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How to Improve Your Mental Strength to Push Through a Hard Workout

By Brittany Risher

In the middle of a HIIT workout, when your shirt is soaked through with sweat and you’re about to start yet another round of burpees, it’s not uncommon to think, “I can’t do this. I can’t even do one more rep.” But what’s sending that message – your body or your brain? Are your muscles truly getting tired, or is it just your mental strength that’s waning?

While it’s always important to listen to your body and never push yourself to the point of injury, sometimes your brain can prevent your body from doing all that it can. When it comes to performing feats of athleticism – whether that’s competing in an IRONMAN or trying to hold a plank just a little bit longer – mental toughness plays a huge role in what you can accomplish. Luckily anyone can develop mental strength. Just like training for a race or learning to do pull-ups, it’s something that takes time to master. The more you practice it, the more benefits you’ll see.

 

Why Being Mentally Tough Matters

Outside the weight room, mental strength helps you get through the ups and downs of life, like criticism at work or dealing with a break up.

When it comes to fitness, being mentally strong and having grit means you can crush your training, even when you want to give up. Endurance athletes, like those who compete in IRONMAN races, especially benefit from being mentally strong.

In order to succeed, such athletes have to become experts at not only enduring physical unpleasantness, but overcoming it, too. That’s why we interviewed a handful of the best triathletes in the world in addition to exercise psychologists to learn their secrets on improving mental strength and pass them on to you.

“[Endurance athletes] need intrinsic motivation to succeed, as these sports require lengthy periods of focusing and managing physical discomfort,” explains Jennifer Carter, Ph.D., a counseling and sport psychologist at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. You might not be training for a triathlon anytime soon, but mental strength can help you get through a hard workout and achieve your goals faster. Ready to work your brain? Let’s get gritty.

 

How to Improve Your Mental Strength

 

10 Ways to Improve Mental Strength During a Hard Workout

 

1. Talk to yourself

Maybe not aloud and in public (you might get some looks), but thinking “I can do this!” or “Keep pushing!” can make a workout seem less strenuous. In a small study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, men who used motivational self-talk completed a 10-kilometer time trial faster and with more power than those who did not. That was despite reporting no change in perceived effort.

“[Motivational self-talk] allows you to do more work without it feeling more strenuous because it provides you a way to keep persevering despite high levels exertion,” says Alister McCormick, Ph.D., a registered sport and exercise psychologist.

 

2. Cue up your playlist

Lose yourself in your favorite songs when you feel your mental strength wavering. Listening to music while exercising has been shown to reduce perceived exertionincrease work output, and make you enjoy the workout more. Scientists believe music stimulates the release of neurotransmitters and hormones like dopamine and endorphins, which are associated with feelings of reward and a natural high, helping to decrease perceived pain. Researchers say the best music is music you like, so cue up your favorite Spotify playlist and get to it!

 

3. Take it one step at a time

“It’s a bit daunting to think, ‘I’ll race this entire IRONMAN,’” says triathlete Joe Gambles, who’s been competing at an elite level since the age of 16. “So I try and break down a race into smaller chunks—first the swim, then the first transition, then the first 10 miles on the bike, etc.—that way I can chip away at [the whole race].” McCormick says such “chunking” helps you focus on one thing at a time, and breaks a daunting task into more manageable pieces. It doesn’t matter whether that’s 10 miles of an ultramarathon or a set of lunges—this tactic can help you stay motivated no matter what task you’re trying to complete.

 

4. Follow a checklist

Focusing on the little things is key, McCormick says. “It’s about pacing. Whether you’re running at 10K or lifting weights, you don’t want to do too much work too soon. But you also don’t want to underachieve,” he says. To find the perfect pace, he suggests checking in on things relevant to your performance, which is exactly what IRONMAN athlete Michellie Jones does.

“I try to focus on something simple like keeping my pedaling smooth and round [on the bike] and remembering to breathe and relax my shoulders [on the run],” says Jones, who has over 175 career victories. And who’s to argue with that kind of success?

 

5. Think about your goals

Reflecting on why you’re exercising can help you stay in the game. “Remind yourself of your goals. Think about how good it will feel to cross the finish line [or complete the workout], and then focus on what you need to do to make that happen,” Carter suggests.

 

6. Think about your loved ones

Training for an endurance event requires a lot of time – time that could have been spent hanging out with friends or doing something fun with your kids. “I always think of the family and friends I have sacrificed time with to get my training done, and how disappointed they might be if I’m not giving it everything I have,” says IRONMAN athlete Leon Griffin, who entered his first triathlon as a teenager. “If I give anything less than that, I feel like I’m cheating them as well as myself.” You may not be training for something as grueling as an IRONMAN, but reflecting on what you’re giving up by doing a workout may help you give every minute all you’ve got.

