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Training Blocks

What is a training block? A training block is a period of focused training that hones in on a specific discipline. During these blocks, you back off on the volume and intensity of the other two disciplines to allow more time and energy to be spent on the third, which in this case is the bike. What are the benefits completing a training block? First, we need to talk briefly about the concept of progressive adaptation. In a nutshell, a stressor is applied in the form of a training session. This taxes the body systems which, in turn, respond by coming back a bit stronger than they were before (achieved with proper recovery!) so that they can better handle these stressors the next time around. Rinse and repeat. The tricky thing in multisport is that these stressors are spread across three sports and must be carefully balanced, and combined with appropriate bouts of rest and recovery, to avoid overtraining and injury. Throw life’s other demands into the mix and you’re left with a finite amount of stress you are able to apply within a given period. By scaling back the intensity and volume of two disciplines, you are subsequently able to scale up these factors in your third discipline. When executed in a strategic, smart manner, this can yield incredible fitness gains in a much shorter time than one would see utilizing their traditional approach. But won’t I lose fitness in other areas?! Nope! Your aerobic fitness will maintain, if not increase, throughout this training block. By strategically interspersing shorter, technique-based sessions of the other two disciplines each week, you will maintain neuromuscular sharpness in these areas without cutting into your primary focus area. So what now? As we wrap up race season and roll into the “off season”, this is the prime opportunity begin addressing our limiters in preparation for next year. Training blocks are an epic tool to doing so. So give it a shot! Switch things up, focus in and get ready to ROCK. We have developed a series of training blocks with various foci for the 2017-2018 off-season that are fully customizable to meet your training goals. The cycling block begins Monday, October 2. Sign up to get in on the fun!

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#40 Spartan meets Endurance with Chris Russell

[podcast src="https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4778216/height/90/width/480/theme/custom/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/88AA3C/" height="90" width="480"]spartanbkCoach BK and Chris Russell wit RunRunLive.com and author chat about Chris's experience as an endurance athlete and doing a Spartan Beast.   Coach BK - Braving Karma Coaching   www.BonnieKissinger.com Athlete Health Assessment:  www.bonniekissinger.com/aha Chris Russell   http://runrunlive.com/

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Conversations of two Ironman Idiots training for another long a$$ race

So this all started out with us finishing Ironman Wisconsin 9/11/16. And having signed up for a 50K/50miler a month later. (Inner voice of reason: who the f does that?) One of us is more of an idiot than the other. "How do you say this", she asks. There IS a substantial difference between 50k and 50 miles. Just saying. Raven, idiot #1, is the coach too. Jade, idiot #2, she's stubborn. And going out of town for a work conference. Where Millers Meadow is, decent technical single track. So. On the way to the trails to get some running in .... Jade: I'm gonna take the mountain bike to Millers Meadow tomorrow and try out the single track. Raven: yeah. Good luck with that. You really need to be careful. You're two weeks out from your 50 miler. Jade: ah. I'll be alright. Raven: Whatever. Don't call me when you've broken your arm or face. You really need to keep your hands and feet in the vehicle! Keep your eyes on the open space. I'll be fine. Uh hu. Jade: Look. I was trying to be good. Thought that would be better than going out with my friends and getting shitfaced. Raven: At this point, I think it would be be smarter to get shitfaced with your friends than try out the single track for the first time. Whatever. At running trails. Raven: Lets just go get those southwest egg rolls. Jade: Wouldn't take much. Raven: Ok. Let's go. Hahahaha. Three loops in. Done. Clothes changed in the park parking lot. When did I become the person that's ok being mostly naked in public. That triathlon thing has broken me. Egg roll bound. End of the story .... featuredImage.jpgRaven, idiot #1, flings southwest sauce shoveling a stolen fry in her mouth. She looks down, sees the glob of sauce on her BRAND NEW iPhone 7 and breathes a sigh of relief that it didn't drop on the IMMoo jacket.  

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A rockstar 70.3 race until I ran into the Inferno. 

