Headache During or After Workouts? 4 Common Causes

Headache During or After Workouts? 4 Common Causes

Piercing pain at your temples, a throbbing ache in your forehead – we’ve all suffered the agony of headaches, and there are plenty of causes. Some of us are more likely to get them during or after exercise. 

Good to know:

Headaches are divided into two types: primary and secondary.

  • Primary headaches are triggered by exertion, tension, or not enough sleep.
  • Secondary headaches, however, are a symptom of another more serious underlying condition like high blood pressure, an infection, substance withdrawal, or a stroke. 

In this article, we’ll identify four common causes of headaches that can occur during and after exercise and give you tips for treating and preventing them. We’ll also uncover the truth about whether or not exercise can trigger migraines.


If you experience headaches that last for days, or if there are more days in a month that you suffer from headaches than without, you should consult a specialist. A medical professional can check to see if you are suffering from primary or secondary headaches, both of which can come from underlying conditions.

Table of contents: 

4 Reasons Why You’re Suffering From Headaches During Or After Workouts

Reason #1: Sustained, Strenuous Exercise

Primary headaches caused by strenuous physical activity are called exertional exercise or exercise headaches. These are described as throbbing, migraine-like pain across the whole head (bilateral headaches) and last between five minutes and 48 hours.(1,2) An extreme exercise headache can also cause vomiting and vision problems. It’s important to take exercise-induced headaches seriously.

Headache prevention

Exertion headaches often develop if you skip your warm-up, your workout is too strenuous, or your body overheats. That can encompass high temperature indoors or outdoors, or when you are at high altitudes, like on a tough hike in the mountains.

One way to prevent exertion headaches is to reduce the intensity of your workouts. These tips for running in the summer can help you cope with the heat and avoid dehydration.

Reason #2: Poor posture

Bad posture, stress, and poor form when you work out can cause tension, which can lead to headaches during or after exercise. Tension headaches are described as a constant ache that is usually felt on both sides of the head.(3)

Headache Prevention

Check your form during workouts and your posture throughout the day. Review these tips on proper running form and be aware of the most common mistakes are made during bodyweight exercises

Try using heat, massage, or doing exercises to relieve neck pain to relax your muscles if you get a headache after workouts.

Reason #3: Dehydration

Whether it’s from exercise or just not drinking enough fluids, dehydration is one of the most common causes of post-exercise headaches.

Avoid dehydration by calculating how much water you should drink each day with our liquid requirement calculator:

Headache prevention

Make sure you are drinking enough throughout the day. To add variety, you can include special sports drinks that keep you hydrated and provide your body with important micronutrients. 

Reason #4: Low blood sugar

Headaches after exercise are bad enough, but if you also feel weak, shaky, dizzy, or even nauseous, you may be experiencing the symptoms of low blood sugar and depleted energy stores. Always ensure that your body has enough energy to work out.

Headache prevention

If you notice the symptoms listed above when you’re exercising, you should take a break. You can refill your energy and increase your blood sugar by eating more carbohydrates

There are also a few foods that can trigger headaches and migraines or make them worse – usually in combination with other causes. Avoid these potential headache triggers(4)

  • alcohol (especially wine or beer) 
  • chocolate
  • caffeine
  • aged cheese
  • foods high in
    • monosodium glutamate
    • artificial sweeteners
    • and preservatives like nitrates or nitrites 

Can exercise trigger migraines?

Research on the connection between migraines and exercise is not very extensive. However, there are studies that show that migraineurs (people who frequently suffer from migraines) can experience exercise-triggered migraines. It is believed that the exertional headaches and tension headaches mentioned above are more likely to lead to a migraine.(5) If you are at risk of migraines, it is even more important that you prevent the four causes of headaches after exercise. 

The good news:

Studies also show that regular exercise can help prevent migraines or at least reduce the intensity of the pain. This is thanks to the endorphins produced during sports.(6,7)


Before you start working out, make sure you are hydrated and that your energy stores are full. Pay attention to your form and practice good posture while exercising. If you have a bad headache combined with dizziness, nausea, shakiness, and/or vomiting, stop your workout immediately and consult your physician. The same applies if you experience headaches that last several days.



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5 Signs You Need to Take a Rest

5 Signs You Need to Take a Rest

When we are feeling extra motivated and eager to see results, we may push ourselves too far with our training.

