Kettlebells

How It Works
Burn up to 400 calories in 20 minutes: That’s what you’ll get from a kettlebell workout.

A kettlebell looks like a cast-iron cannonball with a handle on top. They come in various weights. You’ll use them as you do things like lunges, lifts, and shoulder presses.

The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile.

Kettlebell workouts offer a lot of flexibility. You can include a few of the moves in your own workout or do a dedicated kettlebell workout a few times a week.

Buy a DVD or sign up for a kettlebell class at the gym to learn how to do the moves safely. It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Heigl are huge fans of kettlebell workouts.

Intensity Level: Very High
You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettlebell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.

Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Most kettlebell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles.

Arms: Yes. The kettlebell is used as a weight for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses.

Legs: Yes. Lunges and squats are among the most popular moves in a kettlebell workout.

Glutes: Yes. Your tush will be toned by using the kettlebell for added weight during lunges and squats.

Back: Yes. Using a kettlebell for a dead lift helps tone your back muscles.

Type
Flexibility: Yes. Working out with kettlebells will improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: Yes. This is a high-intensity workout that will get your heart rate pumping.

Strength: Yes. The kettlebell is an effective weight that will build muscle strength.

Sport: No. This is a fitness activity, not a sport.

Low-Impact: No. You can expect to be running, jumping, and doing other high-intensity moves.

What Else Should I Know?
Cost: The cost of a kettlebell ranges from $10 to $100 depending on the weight of the kettlebells (heavier ones are more expensive). You may want to buy DVDs or sign up for classes to learn the basics of a kettlebell workout.

Good for beginners? Yes, if you take a class or pick a DVD that’s for beginners and use a lighter kettlebell. There are also more advanced kettlebell workouts for those who are more fit.

Outdoors: You can do a kettlebell workout outside or indoors.

At home: You can use kettlebells at home.

Equipment required? Yes, a kettlebell. You can buy kettlebells in weights ranging from 5 pounds to 100 pounds at sporting goods stores and online retailers.

What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Using kettlebells can be a great way to pump up your workout. You will be burning more calories in a shorter period of time.

Depending on the program, you may be getting both your strength training and your aerobic workout at the same time. Ask your doctor first.

Treat this workout with respect. If you choose a kettlebell that is too heavy or if you have poor form, you are likely to lose control of it. This can lead to a serious injury to your back, shoulders, or neck. Start out with an experienced trainer who can correct your technique before you hurt something.

Adding a kettlebell to your existing workout is great if you want to burn more calories in less time. It will quickly add muscle and stamina.

This type of high-intensity workout is not for you if you would rather do a more meditative approach to body sculpting, or if sweating isn’t your thing.

If you are trying to get into top form or keep in top shape, then swinging a kettlebell can help you reach your fitness goals.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

With your doctor’s OK, you can include kettlebells in your fitness routine if you have diabetes. You will be building muscle while losing fat. Muscle burns energy more efficiently, so your blood sugar levels will go down. Depending on the workout, you may also get some cardio to help prevent heart disease.

This routine can also be a great way to help lower your blood pressure and your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Check with your doctor first, especially if you already have heart disease.

Using kettlebells in your workout puts some serious demands on your hips and back, as well as your knees, neck, and shoulders. It is a high-impact program. If you have arthritis or pain in your knees or back, then look for a less risky strength-training program.

If you have other physical limitations, ask an experienced instructor for advice on how to modify your workout.

If you are pregnant and have never used kettlebells, then this is not the time to start. If you worked out with kettlebells before becoming pregnant and are not having any problems with your pregnancy, then you will likely be able to continue using them — at least for a while. Check with your doctor first.

You will need to make some changes as time goes on. As your pregnancy hormones kick in, your joints will become looser. You can adjust by using lighter kettlebells and avoiding certain moves. Talk to your instructor and your doctor; they might suggest switching out your kettlebells during your last trimester.

Yoga : How It Works

Workout fads come and go, but virtually no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga. It’s been around for more than 5,000 years.

Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.

There are more than 100 different forms of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense. Others are gentle and relaxing.

