our leg workout should be more than just heavy loaded structural barbell moves. As good as they are at building muscle and strength, back squats and deadlifts alone won’t cut it if you’re looking to develop a truly balanced body. You cant just smash your glutes and quads all the time—you need to include accessory exercises, too.
Trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. knows that, and that her busy clients are much more likely to be able to take on circuit workouts that only require one piece of equipment and some space to move around. She designed this lower body blaster to focus on the overlooked muscles (think hamstrings, adductors and abductors, and general stability and balance) by adding a twist to some of those commonly performed leg moves: deadlifts, squats, and lunges.
“If you’re looking to add some accessory exercises to your daily workouts that target different parts of the leg, here you go,” says Atkins. “In these exercises, all we are doing is adding minor deviations and different angles of a load to a few core exercises (squats, lunges, deadlifts).”
You can add this circuit to a larger leg workout with one of those heavy loaded barbell moves, or try it as a standalone routine. All you need is a dumbbell or kettlebell for a load. Check out this adjustable dumbbell set if you need one to do this at home.
Perform 8 to 10 reps of each exercise, with little to no rest between moves
Lateral Squat – Good for promoting flexibility in the adductors and movement for athletes who are always in the sagittal plane.
Sumo Squat – Another exercise promoting adductor flexibility with an emphasis on the outer hips.
Single-Leg Deadlift – The best exercise for the posterior chain: glutes, hamstrings, adductors). By focusing on one leg over the other, we’re able to get a very hip dominant exercise (less quad, more glute/hams), challenge balance, and encourage stability through the hip, knee, and ankle joints.
Curtsy Lunge – Opposite of the sumo squat, but also challenges balance, adductor strength, and abductor stability.
Add the circuit to your workouts by performing 3 sets all the way through. Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move.
When it comes to losing weight, should you head to the treadmill or make gains in the weight room? In the long-standing debate, cardio enthusiasts say you’ll burn fat by torching calories when you increase that heart rate. Weight lifters, however, believe excess fat is best shed by increasing muscle mass because it causes you to burn more calories throughout the day.
So which is best?
Both arguments are true, according to Dr. Andy Galpin, PhD, CSCS, NSCA-CPT and Associate Professor at California State University, Fullerton.
You burn more calories when you’re heart rate is elevated, explains Galpin. You also burn more calories every second of the day when you have more muscle. However, the difference won’t be significant for most people, says Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D, C.S.C.S..
Ultimately, there isn’t just one “right” exercise,
“Fat loss for most people is simply a product of work,” he says. “The best exercise you ever do for fat loss is the one that you’re most consistent with.”
It makes sense that you’re less likely to lace up for that jog if you detest running. “Adherence and effort will determine a huge percentage of the fat loss pie,” says Galpin.
Galpin admits the answer isn’t satisfying, but claims most people won’t notice a huge difference in fat loss by choosing one type of modality.
Bottom line: don’t perform workouts you hate in order to hit your goal weight.
A solid fitness plan includes variety.
There’s no need to spend hours on your deadlift if you’d rather run, but Galpin believes changing your routine has benefits that go beyond weight. It’s natural to get bored of the same spin class. Trying something new, like kickboxing or weight lifting, will feel less monotonous and improve your adherence, he asserts.
You also open yourself up to injuries by continually stressing the same muscles–especially if you have bad form.
“Over time it will catch you,” says Galpin.
Plus, losing weight shouldn’t be the only reason you work out.
Aerobic activities have long been praised for making your heart stronger, lowering blood pressure, and yes, burning calories. But studies show that regular cardiovascular activity may help lower stress, improve sleeping habits, and reduces joint stiffness, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Strength training is also beneficial because it increases bone density, lean muscle mass, and metabolism, Mayo Clinic reported.
That said, working out won’t change the number on the scale if you’re living on pizza and fries. Earlier this year, researchers found that people who began an exercise plan ate about 90 more calories each day. This isn’t much, but it was enough to stall weight loss, according to the paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you’d think. For example, an 180-pound man who jogs a 10-minute mile for 30 minutes burns about 400 calories, according to ACE Fitness. To put this into perspective, a supreme slice from Pizza Hut contains 330 calories. That run likely wont negate extra calories from indulgent meals.
Unless you’re Rich Froning, chances are you won’t exercise away a day filled with pizza, french fries and donuts. Low calorie (but highly nutritious) foods that contain protein and fiber are important in a well-balanced diet.
