Cooler temps got you hanging indoors, and binge-watching your favorite shows? That’s cool, but whenever you settle in for a marathon, you may want to consider doing a little physical activity in front of the tube. Here’s why: New research presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association suggests that the more time you spend watching TV, the greater your risk of blood clots (even if you get the recommended amount of exercise each week). Yikes!
But here’s the good news: It’s possible to squeeze in a workout without ever hitting pause. In the video above, Chelsea Potter, an instructor at Solace in New York City, demonstrates a sneaky set of calorie-crushing intervals and feel-good stretches you can do right in your living room. “The intervals keep your heart rate up so you burn more calories, while the stretching will help keep delayed-onset muscle soreness, as well as potential injuries, away, ” she explains.
Potter recommends performing the stretches during the show, and then cranking things up a notch with the 90-second intervals during commercials. We can guarantee you’ll feel a whole lot better after your next bingefest.
Can’t take your eyes off the screen? Don’t worry. You can do these six simple poses as the plot unfolds. Aim to hold each for 90 seconds.
Sit tall with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Place hands at sides; palms face back. Walk hands back until torso is at a slight angle. Cross right ankle over left knee, and pull left leg into towards body. Repeat with opposite leg.
Sit tall with shoulders relaxed, knees bent and soles of feet touching; place hands on feet. Tighten abs and then fold forward slowly. Hold; return to start. For an even greater stretch, lower elbows to inner thighs and push down on thighs.
Start in upward-facing dog, keeping legs on floor. Step right foot to outside of right hand, coming into a low lunge, and hold. Bring left foot back to plank and then repeat movement on opposite side. Want a deeper stretch? Lower down to forearms.
Lie facedown with elbows bent and palms at sides. Push into hands, straightening arms. Push into the tops of feet to lift thighs. Hold, and then release.
Sit tall with legs bent, feet flat on floor and hands next to hips; palms face back. Slowly walk hands backward as far as possible so that torso begins lowering down toward floor, and hold. Walk hands back in to return to start.
Sit tall with legs crossed. Grab hand towel between hands, pulling until taut. Raise arms over head, and then lower until towel is behind head. Pull towel to right so right arm is straight and left arm forms a 90-degree angle. Pull towel to left to repeat motion. Continue alternating back and forth.
Now it’s time to really work. These three combos will get your heart pumping and that calorie furnace burning. Start with 2 reps of each exercise and increase in a ladder, going to 4 reps per exercise, 6 reps, and continuing for as many reps as possible for 90 seconds.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, chest high, abs drawn in, and hands clasped in front of chest or straight out with palms down. Once hips are slightly below parallel, jump up explosively, swinging arms behind you. Upon landing, squat back down, and repeat.
Squat down and place hands on floor in front of you. Jump feet out so that you’re now in a plank. Jump feet back in towards hands. As you rise to stand, jump up explosively. Make it harder: add in a pushup after the plank.
Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on floor, and hands lightly behind head. Press lower back into ground, pull abs in and lift head, shoulders, and upper back off of floor. Twist torso as you simultaneously bring left elbow and right knee in toward each other while straightening left leg. Draw right knee back in and immediately repeat the movement with the opposite side; continue alternating.
Lie faceup with legs and arms straight. Reach arms over head. Lift arms and legs slightly off of the floor. Engage abs, lift torso and legs as if trying to touch hands to toes. Lower back down; don’t let legs or arms touch ground. Repeat.
Start with feet hip-width apart. Step right foot forward about 2 feet and lower into a lunge, making sure knee does not go past ankle. Jump up, switching position of legs in the air, so that you land in a lunge with left foot forward. Continue alternating.
Towel Ski Jumps
Place a rolled-up towel on floor, standing to the left of it with feet together and hands on hips. Jump up and over the towel, landing lightly on the floor so that you are now standing to the right of the towel. Continue jumping over the towel as quickly as possible.
When you’re stuffed to the point of discomfort after an indulgent holiday dinner, you might be wondering what it’s going to take to feel like your healthy self again. Here, nutrition and fitness experts share advice to help you get back on track after overeating—without starving yourself or doing hours of cardio.
First things first: Stop beating yourself up!
