6 Exercises To Create A Stronger You Today

6 Exercises To Create A Stronger You Today

We use on a regular basis with our clients and that we think are very valuable. These 6 exercises to create a stronger you today when worked routinely will have a measurable impact on your fitness. Read how to do each movement safely and check out the downloadable workouts at the end for a place to get started.



  1. Ab Wheel
  2. Bent Over Row
  3. Wall Sit
  4. High to Low Core Rotator
  5. Tricep Dip
  6. Band Walks
  7. Downloadable Workouts


The ab wheel is almost a standard in our gym. Not that everyone “should” be able to do it, but that it is an example of core strength and stability. Performing the ab wheel correctly, pain free is a benchmark that we can measure core strength by. Again, we do NOT use it with everyone, but healthy individuals, especially look for improve athletic performance you better bet your bottom dollar we do.

If those individuals can give 15-20 exceptional ab wheel reps then we hit them with some progressions. Like putting a weight on your back or performing the reps from your toes. Both show a high level of core & shoulder strength & stability.


First off you are going to need to have an ab wheel. If you don’t skip over to your nearest store or order one up off of amazon (affiliate link). Next up is something for your knees. We have the stability pads (affiliate link) that we use at the gym, but if you don’t have one on hand you can use a towel or pillow. I would 10 for 10 recommend the stability pad, we use it for so many exercises from core to balance. But I am against having a bunch of stuff laying around – so make sure you have a place for it. Otherwise grab the pillow of your couch and get going.


  1. Start on your knees with the ab wheel on the ground under your shoulders.
  2. Brace your core and push from your knees and hands to move the ab wheel forward.
  3. Once you have reached YOUR maximal range of motion pull the wheel back to the starting position by equally pulling in from your arms and hips.


In no way is this an “entry level” core exercise. Most common mistake we see is continuing to perform this exercise incorrectly. The exerciser either creates an issue (pain) or exacerbates one. Make sure you are strong enough by doing plenty of core exercises with great form, to failure.

  1. Arching low back or sagging butt – this is an ab exercise, brace your core!
  2. Only moving your arms – your torso should come forward with your arms.
  3. Only moving your hips/torso – your arms should extend forward at the same time.


  • Control your pelvis. Arching in the low back is the number one cause of pain or discomfort with this exercise. It indicates that your abdominals are not staying engaged. Keeping your hips tucked can help you engage your low abdominals and prevent the low back from arching. But the more neutral spine you can stay the better.
  • Equal Movement. We want to see your hips and shoulders extending simultaneously in both directions. The movement should be smooth and equal.
  • Range of Motion. The end goal of this exercise is a full extension. However, that isn’t where you start. Most people will have to shorten their range of motion in order to keep their pelvis tucked/ back neutral and equal movement from the hips and shoulders.


With the ab wheel being an advanced core exercise you may need some other exercises to supplement. Try planks with upper body movements like shoulder taps and plank step-ups to work on strength in the end range of motion of an ab wheel. Sit-up variations on the decline bench or v-sit variations to work on hip flexor strength and low abdominals.

If you want to make the exercise hard you can work on angles out to the side, add a weight to your back or try from your toes. BUT we caution these moves unless you are truly doing 15-20 really high quality, full range of motion reps.


It may be a basic, simple, old exercise, but everyone should be familiar with a bent over row. And if you already know the bent over row, how many other back exercises can you think of? Hopefully 2 or 3 times as many chest exercises.

Training your back muscles should 100% be a priority during your workouts. We live in a forward dominant world – meaning life we do most of our activities in the front of our body. Exercise should work to maintain balance in our bodies, which means we need to do more back work to manage the impact of our lifestyle habits.


Let’s start by recognizing the posture of a bent over row. It is important to understand that this bent over posture puts a large load on the core – back and abdominals. Maintaining core engagement while in this posture will help maximize your results and keep your back pain free.

Second piece about posture is that the more parallel to the ground you are able to get your chest the better. That is from the perspective that we want to load more of the mid back and less of the upper back. Of course, there will be times you want to load the upper back, but that’s not right now.

An added bonus for the bent over row is that it requires your lower body to work isometrically to hold the hip hinge posture.

Finally, because I can’t say the word posture enough … the bent over row will help improve your posture. Any back exercise, done properly, will help your posture. You will notice you stand up straighter, walk taller and have a more elongated appearance in the mirror. But, that will only happen by putting in the work and following a regular, consistent program.