“Fiber-rich foods provide a certain level of satiety and fullness,” Bethany Doerfler, MS, RDN, Clinical Dietitian at Northwestern University, previously told Men’s Health.
And you don’t have need to exercise to notice a difference in your waist size, says Schoenfeld.
“One of my suggestions is to just get off your butt,” he says. “Try to be as active as possible.”
Your body burns calories 24-hours a day–not just when you’re in the gym. Calories burned from taking a walk at lunch, standing throughout the day, and even cleaning the house all add up, he explains.
When it comes to planning your fitness routine, Schoenfeld says you should focus on more than just the numbers on the scale.
Think about your goals: Do you want to build muscle? Or would you prefer to work on endurance training?
If you simply want to feel and look better overall, include both cardio and strength training.
Even if you are at high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, there are some factors in your control to lower your chances of developing it: Adhering to four simple health measures can reduce your risk for dementia, a new study published in JAMA found.
In the study, researchers evaluated over 1,700 participants, looking at both their genetic predisposition toward Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and their lifestyles. They gauged their lifestyle based on four factors: smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and diet.
Your Workout Routine Can Cut Dementia Risk in Half
Using four healthy behaviors to come up with a healthy lifestyle score, researchers evaluated over 1,700 participants with an average age of 64 on their lifestyles and their genetic risk. The lifestyle scores included whether a person smokes, their physical activity, alcohol consumption, and diet.
The healthiest lifestyle group did not smoke, participated in regular physical activity, reported moderate alcohol consumption, and followed a healthy diet.
Researchers classified one example of a “favorable” lifestyle as not smoking, cycling at a moderate pace for two and a half hours a week, eating a balanced diet that includes more than three portions of fruit and of vegetables a day, fish twice a week and little to no processed meats, and drinking no more than one pint of beera day. On the flip side, an unfavorable lifestyle included currently smoking regularly, not exercising regularly, eating a diet that includes less than three servings of fruit and of vegetables a week, two or more servings of processed meats and of red meat a week, and drinking three pints of beer a day.
Researchers tracked the participants for around eight years. Over the course of the study, 0.8 percent of those with a healthy lifestyle developed dementia while 1.2 percent of those living unhealthily did—a pattern that held true even when taking into account those at higher genetic risk for dementia, Elzbieta Kuzma, Ph.D., research fellow in Neuroepidemiology at the College of Medicine and Health at the University of Exeter in the U.K, told Bicycling.
Which Wards Off Dementia: Supplements or Exercise?
In fact, of those with a high genetic risk, having a healthy lifestyle cut their chances of dementia by 32 percent, compared to those living an unhealthy lifestyle. What’s more, participants with a high genetic risk and an unhealthy lifestyle were nearly three times as likely to develop dementia than those with a low genetic risk and healthy lifestyle, Kuzma said.
Though the study did not specifically look at why a healthy lifestyle can help ward off dementia, Kuzma explained that a healthy lifestyle tends to improve various cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors can also affect brain health, like high blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and veggies and rich in heart-healthy fish has been known to reduce dementia risk, possibly because it helps tamp down inflammation.
Whether you’re taking a group fitness class or following an exercise DVD at home, it’s a sure bet that you’ll be doing planks at some point during the workout—and there’s a good reason. Planks are the ultimate test of total-body strength—not just your core. That’s why they’re the groundwork for many bodyweight exercises, like push-ups and burpees.
“The plank is one of those jack-of-all-trades exercises you can carry in your back pocket to strengthen not only your core, but also your chest, arms, back, legs, and booty,” explains, Nicole Blades, as NASM-certified trainer at BodyRoc FitLab in Connecticut. “A plank with proper form can help improve your posture, too. The best part is, this dynamic move doesn’t require any equipment. It’s a total bodyweight exercise.”
So what muscles do planks work, exactly?
Whether you’re in a low or high plank, you’re balancing weight on your arms and toes. This targets a wide range of muscles, especially the rectus and transverse abdominis, Blades says. The rectus abdominis are the front muscles in the abdomen that support the muscles of the spine and help keep organs in the abdomen area in place. They’re known as the “six-pack muscles” because they give your abs shape and definition. On the other hand, the transverse abdominis (TVA) muscles are as known as the “corseting muscles” because they cinch the waist and act as core stabilizers that support the low back. In fact, a weak TVA is often the culprit of low-back pain.
