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Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching: Which Should You Do?

One of the biggest mistakes newcomers to fitness can make is skipping warm-up exercises before a workout. Not only is warming up valuable, it’s essential, delivering benefits beyond simply preparing your body for exercise, and extending to issues of safety and performance.

But older notions of the warm-up may compromise both, making it important to know the difference between active and passive warm-ups, static and dynamic stretching. Once you’ve settled on a workout program, budget properly for some warm-up exercises by incorporating the information below into your fitness regimen.


Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching

When preparing to do any type of vigorous activity — be it playing a team sport, performing aerobic exercise, or lifting weights — you need to prepare your muscles for action. Traditionally, there have been two primary ways to do that: static stretching and active warm-up exercises.

warm-up-exercises-dynamic-vs-static-2Static stretching

This is what you probably did in your middle school P.E. class: gradually elongating a muscle and holding it for up to 30 seconds. Think side bends or the classic hamstring stretch, where you reach for your toes while sitting on the floor. The goal of these stretches is to release tension, making muscles more pliable and less susceptible to pulls and strains.


Dynamic stretching

Part of the larger category of active warm-ups, this type of preparatory activity involves movement-based stretching like bodyweight lunges and trunk rotations. Additional active warm-ups include sport-specific agility drills, sprints and shuttle runs, jumping rope, jogging, and other low-impact, light effort exercises. The goal is to prime the body for action, and it’s what smart trainers and coaches now recommend that people do not only before competition, but also before every workout.


The Benefits of Active Warm-Ups

Research has found that while static stretching can provide recovery benefits when performed at the end of a workout, it can hamper performance if performed at the beginning. That’s because it relaxes muscles, sapping strength, while reducing blood flow and decreasing central nervous system activity.

Active warm-up exercises — especially those that involve dynamic stretching — have the opposite effect, boosting blood flow, activating the central nervous system, and enhancing strength, power, and range of motion. As a result, they offer a host of both immediate and long term benefits.


Active warm-ups improve performance

A 2014 systematic review of 31 studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that active warm-ups encompassing such exercises as sprints and plyometrics can enhance power and strength performance. Meanwhile shorter, static stretching not only fails to provide such a boost, but may also reduce strength. A meta-analysis of 32 studies on warming up and performance in 2010 also found that doing an active warm-up before engaging in sports yields improved performance — in this case, by 79 percent across all criteria examined.

“I have even seen runners who are doubling up in distance events on the same day run their second event better than the first,” says Brad A. Roy, Ph.D., FACHE, FACSM, FMFA, executive director of The Summit Medical Fitness Center in Kalispell, Montana. “With adequate rest, the initial event serves as an enhanced warm-up for the second event.”

Even if you aren’t playing a sport every week — or competing in two running events in a single day — doing some dynamic stretching every time you lace up for exercise can help optimize your performance and fast track your results. It doesn’t matter whether you’re exercising in your living room, pumping iron in the gym, pounding the pavement, or hitting the links with your bros on a Sunday — priming your body for action will elevate your game and accelerate your gains.


Active warm-ups prevent injury

A 2008 study of roughly 2,000 soccer players in The BMJ found that a structured warm-up program that included running, jumping, dynamic stretching, and targeted exercises for strength, balance, core stability, and hip and knee durability decreased the overall risk of injury by 35 percent, and cut severe injuries by almost half.

Scientists at Northwestern University had similar results in their 2011 study of 1,500 athletes. They found that 20 minutes of strength, balance, plyometric, and other dynamic stretching exercises before practice yielded a 65 percent reduction in gradual-onset injuries, a 56 percent reduction in acute non-contact injuries, and a 66 percent reduction in noncontact ankle sprains. More recently, a 2014 review of studies published in Orthopaedic Nursing found that tailoring a warm-up to a specific sport led to the fewest injuries and best outcomes.


6 Quick Warm-up Exercises Everyone Should Do

Although a sport-specific warm-up is always preferable, the following dynamic stretching circuit encompassing a broad range of movements can help prepare your body for just about any athletic endeavor. Perform each move for one minute prior to working out or competing.


Shoulder Circle

  • Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your arms by your sides.
  • Slowly roll your shoulders in a circle (forward, up, back, down) for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat in the opposite direction.


Trunk Rotation

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your back straight (not arched), raise your arms straight out to your sides, and bend at the elbows.
  • Keeping your knees bent, pivot on the ball of your right foot as you rotate your torso to the left and invert the motion to the right.


Standing Hip Circle

  • Stand on one leg and raise the opposite knee to 90 degrees (your thigh should be parallel to the ground).
  • Keeping your knee raised, open your hip, making wide circles with your leg. Continue for 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat.


Leg Swing

  • Stand tall with your feet together and your arms out to your sides or gripping a stable surface for balance.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and raise your right leg out to your side.
  • Swing your right leg parallel with your shoulders back and forth in front of your left leg. Continue for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.



  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  • Keeping your chest up, shoulders back, core braced, and back flat, take a large step forward with your right foot. Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your rear knee is bent 90 degrees. (It should hover a couple of inches above the ground.)
  • Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Repeat, this time stepping forward with your left foot. Continue alternating legs.

Related: How to Do the Perfect Forward Lunge


Half Squat

  • Stand tall with your arms by your sides and your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, raise your arms straight out in front of you as you push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Related: How to do the Dumbbell Squat

Every Beachbody workout opens with a series of active warm-ups to prime you for safe and effective exercise. Stream our every-growing library via your TV set-top box or mobile device on Beachbody On Demand now!

