The Do’s & Don’ts of Ab Training for Women

Yesterday, I attending a mini quarterly fitness training for my group exercise education and credentials. I absolutely love taking these trainings because I am able to see new techniques and get new ideas from the master trainers as well as the fellow trainees.

It was an interesting thing though. I took 2, hour long master classes and they were hard core, but I was still able to do more once they were done. This, of course, due to the fact that I’ve been an avid exerciser for umpteen years and my body can just do more than when I began.

But then, I took a HIIT cycle class which is sweetly referred to as “Sprint”. Sounds harmless enough, right?

WRONG!! It was 30 minutes of freaking HELL on stationary wheels!!! ūüė¶

One. Thirty. Minute. Class.

My body wouldn’t stop shaking. I was worn out and had to find my breath and focus throughout the workout. This is HIIT. This is AWESOMENESS!!!!!!

Why am I sharing this when today’s topic is clearly related to ab training? Because, my dear, you ALREADY have amazing abs! You just have some gorgeous fat covering your awesome abs. So what do we do to expose those gorgeous midsections? I’m here to help!

Before we get to some focused ab exercises to follow – and to avoid; let’s share why HIIT Training is the secret to amazing abs.¬†

  • Don’t have time to spend on working out; either at home or the gym? No problem with HIIT! It’s the ideal workout for busy schedules. You can squeeze in a quick workout just before you jump into the shower in the morning, or during your lunch break or even after you get the kids to bed at night. Seriously, there are NO excuses with time when it comes to HIIT workouts. Research has shown that you can achieve more progress in just 15 minutes of HIIT workouts (done 3X a week) than jogging on the treadmill for an hour. (boring!) ¬†Want more good research info? According to a study presented in 2011 at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training. Whaaaat?????
  • You’ll not only have better results during your HIIT workout, you’ll also be burning more calories after your workout for 24-48 hours! This is commonly referred to as “EPOC”; or exercise post oxygen consumption. (you had me at burning more calories at rest, right?)
  • You’ll build a healthier heart! Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic (or “without oxygen”) zone. This is pretty much how you feel when you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest. But when we are consistent and do our very best every sweat session, we receive extreme results. One study done in 2006 found that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, the subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace. See? Heart = Happy! ‚̧
  • It’s also pretty awesome because you don’t even need equipment to get these results! You can choose running, biking, jump roping, and rowing when doing HIIT workouts but the greatest thing is that you don’t need any equipment to get it done! High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like jumping lunges work just as well to get your heart rate up. Fast. In fact, some equipment, like dumbbells can make HIIT less effective because of the fact that you aren’t focusing primarily on getting the heart rate up…you tend to split that with the weight training aspect.
  • Weight and fat loss “secret”! Anyone who has been on a diet knows that it’s hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!
  • Your metabolism becomes more efficient at rest (what we talked about above). In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH)¬†by up to 450 percent¬†during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, making you younger both inside and out!
  • Get sexier leg definition and strength! The largest muscle group in your body is seriously taxed during HIIT training and the effects are to be proud of! Who doesn’t want lean, sexier legs as you’re losing body fat all over and shedding those extra pounds?
  • You can do it anywhere so no more excuses on where to workout anymore either. You can workout at home, the gym, outside, in a lobby, in your hallway…anywhere!!! Since it’s such a simple concept‚ÄĒgo at maximum effort for a short period of time followed by a recovery period and repeat‚ÄĒyou can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have.
  • Beat the boredom workout blues! I don’t know if you’re like me but I HAAATE to be bored!! If I feel bored in my workouts, my mind starts to wander and guess what happens to the intensity of my workout? It suffers because my mind is thinking of things other than what I’m doing at the moment and this seriously messes with our results! Solution? HIIT workouts! This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You may be in pain, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!

Now back to our main topic; AB workout do’s and don’ts!¬†

If you’re like most women, we tend to wish for abs and want for abs so badly that we hope that our random sit-ups, crunches and plank challenges will do the trick. But let me share how you can get better results and stay away from moves that will actually make you look thicker around the middle! (no good!) Following these tips (as well as adding HIIT training to your routines) will help you get those rock hard abs – or at least tighter abs if you prefer. Bikini and tank top season is always just around the corner!

Ab exercises you should NEVER do! 

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that although you want tighter, leaner abs, you also don’t want a thicker waist.

Am I right? I knew it!! ūüėÄ

Then you’ll definitely want to stay away from weighted side bends.

Stay away from these!


The problem with this exercise is that it directly targets the oblique muscles with large amounts of resistance. The reason this is a “negative” exercise for lean abs, let’s talk about how the abs and obliques function. The obliques are two different muscle groups that originate from the lateral (aka: side) part of your lower ribs and insert into the front portion of your iliac crest. The obliques wrap around your sides and help you turn and bend your torso which helps your spine stability.


