Doing your first (or best) push up: top 3 exercises to improve push up strength

When we think about our fitness goals, one of the most common ones I hear revolves around push ups. I hear from ladies all the time that they’re trying to achieve their first push up from their toes, working on their range of motion, or trying to crush a fancy push up variation. Even in my #ConsistentlyLean coaching group, many of the ladies are working on their push up goals.

And I get it.

Crushing a full push up is HARD. It requires tons of upper body and core strength. And as women, we do tend to have more lower body than upper body strength. But don’t read that as “I’m never going to be able to do push ups from my toes.” There are SO many ways to increase your relative strength enough to complete lots of different types of push ups (the triceps push up is one of my faves).

woman push up

I’ve worked with nearly 100 women online over the last year and have helped many of them achieve their push up goals. So today, I’m sharing my three favorite exercises to progress your push up (learn exactly how to implement them in my free #PushUpPower Blueprint).

 

But first, let’s talk form.

One of the biggest mistakes I see ladies make in the gym is doing push ups with crappy form. They’re on their toes, arching their backs, and barely moving their chests towards the ground.

I get it. There’s pride involved. We want to be able to do *real* push ups. But the truth is, our bodies don’t care if we are on our toes, knees, or up against a wall. Our bodies know the force exerted on the muscles. And with a push up, range of motion is queen. We’ve gotta make sure that we’re correctly progressing (here’s how to progress or regress any exercise) so that we are moving towards a full range of motion (think chest all the way to the ground while still engaging the core).

This is why I won’t default to having clients perform their push ups from their knees; the range of motion is different AND it does not engage the core muscles in the same way. Today, I’m gonna share my three favorite exercises to help you build push up strength so that you can do your first (or best!) push up. If you want me to break it all down for you and show you exactly what to do, check this out.

 

Before we get started…

If you’re working through an injury, follow the cardinal role of working out: don’t do anything that hurts! If you’re feeling pain, stop it.

However, if you’re feeling stiff, that could be a warm up or activation issue. It’s so incredibly important to warm up prior to exercising, but it’s something so many of us skip, because it feels like just another long set of exercises to do before we start our actual exercise. That’s why I warm up like this instead.

Additionally, it’s super important that we activate the muscles we’re about to work, prior to exercising. This (1) decreases the likelihood of injury and (2) helps our muscles work harder during the actual workout. Activation is so important that I specifically call it out in my DARR formula for effective workouts.

Alright.

Assuming now that we’re all warmed up, activated, and ready to go, here are my three favorite exercises to improve your push up strength.

Learn the 3 best exercises to improve your push up. push up challenge - how to do a push up - beginner push up - push up workout

Wall Push Up

If you’re just getting started with push ups, this is the best place to start (yes, instead of push ups from your knees). This exercise will build the strength you need while also engaging your core.

Elevated Push Up

Once wall push ups become too easy for you, it’s time to elevate your hands. By elevating your hands, the movement becomes quite a bit easier (while still forcing you to use your core muscles).

While you’re doing elevated push ups, you can definitely incorporate some push ups from your knees for variety.

Push Up Holds

Once you’ve mastered these push up variations, it’s time to start increasing the challenge. One of the best ways to do this is through push up holds.

By holding yourself at the bottom of the range of motion, you’ll build lots of strength so that you can do even more challenging variations. It’s super important NOT to arch your back while you hold, so be mindful of your form.

By incorporating these three exercises into your routine, you’ll definitely master the push up! Try adding one (or all) to your next workout. If you want a step by step guide, grab my push up blueprint. I’ll tell you exactly what to do and when to do it to get your first (or best!) push up in the next four weeks. Check out all the details here.

My 5 tips to create and implement a short effective workout routine. workout routine for weight loss - workout routine at home - full body workout routine

How to create a (short) effective workout routine – 5 tips

Sign ups are now open for #StressFreeStrength, my FREE 10 day fitness challenge to help you get back on track with your workouts, stress free! Crush 8 workouts over 10 days, and get a chance to win free coaching with me! Join in for free here!

I talk a lot about why it’s so important to workout intelligently and for less time (two reasons to shorten your workout today). But the truth is, I haven’t talked much about exactly how to do it!

Information and knowledge are all well and good but until we learn to implement, we’re stuck in the exact same spot. Honestly, I think this is why we are all still struggling – we have so much great information out there but nobody will take time to show us how to make it work for our own lives.

If I’m honest, I fell into this trap just a couple years ago. Back in early 2015, I knew I wanted to make a change to my workout routine and body composition, so I started researching.

I read one article saying HIIT workouts were the only way to lose weight, so I added an extra 20 minute workout onto my long run.

I saw that strength training workouts were the best way to change your body shape, so I completed 60+ minute BodyRock.tv workouts every morning.

It felt like I was doing everything *right,* listening to all the advice I found and still not seeing results. Talk about frustrating.

Looking back now, I see that my inability to create an effective workout routine was alllllll in the implementation (need help implementing? My #StressFreeStrength free challenge will teach you to get back on track with your workouts without any stress or obsession). Even though I had some of the core ideas right, I failed at creating an effective workout routine that would help me reach my goals.

So today, I’m gonna stop talking about WHY we should shorten our workouts to get more consistent (if you’re struggling with consistency, make sure you’re not making one of these mistakes) and talk more about HOW to implement a short, effective workout routine for yourself. Of course, if you want a done-for-you workout program, #SkipTheGym is always available for ya, but if you wanna DIY, these are my 5 pro tips.

