August 30, 2020

The Best HIIT YouTube Workouts and More…

In today’s digest we bring you articles on The Best HIIT YouTube Workouts, Three Killer Leg Workouts for Muscle Growth, The Best Running Gear For Men And Women, And What to Know Before You Buy and 20 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas – Fitness and Power. Hope you enjoy them…

The Best HIIT YouTube Workouts

YouTube workout videos are a great way to get fit at home at any time, but that’s especially true now that your other options are limited thanks to the COVD-19 lockdown. You get the benefits of attending a fitness class – with an expert instructor telling you what to do and how long to do […]

YouTube workout videos are a great way to get fit at home at any time, but that’s especially true now that your other options are limited thanks to the COVD-19 lockdown. You get the benefits of attending a fitness class – with an expert instructor telling you what to do and how long to do it for – without leaving your house, and it costs you absolutely nothing.

However, it’s fair to say that along with a plentiful amount of wheat, there is also an awful lot of chaff on YouTube. And looking through the videos to sort the former from the latter can take a frustrating amount of time, especially when you’re in gym gear and ready to go.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do that searching, because we’ve narrowed down a terrific selection of HIIT workout videos for you.

1. Absolute Beginners HIIT Workout – The Body Coach

If PE With Joe isn’t providing enough Joe Wicks for you then raid his back catalogue, where you’ll find great workouts like this HIIT session. It’s four rounds of five exercises, doing 30sec of work and resting for 30sec. If you’re looking to get into HIIT, this is a great place to start.

2. 30 Minute Les Mills GRIT Cardio Workout – Les Mills

This 30-minute HIIT session is a collaboration between actor Nina Dobrev, Reebok and Les Mills. The workout is made up solely of bodyweight exercises, so you don’t have to agonise over whether it’s worth buying the last 2kg pair of dumbbells on the internet or use tins of beans. That said, it involves an awful lot of jumping, so if you live in a flat maybe warn the people below.

3. 30-Minute No-Equipment Cardio & HIIT Workout – POPSUGAR Fitness

Charlee Atkins, founder of NYC fitness brand Le Sweat, leads this workout, which involves completing three circuits of bodyweight moves at a frenetic pace to help you get stronger and fitter.

4. 20 MIN HOME HIIT WORKOUT No Equipment No Noise – Natacha Océane

We’re big fans of the fact that the description of this workout specifies that there’s no noise as well as no kit, because trying to find a HIIT video that doesn’t involve jumping around in a manner sure to annoy your neighbours is tricky. The 20-minute workout involves doing four rounds of five exercises, working for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds.

The Best HIIT YouTube Workouts was originally published at LINK

Make sure to follow Body Shapr on Facebook - Body Shapr

Three Killer Leg Workouts for Muscle Growth

Build your best legs ever with any of these tried-and-tested leg workouts. Warm-up before each one by doing some light cardio, a few dynamic stretches/joint mobility exercises, and 1-2 sets each of the main exercises using a light weight. That way, your body, and mind will be prepared for what you are about to do, […]

Build your best legs ever with any of these tried-and-tested leg workouts. Warm-up before each one by doing some light cardio, a few dynamic stretches/joint mobility exercises, and 1-2 sets each of the main exercises using a light weight. That way, your body, and mind will be prepared for what you are about to do, and your risk of injury will be as low as possible. 

Ready to go? Let’s do this! 

Workout 1 – Machines Only

Resistance training machines often get a lot of bad press for not being “functional.” Machine detractors tell us that machines don’t improve performance because they don’t involve as much stabilizer muscles, balance, or coordination. But, guess what, when you want to build serious muscle, those so-called drawbacks are actually benefits.

With no weights to balance or tricky movements to master, you are free to focus on working your muscles to failure – an important factor for triggering growth.

Sure, if you are an athlete, too much machine training could be detrimental to your performance but, for bodybuilding, machines can be incredibly useful. As an added benefit, working your legs on resistance training machines provides your spine with plenty of support, and that’s good news if you have back pain.

Build your best legs ever with this machine-only workout!

 Exercise SetsRepsRecoveryTraining system
1aLeg extensions41290 secondsPre-exhaust superset
1bHack squat12
2aLeg curls41290 secondsPre-exhaust superset
2bSmith machine good mornings12
3Leg press415, 12, 10, 890 secondsPyramid
4Standing calf raise42160 secondsMatrix (21s)

Workout Notes:
Exercises 1a and 1b, and 2a and 2b, are to be performed as supersets. Do the (a) exercise first and then, without resting, do the (b) exercise. On completion of the second exercise, rest for the prescribed time and then repeat the pairing.

For exercise 3, increase the weight set by set, e.g., 15 reps with 160 pounds, 12 reps with 180 pounds, 10 reps with 200 pounds, and 8 reps with 220 lbs.

For exercise 4, do 7 reps from the top of the range of motion to halfway down. Next, do 7 reps from the bottom to halfway up. Finally, do 7 reps using a full range of motion to total 21 reps per set.

Exercise descriptions

Leg Extensions

Use leg extensions to warm-up your knees and pre-fatigue your quads, making the next exercise even more challenging!

Leg extensions
Leg extensions

How to do it:

  1. Adjust the seat on the leg extension so that your knees are in line with the machine’s pivot point. Adjust the leg pad, so it’s across your ankles.
  2. Without kicking or jerking, smoothly extend your legs until your knees are straight. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds.
  3. Bend your legs and lower the weights, but do not allow the weight plates to touch down.
  4. Move quickly on to the next exercise.

Hack Squat

The hack squat machine is a compound exercise that emphasizes your quadriceps. With plenty of back support, this move is easy on your spine but tough on your legs.

Hack Squat
Hack Squat

How to do it:

  1. Lean against the backrest, so your shoulders are under the pads. Stand on the footplate with your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Release the safety catches, and with your feet flat, bend your legs and squat down as far as your flexibility (and knee health!) allows. Do not let your back round or your heels to lift.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.
  4. Rest and then return to the previous exercise.

Read also: The Hack Squat: Target Muscles, Benefits, Exercise Instructions, And Variations

Leg Curls

Leg curls isolate your hamstrings and will make the next exercise feel much more challenging. You can do seated, standing, or supine leg curls are preferred.

How to do it:

  1. Adjust your chosen machine so that your knees are in line with the lever arm pivot point. Move the leg pad so that it’s across your lower calf/ankle.
  2. Without kicking or jerking, smoothly bend your leg and pull your heels into your butt.
  3. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds and then lower the weights. Do not allow the weight plates to touch down between reps.
  4. Move quickly on to the next exercise.

Smith Machine Good Mornings

Good mornings with a regular barbell are a good posterior chain exercise, but doing them on the Smith machine eliminates the need to balance so you can focus 100% on the muscles you are working.

How to do it:

  1. Set the bar on a Smith machine to about shoulder-height. Duck under the bar and rest it across your upper traps. Grip the bar with a firm, overhand grip. Unrack the bar and stand with your feet about hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Without rounding your lower back, push your butt back and hinge forward from your hips. Lean over as far as your flexibility allows.
  3. Drive your hips forward and stand back up.
  4. Rest for the prescribed time before moving back to the previous exercise.

Leg Press

Your last main leg exercise is the mighty leg press! This move works all your major leg muscles while supporting your lower back. It’s your final big exercise, so make sure you give it your all, using the pyramid method described in the workout notes.

Leg Presses
Leg Presses

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the leg press and place your feet on the footrest about shoulder-width apart. Move your feet up or down to find the best position. Too high, and you won’t get enough knee flexion. Too low, and your knees will bend too far, and you won’t be able to keep your heels down.
  2. Unrack the weight and bend your legs. Descend as far as you can without rounding your lower back. Even with the back support, rounding your spine can still lead to injury.
  3. Without bouncing, press the weight back up, stopping just short of fully locking your knees, and repeat.

Read also: Leg Press Exercise Guide – Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits, Tips And Variations

Standing Calf Raise

No leg workout is complete without some direct calf training. Standing calf raises work your gastrocnemius muscle (upper calf) and soleus (lower calf), making it a very time-efficient move. Remember to do this exercise using the 21s/matrix training method.

Standing Calf Raises
Standing Calf Raises

How to do it:

  1. Place the balls of your feet on the footplate, so your heels are free to move. Put your shoulders under the shoulder pads and stand up straight. Push up onto your tiptoes. This is your starting position.
  2. Lower your heels about halfway down and then push back up onto your tiptoes. Do this seven times.
  3. Next, lower your heels all the way down into a stretched position. Rise halfway up and then back down again. Do this seven times.
  4. Finally, from the bottom position, do seven more reps using a full range of motion.

Read also: 9 Best Calves Exercises

Workout 2 – Barbell Only

There’s no school like the old-school, and barbells are the original old-school training tool. They might be low-tech, but barbells are still one of the best ways to build muscle size and strength. This barbell only workout is perfect for those days when you want to use brute force to lift heavy weights and embrace your inner powerlifter.

 Exercise SetsRepsRecovery
1Paused back squats55Two minutes
2Romanian deadlift3890 seconds
3Front squats55Two minutes
4Snatch grip deadlifts3890 seconds
5Goose step420 yards60 seconds

Workout Notes:
This workout does not involve any training systems. Instead, you should just focus on lifting heavy weights with good form. Think of this as a power-building program – designed to build muscle mass and strength.

Exercise descriptions

Paused Back Squats

No barbell leg workout is complete without squats. This king of exercises will add slabs of muscle not only to the top your legs but your butt and lower back too. The purposeful mid-rep pause makes this exercise even more effective.

How to do it:

  1. In a squat rack, rest and hold a barbell across your upper traps. Hold the bar tightly with an overhand grip. Brace your abs and step out into a shoulder-width stance, toes turned slightly outward.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Without relaxing, hold this position for five seconds.
  4. Stand up as explosively as you can and then repeat.

Romanian Deadlift

Posterior chain exercises don’t come much better than the Romanian deadlift. Rumored to be a training favorite of Romanian Olympic weightlifters, this exercise will beef up your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

The Romanian Deadlift
Romanian Deadlifts

How to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell with an overhand, shoulder-width grip in front of your thighs. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Push your butt backward, hinge from the hips, and lower the bar down the front of your legs as far as your flexibility allows. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Read also: 3 Deadlift Workout Programs To Enhance Strength and Performance

Front Squats

Front squats allow you to keep your torso much more upright, which makes them more quad-centric than back squats. You may also find you can squat a little deeper with this variation.

How to do it:

  1. Rack and hold a barbell across the front of your shoulders. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor, elbows pointing straight ahead. Stand with your feet between shoulder and hip-width apart.
  2. Brace your abs, bend your knees, and squat down as far as you can without lifting your heels or rounding your lower back. Keep your torso upright and do not lower your arms, or you may drop the bar.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Snatch Grip Deadlifts

Snatch grip deadlifts are like regular deadlifts but with a greater range of motion. This means they’re harder on your glutes and hamstrings than conventional deadlifts. Use lighter than normal weights to reflect this increase in difficulty.

How to do it:

  1. Place your barbell on the floor and stand with feet about hip-width apart, toes under the bar. Squat down and grab the bar with a wide grip. Your hands should be between 1.5 and two shoulder-widths apart.
  2. Drop your hips, lift your chest, and straighten your arms.
  3. With your abs braced, drive your feet into the floor and stand up. Do not round your back or lean backward at the top of your rep.
  4. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower the bar to the floor.
  5. Reset your core and repeat.

Goose Step

Before calf raise machines were invented, this was how old-school lifters worked their lower legs. It might be an unusual exercise, but it’s very effective.

