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Category Archives for "Lower Body, Quads, Thighs, Legs, Hips"
7

Seuss Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

A Full-Body Workout based on Dr. Seuss Quotes

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won!

Whenever you work out, you score points. Whenever you have fun you win at life! The more you work out and the more fun you have, the better your life, right?!

We were inspired by our friend Carla, who is a very dedicated Seuss follower, to make this Seussical workout as a birthday gift to her. Why? Because…

If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.

In other words, time for squats, planks and some general “Cat in the Hat” house tomfoolery! We can only say that no furniture was harmed in the making of the cardio portion of this workout!

Squats: 10 Reps using Bar & Plates
Planks: Alternate sides and slowly drag arm/ leg back in.
Follow with heel rock-back plank and single-leg plank
Cardio: Walk, Jump, Flounce & Pounce for at least 15 minutes

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOefo3A4YqE[/youtube]

 

My life is good. My life is fun. I wish this life for everyone (okay, Dr. Seuss didn’t really say this; I made it up).

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss quote? And what would your workout look like?

Illustration credit: Mamiverse.com

8

Easter Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Now THAT'S a push-up!

Do you want a quick and easy way to get in some exercise this holiday weekend?

Are you pressed for time?

Good news: We have a full-body, quick workout for you that requires no equipment. Heck, you can even do it at a roadside rest stop, although you might want a towel for the push-ups!

 

 


Please note how wide Alexandra’s arms are for those push-ups. That’s to really engage the chest, and not over-emphasize the shoulders and arms. And we love full range of motion (ROM)!

If you want to know more about the wrong and right way to do a squat, or more about push-ups, check out these video posts.

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, we hope you have a lovely, healthy, fun weekend! Now Drop and Give us 30!

Which do you prefer, planks or push-ups? Boxers or briefs?

17

3 Tips for Preventing Shin Splints

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

See how painful that looks? Only your heart should look this red and throbbing!

Do you want to prevent shin splints? Apparently many of you do as “shin splints” is our site’s most popular search term. (Yeah, we peeked). Our previous post about preventing shin splints is one of our “top sellers” (except it’s free to read).

 

 

 

The 3 tips in the video below will help you prevent shin splints. You’ll see more in future posts on what to do before and  after  shin pain. For now, take a look at this short video:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW89wDktKCk[/youtube]

 

Key for you to know is that the shin (anterior tibialis) and calf (gastrocnemius, plus five other calf muscles  work as a team. Most people shower too much attention on the calf, and neglect the shin. The calf gets big and bossy and tries to exert constant force on the little tib. This makes the shin very envious and it shows its displeasure by becoming stressed and painful. If you give the shin a bit more love (that is secret code for “more training”) it will be happy and joyous and take you all kinds of places pain-free.

Have you ever had shin splints? What did you do to recover?

Photo Courtesy of Mayo Clinic

Voting for the Shorty Awards ends on 2/17. Please vote for Alexandra in the #SocialFitness category if you haven’t already. Thank you.

Nominate Alexandra Williams for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!

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28

Brace for Good News About Bad Knees

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: A while back I had knee surgery, but I still want to work out even though exercise sometimes hurts. How do I protect my knees when participating in cardio activities, fitness classes, or walking downhill? Bob, Goleta, CA

Knee StrapAlexandra: Hi Bob. Would you like me to go into detail about strengthening up and stretching the muscles that support your slacker knees, including the much-forgotten VMO? No, that is not an insurance plan, that is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus, and yes, it is spelled like that. No body part with Latin in its description (that would apply to er, um, well, all of them) should have to live in pain. It’s all about balance.

Kymberly: Well, balance AND alignment.  Our advice times twins is: Strengthen your quads. Do the same for your inner thighs and hamstrings so you stay balanced muscularly. Strengthen your anterior tibialis (shins) while you’re at it. Keep your knees tracking in line with your upper leg and lower leg, No turning your feet one way when your knees are pointing in another. And no turning your knees one way when your pelvic structure dictates something different. Got a compass so you can keep up with me and your pelvic structure?

When doing movements that locomote you forward or downhill, try to keep your knee above or behind your toes. Beware of all that forward and downward motion pushing your knees too far in front of your body and past the vertical plane of your feet. Otherwise you are putting a lot of pressure on the poor little kneecaps. Translation = knee pain.

knee brace for athletesHave you checked with your doctor whether wearing a knee brace or sport wrap might help? Options range from custom made, metal, hinging knee braces to those small strap bands. Both Alexandra and I have worn knee braces after similar reconstructive surgeries that ended our soccer careers. And by “careers,” we mean “having fun on the pitch.”  Fortunately we can still teach fitness!