“Planks also target the trapezius and rhomboid muscles (upper-back muscles) in your back, as well as the pectorals (chest) and serratus anterior (the serrated-shaped muscles that wrap around your the side of your chest and shoulder),” Blades says.
When you engage your upper-body muscles, you’re putting less pressure on your core and are able to hold a plank longer. You can further engage your shoulders and back muscles in a plank when you grip the floor more with your fingers and hands. Keeping a neutral spine will also help relieve pressure on your neck and make holding a plank less uncomfortable. But that’s just the upper body! Here’s how a plank works your lower-body, too.
Your core includes your hips and low back
When people think of their core, their tend to think only about their abs, but the powerhouse includes your hips and low back, too. “A solid plank works the quads (front of the thighs), glutes, and calf muscles in your lower half,” Blades says. In fact, your hips play a big role in making your planks stronger. Your hips are connected to your lower abs, aka the lower part of your rectus abdominis, so engaging these muscles will help you hold the position longer with proper form. When you squeeze your hips, you’re also able to brace your core more and keep your low back lifted—something that many fitness newbies tend to overlook.
How to do a proper plank
That said, there are many different ways to achieve the perfect plank, but here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how to do a high plank.
Get into a tabletop position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and hips in line with your knees.
Engaging your abs, shoulders, back, and glutes, extend your legs back to straighten into a plank and hold.
If you can, do the exercise in front of a mirror, to check that your butt isn’t raised. (A common mistake, but your body should be flat as opposed to an upside down-V shape.)
For a modified plank Blades suggests dropping to your knees instead of holding yourself up on your toes. “Get on all fours and walk your hands forward so your body forms a slanted line from your head to knees, like you would in a modified push-up,” Blades ays. To recruit the glutes and hamstrings, keep your feet lifted toward your butt. Once you master this variation, you can work your way up to a forearm plank by placing your forearms on the ground.
So what’s the best way to hold a plank longer? “Practice, practice, practice,” Blades says. “The more you do the exercise, the more strength and endurance you will build and the longer you will be able to hold it.”
Aim to hold a plank for 15 seconds, then work your way up to 30, 45, 60 seconds, and so on. Instead of watching the clock, Blades suggests setting a timer. This way you’re not painstakingly watching the seconds go by. Don’t forget to also use your breath, deeply inhaling and exhaling. By focusing on your breath, you’ll be able to help set your mind at ease throughout the uncomfortableness. Sometimes you have to practice a little mind over matter. As Blades puts it, “If you feel like you’re about to quit, push yourself to stay in plank a few seconds more. You can do it!”
(Reuters Health) – Older adults who cut back on the amount of vegetable protein in their diets may be more likely to experience age-related health problems than their peers who increase the amount of plant protein they eat, a Spanish study suggests.
Researchers examined data on 1,951 people aged 60 and older who completed dietary surveys and questionnaires to detect four types of unhealthy aging: functional impairments; reduced vitality; mental health issues; and chronic medical problems or use of health services. Participants provided this information in three waves: from 2008-2010, in 2012 and again in 2017.
Overall, study participants got an average 12% of their calories from animal protein, including meat and dairy, and about 6% from vegetable protein, including sources such as legumes, nuts, grains, root vegetables and green plants.
Compared to people who decreased vegetable protein intake by more than 2% between the first wave and 2012, those who increased their consumption of vegetable protein by more than 2% developed fewer deficits associated with unhealthy aging during the study.
“There is growing evidence supporting a beneficial effect of higher intakes of total protein on muscle mass and strength, physical functioning, hip fracture and frailty,” said Esther Lopez-Garcia, senior author of the study and a researcher at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.
The study offers fresh evidence that the type of protein matters, too.
“If you eat more plant-based sources of proteins, you are also getting a lot of micronutrients and healthy fats, and fiber that help improve your health,” Lopez-Garcia said by email. “On the other hand, if you consume animal sources of proteins full of saturated and trans fats, and other substances added during the processing (mostly salt and nitrites), you are getting all the detrimental effects of these substances.”
At the start of the study, people got about 5.2% of their calories from meat, 3.3% from dairy, 3% from refined grains and 2.8% from fish. Participants got less than 1% of their calories from legumes, eggs, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, tubers or nuts.
Changes in animal protein consumption during the study didn’t appear to influence the potential for people to show more signs of unhealthy aging by the end of the study, researchers report in the American Journal of Medicine.
But adding more vegetable protein was linked to fewer deficits by the end of the study.
“Since substitution of plant protein for animal protein has been associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, it is relevant to understand which source of protein may be more beneficial for a healthy aging,” Lopez-Garcia said.
