Monday, November 19, 2018

How to Do Burst Training

The latissimus dorsi muscles — commonly just called “the lats” — are the two biggest, broadest muscles in your back and, overall, one of the largest muscle groups in the whole body. As extensor muscles, the lats primarily have the job of helping to lift the arms up as they lengthen and reach. The lats are involved in other important functions beyond shoulder extension as well, including internal rotation of the torso and supporting core stability.

If you ever perform pulldowns, rows or lifting exercises for your shoulders using a resistance band or machine, chances are you’re already actively engaging and strengthening your lats. However, it’s common even for athletes to wind up developing tight latissimus dorsi muscles due to overuse or too little stretching — considered to be a major cause of both chronic shoulder and lower back pain.

For those who aren’t already performing strength-training moves, the lats and back are key areas to focus on. According to a report in the Journal of Orthopedics, “Because the latissimus dorsi connects the spine to the humerus, tightness in this muscle can manifest as either sub-optimal glenohumeral joint function (which leads to chronic shoulder pain) or tendinitis in the  fasciae connecting the latissimus dorsi to the thoracic and lumbar spine.” (1)

Considering the main function of the latissimus dorsi muscle is to assist in movement of the arms and protection of the spine, just about everyone can benefit from incorporating lat exercises into their day to help with improving balance, stability, range of motion and upper body strength.
What Is the Latissimus Dorsi?

The two latissimus dorsi muscles located in the center of the back are large, flat, generally strong muscles that are posterior (next to) to the trapezius muscles in the arms. They help connect the spine to the arms/upper extremities and support overall strength and stability of the whole trunk. Since the lats are connected to the arms and upper back, they help hold the back upright, can play a part in preventing slouching and are used to maintain good posture.

The bottom of the lats extend to the tops of glutes, near the tailbone and lower back. Rotation or twisting movements in the back, plus raising the arms overhead, both engage these muscles, making them important for upper body strength, balance and general coordination. Due to their size, strength and involvement in numerous motions of the body, exercising the core, including the lats, along with being sure to stretch them enough are critical for maintaining range of motion and a healthy spine into older age.
What Do the Lats Do?

There are three main muscle groups in the upper back: the trapezius, latissimus dorsi (lats), and erector spinae. Here’s an overview of the basic functions of the lats:

    Extension of the arms overhead, backward and downward — The lats are also commonly used when people walk and swing their arms from side to side, since they keep the back and core upright.
    Adduction (movement of the shoulder toward the midline) and transverse extension, which is also known as horizontal abduction — One of the most important jobs of the lats is allowing both arms to move towards the chest in an adduction movement.
    Medial (internal) rotation of the shoulder joint, which helps to move the scapulae.
    Flexion when standing in an upright, extended position — This includes extension and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine, helping to both lengthen and contract the back muscles with movements upward and down

What are some of the key benefits of having strong lats? Based on how the lats support the back, arms and core benefits of building strength and flexibility in this area include:

1. Maintaining strength in the shoulders, upper back and arms

You’re probably aware that the shoulders are one of the most utilized parts of the body — whether you’re an athlete or just someone going about your day-to-day routine. The shoulders are involved in movements like lifting the arms overhead, holding up weights or heavy objects, reaching in front of you or behind, and functions like catching, swinging, reaching and throwing.

The lats help support many movements of the shoulder muscles, joints and bones and are engaged during many common shoulder exercises like planks, presses, lifts and pulls. If you already suffer from shoulder pain — for example due to factors that degenerate connective tissue such as older age, rotator cuff injury, osteoarthritis or overuse — studies suggest your symptoms and stiffness will likely only get worse if your lats/back become weaker. (2)

2. Stability through the core, which is important for posture, balance and preventing falls

Both the lower back and the outer-middle part of your back (lateral back muscles) are part of your “core,” which means both must be strong and flexible to support you as you stand upright. Poor posture due to a weak back is linked to many different problems you might not even realize — such as headaches, respiratory problems, digestive issues, poor sleep and even tingling in the extremities.

A strong core, all the way from your font body (abs) wrapping around to your back, acts like a built-in girdle so you’re protected as you sit, stand and walk throughout the day. Strengthening your lats will help keep your abdominal muscles pulled in tight, your shoulders pulled back and your body from overall feeling tired or weak during the day. This keeps extra pressure off the lower back and is important for maintaining balance, especially as you age.

3. Help with sports or exercise performance (including twisting and rotating the torso/trunk)

As part of maintaining proper posture and preventing back pain, your lats help support the back during rotations, when lowering the hips down or when twisting and bending over. Your back muscles work together with your obliques and abdominal muscles to support the spine and give you greater range of motion during all types of movements. (03)

If you play sports such as tennis, golf, gymnastics, swimming, rowing, football, wrestling or basketball— or you work out by running and/or brisk walking— a strong core is essential. Many of these activities involve lifting the arms, keeping the core stable and having enough flexibility and balance to stay strong on your feet.

Latissimus dorsi guide - Dr. Axe
About the Latissimus Dorsi Region

The latissimus dorsi connects to: the teres major, fibres of the deltoid, long head of the triceps and several other stabilizing muscles. The teres major muscle is positioned above the latissimus dorsi muscle. The lats insert into the tubercular groove at the front of the humerus and are partially covered by “the traps” (the upper back muscles) and connect to the deltoids (the front, side and rear of the shoulder).

Here’s an overview of the structure and region of the body surrounding the lats:

    lats originate from the iliac crest located at the bottom of the spine by the hip bones (4)
    they connect to thoracolumbar fascia, tough membranes composed of three layers of tissue that cover the deep muscles beneath the back, which support the spine (5)
    lats are supportive of inferior six thoracic vertebrae and inferior three or four ribs
    they are supplied by the nerve roots that make up the long thoracic nerve, specifically those called C6, C7 and C8, which run through the trunk (6)

Strengthening the labs usually causes the elbows to bend (flexion) and involves engaging the shoulders, biceps and trapezius muscles. One of the most commonly used antagonist muscle pairs in the human body include the pectorals/latissimus dorsi muscles. These antagonist muscles have opposing functions, helping to create full range of motion. Agonists and antagonists usually exist on opposite sides near a joint, helping to lower and lift. The deltoids and latissimus dorsi muscles lift and lower the entire arm at the shoulder joints. (7)
Common Injuries Affecting the Lats

Reasons that you might have weak or stressed lats include:

    Not lifting the arms overhead often enough, resulting in weak or stiff shoulders and arms
    Developing back pain which limits you from rotating, exercising, twisting and engaging the back muscles properly. Risk factors for back pain include history of back injuries or disorder, smoking or using tobacco, being overweight or obese, pregnancy, lack of sleep or sleeping in unsupportive positions, and having muscular tension due to anxiety/stress.
    Poor posture, which often causes low back pain and reduced range of motion
    Sitting for too long, such as at work for many hours of the day, which weakens the upper and mid-back
    Injuring the shoulders or low back, which prevents adduction, flexion and extension
    Although it doesn’t happen very often, lat tears have been reported related to sports activities like rock climbing, wrestling, golfing, body-building, gymnastics, basketball and others.  (8)

