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Chair Pistol Progressions For Beginners (Or Those Working On Hip/Ankle Mobility)

I nailed my first right leg pistol this week! Like a lot of people, I struggled with one side more than the other. My left leg was a pistol superstar. My right, not so much. It took me a year of focusing on pistols, mobility and progressions to nail it, and though it’s still not perfect, I’m getting there.

For those working on their pistols, this is a progression I’ve been using (sometimes with weights) to get my descent just right.

Using a chair, balance on one leg as you sit back on to the seat, and use your hips to drive you up. The lower your surface, the harder this is (eventually I moved to a bench). Keep the lifted leg extended like you would in a pistol, with a slight bend in the knee.

This is much easier on the knees and a decent swap if you have a workout that calls for pistols (I use a 2-3 rep multiplier: if a workout calls for 10 pistols, I do 20-30 of these instead).

Give it a go! Easy to try anywhere. (on two legs, this is a modifier that’s great for beginners to practice squat form too).

My first right leg pistol!

I’ve been able to break parallel with my left for awhile, but on my right side it has been insanely tough to do. Even just getting parallel has been a challenge, and I usually end up on the floor, lol.

Nailed it this week though! Been practicing for a year and it’s finally paid off. Still can’t get as deep as my left side, but progress is progress, falls and all.

Any weaknesses you’re working on?

This is a fun/useful alternative when a bar isn’t around! Slow and controlled, really focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you draw the elbows in on the pull. Imagine that you’re pulling yourself up over the bar, and keep your chest facing the ground. You’ll also feel this in the lower back; use a stability ball or pillow if needed.

(5-10 reps from the floor is a decent rep swap for 1 pullup if you’re modifying a workout - if it calls for 5 reps, try 25-50 of these. The higher the band resistance, the harder this is. You can also use a towel or scarf).

Someone asked “will these make pullups easier?”. Truthfully, the only way to get better at pullups… is to do pullups. There are lots of ways to modify at the bar to make it easier for beginners (see a guide here). But for occasions when you don’t have a bar, want to work on the floor or need an alternative (wrist injury), these will still challenge you.

xo

Pike Pops & Pop Ups

These are lots of fun, murder your shoulders and core and are a sick cardio boost! Try them on a chair or bench (just make sure it’s secure) or from the floor.

Tips

Keep hands in line with the shoulders and use your core to help with balance. Only jump as high as you can while protecting your joints (a small pop will do) and keep a flat back. As you jump, pike your feet and contract your core: your thighs should move towards your chest. Jump from the balls of your feet and point the toe slightly in mid air.

If doing this from the floor, maintain your hand/shoulder position. Stay on the tops of your feet and keep legs off the floor in the tabletop position for added quad/leg work. Stop to find your balance at any time.

Mission: Try to add the following reps in any of your workouts this week.

  • Beginners: 50
  • Intermediate: 75
  • Advanced: 100

Elevated Burpees

Want to take your burpees to the next level? Try them ELEVATED. Not the best photos here, but hopefully you get the gist - read the instructions below if it’s not clear.

(tip: best to plant your chair or bench against a wall so that it’s sturdy and won’t move. Place feet on the seat of the chair and keep hands wide for balance).

GO SLOW with these. Speed comes later. Adjust yourself in each position if needed.

Elevated Burpee Instructions

A. Squat and bring hands to the floor, stepping one foot on to your chair/bench, then the other. Keep a flat back and tight core in plank. Eyes forward (though it’s okay to glance to make sure you’re in the right spot).

B. One pushup with elevated feet (optional).

C. Step one foot in to the outside of your hand, then the other, until you’re in a low wide squat. Butt down if you can.

D. Jump. Repeat.

Goal: Try 3 sets of 10 in your workout this week! If that’s too easy, try a 50 rep challenge for time!

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16 Day Killer Kixie Challenge! Day One: 160 Bad Ass Pushups

Starting out BIG! 160 pushups for day one is NOT going to be easy, but remember you can spread them out however you like.

'Bad Ass' is whatever it means to you! If pushups are new to you, stick to the basics and easier modifications. If you’re already rocking your pushups (even modified ones), today is the day to try different ones! If you start out strong and get tired, feel free to switch to easier modifications: this is high volume.

All reps and modifications count. See below for some ideas!