5 tips to create your own short, effective workout routine

My 5 tips to create and implement a short effective workout routine. workout routine for weight loss - workout routine at home - full body workout routine

Focus on full body workouts

One of the biggest mistakes I see is focusing waaaay too much on small muscle groups. I blame this on Pinterest and all of the workout pins promising tone our flabby arms or spot reduce belly fat. We find a pin promising to get rid of bat wings, so we do an hour of triceps extensions and wonder why we still have fat on our arms. Yikes.

While there is some benefit in doing upper/lower body split workouts (example), when we’re aiming for a short effective workout routine, we gotta get efficient.

And full body workouts are efficient (see my full body workout archives here) because by working both your upper and lower body, you force your body to work harder during your workout. Working harder = more calories burned = more results

How to implement

Instead of doing workouts that focus on a single muscle group, work your entire body. Alternate between upper and lower body exercises within a single workout. This is how every #StressFreeStrength workout is set up.

Train with compound movements

A compound movement is an exercise that works multiple parts of your body at once. So, going back to our toned arms example, instead of simply doing a triceps extension or overhead press, we combine it with a lower body exercise to make it way harder.

Below is one of my favorite compound movements to incorporate into my workouts.

How to implement

Take a look at your workouts and identify exercises that are only working one muscle at a time, and sub out these movements for compound movements. Comment on my FB if you have questions or need help picking a new exercise.

Combine cardio and weight training

When it comes to an effective workout routine, we want to find ways to get our cardio and strength training in a single workout.

This saves time and can help speed up our results/push through plateaus.

How to implement

Do not read this tip as: add some strength training to your long cardio workout. That was the mistake I made that kept me struggling. Instead, you can do one of two things.

  1. Add a cardio finisher or primer to your strength workout. Think 5-10 minutes of super intense cardio intervals (like sprints) that you add to the beginning or end of your workout.
  2. Incorporate cardio exercises into your strength routine. Here is a workout where I do exactly that. You’ll notice it works your full body, uses compound movements, and combines cardio and strength.

Lift heavy for you

Doing strength training with weights that are too light for us is not gonna help us achieve any of our goals. In order to force our bodies to change (and show us the results we’re waiting for), we have to challenge them (AKA lift heavy).

How to implement

Grab heavy weights for YOU in that SPECIFIC exercise. It should be difficult to complete the last 2-3 reps of any exercise, and yes, that means you will ideally have multiple sets of weights.

I wrote an entire article on the topic, if you’d like more information on choosing the appropriate weight.

Keep it simple

If you’re doing tips 1-4, it’s time to stop stressing about the rest. Don’t worry about heart rate zones or the number of calories you’re burning. The more we focus on the small details, the more likely we will struggle with consistency

How to implement

If you’re overwhelmed by all the things, pick ONE of these tips to incorporate into your workout routine this week. See how that goes, them add more the following week. Slow, small changes ARE enough.

Ready to get started with a short effective workout routine? Let me do all the set up for you. If you’re ready to dial it in but don’t know where to start or how to get back on track without getting super obsessive about it, #StressFreeStrength is for you.

#StressFreeStrength is unique, because I’m gonna show you exactly how to structure your workouts in a way that keeps you from getting stressed out. The goal is to crush 8 workouts (all 30 minutes or less and doable at home) over 10 days, and every lady who completes all 8 will be put in the running to win free coaching with me.

We get started on Saturday September 9 (yep Saturday!) so sign up ASAP here.

3 reasons you don’t feel like working out (and how to fix them)

I hate to say it, but motivation is SUPER fleeting. There are mornings we wake up and are ready to go. We slept well, had a great cup of coffee, and are itching to crush a workout (why not #SkipTheGym and do it at home?!).

But that’s not always the case, is it?

Alarm goes off for the 5th time, after repeatedly pressing snooze. We had planned to get in a workout but staying in bed seems like SUCH a better option. It’s not that we’re sore, overly tired, or injured. We don’t don’t feel like working out.

Motivation shifts and changes, sometimes even throughout the day. As a trainer and nutrition coach, I work with ladies all around the world, helping them to get consistent with exercise and healthy eating without obsession. And honestly, when we don’t have obsession or rigid tracking to motivate us, there are many times that we just won’t feel feel like working out.

And that’s okay…if it lasts for a day. Not feeling like working out can be a sign that your body just needs a rest. So when my clients are feeling super burned out, I encourage them to take a rest day.

BUT, if the lack of motivation outlasts the rest day, we gotta figure out what’s going on.

After working with hundreds of women online, I’ve found that we often fall into one of three traps. Today, I’m sharing the 3 reasons we might not feel like working out AND what to do about them.

3 reasons you don’t feel like working out (and how to fix them)

exercise motivation - staying motivated - exercise motivation tips - exercise motivation tips

You’re bored

I’m not sure about you but when I’m dreading the monotony of a workout, I have no desire to get my sweat on.

Too often, I talk with women who are doing workouts that bore the crap out of them because they think they’re what they *should* be doing.  Their old personal trainer said HIIT was best for fat loss. They read on Tone It Up that we have to lift itty-bitty weights. BodyRockTV says intensity is key to getting results. So they drag themselves to the gym to do the next popular workout…even if they hate it.

And frankly, this is one of the worst ways to approach fitness, because we’ll never actually feel like working out.