Normally, the obliques are visible only when you start getting rid of body fat layers. But when you target these muscles with extra resistance (such as dumbbells and weights) it makes them look bigger. This is because the obliques are positioned along the sides of your torso, and the effect is to actually thicken your waist. I don’t think this was your focus if you’ve done this move before, right?

It’s important to mention that the weighted side bend isn’t a bad exercise; in fact, many people like it because it strengthens your core, and some lifters actually want to increase the size of their waist. But if you’re looking for that hourglass figure, you’re better off skipping this move on ab day.

Exercises to help tighten your midsection

  • Add resistance to your main ab muscles (such as the rectus abdominis or “six pack muscles”) themselves. You can also still target your obliques (in fact, you’ll want to hit all the areas) but eliminate the added weight in this area and stick to higher reps instead. Want to start with some great moves today? ¬†Here are some of the best to get started with:


1. Lying Leg Raise                                             

2. Decline sit ups with twist (no weights) 


3. Hanging Leg Raise                                       



4. Stir the Pot                                                       


How Often Should You Work Your Abs?

If you regularly do compound movements like lunges, squats, and deadlifts, you’re most of the way there. These exercises involve a lot of core work and stabilization so you’re getting a good ab workout without doing any specific “ab /core” exercises. But if you’re looking for better (and faster results), consider adding a HIIT workout 1-2 times per week and 1-2 of these ab moves above about 2-3 days per week. Perform 3-5 sets of each exercise for at least 10-20 reps per move. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets.

There’s no reason that you need to spend a full day on “core work” this way. If you start now by working these tips into your regular program (and avoiding those side bends), you’ll have a more toned core and your body will be summer ready all year long!

Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I’d love to get you into a transformation challenge if you’re up to it! Shoot me an email and let’s chat!¬†


Journey to the Stage: Week 2

So last week, I made my official announcement that I am going to start training for my next walk across the stage!

I am someone who goes all in when I commit to something, so I am thrilled to see what is to come!! It’s funny how powerful it is to just put it out there but since I’ve posted and blogged about my competition training, I feel like it’s for REALZ! I competed for the first time a few years ago and it was a huge experiment that I was not sure how it would turn out. There is so much power to putting your story and your goals out into the universe and telling others about it. I feel cared about and encouraged versus being just “watched”, criticized and judged.

The first time around, I hired a professional fitness competitor to help set up my meals and trainings and to literally “walk the walk” on the stage and all of the ins and outs. I was thrilled that it brought me not just one trophy; but two! Second place in my division and third place overall.

This time around, I am doing it on my own with the help of Body Beast and some 21 Day Fix Extreme/Insanity Max:30 Cardio sweat sessions. This past week and a half has been finding the balance of my meals and focus. I am getting more excited about it every day. I already anticipate craving oodles of spoonfuls of peanut butter and creating some fun and imaginative chocolate “fixes” to get me through the tough days.

So today was all about Back & Biceps and I found that I will be needing to change up some of my workouts both at home and then in the gym. As we go along, I promise to blog daily just to stay accountable and talk about the areas that I need more support from YOU in! ūüėČ

Now, is the exciting part!! I¬†also wanted to share that as I’m a Beachbody Coach, my daily “go to” supplement is¬†¬†SHAKEOLOGY¬† which is NOT a mere protein shake but all the nutrition that our bodies require daily to stay at it’s highest functioning self. I made sure to ask my trainer the first time I competed to add it into the meal plan as it was a “non-negotiable” and she was more than happy to oblige. This kept me from having to buy any extra supplements and the only other option I will use is our Body Beast Base Shake to add more protein in along the way.

Daily Multi-Vitamin
Pre Biotics
Pro Biotics
Digestive Enzymes
Amino Acids

Being that it is all natural, I’m definitely going to continue this¬†along the journey!

For the workouts, since I am looking to lean out quite a bit, I will be adding in a few days of fasted cardio workouts and HIIT workouts to kick off some of my days.¬†¬†I will be using both the gym machines for this; as well as our “On Demand” online streaming for many of our workouts available through wifi. TurboFire is one I know will be fun to use and who can leave out Insanity?

For my meals, I am eating WAY more than I thought I would!! For this week, I am doing 3 heavy carbs a day, tons of protein (about 30 grams per meal) and veggies! I also am replacing 1 meal with Shakeology.  I have some healthy fats such as raw unsalted almonds and coconut oil.

