Workouts You Hate – Workout #134

When I was a CrossFit regular, I hated doing dead lifts. The were heavy, slow, and too repetitive. I liked to go-go-go! My lack of discipline in the movement also led to a tweaked back on a few occasions. But that will happen on dead lift rep 73…

I also hated Thrusters and burpees, but in a different way. I embraced the movements because I know they challenge me. Thrusters and burpees are worth doing because they are full-body movements that challenge every muscle I have, calling on all my focus, strength, and discipline. The hate is actually more of a respectful nod to the movement, but we all know the moment when you look at a workout and say,

Argghhhh! I hate (fill in the blank)!

Want I want to challenge you to today is to think of the 3-4 movements you respectfully “hate”. Maybe they’re burpees, bicycle abs, table pulls, overhead press, lunges, or any of the other 40+ movements we’ve done this year. Choose them on the criteria of how much the movement challenges you to be your best on every single rep. At home workouts can be easier to do, but if you spend a little time with The Simple Gym, you’ll see how challenging body weight exercises can be.

When we challenge ourselves to be at our best each rep, we inevitably improve with each rep. Are we perfect? Perhaps we will have the perfect form on occasion, but we’re not pursuing perfection.

We are on the relentless pursuit of daily improvement


Because of this we have the courage to wake up and say,

Today I go a little further

Will you always achieve this? No, there will be days nothing goes right. There will be days when you lift less weight or run slower. But the courage to stand in the arena and dare greatly is a much grander way to live than simply shrugging to say “not me, I won’t challenge myself”.

The Workouts You Hate

For me, it looks like this:

5 Rounds for time

  • 10 Burpees
  • 10 Lunges (each leg)
  • 10 Jump Squats
  • 5 Man-makers (each arm)

Today you have the option of doing the workout I hate, or you can choose the workout you hate. Either way is fine. Pick 3-4 movements and complete 3-5 rounds.

Step in to the arena and live greatly.

Awaken the Animal – 7 Basic Yoga Stretches You Should Do Every Morning

How often have you stared at the coffee pot, trying to get started in the morning? I know I do the same many days, when I don’t quite have the mental energy to start doing pushups or burpees. Then I started noticing what my dog was doing when she woke up. Every single day, the same routine. She was doing a few basic yoga stretches!

Abby’s three stretches, in order:

  1. Down Dog
  2. Up Dog
  3. Happy Baby

I started copying her, not trying to do too much, too early, but paying attention to how other animals roused themselves from sleep. If you pay attention, you see that most animals begin their day stretching, or walking around. Besides coffee, maybe this could help me, and you!

When you wake up in the morning, try these basic yoga stretches, demonstrated by animals. If you like, start small and just do the up dog to down dog stretch. Then move to cat and cow, and cobra to frog. Camel is a more advanced yoga stretch, and may not be the best for early mornings, unless you’re also advanced!

1. Up Dog Pose

Up Dog Yoga Stretch

Up Dog Yoga Stretch

2. Down Dog Pose

Up and down dog are usually performed in a sequence, balancing out the stretch and the muscle groups involved. Click here to see the video.


Down Dog Yoga Stretch

3. Cobra

At first glance, cobra and up dog look very similar, and they are. But notice the incline of the neck. In cobra, the eyes are set forward, as a cobra would watch its prey. Also, the shoulders are stable and thrust back, providing a more striking look to the eyes staring forward.

Mr Bikram himself!

Mr Bikram himself!

Watch this video to get a visual picture of what the differences are.

4. Cat Pose

Like up and down dog, the cat and cow poses are usually performed in a sequence, balancing out the stretch and the muscle groups involved. Keep your legs bent at 90 degrees and at a comfortable place on your mat.

Cat Pose Yoga Stretch

Cat Pose Yoga Stretch

5. Cow Pose

I couldn’t tell you why this is called the Cow pose, because I’ve never seen a cow doing anything besides standing or laying down. So here’s a lady with wonderful form.