How to fix it

Lady, we gotta add some fun into our workouts, once and for all. Fitness should never be a punishment, and if “working out” is synonymous with dread, something’s gotta change. When we actually enjoy the process of what we’re doing, motivation stops becoming an issue (see the research/my take on it here) and consistency comes naturally (see the three most common workout consistency mistakes here).

Love circuits? Do circuit workouts. (These are what my clients love and are central to #SkipTheGym workout programming).

Yoga makes you so happy? Do yoga.

Running helps you be chill AF? Go run.

Even if it’s not the *best way* to workout, do your thing. That’s what’s gonna help us crush workouts week after week.

You don’t know what to do

One of the other super common reasons we may not feel like working out, is we don’t actually know wtf to do.  There’s so much information out there that we can often get into a state of information overload and stop working out all together (this is why I wrote my entire Master the Weight Room series, to break everything down and stop the overwhelm when it comes to strength training).

And this makes sense, doesn’t it?

There are so many ways we could workout, so many trainers we could listen to, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When we feel overwhelmed we’re so much more likely to stay with our current way of doing things (in this case, skipping workouts because we don’t feel like working out).

How to fix it

Follow a plan and take the guesswork out of it. Having someone tell us what to do can be SO helpful if we’re overwhelmed by all the options.

This is why #SkipTheGym takes all the guesswork out of the equation. In my at-home exercise solution, you’ll be set up with a done-for-you 4-week exercise program that makes it nearly impossible to miss your workouts. Get more details here.

You’re frustrated because you’re not seeing results

If we’ve been exercising for a while, it’s pretty easy to lose motivation when we are not seeing results.

My favorite example is when you think about a recreational runner who runs a three mile loop, five days a week, hoping to lose weight (she should be lifting heavy shit but that’s besides the point). At the beginning, she may burn 350 calories over the course of her run and notice some changes in her leg musculature. Pretty sweet. But even within the first four weeks of her starting her running program, the calories burned over those three miles could drop to something like 300 and her body’s not going to keep changing.

At the same time, that lack of body change is going to make it a lot harder to keep crushing the workouts. We begin wondering why to do it if it’s not working.

How to fix it

Results come from effective, challenging workouts done consistently. I wish there was a magic way to change our bodies but it comes down to two things:

Consistency & Variety

Why? Your body ONLY responds to the demands that you place on it. So in that first Studio BARRE workout, you body was working pretty hard to get ‘er done. You were probably super sore and tired afterwards. That second, third, fourth class, maybe you felt the same. But by the thirteenth class, yeah not so much. By that point, your body has adapted to this type of activity and can do it pretty well.

Sooo…what should we do instead?

  1. Stay consistent. Workout 3-5x per week.
  2. Mix it up. Don’t do the same thing week after week.

This is why #SkipTheGym includes a workout calendar that changes after 2 weeks. Two weeks is about how long it takes our bodies to get used to a workout, so it’s time to change things after that 14 day mark.

When we do these simple things, results will come.

If you wanna learn to stay consistent with your workouts, #SkipTheGym is a great option. I created a 4-week blueprint to consistent, efficient workouts that you can do without going to the gym.  In my four week #SkipTheGym program, you’ll get 10 full-length workouts, 3 of my favorite warm-ups, and a suggested workout calendar so that you can build a consistent workout routine, without ever stepping foot in the gym.

Each workout is designed for maximum efficiency so that you can warm up and complete the entire workout in less than 35 minutes #MoveSweatMoveOn.

Grab all the info and sign up here.

3 reasons to skip your Monday workout

Your alarm clock sounds on Monday morning, and it’s way too early. The weekend went way too fast, and you’re still dead tired. Still in denial, you reach for your phone to scroll through Instagram to help you wake up. As you scroll through the countless images, you’re flooded with pictures of men and women dragging themselves to the gym on Monday morning, always tagged with #nevermissamonday. After seeing these images, you wonder if you should crush your workout, even though you’re exhausted.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a little too much fun over the weekend or a lack of motivation, we don’t always feel like working out on the first day of a work (or school) week. And even as I see trainers across the internet touting the importance of nevering missing a Monday, I completely disagree and often tell my clients to completely ignore the #nevermissamonday hype. I completely disagree because I’ve struggled with the obsession that comes with believing missing a single day will derail our progress.

I remember one Monday morning in particular; I had recently graduated college, started a new job, and was living with my boyfriend. We had had friends over to our apartment the night before. We drank wine, watched movies, and had an awesome time. When I rolled over to look at the clock, I felt nothing but exhaustion. The idea of dragging myself out onto the pavement to run five miles sounded like torture. But when I walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I knew I was going to go anyway, because there was no way I was going to let myself miss that workout. For years, this is how I lived.

3 reasons to skip your Monday workout

Monday workout motivation. Monday workout quotes. Monday workout at home. Monday workout inspiration.

So, now, as a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I work with women all across the United States to help them change their bodies without any obsession or extra stress. And even though #nevermissamonday encourages accountability and motivation on the days we’re dragging, it also:

Encourages an ‘all or nothing’ mentality

Central to the #nevermissamonday mentality is that we’re either working out/active/good/on track or we’re completely off the wagon. So if we miss our workout, we might as well eat fast food for the rest of the day, right?

Yeah. No.

Maybe we don’t feel like a full workout but can squeeze in a longer walk with our dogs. Or maybe we need an extra rest day, so we focus on cooking healthy, delicious meals.

It’s never all or nothing, and we can have a healthy Monday without an intense workout.