Examples of different yoga forms include:

Hatha. The form most often associated with yoga, it combines a series of basic movements with breathing.
Vinyasa. A series of poses that flow smoothly into one another.
Power. A faster, higher-intensity practice that builds muscle.
Ashtanga. A series of poses, combined with a special breathing technique.
Bikram. Also known as “hot yoga,” it’s a series of 26 challenging poses performed in a room heated to a high temperature.
Iyengar. A type of yoga that uses props like blocks, straps, and chairs to help you move your body into the proper alignment.

Intensity Level: Varies with Type
The intensity of your yoga workout depends on which form of yoga you choose. Techniques like hatha and iyengar yoga are gentle and slow. Bikram and power yoga are faster and more challenging.

Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. There are yoga poses to target just about every core muscle. Want to tighten those love handles? Then prop yourself up on one arm and do a side plank. To really burn out the middle of your abs, you can do boat pose, in which you balance on your “sit bones” (the bony prominences at the base of your pelvic bones) and hold your legs up in the air.

Arms: Yes. With yoga, you don’t build arm strength with free weights or machines, but with the weight of your own body. Some poses, like the plank, spread your weight equally between your arms and legs. Others, like the crane and crow poses, challenge your arms even more by making them support your full body weight.

Legs: Yes. Yoga poses work all sides of the legs, including your quadriceps, hips, and thighs.

Glutes: Yes. Yoga squats, bridges, and warrior poses involve deep knee bends, which give you a more sculpted rear.

Back: Yes. Moves like downward-facing dog, child’s pose, and cat/cow give your back muscles a good stretch. It’s no wonder that research finds yoga may be good for relieving a sore back.

Type
Flexibility: Yes. Yoga poses stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion. With regular practice, they’ll improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: No. Yoga isn’t considered aerobic exercise, but the more athletic varieties, like power yoga, will make you sweat. And even though yoga is not aerobic, some research finds it can be just as good as aerobic exercise for improving health.

Strength: Yes. It takes a lot of strength to hold your body in a balanced pose. Regular practice will strengthen the muscles of your arms, back, legs, and core.

Sport: No. Yoga is not competitive. Focus on your own practice and don’t compare yourself to other people in your class.

Low-Impact: Yes. Although yoga will give you a full-body workout, it won’t put any impact on your joints.

What Else Should I Know?
Cost. Varies. If you already know your way around a yoga mat, you can practice for free at home. Videos and classes will cost you various amounts of money.

Good for beginners? Yes. People of all ages and fitness levels can do the most basic yoga poses and stretches.

Outdoors. Yes. You can do yoga anywhere, indoors or out.

At home. Yes. All you need is enough space for your yoga mat.

Equipment required? No. You don’t need any equipment because you’ll rely on your own body weight for resistance. But you’ll probably want to use a yoga mat to keep you from sliding around in standing poses, and to cushion you while in seated and lying positions. Other, optional equipment includes a yoga ball for balance, a yoga block or two, and straps to help you reach for your feet or link your hands behind your back.

What Family Doctor Melinda Ratini MD Says:
There are many types of yoga, from the peaceful hatha to the high-intensity power yoga. All types take your workout to a level of mind-body connection. It can help you relax and focus while gaining flexibility and strength. Yoga can also boost your mood.

Even though there are many instructional books and DVDs on yoga, it is well worth it to invest in some classes with a good instructor who can show you how to do the postures.

Chances are, there’s a type of yoga that suits your needs and fitness level. It’s a great choice if you want a holistic approach to mind and body strength.

Yoga is not for you if you like a fast-moving, competitive workout. Be open-minded, since there are physical and mental benefits you can gain by adding some yoga into your fitness plan, even if it isn’t your main workout.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

Yoga is a great activity for you if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. It gives you strength, flexibility, and mind-body awareness. You’ll also need to do something aerobic (like walking, biking, or swimming) if you’re not doing a fast-moving type of yoga.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart problems, ask your doctor what you can do. You may need to avoid certain postures, like those in which you’re upside down or that demand more balance than you have right now. A very gentle program of yoga, coupled with a light aerobic activity like walking or swimming, may be the best way to start.

Do you have arthritis? Yoga can help you stay flexible and strong without putting added stress on your joints. You get the added benefit of a mind-body approach that can help you relax and energize.

If you’re pregnant, yoga can help keep you relaxed, strong, and in shape. If you’re new to yoga or have any health or pregnancy related problems, talk to your doctor before you give it a try. Look for an instructor who’s experienced in teaching prenatal yoga.

