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    5 Workout Shoes That Are Perfect For Training At Home

    Here’s the thing about working out at home. When you’re at the gym, you’re in a controlled environment. The flooring has been specifically selected with exercise in mind. The only obstacles in your path are the weights you didn’t pack away (tsk, tsk). But at home you may find the terrain less than ideal. Were you thinking of broad jumps when you laid down those shiny porcelain tiles in your dining room? And does your dog / cat / toddler keep a respectable distance during your weekly Zoom Zumba class? Didn’t think so. That’s why your choice of workout shoes matters more than ever now that you’re training at home. Here are the WH team’s tried-and-tested staff picks.
    Reebok NanoX

    The latest iteration of Reebok’s Nano trainer has the same great stability that previous versions were known for, but with even more support, thanks to extra reinforcement around the heel and a wider base at the back. These cool-looking workout shoes hold up well in lateral movements (speed skaters; avoiding the dog), jumping and one-legged moves like lunges and “Oh, sh-, Gemma, get out the way!” The woven upper allows your toes to flex freely but seems more durable than regular mesh. Rubber reinforcement in the front further reduces the chances of a toe breaking free during repetitive skipping or jumping.
    READ MORE: 7 Best Trail Running Shoes For Women In 2020, According To Athletes And Experts 
    Deputy editor Wanita Nicol says: “What makes these really great workout shoes for home is the seriously grippy outsole. I jumped around freely and never felt like I was in danger of slipping, even on parquet flooring. It’s roomy enough for broader feet — if yours are narrow, like mine, I’d recommend a thicker sock. The forefoot is springy, which is great for shuttle sprints, but I wouldn’t wear these to go for a run. For functional training, they’re awesome! And they look so hot with dark jeans.”

    Puma Provoke XT

    The WH team have worn many a Puma cross trainer into the ground, but the Provoke has to be the hottest one yet. We’re all a little obsessed with the geometric styling and hot pink details. Although the Provokes have more going for them than their flashy good looks. These are great home workout shoes if your house has hard floors or you’re training outside on, say, paving, as the soft, bouncy PROFOAM midsole offers excellent cushioning. They’re also super grippy and stable.
    READ MORE: 6 Exercise-Friendly Face Masks And What To Look For When Buying Them
    Digital editor Gina Beretta says: “First off, I really like the look of these ones! You can easily go from workout mat to coffee date in these — they have major street style vibes. I did a HIIT workout in them and I felt that they were really supportive and flexible. My foot didn’t move around inside the shoe at all and it didn’t feel like I was wearing a ‘sock’.”
    Senior copy editor Leigh Champanis-King says: “These shoes are so great for working out in. They give lots of support and are really stable during a high-intensity workout. My feet don’t slide around inside, but they’re roomy (no squished toes!), and the PROFOAM midsole is light and bouncy and so comfortable to jump around on.”
    Nike Metcon 5

    Nike has always made great workout shoes, but, dayumn, they’ve upped their game with the Metcon 5. If you’re familiar with the Metcon 4, the 5 has more cushioning, but doesn’t sacrifice grip. You can jump, sprint and change direction quickly without losing your footing. You could even do a short run, but not more than 5 kays max. They’re nice and pliable, so they move with your foot, but are still stable enough to prevent rolling an ankle. They also have a few bonus features: For starters, they’re available in UK size 2.5. through 9. Non-sample size women, rejoice! They also come with 6mm inner soles that you can slip into the shoes for an extra lift in workouts comprising moves like wall balls, snatches and thrusters.

    Key account manager Jeanine Kruger says: “The Metcon 5 is comfort in every way. They fitted like a glove from the moment I tried them on. I have had shoes which I had to replace in a month as the material is too soft for the hardcore exercises CrossFit demands, but the Metcons have a durable material which keeps all toes and feet well cushioned inside the shoe (no holes coming up or any material tearing loose from the soles). And if you hit your feet with a skipping rope doing double-unders, you will not feel a thing. Another great feature: The added 6mm inner soles. Definitely a money-saving technique, as I don’ t have to worry about buying extra lifting shoes for weightlifting activities. Doing single-leg squats has never felt better! The shoes are also easy to clean; you can literally just wipe off dust or any marks. It’s versatile, durable, and on top of its game.”

    Under Armour HOVR Apex

    The HOVR Apex features Under Armour’s Tribase technology in the sole, designed for extra stability, especially in workouts where you need to change direction very quickly. And stability should certainly be its middle name. It almost feels like you’re wearing a brace. If you struggle with ankle instability and are prone to twisting or spraining ligaments, this is a really good option. Because it’s not quite as grippy as some of the other shoes we’ve tested, it performs really well on carpets. There’s no chance of getting stuck as you jump around. Keep it in the workout space though – it’s a little heavy for running.

    Deputy editor Wanita Nicol says: “These are among the most stable workout shoes I’ve ever trained in. Thanks to clever lacing design and a reinforcement around the midfoot, my narrow feet felt supported, even wearing a thin sock. They are a little snug when you pull them on, but UA seems to have thought of that — there’s a loop on the heel that makes it easier. They also have good ventilation so my feet don’t get hot and sweaty when I train.”
    adidas Primeblue Ultraboost 20

    adidas Primeblue Ultraboost 20
    R 2999

    A recent worldwide study of internet search results across 40 countries by revealed that the Ultraboost is the most popular running shoe in both South Africa and the world: 32 out of 40 countries search it more than any other running shoe and it averages 327 000 searches a month! To be honest, we weren’t really surprised. It’s an awesome running shoe for any distance and a firm favourite of many of us here in the WH office. And despite technically being a running shoe, it can also handle a home workout. The upper hugs your foot snugly, but the Primeknit material prevents your feet from feeling squashed. The signature Boost foam in the midsole propels you forward with every step.

    Content creator Cally Silberbauer says: “I’ve used these shoes for road runs as well as HIIT workouts and they’ve delivered in every way. There’s a great ankle support system which is a winner for me as I do tend to roll my ankles when running (weak ankles!). The Ultraboost range always has a great energy return or bounce factor and the 20s are no exception. All-in-all, my feet are always happy working out in these beauts!”  

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice Fitness Gear More

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    7 Reasons The New Fitbit Charge 4 Is The Perfect Tracker For Lockdown

    Remember the beginning of lockdown, when we were all posting #homeworkout selfies with dogs and kids providing raucous comic relief? Or that first weekend of Level 4, when we donned masks and hit the streets in a glorious celebration of freedom? Personally, I thought I was going to emerge from lockdown like an action hero from a montage, all snatched and svelte and ready for the beach. Shame. Truth is, with each message from Uncle Cyril, my enthusiasm for exercise waned. The first winter cold front finished it off. And load shedding drove a nail through the coffin, making it sure it was dead. Then, one day, as I was shovelling down another spoonful of my feelings, a package arrived: the Fitbit Charge 4. And with it, renewed motivation. Because this nifty little tracker really is perfect for lockdown.
    Value For Money
    For most of us, 2020 is not going down as a year of balling. So if we’re going to splash out on something, it needs to be worthwhile. The main difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker is that a tracker’s main purpose is to gather data about your activity and feed it into an app for your viewing pleasure. A smartwatch, on the other hand, has a lot more functionality at the wrist and is more geared towards managing your life — receiving emails and notifications and so on. Smartwatches also tend to have more features. And you pay for all of these privileges. Coming in at R2 999, the Charge 4 has an impressive list of capabilities. You get a lot of the functionality of a smartwatch but at a fraction of the price.

    There’s a walking mode.
    Even at peak fitness, I’m no triathlete. No marathon runner, either. I like to lift heavy things, run the odd 10-kay and torture myself in HIIT classes. Often the smartwatches I test seem geared towards serious endurance athletes. I feel a tad loserish when I set the watch for a Parkrun, knowing it was built to traverse deserts on a single charge. The Charge 4, however, is a great match for someone like me. There are 20 exercise modes available and you can programme six of them into the tracker at a time through the Fitbit app. I felt a twinge of sadness as I scrolled past gym-based options like swimming (it’s waterproof), spinning, treadmill (sob), elliptical and circuit training. But it was convenient to have lockdown-specific activities to choose from, such as yoga, Pilates and hiking. I added running; there was a time, four months ago, when I called myself a runner. But I also added walking; a more accurate reflection of my current reality.
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    You can leave your phone behind.
    If all of this is sounding so far, so mundane, here’s where the Charge 4 gets properly impressive: It has built-in GPS and integrated Fitbit Pay. That means, for the first time in a Fitbit tracker, you can leave your phone at home when you head out for a walk and still use GPS tracking. The battery will last five hours in full-GPS mode — that’s plenty of time to complete a 10-kay or even a 21, if you’re so inclined. And if you activate Fitbit Pay, you can stop for a coffee and pay with the device. So no need to carry a wallet, either.
    It helps you sleep.
    Anyone else struggling with really messed-up sleep schedules since lockdown started? You’d think that spending more time at home would be conducive to getting more sleep, but apparently you’d be wrong. Fitbit has always been a leader in sleep hygiene and the Charge 4 has a number of features designed to help you get more and better-quality shut-eye. If you set your preferred bedtime, it’ll prompt you to start winding down half an hour before. Set a Smart Wake alarm and it’ll monitor your sleep patterns and buzz you awake during a light sleep cycle for a gentler wake-up. In sleep mode you don’t get alerts and it doesn’t light up when you move your wrist — something that irritated me with previous Fitbits. You can also dim the screen.
    READ MORE: This Is The Effect Lockdown Is Having On Your Sleep, According to New Studies
    Charge 4 says, “Move your ass.”
    OK, not in so many words. But I’d forgotten how that little buzz on your wrist prompting you to move every hour gets you off your butt. Now there’s an added incentive: Active minutes are a new goal Fitbit has created to get your lazy lockdown self moving. It’s not necessarily structured exercise, but rather based on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) i.e. you being active while just living your life (say, vacuuming the house; walking the dog; chasing the fleeing toddler). The tracker registers the activity automatically and it counts towards your daily goal of 150 minutes.
    READ MORE: What Is NEAT And How Can It Help Me Shed Lockdown Weight?
    It’s user-friendly.
    I’ve tested a few smartwatches that were so difficult to get the hang of, I would have thrown them on the ground in frustration had I not had to give them back a few weeks later. The Charge 4 is refreshingly simple. There’s one concealed button on the side that you need to find. Once you’ve made that discovery, it’s pretty straightforward to navigate using the touch screen and the app. As a small-boned woman, I also like that it’s light and discreet and not clunky on my little twig-wrist.
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    More cool stuff
    The Charge 4 has heart-rate tracking at the wrist, menstrual cycle tracking, integrated Spotify, you get call, text, calendar and other app notifications of your choosing and you can even send quick text replies on android.
    So is there anything not to love?
    Honestly, not much. The battery life is not what you’d get with a decent smartwatch. You’ll need to plug in your Charge 4 every four or five days, maybe sooner, depending on how much time it’s spent in GPS mode. If you haven’t used GPS much at all, it can last a week. But it charges fast, which is a bonus. Like previous Charge models, the 4 has the option of interchangeable wristbands, which is awesome for #fashun, but I found my previous model eventually came loose where the bands attach. Of course, this is something you’d probably only become aware of a couple years down the line. And by then, who knows what fun new toy you might have you eye on?

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice Fitness Trackers WH Tests It More

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    How To Boost Your Fitness By Tailoring Your Exercise Routine To Your Menstrual Cycle

    Before the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) revealed that they planned their 2019 World Cup training (they won, btw!) around players’ periods, the topic of how fluctuating hormones could potentially impact workouts wasn’t talked about much, er, at all.
    But when you think about it, the idea makes so much sense that it’s shocking it’s not commonplace. “The way you move and breathe, how your heart beats, and your body’s reaction to exercise varies throughout your menstrual cycle,” says Dr. Georgie Bruinvels,  co-​creator of FitrWoman, the app the USWNT used.

    Any woman can maximise her workouts by learning to go with her flow.

    Turns out, tailoring your routine to your cycle, a technique known as phase-based training, empowers you to take advantage of your physiology to look and feel your best and to perform at your fullest potential, according to Women’s Health advisory board member Dr. Stacy T. Sims, who’s been researching female athletes for 20 years.
    And it’s not just for fitness pros either. Any woman can maximize her workouts by learning to go with her flow. No matter your goals, the right training during specific times of the month will optimise outcomes, says Sims.
    The first step? Get to know — like, really know — your cycle. A period-tracking app (there are many; you’ll see) can help you understand each part of it—and how it impacts the body.
    From there, use this guide to tweak your get-sweaty routine. You’ll be amazed by how good you feel once things are truly, totally simpatico.
    Menstruation: Days 1–5
    Right about now (the start of your period), low levels of estrogen and progesterone (plus extra inflammation) may have you feeling pretty unmotivated to get moving, says Bruinvels (womp womp). But it’s actually prime time to build strength and muscle, thanks to relatively high testosterone, Sims notes.
    Do whatever workouts feel good.
    If you’re craving easy, restorative movement, focus on low-intensity workouts like yoga, Pilates, and stretching during your period, says Bruinvels.
    But…if you feel energised, hit the weights and lift heavy, says Sims. In fact, go for loads you can manage for only six reps, tops. (Try five sets of five reps at 80 percent of your one-rep max — i.e., the most weight you can lift for one rep.)
    Follicular Phase: Days 6–14
    Between the end of your period and about three days before ovulation, estrogen levels spike, which means you’ll have more energy to work out and recover faster. Woo! “Estrogen is associated with feeling happy, engaged, and strong,” says Bruinvels.
    Now’s the time to up your training intensity.
    If you feel next-level amazing, make the most of it by continuing to lean in to strength training, plus sprints and intense workouts. Now’s the time to bust out that jump rope or join a boot camp class and really push!
    READ MORE: “I Worked Out In Reusable Period Panties — Here’s What Happened”
    Ovulation: Days 15–23
    Things get a little wonky in this part of your cycle. Around ovulation, estrogen briefly drops while progesterone increases. FYI: Higher levels of progesterone can contribute to muscle breakdown, making proper recovery even more important than usual, says Bruinvels.
    Stick to steady-state cardio and strength training.
    Help your body bounce back by switching to moderate-intensity exercise, Sims says. Swap sprints for easy runs and stick to weights you can lift for eight to 10 reps. If you feel super sore, give yourself an extra day between workouts, Bruinvels adds.
    Luteal Phase: Days 24–28
    At this point, both estrogen and progesterone levels fall. As a result, PMS symptoms — like irritability and anxiety — start to creep up, while fluctuating blood-sugar levels and inflammation sap precious motivation.
    READ MORE: This Is Exactly How Your Period Affects Your Workout
    Start winding down your fitness routine.
    Since your body isn’t in peak performance condition right now (and you probs don’t have World Cup glory on the line to fire you up), use exercise to reduce stress. Opt for Pilates, yoga, or slow runs.
    When strength training, focus on form. Nailing it now will prepare you to load more weight when a new cycle starts, says Sims.
    The Best Cycle-Tracking Apps
    To create the best routine for your body, you gotta become BFFs with your cycle. These apps can help you log (and decode!) each phase.

    Complete with a cycle analysis tool and the ability to predict oncoming symptoms (like cramps), Clue offers an easy-to-digest but science-based view into your period.

    One of the most popular period trackers in the game, this app helps you understand and predict your menstrual cycle, PMS symptoms, and even potential fertility.

    This unique app pairs detailed cycle logging with expert-backed training, recovery, and nutrition advice for ultimate peak performance all month long.

    This first-of-its-kind app uses artificial intelligence to generate a personalised plan (exercise and eats included!) based on the sweat goals and cycle info you track.

    This article was originally published on 

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice More

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    What Is The IT Band And How Can You Tell If Yours Is Injured?

    While feeling sore after a challenging (or new) workout is totally normal, it’s important to note that not all types of aches and pains are just byproducts of your bod’s natural healing process. One common place this comes into play is with an IT band injury. What is the IT band, exactly? Here’s everything you need to know.
    The IT band (a.k.a. iliotibial tract band) is a thick piece of fascia, or connective tissue, that runs from the side of the hip down to the side of the knee, says Bianca Spicer, exercise physiologist and owner of Spicer Fitness and Wellness in Atlanta, Georgia. You can think of it kind of like a rubber band, as it functions inside your body in a similar way.
    Whenever your leg moves forwards or backwards from under your hips, like during a stride, elastic energy is stored and then released when the movement is reversed. The IT band ultimately helps your system save energy, especially during a run, according to research from scientists at Harvard University.
    Given their starring role in keeping you moving, maintaining healthy IT bands is super important. So is knowing when you’re just achy from a hardcore sprint workout and need to do some extra recovery — or when you’re actually hurt.
    Signs And Symptoms Of An IT Band Injury
    Because your IT band is such a workhorse, it’s got a higher rate of injury than tissue or muscles you don’t utilize so frequently. That technical term for this is IT band syndrome, and it’s the second most common running injury, according to research from the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America. Symptoms of IT band syndrome include:
    Pain on the outside of your knee
    Pain when bending your knee
    Common Causes Of IT Band Syndrome
    Your glute muscles, hips, and hamstrings all run along your IT bands and work in tandem with it to help stabilise your knee. Because of this, after intense lower-body workouts, runs, jump training (a.k.a. plyometrics), or even a lot of brisk walking, the IT band may become inflamed.
    In general, there are three usual suspects that cause IT band injuries:
    sitting too much
    What To Do If You Think You Have An IT Band Injury
    If you’re not sure whether your pain is IT band syndrome, Spicer recommends getting a formal diagnosis from a physical therapist. For mild pain, changes like better form, more rest, and rehab exercises (e.g. strengthening your hips, butt muscles, and outside of your thighs) should help.
    One treatment Spicer doesn’t recommend? Foam rolling along your IT band. “You want to make sure you’re foam rolling the muscle,” she says. “The biggest mistake we see with adjusting the IT band is people mistaking the IT band for [muscle].” Since it’s tissue, it doesn’t benefit from this type of tension release. So stick to hitting your quads, hammies, glutes, and inner thighs instead.
    This article was originally published on

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    The Best Trail Running Shoes For Women In 2020, According To Athletes And Experts

    Same ol’ concrete running route feeling a little, well, old? Good news: Trail running is having a much-deserved (and much-needed) moment — and we’re oh-so-here for it. Those smart folks are onto something: Exercising in nature actually quiets the part of the brain associated with overthinking, says research published by . (Can we say “yes, please”?!) […] More

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    What Is VO2 Max, Exactly? Glad You Asked

    You know that awkward feeling when someone references a TV show or person you don’t know but you smile and nod along because you want to seem in the loop? Yeah, that totally human experience happens in fitness too. Especially around relatively obscure terms like VO2 max, which you may have overheard in a locker […] More

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    How Much Muscle You Build Running Ultimately Depends On How You Run

    When you think of sculpting your arms or building strong legs, you probably think about bodyweight moves like pushups and equipment like dumbbells and resistance bands. Do you  to swap the sidewalk for the weight room, though — or does running build muscle, too? Though most people categorize running as cardiovascular exercise, that doesn’t mean you can’t do more than boost […] More

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    Yes, Walking Can Be A Great Cardio Workout

    When I think of walking for cardio, I picture Jane Fonda-vibes outfits (hello, brightly-coloured, high-cut spandex and sweatbands), wrist and ankle weights, and wildly pumping arms. And then I shrug it off. I mean, cardio has to be high-exertion and super sweaty, right? Or is walking cardio after all? First, let me clarify: Cardio—short for […] More