Hey there friends!

Well, we’re on the home stretch! The back half of the week is here and it’s not long until the weekend – YAY! I may be getting a little ahead of myself but all of this sunny weather has me in a better-than-usual mood these days. Breakfast also has me in a good mood:

Nature's Path Kamut Puffs, Greek yogurt and berries

Green monster with spinach, dinosaur kale, vanilla Promasil protein powder, cinnamon, and frozen bananas

One thing I love about warm weather is busting out the colourful clothes. Exhibit A, today’s ensemble:

Another great thing about warm weather? Tank tops! They’re probably my favourite item to shop for and lately I’ve come across some super cute ones. But wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to rock a super cute tank with killer arms and shoulders at the same time? That’s what some of you mentioned when you emailed me asking for new strength workouts, so today, that’s exactly what I’ve got for ya! This workout combines moves to hit your shoulders, back, triceps, biceps, and abs too, just for good measure. Women are natural multitaskers, are we not?

Here’s the deal: Do 3 sets of 10 for each of the blue exercises, resting for about 45 seconds after each set. Pick weights that are heavy enough to make the last couple of reps tough, but ensure you can keep proper form the entire time. After you’ve finished 3 sets, complete the green circuit (see below) as fast as you can. If you’re in a competitive mood, bring a stopwatch and see if you can beat your time on each circuit round!

Ready? OK, go!

1. Medicine Ball Push-up:  Begin in plank/push-up position with weight in hands and knees/toes. Place your hands on top of the ball directly below your chest. (Spread your fingers out over it for stability). As you bend your elbows, lower your chest down to the ball, trying to keep your elbows tucked in (this will activate your triceps). Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your ankles – no pointing that butt up! Push back up as you exhale, returning to the start position. Repeat.

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2. Overhead Dumbell Push Press: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbell in each hand. Being careful to keep knees slightly bent, bend your arms and bring your dumbells up to just above your shoulders. Bend your knees into a shallow squat (for power), then push up as you push the dumbells up to the ceiling. Lower back into the shallow squat and lower the dumbells back to your shoulders, then repeat until all reps are finished. Aim to push the weights up with the heel of your hand, as opposed to clenching it tightly in your fingers.

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3. Inverted pull-up: Stand just behind the bar of a Smith machine (or other secure bar) and set it up at about chest height. Extend your arms straight out in front of you on the bar, placing your hands slightly outside shoulder width apart. Walk your feet in until they are directly under, or slightly further forward than the bar. Lean back so that your weight is supported in your heels and your arms and legs are straight. Engage your core, and use your upper body to lift your chest up towards the bar. Lower back down, and repeat.

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In order to make this more difficult, you can lower the bar (so that your body forms a smaller angle with the ground) and walk your feet further in front of the bar. When you get really good, you can try full pull-ups (check out my Progression to Pull-Up post for more details!)

4. Lateral Raise/Hammer Curl Combo: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbell in each hand, palms facing each other. For the first part of the motion, keeping arms as straight as possible, raise the dumbells out to your sides, no higher than shoulder height. Pause, then lower the dumbells with control.

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For the second part of the move, perform a hammer curl by keeping your palms facing each other and performing a biceps curl motion. Again, pause at the top of the move and lower. Repeat the combo for 9 more reps.

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Cable Wood Chop: Stand in front of a cable machine, with the cable positioned above head height. Turn to your left side, then grasp the handle attached to the cable with both hands, right hand over left. (Sorry, I couldn’t find a good photo of a woman doing this exercise so you’re going to get a dude instead!)

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Taking a wide, supported stance and keeping your arms as straight as possible throughout the movement, engage your core and use it to help you rotate, drawing the cable from above your head, down toward your left side. Slowly return the cable to the starting position, and repeat for 9 more reps on that side. Then, turn to your right and do 10 reps. If you don’t have a cable machine, you could also use a medicine ball, which would look like this:

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The Circuit:

Perform this circuit as fast as you can after each blue move. These are total body moves that will engage a ton of muscles, get your heart pumping, and torch calories.

  • 10 x 3-down, 1-up pushups: Get into plank/pushup position, with weight in your hands and toes/knees. Lower down for 3 counts, then push up quickly (without locking your elbows) for 1 count. If this is too easy, try clapping your hands once when pushing up!
  • 10 x full body power jumps: Start with feet just outside hip width. Lower into a squat to gain power, then explode upwards, throwing your hands and arms up as if you were going to touch the ceiling. Return to the starting position with soft knees and repeat.
  • 10 x overhead soccer throws: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in front of a mat, holding a medicine ball (aim for 10-12 lbs) in front of you with both hands. Extend your arms upward toward the ceiling, then in one powerful, fluid motion, engage your abs and smack the ball down as hard as you can against the mat. Be sure to follow through with your arms, flinging them down and back. Catch the ball before its second bounce and repeat, ensuring you maintain the large range of motion from start to finish. Then, let out a big grrrrrrr!!!

I think my favourite move of all of these is the overhead soccer throws, which Mr Trainer has been having me do on a regular basis. In addition to being a good core exercise, they’re also rather fabulous for letting out stress and aggression at the end of the day!

Alright, work time for this girl! Today I want to know:

  • What spring/summer clothes are at the top of your must-haves list?
  • When you do cardio, do you prefer circuit-style workouts like the one above, machines (like the treadmill, elliptical, etc), or would you rather head outside to get your fix?
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