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5 Major Benefits of Total-Body Workouts

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AppId is over the quota

The plan is set: Get to the gym six days a week, target a different body part each day, and build the physique you’ve always dreamed of. 

And then life happens. 

Despite our best intentions, commitment to strength work — in addition to cardio, mobility and other athletic pursuits — can be a tall order. But there is hope: Total-body workouts.

“For 90 percent of people, 90 percent of the time, total-body training is the way to go,” says Tony Gentilcore, strength coach and co-founder of Cressey Sports Performance. Performed three to four days per week, workouts that rely on complex, multi-joint movements will engage more muscle groups at once, in addition to your core. So while endless bicep curls may seem like your only ticket to the gun show, chin-ups, for instance, can target the same muscle group, while also working the back and abs. Whether your goal is building strength, shedding pounds, or becoming a more well-rounded athlete, increasing the complexity of your movements can result in a greater neuromuscular and cardiovascular challenge — and potentially greater gains, as well.

If you’ve hit a plateau, struggle with athleticism, or need to simply shake up your usual routine, here are five reasons total-body training might be for you.

We seek time-efficiency in every other area of our lives — why not take that same approach to the gym? “You burn a heck of a lot more calories in a given session when you perform a full-body training session as opposed to just doing an arm day or shoulder day,” Gentilcore says. Major muscle groups working together in compound exercises, like squats and lunges, require more energy to coordinate movement, move heavy training loads, and provide oxygen to working muscles than single-joint exercises that only work one or two small muscles.

RELATED: The Ultimate 20-Minute MetCon Workout 

While isolation work is important for muscular hypertrophy, it’s not necessarily for everyone. “Overzealous isolation work one day per week isn’t frequent enough for most people to see gains in muscular size,” Gentilcore says. While we’re all for “leg day,” that doesn’t mean neglecting your lower half for the other six days in the week. With full-body training (assuming appropriate loads and rest), you’re targeting any given muscle group two to three times per week for increased muscle growth, Gentilcore says. 

If getting stronger is your goal, it’s imperative to perform movements that allow you use the most weight, says Gentilocore. Compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift and bench press variations are full-body movements that require the most total-body effort to execute. By making these exercises the mainstay in your workout program, you’ll be challenging your body to continuously — and effectively — build strength.

RELATED: 6 Squat Variations for Total-Body Strength 

Only have 30 minutes to spare? By focusing on the major multi-joint exercises that work your entire body you’re stimulating the same muscles using one exercise (think: back squats) in lieu of multiple exercise machines (in this case: leg curls, hip extensions and leg extensions). Plus, by supporting a bar during squats your core is required to stabilize the body under load, unlike single-joint exercises.

Total-body training teaches you to focus on the rule of 80/20, says Jason Maxwell, owner of Jmax Fitness and So instead of adding in an extra set of forearm extensions, or another set of bicep curls, you place your focus on the 20 percent of movements that give you the most bang for you buck, Maxwell says. When you’re short on time, these more efficient exercises become the logical choice in training.

RELATED: The Busy Person’s Guide to Becoming a Fitness Minimalist

Imagine being able to work out anytime, anywhere, without throwing off your whole routine. That’s exactly what total-body training allows. By training the whole body as one integrated unit you’re able to stimulate the same muscles in one workout that might take two or three isolation-based workouts. As a result, you can integrate total-body training around a busy travel schedule and not miss a beat, or focus on other exercise activites, like swimming, biking or yoga, without neglecting your strength training. 

Maximize your strength-building potential — and your time at the gym — with this head-to-toe workout from Maxwell. It requires just four exercises start to finish, completed in supersets for optimal efficiency and calorie burn. 

Want more strength workouts you can do anytime, anywhere? Head to to try your free 30-day trial.

50 Running Resources on Speed, Strength and Nutrition


50 Running Resources to Improve Speed Strength and Nutrition

Sure, some of us are born to run, but for everyone else, let’s face the facts: Running is hard. It’s tedious. And some days, it feels like we’re at a complete standstill while the rest of the world is logging negative splits. 

While there may be no such thing as a “perfect” race, there are ways to set yourself up for success — from technique to cross-training — and yes, find fun on the run again. Whether you’ve completed 100 marathons or have your sights set on one (someday), these resources can help get you hit the ground running this fall. Start with strength, speed work or race day strategy — the choice is yours.   

Speed won’t develop overnight. But committing one or two days per week to intervals, fartleks and other running drills, will help get you closer to your goals. Are you changing up the pace as much as you should? And is your form as efficient as it could be? Get the tips you need, plus other insights to start shaving minutes (maybe even an hour!) off your previous PRs.

A Runner’s Guide to Speedwork

5 Expert Tips to Master Proper Running Form

How to Run More Efficiently (Read: Faster!)

5 Running Tweaks That Took an Hour Off My Marathon Time

Run Faster With This Mobility Warm-Up 

To go the long haul, runners can’t just rely on endurance and technique. When fatigue sets in, form will often break down — and without a strong foundation, injuries are inevitable. Strength training for runners will mean honing in on the glutes, hips and core — and addressing any muscle imbalances that may already exist. It’s not supposed to be easy, but it’s always worth it. 

Why Runners Need to Strength Train

6 Core Exercises to Make You a Stronger, Faster Runner 

The 7 Best Strength Exercises You’re Not Doing

5 Ways to Test for Muscle Imbalances and Avoid Injury

The 8 Biggest Myths About Weightlifting — Debunked

While running free of unnecessary gear and gadgets can be, well, freeing, having the right essentials can make the task at hand far more productive. Find out which shoes, GPS watches and weatherproof gear you’ll want to strap on this season — and what to leave behind.  

The Best New GPS Watches for Fitness Tracking

Running Gear You’ll Need to Get Through the Cold

The 25 Best Shoes for Every Workout

The Best Sports Bras for Every Activity 

It’s your peak mileage week, and you’re about ready to give up. Don’t throw in the towel just yet! It’s possible your training plan could use some adjustment, or, maybe it’s time to step away from the pavement and vary up your workouts. When all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with some extra motivation (or distractions) on those long runs. A running buddy can be just the trick, or try a podcast that’ll work your brain — in addition to your legs!

Hit a Running Plateau? Get Past It With These Tips

Why the 10 Percent Rule Doesn’t Always Work

6 Tips to Make Running in the Cold Suck Less

8 Awesome Podcasts to Get You Through a Long Run

The weather’s crappy; everything hurts; there are a million-and-one things on your to-do list that sound more appealing than hill repeats. When the going gets tough, it can help to remember there are incredible athletes overcoming the odds each and every day. That’ll put those sprints in perspective! Whether you turn to accomplished athletes, friendly running bloggers, or motivational music from Meb, inspiration can come from all around us, and sometime from within.  

The 20 Most Inspiring Runners in the U.S.

Hate Running? 25 Ways to Learn to Love It 

Run Like a Pro With Meb Keflezighi’s Workout Playlist

10 Lessons Learned While Running 100 Marathons

There’s no denying that running can take a major toll on the body. As much as you may want to kick those feet up after a hard-fought 10K, there’s still a little more work to be done. A cool-down walk or jog, foam rolling and active stretching are all essential in aiding the recovery process and getting you back on the track, treadmill or pavement, STAT. Is your post-workout routine what it should be?  

