Video & updated post in Progress
If there's one thing I learned when I started as a personal trainer was that one exercise can be done many different ways.
Which means...more opportunities for you to train different muscle groups and never get bored!
The Bird Dog: 1 Exercise, 7 Different Ways
You can make each version more difficult by adding ankle weights, dumbells and/or looped resistance bands.
1. Basic Bird Dog
Video starts at :
Why is it even called that?
I have no clue! Leave a comment below if you know the answer.
This exercise helps with back pain, strengthens the glutes, the abs, the legs and even the arms. It is highly recommended to those who suffer from back pain.
Start on a cushioned mat in a table top position. Extend out the opposite arm and leg while keeping the hips stable. Return them back to the mat and repeat on the other side.
2. Elbow to Knee Bird Dog Crunch
Video starts at :
In the table top position, once you extend the opposite arm and leg out, bring the elbow and knee in to connect then reach the leg and arm back out. Repeat for a set number of reps and then switch to the other side.
3. Modified Bird dog (no going on floor)
Video starts at :
If you have bad knees or don't want to go on the floor, you can do this on the chair. Simply perform the same movement as the basic bird dog but instead with the hips lowered more into a plank position.
3. Criss Cross Bird Dog
Video start at :
Start in a table top position and extend the opposite leg and arm out, sweep them to the side in opposite directions, keeping the hips as stable as you can and return the arm and leg back to facing forward. Repeat a certain amount of reps and do the same thing on the other side.
This targets the abs in a whole new way!
4. Bird Dog Up & Down Pulse
Video starts at :
Start in the basic bird dog position, lift up the opposite arm and leg and lift and lower in pulses, not doing the full range of motion and keeping the arm and leg lifted.
You'll feel the burn with this one!
5. Fire Hydrant & Reverse fly
Video starts at :
I came up with the reverse fly added in and it makes a difference! In a table top position bend one knee at a 90 degree angle and the opposite arm at a 90 degree ankle. From there lift them up and return back to center and repeat for desired reps then do the same thing on the opposite side.
6. Donkey Kicks
Video starts at :
In a table top position, lift up one leg and bend the knee at a 90 degree angle so the heel is facing the ceiling like you could stamp the ceiling with the bottom of your foot. Lift the leg up and down, keeping the knee bent.
Feel the burn in the buns!
7. Upside down bird dog AKA Dead Bug
Video starts at :
Lie on your back with your arms pointing up straight and knees bent. Extend one leg forward as the opposite arm moves back behind you. Repeat on opposite side. You'll feel this one in the core.
If you feel it in your back, don't lower the legs as much and press the back into the floor.
Check to see which one of these 7 mistakes you've been making.
1. Not getting your blood work done
Before you begin a new diet or exercise plan you really should get your blood levels checked.
Your iron levels could be low, you could have a thyroid issue, high cholesterol etc. Unless you know you're in the clear, you're going to be jump starting your routine by going in partially blind.
Yes needles suck, but so does not knowing you have a problem until you've suffered through it.
2. Thinking you can hold yourself accountable
Come on, don't kid yourself.
We all think we can do certain things and hold ourselves accountable, and sure, some of us can't, but the majority of us can't.
Be honest and realistic with yourself. Do you really think you'll get started tomorrow, next week or next month? How long are you going to sit there and contemplate?
Which brings me to my next point...
3. How's your mental health?
Why do we focus so much on nutrition and fitness and then abandon mental health?
COVID has effected all of us and it's not something to take lightly.
Just like you should be physically active and working on eating healthier, you should also be working on your mental health. Going to the gym? Great! Going to the phycologist? Also great!
I've had one too many clients that had deeper issues that they didn't address or kept putting off.
Storytime: One client would binge eat in the middle of the night no matter how many times he tried to stop himself.
Another would eat so very little because she was convinced it was the only way to lose weight (I mean...it did allow her to lose weight because of the caloric deficit but definitely not in a healthy or sustainable way).
Another client was so depressed and anxious with her life that she would lose weight and look great but as soon as life became too difficult, she would look to food for comfort.
We all have wounds and traumas some more deep and significant than others.
Trust me when I say they are effecting you in ways you may not even realize as you work on your fitness and health journey.
Even if you're convinced your mental health is perfect, would it really hurt to talk to a licensed professional with no judgement? We all want to unload and talk about ourselves and frustrations so if you have the funds and the coverage then it's worth it!