The reality is that muscles will get stronger when they have time to rest and recover. Moreover, everyone is in a different stage of their training. You must listen to your own body before comparing yourself to others. Pushing yourself far beyond your limits may result in overtraining, sickness, or sports injury

The Truth

Your performance, muscle mass, and overall vitality benefit from rest!

If you find yourself stuck on a progress plateau, it might be because you don’t train enough. But it might also be because you don’t rest enough! 

What is recovery?

According to award-winning sports journalist Christie Aschwanden, “recovery is a return to readiness; it’s all of the things that our body and mind need to get going again. At the most basic level, recovery is relaxation.”(1)

Here are a few signs you need a rest day and advice on what to do on rest days:

2. You’re Always Tired

If you’ve used our Sleep Cycle Calculator and are getting enough ZZZs but still feel exhausted, sore, and fatigued, you might need to take a break from exercise.(2)

According to Christie Aschwanden, “nothing trumps sleep when it comes to recovery.” As discussed in our Eight Tips To Speed Your Recovery blog post, sleep is key to physical recovery. It also helps mitigate stressors that might impact your workouts, like depression and stress. Recovery is psychological and physical. Getting enough sleep aids all aspects of your performance.(3)

Feeling Slow And Weak?

Of course, you can’t be strong every day. But feeling tired during two workouts in a row is a sign that you need a rest day. Once you notice that your usual workouts seem much harder than they normally do, it’s time to take a break. A good rule of thumb is: that if you don’t feel any better after your warm-up, you are probably too tired for the workout.

3. Your Muscles Are Still Sore After 3 Days

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) typically occurs for two days after a workout and is usually most intense on the second day. If your DOMS recovery requires more than three days, you might need an extra rest day for those muscles or your entire body. 

Workout recovery timelines

Very intense workouts that use a wide range of motion can require a week or more of recovery. Regular athletic training that causes mild muscle damage typically requires a few days. Nutrition, sleep, and rest can shorten the timeframe.(4)

Should I Work Out With Sore Muscles?

The short answer is no. Training when your muscles are really sore makes it harder for you to maintain good form and do your best. But there are two different ways of ensuring that you don’t.

1. Total Body High-Frequency Workouts

First, studies show that doing total-body workouts every time you exercise can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. Newly trained muscles are less responsive to amino acids and therefore require around two days to complete muscle protein synthesis. As muscles become stronger, they become resilient to stress and sensitive to amino acids. The muscles repair quicker and are less sore.(5)

Intensity variations

If you’re currently training three intense sessions weekly and experiencing muscle soreness, you might try training six lighter sessions per week. One study showed the same gains in both styles, but six lighter total-body sessions resulted in less muscle soreness and fatigue than three intense muscle-focused sessions.(6)

2. Fewer Muscle-Family Focused Workouts

If high-frequency training isn’t something you’re interested in, then do a few workouts per week focusing on different parts of the body. It’s best NOT to train sore muscles. Working out when you’re sore is shown to decrease performance and increase the likelihood of injury.(7) If you planned to train a muscle group but are still sore two days later, change your schedule. Train upper body one day, lower body the next day, and try different formats (like cycling and bodyweight workouts). Give the muscles time to fully recover and rebuild before they are broken down again with exercise. If you’re severely sore after a workout, take a rest day or exercise a different muscle group. If it’s mild, do a good warm-up, and don’t hit the same muscles hard again.

Muscle Pain After Workout

If you experience muscle pain within or directly after a workout, this is not DOMS. You might be injured. Proceed with caution and consider seeking medical assistance or physical therapy.

4. You’re Always Thirsty

Do you keep drinking water but never feel satisfied or hydrated? This can be related to insufficient fluid intake or even hot weather, but it can also be because you’re training very hard and need to give your body time to rest, restore, and rehydrate.

Here’s a simple way to calculate if you’re getting enough fluids for your exercise:

If the amount of water required seems more than you can enjoy, consider taking a rest day or fewer sports. 

 5. You’re Irritable

Does every little thing seem to get on your nerves? Does anxiety creep in at unsuspecting moments? Are you struggling to relax? When your body is drained of energy from too many workouts, you might notice you’re cranky. Before you take it out on someone else, reconsider your training schedule and try to get at least one rest day and one night of good sleep before doing another workout. 

While it’s true that exercise can help with depression and anxiety, too much of something is never a good thing. Only you truly know when to take a rest day from working out. Be willing to experiment with different rest and work schedules until you find what works.

