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If your cardio workouts are genuinely challenging and you want to determine their impact on your overall health, a good place to look for hard evidence is your heart. Exercise positively affects cardiac muscle, and your resting heart rate can be a good yardstick for how effective your exercise is on just about every level — from improving aerobic fitness to improving overall health.
But what is a healthy resting heart rate? And how can you improve it? To truly know if you’re working your heart and body as best you can, you first have to understand what makes it tick.
What Is a Healthy Resting Heart Rate?
Your resting heart rate (or pulse rate) represents the number of times your heart beats per minute (BPM) at rest. Just as monitoring your body fat percentage can help you track your weight loss success, measuring your resting heart rate can help gauge your overall cardiovascular health.
Some studies show adverse implications for cardiovascular health around 75 bpm, but for adult men, a healthy resting heart rate is generally considered one that falls between 60 and 100 bpm, says Dr. Mehdi Razavi, director of Texas Heart Institute‘s Electrophysiology Clinical Research and Innovations Department. (Anything above 100 bpm will earn you the medical distinction of tachycardia, which is cause for cardiovascular concern.)
For adult women, anything between 40 and 90 bpm is considered healthy. And for elite athletes, the healthy range for a resting heart rate is lower still — between 40 and 70 bpm.
How to Take Your Resting Heart Rate
The best time to check your resting pulse is when you’re relaxed, so do it before you perform any sort of strenuous activity or wait for at least two hours afterward . First thing in the morning — before you’ve had caffeine — is typically a good time in that regard. So is right before you go to sleep, says Dr. Razavi, who recommends taking your resting heart rate once a day, so you can compare readings for the most accurate number.
Most fitness trackers or wearables can provide accurate heart rate figures, as do blood pressure cuffs, says Dr. Razavi. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, follow these steps to check your pulse:
Factors Affecting Resting Heart Rate
Besides fitness level, an abnormal resting heart rate can be attributed to a variety of factors, like emotions, medication, dehydration, and even altitude, Dr. Razavi says.
At higher temperatures, your body increases blood flow to the skin in order to regulate its internal temperature, forcing your heart to work harder in the process.
Similarly, if you’re dehydrated, your heart has to put in extra effort. Without adequate hydration, the amount of plasma in the blood decreases, making it “thicker” and forcing your heart to beat faster to deliver sufficient oxygen and nutrients throughout your body.
For those at the upper elevations (generally above 2,000 feet), a period of acclimation is required before the heart adapts to the attendant decrease in oxygen. Until it does, your heart rate will likely remain elevated to compensate for the lower oxygen levels. So maybe skip taking heart rate readings while vacationing in Aspen.
The pose you strike while checking your pulse can also yield a skewed reading. When you’re lying down, the effect of gravity on your body is minimized, allowing blood to flow more easily and your heart to beat less often. Sitting is the recommended (and most accurate) position for taking your resting heart rate, but the most important thing is to be consistent, so choose a position and stick with it.
When you’re stressed (or even happy or sad), your body reacts by elevating your heart rate, blood pressure, ventilation (breathing) rate, and adrenaline levels. This is why it’s important to clear any distractions — especially those that are emotional triggers — prior to taking a reading.
Beta blockers, commonly used by heart attack survivors or those who have high blood pressure or arrhythmia, are prescribed for the regulation of heart rhythm, and may slow your pulse. Conversely, some medications can quicken your heart rate, including decongestants and appetite suppressants.
In addition to the above, “drinking alcohol or caffeine will cause [heart rate] to increase,” Dr. Razavi says. “Another factor that can result in an increase is an elevated body core temperature, such as a fever.”
How to Improve Your Resting Heart Rate
Your heart is a muscle, not unlike your quads, biceps, and abs. And just as you can train those muscles to improve their strength, so too can you train your heart to improve its function.
“Like every other muscle in your body, your heart will adapt to the physical stress of exercise by becoming stronger, allowing it to pump more blood with each beat,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., senior fitness and nutrition content manager for Beachbody. That, in turn, can lower your resting heart rate. “Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises can strengthen the heart, but aerobic exercise has the edge when it comes to lowering your resting heart rate, because such exercise typically keeps your heart working hard for longer.”