 

7. Be grateful

During a workout, it’s hard to think about anything but how sore your muscles are and how much sweat is dripping off your nose. But consider thinking about how awesome it is that you get to do that workout. “In mentally tough moments, I always put myself in a state of gratitude,” shares Siri Lindley, who was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2016. “I think about how lucky I am to have two arms, two legs, a strong beating heart, and the ability, opportunity, and desire to be out pushing myself to the limits. The minute I go into thinking about what I am grateful for, I automatically start feeling better, inspired, and wanting to celebrate the opportunity to dig deep.”

 

8. Soak up the support

The crowds are often the best part of any athletic event, with their hilarious signs and energetic cheering. But you can also find support in a fitness studio, sports team, or online community. “When other people give you encouragement, it makes massive effects,” McCormick says.

Group workouts, like Beachbody LIVE! classes, are led by an enthusiastic instructor who can help you get over a mental block. Feeding off the energy of others in a class can also motivate you to push yourself just a little bit harder. Even having a virtual community keeping you accountable can do wonders on the days when you feel like giving up. Check out the Beachbody On Demand community to find your own online support system.”Whether in the gym or a race, [encouragement from others] can be beneficial to help you keep persevering,” McCormick says.

 

9. Smile

This might be the easiest tip yet. Putting on a happy face is probably the last thing you want to do when grunting through rep after rep, but Jones swears it works. “A smile goes a long way—it gives you a boost mentally and physically. It helps even if it’s forced,” she says. This simple trick doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it could be just the thing you need to push yourself through to the end.

 

10. Embrace the pain cave

When all else fails, sometimes you simply have to accept that enduring a bit of pain (in the form of deep, muscle-burning agony, not acute injury) is part of becoming stronger, faster, and fitter. The “pain cave” is the most grueling part of a workout or race, and is well known among endurance racers.

“Embracing the pain is part and parcel of the sport,” says Emma-Kate Lidbury, a podium regular on the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 circuits. “I view it as a privilege to be able to push my body and mind to their limits. How will you cope with [the pain]? Can you keep pushing? Push through your boundaries and see what happens. That’s the really fun part!”

Others say embracing the pain makes them more competitive. “I know that if I’m in the pain cave, my competitors are likely deep in that cave too,” explains IRONMAN pro Matt Lieto. “It becomes a game of who’s most content to live there the longest.”

As long as the pain isn’t alarming and won’t lead you to an injury, finding comfort in the uncomfortable can help build grit and stamina, and make you feel like a baller when it’s time for your cool-down. “Muscular fatigue is a sign that we are effective in our training, and many athletes experience a high after particularly intense workouts,” Carter says.

So the next time you mentally hit a wall during a workout, call upon some of these tips to boost your mental strength and see just strong you really are.

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10 Excuses to Not Work Out — And How to Overcome Them

By Kate Bayless

I’m too tired. I’m too overweight. I don’t have time. It’s easy to come up with a zillion reasons NOT to exercise. Here are tips to overcome the top 10 excuses to working out.

 

Excuse #1: I can’t afford a gym.

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The cost of gym memberships can vary widely — from $10 a month to more than $200. According to Statista.com, nearly 55 million Americans were members of a fitness center as of 2015. But here’s the rub — 67 percent of people with gym memberships never use them, so if you fall into that category the only weight you’ll lose is from your wallet.

Solution: Instead of putting your fitness dollars down the drain with an unused gym membership, look for more affordable solutions like creating a simple home gym and joining Beachbody On Demand, which provides unlimited, streaming access to hundreds of workouts for just $99 per year. The result: More muscle for less money.

 

Excuse #2: I’m way too tired to exercise.

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Our 24/7 lifestyle often leaves us feeling busier and busier, and as a result, downright exhausted. “When I ask people to give me one word for how they feel most often, whether it’s a high school athlete or a group of leaders, they consistently use the word ‘tired’,” says Jarrod Spencer, Psy.D., sports psychologist at Mind of the Athlete in Bethlehem, PA. “And it’s not just a physical fatigue. It’s a low emotional energy leaving us feeling negative and drained.” All this leaves us wanting to skip workouts to preserve what little energy we have left.

Solution: When you feel too tired to work out, Spencer says the solution is… to actually work out. “Working out is almost paradoxical. It can make your muscles physically tired, but you’ll actually feel more energized from it.” Once you start sweating, Spencer explains, your body will start releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and natural endorphins that will make you feel better. You may need to find a mantra that helps to train your brain to overcome your tired body’s reluctance. Set a reminder on your phone that triggers positive notifications like “I’ll have more energy after I exercise” or “You’ll never regret a sweat session” to pop up before your scheduled workout. Planning to exercise with a friend will also motivate you to keep your commitment to exercise even when you’re pooped.

 

Excuse #3: I need more motivation than health to hit the gym.

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If losing weight or your general health isn’t a good enough reason to work out and you need extra incentives, do some soul-searching to find what will work to motivate you to get moving.

