Glute Gains

Bums are seriously big news at the moment. It started with J Lo, then Beyonce and then it went crazy with Nikki Minaj and the Kardashians.

I think the celebration of a shapely derriere is a good thing-not just because of course they look great in those skinny jeans (lads) but because a strong set of glutes can help to ward off back, hip and knee pain and being the biggest muscle in the body burns a lot of calories when you train it.

The problem is of course that we tend to spend a lot of time just sitting on them and they don’t always get a huge amount of work just walking around.

So lets get to building that bum like Beyonce whether you want it for injury rehab/prevention reasons or just so the person behind you can bounce a ball off it.

My first super easy life hack to help is to always go up the stairs two at a time. I promise you just doing that a couple of times per day as and when you climb stairs will start to add up-and you get up the stairs faster.

For some serious reshaping though they are going to need some work.

10 reps x 4 sets.

 

Can be done with weights or without.

Bridge Half Lifts

Hyper extension

Kneeling Squat

Sumo Squat

 

Are You In A Funk?

Are you in a bit of a workout funk?

Maybe over the summer you spent more time exercising outside and now you are back in the gym you’ve kind of lost your enthusiasm.

Well, I like to tackle this a couple of ways.

  1. Keep your workouts short. If you only know you need to do 30mins then it doesn’t seem so daunting.
  2. Keep it really simple. There’s no need for a split body part, high days, low days 6 days per week if you really aren’t even feeling like turning up at all.

Short, doesn’t have to mean HIIT training. Just doing 30 mins gentle job or cycle or a simple circuit of exercises to target a couple of body parts just a couple of days a week will be enough to at least keep you in the habit and feeling fairly fit and hopefully help to bring back your motivation long term.

I particularly like to keep it simple. Although of course there is a place for some of the more adventurous workouts, I do find it really off putting to do a workout that requires setting up lots of equipment etc. when I’m short on time. So instead I pick a couple of more bang for your buck exercises using easy to access equipment such as machines, dumbbells or kettlebells.

Here’s a couple of workouts you could try to help you get back into your routine.

10 x 4

Squat (Bodyweight, Hold a Dumbbell/Kettlebell, Use a Barbell)

Lat Pull down-Machine

Reverse Lunge (off a box if you have one nearby)Hold a weight if you want to.

Chest Press-Dumbbell or Bar

Plank-1min

Side Plank Dips

 

2.

4 Turkish Get Ups (2 each side)

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Mountain Climbers

X 5

Up Your Energy Levels

We all rely on Caffeine-me included and of course carbs and sugar (guilty again!) but is there a better to way to sustain our energy levels.

Not just in the get more sleep and exercise way, but day to day how can we remain bright and perky all day without resorting to quick fixes.

First up and in my opinion the most over looked and important one.

Stay hydrated. Tea and Coffee don’t count! Just plain old water but also herbal teas and sugar free squash count too. I am obsessed with Herbal tea! Peppermint and Liquorice, Chai and Spearmint are my current faves.

Take supplements.-Adaptagens such as Maca powder or Ginseng can help –You can have it as a tea or blend it into smoothies or porridge.

Magnesium, although commonly used to calm nerves and muscles can have an effect on energy levels as it has an effect on your circadian rhythm (body clock) meaning adequate Magnesium aids deep sleep quality. Magnesium is commonly depleted from high caffeine intakes so if you are a regular caffeine adding topping up your magnesium might help. It is available as a supplement in a spray, bath salt or it is found in dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables (cabbage, spinach, kale) and in nuts.

Vitamin B6 and B12 are very often deficient in those with low energy levels. If you are really struggling taking a Vitamin containing both of these should help.

If you have got some serious tired, brain fog going on, I find either going outside if it’s possible even just for 10 mins or doing just 10 mins of mindfulness or meditation can help to clear your head to press back on with that to do list.

Do it for your health

Have you been yo yo dieting for most of your life, lost some weight, put it back on; got really fit then not been to the gym for months rinse and repeat? Then you got fed up of this so you’ve just given up and accepted that you will be unfit and overweight forever?

To be honest I have no problem with people who don’t want to be skinny, or who don’t enjoy the gym. The only thing I think you have a responsibility for is to be healthy-and that encompasses both from a body movement and a nutrition sense.

