Resistance Ab Exercises

There isn’t a body part I dislike training therefore I’m going to aim to share some of these favorite exercises that work for me.  I look forward to hearing your feedback & please share your favorites with all of us.  Now lets do work!  


 Row Slide

15 reps, 3x

Focus: lower & core.

Get into a push up stand.  Place feet on the row seat & push forward letting your bottom create a hinge movement.


Weighted Twist

20 full movements, 3x

Focus: oblique

Hold a dumbbell or plate out from your body.  Keeping your hips forward twist from side to side keeping your abs tight.  The further out your arms are the more challenging it will be.


Resistance Band Leg Lifts

15 reps, 3x

Focus: lower

Wrap resistance band around something secure & place the top of your feet through the handles.  Scoot back far enough to create tension but not so much that you aren’t able to lift your feet.  Lay flat, arms at your side & lift legs.


Resistance Band Crunches

To failure (at least 20), 2x

Wrap resistance band around something secure.  Grab the handles & scoot away far enough to create resistance.  Lift your legs & pull the bands from behind you.  Lower into normal crunch position & repeat.


Looking for more training videos check out Nicole Wilkins website & the Cut and Jacked website.  Great info there!!!



10 Things To Know For Your First Physique Competition

No matter what federation or division you enter here are ten things to know to get ready for your first physique competition….

1.  “Normal” will never be normal again…ever.

Be aware there seems to be some invisible line that you can never cross back over to.  Ask any competitor & they’ll tell you it’s true.  Your current idea of what “normal” lifting, cardio, food, body image & even what’s fun won’t ever be the same.  You won’t bring your body to an elite level then turn backwards, you just won’t want to do it.

2.  Time commitment

Prepping for a physique competition will require a large chunk of time, time, time.  Think of it as a marathon not a sprint.  You will have lifting, cardio, posing & the ever so important food prep.  There aren’t any shortcuts.  You will need to be creative with your time & to do list.

3.  List your expenses

Consider the expense that goes into competing.  Gym memberships, supplements, nutrition coach, posing lessons, suit, tanning, food, trainer, entry fee, & possible travel or drug testing.  You don’t want to get half way into prep & realize your budget can’t cover the final expenses.      

4.  Get help

My personal view is do NOT skimp out on a prep coach, posing lessons or stage color.  Get referrals & meet with them.  Ask questions, you’ll want to discuss post show programs as well. You want the people involved in your prep to be a right fit for you.  Once you have your coach realize you hired them so listen, do the plan & log it.

5.  Everyone’s prep is different

Everyone’s body responds differently to proteins, carbs, lifting techniques, cardio, etc.  So stick to your plan.  As you meet other competitors you will share tips, recipes & exercises but do not expect to copy someone else & get the exact same results. Use the off season to experiment with what worked for someone else.

6.  A melt down will happen

Your body & mind will get tired.  From nowhere you will feel overwhelmed & doubt your outcome.  Stay positive & regroup.  Immediately take time to remind yourself why you want this & that you can do this.  A melt down should not occur daily or even weekly but maybe once or twice through your entire prep.  It is indeed crazy but it’ll most likely happen.

7.  Be nice

Smile, say thank you and appreciate all the people that are involved in this with you.  This means your family, friends, coaches, co-workers, the mail carrier, strangers, back stage expediters, competitors & the judges.  You can be in the best shape of your life but if you act ugly there is no real achievement.

8.  Get out

Go to family activities & hang out with friends.  Do not be a hermit.  Bring your food with you & enjoy being around others.  It’s the time with others that make the memories not the food.  And this may be difficult but try not talking solely about your upcoming competition.  Your family & friends love you but they may not want to hear about food macros & lifting nonstop.  If they ask then that’s great, maybe they’ll learn something new.

9.  Good & Bad Comments

Expect comments about bringing a lunch box everywhere you go, how often you eat or the type of food you are eating.  You will get complimented & you will have flat out rude remarks thrown your way, you’re too this you’re too that.  Keep yourself surrounded with as many positive people as possible.  You don’t need the approval of the one’s making foul comments so stay on point & keep doing you.

10.  Enjoy it

Prep is challenging but I enjoy seeing how my body responds to different foods & training.  I love all the amazing friends I’ve made along the way.  And I’m down right mind blown when I think about the changes I’ve made to improve myself on a physical & mental level.  You can make your journey as great or as miserable as you want, regardless you will spend the same amount of energy on it so you might as well enjoy it!