4. Taking too long
This involves not taking action once there's been a disruption in your routine an/or healthy habit.
This can be moving and not finding out where the closest grocery store is when you could've done it ahead of time. This is seeing the scale reach higher numbers and feeling your clothes get snug but not doing anything about it.
You put it off one day, then the next and before you know it you're so far gone it's like trying to climb back up to the top of the mountain all over again (if you were even there in the first place).
5. Definition of insanity
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Counting calories will only take you so far, paying for yet another gym membership will again only take you so far before you fall back into old habits.
What can you truly do differently this time? Think about your likes, dislikes, and think outside the box.
Here's some things to consider when it comes to exercise:
6. Thinking that a meal plan & supplements will be the answer to your problems
6. Following the herd
Keto, carbs are bad, fast all damn day, water fasting, eat fruit only in the morning!
I get it, you want to look like them. You want to do it exactly like they did to get their amazing results.
Not only should you not be comparing yourself to others (you are your only competition, look at a picture of yourself when you were happy with how you felt and looked), but there has to come a point where you stop listening to everyone else, listen to your body and be realistic instead. Your mind, body and soul will tell you what it needs if you tune in.
From there, take your own path and maybe you'll follow everyone else once in a while but you'll always know you have your own journey to travel.
These are the things I no longer buy.
The vast majority of the time there are no samples and you have to buy a huge tub only to find out you don't like it or it's just okay.
Plus I already feel like I get enough protein from my diet.
Don't get me wrong, I love getting new equipment but I no longer buy the next best thing right away. Whenever I did that the problem I had was I would use it once and then rarely use it again unless it really was as amazing as it claimed to be.
I take my time, get used to working with what I have and really get accustomed to using equipment in multiple different ways before I buy something else.
Plus, you may even be able to borrow equipment from a friend. Try it out and see if it's worth it.
This is heart breaking for me, but it's always like a risk to buy a watermelon.
No matter how much knocking, smelling or analyzing I never get it right!
Sometimes I get lucky and it's delicious, other times they're mushy and lack any flavour. So, I've given up. I now buy it pre-sliced and it always tastes delicious!
Which is a reminder to buy your produce pre-cut because it allows you to consume more nutrient dense/healthy foods such as chopped carrots, ready made salad (though it's not as "healthy" as you think. More on that later).
Do you know how many times these things have randomly started beeping alarms in the middle of the night?
No matter how many times I read the instructions, the amount of times I try to use it absolutely correctly, it never works out for me. Or as I'm timing a client I have to scramble to click the buttons to get it back to the right timer screen.
I also don't like using my phone because I think it looks unprofessional (just my opinion) so I got a stop watch display to make it easier for me and my clients.
Juice & Pop
I no longer buy it or bring it in the house.
But that doesn't stop family or friends of course. At that point, I can't help to take a sip...
But if I don't place it in my environment, I have no desire for it at all. I like drinking kombucha instead or fizzy flavoured water. There are quite some good ones out there! I also make my own smoothies and eat fruit instead.
One dumbell that can be adjusted to any weight? Sounds awesome!
Only thing is that it works well in theory and not so much application. I've seen so many clients complain about them not working as well anymore and have used them myself and was no overly impressed.
They start off well when you first buy them and then they get stiff and harder to adjust the weight. Not to mention they are far less comfortable compared to traditional dumbells.
I'll just stick with regular dumbells thank you.
This plant grows like a weed in the summer time!
I love planting it and picking it to use as needed. When the season comes to an end I dry it and use it through the year. It's cheap to grow and easy to use. No need to buy it at the grocery story unless I'm in a pinch.
Written by SImone Maglassis, CPT, ACSM, ACE
Watch me react to some cringe worthy moments, exercises executed with bad form and atypical movements you've never seen before, all while providing my professional opinion
This reaction is in no way meant to put anyone down. I see this as a learning experience for everyone.
There's so much more than dumbbells. Check out these 10 pieces of equipment you need.
This is my favourite stuff to use outside of the standard and basic things such as a mat, resistance bands (my favourite!) and dumbbells.
1. Smart Body Tape Measure
Check it out here.
This is great! I won't go back to regular measuring tape again.