Beginner/Intermediate? See ideas & form tips here: Working Your Way To Perfect Pushups

Three Ways To Kick Day One’s Ass…

Read More

Bulgarian Squat To Rotation

This modification will give you a little stretch as you work your core and balance. The lower the surface, the easier it will be. :)

Nail The Form

  • Keep weight in the heel of your planted foot. Your back foot should feel more like a balance aid: keep the weight in the front heel. (wiggling your toes is a good sign the weight is in the right place)
  • Your front knee will likely stay on top of, and not past, your toes. If you’re taller, it might edge forward naturally, and that’s ok! As long as your weight is in the heel, it’s fine. :)
  • I like to keep my back knee right under my hip, but you may find it more comfortable to create more distance. That’s cool. Depending on your hip flexibility, play around with the angles. :)
  • As you twist, use your core to stabilize yourself and focus on keeping the weight in the heel. (notice a HEEL theme here?).

Beginners: if this it too tough, try a back lunge to rotation instead.


Single Leg Deadlift, with Curl ‘N’ Row
I’m obsessed with single leg deadlifts (though my bum leg won’t let me do them at the moment). Because I work out at home primarily, I am always looking for ways to add intensity/difficulty using the equipment I have. My sandbag goes up to roughly 40lbs (Pink Power Package) but it’s an unstable weight, making it very difficult to perform balance moves (and my water bag makes this move SO much harder, even though the weight is lighter! The water moves from side to side, making it uber tough to balance).
 Single leg deadlifts are wicked to work your glutes, hamstrings, core and inner thighs (plus they help with balance and coordination). The modification above also targets your biceps and upper back while making it tougher to keep your balance. Tap down ANYTIME. :)
Ways To Do This With No Sandbag
Just bodyweight: form is VERY important and comes before adding resistance. Squeeze the muscles in your hamstrings, back and biceps, pretending you have weight in your hands. Go slowly and make sure your form is on point before adding weight. 
Dumbbells. Either in both hands or just one hand (one hand makes it more challenging to balance. Try switching up which hand has the weight to feel the difference. 
Use what you have! Soup cans, laundry bottles, water bottles etc. The more wiggly and unstable the object, the harder this will be, even without heavy weight. 
Beginners: No need to start on one leg. Tap the back foot down for balance, but keep your weight in the front leg. Keep a slight bend in the knee, and use a wall or chair for balance if needed. (CONTRACT THE CORE! Protects the low back: you should feel this in the hamstrings, glutes and core.)
How To Do It:

A. Starts with a one leg bicep curl (curl the weight up & down while balancing on one foot). Keeping your leg lifted, bend/hinge at the hips to bring your chest parallel to the floor. Keep a slight bend in the standing leg.
B. Perform a row, scraping your elbows up past your back. Keep them close to your body and squeeze your shoulder blades. Focus on a spot 6 feet in front of you to help with balance.
C. Using your glutes and keeping core tight, come back to standing, balancing on one leg. Avoid using your back to do the lifting: keep it flat and focus on your hips/glutes. Repeat, starting with the bicep curl.

Try to work up to 10-15 consecutive per leg, then go a little heavier! Repeat for 3 to 5 sets. (throw in some cardio to recover. Jump rope, deadlift, jump rope, deadlift etc). 
Get sandbag details below if you’re interested! You know how much I freaking love mine. They’re awesome to travel with too if you’re going on vacation this summer (just bring the shell and fillers: fill up on the beach!). 
Ultimate Sandbag Pink Water Package
Ultimate Sandbag Power Water Package

Single Leg Deadlift, with Curl ‘N’ Row

I’m obsessed with single leg deadlifts (though my bum leg won’t let me do them at the moment). Because I work out at home primarily, I am always looking for ways to add intensity/difficulty using the equipment I have. My sandbag goes up to roughly 40lbs (Pink Power Package) but it’s an unstable weight, making it very difficult to perform balance moves (and my water bag makes this move SO much harder, even though the weight is lighter! The water moves from side to side, making it uber tough to balance).

Single leg deadlifts are wicked to work your glutes, hamstrings, core and inner thighs (plus they help with balance and coordination). The modification above also targets your biceps and upper back while making it tougher to keep your balance. Tap down ANYTIME. :)

Ways To Do This With No Sandbag

  • Just bodyweight: form is VERY important and comes before adding resistance. Squeeze the muscles in your hamstrings, back and biceps, pretending you have weight in your hands. Go slowly and make sure your form is on point before adding weight.
  • Dumbbells. Either in both hands or just one hand (one hand makes it more challenging to balance. Try switching up which hand has the weight to feel the difference.
  • Use what you have! Soup cans, laundry bottles, water bottles etc. The more wiggly and unstable the object, the harder this will be, even without heavy weight.

