Dr. Phil Shares: Top 8 Gluteal Stretches for Buttock Pain

8 of the Best Glute Stretches for Buttock Pain

Tight glutes: in theory, we want them. We spend hours squatting and lunging to get a taut, lifted booty. But a rear that actually feels tight is, well…a pain in the butt. A sore buttocks makes it tough to sit, stand, and walk. It leaves you hobbling like a cowboy, searching for the best glute stretches to ease discomfort so you can go down stairs like a normal person, not a rodeo star.

Why are my glutes tight?

When it comes to buttock pain, intense lower body exercise can cause soreness in the gluteus maximus muscle. But daily activities tend to cause soreness in a different (and probably lesser-known) butt muscle, explains Beachbody expert Cody Braun. “The issue is often in the piriformis muscle (located deep underneath the glute muscles), which helps to externally rotate the femur and aids in abduction when the hip is flexed (drawing the leg away from the body’s midline),” he says. When this muscle becomes tight – whether from sitting too much or from a challenging leg workout – piriformis stretches can help restore the muscle to its full, functional length, help relieve butt pain, and restore hip mobility.

Mobility vs. flexibility

While often used interchangeably, “flexibility” and “mobility” are a different concepts. So if you think you want flexible glutes, you might actually need mobile hips – and vice versa. “Mobility refers to the degree and quality in which you actively move your joints through their full ranges of motion,” Braun explains. For example, someone with full ankle and hip mobility can easily move in and out of a full squat position, while a person with poor mobility may struggle or make compensations in other areas of the body.

Flexibility is usually expressed by the ability to completely lengthen your muscle,” Braun says. When a gymnast drops into the splits? That’s flexibility. And you can bet that she’s spent hours of her life holding static stretches. Both concepts are important when it comes to stretching your glutes, which is why the following glute stretches can help you achieve better hip mobility and flexibility.

8 Glute Stretches to Relieve Buttock Pain

Don’t let a sore buttocks get you down: here’s how to stretch your glutes (and relieve piriformis soreness), so you can walk, run, and move about your day with ease.

1. Seated Leg Cradle

Appears in: Beachbody Yoga Studio – Hip Opening Flow with Faith

This seated glute stretch will help alleviate sore glutes, no matter how tight they are from the previous day’s training. There are a few variations of this stretch, depending on how much flexibility and mobility you have in your glutes and hips.

  • Start in a seated position with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Draw your right knee toward your chest and cradle the lower leg by placing the right knee in the crook of the right elbow and the sole of the right foot in the crook of the left elbow.
  • Flex your right foot and keep your spine straight and your chest lifted as you gently rock your leg from left to right. You should feel this in your right hip and glute area.
  • Hold for 30 seconds before releasing your leg and repeating the stretch on the opposite side.
  • You can modify the intensity of the stretch by holding your knee and foot with your hands or scooping both elbows under your calf muscle and drawing your leg toward your chest

2. Cradle Knee Hug, Prayer Hands

Appears in: FOCUS: T25 – Stretch

In addition to providing a deep stretch for the glutes, piriformis, and hips, this two-part standing glute stretch will challenge your balance and build strength in the standing leg.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right knee so you can hold the lower part of your right leg: hold your right knee with your right hand and the outer part of your right foot with your left hand. Keep your back tall.
  • Hold the balance for two to three breaths.
  • Next, place your right ankle just above your left knee as you slowly bend your left leg, hinging at your hips as you lower your butt. Press the palms of your hands together in a prayer position. Press your right knee down toward the ground to intensify the stretch.
  • Hold this position, then return to a standing position and switching legs.

3. Pigeon

Appears in: Jericho’s BOD Exclusives – Half and Half

One of the best glute and piriformis stretches for runners, yogis, and desk jockeys alike, pigeon help to open your hips in a calm, restful position. This is most comfortable to do on a cushiony surface, like a yoga mat.

  • Begin in a downward-facing dog position. Lower your hips as you draw your right knee toward your chest and, with your knee bent, place your thigh and shin in front of you on the mat. Depending on your level of flexibility, you can keep your right foot close to your left hip or bring your shin forward so that it’s parallel to the front edge of your mat.
  • Make sure both hips are facing forward and your back leg is engaged (you can keep it straight or bend your knee, creating a 90-degree angle).
  • Leading with your chest, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your glutes and hip area. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Return to downward-facing dog and repeat the stretch with your left leg

4. Figure 4 thread the needle

Appears in: Beachbody Yoga Studio – Strong but Simple Flow with Vytas

If tight hips are really limiting your mobility, this move may be a more accessible option than other glute stretches. Place your hands under the hamstring for a lighter stretch until your can work your way up to the more challenging option of placing the hands on your knee.

  • Lie on your back with the soles of your feet on the floor.
  • Cross your right ankle over your left knee, keeping your right foot flexed.
  • Draw your left knee toward your chest and, reaching your right hand through your legs, interlace your fingers just below your left knee (under your left hamstring for a less intense stretch).
  • Use your arms to pull your knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your right hip and glute area, and hold.
  • Release the stretch and repeat on the left side.

5. Seated figure 4

Appears in: A Little Obsessed –AAA

A simple but effective seated glute stretch, the seated figure 4 targets the glutes and piriformis. It’s easy to make this stretch more or less intense, depending on how close you bring your chest to your legs.

  • Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  • Lean back slightly and place your hands on the floor behind your hips to provide support and balance.
  • Lift your right leg and place your right ankle just above your left knee.
  • Press your hands into the floor to bring your chest toward your knees until you feel a stretch in your right hip and glutes, and hold.
  • Release the stretch and repeat on the opposite side.

6. Prone happy cow

Appears in: 21 Day Fix Extreme –Yoga

This yoga pose might look advanced, but it’s fairly easy to get into, and it does wonders for easing tension on both glute muscles at the same time.

  • Lie on your back and draw your knees toward your chest.
  • Cross your right knee over your left and grab hold of your heels: your right hand should be holding your left heel, and your left hand should be holding your right heel.
  • Pull your heels toward you until you feel a stretch in your hip and glute area, and hold.
  • Release and repeat the stretch with the opposite leg crossed on top.

7. Cow face

Appears in: TurboFire – Stretch 40

A favorite glute stretch for yoga devotees, this seated glute stretch can help ease lower back pain while it opens the hips.

  • Starting in a seated position, bend your left leg so that your left foot comes to the right side of your hips and that your knee is facing forward.
  • Cross your right leg over the left so that your knees are stacked on top of each other with your right foot coming to the left side of your hips. Sit up straight and make sure both glutes are firmly planted on the floor.
  • With a flat back, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your glutes, and hold.
  • Sit up and repeat, switching the position of your legs.

8. Seated figure 4 fold

Appears in: P90X3 – Yoga

Done properly, this classic seated glute stretch will also relax tense hamstrings. For the best results, be sure to hinge at your hips and avoid rounding the back.

  • Start in a seated, straight-leg position. Bend your right leg and cross your right ankle over the left thigh, creating a figure four position with your legs.
  • Keep your glutes firmly planted on the ground as you hinge at the hips and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your left hamstring and glutes. Be sure to lead with your chest and keep your back flat.
  • Hold, and then sit up and switch legs to repeat on the opposite side.

