Why You Should Be Doing Sit-ups

sit-ups-paleo-personal-training-coralville-iowaRan across another trainer online telling people to “never do sit ups.” Well, that’s just ridiculous. Here’s why.

My dad, who was an avid strength trainer into his seventies, once told me he had trouble getting himself up off the weight bench. He joked that he felt like a “bug on its back.” He was doing presses, crunches, squats. He was strong in shoulder, chest, and abs. Why couldn’t he get off the bench?

Sit-ups is why. Sit-ups are a functional exercise.

If you want ripped abdominal muscles, you should be doing lots of clean & press, overhead squats, and deadlifts — compound exercises that put stabilizing pressure on all your core muscles. You can pack on more definition with high volumes of leg raises and crunches.

fallen-and-cant-get-upIt’ll make you purty. It won’t necessarily make you functional.

If you want to get off the floor when you’re 70 or even when you’re 40 and deconditioned, you need to practice, you know, GETTING OFF THE FLOOR. That’s sit-ups.

My deconditioned clients have a hard time with sit-ups, so I tell them to rock, use momentum, whatever it takes to get their back off the floor and get them sitting. As they get stronger, they’ll keep their heels down, drop their knees (that’s butterfly sit-ups), and start achieving a full range of motion of the rectus abdominis. (BTW, crunches don’t even give a full range of motion in this muscle, so why is it called a “good” exercise at all?)

Sit-ups got a bad rap because people were doing them to gain six-pack definition and because people who already had tight hip flexors were working these muscles even more (achieving the complete range of motion draws the hip flexors into the work during a sit-up).

But the problem isn’t over-working your already tight hip flexors. They might be tight, but that doesn’t mean they’re strong. Work the hell out of them, because they are what help you rise and run. Instead, get to building your glutes and hamstrings to compensate and balance your strength.  Yeah, we have exercises for those too!



Strength Squad – Hyper Split Program

personal training coralville iowa hypersplitsI’ve finalized the next program for our Strength Squad small group training beginning the week of September 11th.

We’ll be doing a 2-day split that we can complete in 45 minutes.

I know, I know. You’re asking, “How can you get a decent volume accomplished and work all muscle groups in only 2 days?”

It’s a combination of supersets that incorporates timing, with the highest volumes focused on the bigger muscle groups.

  • We’ll have one day that hits legs, chest, and triceps, followed by a timed full body movement progression (L-sites) and a core kicker.
  • The other day will hit back, shoulders, and biceps, followed by a timed full body movement progression (handstands) and a core kicker.
  • Our summer program (GVT) had 100 reps on each muscle group. The Hyper Split will give us 90 on the back and legs; 60 on the chest and shoulders; 30 on the triceps and biceps in isolation (but they get extra work in all the compound exercises). Additionally, we’ll isolate abs every session.

Our GVT members enjoyed the simplicity of the work out, so I’ve tried to keep things simple despite having to reduce the work out from 3 to 2 days.

And New Equipment!

To get the all-around leg work out I want, I finally got the Glute-Ham-Developer (GHD) roller assembly & pad from Rogue that’s been on my wish list for a year. We’ll do either GHDs on the box or Russian leg curls on the floor, depending on how tough you think you are.

And if you find crunches and butterfly sit-ups less than challenging, don’t expect to be doing GHD sit-ups in my studio. I’ll put the weight vest on you instead!

Let’s do this thing!



Fall 2016 Updates – New Times, New Sessions


Tpersonal training coralville iowaeresa will be running three sessions in the Mercer Park Recreation Center Wellness Room. You must sign up through the Iowa City Parks and Recreation website for the fall. Classes start last week of September and run in two short sessions through December.

She’s offering weekly 30 minute sessions:
FIT IN 15 (adult HIIT)
ZEN STRENGTH (adults super slow strength training)
ACTIVE ANTICS (kids 4/5)

Sign up here through August: https://apm.activecommunities.com/iowacityrecreation/Home


Starting the week of September 4th, Tuesday night will be Open Gym for members. This is a time when you can drop in and do your own thing — unstructured or with a work out sheet or DVD. If you missed a group or just want some extra time, text ahead. The Studio will be open 4:15-7pm and may be shared with other members.


Saturday Strength Squad will move from Saturday mornings 10-12pm to Saturday morning 10-11am

Strength Squad looks like this:
Tuesdays 5:30am
Wednesdays 5:15pm
Thursdays 5:30am
Saturdays 10am
(And during Open Gym Night)

For those clients who would like more strength training but can’t make the listed times, please consider a DIY work out or Open Gym on Tuesdays.


Fit in 15 is moving from 6:10am on Tuesday and Thursdays to 6:30am Tuesdays and Thursday.

Fit in 15 looks like this:
Sundays 11:30am
(And during Open Gym Night)

For those clients who would like more HIIT but can’t make the listed times, please consider a DIY work out or Open Gym on Tuesdays.


Our new 12-week program, HYPER SPLIT, begins the week of September 4th. Join us for a 2-day split focused on muscle growth and getting that six-pack you always wanted! You’ll also work on progressions toward full-body development, including L-Sits and handstands. This is a two-day split, and you may rotate it as often as you wish (2 work outs a week to 5 work outs a week).

Group members may join the new program HYPER SPLIT at any time or may perform strength-focused 5x5s during the class.

We provide work out sheets, with a certified trainer present. Group members keep their sheets to track their progress. Personal training clients may join an unlimited number of groups each month. Group-only members may join based on their membership. If you’d like to try out the group, please text for a free session. No drop-ins please.


Summer GVT and Preview of Fall Small Group Training

personal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowa
personal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowaWe’re winding down our German Volume Training (GVT) program that started in June. By the end of August we’ll do measurements and see how group members have progressed in size and strength.

