Tuesday, 31 May 2016

5 Things To Know Before Buying A New Pair Of Sneakers

Image courtesy of Guido Mieth, Getty Images

The perfect running shoe can make you feel invincible when you’re running that morning mile (or even a half-marathon). But wearing shoes that don’t fit can seriously mess with your stride. Conveniently, they’re pretty much the only thing you need to worry about up-front: “One of the wonderful things about running is its simplicity—no need to reserve fields, find a team, or buy equipment,” says Kate Reese, manager of the specialty running store Brooklyn Running Co., and assistant coach of the women’s cross country and track and field teams at Haverford College. “But the repetitive foot-strike and impact of running can take a toll on the body, especially for those of us that are confined to concrete and asphalt for the majority of our mileage.”

Running is a pretty intuitive and simple form of exercise, but “finding a shoe that will work with your individual biomechanics is a critical component of both injury prevention and overall comfort,” says Reese. She recommends heading to a specialty running store, where an associate can analyze your gait (the way you run) to find the best shoe. Whether you’re an experienced runner or just getting into jogging, there are five things you should know before you invest in a new pair of sneaks.

1. Try on a half-size larger than you normally would to give your toes some space.

Even if your casual sneaks fit just right, when it comes to technical running shoes, they should probably be at a half size larger than casual footwear, explains Reese. Wiggle room is a must! You want to have about a thumb’s width between the tip of your big toe and the front of the shoe to avoid blisters and broken toenails, explains Reese. “Pressure on the toe is never okay,” says Reese. “If the fit is so constrictive that the toes can’t move, you will most likely develop a blister during the course of the run. Any friction will certainly result in a blister that even the most technical sock can’t combat.”

2. Make sure the rest of the shoe isn’t too tight, too.

“The collar [opening] of the shoe should fit snugly around the heel without gripping too tightly,” says Reese. You shouldn’t feel pressure under your foot or constriction along the top of your foot, and “the arch of the shoe should align comfortably with the arch of the foot,” she adds.

 3. Consider the support you need.

Speaking of arches, yours will definitely determine the type of shoe that’s best for your foot. “Runners with high, rigid arches typically need a more neutral shoe, with uniform cushion front to back, while those with flatter feet tend to need additional support under the arch,” says Reese. “Most footwear falls within one of these two broad categories, but different models have different amounts and placement of correction. A shoe with too little support can result in excess arch drop, while unnecessary support can push the foot laterally. Over the course of many miles, these slight shifts can contribute to injury.” The best way to make sure your arches are correctly supported is to—you guessed it—ask a store associate to help you out. Here’s a quick primer on how to determine what foot type you have.

Related: Four Workouts That Will Make You A Faster Runner

4. And know that a lightweight shoe isn’t always better.

Even if those sleek, lightweight bad boys in the window had caught your eye, sometimes less isn’t more. “We need to be realistic about the surfaces on which we run,” says Reese. “Many of our customers love the weightlessness of minimal footwear, but find that these shoes simply don’t provide the support and shock absorption needed for urban running.” Minimal footwear typically means the shoe has less cushioning, a more flexible arch, and a heel that’s lower to the ground than a traditional running shoe, she explains. And while it all depends on the person, Reese recommends transitioning to this type of gradually to give your body time to adjust, if running long-distance in a minimal shoe is your goal.

5. Most importantly, consider comfort first. 

At the end of the day, comfort should always come first. “Find a shoe that feels natural, almost like an extension of the foot,” says Reese. Make sure the shoes you choose are comfortable enough that you could run out of the store in them (just don’t forget your bag). If you’re looking for some sneaker inspiration, get started with these SELF favorites.

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Monday, 30 May 2016

A 4-Minute Cardio Workout That Will Leave Your Abs Crying

YekoPhotoStudio / Getty Images

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SELF.

Commonly referred to as jump training, plyo (think box jumps, jumping lunges, hurdle hops) involves explosive action in short spurts. At New York City’s Fhitting Room, a boutique fitness studio specializing in high-intensity interval training, coaches include plyometrics in 90 percent of their weekly programming. Each 30-second burst leaves clients breathless and quivery—but psyched about their results. “The exercises increase your muscles’ efficiency by training them to contract and relax more quickly,” says Fhitting Room instructor Julia Avery. “This translates into better performance in other movements—you can jump higher or lift more weight.”

For Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas plyo training gives her an Olympic-caliber edge—helping her run faster to the vault, flawlessly execute twists and flips, and stick those landings. She’ll do all of that in Rio, and she’ll also be having a great time. In 2012, “I was the underdog,” she says. “Now it’s different. Still, I’m going to have fun and bring my A game.”

Douglas isn’t just catching air with the plyo routine below—she’s also improving her explosive power and coordination. Her trainer, Christian Gallardo, recommends doing this circuit without rest between moves. (It will take you about four minutes to complete.) Add it to the end of your regular workout up to four days per week.

1. High Knees
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Run in place, pumping arms and bringing knees as close to chest as possible, for 30 seconds.

2. Tuck Jump
Stand with feet together, knees soft, arms reaching overhead. Lean forward slightly and lift heels off floor. Jump as high as possible, bringing knees to chest and landing softly on balls of feet. Continue for 30 seconds.

3. V-Up
Lie on back, arms and legs extended. Contract abs, then reach arms and legs to ceiling, forming a V shape. Lower slowly for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

4. Squat Jump
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Jump, fully extending arms, then land in a squat, keeping chest up, as you tap the ground with hands. Continue for 30 seconds.

5. Windshield Wiper
Lie on back with legs straight, feet pointed to ceiling, arms out to sides. Slowly lower feet to left, keeping a 90-degree bend at waist. Lift feet back to ceiling and repeat on opposite side for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

Sports bra, $23, shorts, $25, and shoes, $150; Nike.com.

Styled by Michaela Dosamantes Hair, Dana Boyer for Oribe Hair Care; makeup, Laura Stiassni for Dior Addict.

For more, pick up the June issue of SELF on newsstands, subscribe, or download the digital edition.

Be sure to tune in: the Olympics begin August 5th on NBC. To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org.

You may also like: Try this 10-minute plyo workout you can do at home:

The post A 4-Minute Cardio Workout That Will Leave Your Abs Crying appeared first on SELF.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

11 Little Ways To Exercise Without Actually Working Out


Edward Berthelot / Getty

When it comes to finding time to work out, the struggle is very real. Because after an extremely long day at work, getting your booty to the gym is damn-near impossible. It’s not that you don’t want to exercise, it’s just that you’re super pooped and you need some time to decompress.

We hear that. These simple tricks will turn your day into a sort of workout, without actually requiring you to work out. While trainers have some pretty great advice about what to do when you’re at the gym, they also have some genius tips for adding more calorie-burning, muscle-strengthening minutes of exercise throughout your non-gym, spandex-free hours. Get ready to fire up those muscles.

1. Work while you prepare for your day.

Brushing your teeth or your hair? Putting makeup on? It’s so easy to turn these daily rituals into low-key workouts. Becky Hempel, head trainer at DavidBartonGym, suggests simply standing on one leg while you do them. If you’re feeling adventurous (and awake), maybe even try some squats. Because two minutes of teeth brushing + two minutes of squats = 11 calories burned*. 

*Note: All of the calorie calculations apply to a woman who weighs 135 pounds. If you’re looking for something more specific to your body type, you can adjust those calculations here.

2. Power walk to and from everywhere.

Businesswoman talking on cell phone in city

Paul Bradbury / Getty

Simply picking up the pace while walking can do a lot. Five minutes at a slow pace will burn about 13 calories, while the same amount of time at a brisk pace will burn 20 calories. So speed it up wherever you go, even if it’s just to the bathroom. Bonus: It’ll make you look super important.

3. Get off the bus or train a stop early.

Danielle Devine-Baum, Flywheel master instructor and creative director, loves this trick. If your morning commute relies heavily on public transportation, this is a great way to amp things up early in your day. Obviously, you’ll want to give yourself a little extra time to get to and from places (no matter how quickly you walk, it won’t be as fast as a bus or train). Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk at a brisk pace that’s 41 more calories than you would have been burning—and it’s good for your overall health, too.