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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Peanut Butter Cookie Shakeology

Can’t resist a plate of peanut butter cookies? Instead, sip this good-for-you Vanilla Shakeology blended with almond milk, Graham crackers, and lots of peanut butter. This Peanut Butter Cookie Shakeology puts all of the flavor of decadent, nutty cookies into your smoothie so you can indulge without guilt. Try cashew or almond butter for a milder flavor, or sprinkle with cinnamon just before serving. Make it a chocolate peanut butter cookie – yes, we went there – with Chocolate Shakeology.

Don’t have Shakeology yet? Get all of the Shakeology flavors here!

Peanut Butter Cookie Shakeology in post



Peanut-Butter-Cookie-Shakeology-295x295Peanut Butter Cookie ShakeologyPrep Time: 5 minutesTotal Time: 5 minutesServings: 1 smoothieIngredients:– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk– 1 cup ice– 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology– 1 Tbsp. all-natural peanut butter– 1 pinch sea salt (or Himalayan salt)– 1 Tbsp. graham cracker crumbs (reserve a small amount for garnish)Instructions:1) Place almond milk, ice, Shakeology, peanut butter, salt, and graham cracker crumbs in blender; cover. Blend until smooth.2) Garnish with remaining graham cracker crumbs. 


Peanut Butter Cookie Shakeology

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories: 287
Total Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 589 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugars: 10 g
Protein: 21 g

P90X/P90X2 Portions
1 Fat
1 Protein
½ Single Serving Snack

P90X3 Portions
1 Carb
1 Protein
2 Fat

Body Beast Portions
2 Fat
1 Protein Liquid
2 Balanced Liquid

Portion Fix Containers
1 Red
4 tsp.

Not familiar with Portion Fix? Find out how Portion Fix can make losing weight simple.

If you have questions about the portions, please click here to post a nutrition question in our forums so our experts can help. Please include a link to the recipe.

Peanut Butter Cookie Shakeology

Photographs by Anguel Dimov and Brianne B of Natural Girl Modern World

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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Meal Prep Tips for Clean Week (or Any Other Week!)

By Krista Haynes, RD, CSSD

Your mission — should you choose to accept — is to eat clean and exercise for seven days in a row. It’s just a week; you can do anything for a week!

Bonus: These heathy habits may stick around for much longer. But before you begin anything, you need a plan. A good place to start is Clean Week with Megan Davies, who has a little trick to making clean eating as easy as possible: meal prep.

Implement these easy tips and see for yourself how eating clean can be simple, delicious, and fun.

(Pro tip: Once you nail these Clean Week meal prep tips, you can move on to the Portion Fix container system to take your new healthy habits to the next level!)

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How to Meal Prep for Clean Week (or Any Other Week)


1. Don’t be afraid to repeat

No need to make an entirely new meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Just choose two or three of your favorite recipes for each meal, and simply double or triple the recipe so you can have it multiple times throughout the week. (Remember to take “repeats” into account when you’re writing out your grocery list!)


2. Batch cook

Choose recipes or mix-and-match ingredients that are similar so you can cook up a big batch of foods and eat multiple times throughout the day or week. Easy foods to batch cook:

  • Roasted veggies: Add them to a breakfast scramble, then toss some into your salad for a not-sad desk lunch.
  • Quinoa: Add this nutrient-packed food to your soup for lunch, then turn it into a side dish with baked salmon at dinner.
  • Chicken breasts: Bake a few chicken breasts to pair with a side of sautéed veggies and a baked sweet potato for dinner. Then add a sliced chicken breast to some zoodles for a clean “pasta” dish for lunch the next day.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: Grab these as an easy snack when the afternoon slump hits, then make avocado egg salad toast for breakfast in the morning.
  • A big pot of brown rice will last you 4–5 days in the fridge or in the freezer for up to one month. This versatile grain can be used in a slew of recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


3. Portion, then plate

Meal-prep containers are your new best friend: All you have to do is portion out your meals in advance after you’ve batched cooked your meals for the week.

No more standing in front of an open fridge trying to decide what to eat; just grab your container and go.

Many people choose Sunday as a “meal prep” day, but pick whatever day is most convenient for you. Committing to a few hours of prepping one day can save several hours during the week.


4. Be mindful of food safety

Most foods will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. If you’re making something on Sunday that you don’t plan to eat until Friday, put it in the freezer and defrost it in the fridge Thursday night.

Some foods like eggs and sweet potatoes don’t freeze well, so schedule freezer-friendly meals at the end of the week so you only have to cook one day during the week.

clean eating, meal prep, meal prep tips, eating clean


5. Frozen fruits and veggies can be just as good as fresh

This is especially true when it comes to meal prep. Since frozen vegetables have already been cooked, all you have to do is heat them in the microwave with some cooked quinoa and your pre-made chicken breast and you’ve got yourself a balanced meal.

Frozen fruit is also a great addition to Shakeology; no washing or cutting required.


6. Mini meal prep

Certain meal prep tasks should wait till the night before or just before eating: like washing fresh fruit (to ward off mold), chopping delicate greens (to prevent wilting), or adding fresh herbs (to minimize oxidation and maximize flavor).


7. Look for shortcuts

Make it easy on yourself if you’re willing to swap a few extra dollars to save a little extra prep time.