  1. Holding weights at your hips, set your feet in a comfortable stance. Try to go no wider than shoulder width.
  2. Brace your core and slightly bend your knees.
  3. Hinge at your hips, keeping your core tight and your spine neutral as you lower your chest to parallel with the ground.
  4. Once in position the weights should hang directly below your shoulders (see picture).
  5. Pinch your shoulder blades together and “row” or pull the weights toward your chest.
  6. Control the weights back down to the starting position and repeat.


  • Arching & rounding of the spine/back.
  • Curling of the wrists.
  • Lifting chest out of parallel posture.


  • Focus on your shoulder blades, not the distance your weight travel. Retracting or pinching your shoulder blades as the first motion in a row is critical to recruiting your back muscles over your biceps. Try to “grab a pencil” between your shoulder blades to help visualize your shoulder blades retracting/pinching.
  • In a bent over, or hip hinged, posture you are increasing the demand on your trunk. Keeping a neutral spine and core engaged the entire time will keep your low back from becoming over worked. Work to keep your back parallel to the ground the entire time.
  • Keep your core braced and spine neutral through the entire movement. Tendency is to allow your back to arch as you pull the weight to your chest and round as you lower it towards the ground. Fight that tendency!
  • Far too often we see extension or arching in the mid-to-low back upon movement. This will cause irritation of the low back and decrease the use of your abdominals. Squeeze your core!
  • Change your grip and arm positioning to target your back differently. I like wide bent over rows with a palm down position and an underhand grip bent over row the best.


There are a significant amount of variations to a bent over row. Too many to name, but you can add a stability component and stand on single leg, you can make it unilateral and perform it single arm. You can do it from a plank position to increase the challenge on your core. Make your choice based on your ability to perform quality reps and the end goal (or adaptation) you are trying to achieve.

A few of the common exercises I use to train my back are pull-ups because there is no better exercise for your back. You may need to start with a modification (heavy seated row or lat pull down) or assistance, but being able to do pull-ups is an excellent measurement of back strength and overall fitness.

I also love reverse fly and bent over Ys because they effectively target the smaller posterior muscles of the shoulder that keep your shoulders back. Which translates to the appearance of walking tall or walking with confidence as you consistently hold your shoulders back, keeping your chest upright and open.


The wall sit is an isometric exercise. If you are wondering what in the heck isometric is, or if it is even English, let me explain. Isometric is essentially a muscle contraction that produces no movement. In fact, you are likely doing isometric work in the form of a plank or a v-sit hold.

The biggest reason you should be doing isometric exercises is for the stability benefits. Whether you are a teenage athlete, avid runner or in the aging population stability is your friend. It should be your best friend.

You will also experience an improvement in muscle endurance by regularly incorporating isometric exercises. This is once again great for athletes, injury prevention and the aging body.

How to Perform A Wall Sit isometric exercise

  1. Find yourself a wall.
  2. Sit against it.

It really is that simple. However, we have some guidelines to follow or work towards.

  1. Try to get 90 degrees of flexion at your hips and knees. This depth mirrors a squat depth and has a direction translation to muscle fiber recruitment for proper muscle firing within the movement.
  2. Keeping your feet around hip width and knees over your ankles. We want to avoid excessive internal rotation, letting our knees knock in, and rolling onto the side of our foot, picking up our big toe, and lifting our heels off the ground. Focus on a consistent foot contact with the ground.
  3. Maintain contact with the wall at your head, shoulders, back and butt by bracing your upper body into the wall. This will make your wall sit more of a total body exercise and help the neurological connection between your lower and upper body in the squatting pattern.

What to Avoid when doing a Wall Sit

  • Lifting your heels off the ground (for a standard variation)
  • Letting your knees cave in
  • Rolling on to the outside of your foot
  • Leaning forward and rest your elbows on your thighs

Other Isometric Exercises and wall sit variations

A plank is a great upper body isometric exercise, but the sky is the limit. You can take any muscle contraction and make it isometric. Just think of an exercise you like. Here is a common one – a bicep curl. Simply hold the weight with your elbow(s) at 90 degrees. You can time the exercise, or do it while holding a lunge for an isometric lower body burn too. Alternately you could be doing a full reverse lunge and working the concentric and eccentric phase.

