Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sweaty 2 Sculpted: 10 Minute HIIT Interval Workout

50 seconds max reps, 10 seconds of rest between exercises
*This can be modified based on your fitness level. Start out with 20 seconds of max reps and build from there. All exercises can be done with body weight only. Add dumbbells as your progress. 

1. Mountain Climbers
2. Crunch and Tap (with dumbbell)
3. Plie Jump
4. Curtsy Lunge (with dumbbell)
5. High Knees
6. Lunge Jump (with dumbbell)
7. Burpee
8. Plank Row (with dumbbell)
9. Heel Tap Abs
10. Extended Hip Lift (with dumbbell)

Hi Everyone!

One round of this workout only takes 10 minutes, but it will get you sweaty fast! Of course you can repeat the workout from 1-3 times. 

I used a 20 lb dumbbell for the weighted exercises. When selecting a weight make sure it is challenging for you. If you start to lose proper form decrease the weight. Form is always number one. 

I followed this workout with  a 4.5 mile run outside. It took me 38 minutes at a comfortable pace. I am continuing my training for My First Half Marathon, which is three weeks from yesterday. 

Enjoy today's workout! I also posted a weekly workout schedule for those of you who prefer to follow a plan. You can find that here: Weekly Home Workout Schedule.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weekly Home Workout Schedule

Hi Everyone!

This is my fourth weekly workout schedule! The other three were so popular that I decided to create another week long workout plan. The first three are linked below:

Week 1: Exercise and Multi-Tasking: Weekly Schedule
Week 2: Weekly Home Workout Plan
Week 3: Weekly Workout Schedule and Challenge

Remember that you can adjust your rest days according to your needs. You should always be listening to your body. Challenge yourself and rest as needed. These weekly workout plans can be followed in order, or mixed up. You can even repeat one weekly plan until your body adjusts, and then move on to another program. 

It's all about finding the right challenge and variety for you! I included several workouts that utilize dumbbells. You can complete the movements with body weight, or select a weight that is challenging for you. 


Full Body Bender Booth Camp at Home

Belly Fat Burn Workout

Rest and/or 30 Minutes Easy Cardio (walking or running at a talking pace)

Power Yoga Sun Salutation

Kick Away Calories

Stretching for Runners: IT Band, Shin Splints, Hip Flexors and Back

10 Minute Bikini Body Toning Workout

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stretching for Runners: IT Band, Shin Splints, Hip Flexors & Back

1. Side Plank Hip Stretch (right)
2. Side Plank Hip Stretch (left)
3. Pigeon (right)
4. Pigeon (left)
5. 1 Leg Forward Fold (right)
6. 1 Leg Forward Fold (left)
7. Down Dog
8. King Arthur Pose (right)
9. King Arthur Pose (left)
10. Hip Opener
11. Runners Lunge (flexed to extended knee) (right)
12. Runners Lunge (left)
13. Back Stretch
14. Back Twist (right)
15. Back Twist (left)

Hi Everyone,

This is a yoga based stretching video for the lower body and low back. I created this stretch series to target areas that become tight with running and repetitive movements. It's important to keep your muscles limber to prevent injury and speed recovery. 

With running, or any repetitive exercise movements, imbalances can occur in the body. When this happen your alignment is impacted (often in the form of an anterior or posterior pelvic tilt). This change in alignment can cause increased pressure on the knees and joints. 

There is a rumor out there that running will damage your knees and joints. This is not true. Running strengthens your bones and joints. However, if you are running with improper bio-mechanics and alignment you are repetitively using your joints and muscles incorrectly, and over time this can cause damage. 

Stretching, along with strengthening the antagonist muscle pairs can help prevent injury and keep you strong and safe. 

I had a tough workout planned for tonight, but the arch of my foot is feeling tender. I am taking tonight off to let it rest, and keep it from becoming an injury. I shared the Love HIIT: 10 Minute Dumbbell Workout on my facebook page today. It's a good one! If you are looking for a challenging workout to try, check it out. 

