Best Ab Exercises for Women

You run, you lift, you cycle, you play sports.

By the time you’re done with all the activities you love, who has time for pesky ab exercises? Luckily, there are ways to incorporate ab work into your normal workout, without needing to hit the floor for crunches.

Check out the “FitFocused approved” four best ab exercises designed for women who hate working their abs.


Yes, technically the reverse woodchop is an ab exercise, but it also targets everything from your shoulders to your thighs. Rather than hitting the floor for bicycle crunches to target your obliques, just add the reverse woodchop as part of a superset or circuit when you’re at the gym.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball with both hands, your arms hanging straight down.
  2. Begin to squat down and rotate your torso slightly to the right as you squat, bringing the medicine ball to the outside of your right leg, your arms remaining straight. Continue looking straight forward with your chest pointing straight ahead during this part of the movement. This is the starting position.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, rotate your torso to the left, moving your arms in a controlled diagonal angle as you stand up from your squat position until you’re holding the medicine ball above your head on the left side of your body. Your torso should move as a unit, so as you rotate, your shoulders, chest and hips will rotate and turn to the left. Allow your right leg to move naturally as you twist, allowing your toes to turn inward and your heel to come off the ground as needed.
  4. Reverse the movement, returning to the starting position.
  5. Continue the woodchop for 10 to 15 repetitions before repeating on the opposite side.


The walk-out pushup is an excellent core exercise that also targets your shoulders and chest while stretching your low back and hamstrings. Sub it in for one of your usual chest exercises or incorporate it into your stretching routine. Just be sure to move in controlled motions to avoid placing unnecessary stress on your rotator cuff or low back.

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Slowly bend forward, rolling your torso vertebrae-by-vertebrae toward the floor until you can place your hands on the ground. If you’re not very flexible, feel free to widen your stance and bend your knees to protect your back and hamstrings.
  3. Once your hands touch the ground, walk them out, away from your body, keeping your legs as straight as possible and your torso tight. You don’t want your back to sway!
  4. Continue walking your hands out until your body forms a straight line, your hands positioned directly below your shoulders. Perform a pushup from this position. If you can’t perform a full pushup, just drop your knees to the ground to do a modified version.
  5. When your pushup is complete, reverse the movement, and walk your hands back toward your body, keeping your torso tight and your legs as straight as possible. Feel free to bend your knees to help protect your low back and hamstrings as need be.
  6. Roll your body back to a standing position. Repeat eight to 12 times.


Think of mountain climbers as planks on steroids. Not only do you have to keep your core actively engaged throughout the exercise, you’re also getting a hefty dose of high-intensity cardio combined with full-body toning.

  1. Start in a full plank position with your arms extended under your shoulders, your torso straight and tight.
  2. Pull your right knee toward your chest, placing the ball of your right foot on the ground, almost as if you’re a sprinter getting ready to race.
  3. From this position, begin the exercise: In a single movement, hop your right leg backward, extending your leg behind you as you simultaneously hop your left leg forward. As soon as the balls of both feet land on the floor, reverse the movement, hopping both feet back to their starting positions. Continue hopping your feet back and forth for as long as you can. Aim for 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Rest for a minute, then repeat.


Like the mountain climber, the medicine ball slide offers a burst of cardio along with your core workout. Also, don’t be surprised if your legs start to burn as you slide laterally back and forth across your space. This exercise is a workout!

  1. Mark out a 10 to 12 foot space, placing two medicine balls on one side and one medicine ball on the other.
  2. Starting on the side with two medicine balls, pick one ball up and hold it in front of your torso before sliding laterally across the space. Keep your knees bent, your hips back and your torso engaged as you slide.
  3. When you reach the opposite side, plant your feet, squat and rotate your torso to the outside as you place your medicine ball on the ground, retrieving the waiting ball. Slide back across the space carrying the new ball, again switching medicine balls when you reach the starting point.
  4. Continue sliding back and forth, switching out medicine balls, until you have crossed the entire space 20 to 30 times.

Header image credit: Lululemon Athletica,

5 Ways Exercise Makes You Happy

Sure, you know exercise is good for you. It keeps your weight in check, makes you stronger, and keeps your heart running smoothly into old age.

But did you know that exercise can also lead to greater happiness?

It’s true.

When you work out and stay active on a regular basis, it’s not just a coincidence that you feel less stressed out, less anxious and generally happier.

5 Ways Exercise Makes You Happier

1. It releases “happy chemicals” into your brain

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain called a neurotransmitter that’s necessary for feelings of pleasure and happiness.

Scientists believe that as we age, we’re constantly losing our stores of dopamine — which is why we need to constantly seek out experiences that release dopamine, or that you need dopamine to do.

The best way to increase your brain’s dopamine production? Exercise.

