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Time to get your butt in bikini shape

April 1st, 2013 3 Comments

If you haven’t already been sunbathing over spring break :)

In this video I show you 4 exercises other than your basic squats and lunges that you can do to tone up your glutes.  Reader Anne wrote in and said that squats and lunges cause pain in her knees, and she would love to know glute exercises that didn’t.  Between my trainers and a physical therapist, we came up with these 4 that are great at isolating your glutes.

You can do them with or without weights.  As I am trying to build up a little muscle back there, I use heavier weights:  10-20 lbs.  I also have to be mindful of my lower back which inhibits me from going heavier, but you can!

Also check out this squat-row combo  and this video for more ways to tone up your glutes.

Finally, I have to apologize for the production value of this video. The girl who helped me was so sweet to shoot it, but it didn’t come out the way I had hoped.  As the years pass somehow it’s getting harder to find people to help me shoot these things…..

(Video head to toe: bead head hair, Nike top, Lululemon pants, Reebok shoes)

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A new total body circuit to change up your workout.

October 1st, 2012 No Comments

First of all, please excuse the full frontal naked face in this video….

Back to the purpose of this post: new exercises! Group fitness classes are great because you can learn new moves to incorporate into your own workouts.  Monique at BLAST900 tortured us with this Bosu circuit yesterday that has my glutes SORE today.  Yay!  I need all the help I can get with that flap jack :)

If you’re pressed for time, this is a great circuit to get a solid workout in about 10 minutes.  Just getting your heart rate up keeps your body and metabolism strong.

In the gym, I would combine this circuit with a back or tricep workout (click the links to see each broken down for you).  These muscles groups are tertiary in the circuit, meaning they aren’t are main or secondary target, so you should be able to hit them hard.  Here’s how I would combine the circuit and the back workout.

1.  One full circuit as you see in the video.

2.  Set of 30 assisted pull-ups (changing grips every 1o reps).

3.  One full circuit.

4.  Set of 20 rows – seated or standing with a twist.

5.  One full circuit.

6.  Set of 30 rear delt flies.

7. Lower Back Extensions

Exercises to strengthen your lower back from Mary Rambin on Vimeo.


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Squats you can do at the office

May 7th, 2012 No Comments

Readers have written me countless emails asking for exercises they can do at their office so I’ve been keeping that top of mind during my workouts these days.  The key to this must be minimal and efficient movement without sweating!

Squats seem like an obvious choice, but if you don’t have an intensity when you squat repeatedly, you’ll fail to strengthen or tone your leg before you break a sweat. This “negative” squat is a killer.  Rich makes it look easy! I struggled with the advanced version during class.

By using a chair or bench, you force yourself to squat lower than usual.  Therefore your movement will be slower, your core will stay engaged, and you won’t be able to do as many. The result:

  • Your heart rate gets up fast.
  • You strengthen and tone your leg.
  • You won’t break a sweat!

If you’re in Atlanta or Birmingham, absolutely try a Blast900 class.  It’s the most intense total body workout I’ve had in a long time (my review here).  Cardio on crack basically :) I’m training them how to blog now, so they’ll be a great fitness resource for you come fall!


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Angles and Reps: Toning Your Inner Thighs Edition

March 12th, 2012 6 Comments

This round of exercises from Cederick my trainer proved to tighten my inner thighs in 2 weeks!  Remember, I also spin, do yoga, and lift regularly, as well as eat with a healthy conscious so that all helps too :)

You’ll notice most of the movements are the same as what you would do to work your glues.  The difference is the positioning of your feet and your focus. The challenge here is to NOT use your glutes as much as your inner thighs to control the movement.

Remember the principle:  lighter weight + lots of reps + multiple angles that target same muscle group.  For each exercise,  you’re going to do a set of 20.  I’ll complete one round on a day when I’m lifting chest or back.  See those angle and rep exercises here.