IMG_4644I've been at this awhile. Been working my tail off really. To get faster. I wanted to see some numbers that show I'm on the right path in regards to training. Having had a health crisis last year, I wanted to see that old athlete that I know back at it. Heck, I did a dream board and tossed my dreams out to the public. Add in I have this voice that is a whiney beeeacht. And for that matter, being a coach....I wanted that darn PR!

I'm one of those slower athletes.

I've had to work my tail off in the pool. I am not all that strong on the bike. I am good on the run.  I'm injury prone. My legs bitch all the time.

I'm mostly a hot mess.

In fact, 5 years ago I weighed more than I should. And I couldn't run around the big block of our house without stopping three times. So this PR thing, it means more than just the numbers. It's an indication to me that I'm on the path to that next better version of myself. In general. For sure in the athletic sense. Then add in the considerations that are always in my mind in regards to my heart health, having recovered from a-tach/a-fib last year. Truth time: I have been in denial that I'm a different athlete now as compared to pre-heart crisis. I wanted to prove to myself that...I was a whiner, instead of me having a big aspect (limitation) to work with.

So I wanted that darn PR. BAD!

Pre-race: So in Kansas did a good amount of heat training. Knew that the run would be harm. Trained and nailed down the salt pills. Etc etc. We traveled to Boulder two days before the race. Felt good. Drank a ton of h2o.


Did a swim warmup. Felt awesome. Ready to roll. However.... ...the first 500 yrds where pretty difficult in that I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. I was pretty irritated with that because I felt the body was great, but had to breast stroke a couple times to get things under control. There was zero way that I was going to get that get to me. I knew that the breath would eventually chill if I could find a strong rythym that connected my breathe with my stroke. I had to change my mental chant to.... "You Are F'in Awesome" So that did the trick. Got my pace together and got to work. Was racing down the homestretch chasing down color capped rabbits when some inspired swimmer decided she was going to grab my legs, almost pull my chip off and continue to flounder around all around me. So the next time she got on me she got a soccer elbow. That did the trick. ;) Goal on the swim was 45. Got 49 something. I see masters swim in my future this winter.


Traveled through transition. Maybe a bit slower...I like to reset my mind and get myself ready for some biking. At altitude. Uphill for the first 11 miles. The bike was actually going really well. After a difficult-breathing swim I usually need some caffeine to hedge off exercise asthma. So I was chomping on some juicy chomps. Yum.

Funny thing about endurance races, the good (and bad times) ebb and flow.

So I drank on the bike well. I took salt like clockwork. But I couldn't get enough calories down. I could barely get my drink mix down. Altitude? :-/ So in the back of my head I was thinking about the run and thinking "oh crap", but I just couldn't get anything solid down. Managed to maintain my goal pace until about 45-50. Started to not feel all that great. Missed a turn briefly...And frankly, my back was pissed. I hadn't had back issues for a long time and during this race my back was mad the entire ride. I was thinking "holy crap how am I going to run after this..."


Back to transition, did my normal reset, rinse my hair with a lot of water, and got myself ready for the run. Actually, I didn't feel all that terrible. Ready to roll out. They had changed the course. No, I didn't really read the athlete guide. Or listen much at the briefing. I was making friends. :) So I joined the run with all its going-ons really hoping my brain was functioning well and that I was in fact doing things right.

I'm notorious for my wrong turns.

So the first mile felt decent. On pace. I had a pretty aggressive plan, but hell, go big or go home right?! Though I did have a plan b. Well, pretty much immediately after mile 1 the heat hit me. The sun. A solar flare maybe...

The run felt like an INFERNO.

I guess the temp was...88 or something like that. HAWT!!! So we (me and all of my voices) momentarily paused plan a and moved to plan b, thinking we could get back to plan a (or plan a-ish). Well... I was really "encouraging" myself to run station to station, which seemed to be every half mile. Kept thinking about that dream board and the goal I wanted. :-/ I liked the run course changes personally. More water the better. And not a lot "lonely" spots. The run was more like a trail run as the hard packed dirt had been recently TORE UP with an ATV or something. Anyway, it was very difficult to run station to station. Just didn't feel like I was getting enough o2. I don't run well in the heat. And here is where the "heart aspect" comes into play in a big way. So plan a was out. Plan b...that's what I was trying to get to when one of my voices said it would be a good idea to drink the red bull. Hahaha. Yes. I know. As a coach...Id say "heck no". But I needed to do something different. I really wanted the second half of the run to be different. I said to myself "oh sh$t, how much worse can it get..." Hahahaha. A whole lot worse, I mean, who wants to finish with GI Distress all over you! 2nd loop did get better. Some Zach dude said to put the ice on the femoral arteries. Did that.


