The good news, you don’t need weights. In practicing your poses you will be exerting massive pressure on your body burning incredible amounts of calories and yes building muscle. this is in part to sell my products but also, more so to get you the right product and not make the same mistakes that cost me anguish, yoga is intimidating to beginners — it’s can hard to motivate yourself to start and if you start off with low quality basics your asking for it. Read on.
Fortunately, your core strength, flexibility and mindset are all skills that can be developed over time. For those of you new to the yoga arena, there are a few key pieces of equipment that may help you feel more at ease as you get started.
There is no need to go overboard and spend $200 for something that may or may not work for you.
Im picky when it comes to mats, it’s essential, but get the wrong one and some of the poses will downright hurt you. With floor exercises you’ll be doing a good mat will keep you comfortable and safe. I recommend minimum 1/4 triply Yoga system mat, In Fact that’s my go to. If you want something cushier go 3/8″ triply and no more than 1/2 inch.
This is a great tool for beginners. Blocks help you get into poses and maintain appropriate posture when you can’t quite reach the floor.
You’ll quickly realize how essential good belts are, a great tool for beginners which help get you into positions when you’re still developing your flexibility.
Yoga towels vs regular. One word: ” Bacteria” from sweat, get a high quality towel made for yoga, they are not just wipe towels, the microstructure is designed to inhibit bacteria. Yes their expensive but so what they are often used as support in certain poses, and expensive is not unaffordable. I learned the hard way.
Check out our Yoga Towel
Or, get them all in one with The Beginner’s Yoga Kit (includes mat, block, belt and a host of free online training course suggestion i’ve personally vetted)
Your attire during yoga can make the difference between comfort and discomfort, full range of motion and poor range of motion. Stores like Old Navy, Target and Walmart all offer a number of pieces at affordable prices to meet your needs. Try these to start:
If the thought of lifting weights freaks you out or sends you running for the hills, never fear — it’s not as bad as it might look. Strength training doesn’t have to mean lifting giant barbells or doing endless reps on the bench press. If you’re just getting started, you’ll get plenty of benefits from a simple set of dumbbells. They’re inexpensive, portable and simple to use, making them great additions to your beginner weight-training routine. For each exercise, start with a set of 10 to 12 repetitions, adding a second set after a a few weeks of lifting two to three times a week.
Start out with a low dumbbell weight and work up as you build strength. Generally, you’ll know you have an appropriate amount of weight when you are able to complete a full set of 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, and feel like it’s tough to finish the last one or two reps. To get started, use a set of 1- to 5-pound dumbbells, focusing on proper technique. As you get confident with the moves, increase the size of the weight.
Stand with your feet close together and grasp a dumbbell in each hand, allowing the dumbbells to rest by your sides. Ensure that your fingers are gripping the middle of each dumbbell tightly and begin a dumbbell lunge. Keep your arms at your sides as you step forward with one foot, taking a large step nearly as far forward as you can step. At the same time, bend the back knee and allow it to lower within inches of the floor. Engage your core and butt as you push off with the front leg and come back up to standing. For the next repetition, step forward with the opposite leg.
Perform squat exercises while holding dumbbells. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and grasp a dumbbell in each hand, allowing the dumbbells to hover just above your shoulders without resting on them. Lower your buttocks down until you’re in a “chair” position with your upper legs parallel to the floor and your lower legs perpendicular to the floor. Keep the dumbbells in the same position as you raise and lower your body.
Keep holding a dumbbell in each hand as you prepare for the bicep curl exercise. Rest the dumbbells in front of your thighs and face your palms outward from the front of your body. Curl your arms in until the dumbbells are nearly touching your shoulders, and then slowly and carefully lower them back down. A variation of the bicep curl is the “hammer curl,” in which you start with your palms facing toward the sides of your thighs, and then lift the dumbbells toward your chest, keeping the end of the dumbbell facing outward.
Position your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp each “bell” — or end — of the dumbbell in one hand. Lift the dumbbell over your head and bring it to rest behind your neck, so your elbows are pointed up toward the ceiling. Brace your abdominals as you press the dumbbell upward until your arms are straight and the dumbbell rests somewhere over your head. Slowly and carefully lower your arms back down behind your neck. This is called the tricep extension.
Factors such as the growing region, plant varietal, plant age, leaf age, length of the growing season, field conditions, soil nutrients, and rainfall can influence how much caffeine is in plucked tea leaves.
How the tea is prepared also plays an important role in how much caffeine makes it into your cup. From the amount of tea used to water temperature and brewing time, to whether the leaves are steeped loose, in a tea bag, or strainer, are all contributors to caffeine levels.
Given these variables, it can be difficult to answer the question, “How much caffeine is in this tea?” We have determined general measurements
Tea is known to have varying quantities of caffeine, which may or may not be appealing to tea consumers, for a variety of reasons. As a member of the xanthine family, caffeine is odorless and colorless but does have a somewhat bitter taste when submerged in hot water. Caffeine occurs naturally in teas like organic black tea, green tea and other tea blends.
