Free Weights vs. Weight Machines

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In December, I bought myself a year-long membership to my local Planet Fitness gym. If you’ve ever been to a gym, you know they have cardio machines, free weights, and weight machines.

I’ve been going to the gym about 4 days a week, mostly using the cardio machines. I use the free weights and weight machines once in a while, and it got me wondering.

What’s better: free weights or weight machines? So, I’ve done some research, and as usual, I want to share with my readers!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty about the differences in the actual weights, we need to talk about fitness goals. Different fitness goals mean different fitness needs and training.

Structural Goals

These are goals pertaining to the structure of your muscles, like building mass or losing fat. Free weights are the optimal tool for structural goals, but weight machines are a good second choice.

Performance Goals

These are goals that focus on improving the function of your muscles, like training for a competition or sport. Free weights or body weight exercises are best for performance goals.

Now, we can focus on the weights themselves. I’ve used BodyBuilding.com and AWorkoutRoutine.com for the following information.

Free Weights

  • More versatile for different exercise moves
  • Stimulate the total body
  • Help your balance and core strength
  • You can train anywhere, even at home
  • Allow for natural movement
  • Use additional muscle groups, not just the one you’re targeting

Weight Machines

  • Can target a specific muscle group
  • Can isolate one muscle
  • Are easier and quicker to learn for beginners
  • Have less potential for injury
  • No spotter needed
  • You can lift heavier without as much risk of injury
  • Good for bodybuilders to use after a free weight workout

From my own personal experience, I feel like free weights give me a better, harder, more effective workout than weight machines. When I do a free weight routine, everything is tired, and I even get a really good cardio workout. I feel like I get more done in the same amount of time.

However, I do like the machines when I want to try squatting with a really heavy weight. I can’t squat much with free weights because I don’t have the upper body or back strength to hold a barbell that weighs more than I do. But with a machine, I can easily attempt squatting more than my bodyweight without the fear of hurting myself. The machines are also quicker and easier for adjusting the amount of weight.

Overall, I’d say it really depends on personal preference, fitness goals, weight lifting ability, and overall strength. Let me know in the comments whether you prefer weight machines or free weights!

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Time for Something New: Recipe Makeovers!

Hello Readers!!

I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted! I’ve been so busy.. I know, excuses excuses, right? Well, I’m trying to make more time for blogging because I really don’t want to quit! I want to keep writing and sharing with all of you.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to find the time to experiment and make new recipes. So, I think it’s time for something new! I’m going to start doing some easy recipe makeovers for you!

I’m currently working two jobs, and my boyfriend works full time. We rarely have time to sit down and have a nice meal together, so lots of our recipes have to be quick, cheap, and easy to make. Well, unfortunately, quick, cheap, and easy foods are usually highly processed frozen meals, boxed mixes, or other unhealthy foods. I’ve been trying my best to make our meals healthy while still keeping them cheap, quick, and easy.

Most of my recipe makeovers just swap a few not-so-healthy ingredients for healthier ones. These makeovers aren’t really my recipes; rather, they are someone else’s, and I’ve just made a few substitutions. I haven’t done a recipe makeover in a few days, but I’ll post each time we have a made-over meal.

If you have any ideas for recipes I can makeover, let me know in the comments below! I’m always looking for new ideas; even Pinterest leaves me wanting more!

Thanks for reading 🙂

How to Exercise at Home without Equipment

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Working out at home is a more convenient alternative than making a trip to the gym, but we don’t always have the equipment we need to do our workouts. I have a few sets of dumbbells, an exercise mat, ankle weights, and some exercise bands, but they take up space (and cost money) that I don’t have!

I’m still in college (it’s my last semester!!), so finding space for my exercise equipment is hard since I live in the dorms on campus. We have a couple fitness centers here on campus, as well as a weight room, but it’s so much easier to exercise in my own room. Not only do I feel more comfortable working out without a bunch of my peers watching, but it’s convenient and MUCH cleaner. I don’t have to trek through the snow and below-zero temperatures to go to the gym.