“Feeling guilty doesn’t lead to healthier eating and is more often associated with perpetuating emotional and binge eating behaviors,” says Torey Jones Armul, RDN, National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can’t go backward: Tell yourself you’ll start making healthier decisions starting right now.
Go for a walk.
This can aid digestion and possibly help decrease the fat your body stores, says Marta Montenegro, exercise physiologist and nutrition specialist. One study showed that when subjects took a light walk after a high-fat meal, they decreased their post-meal triglyceride concentration (the type of fat your body stores to use for energy) by around 70 percent compared to the non-walking group.
Get leftovers out of sight.
Whether you encourage guests to take leftovers with them, or stick them in containers to store in your freezer, moving extra food out of sight and out of mind will help you return to your normal healthy eating routine over the next few days, Jones Armul says. “Portioning out leftover foods in single-serving containers prolongs the food’s shelf life, helps with portion control and slows down the urge to chow down on those tempting dishes,” she says.
Note the damage, but don’t let it define you.
If stepping on the scale the day after Thanksgiving will help you get back on track with a healthier eating mindset, then do it, but don’t assume the scale shows true weight gain. It may be up a few notches, but that just reflects water retention, says Molly Morgan, RD, author of Skinny-Size It. There are 3,500 calories in a pound, so to have actually gained three or four pounds, you would’ve had to consume more than 10,500 to 14,000 extra calories! Even though our experts and other sources estimate the average American might take in 2,000 to 4,500 calories over the course of Thanksgiving day eating, that still only adds up to about a pound at the most. “Increase your fluid intake for the next few days to help flush out the extra water,” Morgan says.
Improve your next meal.
If you overdid the calories at one meal, keep the next meal lighter, but still satisfying by filling it halfway with vegetables, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies . T hen fill out the remainder of the plate with lean protein options.
Track your calories for the next few days.
Record your food intake on a smartphone app (like Lose It! or MyFitnessPal) or with pen and paper for a couple of days to get back to your eating routine, suggests Morgan. One study showed that self-monitoring consistently during the holiday season helped the study participants minimize weight gain.
Calm your stressed system with yoga.
Your body is under stress after a big meal, says Montenegro. Yoga can help by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the one that lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and relaxes the stomach nerves. Doing yoga has also been shown to increase the response of feel-good neurochemicals like serotonin and the oxytocin hormone, so you’ll feel happier, more relaxed, and ready to move on with your healthy goals after this particular overeating session. In one study, Iyengar style yoga helped reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, such as abdominal pain, fatigue, constipation, and other digestive issues.
Tack on a few more intense workouts.
Maximize calorie burn by doing moderate- to high-intensity exercises—they’ll increase your metabolism for 12 to 24 hours after you’re done working out, says Montenegro. Do 15 reps of each of squats, shoulder presses, lateral side raises, bent over rows, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side bends, pushups and leg raises. Then repeat the circuit one or two more times.
Focus on your food intake over the course of a week rather than day-to-day, suggests Palinski-Wade: “Don’t let one ‘bad’ meal or day define you.
Here’s a question every trainer receives on a regular basis: “How do I get a better butt?” The media is filled with answers, but sadly most of them claim you can get a “toned tush” with only two weeks of leg raises, or “chiseled cheeks” by completing a simple 30-day squat challenge, or a “fabulous fanny” by popping a weight-loss pill. Truly changing one’s body, however, requires hard work, dedication and some heavy lifting. Most people define “toning” as adding a bit of muscle and losing body fat. To achieve this, you must lift a challenging level of resistance while monitoring your energy balance—calories in vs. calories out.
Entering “Beast Mode” for a Better Butt
Complete three sets of eight to 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises while using a weight that brings you close to failure. Before adding a significant amount of weight, make sure you have mastered proper form and alignment (an ACE Certified Professional can help you with this).
1. Barbell Squats
With the amount of hip flexion and extension involved, the glutes are the driving force for this popular lower-body exercise. To ensure maximum glute involvement, try dropping the hips past parallel if this is comfortable and safe for you.
How: With your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, drop the hips down and back, being sure to keep the back angle and shin angle parallel to one another. Place the barbell just beneath the neck so that it rests on the “squishy” parts of your shoulders. Choose a depth that is both challenging and safe for your knees and hips. Engage your glutes and drive up from the floor.
