Health & Fitness

Work Hard AND Smart

Rewind: (Fitness) Knowledge is Power

In sports and fitness, training plans and pounding the pavement can take you a long way. But sometimes it takes more than a blue collar work ethic: it helps to have bits of wisdom from seasoned vets, deep scientific insight and cleverly-designed products. Since kicking off Limits, we've scraped together knowledge about everything from the effect of caffeine on endurance to importance of VO2 max testing. We still fall down at stoplights occasionally, no amount of wisdom can prevent that. Here's what we've learned.

A Big, Bad Watch Gets Bigger and Badder

Tested: Suunto Ambit2

We get our hands on the Ambit2 from Suunto, the best watch in the business for serious outdoor adventurers looking to track all of their data over an entire weekend trip.

The fitness tracker that refuses to fit in

Tested: Misfit Shine

What makes a good wearable? Comparing a laundry list of features is one way to start the conversation. The Misfit Shine proves, however, that there’s still something to be said for keeping it simple.

Workers of the world, unite!

The Cubicle Workout

Even the cubicle-bound among us want, and can achieve, a basic level of fitness without waking up for 5:30 a.m. brick workouts or going for a long post-work run. We suggest a combination of simple high-intensity interval workouts, stretches and easy lifestyle changes that can make you a relatively fit person.

Two paths diverged in a deli

Up Your Lunch Game with this Healthy Plan

Most of the time we don’t take a full hour out of our workday for a methodical lunch, instead finding ourselves at the corner store, collecting what we can to fill our stomachs. This is where two paths diverge: some go for a fried cutlet sandwich followed by dessert; others cobble together a reasonably healthy meal followed by an average life expectancy. Read on to find out how to get a healthy lunch next time you're eating on the go.

15 essentials for 26.2

Kit: Marathoning

While running is by nature a sport with minimal gear requirements, having a combination of the right soft goods plus some accoutrements for comfort can make the whole experience more enjoyable. Pick from this Kit and you’ll be furnished with everything you need to succeed -- minus grit and determination. That’s on you.

Shed the winter coat

Great Home Workout Programs

Dropping some extra winter weight or jumpstarting your fitness goals for summer is no easy task, especially if you're staring down something crazy like your first Ironman 70.3 or GORUCK Challenge. Sure, you could shell out some cash for a personal Jillian Michaels or Tony Horton lookalike at your local Globo Gym, but unless you want to feel like a boot camp recruit or Biggest Loser contestant, there are better options. We've been testing a few home workout programs this winter to help keep our edge. Here are a few of our favorites.

Less Space, More Power

Kit: The Perfect Machine-Free Home Gym

Twenty years ago a home gym required an entire basement. This was ridiculous. Our ideas about fitness have progressed in breadth and scope -- generally toward functional workouts that have real-world application -- and the equipment required has diminished in size and price. If you’re looking to set up the perfect home gym that gives you the opportunity for a huge variety of exercises, it helps to have a few more tools in your kit.

Low Hanging Fruit

The Benefits of Berries

For anyone uncomfortable with pills, powders, shots and gels, Mother Nature offers an alternative way to stay healthy this winter. We’re talking berries, those tart little packets of juicy goodness. But beware: not all berries are created equal, and some go together better than others. Our resident fruitarian breaks down some of the most popular options.

The Sky's the Limit

Breakdown: London SkyCycle

Last week, London architecture firms proposed a plan to build the SkyCycle, a 137-mile bike superhighway that runs over existing rail lines. We break it down.

An Object in Motion Stays in Motion...

Tested: Newton BOCO AT

Founded in 1996 to develop footwear technologies for Nike, Adidas and Saucony, Boulder-based Newton Running now (according to its CEO, Jerry Lee) supplies shoes for one in every four triathletes. Though Newton currently makes two designated trail shoes, they'll soon drop the Terra Momentum and offer only one: the sturdy, lightweight BOCO AT ($129). We took a pair out for a spin on a snowy day in Manhattan, which is nearly as rough as any beaten trail.

