Tracking Your Progress with HIIT Workouts (+Printable Chart)

bob-harper-blackfire-reviewHey guys! As you might guess from these late-night posts, this post-MDW week has been a bit hectic for me. That’s what happens when you decide to extend an already long weekend well into Tuesday afternoon. Whoopsies! :)

But I’m really excited about this post, so better late than never. For the past few weeks, I’ve been able to play around with Bob Harper’s new Black Fire program on DailyBurn and it’s gotten me back into using rep tracking to add a little competition to my interval training workouts. I used to religiously keep track of the reps I got during each interval of HIIT workouts so that when I did them again a few weeks later I would push myself harder to beat my previous performance. It was a great way to hold myself accountable when working out alone at home. But with teaching and taking group fitness classes now in addition to my at-home workouts, I’ve kinda let that habit fall to the wayside.

Black Fire has reminded me what a great tool it is, so I thought it’d be fun to put together a simple printout you can use to track your progress with HIIT workouts. I have a TON on the site (see these pages: tabata workouts & interval workouts), but you could apply this scoring method to any timed interval-based routine. Let’s start with a little about Black Fire and then I’ll talk more about tracking progress.

DailyBurn’s Black Fire Program from Bob Harper

dailyburn-black-fire-screen-shotI knew I would like Black Fire before I was even asked to test it because I am quite literally in love with Bob Harper. No, but really.

It’s a 60-day program that includes workouts, guided rest days (yoga, SMR, etc.) and nutritional guidance. If you closely follow Bob like I do (I like to walk the fine line between fangirl and stalker…) you know that he loves CrossFit, and you can definitely see its influence in the Black Fire workouts. I didn’t follow the 60-day program, but tried the workouts and they are LEGIT. Very challenging, but I’d say most are also scalable for beginners.

The videos are easy to follow, and fun. You feel like you’re actually working out with Bob and the others and competing against them. The workouts use lots of functional movements like burpees, bodyweight exercises, box jumps, plyometrics, etc. and are all about 20 minutes long. In addition to a good ass kicking, I even got a couple ideas for new exercises to add to my group fitness classes and blog posts (love that!).

Tracking Your Progress by Scoring HIIT Workouts

HIIT Workout Progress Chart (printable)


What made the Black Fire workouts the most fun for me was the scoring aspect. It’s not required, but works as awesome motivation to push yourself. For each exercise, you write down the number of reps you complete each interval. You take your lowest number from the intervals as your score for that exercise. At the end of the workout, you add up your lowest number from each exercise and that’s your score for the total workout. Next time you do it, you try to beat that number.

For example, let’s say we’re doing a tabata workout (8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for each exercise) made up of squats, push ups, v-ups and burpees. During each of the eight 20-seconds rounds of squats, count how many you complete. Your lowest (“worst”) round is the round that counts towards your score. Do that for each exercise and then add them up.

You can apply this scoring method to any sort of interval workout, so I made myself up a simple chart to track my progress with the P&I workouts I post. As you can see, it’s something you could easily make yourself on your computer or in a notebook, but I included a download so that you can also print this one off. If you workout alone at home, competing against yourself in this way is the perfect way to stay on track and motivated! dailyburn-black-fire-bob-harper

Have you guys used DailyBurn before? If so, have you tried Black Fire?

How do you track your progress with workouts? is a leading online health and fitness brand, delivering first-class video workout programs and personalized nutrition plans to ensure that members reach their fitness goals. DailyBurn brings fitness and nutrition to members, anytime, anywhere, by streaming HD-quality workouts in a variety of disciplines from dance and high-intensity cardio to yoga, kettlebells and strength training. Unlimited access to DailyBurn’s plans is only $12.95 a month. For more information, visit You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.


This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of DailyBurn. As always, all opinions are my own.

Lower Body Superset Workout

Lower Body Superset WorkoutHey guys! Hope everyone had a fun long weekend. I just got back from Nantucket and am going to sleep like A BABY tonight. Too many Figawi Wowi cocktails for this girl…

Tonight’s workout is dynamic—the compound exercises will work your core and upper body, too, but the focus is definitely the legs and butt. Lots of lunging and squatting! I’ve really been loving using dumbbells in my workouts lately, and this was a fun one.