Related: 12 Easy Ways To Burn More Calories In A Day

The post 11 Little Ways To Exercise Without Actually Working Out appeared first on SELF.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Do This Workout 3 Days Per Week To See Results


Hero Images, Getty Images; Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

Whether you’re just starting a fitness regimen or trying to keep up with one, finding the time to work out is half the battle. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to hit the gym five days a week so we could split up our sessions between strength training and cardio (and have more time to spend on both). But life happens, and sometimes, fitting a five-day plan into your schedule just isn’t going to happen. 

The good news? You can still make great progress by working out three days per week, if you’re smart about each training session. Full-body workouts with a combination of both cardio and strength training make sense for this approach, says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness.

And don’t forget about the time you don’t spend working out. “Results have a lot to do with what you’re doing outside of your workout as far as your nutrition and your rest, but we’ve seen some really great results from our clients who do three-days-a-week programs,” he says.

Your Three-Day Game Plan

Ideally, you should have one day of rest in between these workouts, according to Tamir (although two days in a row is fine if you must, he adds—just don’t string all three together). Rest is a crucial part of the plan, too. “When you’re working out, you’re damaging the muscle tissue, so that rest and recovery helps them repair,” says Tamir. In other words, your rest days are where the magic happens.

If you want to sub in a fitness class, like kickboxing or indoor cycling, feel free, says Tamir. But try to swap out your middle day—while muscles need rest, they should ideally be stimulated every 48 hours, he says. To keep up your progress, try not to take more than a few days of rest.

If you can at least fit in a few 45- to 60-minute gym sessions, you’re golden. “If you’re going to do three workouts per week, use a full-body and well-balanced combination of mobility, plyometric exercises, strength training, and interval training,” says Tamir. This combination is optimal for both improving your overall fitness performance and changing your body composition, he explains.

Tamir came up with the ultimate workout plan to do three days a week for SELF—and, hey, any other workouts your schedule can manage are a bonus. Here’s how each of your workouts should work:

Start warming up for five minutes.

Start with a solid warm-up, which Tamir says should be a part of every fitness routine. This is when you prep your body for a tough workout—a good warm-up will help prevent injury and increase your range of motion and mobility so you can get the most out of every move. Mobility exercises (like neck nods and shoulder circles) help “move around the joints to create more space so that it can move freely without restriction,” he adds.

You can also foam roll, if you want—Tamir says it also assists in mobility and helps you mentally prepare for your workout. Plus, it feels good, and there’s nothing wrong with starting a workout that way.

Here’s how to do it:

Then it’s time to do some plyo moves and core exercises.

Now it’s time for the real work. Before he gets into true strength training, Tamir likes to have clients alternate between an explosive plyometric exercise, like a jump squat, and a core exercise, like a plank variation. “[This routine has] good muscle recruitment, and it’s going to get your heart rate up,” says Tamir. “When you’re doing those plyometric exercises, you’re using a lot of power.”

Here’s how to do it:

  • Do 15 seconds of jump squats.
  • Hold a tight forearm plank for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat those two moves back-to-back a total of three to four times.
  • Bonus: if you want an active recovery between each set, add a third exercise that focuses on mobility such as reverse lunges. Do six to eight reps for side, about 30 to 45 seconds total.

You can also mix up the exercises you feature in this section to keep it spicy. Try one of these 10 fat-burning plyometric exercises and one of these six core exercises. This section should take you about eight to ten minutes, says Tamir.

The post Do This Workout 3 Days Per Week To See Results appeared first on SELF.

9 Hysterical But Cringe-Worthy Gym Mistakes Top Trainers Have Made

Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

While gyms and other fitness spaces are great places to challenge your body, they’re also prime places for mistakes to happen. Endless equipment plus unfamiliar movements can be a formula for success and hilariously epic fails. And even trainers aren’t immune: They may be gym pros, but they’ve definitely experienced some America’s Funniest Home Videos-worthy moments themselves. 

In fact, since they do spend so much time training clients, teaching classes, and working out, they have even more opportunities for miscalculations—it’s just statistics, y’know? Plus, they’re testing out new moves, pushing their own boundaries, and getting a feel for what works and what doesn’t. As they’ve learned, you win some, you lose some.

I can relate: One time in high school, I decided to see if I could keep up my running pace on the rec center treadmill with my eyes closed. Spoiler alert: I cannot. One second you think you’re keeping up your stride like a champ, and the next, your back is against the wall. (I have never seen anyone laugh harder than the guy on the treadmill next to me. Mortifying, but other than that, I was fine.) Don’t try this at home, people.

Trainers totally get it (and hey, you might have a story or two in mind, too). These mistakes are relatable, ridiculous, and sometimes painful, but one thing’s for sure: We can definitely learn a thing or two from their experiences. Here are nine trainer’s biggest workout blunders—and how to avoid them yourself.

Related: 5 Things Insanely Productive And Healthy People Do Before 8 A.M.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Only 3 Moves You Need To Have A Killer Total-Body Workout Today

When you have 30-minutes THIS is the best workout to do. You’ll do a little bit of everything including a dynamic warm-up, quick strength circuit, and cardio intervals.

When you have an hour to dedicate to exercise, here’s a great walk-jog workout that will get your heart pumping and leave you feeling tired, but refreshed.

But what about when you only have 10 minutes? Or five? This quick three-move circuit below is a simple go-to routine for when you don’t have time to complete your regularly scheduled workout. While planning ahead is great, having a fitness plan B is important for when you’ve slept through your alarm or have meetings run late. Life happens, but doing even just a little bit of activity is better than doing nothing.

The moves below target your core, butt, and arms, and will get your heart pumping, too. Repeat the mini circuit two to three times for a standalone workout, or do one set of the moves as finisher at the end of your regular routine if you have more time. 

1. Weighted Twists

Valerie Fischel

This move is all about those abs, particularly the obliques (the muscles that run along the sides of your waist).

  • Hold the a dumbbell (start with five to eight pounds) in both hands at your chest and sit with knees bent, feet together, and heels on the floor.
  • Now twist your torso to the left then to the right.
  • Do 10-15 reps.

2. Squat Thrusts

Valerie Fischel

This total-body move is a great way to add some cardio to your day. For a strength challenge add a push-up while in the plank position.

  • Start standing tall.
  • Bend over and place both hands on the ground.
  • Jump feet back so that you’re in a high plank position.
  • Jump feet back in and jump up in the air reaching your hands high.
  • Do 10-15 reps.

3. Step Ups

Valerie Fischel

This exercise will raise your heart rate and work your lower body. Be sure to place your entire foot on the bench and for more of a challenge use a higher box or bench.

  • Stand behind an exercise box or bench and place your entire left foot on the bench.
  • Shift weight on to left foot and stand up bringing your right foot to meet your left. Drive through your left heel to help activate your glute muscles.
  • Now step down with the left then right foot so that you’re back on the ground.
  • Do 10-15 reps. When you’re halfway through, switch sides and lead with the right foot.

You may also like: Try this 10-minute plyometric workout you can do at home

The post The Only 3 Moves You Need To Have A Killer Total-Body Workout Today appeared first on SELF.

The Workout Rule That Will Help You Lose Weight

Studio1901, Getty Images

Getting your fitness on is a key component of weight loss, and even though certain types of exercise are known for their fat-burning capabilities, at the end of the day, there’s one rule that trumps all when it comes to working out for weight loss: consistency. Easier said than done, but 100 percent worth it. 

Put simply, “in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you are consuming,” explains Jacqueline Kasen, a trainer at Anatomy at 1220 in Miami. Of course, your body burns calories just by livin’, but exercise helps create an even bigger calorie deficit. However, “the magic doesn’t happen overnight,” says Kelvin Gary, C.P.T., owner of NYC’s Body Space Fitness. (But, let’s be honest: Wouldn’t it be nice if it did work that way?)

“The whole process [of burning fat] takes time and energy,” adds Gary. “Consistency in the gym keeps the process moving in the right direction. It also helps you create the good habits that will eventually be your new normal, helping you reach those goals in a sustainable way.” Plus, if you take extended breaks, you risk losing some of the progress you’ve made from that rise-and-grind life. 

