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Fitness 360: Samantha Ann Leete, Training Program

Samantha trains to overcome her weaknesses. She doesn’t cherry-pick workouts for her strengths or make excuses for lagging muscle groups. Her most productive days in the gym are when she’s learning a new lift, working on muscle groups that need extra attention, and moving heavy weight. Her desire to build a better body and become a better athlete fuels her through every workout.

Samantha Ann Leete Fitness 360
Watch The Video – 13:58

Mixing It Up

Samantha likes to use multiple training strategies so she never gets bored. “I love incorporating supersets, giant sets, circuits, HIIT cardio, low-intensity cardio, dropsets, and negatives,” she says. “I also like to switch up my rep ranges, tempo, and exercises.” These constant changes help keep Samantha excited about her workouts and motivated for her future goals.

Although she uses different modalities to train various muscle groups, Samantha likes to keep her split fairly consistent. “I usually lift three or four days per week and do sprints or plyometrics once per week. For my upper body, I usually stick to a 10-12 rep range. For my lower body, I do 10-20 reps per exercise.”

Romanian Deadlift

Like most of us, Samantha has a tough relationship with cardio. “Sometimes it can be fun and I look forward to it, especially when I’ve had a stressful day and could use a cathartic sweat session.” She’ll squeeze in a cardio session during lunch at work, but if she’s in the gym, she prefers the arc trainer, the stepmill, or plyos.

Unlike some elite competitors, Samantha believes in rest days. “I just try to listen to my body,” she says. Sometimes a rest day means hitting a hard cardio session, sometimes it means going for a long, fun hike, and sometimes, rest just means rest. “Rest days can literally mean just chilling out and watching a movie,” she explains.

Samantha’s Training Split

Cardio

These are examples of cardio workouts that I might do during the week

Cardio workout #1
45 minute Arc Trainer

Cardio workout #2
Treadmill lunge intervals
3-minute incline lunge
3-minute incline run
3-minute incline walk
Repeat for 30 minutes

Cardio workout #3
Treadmill HIIT sprints
30 second incline sprint
30 second incline walk
Repeat for 20 minutes

Cardio workout #4
HIIT circuit
2-minute row
1-minute rope jump
100 mountain climbers
Rest 30-60 seconds
Repeat for 20 minutes


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Power Pairings: Effective Supersets For Strength And Size

As nice as it would be to have unlimited training time, it’s simply not in the cards for most people. The gym is great, but a little thing called life often throws a wrench in your best-laid plans. Realistically, even the most dedicated people can only attend the gym 3-5 days per week for an hour per day, and that’s with a little luck.

The good news is that one hour per session is plenty of time, if you use your time wisely! You just have to be smart with your exercise selection and workout program. Enter “power pairings,” which are specific superset-style exercise pairs I created to help you get the most out of your precious training time.

As with any superset, you perform power pairings without resting between the paired exercises. Take a bench press and chin-up pair, for example. You perform one set of bench press followed immediately by a set of chin-ups. You won’t rest until after you complete both exercises.

Pairing Power

“Full-body workouts are my go-to method when life gets hectic.”

Power pairings can be useful within full-body routines or body-part splits, but for this article I’ll explain how to use them in full-body routines. Full-body workouts are my go-to method when life gets hectic. In a full-body routine, you’d use a power pairing after your primary lift. This allows you to give your first lift maximum attention and strength.

Start your workout with a big-bang strength movement and devote your full energy and attention to it. When you finish your main lift, implement a power pairing as your finisher. Power pairings use one piece of equipment and require little to no setup, which makes them easy to use even in crowded gyms.

Here are four power pairings that you can add to your own training program to cut down on your overall workout time and still get a great training effect!

1 Ring Dip And Chin-Up/Hip Thrust Combo

Pair ring dips with a chin-up/hip thrust combination exercise I created to blast the back, glutes, and hamstrings simultaneously. Rather than confusing you by trying to explain the exercise, here’s a video of what it looks like in action:

From a strength and muscle-building standpoint, this pairing works well because the exercises focus on different body parts, so they won’t negatively impact each other or impair your strength. From a logistical standpoint, it’s a great pair because the ring height is the same for each exercise, which means no necessary adjustments between sets.