You’ll need to make some adjustments as your baby and belly grow and your center of gravity shifts. After your first trimester, don’t do any poses that have you lying on your back. And don’t try to stretch any further than you did before pregnancy. Your pregnancy hormones will loosen up your joints and make you more likely to get injured.

While you’re pregnant, avoid postures that put pressure on your belly or low back. Don’t do “hot” yoga, where the room temperature is very high.

Smart Fitness

This is next-century exciting. From apps that automatically adjust your workout when you’re sore to pants that help you nail your yoga pose, artificial intelligence is quickly morphing into your new personal trainer.

“While AI can’t do everything a human personal trainer can do, it’s an affordable way to get useful feedback each and every time you work out,” says certified personal trainer Jeanette DePatie. Here’s a taste of what’s out there.

Smart Apps
“With AI technology, you can get all-inclusive personal coaching through smartphone apps,” says certified personal trainer Caleb Backe. AI-powered apps measure variables like your fitness level, eating habits, and data from your wearables, then bring them together to tailor your workout to your needs.Brainy Machines

The running app Vi, for example, gets to know your daily routines, music preferences, and effort zone and personalizes instructions based on how you’re doing. It uses a human voice to give you real-time feedback as you run. Other apps, like SportMe, Podium, and AND/life, measure changes in your activity to tell you how to level up.

Brainy Machines
AI is helping gym machines get to know you better so you can ratchet up your results.

Nautilus, for example, has a new platform called Max Intelligence for the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 and M8 cardio machines. It uses cloud-based, adaptive technology to coach you through personalized workouts. It gives you voice directions and encouragement to help you power through. TrainerRoad uses AI technology for cycling workouts. It measures your cycling efficiency to help you get stronger and faster.

Yoga Gurus
Yoga is getting technical, too. Several companies offer AI yoga instruction with pose detection to give you feedback on your form even without a teacher in the room.

High-tech fitness wear makes it seamless. Nadi X yoga pants measure your movements and use gentle vibrations to help you perform perfect yoga poses, says DePatie. Pivot Yoga just introduced a shirt with 16 sensors that track your movements and tell you if they need tweaking.

Wise Wearables
Speaking of wearables, you’ll find an AI-coaching wearable for just about every body part.

Smart sneakers like Under Armour’s Hovr Connected Sneakers measure your speed, pace, distance, and gait for real-time feedback.

Sensoria has AI-powered running socks. “Besides monitoring pace, distance, and time, these socks come with pressure monitors that feed data to an AI coach that helps you with your running form,” says DePatie.

Hexoskin’s Tech Shirt has wires and sensors to measure your breathing, heart rate, and how well you sleep. Athos Core’s shorts and shirts measure your heart rate and muscle activity.

Polar recently unveiled its newest watch, Ignite, which collects sleep and recovery data overnight. In the morning, it suggests specific workouts based on how rested you are.

Next up in AI fitness tech? We can only imagine.

4 Tips
DePatie shares tips for working out with AI-powered technology.

1. Use your brain

“Your AI trainer isn’t a doctor. If you feel pain or if something about your workout doesn’t feel right, get professional help.”

2. Open your eyes

“Stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t obsess over your tracker to the point where you’re unaware of traffic or people around you.”

3. Broaden your view

“Not all progress is measurable. Don’t forget to enjoy the better mood and quality of life that comes with fitness but may not be tracked by your watch.”

4. Monitor your privacy

“Think carefully about how and when you share your tracking data and make sure you set a good, solid password. Devices can be a source of data breach.”

Golf May Be a Recipe for Longevity

If you’re a senior, playing golf regularly may do more than improve your swing: New research suggests it could reduce your risk of early death.

Researchers followed nearly 5,900 adults, 65 and older, for 10 years and found that those who were regular golf players (at least once a month) were more than 8% less likely to die from any cause than non-golfers, CNN reported.

The study will be presented later this month at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

Golf is an option for older adults who want to be physically active, according to researchers from the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute.
“The intensity level of the activity is such that it can be maintained for a longer period of time, and it’s something that maintains the interest of the individuals so people can continue it on a regular basis,” study author Dr. Adnan Qureshi, a neurology professor at the University of Missouri, told CNN.

