Properly Train The Glutes To Increase Performance, Bulletproof Pain and Look Damn Sexy

We have another great article from guest coach Meghan Callaway today centered around one of the most important aspects of the human body not only for performance, but also injury prevention and pain management. It’s all about the glutes!

No matter who you are, building a strong and functional set of glutes is the single best thing you can prioritize in your training that will positively affect all aspects of your life. Sounds so simple right? Just jump on the glute machine and go to town! Not so fast.

Here’s how to properly assess your glutes and target them with effective training that will produce results!

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW…

-The glutes are arguably the most important set of muscles in the human body for performance, injury prevention and having a powerful looking booty. And yes, they are great to gawk at as well.

-The problem with traditional glute training can be complicated, but programming properly breaking glute movements down into four categories to target all unique movements can build a strong and powerful backside.

-Use these exercises to generate deep activation of the glutes that are capable of improving your posture, increasing athletic performance, bulletproofing your lower back, knees and hips and will work to burn more fat over time.


GOT GLUTES? PROBABLY NOT

It’s no secret that most people of all ages and genders desire strong, developed, and statuesque looking glutes. Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to go about achieving this. Most women waste valuable time performing hundreds of reps of ineffective ”toning” exercises and achieve little to nothing in the process. Most men neglect training their glutes altogether, and others believe the unfortunate myth that squats and deadlifts are enough to target the glutes.

While strong, hard, and shapely glutes are aesthetically pleasing and are a sign of athletic prowess, it is extremely important to note that strong and highly functioning glutes play an instrumental role in achieving and maintaining optimal posture/alignment, full body aesthetics including a lean and muscular body, joint and muscular health, athletic performance, and the ability to perform the most basic everyday tasks.

Because the glutes are such a large muscle group (the glute maximus is the largest and most powerful muscle in the human body), they have a tremendous influence on the body. The glutes are referred to as the ‘’master muscle group’’ as they are the pillar of strength and stability for the entire body. Underperforming glutes will wreak havoc on overall health, performance, and aesthetics. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete, bodybuilder, or average person, having strong glutes is absolutely vital. Unfortunately, most people, including elite athletes, have pathetically weak and underperforming glutes.

Lets dispel some glute training myths, break down the unique anatomy and actions of this powerhouse muscle group and how to target them most effectively for aesthetics, performance and functionality including video and written tutorials.

FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY OF THE GLUTEAL COMPLEX

The gluteal complex is comprised of three muscles working individually but also synergistically in the posterior lateral hip compartment; glute maximus, glute medius, and glute minimus.

The glute maximus is the largest muscle in the human body, and is the most superficial of the muscles in the hip. It originates at the ilium, lumbar fascia, sacrum, and the sacrotuberous ligament, and inserts at the gluteal tuberosity of the femur, and the iliotibial tract. The glute maximus is an extremely influential muscle, and a very powerful hip extensor. It also assists in the abduction and external rotation of the femur, and the stabilization of the knee.

The glute medius is a much smaller muscle both in cross sectional area and thickness when compared to the gluteus maximus. It originates at the outer surface of the ilium between the posterior and middle gluteal lines, underneath the glute maximus, and inserts at the greater trochanter of the femur.

The glute minimus is the smallest muscle of the group and also the deepest. It originates at the outer surface of the ilium between the middle and inferior gluteal lines, and inserts at the greater trochanter of the femur.

While the glute medius and glute minimus muscles are not the largest muscles, they are incredibly influential, and their importance cannot be underestimated. Due to similar anatomical location, they both play similar roles, so I will describe their actions and functions together. The medius and minimus are the main stabilizers of the pelvis and femur, and externally rotate and abduct the femur. Both of these muscles are integral to the alignment of the hips, knees, and ankles, and feet, and are vital for injury prevention, overall performance, particularly in unilateral activities and exercises.

THE SYNERGISTIC FUNCTION OF THE GLUTES

While the glutes are most well known for creating huge amounts of force, especially into hip extension in such things like sprinting and jumping, there are many benefits to training this muscle group both directly and indirectly to enhance fuction, posture, injury prevention and even some aesthetics gains.

The glute muscles play a vital role in maintaining proper posture. When it comes to movement and biomechanics, athletic performance, aesthetics, injury prevention, and even mood, the glutes are extremely important and influential. Poorly functioning glutes can lead to a cataclysmic effect of misalignment and dysfunction throughout the entire body.

One common postural issue that plagues a huge percentage of the population is an excessive anterior pelvic tilt. When there is an anterior tilt, the pelvis will be tilted forward, the lower back will have an excessive curve, and the abdomen will protrude. A huge amount of the population spends the bulk of their time in a seated position. This will cause the muscles in the anterior hip and leg to tighten and shorten, and the muscles in the posterior hip to be inhibited. Tight hip flexors will prevent people from being able to hyperextend their hips, and activate their glutes to their full potential, or anywhere near.

COMMON PATHOLOGY ASSOCIATED WITH DYSFUNCTIONAL GLUTES

It doesn’t matter how strong, athletic, or ‘’fit looking’’ a person is. If they have weak or inhibited glutes, it will ultimately come back and bite them in the butt, pun intended. Some of the most common issues that stem from weak glutes include a number of different pathologies throughout the body.

One of the most prominent dysfunctions associated with weak and deactivated glutes is lower back pain. When the glutes are weak or inhibited, the muscles in the anterior side of the hip, particularly the psoas muscles, tighten up to provide the pelvis and spine with the stability that it is lacking. It is important to note, the psoas originates at the thoracic 12 vertebrae and goes all the down the lumbar vertebrae from the L1 to L5 vertebrae, and it inserts on the femur. When the psoas becomes overactive to compensate for the weak glutes, compression of the spine can occur, or the vertebrae can be pulled out of alignment, both of which can lead to back pain.

Back issues can also arise during everyday activities, or during sports where people are required to rotate, hyperflex, hyperextend, and so forth. Unfortunately, when the glutes are weak or inhibited, and when the stability in the pelvis and spine is absent, they will compensate by over-rotating their lumbar spine, or by hyperflexing or hyperextending it. This can result in a muscle strain, or injury to an intervertebral disc.

One of the most common sites of injuries in it’s own, knee pain can also be attributed to low performing glutes. During all movements, the kneecap should remain in line with the femur, shin, ankle, and foot. However, when people have weak glutes, particularly the glute medius, it is very common for knee tracking issues to occur. For example, when the tensor fascia lata (TFL) becomes overactive, because it attaches to the iliotibial band (ITB), the kneecap will be pulled laterally, which can lead to knee tracking issues, subsequent inflammation, and long-term damage to the joint if it is not addressed. Patella-femoral syndrome, a condition that plagues an abundance of people, is one of many issues that can be caused by weak glutes.

Anterior cruciate ligament and other ligament/tendon tears can also be predisposed due to a dysfunctional gluteal complex. When one or many joints in the body are not stable, and the body is not in optimal alignment, people will be at a much higher risk, especially when they participate in activities where they have to run, jump, land, and change direction quickly.

Chronically ‘’tight’’ hamstrings that lack both mobility and strength often times are associated with gluteal dysfunction, and rightfully so. When the glutes are weak, an individual might present with an anteriorly tilted pelvis. As a result of this pelvic tilt, their hamstrings will be in a permanently lengthened state and will make them feel tight. Just like fixating on rolling the IT band, many people devote a lot of time stretching their hamstrings. In many instances, this can do more harm than good, especially if their hamstrings are not legitimately tight. And speaking of over stretching highly immobile structures like the hamstring, this act of self-maintenance can predispose muscular issues such as muscle strains and syndromes associated with ancillary muscles off the gluteal group.

Dysfunctional glutes can play a roll in many muscles becoming extremely overactive to provide the pelvis and femur with the stability that it is lacking. This can result in an extreme muscle tightness, and will make people more vulnerable to muscle strains. The hamstrings, quadriceps and adductors are particularly susceptible.

From long term immobility and dysfunction at the musculature of the hip complex, pathology like the generalized piriformis syndrome is found at increased rates. When the glute medius muscle is deactivated and the pelvis is unstable, the piriformis muscle along with the deep group of femoral rotators, muscles that is located deep in the buttock behind the glute maximus, will have to work overtime to stabilize the hip. This can lead to piriformis syndrome, which is literally a pain in the butt and can cause symptoms that are similar to sciatica.

Finally, problems in the lower leg and foot are commonly found when gluteal function is below par. When the glute medius and minimus muscles are weak, people will often experience poor alignment in their knees, ankles, and feet. As a result, they will not have proper gait and will often pronate. This can result in Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, ankle sprains, and other issues in the lower leg and foot.

