Just when you think you've gotten your hands on the best fitness gear or health food of the year, another tempting one comes along. Instead of trying them all, we did the work for you! Throughout 2013, we tested the best of the best, from shoes to sunscreen to snacks. Check out our top picks, and buy them for yourself now, or give them as gifts this holiday season. They'll be just as noteworthy in 2014; they're that good.
If you have a long holiday list to tackle, we're here to help you score the perfect find — without breaking the bank. We've rounded up 25 gifts, with selections for the runner, yogi, cyclist, and overall fitness freak. Your wallet will appreciate that all these finds are under $25.
It's hard to make your way through a yoga class without rising up into Warrior 1. This bold pose may be basic, but it's one of the most effective ways to tone your lower body. Want to get more out of it? Try these four techniques to sculpt your butt even more.
- Get low: Just as with squats and lunges, when you're hips aren't low enough, you're not taxing your butt and thigh muscles. Check your alignment to make sure your stance is wide enough to allow your pelvis and front knee to be in one line, with your front thigh parallel to the ground. Press into the outside edge of your front foot to prevent your knee from leaning in, and you'll really feel the outer area of the butt burning.
- Shift back: Your center of gravity is also important here. Lean too far forward and you'll not only be placing unnecessary pressure on your knee joint, but you'll also be working your thigh more than your butt. Be sure to lean your weight toward your back leg. Do this by pressing into the ball of the front foot — you might feel this in the front of your back thigh (hip flexor), but you'll also feel it in your seat.
- Mix it up: Since your body is used to the basic Warrior 1 position, it gets proficient at it. Mix things up with these variations — changing the positions of your arms and torso makes it more challenging for your lower body:
Burning Low Lunge
Open Rotated Warrior 1
If you're one of those eat-peanut-butter-straight-out-of-the-jar people, get your spoon ready for this recipe. While peanut butter is quite possibly one of the most perfect foods, even die-hard fans can get a little bored of the same old spread. Surprise your whole wheat toast and apple slices by spreading this mixed nut butter instead.
This homemade version will really rock your PB-loving world because it actually contains no peanuts at all. It's made with almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds, creating a taste so fresh and unique that you'll never buy another jar from the store again. But it doesn't stop here — since there are so many different nuts and seeds to choose from, the possibilities of mixed nut butter creations are as wild as your imagination.
Keep reading for this simple 94-calorie recipe.
If you only have a short window to spare for a midday workout, try this challenging 20-minute treadmill routine. Beyond switching up the speed every two minutes, you'll also be changing the incline, which challenges the body to work even harder. Even after this short cardio session, you'll feel light, energized, and ready to power through the rest of your day. Keep reading for the 20-minute plan.
"Stay hydrated" is one of my most-loved health mantras, and a functional water bottle is a great gift for nearly everyone on your holiday shopping list. Whether you're perusing presents for a fitness buff, a friend looking to improve their health in 2014, or anyone who loves a good pop of color, click through all these options, and start checking friends and family off your list.
Squats — you love 'em, you hate 'em, or you love to hate 'em. In any case, they are a simple, effective, and versatile move to have in your workout arsenal. Squats work your entire lower body: calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, and lower back. They help prevent injuries caused by imbalance or overuse, and they also help with your balance. Whether you are new to the squat world or are bored with your normal workout, here are seven squat variations to add to your routine.
— Additional reporting by Leta Shy
- Diet and exercise tips to rev up your metabolism — Fitness
- Why guilt is bad for weight loss — HuffPost Healthy Living
- Snoring stops now! — Real Simple
- Football-inspired butt-sculpting moves — Self
- Do this first when you get to the gym — Women's Health
- What to make for breakfast: blueberry chia pudding parfait — Healthy Happy Life
- How holiday cocktails sabotage your skin — POPSUGAR Beauty
- Why 1965 women could eat 200 more calories than you — Blisstree
- 5 reasons it's OK to skip that workout — Health
Ideally, there would always be time to cook a fresh, balanced supper every night, but life doesn't always work that way. Steer clear of dialing for overpriced, overindulgent takeout on busy evenings, and keep a handful of frozen dinners tucked away in your freezer for the nights you really need them. Check out this video to see the three light and tasty options I always have on hand.
If you're a fan of exercises that work your body without machines, weights, or equipment, try doing mountain climbers! A POPSUGAR Fitness favorite, this exercise works the lower body and the core and is a great form of cardio. Learn how to do the complete move below.
- Start in a traditional plank — shoulders over hands and weight on just your toes.
- With your core engaged, bring your right knee forward under your chest, with the toes just off the ground. Return to your basic plank. Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward.
- Keep switching legs and begin to pick up the pace until it feels a little like running in place in a plank position.
- Continue "running" in your plank for one minute.
Fit tip: For a stint of cardio during weight workouts, use this exercise as an active break in between exercises or reps.