Solution: Give yourself a reward for meeting your fitness goals — a reward that you really want. If you love massages, book a massage at the end of every month you complete your target number of work outs. You can log your workouts using a habit-tracking app like HabitBull to keep you on track. How about money as a motivating factor? Apps like Pact allow you to wager money on meeting your workout schedule. You receive cash when you hit your goals, but cough up money when you don’t. A more altruistic soul? Track your sweat sessions with the Charity Miles app that donates money to your choice of charity for every workout you log.

 

Excuse #4: I don’t have time.

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Between kids and a commute, a job and other responsibilities of life, it can feel hard to fit a workout in your daily schedule. There is only so much time in the day and with so much on our plates, working out can often get pushed to the back burner.

Solution: Instead of trying to find time to work out, think about how you can make time. The trick is to find a block of time in your daily schedule that’s consistently free of commitments. For some, that might be before or after work. For others, that might be during their lunch hour.

The time commitment can be minimal. If you can carve out just a half hour a day for exercise, you’ll have all the time you need to get in the best shape of your life. There are several workout programs on Beachbody On Demand that are less than 30 minutes, such as Tony Horton’s 22-Minute Hard Corps or Shaun T’s FOCUS T25.

“Many of us have ‘fear of missing out’ and so we have difficulty saying ‘no’ to things,” explains Spencer. “The key is learning how to say ‘no’ to some things and ‘yes’ to taking care of ourselves.”

 

Excuse #5: I don’t like working out alone.

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Unless you have a crazy big supply of internal motivation, working out with a friend can make your workout time fly by and prompt you to push yourself a little harder. Since there is no accountability when we work out solo, it’s easier to flake or not give the workout your best effort.

Solution: Ask a friend to meet you for a weekend run or see if some colleagues want to join you for a HIIT session, a bootcamp, or a Beachbody LIVE class after work. Exercising with a partner or a group increases motivation and consistency.

Don’t have any friends (or at least any into fitness)? Find some by looking for upcoming fitness-focused get-togethers on Meetup.comZogsports.com, or your work bulletin board. You can also check out the Bvddy app which works like Tinder for your workouts helping you find fellow squash players, jog buddies, or tennis partners to grow your sports – and social – life.

 

Excuse #6: I’m too old/fat/uncoordinated/embarrassed to exercise.

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Sure, it may be easy for that size 0, twentysomething to just looooove going to the gym, but me? — you think — not so much. Whether you feel too old, too overweight, or ridiculous in workout wear to break a sweat, there is a simple solution. Start small, but start with something.

Solution: Go for a walk, says Spencer, ideally with a friend and in a park or somewhere else in nature. “Walking is the best way and the first step to get a person moving forward. Often times, people won’t even realize how far they have gone!” And how many calories they’ve burned. Video workouts are another great option since they can be done in the privacy of your own home and often include examples of how to scale up or down the workout to match your ability and fitness level. Try a program like Beachbody’s PiYo that uses low-impact but effective moves to burn fat and sculpt your muscles. Or YOUv2, which is a lively dance workout program created for beginners that is so much fun that you may forget you’re working out.

 

Excuse #7: I get bored easily.

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Cringe at the thought of hitting the treadmill or same exercise class again? The key to beating boredom is to find a workout program that both caters to your fitness level and that you actually look forward to. It’s also important to switch things up every few weeks or months so that you don’t fall into a “routine.”

Solution: If your gym doesn’t offer an assortment of classes to choose from, consider signing up for Beachbody On Demand, which includes a variety of workout programs from a handful of the nation’s top trainers that encompass a range of exercise styles and intensities. There’s something for every personality, exercise preference, and fitness level.

 

Excuse #8: I don’t like to sweat.

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Exercise doesn’t have to mean grunting and groaning and dripping in sweat. There are a variety of effective workouts that burn calories and build muscle while not leaving you dripping in sweat.

Solution: Try a slower-paced workout that emphasizes stretching and controlled movements. Beachbody Yoga Studio — exclusively on Beachbody On Demand — offers several beginner yoga classes that focus less on getting your heart pumping and more on experiencing a full-body stretch, increasing your balance and flexibility, as well as strengthening muscle by holding yoga poses.

 

Excuse #9: I’m a full-time parent.

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Let’s be honest – kids are cute, but they take time so parents and caregivers need to get creative in order to find ways to exercise with kids around.

Solution: When kids are young, pop them in a jogging stroller for a few laps around the neighborhood. As they get older, find ways to exercise that mesh well with your kids’ activities. Run trails at the baseball fields while your son goes to practice or do intervals on the school stairs while you wait for dance class to let out. Parents can also model healthy living by finding workouts that kids and parents can do together! Beachbody On Demand now has a “kids and family” category. Whether it’s a family bike ride, friendly game of hoops, or a dance-based workout like YOUv2, exercising as a family will help you spend time together, fit in your workout, and help you demonstrate healthy habits.

 

Excuse #10: I don’t like to work out around the opposite sex.

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If the opposite sex makes you self-conscience to break a sweat, find ways to overcome your fear.

