strength training – Health Care

strength training


When a spring snowstorm hit New York City on Wednesday, Karlie Kloss pushed her way through it—literally. In an Instagram video that she captioned “sNOw days off,” the supermodel and marathon runner took to the slushy streets outside of celeb-favorite gym Dogpound to push an exercise sled loaded with Dogpound founder Kirk Myers.

You can check out the video via Kloss’s Instagram here:

This snow plow–esque movement, known as weighted sled pushes, looks extremely badass—and that’s because it is.

The sled push, which is meant to be an all-out, high-intensity exercise, requires simultaneous engagement from your back, glutes, hips, core, hamstrings, calves, triceps, and shoulders, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist Mike Clancy tells SELF. "Aside from your biceps and chest muscles, every other muscle group is in full engagement.” Basically, it's an incredible total-body exercise.

To do the move, you have to brace your core, flex your glutes, and extend your spine to drive your legs through the ground as hard as you can, explains Clancy. From there, the goal is to transfer the force through your legs upward to your midbody, out to the shoulders, triceps, and hands, and into the weighted sled.

While your lower half pumps as hard as possible during this movement, your upper body should stay tight—and still. “You are contracting your entire upper body to be a stable base through which your lower body and core can transfer strength,” Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF. The forceful, fast movements required by your lower body combined with the prolonged contraction of your upper body make weighted sled pushes a great total-body movement.

And because weighted sled pushes are meant to be performed in short bursts and at 100 percent effort, they’re great form of high-intensity training, says DiSalvo.

If you use the correct equipment, sled pushes are “one of the safest hard things you can do,” says DiSalvo.

Unlike more traditional strength training moves, like bench presses or deadlifts, “you don’t run the risk of dropping anything on yourself, and if you get tired, you just stop,” DiSalvo says.

Sled pushes are also pretty foolproof to execute. “You don’t have to worry as much about form failure because either the sled will move or it won’t move,” says Clancy. “It’s an auto-correcting exercise in the sense that your form has to be at a satisfactory level in order for the sled to move.”

The surface on which you perform weighted sled pushes can impact the difficulty of the move.

“As a rule of thumb, the less friction on the surface, the easier it will be,” says DiSalvo. Pushing on grass, astroturf fields, or in Kloss’s case, snowy streets, will be easier than pavement, for example.


“It’s not a huge factor,” DiSalvo adds, “but you might get a little performance increase.”

There are a few things you should keep in mind before attempting a weighted sled push.

If you’re brand new to sled pushes, it’s a good idea to have a certified trainer or other fitness professional supervise your efforts and begin. You'll also want to begin with much less weight than Kloss. About a third or half of your body weight is a solid place to start, says DiSalvo. “That should be a very manageable starting point and you can increase it from there,” he adds.

And for safety’s sake, you should only attempt this move with proper, professional-grade gym equipment, says DiSalvo. Don’t try subbing an exercise sled for a heavy piece of furniture, for example, as that could increase your risk of injury. Some gyms and (even public parks) will have exercise sleds. You can also find them online.

Here’s how to do a weighted sled push:

  • Wrap both hands around the sled and stack your elbows and wrists in line with your shoulders.
  • Lock your elbows and scapula [shoulder blades] in place. “You want to be very firm through your back and chest,” says DiSalvo.
  • Position your upper body in one straight line from the base of your neck to your hips.
  • Standing on your toes, begin pushing forward as hard as you can, pumping your legs as high and fast as you can.
  • As you move, your lower body positioning should be very similar to how you would perform an all-out sprint. This means having flexed hips, with your thighs high and close to your torso; flexed, high knees; and flexed feet. This triple flexion helps your body wind itself up like a spring and then release against the ground with enough energy and power to propel yourself—and the sled—forward.
  • Push as hard as you can for 15 seconds, followed by two minutes of rest. Repeat one or two times.

As you get stronger, decrease the amount of rest between reps until you achieve a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio (e.g. pushing for 15 seconds with 30 seconds of rest). Once you can do 4 to 5 reps with a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio, bump up the time of your output in 10- to 15-second increments, and from there, increase the weight in 15- to 20-pound increments.

It’s important to keep your feet flexed and stay on your toes/the balls of your feet as you push forward as this will maximize your force. If you’re not getting a good connection with the ground, “you will feel like the Road Runner,” says DiSalvo. “Your feet will be moving fast but you won’t be going anywhere.” If you feel any tension or strain in your hips and/or lower back as you perform a sled push, it’s likely a sign that you need to bring your hips forward and your legs further back behind you.

If you don’t have access to a sled, here are two other moves you can do to reap similar benefits.Treadmill Pushes

  • Hop on a treadmill and resist the urge to press any buttons. The machine should remain off during the entirety of this move.
  • Place your hands close together on the handles and grip your thumbs on the same side of the handles as your other fingers (an overhand grip).
  • Stack your shoulders on top of your hands to put your body at an inclined, angled position. Your upper body should be in one straight line from the base of your neck to your hips.
  • Begin moving the belt by pumping your legs upwards and forwards in the triple flexion motion described above. You should be landing on your toes.
  • Push as hard and as fast as you can for 10 to 20 seconds. This is 1 rep.
  • Rest for one to two minutes, and then repeat one to two more times.


As you get stronger, decrease the amount of rest in between each rep. Once you achieve a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio, increase the number of sets. Once you can do 4 to 5 sets with a 1:2 work to rest ratio, you can increase the time of your push.

Treadmill pushes are “a good entry point to weighted sled pushes,” says Clancy. “Your job is to make the belt spin as fast as you can.”

Farmer's Walk

  • Grab a set of heavier weights—dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. As with the sled pushes, it’s a good idea to start with a total weight that’s a third to a half of your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, start with 25- to 35-pound dumbbells in each hand.
  • Place the weights on the ground, with one weight on either side of you.
  • When you’re ready, bend your knees to lower yourself down to reach the weights. Grab the weights firmly with each hand and squeeze your core and glutes and drive through your heels to push yourself—and the weights—up.
  • Straighten your back and look straight ahead.
  • Keeping good posture, take small, quick steps forward for 30 seconds.
  • Stop, and bend your knees to place the weights back down on the ground in a controlled manner. This is 1 rep.
  • Rest for 2 minutes and repeat for another rep.

This move won’t provide the same exact muscular benefits as the sled pushes, but it is a great high-intensity exercise that targets your core, shoulders, upper back, glutes, and quads, says DiSalvo. Just know: Because you are carrying weight (rather than pushing it), it’s not as foolproof to execute and the risk of injury is slightly higher. That’s why it’s important to start light with both weight and reps, really focus on maintaining good posture, and raise and lower the weights with control.

Right now, Jessica Biel has bragging rights on multiple fronts. Her lead performance in The Sinner earned the actor her first-ever Emmy nomination. She and husband Justin Timberlake topped “Best Dressed” lists at Monday's award ceremony with their wedding-inspired attire. And perhaps most impressive of all, Biel mastered an extremely tough, expert-level exercise: the pistol squat.

The 36-year-old actor shared an Instagram video over the weekend of her demoing this one-legged squat, made even more difficult with the addition of front dumbbell raises. Her trainer, Ben Bruno, whose other famous clients include Kate Upton and Chelsea Handler, shared the video as well, with a caption explaining the epicness of this feat.

“These single-leg squats from @jessicabiel are seriously, seriously impressive,” Bruno wrote.

You can check out the video via @benbrunotraining here:

Pistol squats are extraordinarily challenging for several reasons.

“It’s one of the hardest variations of the squat,”Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF. “It's a cross-section of mobility and strength in a squat. You have to have both.”

On the strength front, much of the difficulty comes from the fact that, as mentioned, you're only squatting with one leg. When compared to a standard two-legged squat, this one-legged variation requires one leg to be strong enough to support all of the body weight that is normally supported by two legs, Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF. That makes the move exponentially harder.

To perform this one-legged move safely and correctly, you need a baseline level of strength in your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hips as well as “everything below the knee,” says DiSalvo, including your calves, feet, and the stabilizing tendons and ligaments around your ankle joint, adds Mansour. In other words, essentially every muscle—big and small—in your lower half needs to work.

On the mobility front, you need a high level of dorsiflexion in your ankle, says DiSalvo, which is the ability to flex the foot up toward the shin. You also need a high degree of hip flexion, he adds. And lastly, you have to have strong coordination and balance.

Biel makes the move even harder (!) by adding an upper-body component.

In some cases, adding weight to a squat can, counterintuitively, make the movement easier, says DiSalvo. That’s because it counterbalances your bodyweight and can help you sink lower into the squat. But this only works if the weight is on the heavier side (typically, 10 pounds or more), and it’d most likely be one weight (like a kettlebell, for example) held in a fixed position as you perform the squats.


Because Biel is holding a set of lighter weights and raising them out in front, “she probably doesn’t need the weights for counterbalance,” says DiSalvo, and instead, is likely using them as added resistance, he explains.

This added resistance works her upper back, deltoids (especially the anterior deltoids, which are the top portion of the shoulders), and the stabilizing muscles along her spine, explains Mansour. This makes the already-tough move even more demanding, strength-wise. “It’s a front body and back body total burner,” Mansour says.

Doing pistol squats on a high box, like Biel demos, is a modification that can help if you don’t quite have the hip flexion required for the on-the-ground version.

By pistol squatting atop a tall box, Biel doesn’t have to straighten her lifted leg to a 90 degree angle in relation to her torso, an extreme level of mobility that would be necessary if she were performing the move on the ground. “That’s another thing that makes the pistol squat so hard,” says DiSalvo. “You have to have really great hip flexion on the leg that’s off the ground.”

The box allows her to perform the movement within her current range of motion, while still demanding the same high-level strength that would be required if she were on the ground, says DiSalvo.

Because pistol squats are so challenging, here are two more beginner and intermediate exercises from DiSalvo (move number one) and Mansour (move number two) that deliver similar benefits.

The first move focuses on the single-leg element of the pistol squat, and specifically works the skill of staying controlled as you lower yourself down. "Lowering yourself with control is the key to the pistol squat for most people," says DiSalvo. "This move is cross-training for that." The second move focuses on the depth required for the pistol squat—plus it includes upper-body work.

1. Classic Step-Ups

  • Grab a box or step that comes up to about knee height (or lower), and position it directly in front of you.
  • Step your right foot on top of the box and firmly plant it.
  • Push through your right heel and straighten your right leg, standing up on top of the box. Keep your left leg hanging next to the right.
  • Bend your right knee to slowly lower yourself down as your left leg extends straight behind you. Go slow enough that it takes you 4 to 5 seconds until your left leg reaches the ground.
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement and then push off your right foot (avoid pushing off your left leg) to raise yourself back up to the top of the movement.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 6 to 8 reps.
  • Switch legs and do 6 to 8 reps with the left leg leading.


Make sure to go slow and maintain control throughout this movement, says DiSalvo. "It's not about how high the box is," he says. "It’s really just about nailing the control."

Once 8 reps becomes easy, you can up the ante by holding light dumbbells, or by increasing the height of the box or step, says DiSalvo.

Then, when you’re proficient with this movement, try standing on the side of a box or step and performing the same slo-mo lowering from this positioning, says DiSalvo. This will more closely mimic the pistol squat, as it allows you to also add on and practice moving your ungrounded leg up and forward.

2. Deep Squats With Front Dumbbell Raises

  • Grab a pair of light dumbbells, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold one weight in each hand.
  • Keeping your spine straight, squeezing your core, and bending your elbows slightly, hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs (palms facing in toward you) and then slowly raise the weights straight out in front of your body until they reach shoulder level as you simultaneously push your butt back and bend your knees to lower into a deep squat.
  • Once you’ve reached your full range of motion in the squat, push through your heels to return to standing as you simultaneously and slowly lower the weights back down in front of your thighs.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

As you squat, make sure your toes are pointing straight and your knees aren't caving in or out, says Mansour. When performing the lateral raise, keep your arms out directly in front of you, not on a diagonal. “You don’t want to lift your arms out to the sides,” says Mansour. “You want them to come straight out from the shoulder joint.” Lastly, if your lower back hurts as you perform the squats, you may have a tight lower back, says Mansour. Protect it from extra stress by reducing the depth of your squat.

Almost exactly a year ago, professional figure skaters-slash-siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, enthralled the judges, live audience, and TV viewers across the world with their ice dancing routines at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Their mesmerizing synchronization, on-ice chemistry, and nearly flawless execution earned the "ShibSibs" two bronze medals, plus legions of online fans.

Yet after that multiple-medal high, the dynamic duo announced last spring that they are taking a break from the pro circuit. And while we don’t know when (or even if) they’ll make their return, we do know that they’re still committed to their fitness.

Thanks to an Instagram video that Kirk Myers, CEO and owner of NYC-based gym Dogpound, posted over the weekend, we have a glimpse of how Maia in particular is spending her time of late. The video shows the younger Shibutani, 24, demoing three challenging movements that offer a ton of benefits—whether you're a pro figure skater or an average exerciser.

You can check out the video, via @kirkmyersfitness, here:

Here, we break down the moves, the benefits they provide and how that can translate to ice skating, and how to modify each exercise.

1. Slide Board Skater

What it is: A lateral (side-to-side) cardio and lower-body strengthening move done atop the slide board, a specialized piece of gym equipment good for gliding moves.

Primary benefits: This fast-paced movement will get your heart rate up, making it a great form of cardio, Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF. Thanks to the side-to-side motion, it engages the inner and outer thighs, the outer glute muscles (specifically the gluteus medius), hip abductors, and upper quads, making it a solid lower-half-strengthening move for any person, athlete or not. Gaining strength in the outer hip and glute area helps stabilize the rest of the legs, and strength in the inner thighs supports the core, says Mansour. Both of these things ultimately help us to move more efficiently overall.

How that translates to ice skating: Training your body to move side to side is important for any sport that requires you to make quick movements. If you only ever strengthen your body moving forward and backward, there's a greater chance you'll injure yourself when you do have to move laterally. That being said, this specific exercise is generally more beneficial for speed skaters than figure skaters, Lee Cabell, Professional Skaters Association master-rated coach and former faculty at the School of Health and Medical Sciences at Seton Hall University, tells SELF. The side-to-side movement doesn’t exactly mimic the typical motions of figure skating, but would translate more directly to the motions performed by a speed skater, explains Cabell.


How to modify it: You don’t need a slide board to replicate the cardio and strengthening benefits of this move. Try the following modification at home with the help of a simple sliding device—either sliders, paper plates, towels, or socks and a hardwood floor.

  • Stand up straight, feet hip-distance apart, and place your sliding device of choice under your right foot. Slightly bend your left knee. This is the starting position.
  • Pumping your arms and engaging your core, quickly push your right foot straight out to the side and then quickly bring it back to the starting position.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 30 reps at a fast pace.
  • Switch legs and do 30 reps on your left leg.

To amp up the cardio challenge of this move, you can reach your arms straight overhead with every rep, suggests Mansour.

2. Single-Leg Reverse Deadlift on a BOSU

What it is: An “extremely challenging” variation of the single-leg deadlift made more advanced thanks to a BOSU ball and ankle weights. This move requires a high level of balance and strength to do properly, says Mansour, so it may be too challenging for beginners. (We share an easier version you can try below.)

Primary benefits: Balance work and total-body strengthening. This exercise works your quads, hamstrings, thighs, glutes, and calves, as well as the stabilizing muscles around your ankles, knees, and hips, says Mansour. You’ll also engage your erector spinae (muscles along the spine), upper back, latissimus dorsi (the broadest muscles on each side of your back), shoulders, and your core—primarily the transverse abdominis (your deep core muscle) plus the smaller stabilizing muscles, she says.

If you watch the video closely, you’ll notice Shibutani turns her foot out as she extends her leg behind her. In a regular single-leg reverse deadlift, you typically extend your foot straight out with toes pointed down behind you, which targets the gluteus maximus (your biggest butt muscle) and hamstring. Shibutani’s slight outward turn, however, changes the strengthening focus to be more on the inner and outer thighs and hips, explains Mansour.

You may also notice that Shibutani is wearing ankle weights, which amp up the strengthening benefits on the leg that is extended, while also helping her stationary leg stay grounded, explains Mansour. The small hand weights she holds are likely another balance aid, Mansour adds.

Lastly, note that Shibutani arches her back and reaches her extended leg far above back level. While she may be able to do this safely, the average person could hurt their lower back by attempting this level of extension on a single-leg deadlift, which is why no matter what type of single-leg deadlift variation you attempt, Mansour suggests raising your back leg no higher than back level and keeping your lower back flat (not arched) at all times.

How that translates to ice skating: This tough balance exercise can help improve the proprioception (or body awareness) of the ankle joint and strengthen the surrounding muscles, explains Cabell. “That’s beneficial because figure skaters skate in very hard boots—it’s like skating in a cast,” says Cabell. “For that reason, figure skaters do not really have the option to exercise the muscles and ligaments around the ankle joint, which is why we see ankle sprains.” Doing movements like this that strengthen the ankle joint and build proprioception of that area can help prevent ankle sprains, he says.


How to modify it: To get similar balance, strengthening, and stabilizing benefits, try a classic single-leg deadlift on the floor. You'll need a medium to heavy weight—a kettlebell or dumbbell would work best.

  • Stand with your feet together, holding the weight firmly in your right hand in front of your right thigh. Slightly bend your left knee.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and lift your right leg straight behind your body, hinging at the hips to bring your torso parallel to the floor as you lower the weight. Keep your back flat and core tight as you lower.
  • Stop when you feel a stretch in your left hamstring.
  • From here, press through your left heel to reverse the movement and stand back up. As you do, keep the right leg straight and slide the weight back to the starting position. Make sure to keep your back flat throughout.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your butt. This is 1 rep.
  • Do 10 reps; switch legs and do another 10 reps.

Plank Jack With Gliders

What it is: A variation of the classic plank that really engages the muscles in the thighs.

Primary benefits: In addition to the benefits of a standard plank, which include core strengthening and stabilization, you’ll strengthen your inner and outer thighs, thanks to the moving leg component, says Mansour. Moving your legs will also demand even more core engagement than if you simply stayed in place, since you really have to use your abdominals to keep your body still.

How that translates to ice skating: “I consider the core muscles the most important muscles for figure skaters,” says Cabell. A strong midsection can help a figure skater maintain good posture on ice, he explains. On top of that,“figure skating is a three-dimensional sport,” he adds, meaning skaters must be able to flex, extend, and rotate their bodies while on the ice. Core strength, particularly in the obliques (muscles on the sides of your stomach), is crucial for said rotation. In addition to helping a skater twist, core strength is also crucial for staying upright and maintaining good posture after a lift. If you’re a skater, “your core muscles can save you or break you,” says Cabell.

How to modify it: Before you attempt the following, make sure you can hold a standard plank for at least 30 seconds. Once you’ve mastered that, you can try the following plank variation, which is tougher than a standard plank but easier than Shibutani’s move. Similar to the first move, you’ll need a simple sliding device—either sliders, paper plates, towels, or socks and a hardwood floor.

  • Get on all fours and place your sliding device of choice under each foot.
  • With your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips squarely over your knees, press through your toes to lift your knees off the ground and extend your legs fully behind you.
  • Squeeze your glutes and legs, and brace your core so that your body forms one long, straight line from your shoulders to your hips to your ankles.
  • From here, slide your left leg out to the side several inches; pause for a moment and then slide it back in.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 5 reps on with your left leg and then switch legs and do another 5 reps.