Technically speaking, aerobic exercise is any activity for which the body uses oxygen to produce energy (anaerobic exercise, by comparison, doesn’t require oxygen for energy production). But when it comes to strengthening the heart, the best aerobic exercises are those vigorous enough to really challenge it. “Think running versus jogging or walking,” says Thieme.
Research shows that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — like that found in Beachbody programs like CORE DE FORCE and INSANITY — can also have a strong effect on resting heart rate, as it taxes both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. “But you’ll see the greatest effect by keeping your heart rate below about 85 percent of your maximum while exercising,” says Thieme. “Other ways to lower it are reducing your stress level and improving the quantity and quality of your sleep.”
Heart Rate Zones
There are five exercise heart rate zones, which correspond to effort levels ranging from very light to maximum. “Heart rate is also associated closely with breathing rate, so monitoring the latter (in the form of the “talk test”) is the easiest way to tell what heart rate zone you’re in,” says Thieme.
Zone 1 – Very light Effort
This zone corresponds to a heart rate that’s 50 to 60 percent of maximum. Talking is easy, and there’s no noticeable increase in your breathing rate.
Zone 2 – Light Effort
Your heart rate is slightly higher (60 to 70 percent of maximum) in zone two. You can still talk comfortably, but your breathing becomes heavier.
Zone 3 – Moderate Effort
You can hold a conversation, but only with effort thanks to how hard you’re breathing. Your heart will also be beating harder and faster — between 70 and 80 percent of maximum. This is the sweet spot for lowering your resting heart rate.
Zone 4 – Hard Effort
Your heart rate is now between 80 and 90 percent of your maximum. You can talk, but you’d prefer not to, especially if it means talking in more than simple sentences (or even single words). Anything that impedes breathing is rapidly losing importance. Once your heart rate goes above 85 percent of your max, exercise becomes anaerobic.
Zone 5 – Maximum Effort
In this zone, you’re exerting yourself at 90 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate. “Talking is out of the question,” says Thieme, “as your heart and lungs are now working at full capacity with a single purpose: to drive as much oxygen into your bloodstream and to your muscles as possible, as quickly as possible.”
Looking for workout logs, workout schedules, or worksheets to go with your favorite Beachbody programs? Below, you’ll find everything from the P90X workout sheets and Body Beast workout sheets to other printable Beachbody workout sheets, workout logs, and food trackers.
For access to all Workout Calendars and additional supporting program materials, join or head over to Beachbody On Demand!
Workout Sheets and Fit Tests
Food Trackers and Tally Sheets
Workout Calendars and Hybrid Schedules
Fitness Journals, Progress Trackers, and Workout Logs
Nothing could be better than enjoying this holiday season and looking your best couldnt be https://t.co/xsrwypv3gI
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I woke up hungry this morning Sautéed spinach and mushrooms with hummus on an everything https://t.co/Wjd4ps5D18
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I truly cannot believe it’s the time of year again when I share my Best of THM posts. If you’re unfamiliar, each year I share my top travel, recipes, lifestyle and overall posts of the year. It’s a great way to catch up on content you may have missed or get the skim through the favorites of the year. Here are some past year’s posts: 2016 | 2015 | 2014.
It was, not surprisingly, a pretty amazing year of travel. Besides the whole moving across the continent deal, I still managed to find a way to travel to some pretty incredible places in between. Though some were long distances, I think my favorite destinations were the local adventures. We moved to the Bay Area for a reason and it’s been an absolute dream to be able to explore Northern California and all that it has to offer.
I’m also thrilled to have been able to partner with Lorissa’s Kitchen this year as their travel ambassador. By now you already know that I’m obsessed with their protein snacks. Whether it be the bagged LK or their new beef sticks, I don’t think I’ve gone on a single trip this year without them in tow. They’re basically the third wheel to mine and C’s relationship!
I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to do something I love, travel, and be able to share it with all of you. I should also probably thank them for not being mad at me when I finished all of the product before I even went on a trip and had to have them send me more LOL. Whether I’m travelling or not, I truly and genuinely love their snacks so this really was a dream partnership. Oh and if you’re new to LK, I recommend starting with the Korean BBQ and the Original Beef Sticks. The beef sticks are particularly great because they’re super portable for an easy-to grab snack on the go.
Okay now onto the post! Here’s the best of THM travel of 2017:
We definitely started off 2017 with a bang! A family trip with C’s family brought us to Guatemala where we explored the ruins in Tikal, the stunning Lake Antitlan and the history and culture that Antigua has to offer. Such a cool, inspiring and welcoming country! Also I still have a ton of footage from this trip that I haven’t edited so if you want to see that video, pressure me to work on it
This trip HANDS-DOWN was the best press trip I have ever been on. I think 3 videos and 3 blog posts are a testament to the fact that I love this country and I loved this trip. I’ve never eaten more amazing food in my entire life so trust me when I say that if Israel is on your bucket list (if it isn’t, it should be!) my Foodie’s Tour to Israel is the only guide you need!
This was a quick trip but I absolutely loved getting to explore the orange groves of Florida with Tropicana. I oftentimes feel like there is a disconnect between where our food grows and what ends up in our kitchen, so getting to see first hand what an orange grove looks like and how they make orange juice was really eye-opening!
It only took moving to a new country to finally write my Toronto Travel Guide! I’m not sure if it counts as travel if you’ve previously lived there but T.O. was certainly a top destination in 2017. I will forever love Toronto as my hometown and the place where my family and many of my close friends live. If you haven’t visited before, you should definitely add Toronto your bucket list!
Mendocino will go down as a very special place for me and for C. We went there with our families right after we got engaged so it all felt like part of our engagement weekend. We went back again for my birthday and it only confirmed for us how much we love this place. We have a pipe dream of having a house there someday. Stay tuned
I don’t think there is anywhere a place in the world more magical than Yosemite. This wasn’t our first trip (and it certainly won’t be our last!) but it was my first time seeing the waterfalls and actually camping in the park. We didn’t get the best weather, but that didn’t stop us from having an incredible time. What I love about trips like this is the digital detox I can take and just escape in nature for a few days. It’s so healing!
7. Alaska (Juneau and Glacier Bay National Park)
This was another trip we took with C’s family and I’m so so sooooo happy we went! Alaska is absolutely beautiful and there is SO much to explore. We only tackled Southeastern Alaska but I would go back in a second to see more of it. Glacier Bay was a once and a lifetime experience and I will never forget those glaciers, that I hope will continue to exist when I hopefully bring my kids to visit Alaska someday. Alaska gives you a deep appreciation for our planet and our need to protect it.
8. San Francisco (and surrounding!)
I don’t know if San Francisco counts, but I certainly have done my fair share of exploring in and around the Bay. From hiking down in Pacifica to exploring the redwoods of Marin to wine tasting in Sonoma, C and I have embraced our new home to the fullest. There’s also an endless amount of things to do in the city and I’m so happy I got around to sharing my favorite healthy hot spots with all of you!
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I hope this post can be an inspiration to all of you to seek out adventures near and far in 2018. Travel has opened up my mind, my stomach and my heart! I know it isn’t the most accessible for everyone to hop on a plane and travel across the world, but know that there’s equally as much to learn from camping in a nearby state park or finding a nearby trail to explore. The world is a beautiful place that has so much to teach us so don’t be afraid to go out and explore it!
Here’s to a mind and heart-opening 2017 and to many more adventures in 2018!
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Lorissa’s Kitchen. I was honored to be asked to be their travel ambassador for 2017 and I’m thrilled to be able to share this post with you. I was compensated for my time, however all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make THM possible!
Where was your favorite travel destination in 2017? Where to in 2018 – any big trips planned?!
Teaching people to stop reaching for pills is one of the greatest challenges. But when a person https://t.co/gGHfy8URvZ
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Such a fun night celebrating the holidays and a great year with my @thebodify family! . Old https://t.co/SPftI120pv
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I love the holidays! But if you’re trying to lose weight, all the sweet, carb-filled holiday treats can sometimes add stress to your celebrations. In this blog, I’m going to share with you how to enjoy all the delights of the season while still staying true to your weight-loss goals.
First, remember that there’s no better time of year to remind yourself of why you want to lose weight in the first place. Your friends and family care about you and want you to succeed. They want you to be happy, healthy, and on your way to becoming the person you want to be in 2018!
Also, seeing your loved ones at these gatherings is a great reminder that the holidays are about so much more than the food. Those delicious dishes and desserts are just tokens of the love you share among the most important people in your life. When you focus on what really matters, it’s not so hard to let a treat or two pass you by.
In fact, there’s no reason you can’t successfully lose weight (or at least maintain your weight) during the holidays. But it helps to have the right mindset — and a plan — for getting through holiday meals and parties keeping your weight-loss goals intact.
6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain:
1. Eat a filling breakfast and lunch
Don’t starve yourself before the big meal! You may think you’re “saving up calories,” but the hungrier you are when you arrive, the more likely you are to make poor food choices and wind up eating more than you might have otherwise. Start the day with a healthy, satisfying breakfast and a reasonable lunch, so you won’t be ravenous by the time the holiday meal is served.
2. Avoid “grazing” before and after the meal
Whatever time your family typically sits down at the table to eat (our holiday mealtime is around 4pm) — hors d’oeuvres, snacks, cocktails, and even desserts are often passed around before and after the meal for guests to “graze” on. To avoid overindulging, I set the time when I plan to start eating, as well as the time when I will stop. Then, once I get up and leave the table, I move on to other activities, such as reminiscing with grandma or playing with the kids. Just like I tell my clients — “Dinner and done… find other fun!”
3. Prioritize your treats
We all look forward to treating ourselves during the holidays, but all those temptations can quickly become overwhelming! When I’m at a holiday party, I scan the entire table of food first, and then choose the two or three that I want the most — the ones that are most likely to make the night feel extra-special. Then, I take my time and savor each bite!
4. How do you want to feel as you’re leaving?
Before even arriving at the party (and perhaps once again before taking your first bite), imagine how you want to feel when it’s time to leave. Stuffed like a turkey? Or happy, satisfied, and proud of yourself for keeping your goals on track? You’ll be amazed at how powerful this mental exercise can be in allowing you to enjoy the gathering to the fullest without overindulging.
5. Be active
Try building a healthy activity into your day, whether it’s a hike or a neighborhood game of touch football. Last year, my family and I laced up our hiking boots and hit the trail before dinner! If you’re giving gifts, think about toys and games that promote an active lifestyle. If you’re too old for toys (is anyone too old for toys?), then get out there and play with your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or even your pet.
6. Incorporate healthy food swaps
If I’m hosting the party — or even contributing a dish for the table — I like to share traditional dishes made using healthy food swaps designed to be every bit as filling and delicious as the originals. Greek yogurt makes a creamy stand-in for mayo in dressings and pasta salads. Mashed cauliflower rather than potatoes for a healthy swap that still tastes delicious (for the skeptics, try half-and-half cauliflower and potatoes). “Noodles” made with veggies are another big hit in our house. And for dessert, I serve cinnamon-spiced baked apples, either by themselves or topped with a little dollop of whipped cream, to satisfy apple-pie cravings.
Most of all, be sure to stay positive! If things don’t go exactly as planned, don’t beat yourself up. Just stay focused on your goal and the weight loss will follow. There are plenty of weight-loss days ahead in 2018! And I’ll have lots more helpful advice to share with you when the 2B Mindset launches. Meanwhile, together with the entire Beachbody community, I want to wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.
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While some people might neglect working their back muscles (you can’t even see them!), the biceps are a beloved mirror muscle for many. The locations of these two muscle groups may make them seem totally unrelated, but in fact they’re quite connected. “Whenever you pull or lift something–whether you’re trying to move an object toward your body or move your body toward an object (as in a pull-up)–you engage your biceps and a handful of your back muscles to make it happen,” says Trevor Thieme, CSCS, Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. And while you don’t necessarily need to do a specific back and biceps workout each week, you should incorporate back and biceps exercises into your weekly training plan.
Strong back and biceps can be a huge help in your daily life. “The muscles of your back help you stand up straight, reach, pull, and extend your arms, stabilize your shoulders, and stabilize your spine,” Thieme says. As for the biceps, they help you perform everyday movements more efficiently. “Working your biceps is important because your arms are your primary tools for interacting physically with the outside world,” Thieme says. Lifting a child, pulling open a heavy door, moving furniture, putting bags of groceries in your car—countless daily actions require strong arms and a powerful back.
Add These Back and Biceps Exercises to Your Workout
We went through the 40+ fitness programs offered by Beachbody to select an assortment of the best back and biceps exercises. You can easily incorporate these movements into your existing routine if you train yourself, but be sure to warm up before every workout. “Dynamic stretches that mobilize the back, shoulder, and arm muscles – and that move the shoulder joints through their full ranges of motion – are the best ways to prime those muscles for action,” says Thieme. For even more ways to build up your back and bis—not to mention the rest of your body—check out Body Beast, Beachbody’s 90-day plan for packing on muscle all over.
1. Dumbbell reverse grip row
Appears in: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel – Total Body Chisel
Benefits: This move can help improve posture by challenging the upper and lower back at the same time.
2. Lunge twist pull
Benefits: This move works your lats and upper traps, as well as your lateral and rear delts. The lunge movement also hits muscles in your lower body.
3. EZ bar row
Benefits: This move works the large muscles of the upper back, while the lower back stabilizes and protects the spine.
4. Renegade Row
Benefits: This move challenges your upper back and lats while you also work your core and shoulder stabilizers.
6. Alternating row and lunge
Benefits: This move works multiple parts of the upper back (lats, traps, and scapular retractors) with light weights, working the muscle fibers responsible for endurance.
7. In and out biceps curls
Benefits: This exercise alternately stresses the two heads of each biceps muscle — long and short — with two different grip positions.
No dumbbells? Hold the handles of a resistance band and step on the center of the tubing.
8. One arm concentration curl
Appears in: P90X – Back and Biceps
Benefits: This move works the biceps with the upper arm in a vertical orientation, maximizing tension on the muscle in the fully-contracted position.
9. Bicep curl
Appears in: SHIFT SHOP – Strength: 25
Benefits: This classic arm exercise allows you to work the biceps directly using the heaviest weight possible.
10. Hammer curl
Appears in: Body Beast – Bulk arms
Benefits: Switching from an underhand to a neutral grip (so your palm faces inward), increases the load on the brachialis, a muscle lying to the outside of your biceps that adds shape and definition to your upper arm.
Back and Biceps Basics
The muscles of the back are divided into three categories. The deep, or “intrinsic,” muscles move the vertebral column and are responsible for controlling posture; the intermediate back muscles control the movements of the rib cage; and the superficial muscles form the outermost layer, playing a vital role in shoulder movement. These superficial muscles, in partnership with the biceps, are what fire up any time you engage in pulling or rowing motions. “Your back muscles pull your upper arm toward your body, and your biceps flex your elbow, bringing your forearm toward your body,” Thieme explains.
The trapezius muscles, a.k.a. “the traps,” are two of the superficial back muscles that most people associate with a toned or well-developed back. Any time you shrug, extend your neck, or brace your shoulders to lift or carry a heavy object you’re using your traps.
Shaped like the wings of a stingray, your left and right trapezius muscles extend from the base of your skull to your lower thoracic vertebrae (mid back), and laterally to the clavicles (collar bones) and scapulae (shoulder blades).
Latissimus Dorsi Anatomy
The latissimus dorsi muscles, or “the lats,” are the fan-shaped muscles of the lower back. You’ve likely noticed them on competitive swimmers. that’s because the lats are responsible for arm movements like extension, adduction (bringing the arm toward the body), and medial rotation (turning the front of the arm toward the chest)—basically all of the essential arm movements of swimming. When you consider the thousands upon thousands of hours Michael Phelps’ has spent in the pool, his expansive back suddenly adds up.
Each of the latissimus dorsi muscles has multiple origin points (lower back, sacrum, iliac crest, and lower ribs), and a single insertion point on the back of each humerus.
While the biceps (or more specifically, the biceps brachii) is not actually attached to the humerus, you’ll find this muscle on the front of the upper arm. It’s comprised of two heads – the short head and the long head – that work to flex the arm at the elbow. The biceps is also responsible for the supination (i.e. outward rotation) of the forearm.
The short and long head originate separately at the scapula and fuse together to attach to the upper forearm.
Tips on Effective Fueling
You can be a dedicated exerciser, but if your diet isn’t on point, it’s unlikely that you’ll see the result you want, whether that’s fat loss, a ripped back, bulging biceps, a more defined physique overall. “The back and biceps are no different from any other muscle in the body when it comes to nutrition,” says Thieme. “Eating a healthful diet with sufficient amounts of protein will facilitate recovery and growth.”
Protein is especially important post-workout. “Studies show that consuming protein–particularly whey protein, like that found in Beachbody Performance Recover–after you work out can help maximize your muscular gains,” says Thieme. In short, feed your body right, and faster results will follow.
Hi I am Lena Litle 27 years old living in North Charleston. I have studied pharmacy and I like to share news related to health and medicines.