Tone Up Tuesday: Incline Interval Pyramid (of death)


Hey everyone! Today I wanted to share with you some of the new cardio routines I’ve been doing- incline interval training! Yes, it’s about as torturous as it sounds, but the results are well worth the pain. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all the rage in cardiovascular exercise because it increases aerobic and anaerobic fitness as well as shredding subcutaneous and abdominal fat. And, because it’s high intensity, your cardio routines can be shorter and still accomplish a greater calorie and fat burn than traditional cardio. This 20 minute workout will have you more sweaty and svelte than an hour on an elliptical. Better fat burn and in less time? What more could you ask for? I won’t lie to you- it won’t be an easy 20 minutes; You’ll have to push yourself, as the incline really adds an extra facet of difficulty to this interval routine. While most of us are used to running on flat surfaces (especially on the treadmill), running on inclines trains different leg muscles and strengthens them more efficiently than on a flat surface. Surface more, the incline can help strengthen and lengthen your calves– who doesn’t want some sexy, lean calves? This particular torture device of a routine that I’ve created also features a pyramid- starting with a warm up, working up the pyramid in difficulty, reaching the peak of “omg I’m dying,” and then working your way back down the pyramid into a cool down. Inclines? Check. HIIT? Check. Pyramid? Check. Killer cardio routine with a guaranteed sweaty slim down? Check!

So grab a treadmill and your favorite running shoes and get to toning with this incline interval training pyramid. 

It’s Tone Up Tuesday. I’m ready to shred it. How about you?

Incline Interval Pyramid (of death)
0:00-1:00 3mph, 0%
1:00-3:00 7mph, 0%
3:00-3:30 Rest
3:30-4:30 7mph, 3%
4:30-5:00 Rest
5:00-6:00 7mph, 6%
6:00-6:30 Rest
6:30-7:30 7mph, 9%
7:30-8:00 Rest
8:00-9:00 7mph, 12%
9:00-10:00 Rest
10:00-11:00 7mph, 9%
11:00-11:30 Rest
11:30-12:30 7mph, 6%
12:30-13:00 Rest
13:00-14:00 7mph, 3%
14:00-14:30 Rest
14:30-15:30 7mph, 0%
15:30-16:00 Rest
16:00-18:00 6mph, 0%
18:00-20:00 Cool Down


Tone Up Tuesday: H.I.I.T. Me Baby One More Time

HIIT Me Baby One More Time

Hi everyone, it’s Tone Up Tuesday! Today is “TRX Tuesday” for me, but I still wanted to share a workout with you: H.I.I.T. Me Baby One More Time, the high intensity interval training workout routine I did yesterday. Hits you once during and hits you again the next day when you realize how sore you are 😉

Monday’s over, the week is in full swing, no more excuses. Get up, get moving, get toned, get fit, be fabulous always.

❤ Nika

Get Bikini Ready FOR the Pool AT the Pool with this Workout!

Pool Workout

The weekend is upon us, summer is in full swing, and cool water is calling your name. But wait- water means swimsuit… swimsuit means… oh no, all my bits will be on display for all the world to see. Don’t let your jiggly bits, your soft bits, and your squishy bits keep you from throwing on that bikini and heading to the pool because you can tone those jiggly triceps, those soft abs, and those squishy legs IN your bikini AT the pool! Toning and tanning? Um, yes please.

Skinny Dip

Skinny Dip

(a) Skinny Dip- arms extended

(b) Skinny Dip

(b) Skinny Dip

(b) Skinny Dip- arms bent 90 degrees

(b) Skinny Dip- arms bent 90 degrees

Grab a pool chair and place it in front of the pool ladder. Facing the chair, brace yourself with arms extended on the pool ladder and lift your legs to rest them on the chair (a). Perform a tricep dip and lower your body in between the pool ladder until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle, dropping your butt straight down (b). Return your arms to their extended position, pinning your arms against your sides and lats (a).

Poolside Pushup

(a) Plank- arms extended

(a) Plank- arms extended

(b) Pool Float Pushups

(b) Pool Float Pushups

With your chair still in front of the pool ladder, face away from the chair and brace yourself on the handles of the ladder. Bring your legs up behind you to rest on the chair and assume a plank position (a). Lower your chest in between the ladder and perform a pushup (b).

