Try This Treadmill Cardio Workout And Rev Up Your Results

Try This Treadmill Cardio Workout And Rev Up Your Results

Here’s a little secret that will firmly cement my seat at the not-cool-kids table.

I like cardio workouts. Yes, even though it’s really popular to diss them as somehow being “less-than” what happens in the weight room.

Let us count the ways to love cardio, shall we? With actual science to back it up:

  • You can listen to good music and zone out (1).
  • Playing little games like going harder for a minute or two, or changing inclines, keeps it interesting and more effective (2).
  • It clears your mind of the stresses of the day (3).
  • Your mood improves significantly (4).
  • Feeling in “cardio shape” – being able to sprint up a couple flights of stairs without getting out of breath – is a good thing.
  • Plus, oh yeah, your health: it helps fight cancer, heart disease, diabetes, brain degeneration, disease-causing inflammation, and way, way, way more (5).

But yes, there’s that awful middle-of-the-workout realization: “OMG I have to do this for 15 more minutes?”

And on busy days, having to choose between weights OR cardio kind of sucks, because chances are you want the results of BOTH.

Here’s a solution that will:

  1. Make the cardio workout fly by,
  2. Boost the fat-burning results, especially belly fat (6),
  3. Improve overall health and functionality better than just cardio or just weights (7) (8).
  4. Give you more muscle definition (yay!).

Cardio + Weights = Better Results

Have you ever noticed that some people spend an awful lot of time doing cardio, but they never really change how they look?

Or if they do change, they are just smaller versions of their old selves, not necessarily “toned” looking?

That won’t happen with this kind of workout.

Because what you’re going to do is put an intensity-based resistance-training circuit in the middle of your cardio workout.

When you add a burst of intensity to your workout, you increase its effectiveness for burning fat. Plus, when those intense bursts involve resistance training, you get muscle-building benefits.

Having more muscle is good for a lot of reasons – not only does it make you stronger, but it revs your metabolism a bit.

Plus, as you get older, it’s normal to lose some muscle. The older you get, the faster this muscle loss happens, unless you take measures to help slow it. This is why I always advise my clients to pack on the muscle now, because they’ll be glad later that they did so (it’s kind of like saving your $$ for retirement).

The circuit below will burn more calories, work more muscles, and boost your overall results compared to a steady-state (i.e., plugging along at a steady pace the entire time) cardio workout.

For what it’s worth, when I’m faced with a cardio machine workout, I almost always end up doing something similar to the workout below.

Treadmill Cardio Workout

If you don’t have a treadmill, that’s cool – you actually can use any kind of cardio machine: elliptical, Stepmill, bike, etc.

Beyond that, all you need is a set of dumbbells. If you have a TRX suspension trainer, you can also use that for the rows and/or push-ups.

Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of cardio on the machine of your choice.

Then, get off the machine and do the following:

  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 15 push-ups
  • 30 alternating reverse lunges
  • 15 overhead dumbbell presses
  • 30 bodyweight squats (or front squats, holding a dumbbell in front of you for additional resistance)
  • 15 bodyweight inverse rows/TRX rows or dumbbell/barbell bent-over rows
  • Get back on the machine for 5 minutes, alternating 1 minute easy/1 minute hard intervals.
  • Repeat for a total of 20 to 25 minutes before cooling down on the cardio equipment to return your heart rate to normal.

Cardio+Weights Workout Facts

Here are some quick details about this fat-burning, muscle-sculpting workout.

1. Who Is This Workout For?

Pretty much anyone can do this workout. If you’re new to exercise or it’s been a while, definitely use a light weights and pace yourself, as this is a sneaky one. In fact, I’d recommend doing a little less than you think you should the first time through.

2. How Long Does This Workout Take?

This workout should take around 30 minutes.

3. How Often Should I Do This Workout?

If you’re doing total-body workouts like this one, you will want to take a day off between them, as the actual change within your muscles occurs during the time BETWEEN workouts.

That being said, if you use very light weights and/or just the weight of your body (like with the TRX), you could so a similar workout daily – just use different exercises.

4. What Muscles Does It Work?

This one primarily works your cardiovascular system along with your body’s biggest “fat-burning” muscles: legs, back, and chest.

