Fitness in the Middle

December 19th, 2010


Right to Bare Arms: Upper Body Workout

Dead-Lift Row A
Dead-Lift Row
What you'll need: a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells
This workout is a circuit; perform the first set of each move, then complete the remaining moves before doing the second set.
Targets: Back,biceps, abs,butt, and hamstrings
  • Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a single dumbbell with both hands in front of hips, palms in.
  • Keeping back flat, hinge forward from hips to lower dumbbell toward floor.
Dead-Lift Row B
  • Quickly stand up, bending elbows out to sides to bring dumbbell to chest level, palms down. Lower to start position.
  • Do 2 sets of 16 reps.
Watch a video demonstration of this exercise
Weighted Jump Rope
Weighted Jump Rope
Targets: Arms,abs,butt, and legs
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Bend elbows by ribs about 90 degrees so that forearms point out to sides, palms facing forward.
  • Jump up and down a few inches off floor, drawing small circles with dumbbells as if twirling a jump rope.
  • Do 2 sets of 16 jumps.
Watch a video demonstration of this exercise
Pass Under
Pass Under
Targets: Arms,butt, and legs
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in right hand, arms by sides.
  • Lunge forward with right leg, bending both knees 90 degrees, and pass dumbbell under right thigh from right hand to left hand.
  • Return to start, then quickly lunge forward with left leg, passing dumbbell under left thigh from left hand to right hand, to complete 1 rep.
  • Do 2 sets of 16 reps.
Watch a video demonstration of this exercise
Suitcase Swing A
Suitcase Swing
Targets: Shoulders,abs,butt, and legs
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms by sides, holding a dumbbell in right hand.
  • Lower into a squat.
Suitcase Swing B
  • Quickly stand up, swinging right arm forward to shoulder height.
  • Lower right arm as you immediately return to squat position.
  • Do 2 sets of 16 reps, switching arms to perform the second set.
Watch a video demonstration of this exercise
Overhead Press Pulse A
Overhead Press Pulse
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, with elbows bent 90 degrees out at shoulder level, palms facing forward (like a goalpost).
Overhead Press Pulse B
  • Quickly press dumbbells directly overhead, arms extended, then lower to start position.
  • Do 2 sets of 16 reps.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2010.
Watch a video demonstration of this exercise

December 16th, 2010

Plyometrics workouts are so much fun and always give you a burn that lasts for days. I love this workout from Women's Health Magazine ( It is easy to do, you need hardly any equipment, and I do it when I am time crunched (it lasts about 20 to 30 minutes). Do two circuits if you are a beginner and work up to three. Have fun!

Works glutes, hamstrings, quads, and inner and outer thighs With your hands on your hips, lunge forward with your right foot, sinking down until your right knee is bent 90 degrees [A]. Return to standing. Take a big step to the right and lunge again [B]. Step back to center. Lunge back with your right leg [C]. That's 1 rep. Do 10, then repeat with your left leg. Keep your neck in line with your spine throughout the move.dotted line
Works abs, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and quads Place a 12- to 24-inch-high step in front of you. Step up with your left foot [A], bringing your right leg forward and up and bending your knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor [B]. Lower your right leg back to start, then the left. Repeat with the other leg. That's 1 rep; do 10. For a tougher challenge, hold 5- to 10-pound dumbbells.dotted line
Works hip flexors, glutes, and legs Stand with your feet together, elbows bent 90 degrees. Lunge forward with your right foot [A]. Jump straight up as you thrust your arms forward, elbows still bent. Switch legs in midair, like a scissor [B], and land in a lunge with your left leg forward [C]. Repeat, switching legs again. That's 1 rep; do 10. To prevent injury, try to land as softly as possible.dotted line
For lower back and hamstrings Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, slowly bend at the waist, keeping your legs as straight as possible, until your hands touch the floor about 8 to 12 inches from your feet [A]. Walk your hands out to pushup position [B], then walk your feet in toward your hands. Work up to 2 sets of 8 reps. Your body should form a straight line from your heels to your head.dotted line
Works glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging at your sides. Squat down until your knees are bent about 90 degrees [A]. Immediately swing your arms overhead and jump upward as high as you can [B]. As you land, gently bend your knees and sink back down into the squat position. That's 1 rep. Do 10. Swinging your arms will give you momentum so you can catch more air.dotted line
Works shoulders, abs, glutes, hamstrings, and quads Grab an 8- to 10-pound dumbbell with both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Let the dumbbell hang naturally in front of your thighs. Squat down until your knees are bent about 90 degrees [A]. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, brace your abs and press up to standing, swinging the dumbbell up until it's directly overhead [B]. Lower the dumbbell back toward the floor. That's 1 rep; do 10. Keep your movement controlled to work the most muscle.dotted line
Works hip flexors, glutes, quads, and calves Leading with your right leg, skip as high as you possibly can by raising your right knee to hip height and simultaneously extending your left arm straight overhead [A]. Your left leg should remain straight and your right elbow should be slightly bent at your side. Land on the ball of your left foot. Repeat the skipping motion with your opposite arm and leg [B]. That's 1 rep; do 10. Try to jump a little higher with each skip.dotted line
For hip flexors and glutes Starting out on all fours, cross your left leg under your body, so that you are almost resting on your left hip. Extend your right leg directly behind you [A]. Lower your upper body over your left leg, placing your forearms on the ground in front of you [B]. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Take deep breaths to help yourself sink deeper into the stretch.dotted line

