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When beginning your fitness journey, you may come across various terminology — a common one being aerobic and anaerobic respiration. To get the most out of your workouts, it’s...
One of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself is to tackle a new habit or add movement to your day. Pilates is great for beginners, and it may challenge you in ways you never knew. Some of the benefits of pilates are physical, while others are mental. What you'll find out quickly when you start a pilates routine is that the habit builds your muscles and your mental toughness. If you can get through several rounds of pilates a week, you'll feel much stronger for it in all aspects of your life. Here are some of the benefits of pilates you can expect to see once you start your routine.
1. Toning Up
Whether you want to lose weight, maintain your physique or tone your muscles, pilates is a great option that has proven results. Pilates is extremely effective as a weight loss method, but it should always be coupled with eating the right foods and treating your body well. Plus, you should talk to a doctor before undertaking any extreme change, like practicing pilates every day. Overall, you'll feel stronger and healthier, and that change alone is worth trying out the exercise.
2. Promoting Mindfulness
Mindfulness brings you down to earth. Instead of worrying about the future or the past, you exist in the present moment and feel everything around you fully. When doing pilates, you might only be able to focus on your breathing and getting through some of the movements. Pilates forces you to remain in the moment, and it's great practice if you want to stay mindful in other areas of your life.
3. Increasing Flexibility
Stretching alone might not bring you the level of flexibility you want. Practicing pilates regularly can improve your range of motion, which might be crucial as you get older or are not as active as you used to be. Flexibility is handy in many cases, and it can help you feel stronger and leaner.
4. Working Out Your Entire Body
Pilates is so great because you work out your entire body during one session. By stretching and working with your body weight, you strengthen all of your muscles at once. People assume pilates is easy because the movements look so graceful, but the activity requires much control and strength to pull off well. Instead of focusing on targeting a single section, you know that you're toning your whole body at once, which might be more effective for your lifestyle.
5. Decreasing the Likelihood of Injuries
Pilates can also help with your balance by strengthening your core muscles. If you have better balance, you're less likely to fall or injure yourself by losing your footing. In older adults, pilates decreases fall risk significantly, as it helps them strengthen their muscles and maintain their balance. Plus, the more flexible you are, the less likely you are to tear your muscles. It's one of the many benefits of pilates.
6. Improving Your Posture
Pilates is one of the greatest things you can do to help you straighten up. If you're hunched over a device or desk all day, a pilates routine can help strengthen your core and, in turn, affect your posture positively. It might take a few months to see tangible results, but you'll be glad you started your routine when you experience one of the best benefits of pilates.
7. Establishing a Routine
Routines are an important part of everyone's daily lives. When you have a routine, you're more likely to stick to something. They keep you on track and help you remain positive and achieve your goals. Since pilates is so fun, you likely won't have an issue sticking to this routine, either, since you can do pilates from anywhere you want. Once you have practiced starting this routine, you’ll be able to create others that suit your lifestyle.
Reap the Benefits of Pilates
Pilates might be challenging for you at first, especially if you're not used to strength or bodyweight training. Still, don't let the initial difficulty get to you. If you stick with it and don't give up, your body and mind will be so much stronger after training for a bit. You have several benefits of pilates just waiting for you. All you need to do is start.
Think of what you do after sitting at your desk for a long time. Once your work day is done, you might want to triumphantly raise your arms and give them a good stretch because it feels good and is an excellent way to end the day. But why does stretching feel good? The answer is biological: it relieves stress, and less stress helps you feel better.
What Does Stretching Do?
Stretching is similar to power posing in that it can trick your brain into feeling a certain way. Power posing can help you feel more confident before an important meeting, and stretching can have similar power. Perhaps the answer to the question "Why does stretching feel good?" is because it's a natural form of stress relief.
Stretching relieves the tension in your muscles, which can help you physically and mentally relax. You often stretch after you've finished or accomplished something, so your brain may even associate stretching with a job well done. Just remember to stretch frequently, especially if you live an otherwise-sedentary lifestyle.
Stretching, when done over time, can improve your flexibility and decrease your risk of injuring yourself. This simple activity can increase your blood flow and eliminate metabolic waste, but you may also see an improvement in your mood as it can help with symptoms of depression, too.
Stretches to Try Every Day
Why does stretching feel good? It helps your body relax and relieves tension in your muscles. Stretching can help you prepare for physical activity, and it can wake you up mentally. You should try these stretches every day, as they can benefit your life in more ways than one.