Our team has enjoyed the program tremendously.

GVT is a simple and effective program for adding muscle mass. Despite the simplicity, it isn’t easy and it isn’t boring — especially when you add tabatas and gymnastics progression exercises now and then ;-). However, keeping the same exercises throughout the weeks means you see your strength gains in a way more varied exercises can hide.

Starting in September, we’ll have a new 12-week small group program that includes a split routine, this time upper/lower body work outs. You commit to two days a week in the studio (two group or one group and one personal training).

And we’ll get our Tuesday night HIIT back!

Voice/Text Teresa with questions or to sign up 319.325.4000

Follow Us on Facebook

personal training coralville iowaWe post many things on our Facebook page that don’t make it to the website, so follow us for updates, health information, and lifestyle tips.

We provide fitness & nutrition programs that remove common barriers to exercise through safe and effective training, convenient packages, and an exclusive and comfortable environment at a compelling price. We’re not a box gym. We’re your partner in fitness, because your success is our success!


personal training coralville iowa primal health coachThe WOMANSTRONG Primal Health Coaching program is now on Facebook, where you’ll find news and learn about healthy lifestyle choices.

WOMANSTRONG is a lifestyle coaching program that includes personal training following Primal principles.

Teresa, ACE-CPT

Primal is a lifestyle that can lead to better health and fitness. Primal methods are supported by a growing body of scientific research, anecdotal success, and my own experience. I was obese and ill. I’m now lean and healthy, over 50, and raising two pre-teens. I’ve walked the walk. You can, too.

Pro Tip – How to Stop Postexercise Soreness

primal-personal-training-coralville-iowaWe all grew up with “RICE”: rest, ice, compression, elevation or in some situations, rest, immobilize, cold, elevate. This is for injuries, and soreness from exercise was often viewed in the same light.

So, we were advised to ice it.

Then, we were told ice hinders recovery.

So, we were told to use heat, if we prefer, or to do nothing.

Now, we are told we should not do nothing. The good thing this time is that we have a little science to back it up.

Research recently induced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) through squats and tested soreness, swelling, and strength loss over several days. DOMS begins usually 24-48 hours after strenuous exercise or unique exercise (movements that are new to you).

  • The study found that doing nothing to help the affected area fared the worst, with the largest drop in muscle strength and continued pain for an average of three days.
  • Those who received either immediate heat (heat wraps) or immediate cold (cold packs) on the exercised area had a much smaller drop in strength loss and less pain.
  • Later heat treatment, after 24 hours, had little effect, but later cold treatment helped somewhat.

So there you have it! Ice packs applied for 20 minutes immediately following a hard exercise, and used 24 hours later, will reduce pain and maintain strength for the duration of the DOMS.

Yes, we’ve always had ice packs in the studio 😉

Journal of Strength and Conditioning

Less Risk of Alzheimer’s With Exercise

The more energy you use each week — the more physically active you are — the less your chance of Alzheimer’s disease.

A study looked at 876 adults over age 65 and used MRI scans of their brains before and after activities that ranged from gardening to cycling. Higher levels of brain activity were linked with improvements in brain volume and less risk of Alzheimer’s.

In other words, the more energy used, the bigger the brain.

Researchers believe that simple caloric expenditure, regardless of type or duration of exercise, may both slow the degeneration of neurons and increase the structures important in cognitive functioning.

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

New HIIT Sessions – Fast Fasted Work Outs

I’ve been trying to figure out where to put more HIIT sessions with our packed strength groups schedule. I decided to insert several short sessions in the mornings for the summer.

HIIT is a terrific routine to do in the morning because it’s a good work out to do fasted. You’ll get extra fat burning from it when you haven’t eaten beforehand because after hours without food (say, overnight) your body is already relying on fat and ketones for fuel since your glycogen is used up. Start HIIT and that need for fat-as-fuel increases. On the other hand, I don’t recommend strength training fasted, and our intrepid morning lifters are up early enough to eat. Really!

If you’ve been to our HIIT sessions you know they’re simple and intense and short. You’ll get in, set up benches or dumbbells or sometimes it will be all body weight. Routines include exercises like push ups, burpees, squats, thrusters, rows. We start the clock and work out together. You’ll leave sweaty and energized for your day!

Join us for 20 minutes in the AM!

GVT Summer – Week 1

Our Rogue infinity shorty rack and new folding infinity rack with dip attachment shown

Our first week of German Volume Training has been fantastic!

To get it ready for our intrepid lifters, we have a new rack in the studio and a few more pieces of equipment on the way from Rogue. I’m very excited about the trap bar! Can’t wait to put our lifters into that specialized deadlift bar and see what they can do.

GVT is challenging. When you’ve been used to strength training with a 5×5 (5 sets of 5 reps of a substantial weight), it’s a kick in the pants to body-build using lighter weight and more reps in a 10×10 (10 sets of 10 reps of your 60% max).

Sure, it seems easy those first few sets. By set 6, muscles are screaming.

We have our 10×10 split like this:

  • chest/back – bench press/back row, finish hour with pull up progressions
  • legs/abs – trap bar deadlift or back squat/roll outs, finish hour with L-sit progressions
  • shoulder/arm – military press/bicep curls, finish hour with tricep burnouts

Running clients through the fitness and body assessments was finished last week. We maxxed them on exercises and determined from what we saw that only two would do the back squat. The back squat is a tough technical movement, likely the best for leg growth but requiring good flexibility. It won’t surprise you to learn the two I passed are our youngsters in their 20s. The rest of us old fogies are doing deadlifts.


Personal & Small Group Training | Coralville IA

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