Ignores the importance of listening to your body

Let’s be real. Sometimes, we just need a break. An extra rest day can actually be better than a workout when our bodies are wrecked or we’re super stressed. When we stop listening to our bodies, we set ourselves up for problems in the long term, including overtraining, injury, or illness. This is definitely not worth it.

dynamic stretching

Listening to our bodies can be tough. Here are my three ways to listen to your body when you don’t know how.

Hands over our power and motivation to a ‘day’

I think what bothers me most about #nevermissamonday is the insinuation that if we skip a Monday workout, we’ve somehow doomed the rest of the week. There’s no reason that missing your Monday workout is more detrimental to your progress than skipping a Wednesday workout.

At its core, we’ve got to view each day is its own separate entity. This empowers us to make a decision of what’s best for us in that moment. Some Mondays, we are ready to go; others require a little patience and ease. Both are okay, and neither dictates the outcome of the rest of your week.

So the next time Monday comes around and working out isn’t top of our priority list [make sure you’re not making these consistency mistakes, too], we all need to ask ourselves one question: why?

Exhausted or hurting? Yes. 

Sick? Yes.

Stressed out by every other part of your life? Yes.

Bored of your current routine and just kinda don’t feel like it? Probably not. Do something completely different to mix it up, like beta test #SkipTheGym

Because we are all on a long-term fitness journey, it’s important to remember that no one workout is separating us from success or failure. Whether or not your balanced approach to fitness it includes this Monday’s workout is irrelevant. As long as you find what works for you, you’re golden.

Now, if you’re missing your Monday workout because you’re too busy to go to the gym, lovely, I made this for you. #SkipTheGym makes it possible to never miss a workout again. And for the month of July, you can try out the workouts absolutely free before the program launches to the public next month. Grab all the details and sign up here. 

Full Body, Bodyweight Stair Workout

Sign ups are now open for #StressFreeStrength, my FREE 10 day fitness challenge to help you get back on track with your workouts, stress free! Crush 8 workouts over 10 days, and get a chance to win free coaching with me! Join in for free here!

When we are pressed for time and have zero equipment, sometimes it’s best to turn to the things that are already around us. Whether traveling or at home, we often aren’t far away from a set of stairs. So that kind of makes it the perfect piece of workout equipment, doesn’t it? That’s why I decided to share today’s newest full body stair workout.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a workout, so after Andrew and my trip to Healdsburg (see the shenanigans on Instagram), I wanted to create a workout we can do while traveling.

As I started thinking about the workout I wanted to create, I started thinking about the time in high school I went to Washington DC on a class trip. Thousands of high schoolers flocked to DC to see the 2008 election. Apparently, my school had worked out some sort of agreement with the hotel that barred the students from using the hotel gym. Now, I was in the throws of my eating disorder and absolutely panicked at not being able to work out. We were seeing museums and sitting in buses all day. There was no way I wasn’t working out.

I remember weighing the options in my mind and settling on using the stairs. I was so scared to wake up my roommates that I simply walked up and down ten flights of stairs for an hour.

Looking back now, I had options (quick bodyweight circuit in the hallway anyone?) but this memory got me inspired to create a workout JUST using the stairs. I’m sharing that workout with you, today.

What is it?

Today’s stair workout will work your entire body. One round will take about 6 minutes to complete, and I recommend completing 2-3 rounds for a full workout.

Today's full body bodyweight stair workout will work your entire body. One round will take about 6 minutes to complete, and I recommend completing 2-3 rounds for a full workout.

As always, be sure to incorporate a warm up and some activation per the DARR Formula for Effective Workouts.

If you’d like to follow along with me, you can use one of my favorite warm up routines.

What do I need to complete this stair workout?

You’ll need a flight of stairs. That’s it! I’m using the stairs (there are 12 steps) leading up to my second story apartment

If you have more stairs (like a set of bleachers), that works too. I’d suggest breaking up the exercises into reps of 12-16.

How should I incorporate this stair workout into my routine?

This stair workout incorporates both conditioning and a bit of strength training. Given that we’re not lifting super heavy weights, you can include this workout 2-3x per week in your workout plan (learn more about how I create my workout plans here).

As always, take it to your level. I’ll provide modifications and form cues in the demo video below. If you’re looking to progress this workout without adding any equipment, I’ll show you how here.

Let me know if you have questions! I hope you enjoy this one (more bodyweight workouts here) as much as I did!

If you’re ready to dial it in but don’t know where to start or how to get back on track without getting super obsessive about it, #StressFreeStrength is for you.

#StressFreeStrength is unique, because I’m gonna show you exactly how to structure your workouts in a way that keeps you from getting stressed out. The goal is to crush 8 workouts (all 30 minutes or less and doable at home) over 10 days, and every lady who completes all 8 will be put in the running to win free coaching with me.

We get started on Saturday September 9 (yep Saturday!) so sign up ASAP here.

What’s your workout today!?

What if you really hate working out?

Exercise. It’s either a passion, source of enjoyment, or the bane of our existence. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. But whether we hate working out or love it, we know it has tons of benefits.

So when I got an email from a woman earlier this week saying she knows she should be more active but she hates working out, I felt compelled to write about the topic.

As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I work with women all around the world to help them get more consistent with their workouts and nutrition without becoming obsessive. And the truth is, not all of them come to me loving fitness [start with my free fitness challenge if you want some guidance]. So sometimes, we have to work through why they aren’t wanting to exercise.

