If you want improve your performance and physique, there will be times when you need to push your body to the edge. Being willing to work that hard doesn’t come easy. Read on to learn exactly how to take your workout to the next level each and every time.
1. WARM UP CORRECTLY
It’s not easy to go from a 10-hour work day to an hour-long workout with squats and deadlifts. If you want to get your body and nervous system fired up for heavy weights and a lot of reps, use a great warmup to reach your full potential. Skip the 10-minute jog on the treadmill. Instead, perform a series of mobility and activation drills that mimic the movements you’ll be doing for your main workout to open your body, raise your body temperature and fire up your muscles and nervous system.
2. USE POWER NAPS
If you ask professional athletes what their pre-game ritual looks like, I’ll bet that all of them take a nap. If you’ve had a long day or are feeling a little rundown, try to get 20–30 minutes of sleep to feel re-energized and focused. Coffee might perk you up, but it could give you the jitters and ruin your sleep if you drink it too late.
Sometimes a 20-minute power nap a few hours before your workout is all it takes to help you rest your body and mind. Try not to sleep too long (more than an hour) because it could actually make you feel more tired afterward or even interfere with your sleep.
3. WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR
If you’re looking for an extra boost in your workout performance, what you wear can make a difference. For example, your footwear is super important: During a long run, instead of an old pair of tennis shoes, use comfortable, light and high-quality shoes — you’ll feel like there’s nothing on your feet, and you’ll get all the foot support you need.
Finally, after a hard workout, a trusty set of compression clothes can help accelerate blood flow and recovery for faster results.
4. LISTEN TO THE RIGHT MUSIC
Often, the right music gets you in the mood, while the wrong music makes you want to call it quits.
For your next workout, arm yourself with the right tunes. Invest in good pair of headphones — something that won’t fall off when you’re running, jumping, or lifting weights — and build a playlist that helps you feel energized.
Pick something that’s upbeat, fast and matches the energy you need for your exercise. (For example, I have a playlist on my phone called “Gym,” but it’s not something I’d play before bed.)
5. IMPROVE YOUR BASELINE CONDITIONING
Here’s a simple fact of training: The better your aerobic conditioning, the harder you can push yourself during exercise.
That’s because your aerobic system is the powerhouse of your body. Even when you do a hard sprint and go into your “anaerobic zone,” your body still needs to return to your aerobic zone to refuel itself and recover.
To improve your aerobic conditioning, spend 20–40 minutes 2–3 times a week doing steady-state cardio.
6. PRACTICE GOOD NUTRITION
If you’re looking for better performance in the gym — or better performance overall in life — good nutrition is vital. It gives you the fuel you’ll need to support your physical performance while speeding up your post-workout recovery.
First, if you’re training hard and often, make sure you eat enough carbs. Athletes need more carbohydrates than you might think. That’s because carbs are a great source of fast energy for your body. Cut back on your carbs, and you’ll feel like your gas tank is empty.
Second, eat plenty of protein, fats and veggies to support muscle growth and overall health. In fact, just by cleaning up your diet, you can often crank up your energy throughout the day and boost your focus during workouts.
Third, avoid processed foods, sugary carbs and artificial fats. Too much negatively affects how you feel and perform.
7. TAKE THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS
While supplements cannot compensate for a poor diet, using them may help you get the nutrients you need for better athletic performance — just watch out for ones loaded with caffeine, sugar and artificial ingredients. However, after a workout, drinking a protein shake can help jump-start the repair, rebuilding and growth processes, so the next time you work out, you’ll be ready to go.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT
10 Moves That Feel Amazing for Tech Neck
Spending hours every day looking down at your phone and laptop might get you caught up on work and social media, but it can be so tough on your neck and shoulders that it's prompted the rise of a new term: Tech neck.
The phrase describes that slight forward tilt to your head that becomes problematic when you're in that position for too long, according to Carol Mack, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist and strength coach at CLE Sports PT & Performance in Cleveland. The neck muscles lengthen in the back, creating strain, while shortening in the front, causing your shoulders to round, creating a hunch or “lump” in the area where the top of the back meets the neck.
