Take advantage
of my archives!

Visit my hangouts in:

Brands I've
Loved Forever


January 11th, 2010


“Breaking Down The Workout” — Francesca Meccariello

While working your oblique muscles, this challenging exercise also helps improve shoulder stability and posture while even getting a bit of a hamstring stretch.

The Set Up:

  • Using a 2-6lb medicine ball lie down on your back with your legs fully extended.
  • Place your left heel on top of your right toes.
  • Hold the medicine ball in your right hand with your arm fully extended straight up.

The Movement:

  1. Draw your navel in towards your spine, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth (the natural place your tongue goes when you swallow).
  2. Curl your upper body all the way up to sitting with spine straight and pushing the medball straight up toward the ceiling opening your chest.
  3. Come back down slowly with navel drawn in tightly gently unrolling spine back to the floor. Exhale as you lift up, inhale as you lower back down.

Do 10-15 reps then switch feet and hold ball in the your left hand. 2 sets each side.

A note to beginners:

If holding the ball with one hand is too difficult hold it with two hands. If you cannot sit up all the way just get your shoulders up off the floor. The key is to keep your navel drawn in to help support your lower back.  Do not plop your spine to the floor!

Want to intensify?

Super set this with a prone plank held for 30-45 seconds.

Have fun!

Tweet this!Tweet this!

Archery Pull (Single Arm Cable Pull)

January 4th, 2010

Archery Pull (Single Arm Cable Pull)

“Breaking Down The Workout” — Francesca Meccariello

This one will get you energized!

Use this movement to tone your rear deltoid muscles (shoulders) and upper back.  You’ll also be working your core muscles because of the rotational movement involved.  I like to super set this pulling exercise with a pushing exercise that can be as simple as a push up.

The Set Up:

  • Set the cable at shoulder height, and choose a moderate weight.
  • Stand facing a cable machine with your feet parallel to each other. Knees are slightly bent.
  • Hold on to the handle with your left hand and arm fully extended, palm facing down. The right elbow should be bent at 90 degrees and parallel to the floor at cable height.

The Movement:

  • Initiate the movement from your core/trunk by drawing your navel in toward your spine and simultaneously rotate your trunk to the left while stepping your left foot out and turning your left palm inward as your pull the cable across your chest.
  • As in archery. Your right arm should now extend and remain parallel to the floor at shoulder height as you pull with your left arm.
  • As you come back to face the cable column, your right arm comes back to a 90 degree bend in the elbow, remaining parallel to the floor. Do not let your elbow drop.

Do 12-15 reps then repeat on your right side. Do 2-3 sets and super set with 10 push ups.

This is also a good warm up exercise on a day you plan on working out mostly your back muscles.

Tweet this!Tweet this!

“8 on – 50 off”

November 23rd, 2009 No Comments

Ok, here’s something to change up your lifting routine.  Instead of doing 3 sets of 12 with the same weight, I want you to try this:

  1. Get one set of weights that’s considerably heavier than your normal (or increase the weight on the machine).  Access the weight, you will be doing 8 reps at this level.
  2. Grab another set that is lighter – for girls 3-5lbs, guys 5-10 lbs.
  3. Start the exercise with the heavier weight and push to at least 8 reps.  If you can do 10, go for it.
  4. Quickly exchange the heavy for the light set and push out at least 50 reps.  Really I would like you to do it until you can’t do it anymore.
  5. Drop to the ground and do 2 minutes of abs.

Repeat 3 times.  For the last set, I challenge you to increase the weight and push out the same reps.

Advanced kids should try this with three levels of weight.

(This fitness challenge was inspired by Reilly’s kick ass spin class yesterday.)

Squat + Raise + Row

November 23rd, 2009 No Comments

Squat + Raise + Row

“Breaking Down The Workout” — Francesca Meccariello

Here is another combination upper/lower body exercise that will challenge you cardiovascularly as well!

The Set Up:

  • Find a moderate weight dumbbell anywhere from 3-10lbs depending on your strength level.
  • Stand in a proper squat stance with feet hip distance or slightly wider apart.
  • Engage your abs.
  • Keep your chin parallel to the floor
  • Hold a dumbbell with one hand centered between your legs.

The Movement:

  1. Standing tall inhale as you squat down
  2. Push through your heels to stand exhaling as you perform a front dumbbell raise
  3. Squat again and as you stand exhale as you perform an upright row bringing your elbow towards the ceiling.
  4. This is one repetition.
  5. Advanced version: come up onto your toes as you stand to engage your calves if you can maintain proper form.