Here are a few of my favorite isometric exercises:

  1. Plank Variations: movement in the lower body like knee drives, pikes, scissors, kick throughs, or change the surface of the plank to be on a Bosu Ball, medicine ball, stability ball.
  2. Wall Sit Variations: add movement in your upper body with resistance bands or free weights, hold a medicine ball between your knees, march or wear a band and use your glutes to drive into the band.
  3. Upper Body Variations: chin up hold, flexed arm hold, single arm hold and perform reps with the other arm (ex – bench press with one arm locked out at the top).
  4. Lower Body Variations: split squat position, hold the bottom position of a RDL, glute bridge hold (optional single leg), calf raise hold, single leg squat with alternating toe tap.


The high to low core rotator is functional rotational exercise targeting your core, including shoulders and hips. We consider it one of the best rotational exercises because of how effective it is at targeting specific phases of muscle contraction and focused movement patterns. The variations you can take from plane of movement, stance, unilateral vs. bilateral … they feel limitless. This really allows us to follow the principal of variability to increase stability throughout the core.

It is important to note that your core as we refer to it includes abdominals, posterior muscles of the trunk, glutes and shoulders. Additionally, if you focus on the abdominal muscles you will find that rotation requires multiple muscles, not just one like some ab exercises. The high to low core rotator is trunk rotation with flexion meaning we are getting obliques, transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis to name a few.


We love to use core rotator variations in our programming because they scale easily to meet the individual where they are, they are highly functional and the amount of variations make them applicable to everything from sports performance to injury prevention/rehabilitation.

The high to low core rotator we would consider a starting point. A basic, entry level movement that can provide us with feedback on client abilities and challenge a client’s strength, proprioception and range of motion.


  1. Set your cable attachment at the top of the pulley machine so that it is above your head.
  2. Start perpendicular to and offset from the cable machine so that the machine is slightly in front of you. You can start on facing either side, as long as the cable machine is slightly in front of you.
  3. Hold on to a single handle with the inside hand, or the hand closest to the cable machine. Wrap the opposite hand around the top of that hand. And take a few steps away, from the cable so the weights are not resting.
  4. Set your feet shoulder width apart and bend your knees, pushing your weight into the midfoot – heel, to load your hips and glutes.
  5. Brace your core by squeezing your abdominals, rotate from your hips and shoulders bringing the handle across your body to the opposite hip.
  6. Control the cable and your arms as your rotate back to the starting position, following the exact same path.
  7. Perform 10 reps on one side and then switch sides.


The cable should follow an angled path from high to low (hence the name). If you do not bring your arms down on an angle as you come across your body line the cable will hit you in the face or throat.

Your back should remain neutral as you rotate through this movement. Any extending or arching in your back will cause discomfort. This exercise is designed to use flexion and rotation, flex and squeeze your abs!

Keep your weight even between your left and right foot. Allowing your weight to shift or leaning to the side can cause you to loose balance.


We have mentioned that there are almost limitless possibilities for a high to low core rotator, right? Well that makes it hard to tell you how to progress it. Here is our best advice:

  • Change the height – as you bring the cable pulley attachment down towards your chest, hips and then knees the exercise becomes increasingly more difficult. You should not be doing the same weight the entire time. Gravity isn’t helping you as you lower the cable. Which means you are now fighting gravity. Of course we don’t call these high to low core rotators anymore, but they are certainly harder variations.
  • Change your stance – you can move your feet around to work on different angles and in various stability situations like kneeling, half kneeling, single leg and more.
  • Change the grip – switching what hand is on the bottom and single arm versus double arm will change the difficulty and the demand of the exercise.


Your triceps, or the muscle located on the back of your arms, are used more than you might think. The triceps muscle is responsible for straightening your elbow, which we do all day long. Like pushing yourself out of bed in the morning or off the ground, closing doors or cabinets or simply reaching for an item by straightening your arm.

We also use them in a lot of activities like push-ups, shoulder presses, chest presses, planks, swimming, volleyball, baseball and more. Just think of anytime you straighten your elbow to keep it straightened.

It is important to note that the triceps muscle has three heads. (An easy easy way to remember that is tri means three.) Training your triceps in a variety of movement patterns is needed to effectively target all three.


  1. Sit on the edge of a elevated flat surface with your hands resting, palms down on the surface.
    • You can use any stable surface that allows your feet to touch the ground. Think bench, box, chair, stair, coffee table, etc.
  2. Push through your hands and lift your butt off the surface while you walk your feet slightly away from you.
    • The hardest position is with your legs extended straight in front of you.
    • Keep in mind your hips should stay close to the surface you are using.
  3. Bend at your elbows and lower your hips towards the ground while keeping your chest upright and open.
    • Aim for a depth of 90 degrees at the elbows IF there is no shoulder discomfort and you can maintain good form.
  4. Drive through your hands and straighten your elbows to bring you back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for reps.


