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: 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

Dr. Phil Shares: 13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program

13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program

Weightlifting is straightforward in theory (you just, erm…lift weights, right?). But it’s a bit more complicated in practice. As a beginner to weightlifting, it’s confusing (not to mention intimidating) to figure out which muscles to target, how much to lift, and how often to work out. How are you supposed to know where to even begin with finding a good weightlifting program?

Although it might seem daunting at first, the benefits of lifting weights far outweigh any hurdles you might have to getting started. William P. Kelley, C.S.C.S, ATC, says some major benefits of weightlifting include improved strength, bone density, and heart health. Studies even suggest that it can help keep your brain sharp, as well as increase energy levels and decrease stress.

Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content, notes that lifting weights is also an effective way to lose weight: “Weightlifting can help you lose fat faster than steady state cardio because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer post workout,” he explains. “The result is that it helps you burn more total calories.”

But before you get to enjoy all the benefits of lifting weights, you first have to get started. The first step? Creating smart goals.

What Are Your Weightlifting Goals?

“Goal-setting is critical to guiding your weightlifting path,” Kelley says. Before you even choose a weightlifting program, consider what you want to get out of it. Are you training for a specific event, for general health, or with aesthetics in mind? Do you want to lose weight, build strength, pack on muscle, or achieve a combination of any or all three of those goals?

“Each objective requires a different strategy, and by identifying your goal or goals, you can identify the most effective training program to achieve it,” Thieme says. The tips below will help you do that.

If you need some extra guidance to help you get started, check out Beachbody On Demand’s weightlifting programs, like Body Beast (which focuses on muscle building) and A Week of Hard Labor (an intense, five-day weightlifting routine). Both programs can help you achieve the lean, muscular physique you’ve always dreamed of building. (See the results for yourself!)

13 Common Questions About Starting a Weightlifting Program

These 13 questions and answers will give you the information you need to start lifting weights, including basic training tips and mistakes to avoid.

1. What equipment do I need for a weightlifting program?

If you’re starting an at-home weightlifting program, dumbbells are a necessity — but having just a single pair may not cut it.

Thieme says you need different weights to effectively challenge different muscle groups. Your legs should be able to handle heavier weights than your triceps, for example. That’s why he recommends investing in a pair of selectorized (AKA adjustable) dumbbells (like this set of Bowflex dumbbells). “A single pair of dumbbells can replace an entire dumbbell rack, saving you hundreds of dollars—not to mention lots of floor space,” he says.

A bench is another useful piece of equipment for developing overall strength and power, Kelly says, although you could get by without one if you’re short on space.

Weightlifting program - equiptment

2. How much weight should I lift?

“You should always lift the heaviest amount of weight that allows you to complete all of your reps and sets for all of the exercises in your workout,” Thieme says.

If you can’t maintain proper form for the last several reps of an exercise, go lighter. If you can breeze through your reps with the last few feeling as comfortable as the first few, go heavier. The key to achieving muscle growth is to find your sweet spot, which in this case means a weight that challenges you without forcing you to sacrifice good form.

3. How many reps and sets should I do for each weightlifting exercise?

First, consider your weightlifting goals. “If you want increased strength, you should do from two to six reps per set. For hypertrophy [muscle growth] do eight to 12 reps. And for endurance, do 15 to 20 reps,” Kelley says.

As for sets, Thieme says it’s important to do multiple sets of each exercise, no matter your goal. Three sets per exercise is generally a good number, but don’t lock yourself into that. As long as you’re doing at least two and not more than five or six, you’re good. And if you want to increase your strength, build bigger muscles, and improve your muscular endurance, regularly vary the number of reps and sets you do.

“Optimal muscle growth occurs when you target both of the major muscle fiber types—I and II—and the best way achieve that is by lifting across the entire rep spectrum,” says Thieme. “Incorporate both heavy weight/low rep sets and light weight/high rep sets in your training program.”

4. Should I focus on one or two body parts a day, or do full-body workouts every time?

Both are effective strategies for packing on muscle. “The key is to work each body part or muscle group at least twice a week,” says Thieme, who suggests alternating between the two training strategies. “Do split training for two or three months, and then do total body training for two or three months.”

Your schedule is also a determining factor, Kelley notes. “If you can only work out two to three times per week, then a total body lifting program may be more efficient,” he says.

5. How many days per week should I lift weights?

How often you lift weights comes down to your goals and schedule as well, Kelley says. (Doe we sound like a broken record yet?)

“The ratio of exercise to recovery days that maximizes results and minimizes injury and overtraining risks depends largely on your current fitness level and the type, intensity, and duration of your workouts,” Thieme says. He recommends lifting a minimum of two days a week a maximum of six days.