Consistency means different things to different people, depending on your goals and what’s realistic for your lifestyle. Kasen reccomends aiming for four to five workouts per week—but you can start smaller, if you want. “Make the commitment to exercise at least three days per week—that will likely lead to wanting to exercise even more, like four or five days,” says Jenn Seracuse, director of Pilates at FLEX studios. “We are human and things happen, but it’s important not to let life completely derail you from your routine.” 

Here are trainers’ best tips for staying consistent, accountable, and on track.

The post The Workout Rule That Will Help You Lose Weight appeared first on SELF.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

8 Habits People Who’ve Lost Major Weight Have In Common


Losing weight is a deeply emotional, intensely personal, and potentially life-changing process for many people. But if there’s one thing that people who’ve lost weight have in common, it’s that they’ve tried a lot of different things to get them to where they are now—and ultimately, it’s a balanced outlook that helps them maintain the hard work they put into their goals. Of course, weight loss isn’t the only reason to embrace a new set of healthy habits, but if weight loss is on your mind, these women are majorly inspiring and have shared what really, truly has worked for them.

I’m pretty lucky in that way: I spend a lot of time writing about weight loss and healthy living for SELF.com, and the women I talk are insanely inspiring. I’ll be honest—as someone who’s lost weight but continues to chip away at those stubborn final pounds, it can be incredibly frustrating to stop making progress (and even put back on a few more pounds). One woman told me that the less she had to lose, the harder it was to stay on track, and man, I can relate to that. Learning about the weight-loss journeys of 35+ women has allowed me to connect the dots and recognize habits and mindsets that are huge contributors to weight-loss success. And while some of their habits already play a major role in my life, some of them are definitely things I can start working on more actively.

From personal trainers to ER nurses to stay-at-home moms, there are some common themes that almost every woman I’ve talked to has brought up, whether they’ve dropped 20 pounds or 100. And while there’s no big secret or be-all, end-all trick that can take the place of hard work, there are some healthy habits that women who’ve lost weight credit a lot of their weight loss to.

Here are eight things that can set you up for weight-loss success, straight from the women who’ve done it themselves.

Related: Here’s How Many Calories You Should Be Eating For Weight Loss

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Monday, 23 May 2016

A 60-Minute Treadmill Walk-Jog Workout To Do While Watching Your Favorite TV Show

Microgen, Getty Images

In a perfect world, we’d have enough time to fit in a killer workout and then watch our TV show with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine, Olivia Pope-style. But there are only so many hours in a day, and sometimes, there just isn’t time for both. The struggle.

Whether your goal is to run a race, lose weight, build cardio endurance, or be active every day, you don’t have to sidetrack your fitness efforts or deal with a too-full DVR. Andrew Conklin, a master trainer at Crunch Gym in NYC, developed this walk-jog workout that’s meant to be enjoy while watching your favorite 60-minute TV show. The routine incorporates longer walking and jogging sections, so you don’t have to distract yourself from your show every five seconds to change the speed or incline. 

“A jog/walk workout helps the body acclimate to running longer distances, and walking breaks allow for an overall longer workout,” says Conklin. He even uses a walk/jog method in his marathons—he’s done 32 (!!!). “This workout can help a person train for a 5K, 10K or a half-marathon,” he adds. And even though high-intensity interval training gets all the credit when it comes to weight loss, you’ll still be burning calories during this routine.

Here’s your 60-minute TV show-meets-treadmill workout routine:

  • Warm-up: At the beginning of the show, set the treadmill to 1.5 percent incline and walk at a 3 MPH pace. Continue to do this until after the first commercial break.
  • Workout: When the show is on (air time), set the treadmill to 3 percent incline and run at a 5 MPH pace. During the commercial breaks, return the treadmill to 1.5 percent incline and walk at a 3 MPH pace. Continue this pattern throughout the show and slightly increase your pace every time the show comes back on—try to hit a 6 or 7 MPH pace by the end.
  • Cool-down: During the last air time (or just before the hour is up), keep the treadmill at a 1.5 percent incline and walk at a 3 MPH pace. 

Whether you go with Dancing With The Stars, The Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy or anything on Bravo (my personal workout channel of choice), one thing’s for sure—you’ll be lapping everyone on the couch.

You may also like: Here’s a fat-burning plyometric workout to try at home

The post A 60-Minute Treadmill Walk-Jog Workout To Do While Watching Your Favorite TV Show appeared first on SELF.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Jillian Michaels’ 7 Commandments For Lasting Weight Loss

Magone, Getty Images

If there’s one woman who isn’t afraid to get real about weight loss, it’s Jillian Michaels. She’s known for her badass, no-holds-barred approach to transforming lives on TV shows like The Biggest Loser and Sweat Inc., and she’s made a name for herself as America’s toughest trainer—with good reason. There’s no doubt about it: The woman gets results

I chatted with Michaels at an event for KRAVE Jerky, and, to be honest, I was a little nervous going in. Was she going to make me do 10 burpees on the spot? Would she grill me about what I ate for lunch? Neither of those things happened, but let’s be clear, there’s no on-screen persona to speak of: She’s just as authentic, unapologetic, and passionate IRL, but in the loveliest way. I couldn’t decide if I wanted her to be my trainer or my best friend.

Either way, though, Michaels has seen it all when it comes to weight loss: What works, what doesn’t, and everything in between. And even if weight loss isn’t your goal, these are the seven rules Michaels swears by:

Related: 8 Things Healthy People Do Every Single Day

1. Don’t overeat (that means healthy foods, too).

“Weight maintenance and weight loss are about how much you’re taking in,” says Michaels. “I don’t care how healthy the food is. Don’t overeat!” she stresses. Granted, healthier foods will do a better job of fueling your body, but at the end of the day, a calorie is a calorie. If you are looking to lose weight, here’s how to determine how many calories you should be eating each day.  

2. Count your calories—but not forever.

While counting calories has a bad rap in some nutritional circles, Michaels considers it to be absolutely essential if you’re trying to lose weight–and she doesn’t budge on that opinion. “You must know the calories,” says Michaels. “I can’t tell you how many times people come to me and they’re like, ‘I can’t lose weight.’ Or ‘I’ve plateaued.’ And then I look at the simple math and I’m like, dude!” While calorie requirements for weight loss are different for every person, Michaels urges people to get an app to do the work for you—and once you get the hang of it, you can be conscious of the calories in your food without the technology.

“I know it by heart now. For example, I tend to eat the same 20 things, and I’m betting most other people do, too. The same three to five breakfasts, the same three to five lunches, the same three to five snacks…Look them up! You’ll know every meal. For example, if I have two eggs for breakfast, and each egg is 80 calories, plus a piece of whole grain toast, which is about 80 calories, the whole breakfast is 240 calories, and now I know. Eventually, you can eyeball things. Two weeks of work and you’ll know it forever.”

3. Read labels and make eating quality, nutritious food your number one priority.

Even though calories are an important factor in weight loss, it’s about quality, too. “Forget the special diets, like, ‘I’m paleo!’ ‘I’m vegan!’ The bottom line is, it’s about the quality of your food. Get rid of the chemicals,” she says. “Read the label. You have to be proactive about your own health in every possible way. And if you don’t know what the hell it is, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.”

That doesn’t mean all packaged foods are off-limits: For example, Michaels likes to snack on Sunbiotics almonds and KRAVE Jerky (who she’s a spokesperson for). “I found KRAVE—they didn’t come to me. I invested in the company,” she adds. “No corn syrup, no MSG, no nitrates, it tastes great, it’s protein, and it’s low in calories.” (She even read me the ingredients label to me to prove it.)

When it comes to eating for weight loss, she swears it’s more simple than you think: “If you don’t overeat and you’re removing chemicals as often as you possibly can, that’s all you need to worry about when it comes to your food.”

The post Jillian Michaels’ 7 Commandments For Lasting Weight Loss appeared first on SELF.

Here’s What A Perfect 30-Minute Workout Looks Like

Westend61, Getty Images

When life gets insanely busy (y’know, as life does), even an hour-long workout can seem like a luxury that you just don’t have the time for. But even if you can’t take your sweet time with 45-minute cycling class or 90-minute yoga session, that doesn’t mean you can’t receive all of the wonderful, glorious, energizing benefits of breaking a sweat.

