Tag Archive | "fitness"

The best ways to stay hydrated

Feeling thirsty, light-headed, tired, headachey, a dry mouth and lips are early signs of dehydration, so read our guide to what’s best to drink.

1= Water Water is the perfect hydrator. You should aim to drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid (six to eight 250ml glasses) a day and increase this to 2.5 litres in hot weather, when you lose more fluid through sweat. This fluid can be from a variety of drinks, says the Natural Hydration Council, but water is calorie- and fat-free and easily absorbed by the body. However, if you’re working out for longer than 60 minutes, switch to an isotonic sports drink (see below).

2= Squash or diluted fruit juice If you find water boring, try highly diluted squash or fruit juice, for example, 100ml of fruit juice to one litre of water. ‘Carbohydrates, such as sugar, have to be broken down in the gut, which can slow down the rate at which fluids pass into the bloodstream,’ says nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire of the Natural Hydration Council, so don’t be tempted to drink stronger juices. Smoothies are also too sugary to help you hydrate efficiently.

3= Sports drinks A 2008 study found sports drinks don’t necessarily hydrate your body as fast as water, but they do provide a quick energy source. ‘If you’re doing more than 60 minutes of exercise in one session and will do more later in the day, it’s good to use an isotonic drink,’ says Derbyshire. Isotonic drinks help replace lost minerals and provide some carbohydrate as fuel. Only have energy drinks, or ‘hypertonic’ drinks, with a higher level of carbohydrate, after doing very high levels of exercise, to quickly replace muscle glycogen stores.

4= Tea A recent UK study found drinking up to four mugs of black tea with milk a day is just as hydrating as drinking the same quantity of water. However, Derbyshire says the caffeine in tea starts acting as a diuretic (increases fluid loss by causing you to pass more urine) when you exceed around five cups a day, so go easy or switch to herbal teas.

5= Coconut water Fresh coconut water is naturally isotonic, with a 330ml serving containing more potassium than two bananas plus five other naturally occurring electrolytes. It has one-fifth of the sugar found in fruit juice, plus a little fibre. Derbyshire says there are few published studies on its hydrating abilities and it lacks salts, but it could be a good post-exercise hydrator. Try Vita Coco from Waitrose and Tesco; vitacoco.co.uk

6= Soft drinks Carbonated drinks with sugar, like many energy drinks, provide lots of empty calories. They’re also acidic, so can damage your teeth when drunk regularly. Even vitamin-fortified drinks branded as ‘healthy’ can contain as much sugar as a cola.

For more great post-workout nutrition tips, subscribe to Health & Fitness magazine. We’ll give you three issues for £1.

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The best ways to stay hydrated

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10 reasons to get on your bike and achieve your summer body!

 What’s not to love about cycling? There’s no greater pleasure than the feeling of freedom you get pedalling out on the open road. And let’s not forget that cycling – whether on an indoor bike in the gym or touring the streets – is the perfect way to get your exercise fix. Here are our favourite reasons to saddle up today.

Reason 1: Keep slim

Want an awesomely fit body? Hit the spin bike! High-intensity spinning classes offer a great head-to-toe toning workout and they’re suitable for everyone – regardless of your fitness level. The interval sessions really challenge your lower body and the calorie-burning potential is pretty impressive, too. ‘The most beneficial part of spin classes is the intervals, as they challenge the body so
you can get the most out of your workout,’ says Chris Foster, professional head
of fitness at nuffield health (nuffieldhealth.com). Looking for a fresh alternative to your regular spin class? Check out BOOM Cycle, it’s an awesome indoor cycling class with an emphasis on fun and great music, it’s a firm team WF favourite (boomcycle.co.uk). 

Reason 2: It’s better for the environment

Nobody wants to live in a world clogged up with unhealthy carbon emissions that wreak havoc on health. So ditch your car and get on your bike instead. A study by the European Cyclists Federation found that Europe could reduce its CO2 emissions by a quarter if its population cycled as regularly as the Danes.
In Denmark the average person cycles almost 600 miles annually, while the average Brit logs in a meagre 46 miles each year. 

