Fitness / Workouts

A Lengthening Yoga Flow to Loosen Up Your Tight Muscles

A Lengthening Yoga Flow to Loosen Up Your Tight Muscles

Hard workouts and sedentary days combine to make our muscles feel tight. And that’s where a lengthening yoga flow comes in—by incorporating certain yoga poses and combinations into your routine, you can loosen up tight muscles throughout your body and boost your mobility.In the third installment of Sweat With SELF’s Yoga for Beginners series, yoga instructor Rita Murjani—the chief of staff at mindful living brand Aduri who teaches at NYC-based studios SkyTing and Equinox—demonstrates a yoga flow that’s designed to stretch out your tight muscles, particularly those along the sides of your body. Throughout the course of this nearly 40-minute video, Murjani will take you through poses, variations, and flows that will help stretch the tight obliques along your side, as well as tight hamstrings, back, quads, hip flexors, and glutes.In this beginner yoga video, you’ll start with a bridge pose variation, where you’ll focus on your breath and centering your mind and body. Then you’ll get into the flow: You’ll recognize a bunch of the yoga poses here—especially the cat cow, downward dog, crescent lunge, sphinx, forward fold, and child’s pose—but you’ll build on several of them with different variations. (Say, for instance, the cat cow: Rather than taking this pose super slow, you’ll up the tempo here, and then switch in a different form that’ll really stretch out your hands, arms, and wrists.) You’ll also learn a few new poses too, like the lion’s breath, undulating cobra, and modified side plank. To end the yoga flow, you’ll hit a bridge pose variation once again, which will culminate in a heart-opening wheel pose.Like in all of the Yoga for Beginners videos, Murjani will guide you through modifications with the use of props like yoga blocks for any of the poses that may be too challenging. That way, you can practice this lengthening yoga flow at your own pace—and feel confident about the poses and ready to come back for the fourth installment next week!Related:

This 20-Minute Upper-Body Circuit Will Make You Sweat

This 20-Minute Upper-Body Circuit Will Make You Sweat

Strapped for time, but still want to seriously work your back, shoulders, and arms? We have a 20-minute upper-body workout that will deliver the best bang for your exercise buck.The key to an efficient, effective upper-body workout is simple: Focus on compound exercises, which are movements that work multiple muscle groups across more than one joint. Compared to isolation exercises, which hone in one muscle group, compound moves hit more muscles per rep and per exercise, NASM-certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, C.P.T., trainer at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, tells SELF. That means you can gain bigger strength benefits in a shorter amount of time. “It’s just simple numbers,” says Jamison, who created the below routine that’s heavy on compound moves.Another component of Jamison’s routine that makes it a quick-yet-effective upper-body workout? It alternates between pushing and pulling exercises, which consolidates recovery time and ensures you get well-rounded strength work. That’s because pushing moves, like push-ups and presses, engage the frontside of your upper-half (think chest and shoulders). And pulling moves, like curls and rows, hit the backside (like your lats and rhomboids). By including both types of movements, you can make sure you fire up all the muscles in your upper half. And, by switching back and forth between them, you’re giving your opposing muscle groups time to rest without actually having to pause your workout. That means more strength benefits in a shorter amount of time.But efficient strength work isn’t the only benefit to this routine—it can also double as light cardio thanks to the time-based format. “Whenever you’re going for time, you kind of instinctively try to do as many reps as possible,” explains Jamison. Pushing the pace like this can make the workout feel more taxing cardiovascularly. Just make sure your form stays good as you increase your speed, and if you feel that start to falter, take that as your cue to slow down and pump out fewer (but cleaner!) reps instead.You can do this routine two to four times a week, suggests Jamison, so long as you take at least a day off in between sessions so your muscles have enough time to recover. It’s also important to do a warm-up before you dive in. “It doesn’t have to take a long time,” says Jamison. About five minutes of dynamic stretching and upper-body muscle activation, which you can achieve with moves like the pull-apart, can do the trick. You can also give this awesome upper-body warm-up a try, too!Feeling ready to smoke your upper half? Keep scrolling for a 20-minute upper-body workout that will deliver serious strength benefits (and maybe even get you a little sweaty, too!)The WorkoutWhat you need: A set of light and medium dumbbells. While the exact weights will differ for each person, you can consider 5-pound and 10-pound weights a potential jumping-off point.ExercisesOverhead press3-way bicep curlPush-upBent-over rowReverse flyDirectionsDo each move for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds before moving onto the next move in the circuit. Complete four total rounds. Don’t take additional rest in between rounds (though of course take a break if your form starts to falter or if you feel like you can’t catch your breath).Demoing the moves below are April Nicole Henry (GIF 1), a strength athlete based in New York City; Nathalie Huerta (GIF 2), coach at The Queer Gym in Oakland; Erica Gibbons (GIFs 3 and 5), a California-based personal trainer and graduate student becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist; and Cookie Janee (GIF 5), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve.Dumbells We Like:AmazonCore Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Weight SetThis set of dumbbells has you covered from five pounds up to 50, in five-pound increments. While this set is pricey, we love how easy they are to adjust, and how comfortable and natural the grip feels.AmazonAmazon Neoprene Dumbbells (Set of 2)Thanks to the neoprene coating, these 12-pound dumbbells are easy to grip and feel comfortable to handle, whether you’re pressing or pulling.

