5 Exercises for Strong Lean Legs

Hi There! It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Busyness got the better of me.

Can you believe summer is almost over? I haven’t been outside much, since it’s been so hot here. I am excited that cooler weather is on the way though. Many women work on their legs and abs all summer and then neglect them in lieu of arms in the winter time, if you’re one of those, you should probably focus on a more well-rounded regimen. Squats and lunges and calf raises aren’t solely for aesthetics… if you want to have healthy, mobile hips and knees and ankles, then it is vital for you to strengthen this area… side effect: leaner legs and being able to jump/run/ski/walk/hike faster and longer without pain and reduced risk of injury.

The only equipment you’ll need is an exercise ball for these 5 Leg Leaning and Strengthening Exercises

Plie Squats
Who cares if you ever took a ballet class?! I love these
squats because the quads, glutes and hamstrings are involved. They’re also easier on my knees, and allow me to improve my flexibility too. For a tutorial on how to perform a basic squat, watch the video below. Use the Swiss ball between your feet to provide extra resistance.

Single-leg Calf Raises (not pictured)
 A simple exercise, but challenging to perform, these calf raises will improve your balance, and leave your calves screaming. Master regular calf raises first. Read the tutorial

Ball Hamstring Curls
These are one of my favorite leg exercises. The stabilizing action require to keep your legs on the ball will strengthen your core too. If you’re ready for a challenge, try, just try to do the single-leg modification of this exercise…I double dog dare you. Read the Tutorial

Side Lunges
These are a staple in my routine. The key is to think about the muscles being used and contract them to perform the motion, instead of relying on momentum. I’ve also learned that it’s either best to perform this exercise slowly, or explosively, with a knee lift as you bring one leg back towards the other. Read the Tutorial.


Single-leg Glute Bridges 
this is a great exercise to isolate the glutes, which support the lower back. Be sure to bring the spine to a neutral position, not arching the back in excess. It’s also one of my favorites because you don’t need a lot of space. Be sure to contract the glute of the working leg. You will also feel this in your hamstrings. Try the basic glute bridge and know it well before attempting this exercise.Read the Tutorial

Wall sits (not pictured)
This exercise almost needs no instruction. Lean with your back up against the wall. Feet about 3 feet away from the wall, as long as your knees stay behind your toes. Lower into a squat and stay there until you feel the burn big time. Make sure your back doesn’t arch away from the wall though.

Turn these exercises into a complete workout by performing 10-20 reps of an exercise then move onto the next exercise with little to no rest. Repeat for 2-3 rounds for fat-burning, or perform 3 sets of 10 – 20 reps of an exercise before moving onto the next for muscle-building emphasis. Hold wall sits from 15 seconds – 1 minute as you progress. And as always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

What’s your favorite leg exercise? What’s your strength goal for leg day?! Comment below! 

Enjoy and let me know your progress!

Don’t Forget to Stretch! 

Julie 

5 Workout Faux Pas You Might be Making

Hello There!
I had two posts planned for this week, but I guess this first one will just have to do….LOL
Workouts are undoubtedly one of my favorite things to post about – maybe it’s because I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor? Ha. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to address some common mistakes that people make in there workouts that usually affect everything else in their fitness/wellness regimen. Sometimes people get cranky about this when it’s mentioned because of their “elitist” attitudes…however, that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes we all hit ruts – even fitness pro’s, and we need a wake-up call to get us back on the right track, myself included.

1. Thinking that exercise alone is enough and you don’t need to fuel for your workouts.
Ok, so I’m not saying you shouldn’t “splurge” once in awhile. It’s great for your mental health…LOL.
However, your body converts food into energy via 3 different systems. If you’re paleo, and a marathon runner, that’s probably not going to work for you long term because your body needs those carbs because the aerobic system takes a long time to use up energy, and thus, your fuel needs sticking power. I could go scientific on you, but it would make you go to sleep. Weight lifters, competition prep diets are not for the long term. Man, or woman for that matter, cannot live on spring green and chicken  alone. Carbs are what give your muscle “pump” or fullness, in fact your body needs complex carbs, like sweet potatoes and brown rice in order to help your body process protein. Also if your doing super intense workouts, but eating doughnuts once a day, you’re not going to be able to find your six-pack…unless you’re a genetic freak, but chances are if you’re reading this, you’re not. End of first soapbox.