Reason 3: See the world

Whizzing around on two wheels is the perfect workout to take you away from home and out exploring new places. ‘Cycling lets you see the world – whether you want to hit the MTB trails or head out for a ride on the road. You can travel to places that you didn’t even realise existed and appreciate buildings and views that you have only ever bypassed in the car,’ enthuses Wiesia Kuczaj, cyclist and Sigma Sport Team MuleBar Girl (mulebar.com).

Reason 4: Add years to your life

Turn your commute into your workout and not only will you save money, you could also lengthen your lifespan. A 20-year study by Copenhagen’s Bispebjerg University Hospital found that women who cycled every day at a vigorous pace lived on average 3.9 years longer than slow cyclists. So get pedalling hard, people!

Reason 5: Improve joint health

The low-impact nature of cycling makes it an accessible sport for those who are at risk of joint injury and also enables them to increase the volume and intensity of their riding at a faster pace. ‘Consequently, cycling may help you to reach your health and fitness goals more quickly than is possible in more technical and/or weight bearing sports, such as running,’ explains performance coach James Hewitt (jameshewitt.net).

Reason 6: Boost your mood

A brisk bike ride (riding at 85 per cent of your maximum capacity) sends endorphins flying for hours after. Cycling has been found to triple the levels of the feel-good chemicals circulating in the bloodstream. ‘Even if you’re riding slowly, just three low-intensity bike rides per week can result in significant improvements in feelings of energy,’ says James. 

Reason 7: Get fast results

If you don’t have time to factor lengthy exercise sessions into your schedule, cycling is the perfect solution. ‘If improving fitness is your goal, research suggests that just two weeks of 22-minute, high-intensity cycling workouts may be as effective at improving measures of cardiovascular fitness as 90-120-minute, moderate-intensity rides,’ James says. 

Reason 8: Improve heart health

Cycling is also good for your heart. A 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal found that cyclists who clocked up 20 miles a week were 50 per cent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than non-cyclists. Sounds like a good reason to get pedalling!

Reason 9: Cycling kit is cool

The boom in biking has resulted in an influx of ultra-fashionable, yet functional, wardrobe options. ‘Gone are the days of woollen jerseys and questionably short shorts. Cycling, its equipment and its attire have been near the head of sports innovation for a number of years; developing kit that not only works, but looks good, too,’ says Wiesia. 

Reason 10: Make new friends

Getting on your bike will help you get your social fix while working out. Cycling clubs are a great way to foster new friendships with like-minded people and improve fitness at the same time. ‘Cycling for many is a great way to catch up with friends. Get online and find your nearest cycling club to join and meet fellow cyclists,’ advises Wiesia.

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10 reasons to get on your bike and achieve your summer body!

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Five reasons to start boxing

It’s the workout that’s got supermodels and A-listers all of a flutter, and with good reason. Boxing is a great all over workout, boosting strength and fitness in one fell swoop. It can also burn around 700 calories a session, but just don’t take it from us. Pamela Lai, Fitness Coordinator at Slice Studios, reveals why boxing is a knockout (…sorry!) way to get fit: 

 

1. It’s a fat burner:

‘Boxing is the ultimate interval training workout. Pushing your heart rate to the max with rest intervals is one of the best ways to burn fat and increase your metabolism at rest.’ 

 

2. It improves your coordination:

‘Martial arts and of course boxing require a high level of eye hand coordination. Kicking and punching to a target, being your PT’s pads, punching bag or simply an imaginary opponent, will mean your reflexes need to be fast!’ 

 

3. A huge stress buster:

Boxing will improve your mood on different levels. First of all it will require concentration to perform the moves. It will also improve your confidence and finally as a form of exercise, it will produce endorphins, responsible for increased energy and feel good mood.’ 

 

4. A great total body workout:

There isn’t a muscle you won’t be needing while boxing! Upper body: shoulders, back, arms and core will all be involved while punching. Quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes will work when kicking, ducking and shuffling. An all over body complete workout.’ 

 

5. Get a leaner and more defined body:

‘By lowering your fat levels you will achieve a more lean and defined look. Strength training is a core part in preparation for a boxing, including effective exercises like squats, press ups and core strength work.’