 

How you go about that can take many forms.

If you are overweight then there’s a good chance you aren’t eating as healthily as you could be. However if weight loss just stresses you out at the thought of it, why not instead focus on eating more vegetables, drinking more water but still enjoying your treats. This isn’t because it will help you to lose weight but because ensuring you get all the right nutrients into your body will give you the best chance of staying healthy-eating plenty of fruit and veg is the way to do this.

Ok, in terms of fitness you don’t need to be able to run a marathon but you need to be mobile enough to carry out your daily activities pain free, and to hopefully stay independently mobile into old age.

These aren’t about aesthetics they are about looking after your body so that you can hopefully prevent serious illness and remain independent into old age.

So, if it’s not your thing or you’re sick of the pressure; forget the weight loss and super fit and focus instead on adopting healthy habits to do just that-keep you healthy.

  • Keep a 1 litre water bottle on your desk and try to get through it twice per day.
  • Eat some fruit or vegetables with every meal.
  • Do some form of activity 3-5 times per week. That can be anything from a walk, an exercise class or dancing around the kitchen with your kids, whatever you enjoy doing.

These aren’t unachievable things, and if you can try and incorporate them into your life as much as you can I promise you will feel fitter and healthier, you’ll find carrying those bottles of wine easier too…..

Stop The Stress Competition

I reckon if we polled the country 99.99% would say that they are stressed. It’s become like a permanent state for many people. To be honest I feel like for many people it has become a bit of a badge of honour like if you aren’t stressed with too much to do surely that means you are lazy and not doing enough?

 

I have definitely been guilty of this in the past, and the thing is Stress is actually really bad for our health so why on earth would we celebrate that? It would be like being really pleased with yourself for drinking a lot of alcohol……..

 

So how does stress affect our bodies.

 

When we are stressed our bodies produce the hormone adrenaline. This switches on our fight or flight system as back in caveman times it was needed to help us run away from predators. Now we aren’t running away from something that might eat us,  that predator may be your boss, running late etc. Adrenaline is great in emergency situations it’s what responsible for those people that are able to lift cars off people or other crazy feats of humanity, it basically keeps us hyper alert to help us survive. In the short term adrenaline raises our heart rate and blood pressure and speeds up the metabolism of glucose in the blood. This then returns to normal when the stressful situation ends.

 

However as we are now more and more constantly stressed our bodies are producing adrenaline all the time. We struggle to return to homeostasis. This means we are at risk of prolonged high heart rate (heart palpitations) and high blood pressure, dizziness, fainting and potentially diabetes due to the Glucose metabolism. An over production of adrenaline can also be a contributor to anxiety.

 

Now just because you aren’t at the heart palpitations and fainting position doesn’t mean you don’t need to take your stress levels seriously.

 

If we continually hold stress and tension in our bodies it can cause headaches, muscular pain and stiffness. The constant tension causes us to feel constantly tired and if we then can’t relax we struggle to sleep despite the tiredness-have you ever been so tired you can’t sleep-trust me it’s a thing.

 

So what can we do?

 

Well start prioritising your well being. Stop feeling guilty for turning things down to create more time to switch off.

 

Make an effort to get plenty of sleep-the mantra of I’ll sleep when I’m dead will actually only lead you to being dead quicker than if you’d got that sleep in.

 

Find things that switch your brain off, whether that’s meditation, reading a book or watching rubbish tv-Love Island anyone…….

 

Be kind to your body, for many people the gym, running etc is a stress reliever however they can in the short term increase adrenaline so if you’re already at the burnt out stage of things try walking, gentle yoga and massage to help you relax instead.

 

And finally let’s stop making how much stress we are under and how tired we are some sort of badge of honour. Instead make time to address the imbalance and then when someone asks how you are answer “I’m great” and avoid getting into the who’s busier competition.

 

Right I’m off for some herbal tea and to read my book, Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine by Gail Honeyman if you’re interested.

Improve your performance

When I tell people that I train athletes ranging from Horse riders, Triathletes and Golfers they presume I’m training them in those specific sports-you know like a riding instructor, running, swimming, cycling and golf coach all into one………….

That would make me a serious jack of all trades and …………….

So, if I’m not training them in their sport what am I doing to improve their performance? Well with many of them I’m improving their specific flexibility and stability needs using Yoga.