This Hip-Opening Routine Will Loosen Up Your Lower Body

This Hip-Opening Routine Will Loosen Up Your Lower Body

At some point, you’ve probably felt that uncomfortable stiffness of tight hips, whether it was due to too much time sitting or a hard workout. This hip-opening yoga routine can be just what you need when that occurs to loosen up your tight lower body.In the second installment of Sweat With SELF’s Yoga for Beginners series, yoga instructor Rita Murjani—the chief of staff at mindful living brand Aduri who teaches at NYC-based studios SkyTing and Equinox—demonstrates a yoga flow that feels oh-so-good for your tight hips and surrounding muscles. During the course of the 45-minute beginner yoga routine, you’ll seamlessly transition through nearly 20 popular yoga poses, which work to loosen up tightness in your glutes, hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and calves.In this video, Murjani will take you through moves like the bound ankle pose, cat-cow, downward dog, crescent lunge, pyramid pose, baby cobra, forward fold, child’s pose, and happy baby. A particularly hip-friendly flow? You’ll go from the figure four to the warrior III to the warrior II pose, a transition which stretches your glutes, hamstrings, and hip adductors. Because this flow also includes some single-leg work, you’ll also be honing your balance, too.During the course of this hip-opening yoga routine, Murjani will also have you focus on your breath, which can help you ease into the stretches and get more out of each of them. (Plus, it’ll help you feel more centered and relaxed as well!) And if some of the moves seem a little too challenging? That’s where modifications come in. Throughout the course of the video, Murjani will teach you how to use props such as yoga blocks and blankets to shorten the range of motion in certain poses, which can help you learn how to ease into them.Ready for 45 minutes of lower-body love? Unroll your yoga mat, gather your props, and get started with this feel-good hip-opening yoga routine!Related:

A 7-Minute Abs Routine You Can Tack On to Any Workout

A 7-Minute Abs Routine You Can Tack On to Any Workout

A 7-minute abs workout may seem too short to effectively smoke your core. But guess what? With the right exercises, you can absolutely strengthen your core muscles in that amount of time—and we have a prime example of a 7-minute abs routine that you can add onto any workout (or perform on its own)!First though, a quick refresher on what we mean by “core.” Your core does include your rectus abdominis, the muscles which run vertically along the front of your abdomen, but it also is comprised of lots of other muscles too, like your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your torso), and transverse abdominis (the deepest core muscles that sit beneath your obliques), as well as your glutes, pelvic floor, and the muscles that stabilize your spine and hips.The key to a good core workout is making sure you’re not only targeting the outer core muscles, like the rectus abdominis and obliques, but also your deep inner core muscles that stabilize your spine, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, C.P.T., owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. One surefire way to do that? Incorporate anti-movement exercises, which require your core to engage to resist motion, like in a plank. When it comes to core work, anti-movement exercises are what most people should focus on, says Fagan. But movement exercises—in which the core dynamically moves, like in a crunch—can play a role too, especially for people who participate in sports like golf or tennis that require their cores to bend and rotate. Choosing core exercises that incorporate anti-movement and also involve a little bit of dynamic movement can be a good addition to your routine instead of focusing on dynamic-only moves like crunches.Now, when it comes to how much core work you need to actually get stronger, the answer is probably less than you think. “People tend to overdo it,” says Fagan, explaining that 30-minute abs workouts aren’t exactly an effective use of your workout time. Nor do you have to—nor should you—do comprehensive abs workouts every day. In fact, beginners should slot in a core workout, like the one Fagan created for SELF below, into their routines once or twice a week.Instead of quantity, it’s important to pick effective exercises and then focus on progressive overload, which is when you gradually and continually increase the intensity of your routine, either by adding more reps or weights, reducing the amount of rest, or improving your technique.The following workout Fagan created incorporates both anti-movement and movement exercises, and has the “components that are important for total core stability or core strength,” says Fagan. You only need your bodyweight and 7 minutes to get it done, making it an ideal at-home core workout. Tackle it as a standalone routine or as a finisher to another workout. However you approach this routine, take a few minutes at the beginning for deep breathing. This can help you better connect with your core muscles, Fagan explains.So if you’re ready for a quick-yet-effective 7-minute abs workout, keep scrolling for everything you need to know.The WorkoutWhat you need: An exercise mat for comfort.ExercisesDeadbugForearm side plank with twistBear crawlLateral plank walkLeg lift with hip tipDirectionsDo each move for the designated time listed below; try not to rest in between moves. Repeat the circuit once for a total of two rounds. Take minimal to no rest in between rounds (though of course take a break if your form starts to falter or if you feel like you can’t catch your breath).Mats We Like:AmazonYogaAccessories Non-Slip Exercise MatThis option is tear-resistant, double-sided, and longer than most other yoga mats, which means extra room for performing more dynamic moves.LululemonLululemon Take Form Yoga MatWe love how this yoga mat does not move, even when you’re performing more dynamic exercises. Its soft cushion makes it super comfortable, too.Demoing the moves below are Cookie Janee (GIFs 1 and 4), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Crystal Williams (GIF 2), a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; Shauna Harrison (GIF 3), a Bay-area based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; and Amanda Wheeler, host of the Covering Ground podcast.

A Beginner Yoga Flow to Introduce You to the Most Common Poses

A Beginner Yoga Flow to Introduce You to the Most Common Poses

If you’ve always wanted to give yoga a shot, but didn’t know where to start, this beginner yoga flow has you covered. While you’re probably aware of the many benefits of yoga—regular practitioners can enjoy everything from better balance, strength, and flexibility to improved focus, concentration, and mental resilience—it can seem intimidating for those who have never tried it before.But this guided yoga class will break it all down for you. As the first installment of Sweat With SELF’s Yoga for Beginners series, this class will introduce you to the basics with a 40-minute class that will take you through all the most common poses. Yoga instructor Rita Murjani, chief of staff at mindful living brand Aduri who teaches at NYC-based studios SkyTing and Equinox, will take you through the class and offer tips and tricks on how to modify each pose for your fitness level. Along with teaching you ways to modify your poses, she’ll also introduce you to how to use certain yoga props, like yoga blocks and blankets, to help make these yoga modifications easier.Throughout the course of this beginner yoga class, you’ll move through more than 10 common yoga poses (including additional modifications and variations for each). These yoga poses include foundational postures like the hero pose, tabletop, downward dog, crescent lunge, baby cobra, forward fold, Warrior II, child’s pose, pigeon pose, camel pose, and seated forward fold. Murjani will guide you through a flow, going from one yoga pose to the next so you can learn how to incorporate all of them into a seamless yoga practice you can do at home.Ready to get started with this beginner yoga flow? Unroll your yoga mat, gather your props—if you don’t have actual yoga blocks, a stack of books can work just fine—and get ready to embark in some guided relaxation for your body and your mind. Then, come back next week for more beginner yoga with the second installment in Sweat With SELF’s Yoga for Beginners series.Related:

This Bodyweight Cardio Workout Is Quick But Sweaty

This Bodyweight Cardio Workout Is Quick But Sweaty

If it’s getting too chilly to hit the streets for a run, we have the antidote. Our newest Sweat with SELF video is a bodyweight cardio workout that will seriously challenge your cardio endurance, fire up major muscle groups, and keep you mentally engaged as you sweat.Led by trainers Astrid Swan and Ridge Davis, this workout is the final installment in a six-part cardio series. If you’ve been following along with the other videos, get ready to up your game because this is the most challenging routine.Part of the reason this workout is so intense is that it follows a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format, meaning you’ll alternate between bursts of max effort work and short periods of rest. HIIT is a great way to get the most bang-for-your-exercise-buck, since it gets you sweaty fast and oftentimes works a lot of different muscles at once. With this routine, you’ll tackle challenging compound movements—such as half burpees, mountain climbers, jump lunges, and plank side hops—in a pyramid-style circuit. That means in the first half of the workout, you’ll add a new exercise every time you complete a circuit. Then, in the second half of the workout, you’ll subtract one exercise every circuit so that the final circuit mirrors the first. Pyramids are a great way to spice up the format of a workout so that the time passes more quickly and you stay mentally engaged throughout.Quick heads up: If you’re injured or have joint pain, check with a professional before you try this at-home cardio workout. Likewise, if high-impact moves aren’t your thing, feel free to remove the jumps from the lunges, and step back into a high plank, rather than jumping back into a high plank during the half-burpees.If you’re ready to tackle this sweaty bodyweight cardio workout, grab a mat and follow along with the video below. Or, if you prefer to move at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each exercise.Workout DirectionsThere are 7 circuits in this routine. Complete the circuits in order, doing each move in the circuit for the designated time or number of reps. Rest 20 seconds before moving onto the next circuit. WorkoutCircuit 1Jump Rope x 20 secondsHalf Burpee x 10 repsMountain Climber x 15 repsRest 20 seconds.Circuit 2Jump Rope x 20 secondsHalf Burpee x 10 repsMountain Climber x 15 repsJump Lunge x 10 repsRest 20 seconds.Circuit 3Jump Rope x 20 secondsHalf Burpee x 10 repsMountain Climber x 15 repsJump Lunge x 10 repsIce Skater x 10 repsRest 20 seconds.Circuit 4Jump Rope x 20 secondsHalf Burpee x 10 repsMountain Climber x 15 repsJump Lunge x 10 repsIce Skater x 10 repsPlank Side Hop x 8 repsRest 20 seconds.Circuit 5Jump Rope x 20 secondsHalf Burpee x 10 repsMountain Climber x 15 repsJump Lunge x 10 repsIce Skater x 10 repsRest 20 seconds.Circuit 6Jump Rope x 20 secondsHalf Burpee x 10 repsMountain Climber x 15 repsJump Lunge x 10 repsRest 20 seconds.Circuit 7Jump Rope x 20 secondsHalf Burpee x 10 repsMountain Climber x 15 repsThe Exercises