To up the ante, try the pairing in a countdown format, as demonstrated in the video. Rather than doing straight sets of each exercise, start by doing decreasing sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 reps of each exercise with little to no rest between sets. Be warned: This is not for the faint of heart.

Use it: This pair works as a brutal finisher to cap off a great heavy, knee-dominant exercise like the front squat, back squat, split squat, or lunge.

2 “Bottoms Up” Front Squats And Inverted Rows

Instead of starting in the standing position, “bottoms up” squats call for you to start at the bottom of the rep and lift from the squat rack’s safety pins. Pause after each rep! This is a great front squat variation to hammer your quads and core, and help you build strength out of the hole.

After you finish the front squats, leave the bar on the pins and use it to perform a set of inverted rows. The bar will be at a perfect height to allow for full range of motion with no adjustments. It works great from a logistical standpoint.

In the video below, I use chains on the front squats, which is great if you have chains at your disposal, but they’re not essential.

Use it: This pairing is an ideal finisher after a heavy bench press or overhead press variation.

3 Rack RDL And Split-Stance Row Combo

I recommend doing RDLs and barbell rows from the safety pins of a squat rack. Reset after each rep to take stress off your lower back and encourage proper form. I also recommend doing barbell rows with a split stance to take stress off the lower back, because the split stance helps prevent against lower-back rounding.

Fortunately, the proper pin height is the same for each exercise, so it works well as a pairing. You’ll almost undoubtedly be able to use more weight on RDLs than barbell rows, so you’ll need to change the weight, which is a breeze because the bar is raised off the floor. This video below shows how the pair looks in action. I use an oversized trap bar, which is great if you have one, but you can just as easily use a standard barbell.

If you use a barbell, here is how the rows look.

Use it: This pair goes well after a heavy pressing day.

4 Overhead Press And Front Squats

Pairing overhead presses with front squats works well because you don’t need to waste time adjusting the bar in the rack. It’s set to the same height for each exercise, making this a killer combo.

I recommend doing the overhead press before the front squats, because after much experimentation, I found that the overhead press doesn’t negatively impact the subsequent front squats. Alternatively, if you do the front squats first, the overhead press suffers.

It’s also important to note that most people will be much stronger on front squats than overhead press. This gives you two options: add weight for each set of front squats, or simply do more reps. I usually choose the latter and do twice as many front squats as overhead presses, as I do in this video.

Use it: This pairing works perfectly as a finisher after doing a heavy chin-up or row variation. It’s also ideal as a standalone workout when you’re really pinched for time and still want to get a good training effect.

Putting It All Together

Here’s an example of how to utilize these power pairings within a full-body workout program to keep your workouts brief but effective. Shoot to train 2-4 days per week and rotate the workouts as necessary.

Workout 1:
A1. Front Squats: 5 sets of 6 reps
B1. Ring Dips: 5 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 reps
B2. Chin-Up/Hip Thrust Combo: 5 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 reps

Workout 2:
A1. Incline Bench Press: 5 sets of 6 reps
B1. “Bottoms Up” Front Squats: 4 sets of 10 reps
B2. Inverted Rows: 4 sets of 10 reps

Workout 3:
A1. Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 8 reps
B1. Rack RDL: 4 sets of 8 reps
B2. Split-Stance Rack Row: 4 sets of 8 reps

Workout 4:
A1. Chin-ups: 5 sets of 6 reps
B1. Overhead Press: 4 sets of 6 reps
B2. Front Squats: 4 sets of 12 reps


About The Author

Ben Bruno graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia University. He lives in West Hollywood, California, and trains clients at Rise Movement…

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AMRAP high-energy body-weighted workout

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How To Get A Better Butt: 5 Rules For Stronger Glutes

Strong, round glutes are the foundation of a great physique and a healthy body. Unfortunately, many of us have weak glutes that just get weaker because we sit all day. Aside from not looking so great, feeble butt muscles can cause a litany of postural problems and pain issues. Even worse, having a weak bum means your primary lifts like the squat and the deadlift aren’t as strong as they could be. If that doesn’t motivate you to put some muscle on your backside, I don’t know what will!

To restore your ailing glutes, you need to make training them a priority. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with constantly tight hips and probably contract flat-ass disease.