  • Minimal elbow bend – your triceps are responsible for extension at your elbow (straightening). The more intention you can put into bending your elbows to achieve the needed range of motion the more work you can put into your triceps.
  • Hips too far from surface – the further you allow your hips to drift away from the surface (box, bench, etc.) the more form challenges you will encounter. It will be harder to focus your intentions on bending at the elbow, there will likely be some shoulder discomfort, and your range of motion will change dramatically. 
  • Chest rounding forward – the round of your shoulders will change the range of motion, which will change the muscles used and the load you feel in your triceps. Focus on keeping your chest upright and open. 

Luckily all there of these pieces of advice work synergistically. If you focus on bending at the elbows you will have to keep your hips closer to the surface you are using and keep your chest upright. If you keep your hips closer to the surface you will be more inclined to bend at the elbows and more capable of keeping your chest upright. And, finally, if you keep your chest upright you will be able to keep your hips closer to the surface and bend at the elbows!


Make sure you have mastered the straight leg tricep dip before moving on to a harder version. If you have been doing knees bent, straighten your legs for a bigger tricep load. This is because the force arm (your legs) is longer as you straighten your leg. Putting more load into your triceps.

If you can check straight leg tricep dip off the list check out these options:

  • Add a weight to the top of your thighs.
  • Elevate your feet onto another box, bench or chair.
  • Incorporate instability at your feet or hands by using a BOSU ball or TRX


  • Tricep Push-Up
  • Skull Crusher
  • Laying OH Extension
  • Standing Tricep Extension
  • Sklz Single Arm Extension
  • Narrow Floor Chest Press


Our training philosophy starts with establishing range of motion (ROM), building stability within ROM and then building strength and power. We follow this philosophy with all of our clients and for all joints. We use band walks to build and maintain stability at the hips.


Band walks are done with a small circular band placed anywhere from the upper thighs to the ankles. This placement helps activate the muscles of your hip, building stability. The lower on the leg you place your band the hard the exercise will be. You can also get various levels of resistance which may change where you place the band.

I love to use the hip circle for myself and my clients It is a pretty great investment for $20. Shop here in this affiliate link.

Other factors like injury, orthopedic limitations or difficulty engaging the right muscles will dictate where you should place the band.

Two most common band walks are lateral and forward/backward, sometimes called monster walks.

  1. Select the location of your band and get it into place.
  2. For lateral band walks you will step sideways and for Monster walks you will step forwards. In both situations you are trying to maintain tension on the band every time your trail leg steps in. This means you are not allowing the band to pull your leg in, rather you are resisting that force.
  3. You continue to taking steps until you reach a desired location or rep count. I usually work my clients in sets of 20 in one direction. For monster walks my clients would walk forward 20 steps the backward 20 steps to the same starting position.


One of the most common is an inward rotation or caving of the knees. The intention is for us to drive against the band activating our hip muscles. If we allow our knees to inwardly rotate or cave in we are being controlled by the band. Which is, generally speaking, a no-no in the training world.

You also want to avoid any back pain while doing band walks. Back pain can occur when you are straining against the band and moving into poor form to achieve movement. For example, if you are doing a glute bridge with the band on and experiencing back discomfort you are likely over extending (or arching) in your low back. Keeping a neutral spine and tight core while using the hip circle is necessary to get the most out of the exercise.


Banded exercises are great for improving hip stability and good hip stability is impacted by more than external rotation and the glute muscles. There are a lot of supporting, stabilizing muscles of the hip including muscles of the inner thigh like adductors. While we use the hip circle to build hip stability we also incorporate other exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of internal rotation to keep the hip balanced.

  • Band Walk Variations
  • Squat Variations
  • Plank Variations
  • Glute Bridge Variations
  • Pulsing Wall Sit


There are many workouts for you to download and save. Scroll through them all to find which ones you want to try. 

