When I first was drafted to my team, I literally knew nothing about skating for speed or power. I was a true rookie, learning everything from page one. My captain said this was a gift. She said that I could learn good form first then skill would come with ease afterwards. Most veterans who didn’t learn this way ended up with bad habits and found it harder to fix form after doing it a certain way for many years. Bad habits are truly hard to break!

So after a week of working with a few clients, I noticed a particular form fix that I had to address with those who were both new and old to exercise. As easy as it sounds, it is not as easy as it looks. Today’s fix is focused on the lateral lunge.

There are tons of articles that go over proper squatting form (like this, this and this) and it is surprising how a basic strength move is so elusive to tame. But, as difficult as it can be to tame a wild pegasus, that beautiful beast will later help conquer a princess-hungry krakken. All mythical creatures aside, if you have learned from proper squatting technique that the squat comes from the hips and NOT the knees, then you will quickly learn that the lateral lunge uses the same principal.


To execute a lateral lunge in proper form, there are a few points on the body to pay attention to:

- First, the hips. Remember that like the squat, the hips initiate the movement, as if sitting back in a chair. Keeping the chest upright, hinge the hips back and keep the knee and ankle in alignment with weight in the heels. Be sure not to hunch those shoulders and arch that back just to get closer to the ground, only go as far as the lower body will support the weight and in time the lower the lunge will become.

- Secondly, keep in mind where the foot falls in the lunge position. The tendency is to step the foot out and leave it pointed in that direction. Instead, keep both feet pointed forward, in the same direction that the rest of the body is facing. This exercise is focused on the upper leg and not the lower, so leave the lateral movement focused there.

- Lastly, try not to lunge so far that the legs are overextended. We aren’t trying to do the splits or Van Damme it between two semi trucks. If it is too difficult to stand back up without having to hop out of the lunge or wiggle awkwardly back to the center (or end up failing to Van Damme and pulling a Channing Tatum), then adjust for a shorter distance so form (and groin muscle) doesn’t suffer.


AuthorLizelle Din

“Everyone knows how to do push ups.” NOT. Every week I remind my boot campers how to perform a push up in good form. Sometimes it is because they want to push harder or not look like the only person who can’t do a proper one. But I can’t stress this enough, a push up in bad form isn’t doing anyone favors. It also isn’t shameful to not be able to do even one, because this sucker takes a lot of practice and build up.

A push up is one of the most basic exercises that builds upper body and core strength. No equipment is needed, not even this and there are no excuses that can justify leaving it out of your workout (unless you are injured/have joint restrictions, then you are absolutely excused).

Proper Form: 3 Things to Focus On

Spine. I am a big defender of spine health. So when doing any exercise I will always mention this first. When executing an exercise from a prone position, it is best to keep your spine in a neutral position. Note that I am not saying “straight” but “neutral.” The difference is that when the spine is in neutral, it is allowed to perform as it should with the natural curves in motion. Pushing the spine into a straight position is forcing it into an unnatural state. Neutral also means not letting the spine hyperextend. When in a prone position, don’t look like your cat, stretched out over couch and under the coffee table. Only a cat can be comfortable and look cool in that position.  

Elbows. What part of the arms are pushups actually working? Pushups utilize anterior and medial deltoids (shoulders) as well as the triceps and pectorals (chest). They are a ton of variations on pushups and there are a lot of arguments on which is actually the true one, but I’ll stick to the form that I feel works best for the major muscle groups used. When lowering to the ground, keep the elbows close to the side of the body, bending 90 degrees towards the feet.

Neck. Keep the neck neutral as well. A common compensation I see in pushups is when the neck drops down and forward. A little trick to know if the neck is in the right spot is to actually look a few inches in front of you rather than straight down.

How to Build Up

Start with planks. Having stability throughout the core and shoulders is a key component. Don’t worry about lowering just yet. A proper plank is all about keeping the neck and spine neutral and the shoulders directly over your elbows/wrists. Learning to engage the core, quads and glutes will keep pushups in proper alignment rather than looking like someone is about to break out the worm.

On your knees. Don’t knock anyone doing push ups on their knees. I would rather have a client do pushups on their knees in perfect form any day of the week until they build the strength to go to the next level. (See previous.)

Halfsies. I like having my clients learning how to hold a pushup halfway before even attempting to lower all the way. This still gives the core and shoulders more control without losing form.  

Now are we ready to tackle the pushup?

