I was recently asked to post one or more videos demonstrating exercises that you can do at home with no gym or fitness equipment. Here are 10 awesome lower body exercises for you to try. Enjoy!
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It’s 75 degrees F today, the windows are open and there’s a nice cool breeze blowing. Unfortunately, tree and grass pollen are blowing in too. Yup, it’s pollen time here in Wisconsin. If I look outside I can see the grass starting to go to seed. Our lilacs are also blooming, changing from purple to white. They smell nice, but they give me a sneezing fit. Ever since I started lifting weights in gyms (36 years ago), I’ve paid close attention to indoor air quality. One gym where I worked out was unbelievably stuffy, relying on just two small windows for the entire space. It made it difficult to breathe, and I remember getting headaches halfway through my workouts. Another gym was overly humid with an inadequate HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system. I saw moisture actually dripping from the ductwork onto the treadmills. It was so gross. Another fitness club had absolutely filthy HVAC registers on the ceiling in the free weights and machines area. In the same gym, the HVAC register in the men’s locker room looked like some kind of science experiment gone wrong. Ick!
In April, I purchased a Honeywell HPA 300 HEPA Filter since I was only running my furnace occasionally (I’d open the windows just a crack during the day and close them up at night). What is a HEPA filter? It stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing filter and High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance filter. The Honeywell HPA 300 HEPA Filter is a large, lightweight and portable filter that helps capture particles like pet dander, pollen, dust and smoke. It reduces up to 99.9% of certain airborne viruses, bacteria and mold spores, odors. It uses 3 HEPA filters and 1 pre-filter. I recently checked the HEPA filters and noticed they were no longer bright white but a light grey. That tells me it’s doing its job.
Here’s the million dollar question. Have I noticed a difference in air quality with the HEPA Filter running in my workout studio? The answer is YES. Not only does the air smell cleaner but I observe less dust on surfaces that require dusting. Also some of my clients own pets, and I often react with a runny nose within minutes of their arrival. I’m happy to report the nose is less runny. Lastly, the HEPA filter circulates the air very well without being too noisy.
If you know me, you know that I am particular about my fitness studio. Safety, cleanliness and good air quality are top priorities. I take pride in the fact that I clean all surfaces with disinfectant cleaning products in between client appointments. If the weather is being reasonable, I open a window, sliding patio door or a screen door to air out my studio. Using the Honeywell HPA 300 HEPA Filter gives me peace of mind. It’s an extra level of protection for my clients and me.
* One more thing. Heather reminded me that house plants like Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Snake Plant and Devil’s Ivy all help to improve air quality too.
My feet are important to me, and they are involved in every activity that I do: training clients, lifting weights, going for walks, hiking, playing basketball and doing yard work. Sometimes it can be difficult to know why my feet or legs or back are sore after a particular activity. Is it the shoe? Is it overuse? Or both? Some people say that it’s age catching up to me. That’s not very nice :-)
A close friend and I have talked about shoes, shoe inserts, socks, and general footwear for many years. We’ve had long discussions on the subject. Given that my friend, Dave, who works as a postal carrier, walks 10+ miles a day and is an avid runner, I feel that he is an expert on the matter. What conclusions did we come up with? What are some solutions? First of all, we need to understand that shoes get compressed over time just by standing in them. I’ve had 6-month old shoes that outwardly look new with no visible signs of wear, but they feel like bedroom slippers when I put them on. And that’s not a good thing if you need a supportive shoe for certain exercises. Another thing Dave and I agreed on is that I am a sensitive person. Like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea”, I fortunately or unfortunately notice small changes in the performance of my socks and shoes. These changes can result in foot and calf soreness. If I continue wearing those same shoes and socks, sometimes the discomfort will move up to my hip, back or even neck.