Fit Finds: The Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide

Fit Finds: The Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide

Welcome to the world of fitness and wellness gifting! As we gear up for 2023, it's time to start setting goals and looking for resources to help us succeed. Whether you're a fitness fanatic or seeking the perfect gift for one, our Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide is...

read more
The Power of Social Proof In Personal Training

The Power of Social Proof In Personal Training

In the world of personal training, where trust and credibility play pivotal roles, the concept of social proof functions as an authentic way to connect with your audience. Social proof, the influence created when individuals see others engaging in a particular...

read more
fitness articles
lifestyle articles
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Sheet Pan Feta Gnocchi

Sheet Pan Feta Gnocchi

This week I am bringing you a crowd pleasing, easy prep, minimal clean up recipe called Sheet Pan Feta Gnocchi.

This recipe came out of a need for fast recipes and our families love for pasta. I love recipe that are “cook in one pot” or bakes on one sheet. And last year we shared 3 sheet pan recipes that can be seen in Friday Favorites: Sheet Pan Recipes for Fall. So if you need more inspiration look at that article.

Let’s get back to this recipe.

Prepping this recipe is extremely easy. There is hardly any chopping, dishes, or steps involved. You can adjust your ingredients to add more veggies or protein based on your preferences. Keep reading for ingredients, substations and other ideas.

Ingredients + Directions for Sheet Pan Feta Gnocchi

  • 12 oz Pre-made gnocchi
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 6 oz container of feta
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • 2 huge handfuls of spinach

In addition to these ingredients I highly recommend using a silicone baking sheet. It will save you time in prep and clean up. I have used a variety of brands – just make sure you get the size that correlates best to your baking sheet.

I also suggest a rimmed baking sheet. It will keep the juices and oil from spilling in your oven.

  1. Pre heat oven to 425.
  2. Chop red pepper into a mouthful size.
  3. Mix all the ingredients, except the spinach, in a bowl and mix.
  4. Spread on a silicone mat on your baking sheet and put in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  5. You MUST mix everything halfway through. This prevents the gnocchi and feta from crisping too much on one side.
  6. After baking put it all back into the bowl you mixed in and toss in spinach. Cover for 2 minutes to help spinach wilt.
  7. ENJOY!!


I can’t stress the middle of the bake mix. As a person who hates this step in all other recipes, it is necessary. Don’t skip it.

You can easily add a protein like chicken or sausage into the bake. I would cube whatever meat you choose to keep every bite size at serving.

You could easily use kale instead of spinach, but it doesn’t wilt as fast. You may need to keep it covered longer or just enjoy the different texture.

If you are not a fan of spice you can scale back the red pepper flakes, but Freddy (my 1 year old son) wasn’t bothered one bit by the spice.

Save your mixing bowl for serving! This saves you a dish, but you also get to take advantage of all the delicious flavor that was in the bowl.


Here are some of my favorite kitchen items – from cooking to plating . Thank goodness for Crate and Barrel! And if you are looking for another recipe idea check out Homemade Tostadas.

I do earn a commission on some of these links, but there is no charge to you. Your support is appreciated!



kitchen cooking essentials



Fit Finds: The Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide

Fit Finds: The Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide

Welcome to the world of fitness and wellness gifting! As we gear up for 2023, it's time to start setting goals and looking for resources to help us succeed. Whether you're a fitness fanatic or seeking the perfect gift for one, our Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide is...

read more
The Power of Social Proof In Personal Training

The Power of Social Proof In Personal Training

In the world of personal training, where trust and credibility play pivotal roles, the concept of social proof functions as an authentic way to connect with your audience. Social proof, the influence created when individuals see others engaging in a particular...

read more
fitness articles
lifestyle articles
nutrition articles
golf articles


Click to sign-up for weekly information and offers.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

3 Father’s Day Gift Guides

3 Father’s Day Gift Guides

Hi Everyone! I have put together 3 Father’s Day gift guides for you to find some inspiration this year. There is a fitness, under $50 and one that has a bunch of top trending items.

This is a special holiday for us – it is Mike’s first Father’s Day as a dad! I had fun picking out these items and imaging all the father’s in my life using them. I can just see Mike kicked up in the slippers, in front of the fire, sipping whiskey and watching football this fall.

Father’s Day is only a few weeks away so it is time to get serious about your plans. Scroll down and take a look!

Some of these links are commission based.

fathers day fitness gift guide 2021



Mike has the running shoes and loves them. They look great and are comfortable for standing at the gym all day. And these socks are a family favorite. I love them for running and all training. Such great support and cushioning.


fathers day under $50 gift guide 2021


If you are looking for something quick and simple this year, check out these under $50 gifts. I would even take each of these for myself! Take a look at the Stanley flask – if you haven’t ever had a Stanley product you are missing out!

fathers day gift guide 2021



Here I have some perfect Father’s Day gifts for every dad in your life. Mike has this wallet – he got if because he could drive a car over it (practical). But it has RFID protection with is awesome. He also has the magnetic speaker and absolutely loves it for golf.