So just exercise more, and more “happy chemicals” will be released in your brain.

2. It eases stress

Regular exercise helps you become less stressed out in the short and long term.

That’s because when you exercise, you’re actually subjecting yourself to a low-level form of stress by raising your heart rate and triggering a burst of hormonal changes.

When you subject yourself to the stress of exercise enough, your body will eventually get better at handling the rest of life’s stressors.

And less stress equals a happier, healthier life.

3. It energizes you

We all have days when we feel way too tired to exercise — and I’m no exception.

But no matter how exhausted I am, I always force myself to fit in a workout.

And you know what? I almost always have more energy after my workout than I did before it.

In fact, research has shown that exercise is better at upping energy levels than stimulants.

So if you push yourself to get off the couch and get into workout mode, you’ll most likely feel more energized afterwards — and throughout the rest of the day.

And more energy equals greater happiness.

4. It leaves you feeling less anxious

Recent studies on the effects of exercise show that in people suffering from anxiety, the immediate mood boost from exercise is followed by longer-term relief, similar to that offered by medication and talk therapy.

In fact, according to Daniel Landers, a professor emeritus in the Department of Kinesiology at Arizona State University, exercise seems to work better than relaxation, meditation, stress education and music therapy at easing anxiety.

So next time you’re feeling anxious, skip the meditation and music therapy and try a hard workout instead — you’ll feel better for days on end!

5. It combats insomnia

Trouble sleeping? Lack of exercise may be your problem.

Staying active on a regular basis has been shown to improve sleeping problems of insomniacs and people with sleep disorders.

Not only can regular exercise significantly improve your sleep quality, it can also give you that pep that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and do things.

And that equals greater happiness, every time.


Exercise, and get happy
Next time you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious, get off the couch and go get some exercise.

Because not only does exercise keep your heart happy and help you maintain a healthy weight, it can also change your outlook on life to a more positive one.

So exercise more, and you’ll be a happier and healthier person for life.

Elliptigo Review: How’s it Work + Where to Buy


Thinking about an ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle? Here’s a quick quiz to decide if it’s right for you:

  • Do you like exercising outdoors?
  • Do you ever find bicycling uncomfortable or tedious?
  • Do you enjoy running?
  • Do you want your fitness to be fun?
  • Have you ever been sidelined from high-impact exercise due to an injury?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you just might be in the market for an ElliptiGO. In fact, the ElliptiGO was invented by Bryan Pate in 2005 simply because he answered “yes” to all of the questions above.

What is the ElliptiGo? A Brief History…

When Bryan was told at only 32 years old that he could no longer participate in high-impact exercise, he set out to find a piece of low impact exercise equipment designed for outdoor use.

As a former cyclist, he didn’t want to return to traditional cycling, and he didn’t want to spend his days cooped up at the gym.

The only problem?

He couldn’t find an alternative! Frustrated and determined, Bryan turned to Brent Teal, a degreed mechanical engineer and competitive ultra marathoner.

Over the course of five years, Brent and Bryan poured countless hours into their project, developed numerous prototypes and finally began selling their invention to consumers in 2010. It may have been a long ride to take the ElliptiGO from conception to reality, but their efforts have paid off and elliptical cycling is growing by leaps and bounds.

See the ElliptiGO in action >>

Despite the fact that I’ve coveted the ElliptiGO since 2006, well before they hit the market, I have yet to get one of my own.

As bummed as I am about not crossing this off my fitness bucket list (yet), I was pumped when Bryan Pate made himself available to do an interview in order to share a little more about the ElliptiGO and the sport of elliptical cycling.

Read on and be motivated!

How to Use the ElliptiGo: A Q&A With the Inventors of ELLIPTICAL CYCLING

GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): For someone who has never tried an ElliptiGO before, how long does it take before you start feeling comfortable?

Bryan Pate (BP): It’s a really quick initial learning curve – just a few seconds before you realize it’s really easy to balance and ride. Most people start feeling comfortable within the first minute of riding. That said, we like for people to take it out for a good 15 to 30 minutes on their first try so they can experience how well it performs over a variety of terrain like hills, turns and so forth. This also allows them to really feel the workout experience.

GGS: Just from a functional standpoint, how hard is it to use?

BP: Really easy. It balances surprisingly well. Basically, if you can ride a bike, you can ride an ElliptiGO. It handles similarly to a bike. The steering input is longer, so it takes five or six turns before you really get comfortable making sharp corners, but once you’ve figured that out, you’ll find it performs like a bike in terms of handling.

Should You Buy an ElliptiGo?

Elliptical CyclingGGS: Who is the ElliptiGO best suited for – who is your preferred customer?

