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Among upper body exercises, the bench press gets all the love. Sonnets have been written extolling its virtues. If you want, you can buy a T-shirt proclaiming that you “enjoy long romantic walks to the bench press.” But no such T-shirts exist for the lowly push-up, or its more challenging first cousin, the decline push-up (a.k.a. feet-elevated push-up). And that’s too bad, because decline push-ups are among the best chest builders there are — rivaling even the much-adored bench press and all its variations.
For stronger, more advanced exercisers, the decline push-up is the natural progression of the flat version. “When you elevate your feet, you throw more weight onto your hands, forcing you to lift a greater proportion of your bodyweight with each rep,” says Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun.
Mess around with tempo, range of motion, and explosiveness, and you’ll have enough challenging variations to last a long time. Add weighted vests, resistance bands, and other forms of external resistance, and the decline pushup can challenge even the strongest lifters for life.
How to Do the Decline Push-up With Perfect Form
How to Make the Decline Push-up Harder (and Easier)
Yet another sign of push-up greatness: versatility. Just check out all the ways you can adjust the difficulty of the move.
1. Change the angle
Let’s say you’ve built sufficient strength to pump out 15 good pushups in a row. You don’t have to jump to a steep angle: elevate your feet just four inches — an aerobic step works well for this purpose — and build your way up in the new position. Once you can do 15 reps with your feet elevated 18 inches, move onto a new strategy.
2. Change the tempo
One minor downside to push-ups: people tend to bounce out of the low position. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily — learning to be “springy” is another aspect of fitness — but it does place less work on the muscle. If your goal is strength and size, increase time under tension by slowing your descent to 3-4 seconds, then push yourself back up. Twelve of those will smoke just about anyone.
3. Change the base of support
In the early 2000s, “unstable surface training” was all the rage: everyone was performing their squats, deadlifts, and curls on a wobble board, Bosu ball, or Swiss ball. The trend, shown to slow improvements in lower-body strength among healthy athletes, passed quickly.
But instability still has its place: in the decline push-up, you can increase the core challenge by performing the move with one leg lifted (alternate legs with each set or each rep), by placing your hand on a Bosu ball (use the flat surface), or both. We don’t recommend using a Swiss ball with this movement — the risk of injury is too great.
4. Change the resistance
Think you’ve mastered the decline push-up? Add resistance. This is easier than you think: put a resistance band across your back like you’re wearing a backpack. then assume the decline pushup position with your hands on the handles. The band will tighten progressively as you complete the move, improving your “lockout” strength.
Another option: perform the move with a weighted vest or backpack, or other implement on your back. Got small kids? Have them cling to your back as you do the move. Keep it up, and by the time they’re teenagers you’ll be a superhero.
Benefits of the Decline Push-Up
You get all of the following without a single piece of equipment. No barbell, no kettlebell, no cable-crossover monstrosity. You don’t even need shoes. You can do decline push-ups anywhere there’s gravity, an elevated surface, and enough floor space to lie down.
By doing the decline push-up, you’re refining a skill you need every day of your life. Pushing yourself up from a flat surface is among the first movements you learn as a baby, and probably one of the last ones you’ll need before you shuffle off this mortal coil. This functional movement is step one in our evolution from belly crawlers to bipeds.
It activates the core and improves posture
The decline push-up is also a great multitasker. Not only do you work the pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps), you also work the core. Retract your head as you perform the move (as if making a double chin) and pull your shoulder blades together, and you’ll fire up your postural muscles, too.
Speaking of the shoulder blades, the decline push-up encourages them to move on your upper back — something that’s essential for shoulder health. Bench pressing effectively glues your shoulder blades in place, so that when you lower the weight, all the movement occurs at the shoulder joint. Over time, that could be a problem.
What Muscles Does the Decline Push-up Work?
There are two major muscles comprising your chest: The pectoralis major is the one you can see; it pulls your arms toward your body’s midline, helps raise them in front of you, and rotates them inward. Lying underneath the pec major is the pectoralis minor; it draws the shoulder blades down and forward. The decline push-up in particular targets your pectorals, increasingly emphasizing the upper, or clavicular, head of the pec major the higher you elevate your feet.
