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    What You Really Need To Know About Running For Weight Loss, According To Experts

    Running has soooo many benefits. Just to name a few, it’s good for your heart health, strengthens your bones and reduces stress. It’s also known to burn quite a few calories, making it a solid workout choice if you’re looking to lose weight.

    Plus, running works your muscles and has positive effects on the metabolism, says Leigh Daigle. That said, it’s always wise to loop in your doctor or healthcare pro any time you’re considering picking up a new fitness routine, especially if you have specific medical concerns.

    Before you lace up and attempt to run for kilometres, there are a few things you need to know about running for weight loss, including how to get started and nutrition tips to support your journey. Ahead, experts break it down.

    Meet the experts: Leigh Daigle, MD, is a board-certified obesity medicine physician at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. Dani Rancourt, RD is a certified sports dietician and founder of Pivot Nutrition Coaching. Sarah Pelc Graca, CPT, is a certified personal trainer and founder of Strong with Sarah Weight Loss Coaching.

    Is Running Good For Weight Loss?

    We repeat: Running can be a great way to lose weight, but it’s not a magic solution, says Dr. Daigle. On its own, running won’t necessarily induce weight loss, but it can lead to significant weight loss when *combined* with a healthy diet and regular strength training routine, she says.

    After all, at its core, successful weight loss requires a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than your body requires to stay at its current weight), says dietician Dani Rancourt. “A calorie deficit can be created one of three ways: reducing calorie intake, increasing calorie expenditure via exercise, or a combination of both, and research shows that the combination of exercise and dietary interventions produces more weight loss than dieting alone,” she says.

    “Running can certainly be beneficial in helping someone lose weight, however, it’s important to note that you can’t out-run a poor diet.”

    With that in mind, running can definitely support your weight loss goals since it burns around 60 calories per km, says Rancourt. It’s also a full-body workout that engages your legs, glutes and core which helps increase muscle mass and boost your metabolism, in turn, supporting your weight loss goals, adds Dr. Daigle.

    Now may be wondering, “Does running burn belly fat?” Well, it depends. Running can certainly help burn belly fat (also known as visceral fat), however, it’s not possible to target a certain area to lose weight, says Rancourt. If you want to burn belly fat, it’s a multifaceted approach that requires a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies and fibre, resistance training, limited alcohol and stress management, *in addition* to a running routine, she says.

    How Much Running Should I Do In A Day To Lose Weight?

    Generally speaking, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking, bike riding, ballroom dancing, or even general yard work and home repair) or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (like running, tennis, or heavy yard work) per week. Adults should also incorporate muscle-strengthening activities into their routines, like lifting weights and working with resistance bands, per ACSM.

    The Distance And Duration

    When it comes to distance and duration, you must take into consideration your baseline fitness level, says Rancourt. Beginners should start running or walking short distances—between 800m to 1.5km—and gradually increase over time, says Dr. Daigle. If you’re an intermediate runner with some movement experience already, aim for 2.5 to five kilometres per session, she says. Finally, if you’re more advanced, aim for five to ten kilometres per workout.

    In addition to steady-state running, high-intensity interval running, which involves short bursts of intense running (like sprints) followed by periods of rest, is also worth your time, Dr. Daigle says. Not only will it spike your heart rate, but HIIT intervals burn lots of calories even after you’ve finished working out.

    All that said, you don’t have to exclusively run, because any form of cardio or movement will burn calories and help you lose weight, says Sarah Pelc Graca. If you’re new to running or exercise in general, start small and aim for one or two 15- to 30-minute cardio workouts per week, whether that’s walking, biking, or using the elliptical, she says. Once you build endurance, you can work your way up to a jog or run. “It can be easy to want to ‘jump the gun’ and commit to doing four or five days of cardio workouts right from the start because you feel motivated on your weight loss journey, but I recommend starting out small so that you can consistently execute your workouts safely,” she says.

    Other Exercises To Try

    And if you don’t catch the running bug, don’t force it! “If it’s not enjoyable, it’s not sustainable and if you hate running, you’re likely not going to stick with it long-term, which is going to make it extremely difficult to maintain weight loss,” says Rancourt. Running is not the only way to lose weight and walking, swimming, or biking are other great aerobic workouts to up your heart rate and support weight loss.

    The Big Book Of Walking Workouts eBook

    Inside this guide you’ll find easy-to-do workouts that will reshape your body, boost your energy and help you surpass your weight-loss and fitness targets.

    Nutrition Tips For Running

    Nutrition is crucial when it comes to successful weight loss—whether you’re running or not. However, all vigorous exercise, including running, can increase hunger due to the higher caloric burn and potential hormonal and metabolic changes (running increases muscle mass which increases metabolism), says Dr. Daigle.

    As a result, the goal is to create blood sugar-balancing meals and snacks containing protein, fibre and healthy fats to increase energy levels and reduce hunger—which ultimately makes fat loss more manageable, says Rancourt.

    READ MORE: 10 Healthy Snacks That Won’t Give You A Sugar Crash In 20 Minutes

    To break it down a bit more, protein is the key macronutrient when it comes to fat loss because it regulates blood sugars, keeps you fuller for longer and helps maintain muscle mass while in a calorie deficit, says Rancourt. So, try to incorporate high-protein foods like fish, chicken, beef, tofu, Greek yoghurt and eggs at each meal, she says.

    A diet rich in healthy fats (like nuts, seeds, avocado and olives) and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, fruits, veggies) and low in processed foods and sugar will also fuel your workouts while maximising weight loss results, adds Dr Daigle.

    What To Eat Pre- And Post-Run

    When it comes to eating pre- and post-run, fuelling before a workout generally requires more carbohydrates, as carbs are the preferred fuel source of muscles, says Rancourt. So, if you’re crushing a 6 a.m. run, your best bet is to have 15 to 30 grams of low-fibre carbs (like a banana) 15 to 30 minutes beforehand to provide your body with a dose of fuel, she explains.

    After a run, eat a balanced meal full of protein, carbs, fruits and veggies within an hour, Rancourt recommends. If a full meal isn’t doable, consume a post-workout snack ASAP containing protein, carbs and fluids (like a fruit smoothie made with Greek yoghurt or protein powder), she adds.

    Last but not least, if you’re focusing on low-carb foods right now, prioritise eating carbs around your workouts to help you fuel and recover from your training, says Rancourt.

    Running For Weight Loss Pro Tips

    First things first: If you have any medical concerns, talk to your doctor before you begin walking or running, especially if you have joint or muscle issues, Pelc Graca says. If that’s the case, your doctor may recommend a brace to wear while exercising or a set of specific stretches to supplement your walks or runs, she adds.

    Running shoes are also key for your health to help you run or walk with proper form and reduce the risk of injury, says Pelc Graca. “I recommend visiting a running store to get properly fitted for running shoes, because oftentimes, the store professionals will look at the shape of your feet and perhaps even your running form using a treadmill to recommend the best running shoe for you,” she explains. “Not all running shoes are best for all people.”

    READ MORE: 18 New Running Shoes To Help You Run Faster And Farther In 2024

    Finally, remember that consistency is key for weight loss. “Aim for consistency in your walks and runs, rather than intensity at the beginning,” says Pelc Graca. “Building a habit of regular exercise will contribute to long-term success.”

    This article written by Andi Breitowich was originally published on More

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    How To Get Fit At 40 – And Thriving Healthy Tips

    This is the prime of your life – yes, your 40s are it! It’s a time when staying active and taking care of your health becomes even more crucial. As your body goes through changes, it’s essential to understand how to adapt your fitness routines accordingly.

    Engaging in physical activity also supports cognitive function, keeping your mind sharp and focused as you navigate the challenges of work and family life. It can improve sleep quality, which becomes increasingly important as hormonal changes may disrupt your rest.

    By incorporating exercise into your routine, you’re investing in a healthier future self by promoting cardiovascular health and supporting bone density. Plus, staying active can enhance flexibility and balance to prevent injuries that may be more common as we age.

    “If you’re not engaging in regular aerobic and strength training by your forties, it’s possible there may be a shift towards insulin insensitivity,” says Dr Amal Hassan, a sports and exercise medicine consultant. Oestrogen optimises insulin levels (the hormone needed to move glucose out of your bloodstream and keep blood sugar levels regulated)

    Unilateral Training

    In your forties, unilateral (single-sided) moves should be front and centre of your strength training routine. “Exercises such as single-leg Romanian deadlifts and single-arm dumbbell rows, are great for improving balance and ironing out any muscular imbalances,” says McGowan. “By doing them, you test your balance and work oneside of your body at a time, which isolates and strengthens weak muscles.” It’s a game changer for injury prevention, too.

    Quick, Short Bursts of Activity

    Giving your metabolism a boost is the name of the game, here. “Regular activity is vital for reducing the risk of insulin insensitivity, which could lead to diabetes and weight gain, as exercise moves blood sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity, rather than leaving excess insulinfloating in your body,” explains Dr Hassan. “Short walks after meals and reducing alcohol intake to within the guidelines (or lower) are powerful ways to improve your metabolism.” The thinking is that rather than aiming for longer 20-minute sessions, know that four five-minute bursts could also work wonders.

    Do More Balanced Moves

    Your balance may also begin to wobble a little. Research in Frontiers In Neurology found that the ‘vestibular threshold’ was more than 80% higher in participants over the age of 40.

    Get Fit In Your 40s: The 10 Minute Stretch

    Instructions: Complete the exercises in this yoga workout in order. Move from one to the next without resting. Rest 45 to 60 seconds at the end of the circuit, then repeat for up to three rounds

    READ MORE: The 14 Yoga Stretches To Do Daily If You Want To Become More Flexible

    1. Sukhasana To Half Moon

    Start in an easy seated pose (Sukhasana). Sit like this for a minute with your eyes closed and hands in your lap, breathing deeply. Raise your arms to the sky and then over to your right into half moon.

    Repeat on the left, then inhale, raising your arms up again and lengthening your spine. Exhale as you reach your hands in front of you.

    2. Cat And Cow

    Place your hands on the floor, then walk them forward and move onto all fours. Spend a few breaths performing cat and cow: inhale and arch your back, sticking your tailbone up.

    Exhale and round your back, tucking your tailbone. Continue alternating.

    READ MORE: Boost Your Morning Routine With This Easy 15-Minute Yoga Flow

    3. Downward-facing Dog To Standing Mountain

    From cat and cow, push up into downward-facing dog .

    Walk your hands back towards your feet, or your feet towards your hands, and exhale into forward fold, then roll up into a standing mountain pose.

    READ MORE: This 6-Move Yoga Sequence Will Seriously Strengthen Your Tummy

    Foods You Should Be Eating In Your 40s

    Proper nutrition plays a critical role in staying fit and healthy, especially as you hit your 40s. As your metabolism starts to slow down, it becomes even more important to fuel your body with the right nutrients. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can help maintain a healthy weight and provide sustained energy throughout the day.

    In your 40s increasing your protein intake from 15 percent of your total calories to 30 percent can help you boost the calories your body burns during digestion.

    Switch to low-GI foods rich in soluble fibre, which helps to lower bad cholesterol. These include: Green vegetables, some fruits, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

    Hydration is another essential aspect of proper nutrition that often gets overlooked but is crucial for maintaining energy levels and supporting bodily functions.

    Habits To Avoid In Your 40s

    “I often see clients putting pressure on themselves when they notice that their bodies are changing due to hormones,” says McGowan.

    “Consistency is key but going all out isn’t necessary. I recommend two or three moderate to intense workouts per week, but the most important thing is to reduce sedentary behaviour – stand as often as you can and always walk to your destination if it’s an option.”

    Bragg agrees: “Your body is going through a huge hormonal shift – oestrogen and progesterone levels decrease as ovaries stop producing them, and the control hormones (FSH, follicle-stimulating hormone and LH, luteinising hormone) released by the pituitary gland in the brain shoot up. This all contributes to the most common menopausal symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain and hot flushes. Doing intense workouts will only send hormonal imbalance further off-kilter as they increase the stress hormone cortisol.” Try incorporating at least one yoga session per week.

    This article written by Bridie Wilkins first appeared in the July/August 2022 Issue of Women’s Health UK additional reporting by the Women’s Health SA team.

    Icons at Freepik – Flaticon More

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    How To Get Fit At 30 – And Important Healthy Habits

    How to get fit in your 30s is as simple as listening to your body’s cues. As you transition into your 30s, staying active becomes more crucial than ever. Not only does regular exercise help maintain a healthy weight and build strength, but it also plays a significant role in preventing age-related health issues. By incorporating physical activity into your daily routines, you can boost your metabolism, improve heart health and increase overall energy levels.

    Globally, the average age at which women become first-time mothers is 30+, even though it ranges between 20 and 29 in South Africa. “Only 3 to 15 percent of pregnant women meet the suggested physical activity guidelines, which decreases further postnatally,” says Dr Amal Hassan, a sports and exercise medicine consultant.

    When it comes to getting fit in your 30s, finding the right workout routine is key. With a plethora of options available, it’s essential to choose a plan that suits both your body and goals. Consider factors like your current fitness level, any injuries or health concerns and what you enjoy doing.

    HIIT The Workouts Hard

    “As oestrogen levels drop and bone density reduces, strength training helps keep bones strong, as the stress that comes from tugging and pushing on bones nudges bone-forming cells into action,” explains personal trainer Caroline Bragg.

    Incorporate high-intensity aerobic efforts to keep your heart and lungs functioning at optimum capacity, too, as the risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age as blood vessels stiffen, and exercise, which pushes blood around the body, keeps vessels nice and flexible. Try fitting in two strength training sessions with one high-intensity 30-minute cardio session, such as a spinning class or a run, per week.

    Do Some Breathwork

    Stress spans every decade, but if you’re juggling more responsibility than ever in your thirties, it might be timefor some new management techniques. “Focused breathwork can curb stress by increasing your oxygen intake, which in turn reduces blood pressure, slows your heart and releases tension in your body,” says Dr Hassan.

    There are plenty of free guided breathwork sessions on YouTube, while Breathwrk, Calm and Headspace all have their own. Start with one 10-minute session per week and see how you go.

    Just Move It

    NEAT, otherwise known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, is basically the energy used for everything that’s not formal exercise – the stuff you do without realising it, such as walking around, hauling the washing up the stairs or using a standing desk.

    A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that two hours of sitting could cancel out the benefits of a 20-minute workout, so the goal with NEAT is to reduce sedentary time – less about going hard in the gym and more about simply getting yourself moving. Set yourself a realistic daily step count to keep track.

    Get Fit In Your 30s: The 15 Minute Bodyweight Home Workout

    Instructions: Complete the exercises in this bodyweight home workout in order. Move from one to the next without resting. Rest 45 to 60 seconds at the end of the circuit, then repeat for up to five rounds.

    Make it harder: Feeling extra fired up for your bodyweight home workout? Increase the cardio challenge by adding 30 seconds of star jumps or running in place between each move. Get the best out of your chill with this couch workout.

    READ MORE: A 4-Week Home Workout Plan To Get Fit And Strong AF

    1. Bulgarian Split Squat

    Stand about 60 centimetres in front of your couch and extend your left leg behind you, placing the top of your foot on the seat (A). Keeping your chest upright and core tight, bend both knees to lower your hips as much as you can (B). Push through your right heel to return to start. That’s one rep. Do eight to 12, then repeat on the other side.

    READ MORE: Try This 30-Minute HIIT Workout At Home For A Total-Body Burn

    2. Travelling Plank With Leg Raise

    Get into push-up position with your toes on the couch (A). Raise your right arm and rotate your torso to the right until your feet are stacked and your body forms a T. Without dropping your hips, lift your right leg (B). Hold for 20 seconds. Reverse the movement to return to start and hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

    READ MORE: 9 Bodyweight Exercises That Will Improve Your Mobility

    3. Single-Leg Hip Thrust

    Lie on your back on the floor in front of your couch with your left heel on the edge, knee bent about 90 degrees and your right leg straight up, arms at your sides (A). Press through your left heel and raise your hips as high as possible, keeping your right foot in the air (B). Slowly lower your hips back down. That’s one rep. Do eight to 12, then repeat on the other side.

    READ MORE: 10 Best Kettlebell Core Exercises For Strong, Sculpted Abs, From A Trainer

    4. Reverse Inch Worm

    Get into push-up position with your toes on the couch (A). Bracing your core and glutes, slowly walk your hands towards the couch, lifting your hips into the air and keeping your legs as straight as possible (B). Pause, then walk your hands back out to start. Make it harder by adding a push-up here. That’s one rep. Do four to eight.

    Excerpted from the Women’s Health Little Book of 15-Minute Workouts.

    READ MORE: 4 Easy Exercises You Can’t Ignore If You’re Walking For Weight Loss

    Foods You Should Be Eating In Your 30s

    When it comes to maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle in your 30s, nutrition plays a crucial role. It’s essential to fuel your body with the right foods that provide energy and support for your workouts.

    It’s recommended that women ages 31-50 consume 25 g of fibre per day. Examples include: oats, legumes, seeds, nuts, breads, cereals and pasta.

    Women should include omega-3s to help with inflammation and reducing heart disease risk. This fatty fish, algae, flaxseeds, chia seeds and some nuts.

    Your 30s are the time to focus on preserving bone density to prevent loss—and getting enough calcium is the best way to do so.

    Aim for a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.

    Habits To Avoid In Your 30s

    Finally found an exercise routine you genuinely enjoy? The last thing you’re going to want to do is change it, but that could be where you’re going wrong. The loss of muscle mass and bone density that marks this decade is your cue to stop going hell-for-leather in HIIT classes, or at least not so often. “If you regularly put your body through intense workouts in your twenties and are still keen to get your HIIT fix, once a week is enough. A reduction in oestrogen also means that recovery will come slower, as muscle regeneration relies on stem cells called satellite cells, which need oestrogen to function optimally,” says personal trainer Samantha McGowan.

    This article written by Bridie Wilkins first appeared in the July/August 2022 Issue of Women’s Health UK, additional reporting by Women’s Health SA team.

    Icons at Freepik – Flaticon More

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    How To Reclaim Your Fitness Routine

    We’re halfway through the year and the fitness resolutions that you set at the beginning of the year now seem like a far-fetched idea. According to Enterprise Apps Today, only 9% of people are successful in keeping with their New Year’s resolutions. Most people quit by the second Friday of the month. Therefore, you’re not alone. Don’t berate yourself too much and in the words of the late Aaliyah, “If it at first you don’t succeed, then dust yourself off and try again!”

    “As a fitness instructor, I’ve witnessed first-hand the enthusiasm that comes with setting New Year’s especially when it comes to health and fitness. Yet, by February a lot of people’s new year’s resolutions start fading, and by the time June rolls around, many of us have fallen into old habits,” says Colleen Petersen, owner of CrossFit AniWaya in Ruimsig, Johannesburg, who has cultivated a thriving community around health and wellness over the years.

    READ MORE: How To Get Fit In Your 20s – This Is Your Healthy Routine

    Whether it’s discipline, a lack of motivation. or time constraints, Petersen suggests these five steps below to beat any excuse that’s holding you back from working out:

    1. Not Enough Time

    “I don’t have time to exercise, I wear many hats.” But the truth is, we make time for the things we value. If exercise is an important aspect of your life, you will find the time for it. Whenever I hear someone say they don’t have enough time, I always recommend challenging that notion. I recommend a “reality check”, which is simply starting a day plan, where you list all your day’s activities and the amount of time you spend on each activity – from the time you wake up to when you go to bed.

    When you put pen to paper and break it down, it’s a big eye opener to where we’re spending our time. When you have this information in front of you, you can find places where you can carve out time for activities that nourish your soul, like fitness. It’s about prioritising and recognising that investing in your health is worth the time.

    READ MORE: Get A Full-Body Workout In Just 15 Minutes With Only 2 Household Items

    2. Too Exhausted

    I’ve heard this line more times than I can recall. Many people find that fitness ends up being the last item on the to-do list, meaning that it frequently gets bumped off the list because, by the end of the day, we’re just too tired.

    So, finding the right time to prioritise exercise is crucial – whether it’s waking up 30 minutes earlier or squeezing in a short workout between meetings. It also doesn’t need to be at a gym, it could be a quick workout video online. Making fitness a non-negotiable part of your day can lead to improved energy levels and overall well-being.

    3. No Motivation Whatsoever

    Sometimes, the hardest part is getting started. As human beings, our innate nature is to be social beings, which is why sometimes exercising by yourself can get monotonous. This is where finding a supportive community can make all the difference – whether it’s joining a running club or finding a workout buddy who will keep you accountable.

    Another tactic to get out of your own way is through the 5-second rule. Author Mel Robbins describes this rule as ‘The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will stop you. There’s one thing that is guaranteed to increase your feelings of control over your life: a bias toward action.’ 

    So, if today is the day you have determined that you want to reclaim your fitness, the minute you think about it, you must physically do one small action, even if that means researching what you are going to do next.

    4. Fear Of Looking Silly

    Depending on your fitness journey, it is easy to fall prey to your own mind where you feel like you will look silly exercising, especially in a gym or training environment. The fear of judgement can be paralysing, but it’s essential to remember that everyone starts somewhere. There is also a physiological way to “get out of our own heads.” When we are excited or scared, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. It’s released in the same way, but the difference is what our brains do with the information. It’s important to realign our thinking and give our brain the correct information by being determined to turn fear into excitement. By reframing fear as excitement and creating positive pathways in our brains, we can overcome self-doubt and take the next step towards growth.

    READ MORE: Scalable HIIT Workout Will Be Your New Go-To For All-Over Gains

    5. Budgeting

    Many people view fitness as a luxury rather than a necessity. We need to start changing the narrative and categorise fitness as a top priority, because investing in our health is one of the most valuable investments we can make. It doesn’t have to break the bank either; there are so many cost-effective training activities that you can participate in, and one of the great things about our information-age is that we have knowledge right at our fingertips so access to information, training programmes or motivation is easily available.

    One way to start is by finding someone who has a fitness platform online, follow them, and start doing their home-workouts. When you are ready, investigate what fitness options suit your needs and find an environment that matches that, within your budget.

    In essence, we need to change the narrative of how we view fitness; it’s about overcoming mental barriers and finding balance in our busy lives. By addressing common obstacles and implementing practical strategies, we can reignite our motivation and get back on track towards a healthier, happier lifestyle. Fitness can be as simple as spending 20 minutes playing ball with your children or taking a brisk walk in the park. Remember, every step, no matter how small, brings us closer to our goals. So, let’s lace up our sneakers, embrace the journey, and reclaim our fitness one day at a time. More

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    Exactly How To Train For A Handstand Or Pull-Up, Per Experts

    We reckon there’s been a time when you envied the women nailing handstands on your feed, or you’ve oggled at someone effortlessly bashing out pull-ups at the gym. The good news: these gymnastics-based movements not only deliver body benefits but are totally doable! Here, how to train for a handstand or pull-up, step by step.

    Why is training for a handstand or pull-up good for you?

    From increased flexibility to all-over body conditioning and beyond, gymnastics training – like tackling a handstand – delivers it all in bucket loads. And you don’t need to master a full twisting layout to reap the benefits. We’re talking the absolute basics: hanging from bars, getting inverted against a wall and increasing that arm strength will, over time, reap rewards. Think: being able to do a handstand, a pull-up or go toes-to-bar at the gym. Yes, these are gymnastics moves! And they build strength, flexibility, balance and a rock-solid core. A 2018 study found that bone mass increased after doing adult gymnastics, something that otherwise decreases with age.

    Train for a handstand

    Safety first: Eva Thornton, gymnast and coach at CrossFit Algoa in Gqeberha, warns that gymnastics can be tricky if you work unassisted. Always get a pro to watch your back as you tackle new skills, then work on them yourself when you’re more confident. Also, remember that when you train for a handstand, progress may be slow. Don’t give up – every workout brings you closer to that goal.

    How long does it take to nail a handstand?

    Well… it takes a while. “I think the biggest difficulty many people have is not understanding that gymnastics skills take time and require consistent practice,” explains Thornton. Most of the time, it can take months or years, depending how much time and effort you put in. So go get it!

    Nail The Basics

    You’ll have to start with the absolute basics first. Practise the hollow hold position where you lie on the floor with legs and shoulders lifted, says National Gymnastics Coach Luitha Roux. This builds core strength to be able to balance when upside down. Do it as often as you can and aim to complete 30 seconds at a time, building up to longer holds.

    READ MORE: 8 Ways To Build Stronger Thighs

    Build Shoulder Mobility

    In order to support your weight upside down, get your shoulders mobile, says Thornton. Good shoulder mobility allows for that straight line from hands to toes and it also is crucial to prevent injury in this position.

    To train for a handstand, stand facing a wall with your arms held out in front of you. Practise pushing against the wall with your hands while moving your shoulder blades backwards.

    Get Upside Down

    Next, do drills against the wall. This specific drill, with your face to the wall, allows you to properly mimic the position of an unassisted handstand while building shoulder, arm and core strength.

    With your back facing the wall, walk your hands down to the floor. Now, walk your legs up against the wall. Walk in and out on your hands, repeating as long as you can.

    Try It Unassisted

    Now for the challenge – trying to hold your handstand without the wall. Try pushing up and hold your handstand against a wall, then remove one foot and then the other, seeing how long you can hold it without the wall.

    READ MORE: Tone-Up From Head To Toe With This Killer 15-Minute Workout

    Train for a pull-up

    Build Arm Strength

    Per Thornton, start building upper arm strength with ring rows. You can do these with suspension cables or rings hanging from a bar, feet on the floor, pulling yourself up. “That’s your first step to developing pulling strength,” says Thornton. The lower down your body, the harder the pull. Focus on keeping your core tight throughout and go slow – you want every muscle to take the time to grow.

    Get the hang of it

    Next, graduate to the bar, doing pull-ups using a thick resistance band. The thicker the band, the easier the lift. Loop the resistance band around the bar and slip your one knee into the other end of the band. You’ll feel supported throughout and the pull-up will become much easier to execute. Keep going, and the easier it gets, the lighter you can make the resistance band, says Thornton. Another option? The assisted pull-up machine at the gym.

    READ MORE: This Scalable HIIT Workout Will Be Your New Go-To For All-Over Gains

    Pull Through!

    Once you’re strong enough (after months of practice), you can try your hand at an unassisted pull-up. Remember this is all core and upper body strength, so if you can’t nail it the first time around, keep practising the foundational moves. More

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    8 Ways To Build Stronger Thighs

    The power of being able to build strong thighs lies in the ability to move better. Think about how much you walk around, trek up and down stairs, and go from sitting to standing all day. Every single one of those movements will become easier the more you work out your legs, particularly your thighs, or what would include your quads (the muscles on the front of the upper leg), abductors (outer thighs), adductors (inner thighs) and even your hamstrings (back of the upper leg).

    “If you want to live for a long time, you have to be strength training. There is no substitute for strength,” says Danielle Barry, a certified personal trainer. Plus, the more you move and the smarter you train, the better your movement patterns, making everything from running, walking and jumping smoother too.

    To get you to peak performance in and out of the gym, check out the best types of exercises that build strong thighs.

    1. Combine strength and cardio

    “People get fearful of putting on too much muscle and having big legs, so they turn to cardio for the solution to that issue,” says Barry. “But I like to make it known that if you’re looking to change the composition of your legs—more muscle and less fat—you have to do a combo of both strength and endurance training.”

    In other words, while you can run around town as much as you want, or hit the elliptical too, you still have to pick up some weights if you want to build strong thighs.

    READ MORE: Use These 5 Resistance Band Moves To Ease Knee Pain

    2. Squat, squat and squat again

    Focusing on functional movement patterns — think: squat, lunge, push, pull — is the smartest way to train your legs. And squats are a top-notch way to specifically target your thighs, working 360-degrees of your upper leg. Even better, squats mimic that stand-up and sit-down pattern you move through during the day. Plus, you can easily scale them to your fitness level, says Barry.

    Begin with bodyweight squats: Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Send the hips down and back and bend the knees, keeping weight in your heels. When you’ve mastered that, move up to a goblet squat, holding a kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest.

    Next up, graduate to squatting with a barbell or dumbbells held in a racked position (weights at the shoulders). The key is to keep your torso vertical and spine neutral—the more upright you are, the more quad-dominant the exercise.

    3. Learn to love lunges

    Lunges copy the movement pattern you take when you go for a walk, shifting weight from one foot to the other. And they seriously tone your thighs, while strengthening most leg muscles. Start this exercise out bodyweight style, just like a squat, until you’ve built up the confidence and form to take it up a notch.

    Begin standing with feet together and then step one foot back about 60cm (depending on how tall you are) and lower down so both knees bend 90 degrees. Then press back up to the top. Aim for 10 reps on each leg for three rounds, Barry suggests.

    To up the ante on your lunge, add weights, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest, or one on each side, with arms straight down by your sides. You can also place the back foot on a box or bench behind you to turn your lunge into a Bulgarian split squat, which ups the stability challenge. (See above for example.)

    4. Do more single-side moves

    Speaking of lunges — along with moves like pistol squats, staggered deadlifts, or split squats — these types of single-side exercises help you pay better attention to the differences in strength between your left and right sides.

    “I tell people: Our limbs are sisters; they are not twins,” says Barry. “You have a dominant and non-dominant side, so when you’re running or biking or lifting or doing Pilates, you’re going to find one side works harder than the other… Your goal should be to try your best to get your non-dominant side as strong as your dominant side, or as close as possible.”

    Next time you do any single-side exercise, focus on how each side feels and spend a little more time on that weaker side to help fix the imbalance. This will make you less injury-prone and can increase overall health and body composition, Barry says.

    READ MORE: Tone-Up From Head To Toe With This Killer 15-Minute Workout

    5 Step on a machine

    Almost any cardio machine — the treadmill, elliptical, stair climber and rower — will help you build stronger thighs. Your legs do a lot of the work after all. (Yes, even on the rower — push off that board!)

    Barry recommends opting for intervals on any of this equipment, working at an all-out effort for 30 seconds, then resting for another 30. Try to hit 10 rounds.

    “If you’re constantly working then resting, your body will burn fat to keep up with the work put into each interval,” she says. To really make your legs feel like Jell-O, she suggests opting for the bike or Stairmaster.

    6. HIIT it big

    Of course, you don’t have to do interval training only on a machine. You can take your HIIT workout anywhere. If you’re running outside, simply add sprints into your typical jogging pace. “Running is a fantastic way to develop those thigh muscles,” Barry says.

    Or if you’re in your living room, add plyometrics to your routine. Squat jumps and jumping lunges, along with burpees or skaters require powerful legs to propel you to the top.

    READ MORE: 30 Plank Variations That Will Transform Your Core From A Trainer

    7. Grab a booty band

    Follow almost any trainer on IG and you’ll probably see a band wrapped around her thighs at some point, especially if she’s a runner. And that’s because that band strengthens the abductors of the hip, or your glutes and tensor fasciae latae (TFL) — a muscle of the thigh that helps to move the leg away from your midline (aka abduction).

    With the band placed around your thighs, you can easily turn moves like squats and leg lifts into a serious leg-burning sequence.

    Barry’s favourite move to do with the band to target the thighs and glutes is a lateral step: Holding a shallow squat position and keeping your legs hip-width apart and feet parallel, take 10 to 15 steps to one side and then back in the other direction. Embrace the burn on your backside.

    8. Squeeze something soft

    Don’t forget about those inner thighs! Your adductor muscles pull your legs in toward each other and to strengthen all of them, you should grab a squishy ball or a foam yoga block, Barry says.

    Take the block between your legs and squeeze, holding for a second, then release. Do 10 to 15 reps.

    You can do this standing, while holding a wall sit, as you maintain a plank position, or in a glute bridge exercise (seen above). The harder you squeeze, the more you burn out those inner thighs.

    This article was originally published on by Mallory Creveling More

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    The Beginners Guide To Foam Rolling Correctly

    Foam rolling – or “self-myofascial release” – will ease tension as you roll muscles over a foam cylinder.

    How it works: the pressure softens, lengthens and realigns the fascia, promoting muscle relaxation. Not only does it feel amazing, but it also helps break up knots and reduces the risk of injury. Check out these three moves, perfect for anytime use – whether it’s before, after, or even during your workout routine.

    Tip: Each complete roll (down and back) should take at least five seconds. If any spot feels especially tight – you’ll know from the way it hurts like crazy as you pass over it – pause at that spot for an extra two seconds before continuing.

    IT Band Roll

    Lie on your left side with your legs straight and your left hip on a foam roller. Place your palms on the floor in front of you and place your right foot flat on the floor in front of your left knee. Straighten your arms and lift your torso off the floor. Press your body weight on the roller. Slowly roll from the hip down to the knee and back up to the hip. For a deeper stretch, rest your right leg on top of your left as you roll. Repeat on the right leg.

    READ MORE: The 3 Stretches You Should Be Doing Daily

    Hammy Roll

    Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Place your left foot flat on the floor next to your right calf and place the foam roller under your right knee. With your palms on the floor behind you, lift your butt and right foot, keeping your hands still, and slowly roll from the back of the knee joint up to your hip and back. Do another rep with your leg turned in slightly, then one with your leg turned out; repeat on the other side.

    Back-it-Up Roll

    Lie with a foam roller under your upper back and your feet a ruler’s length from your butt. Raise your hips and torso so that most of your body weight rests on the roller. Cross your arms, then lift your elbows towards the ceiling so the roller is in contact with your back muscles, not your shoulder blades. Keeping your feet planted, slowly roll down until the roller hits the small of your back, then return to the starting position.

    READ MORE: 7 Best Lower Back Stretches To Ease Aches And Pain

    Foam Rollers Recommended By Our Editors:

    Trojan Compact Roller

    This roller provides deep tissue relief with its lightweight, high-density foam. Its compact size makes it travel-friendly, ideal for on-the-go muscle relaxation and improved flexibility.

    Trigger Point Grid 1.0

    Replicates a massage therapist’s hands? Sign us up! This foam roller enhances mobility by targeting tight muscles and knots with its Distrodensity zones. Plus, it is compact and durable.

    Hyperice Vyper Go

    Behold the roller of all rollers! Power meets portability for on-the-go wellness. Energise your body with its compact, vibrating design, perfect for home or travel self-care routines. More

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    10 Super-Cool And Inspirational Fit Moms You Need To Follow On Instagram

    When you’re doing the most just to keep your new little human alive, it’s a winning day when you find time to wash your hair. As for exercise? Healthy eating? Leaving the house? This is what dreams are made of.  Well, these fit moms are proof that there is hope. Follow them on Instagram for fun ways to incorporate baba into your healthy lifestyle, post-baby workouts and, most importantly, to remind yourself that you’re not alone in this strange, new world.

    1. Takkies


    SA’s queen of sass and self-love shares heartwarming videos featuring her adorable daughters. Trust us, these kiddos are natural-born co-stars (following in their mom’s dancing shoes)! Follow Takkies for a dose of positivity and some delightful family moments.

    2. Abbi McDuling


    The mama we just can’t get enough of! She’s all about prioritising self-love and embarking on a journey every mom can relate to. As she puts it, “My body will NEVER be the same again & neither would I want it to be because these changes have transformed me into a mother & given me my beautiful baby boy.”

    3. Uleen Fourie


    Uleen is a health coach, a soon-to-be mom of two and the co-founder of Health-e App. Juggling motherhood and fitness like a pro, her feed is loaded with quick workout videos and time-saving healthy food ideas. Need pregnancy fitness tips? She’s got those too! Plus, Uleen keeps it real about the ups and downs of motherhood.

    READ MORE: Hey New Mom — These Products Will Change Your Life

    4. Daniella Lagerwey


    Daniella is all about pregnancy and postpartum workouts, guiding women on their healthy living journey. With her easy-to-follow workouts, she offers great advice and shares mouthwatering recipes to keep you on track.

    5. Kayla Itsines


    With a whopping follower base of over 15 million, chances are you’re already following Kayla Itsines. This fit mama’s account covers it all: high-intensity, strength, pregnancy, post-pregnancy and low-impact workouts.

    6. Caley Jäck


    Former WH cover star Caley Jäck is not just a mom of two, but also the ultimate #bodygoals! Check out her Instagram for workout videos featuring her adorable ‘babas’. As she mentioned in one of her posts, “I want my girls to love physical movement as they grow up, to have a healthy relationship with exercise and food and to have it built into their daily lives.” Follow Caley for some inspiring workouts and heartfelt messages about fostering a healthy lifestyle for the next gen.

    READ MORE: Caley Jäck’s Simple Formula For Sticking To A Healthy Lifestyle

    7. Raeesa Solwa


    We’re totally inspired by this Durban-based biokineticist and running coach’s workouts. While her kids are all grown up now, her older content is packed with bright ideas for working out safely with a bump on board and the road to recovery.

    8. Rachel Brathen


    If you’re looking for a dose of calm and inspiration in your feed, Rachel Brathen, also known as Yoga Girl, is a must-follow. With her soothing yoga flows, candid reflections on motherhood and glimpses into her daily life, Rachel offers a sanctuary of mindfulness and positivity.

    9. Emily Skye


    For every reward that comes with being a new mom, there’s also a boatload of struggle and self-doubt – which is why it’s so comforting to see Emily talk openly about issues like her postpartum depression, how much work really goes into shedding the baby weight in a healthy way and some of the totally gross “joys” of motherhood that no one usually talks about.

    READ MORE: Here’s How To Actually Practise Mindfulness And Unlock Inner Peace

    10. Meg Lagerwey


    Finding time for a well-balanced meal might feel daunting, but look to Meg, mama of two, for healthy and nutritious meals the entire family can enjoy. As a certified wellness and nutrition coach, she’s passionate about gut health and shares delicious, wholesome recipes that make eating well a pleasure. More