I got a bit faster. Kept drinking the naughty drink. Doing all the cooling strategies. Actually had to stop and use the facilities. Happy kidneys. Sort of finished it on my terms. Not the PR that I wanted... I did cross the finish line welcoming this new athlete that I am and saying goodbye to the old athlete.

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Athlete yoga 101: normal but undesirable: one hamstring is tighter than the other

Hamstring imbalances, one side compared to the other, is very common and can be a source of a lot of issues for the athlete.

hamstring-2So lets be super general here. This is a BIG FAT TOPIC. Let's go with the imbalance as a matter of anatomy and habit. A lot of the times, one leg is dominate. One quad is dominant. Stronger. So the other leg, a bit weaker, etc. This creates imbalances that have affects with both hips/ball and socket joints. They come habit, how the hips function. This concept is generally why one hip hurts more than the other. One is "less centered" in the joint than the other. For me personally, my right leg is dominant. As a soccer player for years, you can imagine the fascial patterns and muscle development. Not to mention the wear and tear...It wasn't until I started seriously practicing yoga that I really became aware, aware of why and aware of what to do about it. Pretty soon found myself pain free. So off I go learning more. Now I know that I pronate more on one foot more than the other, which has affects along the kinetic chain. Little things like driving in a car a lot. Sometimes your putting more pressure on one hamstring than the other. Due to how the seat is built. Or you're sitting in the seat with bad posture.  Pressing the gas pedal with the same foot all the time has affects. Sitting on one leg habitually at work has an affect. You get the point. Your physical habits have a big impact on our training.  Sometimes it isn't the training, it's the lazy habits, and the training brings up the affects in a BIG FAT WAY.  So is it your run form, or your desk form.  :) lateral-pelvic-tiltLet's chat a second about the pelvis. Think of it as a bowl. It can tilt in four directions. It's not a stable as everyone thinks. And can get "stuck" fascialy  speaking due to this and that. Moms, you know what I'm talking about. The heavy baby on one hip is classic. Heavy purses on one shoulder. So it's not as "stable" as what we think. Let's put the "back" into this conversation. If you have one hamstring tighter than the other, generally speaking, the opposite side of your back will be tighter. And since I can resist, the opposite shoulder/neck of that (generally speaking) will be a troubled spot as well. BECAUSE ITS ALL CONNECTED. The back is trying to straighten things out.  As the picture above shows you, the pelvis can tilt laterally. The back will try and straighten it out. Which causes the shoulder/neck to go the opposite way. So things get tight, and tighter and tighter. BOOM. Disc issues. Spine issues. Inflammation. Herniations. Pain meds. Loss of quality of life. MOST FROM SOFT TISSUE IMBALANCES Easy thing is .... YOGA has the means to help you identify the issue. Yoga has the means to help you address it in a smart way. HOW FANTASTIC IS THAT! Try this video out! [embed width="853" height="480"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z-RawDwT_00[/embed]

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Athlete and the Hamstring –> Yin Yoga gives you Relief

Yin yoga can GREATLY benefit the athlete and tight hamstrings.