Many grocery store chains offer pre-chopped veggies, zoodles, “pre-riced” cauliflower rice, peeled and diced fruit, pre-washed salad greens, and pre-cooked proteins like fish, chicken, and tempeh.


The Takeaway

Meal prep can seem intimidating at first — planning ahead! endless grocery lists! batch cooking! — but it’s not, we promise. Follow these tips, set up a process that works for you, and you’ll be meal prepping like a pro in no time.

clean eating, meal prep, eating clean, meal prep tips, meal plans, meal prepping

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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The Best Workout Music for Any Activity

Sure, some people enjoy listening to birds chirping as they run, or they get energized by the sound of weights hitting the floor at the gym. But for the rest of us, music can make or break a workout. The right tunes can help you perform at your max potential… science even says so. Research has shown that music can make you push yourself harder and enjoy your workout more. That’s why a good workout playlist is a necessity.

What workout music will give you the best results? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer — well, other than “Eye of the Tiger,” because who doesn’t love that song? The best workout music depends on your mood, your goals, and what type of tunes you enjoy in general. Are you bursting with energy, or do you need a kick in the you-know-what to get moving today? Will you be doing yoga asanas or deadlifts? Are you into EDM, indie rock, or rap?

Whatever you’re feeling, we have a workout playlist to match your mood and your musical tastes — check out 13 of our favorite workout playlists below, and follow Beachbody On Demand on Spotify to listen to all of our best workout music!


The Best Workout Music for Every Kind of Exercise


3 Motivational Workout Playlists

Maybe you’re tired from a long day at work, you’re tackling the first week of SHIFT SHOP, or you’re adding heavier weights to your routine. The best workout music will give you that extra push when you really need it. These inspiring playlists are guaranteed to put you in the right mindset.


Autumn’s Cardio Crush

21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese has a positive “you-got-this” vibe that extends to her playlist. It’s packed with party-ready tracks from Pitbull and Flo Rida, and inspiring pop anthems like Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us.” When you’re running on empty, this playlist will keep you going strong to the end.


Sagi Kalev’s Weight Lifting Playlist

The creator of Body Beast definitely knows a thing or two about getting people into beast mode. Sagi’s mix of throwback rap, wrestling theme songs, and motivational tracks like Eminem’s “Phenomenal” are sure to get you amped up. “There are a lot of songs that mention being a ‘beast’ or ‘beast mode,’” Sagi says. “This a reminder that you’re not in a wimpy workout — you’re in a Beast workout.”


Joel Freeman’s Hardcore Motivational Playlist

Metalheads will love Joel’s supercharged playlist that includes artists like Volbeat, Rise Against, Mastodon, and White Zombie. “When I’m just wiped and I need every ounce of energy… the heaviest of the heavy in my playlist is what I’m going to be looking for at that point,” he says. “Anything that is heavy metal is going to get me going.”


3 Cardio Pop Playlists

Power through a cardio workout with these up-tempo playlists. They’ll keep your energy high for the long haul — and they may even turn your workout into an impromptu dance party.


Running Workout Playlist

When you need to go the distance, this playlist will make the miles fly by. With a little bit of everything — from Taylor Swift to Fall Out Boy to M.I.A. — this mix helps break up the monotony of a long run.


Jericho McMatthews’ Pumped-Up Pop Workout Playlist

Jericho’s mix of dance tracks from artists like Ariana Grande, Grimes, and Calvin Harris will make you feel like dancing. “It puts me in a zone that makes me forget about everything else,” she says. “I incorporate the go-tos that I know can pull me out of a funk if I need more energy and intensity to work out.”


Tony Horton’s Cardio Mix

Tony Horton cranks the music hard for his cardio days. His go-to cardio playlist features a mix of alt-rock anthems from bands like Imagine Dragons, AWOLNATION, the Decemberists, and more. “All these songs have one thing in common, and that is that they’ve got a great beat for cardio-type routines,” he says.


3 High-Energy Playlists for Weekend Workouts

Working out is a great way to burn off stress after a tough week — and when that’s your goal, these upbeat tracks and old favorites provide the perfect soundtrack.


Country Workout Playlist

Some people might be skeptical that country is the best music for workouts, but this playlist will prove you wrong. Blast these upbeat hits from Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, and more — this might just become your new favorite kind of workout music!


Train Hard, Play Hard

Just because a workout is hard, it doesn’t mean it can’t be a party. With mood-boosting dance tracks like Matt and Kim’s “Let’s Go” and the Alvin Risk remix of Fun’s “We Are Young,” this playlist is all about letting go and having fun — it’s the perfect soundtrack for a Saturday morning sweat session (or a Saturday night out!).



Anyone who’s done a workout from the INSANITY series knows that there’s no holding back. This playlist is perfect for a half-hour INSANITY MAX:30 routine, or any other intense HIIT workout. It includes songs like Sia’s “Elastic Heart,” Nate Ruess’s “Great Big Storm,” and Lights’s “Up We Go” to create a stellar mix of uplifting lyrics and solid beats.


4 Low-Key Playlists to Help You De-Stress

The best workout music isn’t only fast, hard-hitting jams. Whether you’re cooling down after a cardio workout, unwinding with a yoga sequence, or zoning out on a long walk, these mellow playlists will help you knock down your stress level a few notches.



After a tough workout, catch your breath with calming songs from artists like Damien Rice, James Vincent McMorrow, and HAERTS. There’s even a Vitamin String Quartet cover of Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” that’s sure to put you into full relaxation mode.