Solution: See if your gym offers gender-specific classes or workout areas. Of course, working out in the privacy of your own home also solves this problem. So choose your favorite workout program on Beachbody On Demand, and with the curtains closed, bust out your calorie-burn session.

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What Are Carbs and How Much Do You Need in Your Diet?

What are Carbs?

Along with fat and protein, carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in the foods we eat. Carbs are molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which are often referred to as sugars or starches, says Paige Benté, M.S., R.D., and Beachbody nutrition manager. Though we might casually classify a certain food as a “carb,” most foods contain two, if not all three, of the macronutrients in varying amounts.

 

How Many Carbs Do You Need in Your Diet?

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates comprise 45 to 65 percent of our daily calorie intake. For reference, carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, so if you eat 1,500 calories a day, that would be about 169 to 244 grams of carbs. The current recommended daily allowance of carbohydrates (the minimum amount necessary to maintain your health) is 130 grams per day.

“The average American gets something like 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates,” says Benté. “Most Beachbody plans fall somewhere around 40 percent of calories from carbohydrates, but somebody that’s following a strict ‘low-carb diet’ wouldn’t consider 40 percent low carb. There’s a lot of gray area.”

There is no strict definition of a low-carb diet, Benté says. It will vary based on whether you talk to a dietitian, or a friend at the gym who eschews grains but doesn’t have any nutrition training.

healthy carbs, what are carbs, carb food list, macros, carbohydrates

 

What’s the Difference Between Simple & Complex Carbs?

Not all carbs are created equal. There are two basic groups, and the difference between simple and complex carbs is the structure of their molecules.

Simple carbs are sugars in their purest form or foods that have been highly refined, says Benté. “They typically spike your blood sugar more quickly because they are very rapidly digested and taken up into the bloodstream,” she says. Examples include products made with white flour or white rice, sugary baked goods, and sugar in any form (honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar included).

“It’s very important that athletes have very quickly digestible sources of carbohydrates, and those are frequently highly refined carbs,” says Benté. This is why, she says, you see athletes downing goos and gummy bears before, during, or after races, which contain simple sugars that their muscles can store in the form of glycogen, or rapidly convert into energy, like during a race.

carbs, healthy carbs, low carb, macros, carb food list

Complex carbs are really just larger molecules referred to as polysaccharides (or oligosaccharides), and often contain fiber, which simple carbs lack. “Complex carbs provide a number of additional benefits that simple carbs do not, like fiber, which is good for digestive health,” says Benté, “as well as additional vitamins and minerals.”

That fiber takes longer to digest, so it acts like a brake, slowing down digestion to give your body more time to break down what you’re eating. They don’t have a lot of the smaller sugar molecules found in simple carbs.

Typically, a complex carb is an unrefined carbohydrate, whereas we get our simple carbs from refined carbohydrates. As an example, Benté says, corn in its whole form (like corn on the cob) is a complex carb, but if you turn that corn into corn syrup, it would then be a simple carb — and you’d lose the fiber and other nutrients.

 

List of Healthy Carbs

Beachbody’s Portion Fix nutrition program is set up so you don’t need to count every calorie — or grams of carbs. To keep things simple, our reference list of healthy carbs contains Portion Fix-approved foods.

 

Green Container

Kale

Collard greens

Spinach

Brussels sprouts

Broccoli

Asparagus

Beets

Tomatoes

Squash (summer)

String beans

Peppers, sweet

Cauliflower

Artichokes

Eggplant

Okra

Jicama

Cabbage

Cucumbers

Celery

Lettuce (not iceberg)

Mushrooms

Radishes

Onions

Sprouts

 

Purple Container

Raspberries

Blueberries

Blackberries

Strawberries

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Tangerine

Apricots

Grapefruit  (1/2 large)

Kiwifruit (2 medium)

Nectarine

Honeydew melon

Salsa, pico de gallo

Tomato sauce, plain

 

Yellow Container

Sweet potato

Quinoa

Lentils

Edamame

Peas

Refried beans (nonfat)

Brown rice

Wild rice

Corn on the cob (1 ear)

Oatmeal (steel-cut or rolled)

Pasta (whole-grain)

Couscous (whole wheat)

Pita bread (whole-grain, 1 small 4-inch)

Pancakes (whole-grain, 1 small 4-inch)

English muffin (whole-grain, 1/2 a muffin)

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7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong — And How to Correct Them

Beyond sheer power and brute strength, gifted athletes are masters of body mechanics: weight distribution, fluidity, efficiency. But when you look around the average gym, you see a whole lot of the exact opposite: wasted motion, lousy alignment, shoddy body mechanics, and poor overall form on even the most common exercises.

Never mind that these weight lifters may be getting a pump or a burn in their muscles — they’re also practicing bad movement patterns that can eventually lead to diminishing results at best, and poor posture, bad alignment, and physical harm at worst.

Below are seven common exercises that most weight lifters get wrong — along with how you can clean up your technique on each. Follow our tips and you’ll not only build more muscle and athleticism, but you’ll also improve proprioception — your sense of body position and alignment — which can reduce your risk of injury and enhance athletic performance.

