Category Archives: Exercise

How to Reduce Post-Workout Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness? It happens—especially if you’re trying to build strength or flexibility, are challenging yourself, or are doing a new workout. But soreness, unfortunately, can derail exercise, even for a few days. And derailing plans for a few days can mean that you get off a positive routine and have to start all over again—or even worse, get discouraged and don’t start at all.

However, there are pre- and post-exercise steps that you can take to help minimize the length of time and depth of muscle soreness. For example, although it might be tempting to dive right into a new exercise routine, don’t. Doing too much all at once can lead to overly strained muscles. Experts recommend that you keep your routine to only about 60 percent of your maximum until you get used to it.

What else can you do to stave off muscle soreness? This graphic explains it.

4 Effective Ways to Reduce Post-Workout Muscle Soreness

You can read the full article here:

“4 Effective Ways to Reduce Post-Workout Muscle Soreness” on Health Perch

[VLOG] Prospective clients’ questions and answers

When I hired my first Personal Trainer some 10 years ago or so I had about a million questions and many doubts about the whole thing. I was somewhere in between anxious and terrified as I didn’t really know what to expect.

Now that I have been on the other side of the table for almost a decade I always remember that first experience when I meet a prospective client and try to make the process as fun and laid back as possible. It’s a bit of a game of questions and answers to paint an accurate picture of the experience of working with a Personal Trainer.

I tend to treat initial consultations in the same way I would treat a date: a fact finding mission with the sole purpose of initiating a dialogue, understanding my prospective clients wants and needs, history and circumstances.

Bespoke programs are all about the client and so it’s important to get a full picture before we make any plans. After all I want to be sure of the best way to go to help them reach their fitness makeover goals.

The end of the consultation is when we finally decide if we are likely to make a good team. If it’s a yes, together, we can start the journey towards their fitness success. If it’s a no, then we will go separate ways hoping that maybe one day we will find some common ground.

How do we get to that point?

Usually by swapping questions and answers. It goes something like this…

Ready to ask me your burning questions?

 

Q. I have never done anything like this before and therefore I am a bit nervous. How does it work?

A. When you work with me it looks a lot like the uncovering of a secret plot in a procedural drama with all the twists and turns that you are accustomed to. Although human physiology dictates that we are very similar to each other as a species, there are many differences in how our individual metabolisms work. My job as your fitness coach is to help you discover your unique metabolic code so that you can work with it to achieve the results you want.

Q. You are going to tell me that I have to give up cakes, chips and chocolate. Aren’t you?

A. For best results I would say yes, yes and no. The reason for this is that cakes and chips pack in a high number of calories in a very small serving due to the combination of fats and starches. Moreover this combination can be addictive and can make you crave more of it after the initial serving. However, they don’t need to be completely banned from your life, there is a place for them at the right time, in the right circumstances. Chocolate, or rather cocoa, on the other hand, is a totally different story. Not only it will help you curb cravings, it will also help you grow your lean muscle mass and slow down the onset of sarcopenia (loss of muscle as you get older).

Q. I hate cardio, how much do I have to do?

A. Well, that depends largely on your objectives, your lifestyle and your genetic predisposition, i.e. your body type. Some people benefit immensely from doing a fair amount of cardiovascular exercise but for others it can be detrimental. Long cardio sessions are stressful for the body so if you are stress reactive you will probably find that if you spend hours doing cardio the spare tyre around your waist gets bigger and your wobbly bits wobblier. Better use a different strategy. If your passion is long distance running and you want to become good at this but you also want to lose weight then it’s another strategy altogether.

Questions and answers: do I have to workout for hours?

Q. I am very busy with work, family and hobbies. Do I have to workout for hours?

A. Not unless you want to and, again, it depends on your objectives. For fat loss and to see an improvement in your overall fitness levels you will have to do enough structured exercise to stimulate the metabolic conditions that promote the release of fat and a little bit of muscle gain but not so much that you put yourself under too much stress. My clients consistently obtain the best results with multiple sessions per week that are around 30 minutes long but intense. However, if you are working towards getting ready to take up a specific sport then it’s a different story and yes, you may as well have to workout for hours to acquire and develop the skills you will need.

Q. Can you not just recommend a good recipe book?

A. No. There are plenty of awesome recipe books out there but none of them will be particularly useful until you have unlocked your unique fat burning code. Some people do better on carbs, whereas others do better on fats and others still do well on a combination of both. The recipe book doesn’t know which one you are so it can’t adapt the recipes for you. Until you discover which category you fall in you cannot be effective in choosing (or adapting) recipes that meet your needs. Do the detective work first and I’ll recommend you a recipe book afterwards. If you still need one.

Q. I want to go on a detox before I start. What’s the best one?

A. Sleep. A good night sleep, the kind that leaves you energised and refreshed the next day is your best form of detox available AND it’s free. As long as you drink plenty of water, eat fresh produce and avoid intoxicants you will give your liver and kidneys the best chance to do their job. That’s the only “detox” you need. Having said that, if you feel that your body might need a little bit of extra help you may want to try kombucha: it’s cheap and easy to make and very effective at supporting your liver.

Q. What’s my real ROI if I jump on board?

A. My role as a coach is to guide you through the process of discovering how your metabolism works, what helps you stay lean and what hinders you from losing fat. Plus I will help you establish new habits that will support your lifestyle ensuring you have plenty of energy all day long, you don’t go hungry every five minutes, you sleep better, your mood is stable and you get into the shape and size that you dream of. As you move towards this sweet spot you will find that you are more creative, better equipped to deal with stress, your confidence soars to unprecedented levels giving you extra ammo to make progress in your business or career. This type of transformation is almost a given for those clients who fully embrace the process. It’s magical and the skills will be yours for the rest of your life.

This is the nature of the work I do with my clients. There are many factors involved in a Fitness Makeover project that can make all the difference between you achieving your goals and be inspired to surpass them big time. Your mindset and the quality of your relationship with your coach are probably the most important ones. The game of questions and answers is the second most important part: the better your questions, the more useful my answers.

Ready to ask me your burning questions?

 

How Yoga Can Help with Relaxation and Strength Building

It’s obvious that yoga helps you with many aspects of your life which includes: mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. While in any given pose, you allow your body to relax at a cellular level while strengthening your body. The mind-body practice of yoga is designed to bring together your body, mind, and spirit through physical poses, breathing and relaxation. It can help you reduce stress that might cause the body harm by lowering blood pressure or your heart rate.

Poses range from super easy to advanced so anyone can do it. Yoga has been highly regarded as a way of complementing health programs like addiction, strength building, or reducing anxiety. Letting go of the things that serve you no purpose is something that yoga promotes by the sheer act of doing it. When you practice daily, you automatically manage whatever stress or anxiety you have with little effort.

Relaxing Through Yoga

Relaxing through yogaIt’s important to maintain a relaxed frame of mind and body. You’ve probably experienced the tightness in your shoulders which can lead to headaches or chronic pain. You may suffer from tight hips and a sore back as well. These pains are manifestations of the emotions that you’re holding onto. Those tight hips may be from sitting constantly but they are also due to emotions, which include anxiety. So, Pigeon Pose, which is a deep hip stretching pose, can help you release anxiety from the body as you release tension from your hips.

There are so many examples of this in yoga poses but just as important is your breathing. When you breathe in mindfully to your body, you begin to relax everything from your muscles to your mind. “Ujjayi” or “Breath of Fire” when done alone can quickly release anxiety from your body and give you extra energy as well. Controlling how you breathe throughout your yoga practice will help you quiet your min, preventing the onset of stressful thoughts.

Yoga comes in many forms and styles with one of the most common types in the West being Hatha yoga. It’s especially good for stress management with poses that support releasing everything. You can do the poses slowly with poses that are easy for beginners.

These serious of movements are not only designed to relax you but also increase your strength and flexibility simultaneously. There are poses where you can lie on the floor that are easily done or you can use difficult balancing and stretching poses that challenge your boundaries.

During your yoga, you can incorporate relaxation or meditation which is where you’re mindful of all the details going on in your presence. While you’re in a pose, if you focus on the feeling in your body, you’ll be able to adjust and challenge yourself. It’s also empowering to get out of your own head for awhile and focus on the present.

Yoga has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety through many studies since the 1970’s. Yoga can help people through clinical depression and anxiety as well as more serious problems. Yoga is a complimentary part of most addiction and behavioral problems today due to how well it works. You know that feeling when you leave a yoga class? That blissful, relaxing feeling. All you have to do is commit to the poses and let it ease stress and allow total relaxation to spill over you.

Yoga for Strength

Yoga for strengthYoga can be just as effective as lifting weights to help you achieve the tone and strength you’re looking for. As it engages your core often, you will get the added benefit of having strength where it matters most. Yoga helps you avoid injuries when you’re doing other sporting activities on top of promoting strength and this sequence can help you achieve that.

