Sunday, May 17, 2015

10 Tips for Cranking Out More Push-Ups on a Military PT Test

Once upon a time I HATED push-ups. And when I say I hated them, I mean I loathed them, and not in a love-to-hate kinda way. I just sucked at doing them.

But guess what?

Push-ups are by far my favorite exercise now, even over the squat, which says a lot coming from someone like me who lives for the power rack and sprints.



Source

Push-ups are a total body movement, and I didn't master the movement overnight. I learned the tricks of the push-up trade. After nine months in the Army ROTC program, here's what I've learned that can help you perfect the form, get stronger and therefore crank out more push-ups.

I went from being able to do 25 push-ups in two minutes to being able to crank out 62 push-ups in two minutes on last month's PT (physical training) test by using these techniques.

10 Tips for Cranking Out More Push-Ups on a Military PT Test from Hungry Gator Gal

Graphic by Brianna Kolota

1. Look straight ahead while performing the entire movement. 

In other words, DO NOT look down at your hands!

2. Pull in your glutes.

a.k.a. Don't sag in the middle or make yourself a tepee. Your body should look like one straight line from the heels to the top of your head.

3. Find the distance between your hands and feet that naturally allows you to perform the greatest number of push-ups . . . 


4. . . . and change that stance when it becomes difficult.

Changing your stance will engage different muscle groups and will allow you to crank out a few more push-ups than you thought you had left in you. 

5. Enagage your quads (a.k.a. the tops of your thighs) and push your heels backward.


6. Engage your core muscles (a.k.a. your abs).


7. Don't forget to breathe.

You don't want to pass out in the middle of a push-up, do you?!?

8. Take a 10-second break when you're nearing complete muscle failure.

After your 10-second break, perform two or three push-ups and then break again for five seconds. Repeat this pattern of two or three push-ups followed by a five-second break until you can do no more push-ups or your time expires (if you're being timed for a test).

9. Practice!

Basically every other day I crank out 100 to 200 push-ups. I usually complete it circuit style by alternating between 20 push-ups and a 1-minute rest. I do these push-ups a few hours before or after a workout to give my body enough time to rest.

Some days I go MUCH slower with these reps than I would during a test. Slowing the upward and downward motion of a push-up allows you to focus on form rather than speed and builds the muscles needed to push out as many reps as possible on test day.

Other days I focus on an explosive upward movement as I would during the test. This trains the muscles of your upper back for power and speed.

Note: If you can't complete 20 push-ups in a row without resting, focus on doing 5, 10 or 15 at a time. Rest 1 or 2 minutes. Repeat as many times as possible.

10. Lift heavy things (body weight and added weight).

In addition to practicing straight push-ups for muscular endurance, I lift and pull heavy things.

I bench press or do incline presses. I do pull-ups. I perform military presses, goblet squats, dips and biceps curls. In other words, I hit it all.

I like to stick with three or four sets of five heavy reps for each of the exercises. I focus on strength here as opposed to endurance with the 100 to 200 push-ups every other day.

That's it!

Feel free to email me at bkkolota@gmail.com if you have any questions related to ROTC, military PT training or tests. I'd be happy to share my experience! :)

Question:

  1.  What's your trick for performing as many push-ups as possible?

Related HGG Posts:


Lately + 5x5 Circuit Workout

5x5 Circuit Workout from Hungry Gator Gal

10 Goals to Improve Overall Fitness in 2015



50-Rep Upper Body + Abs Challenge

50-Rep Upper Body + Abs Challenge from Hungry Gator Gal 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 3

If you ask me what it's like to be an Army officer candidate and a law student at the same time, I'll give you these responses . . . 



I love that there's a cup of coffee in that photo because I'm totally guilty of caffeinating while stressed. The goal is to be jittery and motivated enough to conquer a mile-long to-do list while sleep deprived.


Source

Don't get me wrong. I like school and have come a LONG way in terms of analytical thinking abilities, but sometimes I just want to pull my hair out due to the non-stop mental gymnastics. Logic is so hard (and NOT logical) at times.

And when I've reached the point where I'm literally about to go insane, I turn to exercise, including yoga and my favorite practice songs.

So without further adieu, here's my biggest +Spotify yoga playlist to date. It's a good mix of slow and upbeat songs. It's perfect for hot yoga, power yoga or a fast-flowing vinyasa. Find the playlist HERE. Enjoy! :)

P.S. The playlist is TWO images. Make sure to pin both if you're adding the playlist to a Pinterest board. Also, if you like this playlist, follow me and my other playlists on Spotify and Pinterest.