Based in London? Get yourself down to Slice Studio’s Fighting Fit (a non-contact boxing class). Head to www.slicestudios.co.uk for more info.

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Five reasons to start boxing

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10 ways to beat your gym plateau

1) Mix it up If you suspect that your body has become accustomed to your regular exercises, try variations. Swap lunges for jumping lunges, press-ups for explosive press-ups and planks for one-legged planks.

2) Same muscle, different move Make sure your muscles don’t get too comfy by working them with different exercises. If you’re used to pumping your pecs with a press-up, try switching to a bench press.

3) Get into intervals
If your cardiovascular workouts consist of interval training, you’re onto something good. But there’s no point in keeping the intervals the same forever. Make sure that you’re constantly upping the ante by shortening the periods of rest and increasing the intensity when it comes to sprints.

4) Time for change If you’re a lunchtime gym bunny, set your alarm for early morning workouts, and vice versa. Disrupting your body clock will give your muscles a wake-up call to get working again.

5) Stick it in reverse Too busy to devise a whole new plan? Just do everything that you do already… but in reverse order. It’ll make a nice change for both your body and your motivation.

6) Give it a rest
If you don’t give your muscles time to recover, they’ll reach a catabolic state, in which the tissue breaks down. This slows your metabolism and stops you losing weight and building muscle.

7) Drink up Glugging plenty of water is important. It’s good for the metabolism and helps transport oxygen around the body, assisting muscle recovery. Gym bunnies should drink an extra litre per workout.

8) Count on it
To rouse your muscles, perform as many reps as you can in a certain amount of time. For instance, instead of a set of 12 biceps curls, try as many biceps curls as possible in 30 seconds.

9) Ommm…
Stretching is essential – but yoga is one better. It boosts circulation, draws oxygen to the muscles, removes lactic acid and melts away the stress that causes muscle depletion and fat storage.

10) Eat up If you’re wondering why, despite being strict with your diet, you’re not shifting those extra pounds, it might be because you’re not eating enough. Your body is very clever, and when you’re not eating enough – particularly if you exercise – it will slow the metabolism right down. So eat a rich and varied diet every day.

Subscribe to Women’s Fitness and we’ll give you three issues for £1.

Women running image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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10 ways to beat your gym plateau

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The best ways to stay hydrated

Feeling thirsty, light-headed, tired, headachey, a dry mouth and lips are early signs of dehydration, so read our guide to what’s best to drink.

1= Water Water is the perfect hydrator. You should aim to drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid (six to eight 250ml glasses) a day and increase this to 2.5 litres in hot weather, when you lose more fluid through sweat. This fluid can be from a variety of drinks, says the Natural Hydration Council, but water is calorie- and fat-free and easily absorbed by the body. However, if you’re working out for longer than 60 minutes, switch to an isotonic sports drink (see below).

2= Squash or diluted fruit juice If you find water boring, try highly diluted squash or fruit juice, for example, 100ml of fruit juice to one litre of water. ‘Carbohydrates, such as sugar, have to be broken down in the gut, which can slow down the rate at which fluids pass into the bloodstream,’ says nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire of the Natural Hydration Council, so don’t be tempted to drink stronger juices. Smoothies are also too sugary to help you hydrate efficiently.

3= Sports drinks A 2008 study found sports drinks don’t necessarily hydrate your body as fast as water, but they do provide a quick energy source. ‘If you’re doing more than 60 minutes of exercise in one session and will do more later in the day, it’s good to use an isotonic drink,’ says Derbyshire. Isotonic drinks help replace lost minerals and provide some carbohydrate as fuel. Only have energy drinks, or ‘hypertonic’ drinks, with a higher level of carbohydrate, after doing very high levels of exercise, to quickly replace muscle glycogen stores.

4= Tea A recent UK study found drinking up to four mugs of black tea with milk a day is just as hydrating as drinking the same quantity of water. However, Derbyshire says the caffeine in tea starts acting as a diuretic (increases fluid loss by causing you to pass more urine) when you exceed around five cups a day, so go easy or switch to herbal teas.

