Descending Run Ladder and Ab Circuit Workout

Hey guys! Thanks for all the positive feedback you’ve sent my way on yesterday’s post. I’m glad you enjoyed the little chat on a non-deprivation approach to healthy eating. If you missed it, check it out!

Today I’m popping in to share a fun new workout with you.

Descending Run Ladder and Ab Circuit Workout

This workout was inspired by the lovely blogger Nicole of Pumps and Iron, as she posted a similar format a couple of weeks ago. Last week on a day that it was way too nice out to exercise indoors, I took my workout outside to a local track with Nicole’s workout in mind. Since I didn’t want to do back to back days of strength, I opted for an ab circuit instead of a total body bodyweight one.

Track Workout

For the cardio portion of this workout, you start by running one mile. The distance you run will then decrease in a descending ladder style after you do each ab circuit, so in total you run 2.5 miles. Since the running is broken up into shorter distances, really try to push yourself to go as fast as you can, especially during those last .5 and .25 rounds. I found that my splits were pretty constant throughout the entire workout, with the exception of that last surge on the quarter mile.

Track Workout

For the ab circuit, I only did one round of each in between for four total rounds in the entire workout, but you can choose to do 2 or 3 rounds of it in between running if you want to.

Here are your moves:

  • 15 leg drops
  • 15 slow alternating leg drops (flutter kicks)
  • 15 quick alternating leg drops (flutter kicks)
  • 15 hovering scissor cross beats
  • 30 seconds side plank on the right, directly into 10 side plank knee crunches
  • 30 seconds side plank on the left, directly into 10 side plank knee crunches
  • 45 second elbow plank

Track Workout

Don’t mind my dirty knees! That’s what outdoor workouts get you.

I enjoyed taking this one outside, and it was nice to change up my running from my usual route. You could still do this one on a treadmill, another cardio machine of choice (might have to adapt mileage/format a bit), or along your usual route if you measure your mileage.

Let me know if you try it out!

–Let’s chat–
Do you prefer exercising indoors or outdoors? Do you prefer running on trails, the street, a track, or a treadmill? What ab exercises are you loving lately? If you don’t feel like chatting about fitness, tell me about something fun going on this week.

For me, I tried November Project this morning (and survived). I can’t wait to share my experience with you!

4×4 Medicine Ball Ab Circuit

Morning! If you’ve kept up to date with my weekly workout logs, you may have noticed that I keep mentioning a medicine ball ab circuit. This is something I made up for Tim to do at the gym, but I’ve since tried it for myself and LOVE IT. Even though I have gone through these four moves at least once a week now, they still leave my abs feeling tired every time I complete the circuits.

4x4 Medicine Ball Ab Circuit

The moves:

  1. Weighted leg drop: Lie down, and place medicine ball between feet. Keeping lower back on ground, lift upper back off the ground, then lower the legs as far as you can without arching the back. Bring legs back up and repeat.
  2. Russians: These can be done with feet on or off the ground (off is harder). Twist side to side, touching the medicine ball to the ground each time.
  3. Seated wall toss: Lean back in a seated position. Toss the ball against a wall, then catch without coming out of the v-sit position. Repeat.
  4. Toe touches: Lie down, and extend arms overhead while holding the ball with both hands. Raise legs straight over hips, then crunch up to bring ball toward toes. Lower torso back down and repeat.

I usually do 10-12 reps of each move and the entire four move circuit four times through (hence the name 4×4!). Note: I usually have to use a lighter medicine ball for the weighted leg drop than I do for the other three exercises.

You definitely feel the burn after this one! Try it out, and let me know how it goes. 🙂

–Let’s chat–
How often do you use the medicine ball in your workouts? What about for abs? Do you have an ab routine that leaves your abs burning no matter how many times you do it?

The medicine ball is becoming one of my favorite workout tools! I just wish my gym had more of them.

I have the day off today, but I’m using it as a catch-up day, that’s for sure. Whatever you are doing today, enjoy it!

Words for the Weekend + Core Strength Tip #2

find balance

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately, as I’m feeling really good about my mental state of mind lately.  I feel like I am not being so hard on myself.  I’m making time for things besides work #1, work #2, blogging, and cleaning.  I’m taking nights or chunks of my night to just watch TV or grab a beer just because and not feeling so guilty about it.  I’m getting more sleep.  I finally feel like my head is above water, and I’m working really hard to keep myself there and feel, well, more balanced.

The theme of balance ties into my core strength tip to wrap up week #2 of the 31 Day Abs Challenge, as improving your core strength truly will improve your physical balance.  If you are someone who feels like you become unsteady in the shower or can’t keep a stable feeling while walking upstairs with many bags in your hands, it might be time to add some core strength training into your repertoire.  Think about it – as you become older, a lot of times fitness is about remaining functional, moving, and avoiding falls.  It’s really important to start with your core strength training when you are young, because while it’s great to help sculpt your body into looking the way you want it to, it’s also helping prepare you to be more self-sufficient when you get older.

That being said, my core strength tip for this week is to add some more balance work into your core strength training.  Throw off your equilibrium a bit!  Here are some ways you can do that:

Ways to Improve Balance

Pick some new equipment.  Some great equipment that can help you improve your balance and core strength include stability balls, bosu trainers, medicine balls, or balance boards.  Try your planks on a stability ball, your pushups on a bosu, or your squats on a balance board.  Your core muscles have to work that much harder, and they have to work collaboratively with other major muscle groups, to keep you balanced and prevent you from falling.

Stability Ball Plank

Work unilaterally.  This means working one arm or one leg at a time, which will throw you off kilter a bit.  Even something like sitting on a stability ball and doing overhead presses, but working one arm at a time instead of together, will challenge your core muscles.  Or do a bench press with one arm at a time instead.  Pick simple exercises you are used to doing bilaterally, and you’ll be surprised at how conscious you will be of the small adjustments your body will need to make to keep you centered.

Change your stance.  Sometimes adjusting to a split stance instead of a wide stance will throw your balance off a bit.  Or even harder, standing on one leg!  You would be amazed at how much harder simple bicep curls are if you do them standing on one leg instead of standing steady on two.  You can even change your stance while working horizontally.  While in your plank, the further apart your feet are the wider base of support you have and the easier the exercise will be.  Trying bringing your feet closer together, or lifting one leg up at a time, during different exercises, and I promise you’ll feel a difference!

Reverse Plank with Leg Lift

Stay away from machines!  I’m not saying to never use the machines at the gym, but think about how much harder your body is working when you are doing free weights or body weight exercises.  For example, when you are doing leg presses on a machine you are pretty much working your legs only.  But if you do a body weight exercise for lower body, such as squats, you are not only working your legs but your core is engaging more as well to help keep you balanced as you squat down and up and not just sitting in the machine.

Do yoga.  Think about how long you hold positions for sometimes in yoga!  There are several different types of yoga out there today, but find one that is right for you and you can enjoy improved balanced, flexibility, range of motion, and strength.

yoga 2


Try small things throughout the day.  Once you become comfortable with balance work, try finding small ways to sneak it into your day-to-day routine.  For example, balance on one leg while pumping gas.  Take a few seconds to try to stand on one foot while closing your eyes.  Closing your eyes makes everything harder, so you could even try closing your eyes while working out!  Stand on your tiptoes while waiting in line.  Every little thing counts, and all the little things over the course of a day add up!

What is your favorite way to add balance training into your workout routines? 

I hope this helped you guys!  Have a great rest of your Saturday, and I’ll be back tomorrow with Week 3 of the Ab Challenge.  Catch you later!