There's no denying that the six-pack muscles are the most popular abs muscles. But your core houses of a bunch of abdominal muscles that help stabilize bend, and rotate your torso. This three-move challenge from Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S., author of The IMPACT! Body Plan, hits all of them: the transverse abdominis, a deep abdominal muscle that's part of the musculature that maintains spine stability; the obliques, the muscles that run along the side of your core and help rotate and resist rotation; and the rectus abdominis, a.k.a. the six-pack muscles that pull your torso toward your hips. (Reveal the abs you never knew you had with the 6 Moves for a Six-Pack.)

Here's how the challenge works: Grab a stopwatch. Perform 16 tiger pushups, 16 single-arm thrusters, and 16 single-leg V-ups back-to-back. That's 1 round. Do 2 more. Complete the challenge as quickly as possible, but maintain good form the entire time to lower your risk of injury and to increase muscle recruitment. Your goal: 4 minutes and 10 seconds. What was your time? Let us know in the comments below.

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Add these 4 Post-Workout Moves That Burn Fat to your regimen, and that extra belly roll will be gone soon.




Completing 110 burpees in a row is extremely difficult. Doing them on one leg at a time in a suspension trainer -- as this week's challenge requires -- will make your muscles scream and test your willpower. The instability of the TRX makes it tough to stabilize your body throughout the movement, says Pete Holman, PT, C.S.C.S., director of Rip Training at TRX. You must activate more muscles and work harder to maintain proper form during each rep. (Try these 5 Secrets to the Perfect Workout and you'll never be held back in the gym again!)

That's why cranking out 110 reps requires an insane amount of athleticism and total-body stability. If you can reach that goal, you'll know your body is primed for peak performance at the Men's Health Urbanathlon, a 10- to 12-mile run that's filled with crazy barriers (taxi pileup, anyone?). "You'll have no trouble crawling under obstacles or jumping over them, and sprinting your way to a fantastic finish at the race," says Holman.

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Didn't reach 110 reps? Don't worry: Click here to get a full TRX Urbanathlon training plan. It'll prepare your body for race day and get you in the best shape of your life.




Want to perk up fast?

In the video below, I’ve focused on three of my favorite twists geared to awaken the energy in your spine and help you in releasing any stagnant energy. These postures stimulate the digestive system, and detoxify and massage the internal organs.

MORE: 5 Breathing Exercises to Try Today

Do this sequence anytime you’re feeling lethargic or have been out of commission for too long. It's guaranteed to give you an instant shot of energy and more vibrancy!

Discover the power of yoga to tighten, tone, and calm. Buy The Women's Health Big Book of Yoga today!

Kathryn Budig is a jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women's Health Magazine, Yoga Journal contributor, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam's Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and author of Rodale's The Women's Health Big Book of Yoga today. Follow her on Twitter; Facebook; Instragram or on her website.

By Diana Gerstacker
TheActiveTimes.com

Contrary to popular belief, your abs aren't the only group of muscles that have a major effect on total body strength and power. Your glutes are among the strongest muscles in your body and they play a huge role in overall fitness, too. Yet, despite their importance, they are often overlooked and under-trained.

The butt is a powerful tool. The muscles in our backsides help with everything from climbing stairs to running marathons and that's just the beginning. Our gluteal muscles -- the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus -- are three of the most critical muscles that keep humans standing upright. Without those muscles, we wouldn't be able to walk or maintain balance -- and heavy lifting, forget about it.

It is imperative, then, that we make an effort to strengthen and fortify these muscles. If total body fitness and proficiency at everyday tasks isn't enough motivation, these nine exercises will tone your behind and have your butt looking better than ever. How's that for incentive?




Your core is made up of more than just your abs. The many muscles between your hips and shoulders stabilize your spine and allow your torso to rotate and bend. "If you want to be stronger in everything you do, you need to work all of those muscles," says Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S., author of The IMPACT! Body Plan. This fitness test does just that with three moves -- the leg raise, the bicycle crunch, and the Russian twist. It'll measure your total core strength, stability and muscular endurance. It won't take long to find out if your midsection is up for the challenge or not.

Here's how it works: Grab a stop watch and perform 10 leg raises, 20 bicycle crunches, and 30 Russian twists, back-to-back without rest. That's 1 round. Do 2 more. Finish as fast as possible while maintaining proper form. (Try these 5 Secrets to a Perfect Workout and you'll never be held back in the gym again!)

Your goal: 1 minute and 48 seconds. Let us know your time in the comments below.

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Think you have the pushup down? Think again. Here are 5 Body-Weight Exercises You're Doing Wrong.




If you want to be an unstoppable athlete, you need a strong, powerful and agile lower body. It'll help you move faster, jump higher, and blow past your opponents. It'll also give you a leg up on the competition at the Men's Health Urbanathlon, a 10-to-12-mile run that's filled with tough obstacles like swaying cargo nets, stadium steps, and police barricades. So how do you build a superior lower body? TRX lunges and TRX hip presses, says Pete Holman, PT, C.S.C.S., director of Rip Training at TRX, who included both moves in the leg-burning fitness challenge shown above.

"The lunge is a foundational movement pattern which must be mastered if you want to run harder and longer," he says. "Doing it with one leg suspended in a TRX emphasizes any strength or balance asymmetries between sides, so you know what leg you need to train more."

As for the hip press, it improves your hamstring and glute strength -- two areas that are often underdeveloped, explains Holman. "The TRX will cause your feet to want to 'float' away from you. You must force more hamstring activation in order to keep your knees at a 90-degree angle," he says. (Do these Fat-Blasting Cardio Combos just once, and you'll rethink cardio forever.)

Are you ready to try the challenge? Here's how it works: Complete 40 TRX lunges on your left leg. When you're finished, perform 40 more reps on your right leg. Rest for one minute, and then do 40 reps of the TRX hip press. If you can't complete 40 reps of each move, perform as many as you can in a row with perfect form. When you're finished, add up the total number of reps you performed of the left lunge, the right lunge, and the hip press. Your goal: 120 reps. What was your score? Let us know in the comments below.

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Didn't reach 120 reps? Click here to get a full TRX Urbanathlon training plan. It'll prepare your lower body for race day and get you in the best shape of your life.




For optimal fitness, you know you should do both cardio workouts for aerobic health and strength training for muscle building, metabolic benefits, and bone density. But if you're a cardio bunny who maybe doesn't visit the weight room as often as you should, listen up: "Swimming, cycling, and running can all be used as mild to moderate ways of building strength,” says Lauren Jensen, head coach at Tri Faster, “as long as the amount of training stress is progressively increased over time.” In other words, as with weights, you have to increase the resistance or the number of reps as your muscles adapt.

While the cardio-strength combo suggestions below aren't a perfect substitute for lifting heavy, they'll definitely boost your strength, especially for the specific sport in question -- though don't be afraid to also cross-train by, for example, trying a swim workout if you’re a runner. Use one of these workouts in place of a shorter steady-state swim/ride/run (with a proper warm-up and cooldown), in addition to one more traditional weight-training workout per week for major muscle toning.

Swimming
Water by nature creates resistance on the body as you move through it. “In simply overcoming the resistance, an athlete gains strength,” says Jensen. She suggests swimmers increase the “load" further by isolating the upper or lower body by doing kick-only laps holding a kickboard or pull-only laps wearing hand paddles. You can also wear a “drag” swimsuit (i.e., one that’s intentionally baggy).

MORE: 4 Reasons Your Next Workout Should Be a Swim

Cycling
Anyone who's taken a challenging cycling class knows that by upping the resistance on the bike, your leg muscles get a real burn. Outdoors, you can get the same effect by tackling hills, riding into the wind on a gusty day, and standing up while pedaling to vary how the muscles get activated. If you’re an indoors-only cycler, Jensen suggests this workout: Pedal for one minute at a resistance that forces you to work hard to sustain 60 to 70 RPMs (revolutions per minute), then rest for a minute and repeat. Work up to five minutes of hard pedaling.

MORE: 7 Mistakes You Might be Making in Indoor Cycling Class

Running
As with cycling, running up hills provides a solid leg-strength workout. Pick a hill outdoors with an incline that takes you 30 to 45 seconds to get up at a pretty hard clip. (On the treadmill, try a 4 percent incline at a pace you can sustain for that amount of time.) Charge up your hill, using shorter strides and a faster step than you do on flat, then walk or lightly jog down (or reduce the treadmill's incline and speed for about triple your time on the "hill"), aiming to keep your timing the same for each uphill. Start with five reps and work your way up to 10. Another option? Run stairs or stadiums. For the harder core, try wearing a weight vest during an interval workout. One “strengthener" to skip: Holding weights in your hands while you run--it’s a shoulder injury waiting to happen.

MORE: 5 Cardio Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Amy Roberts is a certified personal trainer.




Equipment-free exercises shouldn't be saved for vacations, at-home workouts or hotel rooms. They can be just as effective as heavy weights for building strength, says Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S., author of The IMPACT! Body Plan.

The reason: Your muscles can't tell the difference between iron and your body weight. If the exercises are challenging, you'll ignite muscle growth.

For this weekend's fitness test, Durkin chose three super-tough weight-free moves -- groiners, tombstones (a Durkin original), and rotational squat jumps -- to test your body's ability sans iron. Along with strength, you'll need power, mobility, and balance to quickly complete it with perfect form. Basically, you'll need to be fit from head to toe. (Beat your workout plateaus with this 5-move Total-Body Muscle Assault.)

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Think you have what it takes? Watch the video above to see how to perform the challenge. Durkin completed 3 rounds in 3 minutes and 37 seconds. Give it a shot and let us know how you do in the comments below.

Think you have the pushup down? Think again. Here are 5 Body-Weight Exercises You're Doing Wrong.




The Spiderman pushup is extremely tough. It involves lowering yourself into a pushup position while simultaneously bringing one knee to one elbow. Now, BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., the creator of the cutting-edge Men's Health DVD program Speed Shred, has found a way to make the move even more difficult. His upgrade: extending your leg out to the side.

"This tweak increases the load on your arms and shoulders," says Gaddour. "It also demands more flexibility from your hips and hamstrings." It'll light your muscles on fire and strain your willpower, too. Try it during your next workout. If you want a strength result, perform 3 sets of 5 reps per side. For a fat-loss result, perform the exercise for 45 seconds straight, as shown in the Speed Shred workout below.

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Think you have the pushup down? Think again. Here are 5 Body-Weight Exercises You're Doing Wrong.




Smashing your records in the gym might be easier than you think. A 15-second balance test can help determine if your body is prepared to go all out or if you need to back off a bit.

“It's called biofeedback testing and you can incorporate it into your workout immediately,” says David Dellanave, owner of Movement Minneapolis, who uses this test with his clients. "It'll give you a better idea of your body’s readiness to set a personal record rather than just going off how you’re feeling." (Try these 5 Secrets to the Perfect Workout and you'll never be held back in the gym again!)

Here’s how it works: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Lift one foot off the floor, bending that knee and letting your foot hang behind you. Hold this balance for 15 seconds, and then repeat on the other leg. Test every day for one week to get your baseline or your body’s normal balancing ability.

“People’s baselines differ. Some will be shaky while others will be rock steady standing on one foot," says Dellanave. What matters, though, is finding your starting point for comparison. You might find that on one day you’re below your baseline when you’ve had too little sleep or you’ve trained too much in the past few days or you’re under a lot of stress. Other days, you’ll test above average, he explains. (Be strong, energetic, and healthy like you were at 25!)

"If your balance is above your normal baseline, you want to push it heavier on that day. If your balance is worse on that day, you would just scale back the movement,” says Dellanave. “It’s sort of idiot-proofing your program. It lets you know when to hold back and when to push your limits.”

The simple test works for all of your lifts too. If you're above your baseline, go for a personal record on the first heavy set of your main lift. You don’t need to modify the set or rep scheme for your scheduled workout, he explains.

If you test poorly, don’t worry: Simply keep your aspirations in check for that day’s workout, says Dellanave. You'll go for a PR soon enough. If you’re consistently performing under your baseline, however, you may want to take a look at factors like your sleep quantity and quality, your diet, and your stress levels. All of those can affect your physical state and how well you perform at the gym. (Keep yourself motivated with these 20 Ways to Stick To Your Workout.)

Test your stability and mobility with this two-move challenge from Gaddour. Without letting your foot touch the floor, perform a single-leg hip hinge to a standing leg raise, holding both moves for 2 seconds each. Do as many reps as possible. When your foot makes contact with the floor, you're done.

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Find out who topped the list of the The 50 Fittest Male Athletes in the World as selected by the editors of Men's Health.

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