I’ve been told by long distance runners and have even read on shoe manufacturer’s websites that running shoes have a preset mileage built into them. Usually 400 to 500 miles. Is that just marketing so you buy next years’ model? Hmm. Whether it’s 400, 500 or 1000 miles, eventually the synthetic leather, plastic, knit polyester, foam and rubber will degrade with each footfall. Be watchful. Depending on how you walk or run, your shoes may wear unevenly. And that “unevenness” and imbalance may further contribute to foot, ankle, knee, hip or back soreness or injury.
Eric, are you saying that I need to buy a new pair of shoes every 4 or 6 months? That depends on what activities you’re doing, your budget and how your body is feeling. I have a client who has worn the same athletic shoes for 13+ years and feels that they are supportive. He says that he only wears them to train with me, but I’m sure they are waaaaaay overdo.
The same is true with socks. Socks can help wick away moisture (which reduces rubbing and blisters), add support to your foot and ankle, provide cushion under your heel and the ball of your foot and help regulate temperature. All this with a sock? Yes. As a matter of fact, I have almost entirely replaced all of my socks with Darn Tough Hiker 1/4 socks. I’m wearing them right now, and I can’t say enough about them.
What are some ideas to add longevity to your shoes and socks?
- Alternate shoes. We often put new socks on every day, but we put on the same shoe. That shoe may still retain moisture from the previous day and is still recovering. So wear another pair.
- Wear the right shoe for the job. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT wear old athletic shoes for yard work or going for walks or taking the dog out or anything. Remember different activities require different footwear. I remember training a client who was complaining about ankle pain after participating in some outdoor bootcamp classes (with another fitness trainer) at a nearby park. Looking at her running shoes, I asked if she was wearing those same shoes at the park in the morning on the dewy grass. She said Yes. The soles of her shoes were worn down so she would have no grip on the grass. I added that doing any side-to-side movements in running shoes wasn’t a good idea either since running shoes provide no lateral support.
- Don’t let your feet get cold. Have you noticed how your car performs differently in the winter? It takes longer to warm up and the tires may feel harder on the road. That’s because of the cold. If your feet get cold and you go for a run, for example, your footfalls, propulsion, ankle extension, etc will be abbreviated. That may lead to poor technique, reduced performance and/or injury.
- Stretch your legs and feet. We are usually pretty good about stretching quads, hamstrings and calves, but don’t forget to stretch your ankles and feet.
- Take a break and get off of your feet. If possible, give your feet a rest. I have joked over the years that since I stand and exercise for a living that I can sit for a loooong time. . . and watch TV. . . and nosh. When you are in a standing position, blood flows down to your feet. If blood pools in your feet, they may swell making your shoes and socks feel tighter and uncomfortable. Muscle contraction in your feet and legs send the blood back up. Blood pooling can even happen when we are sitting. So sometimes it’s a good idea to kick off your shoes and put your legs up when you get home.
Let me begin by saying that I love Indian food. I love the flavors, the aromas and the spices. As a matter of fact, we make some kind of Indian dish every week. Here is one that Heather made the other day. It’s an Indian Butter Chicken recipe with a side of Chickpea Tikka Masala. Just writing about it makes me hungry. I think there’s some leftovers in the fridge. Enjoy!
The Indian Butter Chicken recipe was adapted from an article in the magazine Slow Cooker Favorites Volume 7.
The Chickpea Tikka Masala recipe was born of Heather’s culinary experience.
Ingredients for Indian Butter Chicken
3 Tbsp butter
2 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp garam masala
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chopped onion
In a large skillet heat 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once. Transfer chicken to a slow cooker.
Add ginger, garam masala, garlic, cumin, salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Toss to coat. Stir in tomatoes and onion. Cover and cook on low 6 hours or high 3 hours.
Serve over rice and with a side of warm naan.
Ingredients for Chickpea Tikka Masala
1 15 ounce can organic garbanzo beans (aka: chickpeas)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
8 ounces cauliflower, chopped
2 Tbsp cow ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 15 ounce jar of Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce (from Aldi)
In a skillet, heat clarified butter over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add cauliflower. FYI we used cauliflower that we had previously chopped and frozen. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Add chickpeas and mix ingredients thoroughly. Then add simmer sauce and stir to coat. Set heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until dinner is ready. Enjoy!