You will gain flexibility, a better range of motion, and improve your balance. Yoga doesn’t let you neglect any of your muscles like you might when you body build. You get an overall, functional strength which can help you excel at many other physical activities in your life.

When you hold onto poses for a longer period, you increase your muscular endurance. Everyday you do yoga, you can eradicate pain from the day and reduce muscle soreness. When you do yoga after lifting heavy weights for example, you allow your muscles, joints, and bones the ability to repair and grow.

Adding the practice of yoga into your strength training program promotes wellness of the body when you’re hard on it. When you move through poses, you promote fluid to go to the joints so bones will glide over each other without rubbing. The fluid also gives nutrients and oxygen to cartilage.

Yoga gives you strength in a slow, progressive fashion that makes it far less likely for you to get injured. As you begin to hold poses for longer and take it to the next level, you are slowly adding the building blocks to gain a lot of strength in a safe way.

The power of yoga is its power to promote a healthy lifestyle in all aspects of your being. You can be at your best physical shape while learning how to be a more relaxed person. You become an all-around athlete and are kinder to yourself in the process. Bring yoga into your life for all the wonderful benefits it provides.


Meera WattsMeera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others.

She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.

The Poopámon workout: when your horse becomes your Personal Trainer!

In this blog I bring you another clever workout… actually it’s not really a workout, more like turning something mundane and routine into something useful in the context of a weight loss and fitness program. It’s not that I don’t take fitness seriously, it’s that over the years I have come across a variety of clients and the majority of them hate the idea of actually working out and yet they want to be fit.

What to do?!

My challenge, in these cases, is to find every day activities that can be modded into exercise so that in the end we are all fit and happy. Thankfully, this year Pokemon Go has come to the rescue and has allowed me to use the game as an excuse to introduce people to leisurely walking. It’s not that straight forward though and it takes a lot of negotiating skills as people don’t really want to work out, they don’t really want to go for a walk and they don’t want to be seen playing Pokemon.

Pokemon go

The trick is to tickle their curiosity by playing the game in front of them and then explaining what’s going on. Not that I know what I am doing but if I am lucky enough to have a Pokestop nearby I can also show them where the walking part comes in… It recently worked with my other half who, so far, has resisted getting sucked into the whole Pokemon thing despite being surrounded by people who play. I simply handed over the phone while I was driving and asked him if he wouldn’t mind catching some balls from the various Pokestops that we came across. He didn’t mind and was soon catching little monsters too using up all my balls!

From there the step up to walking and embracing the spirit of the game was fairly easy. We stopped at a shopping centre where there were several stops and I must say he was keener than me to go for a walk around the shops to load up on Pokeballs. He didn’t even say no when I proposed to go for a walk up and down the High Street… so long as I held the phone!

This game is pure genius. I also resisted looking into it for a bit because a) I walk every day and b) I felt a bit silly at the idea of playing. I was wrong though. It truly does encourage you to go out and explore your neighbourhood in search of creatures or balls.

What else can I turn into exercise?

Bella spooking at PikachuIf you are blessed to have a horse in your life there is one activity that you cannot escape from: managing the by-products of horse grazing on a daily basis. More specifically, their removal from the paddock so that it doesn’t get contaminated with worms.

When I mention this particular duty of mine most people roll their eyes in despair but what they don’t realise is that it forces me to spend some time outside in the fresh air doing physical chores that require me to be unplugged for a little while.

If your paddock is like Bell’s you are in luck depending on how you want to look at it. The field slopes gently towards a stream an it’s massive in all directions, plus in the Summer the grass is usually very tall in places and it’s difficult to spot the Poopámons thus requiring lots of walking around to spot them.

Poopámon with RattataUnlike the game there are no notifications on your phone that alerts you to the presence of a Poopámon and so you have to find them using old school methods: looking around and in the distance, not at a screen.

If I haven’t had time to exercise properly during the day I make sure it’s my turn to carry out this chore.

Jokes aside, there is a whole branch of the fitness industry that specializes in workouts that involve pushing a weighted wheelbarrow around. The reason for this is that it’s actually a really good exercise for the legs and glutes and also for the core and arms depending on how heavy the wheelbarrow is.

The brilliant part though comes in the shape of postural training: in order to become efficient at pushing the wheelbarrow (especially uphill) we must make sure that all the weight is taken by the legs (in half squat position), the back is straight and we keep the object as close to our body as possible. This will protect the back and engage the core muscles.

Wheelbarrow with ButterFree

The way I look at this task is that I start nice and easy at the bottom of the field and make the barrow heavier as I move up towards the gate at the top. Usually this also involve zig zagging across the paddock therefore pushing a heavy load for longer.

In Winter and Autumn it’s not so bad, in Spring and Summer however, when the horses are out all day, it can easily turn into a mammoth workout. Imagine pushing 40 or 50Kgs up hill sometimes more than once.

I can assure you this raises my heart rate somewhat and my legs and abs let me know that they are working hard. It can take up to 20 min to clear the field and it’s also the one time of the day when I have the opportunity to spend some time in the sun surrounded by nature and observing the wildlife.

Will it make me look like a fitness model? Highly unlikely.

Will it help me stay healthy and contribute to reducing the risk of developing a whole plethora of diseases associated with inactivity? Most likely.

Will it count as exercise when I haven’t got time to exercise? For sure…

When you think about it there are many other little activities like this one that we carry out mindlessly every day and that could be modified to give you a bit more of a workout as opposed to being just work. Can you think of one?

Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Intense or Very Intense Program: which one is better for you?

When people ask me how my work …eeeerrr… works they are often surprised when I tell them that I don’t sell Personal Training sessions but instead sell programs (or packages) and outcomes. There’s a reason for this and it’s a very important one: PT sessions are often perceived by clients as a series of one-offs in which I am expected to dish out exercises and counting reps for an agreed length of time and perhaps give some nutritional advice on top. Then go home and wait for the next session if and when it’s going to happen (and this is true even when people block book a number of sessions).

When clients buy one of my programs however, they buy a transformational process. The time that we spend together is more a time of assessing, regrouping and planning with the desired outcome in mind. Yes, exercising is also a part of it and so is nutrition but it’s all done in a different spirit. First we decide on the outcome that we want to achieve, then we reverse engineer that outcome and then we draw a plan that will get us straight to our goals with the minimum amount of fuss and effort. We take extra care to make sure every little change can be seamlessly incorporated into the clients’ lifestyle to cause as little disruption as possible.

Good strategy is essential for success

 

Each client is different and therefore my programs are bespoke (with the exception of my home study course). If you and a friend purchased the same program you will probably find that some aspects of the plan will be similar or even identical. That’s because there are only so many ways in which you can move your body and a lot of aspects of a healthy lifestyle can be applied almost universally across the human race. However, it’s the little things that are unique to each client that will make the biggest difference.

So why have 2 different programs to choose from instead of just one?

What I really love about the work that I do is the connection that I build with each client. I prefer to work with people on a one-to-one basis because that’s where I feel I can make the biggest difference. Sure, exercise classes are fun and can be very beneficial, but I never really get to build the kind of rapport that helps me influence clients to make better choices because that takes time and a lot of individual attention.

The main reason for offering two different versions of working with me one-on-one is that I also come across different “versions” of clients. Some of them are super busy people who would find it difficult to make the time to meet up with me regularly but can make the time to do what it takes to reach their goals, whereas others are perhaps not as busy and either prefer more regular contact OR need more support.

Let’s compare the two programs:

Plan & Execute = Results

VIP Experience

Time Commitment

With this program the amount of time that we both commit to it is different: YOU will have to put in the hours and the effort needed to achieve the results but will only have to find the time to chat with me on Skype once or twice per month. When you sign up for the VIP experience we are both committing a lot of our time to the program. We will be in contact several times per month (depending on our schedules) and we will both have a lot of work to do to make sure YOU achieve the results you want.

Support

Because we will only be in “official” contact once per fortnight at the most, I will be offering support via email in between coaching sessions if you occasionally need clarifications on anything that we discussed or if you come up any obstacles and need further guidance.  With this program we will be in contact either in person or via Skype on a regular basis and, if you are up for it, every other day (but not at the weekend). Theoretically you wouldn’t need any more support but because you are committing a lot of your time to your transformation I will be available for a quick chat in between sessions should you need help with anything that we have been working on.

How it works

Our first session will be a bit longer and this is when we will draw up your master plan. You will then go off and work the plan and we will get together again in a fortnight or a month to assess your progress and make any necessary adjustments to the plan so you keep on moving forward towards your goals.  During our first session we will get to discuss your goals in great depth and draw up the master plan. We will also draw up a tentative schedule for our meetings, either virtual or in person, and then we will start working towards your goals. Because we will be in touch often you won’t need to do all the work on your own and I will be available to offer guidance and support you every step of the way.