An Upper-Body Warm-Up to Prep Your Back, Shoulders, and Chest for Your Workout

An Upper-Body Warm-Up to Prep Your Back, Shoulders, and Chest for Your Workout

Looking for a great upper-body warm-up to do before your next back, shoulder, or chest workout? We have you covered, with a straightforward, five-move routine that will activate the right muscles and mobilize the correct joints so you can have the best upper-body strength workout possible.A good upper-body warm-up—like the one below—doesn’t rely on heavy weights. Instead, it uses just your bodyweight and/or resistance bands to create tension in the muscles in your back, chest, and shoulders, ACE-certified personal trainer Tasheon Chillous, C.P.T., coach and personal trainer at Ascent Fitness in Tacoma, Washington, tells SELF. This tension then prepares your muscles to push or pull heavier weights during your actual workout, helping to increase the effectiveness of your workout and reduce your risk of injury in the process.A solid upper-body warm-up also increases your range of motion and thus allows you to perform movements in your workout in their full extent. This, in turn, boosts the strengthening benefits of your workout. Lastly, a good upper-body warm-up challenges your heart rate and activates your core and muscles around your spine.“We do a lot with our legs in our general day-to-day,” says Chillous—from running to walking to climbing a flight of stairs. “But we don’t often turn on our core or lower back.” That can be a problem, since your core and lower back are important muscle groups that affect the functioning of your upper (and lower) halves. After all, you need a strong core to help you perform upper-body exercises like the overhead press and the row, since your core muscles help keep you stable and transfer power to heft that weight. With this upper-body warm-up, which Chillous created for SELF, you can turn on these vital muscles and then reap the rewards in your upper-body strength workout.As for when you should do an upper-body warm-up? The answer is simple: Before any type of upper-half strength routine, says Chillous. Getting into such a habit will help reduce your risk of injury and ensure you’re prepared for the workout to come.This warm-up, which you can easily do at-home, is designed to fire up your shoulders, back, and chest ahead of a strength workout. But because this warm-up has a good dose of core work too, you could also use it for core activation, says Chillous.Feeling ready to kickstart your workout with a great upper-body warm-up? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know.The WorkoutWhat you need: An exercise mat for comfort and a medium-strength resistance band for the pull-apart.ExercisesPull-apartIncline push-upThread the needleSquat thrustBear holdDirectionsDo each move for the designated number of reps or time. Move from one move to the next without resting in between moves. (Of course, if you feel your form begin to falter, take a short rest and start again with fresh form.) After you’ve completed all five exercises in the circuit, rest about 10 seconds, then repeat the circuit one to two more times for two to three rounds total.Bands We Like:Perform BetterPerform Better SuperbandThis versatile and durable band can take you through warm-up moves and strength-training exercises.AmazonSPRI Xertube Resistance BandThe handles on this band make it a comfortable choice for tons of strength-training exercises.Demoing the moves below are Hejira Nitoto (GIF 1), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness apparel line owner based in Los Angeles; Amanda Wheeler (GIF 2), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength; Shauna Harrison (GIFs 3 and 5), a Bay-area based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; and Cookie Janee (GIF 4), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve.

This 20-Minute, At-Home Cardio Workout Will Get You Sweaty Fast

This 20-Minute, At-Home Cardio Workout Will Get You Sweaty Fast

You may think 20 minutes may not be enough time to really break a sweat. But this cardio workout at home will really make you feel differently!  With the right exercises and workout format—plus a commitment to pushing yourself to the max—there’s a lot you can achieve in a short amount of time. Our newest Sweat with SELF video is a great example of how the ideal combination of factors can deliver a ton of bang-for-your-exercise-buck.Led by trainers Astrid Swan and Ridge Davis, this workout is the fifth installment in a six-part cardio program and definitely the most challenging video of the series to date. It follows a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format, meaning you’ll alternate between bursts of max effort work and short periods of rest.What makes this workout especially intense, though, is its line-up of 10 challenging total-body exercises. Thanks to explosive, compound moves—like plank jacks, jump squats to lunges, and push-ups to knee drive—you’ll quickly spike your heart rate and smoke every major muscle group in your body. Even better, you’ll achieve those gains without any weights or equipment, making this routine a stellar addition to your arsenal of at-home workouts.Quick caveat: If you’re injured or have joint pain, check in with a professional before you try this routine. They can help you determine the best exercise plan for you and advise on whether a cardio workout at home like this one is a good option for you.If you are OK’d to do this sweaty workout, grab a mat, two small household items (like hand towels or TV remotes) and follow along with the video below. Or, if you prefer to move at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each exercise.Workout DirectionsThere are four circuits and one finisher (called the “burnout”). Start with circuit 1. Do each move for the designated number of reps. Repeat the circuit for 3 rounds total, resting about 10 to 15 seconds in between rounds.Rest 30 seconds, then do circuit 2. Do each move for the designated number of reps. Repeat the circuit for 3 rounds total, resting about 10 to 15 seconds in between rounds.Rest 45 seconds, then complete circuit 3. Do each move for the designated number of reps. Repeat the circuit for 3 rounds total, resting about 10 to 15 seconds in between rounds.Rest 90 seconds, then do circuit 4. Do each move for the designated number of reps. Repeat the circuit for 3 rounds total, resting about 10 seconds in between rounds.Rest 60 seconds, then finish with the burnout. Do each move for the designated time or number of reps.WorkoutCircuit 1Inchworm to Shoulder Tap x 5 repsSquat Jack x 10 repsRepeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting about 10 to 15 seconds in between rounds.Circuit 2Bear Crawl x 7 repsPlank Jack x 25 repsRepeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting about 10 to 15 seconds in between rounds.Circuit 3Jump Squat to Lunge x 5 repsPlank to Downward Dog Reach x 5 repsRepeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting about 10 to 15 seconds in between rounds.Circuit 4Push-up to Knee Drive x 5 repsReverse Crunch to Bicycle x 7 repsRepeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting about 10 to 15 seconds in between rounds.BurnoutHigh Knee x 10 repsForearm Plank Hold x 30 secondsThe Exercises

