Dr. Phil Shares: Should You Work Out With a Cold?

Should You Work Out With a Cold?

When you’re feeling under the weather, does activity help or hinder?

Most experts agree you can still work out when you’re sick — as long as you listen to your body and not push it.

Keep in mind, everyone’s tolerance level for colds and sniffles varies — one person feels like they can sustain a normal workout routine, while another feels too draggy to even consider it.

“Studies show that exercise is beneficial because it can boost your immune system before, during and after sickness,” says Nicola Finely, M.D., integrative medicine specialist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.

Note: If you have a chronic health condition, such as asthma, you may want to consult your doctor first before exerting yourself.

Does Exercise Boost the Immune System?

“Exercise allows your white blood cells to circulate faster throughout the body, and white blood cells are the immune warriors that fight off infections,” explains Finely.

The American College of Sports Medicine backs that up, too, stating that regular and moderate exercise lowers the risk for respiratory infections and that consistent exercise can enhance health and help prevent disease.

In one study in the American Journal of Medicine, women who walked for 30 minutes every day for a year had only half the number of colds as those who didn’t bust a move.

Working out almost daily at a moderate pace can help keep your immune system strong.

But overtraining and pushing yourself too hard for too long can decrease the levels of IgA, which are antibodies on the mucosal membranes, such as the respiratory tract. These antibodies are needed to battle bacteria and viruses.

According to The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), moderate physical activity done every day, such as yoga or jogging, is the most effective way to keep the immune system strong.

Should-You-Work-Out-With-a-Cold

Experts Recommend Exercising With a Cold If:

  •  You have a garden-variety cold but no fever. Exercise can help relieve you from stuffiness by opening up your nasal passages, says the Mayo Clinic.
  •  Your symptoms are above the neck like a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or a slight sore throat.

“Keep the intensity at a moderate-to-low pace,” cautions Finely.

For example, if you typically go for a 30-minute run every day, take a brisk walk instead. And if you start to feel worse with exercising, then you should stop, she says.

Skip Exercise With a Cold If:

  •  You have a fever, discomfort in your chest, or difficulty breathing.
  • Your symptoms are below the neck, such as chest congestion, a hacking cough or an upset stomach.
  • You’re tired, you’re running a fever, or you’re especially achy. “I’d suggest any patient refrain from exercise if fever is higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Finely, who points out that a fever is considered any temperature over 100 F. Exercising during this time increases the risk of dehydration, and can worsen or lengthen the duration of your cold, she explains.

A 2014 study in the journal Sports Health found that fever can have harmful effects on muscular strength and endurance.

There’s no great advantage in tiring yourself out when you’re feeling ill. After all, you don’t want to risk making yourself sicker, and taking a few days off shouldn’t affect your overall performance. “When you get back to exercise, make sure to gradually increase your level as you begin to feel better,” Finely advises.

Exercising during a cold can be beneficial, but don’t push it.

Remember, it can help flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways and reduce your overall chances of getting a cold in the first place.

The important thing is to listen to your body.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Quick + Easy Ways To Incorporate Wellness Into Your Week

With all of the go, go, go that comes with being a busy, working woman, sometimes our own health falls to the wayside. We get it, not everyone has the time to hit a two-hour Pilates class every day…we certainly don’t! We’re all about striking a balance here and figuring out simple ways to improve our health on the daily. Let’s keep it simple and dive right into our five quick and easy wellness tips to improve your week.

easy wellness tips

Increase Your Intake of Hydrating Foods

Every wellness article you read is going to tell you to drink your body weight in water, and you should! But just in case you’re not the best at guzzling gallons of water in one sitting, try snacking on it! Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and zucchinis are about 95 percent water. Increase your intake of these tasty snacks and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. We also love mixing in a shot of this hydrating inner beauty boost into our water!

Micro-Dose Your Vitamin D

Set a timer on your phone, write it on your to-do list, do whatever you need to do to incorporate fresh air into your day. Before lunch each day, head outside for a 15-minute walk and soak up the sunshine. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but it’s enough to get your blood pumping and also shift your mindset. Pencil in a minimum of one walk per day, but if you can swing more, do it!

Eat Mindfully

So many of us (*guilty hand raised*) eat like it’s just something else to check off our to-do list. We often eat our lunch at our desk in front of a computer, or at home in front of the television. This often leads to overeating or mindless snacking! When it’s time to eat a meal, choose somewhere intentional to sit that doesn’t involve devices with screens. This will help you feel mindful as you eat, breathing between bites, and taking note of when your body is satisfied.

Try Dry Brushing

Never heard of dry brushing? It has a surprising number of benefits, including lymphatic system stimulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste to the blood. Dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system as it stimulates and invigorates the skin. It helps with everything from improving the appearance of skin to supporting digestion. Try our favorite brush here

Do Bedtime Yoga

This is one of our favorite ways to end the day. You literally do yoga in your bed, what could be more relaxing? We follow this routine, but feel free to find one that you look forward to doing each night!

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Keto Recipes to Satisfy Your Cravings

Livin’ La Keto Loca

Creative cooking for the keto lifestyle

When it comes to a ketogenic diet, it’s no surprise that many of your favorite foods are off limits (e.g., sugary treats, carb-filled breads and pastas, etc.). And for most people, that’s enough of a deterrent to stay away from keto altogether. Don’t write it off just yet—you can enjoy delicious savory and even sweet foods even when following the strict keto macronutrient profile. These amazing recipes will prove it.

Egg-citing Breakfasts

Delicious Dinners

Savory Snacks

California Sunrise Bowl
Blueberry Scones
Ketolicious Chicken Empañadas
Fat Pizza
La Keto Loca Quesadillas
Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
Cheesy Chicken Casserole
Taco ’Bout It Keto Skillet
Jalapeño Parm Crisps
Keto-Style Pigs in a Blanket

 

Egg-citing Breakfasts

California Sunrise Bowl

Makes 1 Serving

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ link chorizo sausage (4″ long)
  • ½ ripe California avocado
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa
  • ⅛ cup cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook chorizo over medium-high heat in a skillet.
  2. Place chorizo on a paper towel and pour out some of the grease, setting some aside for the eggs.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, add leftover chorizo grease, then break in eggs and scramble. For extra fluffiness, add milk (optional). Once cooked, add eggs to the bottom of a bowl.
  4. Top eggs with chorizo and layer on avocado, cheese, tomato, sour cream, and cilantro.
    Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 530 calories, 13 g carbs, 43 g fat, 26 g protein

 

Blueberry Scones

Makes 12 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ tsp. stevia
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, stevia, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in eggs, whipping cream, oil, and vanilla and mix until a dough forms. Add blueberries; carefully mix through.
  4. On the baking sheet, pat dough into a rectangle, about 10” x 8” in size.
  5. Cut dough into 6 squares, then cut each square diagonally to form two triangles. Gently lift scones and distribute them around the pan.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and slightly firm. Remove and allow to cool. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 150 calories, 6 g carbs, 12 g fat, 5 g protein

Delicious Dinners

Ketolicious Chicken Empañadas

Makes 3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Crust:
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 large egg

Filling:

  • 6 oz. ground chicken
  • 1¼ tsp. Metagenics MCT oil
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Crust:

  1. Cut cream cheese into 4-5 pieces and add to a bowl along with mozzarella cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. While cheese is still hot, mix in almond flour. Add egg and mix well.
  2. On a nonstick sheet, roll out dough into a flat circle.
  3. Using a cookie cutter, create 6-8 circles, approximately 5″ in diameter.

Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place dough circles onto a nonstick baking pan. Layer filling on one side of the circle.
  2. Fold and press down the edges, creating a half-moon shape.
  3. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 370 calories, 4 g carbs, 27 g fat, 26 g protein

 

Fat Pizza

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Crust:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ Tbsp. psyllium husk powder

Topping:

  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 5 oz. shredded cheese
  • 1½ oz. pepperoni

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. For crust, melt cheese in a bowl and add eggs to combine. Add flour and husk powder to mixture and knead dough into a ball.
  2. Apply some olive oil to the bottom of the baking pan to keep from sticking. Flatten the ball of dough directly over oil, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Spread tomato paste on crust and sprinkle oregano on top. Top with cheese and pepperoni.
  4. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 355 calories, 8.4 g carbs, 26 g fat, 23 g protein

 

La Keto Loca Quesadillas

Makes 3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Low-Carb Tortillas:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1½ tsp. ground psyllium husk powder
  • 1 Tbsp. almond flour
  • ½ tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 5 oz. shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 oz. spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil

DIRECTIONS:
Tortillas:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Beat eggs and egg whites together until fluffy, then add cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth.
  2. Combine salt, psyllium husk powder, and almond flour in a small bowl and mix well. Beat flour mixture into batter until combined; ensure batter is thick and allow to rest. (If needed, add more husk powder to increase thickness.)
  3. Using a spatula, spread batter over parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake 5-7 minutes until edges brown, then cut into pieces; alternatively, you may fry batter in rounds on the stove.

Quesadillas:

  1. Heat oil (or butter) in a small, non-stick skillet. Add tortilla to pan, top with a handful of spinach and sprinkle with cheese, then fold in half; fry for a couple minutes on eat side until cheese is melted. Alternatively, you may leave tortilla open and add a second tortilla on top to close. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 410 calories, 6 g carbs, 36 g fat, 17 g protein

 

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 16 slices bacon
  • 16 medium spears asparagus
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wrap each slice of bacon tightly around each asparagus spear, then season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Use tongs to turn each piece around, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until bacon is crispy. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 233 calories, 5 g carbs, 16 g fat, 18 g protein

 

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. green pesto
  • ½ lemon juice
  • 1½ lb. chicken breasts
  • 7 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. cauliflower
  • 1 leek
  • 4 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 7 oz. shredded cheese
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Mix cream with pesto and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and fry in oil until golden brown.
  3. Place chicken in a greased 9” x 13” baking dish, then pour in cream mixture.
  4. Chop leek, cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower into small florets and add to dish to top chicken.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for at least 30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 355 calories, 11 g carbs, 25 g fat, 29 g protein

 

Taco ’Bout It Keto Skillet

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ medium white onion, diced
  • ½ large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 3 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 12 oz. cauliflower rice
  • 4 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, then add in beef and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until brown.
  2. Add in onion, bell pepper, and taco seasoning and for cook 3 more minutes.
  3. Stir in green chilies and tomatoes along with cauliflower rice. Cook 5-7 minutes until moisture is gone.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese and cover until melted, about 2 minutes. Add toppings of choice (avocado, sour cream, cilantro, or jalapeno), serve, and enjoy!
Per Serving: 376 calories, 12 g carbs, 21 g fat, 33 g protein

Savory Snacks

Jalapeño Parm Crisps

Makes 2 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium jalapeño

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. On a baking mat or parchment paper, create 8 mounds of Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp. each spaced 1” apart.
  2. Slice jalapeño thinly, then lay on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes; remove and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, lay a jalapeño slice on top of each mound of Parmesan, pressing down slightly.
  4. Split both cheddar slices into 4 pieces (8 total) and lay each piece on top of the jalapeño and Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 9 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 200 calories, 4 g carbs, 15 g fat, 13 g protein

 

Keto-Style Pigs in a Blanket

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 medium hot dogs
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each hot dog into 3 equal-sized pieces; set aside.
  2. Melt mozzarella in microwave and combine with almond flour and egg.
  3. Add baking powder, garlic powder, and salt to the mixture; mix well.
  4. Form dough in hands, split into 12 pieces, and roll pieces into balls.
  5. Place dough balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press each ball flat into an oval shape.
  6. Wrap each piece of hot dog in the pieces of dough. Sprinkle outside with sesame seeds, pressing down to stick.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 330 calories, 5 g carbs, 28 g fat, 15 g protein

 

Thanks for sharing Metagenics: Ketogenic

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 of the Best (and Worst) Workout Buddy Types

10 of the Best (and Worst) Workout Buddy Types

rward… but there are more soulmates in your life than just your spouse.

There’s your work husband/wife — that person in your office whom you tell everything. Then you have your book club bestie who loves the same characters and hates the same novels you do. And of course, your workout buddy — the one who keeps you on track with your meal preps and daily sweat sessions.

“When figuring out who your workout buddy is going to be for Double Time, choose someone you care about,” says Tony Horton. “You can choose a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. Double Time is also a great way to promote an active lifestyle for your family and have some fun bonding time with your kids.”

You’ll be spending a lot of time with your workout buddy, so it’s best to choose wisely. There are certain qualities that your buddy should possess—and a few you want to avoid at all cost. Here’s a guide to the different workout buddies you’ll encounter, and the best attributes of a true swolemate.

1. The Cardio Fanatic

“Wanna spin? Kickbox? Dance? Maybe go for a run?”

She’s always up for an energizing class — it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gets the heart pumping and the sweat pouring. It’s beyond motivating to be moving and grooving next to this Energizer bunny — if your spirits are sagging, he’ll keep you going.

2. The Debbie Downer

Saturday Night Live Snl GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Studies actually show that social interaction plays an important role in your interest in an activity, even beyond experience of the activity itself. So make sure you not only find an activity you like, but a partner you favor, too.

3. The Constant Chatter Box

Trying to maintain a conversation while you’re lifting weights or powering through a cardio routine is no easy task. You don’t want to be rude and ignore the Chatty Cathy, but forcing yourself to respond can prevent you from getting the most out of your workout.

In fact, an inner dialog can be more helpful to your workouts than having someone else talk your ear off. This tactic, called “self-talk,” is useful for both motivational (i.e., mastery and drive) and cognitive (i.e., skill-specific and general) purposes, according to a study in the Journal of Psychological Sport and Exercise. So don’t let someone else’s talk get in the way of crushing your PR.

4. The Friendly Competitor

It doesn’t hurt if your workout partner is a bit competitive. A study of head-to-head cycling competition showed that it encourages participants to increase their performance. Having some friendly competition in the weight room or on the track will push you to be better than you thought you could be on your own.