See you tomorrow with a new workout!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

Repeat 1-4X

1. Up/Down Dog
2. Hydrant Extension (right)
3. Hydrant Extension (left)
4. 3 Park Core Extension
5. Extended Plank

Hi Everyone!

This is a quick core workout! Core strength is imperative in everything that you do. Your trunk powers and stabilizes all of your movements. If you don't have a strong core you are not optimizing your workouts. Even running form and postural alignment can be optimized with core strengthening. 

Without consistent and balanced core strengthening your hips can become misaligned or tilted, which can lead to increased risk of knee injury and joint pain. 

In addition to this workout I also continued training for My First Half Marathon. I ran a challenging cross country course (all on grass, with lots of hills!) I did a total of 4.5 miles. The first 2.5 miles I completed at a challenging pace. I got a cramp during the harder portion of the run, which was not fun. I followed it up by a quick rest, and a 2 mile cool down run of the same loop. It was still a challenging course, but I slowed my pace down to allow my body to recover. 

I also did a lower body stretching routine, which I am working on uploading now. Running is a repetitive motion, so it's important to keep your body limber and strengthen all of the muscles that create counterbalances during the running motion. 

Enjoy the workout! There will be a new one (and a stretching video!) posted today. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My First Half Marathon: Training

Thanksgiving 2012: 5 Mile Race with my sister. 

Hi Everyone,

At the start of the year I made a list of goals that I wanted to achieve this year. Check out the post here: Setting Goals for Success: Fitness and Life. Somehow my goal to do a half marathon didn't make the original list (maybe I was afraid to commit to the training! Once I write things down there is no turning back!)

Next month my goal is becoming a reality. I have signed up for a Half Marathon on October 19th. I already know that this isn't going to be my best race time-wise. Over the past several months life and obligations have significantly decreased my training, and my running has been practically nil. My speed isn't where it has been in the past.

5K Race: Jesse-First place overall. Me-4th place female overall.
Guess what? I'm okay with that. I will not use it as an excuse to miss out on something I want to do. I will use this race as a starting point to see where I am, and set a time goal for my next race. Due to consistently training over the past several years I know that I can handle the distance. I have come a long way since I first started running: Running Made Me Cry...How I became a Runner

Running, especially running longer distances, makes me feel strong. It makes me feel that I am capable of anything, and no matter what comes my way I can handle it. 

In preparation for this race I am increasing my running mileage. I am including one long run per week, 1 speed day, and several easy runs. 

Over the past week and a half this is what my running schedule looked like:
(*This mileage is appropriate for someone who has established and progressively increased their mileage. I will be sharing a running plan for beginners soon!)

Sunday: Speedier Treadmill Day + Lower Body Blast: Shape, Burn and Sculpt
1 Mile-7 Minute Pace
1 Mile-7 Minute Pace
1 Mile Speed Walk-12 Minute Pace (I think running was easier!)
5 minute cool down

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: Easy Mileage Builder +Quick Stomach Toning Workout
6.03 Mile Run Outside at a comfortable pace.
Total time: 53 Minutes, 5 seconds. 

Wednesday: Treadmill Run Mileage Builder 
*During treadmill runs I increase the incline to approximately 2% to prevent back strain/injury. 
3 Mile Run Comfortably Challenging Pace
Total Time: 23 Minutes, 40 Seconds. 
1 Mile Speed Walk: 12 Minutes, 35 Seconds

Thursday: Cardio Cross Training
10 Minute HIIT Cardio Interval: Sweat Not Tears Repeated 2X

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Cross Train/Trying Out My New Running Shoes
Low Impact Body Sculpt: Tummy and Tush
Treadmill-with 2% incline. 
1 Mile Run: 7 Minutes, 24 Seconds
.75 mile walk: 10 Minutes
1.25 Mile Run: 10 Minutes
.5 Mile Walk Cool Down

Sunday: Long Run Day-Outside
10.04 Miles at a Comfortable (Talking) Pace
Total Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes

Monday: Easy Miles-Outside
4.02 Miles at a Comfortable Pace
Total Time: 35 Minutes

Today is Tuesday and I will be posting a new workout tonight, and updating my training schedule so be sure to check back! :) 

If you are racing or training for an event I want to hear about it! Let me know at: Melissa Bender Fitness: Facebook

See you soon,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Low Impact Body Sculpt: Tummy and Tush

Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps

Repeat 1-3X

1. Slow Mountain Climbers
2. Side Plank Leg Lift (right)
3. Supermans
4. Side Plank Leg Lift (left)
5. V-Ups
6. Leg Series (right)
7. Leg Series (left)
8. Heel Tap Plank
9. Leg Lift/Hip Lift
10. Mountain Climbers

Hi Everyone,

This was my workout last night. I worked early this AM so I wasn't able to get this posted until today. :)

This workout is low impact, but very effective. You get to stay down on your mat, and focus on form. It's important to slow down your workouts sometimes and really focus on maximizing each movement, and challenging your muscles in a different way. 

I went through this workout 1 time, and followed it with some running on the treadmill. I got a brand new pair of running shoes yesterday, and I needed to try them out. My old running shoes have so many miles on them that I literally ran holes into them!

I hope you enjoy this workout! I will have a new one tonight, plus I will be sharing a post about running/training. 

See you later!

Friday, September 20, 2013

10 Minute HIIT Cardio Interval: Sweat Not Tears

10 seconds Rest, 50 seconds Max Effort

1. High Knees or Jump Rope
2. Surfer Burpee
3. Side Kick Hop (right)
4. Side Kick Hop (left)
5. Mountain Climber
6. Lunge Jump
7. Squat Jump
8. Russian 
9. Frogger
10. High Knees

Hi Everyone!

This was my workout last night. One round is quick, it takes only 10 minutes so it's easy to make time for this one. :) 

I repeated the workout twice, and it felt great to get my heart rate up. I love the fat burning, and muscle building benefits of HIIT workouts. It's also great cardiovascular cross training if you are a runner. This style of workout will help increase your VO2 Max, and get your body used to maintaining a harder effort. 

I hope you all enjoy the workout! Time to get sweaty!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quick Stomach Toning Workout

Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps

1. Scissor Situps
2. Extended Heel Tap
3. Lift and Tuck
4. Balanced Side Crunch (right)
5. Balanced Side Crunch (left)
6. Hip Lift Circle
7. Bicycle
8. Reverse Crunch
9. Side V-Up (right)
10. Side V-Up (left)

Hi Everyone!
This was my workout last night. It's completely focused on core. My tush was sore for two days after Lower Body Blast: Burn, Sculpt and Shape. Normally I don't get sore (maybe 1-2 times per year. Jesse says it's proof that I am an Amazon, haha). I enjoyed the soreness, but it was a great reminder to keep up the challenges. 

This workout kept me from overdoing it with my glutes. I also went for a run to get rid of some of the lactic acid build-up in my muscles. Sometimes when your muscles are sore the best way to help them heal is to get moving (as long as you don't over do it!)

Enjoy this workout! I will see you later with a new one. :)


PS My motivation is going full force so I will have some exciting new goals to share with you!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lower Body Blast: Burn, Shape and Sculpt

Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps

1. Lunge Hop (right)
2. Warrior Deadlift (right)
3. Lunge Hop (left)
4. Warrior Deadlift (left)
5. Jump Squat
6. Dumbbell Squat
7. Lunge Kick (right)
8. Bulgarian Split Squat (right)
9. Lunge Kick (left)
10. Bulgarian Split Squat (left)

Repeat 1-3X

Hi Everyone!

Tonight's workout is a doozy! I wanted to get in a serious lower body workout tonight. I created this workout to exhaust each muscle group. This workout is great for recruiting both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers. This translates to more speed, strength and endurance. It also means that the exercises should wear you out. 