Rest Day: How Often Should You Take a Break From Working Out?

There is not a simple answer to this. If you’re experiencing any of the above systems, take one to three days of rest immediately. But you should plan rest days and active rest days as part of your schedule. Ask yourself, “How many rest days a week do I need?” The answer could be something like two to three days weekly, and/or one week monthly, and/or two weeks every six weeks.

The Best Ways To Rest

You’re not alone if you’ve been told to “take it easy” and felt unsure what that meant. In today’s hectic world, we learn the skill of being busy and not the skill of rest. Here’s advice for active rest days, how to do a rest day workout, and rest day nutrition. 

Active Rest Day Activities

Besides sleeping well and eating well, two things are scientifically proven to aid recovery: foam rolling and massage.

Foam rolling increases joint range of motion and reduces soreness. Interestingly, this is because it triggers the nervous system and connective tissues (not the muscles).(8) Here’s our guide to foam rolling at home.

Athletes also use massage to help with sore muscles, stress, and mental fatigue after a workout. However, massage won’t increase your range of motion or make you stronger.(9)

Rest Day Nutrition

Drink Coffee

Add coffee to your post-workout recovery! Drinking up to two cups of coffee soon after a workout can help keep muscle soreness away!(10)

Eating a balanced diet is a shortcut to feeling great all the time. Eating a balanced diet to promote recovery is a shortcut to fitness. There are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding nutrition for recovery.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids help decrease exercise-induced cortisol in the body. The participants in one study who took Omega-3 supplements after a workout perceived minor muscle soreness compared to those who didn’t. 
  • The “recovery window” for glycogen and protein ingestion is not as short as we once believed. According to Christie Aschwanden, “it’s more like a recovery barn door.” Studies now show that the quality of the food matters more than the time when it’s eaten.
  • Eating a high amount of anti-inflammatory food is detrimental to muscle protein synthesis. Inflammation of the muscles is a natural part of the building process. It’s also a sign of proper immune system functioning. On rest days, you should allow the body’s natural oxidative processes to occur.(11)

For more information, read this blog post about what to eat on cardio, strength, and rest days.

Rest Day Workouts

Light movement can alleviate the symptoms of DOMS(12). Getting light cardio on rest days, like a walk or casual swim, is an example of what to do on rest days.

Or, do Yoga!

While static stretching directly after a workout doesn’t help much with DOMS(13), doing a mobility-focused stretching workout on an active rest day can. Yoga is a fantastic active recovery workout. 

Sometimes sitting and doing nothing can make the soreness even worse. Get outside for some fresh air and move a little bit; you might feel more energized

The Importance Of Rest Days

Exercise, like anything else, can be abused. While it has incredible health benefits, exercise can also increase cortisol in the system and damage muscles more than they’re capable of repairing. Without adequate rest, repeated intense workouts can cause psychophysical distress. 

Whether it’s for your mind or your body, you should take rest days as part of your exercise schedule. Check out the different yoga workouts on our adidas Training app for an active recovery workout!


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How To Find Lifestyle Fitness: 7 Tips

How To Find Lifestyle Fitness: 7 Tips

Is fitness a lifestyle? Why or why not? The answer is yes: fitness can become a lifestyle because the person exercising gains positive, regular, and seamless benefits from it in relation to the rest of the life pursuits. 

People who have a fitness lifestyle exercise regularly for enjoyment and personal satisfaction. Working out becomes integral to their overall sense of well-being. Movement becomes a hobby and often connects them to like-minded communities. Those who practice lifestyle fitness are often more mindful of other parts of their lives, like nutrition, sleep, and self-care.

How To Make Fitness Part Of Your Life

1. Ditch the Scale

Making health and fitness a part of your life has to be about more than your look or weight. Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it!

2. Create a Flexible Workout Routine

When fitness becomes a lifestyle, it’s naturally easier to fit into a busy schedule. The key is to create a fluid program that allows you to move when and where it’s convenient. Try using different venues and styles. For instance, try doing HIIT at home when you’re short on time. Or, join your friends for mountain bike rides on the weekends. Off-set outdoor workouts with weight lifting at the gym. Mix up your pace by going on long jogs with adidas Runners.

3. Focus on The Feeling

Most people start a workout routine because they have a physique or health-related goal. So why keep exercising after reaching the goal? Because the process has its own benefits. That’s why fitness is a lifestyle.