5. The Flake

You make plans to go running at 7 a.m., but it’s 15 minutes past the hour and they’re still fast asleep. If only you had a dollar for every time The Flake has stood you up. It’s important to recognize these people for what they are — enthusiastic, fun friends who, when they do show up, add a lot to your workout. But they’re not people you can count on. So invite them to join, as long as you have someone else whom you can really rely on to be your workout buddy for the day.

6. The Muscle Head

He knows the best pre-workout supplements to improve your performance. She can tell you the difference between your gluteus maximus and your adductor longus — and which exercises work each. This buddy is a terrific partner, but only if you’re willing to put up with all the technical jargon.

7. The Drama Queen

There’s always something wrong with this workout buddy — the room is too warm or it’s too drafty. The machines are too old and broken down or they’re too new and complicated. No matter how hard you try to appease The Drama Queen, something will always be off. This will inevitably delay the act of working out for who knows how long, so it’s probably best to ditch this brand of buddy and find someone who’s not as high maintenance.

8. The One-Trick Pony

We all know that person who thinks whatever they’re doing — be it a diet or a workout plan — is the only way to do things. Sure, a low-carb diet may have helped her drop a few pounds or minute-long planks helped to strengthen his core. But just because it works for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you. Figure out what kind of workout plan is best for you, and take this kind of buddy’s advice with a shaker of salt.

9. The Recovery Pro

Some days you just need to recover, sit on the couch, and binge on Netflix. A great workout buddy will know when to let you chill out and how to maximize your recovery time so your muscles can fully recharge. They’re always pushing you to foam roll, and they always bring the best healthy snacks to enjoy on rest day.

10. The Motivator

But you can’t sit on the couch for too long! On those days when you’re just not in the mood to workout, it’s crucial to have a support system to keep you motivated. When you can’t get going on your own, the best workout buddy will know just what to say to get you moving.

It’s a tall order finding your perfect workout buddy, but it sure beats working out on your own! What qualities do you look for in a workout partner?

Workout Everyone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Reasons Why Weight Lifting Is Great for Women

10 Reasons Why Weight Lifting Is Great for Women

10 Benefits of Strength Training for Women

When you’re weight training, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on the scale to gauge your progress. You can use a body fat tester or a tape measure to track how many inches you’re losing.

The size of your body will shrink as you shed fat and build muscle, but your weight may not change as dramatically as you expect. Besides, what’s more important, the number on the scale or how you look in selfies?

If you’re still not convinced that you need to lift weights, here are 10 reasons you should reconsider.

1. Burn More Fat

Researchers at Tufts University found that when overweight women lifted heavy weights twice a week, they lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle.

The control group, women who dieted but didn’t lift weights, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat and gained no muscle.

When you do an intense weight-training program, your metabolism stays elevated and you continue to burn fat for several hours after working out. During regular cardio exercise, you stop burning fat shortly after the workout.

2. Change Your Body Shape

You may think your genes determine how you look. That’s not necessarily true. Weight training can slim you down, create new curves, and help avoid the “middle-age spread.”

So, no, you won’t bulk up — women don’t have enough muscle-building hormones to gain a lot of mass like men do. If you keep your diet clean and create a calorie deficit, you’ll burn fat.

3. Boost Your Metabolism

The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. As women age, they lose muscle at increasing rates, especially after the age of 40. When you diet without doing resistance training, up to 25 percent of the weight loss may be muscle loss.

Weight training while dieting can help you preserve and even rebuild muscle fibers. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.

4. Get Stronger and More Confident

Lifting weights increases functional fitness, which makes everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags, and picking up heavy suitcases much easier.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular weight training can make you 50 percent stronger in 6 months. Being strong is also empowering. Not only does it improve your physical activities, it builds emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence.

5. Build Strong Bones

It’s been well documented that women need to do weight-bearing exercise to build and maintain bone mass. Just as muscles get stronger and bigger with use, so do bones when they’re made to bear weight.

Stronger bones and increased muscle mass also lead to better flexibility and balance, which is especially important for women as they age.

6. Improve Mood

You’ve probably heard that cardio and low-impact exercises such as yoga help improve mood; weight lifting has the same effect. The endorphins that are released during aerobic activities are also present during resistance training.

7. Improve Sports Fitness

You don’t have to be an athlete to get the sports benefit of weight training. Improved muscle mass and strength will help you in all physical activities, whether it’s bicycling with the family, swimming, golfing, or skiing… whatever sport you enjoy.

8. Reduce Injuries 

Weightlifting improves joint stability and builds stronger ligaments and tendons. Training safely and with proper form can help decrease the likelihood of injuries in your daily life.

It can also improve physical function in people with arthritis. A study conducted at the University of Wales in Bangor, United Kingdom, found that mildly disabled participants who lifted weights for 12 weeks increased the frequency and intensity at which they could work, with less pain and increased range of movement.

9. Get Heart Healthy

More than 480,000 women die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the number-one killer of women over the age of 25. Most people don’t realize that pumping iron can also keep your heart pumping.

Lifting weights increases your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It also lowers your blood pressure. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that people who do 30 minutes of weight lifting each week have a 23 percent reduced risk of developing heart disease compared to those who don’t lift weights.

10. Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

In addition to keeping your ticker strong, weight training can improve glucose utilization (the way your body processes sugar) by as much as 23 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 weeks of strength training can improve glucose metabolism in a way that is comparable to taking medication. The more lean mass you have, the more efficient your body is at removing glucose from the blood.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

Whether your goal is to get bigger and stronger, or improve power and explosiveness for sports, you want to see progress — and pronto.

But building muscle efficiently requires more than just putting in time at the weight rack. Along with your strength training regimen, diet and lifestyle choices all play important roles.

But before you even start thinking about how to build muscle, it’s instructive to know the primary factors that determine just how much of it you can gain.

3 Factors Affecting Muscle Growth

These are the main criteria dictating increases in muscle size, or hypertrophy — and two of them are outside your control.

Sex

Simmer down — we’re talking gender. The male persuasion unsurprisingly has a decided advantage when it comes to building muscle. That’s due in large part to far greater levels of testosterone and a higher red blood cell count among men than women, who typically have to go to more extraordinary lengths to gain size.

Genetics

Similar to the way it governs how much hair you get to keep, heredity determines how much muscle you can develop. Thanks to genetics, a segment of the populace is born with a higher number of type II, or fast-twitch, muscle fibers, which have the greatest potential for growth.

Training Specificity

The factor you can change — and the one we’ll spend much of this article focusing on — is the approach you take to your workouts overall. There are different protocols that distinguish lifting for mass from lifting for strength.

Generally speaking, lifting very heavy weights in low volume is how to gain strength, and lifting moderately heavy weights in high volume is how to gain muscle.

Woman doing benchpress

How to Build Muscle: The 6 Most Important Things You Can Do

For those seeking tips on how to gain muscle, here are some strategies to get you started.

1. Perform multi-joint exercises

Resistance training is the most efficient way to build lean mass — especially if you pack your workouts with big, compound (multi-joint) moves like the squat, bench press, lunge, and pull-up.

“You can certainly build muscle with all types of moves, but a strong base in multi-joint efforts, at least some of the time, is a good idea,” says Michael Ormsbee, Ph.D., interim director of the Institute of Sports Science & Medicine at Florida State University.