BP: The ElliptiGO is great for anyone who is looking for a fun, comfortable form of low-impact cardio exercise outdoors. It’s designed to deliver a great workout that’s basically equivalent to running, but without the pounding experienced during running. It’s perfect for:

The former runner who wants the running experience but can’t handle the impact
The injured runner who is trying to get back into running or stay in shape while injured
The fitness enthusiast who isn’t conditioned to endure the conventional road bike riding position (doesn’t like the seat pain or has lower back/neck issues that make the riding position too uncomfortable) or doesn’t want to spend the time required to get in a good workout on a road bike.

Because the ElliptiGO is more like running, you can get in a good workout in just 30-45 minutes,

GGS: How is the ElliptiGO being used by athletes and “regular people” both in a day-to-day capacity and in pursuit of bigger goals?

BP: The ElliptiGO has been adopted by elite athletes at a surprising rate, and this year there are more than a dozen Olympic hopefuls who have been using it as a core part of their training.

The athletes adopting the ElliptiGO tend to be seasoned runners who have let go of the “only running makes you faster” mentality for training, and have embraced the ElliptiGO as a way to cut down on running mileage while increasing their overall cardiovascular conditioning time with the theory that this will get them into better shape with less chance of injury. For a pro runner, that combination provides a tremendous advantage in terms of performance.

The proof is in the pudding, and we’ve already seen a number of athletes who use this training philosophy and have set personal records this year.

Elliptical cyclingIn addition to runners, we have triathletes, adventure racers and a number of professional baseball, football, soccer and basketball players who are using the ElliptiGO. Although these sports are different from running, the reasons the ElliptiGO attracts these athletes are basically the same – using the ElliptiGO is a fun, non-damaging form of cardio training that delivers real performance improvements while reducing the likelihood of injury.

While it’s great that there are so many elite runners and pro athletes using the ElliptiGO, they are dwarfed by the number of “regular” people (like us) who are using the ElliptiGO to train for their own sports and running events, to lose weight or to simply evolve their exercise routine.

These folks range in age from 40-70 and usually share a common enthusiasm for exercise and fitness – even if they have allowed themselves to get out of shape recently. Most are former runners who had to give it up because of lower-extremity injuries. Once they start using the ElliptiGO, it’s amazing how they really fall in love with it and I can’t tell you the number of emails we get each month from customers who say that the ElliptiGO changed their lives.

That’s one element of the ElliptiGO that we didn’t expect – how much it improves our customers’ lives and how thankful they are for that. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole experience so far.


GGS: You mentioned in our previous conversations that the University of California San Diego (UCSD) is doing a study on the caloric burn rate of the bike – have you seen the results yet?

BP: Yes. UCSD completed the study several months ago. They had two conclusions from this study: First, that the ElliptiGO burns approximately 33% more calories than a road bike at a given velocity. And second, that the ElliptiGO was more equal to running than cycling is in terms of heart rate, rate of perceived exertion and energy expenditure. We think these two factors are what enable riding the ElliptiGO to be about as efficient as running in terms of getting in your workout.


GGS: What are your goals for the company and for elliptical cycling as a sport? What types of events have you already held and how are you working to grow the sport?

BP: One of our core missions as a company is to create a new sport around elliptical cycles. We’ve held two World Championships, which have drawn competitors from five countries so far. An Australian won the first championship and last year Team Canada won the team competition.

The championship event consists of a 4,209 foot elevation gain through an 11.7-mile climb up Palomar Mountain in California, which is ranked the 16th toughest cycling climb in the country. We also do a flat course time-trial event, where many competitors will average over 20 mph. The climb feels like running a half-marathon and the time trial feels like running a 5K, so they are very different events, but very competitive and fun.

This year a group of customers secured an elliptical cycling category in a bike race in Ohio called Calvin’s Challenge where ElliptiGO riders set records for fastest 100-mile ride and fastest 50-mile ride. Thirty-seven people have joined the Century Club so far, which consists of the first 100 riders to complete an organized cycling event of 100-miles or longer.

We expect this year’s World Championships to be the most competitive and well attended event so far, and we’re continuing to focus on building the sport of elliptical cycling.

Try Before You Buy?

GGS: Are there opportunities for potential buyers to test out an ElliptiGO before ordering their own?

BP: Absolutely!

We have a dealer network of more than 250 retailers spread across the country. You can find the dealer nearest you buy using the dealer locator on our website:

In the unlikely event that there isn’t a dealer nearby, you can take advantage of our 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee, which lets you purchase an ElliptiGO directly through our website and if you don’t absolutely love it, you can return it for any reason for a full refund, less return shipping/transportation.

We get fewer than 1-percent of our ElliptiGOs returned.

GGS: Anything else readers should know?

BP: The only thing worth adding is to acknowledge that the ElliptiGO is expensive. The bottom line is that it’s expensive because it works, and to get it to work, we had to use costly parts and materials. You’ll see the quality of these parts and materials when you take a look at the ElliptiGO.