Lower Body Superset Workout

Equipment I Used:

A superset is two exercises preformed back to back. You’ll do each for 30 seconds (no rest in between) and then rest for 15 seconds. Do that a total of four times then move on to the next superset. So you’ll spend 5 minutes on each of the four supersets.  Lower Body Superset Workout


  • Squat Thrust – Squat Jump Combo | 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. Squat back down and this time perform a squat jump, keeping the weights at shoulder height.
  • Squat Hold with Side Taps | Hold a low squat position with weights at your shoulders. Staying low, tap one foot at a time out wide to the side. Don’t shift your weight into the tapping foot, keep it in the heel of the stationary leg.

SUPERSET 2 (right leg)

  • Lunge Hop – Lunge Curl Combo | Start in a split-stance lunge position: both knees bent to 90 degrees, right foot flat in front; left foot in back, ball of the foot planted on the ground. Keeping the same foot in front/back, you hop a few inches into the air and land softly back into your starting position, holding the weights at your side the whole time. Next time, instead of hopping, just straighten your legs, rising up from the lunge as you perform a bicep curl. Sink back down into your lunge with weights at side and do a hop. Continue alternating between the lunge hop and the stationary lunge with curl.
  • Side-to-Side Steppers | Keep your right foot on the stepper, weights held at shoulders and step your left foot from side to side. Try not to ever fully straighten your right legs. You want to keep the weight in your right heel, trying not to shift your bodyweight into the left foot. Just lightly tap the left foot from side to side.

SUPERSET 3 (left leg)

  • Lunge Hop – Lunge Curl Combo
  • Side-to-Side Steppers


  • Weighted Burpees | Start standing, feet about shoulder-width apart., holding the dumbbells at your shoulders. Squat down, bringing the weights to the ground by your feet and jump both feet back into a plank position. Do a push up. Quickly jump your feet back up by your hands and shift the weight into your feet, bring torso upright into a low squat position. From here, jump up. Land softly on your feet, sinking right back down into a squat and starting from the top.
  • Squat ‘n Punch | Squat down holding the weights and as you power up, twisting your torso to the right, punching the left arm across your body and pivoting the back foot. Squat back down and then repeat in the other direction.

Lower Body Superset Workout

My leggings and sneakers in today’s post were provided by Puma. I’m obsessed with the leggings! I think the pattern is so fun. They also gifted me their Watch Me Leave Tee, which is super cute, but because I’m tall it sorta fits like a crop top and some days just aren’t midriff days, ya feel me? 😉 I was excited about the Pulse XT Geo sneakers because I’ve been on the lookout for new cross-training shoes. These are lightweight but still supportive, and I’m digging the light colors for summer.


This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of PUMA.

How to Take Quality Workout Photos Using Self Timer

Tips for Taking Workout Pictures using Self TimerOne of the most frequent questions I get asked isn’t about health or fitness at all—it’s how I take the pictures for my workout tutorials. And not even just from other bloggers—it’s seriously the million-dollar question from everyone I know. People I haven’t spoken to in years have sent me text messages being like “Ok, I have to know…who is taking all these pictures??”

I get it. Blogging is weird—I mean, it most definitely is not normal to have 400 pictures of yourself doing a plank. For the most part, my mom takes the pictures (God bless her!). Once or twice a month, I meet up with her and we shoot a bunch of pictures for the blog (this is much more efficient than shooting one post at a time). I’ve had friends step in as photographer, too, and occasionally will resort to asking my boyfriend—I love him, but the pictures usually turn out awful haha. Out of focus, zoomed in on a random trashcan in the background, my head is cropped out, or … this: blooper-pic

LOL. Thanks, Joe.

Having someone else take my picture is the ideal scenario for sure, but there are times when this isn’t an option. If I have a deadline to meet or have run out of content and need to put something up on the blog ASAP, I’ll use self timer for my workout tutorials. Although it takes a bit more time and effort, it is possible to put together a quality pictoral this way! I get a lot of emails from fellow bloggers discouraged that they don’t have a photographer at their disposal (I feel your pain!), but fear not, there are ways to do it solo.

I know this post is probably only of interest to other bloggers, but I wanted to share some tips I’ve learned (through LOTS of trial and error) for getting blog-worthy photography with your camera’s self timer feature. I’m by no means a veteran photographer, so I’d love for you guys to chime in with other tips you have!

The ideal scenario would be to invest in a shutter release extension cord or remote shutter that allows you to control when the camera takes the picture while you’re in front of the lens in position, but since I don’t have one, this post will focus on the old-school method of pressing down the self-timer clock and then spastically sprinting into place while it beeps down to release.

Have the Camera “Zoomed Out” and on Auto

Tips for Taking Workout Pictures using Self TimerIf you’re a photographer and know your camera’s features inside and out, this tip may not apply to you—I’m sure you know of better settings (please do share in the comments section!). But for the rest of us with only moderate photog skills, I’ve found it’s easiest to keep my camera in Auto mode and have it completely zoomed out. Just crop the picture on the computer later when editing—don’t try to frame it perfectly with the zoom. Why?

  1. You have a better chance of getting the picture you need on the first try. Time is money—if it takes you 45 minutes to capture three photos, that’s 42 minutes of your life you’ll never get back. If you have the camera zoomed in, there’s a good chance your head will be out of frame or something’s off and you’ll have to redo it.
  2. You have a better chance of being in focus. If you zoom in, the camera is going to be more specifically focused in on one spot. Unless you’re standing right in its same depth of field, you’ll be out of focus.

Shoot in a Bright Space with Lots of Natural Lighting

This goes for any photoshoot, but especially if you don’t have the luxury of someone manning the camera. Even with a diffuser, your camera’s flash creates a harsh, often unflattering light. In a dark setting with a flash, your pictures will be of lesser quality, grainier, and you won’t look as cute. :) Natural sunlight is a photograph’s best friend. But that being said, don’t shoot in direct sunlight (you’ll be shawdowy and washed out).

I know this can be a challenge if you have a full-time job and only can work on your blog at night. That used to be my biggest frustration! You just have to bite the bullet and dedicate one weekend morning or afternoon to taking pictures. Try to plan ahead so that you shoot three or four blog posts’ worth of pics so you won’t have to worry about it the next couple weekends.

Shoot Against a Plain Background

Tips for Taking Workout Pictures using Self TimerI personally prefer light (white if possible) backgrounds, but any solid color will do! The biggest thing is you don’t want there to be a bunch of clutter for the camera to focus on. Because you’re initiating the self timer before stepping into the frame, the camera won’t know to focus on you. If you’re shooting against a plain background, this isn’t a big problem. But if the camera has focused in on your refrigerator and then you step into the frame closer to the lens, you’ll be blurry (but the fridge will look fab!).

Stand close to your background in the picture. The camera is focusing in on your background when you start the self-timer clock. Stand close to the background so you’ll be in focus, too.

Use a Tripod

I used to create these giant towers out of furniture so that I could prop my camera up on something high enough to get my full body in a picture—what a hassle! A tripod is well worth the investment (THIS is the tripod I have, but don’t be discouraged by the $160 price tag—you can find much cheaper options). A tripod like the one I have also allows you to position your camera at an angle, which can be crucial in getting a picture that best demonstrates the exercise and is flattering. Which brings me to my next tip …

Know Your Angles

workout-pic-tipsThis gets easier the more pictures you take. By now, I know exactly how to position the camera and my body when trying to capture, for example, a push up so that the photos clearly illustrate the move and, also important, I’m happy with how I look. This means I can usually get the shot in just one take, which is crucial with self timer—no one wants to run back and forth setting the camera and then sprinting in front of it into a pose ten times before you get a decent picture.

When you set up for a picture, think of which view will best demonstrate the exercise (from the side, straight on, etc.). Some general tips for flattering (and slimming!) angles:

  • Tilt the camera slightly downward.
  • Sometimes an exercise is best demonstrated from a diagonal. If so, angle your body so that your head is closer to the camera than your feet.

If you don’t have a DSLR camera, these tips still apply to your smartphone. They have all sorts of crazy selfie-stick tripods these days. In all honesty, I don’t think the pictures will turn out as well using a phone, but if all the other factors are set up in your favor (plain background, natural lighting, tripod, etc.) it will totally work! With that being said, I’ll leave you with a super high-tech iPhone technique I use when taking one-off pictures for Instagrams:

Use Your Shoe as a Tripod

use-sneaker-for-iphone-selfiesSeriously, nothing works better. Well, unless you have a tripod or selfie stick. But when it comes to DIY…sneakers, baby! If it’s for Instagram, set your camera to Square and then pop it in a shoe the tall way (so that the lens isn’t obstructed by the shoe).

Photogs and selfie extraordinaires—any self-timer tips to add?

Have a great long weekend, everyone! I’m off to the Vineyard and then Nantucket…no complaints here. :)