Glute Anatomy 101

You’ve probably heard the name “gluteus maximus” before (how else are you supposed to tactfully reference the butt?), but chances are the medius and minimus parts of your buttocks aren’t as familiar. And as for the troublesome piriformis muscle? That might as well have sounded like a magical spell up until now. Here’s a breakdown of the gluteal muscle anatomy, so you know exactly what makes your rear end so bootylicious.

Gluteus Maximus

When we talk booty, we’re usually referring to the gluteus maximus – it’s the a huge powerhouse and an attention-getter. It’s not only your most sizable gluteal muscle, but it’s also one of the biggest muscle in the human body. And, because it’s located close to the body’s surface, it’s responsible for the butt’s rounded shape and prominent appearance.

The gluteus maximus originates from the hip bone, and tailbone, and connects to the femur (thigh bone) and iliotibial (IT) band. It’s main job is extension, but it also aids in lateral rotation: walking, sprinting, climbing stairs, ice skating – that’s all the gluteus maximus.

Gluteus Medius

Located on the upper, outer section of your rear, the gluteus medius is tasked with abducting (lifting to the side) and rotating the leg. It also works to stabilize your pelvis while you walk or run; any dysfunction or weakness in the gluteus medius can lead to issues with your gait (how you walk and run) and problematic movement compensations.

Shaped like a fan, the gluteus medius originates at the hip bone and connects to the upper portion of the femur.

Gluteus Minimus

Like the gluteus medius, the gluteus minimus plays a role in stabilizing the pelvis and rotating the leg. It’s smallest of the three glute muscles, originating from the hip bone and connecting to the top of the femur.


The piriformis is considered a “deep” gluteal muscle. Located under the gluteus minimus and within close proximity of the sciatic nerve, the band-like piriformis originates at the sacrum and connects to the top of the femur. It also aids in lower limb abduction when the hip is flexed and lateral rotation.

Why Should You Stretch Your Glutes?

Between sitting at a desk all day, sitting in your car during rush hour traffic, and sitting on your couch during a binge of Stranger Things, what is a butt to do with the massive amounts of inactivity throughout the day? One way to counteract it is by exercising (try these butt exercises, for example). You should also incorporate butt stretches into any workout that uses the lower limbs, as they can help prevent injury, reduce soreness, and prepare the glute muscles for activity.

When Should You Do Glute Stretches?

Other than the obvious, “whenever your butt hurts,” there are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to stretching your glutes. This mainly is because that there are two kinds of stretches: dynamic (moving) and static (not moving). Both are important – it just comes down to the timing.

Dynamic stretches are best to do before a workout, as they get the muscles ready for work by contracting and stretching in order to activate the nervous system, increase blood flow, and warm up the body. They involve movement and they cycle the joints through their full range of motion. Arm circles, leg swings, and walking lunges are examples of common dynamic stretches.

On the other hand, static stretches tell your body that it’s time to relax and recover. They involve bringing a muscle to its point of tension, holding for 30 seconds, and releasing (think: bending over to grab hold of your toes). “After exercise, you want to stretch the muscle to help the recovery process,” Braun says, as it helps to relax the muscle. Static stretching is particularly important when it comes to that troublesome piriformis muscle. “Piriformis stretches should be used to restore the full functional length, which, in return, will help with hip mobility,” Braun says.

Dr. Phil Shares: 8 Yoga Poses for Stronger Knees

8 Yoga Poses for Stronger Knees

Yoga can be daunting for those with knee problems. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of us, myself included. Below are the yoga poses I used to strengthen my knee after surgery.

Three years into my yoga career, I suffered a meniscus tear. Physical therapy, ice, and painkillers were not enough to ward off surgery. I had to go under the knife.

My bones and tendons blocked the doctors from seeing the exact location of the tear in ultrasounds, so exploratory surgery had to be performed before the surgeon could fix the problem. By the time they were done, my leg looked like it had been beaten with a meat tenderizer and my muscles and soft tissue were in a sorry state. Giving up my career as a yoga instructor was not an option for me, so I took the time to learn how to protect my knee by strengthening the muscles that support it.

Here are the exact yoga moves I practiced to strengthen and stretch my knees. However, make sure to always seek advice from your physician before beginning any exercise or rehabilitation regimen, especially if you have any unique or special medical conditions related to your knees.


5 Yoga Poses for Stronger Knees:

1. Supported Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

This pose will strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and abductors. It also increases blood flow to the lower region of the body, which can help with fluidity of movement. Chair pose is typically practiced away from the wall, but that may require more strength than your knees are able to handle at the moment, so use the support of a wall if you need it. Place your feet hip distance apart. Lean your back up against a wall and slide down until your knees and ankles are parallel with each other. You can place your hands on your thighs or reach the arms towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for a few breaths then slide back up. Repeat several times. As your legs get stronger, increase the number of breaths you hold the pose.

Yoga for the Knees Chair Pose

2. Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandasana)

Bridge pose is a yoga asana that helps properly align your knees while strengthening your back, glutes, and hamstrings. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and walk your feet toward your bottom until you can just touch your heels with your fingertips. Step your feet out hip distance apart and place a block horizontally on the floor between your feet. This will help keep everything in place. Press into all four corners of the feet, the inside and outside edges as well as the heel and the balls. Draw your navel in toward your spine and press your lower back into the ground. Tuck your tailbone in and lift your bottom from the ground. Lift as high as you can without compromising your form (your knees should remain hip distance apart and parallel with the ankles). To get an added stretch in the chest, you can roll your shoulders under your body and interlace your fingers underneath you. Hold this pose for a few breaths then release the upper back first, then mid back, then finally lower your lower back and tailbone to the floor. Repeat a few times.

Yoga for the Knees Bridge Pose

3. Supported Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Balancing poses can be very beneficial when it comes to building the muscles that help the knee. However, if your knee is currently inflamed, you want to avoid anything that will put this much weight on the joint. By using the support of a block, you can work on strengthening the muscles in this pose and stretching the hamstrings without putting stress on your knee. The first time you do this pose, use an empty wall and a block for support. Stand with your back to the wall and rotate your right foot so that the outside edge of the foot is parallel with the wall. Place the block in your right hand, bend your right knee, and shift your weight so you’re balancing on the right leg. Set the block on the floor a few inches in front of your right foot and press your right hand into it to help straight the right arm and leg. Rotate the left side of your body upward so that your back is either in alignment with the wall behind you or leaning on it. Your left leg should be lifted and parallel with the floor. Your left arm should create a straight line with the right arm. Hold for a few breaths and increase the amount of breaths as you get stronger.

Yoga for the Knees Half Moon Pose

4. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain pose will teach you proper alignment that may help ward off new knee injuries and help you become aware of the muscles you need to engage to protect the knee. To get into the pose, stand with your feet hip distance apart, lift all your toes up, spread them wide, and then rest them back down on the floor. Press into the floor with all four corners of the feet to evenly distribute the weight of the body. As you press into your feet, engage your calf muscles. Engage the quadriceps and internally rotate your inner thighs to widen your sits bones. Tuck your tailbone in, and engage the glutes. Tighten your abs. Pull your shoulders back and down. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your hips and ankles. Lift your chin and pull it back slightly so it is parallel with the floor. Relax the muscles in your face. Take several deep breaths and notice the muscles you have engaged to create proper posture. Hold this pose for approximately 10 breaths.