This is what my meals look like this week… Each week will change, according to how my body is changing ūüôā

Breakfast: Protein Pancakes (from the Body Beast recipe book)

Snack: Shakeology with 1 cup almond milk and 1 tsp Peanut butter and 1 small apple

Lunch: 6 oz egg whites with sauteed veggies and hot sauce topped with 1 Tbls avocado

Snack: Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup oats and 1 tsp Peanut butter (small packet of stevia)

Dinner: Salmon, side of broccoli and 2 Tbls Avocado

Snack: Greek yogurt with 1 tsp peanut butter

1 Gallon water


DAY 1:


Chest: 35.5
Waist: 29
Hips: 36.5
Bicep right: 12
Bicep left: 12
Thigh Right: 20.5
Thigh Left: 21


And here you are!! Time to get accountable and go all the way!! I am sooooo hungry right now, so Im going to have some green tea and go shopping!! HAHA!! What better way to get hunger off your mind!! ūüôā


I would love for you to continue following my journey of 12 weeks of training to my next competition! I will need all the motivation I can get and cannot do this alone!!

If you yourself have been thinking about doing something like this, it doesn’t matter how far you have to go, it matters if you want it bad enough and are willing to train hard enough for it! I would love to help you get into the best shape of your life!! ūüôā

Email me at: or comment below with your email address.

Let’s End Adrenal Fatigue Together

Adrenal Fatigue

This is fast becoming an epidemic in our current society.   Have you noticed any of the following symptoms in your own life and body?

  1. You feel tired for no reason.
  2. You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  3. You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
  4. You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
  5. You crave salty and sweet snacks.
  6. You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.

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Due to our busy and stressful lifestyles these days, our adrenal glands are being overly taxed and are leaving many in dire need of serious attention!! Think about your adrenal glands as a bank account. If you keep withdrawing money and never replenish the funds, you will eventually be overdrawn, right? Now look at our lives these days. ¬†We are always on the go. We are feeding our bodies processed and refined “foods” (I don’t really consider these items as “food” so hence the quotation marks!). We are living on energy drinks to perk us up; we are needing caffeine to wake us up in the morning and then requiring a glass of wine (or more) at night to wind down. We are not sleeping as soundly or as much as we need to and we are definitely NOT taking a pause in our days because there’s just too darned much to do!!!

This describes the average American’s (or most people world-wide) lifestyle. ¬†Over time, this routine depletes our adrenal reserves and leaves us with the symptoms above.

Then, add in the holiday season or a busier time of life for you and it’s over-drive time and we tend to think that we can “make up for it” later when things settle down; but that just doesn’t happen all on it’s own. We need to take responsibility NOW and take care of our bodies’ needs or there may be more issues down the road that are irreversible.

Let’s talk a bit about how our adrenals work and how they become overly taxed;

Our adrenal glands help us deal with the “fight or flight” syndrome or typical stress related issues. ¬†But think about this syndrome happening day after day all day with no relief? You go to sleep thinking about stressful situations and you wake up knowing the stress is still there and you’re constantly running or in that “flight” state that is taxing your body with limited, or no, rest. The adrenal glands become overly drained and eventually will burn out.

An interesting new finding in the detection of adrenal fatigue and exhaustion is muscular and joint pain. Five skeletal muscles are related to adrenal gland function: hip to knee region, inner thigh region, calf regions and feet.¬†¬†You will have weakness in one or more of these muscles when the adrenal glands are malfunctioning. Because of the muscle attachments in the low body, you can have leg, ¬†low back and pelvic area pain. Some people will have problems in just one area while others will have a combination or all of these muscle/joint problems. In any case, if you have knee pain, low-back and pelvic pain, sore and tired feet, fallen arches or ankles that constantly sprain ‚Äď you really need to pay attention!¬†We have been taught to not listen to our bodies. ¬†When symptoms arise, we are told to “cover it up” and take an aspirin, right? How about dealing with the issues that arise instead? Our bodies are resilient and only have issues when there is a problem to be remedied. So let’s stop the insanity and listen up!¬†

Adrenal fatigue can begin to show up in people¬†as early as in the mid-20’s and become more pronounced in the mid-40 age ranges. ¬†It also affects women who are pre-menopausal or going through menopause.

What to do if you think you may be suffering from this issue? You can always visit your doctor and get tested to see if it is in fact, your problem. Or you could decide today that regardless of the testing, if your body is having issues such as these…it is not how your body should feel. ¬†Starting fresh with a “reboot” and better habits that can change any unhealthy outcomes should be the next step no matter what.

The question has been asked whether we can permanently damage our adrenal glands or can they be restored?

The answer, you’ll be happy to know, is that they can definitely be restored. However, if you don’t take action and just decide to “live with it”; your chances of having major issues as a result later, rises. Think about when you are injured or have a setback with an illness or infection; when your adrenals are taxed and your body isn’t able to work properly to restore your health, you will not recover at the normal pace. You may also have imbalances in the immune system and maybe even develop an auto-immune condition over time. Potentially, it can lead to some serious consequences but addressed sooner than later, will allow you to better overcome these problems and enjoy better health.