6. Do I need to take rest days during a weightlifting program?

Yes! Giving yourself a day off from training is crucial to your weightlifting success. “Lifting days are where you [purposefully] damage muscle tissue,” Kelley says, while “rest/recovery days are when muscles repair and rebuild.” Both days are needed to become stronger.

If you don’t give yourself sufficient recovery time, you’ll sabotage your workout performance and hinder your results. “Training adaptations don’t happen during workouts, they happen between them, making recovery days just as important as training days,” says Thieme. “What people often forget is that, when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better. You have to give your body the time it needs to respond to the training stimulus that each workout provides.”

How often you should take a recovery day depends on your fitness level, primary exercise type and intensity, age, and sleep habits, but a good rule of thumb is to take one or two rest/recovery days a week.

If you feel energized on your designated rest days, Kelley recommends active recovery activities, which facilitate blood flow to your muscles without overloading them. Yoga and light cardio (e.g., an easy jog, leisurely bike ride, or short hike) are good options. Also, don’t limit warm-up and cool-down activities to warm-ups and cool-downs. Perform dynamic stretching and foam rolling every day, regardless of whether or not you’re working out.

Weightlifting program - working out

7. How do I avoid a muscle-building plateau?

There are numerous factors that contribute to muscle growth, but the key to achieving consistent gains is to regularly increase the challenge to your muscles, Kelley says. “By increasing the stress on a muscle through a principle called ‘progressive overload,’ you illicit changes in that muscle, including greater size, greater contraction force, and improved motor recruitment,” he explains.

Lifting progressively heavier weights isn’t the only way to do that. “Other ways to achieve progressive overload include decreasing the rest periods between sets, performing more complex exercise variations, and switching up the exercises you do,” says Thieme. “Even changing up your grip (e.g., from underhand to neutral) can increase the challenge to your muscles and trigger fresh growth.”

8. Can I do my weightlifting program and still do cardio and other workouts?

The short answer: yes. But you need to be strategic about it. “If your focus is weightlifting, then you should use cardio as a form of ‘active recovery,’” says Thieme.

If you do a heavy weightlifting session one day, and then go for an easy run the next, you can actually enhance your recovery (and results) from the weightlifting session by boosting blood flow—and the vital nutrient delivery and waste removal services it provides. “But a heavy weightlifting workout followed by a long, hard run or HIIT session the next day can do more harm than good,” says Thieme.

If you don’t allow your body sufficient time to recover between intense workouts, the only thing you’ll achieve is an increased risk of burnout and injury.

9. Will weightlifting make me bulky?

Lifting weights can cause men to become bulky if they focus solely and intensely on bodybuilding or pure strength training, Thieme explains, but this is rarely the case for women. Why? Genetics.

Men typically have a higher percentage of type II muscle fibers, which are bigger and have a higher growth potential than type I fibers. Plus, men produce more testosterone, which is critical for muscle building. “Women do not produce testosterone at high enough levels naturally to get bulky,” Kelley says, even if they’re lifting heavy amounts of weight. That said, a woman can still increase her muscle size through weightlifting if that’s her goal. “Studies also show that while most women can’t build as much muscle as most men, they can achieve similar increases in strength,” says Thieme.

10. How do I make sure I’m lifting with proper form?

Practicing correct weightlifting form is key to preventing injury and getting the results you want. The best way to guarantee good form? “Utilize a fitness professional [like a trainer] until you feel safe and confident in the staple lifts of your program,” Kelley says.

If you’re working out on Beachbody On Demand, pay attention to the trainers as they explain the correct starting stance, movement pattern, and key form points for each exercise, as well as which muscles to engage during the moves. Having a friend observe you can also help you keep your form on point.

Weightlifting program - proper form

11. How long should I follow a weightlifting program?

In general, Kelley recommends maintaining a specific weightlifting program for three to five weeks before you mix it up. “This gives the muscles time to adapt and grow in the current program; then, just as they acclimate, you tweak the program slightly to keep progressing,” he explains.

Perhaps more important than the timeline, however, is paying attention to the way your routine makes you feel. “If you haven’t increased the weight you’re lifting after a few weeks, or if you’ve noticed a significant drop in your motivation, it’s time to switch things up,” Thieme says.

Of course, if you follow a professionally designed program, like you’ll find on Beachbody On Demand, knowing when to switch things up isn’t even a concern. “Such variation is built into the program, eliminating the stress and guesswork for you,” says Thieme.

12. What should I eat before and after a workout to maximize my performance?

Before a weightlifting workout, focus on carbs, which will help top off your energy stores. The key is to choose something that you can digest before you start exercising. A piece of fruit is a good choice if you have 30 minutes or less until you work out. If your workout is still an hour out, our go-to recommendation is a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter.