Your joints will thank you.

 

7 Common Exercises for Strength That You’re Probably Doing Wrong

 

1. Biceps Curl

exercises people do wrong curl wrong

The problem: Too much body English

Curls should be simple — they only require you to move one joint. But lordy, do people figure out ways to screw them up. They thrust their hips forward to swing the weight upward. They move their upper arms forward to cheat their way through the sticking point. They lift the weight all of the way up to their shoulders. And in the process, they shortchange their results and (worse) increase their risk of injury.

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them - Bicep Curl

How to fix it: Don’t worry about lifting big weights. Instead, focus on form, and using weights that aren’t so heavy that they force you to compromise it. In practice, that means not allowing your elbows to leave your sides, your hips to move, or the weights to touch your shoulders. If you do the exercise properly, they won’t get that far. The only parts of your body that should move are your forearms and hands. Here’s how to do a perfect curl:

• Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, your hips in line with shoulders and ankles, your back flat, and your eyes looking straight ahead.

• Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your thighs, palms forward.

• Keeping your elbows tucked, curl the weights as high as you can without moving your upper arms. Pause, and then lower the weights back to the starting position.

 

2. Dip

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The problems: Keeping your torso vertical, flaring your elbows, not dropping low enough.

The first two mistakes are very tough on your shoulders. The third one is a cheat that limits the effectiveness of the move.

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How to fix it: A correctly executed dip is an incredibly effective upper-body builder that nails your triceps and works your chest. Do it wrong and you’re in for a world of hurt — not to mention looking and feeling awkward as hell.

• Grab the handles of a dip station and lift yourself so that your arms are straight. Cross your ankles behind you. This is your starting position.

• Keeping your forearms vertical and elbows tucked (not flared), allow your torso to lean forward as you lower your body until your upper arms dip just below parallel to the floor.

• Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Make it easier: Strap an exercise band between the bars and place a knee or two in the loop as you perform the exercise. The band will help lift you out of the low position.

 

3. Pull-Up

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them pullup

The problem: Not completing the full range of motion.

Most people fail to straighten their arms fully at the bottom of the pull-up (a position called a dead hang), and many fail to pull themselves high enough as well. This robs you of much of the muscle-building potential of this always-effective, super-tough exercise.

How to fix it: …is pretty obvious — try to pull your upper chest to the bar (or at least your chin), and lower yourself all the way back to a dead hang during each rep.

If only it were that easy. While one of the more common exercises, the pull-up is still one of the toughest bodyweight moves most gym-goers practice regularly: an informal online poll suggests that the average man can perform just one pull-up; the average woman not even that. Talk about an ego check.

The key to doing multiple pull-ups, as with any other exercise, is to reduce the weight you’re using. On the pull-up, you can accomplish that with a Chin-Up Max assistance band, which hooks onto the pull-up bar and loops around your feet. As you lower your body, the band stretches — giving you more help on the way up.

 

4. Overhead Dumbbell Press

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them overhead press wrong

The problem: Arching your back excessively, flaring your elbows, tilting your forearms inward, poor shoulder mobility.

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong - overhead press

How to fix it: Leaning backward is your body’s way of pulling your chest muscles in on the pressing action and compensating for a lack of shoulder mobility. Keep the focus on your shoulders by trying to stay bolt upright as you press.

Just as important, people often incorrectly perform the move with their palms forward and elbows flared out to the sides, as if holding a barbell. That position increases the strain on your shoulders, and thus your risk of injury. A much safer, more effective variation is to start with your elbows tucked and palms facing each other, pressing the weights directly above your shoulders.

Which brings us to another important point: If, when pressing the weights above your shoulders, you’re unable to bring your biceps beside your ears without arching your back or craning your neck, you shouldn’t perform the move at all. At least, not until you develop the shoulder mobility required to do it properly.

 

5. Squat

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them squat wrong

The problems: Bending forward, not squatting low enough, allowing your knees to cave inward.

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them squat right

How to fix it: Toddlers squat with ease. For the rest of us, though, squatting with good form is a tall order; years of sitting — or more accurately, slouching — in front of a TV, in a car, at a desk, etc. have ruined us for this once normal and effortless movement pattern. Furthermore, modern life rarely asks us to perform a low squat unsupported, so most people lack the core strength and hip/ankle mobility necessary to comfortably assume this position.

• Start by making yourself “tall and skinny,” standing upright with your feet hip to shoulder width apart. Your weight should be on your heels — evenly distributed between left and right — throughout the movement.

• Keeping your back flat, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor (or as low as you can get them). Keep your head aligned with your spine (you should be looking at a spot several feet in front of you on the floor at the bottom of the move), and don’t let your knees cave inward.

• Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

For those who have trouble dropping all the way down into a full squat due to poor ankle and/or hip mobility, withhold adding weight until you can perform the bodyweight version using proper form.

