Showing posts tagged with: strength training

Weekly Recap: Fitness, Food & Realizations

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Nutrition Recap Uncategorized

I have had a few questions from folks regarding my post last week about training for another 1/2 marathon, my training plan, nutrition & body composition expectations along the way. In attempting to write up my thoughts I decided why not bring everyone along for the ride! Hence the birth of my weekly recap series where I will talk about my previous weeks training, recovery, nutrition & what I am learning along the way. This is all on the experimental side so some aspects will go great & I am sure to have falters throughout. That's how you learn right!312698_2552222655352_721545244_nSo first, without turning this into a short novel, let me chit chat about my running history & goals this time around. I started distance running about 5 years ago when I first moved to Savannah. I was NOT a runner & use to skip almost every running related soccer practice in high school. I couldn't run a mile without stopping for a walk break so it's never been something that has come easy to me. So WHY run? Honestly I was in need of finding a community to meet people my age in a new town. When a co-worker invited me to a run group I decided that was a great time to put myself out there & try something new.396757_679506038216_1320755491_nFast forward through the next few years, I did successfully train for a 1/2 marathon, ran a few more of those plus 5K & 10K races & ultimately decided to train for a full marathon. WHY? Yes great question... While I could say I wanted to challenge myself, I will be real. I met a man running & would have followed him anywhere. Well apparently for 26.2 miles to be exact. Guess it worked out since that guy happens to be my hubby BUT  I won't pretend I ran a marathon solely based on my own ambition. Regardless we survived! YAY! Minus my body being beaten to death & I spent the next 2 years out of distance running while dealing with stress fractures, tendonitis & an overall weak body from too much cardio. I took a big step back, got in the gym, lifted heavy shit & swore that my running days were long gone. The funny thing? All those body composition goals to get lean & be fit were achieved much more easily when I stepped AWAY from the chronic cardio. Crazy huh?strengthYet over time I missed the open road, getting out with friends & running side by side with my husband. It was quality time together & that mattered. It wasn't about proving anything or trying to lose weight. As I often do the opposite when training for a long race. This time was just for fun & with the focus on my fitness still being in the gym. With no training plan or goals in mind I hit the road for a few runs on the weekends with the CREW. I started with 3-4 miles & within a month or two I was back up to 8-10. I simply listened to my body each run & stopped when it said too much & pushed when I was feeling good.File_000(6)The cool part? Even after taking YEARS off from running I jumped back in with much more ease than I ever had in the past. WHY? I am strong, fit & a more balanced athlete. In fact I've been running faster with much less time spent in my running shoes. I completely contribute that to my strength training regiment without a doubt.Ok so that's the nitty gritty ghosts of my running past. I finally decided last week to bite the bullet & sign up to run the Rock 'N' Roll 1/2 Marathon in November. This is our local big race most people train for so why not jump on board. The group I run with has follows a 3 day a week plan that I have complied with each year. However this year I have a different plan in place. WHY? Not because they don't know what they are doing. BUT I am in my body & have found through repetition that I don't hold up well to tons of running. Not to mention I LOVE lifting & refuse to ditch the days that keep me strong in favor of more mileage. So with that in mind I plan to focus on a train smart, not harder approach to 1/2 marathon training.rundesignMy goal? Honestly I would love to just finish this race injury free. If that goes well I'd like to run a PR at the Charleston 1/2 Marathon in January. BUT one race at a time shall we. So my basic run less approach includes these primary workouts:

