Change the Way You Do the Plank For a Six-Pack, Fast

You’ve probably done an elbow plank so many times by now that you know the drill by heart: straight back, belly button pulled in, and palms flat on your mat (trying not to clasp them in prayer pose if possible). But Cassandra Bodlak, group exercise manager at Equinox Sports Club, recommends her clients do a slight modification that’s a little more challenging: when in elbow plank, flip your hands over so your palms are facing up.

Pressing through an elbow plank with palms facing down will help keep back muscles engaged and clasping hands together in a fist will enlist your chest muscles to help stabilize you, but flipping your hands over will make your plank even more about the core, Cassandra explains. “Performing a plank with palms up [will] disengage some of the support from the muscles of the hand and forearm,” she says. In other words, simply moving your hands will help you get on the fast track to sculpted abs.

Related: Tone Your Entire Body With This 1 Move

Another reason to go palms up? You’ll help unround those hunched-over shoulders. “It takes the pronator teres (one of the major forearm muscles) and positions it in what is called the ‘anatomical position’ (palms forward when standing, palms up when prone in a plank), which is the most desirable position in which to function,” Cassandra explains. “We are all busy typing on keyboards these days, encouraging a particular position of the forearm: palms down. Simply repositioning the forearms in your plank helps to create a balance.”

Sculpted abs and looking taller are two great reasons to try the “palms up” modification the next time you’re in an elbow plank, but don’t worry if making this change has you collapsing into Child’s Pose sooner than you’re used to. Cassandra offers this encouragement: “When you perform a plank, perform it to the best of your ability in the moment you’re in ¡ª palms in prayer, palms flat, or palms up, it’s probably one more plank than you did yesterday, right? Keep it up!”

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

Change the Way You Do the Plank For a Six-Pack, Fast

You’ve probably done an elbow plank so many times by now that you know the drill by heart: straight back| belly button pulled in| and palms flat on your mat (trying not to clasp them in prayer pose if possible). But Cassandra Bodlak| group exercise manager at Equinox Sports Club| recommends her clients do a slight modification that’s a little more challenging: when in elbow plank| flip your hands over so your palms are facing up.

Pressing through an elbow plank with palms facing down will help keep back muscles engaged and clasping hands together in a fist will enlist your chest muscles to help stabilize you| but flipping your hands over will make your plank even more about the core| Cassandra explains. “Performing a plank with palms up [will] disengage some of the support from the muscles of the hand and forearm|” she says. In other words| simply moving your hands will help you get on the fast track to sculpted abs.

Related: Tone Your Entire Body With This 1 Move

Another reason to go palms up? You’ll help unround those hunched-over shoulders. “It takes the pronator teres (one of the major forearm muscles) and positions it in what is called the ‘anatomical position’ (palms forward when standing| palms up when prone in a plank)| which is the most desirable position in which to function|” Cassandra explains. “We are all busy typing on keyboards these days| encouraging a particular position of the forearm: palms down. Simply repositioning the forearms in your plank helps to create a balance.”

Sculpted abs and looking taller are two great reasons to try the “palms up” modification the next time you’re in an elbow plank| but don’t worry if making this change has you collapsing into Child’s Pose sooner than you’re used to. Cassandra offers this encouragement: “When you perform a plank| perform it to the best of your ability in the moment you’re in ¡ª palms in prayer| palms flat| or palms up| it’s probably one more plank than you did yesterday| right? Keep it up!”

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

Someone Finally Explains What That Extra Set of Shoelace Holes Is For

We all have them, and most of us just ignore them. I’m talking about that extra pair of holes on the top of our sneakers. Nope, they’re not just for decoration! Try this shoelace tying trick called the “heel lock” to prevent the back of your foot from sliding up and down, which will prevent heel blisters. If you’re a runner, this just may be the best thing you hear all day!

RELATED:

10 Ways to Be a Better Runner (Without Logging Miles)How to Make That Long Run Feel EasierStrengthen and Stretch! The 12 Moves All Runners Need to Do

Someone Finally Explains What That Extra Set of Shoelace Holes Is For

We all have them| and most of us just ignore them. I’m talking about that extra pair of holes on the top of our sneakers. Nope| they’re not just for decoration! Try this shoelace tying trick called the “heel lock” to prevent the back of your foot from sliding up and down| which will prevent heel blisters. If you’re a runner| this just may be the best thing you hear all day!

