How to do it: Sit comfortably into the leg press machine, pressing your back against the seat and your feet firmly planted to the platform. Lift off and press, straightening your legs so your knees assume a neutral position (not straight or severely bent). Continue lowering the platform until your knees create 90° angles, then return to the neutral starting position and repeat.
We’ve broken down the nine exercises into three sets of three. Before you begin each set, set a timer (or workout near a watch with a second hand.) If you are just starting to work out, do each exercise as hard as you can for one minute, followed by the next, until you complete the first set. Then, take a one minute break before moving on to set two, in which the exercises should also be performed for one minute each.
Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.
The slider reverse lunge is simple to perform and doesn’t need much in the way of instructions. Simply grab a Valslide, or a similar tool that will allow you to move smoothly across the ground. Put the slide under one foot, and use that foot to slide into a reverse lunge, and then return to standing. Try doing this exercise after one of the ones above, and just wait until you feel the burn!
How to do it: Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand, arms to your sides. Put some slack in your knees so they’re in a neutral position, slightly bent. Extend one leg back; this non-weight-bearing leg should extend straight back until it’s parallel to the floor, while your planted leg remains engaged and planted firmly to the floor. Your weight-bearing knee should be neutral to just slightly bent to avoid hyperextension. Sink your arms toward the floor when you draw your elevated leg back, moving with the flow of gravity. Use your glutes to pull yourself back to the upright position.
Long popular among bodybuilders, casein protein absorbs slowly into the bloodstream, meaning it keeps your muscles fed with amino acids for longer compared to other types of protein such as whey and plant proteins. In one Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study, consuming casein protein immediately before bed boosted young men’s levels of circulating amino acids for 7.5 hours; they built muscle all night long while they slept.
Do Belgian squats (or "single leg squats") with a dumbbell. Hold out in front of your chest a dumbbell using both hands. Standing in front of a bench, lift your right leg back so that it's parallel to the floor and resting comfortably on the bench. Bend into a squat using the left leg, so that the right knee almost hits the floor. Lift and repeat 3 x 8. Repeat using opposite leg.
This exercise is challenging and will certainly be beneficial even without weights. If you can execute perfect form with your body weight, you can make the exercise harder by adding weights to your hands, by stepping on an unstable surface with your front foot (balance disc, foam pad), or you can place your rear leg on an unstable surface such as a physioball. You should be able to comfortably perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each leg before advancing this exercise.
Creating a workout playlist of high-energy tunes you love will not make your workout feel easier, but it may cause you to exercise harder without even realizing it. Best of all, you need only one or two great tunes to get you through this workout. If you are willing to try something a bit different, make your own music as you exercise. Sing, hum, clap your hands, whatever you can do to jam along to your playlist. It may give you an extra boost to finish strong.
With the best of intentions, yoga students sometimes create a muscle imbalance between the hamstrings and the hip flexors that contributes to an anterior (forward) pelvic tilt. Most yoga practitioners work long and hard to improve their hamstring flexibility but spend much less time stretching their hip flexors. Eventually, the hamstrings lengthen significantly, while the hip flexors improve only slightly. The result: The relatively tighter hip flexors tip the pelvis forward because the relatively longer hamstrings no longer exert an equal counterpull on the sitting bones of the pelvis.
The gluteus maximus can be your best friend when it comes to safely performing backbends. Yet overusing this big muscle by clenching your butt as you backbend can lead to irritation and injury in the spine and sacroiliac (SI) joint. In order to mitigate excessive spinal compression in backbends, it’s helpful to use the buttocks and adductors (inner thighs) to support the weight of the pelvis, hips, and spine. Work on the following actions:
Of course, you know what it feels like to have a tight muscle. But tight hips aren't just uncomfortable—they can lead to all sorts of other aches and pains, especially in the lower back. "People focus on the hips and say their hips are tight, but we don't always think about the fact that the lower back connects to our legs at the hip," Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S., instructor at Soul Annex in New York City and creator of Le Stretch class, tells SELF. Tight hip flexors make it harder for your pelvis to rotate properly, which can cause your lower back to overcompensate, "and this can be a setup for lower-back injury," Teo Mendez, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at NY Orthopedics who focuses on operative and non-operative management of sports-related injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, and arthritis, tells SELF.
I HATE that the resistance training community can be so tribal. I have been preaching to bodybuilders for years about the benefits of powerlifting, or Olympic lifting or kettlebells or even Crossfit style conditioning and many have been receptive. Learn from each other and achieve levels of fitness you simply could not have otherwise. Don’t brush off bodybuilding wisdom…it could be the missing factor in your program.
Choosing the right size stability ball matters—if you’re using one that’s too big or small, your body positioning could be wonky, making the move less effective, says Henwood. For the V-Lift and Bulgarian Split Squat in this workout, choose a ball that naturally has your legs at a 90-degree angle when you sit on it (your hips should be at the same height as your knees). You may need a smaller option for the Hamstring Press—opt for one that you can comfortably hold between your legs so it stays put for every rep.