1. Full Body Stretch
When you wake up in the morning, you should aim to complete a full-body stretch. Stretching your entire body can help you feel more alert and awake, which can make the start of your day so much easier. Start by rolling your neck, then move down your body to your shoulders, arms, hips and legs. By moving joints that you don't use regularly, you can reduce your risk of injury or even decrease some of the pain you might feel from arthritis.
2. Supine Twist
The supine twist is a yoga pose you can do from the comfort of your bedroom, which means it's easy to perform. This stretch can help you relax to sleep with the gentle rocking movements of your knees as you lie flat on your back. Why does stretching feel good? In the case of this yoga pose, it helps you relax enough to go to sleep when you've been having issues.
3. Cat-Cow Pose
This versatile yoga stretch is great for everything from winding down for the night to becoming energized in the morning. This stretch unlocks your spine and acts as a massage that will get you through your daily activities. This pose is easy to understand, as it only involves arching your spine and relaxing.
Why Does Stretching Feel Good to Everyone?
So, why does stretching feel good? You might find more answers than you think once you start stretching regularly. Stretches ease the tension in your muscles and help them grow stronger and less prone to injury. Release of tension can help relieve stress, which benefits your brain as much as it does your body. So, take a little extra time to stretch during your day, in the morning and before you go to bed. Your body and mind might just thank you for it.
Having a strong core is essential for having a fit, healthy body. Even if you don’t want that chiseled six-pack look, it can help you with other lifting movements like deadlifts and squats. Keep in mind that these exact exercises may not meet all your training goal needs but are a solid place to start. The best workouts for abs depend heavily on your training level and goals.
Something to remember is that no ab exercise will give you visible abs. They’re used to strengthen them to enhance training performance and general health. If you want visible abs, you can shoot for a healthy body fat range. A manageable body fat percentage is 10-14% for men and 15-19% for women to see definition in your abs.
Now is the part you’ve been waiting for: The four best workouts for abs.
1. Alternating Arms and Legs With Deadbug
This exercise focuses on activating your core muscles. It is lower-intensity with no weight or resistance. Use this exercise to channel the proper core muscle activation and lumbar stability. This is a beginner-level exercise and can be performed at home without any equipment.
How to perform a deadbug:
Lay on your back with arms straight in the air while your legs are in the air with a 90-degree bend in the knees.Lower one arm above your head while the opposite leg straightens as you move it downward. Each limb should be straightened while hovering over the ground.Reverse the movement and return to your original position.Repeat on the other side.
Remember to stay engaged in this movement. Keep your spine pressed into the floor as you go. An excellent way to make sure is by controlling your breath. Inhale as you lower your limbs and exhale when pulling them back up to the original position.
2. Hanging Knee Raises
Hanging knee raises are another beginner-friendly exercise. All you need is a place to hang from. It’s a great exercise because, once you master the basic movement, you can add resistance weight to your feet for a more significant challenge. A plus to this exercise is increased grip strength to help with other exercises you do!
This is how to execute the hanging knee raise:
Hang from a bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Keep your shoulder blades activated by squeezing them together.Keep your legs pressed together as you pull your knees into your chest.
Try to keep from swinging your body, which uses your momentum over actually engaging the core muscles. To prevent this, extend your legs slightly in front of you before lifting them.
3. Cable Woodchopper
You can transition into more challenging exercises when you get the hang of activating your core. These may have opportunities to implement weight and resistance. You can focus on the same muscle engagement through directional movements while building core strength and endurance. Here’s how to do a cable woodchopper:
Set your cable up slightly above shoulder level. Use a single-handle cable attachment.Stand with your shoulder parallel to the cable machine in a lunge position.Engage your core muscles and rotate diagonally while pulling the cable across your body.
You should feel your oblique muscles doing a lot of the work while you keep the motion controlled.
4. Kettlebell Hip Flexor Lift
An advanced move would be a kettlebell hip flexor lift. These are movements that are functional and include lots of stability. You will be able to add more weight as you master the movement. Here’s how to do a kettlebell hip flexor lift:
Stand on a box with one foot stabilized and the other with your foot in the handle of the kettlebell.With your weight on the stabilized foot, pull the leg with the kettlebell to a 90-degree angle at your knee.Control the leg in a repeated up and down motion.
There you have it! The best workouts for abs for each training level. Remember not to rush into anything too advanced to avoid any injuries. Take your time and enjoy the process of mastering each movement for optimal core strength.
As you age, you may feel like your options to exercise are limited. Physical activity might not feel as fun as it used to when you were younger and had endless possibilities or sports and activities to be involved in. Even if you enjoy going to the gym, you may want to find other ways to get your heart pumping.