A: Why don’t you just hire a proxy to do your exercise activities? Save your knees for dancing at parties and asking forgiveness.

K: You know, I have to agree with Alexandra. Party on with protected and braced knees!

Readers: If you have knee pain that affects your workouts, how do you deal with it?

Disclosure: BetterBraces. com has compensated us for the links in this post. The opinions and suggestions are entirely ours, however. Tricky knees are all yours though, if you insist.

Photo credit: BetterBraces.com

17

Are Skechers Sketchy, Steppy, or Peppy?

Kymberly Wiliams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Who loves getting packages in the mail? We do! We do! Oooh…squeee! Free Skechers fitness shoes for us to use and review. Double ooooh, as those of you who have followed us for a while know that we are NOT fans of the rocker aspect. But we do have open minds and new closed-toed shoes to try out and report on.

Skechers Fitness Tone-Ups

Pink & Grey, just like Alexandra's Face & Hair!

We ripped open the package and found first a DVD with “Instructions.” Already we had to like that since we have unique senses of humor. The last time we got shoe instructions was when we learned shoelace tying in kindergarten. “Loop one bunny ear, then the other; send the rabbit around the hole, through the hutch, and ta dum! Shoes tied!” Aahh sweet memories of that and eating that white paste at recess after playing “cooties.”

Anyway… we decided to live life on the edge, skip the instructions and take our Skechers on all sorts of adventures to see what they could handle. Since we teach a variety of classes plus power walk almost every day, we thought our shoes should go with us.

Do Skechers make Kymberly's legs look longer? Just say "yes."

First up: Low Impact class with Kymberly and her spiffy looking Women’s SRR Pro Speed.
Report directly from Kymberly’s Skechers: “Yes, this was an excellent and comfortable experience. I made Kymberly’s feet dance and twirl in comfort and style. Do her pants make my tongue look big?”

 

 

 

 

Step, step, step to my Lou

Next up: Step class with Kymberly
Report from K’s Skechers: “Big no for this activity. Kymberly’s balance was all over the place and the up and down stepping, lateral moves, and my shoe tread combined with the step rubber did not really play well together. Our master looked styler at least (that’s what Kymberly insisted we call her or she was going to tie us in knots).”

 

Last in-class visit: Kymberly’s Strength Training Class with Tubing

Oops, we thought this was a snake.

No, I'm not being arch! Quit trying to resist!

Skechers shoes reporting directly: “Gotta say, I was comfy and foot supportive throughout. However, the tube exercisers insist on using had nowhere to fit under my rocker! That darn resistance tubing kept slipping out from underfoot as my shoe has no arch underneath to keep it in place. So, rocker type shoes and tubing are not destined to work out safely together. No way to anchor = tube snap!”

The Path to Happy Feet

Power Walking and Aerobic Moseying with Kymberly: Field report: “SUCCESS IS OURS! Being on Kymberly’s’ feet so long, I noticed she has arthritis in her big toes and a knee that has had two major surgeries. So normally long walks hurt her feet and knee. She is acutely aware of foot strike and impact issues and usually takes her shoes off the minute she gets home as her feet cramp. I overheard her tell her sister that these shoes were surprisingly the MOST comfortable ones she has walked in and that her feet felt cushioned, fully engaged in each stride, and very light and springy from start to finish! She even kept me on for hours afterwards walking around the house and generally being footloose and fancy free! Apparently I am ‘walkers’ not ‘rockers’!”

Kymberly: Bottom line, these shoes are now my favorite walking shoes. But when equipment is involved, naaah!

Alexandra’s Shoes and Reviews:

Alexandra: I got the Fitness Flex Tone-Ups, which have very little of the “rocker” tone-up aspect, which is actually why I selected that style.
Here’s what I like about them:

* very lightweight
* attractive colors
* extremely comfortable, even with my wide feet
* great breatheability (this means I don’t end up with stinky feet)

Here’s where I won’t wear them: Teaching classes. I tried them in many of my formats (step, strength, hi/low cardio, kickbox, sports training,, etc.) and they were too unstable. I get the Good Sport award for thorough testing! Here’s where I will wear them: Walking. For walking I loved them. Keep in mind that I was walking on an unstable surface, not a sidewalk.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GTh4Oeh8og[/youtube]

Readers: We know some of you love them; some hate them. What’s your experience with the shoes? Do you feel drunk without having to actually drink when wearing them?

