Friday, February 26, 2010

Proper Rowing Form

Use Rowing Exercise Machines: Technique and Training

Learn the Benefits of Rowing and Find Extra Equipment to Help Your Workout

An indoor rowing machine offers a great full-body workout that tones muscle and burns fat. Once you've mastered the basics of your new rowing machine and are ready to expand your workout, I'd suggest you check out; their video series has workouts for any muscle group and for all levels of experience.

Here, we'll go over the basic features of the average rowing machine, what a proper rowing style consists of, and some gadgets that can be added on for additional benefits. Here's how to use these exercise machines:

  1. PROPER ADJUSTMENT AND GRIP One of the first things you'll do when using a rowing machine is adjust the foot straps. Make sure that your heel is resting comfortably against the base of the foot pedal and that the strap has been secured. You may be tempted to go barefoot, but the pressure from rowing will make this an uncomfortable choice for the soles of your feet. Take the extra minute to lace up a pair of sneakers.

    As a novice, the resistance on your rower should be set at a low level. Setting too high of a resistance will cause your upper body muscles to tire faster. Why cut your aerobic workout short? Save the heavy resistance for your weight training routine.

    A proper rowing grip is one that is firm, but relaxed. A grip that is too tight will cause your forearms and hands to fatigue faster. Your grip can be either overhand or underhand, and alternating between the two during a long workout will decrease arm fatigue.

  2. PROPER BODY MECHANICS Your rowing technique while using a rowing machine is important, just as with any other exercise. In particular, a rowing machine user with poor form is at risk for back strain. To avoid straining your back, use primarily your leg and hip muscles. Don't overarch your back as you finish each stroke. Sit up straight and bend forward at the hips. Your elbows should remain close to your body when pulling the oars or handles.
    using a rowing machine
    There are three main phases of rowing training: the catch, the power stroke, and the recovery. The catch phase position is when you come forward on the rower. Your knees are bent and against your chest. Your upper body is leaning slightly forward while still maintaining good posture. That is, your back isn't hunched over and your head is up.

    The power stroke is when you push against the foot pedals and extend your legs while bringing your hands to your upper abdominal area. Exhale as you do this. At full extension, lean back a little for maximum benefit. Avoid leaning back too far, though. Overarching puts you at risk for back strain.

    The recovery phase simply involves straightening your arms, bending the knees, and bringing your body forward again. A successful rower blends three of these phases into one another. Avoid jerky movements.

  3. BELLS AND WHISTLES Great! You've mastered the mechanics of machine rowing-both electronically and biologically. There are all sorts of neat things to attach to your rowing machine. Some rowing equipment additions are purely for comfort, like a padded seat. Other add-ons are for safety, like a wireless heart rate monitor that transmits data to the LCD screen.

    If you'd rather experience realistic water rowing, then a slide is for you. This platform is placed under your rowing machine and mimics the motions of the water as an outdoor rower would feel it.

You can also buy a cover for your indoor rower, but I wouldn't bother with it. A better alternative is to use your rowing machine for fitness training on a regular basis to prevent the dust from settling. So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know the benefits of rowing machines, strap yourself in and start rowing your way to a better body.

Required Tools:
A rowing machine
A pair of sneakers
Keep your grip loose.
Bend forward at the hips.
Don't risk injury by overarching your back.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Deadlifts/Front Squat,Pullups,Burpees

1000 m row (C2 rower)
2:00 front plank, elevated on 24" box
50 calf raises
2x10 chin ups
3x15 knees to elbows

Deadlift 5-3-1 (205-220-230)

10 front squats, 75# (clean from the floor, into the front squat)
10 pull-ups
10 burpees

*strength & WOD courtesy

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home Workout...Children Necessary

10 weighted pushups, 30# child on back
25 walking lunges, 30# child on shoulders
10 weighted pushups, 30# child on back
25 walking lunges, 30# child on shoulders
15 ab wheel rolls
10 weighted pushups, 40# child on back
25 walking lunges, 40# child on shoulders
15 ab wheel rolls
30 jumping air squats
10 weighted pushups, 30#+40# children on back
15 forward lunges, 30# child on shoulders
10 forward lunges, 40# child on shoulders
15 ab wheel roll
1:00 ELEVATED front plank

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Plank Variations

By C.W. Schurman, MS, CSCS

The Plank is an effective exercise you can do to stabilize the entire core region and strengthen the obliques, abdominals and lower back, along with muscles in the torso and legs, but it is important that you learn to do it and its variations properly, both to keep your lower back safe, and to get the most out of the exercise. For form tips on how to get it right, and for plenty of advanced options to add to your repertoire, read more about the 10 plank variations below.


Nearly all the exercises described below can be performed on your knees at first, then progressed to toes as your core strength and endurance increases.