Lower-Body Foam Rolling Routine [VIDEO]

7 New Recovery Tools You’ll Love to Hate

The Truth About Lactic Acid

Are You Foam Rolling All Wrong?

So maybe you won’t get around to all these races, but there’s no harm in trying! From mud runs to charity events to marathons on every corner of the globe, there’s truly something for everyone (even if it just starts out as a “someday” pin on your Pinterest board). If there’s a will, there’s a way!

The 50 Best Half-Marathons in the U.S.

The 30 Best Marathons in the Entire World

The 15 Best Fall Marathons in the U.S.

The 13 Most Epic Mud Runs

10 Spring Races That Give Back

The 15 Best Spring Marathons in the U.S. 

If nutrition isn’t a part of your training game, it’s time to change that. A balanced diet, and understanding how and when to fuel can be the difference between hitting a wall or setting a new personal best. The “runger” is real, but it can be tamed.

The 10 Nutrients Athletes Need Most 

Should You Eat Before a Workout?

How to Tame Your Runger

The Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating

How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for You 

Seamless will only get you so far. Maybe you’re not an ace in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t whip up a few runner-friendly sports drinks, energy bars and protein shakes to help nourish and fuel you to go the distance.  

9 Homemade Sports Drink Recipes

13 Quick and Easy Protein Shake Recipes 

9 Healthy DIY Energy Bar Recipes 

9 Delicious Homemade Protein Bar Recipes

Training for a big race can be all encompassing, and sometimes the things that matter most can take a back seat. So how do you balance the anxiety and so-called runner “crazies” with…everyday life? This one’s not easy: You’ll need to dig deep before toeing the line.    

Is Marathon Training Hurting Your Relationship?

7 Common Fears of Runners (and How to Get Past Them) 

Is Your Race Training Giving You Anxiety?

When It’s OK to Drop Out of a Race

The prep work is done and it’s just you and the starting gun. Or is it? Between the crowds, the elements, and the course’s many unknowns, there’s a whole lot to factor in (and even more you’ll need to just roll with) on race day. These tips will help get you ready for anything. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

13 Race Day Tips for Newbie Runners

A Runner’s Guide to Hydration (And How Not to Overdo It)

How to Run Your Best Night Race

Carbo Loading for Runners: How to Prep for Race Day

How to Taper for Your Best Marathon Yet

Which running tips, tricks and training tools have helped make you a better competitor? Share your comments below, and we’ll see you at the finish line! 

8 Awesome Podcasts to Get You Through a Long Run

Many runners say they love the sport because it gives them a chance to be alone with their thoughts. But if you’ve ever trained for a long-distance race, you know that’s an awful long time to be alone with your innermost desires or that same old Top 40s music on your iPod.

Usually free and frequently updated, podcasts are a great alternative when you just want to zone out as you log the miles. Whether you’re looking for entertainment, personal growth or just to learn how to run faster, you can find a show to fit your mood. We asked pro runners, running bloggers and coaches for their favorite podcasts to give you a heavy dose of motivation as you hit the pavement. 

Balanced Bites Podcast1. The Balanced Bites Podcast
Whether you eat like a caveman or are just curious about the Paleo diet, Practical Paleo author Diane Sanfilippo’s podcast is a go-to for anyone curious about the grain-free, dairy-free lifestyle. With cohost Paleo blogger Liz Wolfe, Sanfilippo covers everything from what to eat to lower cholesterol and why you need to give up gum to see results from a sugar detox.

“I recently became a nutrition and health coach,” says Sara Larsen, “so I love listening to learn something new, and it keeps me entertained on long runs on the treadmill.” 

The Jillian Michaels Show2. The Jillian Michaels Show
If you’ve ever watched The Biggest Loser, you’re used to seeing “America’s Toughest Trainer” giving the contestants her signature tough love approach. But her free, weekly podcast sheds light on a more vulnerable side of the brash fitness superstar, showing how she deals with underlying causes of behaviors like emotional eating to push through her own barriers.  

Running blogger and coach Laura Skladzinski tunes in to Jillian Michaels because her episodes usually have a big mental component to them. “It’s like therapy while you run!” 

Greater Good Podcast3. Greater Good Live
The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley studies the psychology, sociology and neuroscience of well-being. Their thought-provoking podcast explores themes like the neuroscience of happiness with experts in the field.

Pro runner Deena Kastor — who recently shattered the World Masters Half-Marathon record — is a huge fan. “I love anything that has to do with optimism and progress,” she says. You’ll learn everything from the power of self-compassion to how to be happier at work.

Another Mother Runner4. Another Mother Runner Radio
If you are a mother and a runner, you’ve probably heard of Another Mother Runner. Hosted by irreverent and witty bloggers Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, the podcast is “like listening to a hysterical conversation between friends,” says run coach Gia Alvarez. The show includes guests like Magdalena Boulet, a former Olympic marathoner, who now does research and development for energy gel company GU Energy Labs. The long-time friends and business partners share insights on fitting in training time, demystifying track workouts and their upcoming races. (McDowell is currently preparing for an Ironman 70.3 race!) 

RELATED: Should You Press Pause on Your Running Music?

Another Mother Runner Radio5. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!
While this NPR quiz-show format podcast rarely discusses running or fitness (though its host, Peter Sagal, is a 3:20 marathoner himself), it’s still popular among runners. Its devotees say that the format keeps them thinking as they follow along. The show tests its guests on current events and trivia. A popular segment, “Not My Job” quizzes guests on topics completely and utterly out of their wheelhouse — like asking Arizona Senator Jeff Lake about winter sports. “I’ve been known to answer the questions out loud on occasion,” says blogger Mindy Nienhouse from Just a One Girl Revolution.

Rich Roll Podcast6. The Rich Roll Podcast
If your training plan is calling for six miles or more, you’ll want to fire up this podcast on your phone. The episodes are typically at least an hour long, giving you plenty of material as you tick off the miles. Rich Roll, a vegan ultra-endurance athlete (he’s done five Ironman-distance triathlons in less than a week!) covers everything from the “spiritual road to athletic supremacy” to meditation for kids. “He’s kind of a hippie, other-worldly ultrarunner, but his voice just brings such peace to my own spirit!” says blogger Katy Widrick

Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast7. Ben Greenfield Fitness
Triathlete Ben Greenfield may be a top-ranked triathlete and five-time Kona Ironman World Championships competitor, but his show is still accessible to newbies and seasoned athletes alike. Touching on topics ranging from how bad beer really is for you to how to mitigate damage from endurance sports, this podcast will teach you a thing or two while you check another run off your training plan. He’s known for explaining new training strategies, like the Maffetone Method, so listen up if you’ve got a new PR on the brain!

The Marathon Show8. The Marathon Show
If you’re not ready to commit several months of your life to training for the big distance, you can live vicariously through this podcast. Host Joe Taricani is known for interviewing guests during marathons to give a true on-the-ground look inside a race. He talks to everyone from race directors to medical professionals and suppliers about what it takes to put on — and get through — 26.2 miles of fun. 

What’s your favorite podcast to tune in to when you want to zone out on the run? 

Originally posted on April 30, 2014. 

