The Underrated Full Body Exercise (that looks a little silly)

The Underrated Full Body Exercise (that looks a little silly)

I know it looks a bit silly….

And I’m not expecting you to go into the middle of your commercial gym weight room floor and start doing it…

But the Towel Taz is an amazing, and deceptively hard conditioning drill that can be a great way to mix up your cardio sessions without all the impact and even put an emphasis on your upper body and core.

It can get you moving in every direction and be done no matter your fitness level.

And it doesn’t require fancy equipment.

Heck you can grab your comforter or even a sheet off your bed if you don’t have a moving blanket.

But I do want to break down the benefits of this amazing move because it can be done without any fancy equipment and is deceptively humbling!

The first reason I love this move, despite how silly it looks, is that it can be used with a variety of intervals to achieve different conditioning benefits.

You can use a heavier moving blanket and easily gas yourself out with quick 10-20 second sprints.

Or you can even learn to use it for more aerobic capacity building longer interval durations of even 1-2 minutes.

But no matter your fitness level you can vary the intensity and intervals you work in to get benefit from this exercise.

And it can really be tailored to what you want to work on – whether you want to focus more on intense quick bursts or more endurance!

And unlike so many of the conditioning drills we do, it gets you moving in every direction while being a full body drill!

When you often think about cardio, our first thoughts are often of running or biking.

If we’re thinking about bodyweight interval workouts, we may start to consider the basic burpee or jump squats, which really still are moving us only in one plane of motion.

And while I think there are some great variations of these moves that can be used to twist and turn and work in every direction, the Towel Taz is a great way to do this without the impact of jumping!

You shuffle laterally as you shake the towel up and down.

Or side to side.

You can circle.

Move forward, backward.

You’re not just moving in one direction like we are with running and riding and your whole body is working.

There is a lot of freedom to the movement, whether you want to make it more core intensive, rotating side to side as you move around…

Or you want to make it more shoulder and arm intensive, shaking the towel up and down.

And it conditions not only your lungs, but so many of the muscles that pay off for other sports.

That towel becomes way heavier than you’d expect and you’re going to feel your arms and shoulders.

This can be a great drill to help keep your shoulders healthy, while improving your conditioning for swimming, not to mention any fight sport.

You may even be surprised by how much it improves your upper body lifts, improving the strength endurance of your shoulders.

And by moving in every direction, you may feel your agility and even reaction times to cut, twist and turn improve. You see your balance and stability improve from your ankles up to your hips.

It also will add diversity to your routine as so many of the cardio moves we do are lower body focused.

While no, we can’t spot reduce an area and just do a thousand tricep exercises to try to lose the bat wing, this move does come in handy for that little extra fat loss benefit when our lifts and nutrition are dialed in.

Studies have shown that more fat is mobilized from areas AROUND the muscle we work. We just then need to UTILIZE that mobilized fat…and a little cardio focused on those areas strategically may make that 1% improvement.

Do your upper body lifting session then finish it off with a killer 30 on 15 off series of Towel Taz while making sure your nutrition is on point, and you may be surprised by how much that helps with that last little stubborn bit!

The Towel Taz can also be helpful if you’re not able to do some of the higher impact conditioning drills or lower body cardio exercises.

If you’ve had a lower body injury and have to reduce impact, you may feel limited in your conditioning drills.

This move can be done seated if needed or even by stepping or quick cuts to move around.

Honestly, this silly looking move is well worth the stares you may get.

And can be a great option if you’re training at home and looking to mix things up.

It is incredibly functional in how it asks us to quickly engage muscles and have so many things work in unison in every direction.

No it’s not a functional movement pattern you will directly do in everyday life, but the benefits of the mind-body connection, conditioning improvements and strengthening in every direction really will have you feeling fabulous.

Now I just wanted to add some quick tips to implement this move….

Use a big and heavy towel. Moving blankets are ideal as they won’t whip you and they have some weight to really challenge your upper body and core.

Focus on quick movements of both your upper AND lower body. While you may shake the towel up and down, shuffle and step in every direction.

If you even swing the towel side to side, focus on walking forward and backward.

Force your upper and lower body to work independently in different directions but together!

Make sure you focus on that exhale as you shake the towel and focus on a speed that challenges you for the intervals of work you’re performing.

If you’re doing 20 seconds, max out.

If you’re using this for 1 minute, consider more of a 65-75% of your max effort pace to push yourself to feel out of breath but be able to work the entire time.

But as much as you may be shaking your head no at your screen, give this move a chance.

It’s humbled many an MMA fighter and you may be surprised by how much it improves your conditioning to even be able to lift more, run faster and cycle further.

You may even be shocked at how much you see improvements in your ability to quickly react and move in every direction!

What untraditional exercises do you love?

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–> Redefining Strength On YouTube


15 Reasons To Build Muscle

15 Reasons To Build Muscle

While cardio is important, we NEED to focus on building muscle with our training as well. And no, challenging yourself with heavy weights will NOT make you bulky…

But it may be the secret to you feeling like your leanest, strongest self till your final day on this planet…

Whether you’re a runner…

Want to achieve that six pack…

Or simply want to chase after your grandkids…

You need to prioritize building and maintaining muscle in your training.

Here are 15 reasons why you should care so much about that strength work and those muscle gains at any and every age.

#1: Muscle helps you look leaner.

If you’ve ever felt like you lose weight but don’t see any more definition and even just look skinny but soft, it’s because you’re not focusing on building muscle as you lose fat.

You may even be sabotaging yourself from looking more toned by seeking to lose faster on the scale. 

Because when we look to lose weight faster, we often do so at the cost of losing muscle.

And muscle is what helps us see that definition and look more toned. 

So even if your goal is fat loss, you want to focus your workouts on building lean muscle. 

Don’t slash your calories lower or turn to only cardio workouts!

#2: Muscle helps you KEEP the fat off.

Ever lost weight to feel like it just creeps back on? 

