February 2014 Push Up Challenge

I’ve alluded to my history as an overweight child many a time. My former lack of strength, endurance, and overall fitness always made me fearful of any athletic endeavor. I distinctly remember facing every fitness test in middle and high school with trepidation. They always started with a (painstakingly public) measure of our body fat percentage using those hand held body fat analyzers. That number alone was enough to send me into an emotional, fat shamed tailspin. The mandatory timed mile run, crunches, and push ups that came after  just poured salt in the wound.

While I still sometimes carry the mentality of that self conscious, chubby adolescent, for the most part I’ve overcome these psychological and physical burdens. Except for push ups. I still suck at push ups. I can bust out maybe three regular push ups in proper form before I have to drop to my knees for the sissy stuff. And while I have no problem walking with confidence in the boys’ club that is my gym’s weight room, I know that doing my sets of girly push ups is both a bad look and a cop out.

That being said, let’s perfect our push ups this February. In addition to your regular fitness routine, perform the number of push ups indicated on the calendar below. Start with as many regular push ups as possible and then, if necessary, drop to your knees to finish ‘em out. Proper form for both can be found here.

February 2014 Push Up Challenge | The Slender Student

January 2014 Fitness Challenge: Try Something New

Keep your New Year's Resolutions and TRY SOMETHING NEW to keep from getting bored with your fitness routine! | The Slender Student Trying something new is arguably one of the more important parts of the January 2014 Fitness Challenge. Let’s be honest, going to the gym, warming up, lifting weights, and then finishing off with cardio can easily become redundant, no matter how many different moves you do. And with boredom comes a loss of motivation. And once you’ve lost motivation, it becomes that much easier to abandon a workout routine. That’s where trying something new comes into play. Getting your body moving and working in a way that’s unusual for you prevents that mental burnout. It’s a way to have fun getting fit and may even allow you to stumble upon a new favorite way to be active. I tried my first class at Cyc Fitness on a total whim and it ended up completely changing my point of view on indoor-cycling, cardio, and group exercise classes. Ya never know.

Far beyond any of that, though, trying something new allows you to prove yourself to yourself. I don’t know about y’all, but I approach any new physical feat with trepidation. Despite being a pretty active person, I sometimes revert back to my unathletic, overweight, self-conscious former self. That all disappears after trying something new and succeeding.

Enough fluff, let’s get down to business. Here are some suggestions for ways to try something new:

If you’re a member of a gym, attend a group class you’ve never done before.

Many private gyms/studios offer a free first class. Call around to your local yoga, Pilates, boxing, or cycling studios and see what they’re offering.

If you’re normally chained to a treadmill, try running outside instead.

Hop into that one piece and swim some laps (indoors, guys!).

Look online for a cardio dance video and get stupid in your living room.

Leave a note in the comments and let me know what new activity you’ll be trying! I’ll be heading out to Cayman for a few days tomorrow so maybe I’ll be doing cardio in the airport terminal or, more likely, going for a jog on the beach.

January 2014 Fitness Challenge: Shoulder Day

January 2014 Fitness Challenge: Shoulder Day | The Slender Student

arnold press

single-arm barbell jammer

barbell rear delt row

dumbbell shoulder press

upright barbell row

lateral to front raise

steering wheel

I never realized how much I like/value working shoulders until I started. I found that my delts and traps began showing progress fairly quickly after I began focusing on them, which that motivated me to keep working them every week, lifting as heavy as I could.

Speaking of lifting heavy, I have something to say on the subject. DO IT.

Girls, seriously, you’re not going to get bulky from grabbing a challenging size weight and getting to work. We simply don’t have the biology to do so. You’re not doing yourself any favors by grabbing the 3 or 5 pounders off the rack and doing these exercises. That won’t burn enough calories and won’t build (lean, slender, sexy, strong) muscle, so don’t waste your time!

Yeah, you might feel like a bit of an idiot changing weights in and out while you find one that’s comfortable yet challenging, but that’s temporary and it’s worth it. Lifting a weight that’s lighter than your purse looks worse. Trust.

January 2014 Fitness Challenge: Biceps, Triceps, and Chest Day

January 2014 Fitness Challenge: Biceps, Triceps, and Chest Day | The Slender Student

dumbbell curls

triceps rope pulldown

dumbbell flyes

burpees

hammer curls

skullcrushers

pushups

It’s time to work biceps, triceps, and chest! Normally one does biceps and triceps together, but I add chest because, quite frankly, I hate working chest. I mean, I spent my preteen years praying that fat would magically appear in the area, so I’m in no hurry to burn it off now. My compromise is throwing in a couple of chest exercises, just so I can say I did.

I know this looks like a lengthy workout, but there’s a method to my madness. Because these are such small muscle groups, they don’t burn many calories on their own, hence the addition of those wretched burpees. Burpees suck but they’re effective in building muscle, raising your heart rate, and burning calories. If that little note about the superset confuses you, it just means you’ll do one set of hammer curls immediately followed by one set of skullcrushers, take a break, and repeat two more times.

If you have any questions about form, refer to the links above or leave them in the comments below! Happy lifting!

June 2013 Lower Body Challenge

After getting so much positive feedback from the May 2013 Plank Challenge, I thought it was only appropriate to put y’all up to the test once again. Check out this lower body number I threw together for you to add to your normal workout routine.

Squats are the ultimate workout for your quads, inner thighs, outer thighs, and butt. And, trust me, you’ll be getting very familiar with them this month.

June 2013 Lower Body Challenge | The Slender StudentForm is crucial for these exercises, so check out these videos if you’re not sure how to do them correctly: squats & squat jumps . For the hold, just hold in the lowest part of your squat, with your thighs parallel to the floor.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this challenge and keep me updated on your progress through Instagram!

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