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Bare leg season is upon us. Here’s a quick toning tip!

March 10th, 2014 No Comments

Mary Rambin legs on the beach 2014

 If you’re like me and live in California, “bare leg” season is all year long.  But for those of you on the east coast, you’re finally getting a chance to dethaw.  Now get excited to bust out shorts, skirts, and bathing suits.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Before I go out to somewhere…important (like an event or date), I like to tone up whatever area of my body is exposed.  If it’s my arms and back, I’ll do some quick pushups.  If it’s my legs, I hit this one-legged lunge.

Usually, I bust out a few rounds in my bedroom before I shower, but for demonstration purposes, I had Owen take some pics after our workout on the Santa Monica Stairs.

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The key here is to find something you can rest your back foot on so your foot is above your knee.  The tricky part is to get your front foot out far enough so your knee is right over your ankle.

When you’re in position, simply lower down and push up through your heel.  Keep your core engaged so your torso stays upright and you’re not leaning forward. Do whatever you need to with your hands to stay balanced.

I do as many as I can on each leg and then switch.  Depending on how much time I have, I’ll do one or two sets.

Easy and effective!

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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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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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Toning Up with Angles and Reps: Glutes Edition

January 23rd, 2012 8 Comments

Cederick – my new trainer and owner of Next Level Fitness in Houston – has a unique approach to toning:  “Angles and Reps.”

As women, we know in order to stay slim and not bulk up, we should use light weights and do more repetitions.  Cederick intensifies this philosophy by also changing the angle at which you perform the exercise so you target the muscle in a different way.

Over the next few months, I’ll post pictures of how you can utilize this strategy with machines and free weights. Thus far I’m loving it!

Today, I’m talking about glutes because that has been the most notable change for me.

Seriously, my saddle bags are GONE on the sides of my legs and my butt is much firmer…even a little bigger.  TMI, I know, but you need to know what you’re after, right?!

Here are three different exercises that target your gluts using angles and reps.

Incline Leg Press

You can do this on the incline leg press as I am above and add plates (I use 2 45 lb plates) or on the horizontal machine (90-100 lbs on the stack).  Or you can do both because laying flat and being at an incline CHANGES THE ANGLE of the exercise!

The angles I will focus on here involve your feet.  Hopefully yours aren’t as gigantic as mine :)

In the first position your feet are at 90 degrees and hips’ distance apart.  The second, you take your heels to the edge of the platform and turn your feet out.  The last position, you bring your feet together at the bottom of the platform.

In each position do 20 reps WITH MINIMAL REST.

Dead Lifts

If you do not have a board to change the angle of your feet use two plates next to each other.  I borrowed “Bunny’s Board” for this pic – I’m guessing since the exercise was successful in toning her butt they commemorated her with a personalized board!

To preform a dead lift:

  • Grab 15-40 lbs of weight total.  I use light weight because I have a bad back.
  • Pull your core in, stand tall.
  • With a flat back, pulling your shoulders down from your ears and back towards the wall, hinge forward to drop the weight down to mid-calf.
  • Make sure your legs are straight.  My left one is a little bent in the picture.
  • Pushing through your heels, keeping your core engaged, and squeezing your glutes, push yourself up to standing with a flat back.

Do 20 reps at each angle.

Abductor Machine

You’ve all been on this machine I’m sure, but I’ll bet you never thought to bend over while you’re seated.  I hadn’t, but I’m glad to know about this angle.  I believe this has been one of the key movements in toning my gluts.

In this exercise I use 80 lbs (although not in this pic because I could barely move my legs!).

The first set of 20, I put my feet on the lowest step and sit up tall (not against the cushion) with my core tight.  Immediately following that set, I bend over, move my feet up to the top step, and push out 20 more reps.

Finally, I wanted to add one more exercise you can incorporate during this circuit that doesn’t involve weights.  It’s like a dead lift and warrior 3 position from yoga combined to tone your gluts and improve your balance.

The slower you go, the harder it is and the more progress you’ll see.

Do 20 in a row on each side as dynamic rest in between your lifting sets.  If you want to intensify this movement add weights or bring your arms out straight in front of you as you lower yourself parallel to the ground.

For a complete glutes workout:

  • 20 minutes of cardio (StairMaster or the elliptical on 12-14 incline are best for your butt)
  • 30 walking lunges with 10 pounds in each hand
  • Complete all 3 exercises at each angle.
  • “T Dead lifts” (video above)
  • Repeat all 3 exercises.  Decrease weight if necessary.
  • 30 walking lunges with 10 pounds in each hand.
  • Hamstring curls on the machine with 40-50 pounds, 20 reps.
  • “T Dead Lifts”
  • Stretch!
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August 10th, 2010 No Comments

Alotta legs today…

I spent the day working so when I finally came up for air to get in a workout, it was scorching hot outside.  But I was determined to work out after I wrote the workout post below.

Here’s what I did:

  • 1 mile run that combined beach and pavement.  Jogging with sprinting intervals.
  • 5 min. leg extensions on the side of the pool to cool off
  • 5 min. step ups alternating legs (1 min per leg) w/shoulder presses in between to let my legs rest (no weights)
  • 2 sets, 15 drop lunges on a wall without touching my foot to the ground (great core balance exercise too)
  • 50 lunges walking to the stairs
  • 3 sets of stairs
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