  1. Elbow/Knee Plank
    Elbow/Knee Planks:
    Start face down on a mat with body weight evenly distributed between your elbows and knees. Keep your abdominals held tight to support the lower back, and keep your head aligned with the spine by looking directly down at your clasped hands without dropping head forward. Build up to being able to hold this static position for 30 seconds before attempting version 2. Complete 3 holds of 30 seconds with 1 minute rest or stretching (i.e. child’s pose is a good option) in between sets.

  2. Elbow/Toe  Plank
  3. Elbow/Toe Planks: Start face down on a mat with weight evenly distributed between your elbows and toes. Keep your abdominals held tight to support the lower back, and hold your body in a straight line from the shoulders down to the toes. You can pike your hips up just slightly to take any pressure off the lower back, but do not allow the hips to sag which would cause hyperextension in the back. Keep head neutral, looking directly at your clasped hands. Build up to being able to hold this static position for 30 seconds before moving to version 3. Complete 3 holds of 30 seconds with 1 minute rest or stretching in between sets.

  4. Hand/Knee Plank
  5. Hand/Knee Planks: Start face down on a mat with weight evenly distributed between your hands and knees, in what is commonly referred to as a modified pushup position. If you experienced any discomfort in the shoulders in version 1 you may actually find this to be a more natural and comfortable position, especially if you have any shoulder issues, in which case simply start with this version. Focus your eyes on a spot midway between your hands and slightly forward to keep spine in neutral alignment. Hold abdominals tight so the back remains supported, and keep your body in a straight line from head to knees. Build up to being able to hold this static position for 30 seconds before moving to version 4. Build up to 3 holds of 30 seconds with 1 minute rest or stretching between sets.


  1. Hand/Toe  Plank
  2. Hand/Toe Planks: Start face down on a mat with weight evenly distributed between your hands and toes, in what is commonly known as the end or starting position of a pushup. Keep head in alignment with the spine and keep a straight line from heels through shoulders and head. Extend out and upward from the shoulders so the entire core is engaged without any sagging into the shoulder joints, and when you need to take a break you can slowly lower to your knees or pike your hips up into the yoga position known as Downward Dog, with your chest pressing back toward thighs, heels pressing down to the floor, and hips up toward ceiling. Build up to being able to hold this static pushup position for 30 seconds before moving to version 5. Build up to 3 holds of 30 seconds with 1 minute rest or stretching between sets.

  3. Hand/Shins  on Ball Plank
  4. Hand/Shins on Ball Planks: This option is excellent for the smaller stabilizer muscles in the abdominals, obliques and lower back, as your legs are resting on top of the wobbly surface of a stability ball. Get into position with knees, shins or toes on the ball. The farther away the ball is from your core, the more challenging this exercise becomes; you may find it easier to start with the ball at thighs or knees and gradually move the ball outward toward toes. Keep your abdominals tight, pelvis tucked, and hips slightly elevated to protect the lower back. Since the feet are elevated, more of the working load is placed on triceps, chest and shoulders, so it helps condition upper body muscles as well. Build up to being able to hold this static position for 20-30 seconds or more before moving to version 6. Build up to 2-3 holds of 30-45 seconds with 1 minute rest or stretching between sets. You can also try bringing your knees into the chest (called pushup ball roll-ins) as another exercise variation.

  5. Elbow  Circles on Ball / Toe Plank
  6. Elbow Circles on Ball / Toe Planks: Here is another good option that incorporates obliques as well as abdominals and lower back. Begin by placing forearms on top of the ball while you remain on your knees. Take a deep breath, contract the abdominals firmly, and come up on your toes, arms held together tightly on the ball. Make 4-6 small, slow circles in each direction with your elbows, feeling the obliques fire as you rotate your arms. Be sure not to make too large a circle or you will be turning the exercise into an upper body strengthener instead. Aim for 3 sets of 6-8 circles in each direction with 45 seconds of stretching / rest between sets.


One tip for each of the following 4 exercises: in order to get a good grip with your feet, either perform them barefoot on a yoga mat or in athletic shoes on rubber mats. Socks on hardwood floors will be next to impossible for anyone but the most balanced athlete!

  1. Walking  Plank
  2. Walking Planks: On hands and knees, keeping abdominals tight to support lower back, fix either the hands or the feet in place, fairly close together. Shift so that you are on hands and toes. Alternately walk one hand out 2-3 inches and then the other, then march them back in together and hold (out, out, in, in, hold); continue in this manner, challenging obliques, abdominals, triceps, chest, shoulders and lower back muscles simultaneously. If you fix your hands in place, position them fairly close together to increase stability. Raise one leg up in the air a few inches (this engages hamstrings and glutes) and slowly replace it to the floor, then the other; or, as in hand marching, walk feet a few inches apart, then back together again. Build to marching hands or feet for 3 sets of a minute each. You can also do this in round-the-world fashion, alternating hand marching with feet marching to a count of 8.