What's YIN YOGA you might ask. Think of it like the really SLOW yoga. And then you say..."OH GOSH, yoga is boring enough as it is...". Well, those that tend to run faster say that. But seriously, keep reading... So YIN YOGA, you can nutshell it to, is holding poses longer. A lot longer. Yin Yoga is very COOLING yoga. Everything that the triathlete, runner, busy person does is very heating. "Do this." "Do that." "Check that off." "Must get that done." "Hit that pace." "Do that hill workout." All of this is very heating. Yes, for that workout moment, but also just in general, energetically, for the body, long term. And especially if you are the personality that has the tendencies to be the "Get it done." mode more than not. Yin Yoga is relaxing, calming and cooling. And it's a great place to stretch parts that get chronically tight. Think about this...how many minutes or hours is the hamstring asked to work. Or whatever...to cause it to be tight. A LOT. So, just be mindful that you might need to invest a bit of time to help them stay longer. And consider this, due to the nature of the anatomy, slowness/caution/gentleness is a benefit. You really don't want micro tears at the knee attachment points or the butt bones. Those stink! So quick anatomy lesson. Surrounding and supporting the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments is FASCIA. It holds you in place. So it must be stronger and hold things more. As a result, it stretches slower. So you must hold the stretch a bit longer (more gently). NO BOUNCING in stretching. Also, your brain sends muscles signals to help the muscles relax. Holding stretches longer helps enough signal get to the muscle, so it finally decides to relax and let go. If you are being too aggressive with stretching, thinking you need to "fix something", then it really doesn't work well. And you end up with micro tears in places. BE GENTLE. BE PATIENT. (I know, right!) Here are the things to keep in mind when doing YIN YOGA.
Connect in with YOU
Help the position out, use props (pillows, blocks, etc)
This means, if you are doing the first video below, you can use a pillow to prop up your torso, relax of it.  The intent is to focus on the legs, not stress the back out.
Do not put up with pain
Try not to give up on the pose if you've done #1-3
Good time to practice the breathe
So if you get "bored", focus on your breathing.  Count the inhales and exhales.
Be mindful of what the stretch feels like
"Watch" it move around as things loosen up
[embed width="640" height="360"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/PrBtjBkdKD8[/embed] [embed width="640" height="360"]https://www.youtube.com/embed/etCfE4rdg-A[/embed]

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Athlete Yoga Education Video – Triangle Pose

triangleThe yoga pose "triangle" is an excellent way for athletes to bring a synergistic balance of stretch and strength to the whole body. Also called Trikonasana.  Athletes/runners, this is one of your "go-to" poses. [divider style="normal" top="20" bottom="20"] Here is a video for Triangle. Enjoy. It's a short one. 8min.  ;) [embed width="560" height="315"]http://www.youtube.com/embed/6GTKXw22vY0[/embed] [divider style="normal" top="20" bottom="20"]

What Athletes and runners need to know about Triangle Pose:

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  • Benefit: Stretches the hamstrings.
    This is a wonderful pose to 1) find out if one hamstring is tighter than the other. Which causes a whole lot of issues and 2) gives you a way to address it. Also, you can spend some time with this pose to might small adjustments to find the different parts of the ham, which might have one tight part vs another.
  • Benefit: Strengthens the glutes.
    When done "correctly" or in the idea of alignment, you can learn to fire your hip rotators in a healthier way. As well as learn if one glute is weaker than the other. Which will probably be the case, especially if the first bullet about the hams is true.
  • Benefit: Stretches the back.
    There are parts of the back that are hard to stretch. This pose gets to some of that. Especially if you ratchet it down a bit and practice on a wall. This is really a lovely way to study this pose. Getting your hand to the floor is not the goal. Balance of the body, in relation to itself is the goal. So if you aren't touching the floor, your spine isn't parallel to the floor (which it probably won't be and thats a-ok", your hand reaches up in relation to alignment with your heart. Not the ceiling. Develop this idea and your shoulders will thank you.
  • Benefit: A really DARN GOOD POSE.
    This pose does a ton of stuff. More later on it. Just take my word for it. You can look forward to practicing this one for a long time because there are a lot of this to learn from this pose. And of course, the running, biking and swimming...this is a therapeutic pose. So when you jack something up, this is one you pull out of your bag.