The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how eating more plant proteins may stall unhealthy aging. It also wasn’t able to determine which types of vegetable proteins might be best from an aging perspective.
One limitation of the study is that many participants dropped out before the end. It’s also possible that results from this study of older adults might not apply to younger people.
“While high protein intake might not be preferable for middle-aged adults, it has been shown that high level of protein intake is protective among those aged 66 years and older,” said Yian Gu, a neurology researcher at Columbia University in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.
“It is important to interpret scientific findings on protein intake based on age groups, ” Gu said by email. “The current study results are consistent with findings in the elderlies, with further information from innovative analyses of animal and plant based proteins separately.”
The sources of protein also matter, Lopez-Garcia said.
Good sources of plant-based protein include lentils, beans, peas, soybeans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like teff, wheat, quinoa, rice, oats, and buckwheat, Lopez Garcia advised.
Healthy options for animal protein can include poultry, seafood, eggs, as well as dairy in moderation, Lopez-Garcia advised. Protein sources to reduce or limit include red and processed meat.
That difference is important to understand, because it’s how you can tell aerobic vs. anaerobic workouts apart. Your body creates energy in two basic ways: anaerobically (without oxygen) and aerobically (with oxygen), and each of those methods will affect your body differently. Understanding that process can help you burn calories and fat—plus increase your overall strength, power, and endurance.
What’s An Anaerobic Workout?
Any activity performed at a high enough intensity that your body can’t provide the necessary energy to complete it with oxygen intake alone is considered anaerobic. “Anaerobic workouts primarily utilize fast twitch muscle fibers that can function only for a short amount of time without the help of additional inhaled oxygen,” explains Lesley Bell, a NASM-certified personal trainer and brain health coach at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Cali.
Without oxygen, the body uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and glucose in the muscle cells for energy. But that process can’t be sustained more than 90 to 120 seconds of high-intensity exercise because your muscles have produced a significant amount of lactic acid in that time; after that, “your body must begin to utilize inhaled oxygen in order to break down glucose and fatty acids” to continue to produce energy, says Bell, and that’s when your aerobic energy system takes over (more on that in a minute).
Here’s an advanced HIIT workout from Kelsey Wells that’ll get your heart pumping:
“Anaerobic is done at a high intensity and usually using multiple intervals,” says Andy Coggan, the director of fitness at Gold’s Gym. If you’ve ever done a HIIT workout, that’s anaerobic exercise. Plyometrics, sprinting, and weight lifting are all considered anaerobic—you’re going all out with 100-percent effort, but you can only sustain that effort for a short period of time. “Most sports involve anaerobic bursts followed by periods of rest,” too, he adds.
What’s An Aerobic Workout?
If the word “aerobics” makes you think of women dancing in Spandex, you’re on the right track—those low-intensity classes are designed to keep your heart rate up for an extended period of time.
“Aerobic exercise is anything where oxygen intake is sufficient enough to provide the energy necessary to sustain that exercise without tapping into alternative energy sources,” says Coggan. These workouts primarily utilize slow twitch muscle fibers and the glucose and fatty acids the anaerobic system has already produced for fuel, which can sustain activity for extended periods of time, adds Bell.
Any lower- to moderate-intensity exercise is considered aerobic. Think about steady-state exercise like walking, running, cycling, or even dancing. You’re not going to be gasping for breath during these workouts, because your body is continuously consuming enough oxygen for you to power through.
Why Are Aerobic and Anaerobic Workouts Important?
Obviously, these styles of training are pretty different. And they’re both equally important in a well-rounded fitness regimen.
Aerobic exercise triggers fat burning, because you still have oxygen in your muscle tissue. It also “improves the cardiovascular system by strengthening the heart and potentially increasing the maximal amount of oxygen the body can utilize (AKA your VO2 max),” says Bell, which can improve your endurance.
On the other hand, anaerobic exercise—like HIIT—has been shown to burn more total calories in a shorter amount of time. “Science shows that this method of training can be extremely beneficial for power development, building muscle mass, and fat burning,” says Coggan. You’ll also build stronger joints and bones due to the increased impact on your body.
To picture how these training methods affect your body, think about the bodies of elite athletes: A typical cross-country runner or marathoner follows a highly aerobic training program, whereas a CrossFitter is someone who prioritizes an anaerobic program.
But you can’t just do cardio or just do weights if you want to get fitter or stronger—even if you have a specific goal in one of those areas.
“Both styles of training will burn calories and improve the function of the heart and lungs, and the best bet for maximum adaptation and body transformation is to combine these training styles over the course of a week,” says Coggan.
“In doing so, you’re getting the power- and muscle-building benefits of anaerobic work while adding the increased stamina and endurance associated with aerobic workouts.”
Here’s How Often You Should Be Doing Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercises Per Week
As Coggan said, you want to make time for both anaerobic and aerobic workouts throughout your week. The most important thing to remember is that there’s an inverse relationship between intensity and duration, says Bell. That means you want to do less of the higher intensity workouts (anaerobic) and more of the low- to moderate-intensity workouts (aerobic).
“Research has shown that a maximum of three to four days of high-intensity exercise with proper rest periods in between is optimal to see results,” says Bell.
“Anything more may yield the same or similar health benefits, but can put you at risk for overtraining or overuse injuries.”
Aerobic exercise, though, could theoretically be done as many as seven days a week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults have at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio per week. “You could split that up anywhere between two to five days, as long as you’re keeping your heart rate around 60 to 75 percent of your maximum,” says Bell. (If you’re going to increase the intensity of the cardio, you’ll want to decrease the duration of it.)
The average person should start with one to two aerobic sessions with one anaerobic session per week, says Coggan. “Over time, you can work up to three to four aerobic sessions intermixed with two higher intensity anaerobic workouts spaced a few days apart from each other,” he says.
When we read, watch or listen to reports of the benefits of exercise, they’re most frequently in relationship to heart health or weight loss. Of course, most people know that exercise provides some great overall health benefits, too, but that notion is more abstract. The less we know about how exercise helps the body, the less likely we might be to engage in it. Well, if you’re among the millions of people currently affected by a urological condition, I’ve got great news. Regular, consistent physical activity just might help reduce the symptoms of certain urological health issues, including urinary incontinence and erectile problems.
Exercising for Bladder Health
For people experiencing bladder health issues like urinary incontinence or bladder leakage, or for those who simply want to keep their bladder healthy, regular exercise is a great way to accomplish this goal. I know this may sound surprising, especially because many people who have bladder issues experience the symptoms of urinary leakage while they’re exercising. However, the key here is to engage in the right types of exercise to both reduce the experience of symptoms and, in some cases, significantly improve the bladder condition itself. In this case, low-impact exercises are best.
Types of low-impact exercise include cycling, yoga and swimming. The goals of exercising for bladder health are to strengthen the abdominal core muscles, elongate the spine and to lift and strengthen the chest. When these goals are accomplished, the result can be a significant reduction in pressure on the bladder and its surrounding muscles, which in turn can help relieve urinary incontinence symptoms. On the other hand, to avoid making bladder symptoms worse, skip exercises that place a significant amount of pressure on the pelvic region. These may include jumping jacks or heavy weight-lifting.
Exercising for Sexual Health
The benefits of aerobic exercise on erectile issues are another area of research interest for urological health professionals and one I believe a number of men can greatly benefit from in terms of improving their sexual health. Most often, when men are facing erectile issues, they’re encouraged to perform specific exercises that target the muscles in the pelvic region. These types of exercise are absolutely important, but research has also shown that “total body” aerobic workouts can have a positive impact on erectile function. Because a significant number of men with erectile dysfunction have developed the condition secondarily due to blood flow issues related to cardiac disease, obesity or diabetes (or a combination of these), heart-pumping aerobic exercise can help by promoting weight loss, overall cardiovascular health and blood flow improvements that aren’t only limited to the heart. In fact, a brisk walk a few days per week over a consistent period of time can do plenty for a man’s cardiovascular, erectile and overall health. No equipment or gym membership required!
Of course, while the benefits of regular, heart-pumping exercise cannot be denied, they can be almost entirely undone by a poor diet. As you engage in a healthier physical fitness lifestyle, consider overhauling your dietary intake as well. Whenever possible, opt for whole, unprocessed (not from a box) foods and a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables. And since these are the urological organs we’re talking about, as the filtration system for your entire body — they need plenty of water to function properly every day.
As you engage in targeted pelvic options like Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of your urological system, don’t forget to add in good old-fashioned, heart-pumping activities, too. Their total-body benefits don’t exclude your urological organs and may just help you totally reverse the conditions you’re facing — or better yet, prevent them from occurring later on down the road. When it comes to your urological health, don’t take it lying down. Get up and get moving.