The amount of caffeine in tea varies, so it’s important for drinkers to know how much caffeine is in their favorite teas. Caffeine is known to be a mood enhancer, improving alertness and stimulating metabolism, but not everyone can or wants to consume it. Because it’s a mood enhancer, regular tea drinkers may build up a tolerance to caffeine, meaning that they have to drink more of it to get the same effect. Additionally, basic effects of caffeine may be unpleasant for some tea drinkers, and can include restlessness, insomnia and anxiety. For anyone who may be prone to these effects, it’s best to know how much caffeine is in the drinks they choose.
Caffeine occurs naturally in the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, so all brewed tea contains some caffeine.
Hotter water and longer steeping time will draw out more caffeine in brewed tea—think black or oolong tea. Cooler water and shorter steeping time extracts less caffeine—think green or white tea.
Tea is the only plant that contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes calm and relaxation. It works in synergy with the stimulant caffeine to induce a state of mindful alertness.
Caffeine from tea is thought to absorb more slowly in the body than caffeine from coffee. This gentle release promotes a longer period of alertness without a jittery rush at the start or crash at the end.
Tea leaves contain approximately three percent caffeine content by weight; but factors like soil chemistry, type of tea plant and whether the tea leaves are dry or wet can affect caffeine content.
Contains about one-third the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Contains about one-third the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Contains about one-third the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Contains about half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Naturally caffeine free! Herbals don’t contain any tea leaves, instead they come from steeping herbs such as ginger or chamomile.
Organic Tea and their Caffeine Contents
Black tea contains approximately 14 to 61 mg per eight-ounce cup mark, which is significantly higher than any other tea. Next is green tea, which contains approximately 36 mg per eight-ounce cup. White tea offers the lowest amount of caffeine per eight ounce cup at 25 mg.
How to Enjoy Tea while Sensitive to the Effects of Caffeine
Tea lovers who experience caffeine sensitivity can still enjoy their favorite teas from Teatulia. Consider brewing fewer tea leaves and using slightly cooler water, which will extract less caffeine from the tea. You can also choose green and white teas, since they naturally have lower caffeine contents than black tea and have shorter steeping times.
Lifting light weights for many reps is deceptively hard. While many people (my friend included) think heavier is always better for resistance training, that’s not necessarily true. And if you only ever focus on lifting one way—light-weight-high-rep or heavy-weight-low-rep—you’re doing yourself a real disservice. The truth is that both heavy and light weights have their place—it depends on your goals.Light weights are good for building muscular endurance.
When you train using higher reps, you use aerobic energy more than when training with lower reps,
Distance running, cross-country skiing, obstacle races, rowing, and triathlon are all examples of endurance sports. Whether it’s a hike in a nearby park or up Mount Kilamanjaro, at no point will your legs have to carry anything close to their maximum load. You’re really just training to get your body weight (and maybe a backpack) uphill.
If you need power—for a bench press personal record, CrossFit, or to squat your body weight—you need to train with heavier weights. Similarly, if you want to work on one specific part of your body, for instance, your butt, lifting heavier weights can get you the results you’re looking for. Depending on your goal, you should choose a heavier load on exercises that target the body part you want to strengthen or sculpt.
Lifting for pure strength is best partnered with heavy weights. “If you’re trying for strength, or your max force output, the heavier the weight, the more strength gains you’ll have, along with size gains,” Tuminello says. It’s also super time efficient. You simply don’t need to do as many reps when you’re lifting heavier weights.Really, any form of strength training can be beneficial—the key is to challenge yourself.
You can gain muscle and change the shape of your body by lifting heavier weights for fewer reps, or lighter weights for more reps, Tumminello explains. “Both are equal when it comes to gaining muscle,” he says. The key is challenging your body with progressive overload.
Progressive overload means challenging a muscle to continue seeing results. If you never change the weight or reps, the muscle will no longer adapt. To keep seeing results, you have to keep forcing your muscles to adapt, and one way to do that is with a principle called progressive overload, where, over time, you increase the weight and/or reps for a given move. And that could be just one rep or 1 pound more,.No matter what, having good form is super important.
Lifting heavy can cause injuries when your form isn’t right, when you push yourself too hard and exceed your limits, or when you don’t have a spotter. Lifting lighter weights over and over with improper form can also do harm.
The one thing to really watch out for is your form. When you lift lighter weights, you can focus more on perfect posture and alignment for each move. The catch is, you still need to focus on your form when lifting heavy. If your form gets really messy on your last few reps, you should probably lower the weight.
When you’re first learning an exercise, lighter weights can help you fine-tune your form. “If you’re unfamiliar with a certain exercise and you’re just learning it, higher reps gives you more time to learn the exercise.