Through working with lots of women, I’ve found that asking three simple questions can help us be more consistent with our workouts even if we’re not currently enjoying them.

Three questions to ask yourself if you’re hating your workouts

Do you hate working out? Through working with lots of women, I've found that asking three simple questions can help us be more consistent with our workouts even if we're not currently enjoying them.

Do you have a skills based goal?

Often, we exercise without specific goals. We try to drag ourselves to the gym because it’s “good for us” but we have no real reason for being there. That’s where skills based goals come into play.

A key way to achieve long term fitness motivation is to focus on building skill competency. In other words, emphasize skill development in your workouts. By picking a new sport or skill, you’ll set goals that revolve around improving yourself. This is HUGE with adult exercisers, because research shows that skill development is strongly correlated with greater exercise participation over the long term.

Spend some time thinking of a skill you want to develop and make a plan. This could include joining an adult sports league, mastering a tough movement pattern (like maybe a Turkish Get-Up), or increasing your squat weight.

Are you focusing only on outcomes?

Outcomes goals are the most common type of goal, right? We workout because we want to lose 10lbs, fit into our skinny jeans without sucking our stomachs in, or rock that LBD for our high school reunion. But what about when we reach (or fail to reach) those goals?

I’ll tell you…we start to hate our workouts.

I’m not saying to throw away outcome goals all together, in fact, they help you get started, but if you also work to value the actual act of exercising, you’ll achieve much more long term success.

Start thinking about all the positives that come with working out. These will be super individualized and personal but some examples of how to focus on the actual act of working out include mantras like:

  • Doing circuit workouts are fun/enjoyable.
  • I love improving my kettlebell skills.
  • By working out, I’ll be able to stay active for the rest of my life.
  • I build a community of friends through my workouts.

To get your personal mantras, ask yourself questions like:

  • How does exercise help me live the life I want?
  • What do I enjoy about working out?
  • How am I building social connections through working out?
  • How does exercise make me feel?

Are you not moving in a way that brings you joy?

Too often, I talk with women who are doing workouts that bore the crap out of them because they think they’re what they *should* be doing.  Their old personal trainer said HIIT was best for fat loss. They read on Tone It Up that we have to lift itty-bitty weights. BodyRockTV says intensity is key to getting results. So they drag themselves to the gym to do the next popular workout…even if they hate it.

Lovely, this just won’t work. If consistency with working out is our goal, we gotta move in ways that bring us joy so we actually want to keep moving.

It’s time we stop punishing ourselves with movement and find ways of working out that bring us joy. When we actually enjoy the process of what we’re doing, motivation stops becoming an issue (see the research/my take on it here) and consistency comes naturally (see the three most common workout consistency mistakes here).

If you wanna refresh your workout routine and try new workouts, join my #SkipTheGym beta test group. #SkipTheGym is the at-home workout solution for the busy woman who finds herself inconsistent with her workouts because she can’t always get to the gym or fit in a 60 minute sweat sesh. Grab all the details and get your free workouts here.

Whether workouts are second nature or we're still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time. It's counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to shorten your workout!

2 reasons to shorten your workout

Sign ups are now open for #StressFreeStrength, my FREE 10 day fitness challenge to help you get back on track with your workouts, stress free! Crush 8 workouts over 10 days, and get a chance to win free coaching with me! Join in for free here!

Do you think a workout has to be 60 minutes? Or maybe you think it’s impossible to see changes in your body if you’re exercising for less than an hour a day.

Yeah. I used to think that too.

Somewhere along the line, we got it into our heads that an hour of exercise per day was *best.* To be totally honest, I’m not really sure where that came from; the USDA and other government agencies, popular fitness culture, and PE teachers around the world all seem to profess the importance of getting an hour of physical activity per day.

All throughout high school, college, and my early twenties, I went through my life thinking if I didn’t have that hour long workout it somehow didn’t count. Every time I laced up my shoes to go for a run, I’d set that stopwatch for 60 minutes. When I’d search through FitnessBlender’s video archives for my daily workout, I’d mentally tabulate if the videos added up to an hour. As I stepped on the elliptical machine, I’d calculate how much cardio I’d need before starting my arm workout to hit that 60 minute mark.

I felt constant anxiety any time I exercised for less than an hour and constantly thought about how to fit in my long ass workouts.

And let’s be real, this sucked.

Whether workouts are second nature or we’re still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time.

Here’s the thing. So many women STILL believe that more is always better, so they stress about getting in 60 minute gym workouts. If they’re not able to fit in those long ass workouts, they’re beating themselves up, anxious, and forcing themselves eat less to make up for it.

This is an awful cycle that’s keeping us from reaching our goals. What most of us miss is that trying to complete long workouts is actually making us fatter. (Join my free challenge to learn what to do instead)

It’s counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to do a short workout!

2 reasons to shorten your workout TODAY

Whether workouts are second nature or we're still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time. It's counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to shorten your workout!

You can dial up the intensity

When we have to do a full 60 minutes on the treadmill, it’s nearly impossible to push ourselves to the maximum intensity. From the mental standpoint, it’s hard to motivate ourselves to go hard when we know we have to keep on going for another 40 minutes. And from the physical standpoint, our bodies can’t go all out for long periods of time.

So when we work out for long durations, intensity drops significantly.

On the flip side, when we shorten our workouts, we can work much harder. And honestly? Intensity is what brings the results.

When performed correctly, high intensity training majorly increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption [source]. This means extra calorie burn even AFTER you finish your workout while your body is making up for all the energy it used during your sweat session. Intense training is what gives you the afterburn effect all the online fitness websites reference.