How long does it last?

3 months with coaching sessions fortnightly. 3 months with coaching sessions every other day excluding weekends.

Who is it for?

This program is meant for women who are very busy and don’t have time to meet up at the same time every other day or even every week but can make the time to exercise and cook working around their other commitments.

To succeed at this you will need to be committed and self motivated as you will be doing most of the work on your own. Great if you have a gym membership that you want to make most of.

This program is meant to be for women who want to take their body transformation to the next level. It’s most suitable for those who perhaps have health issues that need to be addressed as well as wanting to look at your weight and fitness levels.

Because we will be in contact often it’s a program best suited to those who are perhaps less busy, either staying at home women or those working part time or retired.

You will still have to be committed to yourself and the program but if you struggle with motivation this will have you covered.

Your investment

 

£££s

Because my time commitment is limited I can offer this program at an affordable price. Please don’t mistake fewer sessions with less chances of results. Those are down to you and how committed you are to see this through to the end.

You can find more information here.

 

££££s

The higher fees for this program are a reflection of the amount of time that I will dedicate to it.

I am not just talking about the time that we spend working together, the price also takes into account the amount of time that I will spend doing research for you in between sessions so that you don’t have to.

You can find more information here.

So there you have it. This is how you can come on board and finally achieve your weight loss and fitness goals once and for all. Remember that I will teach you a system that will serve you for the rest of your life, not a quick fix. Once we are done with the program you will be able to make better choices, keep your new weight and shape or be able to get back to it quickly and relatively effortlessly should you go on a bender and undo all your hard work.

If you have any questions or would like to come on board call me on 020 8144 5531 OR you can send me an email if you are unable to talk as you read this. Don’t let time slip away, act now and if we are a good match we can get started straight away!

FREE workouts on YouTube: 30 Day Shred review

Free workouts on YouTube: 30 day shred review by Jillian Michaels

Free online workout videos on YouTube often come up in conversation with potential clients or people that I meet at social events: “what is the best workout to lose weight in 30 days?”. Occasionally they ask me what I think of one program or another and as I don’t bother with the free stuff I sometimes have a hard time offering some genuine guidance. So I did some research.

Up to not long ago one of the most popular free workouts on YouTube used to be the 30 Day Shred Program by Jillian Michaels with over 35 million views. It consists of 3 x 20 minute workouts each made up by a combination of resistance and cardiovascular training for weight loss. Each workout is a level.

You can no longer find any of the videos for free on YouTube and you now have to pay for a subscription OR watch people following along as they go through the exercises in the video. Not a great way of doing it but it’s better than nothing.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE “NO LONGER” FREE WORKOUTS

* The fat loss program is cheap and on YouTube which means that you can watch it on your mobile devices, laptop, desktop and wherever you go. If you wanted to purchase the whole program you can do so on Amazon: at £8.49 for the DVD it’s really inexpensive. This is great because it allows people to get into exercising at an affordable price and without the need for a gym membership. If you are down on your luck or simply too busy or too self conscious to attend exercise classes this has you covered.

* It seems that Jillian Michaels and I have the same fitness mentors as both the hybrid exercises and the way the workouts are structured are very familiar!

* Each workout only lasts 20 minutes including a short warm up and cool down. If you do these at home they will practically eliminate 95% of the excuses for not going to the gym.

* The 3 levels are progressive: they build on each other meaning that by the time you get to the higher octane moves in level 3 you should be ready to do them safely… with a few caveats (see below)

* She gives clear instructions without fuss and without being hyper and overenthusiastic. I hate that type of trainers. Jillian explains the correct way to perform each exercise in a clear and concise manner. I love this. It’s what I would want and expect from a trainer.

* The models demonstrate two versions of the same movement: slightly easier and a little bit harder.

* The 3-2-1 protocol is a great way to introduce variety within the workouts whilst being effective in building muscle, burning fat and increasing strength.

* You can do the workout without any weights if you find it too hard for you but I would recommend using massive weights if you want to see and feel dramatic results.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT THE PROGRAM

– It’s cheap and easy to access on YouTube. This means that despite the disclaimer at the beginning people are likely to overestimate their ability to exercise and follow along safely. Since there is nobody to advise them they might go for it even if it’s not suitable for them. And there is nobody to tell them so.

– When this program was freely available as stand alone videos on YouTube I had no idea how the system worked. I assumed that you are supposed to do the workout for each level once a day for 10 days and then move on to the next workout for another 10 days and so on. But I was not sure as that information didn’t come with the free bootlegged video. It’s one of the downsides of YouTube: you can find the videos but not the manual which may contain crucial information for a successful outcome. Thankfully that has now been corrected and people MUST purchase the program with all the instructions that come with it.

– Again, when the videos were free I didn’t know if there was a nutritional plan to go along with the workouts to support both fat burning and muscle growing. My concern is that someone without any knowledge of how the human metabolism works would be lead to believe that all they have to do to get shredded in 30 days is do the workouts whilst still eating crap all day every day. Or worse, go on a punishing diet.

– Unless you are already fit all those star jumps, butt kicks and squat jumps could spell trouble for your knee joints. I know she says that she gets her 400lbs clients to do star jumps but in my experience it’s not clever nor sensible to attempt any of this stuff stone cold at your first workout without building up to those moves first slowly and over a period of time.

– Unless you are in your 20s I wouldn’t recommend working out every day and even then if you want to develop muscle you really need to rest to allow the repair and growth processes to unfold naturally. Unless you know that you are genetically predisposed to recover quickly from each workout hitting the same muscles day after day is only going to leave you sore and in fact make you weaker instead of stronger. Trust me, I know this from personal experience and I have been in my 20s almost 2.5 times already. Each time I am 20 again the fitness game changes quite drastically.

– Unless you are already slim you will find that at the end of the 30 days you are unlikely to be shredded just from doing the workouts. I can also tell you this from experience. Depending on your body type and state of your health you might find that it will take you several months of meticulous nutrition and carefully planned workouts constantly adjusted to changing circumstances to get shredded and stay that way.

– Unless you love doing the same thing over and over again you will die of boredom very quickly. I love it when my clients say this:

– The models are young and fit. Not necessarily an accurate representation of the 35+ million people who viewed the 30 Day Shred workouts when they were free on YouTube. I would like to see normal, overweight and unfit people wearing baggy clothes doing these workouts. I get it that the models are meant to be aspirational but my clients tend to end up being more perspirational as they go through similar workouts. Plus they usually struggle to get down on the floor and back up with feline moves. At least in the beginning.

– I don’t know what type of support is available if you have any questions. I am guessing that at £8.49 there is none. This is also crucial because “off the shelf” online workout videos will work for many straight out of the box but not for everyone. That doesn’t mean that the program is ineffective, it just means that it’s not working for you and needs tweaking. That’s when you need help.

Overall, I still think these workouts are great and will give anyone results of some kind: some people will get shredded, others will get slimmer, others will get stronger and some will get bored after 5 days and buy a sarong instead. Plus don’t forget that people who went on the Biggest Loser put all their weight back on and some within months of finishing the program so be careful and don’t be fooled into thinking that getting shredded is as simple as working out for 30 days straight.

If you are strapped for cash and can’t afford the personal touch by all means do have a go at these but bearing in mind my comments above. Adapt the frequency and intensity of these workouts to suit your circumstances and give yourself more than 30 days to get shredded. Remember that abs are revealed in the kitchen so make sure you pay more attention to your nutrition and also your lifestyle.

If you want to try another workout for free just enter your details in the form below to get immediate access to it.

How to jumpstart your fitness with a simple 20 min workout

how to choose a workoutWhen you start out in fitness (or start back with it) it’s never a good idea to go at it gung-ho with a crazy intense workout. If your body isn’t used to structured exercise you must ease yourself into it gradually at a pace that suits you. This will help you gain strength and develop the co-ordination you need to eventually tackle the more advanced techniques.

The best strategy for making continuous progress whilst staying safe is to master the absolute basics and then move on from there. Basic workouts aren’t for the weak, they can be incredibly challenging if done correctly and will give you surprising results. When you focus on technique you get the opportunity to understand how your body likes to move, the geometry of your joints, the optimal range of movement for you, your current limits, and so on.

This quiet time spent building strong foundations will serve you well in the future. Trust me.

We are going to start with a simple 20 min workout consisting of 4 exercises carried out one after the other in a circuit fashion. This is a bodyweight workout that you can do in most places without any equipment as long as you have a safe surface to lie on.

We will start with a full explanation of how each exercise is performed correctly and the reasons why they are beneficial for your fitness and health.

