Archive | May, 2016

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

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Romanian deadlift

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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.

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Kettlebell exercises

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How to get rid of love handles

Say goodbye to stubborn love handles and uncover those abs with these tips…
Summer’s approaching and it’s around this time of year that everyone gets super body conscious. It’s okay, you’re not alone, love handles and stubborn fat are a problem for practically all of us. So if you want to look and feel great, there’s a lot of things to consider. Whilst diet and exercise are two powerful tools in the pursuit of a healthy body, sleep patterns, stress levels and body confidence all have their own part to play. Learn how to make the most of what you’ve got (and disguise those love handles) with our top expert tips.

Eat up, slim down
Always thinking about your next meal? Not anymore! The secret behind fat-loss success lies in properly fuelling your body with nutrient-dense food. Number one on the list is fibre – both the soluble and insoluble types. Fibre helps slow down digestion and recharges your body with a steady stream of energy, but worryingly, a whopping 90 percent of us don’t have enough roughage in our diets, according to a new study by Warburtons.
To win the war against wobbles, it’s important to go back to basics. Eat meals high in protein, which helps preserve lean muscle mass and omega-3 fatty acids. These turn on fat-burning enzymes in your cells and help regulate the appetite hormone leptin, which keeps you feeling satiated. Finally, spice up your meals for the ultimate metabolism kick. Chilli and paprika both contain a compound called capsaicin that helps speed up weight loss, while cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.
Fight fat: Government guidelines say we should consume 24g of fibre daily, so fill your plate with a variety of colourful fruit, veg and whole grains to ensure you reach your quota. Boost your omega-3 intake with nuts and fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel, and add chilli, paprika and cinnamon to soups, stews and curries.

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Sleep easy, stay slim
The secret to maintaining your slim figure? A good night’s sleep! The link between sleep and staying slim is often underestimated, but you can double your chances of reaching your ideal weight if you get between six and eight hours sleep a night. ‘One third of the population of the UK is sleep deprived and this puts people at an increased risk of being overweight,’ says naturopath Sybille Gebhardt (sybille.co.uk). ‘Your body derives its energy from food and sleep. If one is lacking, then the other needs to increase to sustain your body’s necessary energy levels.’
A recent study by researchers at the University of Chicago found that sleep deprivation plays havoc with fat cells, reducing their ability to respond to the blood sugar balancing hormone insulin by 30 per cent.
Ever wondered why a bad night’s sleep leads to a day of bingeing? Lack of sleep also lowers levels of the appetite-controlling hormone leptin, sending signals to the brain to increase appetite. When you get enough sleep, leptin levels are higher – so you’re more likely to feel full when you eat.
Fight fat: Make sure you get a proper night’s rest by going to bed at the same time each night to help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. Apply a spritz of lavender essential oil to your pillow and enjoy a soak in the tub before lights out to increase your chances of shut-eye.

Beat stress, lose weight
Being dedicated to your job may improve your career prospects, but it might not be such good news for your waistline. Even if you eat healthily and exercise regularly, leading a stressful lifestyle can stop you from losing inches. When you’re under stress, your body pumps out adrenaline and high levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol affects appetite, causing you to crave sugary, high-fat foods that stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. This has a soothing effect on stress, but, obviously, it’s terrible news for your body. A high level of cortisol also promotes fat around your middle, known as visceral fat. This fat surrounds organs and releases fatty acids into your blood stream, raising insulin levels and increasing your risk of diabetes over the long term. ‘Many of us reach for food when we’re stressed,’ says Sybille. ‘Try meditation or yoga to calm your mind.’
Fight fat: Melt your muffin top with stress-soothing foods such as oily fish, which helps to regulate cortisol levels, or turkey, which increases serotonin levels. Practice yoga at least twice a week.

Feel confident, look great
Your biggest fat-loss obstacle? You’re looking at her in the mirror! Looking good is all about feeling good, so if you boost your body confidence you could send your fat-loss rate soaring. A study by scientists at the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University discovered that women are far more likely to shed pounds if they work on improving their body image issues. You might not have your dream body (yet), but embrace your best bits and you’ll look and feel your best.
Fight fat: Been blessed with long legs but a paunchy tum? Opt for skinny jeans with a smock top and a wow-inducing pair of heels. Hate your bingo wings but love your killer cleavage? A long-sleeved top with a scoop neckline will give you a lift.

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How to get rid of love handles

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Leg raises

Leg raises are a great way to target the stomach, strengthening lower abdominals and hip reflexors, plus it doesn’t require any gym kit. Add these moves to one of your home workouts for a simple, effective way to tone your tummy. Try 10 reps to start with, and progress to more once you’ve perfected your form.

Try out these different variations of leg raises to challenge yourself, make sure you’re also hitting your fat-burning workouts hard, as you need to torch that fat to reveal your new toned tum!

Lying down leg raises:

-Lie on your back with your hands on the floor or under your bottom.

-Keeping a slight bend in the knees and feet together, start with both feet up towards the ceiling.

-Without allowing your lower back to overarch, slowly lower your legs towards the floor without bending the knees any more than they already are.

-When legs are almost on the floor, squeeze the abs and lift them back up to the start and repeat.

Hot tip: if these aren’t challenging enough for you, why not add some ankle weights?

Leg raises with a ball 

Add a bit of weight to make your leg raises more challenging

-Start similar to the lying down leg raises 

-With your feet on the floor, place an exercise or medicine ball between your feet, griping it firmly 

-Begin to raise your legs up, then slowly lowering your legs down, the weight will cause you to use more control 

-The weight will cause this exercise to me more challenging than the regular leg raises but effective works the abdominals.

Hanging leg raises 

You can perform this exercise at the gym, in the park or at home if you have a door pull up bar

-Hanging from a bar with your arms- grip firmly wide or medium 

-Begin to raise your knees/legs so that your body makes a 90 degrees angle 

– Lower your legs down and repeat the exercise

This exercise can be difficult, some gyms provide a padded bench that can support your back and padded arm rests for your elbows.

Side leg raises 

This exercise can be performed lying or standing

For standing

– Standing on one leg, raise the opposite leg to the side as far as you can

– Bring it back to the standing position and repeat this exercise for both legs 

For lying 

-Lie down on one side- with legs extended and stacked on top of one another

-Raise the top leg up as high as you can, lowering it back down to the first poistion. 

-Repeat 

 

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Leg raises

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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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Pedal power

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