Relax & Sweat

Your yoga playlist doesn’t have to be limited to chants and meditation music. Keep things fresh with this mix of atmospheric tracks and laid-back indie-pop hits from Halsey, Kiesza, Coleman Hell, and more.



On low-intensity workout days, these classic rock songs from legends like Skynyrd, Springsteen, and Hendrix will elicit a perfect relaxed energy vibe.


FOCUS T25 Hip-Hop

When you really just need to focus on the task at hand, the slow-burning, synth-heavy tracks on this playlist — like Drake’s “All Me” and Kanye West’s “Heartless” — will help you clear your head, find your groove, and get in the zone.

Stay up to date with the best workout music and songs by following Beachbody On Demand on Spotify!

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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What Is Water Weight and Should I Worry About It?

Let’s get one thing straight — generally speaking, when people talk about the kind of water weight they can manipulate, they’re usually talking about one of two things:

  • There’s water retention that comes from indulging in too much sodium or from hormonal shifts caused by things like a new exercise regimen or menstruation.
  • There’s water weight associated with the bodily fuel source glycogen that’s important to staying healthy.

Neither is bad. Neither hurts you.

Sodium or hormone-induced water retention will go away on its own once you lower the salt, adapt to the exercise, or finish your period.

Glycogen-based water weight won’t go away unless you do it deliberately. It’s okay to do this on occasion if, for example, you want to look extra svelte for your class reunion, but it’s not something you want to do on a regular basis.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at water weight.

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Why Water is Important for Good Health

Every tissue in your body is somewhere between 55 and 60 percent water, with your muscles packing in even more fluid, explains Jennifer L. Barnes, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N.

“This fluid is separated into different compartments both within and outside the cells,” she says. Water outside of cells includes blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, and water in between cells, which is critical to healthy cell signaling and function.

Long story short: Your body doesn’t function well without a significant amount of H2O floating through your bloodstream at any given time. That amount will vary by individual, but Beachbody experts recommend consuming half your body weight in ounces of water each day: If you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume 75 ounces of water daily.

You can also get water from the foods you eat: According to the National Academy of Sciences, foods (like fruits and vegetables, which have high water content) can meet approximately 28 percent of your daily water intake.

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Hydration and Exercise

Exactly how much water you need to keep your body humming along at top speed also varies based on climate, elevation, hormone status, and activity, says Julie Ellner, M.D., a San Diego-based bariatric surgeon.

That last variable (activity) explains why most experts recommend downing six to eight ounces of water every 15 to 30 minutes during exercise.

Too much sweating with not enough fluid replenishment contributes to sluggish workouts in a major way: Losing as little as two percent of your body weight in water causes impaired exercise performance, while losses greater than five percent can decrease exercise capacity by about 30 percent, according to Sports Nutrition.

More extreme dehydration can contribute to dizziness, fainting, vomiting, and even heart palpitations.

For that reason, it’s advised that exercisers — especially those performing cardio-based endurance workouts — weigh themselves (ideally naked) both before and after exercise.

If your post-workout weight is more than two percent lower than your pre- workout weight, that’s a sign that you need to drink significantly more during your next workout. (So, if you weigh 160 pounds, you wouldn’t want to lose any more than 3.2 pounds during your workout.)

Chronic dehydration may contribute to fatigue, headaches, and overeating, among other issues. When you’re dehydrated, your body actually tends to retain more water — at least, it holds on to whatever water you do drink/eat — compared with when we’re adequately hydrated; you can thank your kidneys and hormones for that.

“Fluid balance is tightly controlled in order to maintain adequate blood pressure,” says Barnes, an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at Illinois State University.

“The kidneys, adrenal, and pituitary glands each play a role to concentrate urine [conserve fluid] or produce more dilute urine [eliminate excess water]. This is accomplished by hormonal signaling in response to blood pressure and the concentration of electrolytes in the blood,” she explains.

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Why Am I Gaining Water Weight?

During the course of the day, you can easily gain five or more pounds of water depending on what you eat, Barnes says.

So if you gain water weight by the end of the day, how long does it take to get rid of that water retention? Some people carry this extra poundage for days, weeks, or even months at a time. It accumulates in the soft tissues underneath the skin, where it leads to visible swelling, says Ellner.

“The biggest cause is salt,” says Kimberly Gomer, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., and director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami. “We don’t realize how much salt we consume as a nation, with most of it coming from restaurant and packaged foods,” she says.

While sodium is an important electrolyte needed for cell signaling, when it’s consumed in excess, your body must retain water to keep blood level concentrations from soaring too high. “Once you get rid of added salt from your diet, you will notice you are constantly peeing,” Gomer says.

Hormonal changes can also influence hydration, Ellner notes. For example, women who are premenstrual often suffer from bloating due to fluctuating hormone levels. “Staying well-hydrated and not succumbing to the cravings for salt and carbs during this time can help reduce the visible swelling and discomfort,” she adds.

Also, the stress of a new exercise regimen can cause water retention thanks to the hormone cortisol. While this can be frustrating when you step on the scale, it should pass as you adapt to your new fitness regimen.


Carbs Don’t Cause Water Retention

Beyond salt, your carbohydrate intake has a huge impact on whether and how you store water — but that doesn’t mean it causes water retention.

When you consume carbs, your body stores them in the liver and skeletal muscles as glycogen, a preferred form of energy. “Glycogen is a hydrophilic, or water-loving, molecule, meaning that water is stored in conjunction with glycogen,” Barnes says. For every gram of glycogen you store away in your liver and muscles, you store three grams of water.