The 4 exercises

1) The perfect body weight squat

Body Weight SquatSquats are awesome for many reasons. The main one being that they get you to workout a large number of muscle groups and they allow you to build both strength and explosive strength that you can make use of in your chosen sports. From my experience: you can jump high and really kick arse when you play volleyball, you can run faster, if you do Parkour you can jump higher or longer and if you pole dance squats will give you a lovely shape to your legs and glutes thus earning you bigger tips (this one I was told about, promise).

As well as the legs and glutes squats are great for your core muscles, balance, flexibility and co-ordination. They also help you get grounded and give you a strong posture which is essential in any fighting art.

This is how you do a perfect squat:

  • Stand tall, straight and with your feet shoulders width apart. Make sure that feet and knees are pointing in the same direction and the position feels comfortable.
  • What you do with your hands and arms is both a matter of personal choice and objective: in kung fu we used to do wider squats and to help with balance we used to keep our arms outstretched in front like the gentleman above, however if I want to work on strengthening my posture and to counteract a tendency to lean forward too much it’s more likely that I keep my hands behind my head (prisoner squat).
  • When you are ready start the movement by pushing your derriere towards the wall behind you and then allow the knees to bend so that you can lower your glutes towards the floor until your position resembles the image above. Ideally your knees won’t go past your toes.
  • When you get to the bottom of the movement hold the position for 1 second then get back up.

If you struggle don’t go down quite so much, if it’s too easy get your arse to the grass (like a toddler picking up toys from the floor) or even do it on one leg. It’s important not to sink through the knees as it can cause injuries. If you look at the image on the right, if the model had his knees together, it would mimic the position you would be getting in when skiing fast down a slope.

Once you have mastered the basic movement you can introduce variations like mixing up full squats with half squats or even pulsing at the bottom of the movement (that’s moving up and down an inch). You can move your feet further apart or bring them closer together and you can use weights or resistance bands to make the exercise more challenging.

2) How to get the most out of your push-ups

dreamstime_xs_40040102Push-ups have got to be easily the scariest exercise for my female clients to tackle. For some reason they come across as monstrous and a mammoth effort.

I would agree that they are not always easy to perform but with a bit of practice everyone can do them and enjoy the benefits of stronger arms, chest and core muscles. Remember that your face, shoulders and upper trunk is the first thing that people notice about you, and the only one if you are at business meetings sitting around a table. So it’s definitely worth the effort!

  • You can start doing push-ups in the same position as the girl in the picture above. Being on your knees makes your body shorter so gravity has less to push down on as you do the exercise.
  • You want your hands to be under your shoulders and level with your chest, elbows pointing outwards.
  • When you are ready start bending your arms and lower your body until your chest is hovering one or two inches above the ground. Then push yourself back up.

Start with whatever you can do but aim at being able to do 3 sets of 10 reps with excellent form before you move on to the next variation.

If this is too hard you can bring the knees closer to your hands in a box position or even do the pushup against the wall. If this is too easy make a full plank your starting position but make sure you can go at least half the way down otherwise you are not achieving much.

If you feel like your arms and chest want to explode you are doing it right. Be careful of face planting if you get too tired. It’s best to do 2 excellent reps and rest for a bit than push yourself through 10 half hearted reps.

3) Get your spine combat ready with hip thrusts!

Single leg hip thrusts (20 min workout)You think I am joking when I say that but I am not. Besides your brain your spinal chord is probably the second most important organ in the human body because it ensures smooth communications between the brain and the rest of the body, including your heart. Your spinal chord is safely encased inside the vertebrae that make up the spine which, in turn, are protected by a thick layer of tendons, ligaments and muscles.

There are in excess of 30 muscle pairs intertwined to form two sausage like structures that run alongside the vertebrae: the erector spinae. These two muscle groups are your first line of defense against injuries to the spinal column and spinal chords in the event of a fall. It therefore makes sense to pay attention to their health and ensure they stay strong and flexible.

You can easily do that by doing hip thrusts on a regular basis. This simple exercise, when carried out correctly, will help your back become both strong and more supple. In addition it will help you develop strong glutes and hamstrings as well as helping you stretch the abdominal muscles.

The version in the image above is perhaps a bit more advanced than where you may want to start if you have never done this exercise before. Nevertheless… get into the position at the top and push on the leg that’s bent and with the foot on the floor to raise your hips towards the ceiling. As you reach the top of the movement aim for a straight line or slight arch from your shoulders all the way to the knee. I like to remind my students and clients to practice mindfulness and feel each vertebrae as it lifts off the floor on the way up and as it rests back on the floor on the way down.

If this version of the exercise is too difficult do it with both feet on the floor. If this is too easy you can place one or both feet on a swiss ball or, even. move on to working on a full bridge.

4) Leg raises for abs of steel

Leg raisesWith this exercise we will take care of your core from a different perspective than squats and push-ups.

When you perform leg raises correctly you develop strong abdominals by addressing all layers of muscle protecting our internal organs: the deepest transverse abdominis, the obliques and the top layer (six pack) rectus abdominis. The back muscles are also involved and so are the hip flexors.

  • You can start from the position shown in the picture above left and push your hands and arms into the ground
  • start lowering your legs until the feet are hovering an inch or two above the ground
  • go back to the starting position.
  • Your back should be firmly braced and barely changing shape as you lower your legs. If this starts to happen stop there and return to the starting position until you have become strong enough to go a little bit further down.

If this is way too hard for you then start the exercise with your feet an inch above the ground and the legs straight, bring your knees towards the chest and then push your feet back out to go back in the starting position. Then work your way to a full leg raise.

If this too easy you can try doing the leg raises while you are suspended from a horizontal bar of some sort (a chin-up bar for example). You can start by bringing your knees to your chest without swinging from your arms and work your way to straightening up the legs.


The rules of the workout

The rules for this workout are very simple:

• you will only workout for 20 minutes + a couple of minutes to warm up and another couple of minutes to cool down. In my experience, this is an ideal length of time to focus on exercising that all my clients have found easier to accept than the traditional 60 min sessions;

• you will only do reps with 100% correct form;

• it doesn’t matter how many rounds you complete in 20 minutes to begin with as long as the form is always spot on. Eventually you will be aiming for at least 4 rounds before increasing the difficulty;

• there is no rest scheduled in between sets of exercises however, if you get tired and you start to lose form stop, rest for a few seconds and when you are ready start from where you left off and carry on with the circuit;

• signs that the workout is working are: you get hot, breathless and your muscles burn. If you don’t get this choose a more advanced version of each exercise until you do;

• repeat the circuit 2 – 3 times per week to get the best results. Repetition is the key: the more you ask your muscles to perform a task the more they are going to grow and give you strength (not volume);

• enjoy the workout. Really find a way of enjoying it and you will reap the benefits tenfold than if you just did it because I told you to.

THE WARM UP

If you exercise at home this part can be tricky unless you can go for a jog, intense walk or maybe even play with a hula hoop. The objective of the warm up is to prepare your body for exercise so don’t skip this fundamental component. If space is limited you could consider doing some star jumps or running on the spot or even going up and down the stairs a few times. Just don’t do anything too strenuous, think gentle and progressive not extreme.

THE WORKOUT

Simple 20 min workout bodyweight

THE COOL DOWN

The objective of the cool down is to slow all the systems down after they have been “put through their paces” during your workout. Exercise brings about the release of stress hormones which are useful for triggering fat loss but we don’t want them to remain excited for too long. A good cool down will slower your heart rate and return your respiration back to normal levels too.

Stretching immediately after a workout is always a good idea as it will help you increase mobility and reduce stiffness in the muscles. If it’s not your cup of tea you can always go for a leisurely walk around the block. 15-20 minutes of gentle strolling will be enough but you can go for longer if you wish.

As I already said although this workout looks very easy, if you do it correctly you will still get breathless and hot and sweaty AND you will prime your muscles and nervous system for more exciting things in the future.

If you would like a full size copy of the workout in an infographic version that might be easier to follow all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter using the form below.

From zero to hero in 12 weeks (of walking). A Case Study.

It’s difficult for me to talk about real life clients because the nature of the work I do with them is very personal. As an Exercise Referral Specialist I often work with people who have health issues varying from mild to serious to life changing and one of the reasons they choose to work with me is that I assure them of the utmost discretion. After all, who would want their personal and intimate issues being exposed to the whole of the internet?

Nevertheless I would like to tell you the story of how one of my past clients went from zero to hero. In the spirit of keeping my promise of confidentiality, much like in a Hollywood movie, the name of the client and some of the details about her circumstances have been changed. As I miss watching the Walking Dead I shall call her “Lucille” so I don’t forget the cliffhanger and don’t stop trying to guess who got whacked in that episode…

Lucille was in her mid 40’s when we first met. Her goals were to improve her general fitness and regain some of the mobility that she lost over the years following an injury and subsequent surgery. She was morbidly obese despite a reasonable diet although, after a bit of digging, it transpired that in addition to grilled meats and vegetables she was also consuming a fair amount of cakes, biscuits, cereals and other foods laden with chemicals, sugar and trans fats.