What types of limitations or side effects can result from these lat-related injuries? While tearing or rupturing of the lats is rare, other related pains are common and include:

    Shoulder pain: The latissimus dorsi connects the spine to the humerus, so weakness or tightness in the lats/mid-back can cause pain in the shoulder joints and loss of upper body functions. Sometimes this results in frozen shoulder or chronic tendonitis pain affecting the fasciae connective tissue.
    Back pain: The latissimus dorsi support the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, two areas that can develop pain due to factors like poor posture, forward head posture, a sedentary lifestyle (such as hunching over a desk all day) or due to impact and/or trauma. Back pain, whether mild or severe, is one of the most common complaints among adults and experienced at one point or another by about 80 percent of people. In many cases of low back pain, the problem can usually be traced back to not having a strong enough core, which can be overcome through regular exercise plus stretching (see below). Regularly performing lower back muscles, plus standing and moving more throughout the day, can do wonders to help prevent persistent back pain and injury.
    Instability and muscular imbalances: According to Men’s Journal, it’s not uncommon for men to have uneven lat strength which contributes to loss of balance and pressure placed on the spine. (9) Postural problems, including spinal abnormalities or injuries that stem down to the legs, along with muscular compensations or inactivity put added pressure on the back. People of all ages experience poor posture, but you’re especially at risk for dealing with side effects due to a weak back if you don’t rest enough between workouts, you’re sedentary, older than middle-aged or overweight. Exercises and strength training will help reduce back pain by increasing flexibility, reducing inflammation, improving posture and reducing muscular compensations/weakness in the pelvis or hips.

Best Lat Exercises and Stretches to Build Strength

Even if you don’t belong to a gym or want to attend some sort of strength-training or yoga class, you practice simple bodyweight exercises and stretches at home in order to build lat strength and improve overall flexibility. Regularly performing several full-body movements and key stretches will help alleviate core weakness, stiffness in the lower back and muscular compensations that extend down through your hips legs.

Do 2–3 of the exercises below, approximately 1–2 times per week, for major body parts like the lats. Aim for 10–15 reps, unless otherwise stated. Follow with the two stretch moves afterwards.

Lat workouts are often best complemented by either 1) a chest workout or 2) a biceps workout.


Lat Pulldowns Using A Machine OR

Basic pulldown exercises using a machine at the gym are one of the best ways to engage the lats. You can either sit down on the machine’s bench or kneel on one or both knees (whichever helps you grasp the bar evenly above your head). Pull down on the bar evenly to bring it down to your chest while keeping your back straight, then raise the bar back to starting position.

Lat Pulldowns Using Exercise Bands OR

Utilizing an inexpensive resistance band at home or the gym is a great way to improve latissimus dorsi strength, as well as strength in your shoulders and core. Start by anchoring a band to a stable high point, such as around a pole, and grabbing each end of the band using your hands. Begin with your arms straight and in front of your head, then pull the arms back to bend your elbows as you bring your hands closer to the front of your chest.


Using a pull-up bar, face and grab the bar with your palms overhead facing toward you. Your arms will be extended overhead in the starting position. Keep your torso as straight as possible as you lift and pull your torso up until your head is around the level of the bar. From this contracted position, slowly lower your torso back to the starting position until your arms are fully extended overhead again. Breath and repeat for about 5-10 reps. If this is too difficult for you, try using a bench under your feet for some assistance or a pull-up assist if available.

Seated Rows OR

Using a machine, sit with your knees bent so that your shoulders are level with the machine handles and your back straight. With a handle in each hand, sit tall and pull the handles toward you as you bend the elbows and move the shoulder blades together. Return to starting position and repeat.

Dumbbell One-Arm Rows

Stand near one side of a bench and place your opposite knee and palm flat on the top of the bench. Keeping your arm on the bench straight and torso horizontal while you bend over, hold a dumbbell in your hanging hand. Lift the dumbbell up toward your torso/side of your chest while bending the elbow, then lower and repeat. Squeeze your belly in and try to use strength and go slowly in both directions, rather than just relying on momentum.

Laying Trunk Lifts  (Aka “Supermans”) OR

Laying down on the floor with your fingers interlaced behind your head, lift your chest and shoulders off the ground to engage your back. You can either keep your ankles/feet anchored to the floor by placing them under a bar or having someone support you, or lift the toes slightly. Raise and lower about 5–10 times, going slowly and breathing. Be careful not to overextend or yank your neck.

Yoga Chair Pose (Held Squat)

Place your feet together so your big toes touch then lift your arms above your head bringing the palms to face inward. Imagine a chair behind you that’s ready to catch your hips as you bend your knees and sink your pelvis down and backward. Tuck your tailbone down and keep your arms extended overhead while trying to maintain a straight back. Hold for 5–10 breaths as you lengthen on your inhales through your back and lower further down on your exhales.


Standing Overhead Reach

Although they’re simple to stretch (you only need to extend your arms overhead), the lats are commonly neglected during most post-workout cool-downs. To gently engage and stretch your lats, stand upright with your arms reaching above your head. You may want to slightly bend side to side, but go slowly to avoid yanking. Hold your reach for between 10–30 seconds at a time, continuing to length the rib cage up and tucking the tailbone down.

Cat-Cows or Kneeling Arm Stretches

You can repeat the same type of arms-overhead movement as described above when kneeling on the floor on your shins/knees. Reach your fingertips overhead to touch the floor as you extend your shoulders and engage your back muscles. Do this while keeping your hips either lifted or down near your heels. Hold the stretch for 10–30 seconds while breathing deeply to soften your muscles. In yoga, this is known as “child’s pose” if you’re hips stay low to the floor or “puppy pose” if you’re hips stay lifted. You can also try other yoga poses by staying kneeled down on your shins while breathing through “cat-cow” movements. Do these as you stretch the back in one direction upward by lifting your chest and tailbone, then down towards the ground as you reverse.
Precautions When Activating the Latissimus Dorsi

If the lats or other parts of your back start to feel pain during your workout, or pain increases afterwards and lasts more than 2–3 days, back off from exercising the area and rest for at least several days. Begin exercises slowly and don’t overdo stretches. If you feel throbbing, stiffness or notice swelling extending up to the upper body, avoid resistance training involving the painful areas and consider seeing a doctor or physical therapist for advice.