No matter what, focus on maintaining proper form for each exercise. This is still more important than speed, even on the plyometric movements. Also, remember to warm up. I warmed up with some jump roping today. I did 300 jumps over the rope, alternating between traditional jump roping (hopping with both feet together) and high knees jump rope every 50 jumps. 

I went through this workout twice, and ran one mile after each round. I kept my miles pretty quick (7 minute mile pace). After my second mile I walked a third mile as a cool down. 

I was sure to stretch well after the entire workout: pigeon pose, king Arthur pose, lotus (both sides), and some extended side stretches. 

It was an intense workout day, but I feel fantastic, strong and energized!

I hope you all enjoy the workout!

Mango Spinach Smoothie

Hi Everyone!

My love for Green Smoothies is no secret. I have already shared recipes for: Cool Melon SmoothieGreen Smoothie: She-Hulk Style and Filling Green Endurance Smoothie

Today's smoothie features Mango, Pear and Spinach. 

Ingredients: (Serves 2)
1 Mango
1 Pear
2-3 Cups Fresh Spinach
2 Cups Ice
1/2 cup Coconut Water (optional)

For a Creamier High Protein version of this Smoothie add the following:
1/2 cup Coconut Milk (or milk of choice)
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder

Combine all ingredients in blender until desired consistency is achieved. Drink and enjoy!

Lean Active 7 Vanilla Protein:

Protein Mango Spinach Smoothie (left) and Mango Spinach Smoothie

Friday, September 13, 2013

Abs and Core Galore: 9 Challenging Ab Moves

Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps

*These movements are challenging! If you have trouble with a move, work your way up to it. :) 

1. Temple Tap Abs
2. Side Kick (right)
3. Side Kick (left)
4. Boat Extension
5. Side Plank Toe Touch (right)
6. Side Plank Toe Touch (left)
7. Bicycle
8. Curved Hip Lift
9. Knee Tap Plank

Hi Everyone!

This was my late night workout yesterday. It's a challenging core workout. This workout is designed to work every aspect of the core, building strength and stability. 

Our days have been absolutely jam packed lately! This weekend I have two full days of continuing education courses, but over the next few weeks I am looking forward to it slowing down again. :) 

I just got back from another meal out, with some fabulous company (my mom). On my way home I reflected on how overly full I am, and how much I have been eating out over the past week (anniversary night, anniversary weekend away from home, birthday party at work (and subsequent party leftovers the next day), birthday party at a restaurant, and dinner with my mom tonight). 

My body feels all of those meals out. I feel sluggish, puffy, and overly full. While I enjoyed all of the meals, and more importantly the company, it's time for me to recommit to my normal clean eating style. I prefer foods cooked at home, and I feel better when I eat them. For the rest of the month I will be eating all home cooked foods. Which should make for some good recipe sharing. :) I will be making an exception for my sister's birthday at the end of the month, but I will focus on choosing whole foods. 

Enjoy the workout! 

Temple Tap Abs

Side Kick

Boat Extension 
Side Plank Toe Touch
Curved Hip Lift Part 1
Curved Hip Lift Part 2
Knee Tap Plank

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

30 Minute Yoga Flow

Hi Everyone,

Last night I wanted to get back to basics, and do a yoga flow. My body loved it! I worked up a great sweat, and challenged the muscles throughout my body. 

I incorporated movements with a lot of positive health benefits. The twisting movements enhance intestinal/digestive healthy and spinal suppleness/flexibility. Increased flexibility of the spine, and alignment means that your brain is able to transmit signals to your body more accurately. 

I also incorporated Plow pose which is linked to thyroid health and reduction of cellulite. It also improves drainage of the lymphatic system. 

Those are just a few of the benefits of this particular yoga flow. :) 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Gambit makes a guest appearance in the end of the video. 


Sunday, September 8, 2013

15 Minute HIIT Interval Fat Blaster

50 Seconds Max Reps
10 Seconds Rest

*Push as hard as you can, but listen to your body. If you need to: decrease the interval, and increase the rest as you build up to 50/10 seconds.