5= Coconut water Fresh coconut water is naturally isotonic, with a 330ml serving containing more potassium than two bananas plus five other naturally occurring electrolytes. It has one-fifth of the sugar found in fruit juice, plus a little fibre. Derbyshire says there are few published studies on its hydrating abilities and it lacks salts, but it could be a good post-exercise hydrator. Try Vita Coco from Waitrose and Tesco; vitacoco.co.uk

6= Soft drinks Carbonated drinks with sugar, like many energy drinks, provide lots of empty calories. They’re also acidic, so can damage your teeth when drunk regularly. Even vitamin-fortified drinks branded as ‘healthy’ can contain as much sugar as a cola.

For more great post-workout nutrition tips, subscribe to Health & Fitness magazine. We’ll give you three issues for £1.

Link to original – 

The best ways to stay hydrated

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Are you pushing yourself hard enough?

If you’re pottering along to the gym two or three times a week, but don’t feel you’re seeing real results, the answer may be simple. The workouts you’re doing may not be very effective, or you may not be working hard enough! But don’t worry, if you think you’re guilty of taking your foot off the gas, we’ve got four sure-fire ways to give your workouts the boost they’ve been waiting for!

Up the intensity While a 30-minute steady-state run has long been the fall back of many a fitness fan, research is now stacking up to show that these sorts of workouts are considerably less effective than those of a higher intensity and shorter length.

Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a bike with about a minute’s rest between, three times a week, is as effective at building muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously, according to research conducted by scientists at McMaster University in Canada. So ditching your slow and steady sessions on the treadmill, cross trainer or pavement for a shorter workout of sprints and rests should help you see results in no time.

Get a personal trainer
Sometimes there’s nothing like a scary ex-marine shouting at you from across the park to get your backside in gear. We’re all guilty of giving ourselves an easy ride now and again, so getting a personal trainer could be your route to the body you’ve always wanted.

Sometimes we simply underestimate our own physical ability and it can take an outside with an objective viewpoint to make us see what we’re capable of. ‘A personal trainer will mix up your routine with a variety of exercises and challenge your body in new ways, which should kick-start your metabolism. Having someone else pushing you to achieve will also increase the intensity of your workout, helping you to overcome the plateau,’ says London-based personal trainer Mollie Millington (www.ptmollie.com). ‘Be sure to let your trainer know what your goals are so they can tailor the workout accordingly.’

If you’re going to get a trainer, find someone who’s registered with REPs, and who is prepared to offer a free first session to see if you like it before you commit to more. Try to find someone who you can afford to train with at least once a week so you can really get the most from them.

Get a heart rate monitor
Getting feedback about how hard you’ve pushed yourself in a session is a great way to monitor your progress and identify where you’re doing well and where you might be slacking. Heart rate monitors, usually comprising of a belt and a watch, are a great way of doing this.

MYZONE (www.myzone.org) monitors are the next generation of this and can display your effort levels live in real time, when used in a class, or store your effort levels (in the memory of the belt) when you’re working out independently. This information can then be wirelessly uploaded and accessed by an online user account, letting you check out how you did post-workout.

H2 Bike Run (www.h2clubs.co.uk) offer spin classes using the MYZONE heart rate monitor, which allows you (and the rest of the class) to see your effort levels projected onto a wall at the front throughout the class in the form of a coloured square with a percentage in it.

MYZONE effort points are awarded for each minute that you spend within each heart rate zone so, under 50 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 0.5 points, 50-60 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1 point, 60-70 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1.5 points 80-100 per cent equals 2 points and so on.

As your effort increases, your square changes colour from blue to green to yellow and finally red, so everyone in the class (and your instructor!) can see if you’re really putting the work in! You wouldn’t want to be lagging behind with your square lit up in blue if the rest of the class are powering ahead with their squares on red! 

And it can be used in other forms of exercise aside from spin. ‘I use MYZONE as a way of carefully tracking the intensity I am putting clients through during their SGUT (Sol Gilbert Ultimate Training) sessions,’ says Sol Gilbert of ZT Family Fitness (www.ztfamilyfitness.com). ‘Using MYZONE has definitely helped to show clients in real-time how hard they’re actually working. I often tell them to work out within a certain heart rate zone, so if I tell them to work out in the yellow zone they can actually see if they’re in it, or if they need to work harder to get into it.’ 