 

6. Plank

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them pushup wrong

The problems: Many people raise their hips to high, or allow them to sag, increasing strain on the lower back.

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them pushup right

How to fix it: To feel what it’s like to nail proper form on the plank — stand with your back to a wall and your heels against the baseboard. Your butt, upper back, and the back of your head should touch the wall.

This is the position your legs, trunk, and head should assume when you perform plank variations: a straight line from your head to your heels. Additionally, make sure your weight is on your forearms, your elbows are directly below your shoulders, your core is braced, and your glutes are clenched. Your feet should be hip-width apart.

Having trouble finding that position when you’re horizontal? Grab a long dowel and have a training partner place it on your back. The dowel should touch your glutes, upper back, head, and heels — just like the wall does when you stand.

7. Push-Up

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong And How to Correct Them plank wrong

The problem: Flared elbows, sagging hips.

Many people press their elbows out to the side (more than 45 degrees relative to their torsos) as they lower themselves to the floor. That’s hard on your shoulders. They also allow their hips to droop, which is hard on the lower back.

7 Exercises People Usually Do Wrong - Push Up

How to fix it:

• Assume a plank position — this time with your arms straight and your hands in line with (but slightly wider than) your shoulders. Clench your glutes and brace your core to keep your body straight from head to heels.

• Keeping your head in line with your spine (look down, not forward) and elbows tucked, lower your body until your chest is within a few inches of the floor. When you do the move properly, your head, elbows, and upper body form an arrow shape (as opposed to a “T”) when viewed from above.

• Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position as quickly as possible.

If you find the classic push-up too tough, perform the move with your hands on a sturdy, elevated surface (box, bench, etc.), and gradually move closer to the floor as you become stronger. That’s a better option than knee push-ups, which don’t condition the right movement pattern or activate all of the right muscles to build the strength you’ll need to perform the standard push-up with good form.

Practice makes perfect, and there’s no better practice for the aforementioned moves than Beachbody’s library of dozens of programs, now streaming at Beachbody On Demand. Workouts like Body Beast22 Minute Hard Corps, and Brazil Butt Lift feature these exercises and hundreds more, now via your TV set-top box or mobile device.

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Motivational Music: Beast Up with Sagi Kalev’s Weightlifting Playlist

Sagi Kalev likes to make every moment count, and he has a lot to show for it. He’s created several successful weightlifting programs (including Body Beast and The Master’s Hammer and Chisel), has twice won the title “Mr. Israel,” is both a certified nutrition specialist and a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, and has appeared on the cover of more than 50 international fitness magazines.

Though he keeps a busy schedule, Kalev likes to make time to meet his fans and host live Body Beast workouts. One thing that helps him connect with the audience is his motivational music mixes. His latest weightlifting playlist includes classic and current hip-hop songs, hits from Eminem, The Notorious B.I.G. and Jeremih, and inspirational theme music from professional wrestlers Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. And of course, there’s also “Eye of the Tiger,” because what mix of this nature would be complete without it?

“It’s really about having fun. That’s what people are coming for,” Kalev says. “You’re not going to get in shape in just one workout, but there are some things in a live workout that you will never forget.”

One of Kalev’s most important goals for his live workouts is to keep everyone motivated and on the same page, working together.

“I’m a military guy. I like order. I like when everybody’s participating,” Kalev says. He’s serious about that, and isn’t afraid to take away someone’s phone if they’re using it during his workouts. “I make it fun—I will sit next to the person on the floor, like, ‘I got your phone now, and you can’t do anything about it because I’m the Beast.’”

Below, Kalev walks us through why he picked certain songs for his weightlifting playlist, and some of his general guiding principles when putting together a mix for his live workouts. Listen to the full Spotify playlist below, and follow Beachbody On Demand on Spotify for more great playlists to pair with any kind of workout.

Sagi Kalev's Weightlifting Playlist

Sagi Kalev’s Weightlifting Playlist

“The Next Big Thing (Brock Lesnar theme song)”

Artist: WWE & Jim Johnston

Album: N/A

“There are no lyrics, but it’s very powerful. When a song like this comes up, a very powerful move will come into the workout. You’re not going to do a stretch with something like this. You’re going to do something that is very hard.”

 

“What I Live For”

Artist: Rob Bailey & the Hustle Standard

Album: Beast

“I like the lyrics in this song. I also like the way it starts, how it goes up in the beginning, down in the middle, and then up again.”

 

“The Next Episode” (featuring Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Nate Dogg)

Artist: Dr. Dre

Album: 2001

“With Snoop, you’re not going to be doing a cardio move; you’re going to be doing something that’s a power move. This song is for something that’s more slow-motion.”

 

“Notorious Thugs” (featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony)

Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.

Album: Life After Death

“In my mixes there are some songs where I like the intro, or there’s something in the middle I like. Or, the song stops and a speaker talks about something inspiring. Each song is picked on purpose.”

 

“Eye of the Tiger”

Artist: Survivor

Album: Eye of the Tiger

“This is in Rocky III. Everybody knows this song. It’s kind of fun, and you can do some funny dance moves to it. You can be playful and not so furious.”