Work Your Legs and Abs Anywhere With This No-Equipment Routine

Work Your Legs and Abs Anywhere With This No-Equipment Routine

Getting in a good legs and abs workout doesn’t have to involve equipment, a gym membership, or tons of complicated exercises. It can be as simple as a six-move, bodyweight routine you can do at home—which is exactly the workout we have for you below.First though, let’s talk about why leg and core strength even matters. These muscle groups are the foundation and base of support for your entire body, Kaila DeRienzo, a NASM-certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified run coach in Orlando, tells SELF. Your core, in particular, is the power source where a lot of movements originate—from holding a plank to sweeping the floor to picking up a heavy box, says DeRienzo.And as the link between your upper and lower halves, your core affects the functioning of your other muscle groups, says DeRienzo. For example, a strong core can help you run better, since the power that your legs generate from running needs to be transmitted through your core, as SELF previously reported. The stronger your core is, the more effectively that power will be transmitted, and the more efficiently you’ll be able to propel yourself forward.Legs are another super-important muscle group. Even if you’re not training for a race or working toward any other specific athletic goal, you need strong enough legs to literally carry you through life, as SELF previously reported. Everything from walking up a flight of stairs to lifting your heavy laundry bag is easier when you can put some leg muscle behind it.As for what makes a good legs and abs workout? Well, when strengthening your lower body, make sure to hit not just the muscles on your frontside like your quads, but your backside muscles as well—think hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Same thing applies for your core; don’t just hone in on your rectus abdominis (the core muscles running vertically along the front of your abdomen), but also be sure to work your deeper core stabilizer muscles, says DeRienzo, including your transverse abdominis (the deepest core muscles that wrap around your spine and sides) and multifidus (the back muscles along your spine). Targeting a variety of muscles in your legs and core, instead of hitting just a few, will help develop well-rounded strength and boost the overall functioning of these muscle groups.The following six-move legs and abs circuit, which DeRienzo created for SELF, targets tons of muscles in your core and lower-half. It incorporates balance, coordination, and stability work and delivers a tiny dose of cardio, too. Moreover, all of the moves are easily modified, so both beginners and more advanced exercisers can benefit from this routine. Any yet another perk? You don’t need any equipment to get it done.Do this routine two to three times a week, suggests DeRienzo. Just be sure to do a brief warm-up first so you don’t jump in with cold muscles. A few minutes of jumping jacks, high knees, and butt kicks can do the trick.So if you’re feeling ready to smoke your legs and abs, keep scrolling for a simple-yet-effective six-move workout. Who knows, it may just become your new favorite at-home routine.The WorkoutWhat you need: An exercise mat for comfort.ExercisesReverse crunchSquat to curtsy lungeMountain climber to toe tapEccentric squatScissors kickLateral lunge to single-leg hopDirectionsDo 10-12 reps of each move. Rest 30 to 60 seconds in between moves. Do the entire circuit 2 to 3 times. Don’t take additional rest in between sets (though of course take a break if your form starts to falter or if you feel like you can’t catch your breath).Demoing the moves below Amanda Wheeler (GIF 1), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength; Angie Coleman (GIF 2), a holistic wellness coach in Oakland; Erica Gibbons (GIF 3), a California-based personal trainer and graduate student becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist; Nathalie Huerta, coach at The Queer Gym in Oakland; Manuela Sanchez (GIF 5), a Pilates instructor at Club Pilates in Brooklyn; and Crystal Williams (GIF 6), a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City.Exercise Mats We LikeYogaAccessories Non-Slip Exercise MatThis option is tear-resistant, double-sided, and longer than most other yoga mats, which means extra room for performing more dynamic moves.Lululemon Take Form Yoga MatWe love how this yoga mat does not move, even when you’re performing more dynamic exercises. Its soft cushion makes it super comfortable, too.Gaiam Yoga MatWhen you need to liven up your workout, the fun designs on this mat have you covered—and the textured surface will make sure you stay steady.

