Tag Archive | "sports nutrition"

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The best reasons to work out

Losing inches shouldn’t be your only motivation for hitting the gym. Regular training sessions benefit your entire body

Toned legs and a flat stomach aren’t the only benefits of working out. According to a research review in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, regular exercise can help cut your risk of more than 20 illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

‘Exercise is essential for losing and maintaining weight loss,’ says sports scientist Nick Morgan, ‘but the other benefits are just as important.’ Here’s what exercise does to keep you healthy, happy and alive!

Brain

Staying active cuts your risk of dementia and age-related memory loss by increasing the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that makes memories. A 40,000-person Norwegian study found that those who engage in regular activity of any intensity are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Breasts

Brisk walking for as little as one and a quarter hours every week can help reduce oestrogen levels in the body, which may lower your breast cancer risk by 18 per cent!

Bones

Bone-thinning osteoporosis now affects around one in three women in the UK, according to the latest research. Taking part in a 45-minute Step aerobics class, three times a week, will help boost bone density, especially in your spine, legs and heels. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also reports that heavy resistance training may increase bone mass, as it places strain on the bones of the joint you are working.

Appetite

Intense exercise can reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite, while raising levels of the peptide YY, which lowers appetite. A study in the journal Appetite also found that a brisk 15-minute walk decreased chocolate cravings by 12 per cent.

Heart

Not only will exercise add about four years to your life, it can also lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number that measures your blood pressure while the heart is beating) by as much as five to 10mmHg (millimetres of mercury). This is as good as some blood pressure medications. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.

Pancreas

Lifting weights and upping your lean muscle mass could lower your insulin resistance, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. For every 10 per cent increase in muscle mass, the risk of pre-diabetes should drop by 12 per cent.

Gut

Three to five weekly workouts of 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity is an effective treatment for IBS, according to a Swedish study. Demanding workouts improve bowel movements, and relieve gas and constipation.

Sex drive

Around 20 minutes of cardio exercise gets your body aroused faster and more intensely for a bit of rough and tumble. Not only that, lifting weights can also cause testosterone surges, and women with more testosterone tend to be more aroused and enjoy sex more.

Source: The best reasons to work out

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HIIT: the most efficient way to exercise?

What do you get if you mix giant ropes, friendly competition and a heart-pumping workout? Answer: Whipped!

It’s easy to get bored of treadmills, cross-trainers and slogging it out on your own in the gym. So a class that mixes effective results, competition and a fresh element is a welcome relief to an already busy day. Using battle ropes, that are more tug of war than skip in the park, Whipped!, is an exciting new circuit class at high-end London gym Equinox, bringing together the best elements of high intensity circuits, ramping up your cardio capacity while blasting fat (yey!) and using a great range of equipment.

 

The background

The HIIT class is designed to get your heart rate soaring to burn fat while sculpting you from head to toe in the most time-efficient way. Our instructor Rory explained that, unlike steady state workouts, intense bursts of exercise help put your fat loss in the fast lane. Sounds good, right? So if you want to change your body for the better, the Whipped! class is the perfect place to start.

You work to your body’s maximum capacity in 30 seconds, doing as many reps, using good form, as you can and then have a quick rest. The circuit is cleverly designed so you work a different muscle group with each exercise, and simultaneously push your fitness to its limit.

The class

Rory led a dynamic warm-up involving a quick jog around the room, followed by exercises like high knees and jumping jacks.

We were then paired up and allocated a fitness station. As usual in circuits, each pair circled the room in a clockwise direction, performing high-octane exercises at each station for 30 seconds before moving to the next exercise. By the end of the class, we’d visited each station four times.

My partner and I began in plank position on our forearms, pushing up onto our hands. The aim was to do these plank transfers as many times as possible within 30 seconds.

Next, we moved to the battle ropes, which posed the biggest challenge of all the exercises. Holding a rope in each hand, we slammed them to the ground, making small rippling waves, and swung them from side to side.

This was followed by a whole host of exhausting moves, from V-sits holding a 3kg dumbbell to barbell rows while wobbling on a BOSU ball. The class ended with another speedy jog around the room, followed by a series of stretches to ease our shaking muscles.