It has a retractable button and lock pin to lock the measurement in place when it's wrapped around the body part. It also has a digital display and you can sync the data with an app on your foot which even shows you a visual graph of your progress.
2. Blood Pressure Machine
I truly believe everyone should have one, if not for the fact it's often recommended for you to get one as you get older. Check out my blog post here about why you need one.
3. Heart Rate Monitor
Check out my post here about why you need one and how to use it.
The normal resting heart rate for those 15 or older is 60-100 if you're at the 40-60 range you must be an athlete or you need to speak to your doctor.
Take a look at the chart below to see where you stand:
4. Myfitnesspal app
I love this app and it's free! Of course you can get even more out of it upgrading (I have) but it's nice to know you can use it however and whenever you want and it's an easy learning curve.
Keep in mind counting calories and tracking your food isn't sustainable long term but it's good to do when you're starting out and great to revisit when you want to get back on track.
5. BMI & body fat machine
This is of course not 100% accurate. It also doesn't work on those who are 60+ and if you have a pacemaker you should not use it.
The most accurate BMI and body fat percentage you'll receive is if go to a lab to get accurate numbers (which is not cheap) but it at least this gives you an idea and a standardized form of measurement.
You should be checking your results bi-weekly or monthly to be able to tell if what you're doing is working or not. If the scale and inches are going down, you're on the right track! If not, you need to reevaluate and something needs to be changed.
6. Meat thawing plate
When I discovered this thing it seemed too good to be true, but boy was I wrong.
It works and incredibly well at that.
Instead of having to wait a whole day for my meat, fish or whatever is frozen to thaw, this thawing tray makes it happen in under a couple hours. Supposedly it's made of some special military technology to make it so.
Click here to check it out on Amazon.
This is the exact one I bought on Amazon back in 2017 and still use today.
This piece of equipment was originally used in the military to train soldiers with little equipment and effectively. Now it's in many people's households and for good reason.
It is an awesome piece of equipment and all you need is your own body.
7. A broom stick
Take off the broom and use the stick.
This is excellent to use as a personal trainer during rona (corona) times but also for all individuals and exercise enthusiast because it helps you stay in line.
Use it to do superman's (or superwoman's) use it to stretch out the shoulders and back and a range of other exercises.
For my clients I use it to provide tactile touch to allow them to connect their mind to the muscles I point to and gently poke at.
8. Recipe binder
Have all your staple recipes here. That way when you need to go grocery shopping, you can quickly go through the ingredients you'll need and know that you'll have to get to be prepared for the week.
As they say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
9. Stop watch display
This allows you to stay on track with your sets and reps and doesn't allow your phone to become a distraction if you use it as a timer when exercising.
10. Fitness & health binder
Why? When you can just use your phone?
True. But how many apps will you need to download?
There's just something about having everything in writing, connecting pen to paper that makes such a difference.
Let's face it, the phone is a distraction during, having a binder or folder specific to fitness and your health and wellness goals makes you hold yourself more accountable, almost like you're in school again.
Go ahead and track it on your phone or an app as well if you like but I encourage you to try to have a folder or binder or notebook that contains your measurements, your weight increases for strength training, meal prep and more.
What type of equipment do you use?
Bonus: Anitmicobrial Facial Spray
Perfect to use between workouts when your face is sweaty and dirty and you want to prevent it from staying on your skin and causing pimples and irritation.
Get it here.
Watch Veronica, registered physiotherapist and Simone, certified personal trainer, talk about the differences and similarities between personal training and physiotherapy. Is one better than the other?
We're all going to have to shovel snow at some point this winter.
And then there's the difficulty of staying active when it's cold and dreary and all you want to do is hibernate in our Canadian winters.
But we have to change that.
Especially because of the impact COVID-19 has had.
It's our duty to ourselves and our bodies to stay active for our mind, body and souls.
Let's start with what you can do when shoveling snow: turn it into a proper exercise routine! Shoveling snow is already an exercise in of itself, so why not do it the right way and get your workout in for the day at the same time?
Plus, did you know that heart attacks increase in the winter?
"As temperatures start to fall, your risk of a heart attack begins to climb" (Harvard Health, 2016).
The theory is that this has to do with the increasing of people shoveling snow after going from inactivity to suddenly lifting over 20 pounds repeatedly of wet heavy snow. Combine that with those who already have pre-existing cardiovascular problems and it's a recipe for disaster.
