33 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Literally Anywhere

Rock out with the band! Resistance bands are a great addition to any strength training routine or rehabilitation program and come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and strengths.  This portable exercise equipment is also easily stored, making it perfect for home use, hotel workouts, or when you’re tight on space at the gym. Just like free weights, exercise bands come in a range of resistance levels, from highly stretchable to heavy-duty strength.

The most common types of bands include tube bands with handles, loop bands (aka giant rubber bands), and therapy bands. (When in doubt, a fitness professional can help determine which band is right for you, depending on your fitness level and specific workout plan). For most exercises, try aiming for 8 to 25 reps for 2 to 3 sets per exercise. And if you don’t have a workout plan of your own, try the hundreds of audio workouts available on Aaptiv. Ready, set, streeetch!

Lower-Body Exercises

1. Front Squat

Stand on band with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Holding a handle in each hand, bring the top of the band over each shoulder. (If it’s too long, secure band in place by crossing your arms at your chest.) Sit straight down, chest up, abs firm, pressing knees out over your toes. Rise back up to start position and repeat for 8 to 12 reps.

Kick it up a notch with this quad-builder. Anchor a loop band in a low position on a support (like an incline bench), looping the other end around your ankle with the band positioned behind you. Step away from the anchor to create tension on the band, and position feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to the left foot, and lift the right leg from the floor. Extend the knee until it straightens out in front of you. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 8 to 12 reps before switching legs.

3. Prone (Lying) Leg Curl

Lie belly down and loop a band around your right ankle, anchoring the other end to a door or support. Scoot away from the anchor to create tension. Tighten your core and bend your leg at the knee, bringing your heel toward your glutes as far as you can comfortably go. Slowly return your leg to starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides.

Salute those glutes! Tie a band around your legs right above your knees. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees. Rise up with your hips until your shoulders, hips and knees align, contracting your glutes through the entire movement. Do 15 to 20 reps.

5. Standing Adductor

Anchor a loop band at ankle height to a support and stand with your left side facing the support, wrapping the free end around your right (outer) ankle. Stand perpendicular to the band and step away from the support to create some tension (the good kind, of course). From a wide stance, get into a quarter squat or an athletic stance, and then sweep your working ankle across your body past your standing leg, squeezing your thighs together. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 12 to 15 reps before switching sides.

6. Supinated Clamshell

Loop a band around your legs just above your knees. Lie on your back with hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees. Pull the knees apart while contracting your glutes for 2 to 3 seconds. Slowly return to starting position and repeat, aiming for 10 to 12 total reps.

7. Plantar Flexion (Ankle Flexion)

Take a load off for this one. Secure a loop or therapy band around an anchor (like the leg of a coffee table or chair), and sit with one leg straight out, wrapping the other end of the loop around the top of your foot. Lean back, supporting your weight on your hands, and flex your foot forward until you feel a good stretch in your shin. In a controlled movement, bring your toes back up, flexing them toward your knee as far as comfortable. Slowly return to starting position and go for 10 to 12 reps on each side.

8. Lateral Band Walk

Don’t sidestep these side steps! Step into a loop band or tie a therapy band around the lower legs, just above both ankles. Place feet shoulder-width apart to create tension on the band. From a half-squat position, shift your weight to the left side, stepping sideways with the right leg. Move the standing leg slightly in, but keep the band taut. Take 8 to 10 steps before heading back the other way.

9. Standing Abduction

This one’s a bit of a balancing act. Anchor your loop band at ankle height, and stand with your left side toward the anchor. Attach the free end to your outside ankle and step out to create tension on the band. Move your supporting leg back so your foot is elevated from the floor, lift your working leg up, slowly bringing your looped foot out to the side, contracting your outer glutes. If you feel wobbly, grab a support (like the wall or the back of a chair). Lower back down to starting position and repeat for 15 to 20 reps on each side.

To really show those thighs who’s boss, sit at the edge of a chair or bench and tie a loop band around both legs, just above the knees. Place your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Slowly press your knees out, turning your feet in as your legs move apart. Hold for two seconds, and then bring your knees back together. Aim for 15 to 20 reps.

Shop the Gear

Resistance Bands: Shop the Gear1. Lululemon Cool Racerback Tank ($42)

2. Zella ‘Live In’ Midi Leggings($65)

3. Reehut Single Resistance Band ($11.26)

4. TheraBand Professional Latex Resistance Bands ($9.23)

5. Nike Flex RN 6 ($65)

Back Exercises

11. Bent-Over Row

You can do it, put your back into it. Stand over the center of the band with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly at the knees and hinge at the waist, keeping your hips back. Grasp each handle with hands facing the outside of your knees. With elbows bent, pull the band up toward your hips, squeezing your shoulder blades together until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Lower and row for 10 to 12 reps.