2. Weighted Lunges
The key to this lunge is squeezing your glutes throughout the movement, which makes you feel much more powerful and stable. Lunges are also directly related to mobility—walking, running, kicking and stepping—so you will be working functionally as well as improving the appearance of your glutes.
How: For a standard forward lunge, begin in a split stance with the feet a little less than shoulder-width apart. Hold dumbbells in both hands. Lead the movement by bending the back knee down toward the floor, keeping the front knee tracking forward over the middle toes. Return to standing by engaging the glutes and pressing through the front foot and ball of the rear foot.
3. Lateral Step-ups
Involving both hip flexion and extension, this exercise adds some side-to-side movement and targets the smaller gluteus medius and minimus muscles.
How: Select a step height in which your knee is 90 degrees when your foot is placed upon it. Hold dumbbells in both hands. With your right foot centered on the step, press downward into the full foot. Engage the muscles of the right hip and drive the left knee up. Slowly lower down with a soft landing and repeat.
4. TRX Hip Presses
Suspended body-weight exercises can be extremely challenging. The TRX Hip Press targets the glutes and hamstrings, focusing on flexion and extension only at the hips.
How: With the TRX Suspension Trainer at mid-calf length, place your heels into the foot cradles so that you are facing the anchor point. Bend your knees so that your feet are directly underneath the anchor point. Keeping the knees bent at 90 degrees throughout the entire movement, engage the glutes and press the hips up so that the knees, hips and shoulders are in alignment. Slowly lower to the floor and repeat.
5. Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts
This exercise focuses on maximum hip flexion and extension while also incorporating balance and core strength.
How: Begin by holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand of the planted foot. Keeping a neutral spine and only a slight bend in the planted leg, hinge forward, remaining square with the floor. Once the end range of a flat torso is reached (your body should form a capital T if you have the mobility) lower that leg back to the floor.
Nuts have have a very well-deserved reputation as a health food. In addition to fiber and plant protein, they’re chock-full of good fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But pecans are one nut healthy eaters tend to overlook. (I’m sure it doesn’t help that pecans star in a few indulgent desserts, like pecan pie and pralines.) The truth is, this delicious nut boasts some unique nutritional perks that are worth spotlighting. Here, three good reasons to eat more pecans—plus simple ways to enjoy them, all year long.
Pecans contain particularly potent antioxidants
Pecans are rich in polyphenol antioxidants, specifically flavonoids, which have been tied to heart benefits. In fact, the nuts have more than twice the flavonoid content found in almonds, cashews, and pistachios, and seven times the amount in walnuts. Compared to other nuts, pecans also have the highest levels of gamma-tocopherols, which is a form of vitamin E and another key antioxidant. Two separate studies have suggested that the increase in gamma-tocopherols levels from eating a pecan-rich diet helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. (Note: Both studies were funded in part by the National Pecan Shellers Association.)
They’re also rich in minerals
Pecans are an excellent source of thiamin and zinc, as well as manganese and copper. One ounce (about 19 halves) supplies 60% of the Daily Value (DV) for manganese, and 40% of the DV for copper. Manganese helps regulate blood sugar, and is needed for healthy bones. This mineral also helps form collagen, which gives skin its firmness and elasticity. Copper aids in iron absorption, and works with iron to help the body form red blood cells. It also supports immunity, and helps keep blood vessels, nerves, and bones healthy.
And they’re naturally sweet
One ounce of pecans contains just one gram of sugar. But compared to other nuts, pecans taste sweeter. That means they can help satisfy a sweet craving with no or less added sugar.
You can simply snack on a handful, or pair them with fruit (pecans go well with apples, pears, grapes, and kiwi). In the morning, try blending pecans into a smoothie; or add them to hot or cold cereal, oatmeal, a yogurt parfait, or muesli.
Pecans also add natural sweetness and crunch to savory dishes. Sprinkle them onto cooked veggies, whole grains, pulses, spaghetti squash, fish, chicken, tuna salad, or entrée salads. (Check out this recipe for Mixed Green Salad With Dried Plums and Toasted Pecans.) Or use chopped pecans as a garnish for hummus, soup, chili, stir-fries, and lettuce wraps.