How to do it:

  1. Rack and hold a barbell across your upper back, as though you were going to do a set of squats.
  2. Push up on to your tiptoes.
  3. Keeping your legs straight and without lowering your heels, walk the prescribed distance. Try to stay on the balls of your feet throughout.

Workout 3 – Dumbbells and Bodyweight

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to train your legs and have a killer workout. In fact, you can build muscle and strength using nothing more than dumbbells and bodyweight exercises. This workout is ideal for home exercisers, and anytime you find yourself in a badly-equipped gym. 

 Exercise SetsRepsRecoveryTraining system
1Non-stop goblet squats41560 secondsN/A
2Single leg Romanian deadlifts412 per leg60 secondsN/A
3Bulgarian split squats312 per leg60 secondsN/A
4Dumbbell leg curls31260 secondsN/A
5Squat to box jumps31045 secondsN/A
6Dumbbell single-leg calf raises1100N/ARest/pause

Workout Notes:
There is only one training system in this workout – rest/pause – and you’re going to use it only with single-leg calf raises. With this method, your job is to pump out the prescribed rep count in as few sets as possible. Do all 100 reps on one leg before switching sides. And yes, it’s normal for this method to make your muscles burn and trigger wicked DOMS afterward!

Exercise descriptions:

Non-stop Goblet Squats

Non-stop goblet squats are designed to keep tension on the target muscles for the entire duration of the set. This will flood your muscles with lactic acid while maximizing time under tension, both crucial factors for muscle growth.

Goblet Squat
Goblet Squat

How to do it:  

  1. Hold a single dumbbell vertically in front of your chest. Your palms should be turned upward, so you are cradling the dumbbell by holding the underside of the innermost weight plate. Step out and into a shoulder-width stance, toes turned slightly outward.
  2. Brace your abs, bend your knees, and squat down as deeply as you can without rounding your lower back.
  3. Extend your legs and stand three-quarters of the way back up. Do NOT fully extend your knees.
  4. Squat back down and repeat.

Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts

Performed with dumbbells or just your bodyweight, this exercise is good for building your posterior chain and improving your balance. It’s also an excellent way to spot and fix left-to-right strength differences.

Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together, arms by your sides. Shift your weight over onto one leg. Bend your supporting knees slightly for balance.
  2. Bending from your hips, lean forward and extend your non-weight-bearing leg out behind you for balance. Reach down toward the floor. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Bulgarian Split Squats

This challenging exercise is great for your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It’s also useful for maintaining and developing hip mobility, coordination, and balance. Use just your bodyweight or hold a dumbbell in each hand as preferred.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your back to a knee-high bench. Bend one leg and place the top of your foot on the upper surface. Hop forward and into a split-stance.
  2. Bend your legs and lower your rear knee down toward the floor. Keep your torso and front shin as vertical as possible.
  3. Stand back up and repeat. Rest a moment, and then swap sides.
  4. Do the same number of reps on each leg.

Dumbbell Leg Curls

No leg curl machine? No problem! You can still work your hamstrings using nothing more than a single dumbbell.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your front on the floor or on a bench. Place a dumbbell between your feet and squeeze your legs together to hold it in place.
  2. Bend your legs until your shins are perpendicular to the floor, and then lower them again.
  3. Keep pushing your legs together to maintain your grip on the weight.
  4. Make this exercise harder by doing it on an inclined bench, with your feet lower than your hips.

Box Squat to Box Jumps

This combo exercise combines box squats with squat jumps to target your power-generating fast-twitch muscle fibers. It’s not the best muscle-building exercise, but it should have a positive knock-on effect on your lower body performance, making future workouts even more productive.

How to do it:

  1. Place an exercise bench and a plyo box about 2-3 feet apart and stand with your back to the bench. With your feet about shoulder-width apart, squat down and back until you are sat on the bench. Do not relax.
  2. Next, explosively stand up and, in one continuous motion, jump forward and up onto the box, landing with slightly bent knees to absorb the shock of landing.
  3. Step back down, descend into another box squat, and repeat.

Single Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise

This simple calf raise is very effective because, using just one leg at a time, you’ll have to work extra hard to stabilize your ankles. Expect to feel this move in your deeper calf muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Stand on the edge of a step on one leg. Cross your non-weight-bearing leg behind your other ankle, so it’s out of the way. Hold a weight in one hand and use your other arm for balance.
  2. Lower your heel down toward the floor, giving your calf a good stretch.
  3. Push up on to your tiptoe.
  4. Complete the 100 prescribed reps in as few sets as possible.
  5. Once you have done 100 reps, swap legs, and repeat.

Wrapping up

Whether you’ve been slacking on your leg training lately or are just looking for some new lower body workouts to try, these sessions will help. Leg training really is the cornerstone of a good workout plan, and mass added to your lower body usually means you’ll increase upper body muscle size too.

Of course, leg training isn’t easy, which is why so many exercisers are only too quick to skip leg day. But, when summer rolls around, and it’s time to wear shorts, they’ll be the ones with the unsightly chicken legs!

Train your legs hard and often, and your entire physique will improve. This bodybuilding rule is set in stone!  

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Three Killer Leg Workouts for Muscle Growth was originally published at LINK

Make sure to follow Body Shapr on Facebook - Body Shapr

The Best Running Gear For Men And Women, And What to Know Before You Buy

One of the best things about running is that its appeal isn’t limited by pricy membership costs or the need to have fancy equipment. Having said that, while you can easily get a few kilometres done in an old T-shirt, shorts and trainers, kit designed for the task will enhance your running experience by instantly […]

One of the best things about running is that its appeal isn’t limited by pricy membership costs or the need to have fancy equipment. Having said that, while you can easily get a few kilometres done in an old T-shirt, shorts and trainers, kit designed for the task will enhance your running experience by instantly making you feel and look better doing it. Let us explain the basics.

Running Shoes

Buying a pair of running shoes can seem complicated thanks to technical features with names NASA would reject for sounding too space age. Don’t worry – it’s simple when you know what to look for.

