Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sculpting back exercises for women

It’s not often that we think about what’s going on with our back — since we’re usually the last person to see it. Couple that with the fact that plenty of women still buy into the myth that lifting too many weights can bulk you up, and it makes sense why back exercises for women still have an air of mystery around them.

But seriously, guys. We know a lot more about the human body, and especially the human woman’s body, than we did even 10 years ago. We know that weightlifting isn’t just for men. Lifting weights may help you burn fat and increase your resting metabolic weight (the number of calories that your body burns at rest), along with reducing your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

For all those health benefits and more — plus a really, extra good-looking back — these five back exercises will get you started:

1. Dumbbell single-arm overhead squat

This is a full-body exercise that will make you feel strong from head to toe. You work your legs with the squat while targeting your upper and lower back with the overhead lift.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, one dumbbell weighing twice as much as the other (e.g., if one dumbbell is five pounds, the other should be 10 pounds). Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Hold the light dumbbell overhead in your nondominant hand, with the heavier dumbbell between your legs, keeping both arms straight. Push your hips back and lower yourself until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor, holding the lighter dumbbell straight up over your shoulders, tightening the back of your shoulder and upper back muscles. Keep your abs pulled in tight.3
  3. Rise back to the start position and do one to two sets of 15 repetitions each. Switch arms and repeat.

“This move is effective because it works multiple muscles at once. You can get more bang for your buck! It tones your upper back and shoulder area and even works your core — bonus!” Marks advises, “Be sure to keep you belly button drawn into your spine the entire time to engage your core. Don’t let your knees go past your toes when you squat.”

2. Dumbbell one-point row

This exercise works your back and core muscles while challenging your balance. If you find it too difficult, perform the row with your toes touching the floor.1

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, balance your weight on your left foot, bending forward at the hips and raising your right leg so it forms a T with your torso and left leg. Your chest and right leg are parallel to the floor and your shoulders are square to the floor.2
  2. Hold the weights below your shoulders, arms straight (remain balanced on your left leg). Pull the weights straight up to your sides, keeping your shoulders square to the floor, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.3
  3. Slowly lower weights to start (you are still balanced on one leg) and repeat for eight repetitions. Switch legs and repeat for eight repetitions. Do two sets.
Angie Sloan, World Gym’s Global Fitness Ambassador, says that while the one-point dumbbell row is a more advanced back exercise that requires balance, it can be “extremely effective for targeting the mid-back muscles and recruiting the core muscles to maintain your balance.”

Are you a Neurotic

Neurotic folks generally have a bad reputation. They’re regarded as high strung, tense or moody. They over-think every situation. They don’t let things go easily.

By all definitions, being neurotic isn’t considered a good thing (after all, the behavior is associated with some risks to health and happiness). However, the trait isn’ttotally negative. Those who have a healthy handle on their neurosis may actually benefit from their overactive minds and their raw emotion in ways that others can’t.

Below are just a few truths about what it really means to be neurotic.

1. “Going with the flow” feels uncomfortable.

It’s challenging for a neurotic person to roll with the punches. Neurotic people are planners because they tend to avoid unwanted surprises. While it can be to their benefit to learn to go with the flow a little more, their preparedness isn’t always a bad thing. Who else can you trust to plan that co-worker’s birthday gathering?

2. They can be fierce friends.

Neurotic individuals want to make sure they tend to everything and are hyperaware of how they are perceived by others. This kind of person won’t forget to call you on your birthday or will send you a congratulations card when you get a promotion. It’s this level of conscientious behavior that could contribute to what researchers dub as “healthy neuroticism.”

3. Being neurotic can make them healthier.

Those who have a good combination of conscientiousness and neuroticism may reap a few wellness perks. Research shows these healthy neurotics may “have fewer chronic health conditions, they have healthier body weights, and they have lower levels of inflammation,” Nicholas A. Turiano, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, previously told HuffPost.

4. They tend to get anxious.

It’s no secret that anxiety isn’t necessarily a positive emotion, but healthy neurotics may use that stress to their advantage. “Those high in conscientiousness may have anxiety but it is not making the person freeze while they ruminate on their life problems,” Turiano told HuffPost. “They act on their anxiety and that is what motivates them to address what they have anxiety about.”

5. Romantic partners help them calm down.

Ever been around a stressed-out person only to see them instantly relax when their significant other steps in? It may seem like magic, but it’s no coincidence. Research published in the Journal of Personality found that a loving, romantic relationship may have a stabilizing effect on a neurotic personality.

6. Every decision feels monumental.

It doesn’t matter if it’s choosing a new career or what to order for dinner, every selection has weight and every decision has consequences.

7. Their neurotic habits might lead to higher intelligence.

Consider this a tiny silver lining to an otherwise negative characteristic. Stress — in moderation — may fuel performance and a small study from the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York suggests that worriers may score better on IQ tests than those whose anxiety symptoms were less severe. And if there’s one thing neurotic people specialize in, it’s worrying.

8. They overanalyze everything.

That passive-aggressive text message or that backhanded compliment is kryptonite for a neurotic person. They’ll spend a period of time thinking about what went wrong — and then even longer figuring out how to fix it.

9. They usually jump to the worst possible outcome.

Neurotic people tend to be glass-half-empty thinkers. According to a paper published in the journal American Psychologist, neurotic people have “tendencies to respond with negative emotions to threat, frustration, or loss.” Not exactly the most ideal reaction, but hey, research suggests a little pessimism can be healthy. Everything in moderation!

10. They’re extremely self-aware.

Neurotic folks are hypersensitive to their own thoughts, words and actions. This level of self-awareness can come in handy both personally and professionally if it’s in healthy moderation.

Just like every other personality trait, there are strengths and weaknesses. The difference is that a neurotic person is already overly familiar with their flaws and assets because they think about them so much — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Clean Eaters Are Obsessed With

Here at Byrdie, health food trends (and yes, the occasional diet fad) are always worthy of exploration. So, when we started to see the unfamiliar term “aquafaba” popping up all over our favorite recipe boards on Pinterest, we knew it was time to investigate. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out why aquafaba is becoming the go-to ingredient of 2016!

What Is Aquafaba?