    TRIANGLE - a pose that can be studied by the yoga student for years and has benefits that last a lifetime.
  • Benefit: Can help to strengthen the "flat foot".
    This is a great pose, once again on the wall, to help with strengthening feet that like to collapse in the arches. Most of the time this is just de-conditioning of the feet. Maybe a lifetime of it. Generally you can strengthen the foot to have a stronger arch. This can be a long process but well worth it considering the function of the arch, as a shock absorber as well as help you have better running form, more natural and flowing.
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Yoga for running – stretching tight hamstrings


The yoga pose "forward bend" is an excellent way for athletes to stretch their hamstrings

This is an excellent visual on the goings-on of the standing forward bend.  This pose is awesome for becoming friends with your hamstring.  Most athletes probably HATE this pose.  Those that practice yoga laugh, when we say we "hate" a pose, that's usually the pose that we need to practice more than anything. Doing this pose with some thoughts in mind, listed below, will help you to gain big benefits that will have a great impact on your running, as well as feeling better before and after running.  I'm mean really, who would love to have a back that doesn't hurt? Thanks for the picture, Daily Bandha. [divider style="normal" top="20" bottom="20"]

What Athletes and runners need to know about forward bending:

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  • Hinging at the hips is important.
    What this means for the runners; most likely the runner has either one or two tight hamstrings is that you MUST be patient at this stretch. If you are only bent at the hips a little bit, that's ok. Practicing forward bending with a flat back. This helps you to focus on stretching the hamstrings and not involving the back too much.
  • Understand that the hamstrings are connected to the back.
    You have two hamstrings that are separate and can be different in length. So what are we talking about here? Tight hamstrings can cause the pelvis to tilt backward, which causes the lumbar spine to flatten out. And it really doesn't like to be flattened out. The lumbar spine is designed to be curved (lordosis). To compensate, the back muscles and maybe the psoasis (etc) work (excessively) to correct the imbalance. You get this tug of war with the athlete ending up with a very sore and cranky back. Then add that one hamstring might be more tight than the other, which causes a side lilt in the pelvis as well. This results in the athlete having one side of the back more angry than the other. This imbalance continues up through the back and can cause shoulder and neck issues as well.
  • Do not get aggressive with forward bending.
    The hamstrings need to be treated like babies. They work alot. They probably have been neglected and expected to work a lot for little pay. If you stand a lot, they are constantly engaged. If you sit a lot, they get short and angry. So when you are working with the hamstrings and back in forward bending, always go slower, be more mindful. Ensure that when you are stretching the hamstrings, that you feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle, NOT in the back of the knee or at the sit bones.
  • Use a block.
    If you are working on lengthening the hamstrings and you are doing a standing forward bend, use the block. Some athletes are resistant to using the block because they feel like it's an indication that they can't do it "right". Using the block can be necessary to get a good connection with whats going on in the hamstring and the back. If you do this, you will stretch better. If you stretch better, you will have a greater chance of the hamstrings becoming longer and staying that way. If you do that, you will have a greater chance of getting to not needing a block faster. So...use the block! Also, there is this interesting thing that happens if you use the block: Having your hand on the block, mildly engaging the upper body, feeling a bit of push off from the block helps you to engage the entire back fascia chain. This means that kinetically you get smarter, experience a more whole body response. And that feels AWESOME.

    Let's be clear. In yoga, "not right" is whatever hurts your body. For the runners, you want your yoga practice to help you race, be strong and stay in the game.
  • Forward bending engages the parasympathetic nervous system.
    This calls you down. Turns off your body's stress response. Most of us, the runners, are very driven and perhaps prone to "running at high speed" all the time. In the gym or at the office. Forward bending can be very nurturing for the body. If you allow yourself to slow down for a bit, and during your yoga practice don't skip the boring and slow stuff, you allow your body to recharge, rest and recovery.
[/tie_list] [divider style="normal" top="20" bottom="20"] Here is a video for hamstrings. Enjoy. [embed width="560" height="315"]http://www.youtube.com/embed/Z-RawDwT_00[/embed]

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Ran(g) in 2015 with a BLASTING PR!