Additionally, in the winter you're more at risk of overheating, influenza, missed prescriptions and causes your vessels to constrict and therefore increases your blood pressure.
Don't just go straight out to shovel the snow. Warm up first!
This should take 5 minutes more or less. It's important to get the muscles and joints ready for the movement we're about to put them through so they're better prepared for the stress and load.
Do this warm up preferably inside when you're muscles are already warm and therefore more flexible.
Complete 10-20 reps for 2-3 sets
How to Best Shovel Snow
As I mentioned before, there is a link between shoveling snow and heart attacks for men specifically.
So let's shovel snow the right way (or get someone else to do it for you entirely) to lower your risks.
Check out this great article about How to Shovel Snow--7 Snow Shoveling Lessons No One Has Taught You
I was happy to learn some new techniques to make the process easier!
Cool Down & Stretch
Video for cool down & stretch starts at :
Avoid dropping the shovel and going straight to lie down on the couch.
It's difficult on the body to go from a period of high activity to a sudden standstill. The body always likes a warm up, workout and cool down & stretch.
The cool down isn't complicated.
It can consist of you walking slowly back up the driveway, taking your time putting your shovel away and taking off your gear and then move onto stretching.
If you can't resist collapsing on the bed or couch then at least do these awesome stretches you can do on your bed.
Complete each for 30 seconds
How to Stay Active in the Winter
Exercise when the sun's out
In the winter it's often dark in the morning and dark in the evening. If you exercise when the sun is out, your seizing the moment when your mood is automatically lifted.
Don't make it complicated
Sometimes the simpler the better.
Start off with some basic exercises. Try the full body workout plan in the FREE stuff section here.
Start an indoor or outdoor activity
And I don't mean driving to the gym. Let's face it, even before COVID-19, gyms make the majority of their money on people who sign up better never or hardly ever use the facility.
After some of my clients finish their sessions with me, they go back to playing a sport they loved or dive more into an activity they already enjoyed doing.
Here's some to consider:
And the list goes on. Check out your nearest recreation center or do a quick google search on what's in your area.
Exercising doesn't have to be boring! Make it fun!
Make up for lost movement
If you know you don't have time to dedicate to exercise right now (which is an excuse by the way...). Then find a way to add extra movement into your day to "make up" for it.
Here's some ideas:
You know yourself and your schedule best. See where you can fit in the most activity into your day in a way that works for you.
Exercise & eat healthy with a buddy
Things tend to be easier when you have someone to do it with.
By exercising with a family member or friend, you'll hold yourself more accountable.
The difficulty with this is that you need to find someone who's just a little bit or more above your level. If you find a partner who is just as inactive and unhealthy as you, it will be the blind leading the blind.
Join a Challenge
There's nothing like joining a challenge to get you kickstarted.
It's a way to hold yourself accountable with a group of people who are also working on the same goals.
Consider joining my too simple New Year's Challenge today!
Avoiding winter heart attacks - Harvard Health, September 2016
I'll never forget that my dad used to have this black machine that looked a lot like the Pilates machines and it worked beautifully. Even over 50+ years later.
Unfortunately, he hardly ever used it and it took up a ton of space so he sold it. How I wish I could've taken it off his hands!
The majority of the time (pretty much all the time) when a client shows me their old equipment I've either:
1. Forgotten how to use it
2. Don’t know how to use it at all
The fitness industry is rapidly changing and the trends and equipment change with it.
So when this idea popped into my head I was eager to give it a try especially because all of my clients have old equipment lying around collecting dust that they were all to eager to let me borrow for this little fun experiment (thank you!).
Energy M Crunch
Well would you look at this contraption.
This one is totally new to me.
I'm so glad this client of mine kept the box to allow me to see what I could figure out from the picture instructions because I found nothing online.
I’m sure we’ve all seen this one before.
For some reason that long metal coil would keep me away. It's like a resistance band I know, but it just seems more dangerous if potentially broken.
With a quick google search I found that people still use this. I just wonder if it's worth it?
Stretching can be slow and boring but oh does it feel good!
And you don't even have to get out of bed to do them.
Keep in mind that everyone feels stretches differently depending on how tight and/or weak the muscles, ligaments and joints are, so do whatever feels most comfortable and what's most effective for you.
Remember, when entering and exiting a stretch, take your time and breath deeply. The more you relax and try to settle into it, the deeper the stretch you'll get.