  • Look forward throughout the exercise with abs engaged.
  • Exhale as you come up to stand each time.

Do 10-12 reps (20-30 squats)  then quickly switch the dumbbell to the other hand and repeat for another 10-12 reps on the other side. Do 2-3 sets.

Tweet this!Tweet this!

Supine Lateral Roll

November 9th, 2009 No Comments

Supine Lateral Roll

“Breaking Down The Workout” — Francesca Meccariello

I call this the Big Bang exercise!  It challenges your stability, strengthens your core, helps your posture and burns tons of calories Don’t be fooled, it’s pretty tough….

The Set-Up:

  • Roll forward on the ball so that your shoulders and upper back are on the ball
  • Place your feet hip width or a little wider apart.
  • Stretch your arms out, palms up parallel to the floor.
  • Raise your hips parallel to the floor.
  • Hold your tongue on the roof of your mouth to relax and stabilize your neck.

The Move:

Keeping your hips and arms level/parallel with the floor, inhale and glide your upper body across the ball from right to left.

Do this exercise for time for 30-45 sec or until proper form can no longer be maintained. You can also change the tempo from slower to faster.

Be careful not to roll so far over that you cannot maintain stability. You will roll yourself right off the ball!


  • Hold your tongue on the roof of your mouth to relax and stabilize your neck.

  • Contract your glutes, and abs to keep your hips up and in alignment with the floor.

  • The tendency will be for one hip to drop as you shift from side to side.
  • Just lift your head momentarily to adjust and become level again.
  • Once you can do it well with your feet planted on the floor begin to practice shuffling your feet from one side to the other. Feel your obliques and glutes working.

This is a fantastic exercise to superset with a prone jackknife on the ball. If you’re not sure what that is I’ll show you next time J

Tweet this!Tweet this!

Total Body Definition

November 9th, 2009 No Comments

Total Body Definition — DEFINE (Houston, Tx)

If you’ve picked up an USweekly in the last couple of years, you’ve heard of Physique 57, the NYC studio (based off The Lotte Berk Method) that made Kelly Ripa’s arms the phenomenon they are today.  I took the 57 minute challenge a few times, and despite my physical fitness, each one brought me closer to the verge of tears. Read about my experience here.

Houston has never seen the likes of this kind of training until now!

Henry “Hank” Richardson just opened DEFINE, a completely green private studio on San Felipe (at Bering), to tone up Houston.

As you can see, I attended a class which included:

  1. Stretching
  2. Upper body weight workout
  3. Yoga-like lunges
  4. Hip openers, plies, and leg lifts on the bar
  5. Pilates abs
  6. Stretching

The movements were reminiscent of Physique 57, but not at all equivalent in terms of intensity.  However, I believe this is to the benefit of most people trying it for the first time.  For those of you who lift regularly, the exercises will lean you out and tone up your muscles while building strength.  If you’re looking to get back on the wellness wagon, it’s a great way to ease back into working out.

One of the women in the class who comes twice a week in conjunction with her routine of cardio and lifting at another gym said she has seen her body transform.  She is leaner and has greater flexibility.

Hank assures me he will be offering advanced classes in the near future.  But I would always suggest a jog around Memorial Park before you head in.  Heating up your muscles is always a smart idea before deep stretching.

Your first visit is free, so I give it a shot!  DEFINE offers classes all day.

(Full Disclosure: I took the free first class.)

New Yorkers, this is just what you need.

November 3rd, 2009 No Comments

Link: New Yorkers, this is just what you need.

This is a good deal!

If you live in NYC, you owe your body a few days at CLAY.

“Working The Negative”

November 2nd, 2009 No Comments

When lifting weights, most people focus on the exertion of the push or pull. But the retraction, the second movement, is just as important.

Let me explain.

Take for example a bicep curl.  The common conception is that the upward motion is what tones your arms and builds strength.  Then people just let the weight fall back down to its starting position.

When you “work the negative,”  you slow down the retraction so that it becomes a beneficial part of the exercise.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: use a five-count system for each movement.  Two counts for exertion, 3 for retraction.

In terms of the bicep curl, you would curl up and exhale for two counts, and lower the weight back down and inhale for three.

Try it out, you’ll see your strength increase dramatically.