The quadriceps are considered to collectively be one of the most powerful muscles groups in the whole body. The primary role of the “quad” muscles is to bend and straighten (extend) the knees — exactly why quadriceps strength and flexibility is important for numerous movements and activities, such as walking (including brisk walking for exercise), squatting, jumping, climbing, cycling and running.

In fact, nearly every sport or movement involving the lower body, including knee strengthening exercises, relies at least partially on the health of your quads. Because of their significance, quad injuries can put you off your feet for days or even weeks.

Contusion of the quads as well as running injuries are two of the most common reasons someone might develop quad pain. Quadriceps contusions are common in younger people who play sports that involve a lot of fast movements, squatting and sometimes collisions or direct contact, such as in football and hockey. Meanwhile, older adults can experience loss of quad strength due to factors like poor posture or knee pain.

Below you’ll find recommendations for how to effectively strengthen and stretch your quads, most of which also add stability and lean muscle to other key parts of the legs as well.
What Are the Quads?

The quad muscles (quadriceps) are a group of four muscles located on the front and partially the side of the thighs. The four muscles of the quad region include the: vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis (one of the longest muscles in the body) and rectus femoris (one of the biggest and usually strongest muscles). (1)

If you were to look at an image of yourself standing straight upward, your quads would be located from about your knees up, connecting to the tibia bones in your shins/lower legs and to the femur bones in your thighs.
7 Benefits of Strong, Flexible Quadriceps

Some of the key benefits and roles that the quad muscles have include:

    Allowing the knees to extend/straighten: The knees’ stability depends on the strength of the surrounding ligaments and muscles. Quads help with knee extension, while other complimentary muscles in the upper legs help with opposing motions, such as bending. There are also certain joints and ligaments in the legs surrounding the knees that prevent too much rotation when the leg straightens, protecting from injury.
    Absorbing shock when you land on your feet: The quads are needed to stabilize the knees (patella) and keep it tracking in a straight line after impact.
    Taking pressure off of the knees, which are susceptible to injury, wear-and-tear and effects of osteoarthritis or aging
    Helping with “lift off”, or the ability to jump and push-away from the ground
    Playing a role in hip flexion and stabilization of the pelvis
    Helping with balance and coordination
    Giving you the ability to change direction quickly, such as when playing sports

Anatomy Lesson: The Quadriceps Region

According to Yoganatomy, the word quad means four, while ‘ceps’ refers to divisions or ‘heads’ of the muscle. (2)

The quadriceps anatomy includes four muscles that originate near the hipbone or pelvis (at the ilium) in the upper thigh, connecting downward to the kneecaps and shins. The quads are connected to tendons made of strong connective tissue that surround the knee bones (the patellas). It’s the pull of the quads that allow for lifting and lowering of the kneecaps via the patella tendon. They also insert to the shinbone (the tibia) and additionally play a partial role in hip flexion.

All of the quadriceps connect to the tibia through the patellar ligament, a strong tendon that can sometimes be overly used. On the top of the thighs the vastus medialis and lateralis muscles of the quads connect to the back of the femur bone via the the linea aspera. Most of the quad muscles run mostly down the leg vertically, but the rectus femoris muscle is the only part of the quad that crosses both the hip and knees, allowing for both flexion of the hip joint and extension of the knee joint.

The muscles located in the thighs are split into three sections: anterior, medial and posterior. (3) The quad muscles get their names due to where they are located on the thighs:

    Rectus femoris: a straight muscle that runs down the center of the thigh. The femoris is considered the main extensor of the knee.
    Lateralis: located on the lateral, or outside, of the thigh.
    Medialis: located on the medial, or inside, of the thigh.
    Intermedius: located between the medialis and lateralis muscles.

The muscles in the anterior compartment of the thigh, including the largest parts of the quads, are mostly innervated by the femoral nerve (L2-L4).

Guide to Your Quads - Dr. Axe
Common Injuries Affecting the Quads

Why might someone have weak quads or suffer from an injury that damages the quad muscles? Reasons include:

    Overusing the quadriceps, especially when skipping stretching following tough workouts. This can result from too much running, due to intense sports training, dancing, starting new activities too aggressively, etc.
    The Runner’s World website reports that many runners develop quad pains, heaviness in the legs, setbacks in terms of their running abilities, and cramping during runs due to factors like muscle overuse and dehydration, which causes small but sometimes serious injury to the muscle tissues. These common running injuries can become even more severe when running in high heat or for extended periods of time. (4)
    Overworking other parts of the legs but neglecting exercises that target the quads. This leads to weakness and muscular compensations that can result in injury.
    Having weak ankles or knees, which can contribute to poor form when lifting weights or exercising, rolling the ankles and buckling the knees.

Side effects of these quadricep injuries can include:

    Knee injuries or knee pains: Inflammation, overuse, loss of cartilage and arthritis often affect the knees and cause pain for various reasons. Some knee injuries are due to dislocations, torn cartilage and lateral displacement of the knee bone due to weakness in muscles surrounding the knees.
    Patellofemoral joint syndrome: This is one type of knee pain that usually results from weak quads and affects the front or back of the knee cap (where the patella comes into contact with the femur). Pain is usually worse when exercising, squatting down, climbing stairs and going down stairs. (5)
    Poor posture and form when exercising: If the glutes (the large muscles behind the legs) can become very strong due to performing high reps of exercises like weighted squats for example, but without incorporating other movements that target the quads, such as lunges, distribution of strength in the legs can be thrown off.
    Rolling, twisting or spraining the ankles
    Contusions: A contusion occurs when one or more of the quadriceps muscles are hit directly with enough force to cause damage, such as during sports. This usually leads to sharp pain, swelling, reduced range of motion, soreness and tightness. (6)

Precautions to Take If You’ve Injured the Quads:

What should you do if you develop signs of one of these quad injuries?

Experts suggest being patient and taking some time off to rest, as a quad injury can take several weeks or even 1–2 months to properly recover. Another option is to try slowing down when running or running downhill, which for some can help reduce quad pain once the legs adapt to the eccentric overload.

Those with quadriceps injuries should also avoid other types of activities that cause any pain, including resistance exercises or sports that add pressure and lots of weight to the legs.

However, performing strength training for the upper body or back, along with stretching and swimming should not cause pain and can be sustained. (7) Additionally, be sure you are staying well-hydrated and getting plenty of nutrients and rest/sleep to allow for tissue repair. Ease back into exercise when the legs feel lighter, no longer painful and your flexibility is improved.

Remember that while it’s important to have strong quadriceps for overall lower stability, it’s equally crucial to work on strengthening other muscle groups in the legs as well — especially the hamstrings, hips and glutes and even ankles. If the quads become dominant over other parts of the legs, what occurs is called “knee dominance” by fitness experts. Knee dominance results in poor form due to a tendency for the knees to drive excessively forward when you’re squatting, lunging or jumping. Of course, the opposite can also occur if the leg muscles are not equally developed.
Best Workout Exercises & Stretches for the Quads
Quadricep Workout Tips:

Start your quadriceps workout with brief dynamic stretching for about 3–5 minutes. You can incorporate at least several of the quad exercises described above into a full-body strength-training routine that you perform about 2–3 times per week. A good example of a quad workout would be performing squats, lunges and step-ups within the same workout.