But an expert who wasn’t involved in the study said he doesn’t “think we can conclude from this study that golf reduced the risk of early death,” because it didn’t consider other factors about non-golfers such as smoking or other unhealthy lifestyle habits, and it didn’t say whether regular golfers walked or used golf carts while out on the links.
“Other studies have consistently shown that physical activity of any intensity is associated with a reduced risk of death,” Ulf Ekelund, a sports medicine professor at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, told CNN.

“If older individuals like to play golf, they should continue, but I am sure regular walking is equally good for health and longevity,” Ekelund added.

Muscle Strain

Muscle Strain Overview

Muscle strain, muscle pull, or even a muscle tear refers to damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons. You can put undue pressure on muscles during the course of normal daily activities, with sudden heavy lifting, during sports, or while performing work tasks.

Muscle damage can be in the form of tearing (part or all) of the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle. The tearing of the muscle can also damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding, or bruising, and pain caused by irritation of the nerve endings in the area.
Muscle Strain Symptoms

Symptoms of muscle strain include:

Swelling, bruising, or redness due to the injury
Pain at rest
Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used
Weakness of the muscle or tendons
Inability to use the muscle at all

When to Seek Medical Care

If you have a significant muscle injury (or if home remedies bring no relief in 24 hours), call your doctor.

If you hear a “popping” sound with the injury, cannot walk, or there is significant swelling, pain, fever, or open cuts, you should be examined in a hospital’s emergency department.

Exams and Tests

The doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. During the exam, it’s important to establish whether the muscle is partially or completely torn, which can involve a much longer healing process, possible surgery, and a more complicated recovery.

X-rays or lab tests are often not necessary, unless there was a history of trauma or evidence of infection.

Muscle Strain Treatment Self-Care at Home

The amount of swelling or local bleeding into the muscle (from torn blood vessels) can best be managed early by applying ice packs and maintaining the strained muscle in a stretched position. Heat can be applied when the swelling has lessened. However, the early application of heat can increase swelling and pain.

Note: Ice or heat should not be applied to bare skin. Always use a protective covering such as a towel between the ice or heat and the skin.

Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and improve your ability to move around. Do not take NSAIDS if you have kidney disease or a history of gastrointestinal bleeding or if you are also taking a blood thinner — such as Coumadin — without first talking with your doctor. In that case, it is safer to take acetaminophen, which helps lessen pain but does not reduce inflammation.

Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the PRICE formula) can help the affected muscle. Here’s how: First, remove all constrictive clothing, including jewelry, in the area of muscle strain.

Then:
Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
Rest the strained muscle. Avoid the activities that caused the strain and other activities that are painful.
Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake). Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever. Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to the area may help decrease inflammation.
Compression can be gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can both provide support and decrease swelling. Do not wrap tightly.
Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling. Prop up a strained leg muscle while sitting, for example.
Activities that increase muscle pain or work the affected body part are not recommended until the pain has significantly improved.

Medical Treatment

Medical treatment is similar to the treatment at home. The doctor, however, also can determine the extent of muscle and tendon injury and if crutches or a brace is needed for healing. The doctor can also determine if you need to restrict your activity or take days off work and if rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy are required to help you recover.

Next Steps Prevention

Help avoid injury by stretching daily.
Start an exercise program in consultation with your doctor.
Stretch after you exercise.
Establish a warm-up routine prior to strenuous exercise, such as gently running in place for a couple of minutes.

Easy Mindful Eating Tips That Are Actually Worth Following

See other great workout at home videos at Grokker.com.
By now you know that what you eat is important for achieving weight loss goals. But did you know that how you eat also plays a role in your success? At its simplest, mindless eating is defined as “eating food without paying attention,” and this kind of distracted (and often emotional) eating can cause you to ignore your body’s signals that you’re full. That, in turn, can lead to weight gain, says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. (Did you know these words sabotage your weight loss goals?)

In the video below, Dr. Mohr shares his best strategies for becoming more mindful with your eating habits. Don’t have time to watch? Bookmark these tips to help you become a more mindful eater.