Training with Injuries

This morning I met with a group of ladies to embark on a monthly ritual of stadiums known as the “Sunday Stairdown”. Mother Nature decided to add a little zest to our morning by dumping a steady chilled rain. The setting as always was energizing, wet but an extraordinary feeling none the less. What was not extraordinary was a lagging injury that dares to stop me. A dare I’m learning to not take.

I’m guilty of treating an injury to the point it feels manageable then revving it up to full throttle in a quick shift. My mind frame; I feel pretty good, I don’t want to hold back, I’ve got goals to hit, no excuses, I’ll be fine. Then I aggravate it again & again & again. Not smart or healthy.

This weekend I vowed to stop this stubborn cycle, it’s not getting me anywhere. It’s time to listen & provide my body with what it’s asking for. A process far more difficult than it sounds. If you’re dealing with an injury & you’re avid about your predetermined routine you identify with this struggle.

So today I walked the stairs. Today’s lesson: Everyday wont’ be perfect but it will have a purpose. I still got to engage with great company, focused on training smart for my body, I didn’t hinder any goals set & practiced training my mind to focus on what I can do. Reminding myself how fortunate I am because of what my body still can accomplish.


“Blocks”, “Ninja Turtle” are a few of the references I’ve heard made to my abs, it’s quite a compliment. I have worked hard to build this area. The thicker my muscle the more they pop as the leaner I get. Having strong abs has multiple benefits. Better posture, lower back support & improved balance.

The saying “Abs are made in the gym, shown in the kitchen” is legit. My abs keep me informed about what’s working nutritionally. As we are all individuals what works for you may not have the same outcome for me, I suggest logging your food. Your log can be as detailed or relaxed to fit your style & goals. Find what does & doesn’t work; causes bloating, creates a crisp look, etc.

I train abs 2-3 times a week, never consecutively. I go as heavy & intense as I possibly can withstand while keeping good form. I always do some type of lower abs first, then obliques followed by upper abs. Sometimes I do a circuit style other times I complete each as a set before moving on. The biggest thing I like to emphasis is that I stay focused on the abs doing the work, not momentum.

I’ve gotten a few inquiries about my ab routine, below is a sample of some of my favorites. I did one set of each of these consecutively. At the end of the ball crunch I rested just long enough to know I can complete another round (do 3 rounds total). When finished I like to do some sort of plank till fatigue. Just to make sure I wiped myself out.

Incline weighted leg lift 15 reps. Hold weight with feet, lift legs

Weighted ball twist, 15 reps
Start with weight above chest twist to right then to left, that is one rep

Ball crunch, I usually start off holding a weight above my head, by the 3rd set my body weight is enough resistance.

If you are interested in reading more about some of the routines I like to incorporate please let me know, I always look forward to your thoughts.

Best wishes!


While in my growing season (seems more appropriate than calling it an “off season”) I’ve been indulging in different styles of HIIT cardio. Treadmill, elliptical, etcetera is great but they don’t hold a candle to the heart racing session I get from Tabata. Plus I am indeed working on growing so I want to minimize burning away any muscle.

Every chance I get, I go to trainer Shauna Saghbene’s Spin/Tabata class. Afterwards I’m panting & charged in unison. As she leads a class full of men & women shouts of “Why are you here?! Get uncomfortable! Dig deep! Finish strong” comes out powerful & encouraging. Some use bodyweight others use resistance with plates & dumbbells. We finish together tired yet stronger. Plus who doesn’t want a great booty?

Eating nutritiously & doing cardio cardio cardio with no resistance training will make that booty disappear, including its shape. Add in some resistance training & watch a tight butt take form. I speak from experience; when I trained for duathlons cardio took over my routines & I lost my rump shaker. After putting in heavy work with trainer Fred Rowlett my back side is getting stronger & is starting to pop again.

Then today while talking to a friend about what I’ve learned from both trainers I put together something she could do from home, a park or gym with no to little equipment & decided to call it, Campaign Save the Booty, a Tabata routine.

I’m not a trainer but an amateur competitor going off of my experiences. This entire workout (including warm-up/stretch) only takes 30ish minutes. Focus on good form not speed, your heart will be thumping & you will get faster! There are plenty of free Tabata apps to help time you & to give ideas for your own variation. Enjoy!


Do the first exercise for 20 seconds then switch to the 10 second exercise, alternating back & forth. Complete 8 rounds during 4 minutes before going onto the next set.