Get the Right Size: Do the laces up tight and walk around the shop. Your heel should have no room for movement and toes should be naturally spayed out, not pushed against each other, even slightly. Make sure it’s perfect by feeling around your toes in a sitting, standing and forward-leaning position. If length and width feels fine but your toes are cramped, ask to try shoes with a roomier toe box.

Know Your Features: All modern shoes have a breathable upper, but vary in cushioning and grip. Running off-road? Go for a trail shoe. Its grippy sole will keep you stable on rocky terrain. Sticking to the pavement? Get a road shoe. Its lightweight foam sole will reduce the energy you expend on each stride.

And Finally: Have your gait analysed at a running shop to determine the type of support you need. Most of us are neutral runners, but if your foot rolls overly inwards (overpronation) or outwards (underpronation) you might need a shoe that compensates for it.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Road Running Shoes

Budget Running Shoes

Top-of-the-range running shoes can now set you back north of £150, which is a lot of money even if you get 800km-plus out of them. Fortunately you can still get bargains, either by checking out budget options or being smart in the sales.

Get The Right Size: Just as with all running shoes, it’s best to try them on before buying if at all possible. You want room in the toe-box but a secure fit around the midfoot, although if you’re opting for a racing shoe expect a tighter fit.

Know Your Features: The weight of the shoe and the amount of cushioning it has are key to determining its best uses, whether that’s a plush but heavy shoe for easy training runs or a stripped-back speedster for race day.

And Finally: There are great deals to be had in long-running shoe lines that are updated every year. Go back one or two generations and you’ll often find a cut-price shoe that differs little from the newest model.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Budget Running Shoes

Marathon Running Shoes

If you’ve committed to train for and run a marathon, it’s worth indulging in a top-notch pair of shoes to help you on your way.

Get The Right Size: When running further than 30km it’s crucial to find a shoe which fits you comfortably. Start by ensuring there’s enough room in the toe-box, because if the upper of your shoe irritates you even slightly in the first kilometre of a run, it will be absolute murder by the 42nd.

Know Your Features: The star attraction of top-end marathon shoes right now is a carbon plate, which provides propulsion to keep you running at your best through the whole race. However, these plates don’t make for great training shoes, so you’ll need to also get your hands on a comfortable, cushioned shoe for your months of training. There are shoes that balance weight and cushioning so they’re great for training and racing in, if having two pairs of running shoes strikes you as preposterous (give it time, you’ll come around).

And Finally: It’s not always best to mimic what elite marathoners run in – they are lightweight, superbly conditioned athletes and usually have excellent technique, so their stripped-back shoes might not be comfortable enough for the average runner.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Marathon Running Shoes

Trail-Running Shoes

Heading off-road for your runs is a great way to clear your head and swap tough-on-joints pavements for more forgiving terrain. However, you need the right shoes to enjoy a trail run, otherwise you’ll spend the whole time trying to avoid slipping over.

Get The Right Size: As with regular running shoes, you want a close fit around the heel and midfoot, with a bit more room for your toes. A wide fit might feel more comfortable in the shop but consider the trails you’ll be tackling, because a wide shoe can be a little clumsy on narrow, rocky paths.

Know Your Features: First, pick the length of lug you want on the outsole of the shoe. Longer lugs give more grip in wet and muddy conditions, while shorter lugs are better for rockier, dry trails. If you are regularly running on stony trails, a rock plate is essential – these thin, hard plates protect your feet from hard edges.

And Finally: You can get any level of cushioning you want on trail shoes, but generally they are firmer than road running shoes because you don’t need the same level of protection on the uneven, soft ground you’ll encounter off-road as you do when hammering out long distances on pavements.

RECOMMENDED: Trail-Running Shoe Picks

Running Shoes For The Mud

If you’re running regularly on boggy ground then a dedicated pair of trail shoes designed for muddy tracks is an investment well worth making.

Get The Right Size: If you’re on slippery ground then a locked-down fit is vital, but at the same time you don’t want it to be uncomfortably tight, especially around the toes. Try before you buy – even by walking around a store you’ll get an idea of how the shoe will feel on the trails.

Know Your Features: The outsole is the key characteristic of a trail shoe designed to handle mud. You want the lugs on the bottom of the shoe to be 6mm or even 8mm deep to ensure they can cut through the mud to find purchase.

And Finally: If you want to use your trail shoes on harder ground as well, there are options with deep lugs that are closer together and wider than the studs common on shoes for the mud. This will make them more comfortable and better at finding traction on hard ground.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Shoes For The Mud

Never tried running in barefoot shoes before? Then choose a shoe with minimal cushioning rather than none at all. Veteran barefooters will want a shoe that acts as a second skin, protecting your foot from the surface it’s running on. The former are called minimal shoes (and are available for all sorts of training, not just running) and the latter are oxymoronically referred to as barefoot shoes.

Get the Right Size: The same guidelines for standard running shoes apply to minimal footwear, but you also need to think about whether you will wear it with socks or not (we recommend doing so) and try it on accordingly. The shoe should literally fit like a glove, with no baggy or tight bits.

Know Your Features: For a barefoot shoe consider whether you need a thick sole to protect from potential hazards such as broken glass. Just going minimal? Pay attention to the heel drop – the difference between the height of the shoe’s heel and toe. A low drop is what encourages the midfoot strike that barefoot running is built on. Standard shoes usually have a 10–12mm drop, so we recommend starting with an 8mm drop to ease yourself into a barefoot running style.

And Finally: Vibram and VIVOBAREFOOT are the two biggest names in the barefoot industry. However, all the major brands have a range of minimal shoes, mostly focusing on trail running.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Barefoot Running Shoes

Running Socks

Runners routinely spend three figures on trainers then pair them with budget socks, which is absolute madness. Proper running socks are crucial to running in comfort because they’ll keep your feet dry and help you avoid blisters.

Get The Right Size: You know the size of your foot, right? That will be all you need – unless you opt for compression socks, in which case you’ll need to also know you calf size to get the ideal sock for your needs.

Know Your Features: All running socks use fabrics that wick sweat away to keep your foot as dry as possible, helping to prevent blisters. Some models also have more dedicated anti-blister properties like double-layered fabric, which are designed so the layers rub against one another rather than the foot itself. If you opt for long socks, reflective details are always handy.

And Finally: If you like to make a fashion statement with your running gear, Stance has quickly become the go-to brand for many people thanks to its impressive range of designs and collaborations with pop-culture figures and franchises.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Socks

Compression Socks

Some runners swear that wearing compression gear improves their performance, while other use the socks to speed up their recovery after an especially tough session. The jury is still out in terms of scientific evidence, but even a placebo effect is welcome when you’re running.

RECOMMENDED: Does Compression Gear Work?

Get The Right Size: This is vital with compression socks, because a loose fit won’t have the desired effect in pushing blood up the leg, while a sock that’s too tight will be impossible to get on. Measure the widest part of your calf and match it up against the size guides on compression brands’ websites.

Know Your Features: Along with compression, many socks offer additional benefits like anti-blister fabrics and reflective features to make you more visible when running at night.

And Finally: If you take to compression but don’t like wearing a full sock, you can pick up sleeves that just compress the calf. Most of the top compression brands like CEP, 2XU and Compressport sell both calf sleeves and full socks.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Compression Socks For Runners

Running Headphones

Whether it’s music, podcasts, audiobooks or the radio, some audio entertainment is a vital part of running for many people, making a good-quality set of headphones an essential purchase.

Get The Right Size: Fit is perhaps the key factor when choosing running headphones; it doesn’t matter how impressive they sound if they drop out of your ear as soon as you pick up the pace. Headphones with over-the-ear hooks offer maximum stability, while in-ear buds often have wingtips you can attach to affix them more securely inside your lugs.

Know Your Features: As well as fit, look out for the water resistance rating – some will only be suitable for the amount of sweat produced by light running and showers, while others can handle your sweatiest sessions and full-on thunderstorms. Sound quality is important, of course, as is battery life if opting for a wireless set. If you’re running on roads you’ll also want to check how much external sound you can hear while wearing the headphones, as you don’t want to block out the sound of traffic entirely.

And Finally: Many running events ban all headphones bar Aftershokz’s bone-conducting Trekz range, which leave the ear entirely open to external sounds and deliver sound by sending vibrations through your cheekbones.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Headphones

Running Belts

The easiest way to carry essential gear like your phone and keys with you on the run is in a running belt, and they’re also great for stashing gels on race day.

Get The Right Size: Most belts come with an adjustable band so you can tighten or loosen it as required, although some you simply slip on. Take the time to get the size right to avoid discomfort or slippage.

Know Your Features: Storage space is critical – if you want to carry a large phone or phablet with you, check the dimensions carefully to ensure it will fit. You also want the belt to hold your gear tightly against your body so it doesn’t bounce around on the run.

And Finally: If you’re tackling a race, a belt with clips for your number can be a handy extra, since you won’t have to faff around with safety pins affixing the bib to your vest.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Belts

Running Backpacks

Whether you’re planning on running to work, or need a daypack to carry essential supplies on long runs, a regular backpack just won’t cut it. Running-specific bags have adjustable straps to stop them bouncing as you run, pockets in handy locations to grab stuff on the move and ventilation to avoid your back getting too sweaty.

Get The Right Size: You can get away with a five- or ten-litre backpack if you’re planning on only using it for long runs where you just need a drink, snacks and maybe some waterproof gear. If you want to commute with the backpack, you’ll probably need a 15- to 25-litre bag to have room for a laptop and clothes. Some backpacks will have a range of sizes to fit different torsos and it’s worth trying a few on to work out which is the most comfortable for your shape.

Know Your Features: A key feature for running backpacks is the capacity to hold an accessible drink – either space for a water bladder in the main pocket or smaller pockets in the straps for 500ml bottles. A ventilation system is also important – look for mesh panels on the straps and raised sections on the back of the rucksack itself. No-one likes a sweaty back.

And Finally: If you’re about to start commuting on foot, a major problem can be finding a backpack that won’t crease your clothes while running. There are specialised packs like the IAMRUNBOX Backpack, which have hard cases to stop neatly folded shirts acquiring wrinkles.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Backpacks

Running Water Bottles

The golden rule of hydration when running is simply to drink when you’re thirsty, rather than trying to follow some ridiculous [ml/kg of bodyweightXpace] equation you saw on some forum. Depending on how long you’re going out for this may mean needing to drink mid-run. Thankfully, running specific bottles make carrying water less of a chore than you might think.

Get the Right Size: Bottles go up to a litre in capacity but it’s unlikely you’ll need that much, unless you’re running for hours (in which case you should have a bag of essential supplies). Most handheld bottles carry between 200ml and 500ml – that might not sound much but will let you take a sip every few minutes of a 10k, which is enough to replace any water lost through perspiration.

Know Your Features: Going for a metal bottle keeps water cool for longer. Some running water bottles go for an oval loop shape to make then easier to hold, while others have a material part that acts as both hand strap and holder for things such as keys and bank cards. It’s all down to preference.

And Finally: Unless you’re buying from dodgy overseas sellers, it’s unlikely you’ll come across any bottles without a BPA-free stamp. 

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Water Bottles

Reflective Gear

Night running brings with it the danger of not being seen by other road and pavement users, so it’s wise to stock up on gear with reflective sections that light up like a Christmas tree when headlights hit them.

Know Your Features: Pretty much all running gear now comes with reflective details, but check that this extends beyond a small logo. Ideally you want large reflective patterns or seams that are impossible to miss. Since night running is usually chillier than heading out in the daytime, make sure your reflective gear is also going to keep you warm without being so toasty as to make you sweat excessively.

And Finally: The biggest name in reflective gear for both runners and cyclists is Proviz, which sells jackets made entirely out of reflective material to ensure 360° visibility.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Reflective Running Gear

Running Gilets

A sleeveless jacket might seem like a luxury, but it’s actually one of the most versatile bits of kit you can have in your running wardrobe. Gilets are especially handy in the spring and autumn when you want a little extra protection from wind and rain without the warmth of a full jacket.

Get The Right Size: A fairly tight fit is best with a gilet – you’ll generally only wear it over a top or base layer, so it doesn’t need to leave much room for other layers underneath, and a loose gilet will flap in the wind annoyingly.

Know Your Features: A gilet should be windproof and water-resistant or even waterproof. This might seem odd – your arms will be exposed to weather anyway – but it helps keep the core warm and dry and that’s important for comfort on long runs in the rain.

And Finally: Pocket space is handy on a gilet, as are reflective sections to make you more visible at night.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Gilets

Running Headtorches

Don’t let dark nights stop you from running. Invest in a headtorch and keep on keeping on.

Get The Right Size: Headtorches have adjustable bands so you can set them up to be comfortable and secure.

Know Your Features: The amount of lumens a light puts out is generally the vital number to look for. If you just need a little extra light to run on city pavements that have streetlights, then a 100- or 200-lumen light will work fine, while those heading off-road will need 300-plus. Check the battery life too, because the higher the lumen count the faster your juice will drain.

And Finally: Most headtorches are now rechargeable, but some have battery packs, which allow you to venture further afield knowing that you can carry some extra power.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Headtorches

Running Buggies

If you want to – or have to – take your kid with you on the run, a dedicated running buggy ensures a safe and smooth ride.

Get The Right Size: Running buggies have an adjustable handlebar that can be set to a comfortable height for each user. If you’re especially tall then check the specifications carefully to make sure you won’t have to hunch over to push the pram.

Know Your Features: A suspension system and large wheels with air-filled tyres are the essential features of a running buggy, which should also have a handbrake on the handlebars so you can stop in a hurry. A fixed front wheel is also important to keeping you running in a straight line, though if there is the option to change the wheel to swivel mode this will make the buggy easier to use when not running.

And Finally: The general advice is not to run with a baby until they can hold their own head up, around six months old. Some manufacturers recommended waiting until they’re nine months if you’re running on uneven trails.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Buggies

Women’s Running Gear

Running Bras

Comfort is key with any bit of running gear, but that’s especially the case with your bra, which has to provide the support you need without being intrusively tight around the chest. In general you’ll need to opt for a high to super-high level of support with your running bra.

Get The Right Size: The two most common types of running bras are compression bands that flatten the breasts and encapsulation bras that have separate cups for each breast. Larger-breasted runners in particular will probably need the latter, because the compression-style bra might not offer enough support.

Know Your Features: Some running bras are just pulled on over the head, but there are also hook-and-clasp bras and some with a zip on the front, both of which are easier to take off when sweaty than one you have to yank over your head. Racer or cross-over strap designs are worth splashing out for, as they will help the bras stay in place better than a standard shoulder strap.

And Finally: Mesh sections and cut-outs are great for helping you to stay cool on the run, but in the summer they can lead to strange tan lines.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Bras

Running Tops

If you’ve stuck with an old cotton T-shirt for all your running up until now, a proper technical top will be a revelation.

Get The Right Size: If you’re planning to slip a base layer under your top sometimes then a slightly looser fit can be useful, but in general a cut that’s close to your body will be the most comfortable, reducing the risk of chafing and avoiding any annoying flapping in the wind when you hit top speed.

Know Your Features: Technical fabrics will wick sweat from the skin and dry quickly, so you stay cool and comfortable on the run – no more wringing out that cotton tee after an especially sweaty run. This again stops chafing and helps to keep your body at the right temperature, cooling you when it’s hot and keeping you warm when it’s chilly.

And Finally: Look out for anti-odour properties in a running top, with fabrics that have natural odour resistance like Merino wool being best. This can allow you to wear a top several times between washes, which is good for the top’s longevity, good for your laundry load and good for the environment too.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Women’s Running Tops

Running Leggings

The workhorses of your running wardrobe, your leggings need to be comfortable on every run, keep you warm on cold days and keep you cool on hot days. That’s asking a lot, but fortunately there are plenty of pairs that are up to the job.

Get The Right Size: Once you’ve decided on whether you want full or ¾ length tights you need to get the right fit. If leggings are at all loose they become a chafing concern, but you don’t want them to be so tight that they become restrictive. Compression leggings are designed to be tighter than most to increase blood flow, but even then they shouldn’t cramp your running style at all.

Know Your Features: Moisture management is key – the leggings need to wick sweat away and dry quickly. Anti-odour properties are also useful to save on washing, and it’s worth checking what kind of storage they offer for your essentials: some leggings just have a small zip pocket on the back for keys, a bank card and gels, while others will have drop-in pockets that hold your gear close to the thigh to stop it bouncing while you run. This type of pocket is ideal for heavy items like phones.

And Finally: A little reflectivity goes a long way to boosting your visibility when running at night. Small reflective sections on leggings around the ankle are particularly good in this regard.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Leggings

Running Jackets

A running jacket can be the difference between enjoying and not enjoying a run, so it’s one area where it’s worth investing a little more, because pricier jackets will offer more protection from the weather while also being breathable so you don’t end up overheating.

Get The Right Size: A running-specific jacket will be cut close to the body to allow complete freedom of movement during your activity. This close fit is essential for comfort on the move too, but there should still be a bit of room underneath for extra layers when it’s cold out.

Know Your Features: The big decision is whether to go for a waterproof or a water-resistant jacket. The former offers more protection from the elements, but is less breathable and can make you very hot when running. Water-resistant jackets will usually shrug off a shower, block the wind and tend to be more comfortable and breathable, so are a better pick for your go-to jacket, even if you do keep a proper waterproof in reserve for truly horrendous weather.

And Finally: A running jacket that can be packed into its own pocket and brought with you in a rucksack is very useful if you run in a place where the weather can change in an instant.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Women’s Running Jackets

Running Shorts

Whether you’re a runner who only switches to shorts at the height of summer, or one who sticks with them through the worst of the winter months, having a good-quality set in your wardrobe is a must.

Get The Right Size: You have two main options when it comes to the fit of running shorts: loose and breezy, or compression. A subset of the latter are 2-in-1 shorts, with a compression inner plus a looser outer. Compression gear minimises the risk of chafing and supports the muscles, while a loose fit can feel less restrictive, especially on hot days.

Know Your Features: Along with sweat-wicking fabrics, shorts should offer some kind of storage, even if it’s only a small zipped pocket on the back for your keys or office ID card.

And Finally: Consider the risk of chafing above all with your running shorts, and if you have a big event like a marathon lined up, make sure you try the pair you plan to use on race day on a long run beforehand to make sure they don’t irritate.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Women’s Running Shorts 

Men’s Running Gear

Running T-Shirts

A T-shirt designed for the rigours of running will regulate your temperature, draw moisture away from your skin and do everything in its power to ensure your nipples don’t bleed during a marathon. Everything.

Get the Right Size: This is the important bit when it comes to nipple abuse prevention. Fits vary from superhero tight to school PE-kit baggy. The looser and heavier the material, the more likely chafing is to happen. Go for whatever you feel most comfortable in, but remember you may need a tighter fit, or Vaseline, for longer runs.

Know Your Features: If running gives you an aching back consider going for a tight T-shirt with compression built in. Otherwise, the main thing to consider is how the material will keep you cool and dry. Moisture-wicking and breathability are pretty much standard and should be first on your tick list. More advanced features include material that’s treated to prevent bacteria from forming (perfect if you can’t change right after a run), cooling metal inserts (see top pick, below), and shiny linings (like the space blankets you get given after a race) that retain body heat in vital areas.

And Finally: An old cotton T-shirt might be fine for a few laps round the park, but the latest technical training tops make any distance over a 5k far more comfortable. Also, never underestimate how much looking like a runner makes you feel like one and pick whatever you feel (and look) best in.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running T-Shirts

Running Shorts

You might think nothing of chucking on any old pair, but shorts made for running are a must. Ergonomic design reduces chafing to a minimum, tech-laden materials regulate temperature (particularly important down there) and smart pockets keep essentials out the way.

Get the Right Size: Short shorts are the choice of the elites because they provide the best airflow and ease of movement. Not worried about shaving minutes off a marathon PB? Longer ones are available. In terms of fit, elasticised waists makes it super easy to shop for them.

Know Your Features: Lightweight, breathable material is essential, but the rest is down to personal needs and preference. Compression shorts encourages even blood flow, aiding performance and recovery – consider investing in this type if your glutes (bum) or quads (thighs) often ache after runs. Thankfully, you can get 2-in1 shorts with compression built in so no one has to see your moose knuckle. Need a pocket? Get shorts with a small zip pocket – enough to carry a key and card – at the top of your rear/small of your back.

And Finally: To go commando or not? That is the question you probably weren’t asking, but lose the underwear if your shorts have compression or an inner pant. It will eliminate chafing, which – trust us – can be a very big deal on long runs. Got shorts without those features? It’s underpants for you, mate.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Shorts

Running Tops

When it’s too chilly out for a T-shirt and not horrendous enough to warrant a jacket, you need a long sleeved top.

Get the Right Size: A good running top should fit more like a model’s T-shirt than a skater’s hoody. The baggier it is, the more drag you’ll create and the less warm it will be.

Know Your Features: If you often run at night, go for a top that’s big on reflectivity. A zip is useful if you get hot quickly, while thumb loops are a nice touch to keep hands warm and stop cold air going up your sleeves. Get a hood if your ears are prone to icing up and a neck gaiter if you want maximum skin coverage.

And Finally: We’ve selected our favourite running specific tops from sports companies, but outdoor brand such as Rohan and The North Face also have excellent technical tops that tick all the boxes for comfortable outdoor runs.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Tops

Running Jackets

Looking for a running jacket can feel like browsing a list of recently-approved patents, but getting one makes it possible (and comfortable) to run in most weather. While there are differing qualities, they all essentially offer varying levels of this holy trinity of element protection: windproofing, waterproofing and breathability.

Get the Right Size: The majority of running jackets have a fitted cut that’s ergonomically designed to compliment your movements rather than restrict them. Try jackets on in shops, making sure to flap your arms about as if you’re really going for it – imagining you’re on the final stretch of a nasty hill ought to do it. You don’t want any tightness across your chest or upper back, and it shouldn’t be baggy around the waist.

Know Your Features: The main thing running jackets do to keep you comfortable is nullify the effects of wind and rain. Breathability is also essential, unless you’re trying to lose weight like that guy with the cling film in The Full Monty (pro tip – don’t do that). Most are spectacularly light and thin; great for stowing away or even just holding in your hand on days with unpredictable weather. However, thicker jackets – and ones with fancy material that’s good at retaining heat – are also available for days when the mercury just isn’t rising.

And Finally: Even if you run on the pavement in a city, there will likely be times when you’re crossing roads at a quicker pace than usual (likely wearing earphones) so it’s a good idea to make yourself as visible as possible. The good news is modern technology means jackets with high reflectivity generally keep it on the down low. Test them by taking a picture on your smartphone with the flash on. You might be surprised.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Jackets

Running Base Layers

The first top you put on before your run – don’t underestimate the importance of the right base layer. It’ll keep you warm, dry and comfortable on runs in all weathers.

Get The Right Size: You’re going to be wearing a T-shirt or jacket over the top of your base layer anyway, so don’t be afraid to go for something nice and tight. If it’s baggy, it won’t be as effective at keeping you warm and wicking away sweat.

Know Your Features: The material makes all the difference with a base layer. Merino wool is very popular because it’s warm, wicks sweat away and is naturally odour-resistant. However, synthetic fabrics are often cheaper and can outshine merino, drying faster and wicking sweat away more effectively. Other fabrics with similar properties to merino wool include bamboo, which is perhaps the most comfortable to wear. One material to steer clear of is cotton, which absorbs moisture to leave you cold and wet.

And Finally: If you’re worried about the terrifying prospect of nipple-chafing – and you should be – many people find a tight base layer can prevent the problem occurring on long runs because the material doesn’t move around and rub the sensitive area.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Base Layers

Running Tights

Too many men write off running tights on the mistaken basis that they think they’ll look foolish wearing them. Try one run in a good pair of tights and you’ll never worry about how they look again, because the snug, comfortable feeling they create is… well… it’s just lovely.

Get The Right Size: As with base layers, you don’t want to shy away from a revealing tightness – you can always protect your modesty with shorts. A snug fit is vital for the tights to keep you warm and wick away moisture. You might also want to go beyond snug and check out compression tights, which improve circulation and can help recovery if worn after tough runs.

Know Your Features: Winter running tights need to be thick enough to keep you warm, but also breathable and stretchy so they don’t restrict your movement at all. Some will also have wind-stopping fabric on the front of the legs to shelter your pins from freezing gusts. Compression models offer something different: their tight fit will help your muscles warm up at the start of runs and is proven to aid recovery if you wear them afterwards. Many runners also wear them during runs as a potential performance aid, but that comes down to personal preference, rather than a strong evidence base.

And Finally: The debate over whether men should wear shorts over running tights is a long and surprisingly bitter one. Don’t believe us? Try Googling it and be prepared to read some strange forum posts. The upshot is, of course, run in whatever makes you feel comfortable, although we’d definitely recommend shorts in cold weather if you don’t have windproof tights.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Tights

The Best Running Gear For Men And Women, And What to Know Before You Buy was originally published at LINK

Make sure to follow Body Shapr on Facebook - Body Shapr

20 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas – Fitness and Power

The banana is one of nature’s candy bars, full of sugar and conveniently wrapped in its yellow package. But the sugar found in bananas is primarily naturally-occurring fructose, which is unlikely to cause any health problems – when health organizations recommend cutting back on sugar, they mean added sugars, not the naturally occurring one found […]

The banana is one of nature’s candy bars, full of sugar and conveniently wrapped in its yellow package. But the sugar found in bananas is primarily naturally-occurring fructose, which is unlikely to cause any health problems – when health organizations recommend cutting back on sugar, they mean added sugars, not the naturally occurring one found in fruits like bananas. This makes bananas are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming empty calories and dangerous amounts of hidden sugars. And unlike a real candy bar, bananas won’t cause a sugar crash and leave you drained and craving even more sugar.

In addition, there’s a good reason why bananas are named as nature’s healthiest snack – they have a very unique nutritional structure. Besides the healthy sugar, they pack a bundle of essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber, potassium and vitamin C, which are important nutrients for maintaining optimal health, fighting disease and improving mental and physical performance, which means that almost anyone on the planet can benefit from consuming more bananas. If you’re still not sure whether bananas are the perfect match for your health and fitness goals, here are 20 ways this amazing fruit boosts your well-being:

1. Thanks to their ability to increase serotonin production, bananas have awesome mood-lifting powers and can even reduce PMS symptoms by relieving stress and anxiety.

2. Bananas help cleanse the whole body from toxins by eliminating waste and heavy metals from the organs.

3. Being an alkaline fruit, bananas help neutralize the acid in the stomach, thereby acting as a natural antacid and eliminating acid reflux, heartburn and GERD quickly and efficiently.

4. Bananas are a wonderful source of vitamin B6, which helps reduce swelling, decrease the risk of type II diabetes, support weight loss and nurture the health of your nervous system.

5. The high amounts of magnesium and vitamins B6 and B12 found in bananas can help you quit smoking by lessening withdrawal symptoms and helping your body heal itself faster.

6. Bananas are rich with iron and have the ability to stimulate hemoglobin production in the blood, which makes them a great tool for treating blood disorders such as anemia.

7. Because of their high potassium content, bananas can boost cognitive functioning and make you more alert, so eating a banana or two before taking an exam can improve your performance.

8. Bananas are rich with antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress and the damaging influence of free radicals.

9. Eating bananas is a natural way to lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that consuming two bananas a day can reduce high blood pressure by 10%.

10. Bananas can improve digestion by acting as a prebiotic and stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel. In addition, they produce digestive enzymes that enhance nutrient absorption.

11. The high fiber content in bananas supports healthy and regular bowel movements, relieving constipation, while their ability to restore lost electrolytes help treat diarrhea.

12. Bananas are the best friends of bone health – they help your body absorb calcium and other vital nutrients that promote bone density and prevent calcium loss during urination.

13. Bananas can alleviate the symptoms of depression with the help of their high levels of tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin in the body.

14. Eating a banana can lower body temperature and cool you down during a fever, while also replenishing depleted potassium levels in the body.

15. The antibacterial compounds in bananas inhibit the growth of ulcer-causing H. pylori and wipe out the acidity of gastric juices, which helps reduce inflammation and strengthen the stomach lining.

16. Studies have shown that regular consumption of bananas can help prevent kidney cancer and protect the eyes against macular degeneration.

17. Rubbing a bug bite with the inside of a banana peel will help relieve itching and irritation.

18. The high amount of potassium found in bananas can help you prevent muscle cramps during a strenuous workout.

19. Bananas are a great pre-workout snack because they provide a great energy boost while maintaining stable blood sugar levels

20. The banana peel is a great natural cure for plantar, flat or common warts. Just cut a piece of banana peel and place the inside of it over the wart before going to bed.

20 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas – Fitness and Power was originally published at LINK