When you plan to eat, set a timer for 20 minutes. Take the entire 20 minutes to eat the meal, focusing on each bite so you don’t wolf it all down in five minutes.
Try eating with your non-dominant hand. This won’t feel as natural, forcing you to slow down and be more conscious about your food.
Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal—everything from the sun’s rays to the farmer’s work, getting it from the grocery store and finally cooking the meal.
Take small bites, and thoroughly chew your food before reaching for another forkful.
Before opening the fridge or cabinet, take a breath and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” You can even do something else first, like reading, drinking water, or going on a short walk, to help you figure out the real answer.

Affordable Ways to Make Self-Care Your ‘New You’ Resolution

Every year around this time, we start to think about how we can be better “for the new year.” It’s time to stop thinking in terms of January 1st because you matter the rest of the year, too. Instead of making goals you probably won’t work toward past February, make a resolution to yourself to take care of your needs. The best part: Self-care is affordable.

Here are a few ways to get started.

Ditch the soda and tea, and drink water.

You already know that you should drink water. Not only does it supply the cells in your body much of what they need to function, but it also flushes out toxins. Unfortunately, the sugary beverage industry is thriving (though soda sales are down). Americans consume nearly 13 billion gallons of soda each year, according to MarketWatch. However, if you knew what a single can of carbonation did to your body, you might think twice. First, it doses your bloodstream with sugar, which turns into carbs. While carbs are not a bad thing, your muscles don’t need the excess, so your liver takes over converting them into fat. Sugar also sticks to your teeth (hello, cavities!) and, even worse, has an effect on your brain similar to drugs. Drop your soda habit in favor of water, and you’ll not only save at the grocery store, but on your overall health as well.

Do something that makes you feel beautiful every day.

Beauty is only skin deep, right? Well, yes, but feeling confident on the inside starts with looking the part on the outside. You don’t have to hit the salon to achieve a look that makes you feel your very best. Whether you choose to try one of Marie Claire’s 10-second hairstyles or don a new makeup look, you can save money on all of your beauty accessories. There are many health stores that offer discounts on skincare and makeup products in the form of sales and coupon codes. Blogs like Rakuten Smart Shopper offer tips and tricks for finding the best deals while you shop. You can also emphasize your healthy glow by supplementing your daily nutrition regimen with vitamins and minerals that boost collagen growth and supply nutrients to your hair and nails. Incidentally, if you have been drinking your water, your skin will look fabulous.

Grab your sneakers and go for a walk.

Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise and one that won’t cost you a dime. In addition to helping you burn off fat around your midsection, a simple 30-minute stroll around the neighborhood can improve your overall quality of life. According to Reuters Health, women who walk for 200 minutes each week are less depressed, have elevated energy levels, and are more socially engaged. And if you are over 50 and suffer from mental health issues, walking may have an even more profound effect on your psychological wellness. Make a point to walk after dinner — bonus points if you can convince your spouse, kids, or a neighbor to go with you.

Give yourself a predictable sleep schedule.

Sleeping for seven to eight hours each night is an essential form of self-care that far too many adults neglect. However, the truth is that sleep should take precedence over pretty much everything else. When you haven’t gotten enough rest, you make more mistakes. You’ll also have less emotional control and will probably forget where your keys are more often than not. Poor sleep can also lead to reduced problem-solving skills. Push sleep to the top of your to-do list by turning off all devices 30 minutes before you go to bed. Schedule yourself to settle in approximately eight hours before you have to be awake, and go to bed at the same time every night. You can promote healthy sleep habits by getting into a routine, such as taking a warm shower and then stretching before putting on your favorite pajamas and turning out the lights.

You don’t have to have a movie star’s budget to shine. But you do need to put yourself first this and every year. The ideas can get you going and might be the start of a new you.

Image via Pexels

The Best Glute Exercises for People with Bad Knees

If you have knee pain, it can be frustrating to find exercises that don’t hurt but will still target and tone your booty. We’ve got you covered with five of the best butt exercises-plus two bonus moves-that are still totally doable if you have bad knees. Yep, that means no squats or lunges! Even if your knees are A-OK, these alternative glute moves are great for switching up your go-to routine. (Because doing the exact same moves every time is fine, but you’ll see even more results with a little exercise variation.)

How it works: Do each move for the number of reps indicated and then repeat the circuit one to two times. Watch the video for full move demos and form tips. (Want to get your upper body involved too? Try this arm circuit workout next.)

You’ll Need: a set of medium-weight dumbbells and a medium- to heavy-weight kettlebell.

Romanian Deadlift
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, dumbbells in front of the hips, palms facing in.

B. Hinge at the hips to lower dumbbells in front of shins. Make sure to keep core engaged and back straight throughout the movement.

C. Lift torso to return to standing.

Do 15 to 20 reps.

3-Point Glute Kickback
A. Stand on the right leg, hands together at chest level with the left foot hovering just off the ground to start.

B. Pulse kick the left leg directly to the side, then return to start.

C. Pulse kick the left leg diagonally back, then return to start.

D. Pulse kick the left leg directly back, then return to start. That’s 1 rep.

Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Split Stance RDL (Romanian Deadlift)
A. Start in a split stance position: left foot forward, foot firmly planted on the ground. Right foot is about six inches behind, balancing on the ball of the foot. Hold dumbbells in front of hips, palms facing in.

B. Hinge at the hips to lower dumbbells in front of the left shin. Make sure to keep the core engaged and back straight throughout the movement.

C. Lift torso to return to standing.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Glute Bridge
A. Lie face-up on the ground with heels planted and knees pointing up to start.

B. Pressing the heels into the ground, lift the hips up, and squeeze the glutes at the very top (hold for one second).

C. Slowly lower hips down to hover just off the floor, then lift hips to begin the next rep.

Form tip: To make it harder, perform single-leg glute bridges: extend one leg into the air, and perform the movement on the other leg.

Do 15 to 20 reps.

Super Hydrant
A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.

B. Lift right knee off the floor and perform a hydrant: lift knee out to the side, maintaining 90-degree bend.

C. Return to start without touching knee to the ground, then lift right leg backward and up, bent at a 90-degree angle with foot flexed so the bottom of the right foot is pointing toward the ceiling.

D. Return to start without touching knee to the ground. That’s one rep.

Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Kettlebell Swing
A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, kettlebell on the floor, arms-distance away from the toes. Hinge at the hips with a soft bend in the knees to grab the top of the kettlebell with both hands.

B. Hike the kettlebell backwards between the legs.

C. Thrust hips forward up to standing, swinging the kettlebell forward to about chest height.

D. Let the kettlebell swing back through the legs, hips back, then thrust up to standing again. Continue to Repeat.

Form Tip: Remember, this is not a squat-it’s a hip hinge. There should be minimal bending at the knees. The power is driven by your hips, so send them back as far as you can while maintaining a flat back and strong core throughout the exercise. (Think of sending the butt back versus dropping the butt low.)

Do 15 to 25 reps.

Single-Leg RDL
A. Stand on left foot, with right foot slightly behind, toes touching the floor for balance. Hold a dumbbell in the right hand in front of hip, palm facing in.

B. Hinging at the hips, lower dumbbell to shin height while kicking the right foot back. Keep hips and shoulders square throughout the movement.

C. Reverse the motion to return to start.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Mike’s YouTube channel for free weekly workouts. Find more of Mike on Facebook, Instagram, and his website. And if you’re looking for full-length 30+ minute workouts, check out his newly launched subscription site MIKEDFITNESSTV.

The Best Foods to Eat Before and After Your Workout

When it comes to fitness, there are certain universal questions that experts hear almost every day: How can I get the most out of my workouts? How can I lose weight faster, burn the most calories, and feel energized enough to power through every training session? While there are other elements that may affect your unique situation, there’s one simple answer that applies to all of these questions: Eat! More specifically, eat the right foods at the right time.

Like many women, I used to think the best way to lose weight was to work out hard and wait until mealtime to eat. I now know that the key to getting and maintaining a knockout body is a combination of regular exercise and eating the right foods at the right times. (Read: Not starving myself!)

Keep reading for pro tips about what to eat before and what to eat after a workout to burn the most calories, stay energized, build lean muscle, lose weight, and speed up recovery.

The Importance of Eating Before Your Workout

Whether you eat or don’t eat before exercise, research shows the body burns the same amount of fat. However, you can actually cause muscle loss if you regularly work out on an empty stomach. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Burning Fat and Building Muscle)

Here’s why: When you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein from muscle instead of from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein. When this happens, you lose muscle mass, which can ultimately slow your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. Plus, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you’re not giving yourself the fuel you need to power through an intense training session. (Eat one of these snacks before your next workout and turn your body into a fat-burning machine!)