A 30-minute workout can be all you need to improve flexibility, build muscle, burn calories, and release stress (which, when your schedule is extra-packed, can be a major benefit of working out). “Maximize your time,” says NYC-based trainer Rebecca Kennedy. “Go in with a plan, and make sure the intensity is bumped up a notch. Have a playlist ready to go, leave the excuses at home, and turn your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode—this is focus time! Some days you don’t have a ton of time, but there’s nothing wrong with a short workout—they can be just as intense (or more) as a longer one.”

If you’re like me, though, having some guidance is key. (I’m really good at wandering aimlessly around the gym.) Try this workout that Kennedy created for us next time you only have 30 minutes—it combines a warm-up, a quick strength session, and finishes with cardio. Hustle up–you have a minute between each section! Here’s your game plan:

The post Here’s What A Perfect 30-Minute Workout Looks Like appeared first on SELF.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Why We Love the New Nutrition Facts Label

Why We Love the New Nutrition Facts Label Blog Post

It may be because I'm a nutrition nerd, but I'm pretty excited about the FDA announcement today about changes to the nutrition facts panel on food packages. I scour nutrition labels as part of my job.

5 Gnarly Foot Problems All Runners Can Relate To—And How To Fix Them

Slipping on a new pair of flats or heels, it’s safe to assume you’re going to end up with a blister at the end of the day. Runners have the same expectation—that guaranteed foot unhappiness will ensue—after a long run or a few months training for a race.

While spending lots of time on your feet in any situation can lead to some nagging pain, there are some ~special~ things about running that doom your dogs. “There’s a sheer repetitive nature to running, where you’re constantly doing the exact same motion over and over and over again,” Lori Weisenfeld, D.P.M., a New York City sports podiatrist, tells SELF. “Also, we sweat a lot when running, and sweat and friction combined are not the best combo.” And here’s a reason to dislike hills even more: “Even if it’s not a monumental one, slightly going up or down puts stresses between [your shoes] and your feet.” All these factors combined make runners particularly prone to some gnarly foot problems.

Wearing a good pair running sneakers that fit you properly is your first line of defense. “The proper sneaker is absolutely essential when you’re running,” Weisenfeld says. But if we’re being honest, even the most perfect pair of kicks won’t make you immune to runners’ feet. Here’s how to handle the most common issues.

1. Blisters

Plain and simple, blisters are caused by friction. If you’re prone to them, it means your foot is moving around too much in your shoe. This could be because you’re not wearing the right size, or you’re not wearing the right socks. Weisenfeld says to look for sport-specific socks with a lot of cushioning and made with synthetic materials (not 100 percent cotton or wool “because that will absorb the moisture but not allow it to evaporate”). She recommends the running socks from Thorlo. If you get blisters in between your toes, try rubbing Vaseline in between them before slipping into your socks, or use a blister block stick like Body Glide Foot Anti Blister Balm ($7, target.com).

If a blister is tense and painful, Weisenfeld suggests draining it with a sharp, sterilized instrument. “On the roof of the blister but close to where it attaches to the skin, lance the blister so all the fluid comes out.” If you use a tiny pinhole, it will most likely seal up and fill up again, she adds, so use something a little thicker so it can fully drain. Just don’t rip the top layer of skin off—no matter how temping it is. “It acts as the body’s natural biologic dressing for the blister, so the best thing to do is leave that in place.” If a blister elicits a throbbing pain or turns red, it could be a sign of infection.

2. Calluses

If this hardened mass of skin tends to build up on your heels, it’s probably from the edge of your shoe rubbing against the back of your foot. If your callus resides on the side of your big toe, it can be from wearing too-tight shoes or your running form, Weisenfeld explains. “If you over-pronate, your arches roll inward and as that happens, you’re rolling onto the big toe when you’re pushing off.” Over time, a big ol’ callus can form.

If calluses are a problem for you, make sure your shoes are wide enough across the front so there’s no pinching. Weisenfeld also recommends switching to a more supportive and stabilizing shoe to stop your foot from rolling, and wearing good running socks that wick away sweat and reduce friction. They might not look so great in sandals, but calluses are usually harmless and shouldn’t be painful. If they’re bothering you, Weisenfeld recommends gently filing them down with a pumice stone twice a week in the shower and moisturizing with a foot cream like ProFoot Heel Rescue Foot Cream ($12, amazon.com). If one hurts, it could be that a blister has formed underneath. It could also be a corn or a wart, not actually a callus. If a callus is dry, red, and cracking, it could be a sign of chronic athlete’s foot. All these scenarios deserve attention from a podiatrist.

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5 Things Insanely Productive And Healthy People Do Before 8 A.M.

Egill Bjarki, Getty Images

Trainers are a rare breed of morning unicorns. What they can accomplish before 8 A.M. is pure magic—from training clients to teaching classes bright and early, many start their days before the sun rises and are out the door while the rest of us are still blissfully enjoying some shut-eye. But an early start to their workday doesn’t mean they don’t take time for themselves in the morning–actually, it’s a priority. 

As fitness pros, they make sure they’re caring for themselves first, even when they’re insanely busy. And even though they don’t always squeeze their own workouts in that early (they are a little busy helping the rest of us do that), their mornings feel balanced, refreshing, and productive. 

Below are five set-yourself-up-for-success habits that top trainers swear by. They may just inspire you to set your alarm 20 minutes earlier (ugh).

1. Hydrate (with water)—immediately.

Whether they go for a citrus-spiked sip or the regular stuff, drinking water is the first thing on many trainers’ healthy morning routines. “I usually drink two tall glasses of water to rehydrate me and get my metabolism going,” says Kelvin Gary, C.P.T., owner of NYC’s Body Space Fitness. (Staying hydrated is important for helping to keep your metabolism in tip-top shape, no matter how you drink it.) Plus, if you’re trying to get #UpNOut and to a workout, staying hydrated will help you power through your SoulCycle class. “Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue,” says Gary.

“I drink a liter of warm lemon water every morning before I eat or drink anything else,” adds Nerijus Bagdonas, a trainer at YG Studios. And while warm lemon water isn’t any more hydrating than regular water, if it’ll inspire you to sip on the H20, by all means, have at it.

2. Foam roll and stretch it out.

When your mind is awake but your muscles feel one step behind, there are ways to break your body out of that cooped-up, sleepy funk. “I foam roll first thing out of bed,” says Gary. “I’ve found this to be the best way to loosen up all the tightness from a night of sleep.” If you don’t have a foam roller, you can give your body a wake-up call with some stretching, too. “Stretching my back and breathing in child’s pose is helpful to release any tension formed from my sleeping position,” says Amelia DiDomenico, C.P.T., master trainer at Crunch Gyms.

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5 Speedy And Ultra-Effective Workouts For People Who Are Really Busy


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Finding time to workout when you’re really super busy can sometimes feel impossible. If you spend half your day at work, eight hours (ideally) sleeping, and a couple hours commuting, you’ll probably end up using any remaining free time you might have to actually, you know, unwind. Because as much as you’d like to be hitting the gym after you leave the office, it can be hard to convince yourself that it’s worth it when you’re totally exhausted. 

These workouts are specifically designed to fit into your busy schedule, without getting in the way of your free time. They blend seamlessly into all the brief moments of downtime during your day—you can do them from bed as you wake up in the morning, at your desk while skimming your Twitter feed, and even during your nightly Netflix-binge. And at the end of the day, you’ll still have time to do everything else you love, too. 

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

8 Things Healthy People Do Every Single Day

Caiaimage/Sam Edwards, Getty Images

Dietitians and trainers not only help other people live their ~best lives~, but they’re pretty good about incorporating healthy habits into their daily lives, too. And their top-tips below are all pretty doable, proving that living well doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire life. Because when it comes to living healthy, it’s not all about chugging a kale smoothie, sweating it out in 90-minute hot yoga sessions, or picking up fresh flowers from the farmer’s market.