Post-workout, the most important factor is protein, which can help facilitate muscle growth and speed recovery, Thieme says. Aim for 20 grams of fast-absorbing protein (like whey) within 30 minutes of exercising. A protein supplement such as Beachbody Performance Recover makes that easy.

13. How do I know if my weightlifting program is working?

To get the most accurate and objective measure of progress, Kelley suggests recording your workouts and tracking the numbers. “If you can increase the weight you lift by five percent—or the number of reps you perform at the same weight by two reps—each week (or two), you know you are increasing strength in that specific move and group of muscles,” he explains.

Other signs your weightlifting program is working include increased appetite and physical changes like fat loss, increases in muscle size, and greater muscle definition. You can track this data by recording it in a journal or taking before and after pictures. If you don’t see signs of progress within four to six weeks of starting your weightlifting program, you may need to reassess your workout routine to see what’s going wrong.

BY:

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Get your GOOD Carbohydrates: Easy Roasted Veggies

FRESH, WHOLE & NATURAL

Our bodies are designed with a blueprint made many hundreds of years ago.  Our lifestyles and environment have changed a lot since then, but our bodies have not.  We need whole, real foods. This means preparing ahead, especially things like our complex carbohydrates. We need to look to root vegetables more and breads or packaged/fast food less for our carbohydrate intake.

  • Ultra-processed foods contribute over 90 percent of all added sugars to the diet
  • A 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed food leads to a 12% increase in the risk of cancer.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates provide energy to think, move and build our body. Focus on slow carbs, not low carbs. This means selecting carbohydrate foods rich in fibre, a critical nutrient that slows the release of sugars into our bloodstream and helps us eliminate waste. Skip the gluten– research is clear is affects most all of us to one extent or another. It’s not always about the intestinal tract – gluten can affect skin, brain and muscles too.

Good sources of carbohydrate & fibre: Hummus/beans/lentils, sweet potato, yucca, yam, quinoa, coconut, teff, psyllium, flax, wild and brown rice, squash, celery, gluten free oats, and whole fruits like berries, apples and pears.

Preparing  roasted vegetables is one of my favourite ways to get my good carbs into my daily routine. I’ll do a tray like the above about 2x a week. Then I can place the veggies in a pyrex container and pull a few from it and chop up to top a salad or warm up to have with fresh steamed greens and my pick of protein. It’s really quiet easy- wash them up, chop them how you’d like and toss in a little olive oil. Throw a sheet of parchment paper (I buy mine at Costco) on the cookie tray for easy clean up. Place the veggies on the tray and put some salt and pepper on them. Sometimes I will add Italian spice, rosemary or maybe some fennel seeds. Convect bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes (depends on your oven and how much you liked your veggies cooked).

Pretty cool that if you eat the cooked and cooled potatoes – white or sweet – you will not affect your blood sugar the same as if they are hot. This is because a potato cooked and cooled forms a resistant starch which slows the stream of sugars into the system. The resistant starch is fantastic food (prebiotic) for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract too! So even more reasons to chop and put on some greens and take for lunch. Also the asparagus is good prebiotic as well.

PLANT POWER

There are more than 5,000 phytochemicals identified plus many we suspect still remain unknown. Turns out, Mother Nature has packed a punch of power in the plant kingdom. Many plants contain one or more of these 5,000 nutritional perks that helps us:

  • Defend against pathogens, parasites, and predators.
  • Protect against chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and cancer.
  • Purify and renew the blood
  • Nourish & cleanse body of toxins
  • Stimulating effects
  • Relaxing effects
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Provides many vitamins and minerals

 

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

Dr. Phil Shares: 7 Exercises You Want To Avoid

7 Exercises You Should Never Do Again

The next time you go to the gym, take a look around: you’ll probably see all kinds of exercises, some good and some not-so-good.

The unfortunate truth is that not all exercises are created equal. Some are incredibly effective at building muscle and melting fat; others are ineffective and can even do more harm than good. (Worse, the bad ones are sometimes very popular.)

Read on for our list of the worst exercises — the ones you should avoid at all costs. If you currently have them in your exercise routine, try our alternatives, which are far more effective and take your body to the next level.

1. SITUPS AND CRUNCHES

Situps and crunches are as old-school as it gets: You see them in PE class, boot camps and military training around the world. But get ready for some big news because these tummy exercises aren’t effective or good for you.

Your core — which consists of your rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, etc. — is designed to help your body stabilize and brace against twisting and bending (not generate it).