AuthorLizelle Din

Did you just throw up in your mouth a little bit? Yeah. I did too. The burpee. The motherload of exercises. No one likes to even acknowledge that this exercise has essential benefits, just that it sucks the life out of your very soul no matter how fit you are. If you happen to know a person named Megan (aka Sara Problem), then you have agreed to do her birthday burpee challenge for her upcoming 44th birthday. That means starting with just 1 on day 1, adding a burpee to the previous day’s count and ending with all 44 on the last day. Someone very smart and pretty did the math and that means 990 burpees in 44 days. I think I just threw up in my mouth again.

I am not one to try fitness challenges on my own. But doing something in solidarity is definitely better than going at it alone, especially for someone awesome. So in honor of this birthday burpee challenge, today’s FFOTW is, you guessed it, the burpee! For the challenge, it was requested that everyone do a traditional old-fashioned burpee (which excludes the push up) so I will go over form for this particular burpee.

1. Stand straight up, feet shoulder width apart.

2. Bend down and place hands on the ground just in front of your feet and jump your feet straight back behind you, ending in a plank position.

3. Jump your feet back to your hands in one swift motion and keep your knees bent.

4. Immediately follow up with a vertical jump, driving with your hips and your hands extended above your head and land softly with knees bent.

Pro Tips

- A burpee involves power. If you are concentrating on form, it is important to remember where the power comes from—your hips! That means in-between steps 3 and 4, you are loading for the jump, not standing up in between and losing that power. Think of thrusting your hips from the squatting position to execute the jump.

- This traditional burpee does not require a push up or lowering down to the floor. BUT if you choose to add these steps, remember:

- Your push up requires good form too—neutral neck and spine with your core engaged

- If you are lowering to the ground, you shouldn’t look like you are trying to do the worm on the way up. Concentrate on keeping your body as flat as a board as you push back up. Since this is a full body move that means your arms and core are doing work too.

- Power comes from form first, speed second. Start slow until the technique is there, then go for speed.


Want to learn more about burpees? Check out:

Where Do Burpees Come From? (Spoiler Alert: Not Hell) | via Greatist

How to properly do a burpee demo (video) | via Hockey Training Pro

Five Reasons Why Burpees Should Be Your Favorite Exercise | via 12 Minute Athlete


Follow my progress on Instagram, or join the challenge on Facebook.


AuthorLizelle Din

What is the difference between a balance exercise and a stability exercise? A balance exercise is training your muscles to achieve equilibrium, challenging different planes of motion. A stability exercise is exactly that, teaching your body to stabilize. Once your body stabilizes, it then learns to use stabilization to move your body as a whole properly.

Side planks fall under the category of stabilization, NOT balance. Most people execute a side plank by stacking their feet on top of each other and spending a lot of energy balancing (with their shoulder and ankle muscles, not their core!) and when you watch someone using this technique, most of the time it looks like they are practicing their wobble moves rather than holding a perfect plank. But a side plank is meant to stabilize, and use the muscles throughout your core—like your glutes, hips and back.


Next time you do a side plank, try this. Instead of stacking one foot on top of the other, place your top foot on the ground right in front of your bottom foot. Now instead of concentrating on trying not to tip over, you are working on engaging your core to keep your hips up and your body straight rather than trying to balance forwards and backwards.

Easy fix!

AuthorLizelle Din

Ah, the wonderful world of plyometrics. They take any athlete up a notch in performance and can give them a huge jump (pun intended) on the competition. Today’s form fix is on the box jump. A very powerful plyometric exercise and if done correctly will take any athlete to new heights (more puns!).


When choosing the right box height, one should select a box that can be 1.) landed on with both feet firmly on the box and 2.) landed on in a standard squat position (a.k.a. an “athletic” position), NOT a deep squat. If you find yourself landing in a deep squat it means the box is too high. In relation to sports performance, you won’t find yourself very useful in this position as you will always need to be in the “ready” position to react quickly for your next move. Like you would with any other exercise, be patient and build up to the different heights as you would with weight in your resistance training. The stronger you become, the higher you will be able to jump.

Also, a good rule of thumb for plyometrics is that you are using power and explosiveness for the way up, not down. If you are jumping down with the same force, you are at risk for placing unnecessary force on your achilles tendon and causing serious injury. So when you are performing your box jumps, it is better to use the jump up-step down method.

Now, jump to it! (Last pun, I swear.)

AuthorLizelle Din