Getting older and feeling like your metabolism has slowed down?

This is often due to the fact that we’ve lost muscle!

And in losing muscle, we aren’t burning as many calories at rest. Not to mention resistance training also increases our metabolic rate.

So to help maintain your results, focus on building muscle to train harder, tackle more physical challenges and even better use the nutrients in your food, especially as you get older!

#3: Strength training protects and strengthens your skin.

With aging, we may find our skin becomes more papery and thin. 

But resistance training has actually been shown to improve our skin health. It increases our skin’s elasticity or the ability for it to bounce back as well as even our skin’s thickness!

This not only keeps our skin looking younger, and helps us fight against loose skin, but also even avoid seeing an increase in cuts and bruising as we get older. 

But focusing on strength training and building muscle isn’t just about looking fabulous, it’s also about moving your best! 

#4: Muscle powers our movements!

If you want to be functionally fit till your final day on this planet, you need to focus on building muscle.

It helps us maintain our capacity to move well and remain independent, decreasing our risks for falls and fractures.

Muscle is really the key to be able to conquer any physical challenges that come our way! 

Whether we want to get down and up off the ground playing with our grandkids or we’re an endurance athlete looking to set a PR and improve our speed and our endurance, muscle is the magic we need! 

#5: Muscle keeps our joints healthy.

Muscle supports our joints.

The stronger our muscles, the better the joint support and protection we have. 

Focus on building muscle with exercises that move you in every direction to keep your joints stable so you avoid the range of joint injuries we see adding up as we get older. 

This strength work to build muscle is especially key if you want to be able to train hard to build your leanest, strongest body ever or continue to even compete in sports you love. 

Not to mention this stability improves your balance, which helps you avoid falls and injuries!

And this strength work can even help ease the discomfort of any arthritis development as you get older.

#6: More muscle means stronger bones! 

Too often we just let ourselves get old.

But through building muscle, we can really keep ourselves feeling younger and stronger. 

We can help ourselves prevent so much of what we just write off as happening with age…like osteoporosis and a greater risk of fractures.

Do your resistance training, even if your strength work is more bodyweight based. 

Because not only does this strength work build strong muscles to protect your bones, it can actually improve your bone mineral density and promote bone development! 

This is even more essential for us ladies as we go through menopause!

And not only does muscle help you look fabulous and move better, it also improves your health in so many other ways… 

#7: Muscle improves your blood sugar levels.

Muscle helps increase insulin sensitivity.

Basically through resistance training and building muscle, you are then better able to handle carbs and move sugar into your muscles for storage.

This can be especially key during menopause when we are at greater risk for insulin resistance and even diabetes.

Along with being able to regulate your blood sugar levels better…

#8: Muscle also helps keep your heart healthy!

Strength training and building lean muscle can help you reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and issues. 

It can help lower your blood pressure, lower LDL or bad cholesterol as well as your triglycerides, increase HDL or the good cholesterol and even improve blood circulation.

And while, yes, cardio workouts are key for heart health, too often we don’t recognize the importance of resistance training and building lean muscle. 

Recent studies have found a link between lower muscle mass and higher risk of cardiovascular issues.

So include resistance work and focus on building that lean muscle for your heart health. 

#9: Muscle improves our immune system!

More muscle means a larger reserve of amino acids, or the building blocks of protein which helps your immune system respond quicker to infection or disease.

This helps you not get as sick or stay sick as long. 

Muscle also helps reduce inflammation as weird as that sounds, since building muscle is about creating trauma to the muscles so they have to repair and grow stronger. 

But having on more muscle can help us reduce levels of chronic inflammation, which not only helps us stay healthy, but helps us reduce our risk for age related diseases, such as some cancers.

Now the important thing to note with this is…you can only build muscle and train hard if you are paying attention to your recovery. 

Under recover and you’re going to sabotage your immune system health instead.

#10: Muscle also aids in better recovery from injury and even disease.

Part of this goes back to the benefits muscle has for our immune system.

Muscle also plays an important role speeding up our recovery because it promotes blood circulation and aids in efficient nutrient transport or getting the areas of our body what they need quickly to rebuild. 

And while it’s great that muscle can help us recover, more importantly it can help us better AVOID injuries and illness in the first place.

In the process of building muscle we strengthen other connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments.

But if you are currently injured, don’t keep pushing through the pain.

Training around the injury or issue, to keep your system strong, is key.

This strength training releases myokines, which are messenger molecules from muscles released during and after your workouts. 

These molecules boost the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties, which is why muscle can be so key in our recovery!

#11: Strength training improves mood and anxiety.

While I know we often hear about the “runner’s high,” and many enjoy running for the mental benefits, strength training also has been shown to really improve mood and reduce levels of anxiety and stress. 

Part of this is due to the fact that our muscle plays an important part in our overall endocrine system function. 

And that system helps control and regulate our body’s metabolism, energy level, growth and development, reproduction and even our response to injury, stress and mood.

This is even extra reason to include muscle building workouts in your routine, especially during menopause when changing hormone levels may impact our mood and anxiety levels, not to mention make it harder to build and retain lean muscle. 

#12: Muscle helps you feel more energized.

Having more muscle means you are better able to create fuel from the carbs you consume. 

And this is partly because more muscle means more mitochondria.

Mitochondria create fuel to energize you from the glucose you eat and the air you breathe.

More muscle also means improved circulation. 

And this allows your body to function better and use your energy supplies more efficiently.

Not to mention, you’ll also see improvements in your energy levels because muscle and strength training can also positively impact your sleep. 

Which is my next big reason you should care…

#13: Building muscle improves your sleep.

Some interesting research has shown that resistance training may not only improve the quality of your sleep but even the quantity you get. 

So not only may it help you sleep longer, but get more deep, restorative sleep.

One reason it is believed that resistance training may even beat out aerobic training for sleep benefits, although both help, is that lifting stimulates growth in muscles cells boosting both testosterone and growth hormone levels in the body. 

