How to get a ballet dancers body (tone thighs, butt and calves)

Dancers are lean and toned. To get that toned look, increasing muscle with specific exercises is key. For example, ballet dancers have impeccable balance and posture, and strong legs, core and calves. I’ve created this fun barre workout that anyone can do, to strengthen (tone) the legs, butt and calves. Let me know which exercise was your favorite.

Balance exercise list (with videos)

These 12 balance exercises work the core and balance reflexes. Age doesn’t cause balance loss, inactivity does. You can improve balance at any age, but it takes time and frequent practice. I practice balance exercises of some kind, every day.

Have a chair handy; these exercises burn more calories than typical balance exercises, because they are challenging and they strengthen the hips, butt, low-back, abs, and your legs. I’ve also included a video of each of the exercises so you can work out with me.

12 challenging single-leg balance exercises
1 Hip cleaners
2 Standing alphabet
3 Leg swings
4 Hip hinge (hold 15-45 seconds)
5 Plie squat with heel lift and hold
6 Tree pose with leg extension
7 Single leg deadlifts
8 Side leg lifts with a kick
9 Skater squats
10 Standing quad stretch
11 Standing figure four stretch
12 Bird-dog
Best 12 balance exercises

what really caused Lance Armstrong’s cancer

On December 26th, 2013, I published a short article, titled, “Do you over-exercise?” At the time, it was theorized that Lance Armstrong’s testicular and brain cancer was brought on by his intense training since “intense exercise has long been known to suppress the immune system” (3).  But after watching his tell-all movie earlier this year, I realized what a jerk Lance Armstrong is, and what extreme pressure professional athletes have placed on them to exceed feats the human body cannot accomplish without performance enhancing drugs (2).

Lance Armstrong admitted to taking EPO, testosterone, cortisone, HGH, blood transfusions and blood doping (1). While some drugs can improve performance and aesthetics, drugs don’t come without consequences. For instance, EPOs are “…involved in the development of cancer tumors and that they combine to help the tumors proliferate in the body” (4).

While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint what exactly caused Lance’s cancer, I’m more apt to blame the drugs than the long hours of cycling.

Photo: Jojo Ito, tri-athlete

Sources 

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2013/01/15/health/armstrong-ped-explainer/index.html
  2. https://www.outsideonline.com/2413859/lance-armstrong-espn-documentary
  3. Outside Magazine December issue, pg. 66, article titled: Post-Workout Immunity Booster
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111205102319.htm#:~:text=Summary%3A,tumors%20proliferate%20in%20the%20body.

Leg strengthening exercises (for seniors)

Walking is not enough! For strength, flexibility, and mobility, you want to work all of your muscles.

Strength, flexibility and mobility exercises for seniors:

  • chair squats
  • ankle rotations
  • point and flex feet
  • hip lifts
  • standing leg lifts and lowers
  • static lunges
  • calf raises
  • quad stretch
  • hamstring stretch
  • calf stretch

You can do these exercises daily. I made a workout video of these to show form, that you can follow-along. If you’re sore from this workout, try doing it twice a week for 4 weeks. Then do it three times a week for 4 weeks. Keep adding an additional day of this workout every 4 weeks, until you’re strong enough to complete it daily.

Forward this video to anyone you think would enjoy it. If your goal is weight loss, head on over to my website theHighFiveDiet.com to view my cookbooks, weight loss books, and food tracker

kettlebell (thighs & butt workout)

This quick 11-minute kettlebell workout targets the thighs (quads and hamstrings) and the butt (glutes) with kettlebell lunges, hip hinges, kettlebell swings, kettlebell hops, kettlebell lunges, single and double leg kettlebell deadlifts, goblet squats, and kettlebell in-between squats.

I’ve also included a short stretching cool down at the end. And yes, these exercises will tone, tighten and lift the butt, while strengthening the inner and outer thighs, back of the legs, low back, rear shoulders. This workout also improves balance, while burning calories and reducing fat.

Share this workout with whoever you think may like it too.

Why people reject that COVID-19 is real, is also why people are still fat & smoke

I’ve been trying to find a logical explanation as to why people reject facts, truths, and science, especially now, since some people refuse to wear their masks with a vehement explanation that COVID-19 is a hoax. Accepting the truth, is too painful for many people to accept, so they search, or make up an alternate realty in which the truth is a lie, and lies become truths. This reasoning explains why people don’t take their medication, don’t exercise, continue to smoke, don’t change their eating habits, and deny climate change. I’ll explain:

Why don’t people follow their doctor’s advise?

Many people who get diagnosed with type II diabetes, don’t take their medication, don’t exercise, don’t test their blood sugar, and don’t change their eating habits, even though their doctor, who went to a licensed medical school and earned his doctorate, tells them they need follow a specific protocol, or else, they will lose their eye sight, end up with nerve pain, or, end up as an amputee (among other horrible outcomes). The patients who don’t follow their doctor’s plan, either explain their inactions by saying, that doctors don’t know what they are talking about, thereby refusing to face the facts, or, they do not want to accept a diagnoses of disease, where they are forced to do things they don’t want to do. They don’t want to exercise because it’s boring, or it hurts. They want to keep eating fast food, because it’s easy, inexpensive, and tastes good.

Why do people still smoke?

People still smoke even though everyone knows it causes cancer. I’ve heard smokers say that their parents smoked, and lived to a ripe-old-age, so they have great genes which will protect them, even though there’s no evidence to support that theory. Or, smokers say that, they will quit tomorrow, and they never do. They don’t quit because quitting means they will have headaches, and painful withdrawal symptoms, which they keep putting off. Smokers don’t want to give up smoking because smoking makes them feel good, even though long-term use will make them worse and worse.

Why don’t overweight people change their eating habits and behaviors?

I’ve worked with overweight and obese people who say they want to lose weight because of heart problems, or pain in their joints, and they can no longer do the fun things they used to do, like golfing, because of the excess weight they are carrying around. Yet, these same people keep eating junk food, continue serving themselves massive portions of food, and refuse to follow any diet or exercise program. They won’t change their eating habits because they fear their life will be boring since they won’t be able to go bar-hopping or go to the same restaurants and eat their same beloved meals. They have this false notion that nothing works for them, eating proper portions of healthy food and limiting unhealthy foods will make them miserable, even though their current lifestyle is making them miserable, and led them to consult with me for weight loss help.

Why do people deny that climate change is real?

This also explains why people deny climate change. They don’t want to accept that their actions are causing destruction to our planet. This is one reason why companies that knowingly pollute our environment are climate-deniers. They try to justify putting toxins in our air and in our water and soil, by pretending that it’s not a problem. These big polluters don’t change their ingredients, policies or procedures because that costs money, and “the bottom line” is all companies care about.

Why are there conspiracy theories?

This is why we find conspiracy theories, such as the one that liberals will ban cows, and we won’t be able to eat hamburgers anymore. Conspiracies are ways to distract people from the truth, and the lies typically benefit the deniers in the form of power and money. Case-in-point is the coal companies; they have a financial reason to ignore the science, because there’s no such thing as clean coal.

Why aren’t people wearing masks?

We see people vehemently refusing to wear masks because masks are uncomfortable, and wearing one signals acceptance that the coronavirus is real, extremely contagious, and dangerous. With this acceptance, that ultimately means, people will have to change their habits, and people don’t like change. They don’t want to be stuck at home. They want to eat at restaurants, and party with their friends. It’s easier to ignore a horrible reality, than to accept it, and change your life, and do things you don’t want to do.

Why do people ignore the truth?

I think the best example, is the wife who lost her husband, sets the table for him every night, and refuses to accept that he is gone, and will never return. He will never give her a hug again. He will not be there to protect her anymore. She’ll have to take care of all of his responsibilities that she doesn’t know how to do.  Deep down, she knows he is deceased, she went to the funeral, and saw him buried in the ground, but it’s easier to pretend that things have not changed, and everything will go on, like it always has been. The problem with this, is, lying and denying, helps no one. Ripping off a Band-Aid hurts, but it must be done.

The story of the fictitious widow is that she has to accept the truth, and go through the grieving process, in order to recover. That is what we all need to do. We need to accept truths, facts, and science even though we may not like what it tells us. We have to go through the grieving process of losing a life we imagined, in order to make changes and recover.

photo: me wearing a mask on a walk

How to fix mobility in 22 days

Have you tried exercises that are supposed to make you stronger, but didn’t really do much of anything? How about those stretches that the physical therapist gave you; they didn’t help much either, did they? I’ve had mixed results from exercises that are supposed to restore mobility, but when I saw a strength and stretch YouTube video, from physical therapist, pro-athlete trainer Jeff Cavalear, with the words “works every time” in all caps, I decided to give his free 22-day program a try. I wanted to see if it would work for me because I inured both of my shoulders, since my doctor said I will never have full range of motion.

How the program works, is, on day 1, you take the six mobility tests below to see what you need to work on.

Six mobility tests  (pass or fail):

wall-splat test

Wall-splat test. Place a ruler on a ground and measure 6 inches from the wall. The tips of your toes should be 6-inches from the wall. Stand up tall, raise your hands high in a Y-position. Then place your hands flat on the wall, palms on the wall, while simultaneously pressing into the wall and sliding down into a squat position. The hands cannot come off the wall, and the heels and the toes must remain on the floor. Your squat must be at 90 degrees to pass this thoracic, hip, knee, and ankle mobility test (I failed it, by about 2 inches, due to ankle limitations, and an inflexible upper back).

hinge toe-touch test

Hinge toe-touch test. This tests hamstring flexibility. With feet parallel, stand straight, hinge forward while bringing the buttocks backwards. You can bend your knees, but don’t go into a squat. With a flat back, see if you can touch your toes with your arms and palms in front of your shins. If you can’t touch your toes, you failed this test. If you were able to touch your toes without bouncing (don’t ever bounce while stretching), you passed. (I failed this test. I have always had trouble touching my toes no matter how much I stretch, or how often I perform deadlifts).

Knee-to-wall test

Knee-to-wall test. This tests ankle and knee flexibility. Place a ruler on a ground and measure 6 inches from the wall. With your feet parallel, start in a lunge position, with both feet flat on the ground. With your left foot, place your toes six inches away from the wall, and lean forward to see if your knee touches the wall. Test with the other foot too. If your knee does not touch the wall, you’ve failed this test. (I failed this test both times, but came very close to touching the wall on day 22, so the calf stretches, see ankle-drop stretch below, really seem to have helped).

Press-up test (aka cobra pose). This stretches the abs and increases back mobility. Lay on the ground with your stomach facing the floor (do this on a soft surface, like on carpet, or a mat). With your hips on the ground, legs stretched straight, toes pointed, press up with the palms of your hands and high as you can, without pain. You have passed this test if you can press up with straight arms, while keeping the hips on the ground. (I failed this test before, and after the 22-day program due to immobility in my spine from two previous shoulder injuries)

Thomas test. This tests how tight, or mobile, your hip flexors are. Lay on a soft plyo box (they have these at most gyms. I did this test on a bench, since I don’t have access to a soft plyometric box) on your back with the bottom part of your glutes (where it looks like your butt connects to the back of your legs) on the edge of the box. With your legs stretched out in front of you, bring one leg in towards your chest, interlace both hands in front of your shin. If the bottom leg rises off the box, you have failed this test. Test both sides. (I passed this test.)

Seated crossover test (aka seated figure-four). Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, feet parallel. Cross left ankle over the right thigh (just above the knee). With the palm of your left hand, press down gently on the left thigh. If your left thigh is parallel, at 90 degrees, you’ve passed this test. If your left leg is pointed upwards, that indicates tight hip rotators, and you failed this test. (I passed this test).

Now that you know which tests you failed, pick the stretches and exercises to work on those specific areas.

7 Stretches to increase range of motion (takes 40 minutes to complete):

kneeling T-spine stretch

Kneeling t-spine stretch. This stretch increases thoracic extension (upper back), and stretches the triceps, and the latissimus dorsi (aka the lats). Kneel on a matt, and place your triceps on a bench to stretch the lats and triceps. Hold for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

calf and hamstring wall stretch

Calf-wall stretch. This stretches the calf muscle, the hamstrings, thoracic spine, and the lats. Flex one foot and place the ball of the foot on the wall, and the heel of that same foot on the ground (if you’re not wearing shoes, put a cushion under your heel). Place your hands up high on the wall in a Y-position, hold this stretch for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

Ankle drop stretch (straight leg and bent leg). This stretches both calf muscles. Place the ball of both feet on a slightly elevated surface, and drop the heels to the ground (put a mat under your feet so it doesn’t hurt your heels). Hold this stretch for 45 seconds with straight legs, and another sets, with slightly bent knees. Perform three sets.

Press-up and hold (aka cobra pose). This stretches the abs and increases back mobility. Lay on the ground with your tummy facing the floor (do this on a soft surface, like carpet or a mat). With your hips on the ground, legs stretched straight, toes pointed, press up with the palms of your hands and high as you can, without pain. The end-goal is to press up with straight arms, while keeping the hips on the ground. Hold this stretch for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

Back bend on a physio ball. This stretches the abs, the back, and the lats. Sit on the ball and gently roll backwards. Keep your butt tilted and pressed against the ball, stretch arms backwards. Hold this stretch for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

lunch and reach

Lunge and reach: This stretches the hips and the lats. Lunge with right knee on a mat, lift left arm up and over to the right side. Hold this Stretch for 45 seconds, change sides. Perform three sets.

Pretzel stretch (aka glute stretch). This stretches the glutes, hips and hamstrings. Lay on your back on a mat, with your arms at your side. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Cross left leg over the right leg, both feet should be slightly flexed. With your left hand, press your left thigh gently to hold a 90-degree position. Take the right hand and pull the right shin towards you to stretch your glutes.

You want to perform the exercises on the days you don’t perform stretches.

The exercises below increase strength and mobility (shown are #3, #2, #4 from list below)

5 exercises to increase strength and mobility (these take 19 minutes to complete):

  1. Box high-hip lifts (this works the hip flexors). Hold for 4 seconds. 12 reps. 3 sets
  2. Supermans. 3 sets of 12 reps
  3. Glute bridge with alternating heel taps.  3 sets of 10 reps
  4. Frog pumps. 3 sets of 12 reps
  5. Face pulls. 3 sets of 12 reps

In summary, the exercises that I found helpful were the superman’s to strengthen my lower back, and the frog pumps, to increase inner thigh flexibility. The box high-hips lifts are good for balance and for someone that needs to work the hip flexors. Since my glutes are strong, I don’t need to do the glute bridge or the frog pumps, except every now and then, when I work legs (aka leg-day).

The kneeling T-spine stretch hurt a lot at first, but after 11 days of these stretches, it was no longer painful. The calf-wall stretch did not seem to help; it just hurt. The ankle drop stretch increased my ankle mobility, so I am really happy about that, and I’m going to keep doing this stretch. The press-up test did not increase my back mobility, but I’m going to keep trying it for another two months to see if will help. Some people need more time to show improvements. Even though the back-bend stretch didn’t help with back mobility, I like it, and I think it shows promise. I won’t do the lunge-and-reach, or the glute stretches every other day because my hips are quite mobile.

The bottom line is, some of these stretches really seemed to help increase my flexibility, and others didn’t appear to help at all. Twenty, or twenty-two days of stretching and mobility exercises, really isn’t much time to see a whole lot of improvement. I’m going to continue stretches, 1-5, and the superman exercise, for about two more months. I’m also going to add more stretches.

I decided to document the tests, which exercises I failed, and which ones I passed by filming them. I also wanted to show which specific exercises and stretches I did on alternating days for 22 days in a row, and how I fared on day 22 in a video, which you can watch by watching the video below.

For an additional frame of reference, you can also watch the original video, which inspired this post, from Jeff Cavalear’s ATHLEAN-X’ YouTube video, “Fix Bad Posture in 22 days, (WORKS EVERY TIME)”. https://youtu.be/XxSgdX7lX6E

If you want to be notified on my final results after 90-days, place a comment on the YouTube video and I’ll get back to you with all the details.

best calf exercises (you’ve never tried)

Here’s some calf exercises you may have never tried before. Variation is not only fun, but it surprises the body, and the end result is additional strength. Try the calf exercises below (in this order):

  1. prances
  2. single-leg calf raise
  3. bent-leg calf raise
  4. calf raises in 1st position (heels together, toes out at 45 degrees)
  5. toes together, heels out
  6. lunge & hop with a calf raise
  7. plie squats with calf raises
  8. sous-sous (it’s French)

 

I also created a calf video so you can watch how to perform these calf exercises, and follow along with me. It’s a short workout, and I bet there’s some calf exercises you’ve never tried before.

Let me know in the comments if you thought the exercises were easy, difficult, and/or which calf exercises were your favorites.

Simple tips to do a headstand

Once you know the proper techniques, these easy to follow, and you aren’t afraid of being upside down, being able to do a headstand is definitely doable.

In this YouTube tutorial video, you’ll learn the simple steps to master the headstand in just a few minutes.

Let me know how you did, and how many tries it took to hold the headstand for a few seconds.

The best butt-lifting exercises

These 9 butt-lifting exercises are effective and fun:

  1. lateral band walks
  2. banded cha-cha
  3. fire hydrants
  4. quadruped, straight leg lifts
  5. feet-elevated glute bridges
  6. single-leg glute bridge
  7. side leg-lifts
  8. single-leg hip raise with a knee hold
  9. derriere (to the back) attitude leg lifts

I created a butt lifting 15-minute, follow-along workout for you. You can practice these exact exercises up to three times a week.

Make sure to give yourself a day off between leg and glute exercises to rest and recover.

Let me know if you liked this video, and subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking on the YouTube icon under social on my website listed below. Remember to click the bell, otherwise, you won’t get notifications when a new video is published.

Let me know which glute exercise was your favorite.

And, take a trip on over to my website, if you haven’t already, at theHighFiveDiet.com to check out my diet books, healthy dairy-free, carbohydrate and calorie-controlled recipes in my cookbooks, and other products to get you healthy, strong and fit.

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