Tag Archives: Strength training

I Brake for Planks

16 Jun


My absolute favorite core exercise is the plank. It’s the duct tape of exercise: versatile (side, front, knees, toes, hip extension, arm extension, rotary, hip abduction and the list goes on), functional (no core strength = pain and injury) and suitable for almost all fitness levels (Olympic athletes to office workers with herniated discs to grandparents with stenosis). Pretty sure MacGyver had core strength AND duct tape.


Now let’s break this mutha down into proper form so you receive the most benefits. After all, knowing how to stabilize your core is fundamental for all movement.


1. Lying on your stomach, place your elbows underneath your shoulders and forearms on the ground. Your arms will be within the frame of your body. Keep shoulders wide rather than sinking into them and avoid clasping your hands together.

2. Draw your belly button towards your spine (innie or outie–ain’t no thang) and squeeze your butt, slightly tucking your tailbone and lifting your hips in alignment with your shoulders. Toes will be tucked underneath you.

3. Shift your weight back into your heels and reach long through the crown of your head. Your body will be one strong, straight line, like a battering ram (see picture). Breathe and hold this position for 15-60 seconds. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat.


Of course, you will only perform this exercise if you have been cleared to exercise by your physician. If you feel pain at any time, stop the exercise immediately and consult a certified personal trainer –like me!–to check form and help you modify the exercise to meet your specific needs.




Pre-, Intra- and Post-Exercise Nutrition

2 Sep
Post-Workout Bliss: 1/4 lb grass fed beef, sauteed green beans and sweet potato hash.

Post-Workout Bliss: 1/4 lb grass fed beef, sauteed green beans and sweet potato hash.

I love my post-workout meal. I literally dream about it the night before, finalizing every last detail until it sounds a-ma-zing. That is not an exaggeration. In fact, I’m writing this blog in a post-workout meal induced haze of satisfaction and muscle fatigue. Bliss, baby…

… and I want to share it with you! Join me on my nutrition caravan for tips on how to properly ensure you have fuel in the tank, how to refuel for long trips and how to ensure your tank is properly fueled so you can continue on your journey of energy, strength and confidence. Cue the road trippin’ music.

1. Hydrate. Drinking water is always key to great performance and recovery. Your daily goal should be to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water daily plus more when you are sweating. For example, a 150 lb individual should drink a minimum of 75 oz of water spread throughout the day.

2. Pre-Workout: Start with Fuel in Your Tank. Whether you exercise at 5am or 5pm, you need to make sure you eat a little bit of protein and carbs 30-60 minutes before your workout. This can be as simple as a banana with almond butter or a protein shake. The most important thing is that you choose foods that digest easily, settle in your stomach and give you enough energy so you don’t bonk during your 45-60 minute workout. If you’ve ever felt weak, faint, nauseous, etc. during a workout and you don’t have the flu/illness, you better get your pre-party on and investigate what you are or aren’t eating.

3. Intra-Workout: Refuel for Duration. This truly applies to those endurance athletes who are exercising for 60+ minutes. Your body can only maintain certain intensities for so long before you are completely depleted. Again, opt for foods that settle well in your stomach, but give you quick energy. Fresh fruit and GU packets work well along with energy bars and peanut butter sandwiches for longer events. Refuel every 45-50 minutes.

4. Post-Workout: Refuel for Life. Immediately to 30 minutes following your workout, refuel with a healthy mix of protein, vegetables and starches. Choose a clean protein source of poultry, fish, eggs, beef/bison or protein powder (no antibiotic or hormone treated animals please), 1-2 cups of vegetables and a nutrient packed starch like yams, quinoa, rice, etc. The protein will help repair all tissues, the vegetables will add vitamins, minerals and fiber and the starch will help transport the protein while replenishing energy stores.

5. Use the Correct Fuel. You wouldn’t refuel your car with the wrong type of fuel would you? Your body is no different. Choose real food over processed foods like pastries and instant meals. Your body’s performance, energy and aesthetics are directly related to the quality of food you are feeding it. Be good to your bod.

This is a simplified guideline for exercise nutrition. If you are experiencing issues with recovery, injuries, dehydration, performance, etc. or want to learn more, please contact me for a specific nutrition plan tailored for your unique needs.

Top 3 Workout Mistakes That Hinder Results

12 Aug

If yofruit dumbbellsu are exercising daily, but not seeing the results you want, then you might be making these common workout mistakes.

1. Performing Long Duration Cardio for Fat Loss. Running has always been perceived as the Holy Grail for fat loss, but it may very well be one of the biggest factors as to why you ARE NOT burning fat. Say what?! While cardiovascular exercise is an important part of a well-rounded exercise program, pounding the pavement or doing any repetitive movement consistently for 60 minutes will actually make you an efficient fat burner. Less energy needed to do an activity = fewer calories burned. Long duration cardio also produces more cortisol which makes a nice, squishy home around your mid-section. Not cool. Rather than kickin’ it on the treadmill for 60 minutes every day, opt for strength training and interval training instead. Strength training builds muscle for an around-the-clock fat burning party and interval training improves cardiovascular health without boring the body. A perfect pairing is 3 days of strength training and 2 days of intervals. Add in stress-reducing walks or yoga on your recovery days.