I love getting my exercise done at home, but I don’t always have the equipment I need to get an effective workout. Here are some ways you can exercise in your dorm room, office, living room, backyard, basement, or anywhere else you want if you’d rather not make a trip to the gym.

Cardio

Zumba 

There are tons of free Zumba workouts on YouTube. Some users have posted full hour-long routines, and others post individual songs so you can create your own routine. Sharee, who blogs at Funeral for my Fat, has awesome Zumba videos! Click here to check out her routines.

HIIT Workouts

There are also tons of free HIIT workouts on YouTube. My favorite channel is FitnessBlender, but there are tons of others! Usually, HIIT workouts are all bodyweight exercises, so you won’t need any equipment.

Aerobics

Again, YouTube is the best for these too! Gotta love finding free videos online. Denise Austin has some that won’t bore you to death!

Kickboxing

Visit YouTube yet again to find free kickboxing videos! This Tiffany Rothe video is a good workout, and it definitely beats running on a treadmill.

Strength Training

Makeshift Weights

There are tons of things around your house that you can use as weights! Try using water bottles, soup cans, gallon jugs, small children, bottles of laundry detergent, a sledge hammer, a bag of sugar/flour, buckets of water, shopping bags, bricks, a book bag filled with books, two liter bottles, or a boombox. Just be careful not to drop anything that’s shaped weird or might get slippery. And don’t break anything important, like your boombox! Or your children for that matter.

Ankle/Wrist Weights

To make some temporary, cheap ankle or wrist weights, fill an old sock with beans, sand, or pebbles. Glue the open end to keep the filling in, and tie it around your ankle or wrist.

Chair Exercises

You can use your desk chair or even a table to do tricep dips, step-ups,or push-ups with your feet on the chair.  And if you’re feeling really strong, go ahead and lift the chair!

Body Weight Exercises

Get back on YouTube and find some awesome body weight workout routines. Again, my favorite is Fitness Blender, but there are tons of other workouts you can do with absolutely no equipment but your own body!

Muscle Toning

Pilates

The only thing you might need for pilates is a mat, but you can simply use a towel or blanket. My favorite website for pilates videos is Blogilates, but I know there are a ton of other free pilates routines on YouTube.

Yoga

Gaiam Fitness has some free yoga routines on YouTube, and there are tons of others too! You can also buy the yoga DVDs at Walmart (and probably any other store that sells movies).

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No Inner Thigh Gap? No Bikini Bridge? No Problem.

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Pictured above are photos I found on Instagram.

For the past year or so, I’ve been seeing all over the Internet how there is a trend to have an inner thigh gap. Pictures of this “attractive” and “desirable” gap are plastered across Pinterest and many workout sites I visit daily. Apparently, having an inner thigh gap means you are perfect since you have achieved such an amazing look.

For those of you who haven’t seen these pictures or don’t know what this “perfect” inner thigh gap is, it’s basically when your legs never touch each other from your knee to your hip. This creates a supposedly “attractive” physique that very few can achieve.

Two days ago, I found an even crazier trend: the bikini bridge. A bikini bridge is when you’re thin enough that when you wear a bikini,the strings are held up by each of your hip bones and the fabric doesn’t touch your stomach. This is the new “perfect” body trend, and I’m shocked at the pictures I’ve been seeing.

I don’t think we should base our feelings of self-worth and our ideas of beauty off of such unimportant things like having a gap between our thighs or bridge with our bikinis. Personally, I think it’s a little odd when someone’s thighs don’t touch, but that’s just me. I’ve had large legs my entire life, and no matter what, I’ll never have a gap. Even my calves touch when I stand with my legs together.