  3. Side Plank
  4. Side Planks: Begin as for #4, but instead of holding a still position, rotate your whole torso and raise one arm up toward the ceiling, keeping hips high and coming onto one hand and both feet, either stacking one leg on top of the other or placing the top leg foot slightly forward of the other leg for better balance. Hold that position for 1-2 seconds, then slowly and controlled rotate back down to starting position and raise the other arm to rotate to the opposite side. Complete 8 rotations to each side and build to 3 sets with a minute of rest in between.

  5. Around the  World Plank
  6. Around the World Planks: Start as in #4 but making sure shoulders are directly over hands and toes are about 18 inches apart. Brace yourself by making sure abdominals are tight. One limb at a time, lift first arm, second arm, second leg, and first leg, traveling “around the world.” Be sure to keep strict form throughout, and do not allow body to shift over to one shoulder or hip as you remove the fourth point of contact from the floor. This exercise is difficult to master, but it is also great for concentration and integration of many muscles working simultaneously. Build up to 4-5 cycles all the way around (16-20 movements) and 3 sets with a minute rest between. As a training aid, try to balance a tennis ball or orange on your lower back without it shifting side to side as you move arms or legs.

  7. Reverse  Plank
  8. Reverse Planks: This is the only plank variation in this article that has you facing upward. Start from a seated position, legs extended in front of you, hands slightly behind and outside your hips. With straight arms, slowly lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from heels to shoulders, head and body in alignment. If you experience any shoulder discomfort, stop the exercise. To add difficulty, bend one leg slightly and lift the other leg, giving the hamstrings, lower back and glutes an added challenge. Hold 5-8 seconds, then repeat with other leg. Complete 3-5 repetitions as a set, then rest 1 minute before performing another set.

With these examples in mind, you can probably add countless variations to your own plank routine to get the most out of your core workouts. By putting hands or feet up on an aerobic step or ball, you can increase the intensity for both core and upper body; by adding a light workout vest or ankle weights to your legs, you can also increase the challenge to core and to glutes and hamstrings as well. Add one or two to each strength workout and rotate through them every three weeks or so as you master one and need increasing challenge. Happy training!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pain brought to you by Romanian Deadlift

1:00 handstand hold
50 double unders


2x20 Single Leg Thrusters (1 set/leg)
3x20 Romanian Deadlifts, 110#
3x20 Front Squats (65#-75-75)
3x5 Dead-hang pull-ups
3x10 Push Press, 75#
2x10 Single Leg Thrusters (1 set/leg)

Got Curry Powder?

This one's for you, Mom.

In a phone conversation I had with my mom last week, she mentioned her recent taking to curry powder. Incidentally, she referred to the health benefits, namely memory support, of this lovely yellow powder. While she IS using it, she IS very limited on HOW she's using it. As was the case with ME, for years, the curry powder was a relinquished afterthought to most all of my cooking. It usually ended up getting pushed to the BACK of my spice cabinet in the black hole of "those pretty, but never-used spices".

It's been the last two years, in our household, that have given this spice its fame to our tastebuds. You CAN'T have a freezer-full of lamb and NOT pull out the curry recipes. Absolutely unacceptable. We use it in lamb curry. We use it in chicken curry. And, of late, I have been frivolously garnishing my hard-boiled eggs with it. (Thank, Mom, for that idea; we love it.)
curry powder

Just what is this YELLOW powder?

Curry powder is a mixture (widely used in Indian cooking) of many herbs and spices. It can be a pulverized blend of up to 20 spices, herbs and seeds. Among those most commonly used are cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg, red and black pepper, poppy and sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind and turmeric (the latter is what gives curried dishes their characteristic yellow color). Commercial curry powder (which bears little resemblance to the freshly ground blends of southern India) comes in two basic styles-standard, and the hotter of the two, "Madras." Since curry powder quickly loses its pungency, it should be stored, airtight, no longer than 2 months. The combination of spices used in making curry powder could vary depending on different countries and regions, but the one ingredient that is present to all mixture is "turmeric." While many of the spices that make curry powder are said to be beneficial to ones health, the main spice in question here would be this one. Tumeric is the source of Curcumin, (Which in eastern language is the word for Tumeric), in the west it is a compound extracted from tumeric and is being heavily researched for Alzheimers, Aids and Cancer. Tumeric Has been found to improve memory loss and mental function.

Curcumin is the substance that gives the spice turmeric its yellow color.

