4 Exercises to Steal From Misty Copeland for a Strong Ballerina Body

The latest from: http://www.health.com/fitness/ballerina-body-exercises

When you think of a ballerina body, you may picture a petite, slender physique. But many dancers have rejected that rigid idea of what a ballerina is supposed to look like—and instead, they've led a shift towards embracing a diverse range of athletic ballerina bodies. One woman who's played a major role in that movement is none other than Misty Copeland, the iconic principle dancer at the American Ballet Theater.

“We are real women and ballerinas, muscular, feminine but also strong, lithe but also curvaceous,” Copeland writes in her new book, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You ($30, amazon.com). But Copeland doesn’t pretend she always felt so confident in her skin. “None of it was easy. Not my climb in the ballet world, not my arrival at a place of personal contentment and peace, not my journey to the body I stand in.”

Her book is her way of helping other women reach the same state of body confidence that she now exudes to the world. “I dream of sharing what I’ve learned—of showing women everywhere how to reach their body goals and achieve what they see as their best selves," she says.

For Copeland, that has meant prioritizing exercise, as an integral and positive element of her day. “Working out, so essential to our mental and physical well-being, can and should be woven through every part of our lives,” Copeland says.

Below are four exercises that she incorporates in her cross-training routine, to help maintain her ideal ballerina body—“one that is lean but sinewy, with muscles that are long, sculpted, and toned.” But you certainly don't have to be a dancer to reap the benefits of these challenging moves. Try them out to get toned from head to (pointed) toe.


“Relevé” means “raised,” or lifted, and describes the position when you rise onto the balls of your feet (demi-pointe) or onto the toes (pointe) of one or both feet.

a. Begin in first position. Demi-plié, then stretch your knees and rise onto demi-pointe (relevé). Repeat this three times and old on the count of four. When done to music, the counts are to the timing of the music.

b. Repeat once. When you get stronger, you may do four repetitions.

Remember to hold your posture. The flexing and pointing also prepare and strengthen your ankles to allow you to stand on demi-pointe (or en pointe, if you are an advanced dancer).

Balancing Adagio

“Adagio” refers to the slow movement in the ballet technique. As much as the adagio is about flexibility, strength, and fluidity in the movement, learning this exercise on the floor will give you an advantage before approaching it standing. On the floor you acquire a sense of balance and where your weight should be in order to leverage it to make you legs appear higher and more extended in opposition to our upper body.

This exercise should be done slowly to improve balance, alignment, abdominal strength, and stamina.

a. Start by sitting with your legs together on the floor in front of you.

b. Lift your legs into the air by bending your knees, holding the backs of your things with your hands with your legs still bent and parallel to each other.

c. Leaning back, with your back straight and the backs of your thighs (hamstrings) leaning into your hands, slowly lengthen both legs into the air until they are fully straight, making you into a V shape. Bend your knees so the tips of your toes touch the floor. Now do the same with each leg, alone, keeping the tips of the toes of your other leg posed on the floor.

d. Repeat the sequence, beginning with the other leg, when doing the single-leg section.


This exercise is great for freeing and lengthening the spine and for centering and strengthening the core.

a. Begin lying on your back, your legs together and parallel and your feet pointed.

b. Bend your legs slowly, bringing them off the floor, still bent, and lifting your feet off the floor as well, while your back hugs the ground.

c. Keeping your lower back on the floor and your shoulder blades drawn down toward your waist, curl your upper back off the floor, around your lower abs. Your arms should act like seaweed being moved by the motion of the tides, around and behind your lifted legs.

d. Float your upper back and arms down to the floor, legs still bent, body still energized.

e. Repeat four times, bringing your legs gently toward your head as your core and upper body lift, igniting the lower abdominal muscles.

f. After the last time, hold one hand or wrist (depending on the length of your arms) with the other, behind your thighs.

g. Lengthen your legs straight into the air, pressing the backs of your legs into your arms. 

h. Propel your legs to the floor, arms still around them, until you get close to the floor. Then open your arms to the sides and move them forward toward your feet, over your head.

i. Your upper back should bend forward over your legs as you transition from lying to sitting, with the backs of your hands on the floor to help stabilize and keep the backs of your legs on the floor. 

j. Roll down through your spine until your back is on the floor and you are in the starting position, with your shoulders relaxed. Repeat two to four times. 

