Hit the Road, {Squat} Jacks!

Yesterday afternoon after I finished up some freelance work, I received an email from a reader asking why I haven’t done any Fiterature Videos in a while.  It’s true.  I’ve been slacking in the video department and I know you are all sad about it.  More so because you miss my snazzy leotard, and less so because you miss my amazing unsolicited instruction.

{I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly}

Shazaam (Do people still say that? Did they ever?  SURE!)!

Ask and you shall receive. Video comin’ atcha.

For the past 8 weeks, I have been strength training my upper body every Monday and Wednesday.  Annette from Fitness Perks has been writing my workouts and they are INSANE!!  She is so good!  I asked her to put together a plan for me that would help sculpt my abs and arms, and I only had two requests.

1.  Incorporate very little legs: my legs are getting plenty of work running 40 miles a week training for the Chicago Marathon and are just. plain. tired.  I want my legs strong, sure. I want my runs to feel challenging, but I don’t want to be so sore that I can’t get my miles in.

2.  The workouts had to be QUICK: When I am running no less than an hour most days, the last thing that I want to do is spend another hour or more in the gym.  I just mentally wouldn’t be able to stay motivated. I know myself too well.

{Meet Annette. She’s rad. Give her knucks.}

Annette has granted my requests and then some – she’s the best!  My workouts are all 30-40 minutes, and I’ve been doing them on my lunch break which has been a great way to mix up my day and blow off some “work steam”.  I’ve got some legs in there in the form of squats or lunges while doing bicep curls, and 30 second bursts of cardio to keep my heart rate up, but nothing that will totally wipe me out for morning runs.

Today’s workout includes Squat Jacks with a Weight – they seem harmless enough, right?. Hold weight, squat, move feet.

Holy. Moley.

These little angels BURN.  Like when my high school volleyball coach used to make us do 2 minute wall sits burn.  Like when I want to go home and realize my car is on the 1st floor and that flight of stairs is NOT happening so someone catch me burn. The “man, that totally sucked and I never want to do it again, so why can’t I stop smiling?” burn.

Squat jacks work your thighs and glutes (butt), while getting your heart rate up to boost stamina and strengthen your heart and lungs. Squat jacks while holding a weight or medicine ball engages your chest, back and arm muscles for a TOTAL body exercise.  Here’s how they work:

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Squat Jacks:

1. Stand with feet close together, hold the weight chin level, and squat. Make sure your abs are tight, and your arms are squeezing the ball to engage the muscles.

2.  Staying low, jump feet wide. Return to the starting squat position; repeat for 30 seconds (or 30 reps).

Squat jacks are a great at-home or travel workout. If you don’t have a medicine ball, do not fret. All you need is something you can squeeze between your hands and has slight weight to it.  You could use a hand weight, basketball, gallon of water, large bag of rice or a small child – kids make great workout buddies. Just don’t drop the precious ankle biter.

And if you are in need of a great workout but aren’t sure where to start, hit up my friend Annette.  She is the bees knees and really knows her stuff from the inside out.  She will work with you on your fitness goals and can even write you a meal plan.  Do it.  (PS – she did not pay me to write any of this.  In fact, I’m paying her. She’s that good.)

What is your favorite “feel the burn” exercise”?

What weird or random things have you used as an exercise tool? 

(For those of you that are new, please read my disclaimer about the quality of the videos made at Fiterature Studios.)