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Got a Good Workout

Got a Good Workout

How to Know If You Actually Got a Good Workout.

Go hard or go home. Train insane or remain the same. If Pinterest was your personal trainer, every workout would be crazy-tough and include extreme sweat and soreness. But that thinking is flawed.

1. Your heart rate says so.

This one’s probably the most objective way to measure how good your cardio workout is. “A good workout—by most definitions—involves a heart rate of three-fourths the maximal heart rate, sustained for 20 minutes [or longer]

2. You feel stronger immediately.

Here’s where a little thing called rate of perceived exertion (RPE for short) comes in. Unlike measuring heart rate, RPE is subjective—it’s basically how hard you think you’re working.

In fact, it’s a great idea to throw in an easy workout (or maybe a full day of rest!) after a tough workout. Recovery days—which can be mentally tough for those who love the gym—are just as important as the days you lift more weight, run faster, or jump higher.

3. You felt challenged in new ways.

This one’s tricky: While you want to feel like you’re working hard during your workout, you never want to get to “the end of the rope,” Kennedy says. Your goal is to work at a level that feels challenging—it should be a struggle to crank out your last reps, Matthews says.

 

the Perfect Push-Up, Burpee, Deadlift, and More!

the Perfect Push-Up, Burpee, Deadlift, and More!

Perfect Pull-Up

 Those of us who can’t do a pull-up are not alone! Sure, it’s going to take some work, but with the right plan in place, you can go from hanging from the bar to hammering out rep after rep of the perfect pull-up.

How to Do the Perfect Burpee

It’s difficult to think of another bodyweight movement as demanding as the burpee. To understand why, consider that the burpee requires a squat, a jump, a push-up, another jump, a squat, and yet another explosive jump.

Burpees come in all kinds of variations—some coaches or gyms may require a push-up; others won’t mind if you modify the movement by skipping the push-up altogether or substituting walking your feet forward and backward one-by-one rather than jumping them up and back.

How to Do the Perfect Deadlift

Ready to chalk up those hands, head to the bar, and get lifting? We’re here to help with step-by-step basics, deadlift variations, and solutions for common mistakes.

The snatch-grip deadlift is very similar to the clean-grip deadlift, but the grip is much wider. It should be as wide as feels comfortable, but start with a lower weight than you may use for a conventional deadlift, since this variation targets slightly different muscles, particularly in the upper back.

How to Do the Perfect Kettlebell Swing

First things, first. That cannonball-with-a-handle-looking weight you’ve seen around the gym is a kettlebell, not a kettleball.

If that sounds too good to be true, maybe it’s because you’ve never swung a kettlebell with pinpoint precision. Until now that is.

Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs

Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs

The Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs

If you’re like us, there’s probably one area you feel like you can’t work enough: your abs. More specifically, your lower abs. 

 

The Workout

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest between moves. Complete the entire circuit 1 to 3 times.

1. Heel Tap

Lie faceup, hands under your butt, knees bent, feet lifted into table top position. Slowly lower your flexed feet forward until your heels barely touch the ground. Squeeze your abdominals to help raise your feet back up to table top.

2. Mountain Climber

From a high plank position, with your body straight and hips level, lift right foot and draw right knee to chest between your hands. As you return right leg to plank, lift left foot and draw left knee to chest between your hands. Continue to alternate as quickly as possible, keeping your core tight and without hiking your hips.

3. Scissor

Lie faceup, hands behind your head, lifting head and shoulders off the floor. Using your abdominals, lift legs slightly off the ground and scissor kick, alternating one up and one down. Focus on not straining your neck or jutting your chin forward.

4. Slider Pike

You’ll need sliders or towels to pull off this move.

Start in high plank position with both feet on sliders. Squeeze low abs and pull feet toward your hands, lifting your hips toward the ceiling into a pike position. Slowly push feet out to lower into starting position.

Make it easier: Perform sliding mountain climbers, moving one leg forward at a time.

5. Straight Leg Raise

From a faceup position on the floor, place hands under your low back and brace your core. Lift straight legs slowly off the ground, bringing them to 90-degrees, then slowly lower them back to the ground. If you have any pain in your lower back, do not do this move.

Pull-Up Bar Variation
If you’re prone to low back pain or have access to a pull-up bar, try this variation instead. Holding a pull-up bar, brace your core and lift your legs off the ground to hip height. Beginners can bend their knees, or you can keep your legs straight (hinging only a the hip) for more of a challenge. Slowly lower the legs to start position.

6. Cross Body Climber

From a high plank position with your body straight, hips level, and core braced, lift right leg and draw right knee toward left elbow. As you return right leg to plank, lift left leg and draw left knee toward right elbow. Continue to alternate.

