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Fitness

I Tried a Home Squat Machine With 220 Pounds of Resistance — and Holy Glutes!

I love a good squat, but I know that it isn’t as effective at targeting my glutes as I once thought (aka, when I used to take on 30-day squat challenges in high school long before I came into this industry and did my research). In fact, though squats recruit your glutes and hamstrings, they target the quads, or the front of your thighs, primarily. So, when I heard of a squat machine that promised greater glute activation to build up booty strength, I was excited to give it a try. It’s called The DB Method, and the Kardashians are apparently big fans. More important than the Kardashians is the fact that I was 100-percent floored by my experience using it.

Some quick background: The DB Method, which costs $229, officially launched in the beginning of 2017. There’s 220 pounds of preset resistance built into The DB Method’s tension rod, and you can buy add-ons like resistance bands and the DreamBelt, a 10-pound weighted belt, via the brand’s website. Founder Erika Rayman told me during my private DB Method training session that she initially wanted to create this foldable, easy-to-use device because of the fact that she was searching for a way to make squats more effective on her own glutes.

What Is Using The DB Method Like?

At first glance, I was skeptical. The DB Method basically looks like a seesaw contraption with handles and a cushion to sit on, and DB Method Chief Fitness Officer Adam Schwartz, an NYC personal trainer with over 20 years of experience, walked me through how to use the machine. It’s a little awkward at the beginning when you squat with your toes up on the foot pads of the machine (which you can see in the pictures I’ve included or the gifs ahead), but to my pleasant surprise, I felt my glutes firing within a few reps.

The DB Method is designed so that you’re leaning back on a slant, and as the website states, it shifts your center of gravity away from your legs. What The DB Method does, Schwartz said, is support and guide your weight back and in line with the hip. “This position keeps the work primarily focused around the hip joint, allowing easier access to glute activation,” he explained.

The key to the proper form while using this machine is similar to how you’d perform a normal squat. You must brace your core, keep your shoulders away from your ears (pulling down through your lats), and transfer tension outward through your knees as though you’re pushing against a booty band, Schwartz instructed. Otherwise, if your form breaks, you could start leaning forward and revert to doing quad-dominant squats.

I was also able to go lower into my squats than I typically would with dumbbells or a kettlebell, which caused me to feel my glute muscles working. Going down deep into your squat on the machine, Schwartz said, is an advanced move because the glutes are being stretched more the deeper you go. He explained, “There is less leverage at the lowest ranges and therefore the glutes must work much harder to pull the body out of that position.” Note: Schwartz said, too, that adding one of The DB Method’s bands helps people activate their glutes better while using the machine because they’re actively pushing against the band to tap into the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus (aka your side butt).

Image Source: Sam Brodsky

Schwartz had me add the heaviest band, which has 78 pounds of resistance (the lighter one is 45 pounds), as well as the 10-pound DreamBelt. This made me feel my glutes work even harder, and I added in wrist weights at one point, too. I was also impressed to learn that you can use The DB Method for arm and ab exercises, not just for squats. Before I tested out a 10-minute squat-only workout, for example, Schwartz had me try variations of standing crunches.

As for the workout, I have a lot of lower-body strength from my years as a competitive gymnast, but I was NOT prepared. I was shocked by how much I felt my glutes working in just two minutes of the 10-minute session, and the pulses incorporated throughout burned most of all. I was sore for two days after this — I may or may not have been walking at a snail’s pace around my office for the rest of the afternoon post-workout.

Schwartz wanted to reiterate that the workout I did was advanced. “For beginners, the best way to start is to really drill in the ‘activation phase’ or to find the correct form,” he said (note: he’s talking about the proper form explained earlier where you’re bracing your core, etc.). If this is your first time working out in general, or you’re just getting back into exercise, he suggested beginning with squats where you lower only one-third of the way down. This would be a “high-zone squat,” and you can go deeper when you’re more comfortable. Here’s a beginner DB Method workout to start.

by SAMANTHA BRODSKY

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Fitness

Need to Smile? Watch Magnus the Therapy Dog, Official Best Boy, “Help” His Human Work Out

Let’s just establish that there are few things more pure than a dog working out with their human. Case in point: Magnus the Therapy Dog loyally assisting his owner in a solid full-body workout. One 30-second video, and we’re falling head over heels.

Just watch the clip and look at this good boy: holding knees for sit-ups, giving high-fives in between push-ups, and hitting downward-facing dog poses like a natural. Magnus’s owner, Brian Benson, works out seven days a week with his certified therapy dog by his side, so Magnus gets lots of practice. “Since I bring him to work with me, we are together almost every hour of every day and [are] virtually inseparable,” Benson told POPSUGAR. They’ve been together since Magnus was just 1.5 years old. (He’s now almost four!)

The best part about working out with Magnus? “When I lay on the floor to do abs, he will walk or crawl over to me and lie tight by my side,” Benson said. Sometimes Magnus will lay his face or whole body on top of Benson, “which makes it hard to do abs!” he said. (We’re melting.)Video Player is loading.

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Watch Magnus’s full workout above, and if you can’t get enough of him, this social-media-savvy pup is also active on Facebook and TikTok. And if you just want more adorable dogs working out with their loving humans, check out Ella the yoga-loving golden retriever and Gus the English bulldog, official mascot of his owners’ gym.

by MAGGIE RYAN

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Fitness Food

Add These Simple Low-Carb Lunches to Your Meal Prep, and Never Fall For Fast Food Again

Lunch can be so tricky. When your schedule gets hectic, you can so easily fall into the trap of eating whatever you can find in the break room or of swinging through a drive-through for a quick meal. If you’re on a low-carb diet, it’s no secret that those sugary snacks and fried foods are not supportive of your goals. That’s where meal prep comes in: planning a menu and making food ahead can not only help you get dinner on the table faster, but it can simplify breakfast and lunch so you can eat well on the go. These easy lunch ideas will help get you started.

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Fitness

New to Club Pilates? Here’s What You Need to Know Before Your First Class

With more than 600 locations and hundreds more expected to open this year, Club Pilates has quickly become one of the most in-demand boutique fitness studios. Like the more traditional Pilates practice, these Reformer-based classes have gained popularity for their ability to lengthen and strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and improve posture and coordination.

As a dancer, I was exposed to Pilates and absolutely loved it, mainly because it felt like physical therapy for my overworked shoulders and hips. While I didn’t keep up with it, my mom — who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis — has always sworn that Pilates helps her feel good, mentally and physically, even on “stiff days.” So, when I passed by a Club Pilates studio near my house and noticed that they offer free 30-minute intro classes, I decided I would give it a try. Here’s a list of all the essential tips you need to know before trying it for yourself.

1. Show Up With Grip Socks

My confirmation email from Club Pilates stated that I would need grip socks, which are available for purchase at the studio. I figured I would grab a pair before class, but when I arrived, they only had toe socks in stock, which weren’t exactly what I had in mind. A sweet woman overheard me ask if there were other options and offered me a pair, which I gladly accepted (thanks, Diann!). But don’t bank on having a Diann in your life, and buy your grip socks ahead of time to make sure you get a style and price you feel good about.

2. Wear Layers

From experience, I knew to wear leggings and a snug-fitting top so the instructor could properly see my alignment and make corrections if needed. Since I was wearing a tank top and it was a little chilly out, I grabbed a zip-up hoodie on my way out the door, and I’m so glad I did. My instructor decided to structure the intro class off of a Reformer 1 class, so while my muscles were working hard, I didn’t break a sweat and would’ve been cold in just a tank top. Since every intro class is different, and Club Pilates offers several types of workouts, you want to be prepared for whatever comes your way.

3. Learn the Lingo

My instructor explained the equipment and motions as we went along, but there were still moments when I was utterly confused. At one point, she said, “Try not to move the carriage,” so I tried not to move anything on the Reformer, assuming some part of it had to be the “carriage.” Apparently, I made the right call, but because Club Pilates is Reformer-based, I recommend familiarizing yourself with the machine beforehand. And if you don’t have background knowledge of dance or barre classes, physical therapy, or anatomy and physiology, I also suggest reading up on some of the words you may hear in class.

4. Listen to Your Body

Piggybacking off the last tip, it’s important to listen to your body and be aware of its positioning. For example, there were moments when I wasn’t clear on whether my legs should be turned out (toes pointing outwards) or turned in (toes pointing straight ahead). Given my own background as a dancer and chronically injured person, this made me nervous for beginners who may not intuitively think about this sort of thing.

Not having a clear direction or intention for your movements can create inconsistencies in each repetition, and not only inhibit your ability to build muscle and see results, but also put you at risk for injury. Club Pilates stresses that every movement can be modified so everyone can participate, so take advantage of this and communicate with your instructor to ensure you get the most from your practice.

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Fitness

I Struggle With Depression, and When I Was at My Lowest, Running Helped Me Find Happiness

I’ve lived with depression for many years now. At first I was ashamed of it, but eventually I learned to view it like any other condition. These days I’m pretty high functioning. At worst, my depression causes me to feel down for a couple hours or leave a pile of dishes in the sink for days at a time because I can’t bring myself to wash them. It’s taken a while to get to this point, though. Before I would have periods when my depression sucked the life out of me.

One of those period was two Summers ago. At the time, I was working an internship at a digital health publication, and staying in an apartment-style dorm with three very nice roommates in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York. My internship paid really well, which meant I had the opportunity to see my friends, go to shows, eat out, and just generally have fun. And yet, I was extremely depressed. I mechanically went to the office, barely eating a meal a day. Everything I had tried to ease my symptoms had failed, and it felt like my best hope was simply to ride things out until my depression went away. Then one day I decided to start running.

I had no idea that running would be so helpful in managing my symptoms. At the time, I did it out of necessity — the gym in my dorm was small, stuffy, and had weird Summer hours, so I opted for the running trail that was just five minutes away. The first night I went out, I was a mess. I had to stop every couple minutes to catch my breath, and by the time I had run for 30 minutes, every muscle in my body ached. But I also felt much better than I had in weeks.

by DENIZ SAHINTURK

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Fitness

Feel Instantly Calm in a Matter of Minutes With These 5 Child’s Pose Variations

When I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, nervous, or worried, I know stopping and taking a few deep breaths will help me feel better in the moment. That’s why I often crave going to a yoga class during stressful times — I always feel better afterward.

But if I can’t make it to a class and I need some relief ASAP, I like to do this simple thing: get down on the floor and fold myself into Child’s Pose. Lowering my forehead to the floor makes me feel grounded, closing my eyes makes me feel calm and shielded from whatever’s bothering me, and slowing down my breath makes me feel in control. Here are five variations of Child’s Pose you can do anywhere to instantly feel a little sense of peace and serenity.

Image Source:  Photography Louisa Larson
Image Source:  Photography Louisa Larson
Image Source:  Photography Louisa Larson
Image Source:  Photography Louisa Larson
Image Source:  Photography Louisa Larson

by JENNY SUGAR