3 Pull-Up Workouts for Grins and Gains – Beginner to Advanced

Let me tell you why I love pull-ups so much. Pull ups are convenient, you only need a bar or grips to hang from. Pull-ups are a compound exercise that target multiple muscles at once for maximum gains. Pull-ups never get boring because there are so many different varieties — plain, kipping, l-sits, fat-grip, rope, etc. 3 Workouts for Pull-Up Grins and Gains

Check out these Three Workouts for Pull-Up Grins and Gains and get going! There is something for everyone, from beginners to pull-up pros! I use the ability to “pull up” all the time while competing in Spartan and other obstacle course races, how do you think you get over those 10 foot walls or up a rope?  Continue reading

How Many Pull Ups Should I Be Able to Do?

How many pull ups should I be able to do? To answer this question, you honestly need to ask yourself, how many pull ups do I WANT to do and am I willing to put in the practice? As mere mortals, we are all limited in the number of unbroken reps we can or will ever be able to complete. But, if you are hungry to do more than just hang from the bar, your potential in this body weight exercise can be maximized with daily practice, strength-training, skill improvement, and an “eye of the tiger” attitude.How Many Pull Ups Should I be Able to Do?

While I’ve never been an advocate of judging one’s self against others, sometimes seeing where you stack up against others can be motivating.  Read on to find out how many pull-ups girls, boys, women and men should be able to complete according to various sources. Continue reading

Pre Workout Stretches to Lessen Hand Pain + Curamin® to #StopPainNow

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. All opinions are mine alone. #StopPainNow #CollectiveBias

As a growing-older yet still goal-oriented athlete, I decided it was about time to give the finger to my chronic hand pain. Stiff hands and sore thumb joint was making it increasingly difficult to enjoy and compete in the sports I love, like obstacle course racing and Crossfit. Even yoga, which had once been a source of relaxation had become stressful as I could no longer splay my hands out flat on the ground without significant discomfort.curamin stop pain now

But, thankfully, I found Curamin® Stop Pain Now, a safe, effective, non-addictive herbal formula that has gotten me back in the literal and figurative game. Read on to learn more about how this #1 selling brand can be your first line of defense against chronic pain. Also, check out my Pre-Workout Hand Stretches to Lessen Pain for even more relief.

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5 Tips to Improve Double Unders  + Giveaway Courtesey XShadyside Pittsburgh Gym

Jumping rope sounds like child’s play, but it’s a fierce workout that requires cardio-vascular endurance, coordination and razor focus. But, if turning the rope in a single rotation isn’t challenging enough, give your game new “ups” with double unders.5 Tips to Improve Double Unders - ideas to help your  jump rope skills take off for Crossfit and other workouts.

Read on to find tips that will help you up your Double Under game . . . and also enter my giveaway (sponsored by a Pittsburgh Gym I’ve partnered with) for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get new gear (like maybe a fancy jump rope). Continue reading

Making Muscles & Memories – Fitness & Food Recap 2016

Welcome to my end-of-year 2016 recap and thank you sincerely SO MUCH for taking the time to visit my blog today, this year, in years prior! If this is your first time to swing by, I hope you’ll make yourself at home, click around and discover a workout, recipe, nutrition tip or tutorial that will help you get further down the path on your fitness and healthy living journey. My passion is to create healthy but “real-life” recipes and inspire peeps of all ages and abilities to eat better, move more and try new things.

Jennifer Fisher - Run for the Water 2016

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All the Holiday Health Tips “Yule” Ever Need!

All the Holiday Health Tips "Yule" Ever NeedGuzzle before Goodies: Drink a big glass of water and, if the meal or party is going to start after a scheduled meal time, eat a protein bar or other small protein-rich snack (around 200 cal) to tide you over. Time after time, I’ve read “eat a meal before heading out” as this will fill you up so that will not be tempted to overindulge on drinks and goodies at a holiday party. Um, unless you have willpower of steel, this doesn’t work – at least not for me. I always end up giving in with the “what the heck, it’s only once a year mindset” and, while it’s okay to splurge every now and then, but having consumed a full dinner (even if deemed “healthy”) just means you’ve gotten a head start on over-eating.