2. Doing the exact same squats, the exact same lunges, the exact same push-ups, etc. for months on end, because that’s what you’re good at..While practice makes perfect, You need to vary the exercises in your routine. I change my routine up every 4 weeks. Even following programs like PiYo, I have a huge selection of dvd’s, so the variety still gets thrown in. Little changes can go a long way. I’ve worked as a gym manager, and seen members come in and literally use the same routine for…over 2 years. No change, and meanwhile, they never progressed, and couldn’t figure out the problem…If you are that stuck in a rut, it’s time to pick a professional’s brain, because you need a perspective. That’s why I do 21 Day Fix or PiYo or Body Beast, because I teach classes, and I’m used to my training style, so  my body needs a switch up so I don’t over train. Capish?

3. Changing up too often. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you workout. Just change and exercise out or do a different variation or change the load from weight to dumbbells. You’ll see results…I use to make this mistake all the time.

4. Not allowing yourself to be held accountable. You don’t have to have a workout buddy every time you go to the gym, but allow yourself to be teachable, especially in areas where you struggle. My husband, Micah sets a great example in this. Not many men would ask their wife for advice in the middle of a gym, but Micah respects my credentials. If you feel like you’re over training, sit down with someone who has extensive knowledge and evaluate some things.

5. Not tracking your progress. There are phone apps, or if you’re like me and love to write, pen and paper journals that are not rocket science. This can also motivate you when you don’t see the scale budge but you’ve lost three inches in your waist. Also a food intake journal will help, especially if you’re prone to cravings or go to a lot of events for work. Just a suggestion.

I really hope this information will help prevent frustration and keep you informed. If you ever need me, find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/julieaulerhealthfitness

Stay Strong,
Julie  

WOW Wednesday: Giveaway and Beach Trip Recap

Hi It’s Wednesday! Woohoo! I had a great trip to the beach with Micah, and the weather was perfect! I even did some PiYo on the beach! I love bodyweight workouts because they can be done anywhere.  The beach was cool and perfect, and I did walking lunges and pushups…more like active rest days. This pic was taken before a storm blew in Saturday evening. I brought back lots of seashells to get my diy on. πŸ™‚ This is a really advanced PiYo flip, which took some practice…hint, I started with side plank. The ocean breeze felt great by the way. We had blissfully perfect 80 degree weather, and it was partly overcast. Lots of fun body surfing and taking long walks. I love the sunrise at Holden Beach. Our tradition is to get up, as early as possible, and go beachcombing…crazy, right…We also lost our car keys…in the ocean…needed a little excitement…Haha. But it was great to be on our own time, and enjoy taking a break from our routine, even pertaining eating and exercising…you can’t go mental all the time, or you’ll burn out. But we did have fun times racing each other down the beach and competing when it came to push-ups….LOL.

 
Speaking of workouts, I had lots of fun this week partnering with the fabulous, Lisa, from theskinnyonhealth.com Today, we’re doing an e-book giveaway of my new recipe collection, which is great recipes for warmer weather and a shopping lists, which are also great for tight budgets, and an on-the-go, abs, buns, and cardio workout. I’d really love for you to show her site some love! πŸ™‚ She has awesome travel workouts, recipes, and reviews!Her blog is one of my new favorite health/fitness blogs! Lisa is down-to-earth and balanced in her approach to health and fitness.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open until the end of this week!  

Thoughtful Thursday: Pushups, Vision Boards, and Creating a Routine

Hi Everyone,
Today’s post was meant for Wednesday, but time definitely escaped me. LOL…AKA, I had to go to work. I’ve felt motivated and driven to get a lot done this week, like expanding my business, finish an e-cookbook, etc. Wait, finish an e-cookbook? Yes, I’ve been carrying this around in my brain for months, and am now finally getting around to implementing it; it’s actually a recipe collection. This is collection of clean recipes for non-chefs, aka, people who want to eat healthier, but don’t have time to cook lots of gourmet recipes that taste great. The recipes are simple, easy to follow, and pretty cheap for the most part. There’s a little of everything there. So, I accomplished one of my long term goals this week. It feels amazing!!! Speaking of goals, remember that post I did about one of my fitness goals for the new year was to gain more upper body strength and do different types of pushups….well, guess what…it happened. This goal is definitely a work in progress still, and will always be because fitness is a journey, not a destination. But here’s a progess report on video:

 
This is definitely not my strong suit, no pun intended. But in order to reach those goals, I had to come up wih a plan that pushed me outside my comfott zone. 
I know I publish a lot of individual workouts. Here’s what my workout schedule has been this week:

My last and final pic is something that is also a work in progress. I’ve been working on my vision board this week. I’m still adding pics to this it reflects goals from different areas of my life, spiritually, physically, financially, etc.