Fit Finds: The Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide

Fit Finds: The Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide

Welcome to the world of fitness and wellness gifting! As we gear up for 2023, it's time to start setting goals and looking for resources to help us succeed. Whether you're a fitness fanatic or seeking the perfect gift for one, our Ultimate 2023 Fitness Gift Guide is...

read more
The Power of Social Proof In Personal Training

The Power of Social Proof In Personal Training

In the world of personal training, where trust and credibility play pivotal roles, the concept of social proof functions as an authentic way to connect with your audience. Social proof, the influence created when individuals see others engaging in a particular...

read more


Click to sign-up for weekly information and offers.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



The word toning is constantly in the media, but what does it actually mean? It could mean muscle definition, or lean muscle, a low body fat percentage, or slim hips and shoulders, or even long legs. The thing is that it comes down to perspective. 

If you asked 100 people what toning means there would be a wide variety of answers. I am here to tell you that toning is the result of increased muscle definition and decreased body fat. Period. Based on your build this will appear differently.

You cannot beat genetics. Your height, the width of you shoulders, hip size cannot be changed through exercise and diet. But you can control your body fat and lean muscle mass. Although, you may not love the lifestyle that is required. You can read more about the relationship between fitness + weight loss in a recent blog post. The role of genetics and the media are clearly discussed. 

Let’s talk more about how the media, nutrition and resistance training can impact you goals of toning your physique. 

And I share my outfit details at the bottom 🙂

tricep extension for tonig


Every where you look there is a friend, trainer, influencer telling us the secret to a toning. Promising that all we have to do is 5 specific body weight exercises for the best results. 

In reality, there is no scientific proof that there are 5 specific best toning exercises. It is just their opinion. And some opinions might be based on a significant amount of experience and others on just fluff. 

Let’s also remember that achieving a toned appearance is the result of your perspective. And that very perspective has been cultivated over years of experience and exposure. Both in real life and the media. 

It is very easy for a person who carries low body fat and high muscle tone, due to their genetics, to put together a video of their favorite exercises. And for you to fall victim to believing it really is that easy. 

lat pull down for toning


There is a misconception that lifting weights for women will cause a bulky appearance and that only body weight exercises should be used for a toned appearance. Here is the fact, you are limiting your potential by only doing body weight exercises. 

As I said above, toning is the result of increased muscle definition and decreased body fat. Increased muscle definition comes from muscle hypertrophy. And muscle hypertrophy comes from a load being applied to the muscle. A load like weights + resistance. 

And just a little PSA – if you are doing core exercises in hopes of burning body fat in you abdominal region, stop. I am sorry to tell you, but you cannot spot reduce fat. 

Don’t stop doing core exercises, but stop thinking that it is the way to reduce your abdominal fat. You will end up frustrated because of poor results. 

As long as you are doing the core exercises correctly, you are strengthening and defining you abdominal muscles. But the decrease in body fat will need to come from a well rounded approach that includes nutrition, full body resistance training and cardio training. 

bicep curl


It is important that I make one thing clear. As a personal trainer, I cannot give advice about nutrition. My training in undergraduate school was limited. However, I can share some basic principals rooted in science to get you started. 

Before we get to those two principals I want to address nutritions role in a toned physique. Nutrition is a key component to lowering your body fat percentage and having the lean appearance that allows muscle definition to be apparent. 

Because each of our bodies are different the right diet to achieve a toned appearance can be different. It will also be different based on what your perspective of a toned physique is. The more muscle definition you want (think body builder) the more precise your nutrition will have to become. And that might not be the lifestyle you actually enjoy. 


Water intake is more important than we can really understand. I can personally feel a huge difference when I drink over 100 ounces of water in a day. I have more energy, I avoid awful headaches and my productivity is always better. 

That is because water is essential to so many functions of our bodies. Drinking enough water can help to maximize physical performance, increase brain function, and boost skin health. 


Counting calories can be effective tool for weight loss, toning and sports performance. It can also cause a load of negative side effects that can be counter productive. 

Instead of tracking quantity, I focus on the quality of the food I am consuming. I am looking to eat more whole foods and limit processed foods. I try to strike a daily balance between protein, fruits, veggies and starch. 