Yoga for the Knees Mountain Pose

5. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

A common problem with those who suffer from knee injuries or weakness is a strong vastus lateralis (the outer part of your quadriceps) and a much weaker, underused vastus medialis (the inner part of your quadriceps). Trikonasana is a pose that will strengthen the muscles that support the inner quad. Step your feet out in a wide stance so your left foot is parallel with the back of your mat and your right foot is turned out at a 90 degree angle, parallel with the inside horizontal edge of the mat. Bend your right knee so it lines up with the ankle and hip. Press into both feet and straighten the right leg, engaging the inner part of your quad and thigh. When this muscle is engaged, you will notice it is impossible to lock your knee. However, when you disengage the muscle, it will hyperextend and lock (you should avoid this). Reach your right arm straight down and rotate upward with the left side of your body. Line up your arms so they’re in a straight line and keep your core engaged. For support, you can place your right hand on a block, but be sure to keep the core engaged as you reach up to the sky with the left side of your body. Hold for a few breaths, disengage, and then repeat.

Yoga for the Knees Triangle Pose

3 Yoga Poses to Stretch The Knees:

It’s important to not only strengthen the knees but also to stretch them. You can make knee injuries worse if the muscles are so tight that they decrease movement fluidity. Here are 3 poses that stretch the knees and the supporting muscles without causing pain. Again keep in mind that each person is different and very few injuries are exactly the same, so make sure to seek advice from your physician before beginning.

1. Wide-Angled Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)

Many of the poses that stretch your legs and hips tend to torque the knee in a way that can be quite painful for those who have knee weakness and pain. Konasana is a great pose that will stretch out the whole back of the body as well as the hips, inner thighs, and groin. To get into this pose, straddle your legs out in the widest stance you can comfortably place them. Flex your feet to activate the leg muscles. Place your hands on the ground forward in front of you and slowly walk them forward until you feel the stretch. Keep your spine straight and elongated throughout the stretch. If you find that your spine creates a C shape when you start to fold, place a blanket under the sits bones to lift yourself slightly off the floor. Hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths. Follow it up by pulling the legs together and the knees into the chest.

Yoga for the Knees Seated Wide Angle Forward Bend

2. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Lotus is a common pose that that is held at the beginning and end of each yoga class and can be a real pain in the knee. So, instead of sitting with both feet in the crooks of your thighs, simply cross your legs and gently place one in front of the other. Keep in mind that the deeper the bend in the knee the higher the chance of pain, so you may not have a perfect crossed leg look. That’s okay. You also have the option of sitting on a blanket to make the pose more comfortable and placing blocks on either side of the knees. This pose will stretch your knees and ankles. Sit up tall and breathe deeply for about 8 to 10 breaths, increasing the amount of breaths as you feel more flexible over time.

Yoga for the Knees easy pose

3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

This is a gentle knee stretch that can be intensified the closer you can move your bottom toward your heels. Props are necessary for those with tight, sore knees. Start on your hands and knees (with a blanket under the knees for protection). In the full, unmodified, pose you’d have your feet together with your toes untucked, knees separated so the belly can rest between the thighs, bottom sitting on the heels, and forehead on the mat with the arms extended out. Modify as you need. Consider decreasing the degree to which you part your knees. Use blankets behind the knees or on the heels. This pose can be held for 8 to 10 breaths and then increased slowly as you become more flexible.

Yoga for the Knees Childs Pose

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 9 of the Most Effective Strength Training Exercises You Can Do at Home

9 of the Most Effective Strength Training Exercises You Can Do at Home

Benefits of Strength Training Exercises

Sense of accomplishment not enough? The advantages of weight and resistance training offer plenty more reasons to expand your fitness routine.

Burn fat

When you do an intense resistance training program like A Week of Hard Labor or Body Beast, the “afterburn effect” of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) keeps your metabolism elevated for up to 72 hours afterward. That facilitates the burning of fat long after a workout, compared with lower- and moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise.

Build muscle

Fat loss is just one component of any body transformation. The other is muscular development, which can go just as far in determining how you look. For men, that may mean added size, while for women it will most often mean shape, as they lack the hormonal makeup to gain that kind of mass.

That’s even more important if you’re losing weight — 25 percent of which may be muscle — to dieting and low-intensity cardio. Strength training exercises can help preserve and even build muscle fiber that might otherwise be lost, which is especially crucial for those in their 30s and beyond, when muscle mass naturally decreases.

Boost metabolism

It takes energy to sustain muscle, so the more of it there is, the more calorie-burning capacity you have. That makes your body more metabolically active and efficient, even while at rest.

Strengthen bones

Bones under stress respond not unlike muscles under stress, stimulating the release of osteoblasts that build new bone tissue. An estimated 1.5 million people suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture every year, so resistance training is a natural complement to calcium and vitamin D intake.

Reduce injuries

Strength training builds stronger ligaments and tendons, and promotes more balanced body mechanics, decreasing the likelihood of injury during exercise and in daily life.

9 Essential Strength Training Exercises You Can Do at Home

The following exercises should be part of any rounded resistance program, like the many found on Beachbody On Demand. Incorporate them into the appropriate workouts to ensure proper development of the body’s major muscle groups.

Weightlifting Exercises With Dumbbells

Dumbbell bench press

Target muscles: Chest, as well as the triceps, shoulders

  • Lie on a flat bench holding a pair of dumbbells directly above your chest with your palms facing forward. Your head, upper back, and butt should touch the bench, and your feet should be flat on the floor.
  • Slowly lower the weights to the sides of your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body (not flared).
  • Pause, and then push the weights back up to the starting position.

Dumbbell squat

Target muscles: Quads and glutes, but also hamstrings

  • Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Bent-over row

Target muscles: Back, as well as the shoulders, biceps, and core

  • Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Brace your core, push your hips back, bend your knees slightly, and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Let the dumbbells hang at arms length with your palms facing back. Engage your shoulder blades to keep your shoulders pulled back (i.e., don’t hunch). This is the starting position.
  • Without moving your torso, and while keeping your chin and elbows tucked and back flat, row the weights to the outsides of your ribcage as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Pause, and then lower the weights back to the starting position.


Standing dumbbell curl

Target muscles: Biceps

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length by your thighs, palms facing forward.
  • Keeping your elbows tucked and your upper arms locked in place, curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can.
  • Pause, and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.

Lying triceps extension

Target muscles: Triceps

  • Lie face up on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, and hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest with your arms straight and your palms facing each other.
  • Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your head until your forearms dip below parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position.

Single-leg calf raise

Target muscles: Calves

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand by your side and place the ball of your right foot on an elevated surface with your heel hanging off.
  • Cross your left ankle behind your right, hold onto an immovable object with your left hand for balance, and lower your right heel toward the floor (but don’t touch it).
  • Rise up on the toes of your right foot as high as you can, giving your right calf an extra squeeze at the top.
  • Pause, and then lower yourself back to the starting position. Do equal reps on both sides.

