Tuesday, August 23, 2011

400 Rep Challenge

For a change of pace, I've been adding some time trials into the mix lately.  Meaning, I set a pre-determined number of repetitions and try to complete them all as fast as possible.

Below is one I did this past weekend with just bodyweight and my sandbag.  Complete the following sequence in order.  One round = 100 reps.  Run through it three more times to meet the 400 rep challenge.  Time it and see if you can beat your time in future sessions.  I did it in 14 minutes and 54 seconds.
  • Sandbag power clean - 20 reps
  • Squat jumps - 20 reps
  • Single leg sandbag row - 20 reps
    • Similar to this except completing reps while holding a single leg position (pictured below)
    • Complete all reps on the left leg for the first round, switch to the right leg for the second round, and so forth
  • Alternating rotational lunges - 20 reps/10 reps each leg
  • Straight-arm plank with alternating arm raises - 20 reps/10 reps each arm
    • Hold a straight-arm plank position (pictured below)
    • Alternate raising each arm straight forward
    • Keep shoulders and hips from twisting as each arm lifts and your core will feel it!
Next time I do this I will either shoot for a faster time or go for 500 reps.  Always strive for progress one way or another!

Friday, August 19, 2011

25 Minute Sweat Session

Here’s a metabolic training session I recently wrote for a client.  It’s set up in two circuits, works in a 30:30 work to rest ratio, and takes less than 25 minutes to complete.  Don't forget to warm up and cool down properly.
Start with Circuit A and do as many repetitions of the inverted row as possible in 30 seconds.  Rest for 30, then move on to squat jumps.  Complete two full rounds of this circuit back to back.  Rest for 2-3 minutes and do the same with Circuit B.

Circuit A
Inverted Row (a dumbbell row will work if you don't have access to a parallel bar or TRX)
1-Arm Swing (you can use a kettlebell or a dumbbell)

Circuit B
Jump rope

Make it easier:  Do one round of Circuit A, rest 2-3 minutes, then do one round of Circuit B.  You could also add in more rest periods such as Circuit A, 2 minutes rest, Circuit A again, 2 minutes rest, Circuit B, 2 minutes rest, Circuit B again.
Make it harder:  Increase the work to rest ratio to 40:20 or 45:15.

*Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program.  Additionally, it is highly recommended to consult a reputable fitness professional to learn proper form.  Any exercise can result in injury if done incorrectly.  Taking part in this and any program is done so at your own risk.  Amanda Kopeski will not be held liable for anything other than awesome results.  Listen to your body and don't do anything stupid.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

10,000 Feet of Confidence

I am fortunate enough to say I’ve had a once-in-a-lifetime-experience, not once, but twice.  Five years ago I went tandem skydiving in Newport, Rhode Island.  A couple weeks ago, in a spur of the moment plan,  I went back for my second jump. 
Whoever said you never forget your first was lying.  I totally blacked out the first couple seconds of the free fall starting when I was pushed moved towards the open plane door.  I’m pretty sure some internal defense mechanism took over and it was my mind’s way of keeping conscious me from realizing I was falling out of a plane.  I’ve been told I screamed like a five year old but on the plus side I did not pee my pants.  A big wet spot on my jumpsuit would’ve completely ruined the landing photo I shelled out $25 for.
My second jump was light years better.  I actually wanted to be the first one out of the plane.  I clearly remember the door of the plane opening, the rush of the air hitting, and stepping out on to the ledge.  As we exited, one “oh my god” slipped out of my mouth just as the sensation of NOTHING being connected to your body took over.  Then it was one big, wind-blown smile the rest of the way down as I enjoyed the best view of Newport there is.
Falling 10,000 feet out of the sky on your own free will takes some major lady balls.  Or is completely insane, if you ask my mom.   But in return I gained 10,000 feet of confidence which anyone could stand to benefit from every now and again.  Skydiving is my constant.  The thing to compare the rest of life against whenever self-doubt appears.  I’ll have conversations with myself:

 “Amanda, you jumped out of a freaking plane.  Go do all your glute bridge sets in the middle of a crowded gym.  Who the hell cares if it kinda looks like you’re humping air when you do them?”

“Really?  You’re nervous about public speaking in a health seminar but you have no problems jumping out of a plane with some dude you just met attached to your back?”
What is absolutely remarkable about you?  Have you accomplished something not many other people can say they have?  Maybe you were picked out of a dozen strong candidates for a promotion at work because of your kick ass track record.  You might be a stay-at-home-mom raising a loving, respectful child to be a productive part of society.  Maybe you can deadlift two times your body weight.

Whatever it may be, use it when you’re faced with a challenge.  What’s more difficult?  Working your way up from an intern to a corner office with a view or exercising for 30 minutes?  What about teaching your kids their ABC’s compared to replacing dessert with a piece of fruit?  Deadlifting an impressive amount of weight versus waiting until the weekend to watch your favorite show so you can get a full night’s sleep?
You get the idea.  There is something you currently do that is truly amazing and will put the rest of your challenges in perspective.  Put that confidence towards the other tasks that overwhelm you, but in reality are not nearly as significant.  And if for some odd reason you can’t think of anything that is great about you, I highly recommend visiting Skydive Newport. ;-)

Taking off
Me floating through the sky after the free fall

Kinda what it looks like on the way down

Coming in for the landing

Cool, calm, and collected

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2-Day Strength Training Routine

Previously I featured a sample beginner's strength training routine and left you with the promise of a follow up.  Well here it is, for empty promises I do not make.  This time we're going to move to a 2-day split routine.  You'll hit the muscles in the front of the body on one day and the muscles out of your viewfinder the next. 