Although you may not be a star athlete anymore, that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved with adult sports and activities. Here are fun sports to play as an adult.
Frisbee is a great way to get in touch with your inner child. Play is also essential when you are an adult. When adults engage in play, it relieves stress, improves brain function and stimulates the mind and body. You might think that frisbee isn’t a sport, but thousands of people compete in recreational, competitive leagues.
If this is your first time playing it, it is a great way to work on teamwork and making friends. It gives you a reason to get outside and burn calories in a new way than you have before.
Starting something new might feel intimidating, so getting a friend or partner to do it with you might make it easier. Volleyball is perfect for you and your friends to get into and build teamwork. Some recreational leagues have tournaments that can be indoor or outdoor.
For competitive people, this is an excellent form of exercise while allowing you to spend quality time with spouses and friends. You will surely get an amazing workout with all the jumping and setting.
If you have injuries or joint problems, swimming is an excellent option. The water supports between 50% and 75% of your body weight, so you can move more freely without worrying about pain. Even low-impact exercise like walking can hurt, so this is a great alternative.
Swimming is a sport that doesn’t require others to participate to have fun. You can do this sport on your own time alone or with other people. It can be a nice switch up from your usual routine.
Softball and baseball leagues are a lot of fun to get involved with in the summer. It gets you outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine with the perfect balance of physical activity. Sometimes there is a lot of standing around, but that is better than sitting on the couch.
Other times you will be chasing down balls and running to each base which requires quick energy to be released. You will be able to enjoy the thrill of hitting the bag with a bat and scoring points for your team.
Tennis is so engaging that you won’t even realize you are breaking a sweat. You will be so focused on hitting the fastball going back and forth between you and a friend that you won’t even realize the time is passing. If you’re busy, tennis is a great sport since you can get in a good session quickly. All you need is to find a friend to play with you.
Try Something New
No matter what sport you decide to play, make sure it is something you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try something new and meet new people. Playing fun sports is a great way to get activity while enjoying yourself.
In the bodybuilding community, it is almost more rare to meet someone who is a natural bodybuilder over someone who uses enhancement drugs like anabolic steroids. Many people look up to classic icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger but it is impossible to reach that level without steroids or growth hormones.
Steroids are known to mess with your health. Becoming a bodybuilder should be the journey of becoming the best and healthiest version of yourself. Natural bodybuilding will take more work but will be worth it in the long run. Here is how to start natural bodybuilding.
What is Natural Bodybuilding?
Natural bodybuilding is bodybuilding without using anabolic steroids, hormones, testosterone or any drugs banned in natural bodybuilding competitions. If you want to compete in a show, the goal is to get as lean as possible while keeping as much muscle as possible. Typically you will follow nutrition guidelines that aim to cut down on fat and preserve muscle while following a strict training program.
You require a certain mindset to be a natural bodybuilder since it can be easy to get discouraged watching unnatural people grow quicker than you. Natural bodybuilding requires you to work in sync with your body to improve it and keep it running longer, even if it doesn’t win the race. Your body needs time to adjust and improve while keeping your organs intact, which is where unnatural bodybuilders tend to lack.
Develop a Training Routine
Everyone is different but it comes down to how hard and often you train a week. This doesn’t mean you should overdo it with intense and long workouts every day or you will get hurt. Rest and recovery are when your muscles repair and grow. You will want to focus on the two main concepts of progressive overload and compound movements.
The best way to build muscle is to increase the stress put on them and shock the body into building muscle. The progressive tension can be performed in a couple of ways.
Increase weight. Each time you perform a set, you increase the weight little by little. You will want to add small amounts so it is enough to increase strength without hurting yourself.
Decrease rest time. If you typically wait anywhere from one to three minutes between sets, you can start waiting forty seconds to a minute instead. You may need to decrease weight slightly, but that doesn’t mean it is ineffective since you will stress your muscles faster.
Increase the number of reps. Each time you start a set, you can go for one or two more reps than the last time. Remember to leave a rep or two in your sets to increase on the next.
Compounding movements are your friend if you are trying to focus on getting stronger. The reason they are great is because they require movements with multiple joints. This can be squats, rows, deadlifts, bench presses and shoulder presses.
When you train compound movements progressively, it hits multiple muscle groups, making them stronger. Structure these movements at the beginning of your workout routine since they require the most energy over other movements.