She wasn’t completely inactive as she was already having a couple of leisurely swimming sessions per week. However her big nemesis were staircases that she was unable to tackle unaided. She had problems controlling her anxiety attacks when out and about. She was keen on overcoming this as she embraced the idea of spending a few hours in nature walking for health purposes.

Couple walking on some hills

As a side note she was also interested in losing weight but didn’t want to make this a priority. So I had to sneak in the weight loss side of things as this would be a priority in cases like this. Because she was on a tight budget we agreed that we would get together once per week only and that she would carry out her homework in between sessions on her own initially and eventually with a friend.

On our first session together we spent some time developing a fitness plan that would fit in with her routine. I wanted her to experience small wins straight away so that she could build her confidence and go from zero to hero in no time. At this stage we focused on waking up her metabolism and tweaking her diet slightly so that she stopped wanting cakes.

Get walking for fat loss

One way to get the metabolism to start burning fat like a furnace is to do High Intensity Interval Training.

“What is HIIT training?” I hear you say…

For those of you who are not familiar with HIIT it’s a style of exercising that involves alternating periods of training at max intensity with periods of training at a slower pace. The difference in intensity is great for improving your fitness quickly and for stimulating fat burning for a few hours after exercising.

The thing is HIIT doesn’t mean exercising like an elite athlete from the word go. Quite the contrary: you workout at 100% of the intensity that is available to you at that moment. If that’s walking a bit faster than a shuffle then that, today, is what you do to get breathless. Tomorrow you will have to work a bit harder to get the same effect.

With Lucille we worked on this in different ways: we incorporated sprints in her swimming and also in her walking with a view to create a 30 minute workout routine. For the latter, due to her anxiety about leaving the house on her own, we started with a few laps of her garden a few times a day. Eventually, as anticipated, boredom spurred curiosity which trumped fear and she became almost aggressive in her determination to venture outside.

All the small things…

As soon as we made this transition (it happened in less than 2 weeks) we started the outdoor walking in short bursts of a couple of minutes going left out of the gate and then back home, followed by a couple of minutes going right out of the gate and then back home. We established a good comfort zone for her at first and then we pushed the boundaries on a daily basis to make that comfort zone bigger. Micro increments each day soon resulted in her enjoying a 25 min walk away from home without any issues.

In between her walking and swimming we would work on increasing her overall strength. We also had to tackle the staircase which, as I know only too well, can be an almighty monster to fight against when your legs and knees are injured and don’t work as they should. We achieved this by focusing on basic body weight exercises adapted to make it easy for her to perform them as she struggled to get on and off the floor. Within a short period of time she reported feeling a lot stronger and more in control of her life.

By week 4 she had also shrunk by a significant amount: her face looked slimmer and her clothes looked really baggy on her. I thought she only lost an inch or maybe two but she was very proud to show me that it was a lot more than that. It’s no surprise really because one of the many health benefits of walking is a full reset of the metabolism with particular attention to lowering cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone and, although it can be useful for fat loss, when released in large quantities due to stressful situations it contributes to the accumulation of belly fat.

It was at this point that we hit a bit of a plateau with the walking: she reached 30 min and was unable to go any further than that. It turned out that a few years back she suffered an anxiety attack after walking for approx. 30 minutes and this memory was still affecting her to this day. We talked about this event and then compared it to today’s circumstances. It had no relevance so I encouraged Lucille to let this memory go and not allow it to dominate her present.

It worked. She soon smashed her 30 minutes barrier and resumed making progress by increasing her walking distance by a few minutes each day. Impressed by this, one of her friends decided to join in and get her own fitness levels up to scratch. This worked like magic: not only they both got fitter and slimmer but they also reconnected as friends offering each other support.

Zero to hero magic starting to happen…

As she went from zero to hero the staircase ceased to be a monster

As Lucille’s courage increased with her fitness and confidence we started to turn our attention to the staircase. Suddenly it was no longer a monster but “just another thing to master one step at the time” and this is exactly what we did: one step unaided every day. By the following week she was able to do half the staircase confidently up or down and by the end of the week after that, in true zero to hero style, we had a few instances of doing the whole lot unaided up or down. This was perfect because the attitude was one of “I can do it” as opposed to “I am scared to do it”.

By week 8 came the big announcement: “my friend and I have signed up for the Moonwalk in London next year!”. Wow! This is either a marathon length (26.2 miles) or half marathon length (13 miles) that people walk under the Full Moon usually in May. It’s a charity event in support of research into breast cancer and once you are registered you receive all the recommended training and eating plans.

By week 10, armed with her newfound self confidence, Lucille had landed herself a new and better job. She was able to move her resistance training up a notch as by now she could also easily get up and down on the floor. As she embraced the idea of the Moonwalk she started to walk further and further every day, now being able to get as far her nearest coffee shop (a couple of miles away) where she could sit down for a few moments if necessary before heading back home.

By the end of our time working together Lucille had completely overhauled her life in many respects: she was now looking forward to moving every day, she was considerably smaller, had formed a few new healthier eating habits and was strong enough to tackle staircases unaided. Moreover she was inspiring her friends and family to follow her example and make a few changes themselves.

I was very proud of this client and how she managed to get hold of her fears and gently but surely learned to overcome them in a way that didn’t leave her rattled. Instead she was inspired to go a little bit further each time. What started out as help in improving her general fitness lead her to find a point of focus (the marathon length walk) that would keep her going for the majority of the following year (and possibly every year after that). It was also the catalyst for making major changes in her personal life and feel better for it.

She was ready to make the changes, all she needed was some guidance, a good plan and a lot of encouragement and voila’ that’s how you do magic!

If you are also ready to bring this kind of magic into your life all you have to do is connect by booking a complimentary breakthrough call using the form below. We will have a chat about your current situation and how you would like to see it transformed. There is no obligation to sign up for anything and I will do my best to point you in the right direction to go from zero to hero!

 


Q. Do I have to workout for hours every day to lose weight? A. No. Maybe. It depends.

Does the prospect of a mammoth workout make you cringe and act as an instant put off from even considering structured exercise?

I agree. I would be put off too. Especially by my vague answer…  😉

The thing is a vague answer is the only answer to this type of question if asked in these terms. And it’s a question that the majority of prospective new clients ask me when we first meet because there is a lot of confusion around this subject.

Here’s the thing…

If you have been reading my blogs for a while (thank you) you know that I do my research before writing a new post. I could regurgitate things that I heard or read here and there but I prefer to look for the latest scientific studies to see how our understanding of human physiology is evolving over time with new discoveries and what these mean for myself as a coach and for my clients. When I looked for research papers on “the ideal length of workouts” I couldn’t find anything specific that gave me a definitive answer. I then looked up other blogs from people with a different experience from my own and found that they more or less fall into 2 categories: those who base their opinion on a study conducted in Eastern Europe on Olympic athletes and those who say the results of that study are rubbish.

So I decided that, on this occasion, I will answer this question from my own experience both as an athlete and as a trainer and ignore the science. Here we go!

Choose your exercise program wisely

How long should I workout every day in order to lose weight?

It really depends on you, your preferences, your likes and dislikes, your likelihood to stick with your exercise program, your physiology, your lifestyle, your patience, your enthusiasm, your willingness to push boundaries, your habits, your determination to see results, your desired timescale to produce those results in. And so on…

Let’s start with the mindset

In my experience it’s impossible to decide how long you should workout for until a clear goal has been set. This includes knowing what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by. The next step is establishing how badly you want it and whether you are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve it or not. There are different styles of workouts: some are more intense than others and will produce results at different rates. Knowing how far you are prepared to go will point you in the right direction.

Next you need to take a look at your lifestyle: how much time do you think you have to exercise vs. how much time do you actually have vs. how much time you are honestly willing to spend exercising. The keywords here are “honestly willing” and it’s usually this amount of time that I take into account when I design exercise programs for my clients who want to lose weight or sculpt their bodies. I say usually because if the answer is 30 seconds we are moving into Harry Potter territory to get a full on body transformation. I don’t do that.

doubtThe majority of clients I worked with over the years have come to me as reluctant exercisers who needed a hand in finding the motivation to get started and then to keep going. In these instances it’s necessary for me as a coach to devise exercise programs that have the correct intensity and duration for the individual. First of all I want my clients to get results in a timely manner but most importantly I want them to be relaxed about the idea of working out otherwise they will never stick with it. On a number of occasions even the clients who were against exercising to begin with learned to enjoy it and went on to take up a sport or signed up for classes to make the most of their newfound vitality.