Healthy living means different things to different people, but there are some simple habits that can help you lead a more balanced, energized life every single day—no matter what your goals are. So put these expert-approved tips in your green juice and sip it:

1. Drink water like you mean it.


Jamie Grill, Getty Images

H20 is pretty much your BFF. “Every morning, I pour myself a big glass of water, which I drink before putting anything else in my body,” explains Nora Minno, R.D., C.D.N. “Staying hydrated keeps our bodies healthy down to the cellular level and it also helps keep us from overeating. Oftentimes we can mistake thirst for hunger,” she adds, which can lead to taking in more calories than your body needs from food.

Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, also swears by staying hydrated. “I never leave home without my water bottle,” she says. “My goal is to drink at least three bottles full each day. Dehydration can lead to feelings of hunger, headaches, and lack of energy, so having it with me at all times makes it easy to stay hydrated.” 

2. Enjoy your meals and try to eat without any distractions.

Mindful eating is one of those things that’s easier said than done—but worth working on. “While I can’t always escape eating a meal in front of my computer, I try to take at least 10 to 15 minutes to enjoy my meal [distraction-free],” says Rumsey. “No phone, no TV—just me and my food. This enables me to really taste and appreciate my food. Most importantly, I’m able to pay attention to my satiety cues, and stop eating when I am hungry.” 

“I find that it doesn’t matter what is on my plate: If I’m distracted, I’m more likely to overeat because my mind is somewhere else other than my plate,” adds Rebecca Scritchfield, R.D., host of the Body Kindness Podcast. “Eating is a sacred ritual to me, and even though we are all busy, we at least owe it to ourselves to take pauses in our day to savor our food—that goes for French fries and kale salads.”

Related: I Tried Mindful Eating For A Week, And This Is What I Learned

3. Enjoy some fresh air when you can. 

Stop and smell the roses—or at least walk by some. “Getting fresh air is so important for mental health,” says Minno. “Even if it is just getting out of the office for 10 minutes at lunchtime to take a walk around the block, that small bit break can leave you feeling reenergized and put you back in a positive mood.”

4. Find little ways to stay active throughout the day.

“Even if I have a busy day ahead of me, I always try to get in some type of workout five times a week,” says Nazima Qureshi, R.D., M.P.H., C.P.T. “Not only do I get the benefits of exercise, I also use this time as ‘me’ time, which helps me unwind. I like to try something new to change it up so I don’t get bored of the same-old exercise routine.”

And if you don’t have time to log a full workout, try breaking it up. “In a perfect world I’d have time to get to a yoga class or spend an hour at the gym, but having an inconsistent schedule doesn’t always allow for that,” says Jessi Haggerty, R.D., C.P.T., creator of the BodyLove planner. “If I can’t get in an hour of  ‘structured’ exercise, I make sure to squeeze in some extra walking on my breaks throughout the day.”

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Kayla Itsines Shares Exactly How To Stretch And Foam Roll Your Lower Body


@kayla_itsines, Instagram

Finishing an intense, you-just-made-your-muscles-cry-workout is great. But you know what’s better? Stretching it out when you’re done. When you push your body to the limit you need to make sure you’re giving it time to recover and restore, too. That’s why a good stretch session (plus regular foam rolling) will help keep your muscles in tip-top shape. And there are a lot of easy stretches you can do to ensure you never have a problem slaying a butt-busting routine.

Known for her extremely intense workouts, Australian trainer Kayla Itsines understands this better than anyone. In a recent Facebook Live video, Itsines demonstrated a few of her go-to stretches for your lower body, while her business partner and boyfriend, Tobi Pearce, narrated the moves and answered questions from followers. 

The entire routine is easy to do anywhere, whether that’s at home in your living room, or at the gym. The first half of the video is all about the lower body. She begins by stretching her hamstrings and glutes then moves onto her hip flexors. And everything looks like it would feel amazing.

In the second half of the video she demonstrates how to properly use a foam roller (because you know you’ve always wondered if you’re actually doing it right). As she rolls, Pierce also explains the difference between foam rolling and stretching. “Stretching is great for circulation and increasing flexibility, foam rolling is really good at reducing tension in specific areas,” he says. One big takeaway: Keep breathing! Check out the full 15-minute video below for all her helpful tips.

Related: 6 Ballerina-Approved Stretches For Tight Hips And Thighs

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Is It OK To Work Out On An Empty Stomach?

Waking up to make that 7 AM boxing class is enough of a challenge already. Getting out of bed with enough time to eat breakfast before running out the door? That might take a miracle. 

Plenty of people work out on an empty stomach (often referred to as a “fasted state”), but whether or not that’s beneficial has been debated for decades, Steve Ball, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, tells SELF. Why? “It is complicated and one size doesn’t fit all.” Here’s what we do know:

Eating carbohydrates before a workout will give your body energy to power through.

Your body turns to carbohydrates when it needs energy. During prolonged exercise your body dips into its stores of glycogen for fuel, Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., assistant professor in nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University, tells SELF. “Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate in the body,” she explains. By topping off your carbohydrate stores with a snack, you help ensure your body has adequate energy for a tough workout. This is why experts, including Pritchett, recommend eating “a meal high in carbohydrates, moderate protein, and low in fiber,” about two to three hours before working out.

“Physiologically speaking, it is not dangerous to exercise on an empty stomach,” Ball says. But having a snack might give some exercisers the energy to work out harder than if they were to try on an empty stomach. “I would just ask yourself if you are getting the most bang for your buck during your workout,” Pritchett says.

Some people may not feel like they need food right before a workout, though, and that’s totally fine.

The type of workout you’re doing that day, your level of intensity, and your fitness goals can all change whether or not an empty stomach is sufficient, explains Pritchett. If you feel good throughout your workout and don’t have to sacrifice intensity, then you may be a person who runs well without a pre-workout snack. But mentally, some people just do better with a little food in their stomachs, Ball says.

There has been some research showing the potential benefits of exercising, particularly doing cardio, in a fasted stated in relation to fat burn and endurance. However other research has shown that eating before training is more conducive to fat burn, Ball notes. Because of these contradictory findings, and since there are so many variables at play—including your starting fitness levels and diet, the type of workout you’re doing, and your ultimate goals—there is no conclusive answer. Ultimately, you need to just listen to your body to figure out what works best for you—both physically and mentally.

Either way, staying hydrated is essential for everyone. Working out when dehydrated may increase your risk for cramping (especially if you’re working out for long periods of time and losing a ton of fluids through sweat), and not getting enough H2O in general can make you feel sluggish and sleepy. It may take some experimentation to find the proper hydration needs for you, but registered dietitian Jessica Jones has previously recommended drinking one cup of water for every 15-30 minutes of intense physical activity.

Bottom line: It all comes down to personal preference and doing what helps you perform your best.

Potential benefits aside, there’s no danger in working out on an empty stomach—as long as it doesn’t prevent you from working at your full capacity or alter your ability to be mentally and physically present during your training session. If you get a just-as-good or better workout on an empty stomach, keep doing your thing. 

“The post-exercise meal is much more critical,” Ball notes, so make sure you’re refueling with a protein-heavy snack after your sweat to help your muscles repair themselves and maximize the benefits of all the hard work you just did.

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The 7-Minute Abs Workout That Will Fire Up Your Core

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SELF.

Sculpting your abs requires firing up every inch of your midsection, from the top of your rectus abdominis, or six-pack muscles, to your obliques. This routine challenges them all in seven moves. Don’t rush: Slow, controlled movements ensure your core muscles do the work, not gravity or momentum. Each exercise in the routine below will take about a minute to complete. When you’re short on time do one round of the seven-move circuit. For supercharged results, do three sets of each move up to five times per week. Now let’s get to the abs-mazing moves.

Your Trainer Hannah Davis, a trainer in Cleveland, Tennessee, and founder of Body By Hannah

You’ll Need gliding disks (or small towels or paper plates)

You Can Do the routine before or after cardio, but if you’re strength training, do these moves last

1. Bicycle

Works abs, obliques, hip flexors
  • Sit on floor with knees bent, feet lifted, hands behind head.
  • Keep chest up and back straight as you lean back to engage abs.
  • Twist to bring right elbow to left knee, straightening right leg.
  • Repeat on opposite side for 1 rep. Do 10 to 15 reps.