What to Eat Before a Workout

The best pre-workout bite contains some form of complex carbohydrate and a protein. The key is to have a mixed bag of complex and simple carbs so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady throughout your routine.

Here are some of the best pre-workout meals and snacks to keep energized during your workout.

Brown rice (1/2 cup) with black beans (1/2 cup)
Small sweet potato with steamed or lightly salted broccoli in olive oil (1 cup)
Banana with almond butter (2 tablespoons)
Apple with almond butter (2 tablespoons)
Multi-grain crackers (10) with hummus (3 tablespoons)
Oatmeal (1/2 cup) with berries (1 cup), sweetened with stevia or agave
Apple and walnuts (1/4 cup)
Whole-wheat toast (1 slice) with a sliced banana and dash of cinnamon
Greek yogurt (6 ounces) with trail mix (1/4 cup)
The Importance of Eating After Your Workout
During exercise, your body taps glycogen (the fuel stored in your muscles) for energy. After you’ve cranked out that last rep, your muscles are depleted of their glycogen stores and broken down. When it comes to what to eat after a workout, eating or drinking something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to an hour after your workout refills energy stores, builds and repairs your muscles that were broken down, and helps keep your metabolism burning strong.

The sooner you start refueling, the better off you’ll be. Research shows that your body’s ability to refill muscle stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away. Try to plan ahead and bring your recovery drink to the gym, or pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat when you’re finished. (Jelly isn’t the only way to enjoy PB. Whip up one of these healthy peanut butter recipes for your next snack or meal.)

What to Eat After a Workout

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise.

Try these quick post-workout meal ideas to speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle:

Protein shake made with half a banana, one scoop of protein powder, almond milk, and hemp seeds (excellent protein source)
Salad with roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup), light olive oil, and vinegar
Sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup) with non-GMO tofu (1/2 cup)
Quinoa bowl (1 cup) with blackberries (1 cup) and pecans (1/4 cup)
Whole-wheat bread (2 slices) with raw peanut butter (2 tablespoons) and agave nectar
Burrito with beans (1/2 cup), brown rice (1/2 cup), guacamole (2 tablespoons), and salsa
Grilled chicken (4 ounces) with sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup)
Omelet (2 eggs) stuffed with sautéed vegetables (1/2 cup) and avocado (1/4 of fruit, sliced)
Grilled salmon (4 ounces) with a baked sweet potato (5 ounces)
Whole-wheat bread (2 slices) with tuna (3 ounces) mixed with hummus (2 tablespoons), spinach leaves (1/2 cup)
Chocolate milk (1 cup)

6 Things to Know About Working Out On Your Period

Your period and all that comes along with it is enough to make you want to ditch the gym and stay in bed with a hot compress and a bag of salt-and-vinegar chips. But that bag of chips isn’t doing that belly bloat any favors—while a good sweat sesh can. Here’s what you need to know about working out on your period.

Working Out on Your Period? What Type of Exercise You Do Matters

Don’t get us wrong, you earn yourself a fist-bump just for getting your butt to the gym. Any exercise is better than none—especially when you’ve committed to working out on your period—but if you’re looking to get the most sweat-equity for your efforts, then make this workout a high-intensity one. “Higher-intensity exercise can release more endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals released in our brains when we exercise,” says Alyse Kelly-Jones, M.D., an ob-gyn at Novant Health Mintview OB/GYN. Endorphins help relieve pain and get rid of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that are produced during menstruation (and at other times, like when you get injured) that can cause inflammation, muscle contractions, pain, and fever. So the more endorphins you release, the less period pain you feel. (You’ll also score these eight major benefits of HIIT training at the same time.)

Another reason to go for box jumps over yoga? Sex hormones. Progesterone and estrogen levels are actually at their lowest point during menstruation, says Kelly-Jones, and that means your body is able to access carbohydrates and glycogen more easily than they can when estrogen is at an all-time high (the middle of your cycle). That means the fuel your body needs to power through an intense set is more readily available, and you can push harder to get the most out of short bursts of fast-paced movements.