I can look firstly at the specific demands of the sport on the body and use specific exercises to improve those areas. For example riders need a flexible front hip to achieve the correct alignment, but also incredibly stable hips to maintain control of their bodies whilst riding. Yoga can be used to both open up the hips and work on stability.

I can then look at the areas which may be over used in a certain posture, over time this could cause problems resulting in injury. For example cyclists spend a lot of time in a forward dominant position with a closed chest and hips. To maintain balance in the body I give exercises to open up the front of the body. They do not need to be overly flexible at the front but a balanced front to back should be an aim to hopefully prevent over use injury.

You do not need to be an athlete of a specific sport to benefit from adding yoga into your training. Even a regular gym goer, weightlifter etc. can benefit from some proper stretching and stability work to prevent imbalances and fingers crossed ward of injury.

It is also a really good way to relax the mind and body, releasing tension that leaves fresh and ready to attack your next session. So why not try adding a yoga session into your exercise routine and see how it can improve your performance.

If you would like some specific help in your yoga routine, or perhaps you are a member of a running, cycling, triathlon club etc. and would like your own class get in touch!

 

Fresh Start September

I’m pretty sure no matter how old you get September will always have a back to school vibe.

I actually find this feeling really useful as September is a great time to regroup and reflect on your goals this year. How have you done? Have your goals changed? Then, what do you want to achieve before the end of 2018.

I don’t want to alarm anyone but there are only 16 weeks of 2018 left!

So you can take this September reboot as either

  1. What do you want to achieve before the end of 2018?

Or

  1. What do you want to achieve in 2019 that you can get a head start on now?

Whichever option you want to take, the best way to ensure success is to spend some time making yourself a plan.

I imagine over summer with holidays and the sun actually came out etc. your exercise and nutrition routine looked a little different to how it’s going to look across September and onwards into winter.

How is that going to change your exercise method and routine? Are you going to keep up those evening runs around the block or are you going to have to find a winter alternative?

Your diet might also change; salads might be swapped for soup, you may be more inclined to seek out comfort foods etc.

So, get a pen ready, piece of paper, laptop, diary whatever it is you want to use.

  • Set your goal. What do you want to achieve before the end of the year?
  • What are the steps you are going to take to get there?
  • Plan your training schedules
  • Plan your nutrition

September is your fresh start, no matter what has occurred in the previous 8 months of 2018 if there are still things you wish you had achieved you’ve still got time to get cracking, and if you’re well on your way with 2018 goals-why not get a head start for 2019!

If you want some help with your training over winter I have spots available at the studio for 1 2 1 training, and I am also available for one off goal setting and planning sessions so hit reply if you would like my help.

I like the way you breathe

We breathe all day every day without even thinking about it. It’s obviously an incredibly important job for your body as it keeps you alive.

 

However there are also a lot of other benefits to breathing but only if you are breathing correctly. Yes really there is a “correct “ way to breathe.

 

I bet you don’t even give it a second thought-surely if you are still alive you’re doing it right? Kind of but there’s other health benefits to be had if you give your breathing a little more time and effort.

 

The Diaphragm is a major player in good breathing. It sits under your rib cage kind of like a jelly fish with attachments on the ribs and spine. It contracts and drops down when you breathe to allow more oxygen in. Of course more Oxygen means more energy to your muscles, organs and cells to continually renew and regenerate. This is why better breathing is in its basic form just really good for your health.

 

Diaphragmatic breathing is used in Yoga and other relaxation programmes as a way to help us relax.

 

This is because the Vagus Nerve runs from the brain to the diaphragm and activating this nerve taps into our rest and digest system. That is in simple terms activating the Vagus Nerve tells your brain and therefore your body to relax. Tapping into this can be incredibly useful in times of stress.

 

The Diaphragm is also a key player in hip and back pain. This is because it attaches on the spine in the Lumbar region. Of course this is also where the hip flexors and many of the back muscles meet. Therefore any restriction and pull on the Diaphragm can cause restriction in the hips and back.

 

It has been shown that practicing Diaphragmatic breathing has a positive impact on back and hip pain.

