added cardio. It’s a good way to switch things up and beat gym boredom!

Full-Body Dumbbell Workout with Compound Exercises

Equipment I Used:

  • Set of lighter weights (8-15lbs) – I used 12lbs for most exercises
  • Set of heavier weights (15-25lbs) – I used 20lbs for the standing side bends
  • Exercise mat

The weight ranges above are suggestions—pick what works best for you and challenges your body. You’re going to complete the following circuit three times. You can rest between each completed round or, if you’re looking for some added cardio, you can add in 5-minute treadmill blasts (example toward the bottom of this post) after each of the three dumbbell rounds.

Beginner: Complete 8-10 reps of each exercise
Intermediate: Complete 12-15 reps of each exercise
Advanced: Complete 18-20 reps of each exercise

Full-Body Dumbbell Workout with Compound Exercises

  • Lunge with Straight-Arm Torso Twist (Right) | Start standing holding a dumbbell in both hands at chest height, arms held straight in front of you. To make sure you have proper form, roll your shoulder cage back and down before you start the exercise. From there, lunge forward, stepping your right foot in front of you as you bend both knees to opposing 90-degree angles. Holding this low lunge, twist your torso to the right, keeping arms straight as you do. You want your whole upper half moving as one unit on this—imagine your waist is a wet towel that you’re wringing out as you twist. Reverse the sequence, twisting back to center and pushing off that front right foot to return back up to standing. That’s one rep.
  • Standing Side Bend to Bicep Curl (Right) | Stand with feet hip distance apart and a heavier dumbbell in each hand (this is the exercise I used 20-lb weights for). Lean over to the right side with your torso as you lower the dumbbell towards knee height. Engaging the oblique, bring your torso back upright to starting position once you’ve gone as low as possible. When you’re back upright, do one bicep curl on that side, curling the dumbbell up towards your right shoulder. That’s one rep.
  • Squat with Overhead Thrust | Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height, feet about hip’s width apart and squat down, keeping your lower abdomen held in and sliding your bum and hips back and down. Once you reach your lowest squat, power up, driving your hips forward and engaging the glutes as you straighten your legs to stand. As you do so, press the dumbbells overhead into a shoulder press.
  • Lunge with Straight-Arm Torso Twist (Left)
  • Standing Side Bend to Bicep Curl (Left)
  • Burpees with Crossbody Mountain Climber and Renegade Rows | Start standing with weights at shoulders, elbows bent. Squat down, weight in your heels. Bring the dumbbells to the ground, shoulder width apart in front of your feet. Jump back into a plank (hands still gripping dumbbells). From this plank position, crunch your left knee across your body to touch the right elbow. Step that foot back and repeat to the other side, right knee to left elbow. Back in plank, perform one dumbbell row on each side, pulling one elbow up as you bring the weight to your armpit and then the other. Last, jump your feet back up towards your hands, bring the weights back to shoulder height, and power up from that low squat back to your starting standing position. That’s one rep.

Full-Body Dumbbell Workout with Compound Exercises Like I mentioned at the start of this post, you can rest in between each of your three sets of this circuit, or you can mix in some cardio. The following 5-minute treadmill blast is a simple way to break up each dumbbell block. 5-Minute Treadmill Blast - great to do in between sets of strength training!Full-Body Dumbbell Workout with Compound Exercises

WEARING | leggings & bra c/o Fabletics // tank c/o The North Face // sneakers c/o Puma

Happy Marathon Monday, Boston! signature