Louise’s verdict

If you’re bored of the same old workouts, this class is brilliant. Yes, it’s punishing, but the fact that the HIIT exercises are short and sharp is a big draw. Our trainer was a great motivator and helped spur us on – even when our arms felt like they were about to fall off! There’s no denying the class is challenging but it’s also fun and there’s no risk of getting bored. We’ll be back!

AT A GLANCE

What’s the concept? A high-intensity 45-minute circuit using battle ropes, the ViPR, BOSU balls and hand weights.

How much is it? The class is only open to members of Equinox. Monthly membership is £180.

Where can I get more info? Visit equinox.com/clubs/Kensington.

Difficulty? Whipped! is aimed at all fitness levels, but steel your nerves for a tough session!

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HIIT: the most efficient way to exercise?

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Eating for Distance

Fuelling your body with the right food is a recipe for success, says Louise Pyne

A good training regime is, of course, essential for distance running.

But for real success on the endurance front, it is important to give your nutrition a long hard look.

The longer you run, the more fuel your body needs. As a general rule, if you exercise at intensity beyond one-and-a-half hours, your body needs to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain performance, says nutritionist Sarah OíNeill (sarahoneill.co.uk). And if you don’t consume the extra salt and sugar your body craves, you’re more susceptible to dehydration. Plus, without additional fuel, your body can start to break down lean tissue.

Your body burns fat more efficiently as a fuel in the presence of glucose, but otherwise, when your glycogen stores become depleted, your body turns to muscle as its next choice, which is obviously counterproductive and not the desired outcome of training, adds Sarah. Paying close attention to timing will also help you get the most out of each and every training session. You need to know what to eat and when, so weíve put together an easy-to-follow guide with some simple recipes for you to try.

Performance-boosting eats

2 hours before

Eat this: Grilled salmon with quinoa. This provides a good ratio of protein, carbs and healthy fats to help sustain energy for gruelling long runs. 

Avoid this: Lentils and beans. These can be difficult to digest and may bring on cramps during training. Save legume-based meals for in between training sessions instead.

Star recipe: Turkey meatballs with brown rice

Mix together 100g lean turkey mince, 1 chopped onion, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1tsp tomato purée and
shape into balls. Dip into a beaten egg and roll in breadcrumbs. Place on an ovenproof tray with
a spoonful of coconut oil and bake for 25 minutes at 180
°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Serve on a bed of brown rice. 

1 hour before

Eat this: A light snack combining easy to digest carbs and a small portion of protein. Good options include a banana topped with nut butter or cheese on wholemeal toast.

Avoid this: Gas-producing fruits like peaches, apple and pear will leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated prior to training.

Star recipe: Homemade granola bars

Combine the following ingredients: 200g oats, 100g flaxseeds, 50g raisins, 50g dried cranberries, 100g mixed seeds, 2tbsp almond butter, 1 pinch ground cinnamon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Neatly spoon into an ovenproof tin and bake for 25 mins at 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 or until lightly browned. Allow to cool and then cut into bars. 

15 minutes before

Eat this: A small helping of easily digestible carbohydrates will help to supercharge energy levels and counteract
fatigue. Excellent choices include a couple of oatcakes, half a banana or a few pieces of dried fruit.

Avoid this: Huge servings of food, especially complex carbs, protein-rich, fibrous or fatty foods, as these will take longer to digest, bring on a stitch and may make you need the toilet while running! 

Star recipe: Oat and raisin cookies

Mix together 1 beaten egg, 70g plain flour, 150g oats, 100g caster sugar, 1 pinch cinnamon and 100g raisins. Roll into balls and place on an ovenproof tray.
Bake for 15 minutes at 180
°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 

Post-run recipes

If you don’t eat the right food after your run, fatigue and headaches can set in, making you feel sluggish
for hours or even days afterwards. To offset the effects, a combination of carbs (to replenish glycogen stores) and protein (to rebuild lean muscle tissue) eaten within 30 minutes is the best choice. Try these simple recipes to get back on your feet after a hardcore training session:

Choco-fruity smoothie

Blend together the following ingredients:

1 small pot of Greek yoghurt

1 banana

Handful of frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries)

250ml semi skimmed milk 

1tsp cocoa powder

1 pinch cinnamon


Cajun chicken sandwich

Sprinkle 1 chicken breast with Cajun seasoning and grill. Once cooked, cut into small pieces. Spread two slices toasted wholemeal bread with 1tbsp crème fraîche, and top with the chicken breast pieces. Add 1 chopped tomato, mixed salad leaves and a squeeze of lemon. 