November 11th, 2010

Today's workout was a last minute change from my normal Thursday, which probably worked out for the best since I don't want to plateau. I meant to go to Turbo Kick at 24 Hour Fitness, but my husband has so proudly built a poker table from scratch and needed my help before he went to work. So I opted out of Turbo and instead did a kettlebell workout from Women's Health (
Kettlebell's are an excellent way to sculpt muscles and burn calories in little time. I did three circuits (roughly 25-30 minutes) plus some ab work and pushups. It was a fun 40 minutes in my living room, watching one of my guilty pleasures, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." :) 

Hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your torso and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Release the kettlebell into your right hand and move both arms behind your back. Grab the bell with your left hand and bring it back to the front (completing a full circle around your body). That's one rep. Do 10, then switch directions and repeat without stopping to rest. Quick tip: Keep your core engaged and avoid moving your hips throughout the entire move.
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Take the kettlebell in your right hand, squat slightly, and bend forward from the hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Let the kettlebell hang at arm's length . Keep your torso still as you pull the kettlebell to the side of your chest, elbow close to your side . Lower back to start. That's one rep. Do 10 to 12, then repeat on the other side.
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Stand with your feet hip-width apart, the kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Squat down and grab the handle with both hands, keeping your back flat . Brace your abs, squeeze your glutes, and slowly push down into your heels as you stand up, keeping your arms extended. That's one rep; do 10 to 12.
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Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, knees bent into a quarter-squat position, back straight, and chest up. Hold the kettlebell behind your left leg with one arm on each side of your leg . Grab the bell with your left hand and swing it in front of your left leg, between your legs, and behind your right leg . Grab it with your right hand and swing it in front of your right leg, between your legs, then behind your left leg. That's one rep. Continue for 10 reps. Quick Tip: The movement should be slow and controlled but fluid.
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Lie faceup on the floor, legs straight, holding the kettlebell in your right hand straight above your shoulder . Bend your left knee, place your foot on the floor, and prop yourself up on your left arm. Keep the weight directly in line with your shoulder and sit up until your back is straight . Reverse the movement to return to start. That's one rep. Do five, then repeat on the other side.
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Grab a kettlebell with both hands and stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Squat down until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor. Immediately stand and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height . As the kettlebell begins to arc back down, bend your knees and squat, swinging the kettlebell between your legs . That's one rep. Do 15 to 20. Quick Tip: If you have any back problems, do this move without using a weight.
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Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest, elbows bent and close to your body . Keeping your back straight and chest up, push your hips back and bend your knees until they form 90-degree angles . Press down into your heels and return to standing. That's one rep. Do 10 to 15. Quick Tip: Keep your knees over (not in front of) your toes at the bottom position of the squat.
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Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, weight in your left hand. Raise it next to your left shoulder, then press it overhead . Rotate your chest to the left and look up at the kettlebell as you try to touch your right hand to your right foot . Pause, then return to start, keeping your left arm extended. Do five to 10 reps before lowering the weight, then repeat on the other side. Quick Tip: Practice without the weight until you nail the form.

November 5th, 2010

Ah, I love fall. The cool breeze caressing your face, the gentle leaves dancing around your feet. The way your snot sweats down your face as you attempt your shorter run for the week. I have been welcomed into the cooler fall weather with my sinuses this afternoon. It was a lovely 48 degrees and sunny, lovely except for my mucus problem. Note to self, stuff Kleenex in sports bra before outdoor runs. And remember to take it out afterwards.

October 22, 2010

Math has never been my strong suit. For those of you that know me, I was never even able to give change back as a server without a calculator. However, there is one formula I have created after living her for nearly four years and finding fun ways to workout outside:

Biking in Omaha=Lots of Hills
Biking in Omaha=Lots of Hills=Great Butt and Legs!

I love biking outside in this city. While the hills may be difficult to navigate at times, they provide you with a great workout even though your rides may not last too long. My husband purchased two new Giant road bikes for us at the beginning of the summer and we have never looked back! The road bike is a great way to feel confident and comfortable on long haul rides. Plus the bike trails in Omaha have improved dramatically. Here are a few websites to check out if you want a fun way to enjoy the lovely fall weather in Omaha:

Omaha Trails:
Activate Omaha:

My go to bike ride is a 14 mile round trip to Democracy Park on the Keystone Trail. It is a great way to take a tour through midtown, go through Elmwood Park and enjoy all the fall colors of the trees along the trail. Plus you can burn up to 500 calories an hour on a bike ride! Take advantage of the cool fall weather before another Nebraska winter takes the air out of your tires (literally).

October 21, 2010

To be honest, it is not easy to stay motivated to work out in Omaha, Nebraska if you are a lone fitness freak. Sure, there are plenty of gyms, classes and intense hills to run, but I am having a tough time finding workout buddies to come sweat it out with me. Luckily, I have developed an OCD workout routine that requires no second person. Here are some of my tips for staying motivated even when you do not (yet!) have a dedicated workout buddy.

1) Bring some tunes to the gym!
2) Chant a mantra about how GOOD you are going to feel afterwards. I always feel amazing after a workout and am thankful that I had the motivation to sweat. Besides, once you start a workout, it's hard not to get into the energy of it!

3) Make a tangible list of fitness goals. Even if it is something small (i.e. "bench press the bar") it is always a thrill to make and then surpass a goal!