Mix It Up To Keep It Up

Two big reasons people stop working out: lack of time and boredom!

This workout beats both of those issues. Give it a try and let me know how you do!

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How To Stop Neck Pain During Ab Crunches

How To Stop Neck Pain During Ab Crunches

Dear Wendy,

I often have a difficult time finding a comfortable position for my neck when doing ab crunches, bicycles and so on. Can you offer some pointers to help me?

– J.

Dear J.,

I used to get nagging neck pain when doing ab work too – in fact, I ended up in physical therapy twice as a result of neck pain. Ouch!

But after making some key changes in how I train and work, I’ve been pain free for years (knock wood!).

Before we get into form issues, I have a couple questions.

Things That Might Set You Up For Neck Pain

1. Have you ever had a neck injury? Does your neck hurt when doing other activities? If so, definitely get checked out by your doctor to make sure you don’t have anything serious going on.

2. Do you spend a lot of time sitting — in front of the computer,  at a desk, driving, playing video games, doing crafts or whatever? If so, your posture is likely playing a role in the pain.

Most of us slouch when we sit a lot, rolling our shoulders forward, which sets off an avalanche of muscle tightness and looseness which can equal neck issues, headaches and more.

Confession: poor posture caused my neck pain.

Mine occurred when I was an editor. I spent a lot of time behind a desk, either on the phone or at the computer. And even though I worked out daily, it wasn’t enough to overcome my posture issues until I rearranged my workspace so that it was more work- and body-friendly (better chair, appropriate height keyboard, etc.).

If you’re stuck sitting, check yourself regularly to see if you’re slouching.

Also, add these exercises to help improve your overall shoulder flexibility and mobility while strengthening your core:

And now – finally!!! – here’s how to stop your neck from hurting.

How To Avoid Neck Pain During Ab Crunches

One of the kickers when working abs: if you think about the posture we get into when we’re doing ab work, it can mimic the very posture that causes the neck pain in the first place. We round the shoulders, bring the chin forward, etc.

Below are the don’ts.

Basically, craning your neck forward is a no-no. Also, initiating the movement from the shoulders is a guaranteed ouch. (Thanks to my model Elisabeth Kilroy, who agreed to be my model after I wrangled her at the gym one afternoon.)

 

To get into the proper ab crunch form make sure:

  • You are bracing your lower abdominal muscles. Your lower back should pressing toward the floor so that the muscles between your hip bones feel taut.
  • Next, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth (yes, weird, but it helps to anchor your neck muscles) and then
  • Gently cradle the back of your head in your hands, elbows pointing straight out. It’s important not to actually hold or yank on your head during the movement.
  • Keep your neck long by only slightly tucking your chin, as if there is a big orange held between your chin and chest.
  • Next, perform the crunch by focusing on drawing your ribs toward your hips while lifting your shoulder blades from the floor. In other words, make the movement more about your torso than about lifting up your head/shoulders.

The same basic form goes for doing bicycles, except when you are doing the exercise think about rotating your shoulder toward your opposite knee rather than pulling your elbow across your body.

Have a question you’d like me to answer? Leave a comment or drop me a message. I’d love to hear from you!

Stay strong!

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This Quick TRX Workout Will Burn Fat and Make You Stronger

This Quick TRX Workout Will Burn Fat and Make You Stronger

Is there a suspension trainer hanging in your workout room, lonely and unused?

Thinking of buying one, but want to make sure it’s worth it?

You’ll be surprised how much you’ll use your TRX suspension trainer once you learn a few new exercises … and feel how effective they are.

Plus, they’re a fun way to mix up your workouts, and the exercises you do with them actually incorporate more muscles – which means you can get fitter, faster.

After years of doing mostly gym-style workouts, I was a skeptic but now I use mine every day with my clients, and I often incorporate it into my own workouts.

Here’s Why You’ll Love TRX Workouts:

  • You can simulate many gym-machine exercises for a fraction of the cost.
  • Suspension trainers force you to use your stabilizer muscles, helping you get stronger, faster.
  • My clients with form/joint issues tell me that doing lunges/squats with the suspension trainer places less stress on their knees. They also tell me they still feel them the next day in the “good” way that lets them know they had an effective workout.
  • You can adjust how challenging an exercise is by your placement relative to the TRX.
  • Working your back muscles at home can be hard – the TRX makes it easy.