ENHANCE PERFORMANCE WITH GLUTE SPECIFIC TRAINING

The glutes, the pillar of strength and stability that are required for athletic performance, work in conjunction with other muscles to provide the body with stability, power, and the ability to move in a lateral and vertical plane, and often at speed. Strong and highly functioning glutes will make or break athletic performance and longevity. Unfortunately, many athletes have pitifully weak glutes. Because the body is the master compensator, they might be able to get away with it for awhile. Eventually, it will catch up to them and they will suffer from a drop in performance, injury, or both.

When it comes to running, jumping, squatting, kicking, throwing, striding, changing direction, pivoting, striding, rotating, or twisting, having strong glutes is paramount. In order to generate the maximal amount of power and precision possible in the upper and lower body and to perform sports specific movements, the pelvis and spine need to be stable, as do the rest of the joints in the body.

In the weight room and on the field, having strong and highly functioning glutes will enable gym-goers to maximize their ability to perform upper body, lower body, and full body exercises that are both bilateral and unilateral in nature. Strong glutes will stabilize the pelvis and spine, and will help keep the rest of the body in proper alignment. This will allow them to generate more force with their entire body, and do so safely.

Because the glute maximus is the largest muscle in the human body, the gluteal muscles are extremely influential when it comes to fat loss and overall body composition. Exercises that utilize larger muscle groups boost the metabolism significantly more than exercises that only involve smaller muscles/muscle groups. In addition to this, having strong and highly functioning glutes will enhance overall athletic performance and the ability to perform more advanced exercises for the entire body, and with more resistance/intensity.

This will help gym-goers add muscle and turn their body into a fat burning machine, and achieve their ideal body composition. Also, because strong glutes are so instrumental in preventing injuries and dysfunction, they will decrease the likelihood that missed workouts or a drop in performance will occur, which also has obvious aesthetic benefits. Consistency breeds success, and having strong glutes will make this possible.

THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL GLUTE TRAINING

For being such a pivotal muscle group to train and train correctly in terms of performance enhancement, injury prevention along with filling out a pair of jeans, there are some major pitfalls when it comes to the average programming and execution of glute targeted work.

The most common mistake I see in glute training is undertraining and under emphasizing the importance of direct glute work. Unfortunately some people, largely the male population, do not train their glutes at all. Their neglected gluteal region will dramatically impact the shape of their lower body, will negatively impact their performance, and the overall health of their body. Others believe that squats and deadlifts are sufficient for glute strength and development. All of those ridiculous ”she squats bro” comments or pictures further perpetuate this myth. While squats and deadlifts are great exercises, they are not the best options for strengthening and developing the glutes, and that clearly shows in the physiques of many.

On the flip side, overtraining the glutes can do some gnarly things to ones performance and posture. Some people, largely the female population, make the mistake of training their glutes too frequently. In order to achieve maximal results, exercises need to be performed with heavy resistance, or with a lighter resistance and an extremely high level of activation. An overtrained body will not be fresh, will not be able to lift a maximal load, and will not be able to utilize the muscles to the same degree.

To expand on the lighter resistance plague in strength training, not using a resistance that is challenging can be a problem in itself. Unfortunately, females are the prime offenders. Many gym goers waste valuable time by performing hundreds of reps of ineffective 1980’s era toning exercises, for fear of getting bulky. This mindset prevents many females from achieving strong, developed, and highly functioning glutes. Glutes are strengthened and built by lifting, not by toning. While this is much more rare, using a resistance that is too challenging can cause problems as well. When people use a resistance that is too heavy, more often than not, it prevents them from using proper form and using the correct muscles, leading to lower levels of deep activation that not only leads to muscular growth, but also linking up segments of the kinetic chain.

Not locking out with the glutes in major compound movements can limit both tension development and training effect. While this is often the result of using a weight that is too heavy, it can also just be due to poor form and lack of awareness. During hip thrusts or deadlifts, many people make the mistake of locking out by hyperextending their lower back, instead of locking out by engaging the glutes. This common error will dramatically increase the likelihood of injury, particularly in the lower back, and will decrease their potential gains in strength, and overall development. Many people make the mistake of performing hip thrusts/glute bridges with the intention of targeting the glutes but feel their hamstrings. A knee position that is too angled will cause the hamstrings to take over, and at the expense of the glutes. Make sure that the shins are vertical.

For any movement, tension is king. Tension is something you need to feel to achieve fully. Not feeling the movement over time can become problematic. When it comes to the glutes, particularly the glute medius and minimus, they might be perhaps the best example of a muscle group where a mind muscle connection is crucial to engaging the right muscle and performing the exercise properly. Losing tension during band resisted glute exercises and virtually all glute exercises that are performed, it is crucial that tension is maintained the entire time. When the glutes lose tension, either due to lack of control, lack of focus, or laziness, the muscle will shut off, which defeats the purpose of the exercise.

EVALUATING AND ASSESSING GLUTE FUNCTION AND POSITION

There are a few ways to evaluate and assess the activation and functionality of the glutes that I use routinely.

First and most simply, a subjective evaluation needs to take place. While this might seem very basic, asking the person where they feel the exercise is very important and often shows whether or not they are using the right muscles. This will give you more feedback as a coach to improve the performance and experience of your client.

When in doubt after coaching up a movement, palpate. When I perform a glute exercise, or if I am with a client, with their permission, I will occasionally palpate their muscle and feel that it is working. We want a strongly contracted glute. Palpate yourself, then be sure to have your client palpate as well to learn what that type of tension is supposed to feel like.

The single leg stance test is a great tool to assess lateral hip integrity. In this test, an individual stands on one foot and you monitor their posture and deviation. If their pelvis on the opposite side collapses, and if the hip on the same side of the planted leg juts out, it indicates that the glute medius on the planted side is weak. While this is a bit oversimplified, for a majority of the population that is presenting with dysfunctional glutes, the interventions will remain the same. Ideally, the pelvis should remain perfectly level the entire time.

TARGETING THE GLUTES THROUGH MOVEMENT

I categorize my glute exercises into four groupings; hip extension movements, hip hyperextension movements, hip abduction movements and hip external rotation movements.

Hip extension exercises are typically performed in a standing position, and replicate jumping. The glute maximus is the most powerful hip extensor. Some examples of hip extension exercises include: squats, deadlifts, split squats, step-ups, lunges, skater squats.

Skater Squats

This is an extremely underrated exercise as it really targets the glutes and quads. This exercise is much tougher than it looks as it requires stability, strength and mobility.

To perform: Start with just bodyweight, as you will be shocked at how challenging this exercise is. Once you are comfortable with your form, add weight. Stand on one foot, take a deep breath into your belly and surround your spine with air (360 degrees of air), brace your core, and extend the other leg back as if you were to do a reverse lunge, but take three full seconds to lower yourself down. You can stride back with your rear leg (hence the name skater squat) or keep it bent at about 90 degrees. Keep all of your weight over the back of the front foot, but keep your toes down and spread (will give you more stability). The key is to lower yourself down in a controlled manner and remain stable. Your knee should never deviate medially or laterally. This will likely take some practice, but once you are able to achieve this, your glutes and quads of the front leg will be working big time. Now repeat with the opposite leg.

Hip hyperextension exercises are typically performed in a prone, supine, or quadruped position, and can be done with both bent and straight knees. They replicate sprinting. Some examples of hip hyperextension exercises include: hip thrusts, glute bridges, pull-throughs, glute hamstring raises, back extensions, reverse hyperextensions, and bird dogs.

Weighted Band Pull-Throughs

To perform this exercise: Fasten a relatively thick resistance band around a secure pole. The band should be between shin to knee height. Before you go, take a deep breath into your belly and surround your spine with air (360 degrees of air), brace your core, screw your arms into your armpits, and hinge your hips back. Return to the top by driving through the back of your feet and squeezing your glutes/hamstrings. Lock out by squeezing your glutes, screwing your arms into your sides (pretend that you are crushing something in your armpits) and bracing your core, not by hyperextending your back. When this exercise feels comfortable, you can increase the intensity by using a band with more resistance, and also holding onto an additional weight.

Hip abduction exercises can be done in a standing, seated, or side lying position, or supine position, and involve moving the femur away from the midline of the body. The glute medius and minimus are the prime hip abductors, but the glute maximus also assists in this movement. Some examples of hip abduction exercises include: seated abduction, standing abduction, side lying abduction (wall slides), static single leg glute bridge with abduction.

Seated Band Abduction

To perform: This exercise can be done in a seated position, or in a supine position. In both, make sure that your shins are in a vertical position. Place a resistance band just above your knees. Use your glutes to abduct your legs, and use them to control your legs as they close. There should be tension in the band the entire time, and the knees should always remain in line with the feet. Keep your core braced, and legs relaxed or else they will overpower the glutes. You should feel your glute medius and minimus. I like to keep a finger on my glute medius and occasionally palpate it as this increases the level of activation.