Occupying roughly two-thirds of your upper arm musculature, the triceps is one muscle, three heads (hence the “tri” prefix): long, medial, and lateral. It’s responsible for straightening your elbow, which is obviously central to pressing movements like the decline push-up.
These are the muscles surrounding and supporting the shoulder, which is the body’s most mobile joint. That makes developing and strengthening the muscle’s three heads — anterior, lateral, and posterior — vitally important. The decline push-up emphasizes the anterior fibers of the deltoid.
There are a few theories on how the good morning exercise got its name. Some say it’s from the movement you make when you rise out of bed in the morning. Others claim it’s because it resembles how you might bow at the waist to say, “good morning.”
Whatever the case may be, the good morning exercise is simple move that activates your core and engages a handful of your body’s most powerful muscles, including your hamstrings and glutes. It also strengthens your erector spinae, which are muscles that help stabilize and extend your vertebral column, says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. “The greatest misconception about the good morning is that it’s bad for your back,” he adds. “When performed correctly, it actually has the opposite effect.”
Here’s how to do this powerful move with proper form so you can safely enjoy all of its muscle-building, back-protecting benefits.
How to Do the Good Morning Exercise With Perfect Form
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How to Make the Good Morning Exercise Easier
The most basic version of this move is the bodyweight variation. You should start by mastering the movement pattern and perfecting your form before adding an external load (e.g., dumbbells or a barbell with weight plates). If you lack the strength or hip mobility to lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor, only lower it as far as you can with perfect form.
How to Make the Good Morning Exercise Harder
Increase the difficulty of the good morning by using a resistance band, dumbbells, or a barbell, Thieme suggests.
For an added challenge, you can also perform the good morning on one leg at a time, raising your non-supporting leg behind you as you lower your torso toward the floor. This variation requires even greater core activation to maintain stability.
Bonus Tips for Doing the Good Morning Exercise
“The three key things to performing this move correctly are to engage your core, to keep your back flat, and to initiate the movement by pushing your hips back, ” Thieme says. To achieve that last tip, it helps to imagine that you’re closing a door with your butt. “There should only be a very slight bend in your knees, and you should never feel as if you’re ‘bending over,” which will throw you off ballance,” he adds. “The key is to hinge forward at the waist as you push your butt/hips back. Also, never lower your torso until it’s parallel to the floor—you want to stop about 15 degrees above parallel.”
Going all the way down to parallel will increase the strain on your spine. Stopping a bit shy of parallel gives you all the benefits without increasing your risk of injury.
Benefits of the Good Morning Exercise
The good morning is great for learning and mastering the all-important hip-hinge movement (described above), Thieme says. A proper hip-hinge pattern is critical to performing a number of lower body exercises safely and effectively, including the squat and deadlift.
Additionally, the good morning activates many of your body’s biggest muscles, including your glutes and hams, making it an good “bang-for-your-buck” exercise. Plus, it strengthen your erector spinea, which can help reduce your risk of developing back pain.
What Muscles Does the Good Morning Exercise Work?
When you do the good morning exercise, you engage the muscles of your posterior chain, which run along the backside of your body and include your hamstrings, glutes, and erector spinae. You also hammer your core. Here’s a look at how each of these muscles or muscle groups contribute to helping you perform this exercise.
The term “hamstrings” actually refers to a group of three muscles located on the back of each leg: the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. These muscles serve to flex the knee and extend the hip.
Your glutes are group of three muscles in each butt cheek that include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximis is the largest in the trio, and it’s the one that’s most responsible for your booty’s round shape. More important, it helps extend your hips. The gluteus medius and gludeus minimus are primarily responsible for the abduction (outward movement) of the thigh.
While your glutes (which most people don’t realize are part of the core), focus on hip extension during the good morning, the rest of your core muscles engage to stabilize your spine. The key players are the rectus abdominis (i.e., your “abs”), the traverse abdominis—which wraps around the abdomen, and is often referred to as the body’s inner “weight belt”—the obliques that run down your sides, and the erector spinae that are located along your spine.