Salmon and veggie pasta

Place a salmon fillet on a piece of foil with 4 cherry tomatoes and half a sliced yellow
pepper. Season with mixed herbs and place in the oven at 180
°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4
for 15-20 minutes. Cook 60g wholewheat pasta, drain.
Flake the salmon into the drained pasta and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in 1tbsp crème fraîche and the juice of half a lemon and a few shavings of Parmesan.

Injury prevention foods

Keep your body in tip-top condition with these healthy bites

Kiwi fruit

Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein that gives connective tissue its strength. Load up on kiwis to make sure your body has the required levels of vitamin C it needs. 

Cheese

Nibbling on cheese will provide your body with calcium, an important mineral that helps to keep bones healthy. 

Carrots

Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A, a nutrient needed to speed up wound healing by helping cells to reproduce properly. 

Finally, here are some tips on how to get in great shape with these simple strategies

One size doesn’t fit all 

There’s a wide range of sports nutrition products available on the market, but sometimes you have
to try different things out to see what suits you best. ‘We all have slightly different digestive systems and responses to sports drinks, gels and protein shakes,’ says Sarah. 

Ditch the booze

Endurance training places a huge stress on your body, which means you really need to load up on extra nutrients. So, while a glass of wine (or two) might seem like it hits the spot after a long training session,
it won’t do your nutrient levels any good. Unfortunately, alcohol depletes the body of vitamins and minerals, slowing down performance and making you more susceptible to illness. So keep drinking to a minimum (no more than two alcoholic drinks (per week) or, better still, cut out booze completely in the run-up to a marathon. 

Don’t binge

It’s tempting to reward yourself with food after completing a long run, but if you overeat junk post-run you’ll just gain weight. ‘You may burn 2,000 calories, but it’s still easier to replace these calories than burn them! It’s important to eat the “right” things, such as a range of fruit and veg, healthy fats and lean proteins to help provide the range of nutrients your working body requires,’ says Sarah. 

Source: Eating for Distance

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The Truth About Weight Loss

There’s more to weight loss than losing weight

The start of every health kick can be a glorious time, with your motivation at its highest and the fitness gains at their easiest to come by. Your muscles might be aching, and your diet could be missing a few unhealthy favourites, but the weight will be dropping off like nobody’s business.

At some point, however, you might find that whatever efforts you make in the gym or the kitchen do not result in any further losses when you step on the scales. Your weight plateaus, or perhaps even nudges slightly upwards. Obviously, this can be the ultimate motivation killer if your main goal is weight loss, but a simple scales reading can be misleading when it comes to your general health.

More important than how much you weigh is your body composition – namely how much of your body is made up of fat, muscle, bones, water, assorted organs, and so on. Some of these you can’t do much about – it doesn’t matter how much you try, you’re unlikely to shave any weight off your liver without resorting to some extremely risky behaviour. It’s still good to know what’s going on with all your insides, but the key two areas of body composition you can affect are your body fat and muscle mass.

Reducing body fat is often the main goal of people’s plans when they embark on a new exercise regime and/or diet, and any early weight loss is a result of achieving that goal. However, when weight loss plateaus it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve stopped lowering your body fat percentage. It could simply mean that you’re increasing your muscle mass at the same time. No net weight loss, but a far healthier body composition.

An extreme example often used to illustrate the deficiencies of simply relying on weight as a guide to health is comparing the Body Mass Index (which is based on height and weight, with no accounting for body composition) of a professional rugby player with an obese person. Both might end up with a matching BMI score, but the muscle-bound rugby hulk is clearly in better shape in terms of their overall health.

Even if you never reach the rippling physique of a Jonah Lomu in his prime, you might also suffer from misapprehensions about your health and the effectiveness of your gym work if you only use overall weight as a guide to your progress.

The issue is that muscle is not heavier than fat, but it is denser. This means it takes up less space to weigh the same amount as fat, so your body shape might be changing for the better even if your total weight is the same after weeks of working out.

Body composition is also important when it comes to the type of fat you have. Visceral fat, which accumulates around your organs in the mid-section, is the most dangerous kind, in that a large quantity of it is linked with an increased risk of all kinds of problems including heart disease, several cancers and type 2 diabetes. A relatively slim physique with a pot belly is therefore nothing to boast about, you need to shift that midsection bulk rather than just focussing on your overall weight.

