Category Archives: Training

MY FIRST PREGNANCY WORKOUT!

First pregnancy workout!

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Now before we get into it, I want to stress the importance of checking with your doctor before exercising while pregnant, especially with resistance. Everybody is going to be different, and every pregnancy will be different, so take it slow and play it safe because NOTHING is more important than keeping your baby safe!

Today’s workout was total body, light weight with high reps and sets!

Warm up with 3 sets of pyramid lateral raises.

One set of pyramid laterals example: starting with 1 or 3lb weights do 5 laterals, move to 5lbs and do 5 laterals, move to 8lbs and do 5 laterals, until you cannot move up the stack any further and then move back down until you reach your starting weight, should look as follows:

5 X 3, 5 X 5, 5 X 8, 5 X 10, 5 X 12, 5 X 15 etc… IF THIS IS YOUR MAX YOU THEN GO RIGHT BACK TO- 5 X 12, 5 X 10, ETC… I went light on these, only up to 10 lbs to be safe.

Move into seated bicep curls. 15 reps ( I used 10 lbs). Superset with seated overhead extensions with one 10lb dumbbell got triceps. 15 reps. 4 sets.

Seated overhead presses. I used two 10 lb Dumbbells. 4 sets of 15-20 reps.

Body weighed walking lunges. 20 steps. To warm up legs.

Adductor machine- 20 reps superset with abductor machine. 20 reps. 4 sets.

Body weighed walking lunges. 20 steps.

Light straight leg deadlifts. I used two 10lb Dumbbells. 20 reps superset with body weighted donkey kicks. 20 reps per leg. 4 sets. For the donkey kicks I did them standing with a slight forward lean because that felt more comfortable and safe for my baby.

Body weighed walking lunges. 20 steps.

Cool down with 20 minute incline walk. No hands! And last but not least STRETCH! Stretching or doing some yoga is so important while pregnant. Working on your flexibility will help your body adapt more efficiently while you are undergoing so many physical changes. By keeping the range of motion in your joints you are able to avoid postural issues, sciatica pain, connective tissue tears etc.

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** I am not licensed in prenatal program design and you must consult a doctor prior to implementing any workouts on this blog**

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SQUEEMS & WAIST SLIMMERS/SWEAT BANDS

SQUEEMS & WAIST SLIMMERS/SWEAT BANDS

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Alright another topic that I am chronically asked about lately is squeems and waist slimmers/sweat bands. Do they work? How long do I wear them? What is the purpose? Etc.. So since I was on the plane with nothing else to do and no internet connection I addressed these questions.

First off, I want to make it clear that until this year I never wore a squeem in my life. I competed and did very well without ever wearing one, so the first thing you should know is that they are not absolutely necessary, however genetically I was gifted with a fairly small waist. Please note they’re not a magic trick and wont instantly shrink your waist size or make your waist smaller overnight. Many top athletes wear them though because they swear they reduce the waist size and we all know bikini is all about that small waist. Its funny because so many of these girls keep it a secret, like its some hidden truth to achieving results, so when I posted a photo of mine on social media, go figure I had about 150 questions, comments, and concerns. Go ahead and look at Paige Hathaways profile,  if you look closely at her selfie progress photos you will see she has lines running up and down her mid section… that would be from her squeem that she probably just took off lol. I got bashed by a few girls for wearing mine, as if it was shameful or cheating or something. Now if I was sleeping in that thing or wearing it excesively over a long duration of time I could see how some of the health concerns may play a part but I honestly wear it about 2-3x a week and only for maybe a half a day – if that. I do wear it when I lift legs and occasionally when doing cardio. I dont wear it for HIIT as I believe it can be too restricting for full oxgen capacity during high intensity excercise.