When you compare the cost to a high-quality elliptical trainer or a nice road bike, you’ll find that it’s actually priced very competitively.

Review Summary

I can’t thank Bryan enough for taking the time to talk to me, and I’d also like to add that I can’t wait to be in a position to host a GirlsGoneSporty ElliptiGO Team.

There’s nothing I’d love more than to suit up a group of women on pink ElliptiGOs and head to the hills of California to participate in the World Championships. It may be a couple years down the road before we can make that happen, but I’ll start taking names now!

Who wants to be on the first ever GirlsGoneSporty ElliptiGO Team?

Best Back Exercises for Women

A strong back is a sexy back, and a well-shaped back requires regular attention in the weight room. You don’t have to do a million lat pulldowns or pullups to get the look you want, though! Just add a few of these exercises suggested by GGS Ambassadors as great back exercises for women.

Don’t forget your low back!

The low back is frequently neglected, but it’s super important when it comes to whole health. Strengthening your low back can help prevent or reduce low back pain and also helps with posture and overall core strength.

Best Lower Back Exercises for Women

1. Back extensions or backward situps on a stability ball

One great exercise for strengthening the low back are back extensions on a stability ball. Not familiar? You may have heard of them by a different name.

Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador Glenda Rigby of PinkShamrock.MerrittIsland concurs that these are great, “My favorite back exercises are backwards situps on my Pilates ball!” No matter what you call them, they’re going to help you get the strong, sexy back you desire!

2. Locust pose

The Locust pose is a yoga term for a static exercise similar to the more commonly known “Superman” exercise designed to strengthen the low back.

Ambassador Nicole Bobco of Masters2Marathons explains, “I do these a few times a week (in addition to a few other lower back core exercises) because it helps keep my SI joint issue from aching since it is more ‘loose’, something that’s generally more common in women due to body physiology.” Perform the exercise as follows:

  • Lie face down and arch your upper back just a few inches off the floor, keeping your neck straight and aligned by looking at the floor. Keep your arms along your sides, “Like you are flying streamlined,” Bobco says.
  • Lift both legs a few inches off the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Rest and repeat a few times.

3. Locust pose

Robin Callarman of Unquenchable Laughter agrees that yoga’s a lifesaver, “For back exercises I love yoga! It doesn’t seem like much, compared to all the lifting exercises that are out there, but having your back be flexible and open helps with everything else!”

Best Mid and upper back Exercises for Women

Your mid and upper back generally get all the love – and for good reason! Your lats, traps and rhomboids are large muscles that each play an important role in upper body and arm movement.

1. T-bar rows

Most people are familiar with exercises like pullups and seated rows, but two Girls Gone Sporty ambassadors, Joanna Broadbent of Sports Bras and Sippy Cups, and Melissa Chestnut of MelRUNStheworld, both love T-bar rows. Joanna explains, “They work your middle back and your lats and give you the awesome v-taper.” Check out Melissa performing the exercise:

2. Pushup Lawnmowers

Another great move that will get your entire upper body working is the pushup lawnmowers exercise suggested by Katy from Fit in Heels.

Simply complete one push up and move immediately into a one-armed row. If you’re feeling especially motivated, hold a dumbbell in each hand and perform the row with a dumbbell.

Best Alternatives to Squats and Lunges + Modifications

Best Squat and lunge modifications

Squats and lunges aren’t for everyone, so there’s no need to feel bad if they’re completely off-limits for you, but if you can slowly work your way up to these movements, I highly recommend trying.

You see, both exercises are compound, closed-chain, functional moves that target all of the major muscle groups of your lower body while also engaging your core. They’re also great for developing and maintaining bone mass through the legs, hips and low back.

If you want to try a few modifications, check these versions out:

1. Shallow squats

Shallow squats are essentially the typical squat movement, but you only perform roughly the top quarter of the exercise. So instead of squatting down until your knees form 90-degree angles, you just press your hips back and lower your glutes a few inches.

You can do these up against a table or counter, as shown in the video below, or without, as shown in this video (they wouldn’t let me embed it – sorry!).

Just remember, keep your weight in your heels (try wiggling your toes while you squat to prevent yourself from shifting your weight to the balls of your feet), and initiate the movement by pressing your hips back first, rather than bending your knees first.

2. Wall squat

The wall squat is a static exercise that helps build strength at the exact angle where your knees and hips are positioned.

You can perform wall squats with any degree of bend in your knees, so there’s absolutely no reason you have to perform the exercise with your knees bent at 90-degrees.

Another advantage is that because you’re pressing your hips and torso against the wall, you remove some of the pressure from your lower body while still challenging your quads, hamstrings, glutes and core.