Both of these hormones have been linked with better, deeper sleep.

This again can be an extra reason to focus on building muscle, especially during menopause or as we get older, where we may see our sleep quality and quantity decline. 

And can also contribute to better brain function as well! Which brings me to my second to last key reason…

#14: Muscle helps keep our brain healthy.

From the mental challenge that resistance training provides…

To the benefits that muscle has on our circulation and blood flow…

To even the release of myokines which can have an impact on overall brain function…

More muscle has been shown to be connected to improved cognitive functioning or brain health. 

And maintaining more muscle, while continuing to strength train, as we get older has been shown to decrease our risk of dementia.

Not to mention if you’re experiencing brain fog during menopause, you may find this symptom reduced by focusing on strength training and building muscle. 

Basically, more muscle means you’re going to feel, look and move your best till your final day on this planet.

And this is the most important overall reason to care about building muscle…

#15: More muscle means a longer, healthier, better life! 

Whether it is conquering any physical challenges you set for yourself…

Whether it is moving well to stay independent till your final day on this planet…

Whether it is avoiding illness, injury or disease…

Or even simply feeling more energized, healthier and happier…

Muscle is truly magical.

So focus on that strength work at any and every age to feel your most fabulous!

Ready to build that lean muscle and feel your most fabulous at any and every age? Check out my 1:1 Online Coaching!

–> Learn More About Redefining Strength’s Coaching

Resistance Training Benefits:
Muscle-Organ Crosstalk:


10 Mobility Lessons I Wish I Knew Sooner

10 Mobility Lessons I Wish I Knew Sooner

I’ve made a TON of mistakes.

Made excuses to skip my warm ups that lead to overload and injury.

Slacked on my mobility work, which led to improper recruitment patterns and pain.

Ignored aches and pains until it was too late and I couldn’t train the way I wanted…

I’ve learned far too many lessons the hard way…

But I want to help you avoid the same frustrations and pain…

That’s why I’m going to share 10 key mobility lessons I’ve learned to help you avoid making the same mistakes and move and feel your best no matter your age!

Because so often what we even blame on our age is simply previous aches and pains and training practices coming back to bite us in the butt!

Sooo the first mobility lesson I wish I’d known sooner was…

#1: It’s Not Just About Form.

I’d always prided myself on having good form. 

But good form doesn’t mean you’re always using the correct muscles.

Actually mimicking proper form may be leading to you overusing muscles not meant to carry the load and seeking out mobility from joints that aren’t really meant to provide that range of motion.

The more advanced we are too, the more we know how a move SHOULD look so we force that movement pattern, using whatever is needed.

And this can result in overload and injury just as much, if not sometimes even MORE than improper form. 

Because we’re forcing a movement we can’t actually perform properly!

So focus not just on form and how the movement looks but your recruitment pattern and what you feel working!

If you can’t feel the correct muscles working, you haven’t earned that movement.

Instead you need to regress to then build up or you need to swap to a different variation you can perform properly as you address the underlying mobility restrictions and muscle weakness! 

#2: The Point Of “Pain” Isn’t Always Where The Problem Started.

When we end up with a shoulder injury, we blame our shoulder. 

Back pain, we blame our back. Often we even think, “Oh this area is injured because it was weak.” And then we overwork the muscle further trying to rehab it. 

But this only perpetuates the issue.

Because often injury occurs due to overload.

Our back becomes overworked because our glutes or abs are weak or not being used efficiently during movements.

Or a lack of thoracic extension leads to us seeking out mobility and stability from our shoulder during the overhead press that it isn’t meant or able to provide. 

Issues elsewhere lead to the injuries.

Often where the pain is isn’t where the problem started.

And this is why, when we are addressing aches and pains we can’t get so focused on the aches and pains only.

We need to assess movements and how joints and muscles are working together.

Because limitations in mobility or instability at one joint, say your ankles, can impact your movements all the way up your body, resulting in overload and injury.

That ankle injury from years ago, may now be why you have knee pain! 

This is also why resting a previous injury isn’t enough.

Which is actually the next big lesson I learned…

#3: Resting An Injury Doesn’t Make It Go Away.

When we have aches and pains or injuries, we first turn to rest to help the pain go away.

While resting an area can be a key first step in recovery, it doesn’t change why the overload occurred in the first place. 

So if you just take time off till something feels better then go back to training as you were, you may just end up injured again. 

You haven’t taken time to address where the mobility restriction was. Or what muscle was weak and led to overload.

You haven’t changed your form or your recruitment patterns. 

And if you don’t address what led to the injury and overload, often you’re just going to end up injured again from doing the same things.

Now you may be thinking, “But I’ll just avoid those movements.”

But this isn’t really a long-term solution.

So many of those movements we do in everyday life.

And at some point, that weakness or mobility issue is going to pop back up.

Instead of just resting, we need to take things back to basics and include the prehab work needed to truly address what added up in the first place.

This can help us from falling prey to this injury becoming chronic so we can consistently train the way we want to see results!

Which is why you need to see prehab as a 3-part process.

And this is lesson #4, which has been the biggest game changer for me so that I haven’t had another injury sideline me and I’ve been able to nip aches and pains before they add up…

#4: Prehab is a 3-Part process.

Addressing an ache or pain means not only relaxing overactive muscles, but improving your joint mobility and even activating underactive muscles to improve stability.

There are multiple components to making sure muscles are working as they should be and joints have the proper range of motion.

Not to mention, the longer we’ve potentially ignored an issue, the more that has built up as we’ve compensated.

It’s why the process of foam rolling, stretching and activation was the biggest game changer for me and I’ve seen it have the biggest impact on my clients functional fitness as well.

It’s why I even had a client say to me “I’m moving better now than I did in my 20s and 30s!”

None of these components alone have the same impact.

The system as a whole is what makes each part so effective.

The foam rolling helps relax overactive muscles we may even tend to overuse. 