Sorry but it won’t let me flip the image. So, I know this seems like a random hodge podge of pics but a lot of these areas reflect areas that are a challenge for me. There’s one pic in particular that has lot of meaning to me. It’s the picture of the child. Yes, the child has a cleft palate. For the past 5 years, I’ve wanted to adopt….not just any baby, but a baby that maybe no one else wants because of a cleft palate. I want to pay for the surgeries, so that child will not have to deal with teasing, and malnutrition anymore, and adopt them. Bring that child home, and give them a family to belong to. I think it’s ridiculous that these kids get passed over because everyone else wants “normal” children. I want to write a book….more on that later…As for Isaiah 58:11, look it up. If you know how difficult our job situations have been for the past year, you’ll know why I’m holding on to this verse. What are your goals? Do you have a vision? I would like to challenge you to dream big. Stop letting everyone else’s opinions rule your life, so you can have the opportunity to bless others!

– Julie

Workout Wednesday: What I learned at PiYo Training!

Hi Friends!
I hope you’re having an awesome week! Once again, my intent to write a Monday post has been foiled, but hurray for workout Wednesdays! As many of you know, I went to an instructor certification workshop last weekend. The certification is for the PiYo Live format that is the same brand as the new PiYo workout that’s going to be released later this month! I can’t wait!!!! I’m so stinking excited…LOL…I taught this format awhile back and loved it then, but  now I love this format even more because it’s more teachable, and there’s more flexibility with teaching styles and how to teach a class. This is a great format for someone who’s board with what their doing or desperately needs to cross train…or wants to strength train, but is a little intimidated by other forms of resistance training. (Only you and your doctor know what is best before you begin a fitness program, so check first!)
So, what exactly is PiYo? PiYo is a fuzion format of pilates, yoga, and fitness moves that are taught to the flow of upbeat music. Example: You might see a down-dog-to-plank-to-burpee-up in a sequence. Some moves are static/isometric, while others have more of a flow. I loved this workshop, and oh, I felt my abs and glutes the next day!
Here’s an example of what a more advanced sequence of Piyo would look like:
Want to try PiYo moves before the home workout launches? I’m offering a sneekpeek group for those who want to try a simplified PiYo move each day, and make some new friends! To sign up, go to PiYo test group and ask to join the group! πŸ™‚ That’s it!

The presenter, Amanda was so nice, and made all of us move out of our comfort zones, by having us focus on cuing…which is tougher than you think, those of you participants who snarkily say in your heads, “I could teach THAT class”….it’s tougher than you think…Just because someone doesn’t teach your format…i.e., cycle, kettlebell, or zumba…doesn’t mean that it’s any less difficult…I loved how my muscles felt so much stronger 3 days later…after the DOMS wore off…of course, I did 3 hours worth of exercise…Have you tried PiYo? How do you like bodyweight training? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 
-Julie

Workout Wednesday: Seated Row tutorial

Hi There! Happy Workout Wednesday! Today I’d like to highlight an exercise that will help keep your back strong and healthy, as well as review how my workouts are going this week!  I’m really happy about the way this week has gone so far. I’ve been leading my first challenge group as a coach and am really enjoying my results from the 21 Day Fix! Because of our busy schedules, and eating g-free, we needed something to keep us on track, and so far, the workouts and shakeology have been amazing!!!!! I’ve lost over 1″ in my hips and 1″ in my waist. I can see my muscles, not bones, and the nutrition plan leaves me feeling energized… I’m officially no longer addicted to caffeine! I wanted to post “after” pics already, but Micah said, “Wait, the best is yet to come”. REALLY?!  Where was this when I was getting ready for my wedding and didn’t have time to plan my own workouts? I love this, and if you check out my 21 Day Fix page on the blog you can see the challenge pack for yourself. πŸ™‚ This week has been really fun, and exciting, and for all you Northerners, don’t hate, but we had freezing rain, sleet, and ice the other day, so I got a day off! But, I will be working Saturday morning…

Today’s post is a part of my “Strength Training 101” series. Today we’re going to be talking about bent and seated rows. I’m using bands for the video, but please feel free to use weights. This is a back exercise that is great for all fitness levels, and strengthens your shoulders, and upper to mid back muscles.  Watch the video, and tell me your thoughts! What’s your favorite upper body strength training move? Comment below!