Even if I managed to get an inner thigh gap, there is no way I could ever get a bikini bridge. Never. Not in a million years. I’ve done way too many ab workouts to be that thin, and I have organs that will always need space somewhere in my torso. I honestly can’t understand how anyone can have a bikini bridge because it’s so unattainable.

I don’t want to put down others who do have the inner thigh gap or bikini bridge. I think some people’s bodies are made to have a gap, and others simply aren’t. Some girls are thin enough to have a bridge, but others never will be. We shouldn’t strive for something that the media has told us is so desirable, yet unrealistic for most. We are already bombarded with tons of media telling us we’re not beautiful because of our hair, skin, weight, clothes, teeth, and so on. Do we really need more unattainable standards of beauty? No.

I have never wanted to get an inner thigh gap, and I’m glad I haven’t tried. It would be nearly impossible for me, and I’d be upset with myself if I couldn’t achieve it. Like I said, I have large legs. And I’m proud of them! I’ve worked hard to build muscle, and I like the way they look, even if the media tells me they’re ugly.

Same with a bikini bridge. I do a lot of ab work and core exercises, so I’ve gained muscle. And I’m proud of it too! I know I let the media influence my body image with other trends, but the inner thigh gap and bikini bridge are two trends I’ll never buy into. Some of you might read this and think I’m just bitter because I can’t achieve either of these, but that’s not the case.

I’m writing this to encourage all of you to love your bodies regardless of what others say or think you should look like! No one will ever have a “perfect” body because we are all made differently. Perfection doesn’t exist. I want all of us to love ourselves no matter what we look like.

Be proud of what your body can do, whether it’s running a marathon, squatting 100 pounds, doing the splits, or doing 20 pull-ups. Be proud of what you have achieved. Be happy when you put on a swimsuit, even if your legs touch and your bridge is nonexistent. Everyone is beautiful, so hold your head high and love your body.

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My Top 5 Health Apps

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I just entered the Smartphone world a few months ago, and my favorite thing about my phone is the ability for me to download apps. I have gone crazy on the app downloading! I have found tons of awesome apps dealing with health and fitness, but my favorites are those that help me with clean eating.  I have a Droid Razr M, so all of these apps are Android apps, and they are all FREE. Here are my top 5 favorite health apps!

Fooducate

This app is probably my all-time favorite. I have had it almost as long as I’ve had my phone, and I still love it.

This app lets you set up a profile with your nutritional goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, you can indicate you are interested in low-calorie foods. I am interested in clean eating, so I indicated I prefer to avoid processed foods.

After setting up a quick profile, all you have to do is scan the barcode on a product, and the app pulls up results for the food.

This app tells you:

  • An overall grade (ranging from A to D) based on your profile indications
  • A list of pros and cons about the food, shows you alternate options
  • The opportunity to share feedback with other users
  • The ability to you submit new products
  • Warnings of possible GMOs, sugar, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, additives and preservatives, MSG-like ingredients, artificial sweeteners, and more.

Did I mention I love this app!? Check out Foodcate!

ChefTap

This recipe app is truly amazing. It has the ability to find recipes online and convert them into easy-to-read recipes on your phone! It even carries over the picture and the link from the website.

This app can:

  • Import recipes from any website or blog
  • Import an entire recipe box from Epicurious or allrecipes.com
  • Import an entire pin board from Pinterest (That’s right, the WHOLE board of recipes!!)
  • Scan bookmarks for recipes and import them

It only takes 3 taps on your phone to import recipes into ChefTap. I imported a bunch of my own recipes, and it works great! Even if it imports a wrong ingredient, direction, or title, it is easy to edit. Give ChefTap a try!

HealthTap

This app gives you health tips, answers from doctors, how-to’s, and suggestions about health and fitness topics.  It lets you set up a profile with basic information, and options to add detailed information, like symptoms, medical history, allergies, and insurance information. You can search by topic, ask a question, view health tips about your interests, look up symptoms, and much more! If you like random health facts, HealthTap is for you!

Allthecooks Recipes

This app allows you to search thousands of recipes. You can search by ingredient, category, and special diet recipes (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.).

With this app, you can:

  • Bookmark recipes
  • Share recipes by email, text, Twitter, Facebook, and others
  • Create and upload your very own recipes
  • Connect with friends to share recipes and build community
  • Save and share a shopping list
  • Join forums and discuss recipes with others with similar food tastes

Not only is this app great, but it also has a really cool avocado icon! Who doesn’t like avocado? Anyway, give Allthecooks a try!

Nutrition Facts

This is a very helpful app when you are curious about  the nutritional information of food you are eating. I’m still in college, so all of my meals come from the cafeteria. I don’t have access to nutritional information for the foods I’m eating, so this app really comes in handy!

This app is easy to use. All you have to do is search for the food you’re eating, select the result you want, and look at the information. You can choose what serving size you are eating, and see nutritional information including calories, fats, cholesterol, protein carbs, and more.

This app is a staple for everyone who cares about what goes into their bodies! It’s free, so why not try Nutrition Facts!?

I hope you’ll give at least a couple of these apps a try! Like I said, Fooducate is definitely my favorite, but the others are great too! While you’re downloading your apps, add me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!!

Wake Up and Smell the Workout: Exercise Schedule

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If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time figuring out your workout schedule for the week/month. There is so much conflicting information out there. I’ve read that you should workout at night, that you should workout in the morning, that you should do an hour of cardio each day, that you should do 30 minutes of cardio per day, that you shouldn’t workout if you’re sore, that you should do yoga if you’re sore, that you should lift weight before cardio, that you should lift weight after cardio, you get the point… enough with all this information!

I’m not an expert or anything, but after years of working out with different types of exercises and different lengths of sessions, I think I’ve finally figured out a good workout schedule for myself. I’m not going to say it’s best for everyone, but it is what works for me. I like to do different types of cardio, weight/strength training, and pilates.

I always like seeing how others set up their workout routines and schedules, so I thought it might be helpful for all of you to read about mine!

I workout 5 days a week, Monday through Friday. I let myself have weekends off, so I can rest and have some fun!

I workout whatever time of day I can. If I have time in the morning, I get up early. If I have time at night, I do it then. I don’t think the time of day you exercise matters; it’s whatever works best for you.

I typically exercise for 1 to 1 and a half hours per day, depending on how I’m feeling or how much time I have.

I usually do 30-40 minutes of cardio each day, alternating between HIITs (high intensity interval training) and running on the elliptical machine.

My routine is separated into 2 lower body days (1 day of weights and 1 day of pilates), 2 core training days (pilates for abs, 1 day of weights for back, and one day of pilates for back), and 1 upper body day (half with weights and half pilates). I only do one upper body day because I started getting really bulky shoulders/arms, so I decided to cut back.

I use FitnessBlender.com videos for all my weight training and HIITs and Blogilates.com for all my pilates workout videos. I also use the elliptical machine in the gym here on my college campus. I have free weights in my room: a set of 2 pounds, a set of 5 pounds, a set of 10 pounds, a set of 15 pounds, ankle weights that go up to 5 pounds, exercise bands, and a 1/2″ thick exercise mat.

So here’s my weekly routine!

Monday 

  • Cardio: HIITs  30-40 minutes
  • Weights: Legs & Glutes 30-40 minutes

Tuesday

  • Cardio: Elliptical 30-45 minutes
  • Weights: Back 10 minutes
  • Pilates: Abs 20-25 minutes

Wednesday

  • Cardio: HIITs 30-40 minutes
  • Weights: Upper Body 15 minutes
  • Pilates: Upper Body 15 minutes

Thursday

  • Cardio: Elliptical 30-45 minutes
  • Pilates: Lower Body 30-40 minutes

Friday

  • Cardio: HIITs 30-40 minutes
  • Pilates: Abs 20-25 minutes
  • Pilates: Back 10 minutes

Again, this is just what works best for me. Everyone is different, so I encourage you to experiment with different routines until you find one that works for you! I hope this helps you get some ideas of what you can do to spruce up your workout schedule!

