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Whip It Good
Working out benefits all muscles, including your heart: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reports that both high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—short bursts of all-out effort, like battling-rope slams (shown), alternated with periods of lighter work or rest—and weight training improve insulin sensitivity while also reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you’re already lifting, throw some HIIT into your workouts; you might just enjoy it!
Shoes That Don’t Rock
Tell your girl she can get rid of those rocker-bottom shoes she bought to make her butt look good—and lose yours while you’re at it. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that “muscle activity and [calorie burn] were unaltered,” and activity of the tibialis anterior (the muscle next to your shin) was actually lower when wearing rockers compared with flat-bottomed kicks.Plus, says New York fitness coach Edwin Guadarrama, C.S.C.S., “Adding instability to [already unstable joints] is a cardinal sin in the world of exercise.”
Stretch the Truth
Past research suggested that static stretching temporarily weakens muscles, lessening the effectiveness of subsequent strength-training sessions. But a new study in Science & Sports says that stretches held for fewer than 20 seconds and done after warmup sets have no major effect on strength output. So you can still do your stretching routine before you lift— just keep it short.
Protein builds muscle better than carbs alone, reports the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. Subjects who drank a supplement with 19.5 grams each of protein and carbs (half before training and the other half after) over a 12-week period gained about three times the muscle in their quads as those who drank just carbs. Don’t skimp on the protein, and score more from your workouts.
Butt Up Your Squat
Scientists have found that the gluteus muscles are more involved in knee-extension movements than previously thought, producing greater force during the squat, according to a study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. In other words, strengthen your butt and watch your squat numbers go up. Adds Montreal strength coach Andrew Sakhrani, C.S.C.S., “This is definitely something people who are trying to lift heavier should be made aware of.”
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