Lift heavier weights
There’s a common misconception that if women use heavy weights they will end up looking bulky, but doing fewer reps with a heavier weight could actually be the key to seeing real results from your workouts, particularly for weight loss.

‘Lifting heavy weights will not make you huge! You simply don’t have the testosterone levels in your body to build big muscles!’ says Rory James Manning, personal trainer and managing director of RJ Fitness (www.rj-fitness.co.uk). Rory says this is one of things he has most difficulty getting female clients to understand.

‘Lifting light weights will not get you nearly as toned as lifting heavy weights and there is no such thing as toned or un-toned muscle, muscle is muscle.  It can be big or small, but not “toned”. The best way to appear lean or “toned” is to have as much muscle as possible, while having the lowest body-fat percentage possible,’ says Rory.

If you’re doing lots of reps with light weights, it’s time to change up your game plan. ‘Are you guilty of going too light? If you are completing 15 reps or more you almost certainly are, as this won’t be heavy enough to split the muscle fibres! And you won’t see the same kind of fat loss you would if you increased your weight!’ says Rory.

And having more muscle will burn more fat. ‘A pound of muscle burns about 20 calories a day while a pound of fat burns less than five calories. Therefore the more muscle you build, the more fat you burn!’ says Rory.

If that sounds appealing to you, put down the light dumbbells, swap them for a weight that will really challenge you and take the number of reps you’re doing right down. ‘Take your rep range down to between six or 10 reps per set and increase your weight so the last two reps are almost impossible to get out (while keeping good form)!’ says Rory.

If you subscribe to Women’s Fitness we’ll give you three issues for £1!

 

Image of girls from Shutterstock

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Are you pushing yourself hard enough?

Posted in Bodybuilding, Diets, Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Health Issues, Nutrition, Sports nutrition, Weight lossComments (0)

Are you pushing yourself hard enough?

If you’re pottering along to the gym two or three times a week, but don’t feel you’re seeing real results, the answer may be simple. The workouts you’re doing may not be very effective, or you may not be working hard enough! But don’t worry, if you think you’re guilty of taking your foot off the gas, we’ve got four sure-fire ways to give your workouts the boost they’ve been waiting for!

Up the intensity While a 30-minute steady-state run has long been the fall back of many a fitness fan, research is now stacking up to show that these sorts of workouts are considerably less effective than those of a higher intensity and shorter length.

Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a bike with about a minute’s rest between, three times a week, is as effective at building muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously, according to research conducted by scientists at McMaster University in Canada. So ditching your slow and steady sessions on the treadmill, cross trainer or pavement for a shorter workout of sprints and rests should help you see results in no time.

Get a personal trainer
Sometimes there’s nothing like a scary ex-marine shouting at you from across the park to get your backside in gear. We’re all guilty of giving ourselves an easy ride now and again, so getting a personal trainer could be your route to the body you’ve always wanted.

Sometimes we simply underestimate our own physical ability and it can take an outside with an objective viewpoint to make us see what we’re capable of. ‘A personal trainer will mix up your routine with a variety of exercises and challenge your body in new ways, which should kick-start your metabolism. Having someone else pushing you to achieve will also increase the intensity of your workout, helping you to overcome the plateau,’ says London-based personal trainer Mollie Millington (www.ptmollie.com). ‘Be sure to let your trainer know what your goals are so they can tailor the workout accordingly.’

If you’re going to get a trainer, find someone who’s registered with REPs, and who is prepared to offer a free first session to see if you like it before you commit to more. Try to find someone who you can afford to train with at least once a week so you can really get the most from them.

Get a heart rate monitor
Getting feedback about how hard you’ve pushed yourself in a session is a great way to monitor your progress and identify where you’re doing well and where you might be slacking. Heart rate monitors, usually comprising of a belt and a watch, are a great way of doing this.

MYZONE (www.myzone.org) monitors are the next generation of this and can display your effort levels live in real time, when used in a class, or store your effort levels (in the memory of the belt) when you’re working out independently. This information can then be wirelessly uploaded and accessed by an online user account, letting you check out how you did post-workout.

H2 Bike Run (www.h2clubs.co.uk) offer spin classes using the MYZONE heart rate monitor, which allows you (and the rest of the class) to see your effort levels projected onto a wall at the front throughout the class in the form of a coloured square with a percentage in it.

MYZONE effort points are awarded for each minute that you spend within each heart rate zone so, under 50 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 0.5 points, 50-60 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1 point, 60-70 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1.5 points 80-100 per cent equals 2 points and so on.

As your effort increases, your square changes colour from blue to green to yellow and finally red, so everyone in the class (and your instructor!) can see if you’re really putting the work in! You wouldn’t want to be lagging behind with your square lit up in blue if the rest of the class are powering ahead with their squares on red! 

And it can be used in other forms of exercise aside from spin. ‘I use MYZONE as a way of carefully tracking the intensity I am putting clients through during their SGUT (Sol Gilbert Ultimate Training) sessions,’ says Sol Gilbert of ZT Family Fitness (www.ztfamilyfitness.com). ‘Using MYZONE has definitely helped to show clients in real-time how hard they’re actually working. I often tell them to work out within a certain heart rate zone, so if I tell them to work out in the yellow zone they can actually see if they’re in it, or if they need to work harder to get into it.’ 

Lift heavier weights
There’s a common misconception that if women use heavy weights they will end up looking bulky, but doing fewer reps with a heavier weight could actually be the key to seeing real results from your workouts, particularly for weight loss.

‘Lifting heavy weights will not make you huge! You simply don’t have the testosterone levels in your body to build big muscles!’ says Rory James Manning, personal trainer and managing director of RJ Fitness (www.rj-fitness.co.uk). Rory says this is one of things he has most difficulty getting female clients to understand.

‘Lifting light weights will not get you nearly as toned as lifting heavy weights and there is no such thing as toned or un-toned muscle, muscle is muscle.  It can be big or small, but not “toned”. The best way to appear lean or “toned” is to have as much muscle as possible, while having the lowest body-fat percentage possible,’ says Rory.

If you’re doing lots of reps with light weights, it’s time to change up your game plan. ‘Are you guilty of going too light? If you are completing 15 reps or more you almost certainly are, as this won’t be heavy enough to split the muscle fibres! And you won’t see the same kind of fat loss you would if you increased your weight!’ says Rory.

And having more muscle will burn more fat. ‘A pound of muscle burns about 20 calories a day while a pound of fat burns less than five calories. Therefore the more muscle you build, the more fat you burn!’ says Rory.

If that sounds appealing to you, put down the light dumbbells, swap them for a weight that will really challenge you and take the number of reps you’re doing right down. ‘Take your rep range down to between six or 10 reps per set and increase your weight so the last two reps are almost impossible to get out (while keeping good form)!’ says Rory.

If you subscribe to Women’s Fitness we’ll give you three issues for £1!

 

Image of girls from Shutterstock

Link:  

Are you pushing yourself hard enough?

Posted in Bodybuilding, Diets, Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Health Issues, Nutrition, Sports nutrition, Weight lossComments (0)

Are you pushing yourself hard enough?

If you’re pottering along to the gym two or three times a week, but don’t feel you’re seeing real results, the answer may be simple. The workouts you’re doing may not be very effective, or you may not be working hard enough! But don’t worry, if you think you’re guilty of taking your foot off the gas, we’ve got four sure-fire ways to give your workouts the boost they’ve been waiting for!

Up the intensity While a 30-minute steady-state run has long been the fall back of many a fitness fan, research is now stacking up to show that these sorts of workouts are considerably less effective than those of a higher intensity and shorter length.

Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a bike with about a minute’s rest between, three times a week, is as effective at building muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously, according to research conducted by scientists at McMaster University in Canada. So ditching your slow and steady sessions on the treadmill, cross trainer or pavement for a shorter workout of sprints and rests should help you see results in no time.

Get a personal trainer
Sometimes there’s nothing like a scary ex-marine shouting at you from across the park to get your backside in gear. We’re all guilty of giving ourselves an easy ride now and again, so getting a personal trainer could be your route to the body you’ve always wanted.

Sometimes we simply underestimate our own physical ability and it can take an outside with an objective viewpoint to make us see what we’re capable of. ‘A personal trainer will mix up your routine with a variety of exercises and challenge your body in new ways, which should kick-start your metabolism. Having someone else pushing you to achieve will also increase the intensity of your workout, helping you to overcome the plateau,’ says London-based personal trainer Mollie Millington (www.ptmollie.com). ‘Be sure to let your trainer know what your goals are so they can tailor the workout accordingly.’

If you’re going to get a trainer, find someone who’s registered with REPs, and who is prepared to offer a free first session to see if you like it before you commit to more. Try to find someone who you can afford to train with at least once a week so you can really get the most from them.

Get a heart rate monitor
Getting feedback about how hard you’ve pushed yourself in a session is a great way to monitor your progress and identify where you’re doing well and where you might be slacking. Heart rate monitors, usually comprising of a belt and a watch, are a great way of doing this.

MYZONE (www.myzone.org) monitors are the next generation of this and can display your effort levels live in real time, when used in a class, or store your effort levels (in the memory of the belt) when you’re working out independently. This information can then be wirelessly uploaded and accessed by an online user account, letting you check out how you did post-workout.

H2 Bike Run (www.h2clubs.co.uk) offer spin classes using the MYZONE heart rate monitor, which allows you (and the rest of the class) to see your effort levels projected onto a wall at the front throughout the class in the form of a coloured square with a percentage in it.

MYZONE effort points are awarded for each minute that you spend within each heart rate zone so, under 50 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 0.5 points, 50-60 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1 point, 60-70 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1.5 points 80-100 per cent equals 2 points and so on.

As your effort increases, your square changes colour from blue to green to yellow and finally red, so everyone in the class (and your instructor!) can see if you’re really putting the work in! You wouldn’t want to be lagging behind with your square lit up in blue if the rest of the class are powering ahead with their squares on red! 

And it can be used in other forms of exercise aside from spin. ‘I use MYZONE as a way of carefully tracking the intensity I am putting clients through during their SGUT (Sol Gilbert Ultimate Training) sessions,’ says Sol Gilbert of ZT Family Fitness (www.ztfamilyfitness.com). ‘Using MYZONE has definitely helped to show clients in real-time how hard they’re actually working. I often tell them to work out within a certain heart rate zone, so if I tell them to work out in the yellow zone they can actually see if they’re in it, or if they need to work harder to get into it.’ 

Lift heavier weights
There’s a common misconception that if women use heavy weights they will end up looking bulky, but doing fewer reps with a heavier weight could actually be the key to seeing real results from your workouts, particularly for weight loss.

‘Lifting heavy weights will not make you huge! You simply don’t have the testosterone levels in your body to build big muscles!’ says Rory James Manning, personal trainer and managing director of RJ Fitness (www.rj-fitness.co.uk). Rory says this is one of things he has most difficulty getting female clients to understand.

‘Lifting light weights will not get you nearly as toned as lifting heavy weights and there is no such thing as toned or un-toned muscle, muscle is muscle.  It can be big or small, but not “toned”. The best way to appear lean or “toned” is to have as much muscle as possible, while having the lowest body-fat percentage possible,’ says Rory.

If you’re doing lots of reps with light weights, it’s time to change up your game plan. ‘Are you guilty of going too light? If you are completing 15 reps or more you almost certainly are, as this won’t be heavy enough to split the muscle fibres! And you won’t see the same kind of fat loss you would if you increased your weight!’ says Rory.

And having more muscle will burn more fat. ‘A pound of muscle burns about 20 calories a day while a pound of fat burns less than five calories. Therefore the more muscle you build, the more fat you burn!’ says Rory.

If that sounds appealing to you, put down the light dumbbells, swap them for a weight that will really challenge you and take the number of reps you’re doing right down. ‘Take your rep range down to between six or 10 reps per set and increase your weight so the last two reps are almost impossible to get out (while keeping good form)!’ says Rory.

If you subscribe to Women’s Fitness we’ll give you three issues for £1!

 

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10 ways to beat your gym plateau

1) Mix it up If you suspect that your body has become accustomed to your regular exercises, try variations. Swap lunges for jumping lunges, press-ups for explosive press-ups and planks for one-legged planks.

2) Same muscle, different move Make sure your muscles don’t get too comfy by working them with different exercises. If you’re used to pumping your pecs with a press-up, try switching to a bench press.

3) Get into intervals
If your cardiovascular workouts consist of interval training, you’re onto something good. But there’s no point in keeping the intervals the same forever. Make sure that you’re constantly upping the ante by shortening the periods of rest and increasing the intensity when it comes to sprints.

4) Time for change If you’re a lunchtime gym bunny, set your alarm for early morning workouts, and vice versa. Disrupting your body clock will give your muscles a wake-up call to get working again.

5) Stick it in reverse Too busy to devise a whole new plan? Just do everything that you do already… but in reverse order. It’ll make a nice change for both your body and your motivation.

6) Give it a rest
If you don’t give your muscles time to recover, they’ll reach a catabolic state, in which the tissue breaks down. This slows your metabolism and stops you losing weight and building muscle.

7) Drink up Glugging plenty of water is important. It’s good for the metabolism and helps transport oxygen around the body, assisting muscle recovery. Gym bunnies should drink an extra litre per workout.

8) Count on it
To rouse your muscles, perform as many reps as you can in a certain amount of time. For instance, instead of a set of 12 biceps curls, try as many biceps curls as possible in 30 seconds.

9) Ommm…
Stretching is essential – but yoga is one better. It boosts circulation, draws oxygen to the muscles, removes lactic acid and melts away the stress that causes muscle depletion and fat storage.

10) Eat up If you’re wondering why, despite being strict with your diet, you’re not shifting those extra pounds, it might be because you’re not eating enough. Your body is very clever, and when you’re not eating enough – particularly if you exercise – it will slow the metabolism right down. So eat a rich and varied diet every day.

Subscribe to Women’s Fitness and we’ll give you three issues for £1.

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10 ways to beat your gym plateau

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Peek inside the new issue of Women’s Fitness

Peek inside the new issue of Women’s Fitness

Been working hard to stay in shape? Keep it up by picking up a copy of our new September issue. As we approach the end of summer (sob!), we still want you to feel healthy, fit and look great before packing away your bikini for another year. So as a last attempt to get your best body before the winter sets in we’ve got a 2-week action plan to give you a hot body, and some tips on how to embrace body confidence – which we reckon is a must. Working out and creating a healthy haven for yourself is all about mindfulness, so in the new issue we’ve also brought you a guide on how to de-stress, take a breath and get back to you.

You may find that no matter how hard you work out, there’s still that annoying excess fat you just can’t shift. To help you blast those last few pounds we’ve revealed a fat loss fix that works for all body types. You can also top this up with three easy tummy moves that can be done quickly in the morning or before bed – a little can go a long way, after all. Working out is important for achieving your body goals but exercise is nothing without having a healthy balanced diet to support those long hours in the gym. That’s why we’ve feature 16 healthy recipes to give your September some variety.

Get out your diary and push your body to the limit by signing up to some September events. We’ve got something for everyone whether it’s obstacle racing, cycling, running or trying a tri. Don’t worry if an event isn’t for you, though – our fitness editor Amanda has tried and tested a 1Rebel Reshape class which is all about making fitness fun while working to your max. We think this could be great way to mix up your weekly routine. Also, to make sure you’re training effectively we’ve picked out the best, top-of-the-range fitness gear to help you along your way as well as some everyday style essentials to make you feel fabulous in or out of the gym. You’re welcome!

For some more workout mix-ups we’ve got some simple moves for you to try that are easy enough to do in the comfort of your own home. These are especially useful if you don’t have time to go to the gym or you’re watching the purse strings.

Lastly we want to make sure you’re living life to the full, starting with your job. If you’re stuck in a dead-end job that you dread going to then maybe it’s time to take a leap of faith and start applying for the job you really want. To help you achieve your dream we’ve thrown together some tips to make you and your CV stand out. Then, when you’ve bagged the interview, we’ve got the beauty tips you need to look refreshed and ready to take on the world.

We don’t want to give away all our surprises so pick up a copy now and get ready for September!

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Peek inside the new issue of Women’s Fitness

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