2. Slider Pike

Works shoulders, abs, hip flexors

  • Start in a high plank with feet together, a gliding disk under each.
  • Use abs to lift hips, bringing feet as close as possible to hands without bending knees.
  • Slowly slide back to start for 1 rep. Do 10 to 15 reps.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Best New Sports Bras For Every Cup Size And Workout

When it comes to your workouts, you need a sports bra that can keep up! SELF staffers put 170+ styles to the test during hours of yoga, HIIT, and long, sweaty runs. Here are the 27 MVPs for every cup size and workout style.

A/B Cup

Low Impact:

1. C9 by Champion: Yogis will dig this seamless bralette with sexy straps. Seamless Strappy, $20; Target.com/C9

2. PopPhysique: Designed by its barre class namesake, this simple and strappy bra is ideal for those tiny pulses. The Pop Sports Bra, $42; PopPhysique.com

3. SmartWool: Wicking merino wool is perfect for long hikes said one tester. Seamless Double Strappy, $55; Smartwool.com

Medium Impact:

1. Patagonia: Testers say they wouldn’t change a thing about this simple, chic bra. Cordelisse, $49; Patagonia.com

2. The North Face: According to a tester, this is “the most perfect bra for a workout.” Dynamix, $50; TheNorthFace.com

3. Olympia: Show off those abs with this wear-alone bra perfect for any sculpting class. Thalia Neo, $82; OlympiaActivewear.com

High Impact:

1. New Balance: Editors call this happy-hued winner “snug” and “supportive.” Metro Run, $46; NewBalance.com

2. Athleta: The T-back keeps arms and shoulders free to let you groove during dance class. Up-Tempo Microstripe, $49; Athleta.com

3. Brooks: Adjustable straps and a hook-and-eye closure mean no getting stuck trying to take off your bra. FineForm, $50; BrooksRunning.com

Related: This 10-Minute Plyometric Workout Burns MEGA Calories

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That Moment When: Nzingha Prescod

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SELF.

Nzingha Prescod was doing lunges during practice in 2014 when she felt a sharp, pinching pain in her right hip. It turned out she needed surgery for torn cartilage. “It was scary,” she says. “I didn’t know if I’d even be able to continue fencing.” The Columbia University grad dedicated herself to an intense five months of rehab. But her comeback was more than just physical. “I had to change my mind-set,” she says. “Instead of thinking about losing, I focused on what I could control.” Ready to compete again come 2015, the Brooklyn, New York–based athlete entered the fencing world championships, where she fenced 2012 Olympic gold medalist Elisa Di Francisca. “Against someone so respected, I’d usually think, It’s my time to be out, but I ignored my doubts and trusted myself.” Prescod won the bout, and she’ll take that confidence to Rio de Janeiro this summer. “I know that I can beat anyone in the world,” she says.

Nzingha Prescod’s Road To Rio:

Nine: Prescod’s age when she started fencing at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, a nonprofit fencing club for inner-city youths in New York City. Now, she volunteers there.

10: Prescod’s world ranking in foil fencing.

First: In 2015, Prescod became the first African-American woman to win an individual medal at the senior world championships.

Top, Uhlmann; TheFencingPost.com for similar styles. Pants, $240, and foil, $70, Uhlmann; TheFencingPost.com. Shoes, Adidas, $69; TheFencingPost.com.

Styling, Taylor Okata; Hair, Dana Boyer for Bumble and Bumble; Makeup, Suzy Gerstein for Lancome; Manicure, Yukie Miyakawa for Dior Vernis.

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org. The Olympics begin August 5th on NBC.

For more, pick up the June issue of SELF on newsstands, subscribe, or download the digital edition.

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Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas Goes For Gold

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SELF.

Flash back to the 2012 Olympics: Gabby Douglas sprints across the floor in a magenta leotard, leaping into the air and taking flight. Four stunning rotations later, she touches down, nails a leap, then sticks the landing. A huge smile flashes across her face. That smile—and the epic floor routine preceding it—instantly captured the hearts of Americans. It also captured Douglas a gold medal in both the individual all-around and team competitions—a history-making moment as the first American gymnast to do so.

Now, the 20-year-old is at it again, training hard to compete for that “best in the world” title this summer in Rio. And she’ll complete every routine with her famous smile—not because she’s a competitive gymnast and the judges are expecting it, but because gymnastics has always made her spirits skyrocket.

“My oldest sister taught me how to do a cartwheel when I was three,” says the Virginia Beach, Virginia, native, who loved them so much that she quickly upped the ante to one-handers (and then no-handers). “Learning new skills and tricks fuels my passion.” Even though Douglas has completed handsprings, swings on the bars and bouts at the beam literally thousands of times, she hasn’t lost her childhood joy for the sport.

And when you spend more than 30 hours in the gym each week, finding the fun becomes extra important. “Gabby gets it. She understands,” says her trainer, Christian Gallardo. “She gets in there, busts her butt and works out hard. But instead of saying ‘Ugh, that was so exhausting,’ she’ll say, ‘I’m so much better because of it.’ ” In the morning, Douglas does a mix of strength and conditioning exercises, then practices her floor routine, among others. She breaks to “chill out” with friends for lunch, then gets right back in the swing of things. By 2 PM, she’s tackling more events, like beam and bars.

Her champion’s mind-set—happy, strong—is attainable for everyday exercisers, too. The key is to experiment until you click with a sweat-ivity that just feels good. “In a way, exercise is an expression of your personality,” says Heather Milton, senior exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Sports Performance Center. “Maybe marathon training isn’t your thing, but you love a group class. You’ll have more fun when you’re comfortable.”

So consider this a license to find the stuff that makes you smile—no slogging through a run when you really want to Spin your heart out or get drenched in a hot-yoga class.

For more, pick up the June issue of SELF on newsstands, subscribe, or download the digital edition.

Be sure to tune in: the Olympics begin August 5th on NBC. To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org.

Sports bra, $23, shorts, $25, and shoes, $150; Nike.com.

Styled by Michaela Dosamantes Hair, Dana Boyer for Oribe Hair Care; makeup, Laura Stiassni for Dior Addict.

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

A 10-Minute Fat-Burning Plyometric Workout You Can Do At Home

Mikolette, Getty Images

Plyometric exercises are the current fitness darlings. And what makes them so effective also makes them extra brutal. That’s because plyometric exercises are fast, dynamic, and explosive movements that typically cause your heart rate to skyrocket (translating to mega calories burned). Doing them will help improve your power, speed, and endurance. Burpees—yeah that’s a plyometric. Jumping lunges—yes and yes.

So while these types of exercises may not be your favorite, they’ll get the job done. Amanda Butler, C.P.T. and fitness instructor at The Fhitting Room in NYC incorporates these types of movements into her classes and shared a few of her favorites that you can do at home.

Ready to work? Watch trainer Tamara Pridgett demo each move from the 10-minute routine below. Then, put on your sneakers, clear a little space in your living room and get ready to crush it!

Your 10-Minute Plyometric Workout

How to do it: Do 10 reps of each exercise in order. Rest for one minute then repeat the circuit as many times as you can until time is up—10 minutes is your goal! Take breaks as needed, this routine is tough.

The moves:

1. Jumping Lunges: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees then jump up into the air bringing your right leg forward, and left leg goes back so that you land in a lunge position. As soon as you land with soft knees, jump back up into the air and switch legs mid air to land with the opposite leg forward. Be sure to keep your chest up.

2. Burpees: Start with your feet hip-width apart. Drop your hands down to the floor and jump feet back so that you’re in a high plank position. Lower your entire body to the floor (if you want to make it more challenging you can do a strict triceps push-up). Then quickly press your whole body off the floor, jump feet forward, and jump up.

3. Single-Leg Deadlift + Hop: Start with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your left leg and extend it behind you as you tilt forward with your chest (keep a slight bend in your right leg). Then, bring your chest back up, as you lower your left leg and pass it through center to bring it in front of you with left knee bent. As you do this, hop up so that your right foot leaves the floor. Repeat this on the same side for all reps before moving to the other leg.