  • 2x a week run (one long run & one speed or tempo)
  • 3x a week total body lifting (sticking with a program my coach wrote)
  • 1-2x a week cross training on the bike or swimming (triathlon future?)
  • 1-2x a week yoga (restorative)
My REAL challenge? Not doing too much this go around. I am totally a full speed ahead person when it comes to training. The issue with that is you CAN'T DO IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!! I yell that to myself as a reminder. What does that mean?I cannot gain running endurance, speed & time spent WHILE gaining significant strength or muscle in the gymThat makes me a little sad but I could tell the truth behind that during today's workout. After a weekend spent running, swimming & biking, my lifts were weak today. I had to drop my weight significantly & that will continue while I am doing so much endurance & muscle wasting activity. Does that mean all is lost? Nope! I will continue to lift & switch up my plan a bit to include beneficial running specific movements. More on that in another post...Next..I cannot maintain my same exact body composition, eat the same & increase my performance output.I have worked HARD over the past few years to build the muscle that I have. It doesn't come easy for us ladies & certainly hasn't for me. The truth is when I run, I lose muscle mass. That "toned" look softens a bit as I lose muscle in lieu of long mileage. Am I happy about that? NO! However I AM realistic that I cannot have them both all the time, so I am making a choice to choose performance over body composition. Everything comes in seasons & once I get done with a race or two I will have a new focus to work on. That also means I have to increase my food intake to balance my training. More carbs often means a little bit more weight on the scale. Why? Muscles hold onto water more when you increase carb intake. Notice I said WATER, not BODY FAT. Regardless the scale will go up & that's ok. Not going to sweat it. I am also NOT going to eat in a calorie deficit. That will not maintain my muscle or help me run faster. EAT for performance NOT DIET.So with those two things in mind this is what last weeks training looked like:Monday: Strength Workout #1 + 45 Minute Bike Ride (not intense)Tuesday: 6 Mile Run + YogaWednesday: Strength Workout #2Thursday: YogaFriday: Strength Workout #3Saturday: 10 Mile RunSunday: 90 Minute Bike Ride + Swim (learning how to so not intense)Last week felt great BUT I can tell today my body is a bit more tired then i'd like. I will work towards recovering better through sleep, nutrition & foam rolling over the coming weeks. I will also take a rest day when I need to! I love being active in some way most days BUT I am totally ok skipping a workout when my body needs it. File_000(1)On the food side? Here was our meal plan for last week:Monday: Chicken Verde Enchiladas w/ Salad & Cauliflower RiceFile_000(9)Tuesday: Crockpot Shredded Chicken w/ Green Beans & Roasted Fingerling PotatoesWednesdayChile Verde Pork w/ Cauliflower Rice, Refried Beans & SaladThursday: Chicken Sausage w/ Purple Potatoes & Kale File_000(7)Friday: OUT - We eat at a BBQ joint most Friday's. Creature's of habit! I get a pork salad<3Saturday: Hubby cooked a Julia Child Beef Daube w/ Vegetable Risotto & VINO!Sunday: Ate at Jalepeno's Mexican Restaurant. I had chicken fajitas, black beans & guacamole.I made a few updates to my normal eating this week & honestly think my running has been better for it. I often eat meat + vegetables for dinner without a serving of carbohydrates. I just like the lighter dinner since we often eat on the later side. However this week I consciously added in beans, sweet potato, potatoes & rice to my dinners. I will continue to monitor my performance, energy & how my pants fit, then adjust accordingly.9a93beb59f07a02590ce9f4e11493ba9All in all I am excited to have a fun goal & people to enjoy it with. I am all about finding the fun in fitness these days while I push my body in challenging ways. One week down!Please let me know via comment or message if you have any questions about my training, nutrition, recovery or how it might apply to your goals! I want to hear from YOU!!! Have you ever trained for a race & struggled with not being able to HAVE IT ALL?

All About That Base…Booty Exercises For All!

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness Uncategorized Workouts

Time for some real talk fitness chat, shall we?I have yet to meet a single lady that doesn't describe her desire to have lovely lean legs. Plus who wouldn't be thrilled with having a perkier booty, right? Which as much as I am happy to guide a client to achieve those goals, the bigger issue is the rampant problem across the general population with weak glutes. Yes I did in fact just describe weak glutes as a rampant problem plaguing the wonderful everyday person across our country.Why is this such a negative? Weak glutes are caused by our lack of actually engaging our lovely big beautiful muscle group better known at the buttocks. We spend our days driving in cars, sitting at desks & often parked on the sofa come evening hours. Unfortunately if you don't use it, you lose it! Which can be responsible for a host of other issues when such a major muscle group stops firing. These imbalances puts more dependency on the low back, knees, hips & other muscle groups that now have to bear the brunt of our daily movement. This can absolutely lead to irritating pains such as achy knees all the way up to serious injuries in the low back. I can attest to this personally from my many running injuries which I can attribute to absolute lack of glute functioning. Guess where that lead me? In pain, sidelined & beyond frustrated.The great news is all of these issues can be prevented, improved & even resolved with a little bit of work building that booty. There is a huge variety of great exercises to improve glute strength but first things first. Before you add tons of weight, make sure they are activating properly with the basics. Here are a few of my favorite basic booty moves with a couple progressions to build up to:Favorite Beginner Moves:

Banded Clamshell - Can start without band, then add above the knees for more of a challenge. Abs tight & contract that booty raising the knee.