The good news is that visceral fat is the first stuff you’ll shift when you start exercising. Even if you can’t see the fat itself, you can monitor your progress by measuring your waistline regularly. Keeping tabs on your waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) is good practice all round if you’re on a fitness drive, as it has been found to be a better indicator of obesity-related health risks than simple weight or BMI measurements. To see if your ratio is unhealthily high simply grab a piece of string, use it to measure your height then fold it in half. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, then your ratio is in bad shape, and it’s time to start slimming.

There are also plenty of more precise ways to get a handle on your body composition, from the humble pair of callipers to smart scales. With callipers you pinch the skin and measure the fold in at least three locations on your body. Then plug those numbers into an online calculator to get an idea of your body fat. The number itself might not be incredibly accurate, but consistently measuring in the same way with callipers over time will allow you to track changes in your body composition.

For their part, smart scales such as the Withings Body Cardio will provide the most in-depth and accurate look at your insides you can get outside of a hospital, telling you your body fat, muscle mass, water percentage and bone mass, along with your actual weight. In terms of practical information about how your efforts to improve your fitness are going, it’s a huge step up from standard scales.

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yoga

Yoga poses

While yoga is undoubtedly known as the go-to for limbering up, de-stressing and boosting flexibility, it’s less known for its contribution to cardio fitness. Wild, a new class from Fierce Grace (fiercegrace.com), is looking to change that, though. Taking inspiration from martial arts, ballet, qigong, physiotherapy, resistance exercises and, of course, traditional yoga, Wild is a functional-based workout designed for anyone and everyone. Try this workout for a taster of what this innovative class offers. Ready?

Ragdoll jumps

Technique-

With your feet hip-width apart and arms loose, perform continuous little jumps for 30 seconds.

Straddle reach-through

Technique-

Stand with feet wider than hips. Bend your knees if you need to.

Hinge at the hips, reaching your arms out. Graze the floor with your hands as you go, exhaling all the way to reach your arms through your legs. 

Inhale to bounce back, then reach through again, taking a second to complete each reach-through.

Do 15 reps in total.

Straddle push-up

Technique-

Standing up straight with your feet wide, reach down to the floor by your toes.

Walk forward with your  hands until your body is in a straight line.

Bend your arms to lower your chest, then push back up.

Walk your hands back to the start.

Repeat for 10 reps.

Spine flex

Technique-

Sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands on your ankles.

Exhale, round your spine and relax it, look down and feel the stretch in your upper back.

Inhale and arch your spine, look up and push your chest forwards, using your hands to help you.

Repeat, performing one rep per second for one minute.

Corkscrew twists 

Technique-

Sit cross-legged with your hands resting on your shoulders – fingers in front, thumbs at the back and elbows out to the sides. Keep your eyes and head forward throughout.

Inhale to twist left, then exhale right.

Pull your belly in and lift your chest.

Repeat once per second.

Fire plank

Technique-

Hold a plank with hands under your shoulders, fingers spread, tailbone tucked under, abs and quads tight.

Practise ‘fire breath’ (drawing breath from your navel area, quickly breathe in and out through your nose, pulling your belly in as you exhale).

Hold for 45 secs.

Now, without losing form, lift your left leg and right arm.

Bring them back to the plank then do the same with the opposite limbs.

Do this twice more on each side.

Fast scissors

Technique-

Lie on your back with your palms under your hips for support and legs off the ground.

Scissor your legs up and down, performing fire breath through your nose once each rep.

Go for one minute.

Bum lift 

Technique-

Lie on your front with your arms beside you, palms down, elbows locked and forehead on the floor.

Bend your knees to take your feet off the floor, keeping them together.

Inhale and squeeze to lift your knees off the floor, then lower them straight back down to finish the rep.

Do 30 reps.

Check out www.fiercegrace.com for more information on yoga, classes and training

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Yoga poses

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marathon

Half marathon training

You’re feeling fit, strong and healthy. So what now? If you’ve started coasting from one session to the next now that you’ve made all that initial progress, it’s time to take your workout to the next level.

Not only does your body need a routine shake-up once it’s adapted to exercise, your motivation needs a boost, too. There’s always room to improve, whether you’re a runner, a weights girl or just looking to lose a few pounds – you just need to know how. Try training for a half marathon to break through your barriers and take your results higher.