 

Due to the links between inflammation and stress, Diaphragmatic breathing can also have a positive effect on other pain conditions. Whether this is due to the release on the muscular chain or because of the positive impact on the brain is up to you to decide-there’s no right or wrong answer just see if it works for you.

 

So how do we do this magical breathing?

 

Take a breath in and as you do let your  rib cage and belly expand. This activates the Diaphragm and therefore the relaxation button on that Vagus Nerve. As you breathe out, let your belly fall back down again, before starting again. Try doing 10-20 breaths like this throughout the day.

 

Shoulders, Elbows, Wrists

You would not believe the amount of people I see with elbow and wrist injuries that have no known cause, or they are given the age old “tennis elbow” etc. And told to rest. The rest doesn’t fix it so they then get told it’s arthritis…….

 

Yet I’ve seen many wrist and elbow injuries helped massively by addressing the function of the shoulder.

 

It’s simple anatomy and biomechanics application…………….

 

There are 3 nerves from the neck that run down the arm. The Median, Radial and Ulnar nerve. Any impingement of these nerves at the neck and shoulders can cause pain, numbness, tingling or loss of strength down the arm and hand as it travels down the nerve;  so why would we only look at the point of pain? As the saying goes “the victim screams louder than the perpetrator”

 

So what can you do if you’re struggling with shoulder, elbow or wrist pain?

 

Here are a couple of Nerve Mobilisation techniques that can help to free up any tethering.

Be warned sometimes it can bring on tingling, numbness, pins and needles as the nerve gets upset that you’ve moved it! It’s nothing to be worried about though just build up slowly at first if this happens.

 

First take your arm out to the side and either free hand or against a wall hyper extend your wrist so that your fingers are facing up as far as they will go. If you want to increase this, take your other hand and stretch your neck away from the arm you are nerve mobilising.

Now we are going to turn the hand over and face the fingers down, still with the wrist hyper extended. Again to increase the tension stretch the neck away.

As mentioned do this gently at first if it brings on symptoms, but try it daily for a week and see if your elbow and wrist pain improves…………..

Not another Knee Excuse

In my job I get lots of excuses as to why people can’t exercise. Often I haven’t actually suggested that they should………….which suggests the people giving said excuses know that they are just that-excuses!

Anyway, one of the most common ones I hear is bad knees. Seriously, from the “I can’t run, cycle, do a Zumba class” to the “I can’t do yoga……..” but you’re able to negotiate a McDonalds drive through………….

I’m not suggesting people don’t legitimately suffer from knee pain, however knee pain does not mean any amount of exercise will cause the knee to smash like glass leaving you unable to walk-in fact it’s quite the opposite!

There are also lots of reasons why someone has knee pain, and often people assume it is an old age thing and its arthritis and they should now stop using it to stop it getting worse.

Firstly, yes it may well be a little stiffer due to arthritic changes as you get older, however one of the best remedies to help deal with the pain, stiffness and inflammation of arthritis is ……………………..exercise! Dammit there goes that excuse!

I have also dealt with over my years as a trainer many clients who have thought they had knee problems due to arthritis etc. and yet after some soft tissue work (massage, foam rolling) and some strength work the knee problem lessens significantly and has often actually disappeared!

You see knee pain can also be caused by tightness, tension or weakness in the muscles surrounding it. The quads and hamstrings all attach above and below the knee and any restriction in those insertions by the knee will undoubtably cause pain in the knee area.

There is also the balance and strength of the hips and feet to take into account. If either of these areas is not functioning as it should it can place extra pressure on the knee giving it essentially a repetitive strain injury.

So, if you have a knee problem of course get it checked out by a Physio, but be suspicious of anyone who tells you to stop using it (literally no science to support this!) and instead find a form of exercise that you can do fairly comfortably and as it gets stronger you will find it is capable of much more with less pain.

A good start if it is really painful is swimming (even walking in a pool), cycling (although make sure the seat is around hip height) and in fact trampolining! These are all fairly low impact that can help you get start moving more pain free.

You should also incorporate some strength work with the guidance of a physio or rehab specialist (I’m one of those!) as the stronger the muscles the better able it is to support the joints.

We are all in this to stay as mobile as possible well in to old age and the saying “use it or lose it” absolutely relates to your body and movement. So, don’t let knee pain become your excuse for shirking exercise-science doesn’t support your excuses.