12. Seated Row

Take a seat, but don’t get too cozy. With legs extended, place the center of the band behind the soles of your feet. Grab the band with both hands, arms extended and palms facing each other. Sitting nice and tall, bend at the elbow and pull the band toward your core, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

13. Pull Apart

Stand with knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the middle section of the band with both hands at shoulder level with palms facing down. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band out and back until your shoulder blades contract. Slowly return to starting position and stretch, squeeze, and release for 8 to 10 reps.

14. Lying Pullover

No, this doesn’t involve pulling the covers over your head. For this effective pec and lat exercise, anchor the tube band in a low position. Next, lie on your back, grabbing the free end of the band with both hands, stretching arms straight out overhead. With elbows slightly bent, pull the band overhead, crossing your torso until the handle reaches your knees. Slowly return to starting position and keep it up for 8 to 10 reps.

15. Lat Pulldown

Ready to work the upper back? Anchor the band overhead to a horizontal bar (or even a sturdy tree limb), pulling the free ends down at your sides. Kneel facing the anchor so the bands are positioned in front of you, gripping each end with arms extended overhead and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Bending the elbows, pull the band down toward the floor while contracting your back muscles. Once the hands reach your shoulders, slowly raise them back to the starting position and rock out 10 to 12 reps.

Chest Exercises

16. Push-Up

Take this classic move to a new level. Get in plank position, draping the resistance band across your upper back. Loop the ends of the band through each thumb, and place your hands on the ground in starting position—body facedown on the ground. Contract your glutes and abs, and push straight up until your arms fully extend. Lower back down, chest to the floor, and see what you’ve got for 5 to 20 reps (depending on your strength).

17. Incline Chest Press

Next up: The upper chest muscles! In a right forward lunge position, place the middle of your band beneath your back foot. Grabbing a handle in each hand, bring the band to shoulder level. Press the bands upward straight over your chest like a rainbow until the arms fully extend. Lower back down and repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

18. Bench Press

No barbell? No problem! Anchor a tube band on the bench legs, and lie on the bench, face up. Grabbing a handle in each hand. position them at shoulder height (so your thumbs touch the front of your shoulders). Extend the arms straight up overhead to full extension, moving your hands toward each other at the top. Lower back down and repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

19. Standing Chest Press

Anchor the tube band on a cable column or sturdy support at chest height. Grab each handle with your back to the band. Step forward to reduce slack, positioning your hands at chest height. With elbows up and palms facing down, press the band straight out in front of you until your arms reach full extension, and squeeze those chest muscles. Return to starting position and press on for 12 to 15 reps.

Shoulder Exercises

20. Overhead Press

Stand over the center of a tube band with feet shoulder-width apart. Grip each handle, positioning your hands at shoulder level with palms facing each other so your thumbs touch your shoulders. Press straight up, rotating your palms forward as you fully extend your arms. Lower back down slowly and repeat for 8 to 10 reps.

21. Forward Raise

To hit the front of the shoulders, stand on the middle of the band with feet shoulder-width apart and grip each handle at your sides with palms facing in. Next, without locking your elbows, bring your right arm straight out in front of you to shoulder height. Slowly lower back down and raise the roof for 8 to 12 reps before switching arms.

22. Lateral Raise

Build bolder shoulders with this isolation move. Stand with feet positioned over the center of a tube band, shoulder-width apart. Grip each handle with arms down at your side and palms facing in. Bending your elbows ever so slightly, raise your arms straight out to the side to shoulder-level. Slowly lower back down and go for a total of 8 to 10 reps.

23. Upright Row

Stand proud as you target your traps. With feet positioned over the center of the band, shoulder-width apart, grip each handle and position them with palms facing each other just in front of your thighs. Pull the band straight up the front of your body to shoulder-level, keeping your elbows bent and positioned in a high “V.” Slowly lower back down to starting position and keep rowing for 10 to 12 reps.

24. Bent-Over Rear Delt Fly

Target the whole shoulder with this fierce move. Sit at the edge of a chair or bench, positioning your feet over the middle of the band. Cross the band at your knees, grabbing each handle with palms facing each other. Bend forward at the waist, back straight, and raise your arms straight out to your sides until the band reaches shoulder level. Lower back to starting position and fly away with 10 to 12 reps.

Arms Exercises

25. Concentration Curl

Want to get ready for the gun show? Start in a forward lunge position, right leg in front, and place the middle of the band under the right foot. Grasp one end of the loop band with your right band, resting your elbow on the inside of your knee (to target those biceps a little deeper). With palm facing away from your knee, curl the band up toward your shoulder, squeezing your biceps at the top. Slowly lower back down and repeat for 8 to 10 reps before switching sides.

26. Standing Biceps Curl

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with your feet placed over the middle of the band. Grab a handle in each hand, starting with your arms down at your sides. With palms facing in front of you, pull your arms toward your shoulders by bending at the elbow until you get a good bicep contraction. Slowly lower back down and go for a total of 12 to15 curls.

27. Triceps Kickback

Kick back and relax. Just kidding! Stand in a forward lunge position with your right foot in front, positioned over the center of the band. Holding each end of the band, position your arms at your sides with palms facing behind you. Bend at the elbows (keeping them tucked by your sides) until your forearms are parallel to the floor. Next, press down the arms, pushing the band behind your body until the arms fully extend. Lower back down and repeat for 8 to 10 reps.

28. Overhead Triceps Extension

Sit on a chair or bench, placing the center of a tube band beneath your glutes. Grab a handle in each hand, and stretch your arms up, bending your elbows so that your hands are positioned behind your neck. With palms toward the ceiling, press your arms straight up until they fully extend. Lower back down and repeat for 10 to 12 reps before switching sides.

Core Exercises

29. Kneeling Crunch

Attach the band to a high anchor (such as the top of a door or cable column) and kneel down, grabbing each side of the band. Extend the elbows out at shoulder-level, engage your abdominals, and crunch down toward your hips while contracting your abs. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

30. Woodchoppers

Be an ax man (or woman) in training with this great core move. Anchor the loop or tube band toward the top of a cable column or support. With your right side to the support, grab the free end of the band with your arms stretched out overhead. In one smooth motion, pull the band down and across your body to the front of your knees while rotating your right hip and pivoting your back foot. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 8 to 10 reps on each side.

31. Anti-Rotation Band Walkouts

Know when to walk away. Anchor a loop or tube band on a cable column or support positioned slightly below your chest. Grasping the free end, create tension on the band and squat to an athletic stance. Holding the band with both hands straight out in front of your chest, keeping your core tight, step laterally until the band is too tense to go any further. Slow and controlled, move back toward the column to starting position. Repeat for 6 to 8 reps on each side.

32. Reverse Crunch

Now flip it and reverse it. Anchor the band on a low support. Lie on your back, bending knees 90 degrees. Wrap band around the tops of both feet and scoot back to create tension. Abs tight and back flat, pull your knees toward your shoulders, contracting your abdominal muscles. Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 12 to 15 reps.

33. Russian Twist

Sit on the floor with legs extended, wrapping the center of the band around the bottom of your feet. Hold the free ends in each hand. Slightly bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor, and lean back at a 45-degree angle. Rotate the band right by bringing your left hand across your body and your right hand down by your right hip. Contracting your oblique muscles, bring the band toward your right hip while keeping your middle and low back neutral. Return to starting position and rotate left then right for a total of 10-12 reps on each side.

The Full-Body Resistance Band Workout

Ready to put it all together? Greatist expert and certified personal trainer Jessi Kneeland (who also demonstrates the moves here!) created this routine that’ll work your whole body. For more totally-doable resistance band workouts, check out Aaptiv.

Originally published January 2013. Updated February 2015 and April 2017.

Just a heads up that on occasion we partner with awesome brands to bring you products that we know you’ll love and, if by chance you click on a link and purchase it, we may collect a referral fee as a result. But don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra and we wouldn’t recommend a product if we didn’t love it as much as we love puppies.

The Best Foods to Fight Fatigue and Get a Natural Energy Boost

Exhaustion isn’t a good look for anyone, but it’s all too easy to burn the candle at both ends in the always-connected world we live in. And when that energy slump hits, you need help. But that doesn’t mean downing a dozen cups of coffee or reaching into the candy bowl. There are better foods that give you energy for a natural boost.

Sugar and caffeine will give you a quick rush, but that’s often followed by a crash. So if you’re searching for sustained energy, look for food with complex carbs, protein, and fiber. We put together this cheat sheet of things to eat and drink to beat fatigue—and a few foods that sabotage your efforts to get pumped up.

The Best Foods

1. Water

The next time you’re feeling drained, try guzzling good old H2O. Dehydration may actually be at the root of your fatigue. It can lead to headaches, ruin your concentration, and put you in a sour a mood.  So hit the watercooler stat.

2. Chia Seeds

Talk about something small but mighty. Chia seeds help with hydration by absorbing 10 times their weight in water. Plus, they have the right ratio of protein, fats, and fiber to give you an energy boost without a crash.

3. Bananas

Consider this the green light to go bananas when you’re running low on fuel. In one study, researchers discovered that eating bananas worked as well as sports drinks at keeping cyclists fueled.  The potassium-packed fruit also includes a bunch of good-for-you nutrients (like fiber and vitamin B6) that you won’t find in a bottle of Gatorade.

4. Quinoa

With all its protein, fiber, and iron, quinoa is the perfect thing to reach for when you’re looking to recharge. And if you need an on-the-go upper, whip up these quinoa muffin bites and grab ’em before hitting the road.

5. Green Tea

By now, it’s no secret that green tea has a slew of health benefits. You can add “putting some pep back in your step” to the long list. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine gives you energy without the jitters. Bonus: Research suggests that green tea boosts brainpower as well, which may come in handy when you’re down to the wire at work.  Take the time to brew the tea yourself because store-bought varieties often have lots of added sugar.

6. Oatmeal

The cozy breakfast food—though, let’s be honest, you can enjoy it any time of the day—will keep energy levels up. That’s because it’s high in fiber and comes with a decent dose protein. Plus, oatmeal has a low glycemic load, a fancy scientific way of saying it stabilizes blood sugar levels. (Just make sure to steer clear of instant oatmeal packets, which can be packed with sugar and salt.) Oatmeal is also super versatile—just take a look at these 30 delicious recipes to keep food boredom at bay.

7. Almonds

Certain kinds of fat are friends, not foes, particularly when you’re talking about replenishing your energy. And almonds are packed with healthy monosaturated fats that are just what your body needs for a pick-me-up.

8. Beans

Beans keep you going thanks to a stellar trio of carbs, protein, and fiber. The protein fills you up, the carbs provide energy, and the fiber helps regulate blood sugar. Black beans in particular are your BFFs when it comes to an energy boost—try this black bean soup recipenext time your tank needs refilling.

9. Whole-Wheat Bread

Your body needs carbs for energy, but not all carbs are created equal. Whole-wheat bread is great for a long-lasting energy kick. It’s a complex carb, meaning it raises your blood sugar gradually instead of hiking it up at turbo-speed.

Foods to Avoid

1. Honey

Sure, honey has some serious health benefits, but it’s not something you should be reaching for if you’re looking for sustained energy. Adding a few teaspoons to your tea or yogurt will give a quick rush of energy that spikes your blood sugar, which means a crash can follow.

2. Energy Drinks

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, don’t reach for a Red Bull. Research suggests energy drinks may do little to curb sleepiness. The combination of caffeine and sugar puts your body through the ringer and may just leave you feeling dehydrated and fatigued.

3. White Bread

While complex carbs keep your energy levels in a steady state, simple carbs, like white bread, can take your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride. Not what you want when you’re keeping a busy schedule.

4. Candy

There’s a reason you’re always hearing about sugar crashes. As anyone who’s made their way through their Halloween loot can attest, an energy low inevitably follows. While sweets may give you a quick hit of energy, it’s only a matter of time before you once again find yourself dragging. After all, candy’s made up of simple carbs and sugar (which spikes blood sugar only to let it drop way back down). How sweet it isn’t.

5. Junk food

It’s a cruel fact of life that the most accessible, easy-to-grab, and oh-so-delicious foods wreak havoc on energy levels. Research has found that diets high in processed food tend to lead to weight gain and a more sedentary lifestyle.  Talk about a lose-lose situation.

Haven’t Worked Out in Forever? Here’s How to Get Back Into It

The past year has been pretty hectic for me. I bought a house, moved from Los Angeles to Portland, got engaged, and planned a wedding. Saying “there’s been a lot going on” is an understatement.

But one area of my life that hasn’t had a lot going on in this year?

Fitness.

It pains me to admit, but I have officially fallen off the workout wagon. My once-regular fitness routine has dwindled to hiking on the weekends, the occasional run (where I huff and puff my way across a mile or two), and a few half-hearted attempts at forcing myself into the gym.

We’ve all been there, in some way or another. Maybe you’re recovering from an injury or maybe you’re just getting back from a beach vacation where your only activity was walking from an oceanside cabana to the bar for a daiquiri. Hell, maybe life just got in the way! Whatever the case, sliding back into a solid fitness routine after a break can be tough.

EDITOR’S PICK
5 Tips to Stay Active on Vacation So You Don’t Blow All Your Hard Work

Tough… but certainly not impossible. After a year of spending much more time on my couch than on the treadmill, I’m ready to make working out a regular part of my life again. To help make that happen, I’ve asked experts for their best advice.

Here are five tips for getting back in the fitness game after a short (or, if you’re me, very long) break:

1. Define your “why.”

When I first decided I wanted to get back in the gym, I’ll be honest—it’s because I noticed my favorite jeans were getting a little on the tight side. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that a too-tight pair of jeans might be enough to get me back in the gym, but it’s not going to be enough to keep me there.

It was time to bring in the big guns. I started with Amanda McVey, general manager of Bulletproof Labs in Santa Monica, CA, which uses science-backed technologies to boost brain and body performance.

“Most of the people who walk through our doors say ‘I want to be thinner,’ or ‘I want to have bigger muscles.’ This is about the ‘what’ of the body—how they can fix an imperfection,” McVey says. “What we try to do instead is connect people back with the superhuman that lies within them, and part of that is really connecting with your ‘why’.”

And that “why” has to be about more than losing a few pounds. It has to be something that truly motivates and inspires you to keep pushing through your workouts—even when it’s hard, even when you’re tired, even when you’d rather stay in bed.

“Ask yourself: Why is making a change now so important?” McVey says. “That ‘why’ is what will make getting out of bed at five in the morning when nobody else is getting out of bed so worth it… because it’s about more than five pounds, right?”

If you’re not sure why you want to get back in the fitness game, it’s important to dig a little deeper and find your motivation. Why do you want to make fitness a more regular part of your life again? Is it so you can have more energy to play with your kids? So you can finally cross “run a half-marathon” off your bucket list? Whatever it may be, your “why” is what’s going to push you forward, even when it (inevitably) gets hard.

2. Feed your body the right fuel.

I’m not proud to admit this, but for me, taking a break from fitness typically also means taking a break from a healthy diet. I know that if I want to get serious about my body again, I’m going to need to feed it more than animal crackers, popcorn, and diet soda.

“My favorite thing that Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey says is, ‘There are foods that you eat that make you feel bad. There are foods that you eat that make you feel nothing. And there are foods that you eat that make you feel great. Eat more of the food that makes you feel great,” McVey says.

This strategy might be simple, but it’s also brilliant. If you want to make working out a regular part of your routine again, you’ve got to give your body the foods it needs to make that happen. For me, the foods that make me feel great are a mix of protein, vegetables, and healthy fat (my favorite pre-workout snack is a smoothie with kale, banana, vegan protein powder, and a scoop of peanut butter). Experiment and find out what foods make your body feel great and give you the energy you need to get a real workout in.

3. Enlist the help of an “accountabilibuddy.”

I find getting up for a 6 a.m. solo run nearly impossible—I’ll come up with any excuse to hit the snooze button. But when I know a friend is waiting for me to hit the pavement, it’s much easier to roll out of bed, lace up my shoes, and go.

“There’s nothing like accountability to make you follow through on a commitment,” says Vivian Eisenstadt, physical therapist and CEO of Vivie Therapy. “When you exercise solely for yourself, you can find any excuse not to do it. When you have to answer to someone else who is counting on you, it’s a whole other ballgame.”

Eisenstadt suggests finding a friend who works out on the regular, asking if you can join them for a few workouts, and then putting it on the calendar. “Set aside time in your schedule like an important appointment,” she says. “Then it’s not something to do ‘if you have time’—it’s a necessity.”

Knowing your friend is counting on you—and seeing that time blocked off on your calendar like any other important commitment—will help you follow through and show up for workouts until you’re back in the swing of things.

4. Incentivize yourself with new workout gear.

Some people are intrinsically motivated and work out just because they know it’s good for them. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people—which is why adding incentives to my workout routine is super helpful. When I know there’s something in the deal for me, I’m much more likely to get my booty to the gym.

“Incentives are great for people who are competitive and motivated/driven by environmental factors,” says Jonathan Maxim, CEO of Vea Fitness, a workout-tracking app that gives users incentives like discounts, prizes, and cold, hard cash as a reward for working out.

When I know there’s something in the deal for me, I’m much more likely to get my booty to the gym.

Technically speaking, you can reward yourself any way you like. But if you want your incentives to have added, fitness-boosting perks, try gifting yourself some new workout gear.

“If you upgrade your look—say, with a new pair of stylish workout pants—it really encourages you to go put them to work,” Maxim says. “New running shoes can help you want to at least go try them out, just like stylish yoga pants can inspire you to go sport them in class.”

The point is, it’s easier to get moving if you know there’s a reward waiting for you. And if that reward is a new pair running shoes? Even better.

5. Listen to your body.

I’m lucky that my fitness hiatus was self-imposed and not a result of an injury. But if the reason you’ve been out of the fitness game for a while is injury-related, the most important thing you need to keep in mind is that you should listen to your body.

“One of the biggest signs that you might not be ready to return to working out is if you’re experiencing a lot of pain—unrelated to regular muscle soreness,” says Michael Perry, M.D., co-founder and chief medical director of the Laser Spine Institute. “If a certain action or activity hurts, stop doing it immediately,” Perry says. “The pain is your body’s way of telling you ‘not yet.'”

Do yourself a favor—if you’re dealing with post-injury pain, payattention. If you push too hard when getting back in the gym, you put yourself at serious risk of re-injuring yourself—which might keep you on the bench even longer the second time around.

I’m not going to lie—initially, the thought of getting back in the fitness game after a year on the sidelines was a bit intimidating. But as I’ve learned, it doesn’t have to be. With a little inspiration, a complementary diet, a dash of accountability, and a couple rewards along the way, I know I can do it. At this point, it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other.

Which I’m going to do now—on a run.

Deanna deBara is a freelance writer and accidental marathon runner living in Portland, OR. Keep up with her running adventures on Instagram @deannadebara.

What Are the Best Foods to Eat for Clear, Glowing Skin?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from rom-coms, it’s that there is nothing quite as magical as your wedding day. But we’ve also seen Bridesmaids, so we can realistically say that wedding planning may be a one-way ticket to stress city. Not only will stress affect your mood, weight, and sleep patterns, but it can also wreak havoc on your skin (a.k.a. exactly what a bride and groom want to avoid on the big day).

So if you’re tying the knot or want to look good at your best friend’s wedding and hoping for that dewy look, check out these common questions and beliefs about how food affects your glow and get the low-down on the best foods to eat for skin health.

Does eating chocolate really cause teenage zits?

We are sad to say that some research does point to the fact that eating too much chocolate may increase your likelihood of developing pimples, even more so than eating jelly beans. If you’re a milk chocolate lover, it may be bad-news-bears for you. A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that a diet rich in sugar-packed foods is linked to acne.

In other words, stress-eating chocolate is probably not the best idea. If you must have your daily chocolate fix, reach for the dark stuff, which typically contains way less sugar than milk chocolate.

Can dairy cause acne?

Milk does a body good, right? Well, it’s a long-held belief that dairy is one of the main causes of acne. Interestingly, one study found that teenagers who report having more acne actually eat more dairy than those who don’t get pimples. That begs the question: Is dairy causing the acne or is it mere coincidence? The jury is still out so don’t put down your yogurt just yet.

Will eating collagen reduce wrinkles?

Although the research is in the early stages, the answer is likely yes. Collagen is the main component in skin tissue, but only in recent years have people have started to ingest it so readily in powder form (News flash: It’s been around for ages. If you eat homemade chicken noodle soup, you’re consuming collagen.) Several studies show improved skin elasticity and reduced formation of wrinkles after taking collagen supplements for six weeks.

Do fried foods make my skin greasy?

Truth bomb—eating fried foods in the months/weeks leading up to your wedding is a bad idea for a multitude of reasons. For one, it can cause weight gain and inflammation. Unfortunately, that same inflammation that causes aching in your joints may also cause monster pimples. Plus, scientists believe that eating too many omega-6 fats found in many frying oils will also increase inflammation in the skin and cause unwanted zits.

The Best Foods to Eat for Your Skin

Now that we’ve convinced you that food can do so much more than affect your waistline, let’s chat about the best things to include in your diet to have radiant skin.

1. Sunflower Seeds

recent review suggests that eating a combination of vitamins E and C may protect the skin against UV damage. A tasty source of vitamin E is crunchy roasted sunflower seeds. Combine them with spinach, which is rich in vitamin C, for a skin-boosting side salad.

2. Salmon

By now, you likely know that omega-3 fatty acids are the bomb. Not only do they protect from cancer and heart disease and boost brain power, but research suggests they are also good for the skin. These powerful nutrients are most commonly found in fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, or mackerel. Besides being a super-tasty and simple dinner, omega-3-containing salmon may also play a role in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer.

3. Olive Oil

Want another reason to move to Italy and partake in the Mediterranean diet all year round? Research suggests that including olive oil in your diet can ward off the signs of skin aging. If you’re not ready to uproot to the Mediterranean just yet, you can add olive oil to any dish. Or maybe just honeymoon there?

4. Tomatoes

Studies suggest lycopene in tomatoes may protect against the sun’s harsh UV rays. That doesn’t mean you should forego your daily sunscreen though! Lycopene is more prevalent in processed tomatoes, like tomato paste or cooked tomato sauce, so feel free to throw a pasta night with your bridal party.

5. Green Tea

Not only will sipping on a glass of warm green tea make you feel zen (for about five minutes), it might also soothe your skin. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who drank a beverage with green tea polyphenols every day for 12 weeks had smoother skin and less sun damage than those who didn’t. Scientists believe the antioxidants in the tea boost blood flow, oxygen, and nutrient delivery to the skin.

6. Orange Peel

The peel of an orange contains a little-known antioxidant called hesperidin. Research in animals suggests applying orange peel directly to the skin may treat some inflammation. Although the research has not been performed on humans yet, it probably smells refreshing and will bring some tranquility to your day, so why not try it?

7. Honey

Not going to lie, I saw this trick on an episode of Queer Eye. But the research does actually show that honey has microbial properties so putting it on your skin may fight off bad bacteria that can cause pimples. It’s not 100-percent proven, but if Jonathan says it works, we believe him.

8. Red Bell Peppers

Research shows that a higher intake of vitamin C is associated with fewer incidences of wrinkles. With 95 milligrams of vitamin C (or 150 percent of your daily value) in just a 1/2 cup, these sweet peppers are totally worth adding to your omelet, salad, or stir-fry.

9. Water

If you’ve ever gone to bed after a long night of drinking and woken up with cracked lips, you’ve experienced the havoc that dehydration can wreak on your skin. Obviously, staying properly hydrated contributes to the healthiness of your skin. Shocker (not really)!

The Bottom Line

Some foods will do wonder for your skin. But downing sunflower seeds, red peppers, and water won’t give you glowing skin if you’re drinking your cares away, smoking a pack a day, eating fried food, or not sleeping enough. It’s all about balancing the good with the bad, with just a little more good. Enjoy foods that make you feel good. If you stress too much about eating for your skin, well, we all know what stress can do.

5 Strengthening Upper-Body Exercises to Do Before Your Wedding

It’s important to feel strong, powerful, and confident when the time comes to say “I do,” and if that means giving your muscles a little extra TLC before the big day, we support you. But between tasting ALL the cakes (only because you make informed decisions!) and rearranging seating charts to keep the reception from turning into an episode of Game of Thrones, it can be hard to find the time to work out. And let’s face it, you’re not about to drop your life savings on a personal trainer.

But don’t lose hope—it’s possible to commit to your body before you commit to your S.O. while still having time to eat, sleep, breathe, and, you know, be a human. We asked our friends, Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up, for an upper-body routine that you can bust out on your own—or with friends, family, your partner, or your bridesmaids. And if you want to take a few extra steps to flex your way into the married life, check out their Studio Tone It Up app, which offers dance cardio, HIIT, kickboxing, and other workout classes on the hour.

Note: For best results, do this workout (3 rounds of 15 reps), 3 times per week, using a set of 8- to 12-pound dumbbells.

1. Arnold Press

Sculpts your shoulders, back, and chest.

Start with arms in front of you, bent at a 90-degree angle. Your elbows should be at shoulder height, and you should be holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing you. Open your arms out to the side, maintaining the bend at your elbow. From there, press your arms directly up to full extension. Return to start by reversing the entire movement.

Do 15 reps.

2. Cross-Body Biceps Curl

Sculpts your biceps.

Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your body. Using one arm at a time, curl one weight toward your opposite shoulder. Then repeat with the opposite arm.

Do 15 reps on each side.

3. Bent-Over Row

Tones your back.

Start standing with your feet together, knees slightly bent and upper body hinged slightly forward at the hips. Hold your arms directly under your chest with a dumbbell in each hand and palms facing each other. From here, lift the weights up to your chest while keeping elbows close to your torso. Slowly lower back down.

Do 15 reps.

4. V Raise

Tones your shoulders and chest.

Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs with palms facing out. Raise the weights slightly laterally in front of you to form a V, then slowly lower back down.

Do 15 reps.

5. Plank Row and Triceps Extension

Sculpts your core and triceps.

Start in a high-plank position with wrists directly below your shoulders. With a dumbbell in each hand, raise your right elbow to your torso, keeping your arm close to your body. Then extend your right arm back. Slowly reverse the motion and bring the dumbbell back to the ground. Do all on one side, then repeat on the opposite arm.

Do 15 reps on each side.

7 Easy Dinners Fit for a Crowd From Half Baked Harvest

Cooking for the family or your group of friends can be a numbers game. When end-of-the-day hunger and your bank account are on the line, there is no room for errors. Luckily, this week’s featured foodie is no stranger to cooking in bulk.

Coming from a family of nine, Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest teaches us how cooking for more people doesn’t have to be less healthy. Using her three go-to tools—one skillet, a sheet pan, and a slow cooker—Tieghan creates nutrient-rich recipes plus healthy swaps, ingredient myth-busters, and creative twists on the classics to ditch the stress and enjoy every bite.

So long to soups that leave us unsatisfied, because this vegetarian one made with a coconut milk base has a creative protein alternative: peanut butter. The combination of the peanut and soy sauce mixed with green veggies and rice noodles will remind you of your favorite Asian-fusion cuisine. Don’t be too intimidated by the longer ingredient list: Some of them are already in your kitchen.

We’re always looking for ways to make taco Tuesday an everyday occasion, and this recipe is one to add to the archives. Cooking the chicken in pineapple juice and spices like cumin and chili powder makes the chicken full of the juicy flavor you want in your taco. Pining for more pineapple? Good news, you’ll be using it as the base of the salsa, complete with pomegranate seeds and jalapeño.

Myth: Canned food is bad. These white beans prove that buying certain foods in a can means you can get them for cheap, have a meal ready in seconds, and even add a healthy dose of protein to any soup or salad. But the ingredient we’re really buzzing about is the basil pesto. We know this addition doesn’t scream “add me to soup,” but you’ll be shocked at how well the sauce complements the citrus zest and juice.

One pan = one happy cook. This is not your average chicken and rice dish because using white wine, chicken broth, lemon, and dill gives it the flavor the classic recipe is often missing. Throwing fresh kale into the mix gives us the greens without any added effort or required time in the kitchen.

While two-minute microwave ramen can be a tempting quick fix, we’re going for a healthier, low-sodium, homemade alternative with the help of a Crock-Pot. This dish can easily be made vegetarian-friendly, as it’s already loaded with our favorite nutrient-packed veggies like mushrooms, spinach, and carrots.

Sheet-pan meals are the best. Simply slice, season, arrange, and bake, flipping your ingredients occasionally to ensure even cooking. Roasted potatoes, pepper, and onions is a combo you can count on for a satisfying addition to any meat dish. Top things off with a spicy avocado salsa so tasty you might just eat it straight out of the bowl.

Genius healthy swap of the day: hummus. This high-protein, low-fat ingredient makes a perfect alternative to the heavy cream typically found in Alfredo sauce. Adding cayenne, garlic powder, basil, and lemon to this 30-minute meal are key for added flavor. Looking to go vegan? Try our second swap of the day: nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese.

7 Keto-Friendly Snacks to Fuel You for a Sweaty Workout

Pre-workout snacks tend to go something like this: a handful of carbs, a few ounces of protein, and a healthy fat. You might be used to noshing on peanut butter toast or crackers and carrots with hummus, but when you’re following a keto diet and cutting carbs, figuring out what to make can be a little tricky.

We put together some high-fat, moderate-protein keto snacks that will get you through any gym sesh, long run, or HIIT class, without taking up too many of your precious carbs. Get your almond butter ready!

If you’re planning on a short workout, one or two of these coconut balls will do the trick. They’re made with cashews, dates, and shredded coconut. That’s really it! They’re super simple to make and easy to carry on the go, so you can head from work or errands to the gym and snag a few on the way.

While dairy isn’t always the best idea before an intense workout, there are plenty of coconut milk or soy-based yogurts that you can swap in if you’re worried about upsetting your stomach. Get a few carbs in with fresh berries and healthy fats from pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, and almond butter.

Any smoothie named after a Ben & Jerry’s pint has to be good. This pre-workout drink gets its sweetness from bananas, cocoa powder, and peanut butter, and can be made thicker with more ice. Use yogurt or a scoop of protein powder to make it extra-filling.
This salty-sweet sausage is great to have on hand for breakfast and midday snacks. It’s also easy to make and more cost-effective than most good-quality store-bought links. Just mix ground turkey and ground pork with maple syrup, garlic, and spices, and serve with a fried egg if you want something a little more substantial.

Hold the mayo; add the avo. This egg salad takes just a few minutes to make and blends protein and healthy fats like a champ. We recommend shaking some everything bagel seasoning on top since it makes just about everything better (and actual bagels are off limits).

RXBAR fans, you’ve gotta try this at-home version. With just four main ingredients—almonds, cashews, egg white protein, and dates—it’s just as clean as your go-to packaged bar. You can add in cinnamon, cocoa powder, fresh ginger, or coconut flakes to switch up the flavor.

OK, these are definitely a love-it-or-hate-it kind of snack, but if you’re a pickle fan, you’ll appreciate the sour burst inside your ham and cream cheese roll-ups. If you’re not big on pickles, replace ’em with cucumbers for the same crunch. Grab a few before your workout for a solid mix of protein and fat.