Triple Threat: Shoulders

Men and women alike aim for getting toned and cut shoulders. Instead of doing the normal overhead presses with heavy weights every day, I have a triple-threat move that will challenge and refresh your routine, with slightly lighter weights than overhead presses. This focuses more on muscle endurance than muscle strength.

Add these to my other recent blogs to complete the series of “Triple-Threat” moves I have developed in my fitness DVDs and NYC fitness classes at Crunch.

Here’s your shoulders triple-threat fix:

1- Start standing in set position. Put weights in each hand and place hands in front of your hips with palms facing your body. Drag the weights up your body to chest level, leading with the elbows, keeping neck muscles relaxed and shoulders down.

2- Push the weights out in front of you at shoulder level, extending the elbows and keeping palms facing the floor.

3- Open arms out to the sides at shoulder level, palms facing down, and slowly lower them to your sides at starting position, creating resistance as the weights are lowered in a controlled motion.

I personally like to do 1,2,3 in a row to a good workout song and fit it in with an 8 count. I also sometimes add a leg move like glute kickbacks or calf raises. Then I reverse the moves to 3,2,1 and continue the leg toning. (If that takes too much coordination, you can always separate the three moves, chose one and repeat it in 3 sets one day, and then chose the next move and repeat it another day.)

You won’t be able to lift your arms the next day, but at least they will look good!

Nikki

How to Get “Guns”

 Big Biceps

Client: Do you know the nearest vet office?

Trainer: Why?

Client: I have some sick pythons. (Client flexes his puny arms and kisses each bicep.)

Trainer: (Rolling her eyes) Drop and give me 50.…

Taking your “sick pythons to the vet” doesn’t have to be a joke. You can really have great guns (amazing arms) in just a few easy steps.

1) Melt the fat over the muscle. That means doing more cardio, eating lean protein after your muscle workouts, and making sure you eat 6 healthy meals a day including lots of fruits, veggie and fiber.

2) Build the muscle my increasing your weight. You won’t get too bulky by lifting 15 lbs free weights, and if you never move beyond the 5 lbs weights you won’t see definition. Work on your arm muscles 3 times a week with a rest day in between. Increase the weight by 2 lbs each week. Aim for 8 reps your first day, 10 the next and 12 the last day, then up the weight.

3) Work the different fibers in your muscles by hitting them from different angles. For example, do outside biceps curls (elbows in by your sides hands lift away from you  out to the sides, then up to your shoulders), forward curls, hammer curls, preacher curls and cross curls (bring weights across body from left hip to right shoulder).

4) Make your triceps a triple threat with French presses (hands together overhead holding weight, then lower weight behind your head keeping elbows pointing to the ceiling and press back up), kickbacks (lean forward, lift elbows up near your ribcage and move weights from shoulders to hips and back to shoulders), and dips (sit on a bench, hands at your sides and lift your butt off the bench, lower down toward the floor until elbows are bent at 90 degrees and lift yourself back up by pressing through the palms).

5) Push that weight off your shoulder. Do overhead presses with weights facing forward and another set with them facing your ears. Do front and side extensions by keeping arms straight and lifting the weight away from your body forward and to the side. Throw in some planks and yoga-​​style down dogs in your other workout days to continue to define those delts.

If you can’t get to the gym or are traveling, push-​​ups work all three areas conveniently. And save the corny jokes. Arms like yours are seriously sculpted.

Get the DVDs at www​.nikkifitness​.com

Reach for the Stars, Get Better Biceps

 reach for the stars

Sick of biceps curls with heavy weights?

Here is a great move that saves time and lets you “go light” by using a lighter weight but longer lever. By combining and outer thigh lift and standing on one leg, you put yourself off balance which engages the abs. I perform this “Reach for the Stars” multitasking move and many others on my upcoming Red Carpet Runway Workout DVD (more info on http://​www​.nikkifitness​.com/)

Here’s how its done:

Pick up one light weight and hold it in your right hand.

Stand on your right leg and flex your left foot. Lift your straight left leg out to the side, as high as it will go, while lifting your right hand, palm and weight facing the sky. Lower the arm and leg at the same time and repeat for 20 reps. Do the other side to finish the first set.

You’ve just worked outer thighs, shoulders, abs and biceps, without doing a single curl. You can hit the opposing muscle groups with inner thigh plie squats and a french press overhead for the triceps. (For photos of this move,  you can email nikki@​nikkifitness.​com)

Kick Your Butt Off

sidekickcentpark

Boost your booty with proper side-​​kick form!

Group fitness classes are most efficient when they can give you cardio and toning moves in one session, which is one of the reasons kickboxing remains so popular. However, the move that can provide the most bang for your booty-​​sculpting buck is the most common mistake made in cardio-​​kickboxing classes. Usually participants do a front kick to the side and call it a side-​​kick.

If done correctly, the side-​​kick will chisel your glutes and outer thighs, if done wrong, it just puts more stress on the hip flexor, a muscle that is already tight from sedentary modern life.

1) Stance: For a left side-​​kick, put your weight on your right leg, with the kneed and toe pointing out to the side at 45 degrees.

2) Chamber: Think of the kick in 4 counts. Count one is hinging at the hip and dropping your right shoulder to the right, kicking the core into action while bending your left leg and bringing the left knee toward your navel.

3) Impact: This is count two. The common mistake is for class participants to kick to the side with their toe pointing to the sky. To correct this, flex the foot and straighten the left leg and impact with your heel diagonally up and toe diagonally down. Think of it like this, if inside a room your heel should aim for the corner where the back wall and the ceiling meet. Your toe should point to where the floor and front wall meet on he other side of the room. Another way to visualize this is that your front hip bone or “front pocket” of your kicking leg should turn down towards the floor and your “back pocket” should be rotated up to the ceiling. Look at your foot with each kick to ensure appropriate form.

4) Retract: For count 3, quickly retract the knee back towards the core and place foot back to the floor for count 4.

Trainer tip: Adjust your target height. If you find it difficult to align your kick properly, instead of aiming for your opponent’s head, aim for their stomach or knee. Master the foot alignment first, then work on the height. Even with a kick aimed at the (imaginary) opponent’s knee, you are challenging your core and backside.

You’ve just mastered the booty-​​kicking side-​​kick.

Fitness – Fit it in!

The No-Equipment Workout for Fitness on the Road

The most important part about staying in shape while traveling, for work or vacation, is packing workout clothes.

When you have a chance to exercise, the excuse “I don’t have sneakers and a pair of shorts” stops way too many people before they even get started. It is worth finding room in your bag because of the stress, bad food and sitting involved in traveling. Your body wants you to move. You’ll get rid of stress, burn calories and release those feel-good endorphins.

If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, there are plenty of things you can do with your own body’s resistance. Here are 10 of the 20 moves that make up my exercise-on-the-road routine. In my next column you’ll get the other 10 moves, and they get more intense.

1) Warm-up. Start with a simple march and then jog in place for a minute. Move to a step-touch while lifting arms to the sides. Add an alternating hamstring curl and biceps curl with both arms. Then finish up the five-minute warm-up with light jumping jacks.

Nikki

2) Push-ups with a glute raise. Start with regular style or add a multi-tasking move by lowering to the knees and adding lower-body sculpting. After the first modified push-up raise your right foot to the ceiling. Repeat 10 times on the right side after each push-up and then 10 times on the left side. You’ve just worked your pecs, triceps, core and glutes.

3) Low leg low ab crunch. Next, lie on your back and straighten your legs 80 percent straight, knees together and feet on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and crunch up for 50.. Be sure to keep your eyes on the ceiling, knees together, neck long and chin lifted.

4) Cardio interval. Jump rope (pretend to hold the rope and swing it for extra biceps work) for one minute or count to 100 — alternate from one leg at a time, to feet together and hopping. Maybe hop twice on one leg at a time. Have fun with it. For all cardio intervals in this workout, march in place for at least 20 seconds afterwards to get your heart rate back down to a comfortable level.

Nikki

5) Triceps dips. Sit on a bench, footstool or chair with your hands at your sides and palms on the bench knuckles up and fingertips curling around towards the floor. Lift yourself off the bench and slightly forward. Lower your backside toward the floor while bending your elbows at 90 degrees. Finish the move by pushing back up so elbows extend again. You can make this more difficult by straightening the legs or lifting one leg off the floor.

6) Inner thighs. Lie on your right side and balance on your right elbow and right hip. Bend your left knee to place the left foot in front of your straight right leg. Be sure to keep the right foot parallel to the floor and lift the right leg 30 times. Repeat on the other side. Next lie on your back with your legs extended over your ribcage. Turn the toes out and flex the feet. Begin to open and lower the legs to the sides, away from one another. To finish the move, bring the heels back together. To intensify, only bring heels in halfway and press against your inner thighs with your hands for a true “thigh master” resistance move. Repeat step one on the left elbow and hip.

7) Cardio. Stand up and do 20 jumping jacks with the right foot in front, 20 with the left foot in front and 20 alternating and crossing feet.

Nikki

8) Outer thighs. Now lie again on your right side, and prop yourself up on your elbow but this time in a half-side plank. Bend the right leg lift hips off the floor. Keep the left leg straight as you lift it for 25 reps. Keep the abs tight because you’re working them as well in this multitasker. Repeat on the other side.

9) Planks. Alternate from a middle plank (looks like a freeze frame of the top of a push-up) to a side plank and hold each for a count of 10 seconds. middle, right, middle, left equals one repetition. Complete 5 repetitions.

10) Cool down. Do a 5 minute cool down with the same moves in the warm up and then stretch your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs, glutes, triceps, pectorals, trapezious and rhomboids (upper back), and lower back with standing rolls or cat/cow.

Remember to drink a lot of water, and maybe treat yourself to a new exercise clothes as a souvenir to celebrate your healthy habits on the road.

Nikki

Pack Some Toning With Your Lunch

We are always looking for ways to fit in our fitness… so how about while packing your or your kids healthy lunch for the day? Or preparing dinner? I created 3 moves you can do while in the kitchen:

1) Here is a no-equipment workout you can do at the counter that hits the arms in multiple places. Try counter or table top push-ups (pictured below)! Start with our hands spread shoulder-width apart on the counter edge. Plant your feet behind you the length of your leg (about 3 feet) away from the counter. Keep the hands under the shoulders as you bend the elbows out to the sides at 90 degrees and lower chest a few inches from the counter, then push back up. Start with 10 repetitions if you are new, and alternate this arm move between sets of the two leg moves below. As you get stronger you can increase your reps to 20 and 30 per set.

2) T Glute Kickbacks (pictured)
Stand with shoulders and hips facing forward, abs contracted and knees slightly bent. Put your weight on our left foot with toes pointed forward, and turn your right foot 90 degrees so that the right arch touches the heel of the left foot, forming the letter “T”. Your right toes will point to the right. With your foot flexed and hovering an inch off the floor, kick the right leg back about 30 degrees, or as high as you can without arching your back while keeping the right foot turned to the right. Return right foot back to the left to tap the heel and repeat for 30 repetitions. Do on the left side as well and feel your tush toning as you make the tuna sandwiches!

3) Lets hit the bottom half of the legs with simple calf lifts.
Start with feet shoulders width apart and knees slightly bent, abs contracted. Lift heels off the floor and transfer the weight onto the balls of your feet. Return heels to the floor and repeat for 30 times. You can do this anytime and anywhere, maybe while rinsing the dishes after the sandwiches are made. Stretch the calves afterward (for a free stretch video visit NikkiFitness.com)

4) Hit the abs before adding another ingredient. You can also do this on the counter or table and alternate them with pushups if you chose. Stand with feet 3 feet away from the table and balance on both hands (under shoulders). hold here for 10 seconds, then bring right hand in the center and pivot your body to the left. Reach your left hand to the sky and and either stagger your feet or stack them on top of each other. Hold for 10 seconds, do another middle plank and then move to a right plank. Repeat each side 8-12 times holding each move for 10 seconds.

(For more no-equipment workout moves from the NikkiFitness Fit Travel Workout DVD visit www.nikkifitness.com and www.fittravelworkout.com)

Fitness – Fit it in

Is Your Vacation Making You Fat?

Vacation Weight Gain

You worked hard doing Booty Camp and getting in bikini shape. You’ve finally gotten the Hard Core Abs I have been writing about. But the you go on vacation to the all-​​inclusive resort, or home to see family with lots of mom’s cooking and little time at the gym. Your only sweat is from laying out in the sun instead of a run. Your vacation is making you fat.

Here is where my fit travel workout moves and advice can help.

Prepare before you go: The most important part about staying in shape while traveling, for work or vacation, is packing work out clothes. When you have a chance to exercise, the excuse “I don’t have sneakers and a pair of shorts” stops way too many people before they even get started. It is worth finding room in your bag because of the stress, bad food and sitting involved in traveling. Your body wants you to move. You’ll get rid of stress, burn calories and release those feel-​​good endorphins.

While you are there: If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, there are plenty of things you can do with your own body’s resistance. Here are 10 of the 20 moves that make up my exercise-​​on-​​the-​​road routine, and my Fit Travel DVD was shot in 6 scenic locations around the world so your mind gets a vacation while your body gets a workout!

1) Warm-​​up. Start with a simple march and then jog in place for a minute. Move to a step-​​touch while lifting arms to the sides. Add an alternating hamstring curl and biceps curl with both arms. Then finish up the five-​​minute warm-​​up with light jumping jacks.

2) Push-​​ups with a glute raise. Start with regular style or add a multi-​​tasking move by lowering to the knees and adding lower-​​body sculpting. After the first modified push-​​up raise your right foot to the ceiling. Repeat 10 times on the right side after each push-​​up and then 10 times on the left side. You’ve just worked your pecs, triceps, core and glutes.

Pushups and Glute Raise

3) Low leg low ab crunch. Next, lie on your back and straighten your legs 80 percent straight, knees together and feet on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and crunch up for 50. Be sure to keep your eyes on the ceiling, knees together, neck long and chin lifted.

4) Cardio interval. Jump rope (pretend to hold the rope and swing it for extra biceps work) for one minute or count to 100 — alternate from one leg at a time, to feet together and hopping. Maybe hop twice on one leg at a time. Have fun with it. For all cardio intervals in this workout, march in place for at least 20 seconds afterwards to get your heart rate back down to a comfortable level.

5) Triceps dips. Sit on a bench, footstool or chair with your hands at your sides and palms on the bench knuckles up and fingertips curling around towards the floor. Lift yourself off the bench and slightly forward. Lower your backside toward the floor while bending your elbows at 90 degrees. Finish the move by pushing back up so elbows extend again. You can make this more difficult by straightening the legs or lifting one leg off the floor.

Tricep Dip

6) Inner thighs. Lie on your right side and balance on your right elbow and right hip. Bend your left knee to place the left foot in front of your straight right leg. Be sure to keep the right foot parallel to the floor and lift the right leg 30 times. Repeat on the other side. Next lie on your back with your legs extended over your ribcage. Turn the toes out and flex the feet. Begin to open and lower the legs to the sides, away from one another. To finish the move, bring the heels back together. To intensify, only bring heels in halfway and press against your inner thighs with your hands for a true “thigh master” resistance move. Repeat step one on the left elbow and hip.

7) Cardio. Stand up and do 20 jumping jacks with the right foot in front, 20 with the left foot in front and 20 alternating and crossing feet.

 8. Outer thighs. Now lie again on your right side, and prop yourself up on your elbow but this time in a half-​​side plank. Bend the right leg lift hips off the floor. Keep the left leg straight as you lift it for 25 reps. Keep the abs tight because you’re working them as well in this multitasker. Repeat on the other side.

Outer Thighs Workout

9) Planks. Alternate from a middle plank (looks like a freeze frame of the top of a push-​​up) to a side plank and hold each for a count of 10 seconds. middle, right, middle, left equals one repetition. Complete 5 repetitions.

10) Cool down. Do a 5 minute cool down with the same moves in the warm up and then stretch your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs, glutes, triceps, pectorals, trapezious and rhomboids (upper back), and lower back with standing rolls or cat/​cow.

Remember to drink a lot of water, and maybe treat yourself to a new exercise clothes as a souvenir to celebrate your healthy habits on the road.

Treadmill Tricks

 Treadmill Tricks

Sometimes summer is just to warm to workout outside, so instead of skipping it, sweat in the cold air inside on the treadmill!

Too boring, you say? I have the antidode: action on the machine.

Minutes 1–3 (Warm up) Walk at 1.5 incline and speed of 3.5

Minutes 3–6 (Steady state) Jog at same incline at speed of 6.

Minutes 5–15 (Intervals!) Run one minute at 7.5 fast interval, one minute at 5.5 recovery interval. Repeat several times.

Minutes 15–27 Toning — forward works glutes and calves, backward works quads! Set uphill incline at 15 (as high as it goes) and speed at 3. Walk forward for 2 minutes.

 

If you are coordinated and feel strong enough to try this (I take no responsibility for tripping) LOWER speed to 2 and turn around while steadying yourself on the handles. Walk uphill backwards and pick your feet up high to avoid tripping. It will feel faster than the speed reads so I encourage starting at a low speed and increasing it only if you want more of a challenge). Do this for 2 minutes (or 100 steps, don’t turn your neck around to look at treadmill clock, you culd loe your balance.)

Turn back around and repeat faster forward uphill walk and slower backwards uphill walk several times.

Minutes 27–30 lower speed to 2.5 and cool down. Follow with a stretch of your calves, quads, hamstrings glutes and hip flexors (there is a free 5 minute stretch video at www​.YouTube​.com/​N​i​k​k​i​F​i​t​n​ess).

Do this 30 minute multitasking machine workout twice a week along with my Booty Camp DVD (works arms and abs along with buns and thighs in every single move, available at www​.nikkifitness​.com) on alternate days, and you’ll get cardio, intervals and toning for your summer shape!

Fitness, fit it in!

Nikki

Big Ball, Little Belly: Stability Ball Abdominal Workout Part 2

ball-hip-crunch-thumb

If you’re looking for a way to challenge your abs more than crunches and planks on the floor, the key is instability! A stability ball will put you off balance to add an extra level of toning to each move. I have many abdominal ball workout moves, and these pictured below place you on the floor, next to and on top of the ball. Next week I will list other ways to work your abs (along with arms and legs) with a stability ball.

Elbow plank (works abdominals, chest and arms)

Start in a kneeling position with the ball in front of you. Roll up onto the ball on your stomach and place your forearms and elbows on the ball and clasp your hands together beneath your chest. Straighten your legs to balance on your toes and slowly push into the ball with forearms to raise the belly off the ball. Hold the plank for 30 seconds at a time for 3 sets, and work up to 60 seconds per set.

Hip Crunch (works obliques)
Kneel on the right side of the ball and straighten your right leg out to the right side of your body, with your foot on the floor. With your left hand hug the ball in close to your hip and then push your weight into the ball so the left hip is anchoring the ball down. Start with your left hand still on the ball and put your right hand behind your head. Lower your left side ribs onto the top of the ball and engage your right side obliques to bring you back upright. Once comfortable with the move you can put the left hand behind the head as well because your hip is anchoring the ball. Do 15 repeat on the other side for one set. Do 3 sets.

Jackknife (Works abs, quads and hip flexors)
Lay face-​​up on the floor with the ball between your feet and arms extended overhead. Lift the legs off the floor as you raise the arms and shoulders by “crunching” and engaging the abs. Transfer the ball into the hands and lower the legs and arms back to the floor slowly. Crunch and transfer the ball back to the feet, keeping the arms and legs straight, to complete one rep. Do 10 reps for 3 sets.

Stability Ball Workout for Abdominals

plank-ball-tumb

If you’re looking for a way to challenge your abs more than crunches and planks on the floor, the key is instability! A stability ball will put you off balance to add an extra level of toning to each move. I have many abdominal ball workout moves, and these pictured below place you on top of the ball. Next week I will list other ways to work your abs with a stability ball or a power ball (power balls have 7–8 pounds of sand inside).

Here are some of my favorites:

Ball Plank/​Pike

If just starting out, chose the plank, if you’re looking for a challenge, add the pike to the plank. Start kneeling with your stomach on the ball push forward to roll onto your feet and hands and continue walking your hands out so that the ball rolls from your stomach to your shins/​shoelaces and you are facing the ground. Hold here for 30 seconds for the plank. Make it harder by contracting the abs and pulling your feet and the ball in closer to your hands while raising your hips up to the sky. Repeat 15 times.

Oblique Twist

Start sitting on the ball and walk your feet away so that your slide down to a bridge position, with your head and shoulders comfortably resting on the ball. Your head should be in line with your hips while you contract your glutes and quads to hold you up. Place the hands in prayer position extended directly above your neck. To perform the move, roll up onto your left shoulder and bring your gaze and your hands directly to the left as pictured. (Be sure to roll onto the shoulder and not just move your hands! our head will come off of the ball.) Return to center and repeat on the other side for one rep. Perform 15 repetitions.

Oblique Crunch

Start in a seated position on the ball with your hands behind your head and lay down, then return to sitting by engaging the abs. That is a normal crunch. Start there if you are a beginner. If comfortable with the regular crunch, then lay back and engage your abs while sitting up and twisting your shoulders, head and torso to the right. Lay back down and twist to the left for one rep. Perform 20 reps. (Make it even more difficult by crunching up half way, pausing there, then twisting to the right without coming completely up to a sitting position, so your abs engage throughout the entire move.)