For a superfood treat, dip pecan halves into melted dark chocolate and dust with ground cinnamon (yum), or use pecan butter and chopped pecans as the base for energy balls, mixed with chopped dried figs, raisins, or apples, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Pick up a bag of pecans on your next trip to the market, or look for the nuts in bulk. And if you live in California, Kansas, Missouri, or a southern state, search for fall pecan picking in your area.
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.
It’s not pretty.
This article originally appeared on Time.com.
Sometimes, a juicy cheeseburger and an order of hot, crispy fries simply call your name. (Greasy foods are so beloved that they have an entire day devoted to them; National Greasy Foods Day is October 25.) While it’s fine to give in to your cravings now and then, it’s important to know how your nutrition choices, and those greasy foods in particular, affect your health.
Does greasy food cause acne? Why does it make your stomach feel weird? And why is greasy food bad for you, anyway? We consulted Ayla Barmmer, a Boston-based registered dietitian, to find out. Here’s what eating greasy foods does to your body.
It strains your digestive system
“When we eat greasy foods like fried food, the sheer volume of fat puts a lot of pressure on our digestive system,” Barmmer said in an email to TIME. Of fat, carbs and protein, fat is the most slowly digested, and it requires enzymes and digestive juices, like bile and stomach acid, to break it down, she says. Everything from stress to medication can lower levels of these digestive juices, so many people are deficient to begin with, Barmmer says. Add in fat, and your digestive system will be working overtime, often leading to bloating, nausea and discomfort.
It makes you run to the bathroom
The most common symptom of digestive strain is an unpleasant one. “Not only will food just sit in your stomach, but it may enter the intestines inadequately digested,” Barmmer says. “Sometimes you wind up seeing greasy or oily stools in these cases.” Many people also experience diarrhea and stomach pain after eating greasy food.
It throws your gut bacteria out of whack
More and more evidence suggests that what you eat affects your gut bacteria, also known as your microbiome. Downing a cheeseburger and fries, Barmmer says, isn’t doing those microorganisms any favors. “Greasy foods do not contain the nourishing, healthy fats that we find in things like avocados, fish, extra virgin olive oil and even butter,” she says. Eating more refined vegetable oils than nourishing fats, she says, tips the body’s balance of fatty acids, which in turn may throw off everything from hormone levels to immune health.
Greasy food may cause acne
You may not see zits directly after a big meal, but Barmmer says that greasy food likely does play a role in acne. “The effect is indirect, occurring over time and as a result of a dietary pattern of eating,” she says. “Acne is largely caused by hormonal imbalances and/or bacterial imbalances, so greasy foods cause acne by way of harming gut health.”
It raises your risk for heart disease and diabetes
If your diet consistently includes greasy foods, Barmmer says, you’ll likely see your risk for chronic conditions—particularly heart disease—go up. A 2014 study from researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that people who ate fried foods between four and six times per week saw their risk for Type 2 diabetes climb 39%, and their risk for coronary heart disease increase by 23%. For people who ate it every day, those percentages only got higher.
Mobility, stability and strength are all important factors in having healthy spinal alignment. When working with sedentary or untrained individuals, beginning with a basic core strengthening routine can provide huge benefits in stabilization and strength. In tough cases, you’ll need to look deeper, literally, to get the outcome you and your client are looking for.
There are many causes of low back pain, so make sure your client has been cleared by their doctor to participate in an exercise program. Similarly, you may find that you are corresponding regularly with your client’s chiropractor or physical therapist. In these cases, you’ll need to clearly articulate your exercise programming and be prepared to discuss the strength and mobility observations you’ve made during your assessment.
When addressing back pain due to musculoskeletal dysfunction, abdominal or core strengthening exercises have long been a go-to recommendation to stabilize the spine. In situations where this hasn’t been effective, it is important to remember that the spine is similarly supported by deeper musculature that may need to be addressed.
When we review the anatomy of the musculature supporting the spine, we quickly note the multifidus, transverse abdominus, rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, as well as the latissimus dorsi and the gluteal complex. These muscles all make up what we think of as the core.
