Foam rolling has been around the physical therapy world for a while, but these days you frequently see it happening in gyms and studios. It’s a great tool for increasing flexibility and range of motion, but the problem is that most people don’t know the best muscle areas to focus on—or how to foam roll properly, for that matter. We asked personal trainer Canaan Dorian of Mint DC to demonstrate a few key areas to foam roll.
Muscle Area: IT Band
This long muscle that runs along the outside of the thigh is often a major cause of knee pain. To prevent soreness, place one hip on the foam roller and place your top leg in front of it. Slowly roll the IT band over the foam roller for 1 to 2 minutes.
The barre fitness movement has been on the rise for a couple of years now, so it’s not surprising that studios are now offering hybrid classes, mixing the best aspects of two different workouts into one. Xtend Barre DC, which opened its first DC location last month in Mount Vernon Triangle, combines barre and Pilates into one invigorating workout aimed at giving your body that long and lean physique.
But both Pilates and barre classes can be intimidating, especially if you’re in a room with a bunch of current and former dancers who can dance circles around you. Xtend Barre’s Kelly Griffith performs some of the common moves you can expect at Xtend Barre, and most Pilates and barre classes.
Exercise 1: Shaving Plie into Releve
Bring weights together above head with palms in. Bend elbows as you plie. Extend legs and arms back to starting position. Add releve (lift heels) if possible.
The squat is often touted as one of the best exercises you can do for overall fitness. The squat develops upper- and lower-body strength, core strength, endurance, and flexibility. And if you think about it, the movement is something we do on a daily basis, from sitting on a desk chair to getting up from the couch.
But as with any common exercise, squats can get pretty boring after your third set. We turned to John A. Morris of Mint DC to whip up some modifications that will add a little oomph to your everyday squat.
Exercise 1: Kettlebell Deadlift and Squat
Reps: 3 x 15
Stand with feet slightly more than hip-width apart on an elevated surface (such as the last step on your stairs at home). While holding a kettlebell or dumbbell, slowly bend forward, keeping legs straight with a slight bend in the knee. Then lower into a squat. Straighten legs again, return to standing position, and repeat.
While it’s true that doing ab exercises alone won’t get you anywhere near that coveted six-pack, it doesn’t mean you should avoid them altogether. Ab exercises make for great additions to your normal workout. We asked Mark Kiersh, who just joined Mint DC as a personal trainer, to demonstrate some ab exercises to intersperse into our next workout. They may look simple, but we can guarantee your core will feel way more burn the next day than if you did boring old crunches.
Exercise 1: Windshield Wipers
Reps: 3 x 20
Lie on your back and grasp a sturdy pole behind you (your bed frame works). Lift your legs so your body forms an L shape. Slowly lower your legs to one side, then lift and lower them to the other side (think of the movement windshield wipers make). That’s two reps.
The pushup is one of the most common exercise moves, but the problem is many folks don’t know how to do one properly. A few months ago we featured a video demonstrating how to perfect your form, and now we’re going to show you how to progress from the basic, modified pushup to a super-advanced pushup using TRX Suspension Trainers and kettlebells. Read on for photo demonstrations of Will Noel of Mint DC performing each exercise.
Exercise 1: Modified Pushup*
Reps: 3 x 10
There’s nothing wrong with starting out on your knees if it means you’ll eventually perform a successful pushup. Start with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders. Your knees should be slightly apart and toes should touch the ground. Slowly lower your torso down to a pushup, elbows back. Return to starting position and repeat.
*You can also perform a modified standing pushup by placing your hands on the back of a sturdy chair, a wall, or a bench press bar in the gym.
It's likely most of us will be stuck indoors for days, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. But don't let that be an excuse for you to pack on the pounds with all of those snacks you stocked up on. We rounded up a bunch of our at-home workouts for you to try. Now get to work!
4 Stay-at-Home Workouts
These workouts use household equipment such as a gallon of milk, a bottle of laundry detergent, and a towel. You'll work your quads, gluts, hamstrings, core—pretty much every muscle in your body.
The At-Home Chair Workout
Grab your nearest sturdy chair and start sweating! This customizable workout focuses on muscle strength, endurance, and stretching to improve flexibility.
When we tried a kettlebell workout for the first time, we couldn’t believe how sore our quads were from swinging that thing around. But that was almost a year ago, when the kettlebell fitness craze was just beginning. We wanted an update to the now-tired swings and squats, so we turned to personal trainer and Lululemon ambassador Errick McAdams.
Turns out you can perform almost any normal bodyweight exercise with a kettlebell and really work up a sweat. McAdams is using a 25-pound kettlebell, which is a good range for men to work with. If this is your first time using one, he recommends starting at a lower weight. We’re excited to introduce this new series of Well+Being workouts. Check back every Wednesday for a new one!
Exercise 1: The Upright Row*
Reps: 3 x 10 or 15
Stand hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell at your waist. Raise the kettlebell to your chest, keeping elbows out. Lower and repeat.
*Add a squat to the beginning of this exercise for more of a challenge.
Good news! New research shows workout effectiveness is not about how long you exercise, but how hard the workout is. The Danish study found that those who exercised to the point of perspiration reduced their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 35 to 50 percent. On the other hand, those who walked for an hour each day experienced no reduction in risk of MS, which includes high blood pressure, glucose levels, and large waistlines.
Even better news: We’ve featured tons of workouts that take 20 minutes or less to get you the intense workout you need in the short time you have. Take your pick!
The 20-Minute 100 Workout
This quick calorie-busting routine works every muscle in your body in less than half an hour. (Want to focus on shaping your legs? Try the 100 Workout for Toned Legs. Want Michelle Obama-esque arms? Try the 15-Minute Workout for Toned Arms.)
We all know the dangers of sitting in our office chairs all day, so why not turn that simple piece of furniture into a workout tool? City Fitness trainer Amanda Schmidt has created a set of seven exercises, all performed using a basic chair, that you can fit in on your lunch break or even during a long conference call.
Note: Be extra careful if using a chair with wheels. Lock the wheels if possible, or use a steady chair instead.
How to Perform the Workout
10 to 15 pushups: To perform incline pushups, place your hands on the seat and do a pushup, keeping your core tight and avoiding an arched back. For the more difficult decline pushups, place your feet on the chair and your hands on the floor.
Last week we gave you a relaxing yoga workout, but now it’s time to kick it into high gear again. Grant Hill, the founder of MyBootcamp and an indoor cycling instructor at Revolve Fitness, knows that no exercise is quite as intense as the exercise we love to hate: the burpee.
"The burpee is loved for its effectiveness at working just about everything you can possibly imagine at once—and loathed for the absolute butt-kicking it delivers,” says Hill.
The jump-squat-pushup combo is a total-body workout that targets your upper body, lower body, and core while including both cardio and strength-training elements.
Even more intense? Doing Tabata intervals of burpees. “The key with Tabata is intensity. You must give maximum effort if you want the gains Tabata can deliver,” says Hill.
Read on for his seemingly simple yet crazy tough workout.