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By Mark Barroso, NSCA-CPT, Spartan SGX

Congratulations. You committed to your first-ever Spartan Race. You’ve already done what most people are too afraid to do. Now comes the next stage: preparation.

While training for your first Spartan Race isn’t exactly brain surgery, I recommend mastering a few specific movements before stepping on the course. Do these simple moves a few times per week for 1-2 months prior to the race.


Muscles Targeted: Full Body


Stand holding one light dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides. Get into push-up position while gripping the dumbbells. Next, do a push-up (optional) and stand up into a squat clean. That is, stand so the dumbbells are at shoulder height and your hips are below your knee creases (below parallel). Now, press the weights overhead as you stand fully erect. Return the weights back to your sides. That’s one rep.


Pull-ups are a key exercise in training for a Spartan Race, but if you can’t do one yet, that’s OK. Try the inverted row instead.

Muscles Targeted: Back, Biceps, Abs


Set up a Smith machine bar (or a barbell in a power rack) so it’s 3-4 feet off the ground. Lie down supine (flat on your back) underneath the bar with eyes under bar and your feet away from it. Reach up and grab the barbell with a pronated (overhand) grip, and position your body so your arms are extended straight, feet are on ground, and your body is rigid (in a straight line) with about six inches between your body and the ground.

Keeping your elbows straight, pull yourself towards the bar until your chest touches or is close to bar. Pause at the top, then return your body to the starting position under control. That’s one rep.


Muscles Targeted: Full Body


From the top of a push-up, step the right foot forward but not outside of the right arm as you simultaneously move the left hand forward in front of you. Next, do the same with the opposite arm and leg. Continue this for 50 yards prior to a cardio or weightlifting workout to work on functional strength and get warmed up.


Muscles Targeted: Legs, Abs.


Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with arms extended in front of you at eye level. Jump both knees vertically so your knee caps touch your palms. Land softly in a quarter squat position. That’s one rep. Repeat for as many reps as possible in 30-45 seconds. This plyometric exercise develops the adequate power necessary to scale walls, do box jumps and climb stairs quickly.


Muscles Targeted: Glutes, Legs, Abs


You can do this as a bodyweight exercise, use a dumbbell/kettlebell in each hand, place a barbell on your back (not in front of you), or put a sandbag on your back or on top of one shoulder. Stand with your feet hip-width apart then step forward with the right leg so that your left knee is 1-1½ inches off the ground. Step your left leg forward and next to right leg as you stand fully erect again. Repeat on other side. To increase difficulty, don’t step the trailing leg next to the lead leg: keep moving it forward and step past the lead leg. This is a continuous motion and requires good balance.


Muscles Targeted: Legs, abs


Stand while holding a kettlebell in your right hand in front of your right leg. Flex the hips and lift your left leg off the ground behind you, raising it as high as you can while keeping your balance. As you do this, lower the bell in front of your right leg, keeping it close to the body. Return your left leg to your right leg and bring the bell back to the starting position. Do 10 reps on the right leg then switch the left leg. To increase difficulty, don’t step the leg that’s off the ground back to the floor: balance on one leg throughout the entire movement. This is a great stability exercise that readies the ankles, knees, and hips for the demands of uneven terrain on a mountainous Spartan course.


Muscles Targeted: Lower back, legs, abs, shoulders


Grab a bell that’s in front of you on the ground. Drag the bell back between your legs, hinge at the hips, pop your hips forward and swing the bell to eye level. That’s one rep. Bring the weight back down between legs under control and repeat the motion.


Muscles Targeted: Legs, Abs


Stand while holding one kettlebell with two hands, one hand on each side of the handle, in front your chest. Elbows should be bent, meaning your arms are not extended straight in front of you. Keeping the bell close to front of body, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Explosively push your hips vertical until you reach the starting position. That’s one rep.


Muscles Targeted: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders


Do one push-up. Then, from the top of push-up position, move your left hand horizontally out about 3-4 inches. Do another push-up. Return hand to starting position (shoulder-width apart), and then do a standard push-up. Now, move your right hand out 3-4 inches and do another push-up. Return to the starting position and do a push-up. The best way to do these is to set a timer for 30-60 seconds and do as many possible, going from middle, left, middle, right.


Muscles Targeted: Full Body


To do a burpee, get on the ground in “chest-to-deck” position. Your chest should be touching the ground, your legs should be straight, and your palms should be on the ground as if you’re going to do a push-up. Next, do a push-up while moving your feet under your body so that you end in a squat with your hands on the ground. Finally, jump up with a straight body and your hands over your head. That’s one burpee.

I think the most attractive thing about Spartan Race is that you don’t have to follow a specific training plan to prepare. Everyone starts at a different fitness level and brings their own strengths and weaknesses. That said, these movements represent the “universals” that I guarantee will help you on any Spartan course, be it a Stadium Sprint or the Beast.

Sign up for the Spartan Workout of the Day for daily exercise plans delivered straight to your inbox.


Anybody has the potential to train for, and participate in, a Spartan Race – but building a solid foundation is key.

No matter your situation, you will find all sorts of tools to prepare right here. Free workouts and free healthy recipes are available to jump start your routine in a life-changing way.

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How to Take Your BEFORE Photos



Whether you’re doing CrossFit, LIVESTRONG.COM’s 8-Week STRONGER Challenge fitness program or some other workout program to get in shape, remember that it’s not just the numbers on the scale that you’ll want to track.

Sports woman taking selfie in fitness club

Your “before” and “after” photos and measurements can be a better way to really see your progress and accomplishments along the way toward reaching your goal.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Check out the amazing “before” and “after” photos of Ashley Donahoo, who used LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate to lose 137 pounds!

But you can’t have an amazing “before” and “after” transformation experience unless you buckle down and take your “before” pics now! Read on for some tips on how to take the best pic.

Read more: Members’ Before & After Weight Loss Photos

I’ve “Walked the Talk” and Have the Photos to Prove It

In the summer of 2012, I was in a two-month Beachbody fitness program test group and I lost 20 pounds in 60 days. While I didn’t love taking my “before” photos, they did help to motivate me through the program, and they served to visually document the story of my fitness achievement.

5 Tips for the Perfect “Before” Photo

1. Guys should take pics wearing shorts or a swimsuit without a shirt, while women should wear a bikini or fitted gym shorts and a sports bra. It’s important to see your stomach, so don’t suck that tummy in! You may see your most pronounced changes in that area.

2. Get a friend to help you take the photos or use a tripod or the auto-timer on your camera. A friend will be most helpful to get your body centered in the frame, especially for photos taken from the back.

3. Stand in front of a blank, plain-colored wall, with as little distraction or clutter behind you as possible. You’re the star of the show here!

4. Take multiple photos. Take at least one from the front, back and side. If you want to, you can even flex or pose for one or two additional ones.

5. Remember to take your photos regularly in those same positions (and even same clothing): on day one, day 15, day 30, day 60, and so on. That way it’s easier to see exactly how your body has changed.

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Bodybuilding Diet Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Progress | Muscle & Fitness


Lose weight, burn fat, and stay on track with your bodybuilding diet by avoiding these seven deadly sins.

Source: Bodybuilding Diet Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Progress | Muscle & Fitness

ou’re looking great—you’re sticking to a low-fat dietOpens a New Window., balanced with plenty of complex carbohydrates, fruitsOpens a New Window.veggiesOpens a New Window. and lean proteinOpens a New Window.. And then it happens. You stumble, fall and commit a dietary blunder. With the day nearly complete, you find yourself suddenly pulling into the nearest fast-food joint ready to scarf down a large combo: fries, the greasy burger, the drink big enough to throw blood-sugar levels into a tailspin.

You’re distraught and filled with guilt as the drama continues. “Heck, I’ve already blown my diet. I might as well really blow it,” you reason. With a defeated attitude, you speed home and indulge in the best of Ben & Jerry’s, with maybe a Ding Dong or two for good measure. Still, you look for hope. “Tomorrow’s another day,” you think. “I’ll go right back to my super-strict diet.” Sound familiar?

With the desire and pressure to look great, people tend to follow an absolute path. We try for complete nutritionOpens a New Window. perfection. Problem is, we’re human—we can’t be perfect all the time. An important part of looking perfect—okay, at least near-perfect—is understanding the burdens of striving for that head-turning physique. Check out the common dietary pitfalls below. We’ll show you how to make the very best of potentially disastrous situations.

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Health Benefits of a Dry Sauna |



Saunas are essentially rooms with exceptionally high heat, designed to promote health in those who use them. The heat may be administered through a wood stove or an infrared heater or even an electric heater. The room is relatively sealed to contain the heat.

Source: Health Benefits of a Dry Sauna |


The high heat of a dry sauna sends the heart rate higher when you enter the room. This speeds the blood’s circulation through the body. This can help those with poorer circulation by getting the blood out to their arms, hands, legs and feet. According to Harvard Medical School, the pulse rate can increase by 30 percent when you enter a sauna. This means blood flow almost doubles.


A dry sauna will speed up your metabolism. This means your body burns more fat and you can lose weight. However, since most of the weight loss in saunas is due more to sweating and losing water, it is regained by drinking water, which you need to do to keep from dehydrating.


Stiffness may leave some of the joints through use of a dry sauna. Because the body’s flexibility increases in a sauna, as do blood vessels, dry sauna users may feel invigorated. This also means it can relieve sore muscles.

Toxin Release

Since the heat in a dry sauna will cause you to sweat and open your pores, toxins can be drained from the body. However, according to Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson of the Mayo Clinic, there is no evidence of this. He admits, however, there isn’t much research available, particularly on the benefits of infrared saunas.


According to Harvard Medical School, saunas can produce a relaxed feeling for many users. This traditionally has been what saunas have been used for. Part of this is due to the fact that there is little else to do in a dry sauna but sit and enjoy it. To use this time and add to the relaxation effect, meditation is a good activity in the sauna.

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SKINNY PEPPERMINT MOCHA GREEN SMOOTHIE (VEGAN + GF)prep time2 MINStotal time2 MINS This homemade skinny peppermint mocha green smoothie is a healthy copycat version of the iconic Starbucks drink, made without any of the harmful additives and excess sugar. It’s full of classic mint chocolate, creamy coffee flavor, plus tons of vitamins and nutrients to nourish your body through the season.INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs (I recommend Navitas Naturals)
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (I recommend Navitas Naturals)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic peppermint extract (I recommend Frontier Co-Op Organic)
  • 1/2 cup organic, unsweetened coconut milk (I recommend Native Forest Simple)
  • 1 cup cold brew coffee
  • 1 cup ice


  • 1-2 Medjool dates for sweetness


  1. Combine all ingredients into a large, high-powered blender (I recommend Vitamix) and blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Serve and enjoy!
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John Krasinski Takes CrossFit’s Murph Challenge for Memorial Day

What are you doing this Memorial Day?

Source: John Krasinski Takes CrossFit’s Murph Challenge for Memorial Day

Now that we’re closer to Memorial Day, you’ve probably cemented your weekend plans for the holiday. Maybe a trip out of town, or a cookout in the backyard—or, if you’re up to the challenge, a super tough CrossFit Hero WOD to recognize the reason we take off work the last Monday of every May.

Yes, it’s once again time for the Murph, that ridiculously hard routine that brings everyday CrossFitters and celebrity exercisers together in sweat to commemorate U.S. Navy SEAL LT. Michael Murphy, who designed the hellish workout on deployment before falling in combat and receiving the Medal of Honor posthumously for his valor.

This year, we’ve already been challenged by Chris Pratt, who posted footage of his own group Murph last week. Now, Pratt’s 2017 workout partner John Krasinski is also stepping up to dare his fans to join in the festivities on Monday.

Krasinski, wearing one of the Murph Challenge t-shirts and flanked by his trainer and Men’s Health advisor Don Saladino, spoke about the importance of taking some time to show gratitude to fallen service members to mark the holiday in a video posted to Instagram. “On Monday, remember to stop at some point of your day, think, and say thank you to all the brave men and women who’ve laid down their lives for you,” Krasinski says in the clip. “And if you want to do something a little extra special on Monday or before then, take the Murph Challenge.”

Saladino then laid out the brutal workout prescription, which is completed for time:

  • 1-mile Run
  • 100 Pullups
  • 200 Pushups
  • 300 Squats
  • 1-mile Run

They didn’t mention it in the video, but a true Murph is completed wearing a 20-pound weight vest, to simulate the weight Murphy carried with his body armor when he originally designed the split.

Krasinski tagged his last two Murph partners, Pratt and The Rock, in the post, so don’t be shocked if we see something from the big man himself in the coming days. As the holiday approaches, more of their famous friends are sure to get in on the action.

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Can Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?


Get the teabags ready; you might be surprised at the facts.

Source: Can Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?

Is green tea good for weight loss? Research in humans and animals points to a resounding “sort of.” What that means:

There’s evidence that green tea can help you lose weight

A number of small but respectable clinical trials have found that overweight people who had green tea—either in drinkable form or in extract form—lost more weight than people who didn’t have any. Science being science, there are also a few studies that showed no benefit from green tea drinks or supplements. Overall, “I would say it may assist modestly,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D.N., consultant for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine for the Cleveland Clinic.

In studies that found a weight-loss benefit in green tea, there was a “trend toward weight loss” or tea drinkers lost “significantly” more. But it’s not usually a total transformation. One small studyconducted at Oklahoma State University, for instance, found that people who drank green tea or took green tea extract on top of their diets lost about 1.3 pounds more over 8 weeks than people who drank water. Some studies suggest even decaf green tea may have a benefit.

Green tea may even help you lose belly fat

An older study found that among people who ate regularly and exercised 180 minutes a week, those who drank a beverage with the most biologically active compounds in green tea, called catechins, had a greater percentage change in abdominal fat than did people who got a drink with no catechins.

Why it might work

There are a number of theories on why green tea—especially the main catechin called epigallocatechin gallate—might help you out a bit if you’re looking to lose weight.

“It’s possible that catechins in green tea may actually inhibit carbohydrate digestion and absorption,” Kirkpatrick says, citing a report in the journal Scientific Reports that showed lower carb absorption after people downed a green tea extract.

“I think some of the most promising ones are looking at green tea’s effects on the microbiome,” she says. Research is increasingly finding that it alters the gut’s microbiome, and those changes could be what makes it helpful for dropping pounds.