The Gift of Protein: Make sure you are not just using your entire calorie budget on all the wonderful baked treats of the season at the expense of eating enough protein. While pancakes, homemade breads, cookies, pies and more deserve a little attention this time of year, you can’t fuel a healthy lifestyle without adequate protein. Aim to get at 25 to 30 grams at EVERY meal, starting with breakfast, and also a couple 10 gram-ish protein snacks if you’ve been active during the day. Research has shown that consuming adequately timed and spaced protein not only helps with muscle management, but can moderate hunger and help you avoid over-snacking later in the day or evening.

cutting-sheet-pan-maple-beef-sausageBy the way, you have to check out my new Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage recipe — it’s a less mess, less stress way to make a batch of protein for a holiday crowd. It tastes yummy and sure beats slinging bacon or links all morning.

Moderate your Mixology: Drink in moderation or, even better, don’t drink alcoholic beverages, heavy eggnogs or sugary punches at all. Wine, beer and other adult beverages are very high in carbs and calories, partying all night will take its toll in so many ways . . . I won’t preach. If and when I decide to have a drink, I limit myself to one and then turn to sparkling waters with a splash of juice or infused with fruit. I have also turned ONE drink, into two by halving the liquor or wine portion and topping off with a low-cal liquid.

Exercise Anywhere: Regardless whether stuck in a car travelling or in your mother-in-law’s lair, find a way to move about and sneak in a little exercise – even if just in 5 minute increments.  We always pull over every hour on the road (for potty stops) and to bust out some roadside jumping jacks and burpees – I’m not kidding.  When visiting relatives and out of your normal fitness routine, suggest that the group head out for a walk to see holiday lights or start up a friendly game of flag football. There are also lots of home workouts that need little or no equipment when snowed it. Also, check out my 40 Fitness Hacks for the Holidays or my Wrapping Paper Tube Workout  – a graphic below, but also a video (seriously)!

Wrapping Paper Roll Workout - TheFitFork.com

Let Go of the Guilt: Despite the tips, the biggest tip is to enjoy the season and the quality time with family and friends. Many of us striving to live in the healthiest way we know how, often forever deny some of our past pleasures. If you want a slice of chocolate cake, have it! If you want a steaming mug of strawberry honey white hot chocolate, have it! If you’ve missed a few days or even a week of  your normal workouts, fuggetabout it! We all deserve a break and time to recharge – a short time of splurging and relaxing over the holiday season isn’t going to set you significantly back (if at all).

What are your holiday plans?! What are you doing to stay active? What is your favorite splurge (mine is banana bread with absolutely no healthy modifications 😉 Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer  

Get a Grip Workout + ‘Tis the Spartan Race Pass Season #Giveaway

Note: After you “get a grip” make sure you pop all the way down on this post to find out about 2017 Season Passes for Spartan Race (hurry, they are rumored to sell out soon) an also to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a free Spartan Race registration. 

If you’re not training grip, you’re likely sabotaging any chance getting through a Spartan Race burpee free. Reflect back to your last race and count up the number of obstacles that require a strong and lasting grip. These grip-intensive obstacles include the rig, the monkey bars, the bucket carry, the rope climb, the Tyrolean traverse, Tarzan swing, wall jumps, and, lemme see, nearly everything . . . including shaking hands on the podium!

Grip Training for Spartan

By adding grip-training exercises to your workout a few times per week, you can achieve lower-arm and grip gains which will increase your strength to handle more weight and more reps  — or, basically hold on longer! The muscle guys in the gym swear by grip training maximize strength and size, but don’t worry girls – I work out my grip often and don’t have Popeye-sized forearms, pretty sure you have to be genetically predisposed or questionable supplement enhanced for that to happen.

There are three types of grip including. support grip (hanging and holding), crush grip (clenching and squeezing) and pinch grip (pinching). Training these different grips oven overlaps one another, but here are some basic categories of grip-strength exercises:

Hanging – Try to hang from any surface with shoulders fully extended, in the “deadhang” position until failure. Grab onto a variety of surfaces (safety first) including traditional pull-up bars, fat bars, the ends of towels or functional straps (like GripSling … use code thefitfork20 to save 20%) ropes, tree limbs, rafters, vertical pipes — each provides a different challenge to the grip.

Dead hang for grip strength.

Lifting – Grip is always involved in lifting, unless you are doing legs on a machine. The fatter the bar used in your lifts, the more difficult it will be on your grip. That’s why those chubby monkey bars at Spartan Race are harder than the garden variety playground version. A wider diameter bar redistributes stress from the joints and onto the muscles as the weight is transferred to a larger area of the hand.  If your gym has a fat bar, try it. Or, purchase special grips to slide on (check out Fat Gripz), or simply wrap a strap or towel around the bar.

Carrying – Practice carrying objects of different sizes and poundage, your body will have to adjust accommodate the varying loads. Of course, the whole body is involved in toting stuff around, a strong grip can help you hold more and go further. Carries to practice include farmer carry with plates, dumbbells, kettlebells or any other luggable item with a handle. For greater grip gains, try threading a towel through the handle and carry grasping onto the ends of the towel. Also, practice carrying non-handled, heavy objects such as sandbags, pancakes, loaded buckets from the base.

Farmer Carry with a towel for grip training.

Pinching – Improve your pinch grip, and hopefully maintain contact with the Z Wall or Horizontal Climb obstacles, by mastering exercises that require maintaining contact with an item placed between thumb and fingers while leaving palm open. Classic pinch grip exercises include the one hand pinch plate, two hand pinch plate and pinch plate curls.

Pinch Plates exercise for grip strenth.

Example: Pinch Plates

Farmer Carry with a towel for grip training.

Example: Plate Curls

Crushing – Maximize your crush grip strength by squeezing grippers, tennis balls or beer cans. I also think the mobility balls from ACUmobility work pretty well for gripping — save 20% with code AcumobFitFork Look at that grimace below, I’m having my crush grip strength measured.

jennifer-fisher-thefitfork-com-death-grip-fittest-fitfluential

Get a Grip Workout will strengthen your lower arms for better obstacle crushing in Spartan and other obstacle course races.

So, ready to give grip training a try? Work in any of the methods I’ve described above, or try this “Get a Grip Workout” I like to do every week.  Use the appropriate poundage for your strength and frame, and progress slowly – these exercises are way harder than they sound, and honestly, the first few sessions you may think nearly impossible (or at least I did).  For those who’ve crushed the workout, I’ve added challenge modifications – have fun!

Spartan Season Pass 2017

Also, before I slip away for my Spartan training, I wanted to tell y’all to HURRY and get your Spartan Race 2017 Season Passes ASAP, they are very likely to sell out quick. Thankfully, there are three Season Pass options – Trifecta Pass, Open Pass and Elite Pass – so one should suit your level of crazy. I opted to get my husband and I each the Trifecta Season Pass – it’s good for three races in any division (elite, competitive and open) and comes with additional perks. It can be used for Beast, Super and Sprint – but the fine print actually says you do any three distances of your choosing, even if all the same.  The Open and Elite Passes are more expensive, but your get #ALLTHESPARTANALLTHETIME

So, head over and get your Spartan Race Season Pass today – it also makes a great holiday gift for the obstacle course fan in your life. Meanwhile, enter my giveaway for a code for FREE entry into a Spartan Race of your choice (U.S. Open Division only). But, don’t let entering stop you from getting the Season Pass – if you win, you can use it to encourage a significant other, one of your children or a buddy to try his or her first race!

Disclaimer: Giveaway and promotion of Season Pass sponsored by Spartan Race, however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own.
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30 Min. Treadmill Chipper for Spartan Obstacle Course Race Training

Soartan Black Friday SaleBefore we jump into the workout, let’s chat about other important stuff this season – like shopping! There is a Black Friday sale and all sorts of Daily Deals going on at the Spartan Race Shop. I just got my hubby this 2016 Trifecta Shirt (I hope he’s not reading this). Also, most Spartan Races are 25% off with the code HOLIDAY (through 11/27) and then after that the code FINISHER will always get you 10% off. Who wants to Race Spartan With Me?!  Aroo! spartan-super-austin-barb-wire-jen Typically, I’d say a legit Spartan or obstacle course racer prefers the challenges of exercising outdoors, rather that indoors. In the wild (even if it’s just your backyard), you can react to the obstacles and hurdles Mother Nature throws down in the path, and these are always changing! Unfortunately, the problems of a super-scheduled, modern-day life can prevent Tarzan swinging over rivers and slithering on your stomach through misty mores. That is, unless your place of employment or car pool pick-ups don’t care if you show up for service wallpapered in stickers and swamp mud. That’s when a treadmill becomes a necessary evil in your training battle plan. Of course, die hard obstacle course racers will train in the elements, whatever they may be – rain, sleet, ice and snow. It makes sense to add these uncomfortable weather days in every now and then, to acclimate for potential race day conditions. However, there is no reason to put yourself in harm’s way, Get nailed by lightning or run over by a bus that didn’t see you in a downpour and you’ll not be chanting “Aroo” come race day.

