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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Exercise How To
How to Stay Motivated (Especially When It's Cold)

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer has bid us farewell and we’re moving towards the long months of winter. For those of us who live in climates—like Canada’s!—where exercising outdoors gets harder to do with snow and ice on the trails and roads, it can be so easy to lose our motivation for fitness.

It's All About the Mindset

So, what can you do when you don't necessarily have a 5K or another race to train for? How do you stay active?

Change the way you think about exercise!

Fitness is a daily, lifetime pursuit. Even when there’s not another marathon or triathlon on your training schedule, you should be finding ways to stay off the couch and keep healthy.

Planning Makes It Happen

My favorite tool for staying active—one that I’ve used in my own life for more than 20 years—is planning my month in advance. I plan an activity for every day on the calendar, usually five moderate-to-heavy workouts and two lighter activities (e.g. taking a walk) per week, and I check them off as I do what’s on the calendar. Keeping those goals in mind really helps me stay focused—most of the time, I do at least 90% of what I had scheduled (because yes, sometimes life happens and I have to skip a day or two ☺). 
 
(Click here if you’d like a peek at what my calendar looks like—it’s in a video I made about staying motivated.)
 
How will keeping a calendar in this way help you with motivation? First, it gives you accountability, to have specific goals that you want to reach. Better than that, though, you’ll feel good about yourself as you see that you’re checking off your to-do list. There’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing that you are meeting your goals on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis.

Getting Started

So, how should you approach this calendar planning? You’ll want to take an approach that isn’t overwhelming or time-consuming, and I find that the best way is to make a monthly calendar—sitting down just once a month to make a plan, rather than trying to do it on a weekly basis. You don’t have to have a schedule as busy as mine; maybe your goal will be three times a week, gradually building to four or five workouts. 
 
This is a great way to keep yourself on track with daily, weekly, and monthly goals—always reminding yourself of how well you’re doing. It’s really easy to think we’re doing better than we think we are, or to go the other way and not give ourselves enough credit for all that we’ve accomplished.
 
Fitness isn’t about running a race, finishing it, and that’s it. That’s a great goal to have, but what do you aim for when the race is over? Using your monthly calendar can help you have those goals and keep yourself progressing even when you don’t have a specific race in mind.
 
 
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Push-Ups: How to Get Over the "Sticking Points"

Let’s talk about one of the most traditional strength exercises out there: Push-ups.

Sometimes, there’s a point where you feel like you want to go deeper, but you can’t.

Your arms just feel like they don’t want to bend any further.

Whether you’re doing push-ups from your knees or your toes, it doesn’t matter. You really want to come all the way down and all the way up.

So how do you go from that little bit of a push-up to that full-range push up? You’ll need to train your body for that last component.

Here’s a trick that you can use to help get past those sticking points, but for it to work, you’ll really have to practice. You’ll see me demonstrate in the video I made for you, but let me describe it for you too:

Here’s how:

1.    Start from your knees.  
2.    Lay on your stomach.
3.    Brace yourself to make sure that your abs are nice and tight; contracted.  
4.    Blow out as you push yourself up from the floor trying to keep your body in line. Avoid snaking your way up. You want to be nice and solid—rigid—as you push yourself up from the floor. This will help you to strengthen all of the muscle fibers.

When you’re only doing a small range of motion of the push-up, you’re not engaging the full muscle group, you’re only getting a portion of it.

By doing the reverse, you’re going to help strengthen those muscle fibers so that eventually you’ll be able to do the full range of motion.

Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions, starting from your stomach and pushing your way up.

Start with that, and if that’s too challenging, do as many as you can, then take a break.

Then try again.

It’s just training the body in a different way so that eventually all the pieces will come together and you’ll be doing them in no time—a little bit deeper.

The key is making sure that you’re not just using your arms, but that you’re engaging all of your muscles.

Your quads (your legs) should be engaged and also your core.  

Click here to check out the YouTube video I made for you, showing you how to get past those “sticking points”  when you’re working on push-ups.

Whether it’s a standard push up or skinny triceps push-ups, this video will help you to perform your push-ups with a full range of motion. Let me know how it goes!

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How to properly execute an Upright Row & Mid Row (with video and photos)

Exercise:     Upright Row

Purpose:     Strengthen Deltoids & Trapezius Muscles

Exercise Instructions:

  1. Hold the dumbbells so that your palms are facing your thighs.
  2. Pull the weights up, keeping them close to your body, and finish with the weights even with your collarbone.   
  3. Elbows are slightly higher than your shoulders.
  4. Exhale as you pull the weights upwards.  Inhale as you lower the weights.


Exercise:     Mid Row

Purpose:     Strengthens primarily the muscles of the mid back (Rhomboids) and Lats.

Exercise Instructions:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, lean forward so you are slightly bent over with your weight mostly over your heels.  Back is flat in a neutral position.  Activate the muscles of your Glutes (your butt muscles) to protect your low back while performing the exercise.
  2. With weights hanging down, and palms facing in towards each other pull the weights up towards your armpits or rib cage.
  3. Hold for one second at the top of the movement, then inhale as you slowly lower the weights with control.     


Further options to try:

To activate different areas of your back, try performing the Mid Row with either of these options:  

      a) Palms outward (away from thighs)
      b) Palms inward (toward your thighs)

Things to Avoid:

Arching your back or rounding your back. (Maintain a neutral position through the entire movement)

Reps and Sets:

3 sets of 12-15 reps to start.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me here.

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