Looking a layer deeper, you’ll notice that stabilization of the pelvis and the lumbar spine is also supported by the psoas, and the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex relies on the piriformis, illiacus and pelvic floor.
The lumbo-pelvic-hip complex is an intricate connection between the lower limbs and spine. This complex set of seemingly immobile bones provides stability and acts as an essential coordination point in the normal contralateral movement pattern of most movement, including the most basic movement pattern of all, walking.
Lifestyle Effects on the Musculature
The balance of mobility, stability and strength is essential to providing coordination throughout the kinetic chain. Sitting for long periods of time creates an imbalance, providing the perfect environment for connective tissue to shorten and weaken.
Other environmental influences can have the same effect on the pelvic floor. Pregnancy and childbirth, for example, can stretch, damage and/or weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Likewise, lack of activity and obesity can both take a toll on the ability of these muscles to perform their essential function.
Lengthen & Strengthen
It is well documented that sitting leads to shortened iliacus and psoas muscles, and the entire group of hip flexors. Because they are held in a shortened position all day long, these muscles lose their mobility and elasticity. You may well know that it is important to focus on increasing the range of motion of these muscles through holding static stretches for 30 seconds to five minutes. This can decrease any hyperlordosis caused by the shortened muscles that may lead to increased back tightness or pain.
Don’t stop there. Once you increase mobility and elasticity, the body will have a stabilization demand. You must increase strength and proprioception in the hip flexor muscles to keep them from finding stability by tightening again.
These exercises will increase strength, stabilization and proprioception of the muscles.
Standing Knee Raise
In this exercise, your client must stand on one foot; however, training balance is not the first step. At first, your client should hold on to something stable, like a ballet bar or the wall.
- Place a small hurdle or cone directly in front of your client. The hurdle should be low to start and can increase in height as your client becomes stronger.
- Standing on one foot, raise the opposite knee into a marching position.
- Move the knee across the body so that the toe taps on the floor on the other side of the hurdle (in front of the opposite foot).
- Lift the knee again and return to the starting position.
- Throughout the exercise, cue your client to keep the hips level and spine straight.
- Repeat for multiple sets and reps. At first, fatigue may set in early.
Regress this exercise: If the hip hikes with the knee raise, lower the height of the hurdle and consider stretching the quadratus lumborum.
Progress this exercise: Increase the height of the hurdle until your client’s foot is clearing the height of their knee.
Once this becomes easy, decrease the stabilization. Have your client hold on to a walking stick, dowel rod or your hand instead of the wall.
Once your client can progress to balancing without an external stabilizing method, add a light leg weight or use a cable with a leg cuff. Note: you may have to add back in the external stabilization after adding weight and move through the progression again.
Pelvic Floor: Beyond Kegel’s
You have likely heard of Kegel exercises. These exercises are a great way to reconnect with the pelvic floor muscles if they are not firing. However, as with any muscle, progressive load is required to improve strength.
Sumo squats and deep squats are a great way to engage the pelvic floor muscles under a progressively greater load.
When working with a client with occasional back pain, an appropriate squat progression becomes even more important.
- Start with box squats or chair squats to ensure you are teaching your client to properly hip hinge.
- Once your client has the strength and mobility to perform a box squat, remove the box and continue to increase range of motion of the squat.
- Using a suspension trainer or the bar on a Smith machine is a great counter support to allow for good form and greater range of motion.
- Once your client is ready for weighted squats, stay away from back squats. Goblet squats, sumo squats and T-bar squats are all great ways to add weight without the added strain on the shoulders.
These exercises do not represent a complete program for back pain, but instead serve as a deeper level of exercise progression for clients who continue to struggle with recurring incidents. Slow and steady progression is key to decreasing back pain, so start at the very lowest progressions recommended and consistently progress only when ready.
If you haven’t already done so, expand your professional network to include chiropractors, massage therapists and physical therapists. It often takes a collective mind to help those with stubborn back pain, and an expanded network is an excellent way to ensure that your client is getting the best of care.
Want to learn more? Read about the muscles of the core.