2015-new-yearWe had a SUPER FANTASTIC time ringing in the New Year with the most committed of Athletes! Because you needed to be either bat crap crazy or COMMITTED to "something" in order to get out. It was cold. 25 to be exact. While there was no wind, it was cold. And yeah-yeah I know, that's nothing compared to...say -15 at Estes or whatever. I guess I'm must kind of whimpy. :) The goal was to get to sub 2 this time. Been listening to my coach, Jeff at PRSFIT. Been committed to the training. Let me throw in that we are currently moving, so finding all the gear and what not was it's own challenge. We had a good excuse not to race. Heck. We had to get up early and drive to Wichita to get it done. Now that's DEDICATION. ;) I got to thinking though! Racing makes me feel strong. Finishing up a "round of training" with a race and getting a PR feels FORKIN' AWESOME (just saying) So we went. We were prepared instead of flying by the seat of our pants, what we usually do. Had all the clothes set out...blah blah blah. We even peed before race start. I got all my business done before. You all know what I'm talking about. hangover-marathonGoRun did a nice job laying out the race. Was great to see everyone. It was snowing and a bit icy on the roads. So that made it challenging. Couldn't really get into a nice rhythm to sink into. I battled with my goals and how I was feeling, and mostly won, for 10 miles. Then my right foot started screaming (time for new shoes). I generally started to belly ache, whine and bitch. Karla tried to pull me along. I probably had a touch of bad attitude but mostly I was spent. done. tank empty. So my pace dropped big time at the end. I was done. Like a cooked turkey. Truth Time: I'll tell you all something: I'm not all that great at cutting myself slack when the goal that I had sent out turns out to be unobtainable. There's a fine line between being too hard on yourself and not pushing yourself enough. Most days I'd like to think I land on the healthy side it. Today, had to get a good dose of reality check from Karla and my coach.

A PR is a PR!

Hope you had an AWESOME Day 1 of 2015!

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6 Simple Exercises for a Strong Core

One way to develop an eye-catching mid-section, strengthen your core and back regions is to incorporate abdominal exercises that work all areas. These exercises develop your core and tighten the tummy, which is designed as a stand-alone workout or add to your circuit training workouts. I also love to do these exercises as part of my 3 and 11-day detox programs alternating with yoga or gentle walk in order to flush out the toxins and keep me moving. jack-knifeThe first exercise is what I refer to as the Jack Knife sit-up. Lay on your back. Hands and feet meet in the center. Slowly extend arms and legs away from center of body. Don't touch floor with arms or feet. Hold and bring back to center. Do these for 1 minute. Try to do 25-30 reps. If you are a beginner, bend the knees and bring them up to midline and back down.     core-abdominal-and-lower-back-exercises-1Leg extension with a workout bar is to use a bar and hold the bar in front of you and just lower the legs while keeping the hands and workout bar in place overhead at waist level. Drop legs 6” from floor, hold then bring back up to the bar. If you don’t have a bar, place hands under lower back and lower legs to floor, approximately 6” from the floor and back up to mid-line. Do each exercise for 1 minute/rest for 1 minute. core-abdominal-and-lower-back-exercises-2Now take the same bar and alternate it from side to side in order to work the oblique. If you are a beginner, stop when you need to rest and then continue to complete as many reps as you can in 1 minute.       bike12Another great abdominal exercise you can do if you don't have a bar is to simply do the Classic Scissor Crunch. Lay on floor, hands on head not behind head, so you can avoid pulling the neck and alternate legs to elbow. Right elbow to left knee and reverse, count that as 1 rep. What I refer to as a double count. Do for 1 minute. 25-30 reps. plank1The next exercise is great for your whole core, The Classic Plank. When done with the scissor crunch, flip over on your mat, place hands under shoulders, lift lower body in straight line, flat back and hold for 1 minute. situpsThe last one is the Classic Crunch. Lay down on your mat, knees bent, hands on head so you don't pull the neck, lift ½ way and back down, repeat. Complete as many as you can in 1 minute. Complete all exercises, each one for 1 minute/1 minute rest between exercises. When you are done with all exercises, you will have completed one (1) circuit. Rest after each circuit for 2-4 minutes. Repeat circuit 2 more times up to 5. Complete 2-3 times a week and you on your way to an eye-catching mid-section, while strengthening your core and lower back region.

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