Yoga Playlist No. 3 from Hungry Gator Gal (Spotify playlist)

Image by Brianna Kolota 

Yoga Playlist No. 3 from Hungry Gator Gal (Spotify playlist)

Image by Brianna Kolota

Stay tuned this summer for workouts, playlists and recipes I've been making while in school but haven't had time to post. Coming up in May . . .
  • Yoga Playlist No. 4
  • TWO stadium workouts
  • Beach Sprints and Strength Workout
  • Total Body TRX and Kettlebell Circuit
  • Smoothies
And if you're still in school as a student OR a teacher, hang in there! The end is near. I JUST finished my first year of law school, so I feel your pain. If you're working, I hope you have a vacation planned soon. :)

Brianna

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lately + 5x5 Circuit Workout

Words can't even begin to describe everything that's happened since I last stopped in. A lot of good stuff. Some bad stuff. But that's life, right?

The good . . . competing in the Army ROTC 6th Brigade Ranger Challenge competition!

Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Competition on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Taryn Boyer

Ruck running 30 miles in two days with added challenges along the way is, without a doubt, the most grueling thing I've ever done.

I'm SO grateful to have had the opportunity to compete as the only female from the University of Florida. My body literally ached from head to toe, and there were times when my mind told me to give up, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat if that meant I would work with eight of the kindest, strongest, most motivating guys around again.

Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Competition on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota 

I don't remember running miles in the rain with gear in full combat uniform or the blisters on my feet. When I look at this patch, which I'll wear on my uniform for the remainder of my ROTC career, I remember the laughs, the motivation and the teamwork.

Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Competition on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

So what went wrong after the competition? Unfortunately, I walked, actually more like hobbled, away with a bum knee in addition to a cool patch and a t-shirt. The injury sidelined me from all high-intensity exercise for nearly all of February.

Boo injuries. :(

Despite the setback, it was almost a good thing I was injured. I focused on spending time with family and friends, recovering from two back-to-back colds and catching up with schoolwork. In addition, I learned a few valuable lessons that anyone who's serious about exercise should pay attention to.
  1. Stretch or die.
  2. Don't ramp up your routine too much, too hard and too fast.
  3. Embrace rest.
More to come about these topics in a separate post. For now, check out this AWESOME circuit I created on the fly while at home on spring break. It's very back-to-the-basics and hits every major muscle group, if you perform the exercises correctly.

Check out the tutorials below this image if you're unsure about how to do a particular exercise. As always, move as quickly as you can between exercises but rest as needed. I rested for 10 seconds between exercises and 1 minute between circuits.

5x5 Circuit Workout from Hungry Gator Gal

Exercise tutorials:

Did I mention the workout can be completed at home and requires only one piece of equipment? Gotta love a good garage workout with the pull-up bar.

P.S. This +Spotify playlist is killer and just so happens to be called "House Workout." Give it a listen while you try this workout.


Until next time,
Brianna ;)

Questions:

  1. What are your favorite at-home workouts? Links are always welcome. :)
  2. Do you own an at-home pull-up bar?

Related HGG Posts:


150-Rep Lower Body Challenge

150-Rep Lower Body Challenge from Hungry Gator Gal

Upper Body + Abs Circuit Workout

Upper Body + Abs Circuit Workout from hungrygatorgal.com

Holiday Circuit Workouts

Monday, January 19, 2015

Don't Give Up on Your Fitness Goals + Funny Workout Tank

I shared a story about how far I've come in terms of fitness via my personal Facebook account Thursday. The post generated SO much positive feedback that I knew I had to share it with my HGG readers as fitness motivation for 2015.


In the past 18 months, I've learned self-motivation is the key to sticking with a fitness goal. Find whatever motivates YOU to keep going when the going gets tough. And remember, things that motivate someone else might not work for you.

I create new playlists, work out with friends and change up my routine with different classes, equipment and tempos to keep things fresh. Having the chance to wear funny workout clothes is always a plus too . . . 

"Ruck Funning" Workout Tank from Constantly Varied Gear on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

I took this photo early in the morning after drinking waaaaaayyy too much coffee in one sitting. Hence the serial killer face.

I was also excited it was a lifting day and not a running day. I really don't like running, unless it's with friends or sprinting in the heat of a sport or a competition. Naturally, I picked the tank above when Constantly Varied Gear asked me if I'd like one in exchange for writing about its products.

Constantly Varied Gear Funny Tank Top on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

The company sells A TON of funny shirts and tanks in a variety of colors for men and women. I spent an hour trying to choose a tank before deciding on the "Ruck Funning" one. It's soft and thin, which is perfect for when Florida decides winter doesn't exist.