Still not convinced? There have been a number of studies investigating the effectiveness of suspension trainer workouts.

While there seems to be some disagreement how much “bonus” work your get gets, one thing is clear: using TRX-style trainers DOES activate more muscles overall than more static exercises (1).

Which Suspension Trainer Should I Buy?

I bought a TRX at a fitness trade show about 10 years ago for $200. 

And it’s great – its straps are solid, well-made, and that thing is NOT going to fall apart anytime soon.

I bought a knockoff suspension trainer online last year for about $40 … and it was pretty great too, although I would be concerned about regularly using it with someone who weighs 200+ pounds.

Here’s something to know, though, before you go searching for knockoffs. The company that owns the TRX (Fitness Anywhere) won a major lawsuit against the company from which I bought my knockoff. And that knockoff company is out of business now.

But if you DO buy a knockoff, make sure it’s strong enough to support your weight. The bigger you are, the more important this becomes.

TRX Suspension Trainer Workout

Here’s a surprisingly effective workout I put together using the suspension trainer. Below the video I’ve included reps, sets, etc.

Before I get into the details, let’s talk facts.

1. Who Is This Workout For?

Because of a few of the exercises included, I’ve labeled this one an intermediate workout. The jump squats, single-leg lunges, and mountain climbers can get a little tough for anyone with joint issues.

Otherwise, it would be good for all levels, because your foot placement when using the TRX can help you modify how challenging the exercises become.

2. How Long Does This Workout Take?

This workout should take around 30 minutes.

3. How Often Should I Do This Workout?

If you’re doing total-body workouts like this one, you will want to take a day off between them, as the actual change within your muscles occurs during the time BETWEEN workouts.

You can always alternate total-body workouts with cardio workouts.

4. What Muscles Does It Work?

This workout hits nearly every muscle in your body. That being said, because of the stabilization effect I personally feel this one in my triceps, hamstrings, and obliques every time I do it.

TRX Suspension Workout Details

Below the video I’ve included reps, sets, etc. but as always, listen to your body. If you haven’t been working out much lately, maybe one circuit will be enough.

And if you’re more advanced and looking for a challenge, you can set a time limit (say 30 minutes) and see how many times you can make it through the circuit using good form.

As always, be sure to warm up with some light bodyweight exercises (squats, arm circles, pushups, etc.) before beginning the workout, and cool down with an easy walk to bring your heart rate back to normal when you’re done.

Repeat the following circuit for 2 to 4 sets:

  • Low Row, 10 to 15 reps
  • Squats, 15 reps
  • 1-Arm Row, 8 to 12 reps each side
  • Jump Squats, 15 reps
  • Standing Fallout, 10 reps (keep this one under control!)
  • Alligator, 10 reps
  • Single-leg lunge, 8 to 10 reps each side
  • Reverse mountain climbers, 10 reps each side 
  • Triceps extension, 10 to 12 reps
  • Hamstring curl, 10 to 15 reps
  • 1 minute break

Focus on Form 

When you try these exercises, really focus on your form.

Keep your knees “soft” and unlocked, your core engaged, and key in on the muscles you’re using. 

You’ll feel it tomorrow, trust me! (And you might even have some choice words for me during the reverse mountain climbers, hehheh.)

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Fast Workout Formula: When You Don’t Have Time To Work Out

Fast Workout Formula: When You Don’t Have Time To Work Out

Here’s a guilty confession: Some days I just can’t find the time to work out.

Yes, even though I am surrounded by fitness equipment for a good part of most days, finding constructive time to actually use it on myself can be a real challenge.

So I totally relate to my readers and clients who say they struggle with sticking to their fitness routine because of time constraints.

That’s why I created a time-saving workout formula for myself – and then realized it would probably help others who are in the same boat.

The formula was the result of a get-real moment I suffered a couple weeks ago, when I found myself sucking wind, big-time, while teaching a group ex class. Why was I sucking wind? Because I’d basically gone TWO WEEKS without a single real workout.

I think I hid the sucking-windedness of it all pretty well, but after class? I was useless the rest of the day and had to take two naps before going to bed early that night.

Which is not cool. (Seriously: if you want to get into shape fast, start teaching classes because it’s way more challenging than taking them. Not only do you have to do the workout, you have to talk the whole time and use big movements in order to motivate your class participants.)

That day was the kick in the pants I needed to get back into tip-top shape. And I needed to do it without long, boring workouts.

Time-Saving Workout

Here’s another issue compounding the problem: I’m tired of traditional weight-lifting workouts.

Like, the thought of them makes me never want to work out again. I’ve done that style of training for so many years that I just can’t get excited every week about doing the same-old, same-old squats, chest presses, pulldowns, etc.

In fact, when I think about how many years I spent doing them, I wonder how I lasted so long?

But the thing is, they’re effective exercises. And because I want to keep as much muscle as I possibly can, they’re probably my best bet to do that.

How could I make those classic exercises fun again, within the constraints of my time-saving workouts?

No problem! I created some mashup workouts, which combine everything I need from a fitness routine – strength, cardio, core work, functionality, and fun – in a single session. 

And yes, they actually are fun! They even have me looking forward to the next session.

Bodybuilding Splits + Cardio Fun

Here’s how the whole thing works. Because I want to preserve as much muscle as I can (always a struggle!), I took a classic weight-training split, which focuses on different body parts on different days of the week.

This might sound confusing (and if it does, just skip ahead to the actual format), but trust me, it isn’t.

Each workout consists of supersets or circuits, which are done back-to-back with no break until you reach the end of the circuit, and then repeated again for a certain number of sets.

What I did for these mashup workouts is put in a quick cardio burst at the end of each superset, and then a longer cardio session between supersets. 

Below are a couple examples, which you will see are infinitely customizable and super sweaty. 

Also, if you’re limited on equipment, no worries … just sub out different cardio bursts. There is a list of examples below the workouts.

As always, be sure to warm up and cool down thoroughly before/after you work out. If something hurts, don’t do it, and be sure to listen to YOUR body and pace yourself.

Back & Biceps Workout

Use the heaviest weight you can with proper form.

Superset 1

  • Assisted pull-ups, as many as possible
  • 1-arm cable row, 10 each side
  • Barbell biceps curls, 12
  • Mini-trampoline jumps, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times 

5 minutes stairclimber

Superset 2

  • Wide-grip pulldown, 12
  • Rear delt raises, 12
  • Dumbbell curls, 12
  • Jump rope, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times

5 minutes stairclimber

Superset 3

  • Stability ball lower body extensions, 10
  • High cable biceps curls (or TRX curls), 10
  • Repeat 3 times (no cardio burst for this one)

If you have time, you can add some plank variations to finish it up.

I don’t know exactly what this woman is doing, but I’m going with this: she is grateful for the workout these gloves are going to help her achieve.

Legs & Core Mashup Workout

Superset 1

  • Front squats, 15
  • Heel Clicks, 10
  • Hanging Leg Raises, 10
  • Heavy bag drills, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times

5 Minutes elliptical

Superset 2

  • Dumbbell lunges, alternating sides, 10 each side
  • TRX squat jumps, 12
  • Russian twist holding medicine ball, 15 each side
  • Battle rope drills, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times

5 Minutes elliptical

Superset 3

  • Straight-leg deadlifts, holding dumbbells, 10
  • Plank jump through (from plank position, “jump” your legs forward so your feet are near your hands, then jump back), 10
  • Wall sit, 45 seconds
  • Heavy bag drills, 1 minute

How To Create Your Own Time-Saving Workout

I can hear you now: OK, that’s great, Wendy, but I don’t have a whole bunch of equipment at my disposal.

That’s fine. You really don’t need that much. 

The longer, five-minute intervals?

You can use pretty much any kind of cardio machine at your disposal: treadmill, elliptical, bike, stairclimber, rowing machine. You can jog. You can dance. You can create your own little kettlebell circuit. It simply has to be something that’s not too intense but that keeps your heart rate in its fat-burning range (lower-intensity cardio).

For the shorter, more intense bursts at the end of each superset, check out this quick list of possibilities:

  • jump rope
  • jumping jacks
  • burpees
  • mountain climbers
  • standing mountain climbers
  • shadow boxing (if you don’t have a bag)
  • kettlebell or dumbbell swings
  • high knees
  • running in place
  • battle ropes
  • windsprints 
  • broad jumps (jump forward, jog back, repeat)
  • tall box step-ups
  • medicine ball squat to toss
  • bench hop overs (hands on bench, hop legs over, from one side to the next)
  • soccer ball (or bench) toe-touches
  • carioca/side-shuffles

You get the idea, right? Basically, it’s anything that adds a little “oomph” to the workout via a cardio burst. 

All you have to do is plug those exercises into a weight-training workout and you’re good to go.

Lemme Know …

Honestly, I love these two workouts and they’re some of my favorite go-tos now. Try them yourself, and let me know how they work for you.

This Q&D Workout Will Sculpt Your Arms and Shoulders

This Q&D Workout Will Sculpt Your Arms and Shoulders

So, it’s a pretty big day around here. The pic below? Those are my cats, pretending to be street toughs. See the one on the right, with the patch of white chest hair?

Yeah. That’s Eddie (his sister Alex is on the left), and he’s kind of been a pain in the butt the past few months. At first we thought it was a behavioral problem, but it turns out he actually has been sick. Last week we finally figured out the issue and now, $$$ later in vet bills and medications, he’s turning back into the little terror he was in that picture.

In fact, he just zipped between my legs as I walked toward the kitchen, because he’s angry I changed his food. 

Don’t you just hate it when your pet is sick and they can’t tell you what’s wrong? Anyway, he has feline lower urinary tract disease, which, as far as I can tell, is a pretty mysterious thing, especially in young cats like Eddie.

But at least now we know, right? My fingers are crossed that we have finally found the magic cure for him. He’s a sweet kitty when he’s not trying to murder me because he doesn’t love his food.

The Quick & Dirty Workout

So anyway, between shuttling between the vet, the fitness studio, and home, I’ve been up against it this week when it comes to finding time to squeeze in a workout.

And that’s how this “Q&D” workout came about.

Back when I was a newspaper editor, I used to assign “Q&D” stories all the time. Basically, they were stories that got the job done without a lot of flash: Just the facts, ma’am.

Today I put together a little Q&D workout for myself following that same kind of formula. Just the basics in a surprisingly effective format.

For this particular workout, I wanted to hammer the upper body but still get a little metabolic boost in there (i.e., fat-burn), so I threw in a lower-body exercise to mix things up and raise the heart rate a bit.

I also did this in a nonstop format, cycling through it with no break except for the occasional dance move when a favorite playlist song came on.

FYI: make sure you warm up with some light bodyweight exercises (arm circles, squats, modified pushups, etc) before you do this. As for me, I had just finished training 5 clients so I was already warm when it was finally my turn to work out. 🙂 

Gratuitous cat photo

The Quick Arm and Shoulders Workout

This entire workout took me less than 30 minutes, but as I mentioned above, I went through it nonstop because I wanted to get a fat-burning boost from it.

Feel free to do fewer sets and take breaks as necessary.

Circuit 1

  • 12 Flat-bench dumbbell chest presses 
  • 10 Barbell bent-over rows
  • 12 biceps curls 
  • 15 rear delt raises
  • 15 walking lunges, each side (30 total)
  • I did this 5 times through, but 3 times would be spectacular.

Circuit 2

  • 10 Goblet squats (basically, a front squat holding a dumbbell at your chest)
  • 12 Skull crushers
  • 10 Side raises
  • 10 Triceps pushups
  • Repeat for 2 to 3 times through

Quick Workouts Don’t Mean Easy Workouts

If you’re like me, if you don’t spend an hour in the gym working out you feel like a slacker. Well, that’s just silly talk.

Seriously. Try the workout above and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. My shoulders already feel nicely toasty from it, just a few hours out.

That Time I Let a Friend Taunt Me Into Doing 54 Burpees

That Time I Let a Friend Taunt Me Into Doing 54 Burpees

So, my birthday was a couple weeks ago. It was no big deal, because I’ve reached the age where birthdays aren’t something I celebrate all that heartily. 

I mean, I don’t necessarily dread them, but I’m clearly in the, “WTF? I’m that old? How did that happen?” range.

It’s kind of like I’m not yet old enough to just be happy to have the privilege of being “old,” but I am old enough to worry whether I’m going to be among that crew. (Clearly, I’ve given this a lot of thought, right?)

Anyway, every year I try to do a birthday workout – usually it’s a toughie. But this year, my birthday fell on a day when I normally teach a cardio class (Country Heat Live, which is a blast, even if you don’t like country music <raise your hand if you’re with me on that!>).

And I really didn’t want to put myself through a big workout on a day I had to teach.

So I thought: meh. I don’t need a birthday workout this year. Seriously, it’s just another day, right?

But then the next day rolled around, and I was feeling a little depressed and maybe even slightly sorry for myself. (It happens, and I am going to blame the excess birthday cake I might have eaten.)

Which led me to decide to do a workout. And I came up with one I could do at home, with equipment I had on-hand – a kettlebell, a kitchen chair, and a resistance tube. It was a pretty good one, so I posted it in a Facebook group I belong to with a few of my long-time friends.

And one of my friends coughMariecough posted something along the lines of: “I notice there are no burpees in there.” She was just giving me a hard time, because that’s what we do … but still.

 

And Then the Peer Pressure Set In

It was true. There weren’t any burpees in the workout. Over the past few years, I’ve battled a shoulder injury that was so bad at times I couldn’t sleep or even put on/take off a T-shirt without cringing in pain. Like, I have literally changed my wardrobe because of it. And also my workouts.

In fact, a lot of times I didn’t want to work out because it hurt … a lot. But because I’m a personal trainer I didn’t want to admit I was in pain, you know?

But you know what? Over the past few months my shoulder has gradually gotten better. A few weeks earlier, I’d tested the waters by doing 5 burpees and it wasn’t bad. And I had tried doing some pushups (from my knees, yes, but still …).

And so I wondered if maybe I was just babying myself by not including burpees.

Or, I thought, maybe I was being smart.

I wasn’t going to let that burpee thing get into my head, was I?

Of Course I Was

So I turned on the TV – E!’s Red Carpet to the Grammys – and started the workout, which featured 3 sets of 18 reps of a bunch of exercises (the whole thing is below if you want to do it – it’s a good one!).

And honestly, it wasn’t what I would call a killer workout. I mean, I felt like I had done something, but was it birthday-worthy?

Not really. Because a birthday workout should be something momentous, something to mark an occasion.

And I kept thinking about what my friend had written. Halfway through the second set, I wondered: should I tack on a burpee finisher?

No, I thought. No I shouldn’t. Don’t be silly.

But as I began the final circuit of the workout, I realized that I kind of had to do the burpees. Because the thought was there, and if I didn’t do them, I’d feel like I’d wussed out.

So after I finished the 540 reps (actually more than that, if you count the “each side” reps), I decided to end the workout with a “one to grow on” set.

And that set consisted of …

54 burpees.

Considering I’ve not done 54 burpees in total since May 2015, when my shoulder injury occurred .. well, this decision might have been labeled crazy.

But it wasn’t.

It actually was really awesome.

With my dog and two cats looking on, I counted out all 54 burpees (the no-pushup variety, because I do value the progress my shoulder has made).

I don’t know how long it took me, but it was less than one segment of the E! show I had on in the background.

Happy Birthday to Me

These burpees were a huge birthday gift for myself.

Because I could do them – and honestly, they weren’t that hard. 

They was a gift because the last year has been rough. Not to belabor a point, but splitting from my business partnership was a heart-wrenching decision as it meant walking out on a decade’s worth of hard work with very little to show for it. I lost friends, people questioned my motives (and my character) without asking me, and I heard so much gossip.

When you add that on top of the injured shoulder and some other stuff, I had lost my “strong” feeling.

And all of that made me question myself – which I think ultimately is a valuable experience. Because in the words of Dr. Phil, it makes you “get real.”

And you know what? I’ve come out of all of it even stronger … and I’m really excited to see what’s next because I know I’m ready for it.

Happy Frickin’ Birthday! Yay! #notironic

Are You Ready for a Challenge?

The burpees are optional … (click and save this image to your phone for easy access)

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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