3. Chair squat

Chair squats are a good alternative because they focus on the “negative” or eccentric half of the squat, where you control the downward movement as you sit down into a chair. They also help you focus on proper squat form.

If you’re working your way up to a regular squat, don’t even worry about how you stand up from the chair after you squat down.

Stand up in whatever way feels comfortable to you, reposition yourself, then sit down again, using proper chair squat form.

4. Reverse lunge (shallow or deep)

Doing a reverse lunge is easier than doing a forward or walking lunge because you maintain more control over your torso and weight placement (your center of gravity doesn’t shift forward with your forward momentum), making it easier maintain proper form, particularly in your front foot.

Just make sure when you step backward, you keep your weight in your front heel (remember to do the toe-wiggle, like with squats), so when you bend your knees into the lunge, your front knee remains behind your toes, and aligned with your toes. You can try shallow or deep reverse lunges.

I love this example video, but again, they won’t let me embed it.

5. Static lunge (shallow or deep)

With the static lunge, you start with your feet staggered, one in front of the other, and you maintain this staggered position throughout the exercise.

As you perform each lunge, with a shallow or deep range of motion, you focus completely on proper lunge form without worrying about shifting your center of gravity forward or backward as you would when taking steps to the front or back.

As always, remember to keep your weight in your front heel and your torso upright and straight as you lunge.

Best Alternatives to squats and lunges

If for any reason, you want to ditch the squats and lunges suggested in the Thrillist 31 Day Gym-Free Fitness Challenge, that’s completely fine.

Here are some options for you to consider. Not all of them will feel comfortable for everyone, so give each movement a test to select the ones you like the best.

The first five exercises listed below are compound in nature, targeting more muscle groups at the same time, while the last couple exercises do more to isolate the hamstrings and glutes.

You can also sub in single-leg deadlifts or bridges, both of which are already included periodically in the Thrillist fitness challenge.

1. Step-ups

Step-ups are very similar to lunges in terms of the muscles worked, but because you have control over the height of the step and the change in forward momentum and center of gravity shift due to an overall smaller step-width, they tend to be easier on the knees.

Start with a low step – about 12- to 18-inches tall, and work your way up to a taller step or bench as you feel ready. As always, remember to keep your weight in the heel of your front foot.

Also, step down carefully from the step, fully controlling the downward motion.

2. Lateral box step-ups

Lateral box step-ups are a good alternative to squats, with the added bonus of greater engagement of the abductors and adductors. Start slowly with a low step, about eight- to 18-inches in height, gradually working your way up to a taller step or bench.

Remain in a “baby squat” with a slight bend in your hips and knees throughout the exercise, and make sure you’re fully planting your foot on the step, with your weight in your heel, before shifting your weight to perform the lateral movement.

As you get stronger, you can progress to a lateral step-over (shown below), crossing up and over the box.

3. Bear squats

Personally, I’m a huge fan of bear squats, as they’re a full-body exercise that takes you through the same range of motion as traditional squats, without placing as much weight on your lower-body joints. That said, they’re not for everyone, especially since they require a decent level of core strength and shoulder flexibility.

The key thing to remember about bear squats is that your knees never touch the ground.  You start in a high plank position, then press your hips back toward your heels as you bend your knees and extend your shoulders.

It’s as if you were performing a traditional squat, but from a plank position rather than a standing position.

When you’ve squatted back as far as you can (never letting your knees touch down!), you press through the balls of your feet and extend forward, returning to the plank.

4. Dumbbell Romanian deadlifts

Dumbbell deadlifts are a great way to work your posterior chain – the muscles along the back half of your body.

Make sure you focus on form – this exercise should primarily work your glutes and hamstrings, using them to “pull” you to the standing position, rather than relying on your back to do the bulk of the work.

As with most of the exercises on this list, remember to keep your weight centered over your heels, and be sure to initiate the movement by pressing your hips backward, keeping your core tight and strong throughout.

5. Lateral band walks

Lateral band walks aren’t a perfect substitute for squats or lunges, but they do engage many of the same muscle groups while also working the abductors.

If you can, lower yourself into a shallow squat while performing the band walks, pressing your hips back and bending your knees slightly (doesn’t have to be much!) as you perform the movement.

As you step to the side, your center of gravity will shift, so move slowly at first, focusing on form, without allowing your momentum to take over.

6. Stability ball or slider hamstring curls

To target your hamstrings and glutes, try performing a modifed hamstring curl using a stability ball, sliders, paper plates, or even a towel. I’m including several sample videos below so you can see the differences.

The main thing to remember is that your hips should remain lifted, glutes and core engaged, before and during the entire hamstring curl movement.

These are surprisingly challenging, so stop if or when your form starts to suffer.

If you choose to use paper plates, a towel, or sliders, make sure the apparatus moves smoothly across the floor. You don’t want it to awkwardly stick or catch during the exercise.