Science agrees: Compound exercises cause the greatest increase in testosterone, a key muscle-building hormone, according to researchers at the University of Connecticut.

2. Eat more protein

Now that you’re lifting weights, you need to consume more protein to promote muscle repair, recovery, and growth since amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are necessary to build muscle tissue.

When you’re planning your high-protein meals, 20 grams of protein is the optimal amount generally accepted for muscle growth. Research has found that the body doesn’t use much more than 20 grams for muscle-building at any one sitting. Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20-grams of protein each) is about right for most people.

If you want to calculate the optimal protein amount for you and your goals, Beachbody recommends 0.5 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of desired lean bodyweight per day, depending on exercise intensity. (The harder the workout, the more protein is needed for growth and recovery.)

If you have ambitious muscle-building goals, such as committing to Beachbody’s Body Beast program, shoot for the higher end of the range by adding one or two additional protein-rich snacks to your day.

Shakeology is a great way to sneak in additional calories and nutrients and contains 16 to 17 grams of protein (depending on the flavor).

3. Don’t just lift heavy

When you lift heavy weights or do explosive exercises like sprinting, you target the type-II muscle fibers we discussed earlier. But studies show that type-I fibers (a.k.a. slow twitch — the kind used in endurance activities ) also have growth potential, so don’t ignore them.

Once every week or two, target those type-I fibers with low weight, high rep work (e.g., 3-4 sets of 15 or more reps per exercise). Or simply follow a Beachbody program such as Body Beast21-Day Fix, P90X, 22-Minute Hard Corps, or The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, which have that kind of variation built in.

4. Get plenty of shut-eye

Shoot for a minimum of seven hours a night. Getting less than that on a regular basis can cause you to rack up sleep debt, which can put the brakes on protein synthesis (a.k.a. muscle growth) and increase protein (read: muscle) degradation, according to a study by Brazilian researchers.

Plus, you won’t reap the full benefits of human growth hormone, the levels of which spike while you’re in dreamland. Have trouble sleeping? Try these natural tips on how to get good sleep tonight.

5. Increase weight responsibly

You need to challenge your muscles to trigger growth, but you also need to be smart about how you go about it. If you increase the amount of weight you’re lifting too quickly, you’ll increase your risk of injury. But if you do it too slowly, you’ll shortchange your results or hit a plateau.

So how do you strike a balance? Pay attention to the effort you’re exerting. If you’re lifting with perfect form, and your last few reps an exercise feel similar to your first few, you know it’s time to reach for a heavier weight.

6. Allow time for recovery

Muscles grow between workouts, not during them, so make recovery a priority. In practice, that means eating healthier, consuming more protein, and not overtraining. Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover.

“Training too often or at too-high an intensity too frequently — without rest and recovery — can actually hurt your muscle-building efforts,” says Ormsbee.

Your move: Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover, and maximize the effectiveness of your downtime by doing light cross training (e.g. hiking, cycling) or activities like foam rolling and yoga.

If you are patient, focused, and consistent with your workouts and recovery, you will see results.

In addition to consuming more protein, there are a number of nutritional steps you can take to bulk up responsibly.

1. Increase calories

“No one can be in a significant calorie deficit and gain muscle,” says Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab.

To find out how many more calories you should consume to gain weight, determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight — your baseline — then add 300. And if you’re following a muscle-building program like Body Beast, add the recommended calories outlined in the guide.

2. Strike the right mix of macros

Whether your calories come from carbs, fat, or protein goes a long way in determining whether your weight gain comes from muscle or from fat.

An easy and relatively fast way to gain muscle is bulking first, then leaning out, which is the idea behind programs like Body Beast. Using this method, you only have to focus on one thing at a time — building, then getting lean, versus trying to increase mass while simultaneously limiting fat gain.

To increase weight gained from fat, your macros should emphasize carbohydrates and fat, since it’s the most calorically dense macronutrient. The bulk of that fat should come from unsaturated sources such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon.

3. Focus on post-workout nutrition

Generally, you should consume about 20 grams of protein with some carbs shortly after a workout. One way to get the right mix is with Beachbody Peformance Recover, which combines time-released proteins and phytonutrients to aid recovery and reduce muscle breakdown.

During the post-workout anabolic window, you’ll also want to limit fats, which can slow the absorption of protein. While there is some recent research that suggeststhe window may actually extend up to several hours following exercise, there’s no harm in getting nutrients in early as long as you’re sticking to your overall caloric and macronutrient goals.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 12 of the Best Butt Exercises for Your Home Workout

12 of the Best Butt Exercises for Your Home Workout

With the right butt workout routine, you can increase the size of your glutes, which helps create the appearance of a tighter, more lifted derriere. After all, a shapely rear is timeless. For centuries, the butt has inspired priceless works of art, from Rubens’ Baroque-period depictions of voluptuous women to Beyonce’s chart-topping “Bootylicious.” We like big butts, and we cannot lie.

But the benefits of butt exercises are far more than aesthetic, explains Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun. Exercises intended to tighten the buttocks can also counteract the hours we spend sitting on them.

“Because we sit down for most of our days, we teach our glutes to relax while our hip flexors stay shortened. This leads to what some call ‘gluteal amnesia,’ which also leads to compensations in the way we move, often making your low back do the glutes’ job,” Braun says. As a result, we may experience back pain or run into other types of dysfunction.

Additionally, weak glutes may be what’s preventing you from improving your 5K time or getting through a game of pick-up basketball without rolling an ankle. “The glutes are the powerhouse for most of our lower- and full-body movements, from squats to jumping,” say Braun. “If you want to increase your strength, power, stability, and limit the likelihood for injury, it is important to incorporate glute exercises into your programming.”

Want to look good in a pair of jeans and stay healthy and pain free? Bum’s the word.

Add These 12 Exercises to Your Butt Workouts at Home

You can get stronger, shapelier glutes with a few pieces of basic equipment and a handful of carefully selected butt exercises you can do at home — no gym membership or machines required. We sifted through dozens of Beachbody’s fitness programs and hand-picked some of the best exercises for glutes, including moves to tighten the buttocks and thighs as well as exercises to augment them.

If you’re not currently following a Beachbody program, be sure to incorporate a warm-up routine that includes some dynamic stretching. Braun recommends leg swings, walking high knees, glute bridges, and bodyweight squats. “You want to stretch the glutes while also activating them through contraction to get them ready for exercise,” he explains.

Triple lunge with ginga

Appears in: CORE DE FORCE – MMA Plyo
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Keeping your chest up, back flat, and, core engaged, take a large step forward with your right foot. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your left knee is bent 90 degrees.
  • Extend your right arm out to the right, and bend your left elbow in front of your chest so that your left forearm points in the same direction as your right. This is the starting position.
  • Raise your body several inches then lower it, pulsing yourself upward a total of 3 times.
  • “Ginga,” or swing, to the left by pushing off your right foot and laterally jumping to the left. Land softly in a reverse orientation of the starting position: left foot forward, right foot back, arms pointing left. Follow with 3 pulses, and ginga right.
  • Repeat the sequence, completing equal reps on both sides.

Single-leg hinge with loop

Appears in: 80 Day Obsession – Booty Month 3

  • Loop a resistance band around your left foot, and grip it with your right hand as you rise up to stand, feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your back flat, your core engaged, and your left knee slightly bent, raise your right leg off the floor and hinge forward at your hips until your torso is as close to parallel with the floor as possible.
  • Return to a single-leg standing position and repeat the move, completing all reps on your left leg before switching sides.

Squat with pulses

Appears in: PiYo – Buns
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Keeping your back flat and core engaged, bend your knees and push your hips back as if closing a car door with your butt, and lower into a squat as you raise your arms in front of you.
  • At the bottom of your squat, use a pulsing motion to raise and lower your hips a few inches. Complete three pulses before standing up. This is one rep.
  • Repeat the sequence, coming to a three-quarter standing position between each rep.

Curtsy lunge wood chops

Appears in: Shift Shop – Super Strength: 50 (as the “Double Cross”)

  • Stand upright, feet hip-width apart, holding a sandbag or dumbbell in both hands at your right shoulder. This is the starting position.
  • Step back with your right foot, crossing it behind your left leg as you lower in to a curtsey lunge. Simultaneously, bring the weight across your body to the outside of your left hip.
  • Reverse the motion, bringing the weight back to your right shoulder as you step back to the starting position, then repeat.
  • Perform equal reps on both sides.

Clamshell

Appears in: Brazil Butt Lift – High and Tight

  • Loop a resistance band around your legs just above your knees, and lie on your left side with your hips, knees, and feet stacked. Rest your head on your left arm, and place your right palm on the floor in front of your chest.
  • Bend at the hips, swinging your legs out to a 45 degree angle, then bend your knees to 90 degrees. This is your starting position.
  • Keeping your core engaged and your heels together, raise your right knee as far as you can without rotating your hip or lifting your left knee off the floor.
  • Hold for 1 second before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat the move, completing all reps on one side, then switch sides, performing equal reps on both.

Calf raise bridge

Appears in: Clean Week – Resistance

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells on your hips. This is the starting position.
  • Lift your hips as high as possible, squeezing your glutes as you rise up on the balls of your feet.
  • Reverse the movement to return to the starting position, and repeat for reps.

Camel

Appears in: 80 Day Obsession – Booty Month 2

  • From a kneeling position, with your butt resting on your heels and the tops of your feet on the floor, hold a heavy dumbbell at your chest with both hands.
  • Keeping your chest up, shoulders back, and core engaged, squeeze your glutes as you push your hips forward to full extension, shifting your weight onto your knees.
  • Pushing your hips back, slowly lower your body back down onto your heels, and repeat for reps.

Bowler

Appears in: PiYo – Buns

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend both knees slightly and shift your weight to your left leg. This is your starting position.
  • Step your right foot behind and outside your left foot in a curtsy lunge, pumping your left arm back and your right arm forward.
  • Raise your body several inches then lower it, pulsing yourself upward a total of 3 times.
  • Return to the starting position, lightly tapping the floor with your right toes before repeating the movement.
  • Complete all reps on one side then switch, performing equal reps on both.

Jump squat

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps – Resistance 2

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward, holding a dumbbell or sandbag in both hands in front of your chest.
  • Keeping your back flat and chest up, bend your knees and push your hips back until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Explode upward, jumping as high as you can
  • Land softly, immediately dropping back down into a squat to begin your next rep.

Single-leg hamstring slide

Appears in: 80 Day Obsession – Booty Month 3

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, with your arms at your sides. Place a strength slide under your left heel and extend your left leg.
  • Keeping your glutes and core engaged, simultaneously bend your left knee, sliding the disc toward your body as you lift your hips off the floor and into a bridge.
  • Slowly extend your left leg and lower your hips to the floor.
  • Complete all reps on one leg before switching sides, performing equal reps on both.

Squat arabesque

Appears in: Brazil Butt Lift – Bum Bum

  • From a standing, hip-width position, push your hips back, and bend your knees into a squat. As you lower your body, place your hands on your thighs, which should be parallel with the floor.
  • As you return to a standing position, extend your arms overhead and your right leg behind you, squeezing your glutes at the top of the move while keeping your core engaged throughout.
  • Lower again into a squat, returning your hands to your thighs, and repeat the move, this time extending your left leg.
  • Continue alternating legs, performing equal reps on both.

Attitude, 21DF

Appears in: 21 Day Fix – Barre Legs

• Stand tall, hands on your hips, with your heels together and your toes turned out slightly.

• Move your right foot back, lightly touching the floor behind you with your big toe and letting your heel drop slightly inward. This is your starting position.

• Keeping your torso tall, lift your right leg behind you as high as you can, squeezing your right glute.

• Return to the starting position, gently tapping the toes of your right foot to the floor, and repeat.

• Perform equal reps on both sides.

Not in the mood to program your own butt workouts at home? Beachbody’s got your back(side). “Most of our programs offer full-body workouts that include glute exercises, but if you’re looking to gain size, Body Beast is a good go-to,” Braun says.

“For more specific glute programs, you can check out the Brazil Butt Lift series or 80 Day Obsession, which places a strong emphasis on the glutes.”

Anatomy of the Butt

Your body’s gluteal region is comprised of three major muscles that work together to move the legs and hips, provide balance, and offer stability during single-leg movements like walking, running, and climbing stairs.

Gluteal muscles – butt workouts at homeGluteus maximus

Among the trinity of butt muscles, the gluteus maximus gets all the glory. As its name indicates, the G-max is not only the biggest gluteal muscle, it’s also the largest muscle in the human body. And, due to its superficial (closest to the surface) placement, it’s responsible for providing the booty’s famously rounded shape.

The gluteus maximus originates from the hip bone, sacrum, and tailbone. It runs across the rear at a 45-degree angle and inserts into the I.T. band and femur (thigh bone). The muscle’s primary function is hip extension, meaning that your gluteus maximus is (literally) behind everyday movements like standing up from a seated position, as well as athletic feats like the 40-yard dash.

Gluteus medius

Originating from the ilium and inserting atop the front of the femur, the gluteus medius is the fan-shaped muscle responsible for abducting (lifting out to the side) the leg. The gluteus medius is also charged with medial and lateral rotation, turning the leg so the knee faces inward and outward. Without a sufficiently strong gluteus medius, you can develop an altered walking/running gait, which can lead to a number of movement related issues.

Gluteus minimus

Despite its rank as the tiniest of all the butt muscles, the gluteus minimus plays a vital role in stabilizing the pelvis during walking and running. Originating from the ilium, the gluteus minimus attaches atop the femur. Like the gluteus medius, its main functions include lower limb abduction and medial rotation.

Eating for a Bigger Booty

If your goal is to get a bigger bum, doing the best butt workouts is just part of the equation. You also need to be strategic with your nutritional intake and supplementation. Healthy, fast-burning carbohydrates consumed before your butt workout will keep your energy consistent, from the first lunge down to the last jump squat.