 

“I’m A Beast”

Artist: T. Powell

Album: Game Day Motivation

“There are a lot of songs that mention being a ‘beast’ or ‘beast mode.’ This a reminder that you’re not in a wimpy workout—you’re in a Beast workout.”

 

“Kush” (Featuring Snoop Dogg and Akon)

Artist: Dr. Dre

Album: N/A
“Sometimes I like to change the mood of the workout. I’m going to kick your butt, but you will also laugh. You will bust your ass, and you will also have tons of fun.”

 

“Roman Reigns (Heart of a Warrior)”

Artist: Monteasy

Album: Heart Of A Warrior

“Just look at the name of the song. It tells you what it’s about.”

 

“Phenomenal”

Artist: Eminem

Album: Southpaw (Music from and Inspired By the Motion Picture)

“Eminem has done my Body Beast workouts. When I was filming the program, lyrics from two of his songs were in my locker room, printed on a wall. Each time before I filmed, I read the lyrics and listened to the songs.”

 

“I Got 5 On It” (Remix) (feat. Dru Down, Numskull, Richie Rich, E-40, Shock-G, Spice-1)

Artist: Luniz

Album: The Remix vs. The Original

“I played the piano for eight years. Just like in dance, or music, you have eight counts. That’s how my brain thinks about moves in a workout, and how to count through them.”

 

“Put It On Me” (DJ Quik & Mimi)

Artist: Dr. Dre

Album: Training Day: The Soundtrack

“I wanted a mix of songs that could start with a warm up, then go really high, and then go a little bit lower. It’s like a symphony.”

 

“Imma Star (Everywhere We Are)”

Artist: Jeremih

Album: Jeremih

“You can’t go and just destroy someone during a live workout because there are so many people on different levels. You want to mix it up. I know that after a few high-intensity songs and really powerful moves, we should go to a move that it’s not going to be as hard, which is where this song comes in.”

 

“Hold Strong”

Artist: Rob Bailey & the Hustle Standard

Album: Battle-Tested

“I would say that this weightlifting playlist is just another tool for my workouts. You think you’re only coming for a workout, but really, my intention is that when you leave you have gotten something from me that will change something in your life.”

 

“I’m A Beast”

Artist: R. Kelly

Album: I’m A Beast

“Being a ‘beast’ isn’t always what people think. It’s about growing from the person that you are today to the person that you want to become.”

 

“Hypnotize”

Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.

Album: Life After Death

“I’m shaking my booty with this song. At first I’m serious, and then suddenly this song comes on and I’m dancing. It makes everybody crack up. Me being silly and funny and dancing in a workout… people don’t expect that.”

Cue up this weightlifting playlist for your next workout from Sagi, like Body BeastThe Master’s Hammer and Chisel, or his brand-new program on Beachbody On Demand, A Week of Hard Labor, coming out in September.

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4 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults

The older you get, the more likely you are to use additional medicines, which can increase the chance of harmful drug interactions. So consider these safety tips (and share them with your loved ones) when taking prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbal preparations, and supplements.

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10 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms and Dads

For most parents, “free time” is sort of like a pet unicorn — it’s a fun idea, but it doesn’t actually exist in real life.

So if you’re a busy parent trying to lose weight, you might be wondering how, exactly, you’re supposed to find time to work out or cook healthy meals when you barely have a minute to brush your teeth in the morning.

Kids are awesome, but they also seem to have the magical ability to make entire hours of the day disappear. But how can you set aside some time each day to crush your own goals? (Because, no matter what your mommy guilt says, you are allowed to have your own goals — really.)

Here are a few tips from time-saving experts so you can waste less and accomplish more.

How to Carve Out More Time in Your Calendar

1. Say “no” more often

If your kid loves karate, of course you’re going to find time to shuttle them back and forth to classes. But there are plenty of times we find ourselves committed to stuff that no one in the family actually seems excited about.

When that happens, it’s okay to set boundaries. “Learning to say ‘no’ to requests that don’t help you or your family reach your goals is a good step to gaining control of your time,” says Nancy Haworth, a professional organizer and owner of On Task Organizing, LLC.

2. Streamline the morning rush

When mornings are chaotic, you may feel exhausted before your day’s even started — and that makes it hard to get anything done efficiently.

Take some of the stress out of the morning rush by prepping as much as you can the night before. (Pro tip: Instead of trying to do it all in the morning while everyone’s only half-awake, prep at a time when the rest of the family can actually help out.)

Haworth offers these tips for simplifying your mornings:

  • Check the weather forecast before bed, and lay out the next day’s clothes so you’re not searching for clean pants or matching socks in the morning.
  • Set the table for breakfast.
  • Pack snacks, make lunches, and refill water bottles.
  • Place any purses, briefcases, backpacks, shoes, and jackets by the door.
  • Skip checking social media and e-mail when you wake up until everything else is ready.