Banded Lateral Walk - A band can be placed at the feet, ankles, below or above the knee. Take a big step out with a smaller step in, moving laterally.


Banded Lateral Walk

Banded Quadrupled Donkey Kick - Focus on squeezing that glute with a pause at the top of the motion before bringing the leg back down.


Banded Donkey Kicks

Banded Glute Bridge - Feet hip distance apart with a strong push through the heels. Do not let your knees cave in at the banded area. Tuck your hips under at the top & squeeze tightly before lowering back down towards the ground.


Banded Glute Bridge

Favorite Booty Exercises:

Barbell Glute Bride or Hip Thrust - These are my absolute favorite with a ton of variations available. Find which movements makes your booty burn the most to ensure you are getting full activation.


Floor Barbell Bridge

Barbell Hip Thrust - My Favorite!


Single Leg Bridge - can be done as hip thrust on bench.

Weighted Hyperextension: These are also great if you have access to a hyperextension machine at your gym. Start without weight then progress by adding a plate or dumbbell across the chest. Another tip is to point your toes in & really squeeze the booty on the way up. Don't swing!!


Hyperextension 45 Degrees

Deadlift Variations - Another awesome exercise you can easily progress from light weight to heavy. Challenge yourself & don't stay at a light weight forever. This movement is one of the more difficult to learn, as it's hinging from the hips, not squatting down at the knees. Hinge forward & focus on pushing hips back to the wall behind you. I promise your booty will see the benefits as well as increasing hamstring strength.


Single Leg Deadlift


Kettlebell Deadlift


Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Squat Variations - Last but not least of course the squat. An all time classic total body compound movement that should be enjoyed by all. Again there are a million variations but start with a dumbbell goblet squat & box squat. Work on form & squat depth. The deeper you get with proper for the more glute activation you'll achieve.


How to incorporate these into your weekly routine? I typically perform 2-3 glute focused exercise at least 3 times a week for optimal growth. Often I am working out that booty 5 times a week, as I've found women can work the glutes with higher frequency & see amazing results.

Any favorite booty boosting moves you love?

4 Reasons You Should Strength Train + How To Get Started!

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness Uncategorized Workouts

girls-get-your-guns-why-women-should-lift-weightsI remember the first time I toyed with the idea of lifting weights in the gym. I had all the typical concerns women share from intimidation, to fear of getting bulky & overall simply not knowing what in the heck I was doing. It's really hard to break past that initial barrier of starting a completely new activity with all that stacked against you!

My serious lifting face apparently..

My serious lifting face apparently..

However several years later I can promise you from personal & professional experience that it is oh so worth it. Feeling strong, empowered, confident, healthy & finally seeing the physique changes that chronic cardio wasn't providing me was worth every awkward attempt in those early days of lifting. So in lieu of creating more confusion & intimidation, today I want to try & keep this really simple! I will get more in depth in future posts on the ins & outs of lifting but let's start out with WHY you should push past the hesitation & pick up a dumbbell.Top 3 Reasons You Should Strength Train:1. It Works: Whether you are looking to shed fat, increase muscle mass, look "toned", run faster or just be able to haul groceries without pulling your back out of whack. Lifting weights is proven by science over & over to be oh so effective for all of the above & much more. The more muscle mass you hold, the more calories your body is burning at rest. Yay increased metabolism! To be straightforward, if fat loss is your goal you need to incorporate weight training into your routine. Still skeptical? I always ask the question has what you've been doing to reach your goals been working? If not, what can trying a different way hurt!440x380_ac2. It Builds Confidence: One of the aspects of lifting I love is you can measurably track progress weekly that has nothing to do with the scale. It builds the mindset of going in to GAIN strength, power & flexibility as opposed to focusing on hitting the elliptical to LOSE weight. Who doesn't want to be more instead of less? From one week to the next you can track that you did 1 more rep, lift 5lbs more or eek closer to that push up. It's extremely empowering to set small goals & knock them out every single session. It's also very scalable to different body types, ages, ability levels & training style preferences so that you can walk out of each session feeling stronger then when you walked in.Benefits-of-Exercises13. It's A Built In Health Booster: Beyond aesthetics, lifting weights boasts so many NECESSARY health benefits for men & women of all ages. Ladies as we get older that bone mass is easy to lose, causing a huge array of health problems. Lifting weights not only helps to maintain bone density, it helps to strengthen joints, tendons & surrounding muscles to sustain healthy function. Simply doing cardiovascular activity can actually severely decrease muscle mass leading to injury. Not to mention the daily benefits from lifting, when you notice it doesn't hurt your knees to climb the stairs or squat down to pick up your child.

