If you ask your friends and family what their New Year's resolutions are, a fitness goal is likely to be included.

This, quite simply, is the busiest (and best) time of the year for gyms and fitness centers. The newly ambitious will be streaming in throughout January, supplementing the traditional gym-going crowd.

However, many of those people who will be at the gym in January won't be there in February. And fewer will be there in March. If you want to be one of the handful that's there in April, picking the right gym is crucial.

You don’t want to spend a handful of hours each week at a place you dread visiting. Or one that's filthy, unkempt or disorganized. So here are some things to look for from top fitness professionals as you look to find your perfect gym.

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By Darren Rovell
CNBC.com

In November, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Manny Harris got into a Cryon-X machine on Nike's campus in Beaverton, Ore. When he came out, he had a nasty freezer burn on the side of his right foot.

"I saw the pictures of it and I said, 'Oh, my God,'" Cavs coach Byron Scott told the News-Herald.

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Slideshow: Million-Dollar Sports Injuries

Unable to be seen by team physicians because the lockout was still in place, Harris reportedly tried to let it heal on its own. The burn set him back so much, he couldn’t compete for his job and was waived by the team last week when the Cavs decided to pick undrafted rookie Mychel Thompson over the former University of Michigan star.

The machine is the new age version of an ice bath and is the latest in athlete recovery methods. In just three minutes, the company that makes it, Millennium ICE, says the machine cranks the temperature inside to minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit, thus oxygenating the blood, helping to reduce fatigue and muscle soreness.

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Whether you like to run, play basketball, or stomp your feet when you don't get your way, the pain caused by shin splints can force you to the sidelines. Shin splints -- or medial tibial stress syndrome, if you want to be all sciencey -- occur when too much force is repeatedly placed on nearby connective tissue. (How much is too much depends on the person.) And while we know you're obviously enough of a badass to play through the pain, we still suggest you try these remedies ASAP.

• REST
You don't need to be bedridden, but you should refrain from activities that require repetitive impact on hard surfaces or involve the same muscles as running. Try biking, swimming, or running in the shallow end of a pool if you're one of those guys who can't sit still.

• ELEVATE YOUR LEGS
When you're just sitting around, elevate your shins above your heart and take anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce swelling. It's tough to recline like that at work without looking like a lazy-ass, so sneak it in while you're reading or watching TV.

• ICE YOUR SHINS
Icing an injury is almost always a good idea since the cold constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation. Try to ice your shins for 10-15 minutes up to four times a day, and be sure to do it after stretching or exercising. To prevent your skin from feeling like it's being iced with napalm, always wrap the ice in a towel or washcloth.

• USE COMPRESSION
Use an elastic bandage or compression sleeve to apply pressure to the injured area. But if the pain gets worse, the area becomes numb, or your foot starts turning blue, loosen the wrap. Duh.

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Everyone knows pro football players lift heavy weights. After all, strength is all about the poundage you can press, right? Not always. Men's Health adviser David Jack worked out with one NFL team and discovered a great shoulder exercise that's done with just a pair of 2.5-pound weight plates. (For a great no-weight routine, check out The Body-Weight Workout You Can Do Anywhere.)

This "light-weight" movement is called the 3-way shoulder series and it's courtesy of Mike Morris, former strength and conditioning coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It’s an absolute burner for your shoulders," says Jack. "But more importantly, it’ll help improve your shoulder stability long-term, and allow you to lift heavier weights when you do 'big lifts' like presses." The upshot: It strengthens the small muscles that keep your shoulders stable, setting you up for huge gains in just about every other upper-body movement.

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Ed. note: We asked former NFL player Marc Megna, who appears on the cover of this month's Muscle and Fitness magazine, to tell us which weightlifting mistakes he sees most often in the gym -- and how to fix them.

Mistake No. 1: Dead lifting with a rounded back.

We've all seen this one and it may be the most dangerous: Some weekend warrior loading the bar with a complete disregard for lumbar safety. Though this mistake is hard to watch, we can definitely learn from it.

Correction: The High-Pin Dead Lift is modified movement that can help progress you into increased range while keeping you in a safe position. The idea is to "bring the floor up" by moving the supporting pins up as a safety net for the bar. The key is to set your pins in a position that will allow you to maintain a flat back position. Keep in mind there are a several ways to dead lift but they all require you to be in a flat back position. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Your grip should one hand palm up (supinated) and one hand palm down (pronated).

Mistake No. 2: Full body curls.

If your intention is to get bigger biceps, you should probably work them. Swinging and using momentum will probably work your hips more than your biceps. Think about it like this: We approach weight training on a joint by joint basis. Muscles are joint managers that help us specifically work our target areas. Make sure you are working from your intended joints -- elbows in this case -- and leave the rest for another exercise. When performing a standing bicep curl, make sure your axis is the elbow and don't incorporate the infamous "fill body swing" to complete your curl.

Correction: Firstly, take your ego out of it and drop the weight to a realistic load that will help you maintain proper form. Second, pin your elbows in front of your body so your "moment arm" is not decreased by bringing your elbows behind your torso before you curl. This will help you get more work in the intended bicep area.

Mistake No. 3: Lateral raises with bent arms.

Recently I witnessed some dude performing lateral raises with 55 lbs. Anyone who has ever done this activity with controlled form knows what a 55-lb. lateral raise looks like. It strongly resembles a full body seizure. I've worked with extremely large pro athletes who use 10 to 15 lbs. They will tell you the weight isn't as important as the time and form.

Correction: Lock your elbows and keep your arms completely straight so the axis used is the joints within the shoulder. Perform reps with ZERO swing. This will guarantee you feel the intended lateral deltoid burn.

Mistake No. 4: Not maintaining a flat back position when performing a bent-over row.

All too often you see someone at the local gym performing a bent-over row with a rounded back. Not only does the position make it more challenging to perform the activity, but it also places a great deal of stress on the lower back and may lead to serious disc trouble.

Correction: Lay face down on an incline bench so you can properly engage the lower back and ensure a flat back position. This is a slight regression, but it will ensure safety and help you maintain proper form.

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At the Men's Health editorial office, we have an unwritten rule: Don’t blow off a workout no matter how busy you are. See, we know through experience that we're much more productive in the afternoon if we break for a run outside, a game of basketball, or a quick lifting circuit around noontime -- even when we're on deadline. Plus, we’ve seen the studies that show if you skip an exercise session twice in a row, you’re 60 percent more likely to skip your next one -- and become a fat, lazy sloth. (Actually, the researchers didn’t go that far, but you catch our drift.)

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Excuses beget more excuses. So, let's eliminate the most common excuse for skipping workouts and falling out of shape: lack of time. How? Give this 15-minute total-body metabolic circuit a try. (It's just one of over 80 speedy workouts in our new books, The Men’s Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts and The Women’s Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts.) You can do this circuit in your hotel room during a business trip, in your office, or anywhere. We believe it'll convince you that you don’t have to spend an hour at the gym to get in a fat-melting strength workout. You can squeeze exercise into even the craziest of workdays. And eliminate the excuse "too busy" from your vocabulary forever.

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