Cow Pose Yoga Stretch

Cow Pose Yoga Stretch

6. Frog Pose


Frog Pose Yoga Stretch

For the human version of the frog pose, click here.

7. Camel Pose

If like me, you believed the name comes from the stretch being similar to hump formed by the yogi’s chest as he or she stretches their head back towards the heels. Well, we’re wrong. Here’s the real scoop;

Sure, bending backward makes your body resemble a camel’s hump, but when a camel sits down it does so by first bending its knees and then folding its legs beneath its body. When it’s ready to get back up it does the same thing: bends its knees before standing up. In the setup for Camel Pose you “stand” on your knees before bending backward. You do the same at the end of the posture – just like a camel!

Camel Pose Stretch

So as you wake up tomorrow, just think of how the animals move when they wake up. Slow but purposeful movement that awakes the body and shakes out the stiffness of a night’s sleep. These seven basic yoga stretches will help you do just that.

Canvas Bag Workouts – Part 2

The Cinch Tote from Topo Designs – great for whatever you need, including workouts!

One of our core beliefs at The Simple Gym is this:

You Can Find Fitness Anywhere

In part one of the canvas bag workouts, we put that belief to the test. You can use a simple canvas bag to add a level of weight resistance to your movements, and see your fitness goals demolished.

With a canvas bag.

When you consider the implications of this, you can begin to see other everyday items as possible exercise equipment. Gallons of water, bags of sand, or tree branches all suddenly have bigger implications, and there is a sense of play about your life.

It’s amazing 🙂

So here is part two of the canvas bag workout set. Enjoy!

Canvas Bag Workouts – Part 2

5 Rounds for time

  • 10 Shoulder raises (each arm) – alternate front and side if desired
  • 10 Tricep extensions
  • 1 minute of Farmer Carry
  • 30 seconds of Jump rope (no bag necessary)

Workouts with a Canvas Bag – Part 1

41jzRlKC0WL._SL500_AA300_In our move to Nashville, we live less than 5 miles from a Trader Joe’s, which is wonderful. Besides all the specialty food items we’ve been picking up, a very useful shopping bag has also been purchased. Case in point, the Trader Joe’s Canvas Shopping Tote. As I carried loads of groceries in, I noticed how little strain there was in the bag, supporting the heavy load of groceries with no issues.

If you’re like me, you enjoy making a game out of how many grocery bags you can bring in at once! As I carried more items in the bag, placed it over my shoulder, swung it in to the car, and other general abuse, I realized this was a new piece of workout equipment for The Simple Gym!

A skill we value here is the ability to take an everyday item or location and transform it into an opportunity to be active and have fun. I was so pumped to be thinking of ways I could use the canvas bag to add resistance to the movements or add brand new movements we haven’t introduced yet. For now, I have completed six. We will do three of the movements on Monday, and then three on Tuesday. Let’s get started! You can view the video below to see the explanation of each movement.  

Canvas Bag Workouts – Part 1

5 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Squats
  • 10 Overhead Press (each arm)
  • 10 Bicep Curls
  • 1 minute Run

If you have two bags you can use, you can work each arm in the press and curls to save time. 

For weights; you can use books, canned or bagged food, rocks, shoes, anything! Just remember to lift what is comfortable and functional for you!

Week of Workouts: September 2-6

This week we have the full slate of workouts ready to go on Monday, so you can plan ahead! It’s a great collection of movements we have been practicing for months now, and a few new ones later in the week. Let’s get moving!

Download the Week of Workouts

If you want to simply view them here, great!


3x thru – 45 sec of work/15 sec of rest

Total Time: 12 minutes

  • Box Jumps
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Dips
  • Table Pulls


Tabata Workout (20 sec of work/10 sec of rest) for 4 minutes each round.

Total Time: 16 minutes

  • Quick feet push ups
  • Squats
  • Bridge
  • Dot Drills


Ladder Workout – After working to 10 reps of OH Press, work back up to 50 squats.