This is because the nutrients in good quality food will help improve your body’s performance. Allowing for better sleep, better workouts, better brain function

I highly recommend you find a qualified (licensed and/or certified) dietician or nutritionist that has experience working with the goals you have. An educated, experienced professional THAT YOU LIKE will be a game changer. If you don’t like them, or don’t have that “this is the one” feeling you should consider looking around a bit more.

And if you love to track your workouts, food and daily actions you should check out our fitness + lifestyle journal. I love using it to keep myself accountable for my fitness goals, but also my personal and professional goals.

single leg rdl for toning


On to my favorite topic, resistance training. Toning, or increased muscle definition and decreased body fat, is a direct result of consistent resistance training. 

So, to all of those people who are pledging 5 exercises for toned arms in 2 weeks, I am calling BS. A toned appearance is the result of hard work over time. I encourage you to shift your focus from where can I be next week to, where can I be this time next year. The possibilities get bigger with time. 

And just touch back on this idea that women should lift weights because it makes them bulky… women do not produce enough of the hormone testosterone to bulk up like men do. It would require intense nutritional efforts and/or steroids to get to the physique of a man.

But this ties back to perspective. For some toning is long, skinny limbs. For others it is defined shoulders and muscular thighs. 

You can download 5 of our favorite core exercises or our best glute exercises by clicking the appropriate links. 


Outside of the toned appearance you might desire, there are many other benefits to resistance training. And these are reasons alone to start a program.

  • Improve bone density
  • Reduce risk of chronic disease
  • Benefit mental health
  • Improve flexibility and mobility
  • Increase strength

For me the increased confidence, and feeling of empowerment I got from lifting weights is what made me make it a habit. There is something to be said for emotional strength you get with physical strength.

A great piece of equipment for anyone working out at home is a TRX. We recently did a month long cover on how to train with the TRX. Take a look and find the fitness inspiration you need!

shoulder press for toning


Moderate weight and high reps will aid in increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat. Remember, toning is a combination of resistance training, nutrition and cardio. You will want to consider all three as part of the same program. 


Repeat this 5 times using 10 lb dumbbells for every exercise.

  • Deadbugs 20 (one weight in each hand)
  • Glute bridge 20 (weight on hips)
  • Skull crusher and toe touch 20
  • Cursty lunge and SA shoulder press (front squat hold) 15/15
  • Toes out RDL to sumo squat 15
  • Bent over row and tricep kick back 20
  • Reverse lunge with forward press and rotation over knee 10/10
  • Flat back double extension and single extensions 10 (holding 1 DB)

muscle toning split squat


There is always a debate on whether cardio and resistance training can be done in the same session. And the answer is inevitably, it depends on the goal you are working towards. When it comes to toning, they can absolutely be combined. 

By combining cardio and resistance training you can increase calories burned with in a workout by manipulating your heart rate. It is also an effective way to improve your endurance. 

One key point I like to mention is quality of work. Don’t ever sacrifice form and range of motion just to get the work done. 

The good news is that cardio doesn’t mean you need to run 5 miles a day. Check out my blog all about “ How I get my Cardio Training Every Week”. It’s all about cardio training with out long runs or workouts.

You can read more about how to get your heart healthy cardio training done without running in this article

renegade row for toning


I covered a lot in this article, but please take away this one point. Toning is the combination of increased muscle definition and decreased body fat. Definition will come from resistance training for muscle mass and lowering your body fat. Lowering your body fat will come from nutrition, resistance training and cardio. 

If you are looking to tone up your physique this year then follow a program that covers nutrition, resistance training and cardio.


Some of the links below are commission links, where I get paid. The price does not change for you ordering through these links and your support is greatly appreciated!


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Weekend Brunch Egg Bake

Weekend Brunch Egg Bake

This Fall egg bake recipe is absolutely delicious and perfect for a weekend brunch at home. And dare I say it … simple. There is plenty of room for you to customize it to your flavor preferences. For example, I like spicy so I topped mine with sriracha and jalapeños.

I eat a heavily plant based diet. In no way would I consider myself a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I am an odd mix of them. Plus a pescatarian. I love fish & seafood. However, living in the midwest means good fish that hasn’t travel a significant distance is impossible to find. So I limit my consumption.