Beginners: No need to start on one leg. Tap the back foot down for balance, but keep your weight in the front leg. Keep a slight bend in the knee, and use a wall or chair for balance if needed. (CONTRACT THE CORE! Protects the low back: you should feel this in the hamstrings, glutes and core.)

How To Do It:

A. Starts with a one leg bicep curl (curl the weight up & down while balancing on one foot). Keeping your leg lifted, bend/hinge at the hips to bring your chest parallel to the floor. Keep a slight bend in the standing leg.

B. Perform a row, scraping your elbows up past your back. Keep them close to your body and squeeze your shoulder blades. Focus on a spot 6 feet in front of you to help with balance.

C. Using your glutes and keeping core tight, come back to standing, balancing on one leg. Avoid using your back to do the lifting: keep it flat and focus on your hips/glutes. Repeat, starting with the bicep curl.

Try to work up to 10-15 consecutive per leg, then go a little heavier! Repeat for 3 to 5 sets. (throw in some cardio to recover. Jump rope, deadlift, jump rope, deadlift etc).

Get sandbag details below if you’re interested! You know how much I freaking love mine. They’re awesome to travel with too if you’re going on vacation this summer (just bring the shell and fillers: fill up on the beach!).

Ultimate Sandbag Pink Water Package

Ultimate Sandbag Power Water Package

For those who think regular burpees are ‘too easy’.

Yeah. Have fun with this one, lol. #cantdressherself #sore

Tips: keep legs wide to help with stability (both in plank and in your squat), and keep hand directly under your shoulder (plant it first).  Use your core to shoot back into plank, and step your feet back if that’s too difficult. Omit the jump and one hand pushup until you’re ready! Baby steps. :)


Challenge: try for 50, spread out however you like in your workout (25 per side). I prefer 5 sets of 10 (5 per side each set), followed by a light jog or recovery move. :)

Sandbag Get Up Challenge: 10 Minute AMRAP!

Challenge: As many reps of this move as you can manage in 10 minutes! Take breaks when needed, but don’t stop the timer! Make sure your form is spot on: you’d rather do less but have perfect form than do more half-assed. :)

My score (don’t compare): 52 with the sandbag. My first score? 30 with no sandbag. Come a long way!
Swap the sandbag for a dumbbell or plate if that’s all you have: grab it in both hands! You can also do this with just your body weight (beginners can use their hands to help them up and for balance).
If you are using light weight or no weight, but want a more intense challenge, add a jump at the end. 
This is total body and CRAZY for your core. Add this to the end of your cardio workout, or use it as a workout in and of itself. :)

Sandbag Get Up Challenge: 10 Minute AMRAP!

Challenge: As many reps of this move as you can manage in 10 minutes! Take breaks when needed, but don’t stop the timer! Make sure your form is spot on: you’d rather do less but have perfect form than do more half-assed. :)

My score (don’t compare): 52 with the sandbag. My first score? 30 with no sandbag. Come a long way!

Swap the sandbag for a dumbbell or plate if that’s all you have: grab it in both hands! You can also do this with just your body weight (beginners can use their hands to help them up and for balance).

If you are using light weight or no weight, but want a more intense challenge, add a jump at the end.

This is total body and CRAZY for your core. Add this to the end of your cardio workout, or use it as a workout in and of itself. :)

Wicked Warmups: Crescent Lunge To Side Plank

Love this move! It’s great to throw into any circuit, and is especially awesome for your warm up: the dynamic motion pumps blood into your whole body, gets your heart rate up, and provides a gentle stretch all at the same time. 

Modification: come to your knees for the side plank, or omit it all together. Instead, try adding two swivels: in plank, cross your knee to the opposite elbow.

Not flexible enough to step your foot through? Try this with your hands slightly elevated on a sandbag, dumbbells or a small bench. It makes it easier to step through to crescent pose, and when you get better you can lower down.

How To Do It

A. Start in plank: hands directly under your shoulders, butt is down and core is tight. Flex your quads and work to keep your hips from sinking (keep your eye line just between your hands and try to look forward a few feet).

B. Keep your butt down as you step one foot forward into a runners lunge. Some people MAY need to help their foot forward with their hands: totally okay. As you get more flexible, it will become easier to do it in one step. (see modifications for other suggestions)

C. Plant your foot firmly into the ground as you lift your hands into the sky. Keep hips facing forward. BEGINNERS: no need to lift your hands up if it’s too difficult. Place them by your hips; just get them off the floor into a high lunge.

