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This Home Cardio Workout Will Get Your Heart Pumping

This Home Cardio Workout Will Get Your Heart Pumping

All you need to complete this fast-paced, no-kit circuit session is a “don’t quit” attitude.

If you’re looking for effective home workouts to do during the COVID-19 lockdown then try the website of London studio Flykick, which is posting workouts every Friday.

The Fitness Friday sessions include an exceptionally useful timer that displays the exercise you’re meant to be doing and how long for so you can follow itin real time. If you’re not sure how to do the move listed, there are accompanying YouTube videos that demonstrate each one.

For an example of the kind of workout you can expect, give this circuit session created by Flykick instructor Lily-Blue Beaumont a go.

How To Do This Workout

The workout is made up of two blocks. Complete six rounds of the first block, and then step things up for the final block which you’ll complete three times for nine rounds in total. In each round you do eight exercises for 30 seconds each, then move on to the next one without taking a break. After one round you get a minute’s rest, then go through that block of exercises again.

Block 1

Complete six rounds of the following before moving on to the next block.

1 Walking plank

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Get into a plank position supported on your forearms. Push yourself up one arm at a time until you’re on your hands, then come back down onto your forearms.

2 Press-up

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Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Start in a high plank position, or drop to your knees for an easier variation. Lower your chest until it’s just above the floor, then push back up.

3 Plank

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Get into a plank position supported on your forearms and hold it for the time.

4 Plank jack

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Stay in your plank position and jump your feet out to either side at the same time, as if you were performing a jumping jack, and then back to the middle.

5 Runner’s lunge

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

From a standing position take a big step forwards on your left leg. Bend your front knee until it’s at 90° and then put your hands either side of your front foot, keeping your back leg straight. Hold this position for the time, feeling the stretch in your hips and leg muscles. Alternate legs with each circuit.

6 Jump lunge

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

From standing, step forwards into a lunge and lower until both knees are bent at 90°. Push back up explosively, jump up and swap legs quickly so you land in a lunge position with your other leg forwards.

7 High knees

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Sprint on the spot, raising your knees as high as you can.

8 Burpee

Time 30sec Rest 60sec

From standing, drop your hands to the floor either side of your feet, then jump your feet backwards to land in the high plank position. Jump your feet forwards to your hands again and leap up, taking your hands above your head (make sure the ceilings in your house are high enough).

Block 2

Finish your workout strong with three rounds of the following.

1 Walking plank

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

2 Press-up

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

3 Mountain climber

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Time 30sec Rest 0sec

In a high plank position, alternate driving each knee up towards your chest as fast as possible.

4 Plank jack

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

5 Jump squat

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Sit back into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive back up and jump up. Land softly and go straight into another squat.

6 Jump lunge

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

7 Burpee

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

8 Chest-to-floor burpee

Time 30sec Rest 60sec

Perform a burpee as before but when you drop to a high plank position, lower your chest to the floor and push back up before you bring your feet forwards again.

Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

How to Sleep-Train a Baby When You’re a Working Mom

How to Sleep-Train a Baby When You're a Working Mom

When you have a job, the usual rules for getting infants to sleep through the night don’t cut it.

When my formerly good sleeper started waking up as often as six times per night at around the 7-month mark, I started to feel desperate. It’s so hard to go to work on such little sleep. But I didn’t want to do cry it out again. I failed miserably with my firstborn. And I read so many internet comments about what a horrible mom I was for trying cry it out that I felt awful for even entertaining the idea again.

It turned out I had made so many mistakes with the “extinction” technique, despite diligently following online advice, that of course it didn’t work. After I spoke with family, educational and corporate sleep specialist Whitney Roban, Ph.D., founder of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and Sleep Well/Work Well, which offers corporate sleep programs for all employees, including working parents, and author of Devin & Evan Sleep From 8-7 and Devin & Evan Play Fortnite Until 11, I was convinced to give it another go. For me, the extinction method made more sense than the progressive/Ferber/check and re-check method. The former tends to take a few days. The latter tends to take upwards of a week. Working moms don’t have upwards of a week. Spoiler alert: The extinction method worked, and if I have a third child, I’ll name her Whitney after the magical woman who brought sleep back to our restless family. Stick with me, and you can be a well-rested working mom again.

Step 1: Ignore the haters. Sanctimommies love populating the internet with guilt-inducing drivel about why cry it out is evil and how even doctors who once supported the practice have turned their backs on it. Don’t take their word for it; hell, don’t take mine. Google “cry it out studies” and you’ll see science is mostly on the side of giving it a shot. If your baby doesn’t get 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night, and three hours of napping during the day, he’s probably not getting enough rest. Why wouldn’t a loving parent do what she can to help him fulfill that biological need? It usually takes two or three nights of crying until he can sleep through. Yes, babies cry when they need something, but they also cry when they want something and when they’re overtired. Staying put when your infant’s wailing in his crib goes against every mommy instinct. Do it anyway. I never thought I’d write those three words, and I’m already anticipating commenters telling me I’m an unfit mother. After meeting me and my sweet, well-rested boy, they’d probably feel differently.

Step 2: Get your pediatrician’s OK. Your baby should be at least 4-months-old and 14 pounds before you stop feeding him overnight. He also shouldn’t be sick when you start or have serious digestive issues. But don’t let a case of the sniffles hold you back—because daycare babies would never get sleep-trained then. Talk to your practitioner to be sure you’re good to go.

Step 3: Designate two weeks as your sleep-training weeks. No, that doesn’t mean your kid is going to cry for 14 days straight. Pick a fortnight during which your routine will be, well, routine. You’ll leave for and return from work at regular hours, your child will be in the care of the regular person or center while you’re working, he’ll be sleeping in the crib or cribs and room or rooms in which he usually sleeps (read: don’t try to sleep-train while on vacation, when you have to travel long distances or during some life upheaval).

Step 4: Start those two weeks on a Friday. The first night is going to suck for everyone in your home (unless you have an older child or partner who is a super sound sleeper). You would not be able to function at work the morning after an early-sleep-training night so don’t try. Since it can take a few nights for your child to get it, it’s best to take Monday off, but if you can’t schedule this for a long weekend (I couldn’t), you’ll survive; the sleep deprivation won’t be any worse than it is when you repeatedly soothe your poor sleeper.

Step 5: Prep the crib. Keep the crib free of everything, save for a mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. Mobiles might help a child fall asleep, but they can become a crutch, meaning that your baby can’t drift off without its hypnotic force.

Step 6: Plan to have your baby in his crib by 7 p.m. Really, Dr. Roban suggested 6 p.m., but I don’t even walk in the door until 6:30. 7 p.m. also seemed impossible, but we make it happen because sleep is a priority. (Baths on the other hand …) And keep things mellow in the interim.

Step 7: Gather everything you need for bedtime and put it in your child’s room. When you walk over the threshold of their room, don’t leave again until they’re in their crib. Have your baby witness you prepare the room for sleep, dimming the lights, putting on white noise, closing the door and blinds. “If kids are active participants in their sleep, they will accept it more than if it were being done to them,” Dr. Roban says.

Step 8: Do a quick routine in your baby’s room. I nurse my baby first. The only reasons not to feed your child as part of the routine is if he falls asleep while sucking or digestion makes him uncomfortable. When his belly’s full, I read a book, sing a song and give a verbal cue, “something you say right before you leave the room,” Dr. Roban explains. “The verbal cue can be ‘I love you, I’ll see you in the morning.’ It can be a line of a prayer. Whatever feels comfortable.” Everyone who puts your baby to bed should follow the same routine, but everyone’s verbal cue can be different. Just don’t let the routine go longer than 15 minutes. “You’re risking a child becoming overtired, which makes it physically more difficult for them to fall asleep,” says Dr. Roban. And only one caregiver should do the routine at a time. It’s too stimulating with two. “When you have a consistent bedtime routine and everything’s the same every night, even though the baby isn’t deciding what the routine is, they feel that they are in control because they know what’s going to happen. It’s very comforting for them.”

Step 9: Put your baby in the crib. Don’t rock him first; you want to put him down while he’s still awake, but drowsy. If he can roll from belly to back and back again, put him on his tummy. They’re usually comfier that way, but get your ped’s OK.

Step 10: Shut the light, close the door, walk out, and don’t go back in until 6 a.m.. Your baby will likely be crying. Keep walking. I know it’s hard. You’ve got this. “If one night you stay there and you rub their back, another night you yell because you’re exhausted, another night you bring them into your room, they don’t know what’s going to happen. They’re just going to keep pulling all the stops because they’re not sure and something they’re going to do will get them what they want,” says Dr. Roban. Even opening the door to check on them can set back the process. “Once they learn, this is how it’s going to be every single night, they love it. It lowers the anxiety because they know what’s coming next.”

Step 11: Turn on the monitor. Got a video one? Good. Make the volume low and watch your baby. The only reasons to go in are if he looks sick or hurt. Peeing or pooping doesn’t count, so be generous with the diaper cream. Crying hard doesn’t either. “He’s crying because he’s frustrated with what we’re teaching him, to learn a self-soothing skill,” Dr. Roban assured me. Binge-watch some Netflix because it’s going to be a long night (sorry). He will stop crying and fall asleep eventually. And then he’ll wake up in the middle of the night. Don’t go in then either. This is how he’ll learn to put himself back to sleep. You’ll also notice as sleep-training goes on that he’ll do something to soothe himself right before he nods off, such as rubbing his pajamas or twirling his hair. My baby kicks one leg. Every. Time.

Step 12: Go in at 6 a.m., or whenever he wakes up if it’s after then. Even if he’s too tired to crack a smile when you retrieve him, rest assured, he still loves you. It’s important not to go in before 6, though, even if you’re awake enough to start the day sooner. “If he wakes up and it’s still dark out and he knows somebody’s coming in, he’s not going to go back to sleep. That 5 a.m. wake-up will end up being 4:45, then it’ll be 4:30 and then the next thing you know he’ll be waking up again in the middle of the night. The most difficult sleep issue to fix and takes the longest is early rising.”

You’ll do the same thing every night now. The only things that’ll change? How long he’ll cry before he falls asleep (if he cries at all!) and how often you’ll hear him get up in the middle of the night. You’ll need to deviate when you sleep out of the house or have otherwise-unordinary schedules. A day or two that’s different here and there won’t wreak havoc. Three days in a row could, but you can get things back to normal in a week or less.

Unfortunately, though, your job isn’t done. “It’s important for families that can’t adhere to a super early bedtime to do a good job focusing on naps. The better napper he is, the later his bedtime can be,” Dr. Roban explains.

A few guidelines to help with naps: Avoid using motion to put your baby to sleep, and tell daytime caregivers to do the same. That means no swings, no pushing a stroller back and forth to induce sleep and no car rides during naptime, when possible. The reason: You don’t want your baby to require motion to fall asleep.

Nothing should happen in your baby’s crib besides sleep. Don’t put him there for playing or even for keeping him safe for a minute while you pee. Use a different safe spot, say, a play yard, for those moments.

If possible, put your baby down in a quiet, dark room. At daycare, you can request a quiet(er), dark(er) corner. They might not be able to accommodate; can’t hurt to ask.

Dr. Roban put my baby on a three-nap-a-day schedule, which is pretty typical for 7-month-olds (around 8/9 months they might drop a nap):

8 a.m. to 9 a.m

11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“But he goes to daycare” or “We have a nanny,” you say. “I can’t control his naps!” You can’t entirely, but you can share this schedule and the below steps with your child’s caregiver(s). I told our daycare center director I worked with a sleep doctor and shared what we’re going to be doing at home. “Ask them, ‘What can you do the same?’” It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just request that they be consistent with the routine. Dr. Roban kindly spoke to the head teacher at my son’s daycare and noted how following these rules ultimately would make her job easier. Naps aren’t perfect at school every day, but he seems to be getting enough restorative sleep most days because he’s not usually overtired for bedtime.

Does my baby actually sleep for an hour every two hours? Of course not. With that as your goal, here are some more steps to follow.

Step 1: Look for sleepy cues. If it’s 7:30 a.m. and your baby is already rubbing his eyes, it’s naptime, even though he’s not technically due to go down for another half hour.

Step 2: Follow steps 7 to 9 above. Yes, you’re really going to read a book, sing a song and give a verbal cue every time you do naptime. Ask your caregiver to do the same, but understand that daycare providers have a few other babies to worry about so their routine might just be a verbal cue.

Step 3: Walk out and don’t go back in for an hour. Nap-training doesn’t work as quickly as sleep-training. Although your baby might be sleeping through the night by day 3, naps might suck for a while longer. So yeah, you might have to let your baby cry for that whole hour the first try or two. A daycare might not be willing to do the same. Try to convince them anyway. “Babies get confused when they get picked up before they go to sleep,” says Dr. Roban.

Step 4: Retrieve your baby if he’s awake. But give him a few minutes to hang out before you go in. If your baby didn’t sleep for at least a half-hour, try doing your pre-nap routine again in 20 minutes and putting him down again. Naps less than half an hour long aren’t helpful to a baby's body or mind. If your child is still sleeping at the hour mark, let him sleep.

Step 5: Pay attention to how long he naps. His next nap should take place X time from when he wakes up, where X is the amount he slept (if more than half an hour) + an hour. So if he snoozed for half an hour, his next nap is an hour-and-a-half from his wake-up time. If he slept for 45 minutes, his next nap is an hour-and-45-minutes from his-wake-up time. An hour is the ideal nap length for a baby sleeping three times a day, so he should go down again two hours later. No need to wake him if he sleeps for more than an hour; simply adjust the schedule according to the formula above—or try for another nap when he shows cues that he’s tired. The only reason to wake him would be if he sleeps past 4:30 p.m. As such, don’t put him down for a nap past 3:30.

So what does this all look like in real life? The first night, the baby cried for just over an hour—Dr. Roban said the average protest is 45 minutes long. And then he slept for nearly five hours straight. He woke up and cried again for an hour and 40 minutes. I was a teary mess. He woke up for the day at 10 to 6. Naps were equally shitshowy.

The second night, the baby cried for 50 minutes before falling asleep. He slept for nearly seven uninterrupted hours. It was heaven. He then cried for 25 minutes and fell back asleep until 20 to 6.

The third night, he cried for 27 minutes before falling asleep for the night. He woke up coughing just 20 minutes later, but got himself back to sleep quickly after that. He slept for seven-and-a-half hours. But he spent an hour and 15 minutes crying before he got himself back to sleep once more.

By night four, Monday night, we were in a good place. He cried for just two minutes when I initially put him in his crib! He slept for just shy of 10 hours without waking. The pattern continued from there. He’s supposed to get between 11 and 12 hours of sleep a night, and he usually gets about 10 ½, which is a win since we can’t control his napping during the week.

Naps were still a mess at that point, so Dr. Roban emailed with me every day for about a month, giving me support and guidance that really helped.

Now, at 11 months, my baby naps for about two hours a day at daycare, and usually the full three hours when he’s home on the weekends.

When we sleep at my mom’s or my in-laws', the night is more unpredictable. And when he’s sick or teething, there might be a wake-up. But he’s able to get himself back to sleep, except when he’s feeling extra rotten. I mostly stick to his napping schedule on the weekends. Luckily, when we can’t swing it, it doesn’t seem to have a totally awful effect on his overnight sleep. Being on the other side of things now, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to sleep-train. I recommend the extinction method to anyone. My baby is a happy guy and goes to bed without crying most nights.

Full disclosure: Dr. Roban offered her services to me without a fee, but if her help didn’t work, I wouldn’t have written about it.

Written by Meredith Bodgas for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Working Mother

Ancient Crystals Show That Beer Has Always Had a Place At the Table

Ancient crystals show that beer has always had a place at the table

I’ve had a fascination with beer for a long time. I had my first one in Bavaria in 1961 when I was 16. It was legal there, but when I got back to New York, the drinking age was 18. One time, I wanted a pint so badly, I dressed in lederhosen, went to a nearby tavern, and pretended I was German. It worked—they actually served me.

I began studying alcoholic beverages in the 1990s at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, where I now direct the Biomolecular Archaeology Project. My colleagues and I had been researching the design and engineering of ancient pottery, but inevitably we started to wonder what had been inside those jugs.

Around that time, an archaeologist working in Iran brought us a roughly 5,500-year-old vessel with an unusual residue inside. It looked like calcium oxalate: a yellowish, crystalline residue that modern brewers called “beerstone.” It can harbor microorganisms that may warp a batch’s flavor or even be poisonous.

When we compared the residue with a sample from a local brewery, they were virtually identical. Combined with the fact that the crisscrossed lines on the container matched those of the Sumerian symbol for beer (kas), we were confident that we had found the oldest-known evidence of draft production.

New discoveries always pop up. In 2018, a team in Israel found a 13,000-year-old receptacle with potential brewing evidence. I think beer goes back to our species’ beginnings. If sugars were there to ferment, humans were probably trying to get that buzz I felt back in Bavaria.

Written by Eleanor Cummins for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Popular Science

What Is Running Power And How Can It Help You Improve?

What Is Running Power And How Can It Help You Improve?

Running with power requires a mental shift, but it can help you pace your training and race efforts to perfection.

There are three traditional methods that runners use to pace their training sessions and races. The simplest of these is to run on feel, gauging your effort based on your perceived rate of exertion. The most common is to run according to pace, especially in races when you know the target pace to achieve a PB. Finally, as heart rate monitors have become standard on running watches and fitness trackers, heart rate zones have also become a useful method to judge your efforts.

All three have their merits and all can work for any runner, but all have their faults too. We’re all liable to misjudge our efforts and overdo it when running on feel, while a raw pace number doesn’t take into account hills or weather conditions. Heart rate is better on this front, but wrist devices can suffer from accuracy problems, and your heart rate can vary based on things like stress and how much you’ve slept.

All this brings us to running power, which is a measurement that advocates claim is a better way to judge your efforts in all conditions, regardless of variables like terrain and the weather. To learn more about it, we spoke to Angus Nelson, co-founder of Stryd, which makes a power meter.

What is running power?

“Running power represents the intensity you’re running at,” says Nelson, and getting the intensity right is key when following a training plan.

“For pure runners, using pace as a training metric works fine if you’re running on a treadmill, track, or other very flat surface with no wind or temperature changes. You can keep an even pace and your pace represents your intensity. But when you run outside and you hit hills, or it’s windy, or the temperature or humidity changes, you’re going to be working a lot harder to keep a consistent pace.”

On those occasions, keeping your power output steady means your effort will be consistent, whereas trying to hold a certain pace could mean the training run is too hard, because you’re overdoing it up hills, or even too easy, if you have a tailwind pushing you along all the way. Either way, you won’t be getting as many benefits from that run as if you had stuck to the effort specified in your plan, and if you have worked too hard to hold a pace in unfavourable conditions it could affect the quality of the rest of your week’s training.

“Instead of trying to guess the right pace value as the conditions change, it’s easier to run on your energy expenditure directly – to run based on a power number,” Nelson says. “So you’re not trying to keep to seven minutes per mile, you’re trying to keep the energy expenditure that correlates with that speed. You might be given a power target of 300 watts, which correlates to seven-minute paces on flat ground, but when you start running up hill the pace changes. The power target doesn’t.”

What factors combine to produce the power number?

There are various power meters out there that use different factors to produce the wattage number you are given, but generally the idea is to take into account your speed plus external factors like hills, and in the case of Stryd conditions like wind, temperature and humidity.

“The Stryd pod connects to laces on the shoe,” Nelson says. “It can understand the effort you’re putting in because it measures the motion of the foot, and then it measures the environment you’re in and how that’s affecting you.”

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How can power help you improve as a runner?

“If you’re following a structured plan, you’re going to be doing some easy runs, some hard workouts, some racing,” says Nelson. “There is an ideal intensity to get the maximum benefits from training and run as fast as you can on race day. The most important thing is to establish the targets you should be training and running at. If you can do that you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of other runners.”

How do you establish those power targets?

It takes time to get used to power as a runner, and devices like Stryd also need some time to calibrate themselves to you and set your target power zones.

“[With Stryd] this is done through a system called auto calculated critical power,” says Nelson. “This takes all of your running data, profiles you as a runner and works out those targets. In the first few weeks you have the device, you have to tell the system what you’re capable of. You need to do three types of runs in the first few weeks – a short, fast sprint effort, a 10- to 20-minute tempo effort and an endurance effort. Stryd will then have a very good idea of what kind of performance you’re capable of, and that will determine what zones you should be training in and what effort you should be racing at.”

How does power help on race day?

“This is really the breakthrough moment for a lot of people who try running with power,” says Nelson. “Folks have a tendency to do a lot of strange things when racing – like start too fast, or push the hills too hard. It’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and stick with people who they consider to be of the same ability as them. But when folks start running with Stryd they have the confidence to run to the power value. They see those packs of runners push up the hill too hard, start too hard, surge mid-race – all these things are not optimal behaviour if you’re trying to produce a max-effort evenly paced race. People realise they weren’t taking control of their pacing strategy, but with Stryd they can.”

Power meters are especially useful for trail and cross-country races, or road events where you can expect undulating terrain or rough weather conditions.

“If you’re a trail runner, a cross-country runner or a road runner who loves challenges, you’re going to get a greater benefit from this technology,” says Nelson. “You’re going to be able to run faster in these difficult conditions.”

Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

Develop a Morning Routine That’ll Stick

Develop a morning routine that’ll stick

Every morning I wake up at 5:27. I read for 17 minutes, perform my ablutions (13 minutes flat), then meditate until 6:43 when I break four raw eggs into a blender with two strips of bacon, blend for 33 seconds, and chug in eight. By 6:50 I’m ready to face the day—and I’m sure most of you, mere mortals, are still asleep.

Or maybe not.

Your morning routine is what you regularly do when you wake up. For most people, that’s getting out of bed, having breakfast, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and heading into work. There is, however, a productivity movement driven by people like Tim Ferriss and James Clear that suggests having a morning ritual that includes activities such as meditating, journaling, exercise, and other healthy and mindfulness-oriented practices to get your day started.

But in order to work, a good morning routine has to be something that works for you. It’s better to have something that’s 60 percent perfect and you can stick with 90 percent of the time, than something that’s 100 percent perfect but you only have the time to do every third Tuesday.

Maybe you’d like to do some meditation before going out and facing the world. But if you’ve got a two-year-old whose morning routine is throwing tantrums, you’re not going to get those 20 minutes of silence before work.

Decide what you want to achieve

Journaling could be a great addition to your morning routine. You could even journal about your morning routine.
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Personally, I like having a morning routine that involves meditating, stretching, and journaling. I find it’s a really effective way for me—a childless, freelance, remote writer—to get settled and focused on work. I have seen many of the touted benefits of these seemingly over-the-top morning plans, like less stress, better emotional health, and more productivity. If I skip my routine, it’s easy for me to waste my morning procrastinating on Reddit and Instagram.

But that may be totally different from what someone with two kids and an hour-long commute needs to do every day before they go to work. There are lots of benefits to the aforementioned morning routine mainstays and the like, but focusing on them shouldn’t compromise other things you actually need to get done.

Before deciding on a highly demanding morning ritual, consider what you need to achieve and work backwards from there. If you have to make it to work on time, clean, well-dressed, and fully caffeinated, start with building a routine that allows you to do that—and then you can add in some weight training or meditation. On the other hand, if you struggle to get focused in the mornings, maybe a bit of physical activity or mindfulness practice is exactly what you’re after.

Don’t go overboard all at once

You already made that great cup of coffee. Why don't you try breathing deep a few times while it becomes drinkable?
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Like with any self-improvement plan, it’s easy to go from zero to 100 and back to zero again with your morning routine. Just because they’re currently in vogue, it doesn’t mean you need to create one that will best everyone else’s. It’s better to slowly build a series of habits you can stick with, than failing while trying to do everything at once.

The easiest way to build new morning habits is to piggyback them onto your existing routines. You can easily use the time you wait for your coffee to cool—which you probably spend scrolling through Twitter or Instagram—journaling, if that’s what you want. If you want to work on meditation, start with five minutes as soon as you get out of bed, or even 10 mindful breaths in the shower. Don’t set the bar too high—if exercise is what you’re interested in, for example, you’re far more likely to build a successful routine around a seven-minute bodyweight circuit than a 5-mile pre-dawn run.

Also, don’t try working in a dozen different things in one go—add new habits and routines slowly and let each one settle. It takes about two months for a new habit to become automatic, so don’t spread your focus too thin.

Morning routines start the night before

Just imagine the smile on Future You when they see the amazing fruit smoothie you made for them.
. Popular Science

While most of the focus is on what you do after you wake up, what you do before you even go to bed can determine how successful your morning routine will be.

Consider the ideal ritual you’re trying to build and look for both trouble points and opportunities to do more the night before. If there’s a way to head off a predictable potential problem with a bit of preparation, take it. And if there’s not, think about how you’ll deal with things in the morning.

If your goal is to eat a healthy fruit salad for breakfast, slicing up the fruit the night before makes it much more likely you’ll stick to the plan, and will prevent you from falling into the trap of quick and easy sugary cereal. If you want to get to the gym, don’t start your day digging through your laundry—take the time to get your washing done and leave your bag packed and ready before bed.

Stick with it

Some days are harder than others. Don't worry—you can catch up tomorrow.
. Popular Science

Once the initial flush of excitement fades, sticking with new routines is hard work. Just look at the vast majority of people who fail to keep their well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions—most flunked them by February.

And the February of your morning routine will come. You’ll just need to plug away through it. One of the best ways to speed up habit formation is to stick with it. It takes a few months for your morning routine to become an actual routine, so don’t stop as soon as you lose a bit of motivation.

Obviously, everyone will miss a day from time to time, but it’s important to not let skipping your routine become the routine. If life gets in the way, don’t overthink it and just continue where you left off. A good challenge is trying not to miss two days in a row.

However, if you do start skipping days, stop and reconsider things. That’s a sign that you either don’t really want what you’re telling yourself you want, or are taking on more than you can handle at once.

Don’t fight your chronotype

Are you sure you're a night owl?
. Popular Science

Some people just aren’t morning people. There’s actually a theory about how hunter-gatherers had staggered sleep patterns, with some falling asleep early and waking early and others falling asleep later and waking later, so there’d always be someone alert around the campfire in case lions came by for a midnight snack. This now expresses itself as your chronotype: whether you have a propensity to be a morning or evening person.

If you struggle to develop a productive morning routine because you just can’t get up early enough, you might just be genetically disposed to be a night owl. Don’t fight it—instead, schedule big things like gym sessions for the evening. You can still make a great routine for yourself, but you’ll need to be aware of what you’ll actually be able to achieve.

Be warned though—this comes with a major caveat. A huge number of people think they’re night owls, but in fact they’re just staring at screens too much and mess up their sleep patterns. I thought I was chronotypically an evening person, but as soon as I got a handle on my late night screen use, I found out I was actually a long-suffering morning person.

Adapt and thrive

Start small. Eventually, you'll be able to find your balance (literally).
. Popular Science

There is no perfect morning routine—only the one that’s perfect for you. And it is perfect because it gets what you need done, and therefore, you can stick to it.

If your morning routine still isn’t coming together despite your best intentions, then take a step back and reconsider what you’re doing. Change a few things, iron out any trouble points, and try again. You’ll eventually find out what works for you, what supposedly productive habits are actually good, and which ones are just ludicrous fads.

Written by Harry Guinness for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Popular Science

Ask the Professor: I Have Pain, Should I Still Train?

Ask the Professor: I Have Pain, Should I Still Train?

Professor Erin Calderone answers this burning question.

I think I may have an injury but am not sure. Should I work out?

If you’ve been training for a while, you’re probably no stranger to the next-day aches and pains you incur from attempting a new lift or hitting a new max. But sometimes pain appears out of nowhere, and in these instances, you should stop and assess your situation. Pain signals — no matter what the severity — are your brain’s way of telling you to put on the brakes to prevent further damage.

Here are some questions to help you determine whether you have an injury, what to do if you have incurred one and what you can do in the meantime to avoid a complete physique meltdown.

How long have I felt the pain, and what does it feel like?

Think back to recent training sessions and try to determine when it started. Was there a specific movement or exercise that may have caused it, or has it been slowly building over time?

A strain such as pulling a muscle often feels like a knot or excessive soreness if you move that joint or stretch that muscle. A sprain — aka a partial tear — feels like a sharp twinge, such as when you roll your ankle, and it may come with swelling and stiffness. With a severe injury like a full tear, you will likely hear and/or feel a pop in the area, which is usually accompanied by swelling. In those cases, it’s time to call the doc. You also should visit your M.D. if you are experiencing numbness, burning or tingling (indicative of nerve pain), pain deep in the joint (as opposed to in an adjacent muscle) or super-severe pain that keeps you from moving that limb or putting weight on it entirely.

When do I feel it?

If you feel pain only when the affected muscle is stretched and/or contracted, you are probably just sore from training or have incurred a minor muscle strain. If the pain persists and is consistently dull, throbbing or sharp — even when you’re not moving — there could be something else going on. Have it looked at to rule out a more severe injury.

How can I heal it?

Obviously, the first thing to do is to avoid the movement pattern that caused the injury until the pain subsides. For minor injuries like strains and sprains, you should rest the area for six to eight weeks and avoid any aggravating movement patterns. You should notice a reduction in pain within the first week. In the meantime, work on strengthening and mobilizing the area to help prevent the injury from reoccurring. For example, many hamstring strains occur when doing a Romanian (stiff-legged) deadlift because the hamstrings are stretched at both the hip and the knee. Here, optimize hip mobility with foam rolling, yoga and dynamic stretches like leg swings or walking lunges. Strengthen your glutes with bridging moves and your hamstrings with stability-ball curls. And, of course, for major injuries, follow the directions of your doc.

What kind of rest does it need?

Minor injuries need three to four days of complete rest and you can use ice or heat or both as needed to reduce pain. But this time frame is absolutely not written in stone, and in reality, you have to listen to your body. Forcing your body to work while injured can cause a change in your muscle activation sequences, which in turn can cause altered joint positioning and movement patterns. This can then then affect other joints or even make the original injury worse. A minor injury can become chronic when you try to push through the pain rather than allowing it time to heal. So if after four days you’re still in pain, by all means give it more rest or go see your doctor.

Can I still exercise?

You can certainly exercise in ways that won’t aggravate the injury or stress that particular joint or muscle group. For instance, if you feel a twinge in your knee, you can still train legs with exercises that emphasize the glutes such as hip thrusts or fire hydrants. Shoulders are trickier because they move in so many directions, so first identify any movements or positions that cause pain, then avoid those moves for a couple of weeks.

Remember, however, that these exercise substitutions and workarounds are not the same as corrective exercises, which help negate muscle imbalances and prevent future injuries. The workaround will definitely keep you active while giving that area time to heal, and once the pain dissipates, you can work on re-establishing your mobility and strengthening the stabilizing muscles to prevent a reoccurrence.

The take-away here is to listen to your body. Even minor aches and pangs are messages from your brain that your body needs a break. If the pain is severe or persists for more than a couple of weeks, pony up the copay and go see your doc. Even superhumans need help sometimes.

Written by NASM Master Trainer for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Gym

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Gym

Let’s face it — the gym isn't for everyone, and if you’re not a fan of crowds, packed parking lots or equipment christened by other people’s sweat, training at home could be your dream come true. The good news is that building a decent home gym is easier than ever, and the key to creating the perfect training space is selecting the equipment that best suits your goals, your space and your budget.

Check out these four spatial scenarios and their associated equipment suggestions. Then mix and match the gear from any of them to create a gym perfectly tailored for you. Hello instant workouts, goodbye excuses!

The Tiny House

Whether you literally live in a dollhouse on wheels or a studio apartment, you need to equip your space carefully to ensure that your gear doesn’t double as furniture. Portable, multifunctional equipment is best here so you can set up anywhere and get your sweat on.

Space-Saving Superstars

Suspension Trainer

A suspension trainer leverages your own bodyweight for resistance, and simply changing your angle or body position can modify any exercise to make it harder or easier. And because the trainer is just a simple set of straps and handles, it hardly takes up any square footage in a drawer or cabinet.

Resistance Bands

No room for a rack of dumbbells? Then invest in a set of resistance bands. They are cheap and versatile and can be used in place of dumbbells or barbells for just about every move you can think of. Purchase a few different “weights” to give yoursel options during training.

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. Oxygen Magazine

Jump Rope

Not everyone has the space (or the money) for a treadmill or elliptical trainer, but truth be told, you don’t need a machine to get your sweat on. Jumping rope is one of the most time- and space-efficient ways to burn a ton of calories while building endurance and cardiovascular fortitude.

Sample Tiny House Setup

Total Investment: $400-500*

* All prices are estimates; cost will vary by brand.

Mobility/Strength Mash-Up

Either perform this workout using straight sets to build strength or create a heart-pumping circuit by doing the moves back-to-back with no rest in between for two to three rounds.

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. Oxygen Magazine

The Suburbanite Setup

Out in the ’burbs, you have a little more room to kick around, and here a guest room or den can easily double as your workout space. In addition to being able to house all the suggested Tiny House gear, you are more at liberty to expand your equipment horizons. However, your space still needs to be multifunctional and neat with equipment that can be collapsed or hidden away when company calls.

Hideaway Heroes

Foldable Bench

Unless you’re planning on using your flat bench for extra seating at the dinner table, you’ll want to be able to stash it when your in-laws are in town. Most foldable benches collapse completely flat and can be rolled underneath a bed or hidden in the back of a closet.

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. Oxygen Magazine

Parallel Training Bars

Though they look simple, a set of parallel bars can be used for hundreds of strength moves, and they are appropriate for exercisers of all levels. Perform moves such as dips, push-ups, L-sits and leg raises, as well as stretches and mobility training.

Dial-a-Dumbbell

If you don’t have the wall space to house a bulky rack of weights, then an adjustable dumbbell set is a must-have. This system allows you to change your weight up or down in increments, and when not in use, it can be stashed in the corner without

Sample Suburbanite Setup

Total Investment: $1,375

At-Home HIIT

Perform as many reps as you can of each move in 30 seconds and rest minimally between exercises. Cycle (or do another form of cardio) for five minutes at a moderately intense pace, then rest one minute. Complete two to three rounds.

Garage Girl

Let’s face it — no one uses their garage for cars anymore, and besides, who doesn’t want the kind of fitness space that spills out into the driveway and makes the neighbors jealous? With this setup, you bring some of the niceties of a commercial facility into your own domain and will never have to share a chalk-crusted power rack again.

Great Garage Gear

CrossFit Home Gym Package

Even if you’re not into CrossFit WODs, a setup such as this delivers all the equipment bells and whistles in a single package, and usually at a lower price point than if you were to purchase all the items separately. Depending on the company, a package might include barbells, a rack, bumper plates, a rowing machine, a climbing rope, rings, medicine ball(s) and more.

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. Oxygen Magazine

Flooring

Whether you used to have cars in there or not, most garage floors are less than pristine, with oil stains, outdoor grime and (yipe!) spiders. A puzzle-piece rubberized floor is easy to install, allowing you to rise above the grit while also giving you the option of easy removal if you decide your car indeed needs shelter.

Plyometric Box

A solid plyo box is an incredible in-home tool and can be used to train your whole body with or without weight. Step-ups, dips, box jumps and endless plyometric drills are at your fingertips.

Vision Bored

When choosing a large piece of equipment such as a stationary bike, treadmill or rowing machine, consider the footprint (how much space it will take up), whether it can be easily accessed for maintenance or adjustments, and what is in your line of sight when you use it. Because it won't matter how many bells and whistles it has if all you have to look at is a blank wall.

Sample Garage Girl Setup

Total Investment: $5,230 – $5,730

At-Home AMRAP

After a thorough warm-up, complete as many rounds and reps as possible (AMRAP) of the following workout in 25 minutes. Record your score and try to beat it next time.

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. Oxygen Magazine

The She Shed

If you’re lucky enough to have a no-limit budget, get your gym out of the house and into its own space. This custom setup includes state-of-the-art equipment that collects all your metrics, integrating on-demand boutique studio classes (such as those offered by Peloton and Technogym) and your own biostats to help you maintain motivation and track your progress.

The Bells and Whistles

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. Oxygen Magazine

Peloton Bike

Enjoy the intensity and camaraderie of a group fitness class — without leaving your home. Peloton offers more than 90 live weekly classes that range from five to 90 minutes and that are led by some of the most popular instructors around. See your realtime metrics, such as heart rate, cadence and output, and then compare them with others who are virtually working out with you.

Multifunction Machine

There are a bevy of options (and price points) for this kind of equipment, so look for a product that allows you to perform a multitude of your favorite exercises. If you can see the machine in person, test it out and make sure everything locks securely and that all moving parts glide smoothly.

Skillrun Treadmill

This incredible piece of equipment gives you a treadmill, a sled and a parachute trainer all in one. It provides guided workouts and a large touch screen, and an easy-to-reach toggle makes increasing and decreasing speed and intensity a snap.

Sample She Shed Setup

Total Cost: $22,395 – $23,515

Killer Conditioning

Choose a light to moderate weight for the strength moves, and work at 70 to 75 percent max effort during the cardio intervals. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between strength moves, and complete the workout two times through.

Urban Outfitter

Want to outfit your home gym like a pro? Come to the IDEA World Convention July 8-12, 2020, in Anaheim, California, to test-drive the latest and greatest in fitness equipment on the expo floor!

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. Oxygen Magazine

Making the Grade

Fitness equipment comes in different “grades” based on how much it is going to be used, and most large companies make multiple versions of the same piece: home, light commercial and full commercial. Home-grade equipment is typically the cheapest and will withstand consistent use by one or two people, at most. The light commercial version is more reliable and will have the sturdier feel of a piece you’d find at your local gym or box. A full commercial piece is an absolute necessity for anyone planning on having multiple people use it throughout the day — for example, if you’re setting up a small studio to train clients or have a number of friends chipping in on it.

Also, beware of the crappy stuff. “The biggest mistake people make when buying equipment online is not knowing the quality of the source,” says Ron Martin, sales manager at FitOne Fitness. Purchase from companies with a reputable name in the commercial and studio gym settings, even if you’re buying the home version of their gear. If you already train at a gym, you will recognize the more reputable names such as Precor, Life Fitness, Freemotion, Hammer Strength, York, Rogue, Perform Better and TRX. If it’s been a while since you had a membership and you’re unsure what is best at present, consult a specialized fitness equipment store and sales staff (steer clear of big chains) to steer you in the right direction, or attend a fitness conference expo and try

Written by NASM Master Trainer for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine