Your Best Hang to Help Back Pain

Back Pain

Everyday school activities can place a lot of stress and compression on your back. Sitting in hundred year old desk chairs, carrying a backpack and playing any sports that involve jumping or weightlifting can put compression on your spine. Your spine needs decompression to keep it from becoming too tight. Excess compression can lead to back pain. Fortunately, the most well-known way to decompress can be done anywhere and is relatively easy to do.

Simply hanging from a pull-up bar may become your favorite new stretch.  Grab the pull-up bar and let your body hang. Try to touch the ground while you are on the pull-up bar (If you are on one that is taller than you.)  Your spine stretches out as a result.  Keep your head forward and tighten up your core while performing this decompression stretch.  Hang for as long as is comfortable.  The tightness in your back is being released.

Hang from a pull-up bar during your warm-up, cool-down, and after every heavy weight exercise that compresses your back (e.g. squats or deadlifts). Hanging on the pull-up bar is one of the simplest, yet most effective stretches you can do.  Your back will thank you and your shoulders would not mind the stretch either.  Enjoy your newly decompressed back!

Trending at VarCity: Alo Leggings

Alo Yoga Moto

VarCity’s always looking to highlight the latest in fitness trends, so for 2018 we decided to get basic and highlight every girl’s favorite clothing staple: the legging.  Whether you’re Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner or just a girl trying to make it through today’s English class, leggings are essential for workouts, running errands, lounging around the house and so much more.  But with so many athleisure brands already out there and more hitting the streets everyday, VarCity decided to scour the internet for the latest in leggings to keep you looking great.  

After searching through countless street style images, we found that Alo Yoga Moto Leggings were a huge staple in the closets of stylish celebs. Why? The details on the leggings add a modern, chic twist and the comfort can’t be beat.  Want to look like your favorite celeb?  Style your Alo Yoga Moto’s with a leather jacket and some hot new casual footwear.  Tag us in a photo of you wearing Alo’s because we’re giving one of our followers a second pair for free!

5 Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Family’s Fitness

Family Fitness

You know why exercise is important for you:  it lowers health risks, helps you maintain a healthy body mass, and improves performance in school.  But fitness isn’t only good for you, it’s also great for the rest of your family.  Whether it’s helping your little brother develop healthy habits early or keeping your grandma active, everyone benefits when we focus on family fitness.  

But don't expect your family to understand the benefits of exercise right away.  Your can help  them start by making them see that moving more is fun.  When exercise feels like a fun group activity, your whole family will enjoy it more and be more likely to stick with it.

Here are five ideas for family fitness that can get you all moving.

1. Make Time

Set aside 30 minutes three times a week to do fun exercises. Make it a part of your after-school or after-dinner routine. Kick a soccer ball around or shoot hoops with the family.  Also, plan at least one family activity every weekend.  It can be as simple as taking little ones to the playground -- or as challenging as an all-day hike with your teenager.

A key to getting kids moving is to plan time for physical activities. You can find that time by turning off the TV, for starters. Then offer a variety of family activities, both competitive and noncompetitive. When kids explore different ways to move their bodies, they can find exercises they enjoy and want to stick with for the long run.

2. Walk or Bike Everywhere You Can

Use muscle power: Bike or walk to the grocery store, library, or to your school or sports events.  Go for a 30-minute family walk after dinner instead of heading right for the television. Track everyone's steps with a pedometer, and try to add more distance every week. Use a family exercise log to make it a friendly competition.  Put your log or chart on the refrigerator as a reminder to keep up the good effort together.

3. Plan Active Family Gatherings

At family or holiday gatherings, turn off the TV and take a walk around the neighborhood or go for a short hike at a local park.  Or get everyone outside for a game of catch or basketball.

4. Give Your Meal Routine A Makeover

This isn’t necessarily a fitness tip, but it’s definitely worth mentioning: families that eat healthier also tend to have other healthy habits, such as regular physical activity.  Get your entire family involved in meal preparation and you’re more likely to succeed. Take your little brother  to the farmers' market, let them pick their own fruits and vegetables, and involve them in the food preparation.  They’re much more likely to enjoy their meals—and to clean their plates.

5. Make Yard Work Less of a Chore

Enjoy seasonal yard work together.  Help grandma or grandpa plant and tend a garden.  Ask your little brother or sister to rake leaves into a pile -- and then jump in it.  Make snow shoveling fun by building a snow fort or creating an epic family snowball fight.

Working Out Like Justin Bieber: Part 4 of 4

Justin Bieber Workout

To close out our series on Justin Bieber’s workout routine, let’s look at what all three of the experts who examined Justin Bieber’s workouts had in common.  All of our experts recommended to:

•  Do three or four workouts a week, with a balance of upper- and lower-body exercises.  Fewer workouts allow for higher intensity and more recovery.

•  Begin each session with heavy, structural lifts: squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, chinups, or pullups.

•  use the second half of the workout to include single-joint exercises that work smaller muscles (e.g. biceps curls, triceps extensions, lateral raises).  

•  Employ a variety of rep ranges to allow a mix of heavy, moderate and light weights.

And whether you’re just starting out on your first gym routine or you’ve been working out for years, if you’re a young lifter the big message is this:

If the goal is to gain mass, you probably won’t get there by training like a bodybuilder.  Not at first.  The closer you are to the starting line, and the farther you are from a bodybuilder’s physique, the more important it is to build a base of strength. You want to get a little stronger each week in the aforementioned squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows.

If your body is closer to your genetic limits, you have to be willing to piss yourself off from time to time.  Remember the words of wisdom from Bryan Krahn, “I still do the classic personal-trainer voodoo trick of making people do the opposite of what they’ve been doing, at least for a while.  Someone who’s really into low-rep training might get a good bump from bodybuilding stuff, and vice versa.”

And as for Bieber’s program, unless you’re a fairly advanced bodybuilder, it’s probably best to leave it to Bieber.

Workout Like a Teen Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber Fitness

Before he couldn’t walk down the street without trending on the ‘gram, Justin Bieber was just a thin Canadian kid who was like a lot of us at his age:  a lean, small-framed guy with a jackrabbit metabolism who was desperate to pack on solid muscle.

His trainer Patrick Nilsson recently gave the world a snapshot into Justin Bieber’s training regimen.  “We work out for aesthetics,” he wrote. “So to get him to look his best, we went with a classic bodybuilding routine to try to develop as much muscle as possible.”

Bieber lifts five times a week for about 45 minutes per session, using a three-day body-part-split: one workout for back and triceps, one for chest and biceps, and the other for legs and shoulders. They work abs every other day.

Nilsson pairs muscles that don’t work together—in supersets.  So one day they might work back and triceps, another day they might combine wide-grip pullups with lying triceps extensions, or wide-grip rows with cable pushdowns, and maybe dumbbell rows with pushups. Justin Bieber typically does 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps of each exercise, which means 9 to 12 sets per muscle group per workout.  Nilsson says they switch up the exercises every two to three weeks.

And while Nilsson only gives us a brief glimpse into Bieber’s ever-changing workouts, there are lots of ways to approach muscle building for lean frames.  Men’s Health recently reached out to three top trainers to get their take on how they’d train a celebrity like Bieber.  In our next three posts, we’ll discuss their approaches to getting the Biebs looking his best.    

That Feeling When Your Parents Won’t Buy You Fitness Classes

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We know getting your parents to part with their hard-earned dollars is no easy task, so we put together the top 5 reasons you can use to get those workout funds from mom and dad.

1.  Statistically speaking, teens don’t outgrow being unfit.  Healthy teens develop healthy habits that guide them throughout life.

2.  Regular teen exercise and academic performance are highly connected.  

3.   Physical education requirements in schools have little to no impact  on teen health.

4.  82% of teens don’t get the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services’ recommended 60-minutes of daily physical activity.

5.  70% of kids in the U.S. quit organized sports by the age of 13.

And if the above reasons aren’t enough to convince your parents, we’ll even throw in a 50% off coupon for your first class!  Enter “FALLFIT” at checkout!