Split-Stance Low Cable Row:

Outside the gym in your everyday life you twist, you turn, you bend. You move in all directions: forward, backward, side to side and rotationally. A common mistake that many gym-goers make is in not training their body to move and stabilize in all directions.This can lead to injury.

A short lesson in movement planes. There are three directions, or planes, that we move in. Most people do the majority of their training in the Sagittal plane. Think forward-and-back as in a squat, bicep curl, triceps pushdown, front lunge, walking, climbing stairs; frontal plane, think side-to-side, like in a side lunge, side bends, side shuffle, side plank, lateral shoulder dumbbell raise; and transverse like in a trunk rotation, throwing, golfing, swinging a bat or a racket.

You need to be strong in every plane of motion to help prevent injury when moving in everyday life.

Gym-goers typically spend most of their time doing sagittal plane exercises and don’t do enough exercises in the transverse plane and this can lead to injury, particularly to the low back.

Some low back problems occur because the abdominal muscles are not maintaining tight control over the rotation between the pelvis and the L5 to S1 spine vertebrae.

Transverse plane exercises can help prevent injury as they develop your ability to resist and control rotation. These types of exercises are called anti-rotational.

Anti-rotation exercises train your body, particularly your core, to stay aligned and keep your pelvis and low back stable as you resist an outside force that is attempting to pull you out of position.

The Split-Stance Low Cable Row is an excellent transverse plane exercise that stabilizes the pelvis, fights rotational movement and trains you in an anti-rotational manner.

  • Set up a low cable with a single D-handle, grab the D-handle and face the stack.
  • Bend the front leg, the back leg is straight with the back foot flat. Shift most of the weight to the heel of your front foot. Keep that leg bent and you should feel the front leg’s glute contract to stabilize.
  • Bend forward from the hips, not the low back, about 45 degrees. Keep your back straight and your chin tucked in throughout the exercise.
  • Pull the handle towards your torso with a vertical palm grip, performing a row, pausing at the top for a one count. Engage your back muscle and pull your shoulder blades together and down towards your low back. Think “back-and-down”. Do not allow the elbow to be pulled further back than the line of your back.
  • Keep the shoulder blades pulled back throughout the movement. Brace through your core and do not allow your hips or lower back to twist at any point during the movement.

Maria’s Lightened Chicken Piccata 

A reduced fat version of a classic chicken dish. I like to serve it with brown rice medley and asparagus, broccoli or as shown here, delicata squash. 

Mushrooms make a nice addition. Add sliced crimini mushrooms when you return the chicken to the pan the last 5 minutes.

Serves 4

  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 2 + 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined jarred capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Start by prepping all the ingredients and having them handy. Cut chicken as if you were going to butterfly it but cut in half, i.e., butterflied to make 4 pieces. Pound the chicken to flatten so that each piece is fairly even thickness. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place about a half cup of flour in a pie pan or plate and then dredge chicken in flour to coat with flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.

When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate.

Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter to the pan. When oil starts to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner.

Remove chicken to a clean plate.

Add the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers into the pan. Return to the stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Taste to check for seasoning.

Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.


Reduce Weight Loss Frustration with the Best Motivation

At some point, everyone working to lose weight gets frustrated. And some of that frustration can be normal. But if you find you’re continually feeling exasperated perhaps it has to do with your motivation, the reason are you going through the weight loss proves.

Ask yourself WHY you are going through the process of losing weight. What is the reason? The reason can provide some insight to your inner motivation. And with the right type of motivation, you can enhance your ability to reduce some frustration.

Take a minute, think about it and choose the closest answer below.

I am losing weight because…

  • I would feel bad about myself if I did not
  • I feel like I have to because others want me to
  • It feels important to me personally to attain this goal
  • It is a challenge to achieve my goal; it feels good

Which one did you choose? If you answered one of the last two reasons, you may have better results long-term.

Study after study shows just how crucial the right type of motivation is to the effectiveness and maintenance of a weight loss or exercise program.

The last two responses illustrate the two best types of motivations. These are called identified and intrinsic motivation.

It feels important to me personally to attain this goal. This is called Identified Motivation.

You chose to lose weight because you value it.  You have a positive view of your decision to lose weight.

It is a challenge to achieve my goal; it feels good.  This is called Intrinsic Motivation.

Your motive to lose weight is done for its own sake because you value being healthy. You eat healthy and do some sort of exercise for the pleasure of the activity and you value these behaviors. There is a strong sense of personal importance and meaningfulness. You feel you are on a mission and this produces invigorating emotions such as focus, attention, satisfaction, and challenge.

These types of motivation are more likely to keep you motivated for long term and reduce some frustration.

To help you tap into those types of motivation answer the following questions. I recommend you sit down with pen and paper and write out your answers.

  • What is the best thing you could imagine that could result from changing?
  • What will be different if you reach your weight loss/health/exercise goals?
  • What would be the good things you would attain as a result of exercising more/eating healthier/sticking to your program?
  • If you make changes, how would your life be different from what it is today?”
  • How would you like things to turn out for you in 2 years?
  • What are the positive things you get from working out and eating healthy?

Chose to lose weight because you value your personal decision to do it. Focus on the feelings of importance and meaningfulness you get from eating healthy and exercise.

Focus on developing healthy daily habits. What habits will push you towards your goals?

Develop a plan of daily goals, weekly goals and monthly goals.

Some goals you could choose include

  • packing a healthy lunch to take to work
  • eating half your plate full of vegetables at lunch and dinner
  • doing cardio for a determined number of minutes
  • doing a pushup fitness test and setting a goal to increase how many you did in a month’s time
  • scheduling a hike with a friend once a week
  • strength training a determined number of times per week
  • logging all food and exercise intake in an online journal

And then remember to reward yourself for your accomplishments by praising yourself, relish feeling good about doing what you set out to do.

So now go back to the questions with pen and paper and consider your motivations for getting healthier and start setting some goals that will get you there.