You will be more consistent

If you’re like me, you don’t often have time for 60 minute workouts. However, a 20 minute workout is super reasonable AND effective. If you cram intensity into 20 minutes, you can still get results, because you’re forcing your body to work hard, instead of going through the motions on the elliptical for an hour.

Here’s the thing, lovely. 60 minutes of exercise is great…if it’s doable, stress-free, and fun. But for most of us, that’s just not realistic on our busy (standard) days. 60 minute workouts are for that best case scenario, when we have a day off work, the fur children (kids) are taken care of, and our schedule is wide open. They’re not for Monday mornings when we have a 9am meeting and the dogs need to go for a walk.

If 60 minute workouts are our default, we inevitably are less consistent.

If our workout routines are all 60 minutes long and we only have thirty minutes, what happens? I’ll tell ya what happens….we slip up. We fall into a fuck it moment and tell ourselves “oh well, I can’t do xyz, so I’ll just get back on track tomorrow.” These moments are what make us inconsistent. I am a huge proponent of shorter workouts–not because 60 minute sweat sessions aren’t valuable but because they can hinder consistency and progress.

Before implementing shorter workouts, I’d feel overwhelmed by the amount of time it’d take to complete a workout. On days where I didn’t have at least an hour to devote to working out, I’d just skip it and make myself eat less to “make up for” my missed workout. Now, I’ve cut my workout time in half without compromising results.

If you’re ready to dial it in but don’t know where to start or how to get back on track without getting super obsessive about it, #StressFreeStrength is for you.

#StressFreeStrength is unique, because I’m gonna show you exactly how to structure your workouts in a way that keeps you from getting stressed out. The goal is to crush 8 workouts (all 30 minutes or less and doable at home) over 10 days, and every lady who completes all 8 will be put in the running to win free coaching with me.

We get started on Saturday September 9 (yep Saturday!) so sign up ASAP here.

How long are your daily workouts?

dynamic stretching

How to create the best 20 minute workout

We head to the gym or lace up our running shoes most days. Maybe we’re 100% consistent with our workouts or maybe we’re still struggling to build that habit. But either way, we can all identify with the nagging question: did I do enough?

I talk with women all the time who tell me they’re hitting the gym, getting consistent, but they never feel like they’ve done enough. When they get home, they are constantly beating themselves up, wondering if they should have done more, pushed harder, or stayed longer.

They’re never finishing a workout feeling awesome. And that sucks, right? This makes working out 10000000x less fun AND it makes makes staying consistent with our workouts even more difficult. (are you making one of the top 3 workout consistency mistakes?

I get it. When I first graduated college and started trying to make changes to my body composition, I was working out a TON. I did at least two BodyRockTV or FitnessBlender workouts per day and ran three days a week. I remember waking up at 6am, rolling out of bed, and grabbing my computer to choose my daily workout. First, I filtered out the ‘too easy’ workouts (anything level 1-4). Then, I reviewed the level 5 (or most advanced) FitnessBlender workouts and picked 2-3 to complete that morning. Even after killing myself for an hour, I would feel like I should have worked harder or done more. It was an awful feeling.

So, with lots of experimentation, I’ve found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I’m sharing it today. I’ve found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so  if we include these, we can rest assured we’ve created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we’ve done enough.

Why 20 minutes?

When we’re training for RESULTS (whether aesthetic or performance), intensity trumps duration. When we work out for short periods of time, we are able to push harder and challenge our bodies more than if we drag ourselves through a 60 minute session.

By implementing 20 minute workouts into our routines, we stop making the “I don’t have time” excuse. Through working with women around the world, I’ve found that the 20-30 minute workout is a #ConsistencyKey (a high impact behavior that make us significantly more consistent).

With that, let’s see this formula for the best 20 minute workout, shall we?

The DARR Formula for creating the best 20 minute workout

So, with lots of experimentation, I've found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I'm sharing it today. I've found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so if we include these, we can rest assured we've created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we've done enough.

Dynamic warm up

When we’re pressed for time, our default is to skip the warm up (*I’m guilty of this*). This is a big no-no.

Warm ups decrease likelihood of injury and help our bodies prepare for intense movement.

If we don’t have time, just include 2 minutes of dynamic stretching and light cardio (think jumping jacks, high knees).

dynamic stretching

Activation round

OK. We’ve used 2 minutes for our warm up. 18 minutes to go in the best 20 minute workout. The next step of the DARR Formula is activating the muscle groups to be used in the workout. With DARR, we focus on full body workouts, so I recommend choosing 1-2 movements per muscle group (listed below).

Lower body

Glute bridges

Glute bridge marching

Bodyweight squats

Bodyweight lateral lunges

Upper body

Arm swings

Arm circles

Elevated push ups

Core

Bird dog

Toe taps

Dead bug

Plank

Alternatively, you can go through one round of my general warm up or my glute and core activation warm up. Both incorporate the dynamic warm up and activation elements.

Resistance training

When pressed for time, we want to make the most of the time we have. So for the remaining 16 minutes of our workout, we will do some high intensity resistance training. My favorite way to do this is implementing Metabolic Effect’s Rest Based Training (RBT) principle (see more here). With RBT, we work as hard as we possibly can for the prescribed interval, resting only as needed.

The simplest way to do this is to do a 4×4 circuit: four exercises (1 total body, 1 lower body, 1 upper body, and 1 core exercise), 1 minute per exercise, four times through.