See you on Friday!

Julie

Workout Wednesday: Pilates Core Tightener

 Ok, so you’ve been hearing about this announcement that I’m making…Well, I’ve decided to become a beach body coach! This was a big decision for me, and it will allow me to maintain my clients from other facilities that I’ve worked for in the past. I’ve been really blessed with the opportunity to participate and lead a challenge group for 21 Day Fix, beachbody’s newest program, and I have to tell you that as a personal trainer, this is legit. It deals with portion control, and daily habits. I’m very excited and can’t wait to take part in this!!!! Beachbody also has an online meal planner that you can use with any program, not just their programs, with lots of healthy recipes. This will free me up to do more motivational things with clients and classes! But this blog is not going to turn into just a plug for Beachbody. It’s about my journey, and while I love following programs. I want to share my story. There will be a separate page on the blog for 21 Day Fix (Along with before and after pics of me!) But I will still post my own material and recipes and thoughts to share with you about fitness in general. The purpose of this blog is to educate and inspire you, whatever fitness path you choose! 

Oh, and there’s going to be a blog giveaway on Friday! It’s a fitness dvd by Mash-Up Conditioning. Girls Gone Sporty provided the opportunity for me to work with the owners of this brand! They’re super cool and sent me a dvd to review, and let me tell you, it’s good stuff! 15 minute workouts…I mean come on! who doesn’t have time for a 15 minute workout, with minimal equipment involved? The workouts are beastly to, but also shown with modifications for every fitness level! This will be happening on Friday so keep your eyes peeled on the Facebook page! 
Here’s a sneak peek! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2uuDyVKQxU

Today, I’d like to provide a relaxing, yet challenging pilates routine, that will improve your flexibility in your hips and core. The point of this workout is not to be sweaty…It is to reconnect your mind with your muscles and aquaint you with how your body works. Your mind is very important to your workouts, and a study from the University of South Carolina Upstate (in my hometown!) states that participants experienced up to 26 % more muscle growth when they thought about the muscle they were using in a given strength exercise. These are some of my favorite pilates exercises, and you will definitely feel this workout. Remember to exhale forcefully on the exhertion of each repetition!

Curl-Ups: Pull your navel to your spine as you lie faceup with feet flat on the floor. Slowly roll one vertebrae at a time until just your shoulders are lifted. Hands are behind head with tension between your hands and head to support your neck. Roll backward slowly. Repeat.

Bridges:Lie face up with feet on the floor, navel towards spine. Squeeze glutes and press into heels to lift hips off of the floor. Hold for 5 counts at the top then slowly lower. For Leg touch downs: Keep hips lifted extend leg and lift into the air with leg extended lower down towards floor and lift. Repeat. Do this exercise slowly, and avoid if you have a weak back. 

Tabletop: Sitting on the mat, place hands on the floor just behind you and feet on the floor just in front of you.
Press through hands and feet and lift hips toward the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds. 

Mod. Side Plank with leg lifts: Prop onto your elbow, or a Swiss ball for more challenge. Keep your knee below your bottom hip, like a camera tripod. Maintaining this position, lift and lower top leg slowly.

Swimming: Lie on your stomach, navel drawn in. Arms in front of you, legs behind you. Exhale, and lift arms and legs, then inhale as you slowly lower arms and legs. Look below, not in front.  To make it easier, only lift arms, and prop a pillow under your hips. DO not hyperextend.

I love workouts like this to give my muscles and my mind a break, so put on some relaxing music, and go for it! The graphic’s below! have a wonderful Wednesday! πŸ™‚

 

Quickie Cardio

Hi There! So it’s been a crazy week, with non-stop…well, everything! It’s my first week back at work since Christmas, and I’m having a rough time getting into the swing of things. Today’s workout is a way to break a sweat without leaving the house. I haven’t had much time to drive to the gym, so I need a way to stay warm…with the weather getting creepily close to 0 lately. I haven’t had time to take as many pics as I’ve needed to for this workout, so here goes. My philosophy is, being functionally fit and in shape should not take hours out of your day…who has time for that? I go to the gym to live, not live to go to the gym! This cardio workout uses just your body weight, but gets your heart rate going by using large muscle groups. 
Challenge: Each time you do the workout, add a round to each tabata set or 2 rounds for exercises that work one side at a time.. Example – 1st workout= 4x each set; 2nd workout = 6x total for rounds using one side at a time. Work up to 8x total. Enjoy this sweat fest!

