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Reader Spotlight: Mike Reaches 512 Push Ups in the Push Up Challenge

14 Dec

Hello Mel Runs readers!  I’m Mike and I took Mel’s Push Up Challenge put forth on Thanksgiving.  She asked me to share what I learned and experienced while taking the challenge.  So I actually started two days late, but felt motivated by all the other participants who were already on Day 3 and pumping out 4 push ups.  Right then and there I dropped to do my 1 push up.  It felt good, though a bit unsatisfying. Just one?  Well I exercised my patience (which is woefully out of shape) and went about my day.

Day 2 came around and I needed a reminder before getting down to do my two push ups.  I finally realized on Day 3, after my four push ups, that I needed an end-game.  Without a stopping point we’d be looking at over 32,000 push ups in one day before the next episode of Top Chef: Texas.  Living in Austin, my goal was obvious: 512  (For the non-Austinites, 512 is the area code here.)  That would mean on Day 10, I’d need to do 512 push ups.  It’s funny, when you think about something like that, 512 is just a number.  Who knows if they can do 100 push ups?  200?  1000?  What’s my ceiling?

I had been following the other challenge-takers on Twitter via retweets.  Seeing others persevere is what kept me motivated day in and day out.  Day 8 (128 push ups) was the first day that required planning.  On all previous days I could knock them out in a single set, up to 32 at a time.  But for 128 I needed to space them out over the course of the day, doing 25 at a time.  It didn’t prove too tough overall, but was always present in my mind.

At last the big day was getting close.  I fell into a bit of a trap with Day 9 to do 256 though.  I was so focused on my big 512 that I got complacent and left about 150 push ups to be done after dinner on Day 9.  It wasn’t pretty, but I cranked eeked them out.  Due to some travel, I postponed my big 512 by a day until I got home.  I actually wrote out a game plan that I tried to follow to get me to my goal.  100 before work, at least 200 at work, and then 200 at home.

I left the house with 112 finished.  Throughout the day I awkwardly stepped into empty conference rooms for about a minute and pumped out 25 push ups at a time.  Unfortunately I only got up to 275 total by the time I headed home.  I found that recovery from each set was taking longer and longer, but while watching TV I’d do two sets of 25 during commercials.  It may have taken until 11pm, and broken into sets of 10, but I finally got all 512 push ups done.

Thanks again to @MelRuns@AustinFit@ATXPierogiTruck@Nicole_Johnson, and @MauroPilates for the support throughout the challenge, and everyone else who participated but wasn’t on the Twitter stream.  No question, without the group holding me accountable, there would be no way I would have kept pushing.  To be honest, I’ve fallen back to my non-push up ways, which primarily focuses on running.  But during the challenge, it felt good to be doing something as part of a group.  I learned that I could do something above and beyond the norm, but it’s just so easy not to.  With the challenge and the group, I was able to do bust through my lazy thoughts and did something pretty cool.  Thanks again!

You can check out Mike’s blog, A Mike’s Life, or follow him on twitter @MikeGalante, to tune into all of his running and eating adventures!

How To Design a 12 Minute Workout

13 Dec

I love helping people discover how to get a great workout in almost as much as I love chocolate (almost). High intensity interval training is such affective type of workout that I’m not sure I can ever go back to just running or spinning classes. Recently, a friend of mine told me she was getting bored at the gym, and didn’t really know what to do there anymore. She wanted to tone up, but hated going from machine to machine–plus she didn’t really know the machines. It sounded exactly like the way I used to think of the gym.

Excited by the opportunity to help her, I grabbed a pen and paper, wrote down six exercises (completely inspired from my bodyrock experience), and told her the timing plan. She tried it that night, and emailed me saying “OMG! I NEVER KNEW SQUATS COULD FEEL LIKE THAT!” Victory!! Now she’s addicted :) . Here’s what I did. I chose 3 exercises that get the heartrate up , and 3 exercises that strengthen different parts of the body.

Her workout looked like this:

  • high knees
  • push ups
  • alternating jump lunges
  • v-ups
  • mountain climbers
  • dumbbell squat press

She did each exercise for 50 seconds, rested for 10 seconds, then went on to the next one. I told her “Do as many reps as you can–eeeeeek out that last one!” She completed the ciruit twice and then was done. This type of training makes you sweaty, burnt out (a good thing if you’re trying to build muscle), and gets out donezo in less than 15 minutes. Amazingness.

Wanna make your own personal high intensity interval training workout? Mix and match from the list below.


  • Choose 3 cardio exercises, and 3 strength exercises. You can do the same cardio exercise 3 times if you’d like, but change up the strength moves based on the areas you’d like to target.
  • List out your choices in an alternating fashion, i.e.: #1 cardio, #2 strength, #3 cardio, #4 strength, #5 cardio, #6 strength
  • Complete your custom workout by doing each exercise down the list. Do the first one for 50 seconds, then rest for 10. Move on to the second one for 50 seconds, then rest for 10, etc.
  • Push with everything you’ve got for each exercise! You really want to push through that last impossible rep and give 110%–this is how a 12 minute workout can be so effective.
  • Complete the whole circuit twice, for a total of 12 minutes of burrrrn baby!