“That position, in particular, can cause decreased shoulder and neck mobility, sometimes to a significant degree,” she tells SELF. “At some point, range of motion can become limited, to the point where dynamic movement is challenging.”
If that happens, even a beneficial activity like strength training can exacerbate the issue, she adds, because the smaller range of motion will keep your shoulders rounded and your neck jutting forward. If you're doing work targeting muscles on the frontside of the body, like your chest or pectoral muscles, you could be worsening the strain on the upper back, neck, and shoulders.
Plus, no matter what your activity, you'll likely experience pain along with the stiffness and decreased mobility. In a 2019 study published in PLoS One, researchers found a strong association between time spent on a smartphone and duration and severity of neck pain. There can be a ripple effect as well, including more tension in the upper back, numbness in the hands, recurring headaches, and rotator cuff tendonitis, according to Mack.
One long-term fix is to change your positioning so your computer is at eye level, she suggests, and to be sure to take breaks frequently so you're not stuck in the same position for an extended period of time. As for devices like tablets and cell phones that you tend to hold in your lap or at your chest, ideally the best option is to sit in a chair or on a couch where you can rest your head on the back of it, and bring your phone or tablet up to eye level. If that's not feasible (or if you find yourself reverting to your initial, head-down position), pencil in regular move breaks to make sure you're changing up your position.
Those are all ways to prevent tech neck, but what about if it's already reared up? The good news is, there are some things you can do to alleviate the tightness and discomfort.
And stretching is a major one—the right stretches can feel amazing for easing that tension. Tech neck stretches can help in a variety of ways, such as by gently lengthening the muscles in the front of the neck or providing some relief for overstretched muscles in the back of the neck. Because your neck muscles also attach to those in your shoulders, chest, and upper back, stretching those related muscles can be beneficial, too.
Here are 10 stretches Mack suggests for getting back into alignment. Pick three to four, and start out by holding each for 30 seconds, though you can try to hold them for up to a minute for additional relief. (Of course, if you're experiencing shooting pain, have severe headaches you think are related to neck tension, or stretches like these aren't helping, be sure to see a physical therapist or doctor.)
Yoga Exercises For Beginners
The following article will discuss the different poses that beginners can practice. These include Cow Face, Fish Pose, and Plank Pose. You will also learn how to breathe through challenging poses like Utkatasana. These poses are perfect for beginners to practice opening the body and breathing through challenging positions. For more information, check out the article. And stay tuned for more articles about yoga poses for beginners! Enjoy! Here's a quick overview of the most popular poses.
If you have limited neck strength or mobility, you may need a head support while in the Fish Pose. A thick, folded blanket placed under the head will help keep it from collapsing and straining. Another option for a beginner is to keep the head upright and stretch the neck, not the shoulders. You can also modify the pose by lowering the chest and lifting the arms away from the body. Then, slowly lower the head.
If you have not tried Cow Face Yoga Exercises yet, now is a good time to do so. This pose stretches the shoulders and stimulates good posture. Especially good for people who spend much time sitting in front of a computer, Cow Face is a great way to release tension in your shoulders, upper back, and middle back. To begin this yoga exercise, start by bending your elbows. Next, extend your right arm and left elbow over your head. Your hands should be clasped together in between your shoulder blades.
If you're looking for an easy yoga exercise for beginners, plank pose might be the right one for you. This pose works the entire body, not just your legs. As with any yoga exercise, plank pose requires a lot of focus and positive self-talk in order to succeed. In fact, a man who held the world record for the longest time in plank is Daniel Scali. He held the pose for nine hours, thirty minutes and one second in 2021. Even a minute in a plank can be hard, but the longer you hold it the more likely you are to become strong and fitter.
This backbend poses gently stretches the spine and arms while the torso remains stable. It is a good yoga exercise for beginners because it requires a shift in weight from front to back. You also have to lift your chin and lengthen your ribcage, which are essential to achieve the correct alignment. Try this yoga exercise for beginners and you'll soon feel the benefits! Once you have mastered this yoga exercise, you can advance to more challenging versions of this classic pose.