Health Benefits of Curry:

  • Curry powder can help reduce inflammation of the joints; this is due to the presence of curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Curry's curcumin may help deactivate genes that can trigger the onset and spread of breast cancer. Other studies suggest that curcumin may be effective in slowing the progression of prostate and colorectal cancers.
  • Curry's curcumin have some positive effect in stabilizing pancreatic cancer.
  • Curry's curcumin may help fight skin cancer. Tests in laboratory show that curcumin made melanoma skin cancer cells more likely to self-destruct.
  • Curry powder may help prevent Alzheimers; this is again due to the presence of curcumin that act to clear the brain of protein deposit that is thought to cause Alzheimer's. Interesting enough, Alzheimer's is rare in India.
  • Curry can help improve memory. A study conducted on older men who ate more dishes containing curry performed better in memory tests.

This brings me to my next question:

How do YOU use curry powder? Do you have any favorite recipes you'd like to share with my mom (and me)?

I think I, in my next post, will share MY favorite curry recipes. I'd love it if YOU would share, too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

3x5 Back Squat/K2E,Pushups,Walking Lunge

3x15 ab wheel
2x10 v-ups
2x1:00 handstand holds
10 dead-hang chin-ups

Backsquat 5-5-5 (75/80/85% of 1RM) I determined my weight using my 1RM: 195

3 RFT:
25 K2E
25 Push-ups
25 Steps Walking Lunge (25# plate overhead)


*courtesy CFOKC

Monday, February 8, 2010

Well-Worth the Effort...

(remember THIS post?)

Weighting for Winter?

Is it the cold that causes folks to become less motivated this time of year?

Whatever it is, I'm feeling it.


Isn't that cute little bridesmaid's dress (the one I'll be wearing in two months) motivation enough? Two months is JUST ENOUGH TIME to gain a size. And I CANNOT afford to GAIN a size right now.

See you at the gym!

Laura, you asked how the wedding went...and particularly, how the dress worked... :)

I somehow managed to push past the common "hibernation-mode" that is very easy to slip into this time of year. Knowing I had to fit into a bridesmaid's dress (a dress that the lovely LITTLE
bride chose) in February kept my exercise efforts a little more focused. The last thing I wanted was to be uncomfortable in the dress, as they were lovingly tailored to FIT...and to FIT WELL. Any gains (whether muscle OR fat) could make it tight--and I don't do TIGHT.

The wedding was beautiful. The dress was comfortable, and the effort in getting (or just staying) where I needed to be...was tremendously worth it.

So here's to discipline--may I continue to find more it of--DRESS...or NO DRESS!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3x5 DL/"Double Trouble"

Strength* Deadlift 5-5-5 (185/185/190)


You have 3 minutes to row a 500 meter piece and then complete as many double unders as you can in the remaining time.

Rest 3 minutes (I rested 1.5 mins)

Next you have 2 minutes to complete 30 Push Press with 50% of your 1RM and then complete as many double unders as you can in the remaining time.

Rest 2 minutes (I rested 1 min.)

Last you have 1 minute to perform 20 pull-ups and then complete as many double unders as you can in the remaining time.


1) No rower...I substituted 50 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls--35#--for the row. Completed 52 DU.

2) I used 65#. Completed 32 DU

3) Butterfly Kip. Completed 13 DU.


3x15 abroller

2:00 front plank

:40 side plank/side

*courtesy CFOKC

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

KB Swings/"Crazy Eights"

1:00x3 handstand holds
1:00 accumulated L-sit holds
25 knees to elbows
25 unilateral walking lunge/side, 25# overhead
50 bilateral walking lunge, 25# overhead
15 hanging leg raises

3x25 kettlebell swings, rest 1 min. between sets
1 pood-1.5 pood-1.5 pood

"Crazy Eights"
AMRAP 8 mins.
8 push ups
8 full squat cleans (50% 1RM), I used 65#
8 ab mat situps

completed 4 rounds


Monday, February 1, 2010

1 RM Front Squat

2X10 ab roller
2x10 v-ups
50 push-ups
2:00 weighted front plank, 25#
1:00 side plank/side

find 1 RM (rep max) front squat: 155# (PR)
Granted, my form looked much better at 145#, but nonentheless, held my composure and brought the 155# out of the bottom.

I started WAY LOW and was going up in such small increments on the front squat that I ran out of time to do my planned WOD. So here's what I managed:

20 reps heavy front squat
@ 60% of my max: 95#

My legs were already sore an hour after this! Sufficient for me...

I'm calling an SOS!

(Can someone please come remove the homemade bread from my house? We're talking fluffy, ambrosial temptation...and I'm not even a bread fan!)

Motivation. I NEED motivation to exercise self-control...

(...bridesmaid's dress on Sunday.)