I started wearing a squeem for a few reasons. My first year competing I had no background in heavy lifting and when I dieted down for the show my waist came in at 23″. That was pretty dang small in my opinion and I was happy with it. However, over the years as I have started lifting heavier and heavier and also implemented tons of different styles of lifting, including kettlebells, crossfit, german volume training, etc… I have noticed a slight increase in my waist size. Some of you may wonder why that would be and let me just ask you this; Have you ever noticed the elite level crossfit women typically have very muscular yet very square/blocky physiques – especially through the mid section? Go ahead and watch some of the womens world crossfit games on TV, youll see the majority of them have very square waists. That is due to building the oblique walls outward through heavy lifting. Just like any muscle group, you can add muscle mass to the sides of the abdominal wall and that will physically make your waist larger. Its not necessrily a bad thing if you are wanting to improve strength and you dont care as much about aesthetics, but in the sport of bodybuilding we train for aesthetics AND performance, with aesthetics at the top of the list. I noticed this same thing happen a bit with my own body as I implemented a ton of heavy leg workouts last year trying to get my glutes and hamstrings to grow and I also have a past with doing kettlebell and crossfit. So I had a few personal reasons for looking into a squeem.

Please make your own choice on weather or not to buy/wear a squeem. I am not a doctor nor do I promote the use of one. I purely use this for my own aesthetic purposes. Do I feel it has made a difference? Honestly I do feel my waist is smaller this year but I havent measured it to verify that (update- I did measure after I wrote this and my waist did get back down to 23″ this year).  I do have to mention that I dont know if this decrease is contributed to the squeem or from cutting my lower body heavy lifts down dramatically.

Because I know I will be asked, I honestly dont even remember where I ordered mine, some website online. I have heard Ann Cherry was a good brand though.

As far as waist slimmer/sweat bands go… I started using these in 2013. I picked mine up at Ross or TJMaxx or something and figured for $5 it wouldnt hurt to try it. I instantly noticed the increase in sweat that the waist slimmer caused around my mid section from internal thermogenisis in the area- which is where I hold some stubborn fat. I liked the way it heated my internal temperature up due to the neoprene material and I sweat so much more wearing one I figured it had to be doing something. I have continued to utilize these for the last two years. You can make your own decision on weather or not they work but I believe half the battle with results is your belief system. So if you feel its working, it just might.

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FASTED CARDIO & INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF)

Fasted Cardio & Intermittent Fasting (IF)

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Okay this is going to be a long one so bare with me. I get asked a lot about fasting and I have a lot to say on the subject. Apologizing in advance for spelling or grammatical errors as I tend to just type my thoughts out quickly/free write and dont proof read enough lol. Here are my current thoughts on the subject of fasting:

For starters, I want to make it clear that there is not one way for everyone and there are lots of methods that work for lots of people. So always find what works for you before trying to copy what anyone else is doing. Second thing is I want to put a disclaimer on this as I am a very knowledgable and experienced athlete, I feel I know my body well enough to know what is healthy in terms of extreme dieting and what is not and I dont want anyone putting themself in an unhealthy position as fasting can be very risky while cutting if not careful.

Okay so now that I got that out of the way.. I have been wanting to write on this topic for a while. However, I am still playing with the concept as I believe you can read information on every opinion out there- wether its backed by science or not- it seems anything and everything can be justified on the internet and sometimes I even find myself more confused on the subject after researching it. Anyone else ever feel this way? So in my opinion the best way of figuring things out is to test them on yourself and find what works for you.

I have to state that I have had many preps over the last four years which were all very different. I have had two different coaches and then coached myself with accountability check ins from my brother last year so I have experienced many different opinions and methods to prep. I have had preps where I never did fasted cardio, I have had preps where I did fasted cardio a few times a week, I have had preps where I utilized IF (intermittent fasting) one day a week, and last year I never fasted at all throughout my entire prep and had one of the most succesful years of my competiting career.

The first time I used IF it was extremely hard for me. The concept of not eating for a 16 hour window (basically from 10pm to 2pm the next day) was extremely hard for me. I would sleep in as late as I could on those days so I made sure to pick a weekend where that was possible. I would still drink coffee and water and take bcaas while I was fasting but my first meal wouldnt be until 2pm. Looking back- I think this was so hard on me for a few reasons. It was my third year of competing and I had developed this idea in my head that I NEEDED to eat every three hours or I was dying lol. The second reason was I had someone else telling me I HAD to fast and I have never been good at taking orders from someone else lol.. probably why I am my own coach and my own boss now, ha. So that being said, my mindset around IF at that time was negative. I didnt like it and I didnt like fasting. However, I did notice that the next day I would feel full easier and also my weight would typically drop.