Hip external rotation exercises can be done in a standing, seated, side lying, or supine position, and involve moving the femur away from the midline of the body. The glute medius and minimus are the prime hip external rotators, but the glute maximus also assists in this movement.

Side Lying Clamshell

I know, I know! This movement has gotten a bad rep in half assed physical therapy programming, but this is my favourite external rotation exercise for the glutes, and is the perfect example of an exercises that is significantly tougher than it looks. It can be done with or without band resistance and is extremely effective.

To perform: Place a resistance band just above your knees and lie on your side. Bend both knees and stack one foot on top of the other. Use your glutes to externally rotate your leg, and use them to control your leg as they come together. Keep tension in the band the entire time and do not allow your knees to come together. Keep your core braced, and legs relaxed or else they will overpower the glutes. You should feel your glute medius and minimus. I like to keep a finger on my glute medius and occasionally palpate it as this increases the level of activation.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that I have provided you with an extensive background on the gluteus muscles and their functions, in a future article (Part II), I will go into great depth about the three phases of glute training, will detail many more of my favourite glute exercises, and will discuss how to include them as part of an effective workout program. I will also talk about sprinting. Until then, evaluate your own glute function and programming methods and start implementing a few targeted movements for the glutes that will address some of your weakest points.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Meghan Callaway is a prominent personal trainer in Western Canada with over 12 years of training experience coaching in the trenches. Growing up as a multi-sport athlete competing in soccer, ice hockey and baseball, Meghan took her athletic prowess to the University of British Columbia and completed her degree in Human Kinetics.

Meghan currently works with an impressively wide array of clients, ranging from the elite athlete to post-physical therapy rehabilitation and strength training and many average fitness client looking to feel and function better everywhere between. She teaches and coaches every one of her clients with the goal of helping them perform, feel and look their very best by laying down a properly aligned foundation for every client.

With a unquenchable thirst for learning about the human body and movement, Meghan spends her time broadening her knowledge base as a trainer and coach, and truly practices what she preaches in her own fitness and life.

Learn more about Meghan on her:

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How to Instantly Build Confidence, Backed By Science.

Confidence. Can it be developed?

It’s one of the most desirable traits when it comes to finding a partner, one of the most desirable traits when it comes to employment, and a hell of a way to make a positive first impression.

I’m sure you can conjure up someone you think of as “confident.”

  • James Bond’s uncanny ability to stay calm, cool, and collected under pressure, and then utter a perfectly timed and witty catchphrase.
  • That female friend of yours who can strike up a conversation with anybody and everybody, making them feel like they’ve found a new best friend within minutes.
  • Your buddy who has quickly advanced through a company, and just seems to have “it.”

Whether you’re young or old, gay or straight, male or female, human or cyborg, confidence will make your life better!

Can confidence be built, or is it outside of our control?

Today, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about confidence, and how you can quickly implement a few tactics to kickstart your leveling up.

what is confidence?

Steve Fitness Skeptic Goggles

Before I dig into how to improve your confidence, I want to talk about what it really is.

I’m NOT talking about the guy who focuses on building six-pack abs and big biceps, who attends seduction classes, follows word-for-word scripts and approach techniques to hit on people, makes sure to get a pump before walking out the door. This dude often lacks a base level of confidence and self-respect, and is approaching confidence building from the wrong angle; his strategy is a house of cards to cover up a level of insecurity.

Real confidence is about being true to who you are (and being excited about it!). Think of your friend who acts completely differently depending on who she might be trying to impress, even if the person they’re pretending to be doesn’t line up with who they really are (or want to be).

The late Mitch Hedberg said it best: “If you stand in the meat section at the grocery store long enough, you start to get mad at turkeys. There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna, turkey pastrami. Someone needs to tell the turkey, ‘man, just be yourself.’”

So, we want to practice the type of confidence that is built around knowing who you are as a person and understanding what’s important – like Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, one of the greatest characters on one of the best shows out there.

Ron is known for the hilariously awesome credo and code that he lives by:

This pyramid guides his decision making process, even if some of it is unpopular or “uncool.” Tom Haverford on Parks and Rec, on the other hand is the antithesis of this.

He’s chasing tactics to be ‘confident’ but for the wrong reasons:

Ron’s quiet confidence and steadfast conviction to who he is as a person makes him great, and why the racoon hat works for him when it failed as a tactic for Tom.

In the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, this is the type of confidence we seek: not necessarily changing who we are to impress people, but rather staying true to who we are as we level up our lives. We are all works in progress, but we also need to have self-respect: that we are worthy as partners, friends, co-workers, and people. We accept where we’re at currently, but we work every day on self-improvement.

As Henry Rollins says: “I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect.”

So, while we level up, we can use the tactics in this article to enhance ourselves and make sure we are presenting our best possible selves to the real world. I want you to think about the type of confidence you’re trying to develop, even if you don’t have it quite yet:

The quiet confidence of somebody who commands respect?

The boisterous person that walks in the room and instantly everybody wants to become best friends with?

The lovable goofball that doesn’t take herself too seriously?

Once we know the type of person we’re working towards becoming, we can apply the information below to help us level up until we reach that goal.

Stand up straight, get big, Move confidently!

personality

Did you know that sitting a certain way for just a few minutes before a date or interview can greatly boost your chances of success in the encounter?

How crazy is that!? Seriously. Just by changing your posture you can physiologically develop more confidence within minutes. That’s right. Not just “appear” more confident, but actually BE more confident, based on how you are standing or sitting.

That’s like a free power-up!

How we are treated and how how we treat ourselves is mostly dependent on our non-verbal communication – how we stand, how we walk, how we look, and so on. Once we understand these things, we can hack our body language to improve our confidence subconsciously.

As Amy Cuddy points out in her TED Talk, our bodies can literally change our minds:

What Amy is saying: if you are trying to become more confident instantly, adopting a power pose for just a few seconds can change how you feel and act.

By adopting a power pose before entering a tense situation, you will subconsciously adjust how your brain responds. As the aforementioned study points out:

“High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.

In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes.”

Another study in the European Journal of Psychology examined people’s self-confidence based on posture:

The applicants who were slumped over had lower self-confidence, as expressed by their answers, than those who sat up straight. This research shows that whether you sit up straight at your desk or slump in your chair impacts the chemicals produced in your brain, which, in turn, affect what goes on in your mind.

So how do we use this to our advantage? Before you enter any situation when you need confidence and courage (going out to a bar, asking for a raise, asking somebody out over the phone)…adapt a power pose for a few moments beforehand!

Here are some examples of power poses that you can use throughout the night, before you go out, and when you want to openly display your confidence:

  • Hands raised above head in victory pose
  • Hands on hips like Superman or Wonder Woman
  • Legs crossed, hands behind head
  • Sprawled out across a seat

Strike these poses and set yourself up to succeed. Practice in a stairwell, in your cubicle, in a bathroom stall, or while looking in a mirror; just do it whenever you need a quick burst of confidence before entering the challenging situation.

take pride in your appearance

tie

In addition to how we stand and walk, how we dress can drastically influence our levels of confidence as well.

Yup. How you dress can ACTUALLY boost how confident you are, in addition to how people will treat you (which in turn then affects your confidence even further!)

Two things happen when you wear clothes that present you in the best possible light:

  • You treat yourself differently, and become more confident in the right clothing.
  • You will be treated differently by people. Jaywalk while wearing a suit, for example, and people will be 350% more likely to follow you than if you wore a t-shirt.

So, by putting on the right kind (or properly fitting clothing), we can change how we view ourselves, in addition to how others view us: setting us up doubly for a confidence super boost.

As pointed out in a recent New York Times article, studies have shown that you can trick your brain based on what you are wearing, which is referred to as “enclothed cognition.” When you dress in a certain way, you can trick your brain into changing how you react to certain situations, or adjust how much confidence you have.

What about how other people treat you? I can hear you thinking (I have superpowers): “I just wear what’s comfortable, and if people judge me for it, that’s their problem.” We’ve all said the above when we’ve been treated in a way we’re not happy about, or when somebody didn’t take the time to get to know us. As nerds, it’s like it’s built into our DNA: “how dare that person not respect me for me, regardless of my appearance.”

The truth: 99.9999% of people will never get to know the real you. They can only go off what they see and subconsciously process that about you within fractions of a second. So, being more confident starts by dressing the part, and how you dress can affect the outcome of an interaction:

Experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually.”

So how does one start to dress better, to get both benefits of changing how you view yourself and how others view you? Guys – if you’ve ever worn a perfectly tailored suit for a wedding, or ladies, a dress that made you feel like a superstar, you know what I mean.

Depending on your style, that might be dressing like a musician, or in a suit, or in jeans and a tee shirt – it comes down to fit and how good YOU feel in those clothes! After all:

“What about suits and ties? “If you associate those clothes with power and confidence, it’s going to have a huge impact [on subconsciously making you act more powerful and confident],” he says. “But for some people, wearing suits makes them feel like a phony, as Holden Caulfield would say. So it’s really about what the symbolic meaning of the clothes is to the person.”

So, it all comes back to YOU being YOU, and dressing in a way that accentuates that. Dress the part for the type of confidence you WANT to exude, and your body will respond in kind.

Making a Great First Impression

Level Up Social Skills

Okay! We’ve prepared, but now we’re going out into the wild!

Social interaction can be a HUGE challenge for many, and even the most confident looking person can fall apart as soon as they encounter another human. So how can we set ourselves up to win before we even start to speak?

Here are the two most important tips, backed by science, that will make you appear more confident and can help you on dates, interviews, or any other social interaction:

1) Smile, fool! People will respond to the emotions you project. If you are projecting “I am happy and fun,” they will subconsciously want to be happy too. The best way to trick your brain into being happy and fun is to start with a smile. As this study and this study point out, smiling can make you happier, and change how you think and feel about yourself.

2) Eye contact. This is challenging, as it makes most people feel incredibly awkward. Do you walk around looking down at the ground, avoiding eye contact with others? Or if you happen to lock eyes with somebody, do you quickly look away? Most of us do these things automatically, and it screams “I am insecure.” As you’re developing confidence, really focus on maintaining eye contact with people, as it can certainly affect how you are treated.

As Art of Manliness points out in this article on Eye Contact: “Numerous studies have shown that people who make higher-levels of eye contact with others are perceived as being:

  • More dominant and powerful
  • More warm and personable
  • More attractive and likeable
  • More qualified, skilled, competent, and valuable
  • More trustworthy, honest, and sincere
  • More confident and emotionally stable

If you’re on a date or having an intense conversation with a boss, maintaining eye contact is a huge part of exuding strength, confidence, and self-respect.”

Try it today. While walking down the street, maintain eye contact with strangers as you walk by them. If they look at you, despite everything in your brain telling you to turn away, maintain your gaze! Try a smile, a brief head nod, and continue on your way.

Also, don’t forget to blink. You’re welcome :)

Fake it ’til you become it.

Jump

Along with everything above, there’s one last thing we can to do build confidence: Fake it!

There are many different kinds of confidence – think about the characters or people that you admire or people you respect and would like to emulate. Start by identifying the person you’d like to be more like, and emulate them.

As Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers, explains in this following video, ask yourself “how would a confident person act in this situation?” And then, act how that person would act.

It’s okay if it feels weird or it’s not how you would normally act – you’re acting. Like a scientist testing a hypothesis, you’re merely trying things out. This can help remove a lot of the fear of rejection or awkward situations:

Derek is a friend of mine, and I’ve witnessed him take over a room in New York City within five minutes simply through his actions, mannerisms, and voice; it was hilarious and inspiring. After he did this in multiple locations within an hour, I knew he had the code cracked…but I also know from our conversations that Derek wasn’t born confident – it was a skill he actively built and worked on over the years to improve.

I realize this might sound counterintuitive to what I’ve been explaining: how can faking it improve ACTUAL confidence (aka the true confidence we seek)? Just as how we stand or dress can physiologically change our brains, adopting certain “confident” traits can also physiologically change our brains – allowing us to exude the very confidence we’re trying to build! Just remember we are embodying and emulating the positive traits of the confident and charismatic people, and using those things to present our best selves.

I want you to try the following TODAY:

1) Wear clothes today that you feel DAMN good in, that fit your body type.

2) Before you head out in the wild, strike a power pose for 2 minutes.

3) When you walk, do so tall and proudly.

4) The next stranger you see (or coffee shop barista, waitress, receptionist, whoever), work on maintaining eye contact while smiling.

And then report back on how you were treated or how people responded compared to how you are normally treated! Did you carry yourself differently? If you who used to be shy and have actively improved your social confidence, do you have any tips for your fellow socially awkward Rebels?

-Steve

PS: Almost 2,000 Rebels joined Nerd Fitness Yoga last week, and it’s been awesome seeing so many people get started with yoga for the first time. If you missed out, take the free flexibility challenge and we’ll be opening doors again later on in 2015!

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photo source: walking on air: ryan claussen, Danbo’s Life: Carlo Ciccarelli, personality: vic

BLOGGING 101 ???

Fitness On Toast - Workspace ImagesGAP

Since I started blogging, I’ve repeatedly been questioned about how it all comes together to form a blog post. One of the most regular emails that lands in the Fitness On Toast inbox is from people who are setting off on their own exciting blog journeys, and are seeking ‘tips & tricks’. I can’t answer all of those, so this post is supposed to tackle exactly that; It’s 2.5 years worth of blogging experience distilled into a behind-the-scenes slither of insight, packaged as a ‘top-7’ post! Click MORE to read all 7 tips…

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Blogging isn’t all creamy lattes and pastel macaroons (yum!); far from it! You’re basically a mini media empire, condensed into one small body. Running a blog will practically expose you to some awesome skills; photography, videography, graphic design, copywriting, creative thinking, brand development, corporate communication, trend analysis, administration, accountancy etc. It can be overwhelming, but here are my top 10 observations about how to approach the discipline!

1. EXPRESS THE PASSION!

I only ever write on topics I’m truly passionate about; something on which I have a genuine and differentiated view. I think it’s important to be yourself, use your own voice when writing, because occasionally we encounter a blog where everything feels a bit ‘forced’, and there’s a distinct impression that what’s being written isn’t genuine. At that point, the fight is lost, and readers very quickly lose interest. Yes, much has been said before in the history of existence, but your own unique view, couched in your own authentic style of expression, can meaningfully advance the debate!

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2. PICTURES – A THOUSAND WORDS!

In 99.9% of my blog posts, I use my own imagery, and indeed across Instagram / Twitter too. My photographer and I each use a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera, usually equipped with a 50mm f 1.2 lens, which gives a fantastically versatile user experience, and a super high-quality result, every time. The reason I go to some lengths over the photographic component (often doubling the amount of time it takes to put a post together) is because I think that original imagery can really transform and lift the written content I’ve taken time to craft; it gives the opportunity to develop and create a unique ‘look and feel’ that represents your own blog, and complements your message. That aesthetic is hopefully identifiable for the reader, and it’s part of who I am!

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3. WORKSPACE IS EVERYTHING!

My blogging space is super important to me – it’s the one you see in the images throughout this post! I think that your ‘office’ has a huge, unconscious impact on the content you produce; if you’re surrounded by disorderly clutter, your posts may inadvertently feel the same! I use a dedicated room that’s got whitewashed walls, high ceilings, is bathed in plenty of natural light, has a huge whiteboard to help me manage workflow and ideas, has the right photographic and computer equipment to enable me to create the necessary content when I need it (which is really important, as you’re never waiting on someone else to deliver something that way!) – plus it has a good sound system which is crucial to while away long stints of writing! I discuss my blogging workspace in more detail HERE.

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4. LASER FOCUS!

Having a clear direction with your blog is super important, in my view. Even if it’s a ‘lifestyle blog’, which encompasses pretty much everything in the world, your reader should feel as though it’s your voice and indenting it as your style. Is it aspirational/inspirational/bohemian/vintage, and so forth. Not everyone will like it, but those who do will keep checking back in, as they might somehow relate to your content!

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5. WRITE LIKE A PRO

Whilst I’m not the grammar police and admittedly make mistakes left write & scenter (lol? no) – repeated, sloppy spelling mistakes are a turn-off. Even though it’s just me working on my content, I like to go over it time and again to ensure it can stand up to a robust challenge! It means that people should be happy to take your work seriously, to consider it professional, and it stops anything coming between your message and the reader’s unbiased consideration!

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6. ENGAGE & NETWORK!

Whether you’re left with 1 or 50 comments, try to reply and engage, because someone has taken the time not only to read the post, but was also moved enough by it to make a comment (unless it’s a bot, but you can spot them pretty quickly!). Similarly, it’s great to know those who are doing the same thing as you! I don’t think of my fellow bloggers as competition – the internet’s big enough for everyone, and all opinions can add value! I’m happy to share content, encourage and support other bloggers. Everyone has his/her unique style, and sharing opportunities means sharing readers and a chance to grow and engage the readership more!

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7. HONE YOUR SOCIAL SKILLS

There are so many social media platforms these days – to stay on top of them all is a full time job in itself. Having said that, I think it’s totally worth dedicating some regular time towards a few specific channels to start (as many as you can manage to do well), as it will help to broaden the reach of your message so that more people feel inclined to get involved! I joined Instagram fairly late but now find I love it – it’s intimidating at the start, but you soon lose that once you get into it! Your blog is all about sharing a message; to go so far as to write the blog, but then not to share it properly is like wrapping up presents and then never giving them to anyone…

Good luck with your own blog journey!! x

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THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY SIMPLY BUSINESS

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COURGETTE NOODLE DISH!

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette MAIN

GAPEarlier, whilst I was wandering through London’s beautiful Borough Market, the inspiration for this delicious and healthy little dish hit me! As part of my partnership with bPay which I announced last week, I ventured out free from the shackles of a bulky wallet (& bag in which to store it!) armed only with my bPay devices. A great way for me to buy fresh ingredients from some of the cute little independent stalls I like to visit in Borough. My favourite component of this recipe? The noodles are made from ‘spiralised’ courgette, and contain 5x less carbohydrate than their ‘pasta’ big brother, with just 20 calories per cup, and super immune boosting levels of Vitamin C – whilst being no less filling! Click MORE to get the full recipe, and discover the images from my trip to this gem of a market!

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-15GAP

GAPFitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-23GAP

The other major ingredient of this delicious dish is Chickpeas – a small, yet powerful legume with a seriously low-GI sugar constitution, whilst being high in fibre – great for digestion as well as helping to stabilise blood sugar levels! Also, a fab source of protein from the plant kingdom, which helps you to feel fuller for longer. Plus they’re a great source of iron, which we need for haemoglobin (to transport oxygen from the lungs to all other organs), and is part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. Full ingredients & how-to below…GAPFitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-2Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-4GAP

As I announced in a recent post, I’ve partnered with bPay to help them promote this fitness-friendly way of paying for goods whilst you’re mobile; I was excited to be involved because I think the bPay products remove the traditional bulky constraints of a wallet (& bag in which to carry it), replacing it with a pretty innovative and convenient cash solution. When I run, I often won’t have space in my compression pants for even a credit card; I might only have my phone with me, or it could be just my keys in my hand, not even a phone! The idea behind bPay is that you’ve always got a contactless way of paying for anything costing £20 and under – that emergency bottle of water, a banana for energy, a post-workout meal or juice etc. You simply set it up online, fund your bPay device (sticker / key fob / wristband) with an amount from your usual bank card (anyone with a UK-registered Visa or MasterCard can use them), set it to auto top-up if you want, and you’re good to pay wherever there’s a contactless symbol – without lugging your wallet around! You can pick yours up from Runner’s Need, HERE! Below is a picture of my haul from the Market, and the instructions to create the headline dish!

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-17GAP

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2):

1) 4- 5 medium zucchini (courgettes)

2) Handful of cherry tomatoes

3) 1 tbsp of Pine nuts

4) Sprinkle of chilli flakes

5) 1 pinch of pink himalayan salt

6) Handful of marinated artichokes

7) 1/2 cup of fresh olives

8) Extra virgin olive oil

9) 3 tablespoons pesto

10) 1 garlic clove

11) 1/2 finely chopped fresh chilli

12) 1/2 cup of chickpeas

13) 40 grams of feta cheese

14) Fresh rocket

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-19Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-18GAP

HOW TO:

1. Start by lightly frying the finely crushed garlic and chill over low heat for 3-5 minutes.

2. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, pine nuts and olives and fry for another 2 minutes.

3. Whilst frying, use a spiralizer or finely cut the courgettes by hand.

4. Finally, add the courgettes to the pan, throw in a dollop of pesto, and toss the contents for a minute or so to circulate the flavours.

5. Add the artichoke shortly after.

6. Finally, plate the fabulous meal, garnishing with some rocket, and sprinkle the chilli flakes / crumble the feta cheese on top.

7. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top.

8. Devour!

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-20Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-13Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-14Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-10Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-11Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-8Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-6Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-5Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-16Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-7Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Girl Healthy Recipe Nutrition BPay Barclays Borough Market Spaghetti Health Pasta Courgette-9______________________________

This is a sponsored piece of content, and a paid collaboration with bPay.
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Nerd Fitness Yoga is Now Available (Until Friday!)

Nerd Fitness Yoga is finally here!

After a year+ of planning, an intense week of filming back in February, and six months of development, we’re finally launching our first new product in almost two years!

Nerd Fitness Yoga is officially available for the next four days! This course has been designed from the beginning to help people of all ages, shapes, and sizes start improving their health and flexibility, with the same charm, corny humor, and quality you’ve come to expect.

If the initial reviews and excitement (see below!) are any indication, we’re off to a killer start!

In fact, last week we did an early launch to NF Academy members, and OVER 800 people have already joined the party!

I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve created as a team, and I’m so excited to share it with you today.

It’s been quite the ride to get here:

  • Nearly seven years ago, I started Nerd Fitness with a half-broken laptop hoping to help a few folks get fit.
  • Five years ago, I put out my first product, complete with videos filmed on an iPhone, in a playground with screaming children. It was ugly, but it got NF started!
  • With Nerd Fitness Yoga, we’ve leveled up our quality big time. We have hours of high quality footage, filmed in a studio that looks like a Super Mario Brothers level, and we’ve optimized the experience for viewing on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop).
  • All the videos can be streamed to any device, or downloaded to any device for viewing when you don’t have access to the internet!

Now, I’m not going to go through alllll of the benefits, features, and bonuses that come with Nerd Fitness Yoga, as all of that stuff is listed out in detail right here!

Yes, it will help you get more flexible. Yes, it will hold your hand through half a dozen yoga routines. Yes, it features some corny jokes by me. Yes, it is all done in a way that makes yoga approachable and fun.

Yes, I want you to check it out!

I will tell you that it was an absolute blast to film this stuff with Staci from Team Nerd Fitness and Kate Marolt (our professional yogi and longtime NF Rebel!), and I’m glad we can finally release it to the world today.

Here are a few things our early adopters are saying about their first NF Yoga experience:

1Amanda

2Kevin

3Double

4Karl

5Mary

There are more reactions and first impressions we captured listed here. We’re so pumped people are loving it!

The Yoga Toga Party

Tomorrow, Wednesday August 19th, we’re hosting a Yoga Toga Party on Google Hangouts!

I will be joined by Staci and Kate to have a fun launch party and Q&A.

Yes, we will be wearing togas and having fun.

Why a Yoga Toga party? Because Toga rhymes with Yoga, and I don’t get many opportunities to wear clothing that rhymes with products that I’m launching. Also, because why the hell not! Life is short, let’s have some fun.

So, whether you’ve already picked up Nerd Fitness Yoga, have no desire to ever, or are on the fence, come hang out at the party! We’ll be answering questions about Yoga, health and fitness, or my life in general (like how my first 48 hours in NF HQ’s new location have gone). That’s right, in my quest to become Captain America I have relocated to New York City.

Make sure you add the Yoga Toga Party to your calendar!

The Yoga Toga Party will be taking place at this link at 10 pm EST on Wednesday, August 19th. If you can’t make it live, that’s okay – we’ll be recording it (but it won’t be nearly as fun as dropping in live!)

Doors close on Friday

Because this is the first time we’ve launched a course like this, Nerd Fitness Yoga is only available until Friday at 11:59 pm EST.

We’re excited to watch our first eager batch of Rebels level up with NF Yoga. Then we’ll reopen the doors much later this year, potentially at a higher price.

NerdFitnessYogaWalkthrough

If you want to be one of the first Rebels to join us, watch my nerdy, late night video walkthrough I recorded that shows you each section, parts of actual sessions, and everything that’s included.

We know Nerd Fitness Yoga isn’t for everybody, so no matter what, thanks for reading up to this point. You can expect Nerd Fitness to continue as normal, with free articles every week, a free message board community, and a few more free features up our sleeves launching soon for the whole community.

I also have one more gigantic announcement about something happening in early 2016, but I can’t talk about that until next month…

Thanks again for being a part of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion – this community has already exceeded my wildest expectations from when I first started back in 2009, and there is a lot more fun to be had.

Hope to see you in Nerd Fitness Yoga!

-Steve

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MONREAL IN EZE

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-12GAPA quick little post featuring the new ‘Queens Collection‘ from one of my all time favourite Fitness Fashion houses, Monreal London. I live in fitness clothes (mostly because it’s my daily ‘uniform’ to train clients), and as such, I’m always on the lookout for revolutionary design which straddles fitness and fashion. In this latest collection from Monreal, I’ve noticed a serious advancement from tennis-wear to genuine crossover attire; pieces that are smart enough to wear for anything short of a wedding, yet still casual enough to train in, thanks to a neat, purposefully minimal aesthetic. I shot this look on my recent active escape to France, in the grounds of Chateau De La Chèvre D’Or, as well as a couple of shots in my studio. Click MORE to see it all…

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look COMPILATION

GAP

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-8GAPThe collection, as the name may suggest, is inspired by Queens – not as you Brits may think the epic Queens Club in Barons Court, London, which hosts the annual pre-Wimbledon grass championship (as per my recent visit). Instead, designer Stefani Grosse (who I interviewed recently HERE) draws upon the creative energy from the Manhattan neighbourhood of TriBeCa, so called for being an acronym of TRIangle BElow CAnal (Street), and one of my absolute favourite parts of that magical island. The reference to triangular geometry is clearly perceptible in the graphic lines of these leggings, and not by accident!

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-10Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-4GAP

The palate of the broader TriBeCa collection (of which Queens forms a ‘capsule-esque’ part) is unlike the colours you might have come to expect from Tennis styling; of course there’s white, but it’s punctuated by more bold, brightly blocked colours, mirroring the punchy colouring of a Roy Lichtenstein pop art masterpiece. The result is something that’s clearly meant for purposes other than just a court, which is what appeals to me, as 99% of the time, I’m not on court!

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-9GAP

Key highlights of the collection for me, are contrasting insert panels on the tees, heat transfer detailing, beautiful pop-art prints by Malika LeFavre, preppy cable-knit detailing, some ultra-versatile zip-up jackets which are a bit of a mainstay in my wardrobe, and of course the development on their signature sporty dress worn by the likes of Victoria Beckham and Pippa Middleton. All underpinned by beautiful quality of production, and aspirational subtle gold and silver details here and there.

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-11Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-2GAP

I’ve been wearing the gorgeous signature jacket with a pair of white skinny jeans all summer, but it’s versatile enough to go with most training clothes! I think this sort of development is great news for those of us who’d like to see activewear look more chic than merely a pair of thoughtless black leggings, and the fashion world is clearly responding to our demands – long may it continue!

Faya x

Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-10Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look-6Fitness On Toast Faya Blog Healthy Food Fitness Fashion Workout Monreal OOTD Chevre D'Or France Eze Riviera Luxury Tennis Sportswear Active Look____________________

I WAS WEARING:

Jacket: Signature Jacket – Monreal Queens Collection

Top: Racerback Top similar product here – Monreal Queens Collection

Leggings: Booty Boost Leggings – Blue – Monreal Queens Collection

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How to Make Tortilla Espanola

This is a recipe from Team NF Rebel Chef Noel.

Hard-working Rebels have struggled for years to figure out how to make a portable breakfast to take to work. In fact, for those who aren’t intermittent fasting, you may have a goal of eating a healthy breakfast to start your day off right.

The closest many of us have come to solving this riddle is by making a favorite of The Rebellion: Prosciutto Wrapped Egg Muffins. However, I rarely make them because I’m a hot mess in the kitchen and I get egg EVERYWHERE. Plus, I find prosciutto prohibitively expensive and I have ruined many muffin tins and lost much of my breakfast to…well…them sticking to the pan. Solve this problem for me Jedis of the egg muffin order; you’re my only hope.

I may have discovered a solution for us muffin dunces. Recently I went on an Epic Quest of my own and discovered something called Tortilla Espanola.

This Spanish dish just might be something foreign we can add to our healthy breakfast arsenal. It’s healthy, tasty, and traditionally, there are only 4 ingredients. That means it’s super easy to make!

Tortilla Espanola is a Spanish dish that is essentially an egg cake with potato and onion. It’s cut into triangles or squares and served at room temperature as tapas. You might think: cold egg? Gross! But there’s no reason you can’t warm it up in the microwave before you head out. (But, before you do, give it a try traditionally and keep it chilled or at room temperature.)

Tortilla Espanola:

Noel_Tortilla_Espanola_001

Serves: 2-3

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) diced sweet potato – I used sweets to keep it Paleo; if you eat regular potatoes, feel free to go traditional and sub those!
  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) diced yellow onion
  • 3 Tbsp (45ml) olive oil

Optional ingredients to spice it up:

(these are what I used in mine)

  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) red bell pepper
  • 1/2 sausage link – I used Applegate Farms chicken apple sausages. Look for something with minimal processing, chemicals, and no added sugar or wheat. These sausages are also pre-cooked and ready to eat. If your sausages are raw, please COOK THEM FIRST before adding them to your eggs.
  • 4 cherry tomatoes – cut into quarters

I didn’t use these, but they are also good choices. Choose your favorites!

  • Mushrooms
  • Bacon – cook it first then chop it after removing it from the pan. As a bonus, you can use the bacon grease to saute the rest of your veggies!
  • Spinach

Equipment:

  • Cast iron or other oven-safe saute pan
  • Spatula
  • Bowl
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Potato Peeler

Instructions:

Check out the video version of this recipe here (or below)!

The next 16 steps are really just three: we’ll be cutting and cooking our veggies, mixing them in with our eggs, and cooking the whole thing.

Let’s go!

1. Wash all your veggies.

2. Chop all your veggies. If you need a reminder about how to do this, check out these links:

Tortilla_Espanola_002

Cut the little tomatoes into quarters and the sausage into medallions and then chop those in half or into quarters.

A quick note – We’ll want to dice these things pretty small so they incorporate well into the egg mixture. The bell pepper and mushroom instructions above are for larger chunks.

When you’re done, everything should look like this:

Tortilla_Espanola_005

3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in your pan. This will take a minute or so. Once it is hot, it will slide easily around the pan.

Tortilla_Espanola_006

4. Toss in your diced sweet potato. Stir to coat with oil and let them cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want them to cook through, but you don’t want them to burn, so stay attentive! A fork should be able to easily pop in to the chunk when finished.

Tortilla_Espanola_007

5. When they’re done, remove them from your pan. Scoop them into a bowl and let them cool while you cook the onion and other veggies.

Noel_Tortilla_Espanola_008

6. Place another 1 tbsp of olive oil in your pan and let it heat up. It should heat up more quickly this time since your pan is already hot.

7. Toss in your onion, bell peppers, and other veggies like mushrooms or spinach if using. Stir these to coat with oil and let them cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are finished cooking, the onions should become translucent.

Tortilla_Espanola_009

When they are done, remove them from the heat. Place them in a bowl and set aside to cool. Be sure to remove your pan from the heat so it doesn’t get too hot.

8. Now break your eggs into a mixing bowl and scramble them. Mix in all your sautéed ingredients plus the ingredients that didn’t need to be cooked (tomatoes and sausage). If you’re using bacon, now’s the time to add it. Stir to incorporate them really well.

Tortilla_Espanola_011

9. Put your pan back on the heat and add another 2 tbsp oil. Let it heat up for a minute or so. Heat and oil are super important at this point. If you don’t let the pan get hot enough or add enough oil to coat the pan before adding the eggs, your egg will stick. Major bummer.

10. Once your pan and the oil are hot, tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Then grab your bowl full of egg and dump it into the hot pan. Now leave it alone!

Noel_Tortilla_Espanola_013

11. While the egg is cooking in the pan, turn on your broiler. If your broiler has the option of “HI” or “LO,” go ahead and set it to low. Make sure everything is out of the oven before turning it on – we don’t want any melting disasters.

12. Once the egg has cooked for about 1-2 minutes on your stove top (or until the egg solidifies), turn off the heat. Take your spatula and run it around the sides of the pan, gently unsticking the egg from the sides. You’ll thank me later.

Tortilla_Espanola_014

13. Now place the pan in the oven under the broiler. We do this so that the top of the egg cooks — you’ll notice at this point, it’s still a little raw and runny. Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your broiler). Check it frequently to make sure it’s not burning.

Noel_Tortilla_Espanola_015

14. Once the egg on the top is cooked, pull it out of the oven. Remember to use an oven mitt! (I burn myself way too often grabbing hot pan handles).

Tortilla_Espanola_016

15. Take a rubber spatula and run it around the sides and the bottom of the pan gently. We’re un-sticking any stuck egg from the pan.

Take a plate and place it on top of the pan.

Flip the pan over to flip the egg onto the plate. (This step is clearer in the video.) You can see in the picture that it stuck a little bit to the pan.

That’s not a huge deal. Life goes on…

Noel_Tortilla_Espanola_017

16. Let the egg sit on the plate to cool before you cut into it. Move the egg to a cutting board by simply sliding it from one surface to the next and cut it into triangles or squares. For bonus points, if you have dinosaur shaped cookie cutters, use those to cut your egg. Because that sounds awesome.

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Ole!

If you want, you can serve these on a plate with guacamole or salsa. Personally, I just put it in a paper towel and eat it on the go. It’s a pretty easy quick snack or breakfast for the busy Rebel!

Trying and discovering new foods is one of the best parts of travel, in my opinion. Trying recipes or spice combinations from other lands is just one of the ways we can bring the magic of a trip back home.

Let’s hope this solves the breakfast problem for some of us who are egg-muffin challenged.

Have you tried foods while traveling that you’d like to try to cook at home?

What is your favorite on-the-go breakfast?

Did you find the video helpful?

Let us know in the comments!

-Noel

PS: Have you joined our free 5-Day Flexibility Challenge yet? We’re opening the doors for Nerd Fitness Yoga next Tuesday for 4 days, but you can start testing your flexibility today!

10 KEY BENEFITS OF REFLEXOLOGY!

Fitness On Toast Faya Healthy Workout Blog Girl Training Havaianas Espadrilles Sandals Benefits Reflexology-7GAPI recently wrote a post on the multiple benefits of Sports Massage; it’s a topic about which I still receive regular emails, so I thought I’d extend the series into this post looking at reflexology – how it works, along with its many advantages. That’s because in training, we rely on our feet far more than we perhaps realise; for stability in stance, springing up / off, gaining traction, sprinting, climbing, propulsive kicking in the pool… yet for all their relentless use, they’re generally neglected and often in need of some serious TLC. Reflexology is a holistic, ancient Chinese practice, which like a sports massage isn’t a cosmetic skin-level treatment but instead aims to bring relief to a wide range of conditions (including stress, muscle tension, hormonal imbalances, back pain, poor circulation, toxin cleansing, digestive problems, menopause, sleep difficulties, and migraines). My personal experience has been of extreme relaxation and refreshment, which really helped to invigorate my workouts. Read my top 10 benefits of reflexology HERE, along with these pictures we shot with Havaianas on my recent active trip to Santorini …

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How does Reflexology work?

It’s a complementary therapy that targets specific reflex points we all have on our feet (as well as lower legs, face, hands, and ears). By massaging and applying manipulative pressure on the feet, practitioners can stimulate the central nervous system in quite precise ways. Specific points on the feet are shown to correspond to functions carried out by other parts of the body, and the pressure applied to them sends signals to release tension to internal organs and/or specific muscles (there’s a great ‘foot map’ HERE, at the Association of Reflexologists online). Importantly, reflexologists never claim to ‘cure’, ‘treat’ or ‘prescribe’; it’s a holistic practice.

Reflexology is believed to release ‘trapped energy’ – a build up of emotional stress or feeling unwell, enabling energy to flow more freely through relaxation. Sounds perhaps a little more whimsical than deconstructing the mechanical science of a deadlift, but there is a science to this too and plenty of educational study which goes into the practice of this discipline. Also, the post-treatment stories from staunch cynics are enough to suggest there’s genuine value here.

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Anyone can effectively call themselves a reflexologist, so as with most ‘treatments’ make sure you ask where the person has been trained as it makes all the difference. On my recent trip to Katikes, Santorini (Active Escape coming soon), I spent some relaxing time in the space.

Below is my take on the 10 key benefits of Reflexology:

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1) Improved blood circulation – reflexology can stimulate oxygen and nutrient transmission to the organs as well as helping with waste removal. Tension can have a restrictive effect on blood flow which could lead to under-oxygenated muscles, and adverse effects such as the dreaded cramp! This treatment keeps the blood flowing and the tissue fresh!

2) Improved respiratory function – There’s been a swathe of research written to address the way that Reflexology can help those suffering from respiratory disorders. For the asthmatic, the discipline encourages calm, enabling the sufferer to reach the end of the episode more readily – certain reflexology techniques, relating to pressure points in the hand, can help to relax the diaphragm, stimulate our lungs and boost an immune response.

3) Improved endocrine flow – the strongest practicing reflexologists believe they’re able to detect if an endocrine reflex is under/overactive, and can manipulate the reflexes accordingly until such time as they feel a balance returning.

4) Improved immune activity – some people experience healing reactions to reflexology sessions, whereby they’ll have a runny nose for example (I didn’t, personally). It’s thought to be a manifestation of the ‘detoxifying’ process, which is why many recommend that you drink plenty of fluid before and after the session, in order to facilitate the flushing out.

5) Reduce stress – a session of reflexology, from personal experience, promotes relaxation. There’s something surprising about having the feet manipulated in a manner which counteracts the usual toughness they require; this sensation of relaxation is a great combatant to the accumulated stresses.

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6) Improved pain relief – in 2010, Dr. Carol Samuel (then of the University of Portsmouth) discovered that following reflexology for pain relief, patients experienced c.40% less pain, and could tolerate pain for 45% more time. That’s compelling.

7) Eases digestive problems – the likes of indigestion, heartburn, IBS etc are thought to be addressed by acupressure. Certain pressure points around the body are said to help in opening up the digestive channel and in so doing, calm the system.

8) Fatigue – many of us wake up drained of energy, stumbling zombie-like into our daily churn. Direct acupressure on the adrenal, thyroid and kidney points are said to help counteract the fatiguing effects of cortisol and adrenaline, which pervade the troubles of a difficult day.

9) Muscle tension – many of us are sat at desks in one position for too long, we lift heavy objects with poor form, we suffer from emotional bouts… all of which lead to stress and thus muscle tension which congests pathways linking muscles to the rest of the body and only goes to build stress further, along with possible knotted pain. A session of reflexology can help to stimulate the nerve-endings in your feet to release this tension, and in so doing, to render the muscles relaxed.

10) Detoxifying – cleansing the lymphatic, urinary or intestinal systems. Reflexology can counteract the effects of bloating and lethargy, releasing blockage and flushing toxins / waste. The result is a natural balance.

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A huge thanks to Havaianas who generously supplied my well-treated feet with a selection of wonderful products, ranging from deliciously summer pale-canary espadrilles, to a fun snoopy-themed pair, and even a show-stopping Swarovski-embellished version of their iconic white flip-flop. All photos were shot on location at the exquisite Katikies Hotel in Santorini, which will be the subject of an upcoming post! Stay tuned 🙂 x

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A Nerd’s Guide to Yoga: 4 Movements to Try TODAY.

WTF is a “downward dog” anyways?

Is there a downward cat?

Do I have to shop at lululemon now?

When somebody mentions they practice yoga, these might be some of the questions that enter your mind. I know it’s what I thought about!

Although I was initially afraid of trying yoga for years, I now freaking love it and practice it whenever I can. It’s my favorite solution for improving mobility and flexibility, staying injury-free when strength training, and even quieting my overactive mind.

Regardless of how you choose to level up your life, I’m going to convince you in the next 10 minutes that yoga is a great activity to mix in between strength training or running sessions.

And I can be quite persuasive. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. See?

It’s also something you can get started with TODAY: I’m going to challenge you to complete a 4-move routine at the end of this article that you can complete anytime, anywhere.

Let’s do some yoga!

What IS Yoga exactly?

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Yoga means lots of different things to different people… like Windfarm Yoga apparently, to the woman in the photo above. As one commenter on this humorous and controversial article pointed out:

“The only thing I know for sure about yoga is that whatever you’re doing when you practice it, you’ll be assured by someone that it isn’t “real yoga.”

I’m not interested in that particular aspect of the yoga debate: people need things to argue about and get offended over because Internet. What’s important to me is getting more people interested trying yoga out because it’s damn fun and can really improve your life.

After all, as this fantastic Vox article explains:

“Yoga seems to help alleviate lower back pain, improve strength and flexibility, and reduce inflammation in the body — which, in turn, can help stave off chronic disease and death.

Emerging research suggests yoga can increase body awareness, or attention to the sensations and things going on inside you. That’s no small matter: Researchers think heightened body awareness can improve how well people take care of themselves.”

Science is essentially telling us: Yoga can help you become more flexible like Black Widow, improve your strength like the Hulk, extend your life like the elves of Rivendell, and give you mental awareness like Yoda.

The jury is still out as to whether or not it grants us telekinetic powers.

When I approached yoga years ago as an attempt to improve my flexibility and to combat poor posture, I was initially worried about looking foolish or finding some aspect of the exercise that didn’t sit right with me.

Instead I found a complementary, enjoyable activity that helped improve my flexibility and mobility, alleviated my lower back pain, opened up my hips to combat a lifetime of sitting, and even helped me quiet my overactive mind! Plus, it was like a power-up for my strength workouts.

It’s now an activity I do with regularity throughout my week, incorporating yoga stretches during the day in between desk sessions, after working out, and attending the occasional class to level up.

Why should I care about Yoga?

NF Yoga

If you read Nerd Fitness, you’re probably a skeptic. After all, one of the Rules of the Rebellion is to question everything!

So you might be thinking: “Steve, you’re not going to ask me to start speaking in mantras, chanting OMMMMMM, and work on improving my spiritual chi.”

As somebody who started yoga with the exact same reservations, I sit before you a changed man. For starters, if you decide the spiritual aspects of the practice aren’t for you, you’re not alone: research into yoga’s history can lead down an internet rabbit hole of controversy that is bottomless.

So we’re not going to jump in that fight. Instead, what you will find when it comes to yoga is study after study showing that this form of exercise is incredibly beneficial:

1) A body prepared to handle anything: at Nerd Fitness, we are huge fans of strength training, and yoga is its perfect compliment. it elongates your muscles, improves your flexibility, can release tension in your neck and shoulders, and helps you do things like touch your toes! It can help you build stronger muscles, improve balance and stability (especially for our older rebels), and make you more “antifragile” (my favorite term of 2014).

As this study points out, “yoga subjects exhibited increased deadlift strength, substantially increased lower back/hamstring flexibility, increased shoulder flexibility, and modestly decreased body fat compared with control group.”

2) Yoga is great for lower back pain: If you’re one of the 31+ million people like myself who struggle with lower back pain, yoga can help. Yoga really helps those of us stuck at a computer all day long as well.

3) Yoga can help meet weight loss goals when combined with a healthy diet. Look, we all know our diet is responsible for 80-90% of our success when it comes to weight loss. The other 10-20% of the equation is participating in physical activities that push your body outside of their comfort zone.

Yoga is a great way to burn a few extra calories and keep your brain focused on “I am doing healthy things and thus I should be eating healthy foods!” It can help improve our fight against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity. It’s also a great rest day activity to keep you on track when you’re not doing your other workouts.

4) Speaking of which…yoga can be done every single day, and can be done anywhere. No gym required, no equipment required – no excuses! On top of that, because it’s a low-impact activity and doesn’t overly tax your muscles like a powerlifting session, you can do yoga every single day, anywhere you can find a soft place to sit down: your living room, a park, a beach, your bedroom, on the moon, etc.

5) Yoga can quiet an overactive mind: We Live in a world with a distraction around every corner; we read Facebook or our favorite blog while checking email and texts… while trying to work a day job. If you’re anything like me, your mind races a million miles an hour, and trying to develop a sense of control and calm over your mind is like herding cats. We’ve already explained the benefits of Meditation for Nerds; yoga can be tremendously helpful with becoming more aware of our bodies and help with reducing stress and anxiety.

Lastly, if yoga is good enough for badass Dhalsim from Street Fighter II, it’s good enough for me:

i’m scared to get started!

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If you’re like me, one of the following sentences has run through your head when you think about yoga:

Okay, I’m ready to try yoga! But what studio should I go to? Google just told me there are 5 studios close by. And I can’t pronounce any of their names. Which one is best? Did Yoda do yoga?

Okay, I picked a studio! But how many people are in the class? What if I fall over when I try a move? Am I gonna be surrounded by pros? What do I wear? Who’s that guy next to me?

Okay, I’m in my class! But what if I can’t do this move? That dude put his leg behind his head! What if I fart during class? Do I get perma-banned?

These are all of the questions I asked myself between “Yeah, yoga!” and “holy crap I just did my first class.”

I mustered up 20 seconds of courage to attend an actual studio… which scared the farts out of me! I know that if a guy who runs a fitness site is scared to go to a yoga class in person, there have to be others here in the community who are too but still want to get started with yoga.

Although one can quickly search YouTube for free yoga videos, it’s tough to get ourselves to stay dedicated or feel connected to the teacher unless they’re speaking our language!

We set out to solve all of the problems I went through above, and ended up with Nerd Fitness Yoga, which we’re launching publicly on August 18th! This is a course you can follow along with in the comfort of your own home, and it’s built specifically for members of the Rebellion: easy to follow instructions, an inviting attitude, and yes… some corny jokes from yours truly.

This course will work for men and women of all shapes, ages, and sizes, giving anybody the confidence to get started IMMEDIATELY. Follow it regularly and you can expect the benefits of the dozens of studies I linked above when it comes to yoga practice.

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In addition to a HUGE pose library and step-by-step instructions, it also contains all of the following full length yoga sessions filmed in HD:

  • Water sessions: Two beginner yoga videos (25 minutes each)
  • Fire sessions: Two intermediate yoga videos (30 minutes each)
  • Star sessions: Two advanced yoga videos (40 minutes each)
  • Deep stretching routine (40 minutes)
  • 6 supplemental mobility videos (that will help with lower back mobility, how to finally touch your toes, and so on)

All of these videos can be streamed or downloaded to any device as many times as you’d like so you can practice yoga wherever, whenever.

The higher priced version of the product will include a few extra bonuses like coaching calls, and even a Nerd Fitness Yoga Mats for anybody that wants to rep the Rebellion while working on their downward dog!

I’m proud as hell of this product. We don’t have many things for sale at Nerd Fitness, so you know that when we do put something out, it’s worth checking out.

To celebrate: we’ve created a Free 5-Day Nerd Fitness Flexibility Challenge that we’ll be starting next week for anybody on our Yoga Interest List.

We’re going to give you benchmarks to test your flexibility, along with tips, tricks and video demonstrations on how to improve flexibility in every way!

4 poses you can do right now

A big reason Nerd Fitness and the Rebellion are successful in getting people healthy is that we encourage people to take action immediately. Not tomorrow, not after breakfast, RIGHT NOW!

We know teeny tiny steps can eventually result in big changes, which is why I’m sharing 4 yoga poses you can start with right now. All photos below come from Nerd Fitness Yoga, with our Yoga partner (and NF Rebel for 4 years) Kate Marolt!

Try to hold each of the following positions for 30 seconds. Yes, even if you’ve never done Yoga before and have no intentions on doing it again… I’m challenging you to give this a shot right now!

CHAIR POSE (30 seconds)

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Chair pose is the basis for many of the more advanced moves we explore in our Fire and Star series. It primarily stretches the chest and shoulders, while helping strengthen your core and legs.

Start by standing with your arms out in front of you. Slowly bend your knees, moving them gradually more forward, in front of your toes. At the same time, drop your hips and butt back as you try to achieve a 90 degree angle with your thighs and calves.

As you sit down, your arms will come straight above your heads (next to your ears) pointing up with palms facing in.

To scale this down, you’ll find it a little easier to keep your arms out in front of you – or coming towards your chest forming a “ball of energy.” Drop your hips only as low as you can comfortably maintain for a stable hold.

FORWARD FOLD (30 seconds)

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This pose primarily focuses on stretching the lower back, hips, hamstrings, and calves.

Start by standing and gently bend forward as you lengthen your torso and spine. As you fold toward the ground, keep your knees straight (but not locked out). Grab the back of your calves or, if you can, rest your fingertips on the ground next to your feet.

As you breathe in, you can lift slightly and extend your torso and spine forward. As you exhale, you can fold forward again into the stretch.

To scale this down, you may use blocks to help you touch as you fold or only fold to the Halfway Lift variation. Keep your knees straight and your spine long, and fold as far as you can comfortably go.

LUNGE (30 seconds each leg)

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The Lunge is a major building block for poses of all difficulty levels. This pose will primarily stretch and strengthen the groin, hamstrings, hips, and knees.

In most cases, you get into lunges by starting in a forward fold and slowly stepping one of your legs back behind you. If you need to, you can scoot your foot back several times until you are able to have about a 90-degree angle on your forward knee.

Bend your torso over your front knee and lengthen your spine forward. Your weight should be pressing down through your heels and your back leg should be active with your knee straight throughout.

To scale down, you can use blocks on each side to balance yourself without having to reach all the way down to the floor. At anytime, you can also drop the back knee down to the ground coming into Low Lunge instead.

DOWNWARD DOG (30 seconds)

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This pose primarily focuses on stretching the shoulders, hamstrings, and calves.

The first few times you get into Downward Dog, you’ll want to start on your hands and knees (what we call Table Top), but with your arms a little bit forward of your head. Pushing into your hands and toes, slowly lift your knees off the ground.

If you can, slowly straighten your knees (don’t lock them) as you gently stretch your heels down to the ground. Once comfortable, you can work your shoulders back towards your tailbone.

To scale this down, you can lift your heels further off the ground and/or bend your knees for easy modification. You can also use blocks to elevate your arms as another alternative.

Start today

BabyDoesYoga

If this baby can do Yoga, so can you!

I don’t care if you’re at home, in a cubicle or office, I want you to use 3 minutes of courage to hold the poses above!

Even if you’re not interested in checking out NF Yoga and never attend a yoga class, try to repeat these movements throughout the day to help combat a day at the desk! I personally get up every 15-20 minutes and go through a few movements (Downward Dog is my favorite) to stay limber.

I’d love to hear from you: did you REALLY complete the 4-movement yoga routine above? And where did you do it? An office? In your cubicle?

Remember, who cares if your coworkers think you’re weird – getting judged for doing something healthy is a badge of honor you should be proud of!

…and Downward Dog!

-Steve

PS: Here’s that link again to the Yoga Interest List sign-up! Starting next week we’re going to have a free 5-day NF Flexibility Challenge that we’ll be emailing out to everybody on the list, complete with video demonstrations, advice, tips, and tricks!

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Photo Sources: Nevada the sprinkler dog, downward, Baby Yoga , puebla 04.jpg,