 3. Put free time on the schedule

Forget spontaneity. If you need an hour to yourself — to do a workout, try a new recipe, or just veg on the couch with a good book — you’re going to have to put it on the calendar in between all the school projects, soccer practices, art classes, and bounce-house birthday parties.

“Just like we make the time to go to the grocery store, we also need to make the time to take care of ourselves,” says Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D., an industrial-organizational psychology practitioner and time-management expert.

parenting tips, busy moms, busy dads

How to Find (and Eliminate) Time-sucks

4. Track how you spend your time

“If you’re in the process of improving your time management skills, I recommend keeping detailed track of your time for a couple of weeks to figure out where your time is going,” Haworth says.

Use a bullet journal, passion planner, or productivity app, and make sure you include everything — how much time you spend working, how much time you spend driving, how much time you spend taking online quizzes to see what kind of burrito you are, etc.

If you find yourself asking “how is it bedtime already?!” on a near-daily basis, this will help you figure out where all the hours are really going — and identifying time-sucks will be the first step in getting rid of them.

5. Batch those “rabbit hole” tasks

Certain tasks — like checking email, reading the news, or running to Target for “just one thing” — tend to take waaaaay more time than you planned, so try to tackle those tasks in batches to limit the amount of time wasted. “When we chunk our time, we’re more productive and efficient,” Hakim says. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Instead of checking your email every time you get a notification, pick a few times each day to read and respond to new messages in your inbox all at once.
  • Schedule as many errands as possible for the same day. Keep a shopping list on your phone so you’re not constantly running back out for forgotten items.
  • Set a timer before you start reading the news, scrolling through Instagram, or looking up avocado toast recipes. “It’s very easy to get sucked in,” Haworth says. “Before you start one of those activities, decide when you’re going to stop, and set a timer to help raise your awareness of the time that’s gone by.”

6. Put yourself first

“Place those things that you do to take care of yourself on your calendar, and take care of them before you run errands or check your email,” Hakim says.

Case in point: I used to promise myself I’d work out “as soon as I finish what I need to do today.” Surprise surprise, I rarely got around to it, because…really, does any parent ever feel like they’re all caught up?

I started scheduling workouts early in the morning, and realized it’s way easier to bang them out before the “I’m-never-going-to-get-everything-done” panic sets in.

busy parents, parenting tips, busy moms, busy dads

How to Get Your Family Onboard

7. Have kids help with meal prep

Cooking healthy meals can take a big chunk out of your day, but it’s worth the investment: Research has found that more time in the kitchen is associated with a healthier diet.

Here are a few tips Hakim suggests to help save time in the kitchen and get the whole family involved in meal prep:

  • Spend one afternoon each weekend prepping dinners for the upcoming week. That way, when you’re juggling homework and after-school activities, you can get dinner together without hassle.
  • Include your children in the process. Kids love to be in the kitchen, so it can be a fun way to spend time together and actually get something accomplished.
  • Stick with simple recipes to make your life easier — no need to whip up beef bourguignon from scratch when you’re already feeling overextended. Slow cooker meals are also a big win for those with busy schedules.
  • If you have older kids, enlist them with the task of finding healthy recipes online, and go to the grocery store together to buy the ingredients.

If it’s not mealtime yet but there are little tummies a’rumblin in your house, a Daily Sunshine shake is just the ticket. Created by Isabelle Daikeler — who also happens to be the co-creator of Shakeology and wife of Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler — this shake is full of fruits and veggies, healthy fats, and protein to keep the kids satisfied between meals.

Daily Sunshine, healthy snacks, picky eater, picky kids, healthy eating

8. Delegate some household duties

If you’re on nonstop chore patrol around the house, delegate some of the responsibilities to your tiny roommates to help you finish up faster. If your kids are still young, bigger tasks may still need parental guidance — my kids basically need their own hype team when it’s time to clean the playroom — but you can hand out smaller tasks, like loading the dishwasher or carrying dirty clothes to the hamper.

“Create a chore chart, and share it on a dry erase board where all family members can see it,” Haworth says. “Provide incentives to complete chores, such as a family trip to the playground once all chores are done.”

9. Lean on your village

Resist the pressure to “do it all.” Your fellow parent-friends are probably just as stressed out and over-scheduled as you are — so own up to it, and lean on each other for backup. For example, Haworth suggests carpooling with neighbors or friends to activities. You drive this week, your friend drives next week — and ta-da, now you each have a free hour to yourself.

10. Make your family time more active

Instead of trying to balance kids’ activities, quality time with the family, and your own workouts, get all three accomplished at once by planning active outings for the whole crew.

“On the weekends, incorporate exercise into your family’s routine — take a nature walk, go to the local roller skating rink, or visit a community park,” Hakim says. “Remember that you’re teaching your children through your actions — you should show them the best way to maintain a healthy body and mind.”

Yes, the parenting struggle is real, but with a few smart, common-sensical shortcuts, you can spend more time with your family and less time pulling your hair out.

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