D. Replace hands to the ground and step the front foot back to plank. Rotate your body open to one side, keeping your shoulder in line with the hand (my feet are staggered, with the top foot in front of the bottom foot). Hold for a moment, then come back to plank. That’s one rep. Repeat with the crescent lunge and side plank on the opposite side. 

Try for 10-20 reps in your warm up on your next workout! :)

Plank Row And Kickback

This is a great move for beginners and intermediates! It’ll challenge your back, shoulders, core and glutes. Go as heavy as you can while keeping good form.

How To Do It

A. Come to a table top position, with dumbbells in each hand. Keep back flat and hands under your shoulders.

B. Keeping your hips facing the floor, row one dumbbell up past your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Bring elbow up past your back. Simultaneously, extend your opposite leg out to the back of you in a donkey kick. Squeeze the glutes as you kick, and think about the contraction instead of height (don’t over extend your back).

C. Hold for a beat and repeat on the same side or switching sides.

Advanced? Try this in full plank, simply lifting the back leg up.

Challenge! 3 x 1 minute intervals in your workout. As many as you can in one minute (30 seconds per side), recover and repeat.

Elevated Pushups: Basic, Single Leg, Spiderman

Time to level up? :)

When I first started doing full pushups, it was awesome, but after awhile I wasn’t progressing/getting better at them. I still had a hard time doing more than 20-25 in a row, and I stayed there for a long time.

Once you mastered a move for the first time, you have a few options to get better at it: do more (high volume, like our pushup challenges), do harder modifications, add resistance/weight or plyometrics and be consistent about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Elevating my pushups was much harder ( I could do dozens and dozens from the floor, but less than 10 elevated), but within a few workouts, I was already feeling stronger. My burpees got better, my plank time improved, and yes, pushups from the floor felt like recovery.

START SLOW: If you’re used to doing a certain number of reps from the floor, know that your reps will be slightly less. That’s okay! Add in short intervals until you get stronger. If you’re still struggling with pushups from the feet, this may be too advanced.

TIPS

1. Make sure your hands are lined up with your shoulders and take your hands wide. Your eye line should fall in front of your hands (when you look down). You should be able to see a few feet in front of you without straining your neck. 

2. Keep your hips lifted (don’t sag) and engage your core and legs (quads). Keep hips facing the floor at all times (especially for single leg or spiderman modifications).

3. Place chair on a secure surface like a mat or against a wall. The first few times, take a peeksie to make sure your feet are in the middle of the chair seat.

4. Push the floor away from you instead of lifting from it.

Beginners: Flip these around to make them easier! Place your hands on the seat of the chair and feet on the ground. The higher the surface, the easier it is. (Easiest: against a wall on an incline).

Give these a try this week in a few of your workouts!

More options here: Working Your Way to Perfect Pushups…

Knee Strikes

Cardio, legs, core

Those of you asking for a “jump free” way to sneak in some cardio, core and leg work: here you go! Utilize your entire body: the bigger your range of motion (using your arms, getting low), the more intense this exercise will be.

How To Do It

A. Start in a lunge position, sinking into the heel of the front foot and bending at the knee. Keep chest up and back flat as you raise your arms overhead.

B. In one motion, draw your back knee forward and up as you bring your arms down. Pretend your breaking a stick over your knee. This should also feel like a standing crunch: engage your core.

C. Replace the leg, tapping the foot down behind you. Repeat as quickly as you can while keeping good form.

BEGINNERS: Reduce range of motion, sitting a little higher in your lunge and drawing the knee up only slightly.

ADVANCED: Try this weighted (light weights are ideal since it’s cardio), or add a small hop at the top of the move (hop on the lunging leg as you draw your knee forward).

Challenge: Aim for 50-200 per leg!

Crab Kicks

Cardio, legs, core

Crab kick are a fun cardio move that work your legs, core, shoulders and back. (those of you doing the ZCUT challenge might recognize it!). I adore this move! Feels like you’re doing the can-can. :)

HOW: In a table position, keep hands under shoulders and hips lifted as you jump switch legs and kick towards the ceiling. Beginners can modify it by marching (and not jumping) or by doing it elevated with hands on a chair or couch.

Core tight throughout, and add speed only after you’ve gotten the form down.

Try ‘em! :)

Goal: 50-100 split up however you like. :)

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