With 31% of American adults who take part in at least one sport, an expertise in sports conditioning will help you with a wide range of clients. Increase your marketability to elite athletes, fitness enthusiasts training for an event or young competitors who need to increase their balance, strength, agility and speed with ACE’s Sports Conditoning Specialist program.
When I heard that Rumble boxing was the best workout in NYC, I decided to try it out for myself.
What Is it: Rumble is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), strength training, metabolic conditioning (METCON), and uppercut throwing cardio in one clean class.
Who Tried It: Emily Strohm, PEOPLE Senior Writer
Level of Difficulty: 8/10 This class is a challenge from start to finish! I was dripping in sweat and my muscles were on fire, but the beauty of it is that you can go at your own pace. And NO prior boxing experience needed!
When I heard that Rumble boxing was the best workout in the Big Apple, I decided to try it out for myself. Plus, David and Brooklyn Beckham, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin are just a few of Rumble’s A-list members, so I was ready to give it a shot. Just in case I needed back up, I brought along two of my People Magazine colleagues, Janine Rayford Rubinstein and Kaitlyn Frey to help test it out.
When I walked in to Rumble for the first time, I knew right away this place is not your average boxing gym. The interior is pristine, the walls are covered with gorgeous pop art paintings of Tupac, Brad Pitt and Sylvester Stallone and the there’s no shortage of six packs or incredibly shredded bodies strolling around.
The trainer for my first class was none other than the founding partner and trainer Noah Douglas Neiman. A former Barry’s Boot Camp instructor, he’s got a serious social media following, (which may or may not have to do with his dog Oz) and the guy can teach one hell of a high intensity boxing class.
Once you check in and get your glossy custom white Rumble gloves and wraps, you head inside the dimly lit room to warm up and start throwing punches. I love the darkness for two reasons: 1. You get in there and get in the zone. No one cares about what the person next to them is doing, even if it’s Selena Gomez … it’s all about putting in the work without having to think about what you look like. 2. The lighting system is timed perfectly with the music so you feel like you’re dancing at LIV Miami. When that red light hits you, it’s hard not to turn it up.
For me (and probably a lot of people) music is also a major part of my workout. Rumble has an in-house DJ who creates mixes for each trainer’s personality. When Noah played Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow halfway through our workout, I suddenly got my second wind.
The class is split up into two groups and you alternate over ten rounds switching from punching the bags to working the floor with weights. It’s 45-minutes of fun and a whole lot of hard work. Before we began, Noah ran through each of the six punches and in case we got lost, the sequence is always listed on a digital screen at the front of the room. He’s an attentive guy despite holding down a jam-packed gym — he wasn’t going to let me slide while doing what felt like my 150th squat. “I love when I look over and you’re giving me side eye,” he jokes after our class. “That’s ok though.”
Verdict: After experiencing Rumble myself, now I know why the members and trainers look as great as they do. Amazing workouts, entertaining trainers and an all around awesome time. Rumble: Celebrity tested, People Mag Approved. Can’t wait to get back to my next class!
Every exercise in your strength program has a purpose — to help you build strength and muscle, burn fat and improve your fitness. While there’s a time and a place for nearly any exercise under the right circumstance, some movements are simply more effective than others. And it should be no surprise that the ones that build a foundation for skills that you’ll use in everyday tasks will be the most beneficial for improving your fitness and quality of life.
So how does a lifter ensure they’re making all the right moves? If you’ve plateaued or aren’t seeing the results you’re banking on, it’s time to get back to basics with these seven moves. From increased strength, better core stability, greater athleticism and improved overall health, these key exercises need to find their way into your routine.
GIF: Daily Burn DB10
1. Goblet Squat
Squats are an exercise many people struggle to perform safely and effectively. Luckily, the goblet squat is a great progression from a bodyweight squat before squatting with a bar. Because the load is held in front, the core works double-time to keep you tall, while your legs work to control your movement down and stand back up.
How to: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands underneath the “bell” at chest level. Set your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing slightly outwards (a). Push your butt back like you’re sitting in a chair and descend until your elbows reach the inside of your knees (b). Keeping your heels flat on the floor, pause at the bottom of the squat and return to a full standing position. If your heels, push your hips further back and work on partial ranges of motion until mobility and form improve (c). Repeat for four sets of 8-10 reps.