How to Make Cardio Suck Less

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Let’s face it: cardio sucks. It’s hard work. You get all sweaty. Your muscles burn and your heart has to pump harder than it wants to. As hard and boring as it is, cardio’s necessary to keep you in shape. It’s good for your heart, and it keeps you healthy.

I do tons of cardio every week, and it’s not because I enjoy it. To be honest, I hate it sometimes, and I find it super boring most of the time. But after months and years of trying different types of cardio workouts, I’ve finally found some ways to make it fun! Ok, not really fun, but I’ve found ways to make it suck less. So next time you’re looking for a way to enjoy cardio, try some of these:

Think of fun things while running/jogging. Keep your mind busy by imagining you’re running toward your celebrity crush (or that cute guy you occasionally stalk on Facebook). Pretend you’re a survivor of a zombie apocalypse and you have to constantly outrun zombies, jump over dead people, and dodge obstacles and debris. Act like you’re running a marathon and you only have one mile to go, so all you have to do is give it your all for a few more minutes. Most importantly, use your imagination!

Create a new running playlist. Give your current playlist a break, and put together a mix of fast-paced, motivational tunes to keep you happy and excited to go for a run. Right now, my favorite songs on my playlist are “The Other Side” by Jason Derulo, “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, and “Come and Get It” by Selena Gomez.

Run to the music. Try walking during the verses of a song and jogging during the chorus. For more of a challenge, try lightly jogging during the verses and jogging hard during the choruses. Or, if you want to really push yourself, jog during the verses and sprint during the chorus. This works almost like interval training if you do it right.

Take a fitness class with friends. I love Zumba! It’s so much fun, and it feels like you’re just dancing with friends. After an hour, though, I know I got a good workout based on how much I’m sweating. Some other fun classes are kickboxing and spinning.

Mix up your elliptical workouts. I like to watch tv while running on the elliptical to keep my mind busy. To make sure I push myself hard enough, I go as fast as I can during the commercial breaks, and go at a sustainable pace when the show is back on. You can also try bumping up the resistance and incline every few minutes to pretend you’re going up a hill; it’ll really get your blood pumping!

Find fun workout videos online. There are millions and billions of free workout videos online for your viewing pleasure. Try using YouTube or Hulu to search for fun cardio. My favorite fun cardio videos are from Fitness Blender and HASfit. Check them out below!

Fitness Blender: Red Light Green Light Cardio Workout

Fitness Blender: When I Say Jump Cardio Routine

HASfit: Hot Feet Fat Burning Cardio Workout

Tickets to the Gun Show: Biceps & Triceps Workout

Summer is finally here! It’s time to show off your arms in tank tops, swimsuits, and strapless sundresses! Need to do a quick tone-up to make sure your arms are ready for some attention? No problem; here are 8 exercises to tone up those biceps and triceps to make sure you look fabulous this season. Everyone will want tickets to your gun show! Do each move as directed, and repeat this circuit two or three times to get great results! All you will need is a set of dumbbells (or a couple sets of different weight) and an optional chair and mat.

Triceps

Move #1: Dips

For this move, you can use a chair, or just do the move on the ground. I recommend using a chair to make sure you have proper form. Begin seated on the chair with your palms on the seat next to your legs. Your fingers should be pointing forward, curling under the seat. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle. Lock your elbows and straighten your arms as you shift your weight onto your feet. Walk your feet out away from the chair to keep your knees at a right angle. Bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle, dropping your glutes below the seat of the chair. Then, use your triceps to pull yourself back up, straightening your arms. Do 20 dips. To make this more challenging, fully extend your legs, resting all your weight on your heels.