Should you lift light weights or go heavy? Or incorporate both into your training? Here are the the general guidelines from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, which should be customized based on your goals and background:
If you’re training for general health, you can mix it up if you want to. “If you’re going to go to the gym only two times a week, which is not uncommon, then I would advise you to do a total-body workout both times,
The most important thing is to keep changing either reps or weight to continue to see results. “You can build your body with lighter loads and with higher reps. It really comes down to a personal preference. There’s a lot that works, so work out regularly and at an intense, challenging level, do what you prefer, and do something you’re going to stick with,”
If you have joint issues, like arthritis, or are obese, you should consult your doctor first.
Before starting any fitness routine, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor first. Heavy lifting can put pressure on your joints, so if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you’ll want to consult a fitness professional. Talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a personal trainer or a physical therapist who can prescribe the right program for you.
Walking is as simple as it gets for exercise. All you need is a good, supportive pair of walking shoes.
“Just a few extra steps each day is a simple and easy way to take an active role in maintaining a significantly healthier life,” says Timothy Gardner, MD, past president of the American Heart Association.
Set a baseline. If you’re not active now, “start walking three times a week at a stroll for 20 minutes,” says Courtenay Schurman, author of The Outdoor Athlete. Work your way up to five or so times a week, 30 minutes per session, for a total of 2.5 to 3 hours per week.
Choose distance or time. Some walkers focus on distance, others target time. “Ultimately, it’s about speed,” Schurman says. “If you can walk 5 miles but it takes you 5 hours to do it, it’s not a fit level of work. So use both distance and time as well as heart rate.”
Check the intensity. Exercising at a particular heart rate shows you how hard you’re working. You can check your pulse or by wearing a heart rate monitor.
What should your heart rate be? “Most recommendations suggest starting out at 70% to 75% of your maximum heart rate,” Schurman says. “But this may not be enough if you’re fit.”
You can also use the “talk test” to gauge your exercise intensity. “If you can string together six to eight words or chat briefly, you’re in your aerobic zone,” Schurman says.
If you are gasping for air, slow down. If you can say several phrases with one breath, you may not be working hard enough.
4 Ways to Stay Motivated
Wear a pedometer. Bit by bit, boost your daily steps. Keep it up until you reach 10,000 steps a day.
Keep a walking journal. Whether you journal online or with pen and paper, it’s motivating to see your progress.
Get a walking partner. “A walking buddy provides accountability,” Valentour says. “Neither wants to let the other person down.”
Sign up for a race or charity walk. An upcoming event gives you a goal to shoot for, which may motivate you to stick with a program.
Make It More Challenging
If you’re already fit, kick up the intensity by doing one or more of the following:
Speed up. “The easiest way to up the ante is to simply walk faster,” says Therese Iknoian, author of Fitness Walking.
You may want to try race walking, which burns more calories. Brisk walking at 4 miles an hour burns 334 calories, and strolling at 3 miles per hour burns 221 calories, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
“Remember to pump your arms but keep the movement compact,” Iknoian says. “The larger the arm swing, the harder it is to move them faster.”
Head for the hills. If you can’t get outside, raise the incline on the treadmill. Don’t hang on to the treadmill as you walk or you’ll miss the benefits, Iknoian says. “You don’t want to look as if you’re waterskiing.”
Change the surface. “Walking on trails and maneuvering around rocks increases muscular demand,” Iknoian says. Snow, sand — even grass — make walking more of a challenge.
Use Nordic poles to use your upper body muscles. “You increase the cardio workout when using poles, plus they take the stress off of knees when walking downhill,” Iknoian says.
Add resistance with a weighted backpack or weight vest. “If you use a backpack, fill it with water, sand, or kitty litter so the weight distributes evenly,” Schurman says. “Avoid ankle and hand weights, which can change your gait and can set you up for injury.”
8 Safety Tips for Walkers
Keep safety in mind when you walk outdoors. Follow these basic rules:
Walk with a buddy whenever possible.
Carry your name, address, and a friend or relative’s phone number in your shoe or tied to a lace.
Wear a medical bracelet if you have diabetes, an allergy, or other condition.
Carry a cell phone and let a friend or relative know your walking routes.
Avoid deserted or unlit streets, especially after dark.
Do not use headsets that prevent you from hearing traffic, and walk against oncoming traffic.
Wear reflective material or carry a flashlight so others can see you.
Carry a whistle, noisemaker, or pepper spray in case of an emergency.
A kettlebell looks like a cast-iron cannonball with a handle on top. They come in various weights. You’ll use them as you do things like lunges, lifts, and shoulder presses.
The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile.
Kettlebell workouts offer a lot of flexibility. You can include a few of the moves in your own workout or do a dedicated kettlebell workout a few times a week.
Buy a DVD or sign up for a kettlebell class at the gym to learn how to do the moves safely. It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Heigl are huge fans of kettlebell workouts.