Wide Leg LOW Incline Squats


Put the same amount of weight on the machine as you would with a normal squat.  Place your feet low on the platform with your feet turned out wide as I have above.  Lower your legs down farther than feels comfortable and then push up through your heels.

Side Lunges with Weights

*Click for a bigger picture*

Let me break this one down for you:

  1. Stand tall with the weights in hand (Grab moderately heavy weights.  I have 8 lbs here.  Due to my sensitive lower back, I keep it light in this exercise.)
  2. Lunge far out to one side, allowing your lower body to come down to your knee and the weights to go on either side of your foot.
  3. Pressing on the inside of your foot and squeezing your inner thigh, push back up to standing tall.
  4. Repeat for the other side.

Adductor Squeezes

Yeah, I hate this one.  I dislike it first because it’s just tedious and mechanical.  Then of course, it sucks to spread your legs wide open for the gym to see.  But, whatever, it’s necessary.

I do 80 lbs, squeezing for 1 minute.


Sumo Squats

I’m sure you’ve done these before.  Instead of pushing with your glutes, squeeze with your inner thighs to push you up.  Also focus on keeping your shoulder blades pulled together and chest high. I use a 20 lb weight.


Leg Raises


Your thighs should be engaged and getting tired at this point.  This simple leg lift will help you tone and rest.  Lay down as I have above and raise your leg with your inner thigh trying not to use your glutes.  Do 20 reps then turn your toe out and do 20 more.  Repeat for the other leg.


Side Leg Raises with Weights

The positioning on this one is awkward so just find something that feels comfortable. Move your bottom leg forward and steady a light weight with your hand.  Honestly, you might not even need the weight.  Straighten your leg, relax your foot, and use your heel to lead your leg up.  Do as many as you can, 20 being the minimum.

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Toning Up With Angles and Reps: Back Edition

January 31st, 2012 No Comments

Sorry this post is a day late…but better late than never, right?!

I was so happy to hear that you guys enjoyed this perspective and incorporated into your workouts last week!

Today, I’ve got back exercises for you.  Anytime you’re pulling you are also working your biceps, so they will get some tone out of these movements too. Feel free to grab some light weights and do 30 bicep curls in between sets if you’d like! (No, don’t say, “Yeah, right.” Say, “Absolutely!”)

Remember, the philosophy is less weight, more reps, at several different angles.

Remember, you can click the pictures to make them bigger!


I’ll start with this machine because I’m sure you’re all familiar with it.

The yellow circles here indicate our target area, your lats.  The red arrows indicate groups you need to be aware of during the exercise.  Here, we want to keep our core engaged and traps, the muscles joining your shoulders and neck, relaxed.

Make sure you choose a weight that is easier than you would normally use.  On this machine, the higher the weight, the easier the pull because the weight is off-setting your body weight.

As you’ve seen there are three handle grips you can utilize.

You want to do 10 pull ups on each grip for 30 total.

Make sure when you lower your body down, you go all the way down for a full extension.  Yes, it’s harder this way.

Please note the lateral pull-down machine has grips 1 & 2 as well.  To utilize “Angles and Reps” there, turn your palms away from you as you grab grip 1 for 20 reps, then turn your palms towards you when you grab grip 2, for 20 reps.


For this exercise, you’ll need to find a cable machine where you can attach the appropriate handle (see above).

You’re working your rear delts and lats here.

Here’s what you do.

  1. Attach the handle and choose 2-3 plates (go easy to start).
  2. With the handle in hand, move away from the stack of weights so your arm is fully extended almost pulling you forward.
  3. Place one foot out in front of the other to create a wide base.  Engage your core.
  4. Turn your palm towards the floor.
  5. Using a twisting motion, turning your palm inward, pull the handle to your chest line.
  6. Release for a full extension.
  7. 20 reps each side.

Row + Lunge

Immediately following the above set, lower the handle to the ground for this exercise and add 2 plates of weight.

This movement is basically a row combined with a stationary lunge.  I thought you should see it clean before I go into the breakdown.