This part of your core gets a special shout out when it comes to the good morning exercise because of its central role in performing the movement. This muscle group is comprised of nine different muscles that run along the sides of your spine from the base of your skull to your pelvis. They’re primary jobs are to extend and stabilize the spine. As you can imagine, the latter function is crucial when performing the good morning.
All-natural peanut butter can part of a healthy diet…in moderation, of course.
Peanut butter is an excellent way to work some healthy fats into your diet — you heard that right: “healthy fats.”
Some fats are healthy and others are not. These Peanutty Peanut Butter Squares are made with a handful of wholesome ingredients you can feel good about.
Okay, not all peanut butter is good for you. That’s because some brands of peanut butter contain lots of additives and tons of processed sugars.
To be sure you are getting pure unadulterated peanut butter take a look at the ingredients on the jar. If you see corn syrups and cane sugars listed, put that jar back on the shelf.
One way to make sure you are buying nothing but the good stuff is to grind your peanut butter yourself. Lots of whole food stores and groceries, especially those that carry bulk grains, now have nut butter machines right in the store.
Pro tip: Here’s a quick, easy recipe for making your own peanut butter at home!
This decadent recipe only calls for a few ingredients and is mostly made of peanut butter.
Add a few eggs, a touch of raw honey, a little vanilla extract, and a dash of baking soda whip thoroughly and voila. This neat baked treat utilizes a little chemistry magic to give rise to the dough.
Peanuts are slightly acidic which reacts with the baking soda causing the dough to rise in the oven. Since these peanut butter squares are made mostly of actual peanut butter they won’t throw your healthy eating plan off the rails.
To get the recipe and find out the Portion Fix Containers and nutritional information, watch the FIXATE episode on Beachbody On Demand!
I’ll be honest, for a long time I kind of poo-pooed positive affirmations. I tried to picture myself standing in front of the mirror shouting “you are beautiful!” and it just didn’t quite fit for me. Out of all the forms of self-care available I probably put up the most resistance to positive affirmations.
But whether you admit it or not, we all talk to ourselves. When I tune into my self-thoughts I realize that they’re often more negative than they are positive. This is something I’m actively trying to change. It is a practice and takes a conscious effort.
Daily affirmations are designed to alter the beliefs about ourselves so we think more positively about ourselves. In one article I read, affirmations were said to be like the psychological immune system. When something knocks you down, you can use your affirmation to pick you back up.
I truly believe that our thoughts create our actions and our actions create our reality. If we’re constantly inundating ourselves with negative thoughts, we will take negative actions (or lack of action) and this will be the reality we live in. That’s not to say that we all must live in a state of disillusion, but we also don’t need to punish ourselves with every single thought we have.
Besides making us feel better in certain situations, affirmations can:
1. Motivate us– When you are speaking truths about yourself, you are more likely to move in that direction. “I am hardworking” will motivate you to be hard working much more than telling yourself “man you’re lazy”. Your thoughts orient your life actions!
2. Improve our overall quality of life– Studies have shown people that practice positive affirmations to be happier, more optimistic, and have a clearer perspective on life. It makes sense doesn’t it?! When I tell myself positive truths about myself, I’m going to be living a much better life than if I was constantly telling myself negative lies.
Affirmations can be hard or awkward to start. I’ve been told to fake it ’til you make it when it comes to affirmations. Say something before you mean it and eventually you will mean it and believe it.
I also don’t think you need to be shouting them at yourself in the mirror. That’s how I always envisioned it and that’s what held me up from practicing more positive thinking. Try writing them down, thinking them in your head, repeating a mantra while you meditate or even just whispering them under your breath.
I know it can be hard to get started so that’s why I created a weekly positive affirmation email for all of you. Each Sunday evening, I send a note to your inbox with an affirmation to focus on for the week, a journal prompt, and downloadable backgrounds for your phone, iPad, and desktop. My hope is that you look at the affirmation daily and are reminded of your truths. Maybe the truth that week doesn’t speak to you, and if so that’s totally fine! Just replace it with something that you need more of in your life. Just remember, focus on the positive.
Don’t forget to sign up for your weekly affirmation email here!
Do you believe in positive affirmations?
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Your obliques, the muscles that run up the sides of your core, have one primary job: twisting your torso. When you’re in the car and reach to grab something out of the back seat, your obliques help make it happen. So what better way to strengthen these muscles than by doing oblique twists? This includes a group of core-twisting exercises that target both the internal and external obliques in ways most people’s workouts rarely do.
Rotation is one of the body’s fundamental movement patterns, so it’s important to train your core to resist rotation (like in a Pallof press), flex (as you do with crunches), and extend (achieved with back extensions). It’s also important to train your core to twist when you need it to (you make a quick turn during a game of basketball), and that’s where the oblique exercises come into play. While you would never do a specific “oblique workout,” there are a number of moves you can do to ensure that your oblique muscles get plenty of attention.
How to Do Oblique Twists With Perfect Form
Since there is no “one” type of oblique twist, here are four variations on the movement to sprinkle into your next core workout. And these aren’t just plain old oblique crunches. These moves will give you a nice assortment to stave off workout boredom.
1. C-Sit Tap
2. C-Curve Weighted Pass
3. Bicycle Crunch and Punch
4. Close-Grip Oblique Twist
• Take an overhand on a pull-up bar.
• Pull your body upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.
• Holding the top position of the pull-up, lift your knees toward your chest as high as possible.
• Keeping your knees drawn up and squeezed together, contract your obliques, as if trying to touch the outside of your right hip to your right elbow.
• Repeat on your left side.
• Lower your knees, straighten your arms, return to the starting position, and repeat.
How to Make Oblique Twists Easier
“You can make oblique exercises easier by increasing how many points of contact you have with the floor,” explains Beachbody expert Cody Braun. “For example, by keeping both feet on the floor, you can make the exercise more accessible.” Both the C-Sit Tap and C-Curve Weighted Pass keep the feet on the floor to decrease the demand placed on your core. Master these oblique twist variations before progressing to more advanced ones.
How to Make Oblique Twists Harder
“If you hover the legs you will place more stress on the core musculature,” Braun says. The bicycle crunch and punch, and seated bike twist do just that, while the close-grip oblique twist, performed from a dead-hang, requires and builds next-level core strength.
Bonus Tips for Doing Oblique Twists
While the focus of oblique twists is strengthening the obliques, remember that the obliques work in tandem with the rest of your core musculature—including your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles. You should keep your entire core braced during oblique twists to maintain proper form.
The Benefits of Oblique Twists
By focusing on an often-neglected muscle group and movement, oblique twisting movements can help improve functional strength, stability, and power. “They train the oblique muscles to transfer power from side to side, and coordinate the transfer of movement from upper body to lower body,” Braun says.
Strengthening your obliques also helps them with their very important task of protecting the spine from excessively rotating during movements like swinging a bat or tennis racquet, for example. Your obliques also help your posture by keeping your pelvis positioned properly.
What Muscles Do Oblique Twists Work?
Hold onto your hats folks – this move targets your obliques! Ok, that part was probably obvious, but what isn’t as commonly known is that your obliques are just one part of your abdominal muscles. It includes the obliques on the sides, the rectus abdominis (aka the “six-pack” muscles that run down the center of your stomach), and the transverse abdominis, which wraps around your torso underneath these muscles.
But that’s not it…there are actually two kinds of oblique muscles: external and internal. The external obliques are visible (if you’re lean enough for them to show) and run diagonally from the sides of your rib cage to the tops of your hip bones. The internal obliques are situated right below them. The right external obliques work in coordination with the left internal obliques, and vice versa. For instance, the right external obliques rotate the body to opposite side, while the right internal rotate to the same side. All together, they help to stabilize your spine and rotate your torso.
Although few people consider lasagna to be healthy, it’s still surprising to discover exactly how many calories are lurking in that tiny slice.
That’s why we’re here to share a way that you can enjoy lasagna, without tossing a healthy diet completely out the window.
When you think of lasagna, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? We’d bet it has something to do with bubbling hot tomato sauce and cheese.
With this recipe, we’ve focused on the good stuff, which means you’ll still get plenty of sauce and cheese.
But instead of pasta noodles, you’ll load up on spaghetti squash instead. Spaghetti squash is a fiber-rich, lower-carb alternative to pasta.
Ditching the noodles saves on calories and makes room for plenty of cheese. After a trip to the oven, the spaghetti squash noodles will have absorbed some of the tomato and cheesy goodness.
A sprinkle of basil makes the flavors really pop, but the dish still tastes delicious without it.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
This sinfully delicious Spaghetti Squash Lasagna is made with all-natural marinara, part-skim ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan cheese and healthy spaghetti squash.
The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.
(Not familiar with Portion Fix? Find out how Portion Fix can make losing weight simple.)
Body Beast Portions
Portion Fix Containers
2B Mindset Plate It!
If you have questions about the portions, please click here to post a question in our forums so our experts can help. Please include a link to the recipe.
The dumbbell pullover is a bit of a weight-room unicorn. Unlike nearly every other strength training exercise out there, it simultaneously works two opposing muscle groups at once—specifically, the pecs and lats.
So…do pullovers work your chest or back? The answer is both! While the pectoralis major in the front of the chest controls pushing moments (think: push-ups and bench presses), the latissimus dorsi muscle, spanning both sides of the mid- to lower-back, powers pulling movements (think: rows and pull-ups). It doesn’t get much more contradictory than that. However, by taking the shoulders through a huge range of motion, the dumbbell pullover exercise is able to tap both muscle groups.
So whether you’re trying to build your chest, your back, or both, you need the dumbbell pullover exercise in your upper-body workout routine. Here’s how to do it properly, and a few tips to get the most out of this magical move.
How to Do a Dumbbell Pullover With Perfect Form
How to Make the Dumbbell Pullover Easier
How to Make the Dumbbell Pullover Harder
Bonus Tips for Doing the Dumbbell Pullover
“The biggest key to executing the dumbbell pullover correctly is to keep your low back in contact with the bench throughout the whole exercise,” Braun says. Keeping the low back pressed into the bench requires high engagement of the core muscles, especially the deep-lying transverse abdominis. On the flip side, if your low back arches up off of the bench during the dumbbell pullover, you’re likely not engaging the core as needed, or the weight might be too heavy for your core to stabilize it. You may even be “dumping” the weight into your low back, which can increase your risk of injury.
The Benefits of the Dumbbell Pullover
This move works both the pecs and the lats, but it places special emphasis on strengthening the pecs. And if that wasn’t enough, the dumbbell pullover exercise also increases core strength and stability, Braun says. “As the dumbbell gets farther away from your body, your core has to work harder to stabilize the spine.”
What Muscles Does a Pullover Work?
The dumbbell pullover mainly hits your lats (latissimus dorsi) and your pecs (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor). The lats are a part of your upper back. They’re a fan-shaped muscle originating at your mid and lower back and attaching to your upper arms. In coordination with your trapezius and rhomboid muscles, they allow you to pull and row with ease.
On the front side of your body, the pullover exercise works your pecs. You have one pectoralis major and pectoralis minor on each side of your body. Each pec major has two heads – one attaches to your collarbone, and the other attaches to your breastbone. Both fuse together to attach to your upper arm bone. The pec minor is situated just below, and it attaches to your upper ribs and the front side of your shoulder blades. Together, these muscles work to move your arm in multiple directions, helping you push, squeeze, carry, and more.
My deep love for all things nut butter is not a secret around here. The passion runs deep and anyone who has the courage to jump head first into this world (as a college student no less!) deserves serious respect in my book.
Yes, I am taking about one half of the Wild Friends Foods duo, Erika Welsh. Erika and her business partner (then college roommate) stumbled into a business as college freshman. Never in their wildest dreams did they think they’d end up taking the peanut butter they ground up in their college dorm room and selling it for profit. Let alone having mass distribution across the country and a whole lineup of nut butters and overnight oats!
Today on the show we’re going back to the early days of Wild Friends and chatting about how Erika and Keely got started, when they knew they wanted to take the leap and what it’s been like growing a business in such a competitive industry.
Here are a few things we cover in today’s episode:
What questions do you have for Erika? Do you have a business idea but are unsure when to take the leap?
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.