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“Dégagé” means “disengaged.” When preparing for dégagés in particular, but whenever you’re lying on the floor, you should feel like you are standing or jumping—not lying on the sand at the beach!

This exercise is good for length, strength, and alignment. Be sure to press the parts of your back and body that are touching the surface of the floor to the floor, allowing your working leg to float up, initiating the movement with your inner thighs and the backs of the legs rather than the top of your thighs (quadriceps).

a. Begin lying on your back with your feet in first position (heels together and toes apart, feet pointed). 

b. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing down; you can vary the positioning of your arms depending on what makes you comfortable, as long as your arms don’t go above your shoulders. 

c. Keep your legs elongated, straight on the floor. 

d. Use your palms and arms by pressing them to the floor. This will help to strengthen 
your core and align the spine. 

e. Lift one leg two or three inches from the floor, with your toes still pointed out, by pressing the standing leg (again, whether you’re standing or lying on the floor, the standing leg is the one that is not moving; it helps to maintain balance), your arms, and your head into the floor. This will help you to lift the working leg while maintaining stability throughout your body. Do four dégagés with one leg front, then switch legs and do four with the other leg front. 

f. Now do four dégagés to each side. For these, your working leg stays on the floor, brushing along the floor as it extends to the side. Do not disturb the balance of the pelvis or the back as you move the working leg.

Excerpted from the book BALLERINA BODY by Misty Copeland. Copyright :copyright: 2017 by Misty Copeland. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.


These Before-and-After Photos Show the Dangers of Overexercising

The latest from: http://www.health.com/fitness/overexercising-before-and-after-photos

Here’s to a different kind of body transformation. On Instagram yesterday, fitness influencer Anna Victoria shared a follower’s photos that document her inspiring recovery from an extreme exercise habit. 

In the "before" pic, @barbellkell_fbg is flexing her biceps in a bikini that shows off her chiseled six-pack. But what it took to get that sculpted bod was anything but healthy.

The photo on the left was taken a year and a half ago, when @barbellkell_fbg was committed to a 10-week plan that involved working out five times a week, sometimes twice a day, and counting macros (down to chewing gum, vitamins, and cough drops), she explains in the caption. "[Z]ero balance, zero living, zero sustainability," she wrote. "I had my full time job and this, which was another full time job basically."

The strict dieting and intense workouts took a serious toll. By the end of the plan, @barbellkell_fbg had a flat belly, and no trace of cellulite—but her energy levels had plummeted. "I could barely lift my feet to run on the treadmill," she wrote. A blood test showed her white blood cell count was severely depressed. It was so low her doctor wanted to test her for cancer, she says.

After convincing him to do another blood test in a month, @barbellkell_fbg committed to getting back to "normal." She ate "to survive," she said; and in time, she gained fat and her white blood cell count recovered.

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OD'ing on exercise is a real thing, and it can cause everything from fatigue to chronic achiness—even an elevated heart rate, which puts more demand on your ticker. "Overexercising often contributes to pain, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalances, all of which can lead to an increase in heart rate," Kathryn Berlacher, MD, a cardiologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, explained to Health in a prior interview. 

For more signs that you're overdoing it at the gym—and tips on how to scale back—check out our guide to the symptoms of overtraining.

As for @barbellkell_fbg, she's come a long way in the last 18 months. She now follows Anna Victoria’s Fit Body Guides, and eats what she wants in moderation. "I feel good. I am strong. I am happy," she says—and she loves the body she has now. 


Exercise Addict Who Works Out 8 Hours a Day Seeks Help on The Doctors

The latest from: http://www.health.com/syndication/exercise-addict-the-doctors

This article originally appeared on People.com. 

Erin is a self-proclaimed exercise addict.

The 39-year-old from San Diego, California reveals on Tuesday’s episode of the syndicated daytime series The Doctors that she builds her whole life around fitting in workout sessions.

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“I exercise eight hours a day,” she says in an exclusive clip. “I never get tired, I don’t get sore.”

But even though her body can seemingly handle her excessive workouts, they do not make her feel good.

“I’ll cancel plans, I’ll cancel appointments. It’s been controlling my life,” she says. “I just can’t stop. It’s not giving me the rush that I used to feel just doing three to four hours.”

Erin says she squeezes in early morning workouts before work, and then returns to the gym when she is done for the day.

RELATED: Why You Should Rethink Your Spinning Obsession

“Around 5 o’clock is when I work out, and then I go to work, and then I work out for another two hours,” she says.

But Erin also reveals she has been using exercise to avoid a painful trauma she experienced in the past.

“Eight months ago I got a message from a girl. It triggered a memory that I had suppressed for 30 years,” she says in the clip. “Basically from that time on I’ve been adding on exercise so that I can just forget about that whole nightmare of those four years of life.”

Host Dr. Travis Stork commends Erin for seeking the help she needs to fight her addiction.

“Before we get into where we need to go from here, we have to acknowledge where we are right now,” he says. “I’m so happy you realize that you need to change, because when I saw those blood pressure readings, there are things in medicine we call hypertensive urgency, and those blood pressure numbers [are] quite alarming.”

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Gastroenterologist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, who is working to treat Erin, says he was also alarmed by the results.

“In the six years that I’ve done the show with you, Erin is the most ill person, the sickest person that we’ve had on the show in my opinion,” he says.

To find out more of her test results and to see if The Doctors can help Erin, check your local listings and tune into Tuesday’s episode.


3 Sports Bras for Big Boobs That Actually Work

The latest from: http://www.health.com/fitness/3-sports-bras-for-big-boobs-that-actually-work

Is going out for a run, getting into a downward dog, or doing burpees, jumping jacks, and box jumps a pain in the chest? That uncomfortable bouncing is a sign that your sports bra is not supportive enough—something that can not only hold you back during your workout, but can also be bad for your boobs.

Without good support, breasts move up and down during a workout, which overtime can break down the connective tissue in your breasts. A bra that restricts the movement without suffocating you will keep them healthy. The bra should also be made of breathable and moisture-wicking fabric to reduce the risk of any icky bacteria build-up.

RELATED: 13 Sports Bras for All Body Types

We've rounded up three great sports bras for large chests that fit these criteria, tailored to the activities you like to do.

For high-impact training

Livi Active Molded Underwire Sport Bra (starting at $44; lanebryant.com)

If you like to run or do a lot of high-impact training, this is the bra for you. It is designed to give you lots of support with full coverage so you can get right down to the nitty gritty. The thick straps won't pinch your shoulders, and they are convertible so you can adjust them into a racerback for stealthy support!

For all your cardio training

fullbeauty SPORT Active Bra (Starting at $37; amazon.com)

This sports bra was designed for medium-impact training like the elliptical machine, stair master, walking, hiking, and more. It provides full coverage and features adjustable straps so you can customize the fit perfectly to your needs. Best part: There is a closure in the back so you don't have to slither out of a sweaty bra post-workout.



Wacoal Wire-Free Soft Cup Bra (starting at $20; amazon.com)

Made for ultimate comfort, this bra is best-suited for low impact activities. There is no underwire, but the cups are molded to provide enough support. The full coverage design lets you slip into downward dog (or headstand!) without worrying about your girls running loose. You may even be tempted to swap out your regular bra for this super-cozy alternative!



Why Your Butt Is Staying Flat No Matter How Much You Work Out

The latest from: http://www.health.com/fitness/flat-butt-exercise-tips

You do endless squats. You’ve tried the booty band. You’ve danced along to Brazilian Butt Lift DVD workouts. Yet somehow you still aren’t the proud owner of a tush that resembles the peach emoji.

The truth is, the appearance of your butt is partially out of your control, says Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer and Fitbit ambassador. “Genetics is the number-one component of the size and shape of your butt,” he says. “Different ethnicities also have certain biological predispositions for adiposity in different parts of the butt, or different waist-to-hip ratios that give the butt and hips a particular look,” he adds.

Pasternak also notes that how you've used your glutes throughout your life may also dictate the natural development of your butt. “So someone who was a gymnast as a kid might have more developed glutes, or an easier time toning the glutes as they get older, than someone who maybe didn’t do any sports as a child,” he explains.

Now for the good news: Just because you can't necessarily battle the natural curve of your booty doesn't mean you can't amp up the assets you have, he assures. Plus, there are so many benefits of developing a strong, toned tush that go beyond how it fills out your jeans. Having strong glutes can make you a better runner, improve your posture, and more.

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So genetics aside, what else could be stalling your dream derriere? There are other little errors that people unknowingly make that can take the emphasis off of the glutes, Pasternak says. Make these exercise and lifestyle adjustments to accelerate your results.

Don't rely on the same old butt exercises

Certain moves that we often associate with the glutes actually recruit other large lower-body muscles (namely the quadriceps) to do most of the work. "This tends to be the case with basic body-weight squats and leg presses," Pasternak says.

Instead, Pasternak recommends focusing more on unilateral movement, or working one side of the body at a time so that other large muscles in both legs don't dominate. "Unilateral training will allow you to access the glutes more directly," he says. Moves to work into your butt routine: single-leg deadlifts, lunges, and lying single-leg hip thrusts.

Related: 4 Moves to Perk Up a Flat Butt

Add hills and speed drills to your cardio

"Your butt is mainly fat. That’s just a fact," Pasternak says—and fighting flab requires a combo of cardio and a healthy diet. But you should be doing more with your cardio than steady treadmill runs if you want to zero in on the glutes, he says. "Steady running can actually shorten the hamstrings and cause the glutes to become disengaged," he says.

Instead, opt for walking or sprinting. "Walking forces you into a longer stride, which gives you the opportunity to access your glutes better. Sprinting requires your knees to lift higher, which also fires up the glutes," Pasternak explains.

For even more effective butt-targeting cardio, add incline. "I think stairs are just the most underrated glute blaster there is," Pasternak says. "I recommend that all my clients hit a step goal of 10,000 or 15,000 steps per day, and at least 1,500 of those should be on hills or stairs if you want to really want to tone the glutes fast."

Sit less, stretch more

Putting all of your bodyweight on your butt for hours upon hours each day can actually change the shape of it, Pasternak says. “Sitting also shortens and tightens the hip flexors, which impacts our ability to really activate both our glutes and core even when we're not seated," adds physical therapist David Reavy, owner of React Physical Therapy in Chicago, Ill. 

After a period of being sedentary (and especially before going from desk chair to workout), Reavy suggests doing these three exercises to help lengthen the front of your body and re-activate the glutes:

Mobilization backbend: Start in a split stance, with one foot slightly behind you and the heel slightly raised. Reach back with the arm of the same side and place your fist on your sacrum. Lean back as far as you can and hold for a few seconds. Repeat the movement on the other side. Do about 10 reps on each side, bending back as far as you can each time.

Hip-flexor release: Lay on your stomach and put a lacrosse ball under your psoas. Allow your bodyweight to release onto the ball as much as possible without pain and lay until you feel your hip flexor relax.

Hip thrusts: Put your shoulders on a flat bench, heels on the ground. Using your glutes, lift your hips up to a bridge position, hold for a few seconds and lower your hips. Reavy suggests putting a resistance band around your thighs for added challenge: “This helps turn on your external rotators, which are part of your glutes, so you’ll be working your butt all the way around,” he says. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps.


3 Essential Strength Exercises For Runners

The latest from: http://www.health.com/fitness/strength-exercises-runners

Trying to be a better runner? It's not just about logging miles (although that certainly helps). The key to running strong and long also has a lot to do with shoring up your muscles, activating your core and back in addition to your lower body, and keeping your movements fluid. To help do that, start incorporating these full-body strengthening moves from Nike+ Run Club coach Julia Lucas to your routine three days a week, before or after a run. You'll start noticing a difference in your strength in no time.

1. Planks


Planks have long been considered one of the best exercises for your core. In addition to your abs, this move engages your back, quads, and hamstrings, making it a great full-body exercise for runners. To do it, get into the “up” part of a push-up, with palms on the floor directly under shoulders and legs extended behind you, forming a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, keeping abs tight. Do 2 or 3 sets.

RELATED: 20 Ways to Do a Plank

2. Clamshells


Clamshells work your hips and glutes, parts of the body that runners regularly need to activate. To do them, start out by lying on your side with legs stacked and knees bent at 45 degrees. Rest head on arm; place top hand on hip. With inside edges of feet touching, lift top knee as high as you can without shifting hips or pelvis. Pause; lower knee. Do 2 or 3 sets of 10 reps per side.

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3. Side squats


Side squats are a great way to strengthen your outer highs, hips, and glutes. To do, stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips; squat. Stand; move left foot a step out. Squat again; step left foot in as you rise. Continue, alternating sides. Do 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps per side.

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