But that’s not water retention. Rather, it’s just part of that healthy 55 to 60 percent of you that should be water.

“The glycogen stored in the liver and muscles is the fuel we need for exercise — a good thing,” says Gomer, noting that topped-off glycogen stores typically aren’t associated with the type of bloating people get due to hormonal fluctuations or excess sodium intake. That’s because the fluid is confined to — you guessed it — the liver and muscles.

In extreme situations, such as an endurance athlete carb-loading the week before a race, increased carb consumption can lead to a good five to 10 pounds of water weight gain, but that weight is long gone by the time the runner crosses the finish line.


How Can I Reverse Water Retention?

More often than not, when it comes to water retention, it’s as simple as adopting a whole-foods eating strategy, Gomer says.

It can be beneficial to integrate potassium- rich fruits and vegetables like bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes into your eating plan, Gomer says. That’s because potassium counters excess sodium in your body and leads to it being excreted through your urine.

But don’t sweat your sodium and potassium levels too much. Too little sodium and too much potassium is just as bad for your health as too much sodium and too little potassium — although it’s really hard to do.

Instead, prioritize a balanced, varied diet rich in whole foods to combat extra water weight.

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What About Losing Additional Water Weight?

Is it possible to take water weight loss even further in a healthy way? Pro athletes and bodybuilders do this — but with caveats.

Perhaps the most obvious example of quickly dropping water weight is seen in athletes who need to “make weight” before a big competition. Boxers, wrestlers, and MMA fighters have been known to dehydrate themselves to ensure they are within the acceptable weight range for their competition.

Then, as soon as they step off the scale, they start rehydrating — gaining 10, 15, even 20 pounds in as little as 24 hours. Figure and bodybuilding competitors go to similar extremes to “dry” their muscles prior to taking the stage. Forcing depleted glycogen levels enable six-packs to “pop” and for muscles to look extra “cut.”

In professional athletes, they are conducted under the supervision of a team of physicians, dietitians, and trainers to help mediate any adverse health effects, Gomer says.

If your goal is to lose water weight quickly, it’s important to do it carefully and correctly, with programs like Body Beast and 21 Day Fix EXTREME, which contain a similar type of glycogen-depleting plan.

But remember: Rapid water-weight loss should only be done occasionally for temporary results.


Water Weight Loss vs. True Weight Loss

“It is important to recognize that most quick weight loss is at least partially due to a decrease in water weight that does not reflect a true body-fat weight loss,” says Barnes.

To burn fat and lose weight — and keep it off — requires the combination of proper nutrition, an exercise program that includes cardio and strength training, and patience. You didn’t gain that weight overnight, so you’re not going to lose it overnight.


The Bottom Line

“Water weight is completely normal and fluctuates constantly,” says Elana Natker. M.S., R.D. As long as you follow a balanced diet focused on whole, healthy foods, drink plenty of H2O, and exercise regularly, your water weight will be where it needs to be.

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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10 of the Best Ab Exercises That Aren’t Crunches

Let’s get real: when it comes to ab workouts, there’s nothing more boring than churning out crunches. Set after set. Workout after workout. That’s why the best ab exercises aren’t crunches.

And ditching (or at least cutting down on) crunches might do more than eliminate your workout’s yawn factor. It could actually boost your fitness results, explains strength coach and physical therapist Michael Roncarati, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., director of rehabilitation for the Atlanta Hawks. After all, while crunches zone in on your rectus abominis (aka “six-pack”) muscles, they come up short when it comes to training your transverse abdominis and other deep-lying core muscles. Those are the muscles that stabilize your spine, keep your pelvis, ribs, and shoulder girdle in proper alignment, and help you transfer forces between your lower and upper body for improved exercise performance, Roncarati says. Yeah, you could say that your core is kind of important.

What’s more, research shows that crunches can contribute to low back pain by compressing the discs of the lumbar spine. “Depending on your current back health, it’s important to be aware that typical crunches can exacerbate problems,” strength coach Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S., who has trained top athletes including the NFL’s Reggie Bush and snowboarder Shaun White. He notes that crunches can trigger back pain by increasing tightness in the hip flexors—which, in most people, especially desk-bound exercisers, tend to already be pretty tight. Tight hip flexors tug on the pelvis, tilting it forward. That, in turn, increases the strain on the lower back. No bueno.

So if you aren’t training your core with crunches (or at least with crunches alone) what ab exercises should you use to hit your six-pack fitness goals? Start with 10 of the best ab exercises listed below.


10 of the Best Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)


1. Pallof Press

Secure a resistance band to a sturdy object at navel height. Stand next to the anchor point with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. (In his position, the band should be at sternum height.) Hold the resistance band’s handle against your sternum with both hands. There should be no slack in the band – it should have some tension. From here, brace your core and press the handle straight out in front of your torso, making sure your body doesn’t turn to one side. Once your arms are fully extended, pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start.

Best Ab Exercises - Pallof Press


2.Feet-Elevated Stability Ball Plank

Get on the floor on all fours with your shoulders stacked directly over your wrists, and a stability ball on the floor behind you. From here, brace your core lift one leg off of the floor to place your shin on top of the ball. Repeat with the opposite leg so that our entire body is parallel with the floor. Don’t let your hips sag or your butt stick up in the air. Brace your core to maintain this position. Hold for time. Lower each knee back to the floor, one at a time, to return to start.