Now let’s look at the physical stuff

Once you have established goals and mental attitude towards working out you need to start making considerations about your physical aptitude. Assuming there are no injuries or medical conditions to take into account it goes like this:

Fit woman with boxing glovesHow fit are you at this moment in time? Regardless of your goals acknowledging your current fitness level is the primary factor in deciding how long you are going to be working out for. If you are new to structured exercise or haven’t done it in a while you may want to consider starting off with a few minutes at the time focusing on learning the techniques rather than going for it. It’s the same idea behind gradually building up to running 5 km from couch potato: you do it very gradually but progressively.

How quickly can you improve your fitness levels? Depending on your natural predisposition you might be one of those people that can increase their fitness levels quickly or you may not. You would adjust the time spent working out accordingly, I am not going to discuss intensity or volume here, but it goes without saying that these need to be increased gradually too.

How long does it take to reach your peak performance window during a workout? Another factor that’s very important in my opinion is how long it takes to reach what I call the “peak performance window” by which I mean the length of time that you can workout with correct form after the warm up and before exhaustion sets in. It’s different for everyone and because of it sometimes a good workout needs to be cut short to prevent an injury.

That’s great info but how do I put it into practice?

Blackboard: make things happen!

In my experience the best way to put all this into practice is this:

  1.  Choose a length of time that you are willing to dedicate to exercising on a regular basis throughout the week. For me, at this moment in time, is 30 min 3 times per week at home including warm up, working out and a cool down. I find this length of time easy to manage most weeks so I can stick with it no matter what. If I want to crank it up to get more dramatic results I will head to the gym and add a 20 min HIIT cardio session at the end of the workout before the cool down. Somehow I always end up spending a lot of time at the gym plus the time it takes me to get there and back so for me it’s not always easy or practical to maintain this schedule.
  2.  Choose which muscle groups you are going to focus on with each workout. If you know that you struggle with keeping your schedule it will be best for you to focus on full body workouts every time, at least you know that most muscle groups will be targeted at least once. If you are in a position where sticking to your schedule is easy then it might be best to target different muscle groups in each workout so that you can hit them harder and then rest them longer.
  3.  Incorporate periods of rest within your workouts. This will allow you to work in accordance with your current fitness levels while giving you room to increase the volume and intensity further on. For example: if you are very unfit you might run out of steam after a few reps of each exercise. That’s fine. Just take all the rest you need to be able to get back to your exercise with splendid form. You are not racing against anyone and you are building a different body one rep at the time. Make each one of them count.
  4.  Always listen to your body. There is no prize to be won by completing your workout when every cell in your body is begging you to stop. We all have days in which the strength is just not there, nor the interest, nor the inspiration. Applaud yourself for being disciplined enough to sticking to your schedule and showing up but don’t be afraid to walk away if it means preventing an injury. You will soon be back to top form and ready to go again.
  5. Get plenty of rest after each workout. Again, it might seem like an obvious thing to say but… do make sure that you rest until fully recovered after each workout. You can speed this process up with accurate nutrition timing but please don’t overlook this aspect of a good exercise schedule. Changes to your body happen while you rest so no skipping this!

So there you have it. As always, do what works best for you. As long as you are consistent and persistent the results will come. If you need help with this give us a holler via the popup bottom right of the screen.

 

Boost your fat loss results by making the most of your body type

Boost your fatloss results by making the most of your body type

In a rush? Pin this and read it later.

If you have been good and kept up with your New Year resolutions to be slimmer and fitter by now you will probably be ready to show off your buff body to the world. If for some reason you haven’t then you are probably starting to feel the pressure as Summer is approaching fast and time seems to be slipping away.

Please don’t feel like giving up on the idea of rocking the beach with a nicely toned body and a flat belly. With the right strategies you can fast track your fat loss results and be ready for your bikini just as the school holidays start.

if you have been following me for a while you will be well acquainted with my opinion that “off-the-shelf-one-size-fits-all” weight loss programs don’t always work. They do work for some and, having purchased a substantial number of these programs for research purposes, I can tell you straight away that what most of them lack the guidelines to personalise the program so it works for you.

My intention with this blog post is to give you a few pointers on how you can take any weight loss and fitness program and adapt it so that it works for you based on your body type.

Now, if you want accurate information I would strongly recommend that you have a DNA test done. You could also look online for a tool to help you determine your somatotype. Or you can take the less scientific route and use observation of your body shape and size to estimate which category you fit in.

Having a good idea of this is important because it will allow you understand which style of exercise and nutrition are best for you. This will save you time on practices that are useless for you at best, counterproductive at worst.

What is my body type?

The three main body types or somatotypes

There are 3 different body types (somatotypes): Ectomorph (think of Twiggy), Mesomorph (think of Madonna) and Endomorph (think of Beyonce). Although most of us will show the predominant traits of one body type over another we mustn’t forget that we are a combination of all three body types and most likely fall somewhere in between two of the main somatotypes.

Ectomorph Body Type / SomatotypeECTOMORPH

These are your mannequin types of gals and guys: skinny, with long limbs, light build with small joints and lean muscle. They are the people you know that are constantly eating all sorts of crap and never put on an ounce of weight whereas you gain 3 Kilos just by looking at a slice of cake.

The reason for this is that they have a fast metabolism which is actually inefficient as it tends to convert energy into heat that dissipates instead of being used as fuel for growth.

Ectomorphs find it hard to build lean muscle and need a huge amount of calories to gain weight. They would definitely benefit from taking supplements to ensure they don’t lose muscle when they exercise and in fact, support their growth.

They are not immune to weight gain and I have come across clients who belonged to this body type that started to gain fat around the middle from their peri-menopause years onwards. They found it easier than most to lose it though and return back to their original lean shape but with added muscle. In contrast, clients who wanted to gain weight had to deal with a lot of frustration and sometimes heavy supplements bills to support their efforts. Perseverance was the key to their success.

Because of their slight build they are naturally suited for endurance sports, gymnastics and some forms of athletics like pole vaulting. Although difficult for them, they can indeed build muscle. They have to work harder at it than most and they are better off focusing on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench presses with shorter sets and heavy weights. These exercises recruit a large number of muscle fibres encouraging growth. Although naturally suited for endurance sports, for the purposes of changing their physique from slender to slightly more muscular to toned, they are better off keeping cardiovascular exercise to a minimum to prevent muscle loss.

Mesomorph Body Type / SomatotypeMESOMORPH

These are your “natural born athletes” with a fairly large bone structure, big muscles and an athletic appearance. Usually strong, they have the best body type for bodybuilding purposes as they find it easy to gain and retain muscle but also to gain and lose fat.

Some would say they are genetically blessed because their combination of strength and agility means that with the right training they can be extremely successful at any sports. Their other unfair advantage over other body types is that almost any weight loss or exercise program will give them results.

Mesomorphs have to work at keeping their fat levels low but they can sustain their results over time without too much effort.

A combination of strength training with moderate to heavy weights plus cardio and a conscientious diet would suit them best. As far as their nutrition goes because they tend to gain fat easily they should keep their consumption of starchy carbohydrates to the bare minimum necessary to fuel their workouts and lifestyle. Any straying from this will result in unwanted weight gain.

Clients with this body type are perhaps the easiest ones to work with. Once we have discovered the best protocols for their Fitness Makeover projects it’s simply been a case of executing the instructions. They are the ones who can take liberties throughout their time working with me safe in the knowledge that their genetics will allow them to catch up fairly quickly.

They are also the easiest people to keep motivated because as soon as the changes start to happen their focus shifts on “what’s possible next?” and that’s when they start to explore sports and activities that perhaps they never considered before.

Endomorph Body Type / SomatotypeENDOMORPH

These are individuals who typically have a “short and stocky” appearance with a body that is solid and soft at the same time. They tend to gain weight very easily and, unfortunately, most of it is fat.

They have a slow metabolism and find it very hard to stay lean. This is a real shame because they also find it very easy to build muscle but they can’t always reveal it to the world.

They are best suited for activities like power lifting where they can make the most of their remarkable strength. In order to get the perfect beach body those with this body type must focus their training on cardiovascular exercise and mix that up with a combination of slow steady cardio and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in conjunction with some resistance training.

As far as their nutrition goes they need to watch their calories and especially those coming from food that’s high in starch content. They must however eat enough to fuel their workouts and lifestyle but focus on good quality protein and plenty of water based, non starchy vegetables. If considering supplementation fat burners might be a good idea to help Endomorphs reveal the beautiful shape they have been working hard to create.

Clients who belong to this body type are those who have to be the strictest at following their protocols for their Fitness Makeover projects. Whenever they found it within themselves to follow the process wholeheartedly they achieved stellar results and underwent a complete transformation. It’s totally possible to go from round and soft to leaner and toned but it involves a complete overhaul in lifestyle with the prospect of long term adherence. Getting their mindset right is of paramount importance in this respect.

