The Safest Exercise of All Time

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What would you guess is the safest exercise of all time?

Before you answer, consider this. Fitness trends over the past few decades have taught people to regard as “safe” any exercise that’s done on a padded machine, involves very little weight or requires little-to-no range of motion.

This is very misleading. The problem is that life isn’t padded. Sometimes, we simply have to lift heavy weights (anybody shovel their driveway this winter?), and movement is mandatory (i.e. we are not houseplants).

So I ask again: What would you guess is the safest exercise of all time—considering not just its low rate of injury inside the gym, but its ability to prevent injury outside the gym?

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Fitness Naysayers: How to Cope with People Who Try to Bring You Down

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Over the holidays, a few of my clients went home to visit extended family. One by one, they faced onslaughts of negative nonsense.

“Are you still working out? When are you going to stop that?”

“Why do you lift weights? You’re going to look like a man.”

“You’re not eating cookies? Don’t you want to celebrate Christmas?”

It makes my blood boil.

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Prepare Thyself: How to Survive the New Year’s Resolution Crowds at the Gym

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Shutterstock

Every year between January and March, commercial gyms look more like the set of a zombie movie than a place to get in shape, with the resolution crowd plodding on treadmills like a mindless horde.

If you’re a seasoned gym-goer, it can be frustrating—but be patient. Everyone is there to accomplish the same goal—to improve—and it’s difficult to fault a person for self-improvement … however much he or she may hog your favorite machine.

Here are some strategies to get you through Q1 at your overflowing gym:

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Expert Opinion: Why The Biggest Loser Is the Worst

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NBC

Notorious celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels found herself in hot water last week for giving her team on The Biggest Loser caffeine pills without a doctor’s permission. While some pegged it as cheating, to me it’s not that big of a deal. Caffeine is a well-researched and reasonably harmless supplement that actually can enhance the effects of exercise.

What’s strange to me that this incident would cause such alarm, when other practices of the show are much more problematic. Allow me to explain.

As a personal trainer, my relationship with The Biggest Loser is of the love-hate variety. The popular weight-loss competition show puts contestants through hours of grueling workouts every day to ostensibly “cure” their obesity. To me, this approach is like watering an herb garden with a fire hose: Even if it gets the job done, is it worth the damage?

There are important lessons to be learned from Loser’s mistakes. Here are the top three ways the show misses the mark on weight loss.

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Expert Advice: How to Prevent Yoga Injuries with Strength Training

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It’s better to bend than to break—so the proverb goes. But what if the bending causes the breakage?

Earlier this month the New York Times reported on a problem within the yoga community: the rise of a condition called femoroacetabluar impingement (FAI). Because of their naturally greater flexibility, female yogis are much more prone to developing this painful condition, in which the bones and cartilage of the hip joint become damaged or inflamed. In severe cases, women’s hips must be surgically repaired, or even replaced.

One of the best ways to prevent FAI and ensure years of fruitful yoga practice is to strengthen the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the hip joint: the glutes (butt muscles), abductors (top-of-the-butt muscles) and adductors (inner thigh muscles), to name a few.

And believe it or not, a simple resistance-training program will not only prevent hip injury, it will also make you more flexible, since flexibility is often limited not by the pliability of the stretched muscle, but by the strength of the opposing muscle to safely hold the end range of motion. In other words, if you’re not building strength, your body will simply not allow you to achieve a position that it doesn’t have the strength to support.

To build real-world strength, you have to use real-world weight. Here are three moves you can use to strengthen your hips and build muscle. But don’t worry—this program won’t make you bulk up. It’ll complement the lithe physique you get from a regular yoga practice.

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