4. Froggers: Start in high plank position with your feet hip-width apart and your shoulders stacked directly over wrists. Now hop your feet forward in a wide position (just outside your hands) and drop your hips towards the floor. Check your balance by lifting your hands off the floor (it helps to keep the weight in your heels). Then jump feet back to start position.

5. Sumo Jump Squats: Start with your feet wider than your hips with a 45-degree turnout. Lower down into a squat position (you may feel a stretch in your inner thighs), then jump up into the air as high as you can and straighten out your legs. Land back on the floor with soft knees and return back to the sumo squat position.

6. Plank Jacks: Start in a forearm plank with your feet hip-width apart and shoulders stacked over your wrists. Keeping your core engaged, jump your feet in together and back out like jumping jacks.

7. Plyo Push-Ups: Start in high plank position. Bend arms and lower your chest to the floor. As you press yourself back up, add an explosive push off the floor bringing your hands off the floor, then land back on the floor with soft elbows.

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This Must-Try Plank Variation Work Your Abs And Shoulders

Make those planks extra challenging with this killer variation from POPSUGAR Fitness.

No matter what your workout style, you’re bound to come across a plank in your life, and for good reason. The move works the entire body and also creates an awareness that can help in everyday life and activities. Once you’ve mastered the traditional plank, step it up a notch with a knee driver. If you can believe it, a knee driver forces your abs and shoulders to work even harder. It’s also a favorite of trainer Adam Rosante, who is known for killer total-body workout. Add it to your next strength-training routine or challenge yourself during commercial breaks the next time you have a marathon TV session planned.

  • Begin in an elbow plank position with the abs engaged.
  • Draw the left knee into the chest. Then step the foot back to the elbow plank position. Now draw the right knee into the chest and then step it back to the elbow plank position.
  • This counts as one rep.
  • Continue alternating sides and complete as many reps as you can in a minute.

Originally written by Michele Foley, POPSUGAR Fitness

More from POPSUGAR Fitness:

POPSUGAR Fitness on Twitter
POPSUGAR Fitness on Facebook

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Friday, 13 May 2016

This Swimming Routine Is The Most Fun Way To Work Out This Summer

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of SELF.

Planning on hitting the pool this summer? Squeeze in a refreshing workout, while you’re at it. “Aquatic exercise combines cardio, strength, and resistance training that’s gentle on your joints,” says U.S. Olympic team women’s head coach David Marsh. It’s low-impact, efficient, and seriously on-season. He created this challenging strength-and-cardio routine for SELF, so dust off your goggles and get your inner Missy Franklin on. 

1. No-Hands Treading

Swim to where you can’t stand up and tread water. Once you’re in a good rhythm, bring arms out, perpendicular to body, and rely solely on leg power to stay afloat. After 30 seconds, reengage arms for a 30-second rest interval. Continue for four minutes.

2. Water Sprint

Sprint a quarter of the way across shallow end of pool (feet on bottom), then swim back to wall. Sprint halfway across shallow end; swim back. Sprint three quarters of the way; swim back. Sprint full width; swim back. Rest one minute. Repeat.

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Next-Level Avocado Toast? Put an Egg On It

Next-Level Avocado Toast? Put an Egg On It Blog Post

I heart avocado toast. It's one of my go-to breakfasts during the week. My 4-year-old daughter even digs it. But rather than just putting mashed avocado on toast, it takes practically no time to add a fried egg and some tasty veggies, which keeps me satisfied all morning.

Here's how to take avocado toast to the next level:

Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Low-Impact Elliptical Workout That’ll Crush Calories

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

If you’re looking for a low-impact cardio workout—or just want to mix up your regular exercise routine—hop on the elliptical machine. The cardio equipment is almost guaranteed to be at your local gym and is a quick way to work up a serious sweat. 

“My mantra for almost everybody is the same: the best cardio modality is the one that you’ll do,” says exercise physiologist Neal Pire, M.A., C.S.C.S., F.A.C.S.M.. And we couldn’t agree more. And while running, rowing, or stair climbing are all great workouts, too, sometimes you need to do you.

If you’re comparing it to running on a treadmill, you will naturally be expending less energy (and calories) because you don’t have to pick up your feet, explains Pire. But this actually gives the machine an edge if you’re looking for a cardio routine that’s easy on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Training on the elliptical is a weight-bearing workout, but it’s low impact on your body because you don’t strike the ground with every stride.

As with most gym equipment, if you’re not wearing a heart rate monitor, the exact calorie count may be a little off, so don’t read too much into them. However, you can burn as many calories on an elliptical as you do on a treadmill (and maybe even more), you just have to work harder to compensate for the fact that there’s no energy exertion from lifting your feet, Pire explains. As with most things, it all comes down to how hard you’re actually working. And if you’ve ever thought the elliptical isn’t hardcore try telling The Rock that—he even travels with his precious cardio machine

To help you get in the zone, Annette Comerchero, founder of Elliptifit studio in Los Angeles, created a 20-minute, fat-burning elliptical workout. All you need to do is get on the machine and put in the work. But first, let’s talk form.

One of the great things about the elliptical machine is that good form is almost built-in, explains Pire. Here’s what that entails:

  • Keep a slight micro-bend in your knees and elbows.
  • Keep your feet flat on the pedals.
  • Keep your core tight and spine long so that you’re standing tall and not hunching forward.

Before you start the 20-minute workout below, here’s what you need to know:

The workout utilizes high-intensity interval training for maximum efficiency: Since you’re raising and lowering your heart rate throughout the workout, you’ll continue to burn calories as your body tries to get back to its normal state after you step off.

  • During your push speeds, you should be working at about a 8 to 9 to RPE (rate of perceived exertion, with 10 being the hardest you could possibly work). The goal is to push yourself as hard as possible during the work intervals for the biggest after-burn, explains Comerchero.
  • During your steady pace, your RPE should be around 1 to 3 so you can recover, says Comerchero.
  • According to Comerchero, seasoned exercisers can bump up the resistance on the routine for an added challenge, and less-conditioned exercisers can lower the resistance. Find what feels challenging to YOU!
  • If possible, choose an elliptical with arm bars so you’re using more muscle mass, suggests Pire—this will also help work the muscles of your upper body. 

You’re all set—now, time to channel your inner Rock with this fat-burning, heart-pumping elliptical workout. 

Related: 5 Awesome Treadmill Workouts For Burning Fat

The post A Low-Impact Elliptical Workout That’ll Crush Calories appeared first on SELF.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

An Easy Stretch For Relieving Tightness In Your Back, Butt, And Hamstrings

Hero Images / Getty Images

Stretching on the reg is great for improving your flexibility, and busting out a few feel-good moves after a workout can help prevent injury. (Remember, you want to do dynamic movements before a workout and static stretches after a training session.)

And while the benefits of stretching are mentioned at the beginning and end of almost every fitness class, it’s really easy to skip stretching entirely when training solo—knowing you need to stretch more and actually stretching more are two separate things. You’re even supposed to stretch on the days you’re not working out, but that always seems to be the thing that gets pushed to last when triaging your daily to-do list.

Related: 8 Small-Space Workouts That Burn Fat And Work Your Total Body

But it’s all about those baby steps, which is why doing this one feel-good and ridiculously simple stretch is a great place to start. The foldover stretch (also called a forward bend or fold) is one of our go-to, super-effective, G.O.A.T. stretches for better flexibility—it stretches your neck, back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Basically it targets all of the areas that tend to feel achy, particularly after a long day of sitting. And while it’s a stretch you might have done before, you’ll definitely want to start doing it more often. Loosen up? Yes please! Here’s how to do it:

Woman doing yoga

Getty Images

Foldover Stretch

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and arms by your sides. Exhale as you bend forward from hips, lowering head toward the floor. Be sure to keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed. 
  • Wrap your arms around backs of your legs and hold anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes.
  • Bend knees and roll up slowly to release.

Tip: If you’re not comfortable reaching that far, bend knees more and/or place hands on elevated surface, like yoga blocks.

Related: 4 Workouts That Will Make You A Better Runner

The post An Easy Stretch For Relieving Tightness In Your Back, Butt, And Hamstrings appeared first on SELF.