Here the target is your back, rear delts, and butt, but you need to be aware of the other elements involved.

In the left picture, the red arrow directs you to my shoulder that is being pulled forward by the weight of the handle.  Yellow arrows point to my legs, the back is straight, the front slightly bent.  In the blue circle, you’ll notice my palm is facing the ground.

To preform the movement:

  1. With your abs engaged and most of your weight in your front food, lower the back knee straight down until your front quad is parallel to the ground.
  2. While you lower, pull the handle back with a twisting motion, turning your palm inward until your elbow is at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Push up through your heel as you extend your arm.
  4. Do 10 reps on one side then switch to the other, twice.  40 reps total.

Additionally to mix up my exercises, I do the the squat with a row I posted a few weeks ago.  Click the link for instructions, here is the pic.

**Remember you can click the pictures to make them bigger!


Again on this machine it’s all about your grip.  Your position stays the same:  arms almost fully extended and straight posture.

The red arrows again indicate areas to focus on:  relax your traps, engage your core.


  1. Move the position of the machine arms to the first notch.
  2. Add “medium” weight to the stack (10-40 lbs)
  3. Sit upright with your face and body against the cushion (yes, it’s uncomfortable) with your arms extended in front of you.
  4. Relax your traps and pull backwards, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  5. Slowly release your arms back to the starting position.
  6. 20 reps at each grip.

The first and last grip are a little awkward, but I feel like my rear delts have gotten a lot stronger since I’ve been working these new angles.


Exercises to strengthen your lower back from Mary Rambin on Vimeo.

I posted this video last year to give you three options to strengthen your lower back.  Afterwards do a counter stretch that rounds out your back: cat/cow yoga movement, lay with your tummy on the ball, or lay flat on the ground and hug your knees into your chest.

You’ll also notice I recommend a dead lift here so you might as well use the angles and reps approach I suggested last week!


So now on to the fun stuff, your workout!

Now, when I work out my back I also combo it with another muscle group, either legs or biceps.  If you didn’t notice, I’m wearing the same outfit in this week’s post as in last week’s Gluts Edition (that one’s for you Alice) because I did two groups on the same day.  IT’S KILLER!! But that’s the point isn’t it?!

I’ll give you both options here.

Back Only

  • 20 minutes cardio
  • 30 pull ups light weight (10 on each angle)
  • 60 Rear Delt Flies (20 reps each angle)
  • 40 Overhead Rows (20 each arm)
  • 40 Lower Rows (10 each arm and leg, 2 times)
  • 50 Back extensions on the ball
  • 40 Pull downs 30-60 lbs, challenging weight (not shown but referenced in first section – 20 wide grip, 20 inner grip palms facing you)
  • 20 Rows + Squat
  • 30 Dead lifts with 10-15 pound weights
  • 20 Regular Rows (not pictured) or a Bent Over Row (MTM video instruction here) – USE A CHALLENGING WEIGHT!

Back and Legs

  • 10 minutes cardio (StairMaster or Elliptical)
  • 40 walking lunges with 10 lb weights
  • 30 pull ups (10 reps at each angle)
  • Complete all three leg exercises (presses, deadlifts, Abductor) from “Glutes Edition” here
  • 60 Rear Delt Flies (20 reps each angle)
  • 40 Overhead Rows (20 each arm)
  • 40 Lower Rows (10 each arm and leg, 2 times)
  • 50 Back extensions on the ball
  • 20 Rows + Squats
  • 20 Leg Extensions (not shown here) with challenging weight
  • 20 Leg Curls (not shown here) with challenging weight
  • 30 Pull Ups (10 at each angle) removing at least one plate of weight
  • 20 Regular Rows or Bent Over Rows (MTM video instruction here)
  • 40 Lower Row + Lunge (10 each side, 2 times)
  • 50 lower back extensions on the ball

Ok, I think you’re all set.  As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments because if you are wondering about something, someone else is too. Let me know how it goes!

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