Photo: Mallory Creveling / Life by Daily Burn
2. Pallof Press
The Pallof press is one of those movements that looks confusing, but it’s actually incredibly simple and beneficial, says Mike Campbell, personal trainer and owner of Unleash Your Alpha. While you may not be hoisting heavy weight, the real challenge lies in resisting rotation. That makes this an ‘anti-rotation’ movement, forcing you to engage your entire core: obliques, abs, lower back, glutes and more. According to Campbell, the Paloff press will build great usable strength while adding athletic definition through the mid-section.
How to: Stand with your side parallel to the cable or band’s anchor with your feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent. Grab the handle with both hands and pull it in towards your chest, maintaining tension on the cable or band (a). Keeping your chest high, squeeze through your stomach and press the handle away from the body, extending the arms straight. Be sure to resist any twisting or rotation (b). Continue to engage your core, and ensure you remain square to resist the rotational force. Bring arms back in to the chest and repeat for three sets of 10 reps per side (c).
GIF: Daily Burn LTF
3. Dumbbell Row
Most of us spend more time training the “mirror muscles” on the front of the body, and neglect what we can’t see, according to Campbell. But developing a strong back is key to balance things out, improve posture and avoid injury. The dumbbell row can help achieve all that, in addition to building a strong core and arms. The main muscles being used are the lats, traps and rhomboids, which reinforce good posture by pulling your shoulders back. They also aid the core in stabilizing your spine.
How to: Grab a dumbbell (20 pounds is plenty for most to start) and find a bench. Start with your left hand on the bench with left arm extended, while your right arm holds the dumbbell and right foot is on the ground (a). Retract your shoulders, brace your abs and pull the weight up until the elbow passes the side of the body (b). Lower the weight with control and repeat for three sets of 6-8 reps on each side (c).
GIF: Daily Burn 365
The push-up might appear basic, but it’s one of the best exercises you can do. The functional movement is great for training the upper-body pushing muscles — the anterior deltoids, triceps and chest. It also requires you to engage your core and allows full range of motion in your shoulder blades.
How to: Start on your knees facing the floor with your hands at shoulder-width and planted directly under the shoulders. Get into a plank by straightening your legs and supporting your weight with hands and feet (a). Squeeze your backside to keep your trunk engaged and lower your body slowly to the ground. The elbows should be slightly tucked — like arrows, rather than flared like the letter “T” (b). Descend until your chest is just above the ground and return to the starting position by fully extending your arms, and repeat (c). Note: If you can’t do five push-ups with good form, elevate your hands on a bench or chair to begin building up your strength. If they’re easy, try elevating your feet on a chair.
GIF: Mallory Creveling / Life by Daily Burn
5. Split Squat
Traditional squats are great, but it’s important to incorporate single-leg movements to develop athleticism and minimize training imbalances. The split squat, a stationary lunge, does just that. The split stance requires you to balance with a narrow base of support, firing up stabilizing muscles of the hip and trunk while training your quads, glutes and hamstrings. In addition to building lower-body strength, the single-leg nature of the exercise helps improve balance and increase flexibility and stability in the hips.
How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Next, take a step forward with your right foot, and a large step backwards with your left foot — this is your starting position (a). Keep the front heel flat and descend into a lunge, bringing your back knee towards the floor. Stop just short of your knee of your back leg touching the ground. Keep your front heel flat on the ground (b). Pause for one second and return to standing. Perform 6-8 reps on your right leg, before switching sides. Repeat for three sets (c).
Photo: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365
6. Lateral Squat
The lateral squat combines two movements: a lateral lunge and a squat. The difference? The lateral squat is stationary. It requires you to move side-to-side, providing a great stretch on the groin and inner thighs while training the hips and trunk to work together.
How to: Stand tall with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, heels flat on the ground and toes pointed forward. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips backwards, bending your left leg, and leaning to your left with your right foot angled out slightly (a). The left knee should be bent, left heel flat on the floor, and right leg extended with your weight over the left side of your body (b). This is one rep. Return to a standing position and descend doing the same movement on your right side to even things out (c). Perform six reps per leg for three sets.