This can be done two or three days a week.  If you commit to two days, you'll do each routine once a week.  If your schedule allows for three days, alternate them.  One week, you'll do Workout A twice.  The next week will begin with Workout B.  Check out the sample schedule:

Don't forget to leave at least one rest day between sessions.  And to be active on the non-strength training days.  Throw in a metabolic session or two, go for a jog, play a game of softball.  Your body was built to move.  Let it.

You'll do 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.  Since we lowered the reps compared to the last program, increase the weight or pick a more challenging version of the exercise.  Like the last, this program includes alternating sets.  Do one set of goblet squats, rest, do one set of push-ups, rest, and repeat for three total rounds before moving on to the second pair.

Workout A

1a.  Goblet Squat

  • Focus on form:   Keep chest lifted and back flat, hips move down and back, weight is in your heels
  • Make it easier:   Ditch the dumbbell and use only body weight
  • Make it harder:   Steadily increase the dumbbell weight
1b.  Push-up

  • Focus on form:   Brace the entire core so the hips don't drop, body should be in one straight line, only the elbows bend
  • Make it easier:   Elevate your hands, gradually lower them to the ground as strength increases
  • Make is harder:   Elevate your feet on a small bench
2a.  Forward Lunge

  • Focus on form:   Keep the torso tall; take a big enough step forward so the knee doesn't pass the toes when bending
  • Make it easier:  Go shallow instead of bending knees to full depth
  • Make is harder:   Hold a set of weights at your side
2b.  Overhead Press

  • Focus on form:   Brace the entire core, press the shoulder blades down and back to relieve any neck tension throughout the movement
  • Make it easier:   Lighten up on the weight
  • Make is harder:   Grab a heavier set of dumbbells 

Workout B

1a.  Romanian Deadlift

  • Focus on form:   Movement starts with the hips pushing backward, hamstrings and glutes engage to pull the hips forward and lift the torso upright, back should remain flat AT ALL TIMES 
  • Make it easier:  Lighten up on the weight
  • Make is harder:   Grab a heavier set of dumbbells or barbell
1b.  Bent Row

  • Focus on form:   Maintain a straight back, push the hips back so the spine doesn't round
  • Make it easier:  Lighten up on the weight
  • Make is harder:   Grab a heavier set of dumbbells
2a.  Glute Bridge

  • Focus on form:   Engage the hamstrings and the glutes for the movement instead of the lower back
  • Make it easier:  Work your way up to the recommended amount of repetitions
  • Make is harder:  Elevate feet on a small bench, do a single-leg version, or a combination of the two
2b.  Pull-ups
  • Great video with a variety of options on how to perform pull-ups.  Using an assisted pull-up/dip station at your gym works also.

It looks simple on paper but if you're really challenging yourself you should be pretty spent afterwards.  Be sure to warm up properly by doing an easier set or two before your working sets.  Push yourself to make each session better than the last by either using a heavier weight, getting all 10 repetitions, taking a shorter rest in between, or doing better quality repetitions.

P.S.  I'm sure you noticed there no "abs" exercises listed.  You can do planks like in the last routine.  All the exercises engage your core in one way or another so it's not like they're chillin' in a lounge chair while your extremities do all the work.  Since I ended the beginner program with a promise, I suppose I will do it again.  I promise to do a blog post dedicated to my favorite and most effective core exercises.....before I die.

*Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program.  Additionally, it is highly recommended to consult a reputable fitness professional to learn proper form.  Any exercise can result in injury if done incorrectly.  Taking part in this and any program is done so at your own risk.  Amanda Kopeski will not be held liable for anything other than awesome results.  Listen to your body and don't do anything stupid.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Makes My Brain Turn to Mush

The sunshine severely affects my ability to put together any sort of intelligible thought, hence why I'm slacking on blog posts as of late.  I do have several ideas swirling around in my head just full of fitness goodness that I want to share so here's some updates of what's in store:

  • There are now separate pages to help you find sample workouts and recipes more easily.  I'll be updating them with appropriate posts regularly and provide some more insight into my fitness and nutrition philosophies.

  • Speaking of recipes, expect more of them come September.  Anyone who knows me, knows NOT to bother me on Saturdays in the fall because I am 100% engrossed in college football.  Penn State being my heart and soul, of course.  I usually make a spread of health-ified tailgate food on game day, even though it's usually for just my husband and I to deter us from screaming like maniacs so the neighbors don't think we're crazy.  I'll be sure to share that.  The recipes, that is.

  • Also in the fall, I will be starting the blog's first ever challenge.  It will be a motivational program geared towards jump starting your metabolism.  Each week we'll have a new task to complete, which will be featured in a weekly post.  If you need some structure or just a kick in the pants to take action, this may be your ticket.

  • When we first moved into our house, my husband was hell-bent on refinishing the basement into the most glorious "man room" in the history of all man rooms.  Four and a half years later, it is still a big empty space covered in an inch thick layer of dry wall dust.  Last week, he finally conceded that maybe it would be more practical to make it a home gym instead of basically another living room since we already have one of those upstairs. The plan is to stop wasting money on our gym memberships when they run out next spring and purchase a power rack and a few smaller, assorted pieces.  Expect a lengthy Christmas list this year, Santa.  What that means for you is more crazy workout videos since I will have a space of my own to use!  Though this won't be until 2012, me blogging about it now is my way of holding my husband accountable.  Yes, you did say this, honey!

That about wraps it up for me.  Hope you're all enjoying your summer as much as I am.  If there's anything you'd like to see that I didn't cover, please leave it in the comments section below!