The triceps bar was one of the first pieces of exercise equipment that my brothers and I used 36+ years ago. When we first started weightlifting, we focused on the fundamentals, and we saw results quickly. Over the years, I made adjustments to my different workout routines. It seems, however, like I have come full circle and arrived back at the beginning. Basic movements. The fundamentals.
With the triceps bar there are many exercises that you can do. Here are three of my favorites. Enjoy!
How did I celebrate my 48th birthday today? With 48 push-ups of course. Watch the video.
Looking for an easy to prepare and tasty chicken curry recipe? Here’s one from Costco Connection magazine that we tried yesterday. How did it turn out? It was nice, but compared to my Mom’s chicken curry recipe that uses chicken thigh meat and drumsticks, it was not quite as rich and flavorful. And remember that you can make adjustments to this recipe based on what ingredients you have in the kitchen and your own personal tastes. Enjoy!
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided (we used grape seed oil)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced (we used 2 cloves)
2 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (we used homemade pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup coconut milk
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. Add chicken. Cook for approximately 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from skillet.
Lower heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp oil, then add onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the curry powder, spices and salt. Cook mixture 1 minute.
Add chicken back to skillet. Stir in pumpkin and coconut milk. Once sauce is simmering, reduce heat to low and let cook additional 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve with rice or another grain. Makes 6 servings.
Optional: Garnish with shredded coconut, peanuts, raisins, diced apple and sliced banana.
My Recommendation: For more flavor, use chicken thigh meat and cook in cow ghee (clarified butter).
Also, remember that curry powders are not all the same. I like to kick it up a notch and add more chili powder.
If you ever feel uptight, anxious or stressed, you might notice a headache coming on, an upset stomach or muscles tightening in your face, neck or back. The solution? You rub your temples with your fingers, drink some ginger tea, and stretch your shoulders. Another way to increase relaxation is by doing some deep breathing. Watch my video and learn a breathing technique to reduce stress in seconds.
My son, Bruce, has been watching a Japanese animated TV series where the main character attends culinary school. In various episodes, the 15 year old boy challenges and is challenged by other students to see who’s the best Freshman chef. At the end of the season, there is a big tournament. Sounds a lot like Iron Chef. Bruce really enjoyed the episodes, and as a result, expressed interest in preparing a meal for the family. Yay! He researched and chose Ramen with Charred Pork recipe from Food Network Magazine. Pretty ambitious for his first time. How did it turn out? I thought the soup was excellent. Fresh ingredients and flavorful. And the broth was not overly seasoned or salty. The most challenging thing for Bruce was timing the cooking of the noodles, pork, broth and eggs. Lots of things needed to happen at once. So if you’re in the mood for a delicious challenge, give this ramen recipe a try. Enjoy!
- Combine the chicken broth, 2 1/2 cups water, the sliced ginger, 3 smashed garlic cloves, 2 cut-up scallions, the shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce and rice wine in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, covered, until the mushrooms are soft and the broth is flavorful, 35 to 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, combine the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, minced garlic, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium bowl. Prick the pork chops all over with a fork and add to the bowl; turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Grill the pork chops until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. (*I interceded at this point and suggested cooking the pork for longer. I’m glad I did. Otherwise, the pork would have been seriously undercooked.) Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice the pork chops.
- Bring a separate large pot of water to a boil. Gently add the eggs in their shells, return to a simmer and cook 6 1/2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Peel the eggs and cut in half.
- Return the pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs, stirring often. Drain and divide among 4 bowls.
- Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a separate pot. Add the spinach and stir to wilt slightly. Ladle the broth and spinach over the noodles and top with the pork, sliced scallions and eggs; season with shichimi togarashi. (We didn’t have the seasoning.)
Looking to reduce your chances of injury? Want to strengthen your non-dominant side? Trying to add creativity to your workouts? Then watch my video about Asymmetrical Training.