Alright ladies! You’ve heard it before.. it takes 21 days to change a habit right? This week, I decided to write a list of my top 21 fitness tips to incorporate into your daily routine for the hottest, healthiest body you’ve ever had! Now, I realize it’s difficult to implement all 21 new habits simultaneously, so I challenge you to add one new habit per day for 21 days! Here they are:
Question for Ashley Kaltwasser:
I wanted to email you because I need a hand doing up a meal plan…if possible. I know what my intake should be to maintain weight, but I also like the idea of having “lower carb” days. I have problems making up meals that fit the goals and macronutrient intake. I am lean already, however need to be a little more “shredded” if you may, in the abdominal area in particular, as I want those abs to just pop out more!!! Are you able to help me out?
Any muscle group, but especially abs will become more prominent the leaner we get. Sometimes all we need is consistency and time. We are all different, some of us will lean out faster in certain areas than others. I’ll take myself for example, my midsection is where I seem to lean out first while my upper thighs seem to be the stubborn area.
When training abs, it seems like our lower abdominal muscles are the ones that get neglected the most. You can incorporate exercise movements such as reverse crunches and Roman Chair leg raises to fix this imbalance.
I too am I believer in carb cycling. I think it’s great to trick your body and keep it guessing! Save the lower carb days for low intensity training or cardio only days. For hard training days (such as legs) bump up the carbs, your body will love it!
I get cravings at night after dinner. What are some healthy snack ideas for these times?
Some of my favorite low calorie snack ideas are-
Celery dipped in mustard or salsa
Cucumber slices with stevia sprinkled on top
Crispy cauliflower (steam first then bake in oven til crispy, add seasonings of choice)
Sugar free jello
The only time I really have to work out is in the morning, but it’s so difficult for me to get up and work out that early! I have such good intentions the night before, but once that alarm clock rings, the snooze button is my friend. Any motivational ideas or tips to get up in the morning to work out?
Try taking caffeine upon waking up. If it’s more convenient for you, you can also the caffeine in capsule form.
Make sure that your alarm (or phone) is placed across the room and not in arms reach of where you sleep. This will force you to actually get up and walk across the room rather than laying in bed. Be sure the volume is set to high!
Change your alarm tone to a song that really gets you motivated and pumped up!
Lay out your workout attire and gym items the night before. This will eliminate one step in the morning and maybe it will encourage you not to procrastinate.
Glute training mistakes are more common than I originally would have thought. I saw this more and more when I began travelling and working out in different clubs. In fact, I’d say I see mistakes with glute exercises for women in about 60 to 80% of the people out there.
If you’ve been doing buttocks exercises as hard as you can but not getting the results you want, then this article is for you. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, knowing the 6 biggest mistakes that I see is going to help you improve your workouts as soon as your next glute day arrives! We’ll cover every phase of glute training, from improving mobility to training intensity and frequency.
Glute training mistakes #1: Making squats and deadlifts your primary glute exercises
Squats and deadlifts are NOT primary gluteal muscle exercises. Let’s first get that out of the way! I did an interesting survey once and found that 60% of the people had squats and deadlifts in their top glute exercises. Now, do squats and deadlifts work the gluteal muscles? They can. Those exercises pretty much work a wide group of muscles. That’s why they’re called multi joint exercises. Some girls will even swear that their glutes burn after these exercises. I have to admit that I can sometimes feel a great buttock burn when I do my deadlifts.
But, they aren’t the primary glute exercises. Research over the last few years are showing that there are SPECIFIC strengthening exercises that you should be focusing on if you’re goal is to target the glutes. Here is a list of these exercises. Are you incorporating exercises like these into your glutes training programs?
- Hip Thrust
- Quadruped Exercises
- Back extensions
- Single leg hip thrusts
Now that doesn’t mean you should quit doing squats and deadlifts. You can add several different variations to these exercises to target more glutes and less quads. You can find those variations, in addition to 24 more key points in my 25 point checklist to showstopping glutes in 4 weeks.
Glute training mistake #2: Starting glute training days with squats and deadlifts
Most people will combine their leg and glute workout on the same day. That’s okay. However, if you’re main focus is on buttocks training, try starting with your glute exercises first. Research also seems to back up this concept. It turns out that if you’re training a group of different muscles, the order of the exercises is important in what specific outcome you’re looking to achieve. If you’re doing chest and biceps exercises (just an example), the muscle that will see the best results will be based on which exercise is done first.
Wanting to get more out of your back on a back and biceps day? Work the back muscles first. Same goes for glutes. The glute strength exercises come first.