The tank is so comfortable that I now have my eyes on this yoga tank, this coffee tank and this tank about punching people. Because, you know, you can never have too many workout tanks or leggings for that matter. Who needs to wear real shirts and pants when workout clothes are so comfy?!?

Order your own hilarious gear here. :) 

P.S. Follow the links below to learn more about the Army ROTC program and the Ranger Challenge competition.

Note: Constantly Varied Gear or any other company did not compensate me for this post. The company simply sent a tank top to me without charge in exchange for writing this post. As always, all thoughts, opinions and reviews are my own.

Questions: 

  1. Who or what motivates you to exercise?
  2. Do you have a 2015 fitness resolution? What is it?
  3. Do you own any funny workout clothes? What do they say?
  

Related HGG Posts:


10 Goals to Improve Overall Fitness in 2015 

 

Hungry Gator Gal's Top 10 Posts of 2014 



10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner from Hungry Gator Gal 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

10 Goals to Improve Overall Fitness in 2015

What's one way to ensure you achieve fitness goals? Share them with thousands of people . . .

Below you'll find 10 goals I'm pursuing to improve my overall fitness in 2015, in no particular order of importance. Some goals are easy "check-off-the-list" things or habits I plan to change. Other goals are HARD and are going to take serious commitment.


These goals are personalized to my life, but please tweak them to fit YOUR life, whether you're a seasoned fitness fanatic or an exercise newbie. No two persons are at the same fitness level, and you should be realistic when setting goals.

I've explained why I'm pursuing the goals below. If you're an athlete, training for a specific event or just a fitness geek, I HIGHLY suggest reading the reasons why I'm pursuing the goals because they're probably applicable to your life too.

Click on the links within this post to learn more information, such as where body composition assessments are offered near you.

You now have permission to call me out if you see me slacking! Feel free to let me know what your 2015 fitness goals are in the comments section. :)

Goal #1: Complete a functional movement screen (FMS)/mobility assessment.


Why: 
  1. Identify and assess muscular imbalances. 
  2. Correct my form.
  3. Prevent injuries.

Yes, I am damn proud of my ability to squat four or five rounds of 10 reps at nearly 200 pounds. Yes, I can do 50+ perfect-form push-ups in 2 minutes. However, if I'm doing these moves incorrectly, I'm putting myself at risk for an injury that I literally cannot afford. If I can't perform physically as well as mentally in the next 2.5 years of law school, I put myself at risk for losing my scholarship.

I think anyone, whether you're a seasoned lifter or just learning how to strength train, can benefit from a mobility assessment. Identifying and correcting muscular imbalances allows you to strengthen weak muscles and prevent injuries from happening. You can visit the FMS website to find a professional near you who gives the assessment.

Goal #2: Complete two body composition assessments (one in the January/February, one in August/September).


Why:
  1. Determine my body fat percentage.
  2. Assess how my nutrition and exercise habits are impacting my athletic performance.
  3. Improve my athletic performance.

I've suspected for a year or so that my body fat percentage is in the female athlete range, and I want to confirm or deny this suspicion. Depending upon the number, I may or may not pursue, in a healthy way, a goal of dropping a few percentage points to improve my speed and endurance.

UF offers a BodPod test, one of the most accurate body fat assessment tools, for $50, and the follow-up test months later costs $35. Click here to see where the BodPod test is offered near you. I'll be sure to write about the experience when I do it.   

Goal #3: Complete a running assessment and possibly a few coaching lessons, depending upon the cost.


Why: Analyze and work on correcting my running form.

I've been dealing with shin splints on and off since August, which I'm attributing the fact that I literally never ran before joining the Army ROTC program.

It was probably too much running too fast and not with proper form. I've recognized and corrected some of my own problems, like my tendency to heel strike, which has allowed me to increase my speed and endurance. However, I know I may have a muscular imbalance that's contributing to my shin pain.

If you're a running coach or know of a good, reasonably priced running coach in the Gainesville, Florida area, email me at bkkolota@gmail.com!

Goal #4: Complete at least one 4- to 6-mile run per week.


Why:
  1. Increase endurance.
  2. Mental relaxation.

Endurance is NOT my strong point. I LOVE sprints, HIIT and basically any short, intense workout. However, I've recognized that completing even one moderate distance run per week at a moderate pace makes the short intense workouts easier and totally relaxes me.

In other words, I think I'm actually enjoying running now?!?

Goal #5: Complete a sprint workout at least once per week.


Why:
  1. ABS baby!
  2. Increase speed.

Read this article about the benefits of sprinting and you'll be on your way to the track . . . like now.

Goal #6: Commit to writing down the weights used during strength workouts.


Why: Track my strength increases.