7. Quadruped hip extension

Quadruped hip extensions are great for targeting your glutes unilaterally. Really concentrate on squeezing the glute of the acting leg, controlling the exercise throughout.

Consider adding a resistance band for a greater challenge. Remember to keep your hips level and as steady as possible throughout the exercise.

Best Cardio alternatives to Squats

There are some cardio-based exercises included in the Thrillist fitness challenge that might not be comfortable if you have a hard time with squats and lunges. Consider subbing in the following, as needed.

1. Jumping jacks (jumping or stepping)

Select between the higher-impact, traditional jumping jack, or the lower-impact step-out version.

2. Side slides (slow or fast)

You can perform side slides fast, as shown, or you can slow them down and step them out for a lower-impact, lower-intensity option.

3. Bear crawl

Bear crawls are already included in the Thrillist challenge, but they’re a great alternative to burpees or mountain climbers if your knees can handle ’em.

4. High-knees

Step them out like an overexaggerated march, or jog them out at full speed.

5. Butt kicks

The video only shows butt kicks at-speed, but you can also slow them down to a walk, reducing the impact and intensity. Just make sure to swing your arms as you do the exercise to help get your heart rate high.

6. Inchworms

This exercise is included in the upper body days of the Thrillist challenge, but it’s a good substitute for more lower-body focused cardio. If you have some space to move, try the version shown in the second video.

7. Crab walks

If you don’t have shoulder pain, this is another good alternative for lower body-focused cardio.

8. High-low planks

Your lower body maintains static strength, while your upper body and core get a killer workout.

9. Lateral walking planks

This active motion is great if you have a strong core and shoulders. If you tend to have shoulder pain, this wouldn’t be my first substitution suggestion.

Keep Reading…

Grokker Review: Free Online Yoga Fitness Cooking Classes


Despite the fact that I’m (clearly) involved in the online fitness world, I’ve been a bit slow to adopt online fitness services as go-to resources for classes.

Early iterations seemed clunky and inaccessible, and I’ve always questioned the draw of following along to a video on a tiny phone or tablet screen.

Now, maybe it’s the fact that I have a computer hooked up to my TV, so I can actively use the Internet on a 39-inch screen, but I’m starting to come around to the idea of using online class services for my own workouts. And my attitude started to shift with the introduction of Grokker.

Grokker is currently a free video service that offers on-demand HD videos of yoga, fitness and cooking classes. Eventually Grokker will charge for access to their premium videos, but for now you can get them all!

The service’s founder, Lorna Borenstein, has done an excellent job of sourcing high-quality instructors to cover a broad subject matter. I’ve personally taken a 30 minute cardio-kickboxing class and a 45 minute strength-building workout, and I found both courses fun, challenging and well-conducted.

I haven’t tried any of the yoga or cooking classes yet, but the options are excellent. For instance, I’m looking forward to giving the Yoga for Athletes: Post Workout Practice a try, as well as the Spicy Thai Basil Chicken recipe (I’ve been wanting to learn Thai cooking for years).

Grokker Pros:

  • Wide variety of videos, including gourmet cooking, meditation, high intensity interval training, and more
  • Currently free
  • Easy to navigate, follow instructors and interact with other users
  • Ability to ask questions and receive support
  • In addition to Grokker’s premium, in-house videos, the service helps aggregate other great videos from around the web
  • You can save videos for future use
  • You can print out workouts to take with you when you don’t have access to the Internet

Other Considerations:

  • There will eventually be a fee for the premium Grokker videos – when this will be implemented and what it will cost isn’t clear.
  • There are already so many videos to choose from that it can feel a bit overwhelming. They have lots of categories to choose from, and there’s also a search function that appears to work well, so don’t hesitate to put those to use!
  • When creating your profile, you can indicate interests so that Grokker can provide suggested videos to you. This is a nice feature, but I’ve found that the videos they suggest aren’t necessarily the videos I want to try. This may become better over time, with use, but for now it’s a bit spotty.

Final Verdict: Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I really like the Grokker service. It’s functional, varied, and because of the wide selection of videos, I can try some things I’ve never tried before, such as Qigong. Also, the fact that it’s functioning so well while still in beta makes me think that there are only better things to come. While of course I wish the service would remain free forever, they simply can’t offer such high-quality without a price attached. As long as the prices they roll out are reasonable, I see no reason why Grokker won’t continue to grow and thrive.

Do you use online fitness video services? Which ones have you tried, and do you use them often?

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Best 10 Minute Jump Rope Workout for Burning the Most Calories


Jumping rope is an excellent high-intensity, high-impact workout that blasts calories at roughly the same rate as running at a 6 mph pace. In fact, according to Discovery Health’s Activity Burn Rate Calculator, a 150-lb. person burns roughly 113 calories during a 10 minute, moderately-paced jump rope workout.

