These two moves will get you comfortable squatting a little more deeply

Author demonstrating an assisted squat.

Few fitness moves, aside from maybe good old walking, are more functional than a squat. After all, being able to stand up safely and comfortably from a chair (or, you know, a toilet) helps you move with ease throughout your daily life; maintaining the strength to go from seated to standing also helps you maintain your independence as you age. But in a fitness setting, many folks can’t — or believe they can’t — do a “proper” squat, where the hips get to parallel with or just a bit lower than the knees.

While a more shallow squat (aka a…


Take your figure 4 stretch to the next level with these two tweaks

I’m back! Did I get a better camera? Absolutely not. Regardless, I’m here to share two simple ways to alter a stretch you’re probably already doing to make it much more effective.

Figure 4 stretch is a popular (and useful!) way to stretch your glutes, hips, and piriformis. Runners love it, and it feels amazing after a squat-heavy workout. It’s traditionally done by lying on your back, placing your left ankle on your right knee, and placing your hands behind your right hamstring to pull the right knee toward your chest. …

Photo by Anton Shuvalov on Unsplash

Taking a break — and open to ideas


Your shoulders will love you for this

There’s a muscle in your torso I’d guess you haven’t thought about lately (if ever), and it could probably use some attention: your serratus anterior. The serratus muscles connect your ribcage to each shoulder blade, which means that neglecting them can cause “winging,” or the shoulder blades flaring out. When the serratus muscles are strong, the shoulder blades effortlessly plug back and down into place, which in turn broadens the chest, allows you to sit or stand up taller and with excellent posture, and helps prevent injury to the rotator cuff. …


This oft-overlooked move packs a punch

In many yoga classes I’ve taken, I’ve often wondered what the heck I’m doing during “thread the needle” pose — I just didn’t get it.

Then I tried it one time at home (thank you, Adriene) when my upper back and neck were bothering me, and bam: Suddenly all the kinks seemed to work themselves out, and I just felt better.

Once I thought about it, it made sense. The spine gets a delicious but gentle twist, the shoulders get a friendly stretch, and the very slight inversion (head below chest) brings a bit of extra blood flow to the…


Plus, it feels incredible

If I were, for some reason, only allowed to do one stretch for the rest of my life, I’m fairly certain I would pick cat-cow. This thing is so useful, so versatile, it’s like the little black dress of stretches: You can do it as a warmup, as a cool-down, as a recovery break between sets; you can do it when you’re feeling great, or when your back hurts. If it’s one you’ve tried but mostly overlooked, though, I get it: You’re just sticking out your belly and then arching your back — what’s the big deal?

The deal is…

Monday Move

Go back to basics for your body and brain

Illustration: Jaedoo Lee for Elemental

I had a big and difficult decision to make last week, and as the little bubble of anxiety in my gut grew bigger and bubblier as the deadline approached, I could just feel it in every cell: I had to move. I was accomplishing absolutely nothing by refreshing Twitter and checking for new Slack DMs, and my body knew my only option was to expel the nervous energy on a walk.

I downloaded a calming playlist, set off on a brisk pace, and spent a few minutes just moving fast, breathing deeply, and doing a body scan to tap into…

Monday Move

Don’t @ me

Sometimes, you just need to go ahead and do the sucky thing: Tell people the news they don’t want to hear. Make the tough decision. Put that beloved toy that sings the creepy song out on the sidewalk while your toddler is napping.

Blast the death metal and do the goddamn burpees.

Hear me out: Yes, burpees suck, but if you’re physically able to do them (and willing to get sweaty and exhausted), they are also… the best. When you get into a rhythm of slamming yourself down on the floor and getting right back TF up again, the intensity…


Sick of the snap, crackle, pop? Try this small but powerful tweak.

A young, Asian woman performing a squat exercise with a resistance band
A young, Asian woman performing a squat exercise with a resistance band
Photo: Kilito Chan/Getty Images

A funny thing happened approximately five minutes after I turned 34: My knees turned into Rice Krispies. I’ve been fit and active for most of my adult life — including plenty of squats, which I maintain everyone who can sit and stand should be doing regularly — so this sudden sign of joint aging took me by surprise. I soon learned that crackling, popping sounds in a joint are called crepitus (I’m choosing to ignore the extremely rude fact that that word sounds kind of like “decrepit”), and thankfully, if they’re not accompanied by actual pain, they’re pretty harmless.


Monday Move

Is your butt dead? This move will bring it back to life.

I once worked out with a running coach who said that a huge chunk (scientific, I know!) of running injuries could be attributed to “dead butt” syndrome. It’s a real thing, and a diagnosis many runners have heard from sports medicine doctors and physical therapists. Here’s what happens: For those of us who spend much of our day seated, our gluteus medius muscles weaken. Over time they sort of “forget” how to switch on, which they need to do in order to keep our pelvis stable and our spine in proper alignment. For runners especially, this imbalance can force other…

Anna Maltby

Editor and writer. Past: Elemental, Real Simple, Refinery29, SELF. Certified personal trainer; prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist. Cat & person mom.

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