Just as important is your post-workout protein intake, which the body needs for muscle growth and repair. With 20 grams of protein per serving, Beachbody Performance Recover offers a quick, convenient solution. Besides fast-absorbing protein, Recover contains pomegranate extract, which has been shown to promote muscle recovery and reduce soreness.

By: 

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

Designer water bottles. Pre- and post-workout supplements. Two-hundred-dollar shoes!

When you’re new to exercise, sometimes the hardest part isn’t the workout itself—it’s all the details around it. So many ways to go astray.

That’s why we asked six fitness and nutrition experts for their tips to avoid some of the most common workout mistakes. From what you should be eating before a workout to what you should be wearing, dodging these fitness fails won’t just make you look like a pro, it’ll make your workout routine more effective, too.

1. Wearing the Wrong Shoes

“There are different shoe types for a reason. Tennis demands a lot of side-to-side movement, running on a trail requires [enhanced stability and grip], and you’ll probably be doing some vertical jumping when you play basketball. If you’re wearing training shoes with little to no support when you’re running around a tennis court, you’re more likely to get an injury in your foot or ankle. Getting the right type of shoe for your sport will help you stay with it for much longer.”Alicia Clinton, Ohio-based ACE personal trainer and Pilates instructor

2. Wearing the Wrong Clothes

This tip is my own, as it’s one workout mistake I learned the hard way. Wearing baggy cotton T-shirts and sweats seems like a great idea (you get to hide your body, and hey, they’re comfy!), but there’s a reason everyone else in yoga class is wearing technical fabrics: cotton holds sweat close to your body. Technical fabrics wick it away.

You don’t have to buy anything that’s form-fitting or expensive, but wearing clothes made from technical fabrics engineered for exercise instead of pajamas or old sweats will help you be more comfortable. And, if you feel good, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout routine.

3. Pushing Your Body Past It’s Limits

This one sounds like a big “duh,” but it’s surprising how many people get into a gym for the first time in months (or years) and attack the cardio machines or weight rack like their hiatus never happened

Take a knee, champ.

“When you’re just beginning a workout routine, it’s important to know that your body needs time to adjust to your new activity level. With time, our bodies can become quite well-adapted (to any routine), but the key for long-term success—physically and mentally—is to start small and work toward your goal. Injuries can happen if you go all out right away, which in turn can lead to feelings of frustration that don’t help your cause.” —Clinton

4. Not Hydrating Properly

Everyone knows they’re supposed to stay hydrated. But a lot of people don’t know how to do it right.

A good way to gauge how much water you need is by weighing yourself. Check your weight before and after you work out, and replace that loss. So if you weighed 150 before you started your CORE DE FORCE workout, and you weigh 149 afterwards, drink 16 ounces of water. For endurance athletes or during extreme exercise of 30 minutes or more when you’re sweating a lot, use that same fluid requirement but include electrolytes—the best is a low-sugar option like Beachbody Hydrate.

“If you’re doing something like a 30-minute walk, you don’t need any of this. If you go on a 30-minute run [or do an intense 30-minute workout], you might need that extra hydration. And if you’re taking a 105-degree hot yoga class, you need to replenish fluids and electrolytes.” Paige Benté, MS, RD, nutrition manager at Beachbody

5. Not Timing Your Workouts with Your Eating Habits

Would you take your car out on a long road trip without first filling up the tank? Of course you would! That’s why you have to bum everybody out 20 minutes after leaving by pulling over to stop at Gas-N-Cigs. In the gym, this is just as big of a choke.

“You want to make sure you have enough fuel to support your workout. At least an hour before, have a small snack with easy-to-digest carbs. When in doubt, reach for a piece of fruit or veggies and hummus—something that will sit light in your stomach.” Olivia Wagner, Chicago-based RDN, LDN, personal trainer and certified health coach

And don’t forget to eat after your workout, too. You need to give your muscles the nutrients they need to grow and repair, and if you’re doing endurance work, you also need to replenish your glycogen stores.

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

6. Ignoring the Importance of Diet in General

You’ve likely heard the adage “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s true, so heed the advice to avoid one of the most common workout mistakes. If your eating habits aren’t aligned with your fitness goals, you’ll never hit them. Step one in upgrading your diet is to reduce your consumption of added sugar (according to the government’s new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such foods should comprise no more than 10 percent of your diet).

“Many active people eat too many carbs—especially simple carbs like sugar—and don’t pay nearly enough attention to fat and protein. Make sure every meal contains a balance of protein, fat, and fiber. Neglecting these suggestions will yield poor blood sugar control, higher insulin levels, increased fat storage, and decreased fat burning.”- Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., CSSD, C.S.C.S., a sport dietitian and owner and founder of eNRG Performance

Want to make things easy on yourself? Beachbody’s Portion Fix containers make it simple to figure out how much you should eat of different food types, helping you to consume just the right amount of protein, veggies, carbs, and more, depending on your body type and goals.

7. Only Focusing on the Muscles You Can See

In the pursuit of head turning muscles, many people focus only on those they can see in the mirror—pecs, shoulders, arms, and abs. Since most people are already “anterior dominant”—meaning they more frequently use the muscles on the front of their bodies—such one-sided training often worsens existing postural and performance issues.

“Overemphasizing the front side of your body can lead to muscular imbalances, a hunched posture, and an increased risk of injury.” – Yunus Barisik, C.S.C.S., author of the blog, Next Level Athletics

To balance your upper body, perform two pulling exercises (chin-up, row) for every pushing exercise, such as the overhead press or bench press. To balance your lower body, perform two sets of hamstring-dominant exercises, like the deadlift or kettlebell swing, for every set of a quad-dominant exercise, like the squat or lunge. After a few months (read: once your posture and musculature balance out), you can switch to one-to-one ratios, says Barisik.

8. Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool-Down

It’s great that you’re excited to get to your workout, but a warm-up shouldn’t be optional. Before you jump into beast mode, take a few minutes to get your body ready for an intense workout with an active warm-up that includes dynamic (movement based) stretching, which can help improve performance and prevent injury.

Once you finish the final rep at the end of your workout, cool down with a few minutes of stretching, foam rolling, or both. “Warming up before a workout will help your muscles be ready to work harder and faster, and getting stretches in after a workout as you cool down will help accelerate recovery.” — Clinton

9. Skipping Recovery Days

If you think recovery days are only for the weak, think again. They’re actually a crucial part any fitness regime.

“Our bodies, like our minds, need rest. Just like we go to sleep every night, we need time to relax our bodies. Exercise is stressful, and if we don’t allow ourselves to recover—no matter how well we’re eating or exercising—we’re not going to get stronger.” —Wagner

“Muscles don’t grow during workouts, they grow between them. That’s one of the primary reasons why recovery days are just as important as workout days–the latter provides the stimulus for growth, and the former provides the opportunity for it to happen. Also, if you never give your body sufficient time to recover, not only will your workout performance suffer, but you’ll also shortchange your results and increase your odds of injury.” – Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S, senior fitness and nutrition content manager at Beachbody

10. Doing the Same Workout All the Time

After searching tirelessly for a mode of exercise you actually enjoy, it can be a relief to finally find the right one. But beware! Comfort can be the enemy of progress. Doing the same exact workout all the time, whether that’s running the same route at the same pace or always going to the same yoga class, doesn’t give your body the variety it needs to change and improve. You need to incorporate periodization (strategic variation) into your training plan to keep your results coming.

