January- March 2019 Content



7 Easy, Healthy Lunches to Eat This Week

Frankly, the hardest part of cooking is often figuring out what to make. To help alleviate some of that stress, SELF is putting together weekly lists of seven breakfasts, lunches, or dinners that will hopefully inspire your meal planning for the week ahead. Last week, we laid out a week of easy dinner recipes—this week, we're focusing on lunch!

Several ingredients appear in multiple recipes—farro, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, apples, carrots, and Parmesan—which helps keep your grocery list short. There's one chicken recipe, two tuna recipes, and four meatless recipes, so you won't get bored. Everything keeps well in the fridge overnight, so you don't have to worry about whether or not your packed lunch will actually survive until lunch. And, since farro appears in five of the recipes, it's worth it to make a huge batch and store it in the fridge to repurpose for recipes throughout the week. Anything you're not eating within five days should go in the freezer and thawed as needed.

Each recipe serves one or two people, but you can easily halve or double them as it suits you. Plus, they all make for excellent lunch leftovers. If you cook one of the recipes, post a photo on Instagram and tag @selfmagazine and @xtinebyrne (that's me!)—we love a good food pic as much as you do.

Get started! Click here




"Keto breath" is the smelly breath that you may expect to get when on the keto diet. But should you also lower your expectations? Like down to your crotch?  Apparently, there are complaints on message boards and social media about what is being dubbed "keto crotch," an unusual odor emanating from between the legs while on the keto diet. 

Others on this board responded with messages such as:

  • "Oh boy, yes. During the first few months, there was some extra smell stuff happening all over - crotch and otherwise. But, the good news is that it settles down and goes away after you've been keto for awhile."
  • "I'm glad this was posted because I just changed my underwear AGAIN today because I smelled gross. At least I know I'm in ketosis, I guess."
  • "It is horrible. I have to keep panty liners (hate that name!) in my bag and keep changing them every couple of hours. It's a pain but saves on keep changing knickers all day!"
  • "Keto crotch. It's very much a thing. Just wait until you workout and smell that funk. Thankfully, my shoot from the hip husband, tells me it isn't really that noticeable. Again, only when I'm drenched in sweat."

As you may know, "keto diet" is short for the ketogenic diet, because who has the time to say "genic." It is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb diet with approximately 80% of your calories from fat, 15% from protein, and only 5% from carbohydrates. The goal of the diet is to induce ketosis in your body. The theory is that typically your body may rely on burning the carbs that you eat rather than the fat stores in your body for energy. The thinking is that by severely restricting the number of carbs in your diet your body may then be forced to burn your body fat instead. Breaking down this fat then results in ketones, which is not some acapella group, but instead, organic compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. One type of ketone produced is acetone, which is in certain types of nail polish removers. This accumulation of ketones may result in "keto breath", which is a rotten fruit or metallic smelling bad breath that can smell a bit like, surprise, surprise, nail polish remover.

The question then is whether your crotch is like your mouth. Not in general, but in the specific case of ketones. That is when you are on the keto diet, can ketones also accumulate in your crotch area and then subsequently lead to a new smell? Moreover, if you are a woman, could ketones be changing the acidity of your vagina, which then may produce an environment more favorable to certain types of microorganisms? Indeed, the smell of your vagina can depend on the composition of microorganisms there. Some odors, like a strong fishy one, can be the result of an overgrowth of certain microorganisms like bacteria, which is the case in bacterial vaginosis.

In theory, all of this is possible. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition did find an association between having more severe bacterial vaginosis and consuming diets higher in total fat and saturated fat. But the keto diet is still a relatively new rage and not enough scientific studies have been done to determine whether "keto crotch" is really a risk of the keto diet.





"For many of us, we just don't know how to slow down and unwind.We run around all day, stimulated by work, exercise, and technology. It’s difficult to come down and prepare our bodies and minds for a night of rest," explains Jillian Pransky, director of the restorative yoga teacher training program for YogaWorks and author of Deep Listening (out October 2017). "Practicing yoga and stretching can help us to calm down. It can release excess tension and 'noise' from our muscles and our mind."