Shoulder press

Target muscles: Shoulders, upper back, and triceps

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your shoulders with your elbows tucked and palms facing each other.
  • Press the weights directly above your shoulders until your arms are straight and your biceps are next to your ears.
  • Pause, and then lower the weights back to the starting position.

Strength Exercises Without Equipment


Target muscles: Core

  • Assume a push-up position, but with your weight on your forearms instead of your hands (your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders).
  • Squeeze your glutes and brace your core (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) to lock your body into a straight line from head to heels.
  • Hold for time.

Single-leg elevated-foot hip raise

Target muscles: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core

  • Lie face-up on the floor with your arms by your sides, your right foot on a bench (or other immovable object), and your left foot elevated so your thighs are parallel.
  • Squeeze your glutes and push through your right foot, raising your hips until your body forms a straight line from your right knee to your shoulders. Make sure to keep your hips parallel with the floor throughout the movement.
  • Pause, then return to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both legs.


Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

It’s every weight loss enthusiast’s dream to zap belly fat but, far from pure vanity, there’s actually a reason why having a lot of fat in the abdominal region can be dangerous. Fat is stored all over our body, but how does an expanding waistline grow your risk for chronic illness?


Your body’s fat impacts your health differently depending on where it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of our bodies (think arms, legs, buttocks) are considered “subcutaneous fat,” belly fat is more likely to be “visceral.”


“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.


Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.


Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:


You’re probably wondering, “What does fruit have to do with it?” These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pears tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apples tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It takes a quick inspection, but this is an imperfect way to tell these two fats apart.


Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).


The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula:
WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).
Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.


If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.



If you fall in the normal range for WC and WHR, that’s great! Keep working at your weight goals as you see fit. If you’re not there, don’t despair. Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that likes to stick around.

Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle:

  • Go beyond weight tracking. You can track your waist, hip and even neck circumference in the app. Use this feature to see how your measurements change over time as you lose weight.
  • Sweat for 30-60 minutes each day. Visceral fat responds well to regular endurance exercises, such as running, biking, rowing, swimming, that elevate your heart rate. As your body uses fat to fuel exercise, it’ll start using up your visceral stores.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat a diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein with calories set for gradual weight loss (e.g. about 1-2 pounds per week). Cut way back on added sugars and alcohol since these nutrients will more likely end up as visceral fat.
  • Sleep more, stress less. It’s easier said than done, but in order to take care of your physical body, you have to take care of your mental state. Sleep loss and stress can sabotage your health and fitness goals, so learn more about getting a quality night’s rest and use meditation or yoga to calm your mind. Remember, it’s not just about your health; it’s about your happiness, too.

by Trinh Le, MPH, RD

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

10 Ab Exercises to Get a Shredded Six-Pack


If there’s one thing we all value in a relationship, it’s honesty. So let’s get this one off on the right track.

That set of corrugated abs you want? Getting them is gonna require a lot more than just holding off on that third piece of pizza and doing an extra set of crunches next week.

The good news is we’ve assembled 10 ab exercises that will put you on the path to those abs you’ve always wanted to take for a walk on the beach.

These basic moves don’t require weights and won’t have you doing hundreds of boring crunches. They’re beginner-friendly, but they’re not easy. These are fast-paced, core-burning moves by Beachbody Master Trainers like Shaun TTony Horton, and Sagi Kalev.

10 of the Best Ab Exercises to Get a Six-Pack

Before you tackle these ab exercises, take a few minutes to warm up your core. Try jogging in place, jumping jacks, or just holding a plank for 45 seconds. Or try Tony Horton’s quick, total body warm-up routine.

Instead of thinking about reps for the following ab exercises, try to keep going for 30 to 60 seconds for each.

Standing Mountain Climber

best abs exercises men and woman standing mountain climber shaun t insanity max 30

This strong cardio ab exercise will get your heart rate elevated, your muscles warm, and your body ready to work out. Your abs and hip flexors are sure to feel it.

• Start out in a standing position, making sure there’s nothing on the floor around you. Push the coffee table out of the way and make sure you won’t step on the cat’s tail.

• Make fists and keep them at shoulder-height in front of you as you begin running in place, bringing your knees up as high as you can.

• As your right leg lifts up, punch your left arm toward the ceiling, keeping your core engaged throughout the move. Alternate arms and legs for 60 seconds.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Max Out Abs

Dolphin Knee Drop

best abs exercises men and woman dolphin knee drop masters hammer and chisel sagi kalev

Time to get on the floor for a kick-butt core strengthener that also targets your shoulders, which are recruited to stabilize your body.

• Start in a dolphin plank: Assume a push-up position, but with your weight on your forearms instead of your hands, elbows stacked beneath your shoulders, palms on the floor.

• Keeping your core braced and legs straight, walk your feet forward two to three small steps, lifting your hips into the air.

• Lower your knees until they brush the floor, keeping your belly button pulled in toward your spine, then lift your hips back up, straightening your legs.

• Walk your feet back to starting position. Repeat.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs

Rock the Boat

10 Ab Exercises to Get a Shredded Six Pack men and woman rock the boat 22 minute hard corps tony horton

This ab exercise is a little bit crunch-y, a little bit rock and roll.

• Start in a V-sit, with your knees bent, shins parallel to the ceiling, spine elongated. Your fingers can gently rest on your hamstrings, just under your knees.

• Keeping your core engaged, gently roll backward, and begin to round your spine. Lightly tuck your chin and roll onto your upper back, hips lifted off the floor.

• Roll forward into a boat pose, balancing on your sit bones as you straighten your legs, and reach forward with your arms. Pause before repeating.

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps: Core 1

Ski Down Abs

best abs exercises men and woman ski abs shaun t insanity max 30

Imagine a black diamond mogul course and get ready to sweat as you fire up your obliques.

• Start a V-sit with just your heels and sit bones on the floor. Your spine should be elongated, your lower back flat, and your hands together in fists in front of you.

• As you scoop your fists to your right, lift your heels and bring them to the left.

• Lift your left elbow to lead your hands to your left side. Heels lift, setting down to your right. Keep alternating quickly.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Max Out Abs

Mountain Climber/Twist/Spider

best abs exercises men and woman mountain climber twist spiderman masters hammer and chisel sagi kalev

This ab exercise will kickstart your heart rate and use all your abdominal muscles to stabilize your moving plank.

• Start in a high plank, shoulders stacked over wrists and away from your ears, eyes focused in between your hands. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders and engage your core.

• Start off with a mountain climber: bring your right knee to your chest, step it back in line with your left foot. Bring your left knee forward toward your chest, step it back in line with your right.

• Move into a twist by bringing your right knee across your body to your left elbow. Step it back to meet your left foot. Bring your left knee forward, across your body to your right elbow. Step it back.

• Finally, bring your right knee forward to the outside of your right elbow for the spider. Step your foot back to meet your left foot. Bring your left knee forward to the outside of your left elbow. Step it back. Repeat series.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs


best abs exercises men and woman crunch body beast sagi kalev

Give yourself a short breather with the basic crunch. By lifting your legs to 90 degrees, you’ll target your entire core.