“The reason why most people see their results stagnate is that they do the same one or two workouts day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. That’s why Beachbody programs include multiple different workouts, and don’t last longer than 90 minutes.” – Thieme

In search of a workout that can help you reach your goals and lead to your dream results? Head over to Beachbody On Demand for tons of options, including everything from sweat-inducing HIIT workouts to low-impact yoga classes to muscle-building strength programs.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Get Better at Push-Ups

How to Get Better at Push-Ups

In theory, push-ups seem simple enough – lower your body to the ground, then push it back up. Easy!

But we all know that’s far from the truth. Especially if you’re not naturally blessed with the strength to do strict-form push-ups, it can seem nearly impossible to do this move with perfect form.

Thankfully, there are a few exercises you can do to get better at push-ups.

What Muscles Do Push-ups Work?

It’s well worth your while to learn to master this move, even if it seems a little out of reach at first. That’s because the benefits of push-ups are numerous.

Push-ups work many key muscles of the upper body, including the arms, pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), the triceps, and also the core.

Because of this, the push-up is an evergreen fitness movement that’s done everywhere from the gym to the army barracks, and it’s not going away any time soon.

If you’re struggling to even do a single push-up, all hope is not lost. With some time, effort, and a little creativity, you can push your way to success.

Follow the guide below to kick your push-up strength up to the next level, whether you’re a beginner or you just want to improve and build more strength.

How to Do a Push-Up

Before you can get better at push-ups, you first have to know how to do a proper strict form push-up (that’s just a normal push-up).

Follow these cues to learn how to do a push-up with perfect form:

• Your feet should be together and your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.

• Throughout the movement, your head and hips should be in alignment with your spine, and your body should form a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Clench your glutes and brace your core to lock your body into position.

• When you lower yourself down, keep your elbows tucked close to your body. They should form a 45-degree angle to your torso when viewed from above.

• In the lowest position of the move, your chest should be about a few inches from the floor.

• As you come up, your shoulders and torso shouldn’t twist, and the weight of your upper body should be evenly distributed between your two hands.

Once you’ve perfected the proper push-up form, the next step is to figure out what your push-up level is.

Drop down and knock out as many reps as you can using the proper form, then use your “max reps” score to determine your level.

Can’t do any? No problem – start at level one which is the first section below.

Managed to do a few? That’s great! You’ll find the most use out of the exercises described in levels two and three.

Feel like you could do an endless number of push-ups? Check out level four for some push-up variations that are sure to challenge you.

You don’t need to do push-ups every day to get results–start by performing these of these variations a few times a week on nonconsecutive days to help you get better at push-ups. Good luck!

How to Get Better at Push-Ups

If you can’t do any push-ups, try incline push-ups and push-up static holds

If you can’t do a single strict-form pushup, try the move with your hands elevated at least 12 inches on a sturdy bench, box, or table.

These are known as incline push-ups, and they’re a great type of push up for beginners. The higher the surface, the easier the move.

You can even do them with your hands braced against a wall. Perform three sets, resting a minute between sets. When you can do three sets of 10 reps at a given height, lower your hands and repeat the process.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Hands Elevated

Next, practice the straight-arm plank: After your workout, hold the top position of the pushup with perfect form as long as you can.

Work up to holding it for 30 seconds to one minute.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Plank

Once you can do three or more push-ups with your hands on the floor level and you can hold a straight-arm plank for at least 30 seconds, it’s time to move on to the next level.

If you can do three to six push-ups, try low-rep sets and negative reps

You’re getting stronger! Here’s what you should do to keep improving. On workout days, drop and bang out a few push-ups, stopping a couple of reps shy of your max (which might mean just doing one push-up each “set”).

Do this up to a dozen times, either in straight-set fashion (resting 30-60 seconds between sets), throughout your workout or during the day at random intervals.

On those same days, practice negative reps: Take 10 to 20 seconds to lower yourself from the top position of the movement to the floor, using perfect form.

Drop all the way down to the floor, come back up to the plank position, and repeat, for a total of three slow reps.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Negative Reps

If you can do seven to 10 push-ups, try low-to-mid reps

Your push-up skills are getting impressive! What’s likely holding you back from higher numbers now is the “sticking point” at the bottom of the movement.

To fix it, do three sets of regular pushups, stopping a rep or two shy of failure.

Then do a set of low-to-mid reps, where you go repeatedly from the lowest position (chest a few inches from the floor) to the midpoint (chest halfway between the floor and the top of the position), again stopping a few reps shy of failure.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Low to Mid Reps

If you can do 15 or more push-ups, try decline push-ups, banded push-ups, spiderman push-ups, and plyo push-ups

You’re a pro! But that doesn’t mean you should abandon this great move. Now it means that you should try to master different types of push-ups instead of just strict form.

Continue to improve and challenge yourself with these four push-up variations.

Feet-elevated push-up: Perform a push-up with your feet raised on a box, bench, or short table). The higher the surface, the more difficult the move. These are called decline push-ups.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Feet Elevated

Banded push-up: perform a push-up holding the ends of an exercise band, with the elastic looped across your back for added resistance.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Banded

Spiderman push-up: starting in a plank position, swing your right leg out sideways to bring your right knee to your right elbow as you bend your arms down so your chest is within a few inches of the floor.

Push back up as you return to the starting plank position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Spiderman

Plyo push-up: keeping your elbows tucked, lower your torso until your chest is within a few inches of the floor.

Then, push up with enough force for your hands to leave the ground while keeping your body straight. Land softly, and transition immediately into your next rep.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Plyo

 

 

How to Get Better at Push-Ups

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

Ask the Expert: What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

You’ve likely heard this advice countless times in one form or another, but that doesn’t make it any less true: The best time of day to exercise is when you have the most energy and motivation — in short, when you’re most likely to do it.

Sure, there are studies that extol the benefits of exercising at specific times (more on that in a bit), but as long as you’re smart about how you exercise, any kind of workout (cardio, HIIT, weightlifting, etc.) can be performed at any time of day and produce results.

In fact, scheduling your workout for the time of day that works best for you will almost always produce the most dramatic results, because it increases your odds of maximizing the most important workout variable of all: exercise adherence. Simply put, the more consistently you work out, the more likely you are to see results.

That said, if you’re flexible and don’t have a preferred workout time, you can potentially achieve your goals faster by scheduling your workouts strategically.

Potential benefits of morning workouts: Greater weight loss through improved fat burning.
Potential benefits of afternoon/evening workouts: Improved aerobic performance and faster strength gains.

When Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

The best time to work out is when you WILL work out. That might seem obvious, but the significance of that advice can’t be overstated. Why? Because workout consistency is the most important variable of all when it comes to achieving any fitness goal.