Time: AFAP

  • 50 Squats
  • 40 Boxer Abs
  • 30 Jump Rope
  • 20 Push up to Plank
  • 10 Overhead Press


3x thru – 50 sec of work/ 10 sec of rest

Total Time: 12 minutes

  • Single Leg Jumps
  • Farmer Carry
  • Single-Gallon Clean
  • Run!

To see a movement in action, select it from the playlist below. Have a great Labor Day, grill out and enjoy family and friends!

Coffee Time – Workout #133

8c35beb696b811e18cf91231380fd29b_7One of the first things I do in the morning is get the coffee started. Admittedly, we are snobby coffee folks, and drink coffee in a pour-over method using a Chemex. While delicious, it’s not the most time effective solution in the morning, and usually I end up staring at the grounds trying to will them in to faster dripping.

It also means I have about 7 minutes of available time for doing something whilst waiting for the coffee to brew/steep/apparate. 

So, I created a little coffee time workout, a quick collection of movements that help wake me up, feel loose, and ready for the day. It’s like a small win or habit that allows the rest of the day to fall in to place. Enjoy!

Workout #133 – Coffee Time

Simply do as many rounds as possible before your coffee is finished brewing! To make this workout more “complete”, do it for 15 minutes, AMRAP-style.


  • 10 Pushups
  • 15 Squats
  • 20 Mountain Climbers (10 each leg)
  • Back Bend to Forward Fold
  • 5 Table Pulls (optional)

To see a movement in action, select it from the playlist below. Have a great weekend, and yes there will be a workout on Labor Day!

Heatwave! – Workout #132

fitDo this workout outside and use some equipment or unconventional tools you haven’t used before. Try to engage the mind in different ways to challenge yourself physically and mentally. Good luck!

4 Rounds for Time


Hip Mobility – 10 each leg

Mountain Climbers – 15 each leg


Box Jumps – 5/10/12

Overhead Press – 3/5/10

(if no dumbbells or kettlebell; use a rock, small log, heavy book, or water jug)

Table Pulls – 2/5/7

Numbers = Beginner/Intermediate/Beast Mode!

I hope you have a great day, get ready for a live video on Friday, we’ll see you then!


Just Start – Workouts #130-131

start-buttonIf you ever wonder why we keep our workout posts short and to the point, it’s because we don’t want you to waste time reading when you should be working out! Don’t get me wrong, I love to read, and just finished Austin Kleon’s wonderful little book Steal Like an Artist.

One of the lessons that stood out to me in the book (and most creative books I read) is how we sabotage ourselves when it comes to starting something new or challenging. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve delayed writing blogs, working out, or other good pursuits because I tricked myself in to thinking I didn’t have all the information to START.

Sometimes, this is true, and we need more information or coaching before we jump in to a new challenge, especially a physical one! But usually, it’s a trick our mind plays on us.

One of the most commonly asked questions we get is “where do I start?” and it’s a great one! Allow me to give two answers:

1. Download 28 Days Later

Our free four-week workout plan to help you get started.

2. If you need something even simpler, even quicker, then here are two workouts that are basically a big mash-up of different ways you can get started. Pick anywhere from 1-4 of these movements and make TODAY your day to START!

Workout #130

  • Walk 15 minutes
  •  10 Squats
  • 20 Jumping Jacks
  • 5 Pushups

Workout #131

If you’re crushing workouts by now, here are a couple of ideas for your next workouts.

  1. Do these workouts multiple times until you are ready to puke (and run instead of walk).
  2. Pick one of the previous 129 workouts, one you either really enjoyed or really hated, and do that.

Thanks, and be ready for a blog post on Wednesday!

Dog Days – Workouts #128 & 129

Hey Everyone, hope you’re having a great week! Here a couple of solid workouts to help get you through the dog days of summer.

One of the best ways I’ve found to recover from workouts is to put intentional time in to your stretching. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time, but just little bits of stretching before and after the workout will pay big benefits in your recovery and well-being.


Thursday – Workout #128

Warmup: 2 rounds

Movements: 5 rounds

Friday – Workout #129

Warmup: 2 rounds

Movements: 4 rounds, 15 reps each