RELATED:

10 Ways to Be a Better Runner (Without Logging Miles)How to Make That Long Run Feel EasierStrengthen and Stretch! The 12 Moves All Runners Need to Do

Make These 3 Changes, Burn More Calories

Exercise is essential when it comes to dropping pounds. So if you’re eager to lose the weight, then here are three everyday changes that will help increase your calorie burn.

Hello Sunshine

Moving workouts to early mornings may mean cursing your alarm clock, but here’s the big payoff: morning exercisers burn more calories. And now that the sun rises earlier, it’ll be easier to pull yourself out of bed than it was in the Winter. Research shows that people who exercise in the a.m. work harder and for longer periods of time, which may be because they’re more alert and energetic and they don’t feel as rushed as afternoon or evening exercisers. Getting into a morning routine will also help you stick with it, which will help even more with your weight-loss journey.

Related: Start Your Day With a 300-Calorie-Burning Video Workout

Get Speedy

When it comes to cardio, running will help you lose more weight than walking since it burns more calories, but if you increase your speed just a little, then you’ll burn even more. And don’t stick to a consistent pace the entire workout. Adding sprinting intervals is an effective way to increase your calorie burn and has also been proven to reduce belly fat. Also be sure to swing those arms as you move, and you’ll burn 15 percent more calories.

Related: Intervals For the Beginner: 30-Minute Treadmill Workout

Strength Train in the Ladies’ Room

Muscle burns more calories than fat does, so the more muscle mass you have, the better it is for weight loss. Don’t just hit the weight room at the gym. Include strength-training moves throughout your day, such as push-ups on the bathroom counter and this two-minute butt and thigh workout while brushing your teeth. You can also work your body by carrying a basket instead of pushing a cart, using the stairs whenever possible, and sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair.

Related: Turn Any Staircase Into a Workout

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Make These 3 Changes, Burn More Calories

Exercise is essential when it comes to dropping pounds. So if you’re eager to lose the weight| then here are three everyday changes that will help increase your calorie burn.

Hello Sunshine

Moving workouts to early mornings may mean cursing your alarm clock| but here’s the big payoff: morning exercisers burn more calories. And now that the sun rises earlier| it’ll be easier to pull yourself out of bed than it was in the Winter. Research shows that people who exercise in the a.m. work harder and for longer periods of time| which may be because they’re more alert and energetic and they don’t feel as rushed as afternoon or evening exercisers. Getting into a morning routine will also help you stick with it| which will help even more with your weight-loss journey.

Related: Start Your Day With a 300-Calorie-Burning Video Workout

Get Speedy

When it comes to cardio| running will help you lose more weight than walking since it burns more calories| but if you increase your speed just a little| then you’ll burn even more. And don’t stick to a consistent pace the entire workout. Adding sprinting intervals is an effective way to increase your calorie burn and has also been proven to reduce belly fat. Also be sure to swing those arms as you move| and you’ll burn 15 percent more calories.

Related: Intervals For the Beginner: 30-Minute Treadmill Workout

Strength Train in the Ladies’ Room

Muscle burns more calories than fat does| so the more muscle mass you have| the better it is for weight loss. Don’t just hit the weight room at the gym. Include strength-training moves throughout your day| such as push-ups on the bathroom counter and this two-minute butt and thigh workout while brushing your teeth. You can also work your body by carrying a basket instead of pushing a cart| using the stairs whenever possible| and sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair.

Related: Turn Any Staircase Into a Workout

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Don’t Commit These Post-Workout Mistakes

Don’t Commit These Post-Workout Mistakes

It takes a lot of time and energy to get a workout in| especially if you have a busy schedule. Don’t make these post-workout mistakes that may undo the good you’ve done u2014 or worse| result in illness or injury.

| Staying in Sweaty Clothes After a Workout

Why it’s a mistake: Aside from feeling disgusting| staying in sweaty clothes can lead to a yeast infection or body acne. And although going outside in wet clothes won’t make you sick| when you walk out into the freezing air| your wet clothes are going to make you very chilly| and being cold for too long can weaken the immune system.

What you should do: Always pack a clean| dry change of clothes| including undies| a bra| and socks. Shower if you can| but if time doesn’t allow for it| just change into your dry outfit.

RELATED: Tried and Tested: The Best Laundry Detergent For Your Fitness Gear

| Rewarding Yourself With High-Calorie Treats

Why it’s a mistake: After burning 250 calories during your workout| you’ll end up undoing all the good by taking in more calories than you burned!

What you should do: Choose a healthy post-workout snack that both replenishes carbs and protein and satisfies any sweet cravings. Here are a few under 150 calories. You’ll feel satisfied after enjoying a healthy snack rather than guilty for polishing off a decadent dessert.

| Keeping Your Mat Rolled Up Until Next Class

Why it’s a mistake: You wouldn’t ball up your sweaty sports bra and then slip it on the next time you work out| so why do the same thing with your yoga mat? Keep in mind that dark| moist places are breeding grounds for bacteria.

What you should do: After getting home from class| wipe down your mat| and hang it over a door or banister so it can dry.

REALTED: A DIY Spray to Stay Germ-Free at the Gym

| Downing a Sports Drink After Your Workout

Why it’s a mistake: A 12-ounce bottle of G Series Pro Gatorade contains 330 calories. That’s almost as many calories as a serving of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream! Unless you’re working out intensely for hours| a sports drink isn’t necessary.

What you should do: If you’re doing a regular 30- to 60-minute workout| rehydrate with good old-fashioned water. If you’re concerned about replacing lost electrolytes| go for calorie-free SmartWater or low-calorie coconut water. Save the sports drinks for longer| more intense workouts.

| Touching Your Face

Why it’s a mistake: If you’re getting your sweat on in a public place like a gym or yoga studio| where you share equipment or touch things commonly touched by others such as doorknobs or bathroom faucets| it’s easy to pick up germs on your hands. If you touch your face during or after your workout| you might as well buy a box of tissues and some chicken noodle soup and plop your sick self on the couch.

What you should do: Be very conscious about not touching your face. Disinfect equipment when possible| and use a towel you brought from home to wipe off any perspiration. As soon as you’re finished working out| head to the bathroom to wash off any germs from your hands. If you can’t get to a bathroom| use antibacterial wipes or gel.

| Skipping the Cooldown

Why it’s a mistake: The post-workout cooldown and stretching session is essential to your workout| because it allows your heart rate to slowly return to its normal pace and can prevent soreness and injury by stretching out the muscles you just used.

What you should do: If you’re worried about shortening your workout to make time to cool down and stretch| push yourself harder during the actual workout by pumping up the intensity for 10 minutes before cooling down for five. Or| if you can| get to the gym 15 to 20 minutes earlier| so you can get in your regular cardio workout and still have enough time to cool down and stretch your muscles.

Burn More Calories on the Elliptical With These Tips

Elliptical trainers are a gym favorite. Not only is this cardio machine joint friendly, it’s incredibly versatile. You can go forward and backward, work your arms and legs, or focus on your core ¡ª all while getting your heart rate up. Here are some tips to help you maximize your minutes on the elliptical machine.

If your focus is cardio: Watch your strides per minute. SPM is the number of times your legs go around in 60 seconds, a stat most ellipticals conveniently track for you. After warming up, aim to keep your strides per minute between 140 and 160. If you’re doing intervals on the elliptical, make sure your “sprints” are above 160. Here’s a great elliptical workout with sprint intervals so you can start practicing this technique. If your focus is toning your thighs: Pay attention to your feet. Pressing more with your heels will work your hamstrings and butt more, while pressing more with your toes will tone your quads on the front of your thighs. Pedaling backward on the machine is also a great way to tone your backside ¡ª hamstrings and glutes. Increasing the incline is another way to focus the work on your glutes. Do try this 35-minute workout that truly targets the backside.If you’re short on time: Use your arms and legs equally. To get more bang for your cardio buck, make sure to work your upper body along with your legs. This will help raise your heart rate into an intense, calorie-burning zone and tone your upper body too. Push the handles to work your chest and pull the handles to work your upper back and shoulders. Follow this full-body workout next time you’re on the elliptical.To work your core: Go hands free. Letting go of the handles on the elliptical challenges your sense of balance and targets your core. Make sure not to sway from side to side once you let go of the handles. Place your hands on your hips to monitor your posture. Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

Burn More Calories on the Elliptical With These Tips

Elliptical trainers are a gym favorite. Not only is this cardio machine joint friendly| it’s incredibly versatile. You can go forward and backward| work your arms and legs| or focus on your core ¡ª all while getting your heart rate up. Here are some tips to help you maximize your minutes on the elliptical machine.

If your focus is cardio: Watch your strides per minute. SPM is the number of times your legs go around in 60 seconds| a stat most ellipticals conveniently track for you. After warming up| aim to keep your strides per minute between 140 and 160. If you’re doing intervals on the elliptical| make sure your “sprints” are above 160. Here’s a great elliptical workout with sprint intervals so you can start practicing this technique. If your focus is toning your thighs: Pay attention to your feet. Pressing more with your heels will work your hamstrings and butt more| while pressing more with your toes will tone your quads on the front of your thighs. Pedaling backward on the machine is also a great way to tone your backside ¡ª hamstrings and glutes. Increasing the incline is another way to focus the work on your glutes. Do try this 35-minute workout that truly targets the backside.If you’re short on time: Use your arms and legs equally. To get more bang for your cardio buck| make sure to work your upper body along with your legs. This will help raise your heart rate into an intense| calorie-burning zone and tone your upper body too. Push the handles to work your chest and pull the handles to work your upper back and shoulders. Follow this full-body workout next time you’re on the elliptical.To work your core: Go hands free. Letting go of the handles on the elliptical challenges your sense of balance and targets your core. Make sure not to sway from side to side once you let go of the handles. Place your hands on your hips to monitor your posture. Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

The Pull-Up Guide ¡ª?It’s Not as Scary as You Think!

Despite what you might think, pull-ups are not impossible and can be adjusted for any fitness level. This infamous exercise offers a great upper-body workout that quickly tones the back, arms, and chest. Not only will it make you stronger, but conquering this move will also give an extra boost of confidence and help you feel like you can tackle anything ¡ª?because, let’s face it, you can.

Beginner Pull-UpsAssisted Pull-Up Machine: The pull-up machine is a great way to try your first go at pull-ups. The machine uses counterbalance weights, which means the higher the weight you set the machine, the easier the exercise becomes. Start by setting the weight to 20 pounds less than your weight, complete three to five reps, and then adjust the weight accordingly. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use the assisted pull-up machine at your gym.Band Pull-Up: With the help of a superband ¡ª a giant, two-inch-thick rubber band ¡ª you can tackle consecutive pull-ups. All you have to do is wrap the rubber band securely around the pull-up bar, put it under one knee (or one foot for even more assistance), grab onto the bar (stepping off a stool if needed to reach), and begin your pull-up. Superbands are the same length, but the wider the band, the more assistance. Eventually, you will no longer be a “groupie” to the band and will be able to use your body weight!

Intermediate Pull-UpsJump Pull-Ups: Consider jump pull-ups (pull-ups with a jump start) the next level after the assisted pull-up machine. Standing under the bar, jump up to grab the bar, harnessing the momentum of the jump to pull your body and chin to the bar. If your chin doesn’t come close to the bar, don’t give up ¡ª this move often takes practice.

Advanced Pull-UpsTraditional Body Weight Pull-Ups: Using your body weight is the most traditional, but often the most challenging, way to complete a pull-up. With palms facing away from you, grip a pull-up bar with arms extended. Keeping your core tight while engaging your back and lats, bring yourself up until your chin passes above the bar, then lower yourself down into the starting position. The trick (and challenge) to any pull-up is to avoid swinging your entire body or using your neck for added momentum.Weighted Pull-Up: When you’re ready, let your inner gymnast shine. Following the movements for a traditional pull-up, add a weighted plate for an extra challenge. Using a weight belt or simply holding a weight between your knees, you will be the star of the gym and any workout.Image Source: Thinkstock