7. Slider Knee Tuck

You’ll need sliders or towels for this move.

From a high plank position with both feet on sliders, brace core and pull both feet in toward your chest. Focus on not letting your shoulders hunch and not allowing your upper body to lean forward too much. Push feet back to return to high plank starting position.

Stability Ball Variation
If you have a stability ball handy, try this variation instead: Start in plank position with feet on a stability ball. Keeping core engaged, draw both knees in toward your chest, then slowly extend legs back out to starting position.

8. Rolling Plank

Start in low plank position on forearms. Hold for 10 seconds, then roll on to your right elbow, stacking feet, and hold side plank for 10 seconds, engaging your obliques. Roll back through center and over to the left elbow, stacking feet, and hold 10 seconds. Continue to alternate, keeping core engaged and not letting your hips drop.

 

 

Deep Breathing With a Pillow

Deep Breathing With a Pillow

Six-Pack Diaphragm: Deep Breathing With a Pillow

Build a stronger diaphragm, and lower your anxiety in just 10 minutes a day.

Healthy breathing is both deep and full. How we breathe has a fundamental impact on thestress response —deeper, fuller breaths lead to a happier, calmer you. Deep breathing requires breathing diaphragmatically. How can we learn diaphragmatic breathing? With a little breath training.

We are familiar with weight training for all kinds of muscles, but most of us have never thought about strengthening the main muscle we use for breathing, the diaphragm. It is located below the lungs. When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts, the abdomen expands, and air flows into the lungs. When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes, the abdomen softens, and air flows out of the lungs. A strong diaphragm increases your capacity to manage stress and anxiety, and remain calm throughout your day.

The best tool for strengthening the diaphragm is soft, lightly weighted object, like a breath pillow Breath pillows range in weight from 3 pounds for beginners to 20 pounds for advanced practitioners. If you don’t have a breath pillow, you can fill a bag with 5 to 10 pounds of rice, beans, or playground sand—adjusting the weight according to your needs. The bag should be big enough to cover your torso from below the rib cage down to your belly button or just below. Most people start with 5 to 10 pounds, but you may have to experiment a bit to see what weight is best for you.

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  1. Lie on your back and make yourself comfortable.
  2. Place a thin blanket or pillow under your neck and head.
  3. Relax and allow yourself to be supported by the floor.
  4. Bring your awareness to your breathing and notice your breath flow in and out as the belly rises and falls.
  5. After a few minutes, place the breath pillow over your belly, just below the ribcage and above the pubic bone.
  6. The weight of the pillow will cause your breath to flow out more quickly; gently resist this pressure by slowing your exhalation to match the length of your inhalation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Practice this technique once a day or as often as you can for one month. Try adding more time or weight (not both at the same time) as you become more comfortable with this technique.  As you go through your day, notice if you are breathing more comfortably and if you have more energy, resiliency and patience.
How to exercise

How to exercise

How to exercise

Becoming physically active is about incorporating exercise into our daily routine (talked about later) and increasing cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance and flexibility.

This section is about how to start exercising to improve fitness.

There are some basic principles of exercise which will ensure that you gain the maximum benefit from your exercise and that you exercise safely. These concern how often you should exercise, for how long and how difficult it should be. Exercise should also include a warm up, a cool down and stretching of the muscles that you are going to use.

Depending on your exercise, your warm up and cool down could be the same activity, but performed at a less intense level. For example, if you planned a walk, walk at a slower pace for your warm up and cool down.

  • increases the blood flow to the muscles;
  • decreases the chances of injuries to the muscles or joints;
  • should be for 5 – 10 minutes at a very low intensity.

The most widely accepted minimum length of time you should spend exercising is 20 minutes (which does not include the warm-up and cool-down). The maximum is one hour, depending on the exercise you choose. If you are a beginner, try starting with ten minutes.

 

FLEXIBILITY

FLEXIBILITY

  TO IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY

Can’t touch your toes? Learn how to work flexibility training into your routine without foregoing strength or size.
If you consider touching your toes as a farfetched fantasy that will never come to fruition, know this: The exercises in your workout combined with nutrition, hydration, and lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on your flexibility. That’s right.
You don’t have to set your body in pretzels or bent-over toe-touches for hours a day to will some flexibility into your limbs. 
Improving your bending ability is crucial for more than just preventing injury. In fact, flexibility training is an important aspect of gaining strength and size. The typical lifter spends most of their day outside of the gym hunched forward over a computer further deteriorating any chance at proper posture.
Outside of just preventing injury, having better posture helps to show off the muscular physique you worked so hard to build. Proper flexibility also goes hand in hand with full range of motion exercises like squats and deadlifts, which are major muscle builders.
The days of long holds on stretches before exercise is largely over. Research continually demonstrates that static stretching isn’t as beneficial prior to working out as dynamic stretching.
Cycling Workout

Cycling Workout

Cycling Tips For A Better Workout

Get the most out of your cycling workout with these tips on proper cycling form and technique

 

You never forget how to ride a bike. But a few pointers can help you get more out of your workout. Olympian Alison Dunlap, who runs mountain-bike skills clinics in Utah and Colorado, offers these tips for elevating your ride to the next level.

