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Top 3 training tips by Alexa Towersey

1. Resistance Training: 

Combine four compound exercises in one giant set:

8–10 x Barbell Back Squats

»8–10 x Barbell Bent-Over Rows

»8–10 x Deadlifts

»6–8 x Pull-ups 

»24 x Barbell Walking Lunges

TIP: Rest for 2 minutes between rounds and complete 3 to 5 rounds

2. HIIT Training: I like 400m sprint repeats the best.  Start with 5 to 7 and increase each week. 60 to 90 seconds rest between.

TIP: Don’t do these on the same day as your weight training.

3. Tabata Protocols:  I like to use Tabata-style exercises as ‘finishers’ after a weight-training workout.  It’s essentially maximum reps of an exercise in 20 seconds followed by a 10-second rest and repeated for a total of eight rounds (4 minutes or 2:40 of actual work).

TIP: My preferred variations include thruster, squat jumps, air assault bike, burpees, mountain climber or deadmill.

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Top 3 training tips by Alexa Towersey

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The benefits of plyometric exercises

“The plyo box has been popular among athletes and hard-core fitness enthusiasts for a while now, but has become more mainstream since the introduction of CrossFit,” says elite trainer of over 15 years Matthew Strickland.

“They are great for cardio-based and high-intensity training, but can also be used for rehabilitative purposes and for evening out physique imbalances.”

Plyometric boxes and aerobic steps come in a range of heights and sizes to adhere to varying fitness levels and exercise goals. While fixed-height boxes are available and usually come in sets of three to four, try opting for a sturdy, adjustable step if you are tight on space. And if you aren’t confident in the jumps, we say go for foam rather than metal or wood versions: a lot less chance of skinned shins.

For cardio/fat loss: Plyometric training involves using explosive bodyweight movements to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time – making them the perfect fat-burning tool. Explosive movements also mean power and strength, especially in the lower body, can be achieved. Again, keep rest periods short and repetitions as high as possible – although given their taxing nature, sessions shouldn’t go much longer then 30 to 45 minutes. Tip: “When performing box jumps, start in a quarter squat and hinge from the hips to engage the hamstrings and glutes,” says Strickland. “Landings on the box should be soft to help avoid injury.”

For toning: While plyometric training is renowned for explosive bodyweight movements, Strickland says that there are a range of toning exercises that can be performed simultaneously. “Think anything from single-leg step-ups to incline push-ups using the box,” he says. “The varied range will target muscles you never even knew you had.”

“With proper technique, kettlebells can be used to train your entire body for both toning and fat-burning goals,” says Strickland. “I run a half-hour class and never repeat the same exercise, so boredom is never an issue.”

Compound movements such as the kettlebell swing, in which the centre of gravity shifts, work the entire body while moves native to dumbbell workouts often isolate one or two muscle groups.

“Kettlebells, in my experience, allow people to get deeper into the movements than say a dumbbell,” says Strickland.

For toning:  Kettlebells of varying weights can be used to load isolated muscle groups. When setting up your home gym, opt for a set of light, medium and heavy kettlebells to ensure everything from shoulders to legs can be worked. Strickland’s favourite for a killer lower-body toning session? “I often work some of my favourite kettlebell exercises into a circuit to ensure the muscles are exhausted while also providing a killer cardio and fat-burning workout,” he says. “Try a burpee to kettlebell deadlift to kettlebell upright row. Say no more, this will push your whole body to its limits, and then some.”

For fat loss/cardio: Fat loss and cardio fitness are best achieved through circuit-style training, with limited rest and higher repetitions to ensure the heart rate is elevated for long periods. Strickland suggests high-intensity interval work, with exercises performed for 45 seconds at max reps followed by a short 15-second rest. Sessions should last for about 20 to 30 minutes all up. “Work from the larger muscle to smallest, allowing you to achieve a wider variety of movements. It also means the most taxing, compound movements are completed first,” says Strickland.

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The benefits of plyometric exercises

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Do I need to be skinny to look toned?

 

Want to achieve that ‘shredded’ look? It usually requires an increase in muscle mass and a descrease in body fat.

Increased muscle mass (i.e. size, width and volume of your muscle fibres) will help your muscles become more visible beneath body fat; however, significant mass is not always necessary for improved tone.

According to exercise scientist Johann Ruys, “Muscle mass increase is generally associated with an increase in tone, but an increase in tone is not necessarily associated with a major increase in size.”

How to achieve that ‘shredded’ look

To achieve the ‘shredded’ look of a figure model, increased muscle mass is generally required – more so than for the taut, slender lines of a bikini model. However, the acquisition of either body would usually require a decrease in body fat.

“Less body fat will increase the ‘visible effect’ of tone,” says Ruys. “But tone can improve your shape, even with body fat.”

Figure competitors sport around five to 10 per cent body fat for a competition, but it’s certainly not kept that low all year round. This means that even for the most muscled individual, sculpted abs (or indeed a sculpted aesthetic) is not always a reality.

