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Romanian deadlift

One of the most effective workouts for strengthening your glutes and hamstrings is the romanian deadlift. When performed correctly, it involves a hip hinge movement and uses the muscles that are vital in performing other excerises in lifting, jumping and sprinting.

While your glutes and hamstrings are engaged- You’ll find that the muscles in the front (quadriceps) are also being used, as well as the upper back muscles, which is an effective way of strengthening your back muscles and posture (along side other back exercises). 

Technique

  • Hold the bar with an overhand grip approximately shoulder-width (your thumbs should brush the outside of your thighs).
  • Place your feet approximately hip-width apart, with knees soft and your feet straight ahead.
  • Maintaining a flat back position, bend forward at the hips lowering the bar towards the floor.
  • Reverse the position, extend your hips and return to the start position. 
  • Perform 8-10 reps (3-4 sets) 
  • Safety tip: keep your shoulder blades engaged as you lower.

For information about strength and conditioning training, check out The Strength & Conditioning Bible: How to train Like an Athlete by fitness expert and coach Nick Grantham

Kettlebell exercises

The kettlebell craze is continuing to take over the fitness world because of its amazing benefits to overall body strength and conditioning. ‘There’s a good reason why these scary-looking cast-iron weights are showing up in gyms,’ says celebrity trainer Nick Mays of ikeepfit.com. ‘They’re user-friendly (you can use them in or out of the gym and only need one bell to get an all-over workout) and allow you to swing from one move to the next without stopping, creating a cardio and resistance workout all at once.’

Researchers found a 20-minute kettlebell workout can torch almost 400 calories, the equivalent of running a six-minute mile pace, or cross-country skiing uphill at a fast pace, ‘This is just one of a long list of benefits,’ says Mays. ‘You’ll not only get a higher-intensity workout than standard weight-training routines, you’ll add definition to your entire body while improving heart and lung efficiency and working the body in a completely different way. This is because the kettlebells’ weight isn’t evenly distributed, so your stabiliser muscles have to work extra hard to keep your body balanced.

Start with the first move and do the exercises back-to-back with as little rest as possible. Rest for two minutes then repeat for a total of three circuits. Not only will your heart rate go through the roof, you’ll get an all-over burn in less than 30 minutes.

Swing

Grab a kettlebell with both hands, letting the bell hang in front of you. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and swing the bell between your legs and behind your hips. Immediately stand up and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height while pushing your hips forward and contracting your gluteals. Drop back to the starting position.

Chest pass rotation

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold your kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Keeping your elbows close to your body, contract your abdominals and rotate your torso to the right, pressing the bell out once you’re all the way around. Pause, then return to the start, this time rotating your torso to the left and pressing the weight out to the left.

Plie squat to row

Stand with your feet wide and toes pointing out to the sides. Hold your kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Slowly lower into a squat and go as deep as you can, keeping your knees and toes aligned. Pause, then push back up through your heels. Row the kettlebell up towards your chest once you’re back up standing before lowering it back to the starting position.

Pedal power

Jumping on a shiny new steed and pedalling off into the sunset is a glorious feeling – you just can’t beat it! But if you haven’t saddled up for a few years, you may be wondering where to start or why to bother. Don’t worry! We caught up with Gareth Turner from Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) to chat about the benefits of life on two wheels and how you can get back in the race. 

Slim cycle

Jumping on your bike is a fantastic way to blitz calories and trim down. ‘Cycling is a great way to lose weight and a brilliant way to burn calories – you can burn around 500 calories an hour cycling and sometimes much more,’ says Gareth. ‘Cycling can also have the added benefit of increasing your metabolism – even after the ride is over.

And it’s a great option for working out on your commute. Think about it – you can get your workouts in on the way to and from work and cancel that gym membership altogether if you want! ‘And, because it is a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s a lot easier on the joints than something like running, so you can do it more often,’ says Gareth. Sounds good to us!

It’s also a great toner, working your lower body hard, which – thanks to this focus on the bigger muscles in your body (bum and legs!) also burns fat. ‘Cycling helps to tone your muscles and works your calves, thighs and bottom, while also giving your shoulders and arms a workout, too,’ says Gareth.

Healthy heart

Cycling is not only bags of fun, and a great way to stay in shape, it’s good for your heart, too. ‘Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness,’ explains Gareth. ‘And the British Heart Foundation says that cycling regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.’ 

Mind matters

And getting on your bike could have benefits for the mind, too. ‘It’s not just the body that sees the benefits, as cycling is believed to reduce stress, anxiety and provide a sense of wellbeing,’ says Gareth. A cycle home after a long day is a great way to shake off your worries.

Wheely wheely fun

Whizzing around on a bike gives you a great sense of freedom and there are so many types of cycling, and types of bikes, you can try. ‘Cycling can be very varied and fun – try mountain bike trails, exhilarating downhills, BMX and road biking with amazing views,’ says Gareth. Plus it’s one of the few workouts in which you can have a good gas with your mates, too! Have you every tried catching up over a quick swim or disco rave class?! ‘Cycling can be very social by riding in a group and also with the family – everyone can get involved,’ adds Gareth. 

Back to it!

Check out Gareth’s top tips for beginners or those getting back into cycling:

The first thing that you will need is a bike; it’s best to visit a good bike shop where they can give advice and find you a bike that fits properly.

Start by riding comfortably for up to 45 minutes three times a week, then look to slowly build on the number of sessions, duration and speed of sessions gradually.

There are cycling proficiency courses that can build skills and get you ready for the road if you’re nervous.

Practise riding in a traffic-free area, such as a local park, to build confidence.

Why not get used to pedalling, standing and clipping in and out of pedals at a studio such as Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) before heading out.

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