Photo Credits: I poached the Fitness Flex shoe pic off the Skechers site by doing a screen shot. Kymberly took all the other photos.

4

4 More Useless Exercises

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Okay, we took a bit of ribbing about our previous post of useless exercises, as in “Hey, I used to do that one too. Thanks a lot for the reminder!” That encouraged us so much that we moved with no forwarding address. But before we packed up our mats, weights and “no pain, no gain” mantras, we filmed a few more “lovelies” for you. And don’t do these exercises, unless you are auditioning for “Dancing with the Dorks.” If that’s the case, do all four in high heels. Men too!

Donkey kick

Donkey kicks are great exercise - for donkeys!

 

 

 

 

Quick quiz: What works your pecs (the chest) better, a push-up or the standing elbow squeeze? Sadly, we used to believe these might help. I think genetics and push-ups might have had more of an effect on the ol’ bust-a-roos! And nursing the evil spawn children!

This next hip-aching move was probably created by an overzealous instructor who saw a dog pissing on a hydrant. There’s no other explanation. Pain, lack of results and research kind of debunked this one too! And you’ve gotta ask yourself – um, do I ever need this particular move in real life?

Hee-haw hee-haw. Donkey kicks for the ass..inine. There are many other exercises out there that are great for the glutes (booty of perfection), but this ain’t one of ’em! We secretly call this one Donkey Spine Thrasher. Oh, yeah, we kicked some … donkey!

Do you know what ballistic stretching is? Neither did we. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, snap. You wouldn’t do this type of stretch-release-stretch-release with a rubber band, so why subject your hamstrings (or any muscle) to it? Here’s a quick quote from one of our favorite, extra-clever research colleagues, Dr. Len Kravitz of U of New Mexico, Albuquerque: “Ballistic stretching involves a bouncy approach to reach the target muscle’s motion endpoint. A concern with ballistic stretching is that it is often performed in a jerky, bobbing fashion that may produce undesirable tension or trauma to the stretched muscle and associated connective tissues. It may produce a potent stretch reflex that will oppose the muscle lengthening.”

Okay, admit it, are any of these still in your workout regimen? Can you dump it now? Can you dump it now? How ’bout now?

Call me to share your useless exercises

You're doing WHAT exercise?

Photo credits: Creative Commons (pmarkham)

6

Inner Thigh Exercises to Rock Your Jeans

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Can you recommend exercises to tone and lose weight in my inner thighs? I’m getting tired of ruining perfectly good jeans and shorts because of the wear in the fabric. I have an exercise ball hiding somewhere in my condo if that helps.
Susan, Milford, CT

yay for exercise balls

An exercise ball in every household!

Alexandra: Hi Susan!  Because we are saddened by your fashion mishaps, we want to help you! It’s great that you own an exercise ball, because we love them. Stability balls offer great options no matter what you want to work. The exercises you’re about to see in the video are good for strengthening your inner thighs, but if you also wish to lose the extra adipose tissue (er, that’s fat) sitting on top of and inside your muscles, you will have to do cardio–as in “move more.”

Kymberly: You can do cardio with the ball. Heck, you can fly across the country and take Alexandra’s cardio ball class if you are feeling spunky. Or just do whatever type of movement  you enjoy: Dancing in the Dark, Shakin’ Your Groove Thing, Running on Empty and  such like and so on. A fitness colleague of ours has some fun warm-up moves on the ball in this article, so take a quick look. Between the cardio on the ball and the inner thigh exercise options from our video, you will achieve the status of Your Royal Inner tHighness AND you will live to donate your jeans and shorts intact to your adoring subjects! (See photo above if you don’t believe us)

Photo credit: Creative Commons:  infomatique

4

Wrong & Right Way to Do a Squat

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Squats are an excellent way to work the booty…and quads and hamstrings! Lower body magic move alert!

Fitness Squats

Even in French, there's a wrong & right way to perform squats!

The problem is that most people do them wrong, then wonder why their backs or knees hurt. So Kymberly put on her booty boots, Alexandra put on her best “squint into the sun” face, and we decided to show you both the wrong and right way to do a squat. Come on now, do them with us! Even better, practice sideways to the mirror to check your form.