Best Ab Exercises - Feet-Elevated Stability Ball Plank


3. Deadbug

Lie flat on your back on the floor with your arms and legs bent at 90 degrees like you are sitting in a chair. Press your low back into the floor and brace your core to maintain this flat-back position throughout the entire exercise. From here, slowly lower your right leg and left arm to within a few inches of the floor (your arm should end up above your head, not out to the side). Only go as low as you can – your low back should not come off the floor. Pause, and then squeeze your abs to slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg and right arm. Continue alternating sides.

Best Ab Exercises - Deadbug


4. Stability Ball Rollout

Place your hands on a stability ball and kneel with your knees hip-width apart and your toes on the floor for stability. Keeping your back flat and core braced, and without moving your knees, slowly roll forward so the ball comes to your forearms, until your body forms a straight line from your head to your knees. Pause, then roll back to the starting position.

Best Ab Exercises - Stability Ball Rollout


5. Mountain Climber

Get in a high-plank position with your shoulders stacked directly over your elbows and hands, and the balls of your feet on the floor, spaced hip-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. From here, bend one knee to pull it toward your chest slowly and under control. Make sure to maintain the same straight-body position as you do so, not letting your hips pike up toward the ceiling. Pause, then extend your leg back to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

Best Ab Exercises - Mountain Climber


6. Low-to-High Dumbbell Chop

Grab a dumbbell with both hands (one hand on each end), and lower into a quarter-squat position. Hold the dumbbell to the outside of your right knee, your arms fully extended and diagonal from your body. Your torso should face the weight. From here, keeping your arms fully extended and torso facing the weight, squeeze your abs, pivot to the right and release the right heel as rotate your hips to pull the dumbbell up and across your body until its above your left shoulder. Pause, then slowly reverse the motion to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

Best Ab Exercises - Low-to-High Dumbbell Chop


7. Band-Resisted Bird Dog

Get on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Place a resistance band handle around one foot, and hold the other handle with the opposite hand so that the band is taut. From here, simultaneously extend your banded arm in front of you and your banded leg behind you. Keep you core braced and back flat. Repeat on your opposite side.

Best Ab Exercises - Band-Resisted Bird Dog


8. Alternating V-Up

Lie face-up on the floor with your arms and legs fully extended so that your body forms one straight line from hands to feet. Press your low back into the floor, and brace your core to maintain this flat-back position. From here, squeeze your abs to lift both your torso and legs off of the floor – this is the starting position. Raise your right leg and your left arm, and twist to reach your hand to your toes. Keep your leg as straight as possible and don’t letting your shoulders hunch forward. Return to start and repeat alternating sides.

Best Ab Exercises - Alternating V-Up


9. Standing Band Rotation

Secure a resistance band to a sturdy object at navel height. Stand next to the anchor point with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold the handle with both hands, arms fully extended in front of your chest and torso rotated to face the station. From here, brace your core and rotate your torso so that you face away from the station, arms still extended in front of your chest. Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start.

Best Ab Exercises - Standing Band Rotation


10. Boat Twist

Sit on the floor, balancing on your butt with your feet raised, knees bent, and arms fully extended in front of you. Your feet and hands should each be pressed together. Keeping your core braced, rotate your torso to your right as you reach back with just your right arm to touch the floor behind you, bringing your hands outside your hip. Return to the starting position, and repeat to your left. Continue alternating sides.

Best Ab Exercises - Boat Twist

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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Body Beast Meal Prep for the 2,200–2,399 Calorie Level

If you’ve just completed Body Beast’s Bulk and Build phases and you followed the meal plan correctly, you should be seeing some pretty significant mass gains.

Now it’s time the get shredded with the Beast Phase of the program, where the goal is to reduce body-fat percentage while maintaining muscle mass.

This is achieved by drastically reducing the amount of carbs and increasing the percentage of your calories coming from protein sources.


Why Do I Have to Cut Carbs?

With this plan, you’re still allowed some carbs and fruit to maintain those gains you’ve earned from months of intense training.

However, the reduction of carbs and proper meal timing are necessary if you want to look shredded and really show off your results. This is because your body will not burn stored fat if there’s a constant supply of glucose in the blood to burn for energy, so you must make sure you eat at the right time for maximum results.

This phase of the diet plan may take a bit more discipline, since you’re consuming less calories and carbs, but discipline is part of creating healthy habits.

So, a quick tip for cutting is to time your carbs strategically: Avoid eating your carbs (yellow containers) before your workout.

Try to stick with protein (red), vegetables (green), and healthy fats (blue) for your pre-workout meals and snacks. This ensures that there isn’t excess sugar in your blood so you maximize fat loss during your workout.


Tips to Save Time During Meal Prep

  1. Write out your plan for the week before you go to the store to save you time and money. (The grocery list for this meal prep is below.)
  2. Cook everything in bulk. (I try to bake as many things as possible at the same time.)
  3. Make sure you have enough containers and refrigerator space to accommodate such a big prep. You can’t go wrong with reusable, BPA-free meal prep containers and mason jars as storage containers.

You’ll need to fill the following portion-control containers every day during this phase of the Body Beast diet, but adjust the numbers to fit your caloric needs.

(Not sure what level you should be at? Take a look at your printed copy of the Book of Beast or in the Body Beast program materials on Beachbody On Demand.)