Have fun with this. You’ll really push yourself but the effort is worth it! If you’ve been following my tabata workouts, this will be a great change of pace. In order to keep progressing, you must keep your body guessing!

Have fun! 


Julie A.

 

5 Ways to Keep Your Holidays Healthy, yet Sane

Ok, by now, I’m sure your family get-togethers have been planned and you’re probably already planning the menu for guests, and maybe even starting to do some serious house cleaning. This Christmas has been one of the most hectic I’ve had in years…and planning parties and going to them can be more stress than it’s worth, sometimes. Since my husband and I both have family in the town where we live, this means sheer chaos. Fortunately, I’ve applied the below tips, and they’ve saved me so much stress this season!

1. Don’t be afraid to say “No”. It’s ok to not go to great aunt Geraldine’s get-together every year. If you absolutely have to go. It’s also ok to ask if you can just “drop-in” at get-togethers. This is a time for peace on earth, goodwill toward men, and it shouldn’t leave you wanting to rip your hair….or anyone else’s for that matter, out. If you need to, write a list of your top events. When it’s written down, you’re more likely to stick to it.

2. Don’t get caught up in commercialization. I’m crafty, but there are gift ideas for even the most “uncrafty” of us. I like being creative, and it helps calm my stress levels way down. I like to listen to audiobooks, or even my favorite music while I crochet. Currently, I’m listening to C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. To be honest, sometimes holiday shoppers are rude, and that just makes me cranky to see people being so selfish when there are plenty around the world who have nothing, so we like the low maintenance approach. Even if it means ordering online, don’t get caught up in the frenzy.

3. Keep some sort of fitness and food regime. Maintaining this order at home can keep you from going bananas! I have lots of short workouts on here! Just because you won’t make it to the squat rack today does not mean that training has to go out the window! Break it up into 10 min. in the morning and 10 minutes at night. Make a goal to drink water at home, and eat 3 servings of veggies a day if nothing else. Make it doable, and know that your body will thank you for it later…and so will your sanity.

4. Have a low maintenance family day. Put on a movie, a pot of wassail, and some chili, and just talk. Get caught up. This is a time for family, not to-do lists. If you’re saying, “but I can’t”, this means you’re too busy.

5. Bless someone else. I love all the “acts of kindness” challenges going on this month. It doesn’t have to be big, even just taking some food to a neighbor whose lost their job, will really bless someone, and take your mind off of your own problems! I mean really, can goods cost about seventy cents…There are plenty of ways you can help by donating time or resources this year.

I know from Thanksgiving to New Years’ things seem to get crazy, but I promise, if you write out a simple plan and stick to it. You and your loved ones will reap the benefits.

Remember the Reason for the Season!

No Cold Shoulders Here!

Shoulders…*sigh*…I must confess, I do NOT like to train my upper body. Even thought I have great back definition, I don’t like that it is not comfortable for my wrists to do push-ups. I used to have a cyst there a few years ago, and had to wear long sleeved compression tops so people would stop saying I had a tumor. I was cleared by my Dr. to exercise upper body, but didn’t like to. Now I don’t mind training shoulders as much, especially when I sneak it in with something else. So here’s a fat-blasting shoulder workout! oh, and btw, that cyst is long gone… πŸ™‚

Shoulder Rotation 3×12

Seal Jack 1minute

Front Raise  3×8 (

use a light weight)

Mt. Climbers 1 minute

Rear  Delt Flye 3x 10 (use a light weight.)

High Knees 1 minute (to make it more lo-impact, do knee lifts.)

Table Top Dips 3x 10

Alternating High Kicks  1 minute

Bent Row 3×12

This workout will give you stronger, better-looking shoulders from every angle, and it’s fun. Let me know how it works for you!:-) Strength training your shoulders keeps you injury free, and will help progress other upper body training.You can use weights or a band, just make sure you can feel the resistance! And as always, use proper form, and ask your doctor’s permission before beginning any exercise program!