Alternatively, below are a couple of my favorite full body workouts that you can use for the resistance training portion of the workout.

My go-to full body workout

25th birthday inspired full body workout

10 minute full body ladder workout

Full body chained complex workout

Metabolic conditioning full body workout

Recover

Here’s our bonus section. Before we get on with our days, the best 20 minute workout’s gotta include some sort of recovery or cool down.

Foam rolling, stretching, and dog walking are my favorite forms of post workout recovery. Even when pressed for time, taking just a few minute to breath deeply and take a walk can make a huge difference to your performance longer term.

Use the DARR Formula to create the best 20 minute workout out there, and let me know how it goes!

So, with lots of experimentation, I've found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I'm sharing it today. I've found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so if we include these, we can rest assured we've created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we've done enough.

Each month, I share an exclusive DARR workout with my tribe. If you wanna get free workouts that are effective and results driven, join my tribe. I’m sending out the next one soon!

What’s your favorite 20 minute workout? 

Three workout mistakes that are keeping you inconsistent

Struggling to stay consistent with our workout routine sucks. Sometimes we’re on it. Our workouts fit perfectly into our schedule, our motivation is high, and we’ve got tons of energy. All is good. Until, suddenly, out of nowhere, we’re sitting on the couch watching the Bachelor, realizing it’s been two weeks since we last hit the gym.

Whoops.

I get it. I hear from women all the time who are working so hard to get consistent with their fitness. They know that eating healthy and exercising is “good for us” but they can have a hard time implementing. They buy countless online training programs, download free workout templates, and sign up for Classpass (see why you’re not getting the results you want here), believing that this time will be different, but they’re still missing workouts. (If this sounds like you, #SkipTheGym is a gamechanger).

In our minds, it shouldn’t be so difficult. We shouldn’t continue to struggle even when we *know* working out is super important–and even a priority.

Well, I’ve found that we struggle to make our workouts consistent, because we’re making the same we’re-doing-the-best-we-can-and-trying-to-do-all-the-right-things kind of mistakes over and over.

No more.

Today, I’m sharing the top three workout mistakes that are keeping us from consistency in our workouts AND how to overcome each workout mistake using a #ConsistencyKey. A #ConsistencyKey is a high-impact behavior that makes a huge impact on our ability to be consistent. If you’re new to exercise or struggling to get consistent once and for all, it’s time to check yourself.

Three common workout mistakes that keep us inconsistent

Still missing workouts? Check yourself. Are you making one of these mistakes? #3 was the hardest one for me to fix!

Workout mistake #1: we’re doing workouts we don’t love

Our old personal trainer said HIIT was best for fat loss. We read on Tone It Up that we have to lift itty-bitty weights. BodyRockTV says intensity is key to getting results. [Insert source here] said we need to do [insert workout here], so we drag ourselves to the gym to do the next popular workout…even if we hate it.

Lovely, this just isn’t worth it. If consistency is our goal, we gotta move in ways that bring us joy so we actually want to keep moving.

#ConsistentKey Solution: Change it up!

Just a couple weeks ago, I was checking in with a client of mine who was scared to let me know she wasn’t super excited about doing a particular workout in her program. She told me “I know it’s good for me, so I do it anyway.”

Full stop.

Instead of preaching the benefits of a particular style of workout, we pivoted, discussed her exact goals for the next two weeks, and created a new plan she was actually excited about. And you know what? She crushed every single workout in that new phase.

It’s time we stop punishing ourselves with movement and find ways of working out that bring us joy. When we actually enjoy the process of what we’re doing, motivation stops becoming an issue (see the research/my take on it here) and consistency comes naturally.

Workout mistake #2: we’re don’t have a plan

When consistency becomes an issue, self-discipline or willpower will never be our solution. Too often, we try relying on self-discipline, which sets us up to fail.

Instead, I’m a huge proponent of doing all things nutrition and fitness without any willpower and with a lot of planning. It sounds so simple but it’s true. We don’t just skip work meetings because we’re tired. We don’t no-show dinner with friends because we’re stressed about school (well most of the time). But we do this with our workouts all the time.

This is why #SkipTheGym provides a done-for-you workout calendar so that missing your workouts is nearly impossible. But, if you wanna do it on your own, keep reading!

#ConsistentKey Solution: 3 S Formula for Consistency

By implementing this formula [read the full breakdown here], missing workouts will be a thing of the past.

Schedule

As with anything else in life, failing to plan is essentially planning to fail. So, when it comes to our workouts, we’ve got to schedule them. I recommend taking 10 minutes every Sunday to review the upcoming week and insert workouts into particular dates and times.

Start ahead

While having a plan is definitely helpful, we need to take it one step further and really prepare for each workout sesh. I take it a step further and start ahead mentally by asking myself the following questions before every workout:

What exercises are included in my workout?

Do I need any modifications? Progressions?

What’s my goal for the workout?

How much time will I need to complete the workout?

Stay accountable

It’s incredibly valuable to have someone hold us accountable for the workouts we want to complete. A simple social media check-in can be sufficient but I like to take it a step further. This is why I incorporate accountability elements in every single program I do. Accountability is SO important to our long term consistency success.

Workout mistake #3: we’re forcing ourselves to abide by the “60 minute workout rule”

For years, I believed that I had to exercise for an hour in order for it to *count.* If I couldn’t get in a 60 minute sweat sesh, I’d skip my workout.