I write down workouts in terms of what I did and how many reps, but I've never tracked how much weight I'm using to see if my strength has increased.

I know I'm stronger than a year ago, but I want to be able to look back at 2015 to see exactly how much my strength has increased. I'll start putting the weight amounts on my weekly workout page.

Goal #7: Compete in at least one obstacle course/tactical race. 


Why:
  1. To have FUN with friends.
  2. To say I did it!

Do I really need an explanation for wanting to complete a Spartan Race Super and/or a Tough Mudder?

Goal #8: Foam roll for at least 10 minutes every day.  


Why: Benefits of foam rolling.

Goal #9: Go to two yoga classes per week.


Why:
  1. Prevent injuries.
  2. Improve flexibility and balance.
  3. Maintain my sanity.

Pro Athletes Turn to Yoga

Goal #10: Earn a 300 on the APFT.


Why:
  1. To earn the badge!
  2. To say I did it!

I'm SO close to maxing the test. <--- I earned a 292 out of 300 on November's test.

If I follow through on all of the aforementioned goals, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to earn a 300 by August.

P.S. You can train for the test , even if you're not in the military, to assess and track your fitness progress.

Question:

  1. What are your 2015 fitness goals and why are you pursuing them? 
 
Related HGG Posts:

Tips for Setting Realistic Fitness Goals in 2014 

 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hungry Gator Gal's Top 10 Posts of 2014 + Thank You!

My thoughts on 2014 in general . . .


Source

I accomplished SO much in this whirlwind of a year: studying for and taking the LSAT a second time while working and going to school, graduating from UF with highest honors, applying to and starting law school, and starting the Army ROTC program, just to name the highlights.

It was rough at times with late nights, early mornings and moments of  "What did I get myself into?!?" However, I wouldn't change any of it, and I want to thank everyone, including my readers, for supporting me and Hungry Gator Gal through it all.

It means more to me than words can express that this little website has encouraged so many others to live healthier, active lives. This blog has been a constant source of fun and creativity in my life for only three years, but I honestly don't remember life without it and your words of encouragement.

So before I get super sappy, here's a list of YOUR favorite posts, based on page views, from the year 2014. Click on the titles to see the original posts.

Enjoy, and I'll see ya' in 2015! I have a feeling it's going to be the best year yet. ;)

1. Yoga Workout Playlist




2. Upper Body + Abs Circuit Workout


Upper Body + Abs Circuit Workout from hungrygatorgal.com 


3. Paleo Oatless Oatmeal


Paleo Oatless Oatmeal from Hungry Gator Gal

4. Basic 8 Leg Workout + Lower Body Stretches


Basic 8 Leg Workout from Hungry Gator Gal

5. Vega Bars Review


 #vegabars on Hungry Gator Gal @FitApproach @VegaTeam #sweatpink

6. Summer Workout Jams


Summer Workout Jams Playlist from Hungry Gator Gal (spotify playlist included)

7. Burnin' Abs Circuit


Hungry Gator Gal Burnin' Abs Circuit

8. Favorite Nike Training Club App Workouts




9. Ultimate EDM Playlist




10. Very Berry French Vanilla Smoothie


Very Berry French Vanilla Smoothie from Hungry Gator Gal #OneChange #VegaOne 

Questions:

  1. What was your favorite post, workout, playlist and/or recipe from 2014? It doesn't have to be from Hungry Gator Gal.

Monday, December 29, 2014

150-Rep Lower Body Challenge

This lower body endurance workout + a 6.6-mile run afterward = sore quads and hip flexors for days.

But really. I was sore to the touch for a SOLID 48 hours. I really have no idea what I was thinking. All I know is that I hobbled around the mall and Target the next day in pain. I looked like a baby giraffe learning how to walk. But it was amazing.

So if you love self-imposed pain, check out this workout. Feel free to tell me how awful and awesome it makes you feel afterward. :) 

150-Rep Lower Body Challenge from Hungry Gator Gal

Exercise videos:

P.S. This is an awesome at-home or holiday workout that requires minimal or NO equipment. No gym = no excuse. I usually complete 50 reps of one exercise and then 50 reps of the next exercise, etc. Feel free to split up the 150 reps however you choose.

Questions:

  1. Do you ever complete lower body workouts and longer runs on the same day?
  2. What's the hardest workout you've ever completed? 

Related HGG Posts:


10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner from Hungry Gator Gal 

26-Minute Boredom-Busting Treadmill Workout 

26-Minute Boredom-Busting Treadmill Workout from Hungry Gator Gal 

5-4-3-2-1 Lower Body Blast


5-4-3-2-1 Lower Body Blast Workout from hungrygatorgal.com