Warm up for 5 mins- Anything to get your blood pumping (walk, jog in place, jumping jacks)

4 minutes/ 8 rounds:
Walking/skip Lunges- 20 seconds
Sumo Squat Press- 10 seconds

4 minutes/ 8 rounds:
Wall Sit- 20 seconds
Calf Raise- 10 seconds

4 minutes/ 8 rounds:
Burpee- 20 seconds
Ice Skate- 10 seconds

4 minutes/ 8 rounds:
Rows- 20 seconds
Push Ups- 10 seconds

4 minutes/ 8 rounds:
Plank- 20 seconds
Leg Lift- 20 seconds
Russian Twist-20 seconds


To contact Shauna:
To change your life with the Laser Sharp Fitness team (Fred Rowlett is my trainer):

Shauna Saghbene

Shauna Saghbene


For years I exercised by myself & for reasons that were downright ill: 1. my view on workout partners 2. I didn’t think I had anybody to workout with

I remember my husband asking me if I want to train together but it didn’t appeal to me. I thought a partner would slow me down (false). I didn’t want to duplicate a man’s workout (delusional). I knew how to workout I didn’t need him to give me constructive lifting tips (ego fail).

What changed? Me. I started training for competitions. I knew it was time for a revamp in my routines meaning a change in my thinking. I had read & heard repeatedly about the benefits to training with a partner. It was time to dig in & see if the hype was legit.

Mind blown, that sums up the experience I’ve had since I started working out with a good partner(s). Within less than a month of working out with my husband I had dramatic results. I was able to do forced reps, my lifting form was being kept in check & at the end of each session my muscles were cashed. Not to mention it was time spent together, no phones, no internet, just us & our plan to attack the weight room.

It wasn’t long before a buddy that was training for a competition joined us as well. The three of us became well-oiled machines cranking out iron bouncing different routine ideas off of each other. Then I got an opportunity to mix it up & partner with two powerhouse women that inspire me to push hard. I discovered walking post leg workout with them is usually a luxury rarely granted. If you don’t lift weights this probably sounds terrible however it’s quite the contrary, it is awesome.

I’ve gained so much from working out with others. Because of schedules at times I still workout alone however partnering up has spoiled me. Here’s what I’ve learned since wising up to work out partners:

• More heads with different ideas helps keep the body guessing
• Can go heavier with a good spot
• Chance of injury is decreased with another set of eyes catching a slipping form
• Build off each other’s intensity
• I can get called out if I don’t push hard enough (thank you Joey & Jan for this one!)

I jump at the chance to meet up with friends to work towards a common goal & that being said I’m off to quaderrorize my legs with a great crew!

Makeshift Cardio

As with training towards any goal the majority of your time can be consumed pursuing it.  We either forget or think there isn’t time for anything or anyone else.   That’s simply not true.  It isn’t always easy but I can’t imagine reaching my goals & not having the amazing people in my life to share it with.

Last weekend, creeping on 7 weeks from my next competition, we went to the lake for some family fun in the sun.  Not a workout, cardio or meal was sacrificed.  It was a bit of a chore planning every morsel I would consume over the visit yet worth it for the memories to come.  With a cooler stuffed of proteins, veggies & carefully measured carbs, my gym bag filled with resistance bands, tennis shoes, Garmin watch & my water raft we head out.

We get to the lake & settle into the evening catching up & sharing laughs…

The next morning I wake bright & early to complete my workout/cardio before the daily activities commence.  I slip on my shoes, latch my Garmin & head out the narrow winding roads where I quickly discover this wasn’t my best idea.  The roads are so narrow cars cannot see me…rats, I return back to the resort.  I decide I’ll run the lake dock stairs.  As I trip up the rickety stairs for the 3rd time I rethink this option too.  Okay, so I’ll go for an extra-long intense swim later.  Being honest with myself I’m aware I won’t swim hard enough so after several botched attempts…

I look around our cabin & decide to break out my resistance bands, drag the cooler against the wall, pop in my head phones & create make shift boxing drills.  Performing each exercise for 3 minutes, I cycled through these over the course of 45 minutes. 

*Step up & down the cooler

*Jump rope (pretend jump rope)

*Shadow boxing with resistance bands

*Squat thrust/Up-downs, crunches

The result: a drenched sweaty girl.  I felt great!  The rest of my day was spent thoroughly enjoying the company of my loved ones.  I realize when you have a goal you go after it & being flexible is essential towards success.  There isn’t any room for excuses & I refuse to leave any doubt when Sept 15th rolls around.   I can say with comfort I’m giving it my all.  Whatever your goal is go after it, it’s YOUR goal.  Make it happen!

Best wishes~