When it came to fasted cardio in the past, again I have seen great results with it and I have seen great results without it. My mindset on fasted cardio previously has been this- If you are someone who feels naesous or sick if you dont eat in the morning and fasting previous to training (cardio) will affect your performance, then the benefit will not be there anyways and you should train in the state that you can expend the most effort. However, if doing cardio in the fasted state is something that doesnt bother you- meaning you feel no different than if you would have eaten and can still performe with some intensity than yes you can see benefit in fasted cardio. I have almost always been the person who feels sick if I dont eat first thing while in prep, which is why last year I never performed fasted cardio.

Now with all that being said, knowing that the body and brain changes with each prep and that many factors should be taken into account- I began to implement some fasting into my routine with my last prep and I continue to utilize it now. Let me address the idea of muscle loss really quickly here as well. Some people are so scared of burning muscle that they steer clear of fasted cardio all together. Why this doesnt bother me has to do with a few reasons. First, I always drink my BCAAs (Branch chain amino acids) along with some glutamine during fasted cardio. Second, I have a LOT of muscle for a bikini competitor and honestly wouldnt mind losing some lower body muscle (I know, I know- my gains). I develop lower body mass fairly easily and the problem with that is my legs become over developed and on my off season when I put on any fat mass, I feel bigger in that area which is not my cup of tea. Stretchy pants for life is fun and all but I dont need bodybuilder thunder thighs lol. The other reason I am okay doing fasted cardio is my carb intake is much higher than it was in my preps last year and I feel I have plenty of glycogen in my system to support my excercise even while fasting.

The other thing I have started to do is play with the concept of IF more. Now you may wonder why when I talked about my horrible experience with it previously. The reason why is this- I am starting to think long term about my brain and the way I view food. The concept of eating all the time has become so instilled in my head that post show or post diet I struggle hard because I feel the need to eat ALL the time and have had leptin issues which have made it very hard to feel full (I wrote about this in depth in my article published on Official Cut and Jacked if anyone is curious to read it the link is here- http://www.cutandjacked.com/Competition-pre-vs-post-show-finding-balance ) I want to be in control of those feelings when I am done this time around and IF has given me a feeling of control over my body. I control when I eat – IF proves this to myself as I can set a window for fasting and a window for eating that allows me to still get proper nutrients in but allows more control over the concept of not having to eat ALL the time. Plus like I mentioned- when I do eat again I feel fuller quicker than I did- most likely due to my stomach physically shrinking. I also am much more experienced with IIFYM and how to utilize that for reverse dieting than I was in the past, so that is also part of my current method but something I wont get in to here.

Again, this is what is currently working for me, my diet, my mindset and the way things in my life are currently set up. I dont expect anyone to be just like me or to implement the same thing as I do as everyone is different and you have to find what works for you and your current lifestyle.

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ECCENTRIC TRAINING

ECCENTRIC TRAINING

Last week I posted about Eccentric Arm Training & HIIT on rolling step mill. You can implement eccentric training with any muscle groups, I just happen to utilize it this week and last week with arm training. In case you missed it, I wanted to repost what I wrote in regards to eccentric training here:

“Today I felt absolutely GREAT- more energy and positivity going into my workout than I have felt in a long time! Today I focused A LOT on contraction of the muscle along with the eccentric motion today with my lift. Eccentric training is defined as active contraction of a muscle occurring simultaneously with lengthening of the muscle . For example, in a biceps curl the action of lowering the dumbbell back down from the lift is the eccentric phase of that exercise — as long as the dumbbell is lowered slowly rather than letting it drop (i.e the bicep muscle is in a state of contraction to control the rate of descent of the dumbbell). Eccentric training focuses on slowing down the elongation of the muscle process in order to challenge the muscles, which can lead to stronger muscles, faster muscle repair and increasing metabolic rate.

I finished my workout with a 20 minute HIIT session on the rolling stepmill. One minute at level 4, one minute at level 14 for 20 minutes. I was sweating buckets.”