Pool Float Plank

(a) Plank- arms extended

(a) Plank- arms extended

In the same position as the Poolside Pushup, maintain the plank position with arms extended (a). Alternatively, you can perform a plank on the ground, using a pool float as a cushion for your elbows or hands (whichever plank position you prefer).

Bikini Flutter Kick

Go to the pool steps/ladder or hold on to the edge of the pool (harder). Raise your legs to 90 degrees while keeping your core tight and your back flat. Flutter kick your legs alternating between 20 seconds of big kicks and 20 seconds of quick, small kicks.

Sunny Split Squat

(a) Sunny Split Squat

(a) Sunny Split Squat

Assume a split squat position on your pool chair with your right leg resting on the seat of the chair (a). Perform 15 reps and then switch legs.

Toned and Tanned Treading

Hop in the water and tread, tread, tread! Try to keep as much of your body above water as possible!

Sunkissed Sit ups

While in the pool, hook your legs through the rungs of the pool ladder. Crossing your arms over your chest, lower yourself backwards until your back is in the water and sit up. For a challenge, hold your breath and let your torso lower into the water before sitting up- the water will add extra resistance!

Bikini Bottom

(a) Bikini Bottom

(a) Bikini Bottom

While holding on to the pool ladder or the edge of the pool, perform a scissor kick by spreading your legs into a wide V (3) and then bringing your legs back to center and crossing one over the other to make an X (2).

We all have our insecurities, which are often amplified by having to strip down to our skivvies at the pool. However, never let that hold you back from enjoying yourself with some summer fun! We all have our imperfections, but that’s what makes us human! If you have a smile on your face and carry yourself with confidence, no one will notice that extra inch you wish you could lose or that part of your thighs you hate. With this pool workout, you can enjoy some summer fun at the pool and work on those trouble spots so you can look even more slammin’ in that bikini. 

Tone up Tuesday: OMG TRX? IDK, WTF.

For today’s Tone up Tuesday post I thought I would talk a bit about this TRX class I’m always mentioning. I have been taking a TRX class at my YMCA for the past two months 1-2 times per week, and I’m hooked. Not only do I enjoy the class atmosphere and my fellow classmates (I usually workout solo, it gets boring), but I also love the fast-paced, full body workout that combines cardio and body weight strength training. The first time I attended class, I was drenched in sweat and sore for several days (ohhh, poor booty). I was in love. I’m one of those weirdos that likes some soreness every once in a while- it let’s me know I’m actually challenging myself. So let’s talk more about this magical, mystical workout so I can try to get you hooked on TRX too!


Diagram of TRX Suspension System

Diagram of TRX Suspension System

So WTF is TRX? TRX stands for Total Rexistence eXercise and is a suspension training system crafted by Navy Seals. Essentially, TRX consists of two adjustable straps with handles that are attached to an elevated, sturdy anchor. These seemingly simple-looking straps carry a shocking $200 price tag. For this reason, many gyms (like mine) only make the TRX system accessible to patrons during organized classes (much to my chagrin). For this reason, the best way to check out this system is to put your brave big girl panties on and take a class.

If you do decide to invest in a TRX system, know that they are highly portable. The straps themselves weigh very little, and they can be attached to any secure surface- inside, outside, etc. I know someone that has one wrapped over a beam in his garage, while others secure theirs over doors or even on tree limbs!


TRX on Tree Limb So why does TRX make me say OMG? This suspension training system develops strength, core stability, balance, and flexibility in a single workout. TRX encourages compound exercise movements, i.e. those that work multiple body parts at the same time. Furthermore, one has a great range of motion on the TRX, and multi-planar exercises can be performed that challenge the body in new ways and new angles, challenging not only the large muscles, but also the often-neglected supporting muscles and the core. Many TRX exercises target the user’s flexibility, joint stability, and balance, making it a great workout for those looking to improve range of motion and coordination. Furthermore, it has proven a great rehab for getting “back on my feet” after breaking my foot earlier this year. My agility, balance, flexibility, and explosive power took a hit after my break, even after I started walking and working out again. I credit TRX with helping strengthen my broken foot, and I can now perform pylometric, agility, and balance exercises with ease (though I’m always working on improving!).


So now that we know WTF is it and why it’s OMG so cool, IDK what the heck do I actually do on this torture device/junglegym/swing apparatus?! There are hundreds and hundreds of exercises for the TRX, so I’ll introduce you to some solid basics to try out that won’t leave you upside down or face first on the ground.


Basic Squat and Jump Squat

Are you doing squats? No? Wrong answer. If you want a nice ass and you aren’t doing squats, you’re gonna have a bad time. The basic squat on the TRX is great- really focus on your form, not letting your knees go beyond your toes, and really sinking your butt down to the floor (the lower you go, the higher the booty goes). Once you feel comfortable with the basic squat, take it up a notch with some fat-burning plyometrics and add a jump to your squat! We do a lottttttt of jump squats in class. If you want the booty, you’re going to have to sweat for it!

TRX Chest Press

Chest Press

I love me some chest press on the TRX. Normal chest press? Meh. TRX chest press? Hell yeah! Perhaps I like it because it’s reminiscent of a push up in terms of form, but you really get a nice workout fighting gravity on this one. Drop your chest between your handles until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Want more of a challenge? Step back and create a steeper angle with your body (i.e. closer to being “flat” on the ground vs standing up straight).


Push Ups

Did somebody say push ups?! I loveee push ups, hands down my favorite upper body exercise. TRX push ups are the, and have your legs elevated creates an added challenge. For a modified version, you can still keep your knees on the ground- though try the legit version first! It’s really awesome, I promise! Not to mention you’ll feel like a total badass.

TRX Rows


Rows- another solid exercise made more fun by the TRX. Again, you can slide forward to create more of an angle with your body to make the exercise more challenge, or stand more vertical to make it easier. Really focus on pinning your arms to your sides as you come up and squeeze your shoulder blades and back muscles together. We’re bringing sexy back. Yep.



Walk the plank, matey, for a strong core. Normal planks too easy and get boring? Try them on the TRX? You’ll really have to work on your core stability to keep your body from swaying when your feet are elevated- stable core, strong core, sexy core.

TRX Side Plank

Side Plank

Once you’ve mastered the standard TRX plank, roll onto one arm and perform a side plank. Due to your elevated and swinging feet, the side plank on the TRX is quite the challenge. Really strengthen your core by focusing on balancing your body over your midline and stabilizing your core to keep from swaying.


There you have it! An introduction to the TRX suspension system and some basic exercises to get your started. Try these out, challenge yourself, and report back for more advanced exercises on the next Tone Up Tuesday! Hopefully the TRX will become your BFF too…. maybe even your booty BFF- BBFF?

Tone Up Tuesday: Tone on the Go

IMG_2446 IMG_2447

It’s tone up Tuesday! Even if you can’t make it to the gym today, squeeze in a little bit of toning at home or wherever you happen to be! Even while running errands, you can find a rogue piece of exercise equipment to try out 😉 We found this Ab Glide at Meijer and gave it a test while tightening and toning our abs on the go!

Rolling in the Deep (Tissue): Foam Rolling

how I roll

The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep (tissue)

Well, if there’s one thing that can leave me breathless from a combination of relief and “omg someone is legit stabbing me in the ass right now,” it would be the foam roller. I’m a recent fan of the foam roller, as  I was only introduced to its magical possibilities about two years ago. If you have know idea what I’m talking about, do not fear. I, too, cast side glances at that weird cylindrical object. Mmm idk what that is… water weight? Child’s barbell? Torture device? Jane Fonda aerobic accessory? Advanced yoga block? Well, I wasn’t too far off with “torture device,” as the foam roller is one of the best ways to self-inflict what I like to call the Good Hurt. As someone who has had serious spinal issues since the age of seven (thanks gymnastic birthday party! I will literally never forget you now, since you forever destroyed my neck), I have been to countless chiropractors and masseurs trying to soothe my woes. Although this post is about foam roller, I will briefly say that the right chiropractor can do wonders for your spine and back. After some less than great experiences as a child, I found a great practice several years ago that finally got rid of the daily, splitting migraines I was getting as a result of my neck pain… so I totally support chiropracty.


Anyway, as I was saying (sorry, get used to my tangential rants), The Good Hurt is productive pain, when someone finds that spot that makes you leap a foot into the air and contort your body into spastic jerks, but don’t you dare stop until you get that knot out. One of the reasons I stopped seeing the chiropractor so frequently is that I found the best person to date for finding every disgusting knot, bump, lump, and nerve that ailed me. As the reigning master of The Good Hurt, my friend can attest that trying to work on certain spots (mainly around my traps, sub scap, and that bitch of an IT band in my glute/hip) is like trying to massage a spastic, squirming chipmunk. I may lose bodily control of my limbs, but I will take as much of The Good Hurt as I can get, because sometimes the only way to relief is a little pain. However, since that isn’t an option, the foam roller is the best, masochistic replacement for self-inflicted Good Hurt

.All the things

Now, I typically use a very firm high density foam roller, and I get the best results from that. I have also attempted the PVC roller (no, not the PVC wrapped in foam described below, literal PVC piping), and found that a little too ridiculously masochistic from which to derive any benefit. Seriously, it feels like trying to foam roll with a steam roller… I am not asphalt. I started out simple: the spine roll. This is still probably my favorite foam roll move: to sit on the foam roller, recline, and roll slowly from the low back up to the neck. That first pass of the roller will be heavenly, and all the pops and crunches elicited from your spine will be grotesque music to your ears. I find the foam roller to be great for low and mid back issues, but my upper back needs more targeted, precision work (hands, Tiger Tails, etc) to get around my shoulder blades. The foam roller is also great for the booty. I know a butt massage might seem weird, but you have no idea how much tension you carry in your glutes and around your hips and pelvic bone. About two years ago, I was introduced to the wonderful world of ITBS (Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome). Not only does this affect my plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and runner’s knee, it delivers a lovely stabbing pain to my butt. My glute pain is more posterior than lateral (as shown in the picture below), but oh God, is it one of the most painful yet hard to find trigger points I possess. The foam roller is the best way to relieve IT band pain, though the sweating, squeaks of pain, and contorted faces may lead this to be a practice best performed away from startled and concerned fellow gym patrons. Continue reading

Deep Squats: I Found You, Miss New Booty

The Deep Squat

Try this move to get that booty booty booty booty rockin’ errwhere and you’ll be saying “hey there, Miss New Booty.” This is one of my new favorite moves to get a perky butt- you engage more muscles than the typical parallel squat and you can really feel the burn. I like to add in some explosive movement as I return to standing and really pop that booty in as I come up. Yeah, I know, a little hip thrust action in the gym can make you feel like you’re trying to seduce the dumbbell rack, but that pop will help lift and firm your butt. Let’s face it, that’s what we all want! So get low, shawty, and check out this Greatist article for more information on the deep squat, its benefits, and the reasons why it’s actually not hard on your knees (IF you have good form. Never let your knees go over your toes!)

Tone Up Tuesday!

Sorry I rather fell off the map for the past couple of days.  I’ve been feeling under the weather, and between classes and work, I’ve hardly had any time to spare. As Holly Golightly à la Audrey Hepburn would say, I’ve had a case of the mean reds. Guess I need to head on down to Tiffany’s… Or, in my case, the gym. Which is perfect timing, because it’s Tone Up Tuesday! Check out the routine below and workout “with me” today! Since I love you all, I tried to include images for any exercises that might be confusing. As I’ve said before, the ideal would be to photograph or film the workouts myself, but I’m still hammering out the logistics for that. So, until then, enjoy my somewhat jank alternative. 

Tone Up Tuesday 5.20.14

Tone Up Tuesday 5.20.14

May 16: National Bike to Work Day


Tomorrow, May 16th, is National Bike to Work Day! Unfortunately, the weather in the Bluegrass state looks like more dreary rain, so pedaling through puddles at 7am might not be the most appealing way to end your workweek. Even if you can’t bike to work tomorrow, attend a spinning class at your gym or find an exercise bike and complete the interval routine below!

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 5.48.32 PM