The stretching, especially dynamic stretching used prior to a workout, helps mobilize our joints and return muscles to their proper length-tension relationships. 

The activation then continues to help mobilize joints, stretching muscles through a process called reciprocal inhibition as it works to activate underactive muscles. This activation helps improve our mind-body connection to better use these muscles to carry the loads they should when we train and move. 

This process works together to help address all components needed to avoid us perpetuating the overuse, overload and injury!

But even as game changing as this process really was for me and as much as I credit this with even helping me be able to lift more…

You can’t out mobility work your other movements.

Your workouts have to complement the mobility work you’re doing.

Lesson #5: Strengthen Through A Full Range Of Motion.

You’ve done that prehab work to be able to move through a full range of motion and use the correct muscles…

But if you don’t now do the work to actually strengthen the muscles through the range of motion you’ve prepped your body to be able to handle, you won’t maintain it.

If you lift and do half squats after working on your hip mobility, you’re going to only have stability and strength through that smaller range of motion. And you’re going to tighten things back up. 

So basically it’s going to feel like all of your mobility work isn’t adding up and is a waste.

But it isn’t.

Instead, you have to check your ego, and use lighter weights to move through the full range of motion you’ve established with the 3-part prehab process. 

But it’s key that we do adjust the range of motion of exercises to build strength through the range of motion we want!

Now…The next big lesson I learned was oddly a mindset shift….and something I think we too often just ignore…

And it has to do with IMBALANCES.

Every notice one side is weaker? Or that you have stronger muscles around a joint causing restrictions? 

#6: Well, Those Imbalances Are Worse Than Inflexibility.

Feel like the tin man over gumbi? 

Honestly just being inflexible, while something you may want to work on isn’t as bad as we often make it out to be.

If everything is tight, you’re at least EVEN in how you can move.

It’s less of an issue if you can’t touch your toes than if you can’t touch your toes but you can do the side splits. 

This imbalance of muscle flexibility around a joint can lead to overload and injury as you have more movement and potentially less stability in one plane of motion.

It’s why you may need to do imbalance prehab work to address the issues, relaxing only specific muscles while activating others.

It’s why you may need to pay attention to including movements in specific planes of motion and even working specific muscles more! 

And it’s not just discrepancies around a single joint that we need to pay attention to but imbalances between sides.

If one side is mobile and the other isn’t? If one side is stronger?

This can lead to overload of the stronger side when the weaker side can’t keep up. 

Or it can lead to the weaker side becoming overworked and muscles compensating as it tries to keep up with your dominant side.

Imbalances need to be addressed.

Whether it is holding back our stronger side, doing more reps using rest pause technique on the weaker side or even ONLY including unilateral moves so the stronger side can’t take over, we need to make sure we’re addressing those imbalances. 

#7: Flexibility And Mobility Depend On Stability.

Ever move a joint through a bigger range of motion and then go to lift and find you can’t really move through even half of what you had been able to do with your own bodyweight? 

This may be an issue with stability!

Far too often the emphasis is put on flexibility and mobility…

We talk about stretching and mobilizing joints to improve our range of motion and squat deeper or press overhead properly. 

But part of what allows a joint to move through that full range of motion as we correctly recruit muscles to power the movement is STABILITY.

If a joint doesn’t feel stable, your mind is going to restrict the range of motion you can work through.

So if muscles aren’t strong enough, the joint movement may be limited or your active flexibility may seem a lot smaller than what you’re able to do in a static or passive position.

And too often we ignore this signal and push through with heavier loads anyway.

This is then what leads to aches and pains and us seeking out strength from muscles not meant to carry the load or a range of motion from a joint not meant to provide it.

This is why that activation component or even some lighter load work and isometrics…the stuff that doesn’t seem as sexy or hard, may be so key! 

We also don’t want to ignore this instability because it may hint that we actually aren’t properly addressing muscle tightness as well…

#8: A Tight Muscle Doesn’t Always Need To Be Stretch.

Pull a rubber band and stretch it out and it’s going to feel tight.

Decide to stretch it further because it feels tight and you’re going to snap it.

Muscles don’t just feel tight when they’re shorten.

They can also feel tight because they are overstretched.

This is why paying attention to joint stability and even lesson number 2 (that the point of pain isn’t always where the problem is) is so key.

Everything is connected.

So we need to assess overall postures and movements to really see what is going on over just honing in and looking at a muscle in isolation at times.

Our hamstrings are a prime example of this.

Too often they are tight from being overstretched due to tight hip flexors from sitting so much. 

This daily posture can make us feel like we need to stretch our hamstrings, when actually it is our hip flexors that are shortened and in need of stretching.

And due to them being overly lengthened and this overall posture, our hamstrings may also be overworked.

This can create instability at our hip and even our knee, leading to more issues and not just putting our hamstrings at risk for being pulled.

And if we were to just say “My hamstrings feel tight” and stretch them more?

We may even be making matters worse.

It’s why we need to truly look at how muscles and joints function together and our overall movement and recruitment patterns.

Too often we don’t ask ourselves, “What do I feel working?” 

Because if we did, we may notice our hamstrings compensating in moves for our glutes only further perpetuating the feeling of tightness!

And if you’re thinking, “But I don’t have time to address all these things…”

#9: 5-Minutes Is All You Need.

So often we don’t do anything because we feel we can’t do enough.

But if we can just commit to 5 minutes a day of mobility work and do that daily, that time will not only add up but the daily consistency will help results build. 

This is why you need to stop skipping your warm up! 

Which is actually what I was originally going to call this lesson.

But even when it relates to your warm up, you don’t need 15 minutes or a ton of time to prep your body.

That prehab process can be used efficiently to mobilize and activate what you plan to work that day!

Doing a little each day to grease the wheel pays off over letting things add up so you have to peel back each layer that’s built up.

So stop stressing about doing full recovery sessions more frequently even. Just focus on 5 minutes, even if that 5 minutes is an intentional warm up that you don’t skip! 

