How to Target Your Glutes

After years of training, I’ve finally realized that working my legs is not the same as working my glutes. Think about it, when you do squats are you emphasizing your glutes and nothing else? Absolutely not. In fact, you’re probably working your quads more so than any other body part.

As you can see, most of your leg-day routine concentrates on your quads and your hamstrings. Now, I’m not saying that you aren’t working your glutes. What I am saying is that you’re not targeting them as much as you could.

Based on my own personal experience, I recommend that you do two ‘leg-days’ weekly – one that is heavy-weight quads and hammies and the other that is light-weight glutes and plyometrics. By doing two ‘leg-days’ instead of one, you’re able to focus on two muscles instead of an entire area. Also, you’ll find that you have more energy and time to spend on each exercise.


Why do you do plyometrics on leg-day? 

Many of you are probably wondering why I’ve incorporated plyometrics into my routine. After all, isn’t plyometrics another way to say that we’re doing cardio? Actually, yes and no.

To clarify, whenever I reference ‘plyometrics’, I’m referring to movements like jump squats, scissors, banded lunges, box-jumps etc. As you can imagine, by doing these types of exercises you’ll be using your body weight to work your legs and increase your heart rate, which is why I incorporate them into my routine. Those exercises have helped to sculpt both my butt and my legs like no other. Most importantly, they’re a great way to get my cardio, as I would much rather do jump-squats than run for half a mile.

man and woman doing box jumps, a type of plyometric exercise
Image found on Google by Top Notch

Light-weight glutes and plyometrics workout 

If you’ve been following my posts for a while, you know that I love to do compound and super sets. That being said, I like to perform a traditional glute exercise followed by a plyometrics move. Why? Well, I simply feel that my body gets that extra burn that I wouldn’t get otherwise.  Trust me, you’ll feel the same way once you’ve tried it.

Here is what you’ll need for this workout:

  • Resistance bands (get the ones that are meant for your legs not the ones with handles on the sides)
  • Enough space to move around
  • Box (or anything else you can jump up and down on)
  • Barbell
  • Couple of dumbbells

Okay, do you have everything you need? If so, let’s begin.

1. Light-weight, barbell sumo deadlift + body-weight Bulgarian split squats (back-to-back) – 15 x 4

When doing the sumo deadlift

What I mean by ‘light-weight’ is for you to use a weight that you can control. For some of you, that may be 10 lbs while for others that may be 60 lbs. To be clear, I don’t want you to try to max out or show off. Instead, I want you to be able to focus on the muscle and make sure that you’re pushing through your heel and your glutes. I’ve discovered that by doing them elevated on a smith machine, I’m able to control both my form and the movement much better.

P.S. I’ve discovered that by doing the sumo squats elevated on a smith machine, I’m able to control both my form and the movement much better.

Now, for the Bulgarian split squats

Make sure your knee doesn’t go past your toes. You want to balance yourself on your front leg. I like to add a little hop/jump as I’m doing them (much like doing scissors).

2. Landmine squats + banded monster walks – 15 x 4

Once again, make sure the plate that you’re using for the landmine squat is light enough that you can control but heavy enough to add challenge to the exercise. As soon as you’ve loaded the landmine with the weight that you want to use, you’re going to pick up the bar with both hands, place it in front of you (maybe push it against your chest for balance) and squat. Remember to push through your heels and squeeze your glutes at the top.

For the banded monster walks, place the band around your ankles. Personally, I like to use the one with 40 lbs resistance, but you can choose whichever you feel comfortable with. Once you’ve done that, you’ll do monster walks. It’s quite simple and super effective.

3. Courtesy lunges + box jumps – 20 x 4

For the courtesy lunges, I want you to be able to feel the burn. You should feel that the leg that’s in front of you is holding most of your weight.

*With the box jumps, be careful how you land!

4. Cable kickbacks + Scissors – 15 x 4

Okay, so this is a good one!

download-5

I always see girls trying to do cable kickbacks with 40 or 50 lbs. Even though that’s quite impressive, most of the time they’re not doing them right. In fact, they tend to feed off the momentum by swinging their leg around. What I recommend is for you to truly lower the weight so you can squeeze your glutes when you kick back and hold the position for a few seconds. Trust me, it will burn!