One of the most basic poses in yoga is the trikonasana. It can be a good warm-up exercise. It strengthens the chest, hips, and lower back. It can also relieve lower back pain. You should hold this posture for twenty to twenty-five seconds before releasing. This yoga exercise is beneficial for beginners and experienced yoga practitioners alike. To learn how to perform this pose, follow these instructions.
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8 Reasons to Try Indoor Rowing
As outdoor workouts become relegated to the weekend and your body requires a reprieve from repeated long rides or runs, a fresh training method could become a welcome change to your training schedule. Enter: indoor rowing.
As the heir apparent to the reigning king of group fitness classes, indoor cycling, indoor rowing is poised to become the country’s newest workout obsession, as rowing studios continue to pop up throughout the country.
If you’re looking to supplement your training regime, consider this full-body workout. Here are eight reasons you should try indoor rowing:
1. It Burns a High Amount of Calories
Harvard Medical School states that a 155-pound person rowing at a vigorous pace can burn more than 600 calories per hour. This is on par with mountain and BMX biking.
2. Rowing Removes Muscular Failings
“Endurance runners and cyclists tend to have many muscular deficiencies that lead to repetitive stress injuries,” says Richard Butler, a UCanRow2 Concept2 indoor rowing coach at Mecka Fitness in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He believes rowing can offset this propensity. “When we row, we use more than 86% of our muscles. [It’s] tough to have deficient muscles using that many muscles.”
3. Rowing Circumvents Compensation
“While running and cycling, it is also very easy to become quad-dominant (overusing your anterior muscles),” says Dustin Hogue, interval studio director of Studio Three in Chicago. “Rowing counteracts this by engaging the posterior muscles of your body: the hamstrings, glutes and back. This helps avoid compensations.”
4. It Burns Fat
In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, which compared fat oxidation in rowing to cycling across a range of variables — including exercise intensity, mode and recruited muscle mass — rowing beat out cycling. This was specifically due to the greater recruitment of larger muscle mass on the ergometer.
5. It’s a Two-For-One Workout
Rowing works both the upper and lower extremities in synchronicity. “It’s one of the true full-body workouts,” says Butler. He says when done properly, in one continuous movement, athletes use their back, arms, legs and core.
6. There’s a Meditative Component
According to UCanRow2, an organization with a mission to bring rowing to people across the U.S., rowing indoors keeps the mind centered and helps relieve stress as you get into a rhythm with each stroke.
7. Classes Teach You Proper Technique
Most people have either never rowed or row with incorrect, gawky posture — curtailing rowing’s proper returns. But participating in indoor rowing classes diminishes the inelegance and instructors help you perfect your position. “That awkward feeling of not knowing how to do a move is minimized,” says Butler.
8. It Decreases the Risk of Injuries
For those who recently suffered an injury and feel a little apprehensive getting back into high-impact sports (like running), but feel ready to get back into cardiovascular shape, rowing is a favorable alternative. “Running causes a great deal of stress on the leg joints, so rowing is perfect for avoiding injury while endurance training,” says Butler.
As with any group fitness class, rowing classes vary by studio and instructor. “A typical rowing class at Studio Three pairs bursts of short, anaerobic exercises, with active recovery periods and weighted resistance training,” says Hogue. “Athletes perform a series, or distance or timed pushes on the rower along with multi-joint strength movements off of the rower.” At ROWFit by Mecka Fitness, Butler teaches authentic, crew rowing techniques to increase endurance and train all major muscles. At the popular Row House NYC in New York City instructors encourage participants to row in sync with each other, simulating a real crew team.
Whatever class you choose, all indoor rowing classes focus on providing low-impact, high-energy workouts, helping you elevate your heart rate and building strength as a complement to any endurance training regime.
If you’re interested in indoor rowing, you can find a certified instructor at UCanRow2 and even become certified yourself.
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