The best part is that because the workout is so intense, your body will actually continue to burn more calories during rest and recovery, increasing your total calorie burn.

By adding just a few of these short, high-intensity workouts to your regular fitness routine, you may see significant, long-lasting results. Plus, all that hopping will help you sculpt stellar calves!

Check out our jump rope tips and try our quick, 10-minute workout!


  1. Choose the right rope. Your son’s plastic, segmented rope probably isn’t your best bet. Look for a rope that has sturdy, comfortable handles, an adjustable rope length and a solid cord. The type of cord is up to you, but look for ropes that offer sealed ball bearings for smooth, even rotation.
  2. Choose the right length. A rope that’s too long or too short can significantly impact your jumping success. When testing out a rope, stand on the center of the rope and pull the handles (without stretching the rope beyond its natural length) as high as you can under your armpits. You’ll know the rope is the right length when the handles reach the height of your sternum. If you have an adjustable rope, simply adjust the length until it reaches this height.
  3. Consider weighted handles. If you want to increase the intensity of your workout, consider getting a rope with weighted handles. Most of these ropes allow you to remove the weights, so you can start without them and add them back when you’re ready to make your workout harder.
  4. Remember practice makes perfect. If you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school recess, you’re probably going to flub it up! Don’t worry about it, just keep on trying. It takes time to find the rhythm, and as long as you keep at it, you’ll be a jump rope phenom in no time!
  5. Avoid the “in between” bounces. You want to jump at a steady rate so that you jump once for every rope turn. It’s a tempting habit to swing the rope slowly and add an extra “hop” between turns. There’s nothing overtly wrong with this, but as you add tricks to your routine, the extra bounce could throw you off.
  6. Give it a rest! If you find yourself becoming exhausted, and you’re only a minute into your routine, don’t sweat it! Jumping rope is tough. Take a break to catch your breath, then start back up again. Just remember, your 10 minute workout doesn’t include your breaks. Keep an eye on the clock and tack on time for every break you take.
  7. Do what you can. This is an extension of the “practice makes perfect” rule. If all you can do right now is skip, that’s okay! Do 10 minutes of skipping. If you think you’re ready to progress to jumps, one-legged jumps or other tricks, go ahead and progress. Changing up the routine is what keeps it interesting, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple.
  8. Go at your own pace, but push yourself. Start at a slow or moderate pace to get the rhythm of jumping down, but as you’re able, increase the speed of your jumping routine. The faster you go, the harder you’ll work and the more calories you’ll burn. Even if you just pick up the pace for 30 seconds here or there, that extra effort will pay off in the end.


Add this jump rope routine to your workout once or twice a week. It makes a great addition to a strength training workout, or you can fit it in early before you head to work.

  • 0:00 – 1:00, Standard skips

Skip in place, almost as if you’re jogging, alternating feet as you rotate the rope.

  • 1:01 – 2:00, Standard jumps

Hop in place with both feet together, hopping once for each rope rotation.

  • 2:01 – 2:30, One-legged jump

Hop in place on your right leg only, hopping once for each rope rotation.

  • 2:31 – 3:00, One-legged jump, opposite leg

Hop in place on your left leg only, hopping once for each rope rotation.

  • 3:01 – 4:00, Reverse jumps

Start with the rope in front of your feet and rotate it in the opposite direction; it should rotate backward over your head and forward under your feet.

  • 4:01 – 5:00, Criss-Cross jumps

Begin jumping using your standard jump; after you’ve jumped over the rope once, quickly cross your arms in front of your body so that your arms are crossed before the next jump; after the second jump, quickly uncross your arms so that they’re back to normal before the next jump; continue criss-crossing your arms back and forth for the duration of the exercise.

  • 5:01 – 6:00, Ski mogul jumps

Begin jumping using your standard jump; after you’ve jumped over the rope once, rotate your hips and legs to the right while keeping your knees together, as though you were a skier going over the moguls – your legs should be rotated when you land; after the second jump, rotate your hips and legs as far as you can to the left while keeping your knees together; continue rotating your lower body back and forth for each jump.

  • 6:01 – 7:00 Lateral hops

Begin jumping using your standard jump; after you’ve jumped over the rope once, jump both legs as far to the right as you can before landing the next jump; after the second jump, hop both legs as far as you can to the left; continue hopping back and forth over an imaginary line for the duration of the exercise.

  • 7:01 – 8:00 Reverse jumps

Repeat a minute of reverse jumps to help balance out all the forward rotation you’ve been doing.

  • 8:01 – 9:00 Standard jumps

Slow the pace down and do a nice, slow minute of standard jumps.

  • 9:01 – 10:00 Standard skips

Keeping the pace relatively slow, skip out the remainder of your workout.