Monday, 9 May 2016

A Delicious Allergy-Friendly Meal Everyone Will Love

A Delicious Allergy-Friendly Meal Everyone Will Love Blog Post

My daughter was 9 months old when she had her first allergic reaction to food—scrambled eggs. Almost immediately, she began rubbing her lips and face uncontrollably. Helplessly, I watched as tiny pink hives began to appear all over her face. As a new mom, it was a terrifying experience. In hindsight, though, it was a relatively minor reaction compared to when she ate cashews and we had to rush her to the ER. And we would relive it again when some noodles at a restaurant made her lips swell. And then again when her little brother tried eggs for the first time.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

4 Workouts That Will Make You A Faster Runner

You know what’s so great about running? It’s just putting one foot in front of the other. Speed? Nah. Whatever you can do is good enough. But if you’re looking to improve your speed, like everything else in life, you have to actively practice.

“Running can help improve coordination, flexibility, and speed, which are three very important bio-motor skills,” says Joe Holder, Nike+ Trainer, Nike Run Coach, and coach at S10 Training in New York City. “Proper programming and frequency of training will ensure you get faster because the body has no choice but to adapt.”

But you don’t (and shouldn’t!) do the same running routine over and over again. Mix things up with the workouts Holder created below and you’ll be setting all types of new personal records. And since it’s basically summer, put on your sneaks and head over to your local track to do these routines, just be sure to start each one with an easy-breezy one-mile jog to warm up your muscles.

Don’t forget…becoming a better runner isn’t just about running more—you also have to get real about your strength routine. So Holder created a runner-specific workout that will help to strengthen your butt, legs, and core, too.

You can start with any of the workouts below, but if you’re looking for a plan to follow here’s what Holder recommends:

  • Start by doing workout #1 at least three times per week.
  • After a few weeks, begin to introduce workout #2 and #3 no more than two times a week.
  • And do the strength routine (workout #4) once or twice a week depending on how your body feels.

Now let’s get to the workouts…

1. Workout #1

Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

The post 4 Workouts That Will Make You A Faster Runner appeared first on SELF.

2 Ridiculously Effective Ways To Work Your Butt Using A Stair Climber

When it comes to old faithful workout equipment, stair-climbing machines are at the top of the list. They’re totally no-frills, which makes them easy to use (even for beginners), but they can also give you a killer full-body workout.

“A stair climber is a great piece of equipment for anyone looking for an effective low-impact cardiovascular workout with the added benefits of a lower body resistance workout,” Idalis Velazquez, a certified personal trainer/online coach and C9 Champion ambassador, tells SELF. Hopping on this machine, even for just 30 minutes, can help you burn calories, boost your cardiovascular fitness, and firm up your entire lower body. Even your abs get a little love. “Your core also works hard to provide balance and stability every time you step without using the handles,” Velazquez explains.

It’s important, though, to make sure you’re climbing with proper form. “This machine is best for someone looking for a challenge and who is able to climb stairs pain free and upright,” Kate Bishop, a personal trainer with on-demand fitness app Find Your Trainer, tells SELF. “The danger lies in the tendency to lean forward and rest the upper body on the handles,” she says. This can prevent important muscles from engaging (read: your core) and lead to pore posture outside of the gym.

So make sure to stand up tall, and only use the handles for balance if necessary—no need to hold on for dear life, promise.

1. Use different step patterns to target your butt, hips, and thighs.

“This machine provides an effective glute-strengthening workout since it targets all the muscles that make up your butt and hips: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus,” Velazquez explains. You hit all three of these muscles with a classic upward stepping motion.

Pro tip: Your stepping form can actually determine whether you’re mostly working those glutes or your quads. When you place your foot on the next step, focus on pushing through your heel to stand to activate the muscles along the backs of your legs, explains Velazques notes. “If you push with the balls of your feet, more tension will be placed on the frontal thigh (AKA your quads).”

In the workout below, she suggests a combination of different step variations to really target your butt and leg muscles from all angles—below are all the moves you need to know. During the warm-up and cool-down, walk up each step as if you were walking up a flight of stairs,” Velazquez says. Throughout the other stages of the workout, you can increase (or decrease) the intensity to whatever feels most comfortable for you by changing the speed at which you step.

  • Double Steps: Skip a stair each step and alternate legs. “This will help focus on your glutes and hamstrings. Be sure to push up through your heel as you stand.”
  • Leg Lifts: Place your palms on the side rails for balance and kick back your right leg and hold at the top for one second. Then step up one step and alternate legs, kicking back and stepping up now with the left. Slow down if you need to keep proper form. “Be sure to keep your leg straight and do not arch your back.” And don’t worry about how high your back leg kicks up.
  • Single Steps: Climb each step as if you were walking up a flight of stairs. Try to keep your hands by your side for more of a challenge. “Your quads should begin to burn near the end of the two minutes.”
  • Crossover Steps: Moving laterally, cross one leg over the other as you step up to the next stair.

Step-It-Up HIIT
Total time: 30 minutes

  • 0:00-3:00: Single steps, level 3
  • 3:00-4:00: Double steps, level 6
  • 4:00-5:00: Leg lifts, level 4
  • 5:00-6:00 Single steps, level 7
  • 6:00-8:00: Crossover steps on the right and left (60 seconds each side), level 4
  • 8:00-9:00: Single steps, level 9+
  • 9:00-10:00: Single steps active recovery, level 3
  • Repeat minutes 3:00-10:00 a total of 3 times; then do a 3-minute cool-down at level 3

2. And this interval routine works your lower body and is a killer cardio workout. 

“Intervals on the stair climber will help improve your cardiovascular fitness and health,” Bishop says, while also toning muscles in your core, butt, and legs. She suggests doing long intervals, at three minutes each, to give your heart rate enough time to adjust to each stage before moving onto the next. For this workout you’ll be doing single steps and double steps as described above. Let’s get to it!

Stair-Climbing Speed Intervals
Total time: 43 minutes

  • Start with a 5-minute warm-up at level 3
  • 5:00-8:00: Do single steps at level 5
  • 8:00-11:00: Do single steps at level 8
  • 11:00-14:00: Do single steps at level 5
  • 14:00-17:00: Do single steps at level 8
  • 17:00-20:00: Do double steps at level 5
  • 20:00-23:00: Do single steps at level 5
  • 23:00-26:00: Do double steps at level 5
  • 26:00-29:00: Do single steps at level 3
  • 29:00-32:00: Do single steps at level 7
  • 32:00-35:00: Do single steps at level 9
  • 35:00-38:00 Do single steps at level 5
  • End with a 5-minute cool-down, decreasing the level at each minute mark

The post 2 Ridiculously Effective Ways To Work Your Butt Using A Stair Climber appeared first on SELF.

Friday, 6 May 2016

5 Awesome Treadmill Workouts For Burning Fat

BraunS, Getty Images

Bored to tears by that steady-state cardio? It’s time to mix up your treadmill routine. Whether you’ve got five minutes or 40, these treadmill workouts will break you out of any running rut and jumpstart weight loss with super-efficient intervals, if that’s a specific health and fitness goal you have.

Created for SELF by Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer, the founders of Shred415, these routines incorporate challenging speed work, leg-burning inclines, and major creativity. Intense interval training routines are key for fat loss, because working out at high intensities creates an afterburn effect known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). That means you’ll continue to burn calories even after you hit the stop button as your body works restore its oxygen levels and return to its natural resting state.

Related: 8 Total-Body Moves That Will Kick Your Ass

If you can’t get to Chicago or St. Louis to try Micheli and Roemer’s cardio-meets-strength training class for yourself, put their workouts to work in your own gym. Here are five of their best treadmill workouts for weight loss:

Related: A 30-Minute Treadmill Workout That’ll Burn Fat In Overdrive

1. If you only have 5 minutes, try this quickie interval workout.


Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

Pre-game these efficient flat-road intervals with an easy three-to-five minute jog. Then do this simple circuit once, or repeat as many times as you’d like.

2. Tackle some rolling hills with this 10-minute routine.


Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

During this rolling-hill run, you’ll walk the high hills and speed up on the lower ones, Micheli and Roemer explain. As the incline goes down, the pace goes up, so the walking intervals act as your recovery. 

The post 5 Awesome Treadmill Workouts For Burning Fat appeared first on SELF.