Prep for bedtime by quieting your thoughts and practicing these two yoga-inspired stretches that just feel oh so good. Focus on your breathing, set your intention, and do your best to clear your mind of the day's stressors. You’ll be ready to tuck in before you know it.


"Child's pose and other forward bends allow you to retreat from outer stimulus and turn inwards. They are known to quiet the mind, lengthen the spine, and help you come back into your body," says Pransky. Here's how to do it:

  • Come to all fours, with your legs and knees comfortably apart.
  • Sit back on your heels and fold forward, resting your belly on your thighs completely.
  • Place your forehead on a block, blanket, or the mat and release the full weight of your head. Press your palm against the mat and try to create space between your head and your tailbone.
  • Hold for one minute.


"Legs-Up-The-Wall is a restorative pose that can calm the mind and body, help you release stress and tension, and offer an opportunity to let go," says Pransky. "You'll take the weight and effort out of your legs and off your feet and receive support under your pelvis, spine, and head. You should feel firm support all the way from the back of your pelvis up the torso, out through the arms, and up through the neck and head." Here's how to do it:

  • Lie on your back with your bottom up against the wall.
  • Extend your legs straight up on the wall.
  • Stay in the pose for five to 15 minutes.

If you'd prefer not to have your legs all the way up the wall, there's a modification that's even more zen, believe it or not. "It's often more comfortable to have your calves up on a chair, an ottoman, or over a few folded blankets," says Pransky. To do it this way, "lie on your back and place your calves and heels on the seat of a chair. Your thighs should be at a 90-degree angle, creating a vertical line from your knees to your pelvis."




If you drink occasionally (or more than occasionally) you've probably considered taking a break from alcohol at least once. Maybe your doctor suggested abstaining for a health reason, or maybe you just realized that your weekly happy hours were draining your bank account. People who take a timeout from booze usually swear that it makes them look and feel better, so, should you do it?

While drinking alcohol in moderate amounts (defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as having up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is generally thought to be OK for your health, having more than that on a regular basis isn’t. And it’s easy to go above moderate levels if drinking is a solid part of your social life. After all, a serving of alcohol is a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol—and most people have more than that at happy hour or on the weekend. Or on a particularly stressful Tuesday.

“Alcohol certainly presents the quandary that a little may be fine, but too much can cause serious problems,” Marc Leavey, M.D., an internist at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF.

1.  You might end up taking in way fewer calories.
2.  Your immune system will improve.
3.  It could boost your metabolism.
4.  Your liver will be able to function more effectively. 
5.  You’ll sleep better.   

Just a warning: You might overdo it when you start again. If your vacation from alcohol is temporary, just proceed with caution when you start drinking again. “Even moderate drinkers who stop drinking for two months tend to overdrink when they start again,” Dr. Koob says. Nobody really knows why, he says, but it seems to be some kind of overcompensation for the time you lost. It may be that your drinking habits calm down after the novelty of celebrating a month or two of sobriety wears off, but Dr. Koob says it’s important to keep it on your radar so you can avoid overdoing it. So if you're thinking of taking a break from alcohol, consider some of the above benefits. And keep in mind that abstaining from alcohol can be even more beneficial for people with certain health conditions, like liver disease, diabetes, HIV, and gastrointestinal issues.




Didn't make it to the gym this morning? Girl, we got your back. Get moving!

Tap Master. Tap into your inner Broadway hoofer by sitting and speedily tapping your toes on the floor under your desk. This prevents your ankles from locking up and keeps the blood circulating.

Cardio Combine. While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. Do it when you’re stuck on a problem and you might discover afterward you’ve got the solution!

Head Lollers. Here’s a great way to release tension from too much thinking. Let your head loll over so that your left ear nearly touches your left shoulder. Use your hand to press your head a little lower. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side.