Move #2: Kick Backs

Hold one dumbbell in each hand. With feet hip width apart, bend at the waist as far as possible, but not past 90 degrees. Keep your elbows tucked in at your sides, and extend your arms completely straight. Then, return the arms to the bent position. Do 15 reps.

Move #3: Extensions

Hold either one light dumbbell in each hand, or hold one heavy dumbbell with both hands. In a standing position, extend your arms straight overhead. Carefully bend your elbows, lowering the dumbbell behind your head. Keep your elbows steady, and straighten your arms back overhead for one rep. Do 15 extensions.

Move #4: Push-ups

Get into a regular push-up position. Then, move your hands close together, making a triangle with your pointer fingers and thumbs. Bend your elbows and keep your core tight as you lower down and come back up. You might want to do these push-ups on your knees since they will be more difficult. Do 10 push-ups.

Biceps

Move #5: Traditional Curls

Hold a medium weight dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides. Your palms should be facing forward. Keep your elbows pulled in close to your rib cage. Slowly bend your elbows, bringing the dumbbells up to your shoulders, and lower them back down to starting position. Do 20 curls.

Move #6: Hammer Curls

This move is just like a traditional curl, except when holding the dumbbells at your sides, your thumbs should be facing forward with your palms facing your outer thighs. Do 20 curls.

Move #7: Wide Grip Curls

This move is almost like a traditional curl as well. Hold the dumbbells at your sides, but turn your palms facing outward from each side. Your arms will curl from the sides of your body, working the inner head of your bicep, so it might be more difficult. Do 20 curls.

Move #8: Servers

This move will look like you are serving a tray to someone. Hold a light dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows to 90 degree angles. Slowly push the dumbbells forward, straightening your arm to shoulder level (parallel to the floor). Then, release and return to the bent elbow position. Do 15 servers.

I hope you enjoy this workout! Don’t forget to flex for friends anytime you have a chance. Not only do you get a little bonus workout every time you flex, but you get to show off all your hard work! Flexing is one of my favorite hobbies, along with selling tickets to the gun show!

6 Stretches for Tight Hips

I’ll admit it: I don’t stretch as often as I should. At most, I stretch maybe twice a week. After a hard workout, I never feel like stretching. I noticed after weeks of running, doing  high intensity interval training, lifting weights, sitting in class, and being on my feet at work that my hips became so tight! I felt like an old lady getting up from my desk, and I could barely do some stretches without experiencing pain. Sound familiar?

I decided I better do some serious hip stretching to keep my body healthy. If you’re in need of a good hip stretch, this is for you! The following 6 stretches will make you more relaxed, loosen your hips, and feel oh so good after a long run. So grab a mat, and stretch it out!

Stretch #1: Pigeon

Begin kneeling, and extend one leg behind you. Drop the other glute to the floor, keeping the leg bent. If you can, lean your torso over your bent knee, keeping your extended leg on the floor behind you. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

Stretch #2: Hip Flexor Kneel

Begin on your knees. Bring one foot out in front of you to a 90 degree angle. Lean your torso slightly forward and down, keeping your back foot, shin, and knee on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.

Stretch #3: Kneeling Straddle

This one is my favorite stretch ever! It’s difficult unless you’re some super flexible contortionist, so don’t overdo it. Begin on your knees. Widen them as far as you can without feeling pain. Then, slowly drop your glutes as far down to the ground as you can. It will be somewhat painful, so you might not be able to go down very far at first. Hold for 30 seconds if possible.

Stretch #4: Butterfly

Begin in a seated position. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, pulling them as close to your groin as possible. Try to get your knees close to the floor (or touching it) while keeping your feet close to your body. Hold for 30 seconds.

Stretch #5: Baby Pose

This stretch sometimes hurts, so be careful! Begin lying on your back. Bend your legs and bring them up to your torso. Keep them bent at a 90 degree angle (the bottoms of your feet will be parallel with the ceiling). Grab the sole of your right foot with your right hand, and grab the sole of your left foot with your left hand. Widen your knees, bringing them on each side of your torso. Gently pull down with your hands, moving the knees slightly toward the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.