• Lie on your back, with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees so that your shins are parallel to the floor and your knees are stacked atop your hips.

• Place your hands behind your head and pretend there’s an orange underneath your chin as you peel your shoulder blades up off the floor. Don’t squish your imaginary orange, and keep your gaze locked on the ceiling to protect your neck.

• Lower to starting position with control and repeat.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs – Classic

Hi-Low Jack

best abs exercises men and woman high low jack 22 minute hard corps tony horton

Take your ab workout to a new place with plank jacks, alternating between high and low movements.

• Start in a high plank, wrists directly beneath your shoulders, abs drawn in, and lower back flat.

• Hop your feet outward and back to starting position, then lower onto your right and left forearms, coming into your low, or forearm, plank.

• Hop your feet outward and back together, then press back up onto your right and left hands to come back into your high plank. Repeat.

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps: Special Ops – Core

Switch Kick Abs

best abs exercises men and woman switch kick abs shaun t insanity max 30

This punch-to-the-gut ab exercise is designed to get the most out of your core. You might even feel your hip flexors begin to burn.

• Lie on your back with your legs lifted straight in the air at 90 degrees. If your hamstrings feel tight, bend your knees as necessary.

• Lower your left heel as close to the floor as you can, then punch your left arm toward your right heel, adding in a twist.

• Simultaneously lift your left leg and lower your right, bringing your left fist back toward your shoulder, and punching toward your lifted left leg with your right fist.

• Repeat, alternating legs as quickly as you can with control.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Ab Attack:10

Low Plank Side Punch

best abs exercises men and woman low plank side punch shaun t insanity max 30

Hop back into a forearm plank for this ab shredder that has you shift your weight as you throw stability-challenging haymakers.

• Start in a forearm plank, with your elbows stacked beneath your shoulders, core braced, and legs extended straight behind you.

• Shift your weight toward your left forearm and punch your right arm out to the side until it’s straight. Look toward your hand as you punch, then bring it back down to starting position.

• Shift your weight toward your right forearm and punch with your left. Repeat.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Ab Attack:10

Beast Abs

best abs exercises men and woman body beast sagi kalev

Wanna smile and cringe at the same time? Then get ready to spell!

• Lie on your back, and place your hands flat on the floor beneath your hips, bringing your forefingers and thumbs together into a diamond.

• Press your lower back to the floor, and engage your abs as you lift your legs and begin to spell out the letters B-E-A-S-T with your feet. Remember to breathe!

• Spell B-E-A-S-T backwards. Rest.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs-Classic

To see how these moves unite to form complete workouts, stream all of our most popular programs at Beachbody On Demand. Pull up 22 Minute Hard CorpsINSANITY MAX: 30, and Body Beast, along with dozens more programs on your TV set-top box or mobile device now!

Thanks for Sharing 

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Tips For Getting Fit When You’re Plus Size

5 Tips For Getting Fit When You’re Plus Size

Starting a fitness journey is always a challenge, but it may feel even more daunting when you’re carrying a few extra pounds. If it’s been awhile since the last time you laced up your sneakers, you may not be 100 percent sure what you’re still capable of — which can make it a little intimidating to hit the gym alongside people who look like chiseled bodybuilders and aspiring fitness models.

But “fit” comes in many shapes and sizes — and you can always nail fitness goals in your own living room with Beachbody On Demand if the gym isn’t exactly your happy place. Here are a few tips for getting in shape, no matter what your shape is.

1. No workout is off limits.

Have you ever seen a workout that looked intriguing, but you were concerned you didn’t have the “right” body type for it yet? Maybe you want to try martial arts, but you’re worried that you lack the mobility, coordination, or power to execute a jab/cross/snap kick combo like a Muay Thai fighter. Or you want to try yoga, but you can barely hold downward dog.

Put those worries aside. If a workout program looks fun, such as Beachbody’s YOUv2 (an upbeat dance-inspired program for beginners), don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try it — because you’re more likely to stick with a workout program you actually enjoy. Plus, you can always do the modifiers (i.e., the less advanced variations of exercises) in the workouts in programs such as CORE DE FORCE or 21 Day Fix until you build the strength and mobility needed to execute the main exercises. “Be brave enough to try,” says Jericho McMatthews, Beachbody Super Trainer and co-creator of CORE DE FORCE. “Start with the modifier — even if you’re struggling to complete all the repetitions — and stick with it. You’ll get there.”

(Not sure what kind of workout style will motivate you the most? Test some out on Beachbody On Demand until you find one that inspires you.)

2. Don’t underestimate your fitness abilities.

Your weight or BMI (body mass index) can help you determine your starting point, but they’re not the only (or even the best) way to measure fitness.

Instead, gauge your progress by how strong and energetic you feel, and when you notice your workouts getting easier, go harder. “A lot of people get really safe about using modifications,” McMatthews says. “They don’t realize how fit they’re getting, and how fast they’re getting stronger.” If you begin to notice that the modifiers aren’t leaving you out of breath and drenched in sweat by the end of a workout, it’s time to move on to the main moves.

3. Get the right workout gear.

Splurging on workout gear might feel kind of vain, but it isn’t just about taking awesome sweaty selfies — the right gear can keep you comfortable and even help prevent discomfort and injury. A supportive sports bra can keep everything in place during plyometric (jumping) exercises, for example. Moisture-wicking fabric can prevent chafing between the thighs.

Working out with the right shoes is vital for many reasons. Unless you’re running, stop wearing running shoes when you exercise. Their thick treads can trip you up during MMA-inspired programs like CORE DE FORCE, their raised heels can sabotage stability and form in muscle building-focused programs like Body Beast, and their extra cushioning can throw off your balance during dance-inspired programs like YOUv2. Consider purchasing training shoes instead. (Need help picking a pair? Use our guide help you find the perfect shoes for any workout.) “Everyone’s feet are different, so it’s not one-size-fits all,” McMatthews says. “But for anyone — especially anyone who’s plus-sized — make sure you have a shoe that supports the workout you are doing.”

4. Pay attention to your technique.

Proper form is always important. Not only does it help you get the most out of the exercise, but it can also help you reduce your risk of injury. “It’s really important to make sure your technique is there — especially if you’re carrying around more weight, because you need to protect your joints,” McMatthews says. Beachbody’s PiYo (part pilates, part yoga) and 3 Week Yoga Retreat are great programs for those wanting to take it easy on their joints since they are both low impact.

Whatever program you choose, take it slow when you’re first learning a move, and listen to the form cues from the instructor. “Work on proper alignment and proper technique so you’re avoiding injury — and getting better results, as well,” says McMatthews. It can be tempting to go full-throttle from the get-go, but that can backfire — if you get hurt, you won’t be able to work out for awhile.

5. Set non-scale goals.

Don’t let the scale be your only barometer of success — look for other signs that you’re getting stronger and slimmer. Have you lost an inch off your waist? Are you using heavier weights than you were last month? Can you hold a 10 seconds plank longer? Do you see a thinner profile when you look in the mirror? “Focus on non-scale victories, like how you’re feeling during the workouts and if you have more energy during the day,” McMatthews says.