Blade Scrunchers. Sitting up straight, try to touch your shoulder blades together by scrunching towards each other. Hold, then relax. This exercise opens your chest and helps it recover from crunching your torso forward over a computer or smartphone.

Master Clenches. Probably the most secret exercise here, but if done regularly, can make a significant impact in your muscle tone. Sitting or standing, tighten your buttocks, hold for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat 15 times.

Chair Dips. Scoot to the front of your chair so your butt is on the edge. Hold your hands on the edge of the seat. Lower yourself off the chair and bend your elbows to work your arms. Repeat 5 times. Check out this video to help you.

Shadow Box. If you can step into a vacant office or conference room, shadow box for a minute or two (punch the air with alternating fists, like a boxer). Alternately, clench your fists in front of your chests and roll them left and right as fast as possible. Both are great for letting off steam and working your chest, arms, and core.

Wall Sits. Stand with your back against the wall, bend your knees, and slide your back down the wall until thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit and hold for 15 seconds, adding increments of 5 seconds each day. A great way to take a phone call and build strength and endurance at the same time.

Printer Squats. Does waiting for the fax or slow printer drive you crazy? Use the time to work your thighs and butt. Stand with feet together, then bend the knees slightly—as if sitting in a chair—so your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, then release. Add increments of 5 seconds as you can. Repeat for 4-6 reps.

The Squeeze Walk. An easy way to strengthen your core when you’re on the way to a meeting. As you walk take a deep breath and tighten your abdominal muscles, pulling them toward your spine as you exhale. Stay squeezed for 5 to 10 seconds, then release. Repeat for 5 to 10 reps several times a day. You can also do these squeezes sitting down.





I never get enough sleep. Even when I force myself into bed by 10 P.M., somehow my thumb always finds itself scrolling on my phone screen (in Night Shift mode, of course) and burrowing down rabbit holes on Instagram. When I finally shut my eyes to get some rest—usually around midnight at the earliest—I swear that my alarm goes off about 20 minutes later and then it’s time to get up.

On days where I don’t get as much beauty rest as I need (and it shows), I look to a few products in my beauty routine for a little pick-me-up. Since my combination skin tends to get a bit shiny by midday anyway, I try to use products that subtly enhance my complexion with a natural-looking radiance.

Read on for my list of tried-and-true skin care and makeup favorites that help me glow from within when I haven't gotten enough sleep.





Before heading out on your next run, ask yourself one question: “How’s my butt?” 

The answer matters. “The gluteal [butt] muscles are the strongest and most powerful muscles in the entire body,” Ashley Fluger, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, tells SELF. 

“The gluteal muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, and [they all work together to] help stabilize your pelvis and keep your hips and knees aligned.” Those jobs become even more important when you’re running.

“The gluteals are responsible for maintaining neutral pelvic alignment, especially during single-leg stance, and absorbing and transmitting forces from the impact of landing and pushing off with each stride,” David Reavy, P.T., a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy and founder of React Physical Therapy in Chicago, tells SELF.


So, how’s your butt? Chances are, it’s too busy snoozing to answer. If you spend the majority of your day sitting, your glutes are largely inactive, Kimbre V. Zahn, M.D., a sports medicine physician with Indiana University Health, tells SELF. Think about it: You have no need to contact them when you’re just sitting there not moving.

Sitting also puts your hip flexors in a shortened, tight position. This causes the glutes, an opposing muscle group (meaning they’re on the opposite side of the hip joint), to become lengthened. Over time, this lengthening (and lack of contraction) can mess with the way the muscles activate. Basically, the glutes become desensitized and ultimately unable to recruit as many muscle fibers and generate enough force when you do try to engage them.   

It’s likely that when you lace up your sneakers and take off running, these crucial muscles won’t automatically switch back on, full speed ahead. This is especially true for the gluteusmediuses and minimuses, which tend to be underdeveloped in most runners anyway. (It's common for your big and powerful gluteus maximus to take over in traditional butt exercises, resulting in less training for the smaller muscles.) And, since your body relies on them the most during lateral, side-to-side movements, running straight forward won’t always be enough of a stimulus to rouse them from their slumber.