You’ll be surprised by how even that warm up helps you move better in your workouts to get more out of each session and strengthen through that full range of motion to actually make your mobility work add up even more! 

Which leads me to biggest and most important lesson of all…

#10: Rehab becomes Prehab.

Let’s face it…many of us have had aches and pains and injuries in the past.

Things that are “better” now…

So we get lazy about continuing to work on our areas of weakness. And then when we least expect it, aches and pains rear their ugly heads. 

This leads to us feeling frustrated that we can’t ever fully seem to get momentum with things.

But this is why rehab becomes prehab.

What we did to make things “better” needs to be done proactively to keep things working well.

Otherwise we default back into old recruitment and movement patterns. 

So instead of having to spend a ton of time being reactive or not training the way we want, keep in that mobility work as part of your warm up.

And if you do notice things popping up, don’t be afraid to step back and address those weak links.

Honestly, with all of these lessons, it’s really about being aware and being intentional in our training so we can address things before they really add up!

The more aware we are of how our body is feeling and our movements, the more we can modify and progress as we need to keep training consistently while feeling and moving our best!

Ready for workouts that have the prehab work done for you?

–> Check out Dynamic Strength


Stop Demonizing Exercises! 4 Myths DEBUNKED

Stop Demonizing Exercises! 4 Myths DEBUNKED

The comment section can be…interesting to say the least.

If you spend too much time there, you’ll find out there is only one way to do every move…but no one truly agrees on what that one way is…

But everyone definitely has an opinion. And only THEIR way is the right one.

There are lots of things we’re told will basically destroy us if we do them.

Lots of moves that are demonized and blamed for aches and pains.

But honestly…there really are no “bad” moves…just improper usage and implementation of them.

So often we include moves not right for our specific needs or goals. Moves we haven’t earned.

And then we get injured doing them and demonize them…completely avoiding them.

But what we don’t realize is that by doing this, we put ourselves at greater risk for injury in every day life.

So many moves we do in the gym can be a great way to strengthen muscles and movement patterns essential for everyday life.

It’s why instead of simply avoiding moves, we need to regress to progress and learn to retrain as many movement patterns as possible.

We need to understand why aches and pains and the issues occurred in the first place to find variations of moves we can use to move and feel our best.

The gym should be a place to learn to move well and become functionally fitter so we can be strong and independent till our final day on this planet.

That’s why I want to address some exercises I see demonized and break down how to include them and retrain them, such as deadlifts being bad for your back or squats and lunges being bad for your knees…

Or even jumping and high impact being dangerous for us as we get older!

So first…

#1: Deadlifts Are Bad For Your Back.

Deadlifts are a weighted hip hinge often blamed for lower back pain.

But they are an essential movement pattern we need to all know how to control if we want to avoid throwing out our backs when lifting something up off the ground.

They are often blamed for lower back pain because we aren’t properly engaging our lats to support the weight as we use our glutes and hamstrings to drive the lift.

We aren’t properly bracing and recruiting muscles so our lower back becomes overworked and tries to carry more of the load to lift than it should.

Part of this tendency to overuse and recruit the muscles of our lower back instead of our glutes is due to the fact that far too many of us spend too much time seated at a computer or driving in a car.

Tight hip flexors can result in postural distortions that lead to underactive glutes and synergistic dominance of our hamstrings and anterior pelvic tilt. Which leads to our lower back wanting to work when it shouldn’t.

But it isn’t just tight hips that lead to lower back overload and changes in our recruitment patterns.

It’s also our hunched over posture that can perpetuate the issue.

When we don’t have proper thoracic extension, we are going to seek out mobility from other areas.

In trying to straighten our spine for deadlifts and press our chest out, we may notice we compensate by arching our lower backs. This arch may contribute to more anterior pelvic tilt and perpetuate us not only overusing our lower back but also our hamstrings over our glutes.

So it is key we note our daily postures to address in our mobility work before we needed so we can better activate the correct muscles.

But this is also why we have to notice we are simply leaning forward and not correctly pushing our butt back as we hinge.

And we may especially struggle with a BARBELL deadlift of any kind.

With a barbell deadlift you have to keep the bar basically up against your body as you lift. This means engaging your lats and really pushing the ground away as you drive up to standing.

If you notice the bar drifting away or your butt coming up first as you go to drive up, you’re going to be shifting the load more to your lower back.

Starting out, to change this recruitment pattern and overload, a kettlebell or dumbbell works well as you can hold the weight in the center of your legs and even lower it down and back toward your heels.

But you won’t need to scrape your shins to keep it close and this lowering of the weight down and back can help us remember to hinge over and push our butt back as we lower.

So if you’ve been fearing or avoiding deadlifts due to feeling your lower back, try using a weight you can hold center instead and focus on lowering back toward your heels to help yourself feel your glutes and hamstrings loading!

#2: Sit Ups And Crunches Are Bad For Your Spine.

Your abs power spinal flexion.

Crunches and sit ups are simply that when done correctly – spinal flexion.

Learning to control this move so you can easily sit up from lying down is honestly essential.

So you want to train not only a spinal motion but the muscles that control it.

And these two moves are often great ways to really break down and control this movement without loads as they are more isolated movements, especially the crunch!

Only once you’ve mastered them do you want to move on to more advanced exercises.

Yet so often with sit ups you see people arching their back and relying on their hip flexors alone to sit up and do 100s of reps quickly.

It’s why those ab mats have become so popular.

Use this mat as a band aid to be able to do more reps than you can control properly and use the correct muscles to power.

And THIS is why sit ups end up backfiring in back pain.

NOT the spinal flexion.

But the lack of true ab engagement and ability to even posteriorly pelvic tilt.

The key is making sure you’re actually rounding using your abs to lift in a crunch or sit up.

When you think of doing crunches or sit ups, you should think about exhaling as you roll vertebrae by vertebrae up.