Stretch #6: Kneeling Bridge

Not only is this stretch great for your hips, but also your lower abs. Begin kneeling, and slowly lean your torso back, tilting your face up to the ceiling. Let your arms hang naturally at your sides. Keep leaning back until you are able to reach your heels with your hands. Hold for 30 seconds.

How to Get a Beach-Worthy Booty

Summer is only a couple months away! You have probably picked out your swimsuit, and you are ready to show it off at the beach when you get the chance. But wait… is your booty ready to be shown off to all the other beach-goers?  Just to be sure you have a beach-worthy booty, try these 10 easy moves! All these moves can be done without equipment, but you might want a mat for comfort or weights to make these moves more challenging.

Move #1: Bridge

Begin lying on your back with your legs bent, heels about a foot away from your butt. Lift your torso up off the mat, and squeeze your glutes together. Release and bring your torso down, but do not rest! That is one rep. Repeat 30 times. To make it more difficult, place a heavy dumbbell on your waist to increase the resistance.

Move #2: Grasshopper

Begin lying on your stomach, resting your chin on your hands in front of you. Bend your knees up and touch your toes together, spreading your knees out wide. Lift your knees off the mat as high as you can, while keeping your neck relaxed. Repeat 15 times. To make it more difficult, try wearing ankle weights while you do this move.

Move #3: Hamstring Curls

Begin on your hands and knees. Lift your left leg off the mat to hip level, keeping your knee at a right angle. Extend your leg out straight, and then bend it back to the right angle. Do not let your knee drop lower than hip height. Repeat this move 20 times, and then repeat with your right leg. Again, wearing ankle weights will make this move more challenging.

Move #4: Fire Hydrants

On your hands and knees, lift your left leg out to the side to hip height, keeping the knee at a right angle. Squeeze your glutes as you lift, and then relax and drop it back to starting. Repeat 20 times, and then repeat with your right leg. Use ankle weights to make it harder.

Move #5: Extended Leg Pulse

On your hands and knees, extend your left leg straight out behind you at hip height. Squeeze your buns, and pulse upward about six inches. Keep pulsing for 30 seconds, and then repeat with your right leg. Wearing ankle weights makes this move very difficult.

Move #6: Knee Circles

On your hands and knees, lift your left leg to the side at a right angle. Make circles in the air with your knee as big as you can. Do 10 circles, and then switch directions. Repeat 10 circles in each direction with your right leg. To make this more challenging, hold a dumbbell in your knee, but be careful not to drop it on yourself.

Move #7: Single Leg Bridge

Get back into bridge position, but this time lift your right leg straight up in to the air. Do 20 reps, leaving your leg up. Then repeat with your left leg in the air for 20 reps.

Move #8: Fire Hydrant Kick Outs

On your hands and knees, do a regular fire hydrant move with your left leg, but this time extend your leg out straight. Then, bend your knee back to a regular fire hydrant and release. Repeat 10 kick outs on your left leg, and then repeat on the right.

Move #9: Extended Leg Heel Clicks

Lie down on your stomach with your chin rested on your hands and your legs extended out straight behind you. Lift your legs off the ground (just a few inches), and keep your neck relaxed. Bring your legs out about two feet and then squeeze them back together, clicking your heels. Do not let your legs rest on the ground at all during this move. Repeat 20 times. For an extra challenge, wear ankle weights during this move.

Move #10: Side Leg Raise Extensions

Begin lying on your right side with your hips and legs bent in front of you at 90 degree angles. Keeping your torso and hips facing forward, lift your left leg up, extend it into the air, lower it toward the ground, and then bend it back to a right angle. Do not let your left leg rest on your right leg during this move. Repeat 10 times, and then flip over and repeat with your right leg. Try wearing ankle weights for extra resistance.