Pedal Smoothly
Your goal: Cycle in fluid circles rather than jamming down on the pedals. With the ball of your foot on the pedal, push down, then pull your foot through the bottom of the stroke, then pull up and back around. Aim for about 90 rpm (to calculate rpm, count how many times your right knee comes up in 60 seconds).

“A faster cadence works your cardiovascular system and doesn’t tire your muscles as quickly as slower, low-gear pedaling does,” says Dunlap. Your speed will naturally slow on hills and quicken on descents. In a cycling class, your instructor may call out specific rpms, and some studio bikes will give you a computerized readout.

Take a Seat
Your weight should feel evenly distributed, with 60 percent on the saddle (seat) and 40 percent on the handlebar. The saddle height should be positioned so there’s a slight bend in your knee when your foot is at the bottom of a stroke.

Get Up
Sitting is the most efficient way to ride–you can use up to 10 percent more energy when you’re out of the saddle. But sometimes, like on a monster hill, you need extra power. When you stand, all of your body weight pushes down on the pedals, giving each stroke more oomph.

Stop Smart
“Brake smoothly and evenly, lightly squeezing and releasing the brakes to control your speed rather than grabbing fistfuls at once,” says Dunlap. About 75 percent of your stopping power comes from the front brake (left-hand side). But squeezing that one too hard can send you over the handlebar. Keep in mind that when you hit the brakes, your bike slows but your body keeps going forward, making it harder to steer.

Morning Running

Morning Running

Apparently Going for a Run Could Rescue You from an Emotional Rollercoaster.

sobfest and hit the track.

Running study

 

If you’ve seen Legally Blonde (duh), you know that exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. But can a quick jog really take you from blue to feeling #blessed? A new study published by the journal Cognition and Emotion found that hitting the pavement might help on days when you feel like an emotional disaster.

WHAT’S A RUNNER’S HIGH?

For the study, a group of 80 individuals (half men, half women) were randomly assigned to either run at a moderate pace for 30 minutes, or spend the same amount of time stretching.

Before and after each activity, they all took an online survey to rate their mood, too. Next, participants were shown clips from a super sad movie, The Champ, followed by the feel-good movie When Harry Met Sally 

It’s that kind of treadmill misuse that creates boredom, and hints at other mistakes you’re already making, says Siik who wants you to “strip everything down to understand what your workout is to begin with.”

Sitting is good – you don’t get tired if you go for a long sit, and it’s more difficult to injure yourself.

Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.

10 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Literally Anywhere

10 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Literally Anywhere

Rock out with the band! Resistance bands are a great addition to any strength training routine or rehabilitation program and come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and strengths.

 

Ready, set, streeetch!

Lower-Body Exercises

Resistance Band Squat

1. Front Squat

Stand on band with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Holding a handle in each hand, bring the top of the band over each shoulder. (If it’s too long, secure band in place by crossing your arms at your chest.) Sit straight down, chest up, abs firm, pressing knees out over your toes. Rise back up to start position and repeat for 8 to 12 reps.

2. Leg Extension

Kick it up a notch with this quad-builder. Anchor a loop band in a low position on a support (like an incline bench), looping the other end around your ankle with the band positioned behind you. Step away from the anchor to create tension on the band, and position feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to the left foot, and lift the right leg from the floor. Extend the knee until it straightens out in front of you. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 8 to 12 reps before switching legs.pilates resistance band workout bicep curl collage

3. Prone (Lying) Leg Curl

Lie belly down and loop a band around your right ankle, anchoring the other end to a door or support. Scoot away from the anchor to create tension. Tighten your core and bend your leg at the knee, bringing your heel toward your glutes as far as you can comfortably go. Slowly return your leg to starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides.