Everyone-Starts-Somewhere-e1370227089363Where to Start: This part can get rather technical so I will attempt to break it down as best as my science nerd self can do. Disclaimer, there is NO perfect workout for every person. Same as there is not ONE diet that is ideal for all. Customization comes in based on so many individualized factors that I won't bore you with in this post. This is why I highly recommend starting with a trainer, even if just for a handful of sessions to get started on the right track Starting at your level, based on your body & with proper form is key so you feel encouraged & empowered lifting. Yes, I started out with a trainer at 18 & guess what? I still work with a trainer today so I practice what I preach.

Beginner Lifting Template: For a beginner trying to lift 2-3 days a week I recommend a total body program to hit all the major movement patterns listed below. There are an infinite amount of exercises that can be used but here are some basics.
  • Quad Dominant: Squat, Step Ups, Split Squat & Lunge Variationsbootcamp-squat-hold
  • Hip Dominant: Deadlift, Glute Bridges/Hip Thrust, Back Extensions & Bird Dogs Variations
  • Horizontal Push: Push Ups, Bench Press Variations (barbell or dumbbell/ flat or incline)
  • Horizontal Pull: Bodyweight Rows, Single Arm DB Rows, Chest Supported Row & Barbell Rows.
  • Vertical Push: Dumbbell or Barbell Military Press (seated, standing, one-arm etc)
  • Vertical Pull: Pull Ups (assisted, chin up, overhand etc) & Lat Pulldown (underhand, wide grip etc)
  • Anterior Core: Front Plank, Stability Ball Rollout0905-poster-glute-bridge-march
  • Rotational Core: Side Plank, Pallof Press
*Recommended 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days.Sample A Workout - Bodyweight:1A. Glute Bridges - hip dominant1B. Pull Up - Band Assisted - vertical pull2A. Squat - quad dominant1006-pushup2B. Push Up - horizontal push3A. Step Up - single leg quad dominant (I do a single leg/unilateral movement every workout)3B. Inverted Rows - horizontal pull4A. Plank - anterior core4B. Side Plank - rotational core*Start with 1A & complete 10 reps then immediately begin 1B. Complete 10 reps then rest in between. You would ideally complete 3 rounds in that manner then move on to 2A & 2B. Repeat.Sample B Workout:1A. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift - hip dominantweighted-bridge1B. Close Grip Lat Pulldown - vertical pull20100615-lose-last-10-pounds-5-600x4112A. Goblet Squat - quad dominant2B. DB Incline Chest Press - horizontal press3A. Dumbbell Walking Lunge - quad dominant single leg3B. Dumbbell Overhead Press - vertical push9025fb86fbbddc5ebed9afc2622aecf14A. Single Leg Romanian DeadliftSingle-leg-deadlift - hip dominant single leg4B. Single Arm Dumbbell Row - horizontal pull5A. Plank - anterior core5B. Side Plank - rotational coreHow to Build Your Program: This template may seem complicated at first glance so here are a few factors to consider when choosing exercises, sets to complete, repetitions to do & how to pair movements together:
  • Pair movements that are opposing - aka a push with a pull or upper with a lower.
  • The last 2-3 reps should be hard - if you aren't struggling lift heavier or more reps.
  • Master body weight before loading - if you can't body weight squat don't add a barbell.
  • Stick with a program for more than a week - master movements & add weight over diversity.
  • How many repetitions & sets is truly goal dependent - to start try 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
  • Short on time? Split it up into different days to hit all movements during the week.
fitness-motivation-quote-6Final Thoughts: The fun thing about strength training that there are a world of options, variations, styles & exercise selections to keep you from ever getting bored or plateauing. Don't be overwhelmed by fancy programs or complicated routines. My biggest tip is to start with the basic movement patterns & strive to progress every session. There are tons of professionals out there to help you get started so don't hesitate to reach out! Whether it's a one time consult, online customized program or hands on training. There is nothing that makes a trainer more excited to do then watch a newbie blossom in the gym. The quick progress you can make physically, mentally & emotionally will amaze you!!Do you strength train? Why or why not?