  • 4 Green containers (vegetables)
  • 3 Purple containers (fruit)
  • 9 Red containers (protein)
  • 3 Yellow containers (carbs)
  • 1 Blue container (healthy fats)
  • 1 Orange container (seeds/dressings)
  • 2 tsp. (teaspoons of oil)


Beast (Cutting) Phase Meal Plan Example Day

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Breakfast (½ Green, 1 Purple, 2 Red, 1 Blue, ½ tsp. Oil):

  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 8 egg whites
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 1 cup grapefruit
  • 12 almonds
  • ½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Snack 1 (1 Purple, 1 Yellow , ½ Orange):

  • ½ cup cooked steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds

body beast, meal prep, body beast meal prep, body beast results

Lunch (1½ Green, 1½ Red, 1 Yellow, ½ Orange, ½ tsp. Oil):

  • 6 oz. cubed chicken
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup black beans
  • ½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp salad dressing

Snack 2 (1 Purple, 1 Red):

  • 1 serving Shakeology
  • 1 cup strawberries

Snack 3 (1 Red, ½ tsp. Oil):

  • 2 whole hard- or medium-boiled eggs

Dinner (1 Green, 1½ Red, 1 Yellow, ½ tsp. Oil):

  • 6 oz. beef or bison steak
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup zucchini or broccoli
  • ½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

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Snack 4 (1 Red):

  • Protein shake

Snack 5 (1 Green, 1 Red, 1 Free Food):

  • ¾ Greek Yogurt, plain unsweetened 2%
  • 1 cup red bell pepper
  • Cinnamon


Quick Tips for Preparing Food

Chicken Breast

Season the chicken breast, place in a pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees Farenheit.

Bison or Beef Steak

Broil: Place in a pan under the broiler for 7 to 9 minutes on each side.

Grill: Cook until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes, then turn steak over and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare, or 5 to 7 minutes for medium.


When sautéing, cook on low to medium heat so as to not cook nutrients out of vegetables. For maximum nutrients, steam your veggies.


Beast Phase Grocery List

  • 20 slices turkey bacon
  • 23 oz. steak (bison or beef)
  • 23 oz. chicken breast
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 40 egg whites
  • 5 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 5 cups grapefruit
  • 5 large tomatoes
  • 5 cups blackberries
  • Spinach, enough to make 5 cups of lightly sautéed spinach
  • 3 cups zucchini
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 5 large red bell peppers
  • 1 pack steel-cut oatmeal
  • 2.5 cups black beans
  • 1 bag chia seeds
  • 36 almonds
  • 16 cashews
  • 1 pack quinoa
  • 1 bottle olive oil

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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8 Week Running for Weight-Loss Program

By Matt Fitzgerald

Running can be an effective weight-loss tool if you take the right approach to it. Our 8-Week Running for Weight-Loss Program combines three key elements that are proven to yield the best results: high-intensity aerobic exercise, strength training, and a healthy, portion-controlled diet.


High-Intensity Running Workouts for Weight Loss

Studies show that a running program based on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sheds the most fat. For example, in 2014, researchers at the University of Salzburg reported that subjects who did 57 percent of their training at high intensity for nine weeks lost more than six pounds, on average.

Others who did 68 percent of their training at low intensity lost no weight despite increasing their aerobic fitness two and a half times more than the HIIT group.

Our program (schedule below) features an eight-day workout cycle that includes three different types of high-intensity runs and one low-intensity run/walk.


Strength Training for Runners

It’s important to keep in mind that your goal shouldn’t be just to lose weight. It should be to lose fatRunning burns body fat, particularly in the abdominal region, as evidenced by changes in fat mass taken by suprailiac skinfold in runners competing in a 100K (62-mile) race.

But you’ll burn more total fat if you combine running with strength training, which increases resting metabolism and prevents the loss of muscle mass that can occur with running alone. In a 2012 study, overweight subjects who combined aerobic exercise with strength training reduced their body-fat percentages by more than twice the amount compared to others who did aerobic exercise only.

There are two strength-training sessions scheduled during each eight-day cycle in our 8-Week Running for Weight-Loss Program. For these workouts, we recommend that you perform the Total Body Hammer workout from The Master’s Hammer and Chisel program, which you can stream anywhere there’s an Internet connection through Beachbody On Demand.

By focusing on compound (multi-joint) exercises that collectively target your entire body (read: not just your legs), a heavy strength-training workout like Total Body Hammer can help you not only accelerate fat loss, but also increase running speed, running economy, power output, and time to exhaustion, according to a review in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. And by performing it regularly, you can cut your overall risk of injury by a third, and your risk of overuse injuries in half.

The workout will take you 45 minutes to complete. If you want to amplify your results, combine Total Body Hammer with 10 Minute Ab Hammer, also from The Master’s Hammer and Chisel. This quick workout “finisher” will sculpt and strengthen your core, increasing overall stability and helping you move more powerfully and efficiently.


The Running to Lose Weight Diet Plan

Some people fail to lose any weight on a running program — some even gain weight. Some of these individuals may be victims of the compensation effect: an exercise-stimulated increase in appetite and in the desire for high-calorie foods; this affects some people more than others.

To avoid negating the benefits of running by overeating and choosing unhealthy foods, be sure to adopt a healthy, portion-controlled diet at the same time you start running.

There is more than one way to eat for success, but the Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan is the perfect complement to this training program.


Anatomy of a Run

Our program employs a simple, two-zone intensity system: Low intensity (Li) is a pace at which you can talk comfortably, but beyond which speaking in full sentences will become difficult. If you train by heart rate, Li translates to 70 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate. Note that, if your current fitness level is low, you may need to walk initially to stay at low intensity.