It’s important to accompany any “quad workout” with some hamstring work so you don’t develop any strength imbalance. Leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts are two excellent hamstring exercises.

Give yourself a full 1–2 days of rest between tough leg workouts in order to allow time for the muscles to repair themselves and grow back stronger. And of course, as mentioned above, be sure to also strengthen your core (including your back) and other muscle groups in the legs at least 1–2 times per week in order to avoid “dominance” of any particular body part.

For best results, perform about 8–12 reps of each exercise, completing about 2 to 3 sets in total. Work on keeping proper form, rather than aiming to perform a higher number of reps. And keep in mind that as you add more weight or resistance to exercises, you’ll be doing lower reps but still gaining strength. Always remember to stretch afterward, holding for about 15–30 seconds in each stretch.


Squats (All Versions)

Squats are a great exercise for strengthening the knees, core and almost the whole leg. There are tons of different ways to perform squats, including: loaded or unloaded squats (also called weighted squats which include barbell front or back squats, squats using dumbbells, etc.), squats with your arms overhead, modified versions using a chair or wall for support behind you, holding yoga moves like “chair pose” and many more.

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, keeping your knees parallel (be sure they don’t cave in) and your pelvis slightly tucked. Placing all weight into the heels, squat down as if you are going to sit in a chair behind you, sticking your butt way back. Keep your upper body as upright as possible with your back straight. Do 10–20 repetitions, working on getting the thighs close to parallel with the ground.


Stand with feet hip-width apart, leaving plenty of room in front of you to move forward. Step forward with your right foot and lunge down. Try to make sure that your knee does not extend beyond your ankle and keep your weight in your heel to maximize the benefits to the working muscles. Then push off with your heel back to starting position. Repeat on the other side, completing about 10–20 reps.

Make sure to keep your upper body erect with good posture. To add resistance, you can also hold dumbbells in your hands, lift your hands overhead, or change things up with twisting and back-stepping lunges.

Leg Presses

Leg presses use a weight machine to add resistance while you “press away” with the legs. Start by holding the weighted platform in place with your feet (your torso and the legs should make a perfect 90-degree angle) with your legs bent. Press until your legs are fully extended in front of you, being sure not to lock your knees. Return to starting position, repeating about 6–10 times.


The burpee, also known as a squat thrust, is a full body exercise that incorporates four steps. Start in a standing position, come into a squat position with your hands on the ground, kick your feet back placing your body into a plank position while keeping your arms extended. Jump your feet back into the squat position, then jump up from the squat position to reach overhead. Repeat about 10 times, or more if you’re advanced.

Step-Ups or Box Jumps

Make sure that whatever you step on (such as a plyo box), it is going to be able to hold your weight and remain sturdy. Start standing with your feet hip-distance apart. With your right foot, step up onto the bench or step and follow with the left foot so they meet. Step back down with the right foot to your starting position. Alternate your feet so the next one will start with the left foot, and so forth. Do 10–20 reps, adding weights in your hands for extra resistance.

Sprints and HIIT Workouts

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which can include sprints and other “explosive” movements, work the entire legs while also providing cardiovascular benefits. You can perform a HIIT workout on a treadmill, elliptical, outside on a track or field, or even while doing resistance training. The goal is to get your heart rate up to about 80 percent or more of your max for a short period of time, followed by a brief rest period. You repeat this cycle 5–10 times in order to build muscle fast.

Backward Walking (such as on a treadmill)

Either walking backward flat on the ground or using a treadmill specifically targets the quads. To add strength and potentially some muscle mass to both the quads and glutes, try to do both types of treadmill exercises.


Cycling is low impact and one of the best ways to strengthen the quads, especially if you practice interval training and adding in hill climbs.


Foam Rolling

Use a foam roller on the ground while you lay down on top of the with your quads on the roller. Rock and forth slowly as you hold spots that are tender for 30–90 seconds. If you’ve recently been injured or feel lots of pain after doing this for several days, check with your doctor to make sure foam rolling is okay.

Standing One-legged Stretch

Stand up straight and bend one leg back behind you to grab your foot. Pull your foot gently toward your back to stretch the quad, holding for about 15–30 seconds.

Kneeling Lunge Stretch

Kneel down on one knee (you may want a pad underneath if you are on a hard surfaced floor), with the front leg forward at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your pelvis and gently lunge forward. Continue to lean into the stretch slowly ensuring that there is no unusual pain, using your hands on your front knee for support if you’d like. To add a little stretching to the core, raise your arms overhead and lean the hips forward and down another inch or two. Hold the lunge for 30 seconds, completing 3 repetitions on each side.
Ready to get in great shape, without sparing any more time than it would take you to watch one episode of your favorite show? Well then this full-body, heart pounding 20-minute kettlebell workout is for you.

Kettle bells are sweeping the fitness world- promising quick results that boost endurance, burn mega calories, build tons of strength, and even increase flexibility too. So what does that mean for you?

No longer will you need to run on the treadmill and then lift weights afterwards. Aside from simultaneously targeting almost every part of your body, when used properly, the beauty of kettlebell workouts is that they can be done quickly and require very little equipment (only 1 kettle bell!). You can even complete this whole 20-minute kettle bell workout in your own living room if you wanted to!

Kettlebell workouts are able to effectively target your major muscle groups — shoulders, core, back muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and more — all in a short duration of time.

The key to getting the most of your 20 minutes? Strategically going from one exercise move quickly into the next. The result is that you get a fast, full-body, cardio and strength-building workout at the same time, wherever you choose — win, win!
7 Core Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts
1. Kettlebell Workouts Prevent Over-Exertion

Many studies have shown that performing too much cardiovascular exercise, especially long-distance aerobic exercise like marathon running, can actually do a lot of damage to your body.

Some experts even feel that over time the negative impact of putting a lot of stress on the cardiovascular system (as it works hard to pump out extra blood during long-distance cardio sessions) can sadly even contribute to a shortened lifespan.

Burst training, or strength building exercises, do not have the same effect on your heart as standard aerobic activity sessions do, and health authorities now agree that shorter, more intense bursts of exercise should play a significant part in the average person’s exercise regimen.

For example, recently The World Health Organization (WHO) began advising that “Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity.” (1)

Fast-moving kettlebell workouts, in which you perform one move directly followed by the next move with little time to rest in between, is an excellent way to get your heart rate up for a shorter, more intense period of time.