That includes emotional victories, too, such as feelings of pride and confidence following a tough workout. The keys to meeting fitness goals are to stay positive and not get discouraged. Stay consistent and be patient — results will come. “After a tough workout, a lot of people feel like a new and improved version of themselves, regardless of how much weight they have lost,” says McMatthews.



Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

How to get fit when you're overweight

Dr. Phil Shares: Should You Work Out If You Are Sore?

Should You Work Out If You Are Sore?

I often get complaints from clients about being sore. Statements like “I thought exercise was going to make me feel good, but now I feel worse than ever” are somewhat common with people who are new to exercising. And there’s not too much for me to tell them. The fact is that if you have any designs on changing your body for the better, you are going to spend some time being sore, which can be a scary prospect. But, it’s inevitable so you have to get over this fear. Fact: there is some pain associated with the ultimate pleasure of being fit.

Also, if you anticipate, plan, and take the proper steps, you can minimize your muscle soreness. I’ll get to this in a sec but, first, let me tell you a little story—a very short one—that might help you out a bit. When I say we all get sore, I mean all. When I originally wrote this, I was very sore. And I got that way by doing one set of lunges. Yes, that’s right, only one set!

I wasn’t out of shape. Quite the contrary, I was cycling harder than I had in years and a member of the U.S. National Duathlon Team. So by most people’s definition, I was ultra fit. However, I’d not been doing lunges. I hadn’t done a single one since I finished 10,000 of them over a four-month span the year before. My body wasn’t used to lunges and, whenever you do something physical that you’re not used to, your muscles get sore. What this means is that most of you reading this are going to get sore—maybe really, really sore—somewhere along your road to fitness.

But I can help, because I’ve been through every level of soreness possible, from the “ahhh, I’m starting a new program” feeling to the “@#&!, I can’t walk” misery. Here are eight ways to achieve the former statement and avoid the latter and find out if you should work out if you’re sore.

8 Tips to Reduce Muscle Soreness

1. Work out when you’re sore to increase circulation

Yes, you heard that right–work out! But, take it easy. This is what is called a “recovery workout,” which is aimed at increasing circulation rather than creating micro-tears (or microtrauma) in the muscles, which caused the soreness in the first place. Exercise promotes circulation, which reduces soreness. Sitting around while you’re sore is actually worse regarding relieving your soreness than having an easy working out. What you should do is warm up and then do part of your scheduled workout. Maybe do half, or even just a quarter. Use the extra time after the cool-down to stretch and ice. But, remember, if it’s only your legs that are sore, you don’t have to go easy on your upper body, and vice versa. Nice try.

2. Learn good pain from bad

There are generally two types of pain associated with working out: from muscle soreness or from injury. It’s not always clear which is which, so tread lightly until you know the difference. I’ve had quite a few clients over the years who thought they were injured but simply had muscle soreness. There is no absolute way to tell, but if your soreness lessens as you warm-up, there’s a very good chance you’re dealing with just soreness of the muscles. Increasing pain doesn’t necessarily mean you’re injured, but it means you shouldn’t exercise that day. If this pain doesn’t change in a day or two, injury is likely and you should see a professional. Muscle soreness always improves over time.

3. Embrace the pain

This idea is going to be foreign to many of you but eventually you’ll learn that a little soreness means you’ve embarked on something that is good for you. The first time, however, you’re going to have to show a little faith. Whenever I switch up my training, I go through an initial period of soreness. While it’s always bothersome, especially say, when it hurts to take off my shoes or wash my hair, I know that it’s only temporary and that it’s an important step along the road to my goal. So I embrace it. Sure, it hurts. But it hurts in a good way. A great way even. I love the beginning of a new training cycle because I know that once I work through the pain, I’m going to be fitter than before. In fact, when I haven’t had a period of soreness in a while, I start to feel like a slacker.



4. Stretch after you work out

The more time you can spend doing extra stretching at the end of your workout, the better you’ll recover. Don’t stretch your muscles when cold, as you’ll risk injuring them. An extra 10 minutes after you work out, however, can do wonders. Also, easy movements and stretches right before bed and again first thing in the morning helps your blood circulate better and will also improve your recovery time.

5. Anticipate

Remember that I said I knew I was going to get sore? You will be, too! So go easy on your first day. And I mean E-A-S-Y. It’s normal to get excited on day one. You just ordered Beachbody On Demand and you’ve had visions of yourself walking down the beach turning heads. This is great, but keep your wits about you. You’re not going to get ripped tomorrow or the next day. Hammering through your first workout could end up delaying your program two weeks while you recover from your exuberance. Instead, start slow. Do much less than you feel like you could. You’ll get sore in any case. Next day, push a bit harder. The following day, a bit harder still. Easing into a program is the best way to make steady progress in your fitness.

6. Eat well

The more you exercise, the better you need to eat. Junk food won’t fuel your muscles properly. This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight since you’re most likely eating less. So what you do eat becomes vital. The better you eat, the less sore you’ll be. Try to exercise on an empty stomach and then after your workout, drink Beachbody Recover or eat a small snack that is approximately four parts carbs to one part protein within an hour of finishing your workout. This will greatly help the recovery process and reduce soreness.

7. Massage

You don’t have to go to a masseuse; self-massage is another great tool to aid recovery. The only time you don’t want to massage your muscles is right after you work out because you will interfere with the natural recovery process. But at any other time, such as before heading to sleep, just five minutes of self-massage can help circulation immensely.

8. Ice

More on the circulation theme—nothing moves blood around like ice. It causes blood vessels to contract at first, and then open as you get used to it. If you’ve ever watched a locker room interview after a sporting event, you probably noticed a lot of the athletes were icing parts of their body. That’s because it’s one of the greatest recovery aids we have available. Almost all injuries heal quicker if you apply ice. Working out causes micro-tears in the muscles, which are necessary in order to get stronger but cause the pain of soreness. These micro-tears heal faster if you ice them. You can ice any sore body part up to 20 minutes at a time, a few times throughout the day. It’s hard at first, but you get used to it the more you do it.

BY:  @ Beachbody

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura’s Microwave Cake

Start your day right.  It takes only 5 minutes to whip up this dairy free, gluten free breakfast cake. It is a good source of fibre and protein and has no added sugar.

 Microwave Mug Cake

In a large mug or small dish, with a fork, combine the following :

1/2c egg whites or 2 eggs

1 small ripe mashed banana

1 tbsp olive, avocado or coconut oil

1/4c ground flax seed

1-2 Tbsp c chia seed OR Quinoa OR unsweetened Cocoa powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

Microwave for about 3min (depends on the strength of your microwave). It is done if the centre bounces back when you touch it. If it is not bouncy in the middle, put it back in for 30 more seconds and test.

For more Paleo mug cake recipes here.

From the kitchen of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.



Dr. Phil Shares: What To Eat To Shed The Pounds

 There’s no getting around it — if you want to lose weight, your nutrition game needs to be on point. As the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet.