4. Glute Bridge

Salute those glutes! Tie a band around your legs right above your knees. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees. Rise up with your hips until your shoulders, hips and knees align, contracting your glutes through the entire movement. Do 15 to 20 reps.pilates with resistance band attitude side raise collage

5. Standing Adductor

Anchor a loop band at ankle height to a support and stand with your left side facing the support, wrapping the free end around your right (outer) ankle. Stand perpendicular to the band and step away from the support to create some tension (the good kind, of course). From a wide stance, get into a quarter squat or an athletic stance, and then sweep your working ankle across your body past your standing leg, squeezing your thighs together. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 12 to 15 reps before switching sides.pilates resistance band workout squat collage

6. Supinated Clamshell

Loop a band around your legs just above your knees. Lie on your back with hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees. Pull the knees apart while contracting your glutes for 2 to 3 seconds. Slowly return to starting position and repeat, aiming for 10 to 12 total reps.pilates with resistance band attitude side raise collage

7. Plantar Flexion (Ankle Flexion)

Take a load off for this one. Secure a loop or therapy band around an anchor (like the leg of a coffee table or chair), and sit with one leg straight out, wrapping the other end of the loop around the top of your foot. Lean back, supporting your weight on your hands, and flex your foot forward until you feel a good stretch in your shin. In a controlled movement, bring your toes back up, flexing them toward your knee as far as comfortable. Slowly return to starting position and go for 10 to 12 reps on each side.

8. Lateral Band Walk

Don’t sidestep these side steps! Step into a loop band or tie a therapy band around the lower legs, just above both ankles. Place feet shoulder-width apart to create tension on the band. From a half-squat position, shift your weight to the left side, stepping sideways with the right leg. Move the standing leg slightly in, but keep the band taut. Take 8 to 10 steps before heading back the other way.pilates with resistance band knee lift collage

9. Standing Abduction

This one’s a bit of a balancing act. Anchor your loop band at ankle height, and stand with your left side toward the anchor. Attach the free end to your outside ankle and step out to create tension on the band. Move your supporting leg back so your foot is elevated from the floor, lift your working leg up, slowly bringing your looped foot out to the side, contracting your outer glutes. If you feel wobbly, grab a support (like the wall or the back of a chair). Lower back down to starting position and repeat for 15 to 20 reps on each side.pilates resistance band workout single leg bent knee stretch

10. Seated Abduction

To really show those thighs who’s boss, sit at the edge of a chair or bench and tie a loop band around both legs, just above the knees. Place your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Slowly press your knees out, turning your feet in as your legs move apart. Hold for two seconds, and then bring your knees back together. Aim for 15 to 20 reps.pilates with resistance band c curve collage

 

4 Dance-Inspired Bodyweight Moves You Can Do Anywhere

4 Dance-Inspired Bodyweight Moves You Can Do Anywhere

Fact: Burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, and planks are all great bodyweight moves that can whip you into shape in no time. Another fact? Sometimes they get boring.

You won’t get results by just doing a movement—you have to connect to it by thinking about it and feeling it too.

The Workout

Directions: Perform each move in order for 60 seconds with the right leg only with no rest between moves. After performing all 4 moves, rest for 60 seconds (the full circuit takes 5 minutes). Repeat circuit with left leg, and then one more time with each leg again. The entire workout (4 rounds total) will take 20 minutes.

1. Inward Extension

Start on all fours, keeping wrists below shoulders and core engaged. Angle your left knee in toward your right knee. Point your left toe and press the leg up and away from your body on a diagonal. At the end of the movement, your leg should be fully extended, knee straight. Lift leg as high as you can, engaging your glutes, but being careful not to arch your back or place excess pressure on your low back.

(Editor’s note: The images above demonstrate the move on the left leg, but you should stick to the original directions: Perform the entire circuit with the right leg before switching to the left.)

2. Foot Grab

Start on all fours. Keep hips as level as possible as you lift your right leg, with knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Your thigh should be in line with your hip. Reach back with your right hand and grab your right foot, holding for a moment before releasing and extending your right arm in front of you and your right leg straight behind you. Repeat the grab-and-extend without letting your right hand or foot return to the floor.

3. Around-the-World

Lie on your left side, propped up on your elbow, knees bent and legs stacked. Extend your right leg in front of you, parallel to floor, so your leg forms a 90-degree angle with your hip. Point toes and lift right leg toward ceiling. Bend right knee, drop your right leg behind your back, and tap the floor with your toes. (Try to tap behind your butt, so your hip really opens up, and glute engages.) Straighten leg, as you point toes toward ceiling, then extend leg in front. Repeat.

4. Wall Taps

Stand with your back toward a wall, stepping at least two feet away from it. Squat and place hands on the ground. Lift your right foot to the wall. Brace yourself using both hands by rolling your shoulders down and packing your shoulder blades. Engage your core and carefully step your left foot against the wall. Still using your hands to support you, walk your feet up the wall so legs and hips are at an angle greater than 90 degrees. In this supported handstand, you may find it easiest to keep your balance by looking at the ground between your hands. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise to help feel balanced. (You can also push against the wall with your feet.)

Now, point your right foot, lower it to the ground beside you, and tap your toes to the floor. Tap back in place on the wall. Continue to alternate between tapping floor and wall for 60 seconds.