Alexa Towersey, personal trainer and co-founder of the Creating Curves program – a program based on her experience training models and Miss Universe competitors – says “The training you do in the gym creates the muscle tone or muscle mass, and the correct nutrition allows you to get lean enough to show it off at its full potential.

If you’re looking for clear muscle definition, you need to lose the subcutaneous, or surface, fat. It’s true when they say, ‘abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen’.”

 

Do I need to be skinny to look toned?

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Dynamic warm up routine

Warm up your muscles with cover model Alexa Towersey’s favourite warm up sequence. Alexa always incorporates a structured dynamic warm-up before every training session. It’s the perfect opportunity to prime the nervous system and prepare the muscles, reinforce correct movement patterns and identify and address any structural imbalances or weaknesses.

Learning how to switch ‘off’ the wrong muscles, and switch on the ‘right’ muscles, for the workout to come is the key to making your workouts more efficient and effective.

HOT TIPIf your hip flexors are tight, they can inhibit the glutes from firing, so you need to include a dynamic warm-up that focuses on opening up the hips first and then isolating and activating the glutes.Overhead Reverse Lunge x 10Step back into a reverse lunge, bringing the knee down to graze the ground as you reach your arms up and out of your hips towards the ceiling.

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Dynamic warm up routine

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How to lose the last two kilos

How to lose the last two kilos They say the last two kilograms are the hardest to lose, but we’ve found a loophole.

STEP 1.Calculate your baselineBasal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you’d burn per day if you were to lie in bed 24/7. It’s based on various factors including your height, age and body composition (a higher muscle to fat ratio will burn more calories even at rest).

To calculate your BMR, plug your deets into this equation (known as the Harris-Benedict equation):BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)e.g. a 30-year-old female measuring 167 cm tall and weighing 54.5 kg would compute 655 + 523 + 302 – 141 to get a maintenance level daily calorie need of 1,339, or 5,624 kJ, per day (multiply calories by 4.2 to convert to kJ lingo).

STEP 2.Body auditIf your numbers come in low, don’t panic. In addition to what you burn to maintain basic bodily functions, you need to add your other energy usage.

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How to lose the last two kilos

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Escalating density training with Alexa Towersey

Escalating density training with Alexa Towersey Take your workouts to the next level with this escalating density style training with celebrity trainer and Women’s Health and Fitness cover model Alexa Towersey.Get involved in the movement and #rawfitspo on Instagram and follow @whandfmag for more.

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Escalating density training with Alexa Towersey

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How to use your resistance bands for recovery and toning

How to use your resistance bands for recovery and toning You’ll be suprised at how resistance bands can come in handy when it comes to activation, recovery and toning.Also known as physio bands or Thera-Bands, resistance bands are often used to improve flexibility or for rehabilitative purposes.“Resistance bands are great for rehabilitation from injury as they don’t load the spine or put pressure on the joints to the same extent as heavy weights,” says elite trainer of over 15 years Matthew Strickland.“When added to your stretching routine, they can allow you to reach a deeper stretch than you might otherwise be able to achieve, aiding recovery and improving flexibility.”While resistance bands do not correspond to a specific weight and cannot load the muscle to the same extent as a dumbbell, they can also be used to add tension and tone specific muscle groups, such as the glutes, calves, shoulders, back and biceps, and are perfect if dumbbells or similar are out of reach at home or while travelling. They can also aid in activating muscle groups in preparation for heavier lifts.Resistance bands come in varying levels of stretch, from light to heavy, and are usually colour coded.“Heavier bands should be used for larger muscle groups such as the legs or glutes, while lighter bands can be used for muscles that don’t require a heavy load to work them, such as the shoulders,” says Strickland.For activation/toning: Warm-ups that are dynamic, rather than static, can help to increase movement ranges and activate the muscle groups that your workouts will target. “Dynamic warm-ups are important as they prepare the muscles, prime the nervous system and give you an opportunity to reinforce proper technique,” says trainer Alexa Towersey. To prime the glutes and hamstrings for a lower body session, try glute raises with a resistance band tied around the knees; concentrate on pushing your knees outwards, against the bands, as you raise your hips upward to really get the booty working.

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How to use your resistance bands for recovery and toning

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Paige Hathaway

14 hours 42 minutes ago

Here's some #MondayMotivation for you!
A reminder to eat your veggies, do your biceps curls and don't let boys be mean to you.. because if they do.. then you can put them in a headlock and choke 'em out 😝😤 #imhalfwaykidding

Paige Hathaway

20 hours 56 minutes ago

Why did you start your fitness journey?
Was it because of a bad break up? Did you do it to get healthy and in shape for your kids? Maybe it was for a fitness competition? ...Or one day did you just look in the mirror and decide right then and there to make a change? WHY DID YOU START? And what motivation do you have to continue?!!

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