Glute training mistake #3: Not doing hip thrusts
Just as important as realizing that squats and deadlifts aren’t primary glute exercises, one should also realize just how effective hip thrust exercises are. I always say that the hip thrusts are the new squat. That means it should be the new ‘cool’ exercise that everybody should be doing. It LOOKS cool! You’ll have heads turning when you do the hip thrusts. But, I rarely see this being done in most of the gyms I go to. That’s a shame because it’s probably the BEST glute development exercise you can do.
I know there are some obstacles that get in the way of doing a proper hip thrust. First of all, there are a lot of ladies that are uncomfortable having the barbell dig into their hips. That’s why you need to get a thick pad. If your club doesn’t have a thick pad, BUY one and bring it to the gym. It will be THAT effective if you get a thick pad.
Another obstacle is the mindset that one can’t lift a lot. Due to the positioning of the exercise, people are cautious about doing too much for fear of hurting themselves. However, the opposite is true. Girls who start hip thrusts are surprisingly shocked with the amount of weight they can increase to after doing it for several weeks. Just note that you’ll need to keep pushing yourself with this exercise. It’s probably the one ‘miracle’ exercise that I keep in my list.
Not doing hip thrusts? Start!
Not comfortable with doing them? Then start with glute bridges, 1 leg bridging exercises and progress to using a dumbell instead of a barbell. Use thick elastic bands instead of a barbell. There are many ways to start hip thrusts so you can progress safely and comfortably.
Progression Alternatives Leading to Barbell Hip Thrust:
- Glute Bridges
- One legged Bridging
- Bridging with Dumbell
- Bridging with Thick Elastic Bands
- Finally, Barbell Glute Bridge (Hip Thrusts)
Glute training mistake #4: Performing Glute Exercises Only Once Per Week
The glute is a pretty large muscle. There are actually three different glute muscles but overall, it’s a fairly large muscle. And glutes respond well to the volume of exercise. For that reason, it’s important to pencil in your buttock workouts AT LEAST twice per week, if not three times! The more the better.
I usually like to give my gluteal muscles a day of rest, so I stagger my workout days. However, I’ve seen some utilize gluteal muscle training on consecutive days. Remember, if you’re TOP body parts to address are glutes, then do more glutes.
Glute training mistake #5: Not Understanding the Phases of Glute Development
By now, you’re realizing that there’s a large variety of different training exercises. Some require bodyweight training, while others require using heavier weights in strange positions! Since there’s such a variety, it’s very easy to get lost in exactly what to do. I find that a lot of girls tend to gravitate towards the exercises that are the most ‘comfortable’ for them.
For example, are you the type that has always done a lot of bodyweight type of exercises, like Yoga and Pilates? If so, you’re going to be doing more of the bodyweight glute exercises and delay any progression to heavier weighted exercises.
Or are you the type that likes to go as hard as you can with your exercise program? You may focus solely on doing the hardest exercises with the most weight. This is a minority of girls, but it’s still a group that tends to begin overlooking the bodyweight type of exercises. You may believe that ‘the more you lift, the better results you’re going to get.’ You may have been told this by a trainer or another lifter. In certain cases, this is true. Lift more, get better results.
With glute development for women, however, its’ a combination of all these exercises that are going to give the BEST results. Did you know that some of the bodyweight exercises lead to more glute muscle contraction than even heavy squats and deadlifts? They are THAT good!
Which leads me back to the phases of glute development training. There are different phases you should be aware of, regardless if you’re beginning or are more experienced.
PHASE 1: Assess proper hip mobility, flexibility and proper muscle activation
The first phase is to make sure you have proper glute activation, hip mobility and lower extremity flexibility. Every time you do a glute exercise, you need to focus on contracting these muscles. You also need to make sure you have proper flexibility in your hip flexors. With all these, including proper hip mobility, you’ll better be able to contract and focus on making sure your glutes are doing the work. In my 12 week bikini transformation program, I actually make sure that everyone starts with a 2 week Preparation stage even before beginning their weight training program. It’s THAT important.
PHASE 2: Proper movement patterns through bodyweight exercises
Here is where the bodyweight exercises are so important. Every rep you do, you’ll need to perform it the right way. For example, when I’m trying to perform a quadruped exercise, I sometimes have a tendency to tilt my pelvis. But over time, this gets easier. It’s something that I have to be conscious about. The tendency is to ignore the basics of the exercise movements when you’ve been doing them for awhile. Being able to solely focus on proper movement patterns is going to SIGNIFICANTLY increase your glute results. Don’t half ass (pun is intended LOL) the movement of these exercises!