I’ve only listed a few exercises so that I don’t overwhelm you, but I’ll create one big list and have it always available on my site in the future. All of these either require no equipment, or a set of dumbbells (or you can use soup cans, a full backpack, water bottles… get creative!). When creating your workout, you can choose the exercises that target the areas you want to tone up most–but I always try to incorporate squats or lunges, and push-ups–because they’re kickass change makers.


  • burpees
  • jumping rope
  • jumping jacks
  • low jumping jacks (knees bent while doing it–extra leg workout)
  • mountain climbers
  • high knees
  • plus the *starred* exercises in lower body


  • abs
    • bicycle crunches
    • V-ups
    • plank jacks (in plank position, jump legs in and out)
    • vertical knee raises
    • side plank (obliques)
    • straight leg raises (while laying on back–try to keep your lower back pressed into the ground, and lift your legs up and down slowly)
  • lower body
    • *squat jumps (if it’s too hard for you, you can skip the jump)
    • *alternating lunge jumps (step one foot back and squat, then jump and switch the other one to the front–the switch happens mid air. beginners can skip the jump if it’s too hard)
    • lunge forward with alternating legs
    • sumo squats (good for inner thighs)
    • side leg raises (good for outer thighs and booty)
    • side squats
    • squat pulses (in squat position, come halfway up then back down, repeatedly. oh the burn!)
  • upper body
    • push-ups in any variation are an amazing exercise
      • from your knees for beginners (I had to do it this way for 2 weeks until I could do a regular one)
      • with one leg crossed onto the other (alternating)
      • bringing one knee to your elbow on the way down (alternating)
      • elevated feet
      • 3 mountain climbers then into 1 push up (and repeat)
    • dips- either at a dip station or off a bench
    • dumbbell squat press (combo move)
    • mountain climbers and burpees from the cardio list also work arms
    • jump lunge while holding a medicine ball and punching out when in mid-air (combo move)

*Note: I am not yet a certified personal trainer, so please do consult a doctor before engaging in these activities. Thank ya.

Which exercises would you choose?

12 Minute Workout, 10 Minute Lunch, 25 Hour Day

12 Dec

Whew, what a day! Today has been nonstop action from 8am through 4pm, and it’s going to keep going back to back riiiight until I fall asleep. I knew this would be the case as I looked at my calendar last night, so rather than fall into another “Where’s my workout? Nowhere!!” trap, I set my alarm for 6:30am to make sure I put my health first. If I don’t, no one else is. See what I’m sayin? YOU HAVE THE POWER!

too far?…

When it’s a day that I have a deadline or big presentations, I’m very anxious while at the gym just thinking ahead to what I need to get accomplished. This morning I definitely had that “Ah! I need to get working!” feeling, so I made sure to keep my workout short and sweet so that nothing had to get sacrificed and I could stay sane. I chose the Dirty Bit BodyRock routine, ran on the treadmill for seven minutes to warm-up, and then hit the workout with all I had.

The workout itself was only 12 minutes long, but here’s why it was amazing: It’s a mix of intense all-out cardio, with strength training exercises that you do until burn-out. Each exercise goes for 50 seconds in which you do as much as you possibly can, and then you rest for 10 seconds before moving onto the next one. Anyone can do something for 50 seconds, right? Right. By the end of the 12 minutes, I’m out of breath, sweating and I got a full body workout. DONE for the day.

Because I’ve been tracking my progress since I started these workouts months and months ago, I actually was able to compare my reps for this back to when I last did it in July. I’m making progress!! Such a cool feeling to see it written in front of you. Write down your workouts, friends! It’s worth it if just to show yourself how far you’ve come :)

Here was the workout and the stats:

1. High knees with jump rope — these can be done as just high knees if you’re rusty with a jump rope

July: 73, 55 (no rope)

December: 141, 100 (w/ rope)

2. Backwards lunge with weight

July: 24, 22 (no weight)

December: 17. 17 (2o lb weight)

3. High knees with jump rope:

July: 40, 98

December: 127, 110

4. Reverse push-ups

July: 14, 14

December: 18, 15

5. High knees with jump rope:

July: 96, 77

December: 92, 100

6. Monkey push up and jump

July: 7.5, 7

December: 8, 9

After my workout, I ran upstairs and started the workday that was ahead of me. My ten minute breakfast and lunch today were broken up into three meals, because my schedule had odd short breaks in it.

8am: 2 eggs, an orange, and turkey bacon

5 minute breakfast

10:30am: oatmeal made in the microwave with almond milk, half a banana and goji berries


1pm: chicken sausage and a Caesar salad (toasted the sausage in toaster oven, and let’s face it: Caesar salad is romaine lettuce with bottled dressing, amiright? it was ready in 5 minutes. love chicken sausage).

 chicken sausage and salad lunch

I probably have another 10 minute mini meal in my near future, and then dinner. But I’m glad these 10 minute short-stop saves are working! I haven’t put my hand in the cerea box once today. Here’s to making it work :) .

What’s your favorite 10 minute lunch?

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