The best way to wake up your glutes is with what trainers call “activation” exercises. Performed as part of a pre-run warm-up, activation exercises are low-intensity movements that accomplish a few things. First, they gently work a given muscle, in this case, the gluteus medius, increasing blood flow, temperature, and priming the neurological pathways by which motor neurons (muscles’ control centers) tell their attached muscle fibers to stop resting and start doing their job. (But they do it gently enough that they don’t actually fatigue the muscle.) They do all this while largely isolating the muscle, or at least greatly reducing how much other muscles are able to chip in, Fluger says.

In the end, the idea is that after performing glute activation exercises, you’re able to start your run with glutes that actually fire like they need to for optimal performance and injury prevention. 




7 Random Health Issues That Can Actually Be Caused by Stress

If you've had a really stressful week/month/year, there's a chance that you could feel the effects physically just as much as you do mentally and emotionally. And those physical symptoms of stress can often be mistaken for other health conditions.

“The brain and body connection is complex and multilayered,” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety, tells SELF. “Everyone feels stress and anxiety differently, but gut issues, skin issues, even arthritis, and circulatory issues can be affected by how we interact emotionally with our environment and its many demands.”

These are real symptoms—the fact that they may be caused by or exacerbated by stress does not mean that they're all in your head. There is a wide range of physical symptoms that can be triggered by stress, but these are some of the most common ones you might experience:

1. You feel wiped all the time.

2. You have bad cramps.

3. You’re having chest pains.

4. You’re shedding more hair than normal.

5. You have rash-like spots on your skin.

6. You’re going No. 3 a lot.

7. Your skin keeps breaking out.

If you’re having any of these medical issues and they’re not getting better with treatment, it might be time to consider stress as a potential cause or exacerbating factor.





Sleep isn’t just essential to recharge our bodies. It plays an important role in all aspects of our health, from maintaining a healthy weight to improving physical fitness. Except many of us walk around daydreaming about those elusive 7 to 8 hours of solid sleep we’re supposed to get each night. We bemoan our inability to log the right quantity and quality of sleep, but we rarely talk about another aspect of sleep that experts say matters just as much, if not more: keeping a schedule.

It’s more important to have a strict wake time versus bedtime, Ojile adds. Or, more specifically, to be exposed to your first ray of light at the same time every day—that’s the crucial piece of the puzzle. Light travels through the optic nerve in your eye to a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. “That thing controls circadian rhythm, or body’s drive to have wake and sleep,” Ojile says. “Morning light also signals to the SCN what time you should actually go to bed. It tells your body, ‘Oh, you got up at 6, so you probably should try to go to bed at 10,’” he explains. “It all works together.” Once you set your wake time, you can find the bedtime that lets you clock enough zzz’s.

No surprise, experts say “catching up” on lost sleep generally isn’t effective. But if you have to do it, Ojile says it’s better to go to bed earlier rather than sleep in. Short naps also help. What about sleeping in just an extra half hour or so? Salas says she has patients with very sensitive body clocks, so even a half hour difference can throw them off. But for the most part, 30 minutes of wiggle room should be OK. “What we don’t want is for people to become so strict that they get stressed out over it,” says Ojile.

The important thing is getting back on schedule as promptly as possible. “If you’re a healthy sleeper, you’ll catch up during the week by just doing the right thing,” he says. You’ll mess up your cycle even more if you sleep in later to try and log more shut-eye, so you’re better off returning to a regular routine and pushing through the first day or two of tiredness until your body gets back on track.

Consistency ultimately begets quality and quality. When your circadian rhythm is in sync with your schedule and environment, you can fall asleep faster instead of tossing and turning when you should be off in dreamland. Salas suggests nailing down a routine first and foremost, even if you’re not getting as much sleep as you should be. “If you know why you’re sleep-deprived and know you can only get six hours, put more of an emphasis on trying to be consistent as best as you can so you don’t have two things going against you,” she says. Eventually, you may find you’ll start getting the sleep your body’s been telling you it needs.




Work Your Abs With This Stability Ball Exercise

Celebrity trainer Don Saladino doesn’t like crunches. Instead, he prefers to “stir the pot," which refers to a total-body plank variation that is much tougher than its cooking-inspired name might suggest. The owner of NYC-based Drive495 gym, whose clients have included Blake Lively, Emily Blunt, Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Sebastian Stan, among others, posted an Instagram video of himself demoing the challenging core move.


This exercise is “a core and abdominal movement that gives you a lot of bang for your buck,” Saladino tells SELF. Saladino isn’t a fan of crunches because the classic abs exercise involves flexing and extending your lower back, a movement that can increase the risk of lower-back injury (especially in those with existing lower-back issues) if done repetitively and improperly. He suggests instead doing core exercises that don't come with that risk—like the "stir the pot." Another plus of this particular move: It's fun and different, he says.  This movement requires total-body engagement and stabilization, particularly from your shoulders, core, hips, and glutes.





When it comes to strengthening your core you don't need to work your abdominal muscles to complete exhaustion. Yep, you don't have to be so hardcore when it comes to getting a hardcore. By focusing on effective exercises (read: not performing mindless crunches or holding a plank for so long that good form is a concept versus a reality), you can see the abs results you're after. Of course, it takes both smart training and a healthy diet to develop a rock-solid core. But consider these nine bodyweight exercises lesson one. Core school is now in session.  

These moves are too good not to try, and you don't need any equipment to do them. 





It's only a matter of time, right? Romantic comedies often make it seem like you can only know your boyfriend loves you if he pulls off a grand gesture, like standing under your window with a boombox or singing a romantic song on the bleachers in front of the whole soccer team. But IRL, the signs that your boyfriend loves you tend to be a lot more subtle (and, you know, realistic), explains Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great. That's why it's not always easy to tell if your boyfriend loves you, especially when he won’t just come out and say it. And btw, that doesn't mean he doesn't feel it—he might just be moving at his own pace. In the meantime, enjoy every stage of your relationship and take heart in the things he is ready to express, like these seven signs of true love.





Finding a therapist you click with (and can afford) is often hard and even anxiety-provoking. But finding a therapist isn’t the only potential hurdle when it comes to looking after your mental health. Taking the time to trek to your appointment, spill your feelings, then commute to the next stop on your list can sometimes be even harder.  Enter teletherapy, also called telepsychology, which allows you to talk to a therapist remotely through technology. But how do you make the most of teletherapy? Here are the ins and outs of telepsychology, plus how to maximize your appointments. 


Because there are so many ways to connect digitally, it should come as no surprise that there’s also a slew of teletherapy options. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teletherapy commonly happens over phone calls, text messages, live chats, and video conversations. With that said, many therapists prefer video teletherapy over other forms. Seeing someone helps you connect with them verbally and non-verbally, Linda Baggett, Ph.D., a psychologist based in Long Beach, California, who sees patients via teletherapy, tells SELF. “I can see if a client is tearful, whereas I may not hear it. 

Similarly, if a client discloses something vulnerable, they can see that I am listening and expressing care and support by my facial expression or posture,” Baggett says. This level of context is typically missing from a phone or text session, though those can definitely be better than no therapy session at all.





One minute you’re snoozing peacefully, the next you’re wide awake in the dead of night. Sound familiar? Unless you’re blessed enough to conk out like the most determined of logs, you may have experienced this form of sleeplessness before. Waking up during the night isn’t uncommon—a study of 8,937 people in Sleep Medicine estimates that about a third of American adults wake up in the night at least three times a week, and over 40 percent of that group might have trouble falling asleep again (this is sometimes referred to as sleep maintenance insomnia).

So, what’s causing you to wake up in the middle of the night, and how can you stop it from happening? There are a bunch of possible reasons you are waking up at night. Some are pretty easy to change on your own, others not so much. Here are eight common reasons, plus what you can do to get a good night’s rest.






Depending on how you use them, strength training machines can be the key to stronger arms, powerful glutes, and heavier lifts. Or they can just waste your gym time while upping your risk of injury.

The reason: isolation. exercise machines are designed to work a single muscle or muscle group at once while letting all your other muscles—the ones that help out during real-life movements like squats, lunges, presses, and pulls—take a snooze. If you’re trying to hone in on and grow a specific muscle that you know needs some extra love, that’s a major plus, exercise scientist Mathew Kite, C.S.C.S., general manager of D1 Sports Training in Dallas, tells SELF.

After all, by isolating each muscle or muscle group one at a time, you are able to hit it harder than you could with compound movements, he says. Take, for example, rows. When performing standing bent-over dumbbell rows, your core can give out long before the back muscles that you're actually trying to work ever will. But once you sit on a row machine, especially one in which your chest is braced again a stationary pad, the only thing that has to work is your back. That means you can go harder with every rep. More stress placed on that muscle means greater muscle-size gains, hence why strength machines are so popular among bodybuilders and figure competitors, Kite says. (It's worth noting that those competitors use this isolation work on machines to complement their free-weight exercises.) 

Unfortunately, this isolation doesn't come without its trade-offs. After all, when you zero in on one muscle per exercise, you burn significantly fewer calories and build less total-body muscle than you could with free-weight compound movements that recruit multiple muscle groups, San Diego–based celebrity trainer Kyle Brown, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., tells SELF. That puts the woman who wants her workouts to be as fast and efficient as possible at a big disadvantage.

What's more, it's important to remember that even if strength machines look beginner-friendly, that's not necessarily true. “Without a sound understanding of biomechanics, it’s too easy to set up the machine at an improper height or joint angle and put an improper force angle or dangerous level of force on the knees, hips, or low back," says Brown. He notes that, even when you get everything set up right, some machines just don't fit every exerciser or her body's natural movement patterns. “The preset shoulder width, for example, is not modifiable between a large-framed male and a small-framed female." Even if the seat’s adjustable, machines are never one size fits all.

“Machines don’t move like we do in real life,” Kite says. “So before you get on any machine, you need to ask yourself, 'Why this one?’”

Here, the pros explain the machines that you probably should skip the next time you're at the gym—and what to do instead.




Let’s face it: It’s much easier to make fitness resolutions than to keep them. We all have the best intentions on January 1, and then as the year rolls on, we lose steam, confidence, and motivation. What seemed so feasible just days or weeks ago—going to the gym five days a week/running a half marathon/enter resolution here—can somehow morph into something impossible. And while it’s easy to blame our loss of focus on life happening, perhaps the biggest threat to a realistic resolution is the narrative that plays in our heads.

Well, what if this year were different? Here, exercise experts share the mentaltechniques they use to help clients stay on track with their fitness goals when they’re feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and/or otherwise unmotivated. Check them out.




Strengthening your core is one of the best things you can do for your overall fitness. A strong core—which includes your abs, obliques, and lower back muscles—helps keep your body balanced and stable, lets you maintain proper posture and exercise form, keeps your spine stable and safe, and overall, helps you move in a more controlled and efficient way. There are tons of ways to work your core (check out some great ideas here) but adding Pilates moves into your routine is a great way to engage your core muscles in a new way—because everyone gets sick of doing planks after a while.

"Pilates is a mind-body workout that targets your core muscles with every exercise," Manuela Sanchez, a Pilates instructor at Club Pilates in Brooklyn, New York, tells SELF. Whether you're doing a core-focused move or something that targets other muscle groups, your core is always engaging during a Pilates session. And the workout method strengthens all different areas of your core. "It works the abdominal [area] on both a deep and superficial level to achieve true core strength," Sanchez says—meaning that the moves engage a wide range of muscles, from your deep internal transverse abdominis to the rectus abdominis on top (what you think of when you think "abs").

To help you reap the core-strengthening benefits of Pilates, Sanchez rounded up some of the method's best moves that focus on your midsection. They're all classic mat Pilates exercises, "so all Pilates lovers will recognize them and people new to Pilates can easily learn them," she says. Another plus: None of these moves require equipment, so you can do them pretty much anywhere.

Sanchez suggests choosing a few of the moves (which she demos below) to do as a warm-up before an intense workout. "Then, integrate the rest of the exercises throughout your workout as a way to keep targeting and working your core," she suggests. You can also just pick a few you like and do them a couple times through to create a standalone core routine. If you're new to these exercises, try doing a move for 30 seconds, working your way up to a minute.






Indoor rowing classes have become quite popular in recent years, with studios popping up across the U.S. There are some pretty good reasons for that: Rowing is a killer workout, and it’s relatively low-impact, meaning it puts less pressure on your ankles, knees, and hips than some other cardio workouts, says Nick Karwoski, a nationally ranked triathlete, rowing enthusiast, and trainer for Hydrow.

Rowing is also a total-body sport that can get your heart rate sky-high while challenging many different muscle groups. “From pushing off with your feet to the explosive press of your legs to the final upper-body pullback, all these movements start with an engaged core and midsection. Even 10 minutes of rowing can strengthen your core unlike any other sport,” he explains.

Yet going into a first class of anything can be tough, especially when it’s a high-intensity workout or training that involves machines you’ve never used before. In order to get the full benefits of this strength and cardiovascular workout, here’s what you need to know before taking a seat.




16 Equipment-Free Arm Exercises You Can Do at Home

While many upper-body exercises involve equipment like dumbbells and barbells, arm exercises without weights are a solid way to put your muscles to the test, too. After all, the weight of your body is equipment in its own right—you can use it to load your arm muscles and make 'em work. There's no heavy lifting required, and a gym membership is totally optional.

To be totally clear, it's hard to work all of the muscles in your arms without weights, so equipment-free arm exercises are only going to be able to target certain areas, primarily the tops of the shoulders (the deltoids) and the triceps. Other arm muscles, like your biceps, typically need some external resistance to work against. But the exercises listed here are definitely useful for hitting some key muscle groups when you don't have access to equipment.

Most no-equipment arm exercises are some version of planks or push-ups, which means they also require you to engage your core, so you'll work those muscles at the same time. This means you might not feel the same concentrated burn in your arms like you would with, say, a shoulder press, and that's totally OK. Just because these equipment-free arm exercises don't isolate the upper body doesn't mean they aren't working it. And trust us, you'll feel the proof a few days later.

Next time you're looking to get in an arm workout at home, try combining 4 to 6 of the 16 moves below to create a workout—doing 45 seconds of each move, with 15 seconds of rest in between, and then repeating the whole thing three times, is a good place to start. Some of these arm exercises focus more on specific muscles like the triceps, while others will really challenge the shoulder muscles (including the deltoids and rhomboids), the pecs, and latissimus dorsi (or the lats, the broadest muscles on each side of your back). These are all important areas to strengthen, not only so you can lift heavier weights, but also so you can comfortably perform activities of daily living like carrying grocery bags or lifting your suitcase.

While these exercises are useful for anyone, no matter your fitness level, they're especially good for beginners. When you focus on just using your own body for resistance (and don't add weights) it's easier to learn proper form, which can help prevent potential injuries that arise when you start lifting heavier.

A few of these exercises do require a surface, like a box, bench, or step. Use a stair in your house, your sofa, a park bench, or any other similar and stable surface you can find.

Demoing the moves below are Crystal Williams, a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; Amanda Wheeler, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and cofounder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies; Teresa Hui, a native New Yorker who has run over 150 road races, including 16 full marathons; and Cookie Janee, a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve.

Ready to get started? Here are 16 arm exercises without weights you can do at home to help build your upper-body and core strength, all in one.