Save your butt from these depressing side effects by following these five rules. They’ll help you feel stronger and more mobile. They’ll also help you add some great-looking curves to your rear end.

Hit Them Baby One (Okay, Three) More Times

If your training routine only calls for one glute-specific workout per week, it’s time to ramp things up. Glutes adapt well to frequency— the more often you train them, the quicker they grow in size and strength. Rather than performing a single glute workout once per week, add booty-busting exercises to each workout you do during the week.

Try this: Add loaded hip thrusts, glute bridges, hip abduction exercises, back extensions, or hip extension exercises to your daily workouts.

Single-leg bodyweight glute bridge

Mix Up Your Hip Extension

Hip extension is important for pelvic stability and daily movement. Walking, running, standing, and sitting in with proper posture begins and ends with your butt.

In this age of computers and cubicles, people spend most of their time in hip flexion (seated position). More often than not, long bouts of sitting cause tight quads, a tight psoas muscle, and weak hip extensors—namely the gluteus maximus.

To alleviate these symptoms and put yourself on a path to a perkier posterior, it’s wise to activate your hip extensors regularly. Hip extension occurs when the thighs or pelvis move rearward. The most common—and best—exercises for hip extension are the squat and deadlift. These two lifts belong in your lifting regimen along with assistance exercises to pack on glute mass.

Try this: Use squats and deadlifts as a primary hip extension exercises and add in one or two assistance exercises to each routine. Assistance lifts include, but aren’t limited to: Romanian deadlifts, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts, glute bridges, back extension, reverse hyperextension, glute kickback, and donkey kick.

“The most common—and best—exercises for hip extension are the squat and deadlift. These two lifts belong in your lifting regimen along with assistance exercises to pack on glute mass.”

Add a Little Abduction, Too

Your hips articulate in several ways other than the all-important extension. Your hips can also move in flexion, medial and lateral rotation, adduction, and abduction. If you move your hips in circles, you’ll get the idea. Along with hip extension, another important element of strong glutes is hip abduction, or moving the thighs outward from your midline.

Your glute medius is a major abductor of the thigh. Its anterior fibers rotate the hip internally while the posterior fibers rotate the hip externally. A strong glute medius will control any unwanted sideways movement in your pelvis. For example, if your left hip drops when you stand on your right leg, your right glute medius is probably weak. An unlevel pelvis can lead to other issues like IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome, neither of which is pleasant.

Try this: To strengthen the glute medius, add 2 sets of 10 reps of standing cable hip abduction and 2 sets of 12 reps of seated band hip abduction twice per week.

Keep Your Booty Active

If you sit on them all day, your glutes will just become weaker and weaker. This weakness can be compounded when other muscles have to take over a lift in order to compensate for them. Avoid a weak booty by doing a series of activation and mobility drills ten minutes a day. Practicing glute activation will help them fire during every exercise.

Try this: Perform 10 reps of each exercise once per day.

  • Single-leg bodyweight glute bridge
  • Fire hydrant
  • Bird dog
  • Standing glute squeeze

Get Tense

“Passive tension is how your hamstring muscles feel at the bottom of a Romanian deadlift.”

Mechanical tension is the bee’s knees when it comes to muscle hypertrophy (growth). Mechanical tension occurs when you passively stretch or actively contract the muscle. Passive tension is how your hamstring muscles feel at the bottom of a Romanian deadlift and active tension is how your biceps feel as you contact in a barbell curl. Both are key players in muscle growth, and both can make a big difference in gluteal development.

When using a full range of motion (ROM), your muscles are placed under a combination of both passive and active tension. For example: At the bottom of a squat, your glutes are in a stretched (passive tension) position; at the top, they’re in a squeezed (active tension) position.

Maintaining this tension through a full range of motion is optimal for gains. To do it, control your reps, keep a steady tempo, and don’t rely on momentum to get through the exercise—oh, and don’t skimp on the ROM.

Try this: To increase mechanical tension, use a tempo for your exercises. Tempo is expressed as a series of 3 or 4 numbers, such as 2-2-2. The first number is the number of seconds in the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement, the second number is the pause, and the third number is the number of seconds in the concentric (lifting) portion of the movement.