That means that if you’re a night owl, work out at night. Morning person? Work out first thing in the morning… you get my drift. Any time you’re in the mood to really “Bring It” will work because, by far, the biggest physiological changes happen to your body when you push yourself further than you’ve pushed yourself before. There’s a reason the P90X mantra is “Bring It”: The closer you get to putting in 100 percent effort, the more you force your body into an adaptive state, which is exactly where it needs to be in order to change.

While temporal “nitpicking” can help make your fitness journey easier — lifting weights in the evening might be slightly more beneficial for building strength than doing so in the morning, for example — it can also work against you if you get too wrapped up in it. Exercise and healthy eating will always trump all other advice. I’ve seen every excuse in the book, including: “I missed my optimal window for training so I skipped today’s workout.” Don’t let this happen. Unless you’re injured, sick, or overtrained, exercising is better than not exercising, so always schedule your workout when you have the best chance of getting it done.

But if you enjoy nitpicking, and have a flexible schedule and no preference for AM or PM workouts, read on for the three best times to work out, depending on your goal

1. When your glycogen stores are full

Best for: Boosting aerobic performance, especially endurance
Best time: Late morning, afternoon, and early evening

Your body can push itself longer and harder aerobically if you begin your workout with a full tank of muscle and liver glycogen, which is the stored form of your body’s primary fuel, glucose.

Glycogen is replenished by carbohydrates, and is extinguished very quickly through exercise, brain activity, and most other tasks. This means it fluctuates throughout the day and is always highest in the hours after you digest a meal containing carbohydrates. As a result — and depending on your eating schedule — your body is probably primed for peak exercise in the late morning, afternoon, or early evening.

At night, your body can store glycogen, meaning that it’s possible to wake up and train in the morning before you’ve eaten and still have enough energy to get through a workout, but that is a theoretical scenario. Most of us, especially when we’re training hard and not eating a ton, will burn through glycogen recovering from the prior day’s activities.

The result is that those early morning workouts can lead to something called “the bonk,” which is what happens when your body runs out of glycogen. Essentially, you lose the ability to push your aerobic envelope, and you feel like you’ve hit a wall.

Bonking is not one of those “good pain” times, but it’s inevitable that it will happen to you at some point. When it does, don’t try to push through. Instead, cut your losses and get on the recovery program by eating, resting, and then reevaluating your eating schedule and/or choice of workout times.

If exercising when your glycogen stores are low (e.g., in the morning) is the only time of day available, you can fix the situation nutritionally. Eat a half (or even a whole) banana, or have a cup of watered down juice before you work out. That will boost the levels of glucose in your blood, so you won’t have to tap into your glycogen stores as much. Alternatively, you can try to top off those stores by adding an extra serving of complex carbohydrates to your evening meal. If neither strategy works (you’ll know if it doesn’t — bonking isn’t subtle), it means you’re on a nutritional edge and you aren’t eating enough total daily calories to recover from your workouts. It’s time to reevaluate your daily caloric intake.

2. When your stomach is empty

Best for: Burning fat and losing weight
Best time: Morning

In the morning, before you’ve eaten, your body is more likely to tap fat stores for energy during aerobic workouts, and you can train your body to become more efficient at doing so, which is cool. You’re also “burning fat,” which sounds even cooler. While fantastic in theory, it’s not so fun in practice if you force your body into a situation where you bonk.

You won’t bonk, however, unless you’re training at a very high intensity or running or cycling for a very long distance. This means low-intensity workouts can have added benefits if done in the morning on an empty stomach. This is why in programs like P90X Doubles, we scheduled the lowest-intensity workout of the day for the morning.

In the case of P90X Doubles, however, that lower-intensity morning workout is a strength session, and thus requires additional nutritional steps to optimize recovery. The reason is that your body doesn’t store protein, so if you strength train before you “breakfast,” you’ll put your body into a catabolic (breakdown) state, which, as you might imagine, is less than optimal for building muscle. Fortunately, it’s easy to reverse the situation: have a protein shake, like Beachbody Performance Recover, or a protein-rich meal within a half hour of completing your workout.

Here are two more weight-loss advantages of an AM workout: It can decrease your appetite and inspire you to be more physically active throughout the day, according to a study at Brigham Young University in Utah. What’s more, sweating early in the day can improve the duration and quality of your sleep later on, according to researchers at Appalachian State University. That’s important because adequate sleep (more than 8 hours a night) is associated with greater fat loss if you’re trying to slim down.

3. When your body temperature peaks

Best for: Building strength
Best time: Late afternoon/evening

Your body temperature drops while you sleep, which is one reason you might wake up stiff and lacking flexibility. The discs between your vertebrae also fill with fluid as you slumber, making them more susceptible to injury first thing in the morning. Either way, it’s best to wait at least an hour after waking before you start pumping iron or doing exercises that require you to flex your spine (e.g., crunches), especially if you suffer from back pain. And if you can wait to work out until later in the day, all the better.

Here’s why: Your body temperature climbs throughout the day, peaking between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. As it rises, so too does muscle strength and power, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. What’s more, Scottish researchers report that exercise-induced increases in testosterone production are greatest in the late afternoon and early evening.

In sum, if you’re looking to maximize strength gains, it’s best to schedule your workout for after work, or even during your lunch hour, rather than trying to cram it in before you leave for the office. But there’s always a “but,” and in this case, it has to do with a principle known as “temporal specificity,” which states that your body will adapt to be strongest at the time of day during which you normally train. So while you might initially benefit from late afternoon strength workouts, you’re better off scheduling those workouts for (you guessed it) whenever they’re most convenient for you.

Is It OK to Exercise Before Bed?

Unless it is really the only time you will work out or the only time you feel the best, you should probably avoid it. The reason is that working out directly before bed can affect your sleep.

Most people have a hard time getting to sleep after a workout because exercise can throw off your melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, among other things. This isn’t ideal because sleep is very important for recovery. It’s when your body naturally produces most of its own performance-enhancing drugs in the form of hormones. If possible, eliminate anything that hurts your ability to sleep.

Exercise also requires a lot of nutrients, which are further depleted at night. If you’re on a strict diet, perhaps trying to lose weight, you run further risk by training and then not eating to recover from the workout prior to bed. If you’re on a low-calorie diet and plan to train hard at night, you should follow your workout with a nutritional recovery strategy, such as Beachbody Performance Recharge or a small meal before going to sleep.

I’m not the norm, so I’ll play the counterpoint to my point as I can fall asleep (and often sleep much better) immediately after a very hard workout. If you’re like me, there’s nothing wrong with training at night. Just follow nutritional protocols that don’t leave you depleted and starving when you wake up. I’ve done this and it can be so severe that you wake up in the middle of the night, a common issue with bodybuilders and fitness trainers getting ready for competition. This is not ideal as it means your body is essentially bonking during sleep. And while that’s okay if your goal is to pose in front of a crowd with absurdly low body fat, like a bodybuilder, it’s also a sign of starvation and, if done too long, will cause your body to begin to shut down its metabolic processes.

The bottom line is that everyone’s body responds differently. We all need to exercise and most of us can eat better. In between are a lot of individual variables. When it comes to getting your best possible workout, psychology often trumps physiology. Exercise when you can and pay close attention to your performance. Then choose your preferred workout time based on your results. It’s really that simple.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health Guelph