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet: The Hardest CrossFit Workout I’ve Ever Done

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet Photo courtesy of CrossFit Games Inc.

It’s not easy being the Fittest Woman on Earth. Just ask Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, first place finisher at the 2014 CrossFit Games, out of 300,000 competitors. Performing Workouts Of the Day (WOD) ranging from a triathlon and a rope climb to Olympic lifting and handstand push-ups, the sport of CrossFit really does test an athlete’s ability in all things, which helps push them forward. And while this Canadian-native, who, mind you, can snatch 195 pounds, felt stronger on the field than ever before, this year’s Games went a little deeper for her.

“There comes a time in a young girl’s life when there’s a shift into thinking that skinny and light is beautiful,” says Leblanc Bazinet. “For me, doing CrossFit and changing my view on myself and on beauty itself made me realize there should never have been this shift.”

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet Photo courtesy of CrossFit Games Inc.

While she does still like her hair to look pretty, Leblanc-Bazinet now values herself based on what she can achieve, which includes 80 consecutive pull-ups in a row, a 320-pound back squat, and 20 unbroken muscle-ups.

So what can someone who has already taken the highest honor in his or her sport still hope to achieve? “I want to find the limitation of my body and use that to inspire others to forge their own destiny,” she says. In the meantime, Leblanc-Bazinet shared with us the hardest workout she’s ever done. Try it, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!

RELATED: 5 CrossFit Workouts That Will Kick Your Butt

When did this infamous workout go down?

It was at this year’s CrossFit Games in California. They announced this workout way before the Games so I kind of practiced it a little bit before. But I never did the whole thing, because I didn’t want to push it by myself — I wanted to save it for the CrossFit Games. I knew it was going to be a hard one for me because they pretty much put all my weaknesses into one workout. But I knew I could do it. I hoped I only needed to be as good as I am to stay at the top.

Set the scene for us…

We’re all in front of a rower and we’re waiting and everyone’s cheering us on, but we’re not going yet. The tension is just building, and building, and building, and you know you’re going to start soon. That’s the worst moment because at this point you just want to puke from the nerves. And you start asking yourself “what the heck am I doing here? I don’t want to do this anymore.” And then they announce “30 seconds,” and it’s like “Whoa, this is getting real!” In that moment, my switch flips from bubbly Camille to focused tiger. Nothing will stand in my way — then we start.

What do you remember about it? How did it make you feel?

During the run, I remember I wanted to pass out almost the whole time. My last mile of running I kind of started to burp, and I remember one of the spectators on the sideline go, “Uh oh,” and I was thinking, “Yeah, I know I’m in trouble!”

What was the hardest part?

The run was the hardest because it was at the end. And because of how hard I pushed in it. I’ve never pushed like that before. I finished under 40 minutes, 39:53.

What mantra or thoughts helped get you through?

I don’t really remember much about the run. But I do remember telling myself, “Don’t regret the fact that you slowed down or stopped.” So in my head I kept saying “No regrets, no regrets.”

And then I remember at the last 250 meters of the run I was trying to push to finish and I had a little conversation with myself: If I go there, I’m going to pass out without a doubt, or I can stay here at this pace and let one girl by me — which is what I did. And as soon as I crossed the finish line, everything collapsed and I knew I had made the right choice of letting this one person go by me. Otherwise I would have passed out before the line.

How about the row? Since taller athletes have a slight edge on the competition, did you feel you were at a disadvantage?

I row a lot to try to have more of a love relationship with it than a hate one. But everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses. The goal is to make those weaknesses not so weak and those strengths really strong.

Was there a light at the end of the tunnel?

No light really, just completing the WOD.

Would you ever do it again?

I would, but I definitely need a full year to get ready mentally to go there.

I think going there once kind of showed me that I didn’t die — nothing like that happened. So it kind of gave me this power of knowing that I can push my body to that point.

How did you recover from it? Any injuries?

No injuries at all. I’m someone who really focuses on technique so I keep my body safe. I would say maybe I had a little bit of heat stroke, and as soon as I finished this WOD I went and had an ice bath to bring down my body temperature. Then I had some bodywork done. I recover with protein and carbs post-workout and take a nap.

Hardest Workout Camille Leblanc-Bazinet Photo by Andrew Neugebauer

Note: This workout was performed by a professional athlete who struggled immensely doing it, and had medical professionals on-site in case of emergency. Perform at your own risk, should you be so daring.

To hear more about Camille’s CrossFit training, follow her on Twitter at @CamilleLbaz.

How to Build Muscle Fast: Your Guide to Picking Weights

Few things are more intimidating to rookie weight lifters than a room full of muscular fitness fanatics, tossing around huge weights like they’re Nerf balls. Before you get gym-timidated away from those barbells, we’ve got some tips to help you learn how to build muscle without looking like a total newbie. 

Ben Booker, DailyBurn trainer and founder of Second Chance Lifestyle, says the first step for beginners should be setting up a session with a personal trainer, or joining a workout program, to learn how to properly train. “It’s really important to come into the gym with a plan,” Booker says. “If you just show up and start walking through the weight room, that doesn’t get you anywhere.” 

RELATED: Strength Training Tips for the Body You Want

The second step? Picking the right weights. Here’s how to figure out whether your weights are too light or too heavy — and how to maintain the perfect form for your basic line-up of lifts.

You’ve adequately warmed up with some foam rolling and mobility exercises. Next up: Deciding between barbells and dumbbells. That’s going to depend on the lifts you’re doing, according to Booker, who recommends using a combination of both pieces of equipment in your workouts. “If you’ve had shoulder injuries, I generally recommend dumbbells for shoulders and chest. It takes more work to control them…therefore you’re using more muscles,” Booker says. “Use the barbell for squats or deadlifts.”

As a rule, you’ll want to work with a lighter set and a heavier set of dumbbells during your workouts. Heavy weights will help build muscle mass, while lighter will, “stabilize the muscle, which supports joints and tendons,” Booker says.

To figure out which size dumbbells are best for you, there’s a simple test that anyone can use. It involves a bicep curl — but it will help you determine the size of the weights you’ll be using for just about any dumbbell exercise.

Booker suggests women generally start with a set of two 5- to 10-pound weights, and men start with a set of two 10- to 20-pound weights.

How to: Stand with a weight in each hand, near hips, palms forward. Shoulders and elbows should be pinned against the wall. Without moving upper arms, curl weights up until dumbbells are shoulder level, then lower to starting position. Aim for 14 to 22 reps with good form (shoulders flat against the wall, raising arms for a count of two and lowering them for a count of two).

“What we try to do is fatigue that muscle to the point where you feel the bicep really straining. Your form might start to give just a little or you cant quite get to the rep range,” Booker says.

If your muscles fail or you can’t maintain form before reaching 14 reps, pick a set of weights five pounds lighter. If you can easily do more than 22 reps, pick a set five pounds heavier. This determines your lighter set of weights. Add 10 pounds, and that’s how much you should be lifting when reaching for a heavier set of weights.

Ready to get ripped? The secret to building muscle efficiently and safely is fairly simple. “You always need to maintain solid, proper form,” Booker says. “As soon as you start to get out of that form, no matter what lift you’re doing, adjust by either dropping weight or stopping.”