Two Toms, Three Sports

Tested: TomTom Multisport

From the Pebble to the Toq, multi-tasking sports watches have recently gained popularity among the techie set. Among athletes, they’ve been used for over a decade. At their most basic functionality, athletic smart watches measure pace and distance, though most also have an optional heart rate monitor and offer enough technological bells and whistles to make Siri swoon. We got our hands on the TomTom Multisport GPS, an intuitive little offering that provides metrics for running, cycling and swimming.

Comfort and sturdiness, put to the test

Tested: ECCO BIOM Terrain Plus

Over the years we've owned a number of different hiking boots in a continuous search for just the right balance of sufficient support, stability, and grip without being so rigid and heavy that they feel like Tony Soprano concrete specials. Recently we had the opportunity to try the BIOM Terrain Plus ($230) from ECCO, a brand we knew only as the maker of grandpa's "most comfortable shoes you'll ever wear!" Of course we were skeptical about where they would rate on that scale of comfort and stability -- and, equally as important, whether we'd want to be seen wearing them on the trail.

It's never too cold

Kit: Winter Running

It’s not like getting up for that pre-work run was easy during the summer or fall. Now it’s pitch black, relentlessly cold and the streets are covered with ice, snow and salt. But a brisk jog before sunrise is a one-way ticket to a fulfilling day, not to mention a long winter of staying fit despite a dining regimen of braised short ribs and mashed potatoes. The right gear will keep you warm, dry and, most importantly, stable when the ground beneath you isn't.

Gifts for the resident jock

12 Guys of Christmas: The Athlete

Part of you doesn’t want to buy The Athlete any gift at all. He roughhouses at the Thanksgiving football game; he runs negative splits at the charity 5K; he seems to be toweling off every time your girlfriend is around. While we’re all worse for wear, he’s aging like a Rodin. But ultimately, he’s a good guy who just really likes to get the blood flowing. He whipped you into shape for Tough Mudder, remember? And who came along for a second opinion when you bought the used Cervelo? Who’s consistently willing to do an aerial chest bump? Yeah, that’s him. Go ahead, get him a little something nice for the holidays this year. We've got all the ideas you need.

The Bar, Raised

Epic Bars

An active life is a fulfilling life, and part of maintaining an active lifestyle is eating healthy. In an ironic twist, one of the most challenging times to eat well is when you're out exploring. Energy bars do their job, but usually with lots of sugar, saturated fat and other ingredients you can't pronounce. Fractionated palm kernel oil while overlooking the North Kaibab Trail of The Canyon? Pass. Made from organic, humanely-treated beef, bison and turkey (both beef and bison are grass-fed), EPIC bars ($34) are also gluten-free, so those who've gone paleo can enjoy them without Grog turning over in his grave.

Not a treatise on Pink Floyd

Opinion: Rethinking “The Wall”

There’s a lot happening in the body that’s implied by the catch-all word “bonk” (a.k.a. “hitting the wall”). While the resulting symptoms can occur at once as a symphony of pain and delirium, it’d be a mistake to think they all have the same cause and the same treatment. In my opinion, the the most valuable distinction for beginner long-distance runners is between dehydration and a glycogen bonk, or, generally speaking, running out of stored carbs to burn.

Run Forest, Run

Off The Beaten Path: 6 Great Trail Runs in the NYC Area

In urban settings like New York, walking, let alone running, is hard enough. With the abundance of hazards -- from reckless taxis to sharp-eyed grannies -- hitting the streets in your new pair of kicks often means putting your life on the line. If you're looking for a quieter run around the Big Apple, forget the Central Park Reservoir and Hudson River Park: when the only other New York residents you want to see are plants, birds and squirrels, check out these less frequently traveled trails.

More than a marathon

The Complete Guide to Running Your First Ultramarathon

You’ve probably been hearing more about them: occasional murmurs of very long distance races, men and women running six marathons across the Sahara, a 3,100 mile race in Queens, NY, in the middle of summer. Ultrarunning, or running more than a 26.2 mile marathon in a single shot, seems an unlikely pursuit -- and it is. But it's also growing. An estimated 60,000 people finished an ultra in the U.S. in 2012, up from about 10,000 in 1990. That number is still small compared to the 487,000 people who completed a marathon in the U.S. in 2012, but it’s still an awful lot of people running exceptional distances. And now you’re thinking about toeing the line for an ultra. Good for you. We’ve got a handy guide to help you through, complete with advice from a few pros at the top of the sport.

Alone in the Produce Aisle

The Fruit Index: A Handy Guide to Nature’s Candy

Trying to get in shape? Most fitness gurus agree that unless you change your diet, you're wasting your workouts. But fear not -- we've got your back. In addition to finding you this inspirational video, we've put together a handy index of fruit nutrition, largely based on our experience at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. Why fruit? Unlike most supposedly "healthy" snacks, fresh fruits are digested easily and provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they deliver their sugars (i.e., energy) with a healthy dose of fiber, allowing you to digest glucose without the usual insulin spike and subsequent crash. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they're delicious.

Exploring a Fruit-Focused Diet

A Week with the Fruitarians

Over the course of four days, I ate little else but fruit. Such is the life of a fruitarian. If you’ve heard of the fruitarians, it’s probably because of their most famous devotee, Steve Jobs, who named the Macintosh computer after his favorite fruit -- or it might be in connection with the paleo diet, which advocates eating only what our cave-dwelling ancestors could have procured. If you haven't, let me fill you in: the fruitarians eat fruit. Lots of it. At the Woodstock Fruit Festival, where 562 fruitarians gathered for a weeklong conference on health, exercise and raw food, the average diet consists of around 80% fruit.

Ultra prepared

Kit: Vermont 50 Ultramarathon

There are basically two schools of thought when assembling a kit for an ultramarathon: comprehensive preparation and more weight, or as minimalist as possible. For first-time ultra-distance runners, the decision can be a little confounding. You want to be very prepared and very light. This setup for the Vermont 50 -- a trail run -- reflects a good balance of preparedness and weight, with a bias toward the former in the choice of a hydration pack.

Pressurized hydration

Tested: Geigerrig Rig 500

It doesn’t take a degree in developmental psychology to know that guys have an enduring attachment to backpacks. Messenger bags, tote bags, duffels -- all great, but backpacks are hands-free, versatile and have more sophisticated storage options for gear and the lunch mom packed...or whatever. Faced with a quick international trip or a tough physical challenge, we’ve usually got a backpack in tow, and at the 20th anniversary of the Vermont 50 ultarmarathon, we leaned on the Geigerrig Rig 500 ($130) for our hydration and storage needs during an all-day run.

Minimalist Ultra-Marathoner

30 Minutes With: Anton Krupicka

At age 12, Anton Krupicka ran his first marathon. He's been running ever since. We caught up with the minimalist ultra-marathoner to talk sweet potatoes, Don DeLillo, and his degree in Physics.

Marathon man

The Complete Guide to Running Your First Marathon

In the marathon origin story, Pheidippides runs from Marathon to Athens to deliver a message of victory and then promptly dies. We’ve come a long way since 490 BC, and today most people run marathons to compete, challenge themselves physically or raise money for charity -- and they rarely kick the bucket at the end. But they’re sometimes in a world of hurt, because running 26.2 miles is a feat, and doing it can be taxing on the body. But with the right training anyone can do it. Looking to join the club? We’ve got some tips, tricks and advice from experts to get you most of the way there. You’ve still got to run the damn thing.

Fruitarianism Delivers

Running on Juice

This summer, curious about the benefits of an 80% raw fruit diet, we joined a gathering of Fruitarians in upstate New York at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. While we didn't convert to Fruitarianism (unless the ritual strawberry dance was an initiation), we did meet Chris Kendall, a holistic nutritionist, raw vegan athlete and all-around fruit guru, and tapped him for an easy juice recipe ideal for runners.

Gear worth its weight in...

Kit: Fool’s Gold 100

Competing in endurance mountain bike racing requires a significant amount of time on the bike. There are days when you eat your breakfast and lunch on the go, get on your bike before the sun comes up and even get lost in the woods trying to find six hours worth of trails. We all settle into distinct collections of gear to make the bike our home, but for us, this kit offers the perfect blend of performance, durability and comfort.

One step closer to the open road

Complete Guide to Buying Your First Bike

It’s a perfect day. You’re pedaling along between La Rochepot and Baubigny in France’s Côte de Beaune region, a wheel of epoisses and a baguette ancienne tucked in the front basket. A little tight on good wine. Sun warm on a crisp day. Your girlfriend rides alongside and looks at you affectionately. You do that thing where you reach out and touch fingertips. Then you hit a little bump in the dirt road: You don’t even know how to ride a bike, and now there’s spittle on your Macbook Pro trackpad. Fortunately, that’s all about to change, because you’re about to buy your first bike.

Run Like You Mean It

Pavement Pounders: 10 Best Running Shoes

Summer heat waves are on the edge of winding down, and that’s good news: you can run without your shoes melting to the road. If you've been stuck all summer plodding along on a treadmill in the gym or running in the predawn hours to avoid scorchers, now is a great time to reassess your aging kicks and consider an update. We could go on about minimal vs. conventional, the merits of cushioning and drop angles and tread patterns, or we could just find the best shoes of the year to help you with one thing: working on your fast. Our search for the best running shoes of the year yielded more than a few contenders, and unless you plan on leaving them in your closet to collect dust, there's not a single shoe here that won’t help you get to the front of the pack.

Floaties optional

Kit: Swim Practice

Tell people you begin the day with a swim and they’re bound to reply with a look that’s equal parts envy, bewilderment and awe. Who swims, for exercise, in the morning? Who risks certain athlete’s foot and doesn’t mind going to work with goggle eyes? How many people pee in the pool? Old people and triathletes, that’s who. And everyone. But the reality is that swimming is the perfect impact-free sport for long-term fitness and short-term ripped abs, and while you can do it with nothing but a pair of Speedos and a smile, having a stocked duffel can make the experience more fulfilling than a philosophical conversation with Ryan Lochte -- much more.

Relax into weightlessness

Tested: Total Immersion Swimming

It made me angry that the obese woman could swim faster than me. In my bubble of intense training for my first triathlon I’d fashioned an idea of justice that allowed fit people to just naturally be better than other people at everything. I raked and windmilled my arms through the water in the windowless, basement-level pool at the local YMCA. 5:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds. By 5:45 a.m. I’d be winded, exhausted. Have a Gu. Adjust my goggles. Stretch the lats out. Out at 6:00 a.m., even more angry. There had to be a better way to learn how to swim.

Kings of the Hill

The Best Mountain Bikes for Every Rider

'Tis the season to be tempted by a whole new model year of mountain bikes, and we've got some good news. Dialing in your own personal style of off-roading has never been easier -- once you wade through the overwhelming amount of options, that is. There's a different bike for just about every type of trail and rider, and even some that claim to do it all. You need a bike best suited to the kind of riding you enjoy, but that also won't keep you from the occasional change of pace (or any surprises the trails throw at you). As part of our week-long series on bikes to celebrate the launch of Limits, we've picked our favorites for racing enduro, downhilling, or just getting out for a weekend adventure ride.

Nothing can stop you, save a dead battery

The Smarter Athlete: The Best Apps to Train, Motivate and Diet

Gadget-obsessed as we are, even we sometimes bristle at the sheer number of fitness apps available for download. How much help do you really need with physical pursuits? It’s summer -- run some laps; swim a bit; hike across an embargoed Caribbean country. There’s no substitute for sweat, no matter what version of iOS you’re running. And yet, admittedly, sometimes it takes a little extra effort to get out of your seat, especially when your seat is on a patio in the sunshine and there’s a cold beer on the way. Since there really is an app for that, we've done the work for you, finding the best in three categories: apps that help you set and achieve goals, apps that help you maximize your workouts, and apps that help you maintain a healthy diet. We hereby endorse bringing your phone to the gym (or wherever it is you work out) this summer, because nobody can blame a guy for wanting to look good.

Ditch the hulk for some helpful tech

Mobile Motivators: Best Fitness Trackers for a Smarter Workout

Most of us are out of touch with our bodies. We clueless about calories, how much we’re walking in a day, or even how to check our own heart rate. Luckily, there’s a host of new fitness trackers that make training truly personal. Strap them onto your wrist or toss them in your pocket and they’ll track your every move -- every step you take, every minute you sleep, every calorie you inhale or burn off. Read on for our five best bets for prying you off the couch -- and tracking your efforts.

Mr Hasemeyer tests gear, tries not to die

Pampered by Powder: A Day on the Slopes with Skiing World Champion Chris Davenport

Scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, homestyle potatoes, a bowl of oatmeal and two cups of coffee: when preparing to take on Squaw Valley with Chris Davenport, simply a two-time World Champion skier who recently scaled and skied Mt. Everest, one must fuel up. So I did. Sitting on 3,600 acres northwest of Lake Tahoe near the California and Nevada border, Squaw Valley offers skiers the chance to take on wide open runs (groomed and not) of greens, blues and blacks, most of which are clean of trees (death sticks), allowing the average skier to be more daring with less severe consequences. This range in terrain, altitude and weather presented the perfect setting to test my new gear -- a Bern helmet, Gordini gloves, and Obermeyer jacket and pants -- while being guided by this veteran pro.

Drink coffee, go really fast

Riding High: Coffee and Endurance Sports

Coffee and cycling go together like beer and brats. It may be because the local coffee shop is the ideal spot to hook up with your buddies for a ride, or because you want to get a quick jolt so you can drop them at the county line sprint. But the simplest explanation lies in the data, which strongly suggest that caffeine improves performance for endurance athletes -- cyclists, triathletes, runners, you name it.

Wear your heart on your chest

Under Armour Armour39 System

It's apparently no longer enough to wear one's heart on one's sleeve -- or wrist. Under Armour's new Armour39 system attacks the digital performance monitoring question with a new "bug" device, which comes with a special sleeve that straps to the chest; like other bluetooth-enabled fitness computers, it records exercise data and stores it in the cloud.

Your dining room is now an obstacle course

Obstacles XRT App

Obstacles XRT ($2) (XRT stands for extreme reality training) isn't particularly exciting from an innovation standpoint, and it won't have Quantified Selfers jizzing in their Under Armour. What it does provide is a genuinely useful tool for motivated exercisers to do unique high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts from the comfort of their home or, more importantly, in the office common room, wearing a tank top.

Aquaman's Walkman

Sony Sports W Series Waterproof MP3

It’s widely known that swimmers and rainy weather joggers (and really all audiophiles hindered by humidity) are more than a little jealous of the ease with which their fellow athletes can take in tunes while exercising. Sony’s whipped up the next in their line of wet-weather answers: the Sports W Series Waterproof MP3 Player, a...

20 slices of pie. Repeat.

The Holiday HIIT Workout

You’re outnumbered. At the time of battle you are one man up against a battalion of holiday comestibles so enticing and made with such love that it’s near impossible to imagine not eating them all: cheeses and charcuterie, spiced pistachios, herbed popovers, potato mash, various crostini of unknown constituents, assorted root vegetables -- roasted -- cassoulet, a standing rib roast. It’s not like you haven’t been wading through poultry and roasted meats since Thanksgiving. Plus, the harsh reality is that between extra-fortified eggnog and Champagne you’re two sheets, approaching three, to the wind.

Grow a Pear

Pear Mobile

The holidays are here again. Time for family, friends and wondering what to do when Grandma pulls that five-stick-o-butter apple pie hot and fresh from the oven. Finding ourselves wedged between the gorging holidays with New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, we’ve all hopefully considered some version of an exercise regimen. Personal trainers, however,...

12 gifts for the adventure seeker

12 Guys of Christmas: The Adventurer

He shows up at Christmas dinner with new scars and less digits from his latest cage dives and winter Alpine ascents. His tales, most of them true, scare Aunt Betty to tears and enchant the kids. And while the adventurer’s gifts for you usually amount to a carved tribal trinket or a rock from a...

Wear your heart on your wrist

Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor

Beyond catering to the fitness obsessed, this wonder watch would have been useful during that little apoplexia-inducing turkey feast we like to call Thanksgiving. Known as the Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor, this wristwatch on steroids “senses” the amount of blood under your skin and replies with a digital readout of your heart rate. Through...

Rarefied air

Nike Air Max+ 2013

When Nike released the first Air Max in 1987, its Tinker Hatfield design became an instant icon. The first set of sneaks to visibly feature Nike’s synonymous air bubble had kids of all ages clamoring to walk on clouds (and others poking them with pins for proof). The Nike Air Max+ 2013 (available in January)...