1. Push-up Jacks
2. Jump Squat
3. High Knees
4. Plank Tap (right)
5. Plank Tap (left)
6. High Knees
7. Hip Thrust (right)
8. Hip Thrust (left)
9. High Knees
10. Lunge Jump
11. Burpee
12. High Knees
13. Super Taps
14. Leg Circles
15. High Knees

(Description of exercises below)

Hi Everyone! 

Today's workout is high intensity to maximize your metabolism, burn fat, and build lean muscle. I love these short intense workouts!

This workout can be repeated. I went through it one time today. If I have time this evening I may go through it once before my shower. The nice thing about 15 minute workouts is that you have a lot of flexibility about fitting them into your schedule!

I wanted to get outside and do a light run, so I ran out with Jesse and explored some trails near our new house. We kept it easy, and talked the whole time. We got in 3.25 miles. 

I decided to start prepping my food for the week on Sundays again. I did this when I was training for my first NPC bikini competition. It kept it easy to make healthy choices during the week, and still allowed me some flexibility. 

Today I made chicken, which I will use as a main dish, on salads, or on sandwiches/wraps during the week. I also have a large crock-pot full of veggie soup cooking right now, and it smells delicious. 

Enjoy today's workout!

Push-up Jacks:
Start in Plank Position with your feet together. Jump your feet out in a "jumping jack" motion. From this position do one push-up. 

Modification: Complete Plank Jacks, omitting the push-up until you build enough strength. If this is to intense, hold plank position, until you build up to 60 seconds, and then try the more difficult variation. 

Jump Squat: 
Stand with feet slightly more than hip distance apart. Push your hips toward the wall behind you and lower into a squat position, with thighs parallel (or slightly below parallel) to the floor. From this position jump up into the air, straightening your body. Land with knees slightly bent and immediately return to the squating position. 

High Knees:
Run in place, focusing on keeping the core activated/tightened. Pump arms, and raise knees to hip height. 

Plank Tap:
Start in a forearm plank with hands clasped, elbows below your shoulders. Lift the right leg, and bring it in over your left heel, squeezing the thighs together. Extend the leg out to the side, and tap the floor. Repeat to the left. 

Hip Thrust:
 Place hands directly beneath your shoulders, fingers pointing toward your toes. Bring the left heel in toward your glutes, extend the right leg and lift your hips from the ground. 
Thrust the hips into the air, while pressing through the standing heel. Extend the right leg toward the ceiling as you lift your hips. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Lunge Jump:
Start in a Lunge Position. Both knees bend at 90 degree angles, front thigh should eb parallel to the floor, knee over ankle. Jump into the air and reverse the position. 

Squat down, place both hands on the floor in front of you and jump out to a plank position. Do one pushup, jump feet forward toward the hands. Lift the hands and jump toward the ceiling. Return immediately to the starting position and repeat. 

Super Taps:
Lie face down on your stomach. Extend your legs backward, slightly lifting so that your knees are off the floor. Cross the heels, alternating sides, and squeezing the glutes throughout the movements. 

Leg Circles:
Lie face up, with arms extended next to your, or stretched overhead. Keeping your hips as still as possible, with low back on the floor circle your feet. Reverse directions of your circle every 5 reps. 

Weekly Workout Schedule and Challenge

Hi Everyone,

Today's workout schedule is posted below. All of the workout titles should link to the original workout breakdown, and the videos are all posted below. 

This is a tough week of workouts, so be sure to adjust to your level, or change/add rest days as needed. 

In addition to this week's plan I am adding a workout challenge. Add 3-5 days of cardio. Aim for 20-30 minutes. Your cardio does not have to be high intensity. It can be walking, running, jump rope or your cardio of choice. (Need ideas? Check out: Spice Up Your Cardio Routine: Keeping the Treadmill Interesting). 

Enjoy the workouts!