This allows you to complete a healthy 20 minute workouts that benefits your body by building all-over muscle and simultaneously reducing fat, but it doesn’t put an unnecessary amount of prolonged stress on your heart, joints, or other susceptible organs.
2. Kettlebells Fight Age-Related Weight Gain

Research has shown that adults experience an average of 3 percent to 8 percent loss of muscle mass every decade, which means that resting metabolic rate is reduced- or the number of calories someone is able to burn on an average day (2).

Therefore this means more dangerous fat winds up accumulating around susceptible organs like the heart and liver, which are especially important to keep healthy in order to prevent disease.

Similar studies have shown that just 10 weeks of consistent resistance training can help a slow metabolism and actually increase resting metabolic rate by 7 percent; this number may not sound like a lot, but who doesn’t want to continuously burn 7 percent more calories each and every day?

While kettlebell workouts – along with other forms of exercise like high intensity interval training (HIIT) and burst workouts – lead to an increase in metabolism, they also tend to effect increases in appetite less so than prolonged cardio sessions do. This means you are less likely to overeat if you focus on including a number of different exercise programs into your routine — resistance, burst, and interval training — as opposed to only performing cardio.
3. Kettlebells Protect Against Numerous Age-related Diseases

Aside from warding off unhealthy weight gain, studies show that strength training can also improve general physical performance, movement control, walking speed, abilities to concentrate and make decisions, and even general self-esteem. Strength training also plays a part in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, which is closely associated with unhealthy weight gain and inability to control blood sugar levels.

By reducing weight and improving insulin sensitivity, adults are able to reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and other inflammation-caused diseases that are related to the resistance of insulin. Resistance training may also be effective in defending against cardiovascular disease by reducing resting blood pressure and bringing cholesterol and triglyceride levels back to a healthy state.

Finally, studies have shown that strength training is extremely important for maintaining the structure of the skeleton and that resistance training may promote bone development and delay the loss of age-related bone mineral density. (2) This is often the reason why older people, especially women, are highly encouraged to lift weights at least 2 times per week- because it can help ward off osteoporosis which is a serious concern for post-menopausal women in particular.
4. Kettlebells Improve Posture & Agility

There is a real emphasis today in the fitness world to practice exercises that have a practical purpose in our lives. “Functional exercises”, like kettlebell workouts, help to keep our posture upright, our endurance at its peak, and our muscles prepared for whatever may come.

Because your body is moving in multiple directions and on different angles at every moment during a kettlebell workout, you experience dynamic, full-body results that are actually useful in real-life situations. This is the same reason maybe people are drawn to burst training workouts or CrossFit.

While standard weight machines may help in building muscle, they tend to target only certain specific muscle groups at one time and not entire regions of the body (like the entire core or both of the whole arms, for example). Kettlebells have the ability to build strength in multiple muscle regions of the body all at once, offering full-body integration and core stabilization, and again saving you time!
5. Kettlebells Are Versatile & Easy to Adapt

Whether you are a very experienced weight lifter who’s in fantastic shape, or are a middle age woman who is relatively new to hitting the weight room at the gym, there is a way that kettlebells can benefit you. Kettlebells’ versatility depends on you choosing a weight that’s best for your body and current abilities, then practicing moves that target the areas of your body you’re most looking to improve.

Want to build more shoulder strength? There are plenty of moves that got you covered. Interested more in getting your heart rate up and burning lots of calories? There’s a series of moves that will work for that too.
6. There is No Need for Large, Pricey Equipment

Kettlebells are portable and pretty inexpensive to buy, especially when you consider how much money most large pieces of gym equipment, or fitness class packages, can cost you. Most kettlebells can be bought for around $30-$60 depending on the weight, and found at any large sporting or fitness store, as well as online.

If you join a gym, you will likely have access to many different kettlebell weights as well. However one of the biggest perks of owning a kettlebell is that it virtually turns your home into a gym! Performing a 20 minute kettlebell workout takes little space, so you can practice in the comfort of your own yard, basement, or apartment whenever time allows you.
7. Kettlebells  Have a Unique, Effective Shape

The fact that kettlebells have a true handle for picking them up and holding on while you move them around means that you can keep your workout moving along. There is no need to halt your circuit routine in order to stop, drop, and adjust the weight, which is typically the process when using normal free weights or dumb bells.

While dumb bells, large weight machines, and bench-pressing weights all require time to readjust alignment and your grip, kettle bells can quickly be shifted around in your hands without you needing to pause — making your workout more aerobically effective since you are able to keep your heart rate up, and shorter in duration, too.

Kettlebell Workout Benefits
How to Begin a Kettlebell Workout

If you are brand new to kettlebells, it may be a wise idea to speak with a personal trainer or friend who uses them frequently and can make sure your alignment is correct before you get going. This way you don’t risk injuring yourself or missing out on all the benefits that kettlebell workouts can offer.

However if you’re no stranger to the gym and using other weights and strength-building equipment, then you will likely be okay jumping right into the world of beneficial kettlebell workouts.
1. Choosing Your WEIGHTS

Your first step is to pick which weight you will use:

Different kettlebell workout moves are best done using different weights. For example, “ballistic” moves which involve “explosive” bursts and quicker movements usually are most effective when done with heavier weights.

Heavy weights work well with ballistic moves like swings, snatches, and “cleans” because you get momentum going completing these movements. On the other hand, slower “grind” moves (windmills, overhead presses, etc.) usually require lighter weights since they need to be carefully controlled and do not just rely on momentum.

For both men and women, it’s always a good idea to start out on the lighter, safe side and work your way up to using heavier weights during your kettlebell workout. There is a big range in recommended kettlebell weights depending on your current fitness level and strength. Try using a lighter weight first and working your way up to one that is more challenging.

    Women: The best choices are kettlebell weights that are between 4 kg/ 9 lbs. all the way up to and 16 kg/28 lbs.

    Men: Try using a kettlebell between 12 kg./ 26 lbs. and 28 kg./ 62 lbs. and following the same guidelines, working your way up as you gain strength and familiarity with the moves.

2. Building Your WORKOUT

Keep in mind that you can always easily create your own circuit kettlebell workouts, different then the one described below, by combining your favorite kettlebell moves.

In order to do this, it helps to first get familiar with the basic strength-training terminology if you aren’t already: sets, reps, and rests/intervals. You will see these terms used below in the 20 minute kettlebell workout that’s described, and you can use the same principles to create multiple short, intense workouts.

Rep – A rep is every time you lift and lower a weight. You complete reps back to back, and this makes up a set.

Set – Sets are groups of reps. You  complete all the reps in one set without taking a break. Then you take breaks between sets.

Rest or interval period – This is the pause between sets where you rest and catch your breath for a short period of time (usually 30 seconds to a 2 minutes, depending on the person and how vigorous the workout is).