Intensity Level: Very High
You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettlebell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.
Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Most kettlebell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles.
Arms: Yes. The kettlebell is used as a weight for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses.
Legs: Yes. Lunges and squats are among the most popular moves in a kettlebell workout.
Glutes: Yes. Your tush will be toned by using the kettlebell for added weight during lunges and squats.
Back: Yes. Using a kettlebell for a dead lift helps tone your back muscles.
Flexibility: Yes. Working out with kettlebells will improve your flexibility.
Aerobic: Yes. This is a high-intensity workout that will get your heart rate pumping.
Strength: Yes. The kettlebell is an effective weight that will build muscle strength.
Sport: No. This is a fitness activity, not a sport.
Low-Impact: No. You can expect to be running, jumping, and doing other high-intensity moves.
What Else Should I Know?
Cost: The cost of a kettlebell ranges from $10 to $100 depending on the weight of the kettlebells (heavier ones are more expensive). You may want to buy DVDs or sign up for classes to learn the basics of a kettlebell workout.
Good for beginners? Yes, if you take a class or pick a DVD that’s for beginners and use a lighter kettlebell. There are also more advanced kettlebell workouts for those who are fit.
Outdoors: You can do a kettlebell workout outside or indoors.
At home: You can use kettlebells at home.
Equipment required? Yes, a kettlebell. You can buy kettlebells in weights ranging from 5 pounds to 100 pounds at sporting goods stores and online retailers.
Using kettlebells can be a great way to pump up your workout. You will be burning more calories in a shorter period of time.
Depending on the program, you may be getting both your strength training and your aerobic workout at the same time. Ask your doctor first.
Treat this workout with respect. If you choose a kettlebell that is too heavy or if you have poor form, you are likely to lose control of it. This can lead to a serious injury to your back, shoulders, or neck. Start out with an experienced trainer who can correct your technique before you hurt something.
Adding a kettlebell to your existing workout is great if you want to burn through more calories in less time. It will quickly add muscle and stamina.
This type of high-intensity workout is not for you if you would rather do a more meditative approach to body sculpting, or if sweating isn’t your thing.
If you are trying to get into top form or keep in top shape, then swinging a kettlebell can help you reach your fitness goals.
Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?
With your doctor’s OK, you can include kettlebells in your fitness routine if you have diabetes. You will be building muscle while losing fat. Muscle burns energy more efficiently, so your blood sugar levels will go down. Depending on the workout, you may also get some cardio to help prevent heart disease.
Using kettlebells in your workout puts some serious demands on your hips and back, as well as your knees, neck, and shoulders. It is a high-impact program. If you have arthritis or pain in your knees or back, then look for a less risky strength-training program.
If you have other physical limitations, ask an experienced instructor for advice on how to modify your workout.
If you are pregnant and have never used kettlebells, then this is not the time to start. If you worked out with kettlebells before becoming pregnant and are not having any problems with your pregnancy, then you will likely be able to continue using them — at least for a while.
You will need to make some changes as time goes on. As your pregnancy hormones kick in, your joints will become looser. You can adjust by using lighter kettlebells and avoiding certain moves. Talk to your instructor and your doctor first. They might suggest switching out your kettlebells during your last trimester.
If you feel your “rear view” needs a makeover, the right fitness routine can help give you a lift. Can you achieve the “perfect” Brazilian beach butt seen on TV? That depends partly on your body type and genes. But most everyone can shape up to look better in jeans. These pictures show you the moves.
Behind It All: Meet Your Glutes
The shape of the buttocks is defined by muscles known as the glutes. That’s the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, as well as the fat that lies over them. Walking, running, and climbing all work the glutes. Strength training that targets these muscles can help give you a tighter, more rounded look. Adding a few butt-busting moves to your routine may be enough to see a change.
Squat and Tone
The squat tops every list of butt-sculpting exercises. It directly works the glutes.You can build bigger bottom muscles by adding hand-held weights.
Form: Slowly lower the hips as if sitting in a chair; then return to standing. Make sure your knees do not push out in front of your toes. Keep your torso tight and back straight.
Or Try a Ball Squat
If you’re just starting out, a large ball can help with balance while you master the form. For each exercise on our list, aim for three sets of 15 reps. Try to do each exercise three times a week with cardio or exercises focused on other body parts on other days.
Form: Keep the ball between your low back and a wall. Slowly perform the classic squat. Walk your feet out in front so the knees stay behind your toes. Squatting with your back to a wall works the quads.
This butt builder also tones the thighs and calves. It’s a pretty good fat burner, too.
Form: With your feet parallel and hip-distance apart, take one giant step forward. Lower your body slowly, bending both knees, and return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Bend your knees no more than 90 degrees. Keep your front knee stacked right over your front ankle. Do not rest your back knee on the ground.
Or Try a Backward Lunge
When you step backward into a lunge, it works the glutes a little harder. Your workout gets variety, too. Lunges also add flexibility to your hips. They align your body better, too, something that can suffer when people spend long hours sitting at a desk.
Form: Use the same posture as in a forward lunge, but step backward to position the lower leg. Don’t let the front knee push out in front of your toes.
Or Try a Side Lunge
The side lunge targets the muscle on the outside of the hips, the glutes, and tones the inner thighs, too.
Form: From a wide stance, bend one knee. Keep the shinbone under that knee straight up from the floor. If the knee falls inside the foot, use a shorter stance. Lean forward slightly. Put your hands where they help with balance.
On the Ball: Leg Lift
Leg lifts done while you balance on an exercise ball will strengthen your shoulders and abs, as well as your glutes. As you get more fit, try lifting both legs at the same time for a harder, beautiful-butt move.
Form: Keep your abs tight and back flat. Squeeze your glute muscles tight as you lift one leg. Just a few inches is fine when you’re just starting out. Be careful not to use your lower back muscles.
On the Ball: Hip Lift
This small movement focuses on the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body. Be careful not to use the back muscles; the glutes should do the work.
Form: Bend the knees 90 degrees, feet together. Squeeze the glutes and slowly move the thighs up off the ball. A small, controlled, 2-inch movement is the goal.
Floor Work: Bridge
This classic is a super workout for the glutes, as well as the hamstrings and hips.
Form: Begin on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart. Slowly peel your spine off the floor from the tailbone. Tighten the glutes and hamstrings as you do this. When your body has formed a long, slanted line from shoulders to knees, hold for a few seconds. Then lower slowly.
Floor Work: Side Leg Raises
This move targets the two smaller muscle groups in the buttocks, the gluteus medius and minimus.
Form: Lift the top leg while lying on your side. Keep the hips stacked and the torso still. Both knees should face forward. To work slightly different muscles, you can turn the top leg out from the hip.
Floor Work: Dirty Dog
This bottom builder gained fame in the exercise videos of the 1970s as the “fire hydrant.” It targets two of the muscle groups in the buttocks.
Form: Keep your knees hip-width apart and your hands directly under your shoulders, elbows straight. Gently stiffen the abs and keep your back in a neutral position with no sagging or arching. Slowly draw one knee up. Rotate the hip to bring the leg toward the torso, then away.
Floor Work: Mountain Climbers
Along with pushing your glutes, mountain climbers work the shoulders, hips, and core muscles. Do it quickly to burn calories while building muscle.
Form: Tighten the abs to protect the lower back. Spread your fingers wide to protect the wrists. Bring one leg in at a time — bending the knee, like you were running. Keep your upper body steady. Repeat as if you’re running in place.
Walk the Hills
For a no-fuss butt workout, all you have to do is walk. Tackle hills for the most glute-shaping impact. You’ll burn extra calories, too. On a treadmill, you can get this effect using a 5% to 7% incline.
Tone Your Tush With Cardio
In the gym, try stair steppers, arc trainers, and elliptical machines.They challenge the glutes while giving your heart and lungs a healthy workout. Inline skating and cycling are other choices that help both heart and tush.
Firm Up Without Bulking Up
Don’t worry about building a bulky butt. Women aren’t genetically built that way. Resistance exercises are a must for a toned behind. Keep the reps on the higher side (15 reps per set) to focus on firming rather than bulking. The last few reps should still be challenging. Don’t forget the cardio to round out your butt-toning exercise routine.
Slim Your Assets
Targeted exercises alone may give you a firmer behind but not always a smaller one. For more impact, watch your diet, burn more calories, and lose weight. You’ll reduce the fat pad lying over the gluteal muscles, giving you tight, trim curves back there.
How To Go for the Maximum
If bigger is better to you, you’ll want to really challenge the glute muscles. Dial up the resistance on a stationary bike or other cardio machine. During strength training, go for more weight that challenges you in 6 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 90 seconds in between sets. A high-quality diet also helps contribute to building muscle mass.
Can You Shift Your Shape?
There’s much talk in beauty magazines about a rounded, “Brazilian-style” butt. Targeted exercises can move a flat fanny closer to this beauty ideal. But a workout will most likely enhance the shape your behind already has: heart-like, pear, bubble, or another. For total reshaping, after a huge weight loss, for instance, cosmetic surgeons offer implants, lifts, and reshaping.
Shapewear for Your Tush
Lots of underwear now aims to “separate and lift” your bottom. Some styles rein in skin with elastic panels. Others enhance your rear view with padding. You can even find padded inserts and lifting Spandex panels in jeans.
Dress Your Assets Down
Boot-cut and flared jeans balance out the hips and rear for a slimming effect. Long pant legs make your legs look longer and your booty smaller. And back pockets can do much to buff up your butt. Just beware of super-long back pockets. They can make your behind look flat or saggy instead of showing off those sexy contours you earned at the gym.
Dress Your Assets Up
Skip the peg leg and ankle jeans. They widen the hips and make your body look like an ice cream cone with a big, round scoop on top. A better choice to really show off your curves are skinny-fit pant legs or leggings. Look for a tight, form-fitting rear panel for head-turning style.
Looking for a toned stomach or a better tennis game? These are two good reasons to turn your workout into a balancing act. A controlled wobble activates deep core muscles to help tighten the midsection and prepare athletes for that quick turn or lunge. Fabio Comana, MA, MS, of the American Council on Exercise, shares a few, fun core moves for better fitness.
Engage Your Abs
Before each move in our workout, first engage your abdominals by tightening them — without holding your breath — as if preparing to take a punch. You’ll activate the core muscles surrounding your spine and tone your entire abdominal area. Engaged abs also help prevent injury when lifting. If you have a medical condition, be sure to check with your doctor before this or any new fitness program.
Start with this beginning move, keeping a stable chair or a wall within arms’ reach. With feet together, pick up one foot — knee facing forward or to the side. Hold the position with eyes open, then closed. Switch feet and repeat for four reps on each foot. If any move feels wrong or unsafe to you, stop and check with a trainer. Depending on your health and physical condition, some exercises may not be recommended.
Stand on your right leg and raise the left leg 3-6 inches off the floor. With arms at your sides, swing your left leg forward and backward, touching the floor for balance, while keeping your torso erect. Now, repeat the moves, but don’t allow your foot to touch the ground. And finally, swing your left foot to the left side, holding your right arm out. Switch legs and repeat.
One-legged Clock With Arms
Balance on one leg, torso straight, head up, and hands on the hips. Visualize a clock and point your arm straight overhead to 12, then to the side (3), and then circle low and around to 9 o’clock without losing your balance. Increase the challenge by having a partner call out the different times to you. Switch to the opposite arm and leg and repeat.
One-legged Clock With Legs
Balance on one leg, torso straight, head up, and hands on your hips. Straighten the other leg to the front, and imagine yourself as the center of a clock. Point that foot to 12, 9, and then cross over to 3 o’clock while holding your balance. Increase the challenge by having a partner shout out the different times to you. Switch to the opposite leg and repeat.
Clock on an Unstable Surface
Once you master balance moves on solid ground, try them on an unstable surface such as a BOSU platform. Stand near a wall or other support, for safety. Start in the middle of the board on two feet at first. When you feel comfortable, carefully give the one-legged clocks a try. It’s harder than it looks!
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Point your left foot out front, just barely touching the floor for balance and push your hips back and down into this challenging one-legged squat position. Your right knee is bent, chest upright, eyes forward, and your arms out front. Slowly push up to return to starting position. Switch feet.
Lunge With Reach
Stand with feet together, arms straight out to the side at shoulder height. Now, lift one foot up, pause momentarily, and lunge forward. Your hips should drop down until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Maintain a flat back and hold your arms straight in front of you. Push off with your front leg to return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, head up, and chest high. Take a staggered position by bringing the toe of one foot, even with your other heel. Hold this stance as you sink into a squat, but don’t let your heels pull up off the ground! This move requires a shift in balance and readies you for more dynamic moves.
Single-Leg Dead Lift
Balance on your left foot, engage the abs, and bend forward at the hips while reaching toward the ground with your right hand. Hold on to a 5- to 10-pound weight and raise your right leg behind you for counterbalance. Tighten the buttocks as you return to the starting position. Keep your knee relaxed and back flat throughout the movement. Switch legs.
Side Lunge With Front Reach
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold a ball with both hands, elbows bent, in front of your chest. Step to the right and press your hips down and back, as you push the ball out in front of you. Keep your left foot flat on the floor. Now, push off with your right leg, pull the ball back in towards you, and return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Side Lunge With Sideways Reach
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold a ball with both hands, elbows bent, in front of your chest. Step to the right and place right foot firmly on the floor; press hips down and back as you push the ball out in front of you and then rotate the ball to your right and back to the front; keep left foot flat on the floor. Push off with your right leg and return to starting position. Switch sides.
Runners’ Weak Gluteus Medius
One-legged exercises are invaluable for runners. They strengthen the gluteus medius (GM), a common weak spot that can lead to injury. The GM sits partially concealed under the more powerful gluteus maximus, but has a critical role to help stabilize the pelvis during walking and running. A weak GM can eventually cause low-back pain and/or buttock pain.
Balance on the Court and Field
Tennis requires rapid shifts in balance while running to reach the ball. Likewise, wide receivers in football also require superior balancing capabilities. “Receivers must run, catch the ball, pull it back in to their body and keep their feet on the ground — all without going out of bounds — and then resume running,” says Comana. Off-balance exercises make for better game-time performance.
Balance in Action
Dancers and gymnasts constantly use challenging forms of balance. They’re often on one leg while performing complex moves and must then come to a full stop. “Everything dancers and gymnasts do involves controlling their body position and balancing, including landing and sticking to it,” says Comana.
Proprioception and Balance
Balance training fine-tunes the senses that allow you to fly up a flight of stairs without looking at your feet, called proprioception. Receptors in your muscles and skin send messages to your brain, telling you where you are in space. Proprioception also helps prevent injuries during hiking and many other sports. Without good proprioception you’ll sprain your ankle more easily, even if you’re strong.
Tools and Toys for Balance
Challenging your balance may be as simple as standing on one leg or closing your eyes. But for added challenge and fun, include balance boards, balance cushions, or sturdy foam rollers. Keep safety in mind at all times: remove objects around you and stand near a wall or stable surface in case you lose your balance.
Perform off-balance exercises at the beginning of your workout before your muscles become fatigued. Progress slowly, starting by standing on both legs, then one leg. Follow by adding arm movements and balance tools only after mastering simpler moves. Balance exercises may and should be done every day for best results.
Off-Balance Life Moves
Carrying a child on one hip, lifting groceries from a car, and many other common activities put the body off balance … and at risk for a low-back injury. Core strengtheners may help you avoid such an injury, as well as a nasty fall. Balance comes into play even with simple everyday moves. “Walking is actually a controlled fall,” says Comana. “Each time you take a step, you put out your other foot, which prevents you from falling.”
If you have any physical limitations, choose other strength-building exercises that will be safer for you.
How It Works
Plyometrics (“plyo,” for short) used to be called “jump training.” It’s a technique that you can use in many different ways. For instance, you can do plyometrics to help train for basketball, volleyball, tennis, or any other activity that uses explosive movements.
You’ll do a series of jumps and hops, like jump squats or one-leg hops. You might jump up and onto a box or bench, or jump over cones. Some moves will be faster than others.
Every time you land from a jump, your muscles get a stretch. That gives your next jump even more power. The combination of stretching and contracting your muscles whips them into shape.
You won’t do plyometrics every day, because your muscles will need a break from all that jumping. If you’re not active now, you may need to start working on your basic fitness first and later have a pro show you how to do the moves, so you don’t get injured.
It’s a fun alternative to an everyday strength-training workout that boosts your muscle power, strength, balance, and agility. You can either do a workout based around plyometrics, or add some plyo moves to your usual routine without giving it an entire session.
Intensity Level: High
This workout uses maximum power to strengthen your muscles. The moves are quick and explosive, so prepare to use a lot more energy than you do in a typical strength-training session.
Areas It Targets
Core: No. This workout doesn’t specifically target your core.
Arms: No. Most plyometric workouts don’t target your arms. But if you want to work them, you can add upper-body moves like medicine-ball throws and plyometric push-ups.
Legs: Yes. Expect your legs to get in great shape from all the jumping and hopping.
Glutes: Yes. Moves like jump squats fire up your glutes to make them stronger.
Back: No. Though the workout involves your whole body, it’s not focused on your back muscles.
Flexibility: Yes. This workout is based on a combo of contracting your muscles and stretching them, which is great for flexibility.
Aerobic: No. It’s not considered an aerobic workout, but if you repeat your jumps without pausing, for about 30-60 seconds at a time, your heart rate will go up.
Strength: Yes. This workout is all about boosting your muscle power.
Low-Impact: No. There’s a lot of high-impact jumping and hopping.
What Else Should I Know?
Good for beginners? No. If you’re not in great shape already, choose another workout before taking a stab at this one, which may cause injuries if you’re not used to moves like these.
Outdoors: Yes. It can be fun to bring this workout outdoors. Just be sure to choose a soft surface for landing, like grass.
At home: Yes. Just pull out your gym mat, which is a safer, softer landing pad than a hard floor.
Equipment required? No. You can do this without equipment. Or you can use cones or foam barriers to jump over.
If you are in good shape and looking to ramp up your workout, then you may enjoy the challenge of plyometrics. It’s a great way to train if you are into high-impact sports that involve a lot of running or jumping, like tennis, skiing, or basketball.
When you’re getting started, work with an experienced trainer who can show you how to safely jump and land.
Start slow and low. Mix a few plyometric moves into your regular workout, for instance.
Because plyometrics is high-impact and intense exercise, check with your doctor first if you aren’t active now or have any health problems.
Plyometrics is not the workout for you if you don’t like to sweat or are just looking to strengthen your core.
Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?
It’s a good idea to check in with your doctor first, especially if you aren’t active now or have health problems. She can let you know what’s safe for you to do.
If you have diabetes, you may need to make some changes to your diabetes treatment plan, based on how many calories you are burning. Plyometrics is not for you if you have any diabetes-related nerve damage, as this will make you more likely to get injured.
Do you have arthritis or other bone or joint problems? Plyometrics is not a good choice for you. Look for a workout that can help strengthen your muscles without stressing your joints.
Plyometrics is also not for you if you are pregnant. Your belly’s growing size will throw off your balance. You could fall or get injured. The weight of your growing baby stresses your knees and ankles, and jumping adds even more stress. Ligaments that help stabilize your joints grow a little more lax during pregnancy, making injuries more likely.
No matter the style of yoga you choose — hatha, vinyasa, or hot yoga — nearly all of them include a few key moves. To stay safe, your best bet is to work with a trained instructor who can show you the right way to do each position. If you’ve had neck, back, or joint pain or flexibility problems, talk to your doctor before you start a yoga routine. Most of all, don’t push yourself to do anything that hurts. You can tailor most poses to work for your body.
This move seems simple, but doing it right helps with posture and balance. Stand with your big toes touching, heels slightly apart (or wider if that’s more comfortable), arms by your sides. Imagine lifting through your inner feet and ankles. Pull your shoulder blades down, and widen your collarbones. Keep your head in line with your shoulders (not pulled back or forward), your chin parallel to the floor. Your pelvis and lower back should be neutral, not tucked or arched. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Downward Facing Dog
This pose works the upper body and stretches your arms, chest, legs, and back muscles. Get on all fours, toes turned under, knees below hips, and hands a bit in front of your shoulders. Exhale and start to straighten your legs, letting your heels pop up from the floor. Lift your sitting bones to the sky, and push your heels toward the floor. Lightly press your palms into your mat and slowly straighten your arms as you draw your shoulder blades down. Relax your head, and try to keep it between your upper arms. Hold 1-3 minutes.
From downward facing dog, lower your torso forward with straight arms until they are perpendicular to the floor, your palms right under your shoulders. Widen your collarbones, pull your shoulder blades down, and look straight down at the floor. Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute. The plank pose will help you build stronger arms, wrists, and core muscles.
Upward Facing Dog
This is a great pose for your upper body. Lie on your stomach, legs straight and the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor next to your waist. Press from your hands to lift your torso and the top of your legs off the ground. Pull your belly button in toward your spine to tighten your abs. Pull your shoulder blades down your back, and lift your chest softly toward the ceiling without tensing your neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Warrior poses work lower body muscles and build stamina and balance. From mountain pose, spread your legs out 3-4 feet. Lift your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Slide your shoulder blades down your back. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, and your left foot 45 degrees to the right. Twist your torso right, aiming your pelvis toward the right foot. Bend your right knee — it should be over your ankle. Gently arch your upper back, but don’t let your head fall back. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.
Like warrior one, spread your legs out 3-4 feet. Raise your arms out to the sides, palms down. Turn your left foot out 90 degrees and your right foot slightly to the right. Bend your left leg 90 degrees, knee over ankle. Press the outside of your right heel to the floor and stretch your arms away, keeping your torso centered. Turn your head to the left and look past your fingers. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.
This classic pose works your legs and feet as you practice your balance. From mountain pose, reach down and catch your right ankle with your right hand. Pull your foot up and place the sole against your left inner thigh near your groin. (Don’t put your foot directly on your knee.) Keep your hips even. Press your palms together in front of your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.
Use this move to strengthen your core and lower body while you stretch your upper body. From mountain pose, raise your arms over your head, palms facing each other (or touching). Bend your knees as much as you can and lean your body slightly forward, keeping your knees and ankles together. Pull your shoulder blades down and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Then bend your knees and pull your heels toward your groin to press the soles of your feet together. Open your knees out to the sides. Reach both hands forward to hold onto your feet, ankles, or shins. Relax your thighs so your knees drop further toward the floor. Hold for 1-2 minutes. You’ll feel a good stretch in your lower back, inner thighs, and hips.
Reclining Spinal Twist
A twist gently stretches your back, hips, and neck. Lie flat with your arms out to the sides so your body forms a T. Bend your right knee, and lightly set the toes of your right foot on your left knee. Keeping your shoulders flat on the floor, drop the right knee over to the left side of your body, twisting at the low back and waist. Turn your head to the right and look down your arm at your fingers. Hold for up to 10 breaths, then switch sides.
This works your lower back, legs, glutes, and core. Lie on your back, arms at your sides, palms down, knees bent, and your heels pulled up close to your rear. Press your hips up until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and bring your hands together beneath you. Think about pushing your knees forward and pulling your pubic bone toward your bellybutton. Lift your chin slightly, slide your shoulder blades down, and widen your collarbones. Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute, then slowly roll your hips back down to the floor.
This is a resting pose that gently stretches the hips, lower back, and neck. Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching. Sit up on your heels, knees about hip-width apart. Lay your torso down between your thighs, and let your arms lie on the floor at your sides, hands next to hips, palms up. Let the back of your skull pull up and away from your neck, and let the weight of your shoulders pull the shoulder blades wide. Hold from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.