For many, the feeling of being fit is better than the physical results. And, feeling fitter can encourage other lifestyle changes. Once they’re more confident with their fitness, many people start working out with friends. They start eating to promote their training instead of exercising to offset consumption when fitness stops being about “self-control” and starts being about lifestyle.

4. Be Confident

Living a fitness lifestyle means taking the lessons learned in your workouts “off the mat” (or out of the gym). Physical activity and a healthy diet often influence other areas of life. It’s not just about how you look in the mirror; it’s more about the confidence you gain in the workplace and your relationships. It’s about igniting the courage to share ideas, speak your mind, and go for the prize. Building confidence is one of the best reasons to stay fit!

5. Practice Body Acceptance

When it comes to body image and fitness, try to appreciate your body for the incredible things it can do. Giving birth is more impressive for many women than any exercise accomplishment. After giving birth, many mothers set exercise goals around their quality of life rather than getting a six-pack. Sometimes it takes an extreme physical challenge to realize what’s truly important: being strong, healthy, and happy with who you are.

6. Define Your “Why”

Why do you exercise? Can that reason be more emotional than physical? For example, your “why” could be: so that I can watch my children grow up. Give a new “why” a try! You might find that your workouts naturally become more frequent and enjoyable.

7. Be Body Neutral

Physical activity boosts endorphins and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Every workout is a little challenge and a little success. For many, regular training creates confidence in one’s capabilities.

Since our bodies are incredibly complex, regular exercise may not result in physique changes. For instance, some people will never have a defined six-pack, no matter how healthy they are. One thing that working out as a lifestyle promotes is “body neutrality.” For many, body neutrality is emotionally more achievable than body positivity. 

Body neutral exercisers see fitness purely for what happens inside the body, not out. They appreciate the body’s ability to work rather than how it looks. People who view their bodies neutrally also tend to value physical anatomy. In today’s world, when exercise is promoted as a mechanism for changing one’s shape, body neutrality can transform unrealistic workouts into enjoyable movement. 

When Fitness is NOT a Lifestyle

“Lifestyle Exercise” Is Something Else

“Lifestyle exercise” is a term used in mental health. It describes turning everyday activities into exercise opportunities.(1) It’s true that raking your leaves is a great way to get movement in (and save money on gardening). But, lifestyle fitness involves actual workouts (whether they be in the gym, outdoors, or at home). For some, turning everyday activities into calorie-burning pursuits leads to exercise addiction.

Exercise Addiction Is Real

Unfortunately, exercise can be abused like anything else. “The dose makes the poison,” as the saying goes. Fitness is a lifestyle when it complements the other aspects of a balanced being. It is NOT a lifestyle when workouts become obsessive, consuming, and anxiety-provoking. 

A Hungarian study by a university and health professionals explains, “Regular physical activity plays a crucial role in health maintenance and disease prevention. However, excessive exercise has the potential to have adverse effects on both physical and mental health.”

In a world that glorifies “being fit,” exercise addiction is a sneaky predator. It usually starts innocently, as a quest for a better look/life. But when exercise starts to take precedence over all other activities, it is no longer healthy. 

Excessive guilt over skipping a workout, avoiding food because it may affect a workout, repeatedly canceling plans to get a workout in, strict maintenance of a workout schedule, and obsessively planning all aspects of exercise are signs of addiction. Physical symptoms include lack of sleep, loss of period in women, constant fatigue, “brain fog,” and consistently sore muscles. 

Fitness as a lifestyle means that exercise is an enjoyable part of a balanced weekly schedule. It’s essential, like self-care, rest, time with loved ones, eating, work, and other things that make your life lovely.


Lifestyle Fitness Is About Enjoyment

People who make fitness a lifestyle find creative ways to fit it in. They bring exercise bands to their kids’ football practice so they can exercise on the playground. They invest in home fitness tools to get a workout during their lunch break. They don’t worry much about the time or the intensity. They move for enjoyment and power. And they’re curious about the journey. Ultimately, they respect and appreciate their body every step of the way.

Let us join your fit lifestyle! Take a selfie during your next feel-good workout. Tell the world your “why” and tag @adidasRuntastic. We can’t wait to be your workout buddy!


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The Truth and How-To Guide

The Truth and How-To Guide

Most of us have been taught to believe that health is determined by visible body fat and weight. Actually, “looking fat” and the number on the scale are poor determinants of health. This blog post tells you the truth about body fat, body mass index (BMI), body composition, and how to find your body fat percentage. 