ECTO-MESOMORPH AND MESO-ENDOMORPHS BODY TYPES

These are individuals that fall in between the traits that distinguish the 3 main body types. In the case of Ecto-Mesomorphs we will find people who are naturally athletic but also skinnier than true Mesomorphs and more muscular than true Ectomorphs. Likewise, Meso-Endomorphs will show a combination of athletic build with a rounder shape. Their nutrition and exercise protocols should also be a combination of those for the true body types in accordance to what type they tend most towards.

How does this help you boost your fat loss efforts?

Once you have determined your body type you can take ANY weight loss and exercise program that you find on the internet or even at your local gym and you can adapt it to suit your genetics.

For example, if you are mostly an Endomorph you would be best suited to aerobics classes but also some resistance training: spinning, zumba, boxercise, etc. are all good choices. Likewise if you purchased a program off the internet that focuses on resistance training of some sort you can add some cardio to it to maximise your chances of success.

Along the same lines, if you are an Ectomorph and you want to get into shape you should only purchase programs that focus on weight training: big compound movements mostly, but also some isolation exercises for extra definition once you have built a good foundation. Skip the cardio or at least keep it to a minimum, unless of course you decide that you wish to train for an endurance event (but this is a different story altogether). Bootcamp classes may not be the best choice for you as they can be intense in the cardio department and would be best suited to your Mesomorph and Endomorph friends.

To make life easier I created a FREE report with a recap of the best nutrition and exercise strategies for each body type. I would love the opportunity to stay in touch with you via my (infrequent) newsletter, all you have to do is confirm that you wish you be subscribed by clicking the link in the email you will receive immediately after downloading the report. If you don’t wish to join my Community it’s fine, the report is still free and I hope it helps you with your fitness journey.

My body type is almost a pure Mesomorph: I have always been both strong and athletic. I will get fat if I eat cake but I will shrink back to my original size fairly quickly if I am meticulous in avoiding starches. What about you?

5 ways to measure your progress

Today has been another lazy Sunday, as all Sundays should be, and it’s also one week since I started “Project 8”. It got me thinking about what changed in my body composition in the last 7 days and if, indeed, anything  changed… the answer is a big yes, I lost a lot of excess water but also some fat. My tummy is visibly smaller and my legs better defined.

Whenever you embark on a fitness makeover journey of any scale it’s important to measure your progress for a number of reasons: first of all how much you have changed tells you that you are doing it right and just how right it is. If the changes are little to none then you have to adjust your approach. How much time and effort would you be wasting if you didn’t measure your progress?

Second, seeing progress no matter how tiny boosts your morale and keeps you inspired to carry on pursuing your fitness and weight loss goals. You just know where to look for it.

Third, by measuring the right parameters we can actually learn a great deal about our bodies and how our own unique metabolism works. The thing is there is no need to do anything too complicated as at the end of the day you are not a walking and talking science lab, you are a person with a life to live. Spending too much time focusing on all the tiny details distracts you from keeping an eye on the big picture, which is what matters the most.

This last part, to me, is the most important and was a big eye opener not long ago. When I get bored (it happens often) I inadvertently start looking for trouble. In my case it’s usually something to do with movement or exercise or crazy travel. So a couple of years ago I started to research online weight loss programs, joined a couple of weight loss contests just to see how it all works. The first program was straight forward and very similar to anything you would find in a gym and it worked to a certain extent. The second program was more about learning how to unlock my own unique fat loss formula and it yielded interesting results.

I must say in both instances I didn’t have much weight to lose to begin with, just a little bit of winter flab and I was after the learning experience more than anything else. I was part of a large group of people, both men and women of all ages and sizes. After the first month of the programme most people lost ridiculous amounts of inches of body fat whereas I might have only lost 1 or maybe 1.5″ around my waist. However what I didn’t expect was the amount of strength that I gained: it was like turning the clock back 10 years or more. Eventually I too lost all the inches I wanted to lose but unlike a lot of other people in the contest it took me a bit longer to get there and had I not been measuring my strength I might have believed that nothing was happening.

Regardless of what programme you follow these are my top tips for measuring progress:

1. The scientific method to measure your progress

This system is repeatable and, if done right, will give you a clear indication of how you are progressing through your journey. The trick is in doing it right, or rather in a way that allows you to take accurate measurements every time.

To do this you will need a few bits of equipment: at the most basic level you will need a scale (one of those that measures fat% levels) and a measuring tape. The weight reading is the least important piece of information but what you are interested in is the % of lean body mass and fat. Unless you go for the supa dupa equipment that places electrodes on your body you won’t get a very accurate reading of your body fat % but you will get a figure and you can work with it. Reductions in this figure may be very small in % terms (which is depressing) but a 0.5% decrease in body fat can translate to 0.5Kg or more depending on your initial weight (which is rather exciting).

use a scale and tape to measure your progress

The next step is to measure circumferences and most specifically waist, hips and boobs as a minimum. Thighs, arms and neck can also be measured but in my experience is hard to get consistent measurements on your own and changes in these areas can be insignificant.

This is the really tricky part because in order to get meaningful information you must always measure around the same spot. This is usually referred to as the “widest part of” or the “narrowest part of” – the problem being that as your body changes shape, size and composition those parts might move and so you end up comparing measurements taken in different spots. So my advice would be to choose spots that are easy references: belly button, hip bones and nipples. The most important figure is the difference between previous measurements. If it’s constantly going down awesome, if it’s going up and down it’s normal, if it goes up all the time and you are getting flabby something’s not right and it’s time to review your routines.

The SMART Fitness Planner is a great tool to help you record your measurements and see how you are progressing over time. It’s inexpensive and available for immediate download 👉 here 👈.

P.S. Ladies, whenever you can, take your measurements on the same day of your cycle to eliminate distortion in your readings due to the natural fluctuations in water retention.

2. The clothes test

If like me you hate measuring stuff because the truth hurts too much, you can measure your progress by checking how your clothes fit. It’s by far the preferred method of the majority of my clients because it’s more discreet and they don’t have to tell me about their results even if I have 24/20 vision.

When using this method you can go two ways: check how baggy your existing clothes become or how much more comfortable the tighter ones become until they eventually fit. Both systems are inaccurate but will perhaps give you the most meaningful info i.e. whether you are going to rock that wedding dress or not. And most of the time this is all people are interested in.

One word of caution: don’t use denim as your measuring stick as it’s known to “relax” and will make you believe that you have shrunk more than you actually did. This is especially important to remember if you only wear those jeans 5 minutes to see if they go past your knees. The fabric will still relax.

3. The selfie test

take a selfie to measure your progress

Image by patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This way to measure your progress can be used in conjunction with number 2.

Choose an outfit, take a selfie.

28 days later wear the same outfit, take a selfie.

Compare.

Repeat every 28 days so you are more or less at the same point in your cycle.

You can also do this in a bikini and it will give you visual proof of your progress and how your body shape is changing over time. You can find some tips on how to take the perfect selfie 👉 here. 👈

This method is great for the most skeptical people that don’t believe it when people tell them how much they have changed, which brings me to…

4. The family, friends and strangers test

This is the point where your ability to accept a compliment is being tested.

As you make progress in your body makeover journey the changes will become visible and outsiders will notice and pay you random compliments. The greener your friends are when they do that the bigger your change  😉

Seriously now, this is social proof that your efforts have been worthwhile and that you are on the right way. I know that seeking validation outside of ourselves is never a very smart idea but I also know that it feels good to get the occasional serotonin rush from a compliment and there is nothing wrong with being nice to each other just for the hell of it. It’s not as if it’s expensive.

So why not be open to compliments? They will come, inevitably, and sometimes from the most unexpected sources.

5. The strength test to measure your progress

What to do if you can’t get any positive signs from any of the methods above?

You can measure your progress by measuring your strength: is it getting easier to do push-ups, squats, climb stairs or walk around the block? If the answer is yes then changes are happening “behind the scenes” and may not be visible for a while longer. If the answer is no then you need to do a reality check and if you are sure that you have followed your programme to the letter, it’s time to tweak it. This is something that needs to be done by everyone on a regular basis so don’t feel bad if you don’t see any results straight away as you have at least learned what doesn’t work for you.

As you can see there are many options available and they will all give you an idea of whether your chosen program is working or not.

If you are under the guidance of a fitness coach you can discuss your results (or lack of) with them so that you can take corrective action and boost your chances of success.

The SMART Fitness Planner is a great tool to help you stay on track: it shows you which parameters are the most important and then gives you regular reminders on when it’s time to check and record your figures.

You can download the digital version here and get started right away!  👉 👉 👉 👉

What’s your favourite method to measure your progress?

 

The haybarn workout

haybarn1This morning I was on hay & straw delivery duties at the stables. It happens once every 3 or 4 weeks and is always a good reason to have a moan upon waking up. The reason is that when you get a whole bunch of men and women together in a barn they seem to almost completely lose their ability to perform simple algebra and keep count of how many of this have been stacked here and how many there.