Start Your Bodybuilding Journey
Your natural bodybuilding journey will pay off with the proper training and nutrition. It is best to stay consistent and remember the big picture behind being a natural bodybuilder. Your body will thank you for doing things at its own pace.
Were you into cheer in high school or college and miss the effortless way it kept you in shape? Perhaps your partnership has lost its spark, and you want to rebuild the connection. Either way, acroyoga may offer the ideal solution.
Acroyoga combines elements of traditional Hatha and vinyasa yoga with acrobatics. It’s also similar to cheer in that you perform poses using more than one person: a base, a flyer and a spotter.
Does this mind-body exercise program intrigue you? Here’s what you need to know about acroyoga — yoga with a partner.
What Is Acroyoga?
Acroyoga is a relatively new phenomenon. Like many forms of yoga, it originated overseas but came to the States thanks to Jenny Sauer-Kline and Jason Nemer, dancers and yogis.
Acroyoga combines elements of all of the following disciplines:
Yoga: You’ll do variations of poses similar to those seen in traditional Hatha practices.
Gymnastics: Some of the movements are quite acrobatic.
Dance: There’s an element of playfulness and sensual body expression to acroyoga.
Massage: Your partner will touch your body, putting pressure on various muscles and pressure points that release tension.
Cheer: Acroyoga is fun, and you’ll use many safety techniques cheerleaders use to execute the moves without harm.
Even within acroyoga, there are divisions that help you select the right class for your interests and ability levels. Acroyoga has two sides, the sun and moon or lunar and solar:
Lunar: Lunar classes are softer and more therapeutic. One partner acts as the base, while the flyer is more of a receiver, passively accepting the posturing of the other.
Solar: This form is more energetic, allowing both partners to do some seriously cool moves.
What Is a Typical Acroyoga Class Like?
It’s okay to feel nervous attending your first acroyoga class. One of the first questions many people ask is, “Do I need to bring a partner?” Fortunately, the answer is no. Most studios will pair unmated practitioners with someone and have a spare guide on deck to assist as a spotter in the case of odd numbers.
Some guides prefer that you work with multiple partners. Why? It helps foster a sense of community while teaching you new things — every practitioner makes minor adjustments.
Unlike many yoga classes, you won’t take the first few minutes to set a private intention, although you can certainly do so if you like. Instead, you’ll start with a sharing circle to help you build a connection with the community.
From there, you’ll move through a warmup that includes traditional moves like sun salutation before partnering up to begin the acrobatic section. You’ll have plenty of time to practice and take water breaks.
Can You Practice Acroyoga Solo?
The answer to whether you can practice acroyoga solo is yes — and no. You can certainly perform the warmup section. However, to master the partner poses, you need another person. Furthermore, it’s critical to have a third to serve as a spotter, who assists you in entering and exiting poses safely and preventing falls and injury.
Your best bet is to search an online acroyoga directory to find centers near you that hold regular practices. You’ll get to meet other people with a similar passion for health and fitness and form friendships that can last a lifetime.
Tips for Starting Your Acroyoga Practice
Even though acroyoga is a partnership activity, there are tips to help you prepare. Here’s what you can do to get ready for your first class.
1. Get in Shape
You don’t have to be the world’s greatest athlete to have a blast practicing acroyoga. That said, the stronger and more flexible you are, the greater skill you’ll have at mastering various poses. If you’ve led a sedentary lifestyle, it pays to do some walking and mild calisthenics at home for a few weeks before your first session to feel like you’re giving your all to your partner.
2. Cultivate the Right Mental Attitude
Acroyoga is supposed to be fun for all participants, and a negative attitude can ruin the spirit of the class. Check your expectations at the door — does it really matter if you are the flyer or the base? The spotter? Keep an open mind and learn to breathe and smile through frustration as you fall out of poses. You’ll cultivate these skills in session, but it’s best to walk in with an open mind and an attitude that you are there to have the time of your life.
3. Outfit Yourself
Close contact with other human bodies is beautiful, but varied cultural mores and experiences have created various comfort levels with different levels of undress. Look for clothes that fit you snugly to avoid getting entangled in the poses. However, pass on items that might make you or other participants uncomfortable. A pair of leggings and a well-fitting sports bra are appropriate.
Acroyoga — Yoga With a Partner
Are you ready to try something new in your yoga practice? Acroyoga combines elements of dance and acrobatics to take your routine to new heights. It can even help you bond with the one you love.
Try acroyoga with a partner and a friend or join a community today. You’ll meet new people and foster a sense of togetherness, all while taking your fitness to new heights.