For my house we went with a plant based sausage. Morning Star Breakfast Patties are the way to go. I haven’t tried a lot of plant based options over the years and this one is my personal favorite. Huge bonus is that Mike, who is mister meat and potatoes, love them too.

egg bake brunch recipe

For this weekend brunch egg bake I threw together spinach, red pepper, onion, garlic and potatoes from my garden. Salt and pepper to taste and boom you have an egg bake.

Now, most people like to incorporate milk and/or cheese into their egg bakes for a wonderful creamy texture. And that is a great idea. I repeat a great idea. My recommendation would be to put in 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 c to 1 c of cheese.

Weekend Brunch Egg Bake

veggie bake with sriracha

I know my egg bake looks even more delicious because I made it in a cast iron pan, but let’s be very honest … you don’t need one. I also make these egg bakes in glass pyrex dishes. USE whatever you have on hand or check out what I used in the equipment section.

This recipe can scale easily. Cut in half to serve for one or double to serve for a larger group. I like to factor 2-3 eggs per person depending on who’s eating.

You can also sauté everything ahead of time and store to use later. I know MANY egg bake recipes say they can be combined and then sit in the refrigerator over night. I can’t see why that wouldn’t work here. However, I have never tried that. So someone please try it and let me know how it goes 😜.

Feeds 2 hungry people | Prep 20 minutes |Bake 20 – 25 minutes



egg bake in progress


  • 6 eggs
  • 2 c fingerling potatoes, cubed
  • 2 handfuls of spinach, rough chop
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 c red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 veggie sausage patties
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • optional: 1/2 milk & 1 c cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop up the potatoes into cubes. Choose a size that will be easy to eat with a little bit of eggs and other veggies. Rough chop the spinach & dice up the red pepper.
  3. Dice up the onion and garlic and start to sauté it over medium heat.
  4. Add in the red peppers and potatoes. Cook until the potatoes start to brown and are soft. Approximately 15 minutes.
  5. While the veggies are on the stove beat your eggs and optional cheese and milk together.
  6. Place the frozen sausage patties into the pan of your choice, just make sure you oiled/greased it, then throw on top the veggies and pour the egg mix over the top.
  7. Pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Optional to start with a piece of tin foil over the top to prevent too much browning and remove it for the last 5-10 minutes.


I can’t stress the oil your pan section enough. If you decide to buy a cast iron skillet make sure you educate yourself on “seasoning” your skillet or prepare yourself for a post egg bake MESS. I have made the mistake, it isn’t fun. And be aware that metal brushes and abrasive cleaners are a no go for the cast iron.

Try incorporating different flavors with seasonings and cheeses. I like to make this with a Mexican twist and put taco seasoning on the potatoes. Then I serve it topped with salsa or taco sauce and avocado. Game changer. Guaranteed.

Keep an eye on your egg bake. Every oven is different. Yours bake time may vary. You also want to be able to keep an eye on the top of the egg bake and cover it with tin foil if it looks like it is getting over done but the eggs aren’t done. This is a problem when you make a full serving in a smaller dish – so the bake is deep.


Basic kitchen equipment is all you need In fact I would bet you have everything you need in your kitchen right now. But if you want to new tools or just curious what I use, take a look. These are affiliate links, which means I make a commission when you purchase, but it does not impact the price you pay 😃.

Shun Knife

My dear friend, Christine ,turned me into a knife snob. She has this line of knives and after one night of cooking with her 5 years ago I was never able to look back. I highly recommend everyone to have one exceptional knife in their house. And more importantly to take care of it.

The Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

My grandmother had a few cast iron skillets and I was enamored by them. It felt like the right way you were suppose to cook. I have since learned that I am likely not a qualified cast iron skillet cook and that I wish my grandmother was still around to drop some knowledge on me. HOWEVER, egg bakes and pull apart bread are two recipes that I make in the skillet.

All-Clad Non-Stick Frying Pan

I have never had a better frying pan. My dad turned me on to the all-clad non-stick line when he asked for one for Christmas. They are more expensive, but you will never have a better experience. From the ease of cleaning to the even cooking temperature, this pan is worth every penny.

I also like a cute kitchen. I know that sounds ridiculous, but there is something about having things neat, organized and cute that make me want to cook. Which is why I love the oil container my friend gave me. It was made by an artist in the PNW. Not pictured is a flowered vase that was my grandmothers. The same OG I was talking about earlier. I keep all of my garlic in it.

Have fun with your kitchen set-up and I swear cooking becomes more fun. I like to mix new items with meaningful and practical to make me feel comfortable and creative in the kitchen.


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