Well, are you and your now-perfect squat form ready for some boot-scootin’ boogie?

Photo credit: Creative Commons-Sanchom

9

Why Is My Lower Body in Pain After Running & Walking?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

How come I can run 10 miles Saturday a.m. with no soreness, but walking 8 miles slowly leaves my entire lower body in pain? Sunday I rested. Monday I did a 5 mile easy run that felt great. It was Tuesday’s slow 8 mile walk that made me sore!

Sherry, the Deep South, USA

Lower bodies of 3 guys

What does a lower body that's in pain look like exactly?

Dear Sore Sherry:

Alexandra: Well, “Day-um” as my other southern friends would say! And “DOMS.” Which is not a way of cussing with a northern accent. It stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. We talked about it in our suggestively named post “Calves Got a Stiffy,” and feel happy to talk about this topic even more. Essentially, elevating your core temperature (and thereby henceforthwith and so forthy warming up the muscles) within 24 hours of the original cardio exercise will help prevent muscle soreness later on. You don’t have to repeat the 10 mile run, but a walk of just ten minutes should do the trick.

Kymberly: Running is powered primarily by calves and quads. Walking is powered by glutes and shins (and therefore a great cross training or complementary cardio activity). So if you are used to running and added the walking recently, then your body may simply have been adapting to using your muscles in a new or different way. I am not sure if the pace has anything to do with the soreness unless the slow pace dictated or created an unusual gait that did not work for you biomechanically.

graph of Q angle

Q Angle for Women & Men

A: Door #3 – If it’s not delayed muscle soreness, could your pain be caused from overuse? Is it standard for you to do 31 miles in a 4-day span? Somewhere in here I’ll throw out the concept of post-run stretching…oh, there, I just did! With your entire lower body in pain, have you considered shin splints or your Q-angle? If you have fairly wide hips and/or a narrow stance, then your knees might be the ones yelling “ouchy.”

K: When you feel better, run or walk over to our place so you can let us know whether your pain and soreness are in your joints or muscles. If muscles, I’d say pull a Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t worry; Be happy.” If your pain is in the joints, I’d say, “whoa doggies, ask a health professional to assess you.” Do not light up those joints!
 

Dear Readers: When the crossing light says “Don’t Walk” do you run?

Photo credits: Photobucket and http://ericcressey.com/tag/acl

 

1

Indoor Cycle my A**, er, Glutes. And Calves.

Dear Fun and Fit: I had a quick gym question and I thought you would be good sources to ask! Today when I was at the gym I was on a low, seated bike, and my friend was on the one next to me. During the workout I felt it all in my glutes and upper quads; however she felt it only in her calves. I was wondering, am I doing it wrong? Should I be feeling it in my calves?
Thanks! Cycle Princess in CA

 

Kymberly: Not liking to stab in the dark–poke, poke, scream of pain!– I will say I must guess into the wilderness as to the reasons for the different effects. One guess as to what happened was you powered your downstroke of the bike with your quads and your upstroke with your glutes and hamstrings. Most likely you also had your toes closer to your body than your heel (flexed foot or dorsiflexion), especially on the downstroke. That means your calf was not involved that much as it was in slight extension. Your friend most likely had her toes pointed away from her (plantarflexion) throughout the work, which is very common, though not ideal. Therefore her calf was in slight contraction. Is one way wrong? Depends on your goal. But generally it is considered good form and far more powerful to work as you did and NOT to put the load into the calf.

recumbent indoor programmable bike Tesco

Guess where you can find this bike? In the Tesco link on our homepage on the right!

Alexandra: I’m not sure if you’re saying it was a recumbent bike or if you just like to lower the heck out of your seat on the indoor cycle, but we’ll start at recumbent;

Was your friend’s seat farther back than yours, relative to leg length? Because if her seat was way back, she might have had to point her toes a lot (back to plantarflexion) to reach the pedals, which would put her into a calf contraction – and not the kind that leads to cute little baby moos.

Baby Moo

Who wouldn't want to feel this adorable calf?

If you were on an upright bike with a really low seat, that could also contribute to the different results, depending on whether your toes were up or down.

Bremshey Indoor Exercise Cycle

This one can be found via the Tesco link on our home page too!

Were you a good witch or a bad witch? But then, if your seat was too low, your knees will hurt soon anyway, so who cares about the calf ache?

What has been your experience with indoor cycles and your muscles? How pointy are your toes when you cycle?

Photo credits: Creative Commons