Bender Boot Camp: Full Body

Tighter Tummy Workout

Dancer Body Workout

Full Body Shape and Sculpt

Stability Ball Workout

15 Minute HIIT Interval Workout

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Quick Playground Workout

Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps

*Unless otherwise noted. 

1. Hanging Leg Raise
2. Decline Pushup
3. Sprint (one) (1 minute jump rope can be substituted)
4. Hanging Leg Rotations
5. Surfer
6. Sprint (one)
7. Tick Tock Hang
8. Walking Lunge Lift
9. Sprint

Hi Everyone!

Yesterday I had to go outside and enjoy the weather! It was so beautiful that I switched up my workout plan and decided to use the playground for my workout. :)

It was a great reminder that you can find ways to be fit and live a healthy lifestyle where ever you may go. 

Today is the third anniversary of the day Jesse and I got married so I am going to head outside and get in a quick run while he is still at Cross Country practice. I am taking the rest of the evening off. See you all tomorrow!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Secret to Achieving Your Goals....Determination, Refusal to Give Up, and a little Planning

Hi Everyone,

I was reading about Diana Nyad's successful 115 Mile swim from Cuba to Florida today. This was her fifth attempt. She did at the age of 64, what she was unable to achieve on her first try at 28. Fitness is a lifestyle with no age limit. It takes work and time. It is worth it. Check out the article about Diana's success here

There is more to this story than physical achievement. There is determination, commitment, refusal to give up, and strength of spirit that is not dimmed by embarrassment, shame or disappointment. 

Did the first 4 attempts to complete this swim hurt? Physically, she survived Jelly Fish Stings, asthma attacks, cuts, scrapes, cramping, and on her fifth trial swimming for 53 hours. Pain is a given, and after the first four attempts and 35 years Diana knew it wouldn't get easier. 

The mental fortitude it takes to attempt something you know will not be easy, and that you may fail is difficult in the best of conditions. Diana undertook this knowing that the world was watching. 

So which of your goals are you putting off due to fear of failure, embarrassment, or difficulty? 

Make a list of these goals. (If you have trouble staying on task or finding focus select one goal to focus on at a time. 

Now write down two actions you can take toward making each goal a reality. Write down two blocks to your goal. What has stopped you from reaching your goals so far? Finally, write down two ways you can overcome whatever is blocking you. If you want to share your goals you can do so in the comments section below, or on my facebook wall

Use this list as a plan/guide to achieving your goals. Update it as needed. Don't let anything (even yourself) stop you. 

I have a lot of interests and goals. You all know most of my fitness goals, so I am going to share a goal from another area of my life. I love singing. I used to sing constantly, and record songs for fun when I was bored at home. I wanted to lay on a piano and sing blues songs. :)

I rarely sing anymore. (Don't worry, this blog will still be about fitness, not singing!) When I see a great musical performance there is a part of me that hurts because I miss it. 

Goal: Start singing again. 

1. Sing at least one a Capella (without music) song per day. 
2. Buy a recording program for my computer. 

1. Fear. I have been told a million times that my voice is to operatic/not mainstream. 
2. I don't play an instrument, so my song writing is limited to vocals and lyrics.  

1. I'm singing for my own pleasure, and recording songs because I enjoy it. Also, I generally don't care what other people think as long as I am happy with my own choices. This should extend to singing as well. 
2. I don't need to play an instrument to enjoy singing. This is not really a valid excuse. However, I do want to learn to play guitar and piano. Those can be separate goals. 

Whatever your goals are, fitness or otherwise, you can achieve them. It may not be easy, but you can do it if you put in the time and effort. Don't give up, and don't stop doing the things you love. Those are the things that bring happiness and passion to your life. 


PS I attached links to a few songs I recorded several years ago. Listening to them reminded me of how much I loved recording songs. "Wanting Me" is a duet/collaboration I did with my best friend from High School, Lenny Boss. "Spider Webs" is an a cappella cover of my favorite Joan Osborne song. "At Last" is one of my favorite classics by Etta James.