Here is an example of how to put these terms into play during your kettle bell workouts:

“You will complete 10 reps of a kettle bell move, which equals one set. Then you will rest, and complete another set of 10 reps.”

It is important to remember that your set and rep number always depends on how fit you currently are and your level of endurance. Most kettle bell workouts (and weight lifting programs in general) recommend aiming for 2-3 sets total. For the 20 minute workout below, you will complete 2 sets.

Within each set, it’s best to stick with doing 10-30 reps. You will be able to determine the amount of reps you can successfully do by paying attention your form; once you are sacrificing good form due to becoming exhausted, its fine to put the weight down and take a break, or else to move on to another move that targets other muscle groups. Otherwise doing more reps will not produce better results, and may even cause an injury.
Your Kick-Butt 20-Minute Kettlebell Workout Routine

You will go through the following 5 kettle bell moves in a circuit, performing each move for about 1 minute, resting shortly for only about 30 seconds, then moving on to the next move, taking about 10 minutes. After you complete all 5 moves once, rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat the whole circuit for the second time.

A busy schedule may have kept you from getting to the gym in the past, but it’s hard to argue that you don’t have just about 15 minutes to spare for a workout.

If you’re not the type of person who either has the time, or wants to devote the time, to working out for hours each week, a recent study uncovered a finding you’ll be happy to hear about: just three 13-minute workouts per week should be enough to build significant strength and endurance!

In fact, if you commit to just three short but high-intensity workouts each week, you can expect to experience fitness-related improvements that are similar to those achieved with a substantially greater time commitment. (1)
What Is the 13-Minute Workout?

The “13-minute workout” is based on results from an August 2018 study that was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The purpose of the study was to evaluate muscular adaptations between low, moderate, and high-volume resistance training protocols. The effects of varying levels of high-volume resistance training were evaluated in 34 healthy adult men.

The men were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups:

    A low-volume group that performed 1 set per exercise per training session,
    A moderate-volume group that performed 3 sets per exercise per training session, or
    A high-volume group that performed 5 sets per exercise per training session. All workout routines consisted of three weekly sessions performed on non-consecutive days for eight weeks.

At the end of eight weeks, what did the researchers find? Surprisingly, results showed that all men experienced similar increases in strength and endurance (no significant differences were found between the three groups). Despite the fact that the low-volume group was only performing 1 set of each exercise, they achieved results that were on par with the group performing five times as many sets!

Men from all groups experienced muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size), but the higher-volume group was found to have the greatest increase in the size of the elbow flexor, mid-thigh and lateral thigh muscles. Therefore, the researchers concluded that “muscle hypertrophy follows a dose-response relationship, with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes.”
13-Minute Workout Protocol

Conventional strength-training advice has long told us that we should be completing several sets of exercises each workout, aiming for between 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise during each set.

But now that you know it’s possible to experience increased strength in less time, with as little as three brief workouts per week, let’s talk about how to make the most of a 13-minute workout.
1. Keep the intensity high

Because you’re doing as little as one set of each exercise during a workout (a set is a given number of repetitions of an individual exercise), you want to go “all out” in terms of effort.

The goal should be to “lift to failure,” which in weight training means you repeat an exercise to the point that your neuromuscular system can no longer produce adequate force to keep going. In other words, you try so hard that your muscles couldn’t keep lifting even if you wanted them to. (2)

Research suggests that training to failure, especially during the last few reps, increases lactic acid production which stimulates muscle growth, including of your larger muscle fibers.
2. Focus on compound movements that engage multiple, large muscle groups

Compound exercises are “multi-joint movements” that work several muscles or muscle groups, such as your chest, back, core, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Some examples of exercises that the men in the study mentioned above completed included the bench press, lateral pull-down, machine leg press and others. Other compound exercises include: reverse lunges with overhead press, weighted squats and squat jumps, loaded carries, pull-ups, and push-ups. (3)
3. Do 8–12 reps

Rather than using a high rep range, during each set the men completed 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Lifting heavy weights during compound lifts can lead to widespread muscle growth, improved performance, and better balance and coordination, all in less time. (4)
4. Full-body workout 3x a week for 8 weeks

Complete a full-body workout three times a week, aiming for a minimum of eight consistent weeks in order to see results. Do your workouts on non-consecutive days; in other words, take a rest day between workouts to allow your muscles to recover. Because you’ll only be doing one set of each exercise, expect the whole workout to take less than 20 minutes.
5. Add in some Burst training

When it comes to efficient workouts, one way to achieve great results in little time is to do burst training style workouts, which can be done at the gym, on a track or field, or at home.

No gym membership? No problem — try burst training at home. This will involve exercising at 90–100 percent of your maximum heart rate for 30–60 seconds, followed by 30–60 seconds of lower intensity exercise or resting.

Pick a handful of exercises and “burst” for 10–20 minutes total, 3–5 times a week. Try including: running in place, jumping jacks, high jumps, squat pulses, jumping rope, push-ups and burpees.
Spin class is in a class of its own when it comes to cardio workouts. Crushing the pedals to the beat of the (usually really loud) music, infectious instructor energy and maybe a touch of competitive spirit with the person riding beside you makes this form a cardio almost addictive.

But is spinning, also known as indoor cycling, the best use of your time, depending on your wellness goals? And what are the potential risks people rarely hear about? Let’s take a look at spin class benefits, set the record straight on some of the bad press and learn how to dive into a sensible indoor cycling routine to maximize the benefits of spinning.
What Is Spin Class?

Indoor cycling, also known as spinning or spin class, involves pedaling on a stationary bike, also known as a flywheel, using various levels of speed and resistance. Different positions on the bike are also used to target different muscles. Spinning is actually the trademarked name associated with one particular type of indoor bike, but it’s synonymous with “spin class” and “indoor cycling.”

The spin class definition? It’s a form of exercise using a stationary bike with that focuses on (1):

The concept of riding an indoor stationary bike has been around for some time. In fact, there’s a photo of a woman indoor cycling in the Gymnastics Room of the Titanic in 1912. And long before that, Francis Lowndes patented his “Gymnasticon” in 1796. Other early indoor cycling models resemble a bike set up on rollers. (2)

Things are much different today. Modern-day spin classes generally include charismatic instructors, music and lighting effects. A small study even found that an indoor rider’s sense of pleasure was significantly higher when riding to music during class. Music and dimmed lighting during spinning class actually led to riders feeling less tired after a ride. And interestingly, the music and lighting didn’t cause participants to work harder, but they enjoyed the class more. (3)

Technology also brings even more spinning class opportunities. The Peloton bike, for instance, allows home riders from all over the country to take live and on-demand indoor cycling classes with instructors and riders in New York City.
Top 6 Benefits of Spinning
1. Weight Loss/Calorie Burn/Better BMI

Is spinning a good way to lose weight? Many studies suggest it is, but even if you’re taking indoor cycling classes and don’t see the scale budge, don’t panic. In a small study of female adolescents, researchers found a 16-week spinning program didn’t result in weight loss but did improve BMI chart readings and reduced body fat percentages. It also triggered healthier blood glucose levels. (4)

In another small, but promising, spinning weight-loss study in Italy, researchers found that women leading a sedentary lifestyle experienced the following results without making any changes to their diets.