Feel your abs PULLING you up.

And don’t rush it to get in more reps.

If you find yourself struggling to not arch your lower back as you sit up or really use momentum, go back to that basic crunch or even consider a seated hinge.

Learning to control that c curve to your spine as you round back, can help you focus on that spine flexion to engage those abs.

#3: Squats And Lunges Are Bad For Your Knees.

Your knees are MEANT to bend.

And yes, sometimes reducing knee flexion to start is key based on our injuries and aches and pains.

But unless you never plan to sit down again, go up stairs, get into your car or put something in a low cabinet or shelf, you need to learn how to control knee flexion.

Because these are ALL knee flexion!

Practicing squats and lunges in your workouts can help you do just that.

RETRAIN that knee flexion and improve your range of motion in an environment where you can fully control the movement.

It’s why we need to start recognizing our workouts are a chance to learn to move well NOT just burn more calories!

Often squats and lunges cause knee pain because we lack the proper hip or ankle mobility to load muscles correctly and ultimately the knee bares the brunt of it.

While addressing both ankle mobility and hip mobility in our warm ups is key, we can also help avoid this overload by tweaking our form.

This is often why people use the cue, “Don’t let your knees go past your toes.”

A more vertical shin angle on lunging, can help you better load your glutes.

However, it is NOT bad for your knees to go forward and may even be necessary in deep squats based on tibial length.

The key is the loading during this and having the necessary ankle mobility to keep your heels down.

Even purposely having your knee go forward as you lunge can help you really target your quads.

You just need to be able to control this and build up.

So starting with that more vertical shin angle and even limiting your range of motion and instability can be key with both squats and lunges starting out.
If you can’t control the front lunge and keep your weight more centered and knee over your ankle as you are building back from knee pain, try a split squat. This stationary movement reduces the control needed and can help you also improve your hip mobility.

You can also easily control the range of motion you work through and really learn balance.

Same thing can go for the squat. You can control how much knee flexion you work through and the stability demands by just adding a box.

As you can load correctly and control the range of motion, you can always lower the height of the box or fully remove it.

The key is starting with the stability demands and range of motion you can truly CONTROL and then building up.

This brings me to the last thing I often hear demonized especially as we get older….

And that’s #4: High Impact And Jumping.

I’ve even heard clients say they were told not to lift heavy, which is in this same sort of exercise myth vein…

I call them the myths that actually lead to us getting old fast and moving old.

Because exercise is about ability.

You need to meet yourself where you are at due to fitness level, goals, injuries…

But just being a certain age shouldn’t stop you.

And honestly, often when we stop doing the things we did to get strong in the first place, we see decline happen faster.


While high impact is not right for everyone, learning to control landing mechanics while also working on power is essential.

There are so many ways to do this.

It is also key we realize where the risk really lies…

It isn’t in jumping up on the box…it’s jumping off of it.

So even just a tweak to include box jumps as part of your explosive work could be to jump up to a low box and STEP off to start.

And to work on landing mechanics to start, we don’t even have to leave the ground.

It can simply be doing a squat to quickly moving up onto our toes to lowering back down.

This learning to absorb impact through that foot motion and knee bend is key.

It can help us avoid injury, especially if you’re ever on a hike and having to step down off a big rock! Or if you slightly trip to catch yourself on a curb or stair.

The more we learn to correctly handle impact and our body mechanics for it, the more we help ourselves avoid risk of injury in every day life!

And that explosive work only further improves our mind-body connection to be able to react and respond quickly.

Stop demonizing moves and just avoiding exercises and movement patterns. Instead see opportunity in modifications to rebuild and retrain as many movements as possible.

Regress to progress and use your workouts as a chance to learn to move your best and develop that functional strength!

For more on form and modifications for these moves, check out the links below…

–> Deadlift Form

–> Squat Form

–> Lunge Form

–> Crunch Form

–> 7 Big Lies About Exercise And Aging

And if this was helpful, I’d love to cover other moves you want to learn more about in a future video. Comment with some moves you’re worried about or have heard people demonize so we can break them down and learn to retrain those movement and recruitment patterns!

The ONLY 10 Things That Matter For Fat Loss

The ONLY 10 Things That Matter For Fat Loss

There is an OVERWHELMING amount of opinions out there about the best ways to lose fat and keep it off.

And these different opinions are honestly OPPORTUNITIES for us to create the plan that meets us where we are at –

Because one size doesn’t fit all.

We just have to avoid becoming overwhelmed by all the options.

Or allow ourselves to get distracted when we do have a plan in place.

That’s why I wanted to share 10 fundamentals principles that are really what matter for fat loss, no matter your exact dietary preference, preferred training methods or lifestyle!

And these things hold true no matter our age and can even set us up to be leaner and stronger till our final day on this planet, the earlier we embrace them!


#1: Simplify then diversify.

The less you have to focus on, the more focus each change gets. 

While you may want to include a diversity of foods, restaurants, training techniques and tools into your routines, start simple! 

You get good at what you consistently do. And this allows you to get consistent with a few key things.

It also allows you to avoid overwhelming yourself with so many options or variables all at once.

Once you get set meals dialed in, feel comfortable with specific movement patterns, you can then begin to add in diversity so you don’t get bored.

But first dial things back and focus on a few basics to build off of!

#2: Your goal can’t only be fat loss.

Fat loss is slow.

And it should be if you want to truly see muscle definition and lose fat without losing muscle. 

But because results are slow, because we will hit plateaus, the more we only focus on one measure of success – fat loss – the more likely we are to get frustrated and give up when we don’t see progress week after week.

And guess what?

Progress won’t be linear…which is why we so often give up when results are snowballing.

This causes us to be stuck in this horrible cycle of never really getting closer to our goal or maintaining the results we worked so hard for. 

So if you truly want to achieve lasting body recomp, you need to find other ways to measure success and know your habits are working. 

Even set a goal of measuring success by how consistently you simply implement the boring basic habits daily! 

If you do those things daily and can mark off that win daily, results are GOING to snowball!

#3: Track. Track and oh yea….TRACK.

What gets measured, gets managed.

The more accurate the picture of what we are doing, the smaller and more meaningful the adjustments we can make. 

And we don’t end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Too often we don’t track so we guess at what is and isn’t working. 

This can lead to us stopping a habit that is building results just because we don’t realize something else is holding us back and needs to be adjusted.

It can also make us feel like we are constantly having to do these massive overhauls, creating unsustainable habits and lifestyles over a small adjustment that could have been the missing 1%. 

So track your food to understand what adjustments you need. 

Track your workouts to see your progress and adjust. 

Track how you feel with different meal timings. 

Or if foods cause changes in your energy or bloat.

But track to see the impact lifestyle practices are having so you have the power to truly adjust and fuel to feel and look your best!

#4: Stop saying you “can’t have” something.

“You can’t have that cookie.” 

The second I tell myself I can’t have it, I want it even more.

Even if I didn’t want it before.

Telling yourself something is off limits makes you feel restricted. 

It also takes away the feeling of control that you truly have over your actions.

Because truly, it’s not that you can’t have something…It’s that you’re CHOOSING not to.

When we’re working to lose fat, we may choose to cut things out at times. Even things we eventually want to include.

But this is a CHOICE to work toward our goals.

And we have to remember at another time we can CHOOSE to take a different action. 

Because what you do to reach a goal is not what you do to maintain it.

But our mindset around new and different actions will impact whether or not we embrace the changes long enough to see results.

So stop saying you can’t have something and remember you are just CHOOSING whether to include or exclude it right now. 

#5: Move more.

I didn’t say workout more.

I didn’t say workout harder.

I said move more.

Too often we put an emphasis on eating less or trying to burn more calories in our workouts, but there is another way to help ourselves see better fat loss and create an optimal calorie deficit…

And that is by simply moving more. 

Being a bit more active throughout the day helps keep our metabolic rate higher and in a way that doesn’t really just stress our body more.

Go for a walk daily, even just 10 minutes. 

Get up and stretch throughout the day. 

Make yourself walk to get water.

By being more active not only do we keep our metabolism healthy but we also often feel better, making it easier to stick with the other habit changes we need to see results snowball!

It can even make it easier to not just reach for that extra snack on the weekend while watching TV at night because we aren’t just being a slug on the couch watching netflix at every opportunity! 

#6: Emphasize recovery.

We can only train as hard as we can recover from.

Losing fat and the workout and dieting practices that help us achieve this goal are stressful on our body.

New habits and changes are hard on us mentally. 

We need to embrace this.

But we realize we can’t just constantly willpower our way through.

This often leads to us working really hard to see diminishing returns.

It’s why we get burned out. 

This is why we need to not only focus on improving our recovery weekly, but we also need to consider recovery weeks in our training and diet breaks.

Don’t ignore the importance of your sleep, hydration and even the quality of your food to help your body recover.

Don’t try to make every workout every day the same intensity and make sure you’re cycling areas worked over the week.

Recovery doesn’t just means days off. 

It means the other habits we are doing to help get our body the tools it needs to repair and rebuild.

It also means even addressing mental burnout through owning our motivation will fade and we have other priorities in life that sometimes need to take precedent to create plans that really help us stay consistent!

But just remember recovery isn’t just about time off from your workouts…it’s about the things you do to fuel that repair and give your body a chance to rebuild! 

#7: Set dietary progressions.

We set workout progressions and change things up. 

We don’t expect to do one workout program forever.

We do different training progressions over the months and years. 

Yet when it comes to our diet we almost take a “set it and forget it” approach.

And then we wonder why we plateau. We wonder why we get bored! 

So we want to use this desire for change or variety strategically to our advantage.

That’s why you want to set dietary progressions or what I call macro cycling. 

This isn’t done daily like carb cycling.

It’s done every 2-4 weeks, especially with changes in workout progressions or activity level in general, where I’ll have clients adjust macro ratios they’re using.

It is often small tweaks, but this can help shift energy sources to avoid plateaus, address activity level changes and even simply give us the opportunity to include new foods. 

Mentally sometimes we need the diversity but simplified into just a few new things.

This cycling may put us slightly lower carb or higher carb to use the best of both worlds while keeping us from chasing a new fad diet or quick fix.

We not only have “end dates” to keep us motivated but we give ourselves checkpoints where we can trust in the process knowing we can make a change at that time. 

It gives us the ability to do something “new” but with a focus on the fundamentals.

#8: Challenge yourself.

Workouts should be hard. They should be uncomfortable. 

If you don’t challenge yourself, you’re not forcing your body to adapt and grow stronger.

You’re not going to improve your cardiovascular health or see improvements in your ability to run or cycle further faster.

Exercise is a STRESS on the body.

But a good one.

Your body becomes fitter by overcoming the stress. 

So challenge yourself to create that good stress BUT…make sure you’re not slacking on tip #6. 

You can only train as hard as you can recover from.

And you want that weekly progression to be able to track how things are going to see if you are hitting that point where you may need a break or change up to keep moving forward! 

#9: Embrace the suck.

Success is struggle.

Change is hard.

As much as we want to create sustainable habit swaps and really focus on that habit build, not everything we will have to do to reach a goal will feel good or easy.

There is a downside to every upside. 

But the more we embrace the hard and push through it to start, the more we often realize the downsides really aren’t that bad.

They were just different.

Sustainable often doesn’t mean easy to start. 

But consider how many times you’ve even said to yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!”

Well it was probably because you weren’t fully ready to embrace the suck and defaulted back into what you’ve always done which IS what felt comfortable. 

So if you want a new and better result, suck it up buttercup!

#10: Have an exit strategy.

You aren’t going to do one thing forever.

Your body, needs and lifestyle are constantly changing. Your motivation will ebb and flow. 