You can incorporate an exercise tempo as simple as 2-2 or 3-3. You can also incorporate a pause in the middle, like 3-3-3, or even have a longer eccentric portion like a 4-3 tempo. Remember, though, that adding a tempo doesn’t mean you get to forgo a full range of motion.


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Skinny To Strong: Karina Baymiller’s Complete Fitness Journey

In the fitness community, I’m most often recognized because of my big weight-loss transformation. I went from 185 pounds to a little less than 130 pounds. It took me a few years to get to my lowest weight, but I followed the motto that slow and steady wins the race and I never gave up. I know it was this attitude that helped me place second the 2013 Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Spokesmodel Competition.

Sometimes, I look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come. I don’t even remember the girl who had never stepped foot in a gym and gorged on pizza, chips, and ramen all day.

But I’ve decided my transformation work is not yet done—in fact, it’s only just begun! I’m on a second transformation journey, and this time I’m putting my happiness and my health first. I’m transforming my body from skinny to strong, and my mind from unhealthy to happy.

Before

After

Why I Decided to Change … Again

Believe it or not, when I weighed 185 pounds, I was one confident girl. I loved my body and never thought of myself as fat. I was who I was and that was that. I wasn’t defined by my body’s appearance. But that self-confidence changed the moment I decided I should lose weight. It seemed as though the more weight I lost, the more self-conscious about my appearance I became. I reached every weight-related goal I had set for myself, and yet I was never good enough.

At 125 pounds and with barely enough body fat to function, I competed for the first (and last) time with anxiety that I was “too fat” to be on stage. I had become so progressively wrapped up in numbers and body fat percentages over the few short years of dieting, that I was mentally destroyed.

I also noticed that my training started to suffer. I first began working out to be healthy and because I loved the way it made me feel, but I had lost sight of those reasons. I trained to burn calories and stay as thin as possible. If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run. I started to hate outdoor runs because I was forcing myself to do them. I allowed my training to control me. I stopped doing the things I enjoyed in exchange for doing whatever it took to stay thin.

Along with a severely distorted body image and training that was running me into the ground, my relationship with food started to become extremely disordered. Gone were the days of using food for fuel. If my food wasn’t weighed out to the gram and if I didn’t prepare it myself, I refused to eat it. There were days that I had full-blown anxiety attacks because I couldn’t log something in MyFitnessPal.

“If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run.”

I began taking hours of my day to try to configure my food so I would hit my macros just perfectly. If I didn’t, another anxiety attack would ensue. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. I restricted myself with calories, types of foods, and situations. God forbid I would eat a cookie!

I felt like I was drowning, like I was just barely holding my head above water. Everything I had loved so much in the beginning—the healthy eating, the workouts, my body—now had complete control of my life. They were no longer positives. They had become negatives, weighing me down with each passing day. I knew I had to change. It was only a matter of time before I broke down completely.

That’s when I decided I wanted to find strength.

Letting Go

The first thing I had to change was my mindset. I had to let go of the unhealthy habits that were slowly suffocating me. My negative body image was, and still is to this day, the hardest thing to let go of. I found it much easier to allow for self-hate than to find self-love. Sadly, I think this is true for many people. But I had to let go.

I had to let go of having visible abs 24/7. I had to let go of desperately trying to maintain 12 percent body fat. I had to let go of the number on the scale. Most importantly, I had to let go of the idea that I would only be happy if I was lean. I wanted to be happy when I looked in the mirror, and I knew it wouldn’t come from a certain size. It had to come from letting go and loving myself no matter what.

“I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made.”

I still remind myself of where I started. That girl sitting on her ass eating ramen all day is 180 degrees from where I am today, and she always will be. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made. Whether I stay the size that I am now or gain or lose a few pounds, I love who I am. My worth is no longer based on what the scale says in the morning.

I don’t have “fat days” or “fluffy days” anymore, because quite frankly, I don’t care. I refuse to let something like three pounds of water destroy my day. I know now that I’m healthier than I ever was at 130 pounds. My hormones aren’t out of whack, I’m not moody or depressed, I don’t have random headaches, I’m not constantly fatigued, and I don’t feel weak.

Unfortunately, there’s a widespread belief that equates health to six-pack abs. This might be true for some people, but for the majority it’s not. I can lift more, sprint faster, and am healthier now than I ever was. There is beauty in strength. I don’t just say it, I know it.

Letting Go

I wanted my fire for exercise to burn like it did when I first started lifting, so I let go of the forced daily runs and extra HIIT sessions to “make up” for calories. I began to utilize conditioning work 1-2 times per week instead. I added back my short outdoor runs, but much more infrequently, and never because I felt pressure to burn a certain number of calories. I threw my heart monitor away.

I also discovered powerlifting. When I finally dropped the light-weight, high-rep stuff I was doing to stay thin, I started following Wendler’s 5-3-1 program and quickly fell in love. My strength skyrocketed, and when I decided I wanted to take my training to the next level, I signed with The Strength Guys. Now, the spark is back when I’m in the gym. I feel the fire again.

Squat

Strength Training Program

I follow an intense, block-periodization powerlifting program created by my coach, Jon Stewart. It’s high volume, tailored to correct my weaknesses, and uses movements and load intensities built for progression. I’m on six-week cycles of five-day splits. I have one day of light conditioning and one day of complete rest. Mobility is a vital component of my current program because my training pushes my body to its limits.

Each day and week I use different sets, reps, and weight with a specific rest time, exercise tempo, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to follow. Days one and three look on week three of my program.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Pause Squats have the lifter descending to the bottom position of the squat and freezing. The bottom position is held for three seconds, maintaining tightness in the muscles and correct technique, before returning to the starting position.

Compensatory Acceleration Training (C.A.T.)

is lifting sub-maximal loads with maximum force. For more details check

elitefts.com

.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Reset Deadlifts are performed the same as a standard deadlift, but the lifter will put the weight completely on the floor and reset their hip position between each rep.

Letting Go

The hardest physical aspect to change for me was my diet. I had developed such rigid views and habits around food that it was almost more of a struggle to let them go than it was to keep them. I packed away my food scale and deleted MyFitnessPal. I started incorporating foods that I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years. I stopped restricting. I re-learned how to eat, not from a clock or scale, but from what my body was feeling.

At first I thought I would feel free without the calorie counting, stress, obsession, and anxiety, but I didn’t. I would take two steps forward and three steps back, wondering if I would ever be able to change. It took years to develop my disordered relationship with food, and I knew it wasn’t going to take a week to fix it. So, I trusted the process just as I always had, kept working at it, and didn’t give up.

Today, around 70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food that allows my body to perform at its optimal level. This includes things like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

The other 20-30 percent of food I consume is made up of things that I crave, or that I just plain want—no explanation or condition necessary. There is no special time, day, or place for these foods. I allow myself the freedom to eat them when I want them. Some days I’m at a 50/50 split, some days it’s 100/0, but on most days I stay right around 80/20. It all balances out.

I don’t restrict, I listen to my body’s needs and wants, and most important, I consume everything mindfully and in moderation. Through all of the extremes, I’ve found balance to be the key component in my physical and mental health. It’s also been the key to my happiness.

Sample Day

I don’t have a meal plan to follow because the foods and amounts I eat change on a daily basis. I don’t weigh or measure anything, so all quantities below are estimated. I don’t know my caloric intake or macro breakdown, but I would guess I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,200-2,700 calories per day. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Greek Chicken Wrap

Final Thoughts

Throughout my second transformation, I’ve found myself spending more time with friends and family. They couldn’t care less what I look like—my abs make no difference to them. As long as I’m healthy and happy, they’re happy too.

It’s funny because these are the people I pulled away from when I started my downhill slide into disordered eating and thinking. I sheltered myself from everything that wasn’t fitness related, even friends and family. But when I finally let go of the obsession and the stress, I felt free.

During this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

The fitness community is full of extremes. We work out until we can’t move. We eat diets of tilapia and broccoli. It takes a strong individual to endure what we put ourselves through. But during this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

I want to be somewhere between the overweight college girl and the underweight girl on stage, somewhere between the girl who ate pop-tarts for every meal and the girl who ate lettuce for every meal, somewhere between the girl who never stepped foot into the gym and the girl who wouldn’t leave it until she’d burned enough calories. This middle spot is where I’m happy and strong. It’s where I found my balance.


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