After 24 spin classes: (5)
How many calories do you burn in a 45-minute spin class? That’s a question I get a lot, and of course, the answer varies depending on a number of factors, including your weight and intensity of your workout. But a general calorie-burn range is 400 to 600 calories per hour.

Calorie burn isn’t the only benefit, though. Spinning two to three times a week for three months has the power to greatly increase your exercise capacity, along with lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels, too. (6, 7)
2. Time-Crunch Friendly

If you’ve only got 20 or 30 minutes for a workout, indoor cycling interval training is a great option because it also pumps up your post-workout calorie burn. Post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), also known as the “afterburn effect,” means your metabolism is revving even though you’re not exercising anymore. It’s one of the top benefits of high-intensity interval training. That’s why so many spin instructors work intervals into spinning classes. (8, 9)
3. Better State of Mind

In psychology, “affect” means how someone experiences feelings or emotions after interacting with some sort of stimuli. A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Mental Health found that taking an indoor cycling ride at home or in an instructor-led class improves your post-exercise mood while diminishing negative emotions. However, participants reported enjoying the instructor-led indoor cycling session more than the solo spin workout. (10a, 10b)

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Complications found a 12-week spinning class also lowered anxiety and depression symptoms in participants. The spinning workouts increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, which helps alleviate central nervous system dysfunction. (11)
4. Leg and Bum Toning

Is spin class good for toning your bum? I consider it a solid butt workout, but recommend using it as a supplement to gluteus medius and gluteus maximus resistance training, not a substitute. (In other words, you’re not off the hook when it comes to clamshells and squats!)

What muscles are used in spinning class? Here are some of the main ones:

Indoor cycling is most commonly known for its cardio benefits, but we now know it can build lower body muscle, too. In 2015, a team of researchers from Japan and the U.S. published a study showing that indoor cycling takes longer than traditional resistance training to build muscle due to a slower hypertrophy rate. Still, spinning does build muscle, particularly in older riders. The researchers concluded that “higher-intensity intermittent cycling may be required to achieve strength gains.” (14)
5. Better for Joints Than Most Other Cardio Exercise

If your joints are begging you to give up on high-impact, long runs, spinning could help fill your cardio void while salvaging your joints. As always, check in with your doctor before beginning a spinning routine. They’ll want to clear you if you have any heart issues, injuries or, recent surgeries or other pre-existing conditions. (15)
6. Community

Whether you’re taking online spinning classes on a Peloton bike or heading to your local gym for a class, one thing is for sure: spinning builds community. And in the exercise world, that also brings accountability and consistency. Who knows, someone in your new spinning class could end up being the inspiration you need to really get back on track.
What You Need to Know About Spin Class (Before Going!)

This is really important if you’re about to hop on a home spin bike or head to a spin studio: Know your limits, monitor your heart rate and resist the urge to overtrain. There are some legit spin class horror stories out there. (Yes, lawsuits about pedal lacerations and getting stuck in pedals are a thing). (16, 17)

But if you use your head, prep properly and understand your limits, hitting the saddle for a ride could be the start of a truly positive, life-changing experience. Before we jump into a spin class Q&A for beginners with one of my favorite indoor cycling instructors, let’s first clear the air regarding some recent bad spinning press.

It’s true that rhabdomyolysis is a risk when you go too hard too soon with most forms of exercise, including indoor cycling. Also known as “rhabdo,” the complex condition involves skeletal muscle quickly breaking down. This leads to the leakage of muscle proteins and other muscle breakdown products from the cell and into the blood. Myoglobin, creatine kinase, aldolase, lactate dehydrogenase and electrolytes are all things that can start leaking out of cells and into the bloodstream when rhabdo sets in.

Symptoms range from none to life-threatening acute kidney failure. And spinning is sometimes the culprit, along with other forms of exercise like CrossFit, weightlifting, long runs and exercising in hot, humid weather.

A new term coined “white-collar rhabdomyolysis” developed as more and more sedentary and untrained working professionals started coming down with the condition due to training too hard too soon. Related to that,  a 2016 study published in Internal Medicine Journal found that cases of spinning-induced rhabdomyolysis are on the rise.

Korean researchers found that spinning could be a significant cause of rhabdo in young, unfit women. And symptoms can be severe, requiring hospitalization. The study authors recommendation? Take it easy during your first spinning sessions. Don’t push too hard. (You’ll still get a great workout.) (18)
If you are sitting down and reading this article right now, you should stop! Okay, well don’t stop reading, but you might want to stand up to finish it. I will make sure to give you some exercises to do at your desk later, and you’re going to want to.

Why? Well, if you are like most people today, chances are you are spending too much time tied to your desk buried in emails. Or maybe you’re whiling away the time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because you have a fear of missing out.

Our modern lives have been engineered so that we can spend most of it sitting down. Unfortunately, sitting is literally killing us.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3.2 million deaths can be attributed to lack of physical activity. (1) Our sedentary lifestyles are responsible for increasing our risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as a loss of muscle and bone strength. Perhaps even more alarming is that people who exercise regularly are probably still not getting enough movement in their lives to counteract the deleterious effects of sitting too much. (2)
All That Sitting Is Making You Fat

On average, we spend about 9.5 hours a day sitting. Compare that to the 7.5 hours of sleep we are getting on average, we are doing a lot of sitting.

Then let’s look at the typical work day. Most likely, you commute to and from your job in a car with comfy bucket seats. Or at the very least you may be sitting on something a little less comfortable if you commute by train or bus, but still sitting. You roll into the office and sit down at your desk and stare at your screensaver of a remote tropical beach while listening to voicemails. Meetings, conference calls, and maybe even a little gossip session, probably all done while sitting.

Did you have your lunch delivered so you could eat at your desk and keep working? At the end of the day, you sit down for the commute home where you most likely can’t wait to hit the couch.

See how much and how quickly it can all add up? That’s the reason that hour on the elliptical isn’t going to save you! The impact of all that sitting is an increased rate of obesity. (3)

The good news is that with a little more activity throughout the day, we can actually reverse the inevitable weight gain — maybe even lose up to 20 pounds — associated with such a sedentary existence.

One study looked at the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of obese women. The original assumption was that their RMR was going to be lower than their leaner counterparts. What they actually discovered was the obese group sat an extra 2.5 hours a day. By increasing their daily physical activity alone, they could expend an additional 300 calories a day. (4)

Little changes here and there can go a long way in keeping you healthy and happy.

 Also, We Are Sitting Wrong

There are countless ways you sneak more activity into your day, aka exercise hacks. There are exercises to do at your desk, such as chair exercises and stretches you can incorporate into your daily routine. But before we get into the various ways you can exercise at your desk, one of the best ways to eliminate back pain and stiff necks is to make sure you are sitting properly.

Let’s be honest here, for all the sitting we do, we aren’t very good at it. We do a lot of slouching and craning our heads forward. Our heads are heavy, and the further forward we have them as opposed to being aligned with our spine, the heavier they become.

By maintaining a forward head posture, you are constantly compressing all the nerves that lead to those awful headaches at the base of your skull. Being chronically out of alignment causes fatigue and aches and can have consequences as severe as asthma, sciatic nerve pain, disc compression and arthritis.

Making sure your desk chair is the right height can drastically reduce neck and back strain. Your feet should be able to be flat on the floor and your knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Keep your lower back pressed against the chair to help maintain good posture. One of the most important things you can do to avoid forward head posture is to make sure the top one-third of your monitor is above eye level.
Stretch at Your Desk

These 10 stretches you can do at your desk will keep you bendy and feeling good. Like yoga … at your desk.

1. Rubber Neck
Sit up tall and drop your right  ear down towards your right shoulder (you don’t have to touch it!) and hold for a few seconds and repeat for the left side.

2. Reach for the Stars
Interlace your fingers and reach up towards the sky, as high as you can … keeping your palms facing up towards the ceiling.

3. Look Around
Turn your head the left and try and look over your shoulder and hold for a few seconds … repeat on the right.

4. Bobblehead
Drop your chin down towards your chest and GENTLY roll your head from side to side.

5. Shrugs
Raise both shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat a few times for good measure.

6. Chest Opener
Bring your hands behind your back, press your palms together, sit up tall and hold for 5–10 seconds.

7. Seated Toy Soldier
Sit up tall and extend your right arm all the way up towards the ceiling. Straighten your left leg out and raise it up as you bring your right arm down and try to touch your left foot. Do 8–10 on each side.

8. Knee Hugger
With a bent knee, lift your right leg up and grab it with your arms and pull it in as close to your chest as you can. Hold for 5–10 seconds and make sure and do it on the left side, too.

9. Reach and Bend
Extend your right arm over your head and reach out as far as you can to the left and gently bend over. Hold for a few seconds and do it the other way.

10. Knee Press
This one stretches out the glutes. With your right ankle on your left knee, gently press against the right knee a few times. Of course, after you’re done with the right side, be sure and give the left side some love, too.
When You’re Ready to Upgrade, Exercise at Your Desk

Stretching is fantastic, and it’s definitely something you should be including in your office workout plan, but what if you’re ready to take things to the next level? Check out the following 10 exercises to do at your desk. Go ahead, mute that conference call you are on, get your blood flowing and challenge your muscles.

1. Walk/Jog/Run in Place

30–45 seconds. 3–5 times. This one is as simple as it sounds. Stand up from your chair and get to it. Anyone can do this one, you are in control of the intensity based on the pace you choose. Want an even bigger challenge? Bring your knees up to waist level.

2. Push-Ups

Now, before you panic at the thought of getting on the floor in your office … don’t! Remember, you are saving your life! Plus, there are options besides the floor. The modifications are to do them on the wall or on the edge of your desk. If you are going to do them against the wall though, make sure it’s not a cubicle wall or you could end up on your co-workers desk. 10 reps. 3 times.

3. Squats

From your chair, stand up, sit back down and repeat 10 more times. Simple!

4. Tricep Dips

Tricep dips can be done pretty much anywhere. Use your desk or your chair if it doesn’t have wheels on it. Position your hands shoulder-width apart on that desk or chair, then move your butt off the front with your legs extended out in front of you. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints.

5. Pretend Jump Rope

Hop on both feet at once, or alternate. Increase the intensity by adding the arm movements you would do if you had a rope.

6. Calf Raises

Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do 3 sets of 10.

7. Glute Squeeze

This is an isometric move. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and hold for 10–30 seconds.

8. Shoulder Press

Look around the office and find an old phone book or a ream of paper, something that weighs a few pounds. Hold it at shoulder height and then raise it all the way overhead. 10 reps. 3 times.

9. Wall Sit

Another great isometric move. Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower yourself into a seated position and hold for 10–30 seconds at a time.

10. Lunge

You can keep this move stationary and do it at your desk, or you could go all out and lunge down the hall to the printer and back. With one leg in front of the other, gently lower the knee of your back leg down towards the ground. Like you were going to propose to a co-worker. 10 times on each leg.
Leave Your Desk, Exercise Everywhere

Burning some extra calories at your desk is one thing, but how about getting even more movement throughout the day? These next 10 ideas are pretty ambitious. I would recommend picking one or two to start with and not trying to implement them all at once.

1. Park farther away

There is something strangely gratifying about the ability to get the nearest parking spot to the entrance, but parking at the edge of the lot will help you get a lot of extra steps in your day.

2. Take the stairs

Don’t like making small talk on the elevator? Take the stairs instead. The stairs are a great way to increase your heart rate and tone up those legs.

3. Do it yourself

Having an assistant may be a perk of your job, but if you got your own coffee and walked over to the copier more often you would be spending less time sitting.

4. Stand up

If you have to be on the phone a lot, what better time to stand up and do some stretches. Seriously, go ahead, the other person can’t see you!

5. Take a walk break

Schedule 10–15 minutes a day to just walk. See how many steps you can get on your fitness tracker. If it’s nice outside, go get some fresh air. Put it on your calendar to make sure it happens. Better yet, find someone to go with you and hold hold each other accountable.

6. Live chat

What if instead of picking up the phone or sending an email over to Bob in accounting, you actually went and paid Bob a visit? You get to move more, and I’m sure Bob would appreciate the company once in awhile.

7. Walk and talk

Why not have a walking meeting next time instead of sitting in a cold conference room at a table with stale donuts? And because exercise improves brain function (5), you may come up with some of your best ideas!

8. Commute differently

If you live in a city and rely on public transportation, try getting off the train or the bus a stop or two away from your usual stop and get some extra steps in. If you live close enough to work, skip the bus and hop on your bike or lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement.

9. Get to cooking

When you spend time in the kitchen chopping veggies and looking in the oven you are being more active than you realize. The added benefit of this is preparing your own meals is a much healthier alternative to fast food or something you just throw in the microwave.

10. Walk and fly

If most of your time is spent in airports waiting to go to the next town, use that time to your advantage. Airline travel can be frustrating with all the layovers and delays, but walking around instead of resigning yourself to your gate for another hour could actually relieve some stress. (6)

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