GIF: Mallory Creveling / Life by Daily Burn
7. Hip Extension (Glute Bridges/Hip Thrusts)
One of the most important muscle groups for any trainee — athlete, weekend warrior, or newbie — is the glutes. Yet they are often neglected and underutilized from sitting for long periods each day. According to Campbell, “When we attempt movements from running to squatting without optimal hip movement we risk injury to our hips, knees and ankles.” He notes, “Getting glutes that not only switch on when they should but are strong is crucial, and that’s where this simple yet powerfully effective movement comes in.”
How to: Position the back of your shoulders across a stable bench, feet planted firmly on the ground, about six inches away from your butt (a). Squeezing the glutes, push through your heels to rise up into a bridge position with the hips fully extended. The shoulders down to the knees should be in line, with the knees bent at 90 degrees. Hold the position at the top, glutes, core and hamstrings engaged (b). Lower the hips down and repeat for three sets of eight reps (c). Beginners can continue with just bodyweight, while advanced lifters can progress to rolling a barbell over the top of the hips.
Don’t Be Afraid to Add Weight
With all these exercises, pay close attention to form and execution. Continue to add weight to each lift once you can complete two more reps than prescribed with your training weight. Keep it up and after a few workouts you’ll start to notice rapid gains in strength and overall fitness. Within a few weeks you’ll have these exercises mastered and be on your way to having a body that better serves you!
John Hancock Elite Ambassadors Blake Russell and Bill Rodgers offer their running wisdom.
New to running, or just trying to get back into it after a hiatus? Great. It’s one of the easiest sports to take up—all you need is a great pair of kicks and a sports bra, and you’re ready to go. Plus making your way through miles can help you shed pounds, bust stress, and even lower your risk of getting certain cancers.
Before you head out the door at full speed, though—which will almost certainly leave you injured—consider this: “Running is really hard on your body and you just have to be smart about it,” says John Hancock Elite Ambassador Blake Russell, an Olympic marathoner, physical therapist, and owner of On Track Physical Therapy in Pacific Grove, California. “The key is just starting out really slow.”
Here Russell and her fellow John Hancock Elite Ambassador Bill Rodgers, a four-time Boston Marathon winner, offer five tips for helping newbies run strong and long.
Stick to soft surfaces
While there is nothing wrong with pounding the pavement, it can be harsh on the body, especially if yours isn’t used to the movement or surface. Russell’s rec: start off on softer surfaces (think grass, sand, or even the treadmill). While a softer surface doesn’t automatically equal injury-free, a small study in the journal Research in Sports Medicine revealed that running on grass, for instance, puts less pressure on the foot compared to running on concrete.
Give yourself time to build muscle
“It takes the body at least six weeks to build muscle,” says Russell, “so give your body time to build that muscle.” In other words, don’t take on too much mileage too soon; that’s a surefire way to end up sidelined. To help your body adapt, and shore up those muscles, consider strengthening exercises, such as planks, clamshells, side squats. (See how to do them here.)
Try the run-walk method
Can’t make it through your miles without stopping? That’s OK. While you are building your endurance (or if you just need a break mid-run), there is nothing wrong with a little walking. Rodgers suggests trying the run-walk method, which is running for a set amount of time, walking for a set amount of time, and then repeating the cycle. We recover when we walk, notes Rodgers, who believes that the 5K is an ideal running distance and that our bodies were made to run around three miles. (If you will be in the Clearwater, Florida, area in December, there is still time to register for the Cooking Light & Health Fit Foodie Festival and 5K Foodie Race. Register here!)
Don’t run everyday
Don’t be afraid to slip off those sneaks. “Take some days off if you are new to it, don’t feel you have to run seven days a week,” says Russell. When you exercise, you are basically causing trauma to the body by creating micro tears in the muscle. Days off allow the body to recover and those muscles to grow back stronger.
And don’t skimp on recovery
According to Russell, recovery is just as important as training. What you do when you’re off your feet will surely help you make strides while you’re on ‘em. Great practices to employ in your recovery routine: stretching, foam rolling, and massages. This, along with strength moves, will keep your body and joints loose and strong, she notes. And don’t forget to refuel—a 3-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein (think apple with peanut butter) within an hour of finishing your run helps replenish your energy so you can recover faster.