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Glute Training

Whether or not your training for a show, dieting for a vacation, or starring at men in tight football pants, most people admire strong, muscular, “hard” glutes. Having nice glutes has been an area of focus for both men and woman but this has been recently amplified by the focus put on this specific area in women’s bodybuilding, primarily- bikini competitions. You may have heard the term “glute-hammie-tie-in” once or twice before which is just the new popular way to describe the area where the glutes meet the hamstrings. This can be one of the toughest places for a women to not only build muscle but also to burn fat from, making it a very challenging area to “bring in” to a show, and is often the determining factor between a top athlete and an amateur.

So whats the secret to glute training? Honestly I don’t believe their is one “secret” method to developing nice glutes. But I will explain what I have found works for me…

The first thing one must understand when focusing development on any particular part of the body is that everyones biomechanical make-up is different. Meaning a certain exercise may engage one muscle over another for one individual versus another individual. For example, I rarely get sore in my glute tissues from heavy squats. However, I ALWAYS get sore in my glute tissues from heavy weighted walking lunges. Others may feel heavy weighted walking lunges more in their quad tissue than their glute tissue, but again, this comes down to your biomechanics and what muscle is easier actively engaged within certain exercises. That being said, start to pay attention to where you actively feel muscle engagement while implementing your next glute focused leg day. Over time you will begin to understand which exercises are best for your specific build.

Now there are some exercises I truthfully believe are the best for building the glutes regardless of who you are, but that does not mean you do not need a combination of these or more exercises to really target all aspects of each of the glute muscles. I do think different angles of weighted kick backs, weighted versions of split squats, weighted lunges, plea style leg presses, weighted step ups, and different versions of deadlifts are very beneficial to developing all angles of the glute tissue. However, for optimal glute development – what you shouldn’t forget about is the unweighted movements that should be implemented along with these basic weighted movements. Its actually been proven that most individual’s glutes contract harder during bodyweight glute activation exercises than from one-rep max squats and deadlifts, so I will often times superset my weighted movements with an unweighted movement to force more blood flow into the glute muscle and therefor help with muscle engagement and growth. For example, I may superset heavy weighted smith machine donkey kicks with body-weighted hip thrusters or even body-weighted deep squats. And don’t forget, with glute focus you should always sit back as much as possible when you squat and push through your heels.

As I mentioned earlier, most female competitors are focused on the “glute-hammie-tie-in” . It is very important to work  the glutes but also the surrounding muscles- the hamstrings, adductors, abductors, and quad muscles. However, depending on your purpose for training you should ask yourself what the desired “look” you are going for is in terms of glute training. In other words, are you training for aesthetics? Strength? Speed? Performance? If you are training purely for aesthetic purposes you may want to place more emphasis on direct glute work along with a little hamstring work and less emphasis on “legs”. Anytime you train to develop a surrounding body part of a focus muscle group, you can unintentionally make the focus muscle look smaller in comparison to the muscle tissue surrounding the area. For example, if you train legs to develop bigger quads and hamstrings, this can cause the glute muscles to look smaller relative to your leg muscles. So therefor when implementing any training program you should ask yourself what your primary goal of training is. Everyone has different goals in developing the body and therefor everyone should train specific to his/her personal desires.

As for my personal background, I tend to develop leg muscles fairly easily. My quads develop extremely easily and therefor I rarely ever implement any direct quad work into my lifting routines. I also have developed plenty of hamstrings to not need any more mature muscle development in that area. Again, I want to push the point that I train for the sport I compete in, bikini bodybuilding, and for the look I personally desire to further my career and personal preference. That being said, I do 1-2 glute focused leg days a week with the addition of some light hamstring work.

Below is an example of what a glute focused leg day may look like for me:
Warm Up: 5 min incline walk, 5 min jog
3 x 20 deep body weighted squats supersetted with plea style leg press
3 x 15 sumo deadlifts supersetted with weighted bulgarian split squats
3 x 15 smith machine “donkey kicks” supersetted with body weighted hip thrusts
3 x 10/leg weighted walking lunges supersetted with single legged leg press
3 x 15 barbell glute bridge supersetted with weighted freebar squats
End with 4 sets of body weighted hyperextensions
Stretch!!

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