I also hear from so¬†many¬†of my clients and people¬†who are dealing with extra fat storages due to adrenal fatigue. Belly fat that won’t budge? Listen up….

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How do our adrenals and fatigue result in extra body fat? First of all, cortisol is our main stress hormone. It increases our insulin production. Insulin is a fat “storer”, so you are basically multiplying the fat storage with extra cortisol. ¬†These factors can make you insulin resistant and this can lead to becoming pre-diabetic over time; and eventually diabetic, if not addressed. ¬†Secondly, it can affect your thyroid; and your thyroid is your metabolism. When you have high cortisol levels, it completely supresses your thyroid function.

Like mentioned above, our bodies are pretty adaptable and when we are in the adaptation phase and the beginning of stress – what initially happens is the cortisol levels will elevate – which is just the body’s attempt to try to normalize and power through to keep you going as you normally would. It is working to keep you safe at all times and in survival mode. But eventually, that cannot keep up forever and the opposite will occur.

How can we reverse these issues?

#1: Good Quality Sleep!

We are tired, right? Fatigue is a symptom of adrenal fatigue but you’ll notice that at night, your mind just won’t shut off. You can’t relax and may even get more stressfully energetic. It’s that “Tired but Wired” pattern. You know you have to go to sleep because you have to get up in a few hours but at the same time, you can’t calm your mind down.

When you sleep, your adrenal glands are being recharged. ¬†Your “bank account” is growing. The required amount of adequate sleep is 7-8 hours each night. I hear too often people tell me, but I only need 4-6 hours of sleep and I’m fine. Or “I can’t sleep that long” but physiologically, this deficiency has an effect on your body. So make sleep a priority.

#2: Do the RIGHT type of exercise.

Exercise can decrease stress levels but it can also elevate cortisol levels. ¬†If you are feeling some of the issues listed above, you may need to change up your workouts to help alleviate added stress. ¬†One exercise that has been known to cause added stress is running. Again, it can raise your “feel good” hormones for a time but running for 30-45 minutes, or more, each and every day can elevate those cortisol levels more than you know. ¬†If you already have symptoms of adrenal fatigue, ¬†you would be wiser to choose some low intensity workouts instead. Some examples would be yoga, PiYo, or even H.I.I.T. workouts; where you work hard for a short time and then recover briefly.

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Running more than 3 miles will increase cortisol levels but it’s not always a¬†bad¬†thing. ūüôā We need to have some cortisol and we have spikes throughout our days. The thing to look for is how your overall well being is and if you’re feeling groggy.

#3: Hit the PAUSE button

Many of us run from task to task and never really take a break or hit the pause for a bit during the day. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness for about 10-15 minutes a day will help you get in tune with your body.  Prayer is also a great form of meditation.  PiYo is a great pause with some exercise added in too.

#4: Your Diet

Your adrenal glands require specific nutrients to make the right hormones.  If you follow the typical western diet and eat a lot of processed foods, white foods and fast foods, your diet may be lacking the essential vitamins needed to make your healthy hormones. The easiest way to alleviate this issue is to add in supplements to offset the imbalances and choose the cleanest and purest foods sources.

Shakeology will close the gaps in your daily nutrition; and eating a clean food diet will seal the deal.

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Another important factor is to watch for undetected food allergies.  90% of our food allergies can be due to dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, soy, corn and/or peanuts.  If you are unsure whether you suffer from food allergies, the best practice is to start a 30 day elimination diet and cut out these food sources to see how your body responds. After the month is over, start to introduce the foods back one at a time, and take note of the results or how your body feels.

#5: Reduce stimulants

Caffeine is an adrenal stimulant so it actually is a hormone that will increase your blood sugar levels.  Do you have a problem with caffeine? To best find out, monitor your systems to see. If you skip your morning coffee and have a raging headache because of it, you definitely have a problem.  White sugar is another stimulant to be reduced or omitted; as well as alcohol.  Skipping those nasty energy drinks will help you get a better handle on your issues.

All in all, it may seem like a ton of work to help your symptoms and alleviate any unnecessary health issues down the road; but it doesn’t have to be. I invite you to use the system that has been helping me with my current success on these issues. Using our 3-Day Refresh to clean out your system and “re-set” your body internally and then jumping into a clean meal plan with daily Shakeology and PiYo workouts will get you the best of all your results…both physically, mentally, health-wise and peace of mind. To apply for my next support group to alleviate adrenal fatigue and restore your body with others on the same mission, please fill in the survey here and let’s get us on track to a healthier, happier and more successful year ahead!!¬†