Here’s What a Balanced and Effective Week of Working Out Actually Looks Like

Here’s What a Balanced and Effective Week of Working Out Actually Looks Like

“I would stay with a program for four to six weeks and progressively increase the weight,” says Tamir. “[The week before your last week] I would have a little bit of a drop-off to give your body a little bit of a recovery, and the last week, really push it hard.”Cardio: 2–3 times each weekWhy: As important as it is to strength train, cardio has its place in a balanced workout routine too. “Doing cardio keeps your circulatory system working optimally, helping you to recover faster…[and it] keeps your endurance up,” says Tamir. “It also increases your VO2 max, which helps your body utilize oxygen.”How: You’ve got a ton of options for cardio: an outdoor jog, a bike ride, the good old elliptical machine—the list goes on. Functional movements, like kettlebell swings, and agility work can also count as cardio, as long as you’re doing enough reps during a certain time frame to keep your heart rate elevated.”Whether something is cardiovascular depends on where your heart rate is at and how long you’re doing it for,” says Tamir. Target heart rates are different for everyone, but Tamir suggests that a good baseline to aim for during your cardio routines is between 120 and 150 beats per minute for 45 to 60 minutes.Another option is interval training, where you work hard for a short amount of time and alternate that with recovery periods, says Tamir. The best part? You can do this with pretty much anything—indoor rowing machine, bike, running, functional movements, you name it.There are also plenty of cardio classes out there that you can try. Heart-pumping examples include indoor cycling, kickboxing, HIIT classes, dance cardio, running classes, rowing classes, and more.Rest Days: 2 times each weekWhy: Taking a break lets your body recover and rebuild—and gives it some time for post-workout muscle soreness to ease up—so you can get back to your workouts refreshed and ready to rock it.There are few ways to work a rest day. A rest day can be considered active recovery, meaning you don’t have to hit the gym or break a serious sweat, but you still do something.”It’s not just about the physical recovery—it’s also the mental,” says Tamir. “Doing something that you enjoy that’s active is great for the mind…and it assists in residual fatigue.”But sometimes the best rest day is a day of actual rest. It’s perfectly OK to do absolutely nothing on your rest day. What’s most important is that you listen to what your body and brain need. Some rest days, that might be doing a light morning stretch routine. Other days, it might be binge-watching Netflix on the couch. Both have a place in your weekly workout routine!How: Active recovery shouldn’t require a ton of effort like a workout day, but it can get you moving. You can do some stretching, just take a walk, or try a restorative class, like gentle yoga or a relaxed mat Pilates class. It’s also OK, as mentioned, to do nothing physical on your rest day. If you do choose active recovery, aim for 30-60 minutes of really light activity.

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