High-intensity (Hi) is defined by the specific structure of each workout. Whether you’re doing short intervals, long intervals, or hill repetitions, aim to complete the full session at the highest speed you can sustain for every interval or repetition without slowing down.

This means that you will run shorter intervals a little faster than longer intervals. It may take a little practice to master your pacing in each workout type; that’s OK. Just keep in mind that it’s better to start out a little too conservatively and finish with something left in the tank than to start out too aggressively and hit the wall.

The schedule below includes both beginner and intermediate options:

  • If you haven’t exercised much lately, select the shorter options for warm-ups and cool-downs (i.e., go with 5 minutes where you see “5:00–10:00”). Do the same for steady walk/runs, and do your low-intensity efforts at a walk if necessary.
  • If you’re in pretty good shape but new to running, select the longer options for warm-ups, cool-downs, and steady walk/runs, and jog your low-intensity efforts if you can do so while catching your breath and recovering enough before your next interval (if you can’t walk these).

The interval blocks are structurally the same for everyone. If you see this: “6 x (0:30 Hi/1:30 Li)” it means you are to sprint for 30 seconds at high intensity, with a minute and a half of jogging or walking after each sprint, and complete this sequence six times total.

Naturally, the fitter you are, the faster your sprints will be, and that’s what makes the interval blocks one-size-fits-all. Try to run all of your intervals on flat, smooth terrain. The optimal slope for hill repetitions is a moderate six to eight percent.

Finally, note that Week 4 and Week 8 are recovery weeks. Your training load is slightly reduced (rather than increased) from the previous week to give your body a chance to recover fully. That will not only help prevent overtraining and reduce your risk of injury, but also help optimize performance and goal progress. Enjoy!

(Pro tip: Click on each calendar for a larger view or to print)

running to lose weight, weight loss calendar, running guide

running to lose weight, weight loss guide, running program

from The Team Beachbody Blog

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A LITTLE OBSESSED: 5 Days to Sample Moves From Autumn’s New Program Before It’s a Complete OBSESSION!

Wondering if you have what it takes to complete 80 Day Obsession?

Now you can find out with a 5-day introduction called “A Little Obsessed”!


Ever since we announced the intensity of Autumn’s new 80-day program targeting a dramatic transformation especially in the abs and butt, people have been begging to try the workouts to see if it’s something they’d like to do and whether they’ll get the same kind of results the Coach test group has been bragging about. So Autumn and the Beachbody Product Development Team created A Little Obsessed — five days of workouts and nutrition to serve as a sample of the 80-day program. Anyone can try A Little Obsessed for FREE on Beachbody On Demand, and then join the thousands of other BOD members who are starting the full 80-day program, Monday, January 15th.

With A Little Obsessed, Autumn has created five sample workouts featuring the breakthrough combination moves and equipment used in 80 Day Obsession. Think of it like a crash course to prepare you for what’s to come.

While the 80 Day Obsession will require the kind of obsessive time each day to really sculpt and build that backside and flatten and tone those abs, each A Little Obsessed workout is less extreme and under 30 minutes to let you learn the moves and prepare you for the more challenging 45- to 60-minute workouts in the full program. While you’ll work your entire body, there’s a strong ab and glute focus. So you’ll get to experience Autumn’s proven techniques for sculpting a firm, round butt and carving out toned, flat abs at the same time as you start to strengthen your entire body and burn serious calories.

For people who haven’t yet explored the simplicity of the container program from 21 Day Fix and other programs, you’ll also get to sample a five-day nutrition plan so you’ll understand how to use the portion-control containers to meal prep and plan your food around the timed-nutrition program in 80 Day Obsession.


On December 20th, all five A Little Obsessed workouts will be available for FREE on Beachbody On Demand — but only for a limited time! That means anyone who wants to try A Little Obsessed, whether you’re a Beachbody On Demand member or not, can do these workouts until January 14th. You’ll just need to get your Shakeology in advance so you’ll have everything necessary for the five-day program.


You’ll need some dumbbells (light, medium, and heavy depending on your fitness level), portion-control containers, Beachbody Strength Slides, and a mat if you’re working out on a hard floor (all except dumbbells are available for purchase. Talk to your Coach or visit or You’ll also need resistance loops, which are fairly common in sports retail and online stores, and will be available for purchase starting December 14th from your Coach or at


Remember, anyone can do A Little Obsessed workouts FREE from December 20th until January 14th. Don’t miss your chance to put a group together and see what all the excitement is about.

Want more information about 80 Day Obsession before it launches in January? Check out this blog article and video to learn more.


Beachbody On Demand is a platform that allows you to stream 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix EXTREME, PiYo, P90X, INSANITY, FOCUS T25, 3 Week Yoga Retreat, or any of more than 700 world-famous Beachbody workouts that have helped millions transform their lives.

Beachbody On Demand also gives you full access to all of Beachbody’s workouts, including its latest, like SHIFT SHOP, CORE DE FORCE, and YOUv2. Inside, you’ll find the program nutrition guides, workout calendars, and exclusives, like SHAUN WEEK: INSANE FOCUS and FIXATE, Autumn Calabrese’s healthy cooking show.

No matter where you are — whether you’re in your house, at the gym, or on vacation — you can access your program guides, your workouts, and more on your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. As long as you can connect to the internet, you can work out with Beachbody, no DVDs required. What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

from The Team Beachbody Blog