Only you can determine what health means to you! Educate yourself so that you can be your best self, naturally.

Table of contents

What does Body Composition mean?

In short, body composition measures body fat to lean tissue in the body.

More thoroughly, body composition refers to the proportion of fat you have relative to the lean tissue in your body (muscles, bones, water stored in the body, organs, etcetera).(1)

Not The Same As Body Mass Index

For decades, Body Mass Index, or BMI, was THE go-to health analysis. But today’s scientists recognize BMI as a flawed system for determining well-being. According to the Center for Disease Control, BMI mislabels people as “overweight” because they have a high BMI when they’re relatively healthy. That’s because BMI analyzes only one’s weight and height. Someone short or very muscular is likely to be considered “fat” (muscle weighs more than fat). Being short or strong does NOT mean you’re unhealthy! Quite the contrary. Body mass composition was created to rectify BMI by measuring fat-free mass and body fat mass separately from BMI.(2)

The Truth About Body Fat

Body fat and the macronutrient of fat are NOT the same! The clinical term for body fat is adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is imperative to the body’s metabolism, safety, and general functioning. Fat protects organs and bones, provides energy, balances appetite, and serves a vital role in overall cellular metabolization. Without fat, our body would never find homeostasis (physical equilibrium).(3, 4)

Scientists recognize two kinds of adipose tissue: white cells and brown cells. White cells store energy for use in other organs. Brown tissue accumulates over time and regulates internal heat (called cold-induced adaptive thermogenesis). White cells store energy while brown cells dissipate it!(5)

Fat Doesn’t Always Look Fat

Measuring one’s body composition also hints at where fat is stored in the body. Have you ever heard the term “skinny fat?” It refers to how someone can have lots of body fat and still have a thin frame. “Skinny fat” can occur for a few reasons. 

  1. The person has few muscles, so visible mass and measurable weight are composed of fat, connective tissues, organs, and bones. 
  2. The person may be genetically predisposed to store fat deeper in the body, closer to bones and muscles. 
  3. The person’s lifestyle may not promote healthy organs, so the fat in the body moves toward organs to assist with metabolization at the site and to support the organs. For instance, alcoholics have a great deal of fat around the liver. Or people with kyphosis (upper back curvature) whose thoracic spine is coated with protective fat.

Watch Your Words

It is rarely appropriate or necessary to comment about someone’s body! Instead, focus on their character and your relationship.

Fat deep in the body and near the organs is called visceral adiposity and is the most dangerous kind of fat because it threatens the movement of fluids around organs and through veins(6). In this way, someone who “looks fat” because they naturally store fat nearer to the skin may be healthier than someone who “looks skinny” but has visceral adiposity.(7)

Below The Surface

Health and fitness are so much more than the way you look. Genetics plays a significant role in the form the body assumes. Health happens below the surface of the skin. Only science and your sensations can tell you how to be healthy and when you’re there. Stop comparing yourself to others on Instagram! Education and self-awareness are the tickets to health.

Is Fat Bad?

Fat is not bad. On the contrary, it is necessary for our body’s basic functions. And the “low-fat” diets of the 1990’s ruined popular culture’s perception of the value of fat. They made people believe that being skinnier is better. 

Being low body fat composition and/or very low body density carries risks, just as being overweight or obese. Data shows that underweight children are more susceptible to infection than overweight children. In adults, being overweight and underweight presents an equal risk of infection. And the mortality rate for critically ill patients is higher in obese adults than in underweight adults.(8)

The bottom line:

Being underweight and being overweight is dangerous. Seek a healthy middle!

Furthermore, having a high body fat percentage isn’t intrinsically dangerous. It’s fat storage and insulin regulation that matters. Obesity and being overweight are an enlargement of adipose tissue to store excess energy intake(9). Simply having extra fatty tissue is not dangerous, as long as it’s stored in healthy fat cells responsive to insulin. It’s when cells stop becoming responsive to insulin that problems arise. Obesity can lead to diabetes because excess adipose tissue affects insulin sensitivity.(10, 11) The thing is, it’s not the fat itself that affects insulin responsiveness, but genetics, nutrition, and lifestyle.

Having a low body fat percentage reaps many physical and emotional problems. For women, Amenorrhea can occur (loss of a period and subsequent hormonal issues). Men and women can both suffer from lower cognitive function. The brain is 60% fat, so when the body is malnourished, the body will start using fat from the brain to fuel its daily activities.(12, 13) The same goes for muscles: without enough body fat, the body will take nutrients from muscles. When muscles become smaller, they stop releasing necessary hormones, resulting in depression and fatigue. Plus, low muscle mass leads to low bone mass, meaning a higher risk of osteoporosis and injury.

Ultimately, body composition is not intended to reveal body fat. It describes the ratio of fat to other parts of the body and helps one understand what’s happening below the surface of their health. It’s an educational tool. 

 Why Muscles Matter

Strong muscle helps to reduce the risk of injury, support a healthy lifestyle, and promote longevity. However, muscles naturally become less tough with aging. The National Institute of Health concluded in a study that muscle strength declines in people aged <40 years to those >40 years between 16.6% and 40.9%. The risk of falling and breaking bones increases as a result of reduced muscle strength and bone loss over the age of 40. A sedentary lifestyle accelerates this process. The body fat percentage also rises due to a redistribution of stored body fat, which heightens the risk of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes. 

How Is Body Composition Calculated?

Body composition is used less frequently than body mass index or body fat percentage because only trained professionals can provide a reliable assessment. They do so in one of two ways.

1. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

Bioelectrical impedance (BIA) is one of the most precise and reliable methods to determine body composition. This method measures the opposition to the flow of electrical current through body tissue. A weak electrical field is created through two electrodes on a hand and foot. Don’t worry – it doesn’t hurt! BIA is the preferred measurement method in medicine and sports medicine because it is so fast and easy to do. If you want to find out whether your body fat percentage is healthy, ask a dietician.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis

The following parameters can be determined with BIA:

  • Body fat
  • Lean body mass
  • Total body water
  • Muscle mass

2. Hydrostatic weighing

Hydrostatic weighing makes its calculation based on water displacement. Weight is compared outside of water and in water to calculate density and thus the body composition. If you’re interested in this method, you’ll need to find a location in your area that provides this method — usually a medical facility.

Finding Your Body Fat Percentage

If you’re unable to learn your body composition, you can use body fat percentage to start making educated decisions about nutrition and exercise. The easiest way to calculate your body fat percentage is with our online calculator:

There are two other ways to find your body fat percentage.

How to Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage at Home

There are also ways to calculate your body fat percentage at home. These are less accurate than the methods above. But, they can give you a general idea of your current levels.

1. Skin Calipers

This is done by pinching 3 different skin folds in the body — the measurements of your body fat percentage can be read directly on the tool. It’s the easiest to do at home with a friend or with your trainer. However, this method isn’t generally efficient for obese people and can have a large margin of error if being done by different professionals. If you are using this method, be sure to have the same person do it for you to ensure a more accurate comparison. It’s not the most precise of all the methods but doesn’t take much time at all. The advantage is that it’s a quick way to measure. 

2. US Navy Method

If you want to calculate your body fat percentage using the US Navy Method, all you need is a measuring tape to measure different parts of your body. The points at which you measure are different for men and women. 

How to measure correctly:

  • Waist circumference: wrap the measuring tape around your waist at the height of your navel. Measure when you are relaxed after exhaling.
  • Neck circumference: measure your neck just below the Adam’s apple. 
  • Hip circumference (only for women): measure at the widest part of your hips.

What Is A Healthy Body Composition?

It’s one thing to know the number. It’s another to understand it. Most major medical practitioners recognize the following percentage ranges.

Women’s Body Fat Percentage

Table: Body Fat Percentage Ranges & Rating for Women (low, healthy, overweight, obese)

Men’s Body Fat Percentage

Table: Body Fat Percentage Ranges & Rating for Men (low, healthy, overweight, obese)


Women can, and should, have a higher body fat percentage than men!

Body Composition As A Measure of Health

Instead of focusing on what’s to be cut or lost, focus on what you can add and gain. Muscle is so much more important to health than fat. Having more muscle will naturally lead to a higher metabolism and lower body fat percentage. Instead of cutting calories to lose weight, focus on adding strength training to gain muscle. Instead of trying to become less, try to become more! 

Body recomposition is the process of changing the ratio of fat, lean muscle, and other tissue mass in the body. It refers to increasing muscle and skeletal mass while decreasing fat mass.(14) Read on for “body recomp” tips.

How To Change Your Body Composition

If you determine that your body fat percentage is outside the healthy range and you don’t feel as energized as you’d like, you can change your nutrition and exercise to build more muscle and reduce fat.

Begin by calculating baseline data about yourself. After learning your starting body composition, use the following calculator to find out your natural energy expenditures (i.e., calories burned):

Since relaxation and sleep are an essential part of muscle protein synthesis, use this sleep calculator, too:

Then, you’ll be ready to make some profound changes!

Monitor Calorie and Nutritional Intake

Monitoring one’s caloric intake is NOT dieting. It IS knowing that eating excess calories will cause the body to convert nutrition into fat, which can eventually lead to disease over time.(15)

The most important intake to monitor is protein. Studies suggest that eating more protein every day can lead to natural body recomposition.(16) Make the most of your protein intake by eating higher protein within three hours of sport (or sooner).(17) Whey protein has been shown to increase body recomposition when eaten alongside aerobic training(18). Low carbohydrate diets help women lower their body fat and sleep better.(19)

When attempting body recomposition, it’s imperative to find a balance between undereating and overeating. If you undereat, the stress hormone leptin will increase. Leptin is very sensitive to intake. If stimulated over long periods, it can cause neurological disorders and higher energy storage.(20) Furthermore, if you eat too few calories or cut out carbohydrates, any weight you lose will likely be muscle and water weight. You will lose weight, but your body fat percentage will be higher. And that’s not healthy!(21)


Once you get your initial calculations, stop weighing yourself! Body composition is not about weight but muscle-to-fat ratio. Weight is a poor health marker; it’s just one data point!

In fact, you might find that you need to GAIN body fat and weight. That’s perfectly normal (especially in today’s weight-obsessed society). Gaining weight is equally as important as losing weight. Gaining weight should be done just as carefully as losing it. 

Bulking and Refeeding

Many professional athletes purposefully “bulk” before the competition. Bulking adds more calories than one’s average daily expenditure to load the body with extra nutrition. Then, the athlete focuses on strength training, thereby directing excess nutrition into the muscles. Bulking is a great way to build muscle mass for a short time, after which a regular calorie intake resumes. 

Refeeding refers to gaining weight after being underweight or malnourished. It can be dangerous, as getting too many calories too fast can result in refeeding syndrome.(22) If you’re mildly underweight, it is safe to add more calories into your diet over time gently. Like weight loss, a good rule of thumb for weight gain is ~1 pound per week. Check out our blog post for fun recipes for eating inspiration!

1 For The Win

Whether gaining or losing weight, changing your weight by 1 pound per week is a generally safe and effective goal!

Exercise for Body Recomposition

In addition to dietary alterations, certain types of exercise promote body recomposition. When trying to gain muscle and lose fat, there are three workouts that are proven to benefit most people. 

    1. HIIT: high-intensity interval training is proven to recompose muscles and fat with 12 weeks of regular workouts.(23) The thing about HIIT is that you must push yourself to your limits. Since your limits aren’t the same as other people’s, you’ve got to be honest with yourself, hold yourself accountable, and choose appropriate exercises. Here are some HIIT exercise ideas!
    2. Resistance Training: resistance training refers to lifting weights and using resistance bands. But, it can also apply bodyweight exercises, especially if you’re new to working out. These workouts can be done slowly with many repetitions and movements. You can also target specific muscle groups for easy-to-see gains!
    3. Low-intensity cardio: long walks, casual hikes, bike rides with friends, and swimming are all examples. These types of exercises cleanse, regenerate, and oxygenate new muscles. And these lower-intensity cardio movements are less likely to make you very hungry, helping to maintain your nutritional intake goals. 

If you’re brand-new to exercise, team sports in groups help people stick with a new fitness plan.(24) Frankly, when you’re new to fitness, ANY kind of exercise helps!(25)

Try to mix in every one of these exercise styles in a week. Plan to exercise 3-5 times a week with adequate rest. Add variety, but focus on building muscle. Here’s an example of a training split that will help with body recomposition when paired with a high-protein diet:

  • Monday: short and intense HIIT workout
  • Tuesday: strength training (with or without weights)
  • Wednesday: rest day
  • Thursday: easy jog
  • Friday: sports game with friends
  • Saturday: rest day
  • Sunday: strength training (with or without weights)

Are you looking for more ways to train at home and outdoors? Download the adidas Training app!

Aim For a Healthy Middle

Body fat is essential for our health. It provides energy, protects and insulates our organs, and regulates the production of hormones. Too much body fat is associated with higher cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which can lead to cardiovascular problems and strokes. The risk of Type 2 diabetes is also higher. However, if your body fat is too low, you lack energy, are more likely to get sick, and get cold faster. You may suffer from digestive problems, and low body fat can have a negative impact on your bone density and hormone level. The healthiest route is to aim for the middle of the range.

Ultimately, if you feel healthy, you’re probably healthy. And if your blood tests come back positive, regardless of your weight, you’re probably healthy. There are many ways to determine “good” health. Because body composition is the most multi-faceted, it is generally regarded as the best.(26)

Before starting a new exercise routine or diet, you might first ask yourself: do I feel good? Do I enjoy my workouts? Does my doctor deem me healthy? And if these questions are YES, but you still feel unsure of yourself, you might consider working on your body image. This blog post can help!

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Growth Mindset ► How to Maintain Fitness Motivation

Growth Mindset ► How to Maintain Fitness Motivation

Success starts in your head, no matter whether it’s at work, in your personal life, or in health and fitness. If you want to reach your fitness goals, you have to think about more than regular workouts, the right form, and a balanced diet. Your fitness success also has a lot to do with your mindset. And this is precisely where the growth mindset comes into play. The term was coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Studies show how the right mentality is critical to success (in sports and otherwise). (1, 2, 3) So, what is a growth mindset exactly and how does it help in maintaining fitness motivation?

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Dweck differentiates between a fixed and a growth mindset. Have you ever felt like your body wasn’t built for sports? Maybe you think you’re too thin, too heavy, too small, too weak? Maybe you compare yourself with your peers and think that you’ll never be as fit, fast, or good as they are? This way of thinking is called a fixed mindset.

People with a fixed mindset: 

  • believe that intelligence and talent are fixed traits that cannot be changed
  • consider effort something negative 
  • avoid challenges
  • get discouraged by setbacks 
  • can’t deal with negative feedback
  • see successful athletes as competition 

Redefine Success

This way of thinking makes it difficult, if not impossible, to get motivated to exercise and reach your fitness goals. One thing that can help in this situation is adopting a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset believe that talents can be developed with hard work. They embrace challenges and welcome feedback so they can learn from it, and they view failure as an opportunity. They don’t see other athletes as the competition; instead, they get inspired by their achievements. No matter how talented these athletes might be, it was hard work that got them where they are. Studies have shown that a growth mindset improves self-efficacy – the confidence in your ability to handle situations – as well as self esteem. It also increases exercising frequency,(4) which, in turn, motivates you to continue working out.

Good to know:

Everyone has a combination of a fixed and a growth mindset, (5) which develops throughout your life. For instance, your mindset can change depending on the field you are in (sports, work, education, etc.). The good news is that there are exercises to build your growth mindset. Keep reading to find out how.

4 Tips: How to Grow Your Growth Mindset

Did a few of the descriptors above sound familiar to you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And the best part is that you can build a growth mindset by doing mental exercises and activities. The tips below will help you. 

1. Redefine success 

It’s all about the journey. It may sound corny, but it’s really true in this case. Being successful in sports doesn’t necessarily mean you have to run a marathon, do a handstand, or pump tons of iron. The important thing is that you do the best you can and always try to improve. Even if your goal is to run a (half or relay) marathon, make sure to celebrate your first 5 km, 10 km, 21 km. You’ve improved, and you should be proud of yourself. Only with that, you can maintain fitness motivation in the long run.

Need some help setting goals? The Goals feature in the adidas Running app is exactly what you need.

2. Learn from setbacks and defeat 

You’ve been training hard, but you still can’t do a full push-up? In your last race your were slower than you expected? Everyone has setbacks. Life would be dull if everything came easy to us. But we can learn a lot from these tough moments. Think about whether you can adjust your workout routine, or if you might have set your goal too high. The most important thing is to never give up!

Learn from setbacks

3. Try new things and accept challenges 

Dare to leave your comfort zone – you always wanted to try boxing, but you think you’re too weak? Your friends invite you to go climbing, but you’re afraid you can’t do it? Everyone can find a path to fitness that works for them – you just have to take the first step and quit making excuses

4. Look for role models and accept feedback 

Don’t be intimidated by other people’s success, get inspired! Ask people you admire for training tips and feedback. Check out these tips from pros on how to find the right warm up or even to train for a marathon

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