Along your journey to your ideal body recomp, you won’t approach your goals with exactly the same systems the entire time.

Sometimes you may be more motivated to implement more intensive practices to see results faster. 

You’ll cut out that weekly margarita on date night.

You’ll not have that extra cookie. 

But at other times, you’ll want to add those things in. 

The key is realizing that you are CHOOSING to implement certain habits and that you can work these things in when needed at another point. 

But that’s why it is key you have an exit strategy.

You need to assess what a realistic lifestyle truly is for you at different times of year and even as you reach your goal. 

Because maintaining your results means a shift in habits from your fat loss phase..

You don’t just simply stay in a calorie deficit forever…

But you also don’t go back to what old habits you were doing before.

This is why we need to constantly be assessing and reassessing and considering even what’s up next and how we can “exit” from our currently plan without just falling back into patterns that will sabotage us! 

Stay focused on those fundamentals and always focus on what YOUR lifestyle actually looks like to make adjustments.

And then don’t get distracted by all of the options out there. See the opportunity they offer while focusing on these principles!

Want more workout and nutrition tips? Join my FREE newsletter!

–> Join The Redefining Strength Newsletter

The Best Core Exercise (Everyone Hates)

The Best Core Exercise (Everyone Hates)

Teapots have gotten a lot of hate in recent years.

But unpopular opinion. I think the hate is unwarranted.

They can actually be an amazing move to include in your workout routine when implemented correctly.

I say this often but there are no bad exercises…

Just misused moves that aren’t right for our needs or goals that need to be modified for us at this phase in our journey!

And too often these days a missing component of our core training routines IS lateral flexion movements.

Our spine and the muscles of our core are meant to side bend.

Learning to control this movement in our workouts is key to helping us avoid unwanted strain on our spine when we lift and move in everyday life.

Not to mention, by simply writing it off because someone said it was bad for them, means we could be missing out on a move that perfectly addresses OUR unique needs.

Can’t get down on the ground?

Well the teapot is an amazing STANDING core move.

Need to address an imbalance between each side?

Well the teapot is an amazing UNILATERAL core move.

There is so much opportunity with different exercises if we simply seek to learn more about them and when and why they may work, or not work, for us and our goals.

That’s why I first want to go over some key pointers for using this exercise correctly, such as ways to include it in your workout routine, and even variations so you can build up and work your core in a way that matches your needs and goals!


Now if you’re thinking about grabbing as heavy a weight as possible for your teapots and doing only a couple or reps, this is not the exercise for that type of loading.

While creating progression even in our ab and core routines is key, moves like the teapot should never be about constantly just going heavier and heavier, especially for lower rep work.

Moves like this should most often be progressed through changes in equipment, tempos and even to some extent volume (adding a few more reps).

While you can add loads, you want to be conscious that you aren’t trying to max out. You want to be in full control of that range of motion.

And often you will want to work in that 10-20 rep range based on your experience with lateral flexion and any injuries.

Keeping the reps higher and loads challenging but overall lighter is key especially starting out.

You also want to note that this lateral flexion exercise often puts more emphasis on the eccentric, and because it applies more load when the muscle is stretched, can make you VERY sore even with lighter weights starting out.

That’s why even opting for just a round or two to start of those higher reps at the end of your workout can be good.

It’s key you move slowly and work through only the range of motion you can control.

But because strengthening and controlling that movement is so key, again starting lighter is best.

Really focus on that slow lower down of the weight at your side and don’t twist or rotate to get the range of motion bigger.

When you lower you aren’t focusing on the side that is actually flexing…

You’re focusing on the STRETCH on the opposing side.

And then to move back up to standing, you will feel that stretched side PULL your torso back up straight.

While you can crunch slightly to the other side, the focus should be on that eccentric lower down to the move back upright.

Too often we rush through movements over focusing on what we feel working.

Now as amazing as this move can be, one exercise in one form is not right for everyone.

And while this traditional teapot may be done with a dumbbell or kettlebell down by your side, there are other variations you can use based on the tools you have and even your specific needs.


There are so many ways to address and implement lateral flexion into your routine – from more isolated oblique crunches to variations of the teapot.

You can simply change the type of tool you use while doing the same basic teapot, trading a dumbbell for a kettlebell or plate weight.

(The plate weight especially can be a great too for one, working on your grip strength in a different way!)

You can even keep the same loading placement and use a cable or band anchored down low to apply resistance in a new way. The band anchored down low will really challenge your core as you pull to come back up!

This simple change in types of resistance can be a great way to progress this move as you advance with it to challenge your body in new ways.

You can also change loading placement, anchoring the resistance overhead by using a cable or even doing a variation of this in the suspension trainer.

This will also change the focus from being on your OPPOSING side, to the same side you’re bending toward.

But so often little changes like this can create progression through the same but different and really help improve our mind-body connection because we are working the same muscles but in a new way.

And if you have no tools available, you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of this amazing move.

Side plank hip dips are a great way to work on that lateral flexion without any equipment.

If the full version off the ground isn’t right for you, modifying the side plank off an incline, such as a bench, allows you to really use this move to your advantage and control that lateral flexion.

Just make sure you’ve engaged your back to support your shoulder and have flexed your feet, especially if your feet are stacked, to protect your knees.

And as important as it is to work through that range of motion to strengthen the muscles that power the lateral flexion movement, it can also be key to include some ANTI-FLEXION exercises as well.

Learning to PREVENT unwanted flexion or movement is equally as important.

And you can strengthen those muscles to stabilize using different anti-flexion moves as well.

It’s why things like side plank holds or the stability or pallof press can also be key to include.

But too often we aren’t using both and we’re even valuing one over the other instead of seeing the opportunity in combining both in our routines.

Remember moves are only as good as their implementation.

And lateral flexion, and the ability to avoid it, are key movement patterns we want to learn to control.

Train them in the gym to become stronger and functionally fit!

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