But, there’s nothing worse than suffering through a diet that makes you miserable — especially when you still don’t see the results you want. Many fad diets are based on rules that are easy to memorize — No starchy carbs! Fast for 16 hours every day! — but are impossible to sustain.


Eating healthy isn’t supposed to be a temporary blip. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it takes commitment.

If that sounds daunting, it’s probably because you’re used to diets that kind of suck. But they don’t have to. Eating healthy isn’t about swearing off your favorite foods and nibbling on kale leaves all day. It’s about learning to fuel your body the right way and understand how to eat so you can lose weight without feeling deprived.

One of the most important lessons you can learn from losing weight successfully is how to eat healthfully. For the rest of your life.

We favor nutritionally balanced, long-term approaches to weight loss, but the truth of the matter is that counting calories, calculating macros, monitoring portion sizes, or even cleansing may or may not help you lose weight for a variety of reasons, many of which have to do with sustainability.

So, we’re not going to provide you with a list of 25 foods to eat that are “good” for weight loss. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the detailed recommended food and beverage lists in the Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan or any Beachbody program nutrition guide.

But keep in mind that these are just places to start your healthy eating education. We want to drive home the facts that it’s your weight to lose, it’s your preferences, and it’s your life that should help guide you to what you should eat — not only to lose weight, but also to live a more vivacious life.

This isn’t to say that you won’t need to retrain your palate to accept whole foods without much adornment (ie., lots of added salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats), or that you won’t need to sacrifice the richness of some of your favorite comfort foods (we’re looking at you, mac and cheese) for healthier, slimmed-down versions, or that you won’t need to trim back on portion sizes. You will likely need to do all of these things in order to lose weight.

But, the key mindset to embrace is that you do have choices. You ultimately get to determine what will and won’t go into your weekly meal plans. What you eat to lose weight shouldn’t be all that different from what you eat to maintain your health after you shed the excess pounds. So, yes, you’ll likely need to cut calories to lose weight, but you’ll also need to learn how to eat differently to maintain your results.

No matter which way you prefer to cut calories, you should focus on improving the quality of the calories you do ingest first and foremost. We’ve reduced it to three simple steps you can start today to maximize the calories you do consume when you want to lose weight.


 and Eat Healthy

 1. Drink water first and most.

When you’re trying to lose weight, cleaning up your diet also means watching what you drink. If done right, juices or shakes can be healthy weight-loss tools to enhance your nutrition plan, and Shakeology is a good way to assure you’re getting plenty of nutrients when eating at a deficit (or anytime!). Just try to keep your calories from beverages to a minimum (most Shakeology varieties contain about 160 calories per scoop).

Of course, water is calorie-free and incredibly good for you. Beachbody recommends you drink your body weight, divided by two, in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds — that would be 150 divided by 2, which equals 75. That’s 75 ounces of water you should be drinking every day. To a die-hard soda drinker (even a diet soda drinker) or someone who doesn’t think about hydration much at all, this might seem like a lot of extra trips to the bathroom. To make all that plain water more palatable, try:

  • Carbonated water. Try flavored varieties without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and caloriesUnsweetened tea. Use caffeine-free tea if desired, and spruce up the flavor with lemon or lime slices, or muddled fruit
  • Adding sliced citrus, cucumbers, strawberries, pineapples, or fresh mint leaves
  • Adding citrus peels
  • Flavoring with natural combos: ginger + cucumber + mint, or pineapples + orange peel, or strawberries + kiwi + basil.

Your mom may have told you as a 5-year-old not to fill your belly with liquid so you’d eat some dinner, but feel free to defy that rule as an adult. In fact, one study published in the journal Obesity asked 84 obese adults to either drink two cups of plain water before their main meals every day for three months, or to imagine the feeling of being full. Those who drank water before their meals lost about 2.6 pounds more than those who didn’t. These findings suggest that drinking water before your meals may be an easy way to take the edge off hunger, and possibly stop you from eating too much.


2. Replace refined, processed foods with whole ones.

It may seem obvious that in order to lose weight and eat healthier, you need to cut way back on fried foods, creamy casseroles, and sugary confections, but it may seem less obvious what to eat instead.

As much as possible, try to cut back on highly processed foods, such as frozen meals, packaged snacks, sugar-laden cereals, bottled sauces, meats with added preservatives, etc. Instead, choose whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, lean proteins (ie., chicken, turkey, eggs, tempeh), healthy fats (ie., avocados, hummus, extra-virgin olive oil, nut butters), and whole grains (ie., oatmeal, barley, whole-grain bread, brown rice).

Whole foods provide nutrient-dense fuel that contribute to greater satiety (when compared to processed foods).

The naturally occurring fiber, water (in foods like fruits and vegetables), or protein in these foods can contribute to an increased feeling of satisfaction — often with less food (read: fewer calories).

Protein can help you feel satiated longer than carbohydrates or fat. This may be due to increased thermogenesis (the metabolic process of your body burning calories), which influences that physiological “I’m satisfied” feeling you have after consuming higher amounts of protein.

Fiber, a form of carbohydrate found in plants that humans lack the enzyme to digest, helps us feel fuller on fewer calories. A food diary analysis of successful MyFitnessPal (MFP) users (defined as those who came within five percent of their goal weights) revealed the faithful food trackers who came closest to their goals ate 30 percent more fiber. That may seem like a lot, but really the difference was only three grams per day more than other MFP users — the equivalent of having one small apple or swapping a traditional English muffin for a whole wheat one.

3. Add volume with vegetables.

Volumetrics is a way of eating that may help you feel satisfied by consuming foods with low calorie density, or less calories for any given amount. It’s essentially a fancy way of telling people to eat the majority of their calories from mostly vegetables and fruits.

Low calorie density foods such as apples are higher in fiber and water, so you’re able to eat more in volume for a similar amount of calories (compared to a higher calorie density food such as apple pie). There’s evidence to say that fiber helps you feel fuller faster, and keeps you satiated long after you eat. A small study did find that water incorporated into food (as in the case of soup) did help subjects eat less, but not if that same amount of water was served in a glass on the side.

One study confirms that when people eat foods low in energy density, their total daily calories are significantly less than when they eat foods high in energy density.

If you’re hoping that eating more whole foods will help you lose weight, you’ll want to eat these foods in lieu of processed foods, not in addition to them. Because, in the end, weight loss generally boils down to eating fewer calories.

Dr. Phil Shares: A Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting

A Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting

When you decide to add strength training to your workout routine, knowing where to start can be tricky. And once you get going, knowing how to progress can be even trickier. After all, most weight-room newbies are unsure of their strength and, in turn, how to push it to its limits. How heavy of a dumbbell should I choose? How many sets and reps should I do? When should I move up to heavier weights?


How Do You Build Muscle?

Simply put, you get stronger by stressing your muscles, giving them enough time to recover, and then stressing them again. That’s because, every time you place a demand on your body that’s heavier or harder than what it’s used to, you create microscopic tears in the worked muscle tissue. Then, those tears heal, the muscle incorporates new structural and contractile proteins, coming back just slightly stronger and better able to handle even heavier loads. Eventually, the exercise that was once incredibly challenging becomes easy and it’s time to increase the stress so that the process can happen again, and muscle growth continues.