PHASE 3: Progressing to heavy weight load exercises
This is the phase that everyone should be progressing to. You’re going to see a lot of gains by doing heavier weighted exercises. But don’t progress so quickly that you ignore your bodyweight exercises. The key here is to focus on the volume of exercises in addition to exercise intensity. I came up with the Training Trinity Principles in my 12 week bikini transformation program to explain the key concepts required to be successful.
Glute Training Mistake #6: Not increasing the VARIETY of exercises
Let me know if the following describes you.
You discover some great gluteal strengthening exercises to do.
You add them to your program.
Everyone compliments you on your great workout routine.
You feel great!
6 months later, you’re doing the SAME exercises.
The comfort has set in. That’s the hardest part of exercising. You become comfortable with your training routine. That’s exactly the wrong way to train! Adding a variety to your exercises is critical. Its not like you’re going to do completely new exercises every week or month. Change things up. Then add back the exercises you did months before. Adding a variety is critical to working your glutes to it’s fullest potential.
I’m sure most of you have heard about ‘changing up your exercise program’. I figure it’s common sense. However, there’s one critical mistake that everyone misses when they follow this rule. You may change the exercise, but you’re forgetting to change the angle.
THERE IS A TENDENCY TO CHANGE THE VARIETY OF EXERCISES BUT NOT THE ANGLE OF EXERCISE
For example, you may be doing hip thrusts (i hope so!). You decide to also add bridging exercises. You figure that adding ‘more exercises’ as in this case will make your workouts better. However, the ANGLE of exercise is the same. When I mention angle, I’m also talking about whether an exercise is done in a horizontal or vertical position, and prone or supine positions.
Hip thrusts and bridging exercises are all done in a horizontal direction while in a supine position. If you’re going to increase the variety of exercises, consider adding a prone exercise, such as the quadruped. Consider adding a vertical exercise, like an American deadlift.
Are you following the logic here?
That’s why I cringe when I see an entire workout done in a vertical position. Someone may start with squats (vertical position), progress to deadlifts (vertical position) and finish off with lunges (again, vertical position!). The key is to add a variety of different exercises.
One legged bridge
Go through your own exercise program and see if you’re making one of these 6 glute training mistakes. You can easily modify your program to make sure you’re avoiding these mistakes during your next glute workout. It’s surprising how making small changes in your program can lead to significantly better results. That’s why I always keep my handy 25 point glute checklist with me to make sure I’m always reminded of the proper principles of training so I can continue to avoid these glute training mistakes.
“For online coaching, email me at AshleyKfitCoaching@gmail.com
Hey guys, I get a lot of questions when I’m doing training seminars or meet a lot of great people when I’m on the road. I thought I’d take some time and post some of them here. Thanks!
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in fitness?
I have always been an extremely athletic and competitive person. I come from a track and field background, I ran the 400 meter hurdles all throughout college. Once I was finished with college, I needed a new outlet to compete. I found the NPC Bikini Division and was hooked ever since! My career has quickly progresses since my days as an amateur.
2. Women tend to stay away from weights, fearing they’ll “get too big”. What would you say to girls who tend to think this way?
It takes a lot of hard work to gain muscle mass, it surely doesn’t happen overnight! I would tell them not to fear lifting heavy. Guys can’t have all the fun, now can they?!
3. What’s an average day like for a professional athlete at your level?
With travel, it wasn’t as consistent as you might think. It seems like sometimes I am away more than I am home. But that doesn’t mean there is a lack of structure. My typical day varies depending on if I am away or home.
Here’s my typical training day when I’m at home:
Upon waking, I eat my first meal and answer emails for about 30 minutes. Then I get ready to kick off my day with a sweat session at the gym.
Before heading to the gym, I pick up a medium black iced coffee, and adds in a scoop of Gaspari Nutrition IsoFusion with some Stevia. This is often time my “pre-workout mix” before lifting.
Once I get to the gym, I hit weights for about an hour and perform some post-workout stretching, and then I consume my next meal. After some bikini posing with my coach, I get back on the computer for Skype posing sessions with some clients. Once finished, I head back home to eat another meal.
After doing some work on my “FitnessRX Women” articles and posting on social media, I get in another meal before heading back to the gym for HIIT cardio, stretching, and foam rolling.
Once the gym is over, I may run some errands, then head back home to relax, take a shower, and either watch TV or browse social media feeds. Before day’s end, I have my last meal and I head off to bed.
4. How does your diet, supplementation and training plan change between on and off-season?
I slowly add in more calories in the off season. Most of which are coming from carbohydrates and fats. I will allow myself to have cheat meals two times a week in the off season as well. Training is intense in both the in season and off season. I will slowly ween myself off of cardio in the off season to the point that I am not doing cardio at all.
5. To young athletes that go to the gym, aspiring to develop a physique such as yours, what’s the best piece of advice you can give them?
Train smart. You must realize that this is a slow process and that you must be patient to see quality improvements. Changes do not happen overnight, you must stay consistent.
Image source: flickr
By Ashley Kaltwasser
How our morning goes sets the mood for the day, right? To start the day off on the right foot, many fitness fanatics begin the day with morning cardio. But, what happens if you’re not an early bird? We all have days where we just drag ourselves out of bed. However, we don’t have to let drowsiness ruin the day. Try my tips and tricks to starting your day off right and on time!
1. Don’t skip breakfast. Always make time to eat. Make sure you have healthy food items handy in case you’re running late and don’t have time to make breakfast. A protein bar and some almonds would be a great example! One of my favorite quick, energy-filled breakfasts is a scoop of Gaspari Nutrition’s IsoFusion vanilla protein powder in my iced coffee that I get on my way to the gym. I will usually have this with a serving of fruit, like a banana.
2. Find the right motivation. Becoming an early bird is as easy as figuring out what would motivate you to want more time in the morning. How about spending a few more minutes at breakfast with the family? Or what about a little “me time” to reflect and plan the day ahead? Or how about the idea of dropping a few pounds by getting in your morning cardio session consistently?
3. Get as done much as you can the night before. For example, set out your clothes for the day and pack your lunch, so you can wake up and take on whatever it is you have planned for your morning.
4. Power down before bed. Spending time in front of a TV or computer screen before bed can disrupt sleep. Turn off these items roughly an hour before bedtime, so you can get a great night’s sleep and wake up rested.
5. Expose yourself to some natural sunlight upon waking up. Once you’ve awakened, open the blinds and allow some sunshine in. This will improve your mood for the day and motivate to get yourself going! Sunshine makes people happy. You can even have your breakfast on the porch, if weather permits.
6. Skip the snooze button. Place your alarm clock (or phone) on the opposite end of the room that you are sleeping in. The way you have to physically walk to turn it off.
7. Wake up to your favorite music. Set your alarm to your favorite good-mood songs.
8. Try an energy-boosting supplement. I use Gaspari Nutrition’s DetonateXT to help me perk up in the mornings.
9. Stretch it out. Take 5 minutes to do some light stretching upon waking up.
Start making changes in your early morning rituals today—you will begin to feel more feel fresh, awake and alert! Remember, it takes about 3 weeks to make a habit! Let me know how it goes and please share any tips you have!
Hello FitnessRX for Women viewers! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, so I think I am past due to write one. I have been on vacation lately. Yes, that’s right…a three week vacation! I visited Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and finally San Diego. I felt like it was good for me to get out and have fun before I buckle down into strict Olympia mode. During my vacation, I did a lot of exciting things such as going to 6 Flags, botanical gardens, my FIRST EVER concert, went to a pool party in Vegas, Sky Jumped off of the Stratosphere, I gambled, attended a Birthday celebration, went paddle boarding on the ocean, rode bikes on the shore and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
The great thing about this vacation was that I enjoyed myself yet I still kept it healthy and fit. For example, I ate out at a restaurant once or twice EVERY DAY that I was away. I kept most of my meals pretty reasonable, but I did have a few much deserved cheats too! I ordered a lot of salads and grilled meats, and I usually skipped out on dessert. I got a lot of great workouts while away also. I went to many different gyms to train while I was away. It was fun to switch up the workout equipment and atmosphere.
…and now I am back home to the normal life, just in time to start my Olympia prep. I usually start contest prepping around 8 weeks out. To kick start my prep, I started taking Gaspari Nutrition’s DetonateXT. This is a Thermogenic amplifier that decreases craving and boosts the metabolism. I feel like is give me good clean energy for my workouts.
At this point, I’ve started to add cardio into my regimen (I try to lay off the cardio during off season but keep the lifting heavy). Currently, I weight train about 5 days per week with 4 sessions of HIIT cardio. This will increase as I get closer to the show. I am getting great workouts on the Stepmill and the Jacobs Ladder. I also frequently attend bootcamp classes at my gym.
This season, at 8 weeks about I have decided that a goal of mine is to run a 5k race at least once every two weeks. I love running 5ks. I feel like they are a great workout and are a lot of fun at the same time. This is probably because I am such a competitive person!
I am looking forward to competing this September at the Olympia. I get butterflies just thinking about it! I would love to be the first IFBB Bikini Athlete to be a repeat winner. I will keep you guys updated with my progress and more on my journey to the O!