Become a film star

OK, it might feel strange to watch a video of yourself working out, but it’s a great way to check your running technique. Sometimes a movement might feel right when it’s not quite perfect, which means that you’ve made a habit of performing it incorrectly. So, video footage allows you to see if you need to be more upright when running or need to work on your gait.

Eat for exercise

Keeping your weight in check is simple: avoid refined and processed foods, sugars and trans fats and fill up on vegetables, good fats and protein. But if you hone in on your healthy eating just a little more, you could see a huge pay-off when training for a half marathon. What you eat and when you eat it can have a dramatic effect on your results. Take carbs, for example – most people think they’re best consumed before exercise to act as a fuel, but they’re actually most useful after a tough session when the glycogen stores in your muscles are depleted and in need of replenishment. Plus, we’re more sensitive to insulin after exercise, so the effect carbs usually have on blood sugar will be less significant and less likely to be stored as fat. Win-win!

Know thyself

Get familiar with your genetic body type for a tailor-made workout. Are you a mesomorph (naturally low body fat and able to gain lean muscle mass easily); an ectomorph (naturally long, lean and slender and struggle to gain fat or muscle mass); or an endomorph (able to gain both fat and muscle mass easily)? Knowing yourself will help decipher the best way to eat and exercise for the results you want when you’re training for a half marathon.

Train to compete

What drives elite athletes to get up at the crack of dawn to begin a long day of training? You can bet it’s their gold-medal goal. Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional to have a competition goal – sign up for a half marathon to ramp your motivation up a gear.

Alter your aims

Struggling to blast the last five pounds through running? Want to shave seconds off your PB? Whatever goal you’ve been working on for last six weeks, change it up if your results are slowing. Focusing on something fresh, like a half marathon, can subconsciously change your approach to training, which might be enough of a tweak to get the effects you’re after.

Keep a diary

Studies have shown that keeping a food diary is crucial for successful weight loss. It encourages mindful eating, progress tracking and ensures you can’t get away with lying to yourself about your eating habits. Well, the same goes for exercise. No more skipping sessions, lacklustre efforts in the gym or excuses for giving your workout a miss. Jot down what you did and when, as well as how you felt before and after the sessions to discover what works best for you.

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Your bikini body plan!

Click Here!

The 12-week Body Plan will have you feeling and looking amazing this Summer.

PT and Instagram star @EmFurey has developed 12 weeks of awesome workouts that will get you in great shape and leave you feeling stronger, fitter and more confident and looking fierce. Combined with the seriously tasty and healthy mix and match eating plan from our nutritionist and foodie experts and you’ll be well on your way to the best summer ever!

So, if you want to feel amazing buy the plan now it’s a steal at only £24.99 for 12 weeks of hard-hitting workouts and delicious healthy recipes!

Below are just a few of the great comments we’ve received about the plan, plus a seriously fab review pitching the plan up there above Kayla’s. So, what are you waiting for – get your summer body started now and buy the plan here.

I honestly LOVE THIS PLAN. I used to feel so confused as what to do at the gym. Should I do HIIT? Should I lift heavy? I started to hate the gym (SO unlike me) and often left feeling like I shouldn’t have even bothered going. But Emily’s plans are amazing. They combine strength and HIIT training. It’s all planned out for you. She leaves space to CREATE YOUR OWN GOALS based on strength rather than aesthetics – IT’S SO POSITIVE! I love it!
10/10 Georgina

Super easy to download! Not too much information is thrown at you! EASY AND AFFORDABLE RECIPES that people can have time to cook and prepare! EASILY LAID OUT AND REALLY LIKE THE STYLE!
9/10 Saffron

I found it EASIER TO STICK TO THAN OTHER PROGRAMS
 BUT STILL TOUGH! It’s easy to t into your schedule and builds up strength progressively.
10/10 Sandrine

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 Fitness Want to look strong and sexy in your summer Tees? Arm yourself with our tricep workout...

Tricep exercises

Want to look strong and sexy in your summer Tees? Arm yourself with our tricep workout…

Short sleeve season is on us, so it’s time to have serious words with our upper arms. Grab those dumbells and wave goodbye to bingo wings. Just incorporate these three of our favourite tricep exercises into your regular workouts to fire up the backs of those arms and, by summer, you’ll have the confidence to rock those dresses and vest tops in no time at all.

 

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Tricep exercises

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Rowing machine workout

Hands up if you find the rowing machine a little daunting?

We don’t blame you. On a treadmill, you run. On an exercise bike, you cycle. Perfect rowing technique, however, can seem far less straightforward, which means many people are steering clear of this effective piece of gym kit – and missing out on its big-time benefits.

But, master the moves for this machine and you can expect weight loss, better fitness and increased upper and lower-body strength – all without the harsh impact that some cardio exercise can have on joints.

‘Indoor rowing is a complete form of exercise,’ explains Olympic rowing coach and Concept2 fitness expert Terry O’Neill (concept2.co.uk). ‘Rowing is a combination of cardiovascular and strength conditioning, making it a great addition to any fitness regime or training programme – for people of all ages with a wide variety of goals.’

Whether you’re a beginner or an Olympian, there’s a way to make rowing a key player in your workouts.

Full-body workout

One of the main reasons that people opt for a workout on the rower to get their cardio fix is because – unlike the treadmill, stepper and stationary bike – it offers plenty of added value. Using correct technique harnesses the power of both the upper and lower body, so your bum, thighs and calves will get a real push as well as your arms and shoulders. Rowing also requires solid activation from your core and back to maintain good form (particularly in the upper back) with each and every stroke, which means that a good session on the rower can hit almost every muscle, offering total-body conditioning. Plus, the cardiovascular movement of rowing gives your heart and lungs a great workout, too.

‘Indoor rowing is great for toning up, as it involves more muscle groups over a wide range of movement, with little pressure on the joints,’ says Terry. ‘No matter why you choose to row, the rowing machine will offer just the right level of resistance for your goals, as well as an infinite variety of workouts.’

Fuss-free intensity

If you think rowing is just for steady-state fitness, think again – the machine is great for both endurance and interval training. ‘Because the rowing machine activates a large muscle mass, it helps you achieve better cardio results in less time,’ Terry explains. ‘It can also provide excellent anaerobic workouts complementary to explosive power sport training. Plus, indoor rowing is a great endurance exercise that really helps to boost both your heart and lung functions.’

If you’ve ever tried high-intensity interval sprints on the treadmill, you’ll know how annoying it is having to repeatedly press buttons while you’re trying to run to adjust the speed of the belt. One of the great things about the rowing machine is that – although the resistance can be tricky to adjust once you’ve got going – you can control the speed simply by increasing or decreasing your own work rate. So, while some people enjoy longer, steady-state sessions on the rower, those looking for a heart-pumping interval session
can get on with focusing on their technique, instead of pushing buttons.

Of course, the crucial element here is technique – the better your form, the more efficient your workout. Use the steps below to perfect your stroke and practise rowing at a comfortable pace until you’re ready to up your speed.

The rowing masterclass

Use these simple step-by-step instructions to get to grips with perfect rowing technique. Remember to avoid letting your shoulders round or your lower back arch beyond its neutral position. Ready, set, row!

• Keeping your legs straight, lean back slightly with the handle close to your body and your forearms parallel to the floor.

• Extend your arms fully, rocking your body forward slightly and keeping your arms extended.

• Slide your lower body forward from the hips until your knees are above your feet, keeping your arms extended.

• Push down on your feet to drive your body back, straightening your legs and leaning your body back slightly as you do so.

• Pull the handle back past your knees towards your body to return to the starting position. Repeat.

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Morgan Lake Q & A

Ahead of the 2017 World Championships in Athletics, we spoke with GB athlete Morgan Lake on how she’s balancing personal life and training

Health&Fitness: You turned 20 last week – how does an athlete celebrate her birthday?

Morgan Lake: Probably quite different to how other people celebrate their birthday. I had a full day of training and then went out for a meal with my family and friends. Quite a chilled one – but still nice.

H&F: Looking back at last year, what was it like to have made the Olympic final in Rio?

ML: It was amazing. I didn’t really expect anything from it. My biggest aim last year was to make the games and so finding out I’d made the final after qualification was more than I ever could have hoped for.

H&F: How do you cram in the training for all of the different events for the heptathlon?

ML: It’s definitely hard to programme it all. There are seven events to train for [high jump, 100 metre hurdles, shot put, 200 metres, javelin, long jump and 800 metres] and you’ve also got to have strength and conditioning as well. It is hard – I usually do about three events a day, maybe four. So training twice a day and then Sunday is a rest day. I also have to fit in studies and try to have a social life. I try and use every hour of the day. It’s not as hectic sounds, and I’ve got into a routine now where I know what I’m doing.

H&F: Away from athletics, what are your interests?

ML: I enjoy being with my friends. When I’m training I’m on my own quite a lot of the time so I don’t really have much time to relax and watch movies, listen to music. Just normal stuff.

H&F: How important to your performance is your diet?

ML: It’s very important. I’m realising that more and more, especially for my energy levels. We have a British Athletics sports nutritionist who we can go to at any time, which is really helpful.

H&F: What power foods and drinks do you use for energy?

ML: I use Red Bull – I used it a lot even before I became an athlete. I use it in training, before competitions, during competitions. During training I will have a sugar-free Red Bull, and then I use the normal kind for competitions.

H&F: What gym moves do you find work best for your overall fitness?

ML: I love core workouts. I don’t really have much time to do them at the moment but I’ll try and squeeze them in at the end of my gym sessions.

H&F: What are the expectations moving up from a successful junior athlete to a senior athlete?

ML: I’ve always had a teen title to my name and now I’m not a junior anymore. It is a bit of a jump and I’ve got to make sure I transition well. I have a long career in the sport so I’m just trying not to rush it.

We tried it!

H&F’s Hally Houldsworth tested out her high jump skills at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre with Morgan Lake and former Olympic Gold medallist Jason Gardener.

‘Beginning with a warm-up, Megan explains how important stretching is to her daily routine – she starts her day with an hour warm-up before training even begins. Cutting that back to roughly 10 minutes, our high jump session begins.

As the session unfolds, we learn that technique plays a huge part when it comes to this event. There are many components that affect your overall performance in various ways. For example, pushing hard off one leg and driving with the other gives you greater height over the pole, as does beginning the jump at a certain distance from it (which is relative to your height). ‘Jumping too close or too far away will cause you to knock it down’, Morgan explains.

Taking four large strides for my run-up and building up as much speed as I can in that time, I begin to understand that I must concentrate on using all the parts of my body in my jump. As I push hard off the ground with my left foot I drive my right knee and right arm up into the air. This pulls me up before I can arch my back and tilt to the right to bend over the pole, flicking my legs up as soon as my back has crossed it so as not to bring it down during my landing.

My various attempts at the event are recorded and Morgan watches them over, offering feedback and encouragement as she does: pointing out the importance of using my arms and engaging my core.

The session proves a valuable experience in understanding the thought process of an athlete – particularly when learning how they overcome obstacles such as mental blocks, and how the psychology of their sport allows them to push past this not only during training, but also in a competitive environment.’

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Morgan Lake Q&A

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Paige Hathaway

Paige Hathaway

2 days 10 minutes ago

Limits are imaginary ✨🤟🏼🌎
Never in a million years did I think that I would travel to Dubai, get to meet and share smiles with hundreds of people at the fitness expo or ride camels and four wheelers in the desert!! Geeesh, What is life.. 😍

...At the end of the day, I think to myself that my life may not always be perfect, but it’s completely what I make of it. 👉🏼 It’s not exactly what I see but how I look at things. It’s not necessarily about what I do, but how I do it. So everyday I make my life count and I make it memorable and I do the things my dreams inspire to be.

Paige Hathaway

3 days 1 hour ago

It’s ok to be scared.. being scared is normal but letting that feeling overpower your life and control you will ruin it. Most people are paralyzed by their fears. They become so afraid to take a step out of their comfort zone that they stay complacent. They fear failure, they fear rejection, they fear fear... But having courage against your fears doesn’t mean you don’t get scared... having courage against your fears just means you didn’t let fear stop you. Refuse to reform your life because you’re scared of the unknown or getting outside of your normal.

DECLARE TO HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE! Use your energy not to worry but to believe. Great people do things before they are fully prepared. They do things before they know that they can even do it. Doing things you are afraid of, going beyond your comfort zone, taking risks that scare the hell out of you... THAT is what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good.. who freaking cares....?!
You tired something and the comfort zone that you left will still be the comfort zone that you left if you shall ever choose to return. ✨🐫🌏 #ididntgetthisfarfromfear #igotthisfarfromhavingcourage

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