*Scissors = pretty self-explanatory

5. Kneeling Squats + Box Jumps + Banded squat jumps – 12 x 4

*Self-explanatory (leave me a comment if you want to know more!)

6. Cool-down = 15 min stairs!!!!


This is my own, self-made routine, so I can’t wait for you to try!

XOXO,

Manuela

If you liked this article, you might enjoy: Leg Day Vibes, How to Get Rid Of Under-Butt Celullite

 

 

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Natural Skin Care Secrets That Will Change Your Life

I’m envious of people that can eat whatever they want and wash their face whenever they please without getting a single breakout.

I mean, I really don’t understand how someone like me, a person who sticks to a daily skin-routine, wears sunscreen and eats healthy, can get a gigantic breakout by sneezing at the wrong time while people that do absolutely nothing to take care of their skin look like Julianne Hough. Situations like these are ones that make me question the kind of world we live in.

It’s just not fair.

To make sure that you’re not being misguided, I do want you to know that my skin has never been ‘bad.’ In fact, I don’t break out often but whenever I do… it’s horrific! I get those ginormous zits that are impossible to cover up. To make things even worst, I have the whitest skin that you can imagine, so all my red pimples are noticeable from a mile away.


After years of careful examination, I’ve determined that the problem with my skin is that it reflects every minor change in my lifestyle. For example, if I eat a bag of gummy worms when I haven’t eaten processed sugar in a while, my skin will show. If I’m stressed out about an exam or a deadline, my skin will reflect that. I seriously can’t get away with anything.

Also, I’ve noticed that my skin is extremely sensitive. It will scar easily under the sun or with processed facial scrubs. So, knowing that I can’t use supermarket products to cleanse my skin, I’ve turned to natural solutions that have worked extremely well for me.

If you’ve been nodding throughout this blog and can relate to my situation because you’ve been there, I suggest that you try the following items…

Skin-Care Must-Haves 

  • Raw African Black Soap (Bar or Paste)
  • Moisturizing Tea Tree Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil Scrub
  • Baking Soda
  • Apple Cider
  • Water & Healthy Diet

African Black Soap

I came across this item recently after reading an article online. Once I’ve read the reviews and watched a couple of YouTube videos, I decided to give it a try. Thank God that I did because this product is LIT!

 

African Black Soap Raw Paste, Image via Ebay

 

To give you the rundown, I use this product twice a day (morning & night time). If you get the paste (like me), put a little bit in the palm of your hand with some water, rub your hands together until it turns to soap and then wash your face throughout. The black soap dries your skin tremendously, so make sure to moisturize!


Moisturizing Tea Tree Oil & Scrub

I’ve been using tea tree oil as a moisturizer and spot treatment for a while. For my kind of skin, it has worked extremely well. Recently, I found the tea tree oil scrub at ULTA (yes, it’s a bit pricey but so worth it), which I’ve been using to exfoliate once a week.


Baking Soda and Apple Cider

I like to use baking soda every now and then to exfoliate once a week. I tend to limit my use of it because it tends to dry my skin more than I would like. Regarding the apple cider, I use it as a toner!


Water & Healthy Diet

Meal of avocado, eggs, tomatoes, asparagus, celery and beacon.

I don’t know about you, but once I cleaned up my diet and switched from soda to water, my skin cleared up. Obviously, there’s only so much a healthy diet can do for your hormonal breakouts, but it really does help lighten up your skin. It makes it look hydrated and rejuvenated, so I highly recommend making changes in your lifestyle if you’re skin is not as great as you’d like it to be.


Have you tried any of the items I listed?

What tends to work for your skin?

Let me know! I’m always looking for new goodies to try.

XOXO,

Manuela

If you liked this article, you might enjoy Stressing Out, Breaking Out & Freaking Out, Skin-Care and Nutrition Go Hand-in-Hand, How to Nail Your Diet, Supplements vs. Vitamins

#1 Reason Why You Can’t See Your Abs

“I don’t understand what’s going on. I train my abs EVERY DAY but I still can’t see them!”

You’d be surprised how many people fail at getting a six-pack by doing hundreds of crunches. Those poor, misguided souls think that by doing fancy abdominal exercises, they’ll be able to have Zac Efron’s Baywatch torso. Unfortunately, it turns out that training isn’t the only factor that’s required to getting visible abs.

Before we dive deeper into that statement, let me ask you something…

Have you ever seen a man or a woman that doesn’t do any targeted abdominal workouts but has a six-pack?

I know you have, so how do you explain that?

Well, there might be a couple of reasons why…

  1. They have a low body-fat percentage
  2. They’re involved in a sport that works their core
  3. They have a clean diet
  4. They consistently burn more calories than what they consume

That being said, what do you think is the #1 reason why you’re not seeing your abs?

Your diet isn’t as clean as it should be

I know what you’re thinking.

I, too, have seen people who are shredded that eat like crap. In fact, those people are all over social media preaching the ‘if it fits your macros’ (IIFYM) philosophy. It’s easy to be tricked into thinking that your eating habits don’t have to change for your body to change.

If it fits your macros fitness meme

So, to clear some things up, the first thing that I want you to understand is that the IIFYM philosophy is based on a 90/10 or an 80/20 diet.

What that means is that those people that take a picture of their pizza on Instagram and title it ‘if it fits your macros’ are only showing you 10 or 20% of their diet. Truth is, the majority of their meals are extremely healthy, so don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all they eat. Also, keep in mind that most people who are involved in bodybuilding competitions drink multiple supplements to speed up their metabolism.

Bottom line is, you can’t base your diet and lifestyle on people that you see only on social media. You need to clean up your diet to get the abs you want.


Now that I’ve cleaned up my diet, what do I do to get well-defined abs?

Once your diet is on point, it’s time to start training your abs to get the definition you seek. The best ab routine you can do is one that incorporates both low weight, high reps and high weight, low reps exercises. Also, you need to find a routine that targets each section of your abdomen.

Shredded Woman, Image via TumblrLadies, keep in mind that by using weight when performing ab exercises, you’ll develop a thicker waist. Your body will probably end up looking a bit square because your obliques will stick out and your abs will expand. Now, don’t take this as a sign to eliminate weight-training from your ab workouts. Simply be on the lookout for how your body reacts to them.

Regarding exercises, the ones I highly recommend are planks and stomach vacuum!

 


Do you have an ab routine you’d like to share?

How did you get your abs?

Feel free to comment below!

XOXO,

Manuela


If you enjoyed this article, you might like The Truth About Abs, How to Nail Your Diet & The Reason Why You Should Do HIIT

How to Nail Your Diet

What does dieting mean to you?

Do you cringe at the thought of eating lettuce and broccoli for the next few months?

Are you anxious about being hungry and a pain in the ass to everyone around you?

Do you think that you won’t be able to enjoy yourself?

Well, I’m happy to say that you’re not alone. In fact, whenever you mention that you’re on a diet, most people will feel sorry for you. In their minds, there’s an image of an empty plate with a pea-size chicken breast and some broccoli in the middle. Now that’s what I call a depressing scenario!

I’m sorry but whoever decided to make dieting synonymous with hunger, deprivation, and sadness is a moron. The thing is… diets are not restrictive in nature. Society has simply made them that way. Diets can be delicious, exciting and progressive if you open your mind to different possibilities.

plated-salmon-salad


What Diet Should I Follow?

The best diet for you is the one that you can stick to. If you love to eat carbs, don’t try a diet that doesn’t allow you to eat any. It’s not that you don’t have the power of will to do so, but I simply want you to avoid the binge-like behavior.

How many people do you know that eat healthy the entire day but end up consuming their body weight at night? Believe me, there’s way too many to count.


How Can I Make My Meals Taste Good?

I now pronounce you Mr. or Ms. Ratatouille.

Yes, you are now a chef. A very creative, resourceful, talented human being that knows how to combine different foods and spices to create an unworldly dish. One of your best qualities is the fact that you’re able to use the same four ingredients to create four different meals that taste completely different.

Hint: All you need are four different spices

Most people don’t know this, but the easiest way to stick to your diet, in the long run, is by liking what you eat. If you’re craving BBQ, buy some BBQ seasoning and marinate your chicken breast with it. What I want you to understand is that you don’t need to buy junk food to get the flavor you seek.


How Can I Stay Full On A Diet?

Simple, don’t waste your calories on calorie-dense foods. Instead, seek foods that are low-calorie and high volume.

One of the best examples that I love to use is oatmeal. Technically, oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods that you can have,  but it has a lot of calories and carbohydrates per serving. That being said, one serving of oatmeal will not fill you up. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably want an entire bowl (three servings on average). Trust me, I’ve gone overboard with my oatmeal too many times.

What I suggest is to eat high volume foods, like cabbage and broccoli, and drink lots of water. Not only do those foods have very little calories per serving, but they also fill you up like no other. I dare you to eat a bowl of broccoli and chug a water bottle, and then try telling me that you’re still hungry.


Don’t Think Of It As A Diet

Like I said, the term ‘diet’ has a whole lot of negativity behind it. It implies that you’re trying to change yourself because you’re not happy with how you look. Although that may be true, a successful diet is one that is seen as a change in lifestyle.

Think of it this way…

You’re going on a diet because you want to change your life. You want to become a better version of yourself. You want to be confident and vibrant. You want to be the best you can be.


One last thing…

TRUST THE PROCESS

It took a while for you to gain the weight, so don’t expect to lose it within a few weeks. Be patient and kind with yourself.

 XOXO,

Manuela

P.S. Remember to subscribe!


If you liked this article, you might enjoy: 5 Ways to Slim Down Your Thighs, Lean-Out Grocery List + Meal Menu

 

Lean-Out Grocery List + Meal Menu

Dear friends, how many times do we have to go over the fact that exercise doesn’t make up for your bad eating habits? Is it really necessary to mention that good nutrition is a flat tummy’s best friend?

Myth: Exercise is the key to getting chiseled abs

Dear friends, how many times do we have to go over the fact that exercise doesn’t make up for your bad eating habits? Is it really necessary to mention that good nutrition is a flat tummy’s best friend? If so, let me put it this way…

Exercise – Nutrition = Plateau

Exercise + Nutrition = Progress

I realize that most of us need a roadmap when it comes to grocery shopping. On one hand, we’re constantly flooded with countless articles and social media posts that contradict one another when it comes to the foods that we should buy. On the other hand, we don’t know even know how to evaluate which healthy foods are better than others.

If only there was a list that could tell us exactly what we need … Oh wait, there is.


Protein

  • Egg Whites (or plain eggs)
  • Tuna in Water
  • Lean Chicken Breast
  • Lean Turkey Meat
  • Salmon

Vegetables & Fruit

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula etc.)
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions, Chili Peppers & Red Bell Peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

Legumes

  • Kidney and/or Black Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Lentils

Fats

  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios etc.)
  • Olive, Coconut, Walnut or Pistachio Oil
  • (Avocados – mentioned above)

Drinks

  • WATER!!!!!!
  • Green Tea, Moringa Tea and/or Herbal Tea

Now that you have the ingredients you need, here’s a menu that can give you ideas for your meal prep

Lean Menu (1).png

Now, you’re ready to shop and cook!

XOXO,

Manuela


If you liked this article, you might enjoy: Cooking Recipe for a Turkey Meat Veggie Bowl, Daily Meals Diary & All-Natural Health Solution

5 Ways to Slim-Down Your Thighs

Before you jump to any conclusions and eliminate leg days from your routine, know that there is a way to tone them without growing them.

How?

To be quite honest, my fitness journey began with the desire to grow and tone my butt. Forget about having toned arms or a nice back. All I wanted was a peachy behind.

*insert cliche here*

At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing or what my workout routine was supposed to look like. So, as any resourceful girl would’ve done, I started Googling exercises and watching YouTube videos to create my own workouts.

As I kept researching ‘glute exercises,’ I noticed that the majority of articles cited heavy-weight squats as the best way to accomplish what I wanted, which is why I started to squat three times a week. Does that sound excessive? If so, let me just say that I’m one of those people that once I set my mind to something, I do anything and everything I can to accomplish it.

Needless to say, after a few months of squatting, my butt grew!

Now, hold your excitement for a second… Even though my butt grew, so did my thighs!

Picture of a man's thighs while running on an empty road

Before you say anything, I know it’s logical to assume that the more I worked my legs, the more my thighs were going to grow. However, I wasn’t expecting them to look like the thighs of a Sumo wrestler. I knew my routine had to change or else I would have to say goodbye to shorts, skirts, and mini-dresses forever.

5 Ways to Slim Down Your Thighs

Before you jump to any conclusions and eliminate leg days from your routine, know that there is a way to tone them without growing them.

How?

  1. Considerably lower the weight on your squats & make sure that you’re going all the way down to emphasize your glutes instead of your butt
  2. Lunges, body-weight movements, and plyo exercises are your friend
  3. BANDS, BANDS, BANDS!
  4. Make use of the abductor machine
  5. Perform glute-focused exercises (leave your quads alone!)

Despite popular belief, you don’t have to stop squatting or lifting weights to slim down your thighs.

All you have to do is to be conscious of what you’re lifting, what body part you’re emphasizing with each exercise and how you can tailor your workout routine to match your goals.

Female doing rope squats with the TRX Cables

I will say that slimming down my thighs was harder than I thought because it was easier for me to gain the muscle than losing it.  It might take some time to get to where you want to be but it is possible!

Do you want me to a ‘slimming your thighs’ workout routine? I’d be happy to share mine!

XOXO,

Manuela

P.S. Remember to SUBSCRIBE! 


If you liked this article, you might enjoy: How to Get Rid-Off Under-Butt Cellulite, Plyometrics 101 Summer: Bikini Prep Quick Tips

 

 

 

Quick, 10-Minutes, Post-Workout Veggie Bowl

This morning, I received a handful of questions about the veggie bowl that I posted on my Instagram story. Being a woman of the people, I thought it’d be a good idea to write a quick blog detailing the recipe for my meal so that you could try it out sometime this weekend.

Now, for all of you who don’t follow me on social media or have recently joined my channel, let me loop you in.

It’s common knowledge that I prefer to go to the gym as soon as I finish my morning coffee. I like to workout on an empty stomach because I tend to experience really bad acid reflux. Given that the majority of my workouts are either HIIT or plyometrics-based, I can’t afford to throw up in the middle of a session.  That being the case, I usually have my first meal post-workout around nine a.m.

Today’s post-workout meal was a zucchini-based, tilapia veggie bowl.

zucchinni-based_veggiebowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of tilapia
  • 110 grams of zucchini
  • 3 handfuls of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 2 handfuls of chopped onions
  • 1/2 avocado

Seasoning:

  • Garlic & Herb
  • Onion
  • Pink Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon & Herb
  • Small hint of white cooking wine

Steps:

Before we begin, please take some time to chop your vegetables. I can guarantee you that it’s going to be much easier to cook when you have all your ingredients ready to go.

  1. Place a saucepan on the stove at a high temperature. Once the surface is warm (approximately 40 seconds), lower the temperature and spray olive oil
  2. Put the vegetables (zucchinni, onions, mushrooms and red bell peppers) inside the saucepan
  3. Pour a little bit of white wine on top of the vegetables and let it simmer for four minutes
  4. As soon as the vegetables look like they’ve softened, add the seasoning and let it sit for approximately six-seven minutes
  5. While you’re waiting on the vegetables, get a smaller saucepan for the tilapia and put the heat on medium
  6. Spray the bottom of the tilapia with olive oil and put it into the smaller saucepan
  7. Flip the tilapia over once it’s cooked on the bottom and add pink salt, black pepper and garlic & herb seasoning on top
  8. Get a small avocado and split it in half
  9. Put all the ingredients in a big bowl and ENJOY!

Before I let you go and practice this fabulous recipe, I do want to address the elephant in the room. I realize that I haven’t been writing as much as usual, so I want to explain. I earn my living by writing blogs and content for other companies, which means that I barely have time to write content for myself. This past couple of week has been crazy, but I’m happy to tell you that I’ve made it a priority to write for you guys more often.

I am heading to Colombia this weekend, so I’m excited to write authentic Colombian recipes and new work-out routines while I’m there.

Thank you for sticking around. The best is yet to come!

XOXO,

Manuela


If you liked this article, you might enjoy: New Recipes for Your Favorite Dishes, How to Cook a Healthy and Authentic Colombian Dish