Booker says he likes clients to try to aim for four sets of 6 to 15 reps (the former if you’re lifting heavy, the latter if you’re lifting light). 

“With sold form if you are barely able to get to the lower end of the rep range when you hit close to full, or full muscle failure, then lower your weight,” Booker says. “The same goes for the high end.  If you can easily do the max rep range in good form, then add weight for the next set.”

Here’s how to execute four fundamental movements: 

If lifting were comparable to cooking, mastering the squat would be like learning how to crack an egg — it’s a basic move everyone should master.

How to: Start with just your bodyweight, or a barbell across the back of your shoulder blades, feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing either straight ahead or slightly out. If you’re using a barbell, grip it wider than shoulder-width. Sit back into your heels, sending your butt and hips back and down, keeping knees over the toes, shoulders and chest tall. At bottom of squat, press through heels and return to standing position.

Meet the chest press, the key to awesome pecs and stronger chest muscles.

How to: For alternating arm chest press in a bridge, lie down on the ground, knees bent, feet firmly planted on the ground, one dumbbell in each hand. Push up through your heels and raise your lower back and butt off the ground. Keeping torso and upper legs aligned, push dumbbells up above chest, perpendicular to your body, arms shoulder-width apart, palms of hands facing away from your face. Bending one elbow so arm creates a 90 degree angle, lower dumbbell down to your chest, keeping the other arm raised. Push dumbbell back to starting position. Repeat with the other arm for one rep.

“If the weight gets squirrely, and you can’t follow [a smooth motion] up, and down, then drop weight and get the form right,” Booker advises.  

Ideal for building arm definition, the triceps extension is a must-try move — and it’s pretty easy, too.  

How to: Sit on a flat bench or box. Hold one dumbbell in each hand directly overhead, palms facing each other, arms straight, elbows near ears, chin up. Lower dumbbells behind head, keeping elbows in place. Straighten arms and return to starting position.

Pro tip: If your elbows start to float out as you lift, it’s a sign you need to improve flexibility in your shoulders. “Always make sure there’s no pain in your neck or pain in your shoulders and if there’s not you can continue to work on that form,” Booker says. 

If you’re looking to simultaneously strengthen your back and shoulders for better posture, the row is the way to go. Plus, it’s a fairly easy move to master.

How to: Stand behind a box, feet shoulder width apart, dumbbell in right hand. Bend your left knee and place it on top of the box, and extend your right leg back behind you, knee slightly bent, toes on the floor. Lean over at the hips and place your left arm on the box in front of your knee to help brace yourself. Pick up your dumbbell with the right hand. Keeping your back flat, elbow close to your body, lift the weight up towards the right side of your chest, while simultaneously squeezing your shoulders together. Slowly lower dumbbell back down. Complete prescribed amount of reps, then switch to the other side.

Over time, you may find your “heavy” set of weights feels lighter to you as you master your lifts and build muscle. Congrats: Now, start adding more weight, in five-pound increments. “It’s called progressive overload; you’re going to slowly add weight and it should be done within a targeted rep range,” Booker says.

Ready to start weight training? Check out our new Live to Fail program at to begin shredding fat and building muscle mass. 

Note to reader: Some content in this article relates to the core service offered by DailyBurn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that this site is owned and operated by DailyBurn. 

Is Marathon Training Hurting Your Relationship?

When Lisa’s husband became interested in marathon running a couple decades ago, she wanted to support his healthy new hobby. She’d take care of their young son so he could fit in his long runs on weekends and travel with him to several races a year. “If you’re there for the pre-race pasta dinner and the post-race limp, you’re at least spending time together. My son and I wanted to share it with him,” says Lisa, a research specialist from Western Massachusetts.

“The spouse is almost as big of a contributor to the success of the athlete as the training.”

But over time, she says her husband’s constant training put a strain on their marriage. Several nights a week, when she wanted to connect with him and recount the details of her day, he was off for a run. The long Sunday workouts ate up half the day. “That’s time we weren’t spending as a family,” says Lisa who often referred to herself as a “marathon widow.” As for the rest of the evenings, her husband’s training often left him so exhausted he’d fall asleep within 20 minutes of watching a movie together.

RELATED: 10 Lessons Learned While Running 100 Marathons 

Lisa, an avid swimmer, tried to take up running but quickly gave it up when she hurt her knee. “He would talk about running all the time, but I couldn’t relate and felt left out,” she says. Last summer, after 21 years of marriage, the couple divorced. “I don’t think marathon training was the catalyst,” she says. “There were other issues, obviously. But did I resent the time he spent training and not being with me? Absolutely.”

As the popularity of marathon and triathlon racing soars in the U.S., athletes often think of training as a personal challenge — a solitary pursuit to boost one’s self esteem or feeling of accomplishment. What’s often not recognized is the toll it takes on families and significant others.

“Everyone has to sacrifice,” explains Pete Simon, an Arizona sports psychologist and USA Triathlon certified coach who blogs about the phenomenon called ‘Divorce by Triathlon.’ “The spouse is almost as big of a contributor to the success of the athlete as the training. If they don’t go along with it — or pick up slack — then you’ve got problems.”

Not only do families have to adjust to an athlete’s absence during peak training, which often requires 15 to 20 hours a week for extreme races, his or her training affects them in other ways. Extended family visits, social engagements and shared bottles of wine go by the wayside. Then there’s the cost: $255 to run the New York City Marathon, $700 for an Ironman spot, upwards of $1,000 for travel and hotel accommodations, and another $1,000 or more for bikes, shoes, training and racing clothes and accessories. Never mind the price of coaching, gym and pool membership fees and nutrition, which can tack on thousands more. 

“Extreme sports commitments become an issue when they become an obsession.”

For Steve and Kristine Kester of Duluth, Georgia, their challenge isn’t placating a neglected spouse. It’s juggling two packed racing and training schedules. “In the beginning when our kids were young, we made all the mistakes of over-committing between competitions, work, church, volunteering and our kids’ school activities and sports schedules,” says Kristine, a certified nurse practitioner and tri coach.

They became skillful jugglers: He’d fit in his weekday workouts at 4 a.m., and then she’d go at 7 a.m. when he got back. They’d each take a weekend day for longer workouts. Or he’d spend Sunday with the kids while she drove four hours for a one-hour race. But they missed out on time with each other. When Steve trained for two Ironman competitions two years in a row, date night became a rarity. “We were in over our heads and pledged to each other not to commit to anything unless we asked each other first,” says Kristine.

RELATED: 12 Keys to Achieving Work-Life Balance 

Now they make a list of all the races they want to do each year and agree that only one person can train for a big race at a time. Last month, Steve competed in Ironman Chattanooga (and qualified for the world championships in Kona, Hawaii in 2015), and Kristine volunteered in the medical tent and kept track of his gear.

“They call spouses ‘Iron Mates,’” says Steve, a private equity investor. “They help schlep your equipment, keep things in order at home, and listen to you whine for nine months.” 

With two kids in college and one in junior high, the couple now finds more time to work out together, including swimming in a master’s group. “I do wonder if she was doing all these races and I was working all the time if we would have had more conflict,” says Steve. “The fact that we both got into this in a big way at the same time probably helped us understand each other and everything we had to learn to do to make it all work.” 