After doing these stretches you'll feel better and execute tasks more comfortably long after the stretching session is complete.
Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. If you don't have a stop watch, count each heart beat as 1 second. It's not as accurate as a stop watch but it will force you to focus on your heart and breath and that's always a good thing.
I've also left time stamps for each exercise to make it easier :)
Full body stretch
Bring your arms above your head, interlace your fingers or clasp your write and stretch while pointing your toes and lengthening your legs.
Where you should feel it: all over
1 legged knee hug with a twist
Starts at : in video
Hug one knee into your chest while the other leg stays down and rested. While hugging the knee to your chest, bring it across the body as if you're trying to get it to touch your opposite shoulder.
Where you should feel it: along your glute and wrapping up alongside the outside of the leg, possibly lower back
Lower back twist stretch
Starts at : in video
All my clients, every single one, LOVES this stretch and I do too!
Of course it's better when it's done with the PNS stretching technique (a method of stretching certified personal trainers use to allow you to deepen a stretch with very little work) but it's still nice to do on your own.
Feel free to turn this into a bretzel stretch as shown in the video above.
Where you should feel it: lower back and upper back, hips, shoulders, neck
Starts at : in video
If you sit at a desk all day, this is for you!
Put some pillows under your knees for additional comfort and gently rock back into this stretch.
Where you should feel it: hip flexors, abductors (outer thighs), adductors (inner thighs), lower back
Starts at : in video
Similar to the frog yet different as gravity does a lot of the work for you here.
Lie on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet together. Open up the legs like a book and have the soles of your feet touching together.
I find this to be more intense when lying on your back versus sitting up.
Where you should feel it: hip flexors, abductors, adductors, lower back
Side lying quad stretch
Starts at : in video
While lying on your side with legs stacked, bend the leg on top and grab your ankle to pull it back to your lower back.
Another alternative is grabbing the ankle and position it behind your lower back in the blanket or sheets to hold it in place. Simply rotate away from it slightly to feel the stretch.
Where you should feel it: your quads (thigh)
Thread the needle
Starts at : in video
Lie on your back and bend both knees, feet flat on bed. Position your right ankle on your left thigh and grab the ankle with both hands with the right elbow pushing into the right thigh. To deepen the stretch lift up the left leg and bring it toward you while the right ankle stays in the same position.
Repeat on both sides.
Where you should feel it: glutes, hip flexors, piriformis (located in the glutes near the top of the hip joint. It's tiny but has a HUGE impact)
Child's pose or fetal position
Starts at : in video
The goal with child's pose it to get the butt all the way down to the heels. If this is hard to achieve it may be due to an injury, tight calves, tight back, tight hips or just your anatomy. You can try opening up your legs more and that may help you sink into it.
Don't worry about it if you don't, we're not aiming for perfect in this last pose but rather to rest and relax.
But...if you are looking for a deeper stretch and to stretch out those areas that are causing you to not sink into child's pose, you can do the fetal position with the legs up and straight, aiming for your forehead, like you're folding in half.
I hope this helps you to get back into daily stretching because it's one of the things we can do every day!
Have you done these stretches before? Which is your favourite?
We can all be lazy sometimes.
So before you get out of bed in the morning, consider trying some of these great exercises to get you energized and ready to start your day before your feet even touch the bedroom floor.
You can do these exercises as a whole routine or pick and choose which ones work best for you!
For all the modified versions feel free to prop up pillows where needed.
Let's break it up into 4 sections:
Warm up starts at 0:27
Strength exercises start at 1:55
Core exercises start at 3:30
Stretches starts at 5:05
I hope this helps!
Have you ever done exercises on your bed? Leave a comment below!
Simone is a certified in-home personal trainer, precision nutrition coach and ACE functional training specialist. Her mission is to help people on their fitness & health journey.
When she's not figure skating, reading or writing, Simone loves to relax and watch Netflix with her little family.
All information provided by Simone (Guishard) Maglassis and simonesfitfunlife.com is of a general nature and is furnished only for educational/entertainment purposes only. No information is to be taken as legal, medical or other health advice pertaining to any individual specific health or medical condition. You agree that use of this information is at your own risk and hold Simone Maglassis and/or simonesfitfunlife.com harmless from any and all losses, liabilities, injuries or damages resulting from any and all claims.