2. Skipping Your Post-Workout Meal. Not eating within 30-45 minutes after your workout is like Daniel Craig keeping his shirt on throughout an entire movie–a complete muscle waster! Resistance training breaks down muscle fibers so we can rebuild them and gain strength. The only way we can repair our bodies is through proper nutrition and recovery. So after you finish your challenging weight training session or metabolic intervals, grab some grub. An ideal recovery meal consists of clean and lean protein, vegetables, fruit and a healthy starch like a yam. If the thought of a full meal after your sweatfest makes your stomach churn, blend a protein shake with pea protein, fresh and frozen fruit, raw unsweetened cacao, kale/ spinach and 6 oz of water/ coconut water/ almond milk.

3. Staying in Your Comfort Zone. Change happens when you push yourself out of your comfort zone. This can be accomplished by increasing weights in small intervals, switching your exercise program every 4-6 weeks and putting forth 100% effort. If you are squatting for 10 reps and feel like you could do 10 more reps, then the weight isn’t heavy enough–challenge yourself and increase it so you can only do 1-2 more reps with good form. Not tired after your 20 second interval and feel like 30 seconds is too long of a break–push yourself and go faster (without sacrificing form). Going out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean entering your pain zone. “No pain, no gain” is lame. Challenge yourself to be your best. You are your greatest competition.

Incorporating these 3 tips along with healthy eating (you can’t out-train a poor diet) will help you achieve the life you deserve. After all, a little daily sweat equity and optimal nutrition is well worth a lifetime of happiness.

For more health and fitness tips, visit Stephanie Bell Wellness on Facebook.

The 30-Minute Workout

30 Jul

Tight schedule? Busy juggling life or simply not ready to commit to a regular exercise program? Let’s remedy that, shall we?

Now, I’m not a fan of generic exercise programs (hence all of my words of caution you will read). It is extremely important to work with your doctor (to make sure you are cleared for exercise and do not have any orthopedic issues, etc.) and a certified trainer (like yours truly) who can properly assess and design an individualized exercise program for you that effectively reaches your goals while keeping your safety and needs top priority. With that being said, I don’t want to leave you hangin’ either. So, here is a simple program that you can do at home three days per week for 30 minutes with zero equipment to jump start your healthy habit. Hooray!

Before beginning any exercise program, always check with your doctor and stop exercise immediately if you experience any pain, dizziness, etc. There are four things you need to execute with each exercise to ensure proper technique: 1) activate abdominals (as though someone was going to poke or punch you in the stomach), 2) lift your chest, 3) breathe and 4) drink water. Let’s rock this!


5-Minute Warm-up: foam roll and perform any corrective stretches and exercises followed by 10 supine double leg hip bridges and 16 (8 each side) walking knee hugs.

20-Minute Resistance Training: perform three sets of 15 reps of the following exercises to fatigue with perfect form. Execute each exercise in a row, rest 30 seconds and repeat additional sets until you’ve performed each exercise three times.

1. Squat. Stand with feet hip width apart. Sit back like you are going to sit in a chair, keeping knees behind and in line with second toe (Figure 1). Squeeze the butt and push through the heels as though you are pushing the ground away from you to return to start. (Note: my arms are in a prisoner’s squat position. This is not the best position for those with shoulder issues, tight pecs, etc. Please keep hands on hips or folded at your chest. I simply posed like this because it was the best view to demonstrate proper technique in the photograph without blocking my lower body.)

2. Prone Cobra. Lie on your stomach with arms by your side. Squeeze your butt  and shoulder blades together and lift your torso off the ground, rotating palms away from your body so thumbs point to the ceiling (Figure 2). Hold this pose (yes, that butt and shoulder blades of yours stay squeezed!) for 1-3 minutes rather than doing 15 reps.

3. Lateral Lunge. Stand tall with feet together. Step out to the side and sit back into your right heel, keeping the right knee behind and in line with the right second toe. Left foot stays flat on the ground (Figure 3). Squeeze the butt and push through the heel of the right foot to return to start. Perform all reps then repeat on the left leg.

4. Push Up. Start in a neutral spine position with your wrists under your shoulders (Figure 4). Squeeze your shoulder blades to pull yourself towards the ground, elbows pointing back at a 45 degree angle. Once your arms are level with your torso, push up to start (Figure 5).

5. Plank. Start in a neutral spine position with your elbows under your shoulders and your weight back in your heels (Figure 6). Hold this for 30-60 seconds rather than performing 15 reps.

3-Minute Metabolic Training: choose an exercise that gets your heart pumping but doesn’t cause any pain such as jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. Perform that exercise as fast as you can with good form for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds and repeat two more times.

2-Minute Cool-down: walk around until your heart rate slows and returns to normal. Foam roll and stretch as needed.

***This program is designed for healthy individuals with no medical concerns. Always speak with your doctor before performing any exercise program. If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised in a while (but your doctor has given you the A-OK), start with one set and build your endurance and strength from there. Optimal results can only be obtained with a customized exercise and nutrition program.

For your customized exercise and nutrition program, contact me at 402-819-8970 or at Stephanie Bell Wellness.


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