I remember waking up late for class in college and realizing I didn’t have enough time for my crazy long workout session. Instead of throwing on my shoes and doing a quick bodyweight circuit in my dorm, I huffed off to class, feeling like a failure.

And that’s so common, isn’t it? We get down on ourselves and feel guilty when we can’t fit in that hour long workout, regardless of the circumstances. 

#ConsistencyKey Solution: reset expectations asap

We gotta get our minds right and reset our expectations.

Before implementing shorter workouts, I’d feel overwhelmed by the amount of time it’d take to complete a workout. On days where I didn’t have at least an hour to devote to working out, I’d just skip it and make myself eat less to “make up for” my missed workout. Now, I’ve cut my workout time in half without compromising results.

Instead of focusing on duration, I encourage my #SkipTheGym ladies and clients to focus on intensity. Whether I’m outside running sprints, doing bodyweight metabolic conditioning, or modifying a strength session to be more metabolic, I LOVE making my workouts intense and super fast.

Why?

They rev our metabolism, making that 60 minute, slow and steady workout pretty pointless. You can bet that’s why all #SkipTheGym workouts are less than 35 minutes! #MoveSweatMoveOn

When train intensely, it majorly increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This means extra calorie burn even AFTER we finish our workouts. While we are resting and recovering, our bodies are making up for all the energy it used during that sweat session.

Before I started training efficiently, I’d spend hours every day working out. And if my nutrition was less than perfect? I’d punish myself with excessive exercise. Now, working out almost every day is just part of my lifestyle. I don’t think about it, and I do it, even when I’m not feeling motivated.

If you’re ready to stop missing workouts, get consistent, and start seeing results, sign up for #SkipTheGym. It’s on sale this week only, so grab it asap!

How do you stay consistent with your workouts?

How often should we eat for weight loss?

Today, my friends. I am dispelling one of the most common nutrition myths out there. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever done any research about dieting or losing weight.

If I want to eat for weight loss, I should eat every few hours.

Beachbody coaches everywhere tell their clients to never let themselves get hungry. Thousands of free diet plans float around the internet provide options for your six small meals per day. This belief is so widespread that if you ask anyone how you should eat to lose weight, they’ll tell you to eat often so you never overeat. They’ll spout some fact that eating every couple hours stokes your metabolism and helps you burn more fat.

How often should we eat for weight loss? Should we really eat 6 meals a day? I'm answering these questions once and for all.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

I hate to break it to you, my friends. There is absolutely no scientific evidence (I searched!) out there that eating every few hours is better for weight loss. When it comes down to it, your body burns the same number of calories breaking down your food you eat regardless if you eat three meals or seven.

With that in mind, it’s super important to figure out an eating schedule that works for YOU. Determining how many meals to eat is a process of trial and error, because it’s all about creating habits that are easy and natural for you! 

Over the last year, I’ve switched from eating every couple hours to eating four larger meals per day. This change has helped me make progress towards my fitness goals and automate my eating. My friends, I will NOT be going back, because it’s made me super consistent with my food, regardless of where I am. Today, I’m sharing WHY I’ve made that shift but If you wanna learn exactly how I’ve found consistency, I’m sharing handful of things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free here.

Why I eat four meals per day

It promotes satiety

Back when I subscribed to the idea I had to eat often to stoke my metabolism, my meals were super small. And let’s be real, small meals=hungry Katherine. When you eat mini-meals, you never feel like you ate enough. You know the feeling, you finish your chicken and broccoli but you feel like you can and should eat more.

Bleh. I hate that feeling.

So, when I started eating four meals a day, spaced out by 4-6 hours, I had to start eating bigger meals. And guess what? I loved it! As I added more protein and fat to my meals that nagging feeling of “I want to keep eating more even though my plate is empty” went away.

Now, I feel satisfied for hours after each meal, which is awesome after living in a constant state of hunger for years. 

It decreases my daily caloric intake

Wine, Protein, Veggies

When I first started trying to eat for weight loss, I tracked my macros to ensure I got everything I needed. At first, I was worried I’d start gaining weight because I was eating “more.” But what I found was pretty surprising.

I was eating less than before!

After doing a bit of research, I found this is actually pretty common! When you’re eating six times a day, you end up eating more than you think. Snacks turn into mini meals and your mini meals tend to be a little bigger than they should be.

Confining my eating to four times a day has helped me keep my calorie intake within healthy ranges, even when I’m traveling or eating out.

It gives me flexibility in my social life

Eating six meals a day can make social situations more difficult. Sure, you can grab happy hour and pick at a side salad but how satisfying is that? Oh, and you’ll need to eat again in two hours, so don’t hang out for too long. With an eating schedule that includes bigger meals, your life doesn’t have to revolve around your food.

It’s so nice to be able share meals with my friends and loved ones again without worrying I’m eating too much.

I hear from women all the time that they have a hard time eating on the go. Drive-thru’s, happy hours and travel can botch even the best intentions for healthy eating. SO, I put together this super simple cheatsheet for dining out and how to stay consistent with your nutrition wherever you go. No crazy meal plans, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free. Grab a copy of the FREE #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet here.

Now, even though eating four meals a day works super well for me, please don’t take this as a one size fit all approach. Do some experimentation! You may do best on three bigger meals, and that’s totally okay! If you want to find a way of eating that works for YOU, I’d love to work with you on your nutrition goals. If you’re ready to make some changes and reach your nutrition and fitness goals, let’s chat!

How many meals do you eat daily?