Cardio Is Better Than Strength Training

If your goal is to alleviate PMS symptoms, then the week of your period is when you should focus more on the treadmill and less on the barbell. Research shows that there’s a direct correlation between aerobic capacity and the severity of PMS symptoms: When your aerobic exercise goes up, the PMS symptoms go down. But when the scientists looked to see if the same thing happened with anaerobic power—so, strength training—they found that there was no significant connection between the two variables.

Not to mention that your body temperature is actually lower when you’re on your period, thanks to the drop in hormones. This increases the amount of time it takes your body to tire, and you can store more heat without exhausting your central nervous system. What that means for you: Those sprint intervals are going to feel easier than they did mid-cycle. (Related: How to Make the Most of Sprint Interval Workouts)

Workout Out On Your Period Won’t Lighten Your Flow

The first few days, when your period is usually the heaviest, is when you’re probably least likely to book a TRX class. But if that’s part of your regular routine, then it could pay off to go anyway. Kelly-Jones says that regular, moderate exercise could reduce your flow each month, making it a solid preventative method. That’s because “estrogen is decreased when body fat is decreased, and estrogen stimulates growth of the uterus lining [that you shed when you have your period],” she explains. Translation: Regular exercise (plus a healthy diet) can mean less body fat, which means less estrogen and a lighter menstrual flow.

Unfortunately, that TRX class won’t have an immediate impact on your flow, says Kelly-Jones. “Once the cycle starts, it’s going to be what it is,” she says. Since your uterus lining has already been thickened throughout the month, by the time you get your period it’s simply in the process of shedding it because you’re not pregnant. So working out on your period won’t change how heavy things are flowing right now. (Also worth noting: everything you need to know about having sex on your period.)

But It Can Help With Other Symptoms

Working out on your period can help with other symptoms, though, like that god-awful belly bloat. “As you sweat during exercise, your body is shedding water, which may relieve some bloating,” says Kelly-Jones. “There have [also] been studies that connect a higher level of overall physical fitness with fewer PMS symptoms.” Case in point: Research published in the Crescent Journal of Medical and Biological Sciences shows that if you work out three times a week, specifically making time for moves that get your heart rate up, then symptoms like headache, fatigue, and breast pain can be lessened.

You’re Not More Likely to Get Injured

Yes, it’s a good idea to squeeze in a quality HIIT session when working out on your period. And no, there is no reason to worry about an increased risk of injury. “Adjusting your activity while you have your period is really a myth,” Kelly-Jones says. “Everything is fair game, unless you bleed very heavily and become anemic. Then you might feel more fatigued,” so you may not be able to go as hard as you normally do.

Research backs her up: While scientists have found that women are more likely to get ACL injuries at certain points of their cycle, that risk increases during the preovulatory phase, which is when hormones start being produced again, the ovaries are stimulated, and an ovarian follicle starts to mature. That typically occurs from days 9 to 14 of a 28-day cycle, so yeah, it’s after you get your period (the first day of your period is considered day one of your menstrual cycle, Kelly-Jones explains).

Not to mention that, even though a woman’s risk of injury is higher, research also shows that neuromuscular training can cut that risk in half. Researchers discovered that the risk increases because there’s a difference in the way women’s knees move during menstruation compared to ovulation. But Timothy E. Hewett, Ph.D. (who’s been studying the effect of the menstrual cycle on injury for more than 15 years), found that when athletes were taught how to reduce load on their knees and ankles and build up strength and coordination, the rate of ACL injury, ankle injury, and knee-cap pain fell by 50 to 60 percent. So simply strengthening and learning how to properly move your body while you work out can help—period or not. (Related: Does It Matter What Order You Perform Exercises In a Workout?)

In other words, have no fear and keep on busting reps like your badass self.

And Your Performance Will Still Rock When Working Out on Your Period

Unless you have extremely heavy bleeding, like Kelly-Jones mentioned above, it’s not likely that your performance will be impacted. After surveying 241 elite athletes about how their menstrual cycle affected their performance, researchers noted that about 62 percent of them thought their workout was just as good when they had their periods compared to when they didn’t. (Plus, 63 percent of them said their pain decreased during training and competition as opposed to recovery time.) And lest you think they’re simply better at powering through because they’re elite-level, know that that just isn’t so. Another study from West Virginia University found that, when analyzed during both the first and second half of their menstrual cycles, female runners still performed just as well on their periods as they did when off. So go on and grab those sneaks—it’s time to start sweating.