The best way to get started is to pick up a weight that you can perform three sets of 10 reps with each exercise, so you’re lifting the weight 30 times, with a couple minutes of rest time between sets.

How Do I Progress in Weightlifting?

As you get stronger, you have three options regarding how to progress:

  1. First, you can lift the same number of sets and reps and just increase your weight. For example, if after a couple weeks of lifting, you can easily do three sets of 10 reps lifting 10-pound dumbbells, then pick up 15-pounders and do the same program, and then repeat this process.
  2. A second option is to increase sets and decrease reps, such as four sets of six reps. You would choose this option if you want to make big jump in weight, let’s say from 10 to 20 pounds, since you may not be able to lift 20 pounds more than six times. Also, the heavier your weight, the more rest you need between sets in order for your muscles to recover.
  3. A third option is to keep the same weight and do more reps, which may be your option if you only have one weight to work with.

If you’re working out in your home gym and don’t have multiple weights to choose from, you can still progress in a few different ways. First, changing how you’re gripping the weight will engage different muscles. You can also change the pace in which you lift, such as slowing down the eccentric phase of the exercise (i.e. when you lower the dumbbell in a bicep curl). Lastly, you can decrease the amount of time you rest in between sets.

What’s Your Weight-Training Goal: Muscle Strength, Endurance, or Size?

To keep your workouts progressing in the right direction, it’s important to be clear about your goal. Here are recommendations for building muscle strength, endurance, and size, according to the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4th Edition.

  1. Muscle Strength

If you want to increase your muscle strength, you’ll want to perform low repetition sets in which you’re lifting a weight that’s close to your one rep max (1RM), which is the most you can possibly lift in a given exercise with good form. For example, you might perform two to six sets of six or fewer reps, lifting a weight that is 85 percent or more of your IRM, with two to five minutes of rest between sets. If you’re able to lift seven or more reps, then you need to increase your weight.

Note: While determining your 1RM is a great way to understand your strength abilities, any testing should be performed under a certified trainer’s supervision. 

  1. Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle, or group of muscles, to perform continuously without fatigue. For muscular endurance, decrease your weight, up your number of reps, and reduce the amount of rest between sets. For example, perform two to six sets of six or fewer reps using 85 percent or more of your 1RM, with two to five minutes of rest between sets.

  1. Muscular Size

To build muscle size, or hypertrophy, you’ll want to increase your number of sets, but with heavier weights and lift as many reps as you can while maintaining good form. Again, when you lose proper form, that is where you stop and make an adjustment. For example, perform three to six sets of six to 12 reps, using 67 to 85 percent of your 1RM, with 30 to 90 seconds of rest between sets. With those heavier weights, you’ll need a bit more rest in between sets. Once you hit 12 reps with good form, it’s time to pick up a heavier weight and go back to lifting 6 reps.

Speaking of bulk, let’s get real for a second: for women, there is a stigma around “getting bulky.” While women are slowly starting to embrace weight lifting, others worry that they will turn into the Hulk the second they pick up a dumbbell. The truth is that most women can’t get bulky even if they wanted to since, compared to men, they have roughly 15 to 20 times lower testosterone — a hormone that plays a large part in bulking up. So, while women can enjoy similar gains in muscle strength compared to men with weight training, most won’t notice a significant gain in muscle size due to genetics and hormones. (Plus, if a woman has a lot of fat to lose, she may actually get smaller in her waist and thighs since lifting weights increases metabolism.)

As you experiment with these variables (weights, sets, reps, and rest between sets), remember they are interdependent, so if you change one, you need to adjust the others. For example, if you lift a weight at the upper end of the range (85 percent of your 1RM), you’re going to perform fewer sets of fewer reps and take more rest than if you were to lift a weight at the lower end of the range (67 percent of your 1RM).

When To Pick Up a Heavier Weight

Once you consider a previously challenging workout easy, you are no longer stimulating muscle growth, you’re doing a recovery workout.

So what does “easy” actually feel like? The best way to know when you’re ready to increase exercise stress — whether by lifting heavier weights, adding reps, or decreasing rest time between sets—is to track your workouts, and focus on your form. Stephen Graef, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, suggests taking notes on your sets, reps, rest times, and how you feel for each workout. This way, you’re able to track your progress.

Focusing on your form can help you know when you’re ready for more. You should always use the heaviest weight that will allow you to perform all of your reps with good form. Let’s say you lose proper form at the 8th rep of your bicep curl workout, don’t go any further and jot down a note that you lost form at the 8th rep. When it’s time to do bicep curls again, see if you can perform more than 8 reps with good form. Once you’re able to accomplish all 10 reps with perfect form, and your last few reps of an exercise feel similar to your first few, it’s time to pick up a heavier weight.

Joel Freeman, C.P.T., co-creator of Beachbody’s CORE DE FORCE says, “No matter your strength-training experience or what workout you’re doing, improving your form is a huge marker of progress.” When learning new moves, Freeman recommends looking at yourself in a mirror, or even filming yourself working out, so you can go back to analyze and improve your form.

In his own workouts, Freeman ups the weight based on his ability to get through his last rep without any help from a spotter. As soon as he can do that, he pushes himself even harder. If you don’t have a spotter to keep yourself safe when you’re pushing yourself to your max, many trainers recommend progressing your weight when you can perform two extra reps during your exercise’s last two sets. “If you can do two extra reps in your last set of a given exercise in two consecutive workouts, then you’re ready to progress,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody Senior Fitness Content Manager. “That’s called the ‘Two for Two Rule’.”

P90X trainer Tony Horton recommends lifting the heaviest you can for six to 10 reps, and when you can do 12 reps at that weight, move to the next heavier weight and go back to six reps.

Again, going up in weight isn’t the only way to progress. Thieme recommends trying out the other options, such as decreasing the rest period, changing the grip of the weight so that different muscles engage, or moving from dumbbells to a barbell.

Are You Pushing Yourself Too Hard?

With all this pushing, it’s important to remember that it’s during the recovery process that your muscle tissues actually become stronger, bigger, and fitter. And there’s a fine line between pushing hard and getting the results you want versus pushing so hard that you actually hamper muscle growth.

So how do you know if you’re overtraining? Physical symptoms include experiencing excessive fatigue, chronic soreness, more frequent injuries, and even illness. Mental symptoms include reduced motivation, irritability, and depression.

Again, this is where tracking your workouts comes in handy. If you lift significantly less weight for two weeks in a row, then you might be pushing too hard and not building muscle properly.

On recovery days, Freeman suggests stretching or foam rolling, or light cardio such as jogging, walking, or hiking. One study showed that 20 minutes of light cardio on the recovery day helped women who lifted weights reduce muscle soreness.

Remember, every person is different. When you’re starting a new weight training regimen, it will take some time to understand the cues your body is telling you. Graef says, “Over time, you’ll learn to listen to your body, and know when to push and when to pull back.”

A great way to get into weight lifting is to sign up for Beachbody On Demand and check out programs that incorporate strength training, such as A WEEK OF HARD LABORBody BeastSHIFT SHOPP90XThe Master’s Hammer and Chisel, and 21 Day Fix.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph