Squats… No Equipment, No problem!

Let’s face it, we’re all having challenges right now with social distancing and impacts to our routine. For health and fitness, this can mean a lack of access to equipment, and facilities we use to exercise. If our biggest challenge during COVID19 is a lack of exercise facilities, we’re among the very fortunate.

Being grateful and having perspective is very important, but let’s get rid of this notion that you need equipment to exercise. This You Tube video is a tutorial of the Squat, no equipment required. I breakdown the exercise into a step by step approach, including 3 safety tips you must practice at all times.

The squat is also an exercise that you can do regardless of your strength, flexibility, and fitness level. In addition to the body weight free standing squat, I demonstrate supported squats, and chair squats to show variations and a progression to add challenges as you get stronger and gain range of motion.

The progression is:

  1. Supported Squat (beginner version), until you can comfortably do this exercise, thighs parallel, for 3 sets of 10 reps.
  2. Chair or Box Squats, until you can do 3 sets of 10
  3. Free standing squats, only going as close to thighs parallel as you can while maintaining the three safety measures

Once you can squat thighs parallel, free standing, while maintaining the three safety measures, work up to 3 sets of 10. I am sure you will find that this concept/progression seems simple, but not easy when you try it.

Tune back in for more posts while social distancing, no equipment, no problem! Thank you for checking out my blog, be well everyone.

Helpful Related Videos

Hip Flexor Stretch
Calf and Ankle Mobility
Core Bracing and Lockout (Deadlift, same as Squat)

Workout on Your Birthday!

Birthday Workouts

Ever see your friends posting about their fun, and exciting birthday workouts? Maybe for turning 30, 50, or other milestone birthdays? A custom birthday workout is a healthy alternative to partying and excess. But, how to choose a birthday workout? Where do you start?

Build Your Own Birthday Workout!

Here are some guidelines for building your own fun, exciting birthday workout!

  1. Make it your own! Your birthday workout needs to be unique and exciting to you. So, if you like pushups, build your birthday workout around pushups. If you like hiking, go hiking!
  2. Connect it to the age you are turning! Make sure some component of your workout connects to the age you are turning. Connecting the workout to your age will help you celebrate, and be motivated for your birthday workout! For example, maybe you are turning 50, and you want your workout to be 50 pushups. 5 sets of 10 pushups is one way to do it, but there are many other ways you can do 50 pushups, or multiples if you are really good at pushups!
  3. Make it Familiar! If you have never done Barbell Deadlifts, your birthday is not the time to load up the bar and crank out the amount of reps to correspond with your age. Pick an exercise or routine you are at least somewhat familiar with, and tailor it to your birthday.
  4. Make it Realistic! I am turning 35, and there is no way I am going for a 35 mile hike because A). I don’t hike, and B). I have never walked or run 35 miles at one time. If you are not realistic with your birthday workout, you will miss the last point, which is:
  5. Make it fun! Make sure your birthday workout challenges you, but that you are able to have fun with it! If you design a birthday workout that you cannot complete (like a 35 mile hike for me), you are not going to have a lot of fun, and you might get injured.

Celebrate Yourself!

Make sure you congratulate yourself, and celebrate completing your birthday workout! Give yourself credit for prioritizing health on your birthday.

Keep a Record!

Maybe you can start a birthday workout tradition! That way, you can look back year to year at all of your birthday workouts, and marvel at your progress and creativity!

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Pexels.com

Birthday Workout Summary

In summary, here are the keys to designing your own, unique birthday workout:

  1. Make it Your Own!
  2. Connect the Workout to your Birthday/Age!
  3. Make Sure You are Familiar with the Exercise(s).
  4. Be Realistic!
  5. Make it Fun!
  6. Track Your Progress!

Sample Birthday Workout

My example, on my birthday I plan to complete:

  1. Push Presses, with a pair of 35 lb Kettlebells, for a total of 3,500 lbs lifted! (50 total reps of 70 total lbs).
  2. I will follow this up with a 35 minute jog…these are both exercises I am familiar with, related to my birthday, and are fun and challenging!

I hope this was helpful and inspires your creativity to make it a fun and fit birthday!

Protect Your Back

baby sitting on man s shoulder
Photo by Maria Lindsey on Pexels.com

How’s everyone doing, gearing up to eat some Turkey?? Yeah, I know I am, everything in moderation, including moderation. Last week, I posted about back pain creeping in a little bit, and in my case this was due to lack of attention to detail while lifting up my 21 lb son. I posted about principles that I follow in order to keep my back safe at work, in the gym, doing DIY projects, and now for playing with my son, and here they are in greater detail:

  1. Abs tight

This is exactly how it reads, the act of tightening your abdominal muscles each and every time you place your body under load. Whether you are lifting a barbell at the gym, or simply your own body weight, learning how to tighten your Abs will keep your back safe. “Abs tight” is the reminder I give myself, and I realized I was not doing it when loading my son into his car seat recently, I am now. It is great to have an experienced trainer teach you this skill in order to master it, but here is how the concept breaks down:

Stand up straight, and contract your abdominal muscles as you would to do a sit up or crunch, but do not move. Do not “suck in” or draw in your stomach, assure it stays in a neutral position, only tight. You want to feel as if you a “bracing” your Abs to take a punch, test this out with your own hand to make sure (give your Abs a few taps). Learning to keep your abs tight will help you maintain a neutral position in your lower back when you place your body under load.

Take a quick look at this video for a Demo:

  1. Hips lead the race

Essentially, this means that any motion must be initiated by your hip movement (not your knees, not your shoulders, not your back). The term “lift with your legs” can be deceptive, your hips need to move first, and lead the rest of your body through a safe movement.

  1. Sturdy structure

Basically this is linked to point number 2, you always want your body in a safe, sturdy position when you place it under load. You also want a strong “lockout” at the top, straight line vertical from head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet.

If you place your body under load and do not have proper posture and alignment to evenly distribute the force that is being applied, the force will be applied to weak points in the kinetic chain. For example, lifting something over and over again by squatting down with your knees tracking far out over your toes will assure that shearing force is applied to your patella tendon, and usually result in soreness/tendonitis.

Take a look at this You Tube Video for a quick Demo! This will show you how to apply these concepts, no matter what you are lifting!

It is important to apply these principles each and every time we lift something, no matter how heavy or light. I hope these points to ponder are helpful for you as you examine your own movement patterns, and training routines. Have a great week, enjoy some Turkey!

My Back Hurts, Now What?

One thing I’ve noticed this week in my journey of parenting, my back hurts… that ever happen to you? Let’s start to break down this topic, and go over some guidelines to successfully navigate back pain if it comes up.

Rule #1 if your back hurts, don’t overdo it. Seems simple… but apparently not easy. To not overdo it, just be realistic about your current situation related to back pain, and plan your daily activities accordingly. For me this week, that meant less actual leaf clean up, and more play time with my son. Sometimes not overdoing it gives you unexpected benefits, the best things in life are free!

Rule #2 of back pain, find out why your back hurts. You should start with a medical diagnosis if you have pain (see a Doctor!), as this is nothing to fool around with. Once you can rule out any major/ structural issues medically, you can usually trace back pain down to one of two causes:

1. Acute trauma (fall, ill advised heavy lift, etc)

2. Repetitive overuse/ poor movement patterns

Ask, what is different in your life since your back has been hurting? Have you picked up a new hobby, started a new job, have a longer commute, did you fall? Asking questions about what has been different in your life since you’ve notice the back pain is a great starting point to start working on corrections. In my case, it is 100% reason #2. When my back started to hurt, I thought about how I’ve been moving differently since my son has been born. Additionally, how have I been moving differently since he’s been walking?

His car seat has changed recently, and my car is low for loading him in. I realized that I’ve not been following the principles of functional movement that I know will keep my back safe when performing this type of awkward move:

1. Abs tight
2. Hips lead the race
3. Sturdy structure

Here is a great drill to make sure you are moving in the right direction for a lift!

More on those concepts later. In addition to the car seat angle, my son loves to run over to me and be picked up. It’s one of the great joys of my life, and honestly I’ve never considered applying safe lifting techniques to lift a 21 pound person. However, I have a new appreciation for sticking to these principles of functional moment… by trial and error I’ve noticed my back feels better by following them this week.

I’ll be posting to share my journey as a parent to manage back pain, as I believe it’s transferable to any life change (new job, activities change, family status change, etc).

To correct the imbalances I’ve created currently, I’m doing a combination of stretching, and myofacial release techniques (more on that later as well). Cheers to your health, have a great, pain free week!

Please follow my Facebook page, 10 Minute Fitness Take-Aways as well, I’d love to hear any questions or thoughts you have on the topic!