Situps and crunches, however, eliminate the bracing and put your body into bad positions: You pull your neck forward, round your shoulders, flex your spine and put a lot of stress on your lower back. (It also goes without saying that you should avoid the situp machine too for those reasons.)

Instead, choose ab exercises that help you maintain a good posture throughout the exercise. If you want to take your core strength to the next level and get washboard abs, try our super effective 14-day plank challenge: It uses many different variations to blast your midsection from different angles to test your muscles (and your mind).

2. SMITH MACHINE EXERCISES

With the exception of the inverted row, avoid all exercises on the Smith machine. It seems safe because the bar has a lock that activates when you let go, but it puts your body in unnatural positions because the bar only moves in a straight, rigid line, which is not how you move in real life.

Also, because the bar follows a straight path, you don’t get to improve your stability or balance and you won’t get the same muscle gains you’d like. Researchers found that free-weight squats and free-weight bench presses activated more muscles than doing the same exercise on a Smith machine.

Stick to the free-weight version of your exercise: barbell squat, dumbbell bench press, etc. You’ll get more overall benefits and build more muscle and strength.

3. SEATED TWIST MACHINE

Remember what we said about how the core is supposed to move? Well, the vertebrae of your spine at your lower back can only twist 13 degrees in each direction, which is tinier than one hour on a clock. But the seated twist machines actually crank your body well beyond that range-of-motion.

If you want to improve your rotational strength, try the kneeling Palloff press. Get on both knees and set a cable handle to chest height. Facing perpendicular to the cable, bring the handle to your chest, and push it straight forward. Do it facing both ways. You have to brace your trunk to resist twisting and turning, which fires your core and keeps your spine in a safe position.

4. SUPERMANS

You might see these done in gyms or even physical therapy centers in an effort to “strengthen” your lower back. But the problem is it cranks your lower back into hyperextension while putting tremendous load and compression onto your lumbar spine. (Most people have a lower back that’s already too extended, which creates something called “lordosis.”)

Substitute supermans with another exercise if it’s a part of your current fitness program. Instead of directly targeting your lower back, focus on strengthening your entire trunk — back, abs, obliques, etc. — with core exercises where you maintain great posture throughout.

Try the single-arm farmers carry: Grab a heavy dumbbell in one hand, keep your chest up and shoulder blades squeezed, then walk. Maintain a neutral lower back and don’t arch excessively.

5. BACK EXTENSIONS

The back extension machine tries to strengthen your lower back by repeatedly flexing and extending it, which can cause problems. Worse, a lot of people hold a weight plate behind their head or at their chest, which further increases the stress on your spine.


READ MORE > 10 ESSENTIAL BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES 


6. UPRIGHT ROW

This popular exercise targets your shoulders and traps. Unfortunately, it’s one of the worst exercises you can do for your shoulders because it impinges your shoulder joints. The upright row actually forces you to internally rotate your shoulders and pull a heavy weight while in a poor position, which can lead to all kinds of problems.

Instead, to build strong and wide shoulders, replace upright rows with the dumbbell overhead press. It targets your upper body without adding unnecessary (and impinging) stress to your shoulder joint.

7. BEHIND-THE-NECK LAT PULLDOWNS OR BEHIND-THE-NECK PRESSES

Avoid any upper-body exercise where you pull or push from behind your neck because it puts tremendous strain on your shoulders. In a behind-the-neck position, your shoulders are almost at their maximal limit on extension in those positions — throwing weight on top of it just adds more strain to a fragile area.

Always do lat pulldowns, chin-ups, pullups, etc. toward your collar bones; if you’re going to press a weight overhead, start with the barbell at your collar bone or use dumbbells or kettlebells.

by Anthony J. Yeung

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Beautiful Botanicals

Botanical Medicine

Garden enthusiast? Plant lover? Curious about natural medicine?

 

Wednesday May 16th, 2018 at Goodness Me! 

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND will share with you her passion of botanical medicine and how it aids in the treatment of many common health issues.

Develop a greater appreciation for the wondrous value of medicinal plants.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered Naturopathic Doctor with a functional Medicine approach. Dr. Laura gets to the root cause of your health issue and stimulates the natural mechanisms of healing. Her individualized protocols are designed with time-proven remedies and the latest scientific research. Her inviting nature will meet you where you are, and inspire you toward a more healthful, purpose-filled life.

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?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

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.”

PINCHABLE VERSUS PRESSABLE

“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.

PROXIMITY

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.

TELLING BAD BELLY FAT APART

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:

APPLES AND PEARS

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.

WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC)

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).

WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO

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.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY HISTORY

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.


READ MORE > ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO FAT


BANISHING VISCERAL FAT

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

Crunch

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

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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!

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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.

 

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Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

How to get fit when you're overweight