Monday Move

All you need is one heavy weight.

Unilateral exercises (those that work one side of the body at a time) are some of the best ways to build a stronger body because they tend to engage the deeper muscles of the core to resist rotation, and because they reveal strength imbalances (i.e. when one side of the body is stronger than the other) — and provide a way to correct them.

A great one to try is the single-arm farmer’s carry. I love this move for all of the above reasons, and because it challenges your grip strength (it’s hard to hold onto a heavy weight for…

Monday Move

You’ve never done a bicycle crunch quite like this.

Happy Labor Day! I hope you stayed safe and dry during the storms last week, and that you’re enjoying this much-needed long weekend.

If you want to build a strong core, exercises that involve rotation should be part of your, well, rotation. Rotational core work uses all the muscles of the abdominals, and helps train those muscles to work in tandem with the muscles in your back and hips — which means the result isn’t just strong abs, it’s a more functional body as a whole.

Bicycle crunches are a popular way to incorporate rotation into core work, but too…

Monday Move

A hip flexor stretch frequent sitters need

Author demonstrating a stretch.

Do you ever find yourself sitting for so long that, when you stand, it feels like the fronts of your hips have somehow become fossilized? If you’re tired of the creaky stiffness, this stretch is for you.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Monday Move

Your pectoral muscles will thank you for this reset that brings relief from the 21st century lifestyle

Whether you’re a push-up lover, a computer and phone user, or a new parent who spends all day hunched over a baby, chances are very good that you should be stretching out your pectoral muscles regularly. This is one of my favorite ways to do it, and all you need is a foam roller. If you don’t have one (or yours is very small or has too many pokey parts to comfortably lie down on), you can roll up a blanket or pile a few long and narrow pillows on the floor.

Foam roller chest opener

Monday Move

Plus, how to fix your knee push-ups, if that’s your thing

The author doing a push-up.

Ask anyone but a relatively devoted exerciser to drop and give you 20, and chances are they’ll say, “I can’t do push-ups.” And okay, push-ups are really hard! But the truth is, you probably can do them: You just haven’t tried the right modification yet. (I reject the premise that any of the below aren’t “real” push-ups, thank you.)

You’ve probably seen knee push-ups, which have another insulting and sexist name I refuse to use, and those are totally fine. (You’ll find a tip about those at the very end, if they’re your preferred version.) But I’d like to recommend…

Monday Move

And why the idea of “sucking it in” makes literally no sense

Author on yoga mat touching their stomach

Take a deep breath in. Exhale.

What’s happening in your body? Did your chest rise? Did your shoulders rise? What happened with your belly?

If you’re like most people, when you stop and take a deep breath, you’re likely not reaping all the benefits it has to offer (namely, reducing the stress response, which can improve mood and even immune function). That’s because you’re not actually harnessing all the space available in your lungs — and you aren’t activating the supportive musculature around your lungs that facilitates a deep connection to the abdominals, aka the powerhouse of the body.


Monday Move

Your back, core, and hamstrings will thank you, too

Most of us don’t think much about our feet — aside from the occasional pedicure or annoying blister — until they sort of demand our attention. Whether a pregnancy sparks plantar fasciitis, overtraining leads to a stress fracture, or an old pair of shoes worn a few months too long leaves you with Achilles tendonitis: once your feet start hurting, the rest of your life sort of has to stop until you can figure out what to do about it.

Personally, I’ve been down the pregnancy-plantar-fasciitis road (twice!), but I also dealt with extreme foot soreness soon after I moved…

Monday Move

Toe taps (and their cousins) are a core-strengthening secret weapon

If you’re looking for a new abdominal move to work into your exercise routine, may I suggest toe taps? They look so simple, but doing them correctly is anything but easy — and when you do, you’ll engage not just the rectus abodminis (the “six-pack” muscles just beneath the skin and subcutaneous fat on your stomach) but also the deeper transverse abdominis, or TVA.

The TVA is a “corset-like” muscle that wraps around the trunk and provides support and stability to the spine and pelvis. …

Monday Move

And why it has nothing to do with your arms

A kettlebell weight.

As a personal trainer who also hates overstepping boundaries, a small struggle for me is working out at a gym, watching other people do kettlebell swings incorrectly, and keeping my mouth shut.

After all, they’re not only putting themselves at risk for injury — they’re missing out on the heart and soul of this excellent, dynamic move that works nearly the entire posterior chain, all the muscles on the back of the body that help keep you upright. It also gets the heart and blood pumping and just so happens to be my favorite warmup.

To put it simply: If…

Monday Move

Spice up your kettlebell life by putting your body a bit off-kilter with a single-arm deadlift

A woman in a black tank top and black workout pants performs a single-arm deadlift

Pretty much everyone loves (or loves to hate) a deadlift, but to spice up your deadlifting life, try throwing it off-kilter: Holding weight in just one hand tests your balance, engages your core, and calls your attention to all the little supporting muscles that don’t always get love during heavy lifting moves.

If you’re a barbell devotee, you can perform this move by placing the barbell on the floor perpendicular to your body and bending down to grab the center of the bar with one hand. Otherwise, use a kettlebell or dumbbell.

Single-Arm Deadlift

Anna Maltby

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store