As we were busy doing a chain moving each bale from the delivery truck to its storage place via many, many hands the lady next to me in the line pointed out that this would classify as a jolly good workout and suggested I should bring my clients next time…

I thought about it and she was right. By paying attention to my lifting technique I made sure to squat for each bale that I was picking up from the floor. So that makes it approximately 100 weighted squats.

Then there were twists to pass the heavy bale to the next person standing in the corridor in between the pallets followed by another twist to the opposite side before picking the next bale after dodging it when thrown off the cart by the young lad who apparently has the majority of his muscles in his mouth (according to his father).

As much as I think it would be a good idea for my well groomed clients to experience true functional training on a Sunday morning I doubt I would be able to persuade them to get sweaty and dirty in the barn. However if anyone reading this is interested just let me know in the comments box below and if you work hard enough we might even make you a cuppa when we are done!

Mythbuster: “I don’t have enough space to exercise”

I have enough space to exercise

Tap the image to watch my vlog on IGTV in which I show you my home gym setup. WORKS BEST ON MOBILE! You can repin it tooif you click here!

Today I would like to discuss another “myth” that many of my new of prospective clients seem to hold true: you need massive amounts of space and a lot of equipment to be able to exercise.

My answer is that this is simply not true unless of course you are practicing sports like athletics, basketball or gymnastics, etc.

If you are looking to get fit from nothing and want to shed weight you don’t need a lot of space at all.

As a general, very rough, guide… if you can dance in your front room without bruising your elbows or bashing your knees on the furniture you have enough space.

If you can fit a giant tv screen on your wall you definitely have a room big enough to exercise in. And if you can fit a double sofa bed in the room, well… you guessed it: you definitely have plenty of space. 😉

 

image

This is my home gym: a yoga mat, a pair of dumbbells and a swiss ball that doubles up as a bench.

Within this area I have been able to do anything from simple body weight exercises to more contemplative heavy lifting to hardcore metabolic workouts, full on yoga sessions and even learned a lot of my hula hooping skills in that small area.

Not to mention that when I had a pole in the front room I learned a lot of the super advanced stuff on it in the comfort of my tiny front room which for a while doubled as a Thai Yoga Massage treatment room (but that’s another story for a different blog).

So if you find yourself stressing over not having enough space, think again. If you can fit a yoga mat on the floor you have all the space you need to do enough exercises to get your beach body on.

Want help getting your beach body on? Start by booking a complimentary 30 minute breakthrough call and let’s see how I can help you achieve your fitness goals in whatever space is available to you.



WANT A “HOME GYM” LIKE MINE?

1″ thick interlocking mats – Dumbells set – Swiss ball – Static bikeHula HoopMartial arts belt

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Want a new challenge? Pole Fitness may be the answer.

Pole Dancing Moves

Pole fitness offers many benefits: it helps you develop all over body strength, encourages flexibility, stimulates creativity, is uplifting, it teaches you to step out of your comfort zone in order to achieve the impossible. It’s also character forming because of all the physical and mental challenges it presents, “forces” you to switch off from your daily worries and treat yourself to some nurturing “me” time… and let’s not forget that pole dancing does help you lose weight and sculpt your body whilst celebrating your femininity at the same time.

With consistent training you can expect your fitness levels to improve together with your strength and stamina giving you a beautifully toned body while also learning to express yourself through dance.

ButterflyIt doesn’t matter what gender, age or size you are: typically, pole fitness students come from all walks of life. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that our average pole fitness students were never super gifted athletes but perfectly ordinary women with an extraordinary zest for life who wanted to explore a different way to achieve their fitness goals whilst having awesome fun in the process. Having said that, once the pole addiction takes over, you are likely to find yourself determined to nail those funky moves discovering the vast amounts of courage that you never knew you had.

Good private lessons should be suitable for anyone wishing to get into a fabulous shape in a friendly and supportive environment without going to the gym. They ought to be about you as an individual. A good class will inspire you to leave the rest of the world and its worries behind and focus on connecting with the sexy, elegant and fun loving person that you are, and hopefully you will leave your lesson with a very light heart and a renewed passion for life.

During each lesson you might learn a combination of floor work, dance moves around the pole and different spins and tricks. Once you have mastered your beginners moves you can expect be taken through conditioning workouts and stretching sessions to make sure you are ready to tackle the more advanced stuff. Every time you master a new move your self esteem will soar to unprecedented heights giving you unimaginable confidence that will have a positive effect in all areas of your life.

Make sure that your instructors are fully qualified fitness professionals thus enabling you to achieve consistent progress at a pace that suits you best.

Don’t miss out! And remember…

Pole dancing is great fun,
great exercise & a great giggle!

When I used to pole…

PortraitI remember joining Polemania School of Fitness as a student in December 09 inspired by Maxine Bett’s winning performance at Miss Pole Dance UK 2009 and decided that I had to have a go. After all I started my sporting life with gymnastics at the age of 6 and was competing at regional level in Italy by the age of 8. At the age of 14, after developing a strong aversion to the beam, I moved on to jazz dance and performed several times in shows and competitions that I also choreographed. So, pole dancing huh? How hard can that be?!

Practicing Chi Sau with Grand Master Ip Chun outside the Ip Man Museum in Foshan, PRC

Practicing Chi Sau with Grand Master Ip Chun outside the Ip Man Museum in Foshan, PRC

Before I come to that it’s worth mentioning a few other adventures. After a short break from sports to pursue a qualification in Sound Recording Engineering, I moved to the UK where I returned to one of my favourite activities: martial arts.

This saw me travelling to Hong Kong and mainland China to study Kung Fu with Bruce Lee’s instructor and, a year or so after that, to the Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro to improve my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. On top of this I also earned a 1st degree brown belt in Kapatiran Arnis (Escrima) that I combined with a broken arm and wrist. So, again, pole dancing…  how hard could it be? Really.

Based on the theory that when horses break their legs responsible owners are supposed to walk them in hand to subject their bones to increased weight load I decided to try a form of exercise that wouldn’t put me in harms way (ha ha ha) and no bruising (ha ha ha). Pole dancing seemed to be the answer and it was my way to gently return to full-on exercise following my martial arts injury.

Despite soon discovering that my assessment of pole fitness exertion levels was totally wrong after finding myself crippled in bed 48 hours after my very first lesson, it was only a matter of time before the “new hobby” became a “new addiction” being now able to reinvent my old gymnastics antics and dance routines on, around, slightly sideways and up and down the pole. I was a quick learner and in May 2010, just before my 4* birthday and my final exam towards a degree in Social Sciences, much to my surprise, I completed my pole dance instructor course run by Maxine and in October 2010 was handed over the running of the Burnham on Crouch studio (in Essex).

In 2011 I was finally able to realize one of my long held pole dancing dreams: train with some of my superheroes. First up were a couple of workshops with Karol Helmes, then a couple of workshops with Jenyne Butterfly and finally a double workshop and private lesson with Zoraya Judd. These were invaluable experiences as each one of these pole artistes provided me with the inspiration to keep on pushing my boundaries and learn even more advanced moves.

My pole dancing superheroes

Although I have since stopped teaching and practicing courtesy of my chronic fatigue, I still believe that pole fitness is a really great form of exercise and one of the best ways to get and stay fit as part of any weight loss and body sculpting program. I also found that for myself (and for most of my ex students) pole dancing was a way to connect to my feminine side, which I neglected for many years while being busy with a career and studying martial arts. Oh the joy of being able to wear stilettos at the “gym” and be able to allow my body to follow the music and be free to explore my sensuality…

There is really no other sport quite like it.

Curtsy Lunges For Perfect Buns

Curtsy lunges are a variation of the ordinary forward or reverse lunges and are performed along a different plane by activating the inner thigh muscles to achieve the crossover movement. When performed correctly they will help you sculpt and tone your legs, hips and buns for that super hot look and the strength to match.

When you execute a curtsy lunge you engage 4 different muscle groups in your lower body:

    • quadriceps: front of your thighs, you use them to squat and stand up;
    • hamstrings: back of your thighs, you use them at the same time as the quadriceps;
    • gluteals: bun muscles, the curtsy lunge especially targets the muscles on the outside of your buttocks that are normally used to pull your leg towards your body;
    • soleus/gastrocnemius: calf muscles, in this exercise they act as stabilizers for your legs and you use them every time you push yourself back up into the starting position

Start by standing with your feet shoulders width apart. Cross your right foot behind your left into a curtsy lunge making sure that the left knee is still facing forward and is right over your ankle. Don’t let it roll in or out. Your body should be upright and your toes should be pointing forward. Bring your right foot back to starting position.

Start off with 3 sets of 10 lunges (5 on each leg) and build up to 3 sets of 30 lunges. When you can do these comfortably you can make the exercise more challenging by adding weights.