No need to suffer needlessly to prove your toughness, although some might say the treadmill is more pain-invoking than any trail – haha!  In the winter, wind and dark of night, I need a little more “comfort” and convenience and the treadmill keeps me on task with my  running, OCR and Spartan training plans.   Mountain Climbers on Treadmill  (Above) Mountain Climbers on the treadmill (belt will just move w/o turning on) 

So, for safety, convenience and comfort, I will frequently knock out obstacle course training on a treadmill Today, I’m sharing a full-body workout (a 30 Minute Treadmill Chipper) that will challenge your limits and make you more unstoppable and unbreakable and undeniably more race ready than yesterday. Exercises like Burden Runs and Mountain climbers on a treadmill get you ready for the demands   conquering an obstacle course race – like bucket carries, sandbag hoists, rock climbing, bear crawling and more.  Do you accept the challenge? Good, I thought you would! Treadmill Burden Run  (Above) Burden Run on the treadmill, switch carry sides as needed.

So stop looking at the treadmill as the weenie way to get in your workout. A good treadmill can give you so many workout options that will challenge your stamina, raw strength and relentless grit. 30 Minute Spartan Training Chipper for Treadmill will keep your training on task in inclement weather, during travel or incovenient hours. Disclaimer: Please note that the treadmill is being used in a manner not “prescribed” by most manufacturers, so you will use extra caution, right?!

Description of 30 Minute Treadmill Chipper exercises:

  1. Warm Up Run: Set treadmill on 0% incline and jog at a slower, comfortable pace to warm up.
  2. Incline Push-Ups:  Turn treadmill belt off and hold onto handles, facing console. Form a straight line with your body and bend at elbows to perform a pushup, bringing chest towards console and engaging triceps. Pause, and then push back up.
  3. Reverse Mountain Climbers:  Turn treadmill belt and get into plank position, facing away from the machine. Feet will be on sides of treadmill base and hands on floor. To start, move feet to belt and drive one knee into chest while other extends backward. This will safely push the belt at your pace Alternate legs back and forth.
  4. Handle Bar Rows: Turn off belt and get into reverse plank position holding onto handle bars, looking upward and with feet and end of belt. Pull body upward, toward handles, using arms and chest. Pause and then slowly lower down and repeat.
  5. High Intensity Hill Run: Set incline to 5% or higher and run and a pace equal to 85 to 90% of max.
  6. Overhead Balance Walk: Slow treadmill to 1 mph and hold medicine ball (try 25# women or 35# men) overhead with straight, locked out   arms. Start at front of belt and raise one leg to high knee and hold while belt moves you backward, when reaching end of belt, step down and walk to front of belt and repeat on other leg.
  7. Side Shuffles:  Set treadmill at 2 – 5 mph and stand sideways on the belt with knees slightly bent.  Quickly bring outer foot to meet leading foot (the one closest to console) and then hop the leading foot out forward again, repeat.
  8. Walking Lunges: Set treadmill to about 3 mph at a 3% to 5% incline and step forward with right leg, lowering body until knee bent at 90 degrees and brushing over belt. Keep hips stacked over knee, not behind it or ahead of it. Rise up, bringing back foot forward, alternating legs for the duration.
  9.  Burden Run: Set treadmill to slower jogging pace (try 10 to 13 mph) and place medicine ball ( try ball 25# women or 35# men) on right shoulder reaching up and over  with right arm to secure. Run or walk fast for 800 meters, moving ball from shoulder to shoulder, as needed.

This 30 Minute Treadmill Chipper for Obstacle Course Training  is a workout that mixes up running with strength exercises to get you ready for your next Spartan, Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash.

Spartan Race Holiday SaleDon’t forget about all the holiday shopping deals on gear and races at Spartan.com

What percentage training do you do on a treadmill? Have you ever done anything other than run on a treadmill?  Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer