Grab a set of five-pound dumbbells and take five minutes to sculpt some seriously sexy arms! This quickie workout, created by celebrity trainer Astrid McGuire, will burn out your biceps and triceps and prep your arms for the little black dress.
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 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
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.
If you're trying to get a friend or relative to hop on board the healthy train, you want to be sure not to overstep your boundary and give a gift that could potentially offend. A fitness DVD titled Cardio For the Overweight will definitely send the message that you think they need to lose weight — not exactly spreading holiday cheer, are we?
You just want to offer a healthy gift in a way that's thoughtful, sensitive, and effective. Here are some picks that are sure to inspire a healthy lifestyle without offending the receiver.
If you're forgoing the comfortable temperatures of your gym this Winter, that can mean dealing with a lot of snow, ice, hail, rain, and sleet. Winter running has just as many challenges as running in extreme heat, but with the right gear, you'll stay warm, dry, and comfortable.
Your comfort level depends on many factors, including how fast you're running, how comfortable you are in the cold, and how long your run is, so your perfect Winter outfit may differ. However, below are good rules of thumb for dressing for Winter running, whether it's in snowy, freezing conditions or slighter warmer temps.
When It's 32 Degrees or Below
- Start off with a wicking bra and a wicking tank. We love Ibex sports tops since they are made of comfy, breathable, and natural merino wool.
- Pull on a long-sleeved midweight baselayer shirt made from either nonitchy merino wool or polyester.
- Slip on wicking socks that go up to your knees to keep your calves warm. Lightweight ski socks do just the trick; many, like these Smartwool PhD Snowboard Light socks ($24), are made of a natural and synthetic blend that keeps your toes warm without too much bulk.
- Wear warm running tights on your legs. Try these Under Armour cold-weather compression leggings ($50).
- Over the long-sleeved shirt, wear a fitted, wind-stopping softshell like this one from Cloudveil ($200).
- Running gloves or liners will protect your hands.
- Wear a lightweight hat so your head doesn't get too sweaty.
- On cold days, wear a fleece neck warmer. It will keep your neck and chin warm while also helping to prevent burning lungs.
- Facial sunscreen and lip balm with SPF are both musts, as are sunglasses to protect your eyes. Snow reflects the sun's harmful UV rays, and the light bouncing off the snow can be blinding.
- Water-resistant but breathable running shoes help make snowy or rainy conditions bearable for your feet. These Pearl Izumi Seek IV WRX trail-running shoes ($130) are made just for bad Winter weather. Wearing gaiters over your calves will keep your ankles and legs dry when the snow is deep.
- When it's icy, slip on a set of Yaktrax Run straps ($40) on your running shoes to give you more traction and prevent slipping on hard snow or ice.
When It's Above 32 Degrees
If temperatures are chilly where you live but haven't hit that freezing mark, you still need to dress for the weather. But while all of the above are Winter essentials in snow country, layering that much on your body in 40-degree weather can lead to a sweaty, uncomfortable run. Dressing like it's 20 degrees warmer than it is will help ensure you don't over-layer. With that said, here are some guidelines for those (relatively) warmer Winter runs.
- Dress in layers, but leave out the insulating middle layer. Depending on the temperature, you may want to stick with a thin moisture-wicking shirt (go for short-sleeved if you are running for a long time and temperatures are 40 degrees or higher) and lightweight zippered jacket that you can easily take off when your body temperature rises. Look for a thin waterproof windbreaker with vents to keep you dry and comfortable if it's raining, and choose a jacket with zippered pockets as well to stash any headgear or gloves when you warm up.
- If it's windy, you probably will need running tights to help insulate your legs from the chill. If there's not a lot of wind, regular fast-drying pants should work.
- If you find that hats trap too much heat while you run in warmer Winter weather, look for ear-covering headbands that keep your ears warm while preventing overheating.
- Rainy winters call for shoes that protect your feet, so look for shoes that have as little mesh as possible for your wet Winter runs. Trail runners work perfectly; just be sure to wear noncotton moisture-wicking socks and avoid puddles as much as possible.
- Gloves are still important in above-freezing temperatures, since cold weather can chill your extremities and cause discomfort while you run. Go for thin, wind-resistant gloves without the bulk, and stash them in your pockets after you warm up.
- Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF are still a good idea, even if you're running under cloudy skies. The sun's UV rays can pass through clouds.
Have any tips to add? Share them with us!
—Additional reporting by Jenny Sugar