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How to Make Homemade (DIY) Sandbag Weights

If you’re doing resistance training on a daily basis, there are tons of different ways to do so. As you build your strength with the likes of dumbbells, barbells, or even body-weight training, you can still use an odd object here and there to get the same effect. So if you’re looking for the best odd object on the market, it’s the sandbag. So read on as we dive into how you can make your very own DIY sandbag for exercise.

How To Make Your Own Sandbags for Working Out at Home

Before we get into it, there are different ways to craft the perfect weight training sandbag. Tons of users on the markets have tried just about every method and deemed the one below as the best. It works for making a cost-effective, mid-weight sandbag.

The following materials will be needed to make your sandbag:

  • A canvas laundry bag
  • A bag of gravel that weighs about 40lbs to 50lbs. It should be noted that pea gravel shouldn’t be used to make sandbags to keep out floods
  • A box of contractor garbage bags
  • A role of decently priced duct tape
  • Zip ties

The items listed above can cost as little as less than $50 and if you think of it, it’s a really good investment. The best part of all of this is that in less than an hour, you’ll have your sandbag and you’ll be ready for an intense workout.

How To Put The Sandbag Together?

1. Create The Interior Bags

You’ll need to roll a contractor bag down to ensure that it can sit on its own. Next, you’ll need to pour the sand or gravel into your contractor bag. However, you’ll be doing this for either 3 or 4 interior bags, so keep in mind that you’ll need to separate the gravel to have enough for each.

A good rule of thumb is to divide the gravel in one set of 20lbs, and the other three bags are usually set at 10lbs each. While we’ve discussed exact weights for each bag, they don’t need to be 100% exact. After filling the contractor bags, you’ll need to fold the opening down. When you’ve got it folded, you’ll need to apply some duct tape to seal the bag.

Since these bags hold a significant amount of weight, it’s best to double wrap the bag. This is done by placing each bag into a second contractor bag and sealing it with duct tape. The process should be repeated until the interior bags are all sealed.

2. Fill The Exterior Bag

When you’re finished with the previous step, you’ll need to put each bag into the laundry bag. You’ll then need to pull the drawstring so that the opening of your laundry bag is tight. In order to properly secure the bag, you’ll need to cinch a couple of zip ties around the top of the laundry bag.

However, the disadvantage of using zip ties is that if you’re intending to change the weights, you’ll need to cut the zip ties off of your laundry bag. While it may sound costly to change the weight, it really isn’t and you can easily source 100s of zip ties for just a couple of dollars. So if you’re interested in increasing the weights of your sandbag, you can do so by adding more gravel to your interior bags and sealing them up.

Commercial Options And Alternative Materials

Besides using a laundry bag, contractor bags, and pea gravel, there are different setups to get yourself rolling with your very own sandbag. So if you’re interested in having your very own sandbag that weighs over 50lbs, you’ll need to think about purchasing your very own military-grade, heavy-duty duffle bag. In the case of the interior bags, you can easily use some of the heaviest freezer zip lock bags that you can find and reinforce them with duct tape.

Additionally, you can switch out the pea gravel in the interior bags and fill them straight into the new heavy-duty exterior bag. This allows you to save a couple of dollars as you remove the interior bags. However, this makes changing your weights a bit harder and it’s quite messy.

If you’re looking at other filler materials, the following can be used instead of pea gravel:

  • Sand – If you didn’t already think of this, sand is another common material that most people use for these bags and they have good luck with them while others tend to end up with leaky bags.
  • Rubber Mulch
  • Wooden Pellets
  • Link Chain – These are used in some extreme conditions. All you’ll need to do is throw a couple of feet of the heavy linked chain into the duffel bag. You’ll need to secure the top and your sandbag will be completed. However, since it’s not sand you can expect to be bruised repetitively on your shoulders; so keep that in mind before you dive into the idea of using link chains.

With the options mentioned above, most people gravitate to the laundry bag filled with contractor bags and pea gravel. These tend to provide the most effective method for making your very own mid-weight bags. However, if you’re not sure about the DIY option, you can still look at commercial sandbags.

Commercial Sandbags

Sandbag training has been known to be very effective. There are several benefits that come with this type of training and there are tons of commercial sandbags available on the markets. Commercials sandbags come in a range of sizes and unlike the DIY options, they don’t leak at all.

Commercials bags are usually sealed with velcro and they even come with actual sand in them. Commercial alternatives also provide users with more versatility during a workout. However, it should be noted that some brands are known for leaking.


As we conclude, we have just looked at how you can make your very own sandbag weights for exercise. While there are commercial sandbags available, most veterans love making these sandbags since they can customize the weights as much as they want to. The DIY option is a great way to get exactly what you’ve looking for by doing everything on your own and in less than an hour you’ll have your very own sandbag.

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