Relationship experts say that the key to preventing extreme training schedules from creating resentment is recognizing and appreciating a partner’s sacrifices. And, of course, supporting his or her hobbies in return. Here are some tips for getting through those tough training months. 

1. Compensate with quality time together. 
“You have to make sure you’re present with your partner,” explains Steven Stosny, a counselor in Washington D.C. and author of Living and Loving after Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment. “Extreme sports commitments become an issue when they become an obsession. It’s not so much the time athletes spend training. It’s also the time they’re thinking about it at home and not connecting with their families.”

2. Include them in everything.
Ask your partner to help you plan your schedule so he or she feels you’re being considerate of other family obligations, says Simon. If possible, invite a spouse to train with you. “Even if you’re at different levels, you can do a recovery ride with them or take the entire family on an open water swim,” he says. If your family isn’t athletically inclined, you can choose races at destinations they’d like to visit and make the trip into a mini-vacation. Bonus: Your favorite people cheering you on at the finish line.

3. Be flexible with training.
Simon suggests getting workouts out of the way first thing in the morning, or training smarter by doing higher intensity exercises that take less time. Athletes can also choose shorter races, such as half-marathons or sprint or Olympic-distance tris,  which are challenging but still allow you to have a personal life. “You don’t want to get to the point where your family is tired of you training and tired of you being gone,” he says. “Sometimes you have to aim for balance.”

Live to Fail: A New Strength Training Program from DailyBurn

What do you think of when you hear strength training? Huge guys and bulky girls doing bicep curls, with six-packs you could never get? Meatheads hoisting heavy weights, clanking barbells and plates you don’t know how — or want — to use? If you’ve always pictured having a fit, strong physique but don’t know which program will get you there, DailyBurn’s new Live to Fail (LTF) may be the answer. All you need are two sets of dumbbells and a box — no gym membership or pricey personal training sessions necessary. Skeptical you won’t see results? DailyBurn trainer, Ben Booker, may just convince you otherwise.

Ben Booker wasn’t born with a six-pack. Fitness was always a part of his life, having been a basketball, football and track athlete in high school, but so was alcohol. It was an endless cycle for him — four months of training, followed by three months of drinking. And in his senior year of high school, everything changed. After a night out drinking, Ben got into a near-deadly car accident, leaving his back broken in two places. He was charged with a DUI and had his license suspended, at which point he turned to weight training.

“When I started rehab, I lifted weights to try to get back in shape,” says Ben. “I used a hypertrophy program, targeting specific muscles with a designated rep range and minimal rest, which breaks down the muscle tissue so that it grows as it repairs itself.” Ben stuck with this program long enough that his body began changing. “People started coming up to me saying ‘Hey, what are you doing because it’s working.’” Ben freely shared what knowledge he had and realized how much he enjoyed helping others with fitness.

Though it took a little more time, Ben also took control of his drinking. For years, he wasn’t able to step out of the comfort zone of the life he knew. But when he finally asked for help in 2006, the small-town Illinois-native was able to rebuild himself and find his true potential.

DailyBurn LTF Ben Booker Abs Photo: DailyBurn

“If you think you have it all figured out, you don’t,” says Ben. “You have to be humble, which by definition means being able to remain teachable. My biggest gains in life have come from my most humble moments, when I’ve been on my knees, asking for help, not knowing where I was headed. It’s not until we cross that line that we can experience who we really are.” Hitting that point of failure and being able to grow from it became the seed for Live to Fail, the workout program he went on to develop with DailyBurn.

So what does failure mean in the context of fitness? Think of it as failure to maintain pace or to be able to stay with a specific weight for a  prescribed rep range. We aren’t talking about a one-rep max failure. It is about safely overloading the targeted muscle, within that rep range, for a designated result, also known as hypertrophy and definition through maximum calorie burn by keeping your heart rate high. After all, the concept of building muscle is the process of breaking it down (failure of muscle strength), to rebuild it stronger to handle the load.

With those fundamentals at its core, LTF is a strength training program for men and women who truly want to change their bodies. If you dread spending hours at the gym on the treadmill or elliptical to get in shape, these workouts will change your mind about fitness. Each 35- to 55-minute session requires only two sets of dumbbells and a plyo box. Not sure how to even begin choosing your dumbbell weight? Ben talks you through a test to determine the correct weight for you.

DailyBurn LTF Ben Booker Chest Photo: DailyBurn

During the first six weeks, you’ll do a video a day with exercises that target a specific muscle group, with four sets of 10 to 12 reps, and minimal rest. The second six weeks ups the intensity with higher reps and some supersets. Ben and the LTF team will be there to help you maintain proper form and guide you to failure on moves you might not be familiar with. “Failure comes in many forms and is different for everyone,” says Ben. “That’s what I love about this program. It’s for people who have never stepped foot in a weight room before — as well as gym rats who lift on the regular. As long as you show up every day, we’ll help you get the results you want.”

As with all fitness programs, nutrition plays an important role. LTF provides users with a full nutrition plan, complete with a formula to calculate the amount of protein, fat and carbs you’re allotted daily to hit your macronutrient goals. Nervous you’re not cut out for “dieting?” This is no starvation diet — the plan is designed to deliver the quality nutrients your body needs during periods of high-intensity training. LTF lays out meal plans and lists of foods that complement the workout program, helping to keep you full, energized and in the best position possible to make strength gains.

“It can be a lot to start a new fitness and nutrition plan at the same time,” says Ben. But you can’t out train a bad diet. Just ask Josh Christensen, who lost 30 pounds, while gaining significant muscle definition after completing the LTF program. “You have to be all in or it won’t work,” he says. “I know because I’ve tried other programs without the nutrition and nothing happened. Once I educated myself and learned what to eat, the changes started coming.” Within a few weeks of starting LTF, Josh noticed strength gains and that he was losing fat. The nutrition and fitness components of LTF are designed to work together in order to get optimal results.

Nutrition also includes supplements — but don’t let that word scare you. These products get their name from being able to “supplement” for the calories, protein, vitamins and nutrients that you should be getting but aren’t able to through food. “I believe in these supplements and use them every day,” says Ben. In order to get optimal results from LTF, here’s what the program suggests:

Pre: Taken 30-45 minutes before workout; gets you focused and energized to maximize workoutPost: Taken immediately after workout; includes many beneficial nutrients like BCAAs, glutamine and vitamin C to keep you from getting sore and help start the recovery process (for more info on pre and post-workout supplements, click here)Creatine: Taken before workout; a highly recommended product if you want to gain muscle and size (women can take, but in smaller doses — Pre already has the recommended amount for women in it)Fuel-6: Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free protein powder taken post-workout or anytime during the day in the form of protein shakes; helps get you more protein if you’re not able to get enough through whole foodsMultivitamin: Taken in the morning with a meal; helps you get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs daily, such as Omega-3 fish oil

There’s no shortage of programs promising to get you ripped — fast. You may know firsthand that many, if not most, fall flat. That’s why LTF sticks with you for 12 tough but transformative weeks — providing you with workouts, nutritional advice, and the motivation you need to keep you on track. If you show up and put in the work, the results will follow — muscular arms, washboard abs and well-defined legs, chest and back. And for ladies, this program will build strength and definition all over — without adding bulk. But the physical transformation is just the beginning: Commitment to your fitness will help you think clearer, sleep better, focus more at work, and have more confidence.

“I believe there are four big aspects in life: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual,” says Ben. “When you push yourself physically, it can help you mentally and emotionally. Finding that clarity and balance that can come through physical fitness, by pushing your body to failure and then moving past it, that’s how we become stronger. And that’s what LTF is all about.”

If you’re looking for a strength training program that will change you, try DailyBurn’s Live to Fail program here, free for 30 days.

Note to reader: The content in this article relates to the core service offered by DailyBurn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that this site is owned and operated by DailyBurn. Neither these products, nor the statements herein, have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition.

Meb Keflezighi Tells All: How Much He’s Willing to Hurt for a Win

Meb Keflezighi Photo courtesy of TCS Marathon

“You know it’s going to hurt. So you have to ask yourself: Are you willing to hurt more than someone else?” That’s what elite long distance runner Meb Keflezighi has been telling himself leading up to the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. Why is this year different for the 39-year-old competitor? The added pressure of being the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 has him hungry for another W. We caught up with Meb to hear his takes on age, weight training, and mental preparation in the days before the big race. 

Are you still feeling a lot of pressure to win the TCS NYC Marathon after your victory in Boston, or is it subsiding a bit as the race gets closer?

No, the pressure never goes away. I still like to compete so I’m happy to be here for the TCS New York Marathon and feel fortunate enough to have experienced TCS’s passion for running and community support first-hand through my partnership with them this year. Expectations are higher after Boston though, so I put a lot of pressure on myself. But what I wanted to accomplish in my career has been accomplished — winning at the Olympics, New York City and Boston — so I’m happy. There’s a pressure, but a different kind.

At 39 years old, you’re continuing to break records and set new PRs. Is age helping you?

“I’d say I never run without music unless my battery dies. But on race day you get enough energy from the crowds.”

It’s wisdom versus youth. For me, I was always a front-runner. I would go out hard and try to win. Now I have to be more intuitive — use tactics and strategies to my advantage. Wisdom makes up for age. And at the end of the day, it’s hard work. At Boston in 2010 I went out at world record pace, hit a wall and couldn’t recover. When I did my first debut in New York in 2002 I went for it, and was in leading position with four other guys. It was cold and I put water over my head and that 38-degree water shut my engine off. At the end of the day, you have to be healthy, strong, fit — and may the best man and woman win.

Has getting older affected recovery for you? Is it harder to bounce back than it used to be?

I get deep tissue massages two or three times a weeks for back recovery. I used to do ice baths but I stopped last September. I got tired of shivering for four to five hours after. I use Norma Tec compression boots and do some self-therapy.

When I get injured though, it does take longer to bounce back. Back in the day, I’d take one to three days off and bounce back, but not anymore.

Meb Keflezighi Photo by Tim Kilduff

What specific changes did you make to your training regimen to win the Boston Marathon? 

I’ve been doing a lot of self-listening and body analyzing. I switched to a 9-day [training] cycle instead of a typical Monday to Sunday one. Sundays are long runs, then I eliminated the long run on Wednesday and do intervals instead. On Fridays, I do tempo and then wait two days to do a long run again. I need more recovery days to feel as strong as possible and not get injured. If I feel my stamina is not there, I’ll do long runs maybe twice a week. If I feel my tempo isn’t there, which has been the case, I’ll work on tempo.

I also do a lot of extra stretching, planks, plyometrics and core exercises. They’re small things but they kept me upright and mechanically sound when I needed it for Boston, which was a tough race, I had to break away early. I was supposed to draft until mile 24 and then make my move but that changed. I saw what the other guys were doing, and evaluated what I needed to do. You’ve got to listen to your intuition and make a decision.

“Training is 90 percent physical and 10 percent mental. Then race day it switches — it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”

I also had the victims from the bombing the year before in my mind and the motivation of the crowd. Training, motivation and emotion came together to help me be victorious.

You changed over from a Nike athlete to Skechers in 2011. Has that affected your training at all?

I was always a heel striker and Skechers shoes have allowed me to mid-foot strike. I feel like it’s a partnership more than a sponsorship, too. What people don’t realize is that we work hard every day — not just for one race. We train year-round and [that gives] me the experience I need to run races like Boston. I hope to peak two to three to four times a year. But I run every week.

Have you increased your cross-training in the past year? How important has it been to your running success?

As you get older, you have to stay healthy, and how do you do that? I changed what I did before Boston. Instead of a three-mile cool down after my first run and then going back for a long run that same day, I’ll do a four- or five-mile cool down, and then go for a ride on the ElliptiGO. I’ll go for an hour or two hour ride [on that] because there’s no impact on the body. It’s more endurance training with no risk of injury. The hardest part is getting on it! I did that leading up to the marathon, but then at the very end I’ve done more runs.

What about weight training? Will a stronger, heavier build mean a potentially slower time?

I do very minimalist weight training. I’ll do hamstring curls or work on my quads or hip flexion. I do core exercises at the gym or my house using the big medicine ball, too. I’ll do adductor work, crunches, hamstring curls, simple stuff. You can’t get too big though; you’ve got to carry it for a half-marathon or 26.2 miles

Biggest race day blooper?

When I became a Skechers athlete, I remember before one of my races the warm-up [outfit] I was wearing had no pockets. I always wear Breathe Right strips when I run, so the night before I put the strip in my shoe with my Vaseline and socks. I ended up getting rushed into the race… I was putting on Vaseline, thinking about food, but I wasn’t thinking about the Breathe Right. A few miles in, I felt something in my shoe. I touched my nose and realized the Breathe Right strip never came out of my shoe. It ended up cutting into my foot and becoming the biggest cut I’ve ever had. Then it got infected! The NYCM trial was 69 days away and it was infected for three weeks. I ended up only having 38 days of training because of it.

Meb Keflezighi Photo by Tim Kilduff

Do you truly enjoy running without music? How easy is it to drop the beats and work off the high of the run, course and crowd?

When I race with people, I never wear music out of respect. But I love wearing my Walkman. I get a high from music and cadence and rhythm. I’d say I never run without music unless my battery dies. But on race day you get enough energy from the crowds. And you just know the music is just not available.

Regurgitation along the racecourse — has it happened to you? How did you react? 

At mile 24 in Boston I felt like I had to. Imagine if you puke, what that looks like to the people behind you. If I had puked, it would have made the other runners think I’d been defeated. So I held it in. In the NYC Marathon in 2011 I went out hard at a 2:06 pace and had to make a full stop on the side of the course. After that, [other runners] get away from you. 

What percent of a race is mental and what percent is physical for you? How do you mentally prepare?

Training is 90 percent physical and 10 percent mental. Then race day it switches — it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. You have to visualize what you want to accomplish. I pray a lot and think about my family as a sense of motivation. I tell myself I can do it.

Track Meb this Sunday, November 2, as he runs the New York City Marathon starting at 9:00 a.m., EST, on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.

Run Like a Pro With Meb Keflezighi’s Workout Playlist

Meb Boston Marathon Photo: Run for Skechers

If you want to run harder, better, faster, stronger, your answer may just be a pumped up playlist away. It’s not news that music has been shown to help athletes run farther and bike longer. The tempo, beat and lyrics to a jam can alter an athlete’s psychological state, giving them an edge to crush the competition or a previous PR. And for training runs, a great playlist can provide just the motivation you need to hit the pavement after a long day at the office. 

While music has been banned for pro athletes competing for top titles and prize money at major races like the upcoming New York City marathon, that doesn’t mean these elites don’t listen to tunes while they prep.

Want to know what the playlist of a running champ looks like? We asked Meb Keflezighi, American long-distance runner, winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon and Skechers Performance sponsored athlete, what songs he’s been logging miles to in anticipation of this weekend’s Empire State race. From Michael Jackson to Run DMC, you might be surprised what pops up on Meb’s training playlist! Download the mix to your iPod and use it to motivate you through your race, whether it’s a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon (maybe even New York on Sunday!).

Track Meb this Sunday, November 2, as he runs the New York City Marathon starting at 9:00am, EST, on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.

6 Squat Variations for Total-Body Strength

Love them or love to hate them, squats are one of the best exercises for increasing strength and size, while simultaneously burning fat. It’s no wonder they’re often referred to as the king of all strength training exercises. Still, some gym-goers opt out of squats in favor of more glamorous moves like the bench press and bicep curl. No more! Friends don’t let friends skip leg day. And since we’re all friends here, we’ve done our part by compiling a list of six squat variations for every fitness level. All you have to do is keep calm, and squat on.

Want to run faster, jump higher and pack on some muscle? Well then it’s time to get low. Because squats engage almost every muscle from head to toe, there’s a huge hormonal response and massive impact on the central nervous system. This creates an anabolic environment, making the muscles all over the body poised for growth, says Dr. Jeff Volek, strength coach and associate professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.

As for how low you should go, it’s been said that squats can be dangerous, especially deep squats. But when it comes to performing the complex movement — assuming you’re injury-free and using proper form (see below) — rock bottom is the way to go. Research shows that the depth of a squat does not actually increase stress on the knees. In fact, a separate study actually suggests that the deep squat might help to improve knee stability. It’s also true that going lower with a lighter weight boosts strength better than loading up on weight to perform a partial squat. Keep in mind, all this “how low can you go” talk assumes you’re able to nail the basics.

Sloppy squats don’t belong in any exercise routine. So rookie squatters should begin with the bodyweight variation.

The Bodyweight Squat
How to: Begin with feet at hip or shoulder width (the exact position will depend on flexibility). Now, roll the shoulders back and down while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Keeping the core engaged and the chest high, add a slight bend in the knees. Hand placement is a personal preference, they can go behind the head, on the hips, crossed in front of the chest, or extended in front of the body (a). Next, sit back into your heels sending your hips and butt back and down, keeping the knees from extending over the toes (b). While the butt sinks your chest and shoulders remain tall. At the bottom of the squat, press through your heels, exhale, and return to the standing position (c).

Remember, practice makes perfect. Be sure to master the bodyweight squat before adding weight or performing more challenging exercise variations. If getting low is difficult, it’s likely there are some mobility issues standing between you and the squat. Implementing a dynamic warm-up and mobility techniques like foam rolling will improve these deficiencies. After the bodyweight movement becomes second nature, it’s time to up the ante by adding weights and taking on more challenging variations.

RELATED: Are You Foam Rolling All Wrong? 

When it’s time to step up your squat game, there are lots of ways to make that happen. Start by using this exercise list as a guide to getting lower and moving more weight. Keep in mind, these variations aren’t meant to be completed in one workout. Think of it as a checklist. Start at the top of the list and master each move, over time, before progressing to the next.

Anja Perfect Squat

1. Isolated Squat Hold
It’s time to get nice and comfortable in the squatted position. The reason: Lowering into a squat and staying there helps improve stability and strength while preventing injury.
How to: The set-up and lowering part of this move is just like the bodyweight squat, but things start to change once we reach the bottom. Instead of standing back up, sink into that squat and hold it (a). Keep all of the weight in your heels, while driving the knees and hips open (b). Be sure to maintain and upright body position with your chest up, shoulders back and down, and core engaged. Sets: 4, Reps: 5 pausing 30 seconds at the bottom of each rep. 

jumpsquat_2 Photo: Alex Orlov

2. Jump Squat
Ready to get explosive? A training program that includes plyometric exercises like the jump squat has been shown to be more effective at increasing strength than programs that rely on weight training alone.
How to: Kick things off in the basic bodyweight squat position (notice a trend here?) and execute the first part of the squat, until we bottom out (a). With your hips back and butt down, notice your hamstrings and glutes will tighten and activate. Release that tension by driving your hips forward and your arms up towards the sky, while jumping off of the ground (b). Return to the ground softly and sink right back into the squat before heading into the next repetition (c). Sets: 4, Reps: 12.

RELATED: 15-Minute Plyometrics Workout for Cardio and Strength 

3. Goblet Squat
Now we’ll add weight to the squat position. The goblet squat is a surefire way to make strength go up and the depth of the squat go down. That’s because it targets all of the muscles in the lower body, while improving squat mechanics, without the added burden of a barbell.
How to: Grab a dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball or sandbell before preparing to squat. Grasp the weight and hold it at chest height (a). Next, set your feet shoulder-width apart and engage the upper body. Keep that weight close to your chest while squatting down. At the bottom of the squat the position should resemble the isolate squat hold (b). Return to standing by driving through the heels, before squeezing the hamstrings, glutes and core (c). Avoid thrusting your hips forward by slamming your knees to straighten your legs to stand up. Sets: 4, Reps: 12.

4. Back Squat
This is where things can get interesting. The squatting movement remains the same, but now you have to contend with a barbell resting on your back. You’ll also need a squat rack or power rack for this move. It allows for easy access getting under and out from under the bar. Plus, it has safety bars that will catch you if get stuck while squatting.
How to: To start, adjust the height of the bar so it’s just below shoulder height. Grip the bar wider than shoulder-width and step under the bar so the weight is resting on your upper back (a). Set up in the same squat position you’ve been using to complete each move so far, making sure to sit back and down while keep the chest upright (b). Once you’ve hit rock bottom exhale, press through your heels, squeeze your elbows towards your body and return to standing (c). Sets: 4, Reps: 10.

5. Front Squat
Instead of placing the bar on the upper back, the front squat has you place the bar across your collarbone in front of your body. Like the back squat, getting comfortable with the placement of the bar might take some time, but will become second nature if you stick with it.
How to: Setting up in the squat rack, grip the bar with hands at shoulder width and pull your chest to the bar. Drive your elbows up while pulling the bar onto your collarbone. Note: Instead of trying to hold the bar with against your body, let it rest on you to support the weight (a). Once you’re set up, lower into a squat keeping your core and upper body engaged, while driving your elbows high (b). Press through the heels, exhale, and drive the elbows up to complete the move (c). Sets: 4, Reps: 10.

6. Overhead Squat
Before you go overhead with the squat, promise us you’ve invested time in learning and practicing the other variations that have led you here. Unless you’re hitting the other moves with mastery, the overhead squat could do more harm than good. But, if you’ve worked your way up to this movement, you’re in for one heck of a total-body exercise.
How to: Grip the bar with hands wider than shoulder width and press the bar overhead. The width of your grip will have the bar six to eight inches overhead with arms extended. For this move your feet can be slightly wider than the hip-width distance used for the other squat movements. However, the execution of the squat remains intact (a). While pressing through the bar, begin sitting back and down into the squat (b). Continue driving your arms up while stabilizing your body at the bottom of the squat (c). In the squatted position, drive the hips forward and knees open keeping the upper body tall and core engage while returning to standing (d). Sets: 4, Reps: 10.

Tell us: Which was the toughest squat variation for you master? What do you look forward to — or dread most — on leg day?

Strength Training May Help Keep You Young, Study Shows

Spending time pumping weights in the gym and sipping on protein shakes may pay off in a big way as you age.

A new review of studies in the journal Age and Ageing pinpoints building muscle and eating lots of protein as the best ways to fend off sarcopenia — a syndrome that causes people to lose muscle mass and strength in their later years. The review compiled 13-years worth of published research on sarcopenia interventions in adults 50 and older, to help scientists get a better grasp on how to prevent and treat the disease.

On average, adults begin losing eight percent of their muscle per decade starting at age 40.

Think sarcopenia couldn’t happen to you? It isn’t a rare condition: One in three people over age 50 suffers from it. And on average, adults begin losing eight percent of their muscle per decade starting at age 40, according to researchers.

“The sneaky part of this syndrome is that you really don’t notice it until it comes to a point where you’re so functionally impaired that it’s hard for you to get out of your chair, or you slip and fall,” says study author Jeffrey Stout, PhD, a professor in the department of educational and human sciences at the University of Central Florida. “…It’s like with adult-onset obesity. We often don’t think we’re getting overweight until we look in the mirror and go, ‘Oh my god, what happened.’” 

The good news is that researchers found two simple things — getting stronger and increasing your protein intake — can improve your quality of life for decades to come.

RELATED: 5 Beginner-Friendly CrossFit Workouts

“Resistance exercise is the single best stimulator for maintaining muscle function, strength and size, whether you’re a young athlete, a pro athlete or an 80-year-old woman,” Stout says. By contracting your muscles, weight lifting signals to your body that the muscles need to recover and then rebuild to be bigger and stronger, to be prepared for future stressors.

Another key factor for a long, healthy life: Keeping up your protein consumption. As people age, they often develop digestive issues that make it difficult to consume enough protein from sources rich in it like meat. But turning to protein powders, or other supplements, can help, according to Stout.

RELATED: 13 Dessert-Inspired Protein Shake Recipes

“There are studies looking at protein intake [in relation to] rate of muscle loss, and if you’re getting adequate protein in your diet, the rate at which you lose muscle is much smaller,” Stout says.

Stout acknowledges that it’s difficult to get people into the gym to lift weights, especially if they’ve never done it before. But he recommends working with a trainer or program, and starting with simple body weight exercises before moving on to dumbbells or performing multi-joint moves, such as deadlifts. Multi-joint moves will not only improve muscle mass, but can help strengthen the skeleton, which also gets less dense with age, according to Stout.

By adopting a weight lifting routine and protein-filled diet early in life, Stout says a person’s decline in muscle and strength will be much less pronounced as they age.  

“A recent study shows muscle mass is the single best predictor of mortality — the more muscle mass you have, the better your life is going to be [as you age],” Stout says.

Intrigued? Start building muscle and strength today with DailyBurn’s new Live to Fail strength training program. 

The 30-Second Trick That Might Stop Your Food Cravings

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

If you find it impossible to resist the 3 p.m. chocolate craving that hits you every day, you’ll be happy to know that you might be able to quash it — in just 30 seconds.

Two new studies presented this week at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Boston delved into ways to trick the brain into dismissing those junk food pangs.

Because as much as you may try to rely on willpower or mindfulness to fight the munchies, sometimes there’s nothing like a quick fix to hold you over until dinnertime (or dessert). 

Walking around the block, popping a piece of gum into your mouth, chugging a glass of H20. You’ve heard about these fixes, and now we’ve got another to add to your arsenal. In one recent study, researchers asked a group of obese patients to try three 30-second intervention tactics to reduce cravings: Tapping their forehead, tapping their toe on the floor, or staring at a blank wall.

The office snack stash can be brutally tempting — and you have to stare it down five days a week.

Researchers cued cravings by asking participants to imagine eating, smelling and tasting certain foods (try it: you can practically taste the cupcake you’re envisioning, right?). Before and after the intervention, the study participants were asked to rate the intensity of their cravings on a scale of zero (low) to 100 (high). While each trick successfully reduced participants’ longings, the most effective was forehead tapping (foot tapping ranked second). 

“[These interventions] were dynamic, that is, they included movement, which engages more regions of the brain than staring at a blank wall,” says study author Richard Weil, director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. “Engaging the motor cortex to create movement makes the task more complicated and so it requires more work in the brain, and thus, more distraction.”

Not down for 30 seconds worth of banging out a beat on your forehead? Weil says previous research has indicated that tapping for just 10 seconds might help to some degree, too. 

Thumping your foot: Pretty easy. Drumming your forehead: A little weird. But what if we told you there was a way to subdue hankerings in one minute — just by thinking?

Another study this week found that sometimes the best way to beat cravings is by tweaking your mindset. Researchers from Brown University used MRI scans to examine the brain activity of obese or overweight study participants as they looked at pictures of drool-worthy foods like pizza, French fries and ice cream. The researchers then tested a few different strategies, encouraging participants to focus on them for about a minute at a time. In a series of tests, they told them to:

Get distracted by thinking about something other than food.Accept and allow their thoughts as something they didn’t need to act on.Focus on the negative long-term consequences of eating those goodies.Think about the immediate rewards of indulging.

Unsurprisingly, thinking about how amazing a sundae would taste did not deter subjects from wanting to dig in. But the other cognitive strategies did diminish participants’ desire for disco fries and other unhealthy foods — particularly when they considered how they’d pay for it later if they gave in.

“This strategy evoked increased responses in regions of the brain involved in inhibitory control, which may suggest a mechanism through which thinking about long-term negative outcomes could serve to reduce cravings,” says study author Kathryn Demos, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Miriam Hospital at Brown University.

While each of these tactics got good reviews in a lab setting, the jury’s still out as to whether they work in real life. Because let’s be real: The office snack stash can be brutally tempting — and you have to stare it down five days a week.

“From this study we don’t know if the effects can be sustained over longer periods of time, but our future studies will test this, and try to get a sense of how this strategy could be used in conjunction with weight loss efforts in everyday life,” Demos says.

Plus, it’s worth noting that each of these studies was conducted on overweight or obese participants. If you’re at a healthy weight, giving into cravings now and then is totally OK. 

“It is a good idea to have some flexibility when it comes to cravings for certain foods,” says Chris Ochner, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. ”Always denying food cravings usually leads to feeling as if the person is in dietary jail and, eventually, everyone wants out.”

Thinking about the caloric price you’ll pay for eating an ice cream cone, or committing to tapping away your taste for pizza probably isn’t necessary unless you’re looking to make a serious change.