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Are you addicted to exercise?

Exercise is great for the mind, body and soul, right? But what happens when it starts to take over your life? PT Marisa Branscombe ponders the dangerous effects of too much exercise Exercise is generally accepted as a positive behaviour associated with enhanced physical and psychological wellbeing. But is it possible to do

10 ways to melt more FAT

We turn to the latest science for fat-burning tips 1. Lift heavier weights The theory that lifting light and furiously fast burns more fat than heavy weights is harder to kill than a cockroach. Here’s why it’s hogwash: fewer reps with heavier weights equals a metabolic boost that outlives the increase from high rep,

How to make the most of beach circuits and boot camps

The benefits of outdoor training “Circuit training is an excellent way to frame your workouts regardless of whether you are working to time (i.e. 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off) or reps (i.e. 8–12 reps),” says personal trainer and owner of Flow Athletic Ben Lucas. “You can tailor a circuit workout to suit your

Train like an elite

Your goal doesn’t have to be to make it to the Olympics in order to get the most from your workouts.

Whether you’re training for a race or simply looking to stay active, why shouldn’t you at least be able to train like your favourite athletes? Fitness expert and coach Nick Grantham – who has worked with many top athletes and Olympians – thinks we should all be able to train to our full potential regardless of our individual goals. 

His new book The Strength & Conditioning Bible: How to Train Like an Athlete is designed to give you everything you need to make it happen. ‘Anyone who wants to improve their fitness levels and is willing to invest some time and effort can optimise their training and performance,’ he says. ‘And that’s pretty much anyone!’

Gone are the days when you needed the most expensive training tools and elite trainers by your side to train smart. From guide books to online personal trainers, there are increasingly easy and effective ways to get training – but with Nick’s experience working in high-performance fitness and sport science, you can really count on The Strength & Conditioning Bible to not only explain what to do and how to do it, but also why you’re doing it.
‘As a coach I know the power of understanding,’ Nick says. ‘If you understand why you’re performing an activity, you’re far more likely to stick to the training programme.’

As well as giving you the chance to take exercises up or down a notch, it also preps you to continue your training confidently on your own. ‘It offers sample sessions, and appropriate progressions and regressions,’ he adds. ‘It also provides the reader with an understanding that will allow them to develop their own effective programmes.’

The workout over these pages, devised by Nick, will allow you to train your body from head to toe in a fuss-free, effective way. In Nick’s own words, no matter what your level or experience, ‘anyone can train like an athlete’.

Squat

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves

Technique

Holding the barbell resting on your shoulder muscles, 

stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Bend at your knees and hips to lower your body until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Reverse the position, extending your hips and knees to return to the start position.

Perform 8-10 reps of each move one after the other in a circuit, resting between sets if you need to. Once a circuit is complete, return to the start and repeat. Keep going until you’ve reached the time recommended for your level

Press-up

Areas trained: chest, triceps, core

Technique

Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Tighten up through your core, ensuring your back is flat.

Bend your arms to lower your body until your chest is about 1cm from the floor.

Drive back up to the starting position where your arms are extended.

Romanian deadlift

Areas trained: hamstrings, lower back, glutes

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.

Alekna

Areas trained: core, stomach

Technique

Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent at a 90-degree angle with arms fully extended towards the ceiling.

Simultaneously lower your arms behind your head and your legs out fully until they are both close to the ground, without touching it.

Return to the start position and repeat.

Get-up

Areas trained: shoulders, core, glutes, sides

Technique

Lie on your back and hold a kettlebell in your right hand, straight above your shoulder, arm vertical. Position your left arm out to the side and bend your right leg so that your right foot is alongside your left knee.

Pushing off your right foot, roll onto your left hip and up onto your left elbow.

Push up onto your left hand and holding yourself up on your left hand and right foot, lift yourself up off the ground, then thread your left leg back to a kneeling position.

You will be in a kneeling position with your left knee on the floor, right foot on the floor and the kettlebell locked out overhead in your right hand.

From the kneeling position, move into a standing position.

Reverse the movements to come back down to the starting position on the floor.

Perform on the opposite side for the next rep.

Hip thrust

Areas trained: glutes, hamstrings, core

Technique

Set up in the position shown – your shoulder blades in line with the bench and holding a barbell to your hips. 

Place your feet close to your bottom, so that at the top of the hip thrust, your calves are at 90 degrees to the floor.

Drive through your heels and focus on using your glutes to push your hips straight up. Finish with your hips as high as possible while maintaining a neutral spine.

Lower; repeat.

2-point dumbbell bent-over row

Areas trained: upper back, biceps

Technique

Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, start with your feet hip-width apart in an offset stance with your right foot slightly staggered behind the left.

Take up the same position as you would for a bent-over row (your knees slightly bent and your torso bent forwards at your hips at a 45-degree angle).

Row the dumbbell up to your ribcage and then return to the starting position.

Repeat all reps in the set and then switch sides.

Kettlebell swing

Areas trained: glutes, hamstrings, back, core

Technique

Hold a kettlebell with both hands and bend your knees so you are in an athletic position.

Bring the kettlebell through your legs, so your forearms are in contact with your inner thighs.

Swing the weight upward and out to eye level, using the extension of your hips to move
the load.

Return to the start position and go straight into another rep.

Buy the book

Packed with plenty more workouts just like this one, The Strength & Conditioning Bible: How to Train Like an Athlete by Nick Grantham is published by Bloomsbury (£18, bloomsbury.com). Get your copy now!

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How to use your resistance bands for recovery and toning

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

DIY diet success stories

Not sure which diet will work for you? Readers Imogen and Erin share their success stories.   Imogen, 46,  has lost 15 kg on the 5:2 diet in about a year   “I’d been exercising and putting on weight, not losing it (the old ‘eating extra to compensate for the exercise’ trick). I’d reached a weight that was higher than my full-term pregnancy weight with my kids, and decided that it was enough. One of my clients mentioned that she had been on the 5:2 diet for two months and had lost eight kg and could still eat cake, and I thought, ‘That’s my kind of diet!’. “I had tried other diets where I restricted my intake to 1200cals/day. I’d lost weight, but found it very hard, and as soon as I stopped [the diet], it crept back on. I like the 5:2 diet because I can eat out and not constantly deprive myself of the foods that I love. I also like how easy it is, only needing to count calories two days a week, not every day.  I don’t love fasting, but I accept that this diet is the one that has worked for me, and easily, without feeling deprived all the time. [If I’m craving something] I can just tell myself that tomorrow I can have that thing I’m craving. I feel much healthier overall since I lost the weight.” Erin, 37,  quit sugar five years ago “Quitting sugar changed my life. Literally. Children were supposed to be extremely difficult to conceive for me. When I was struggling with digestive issues and exhaustion, my boyfriend, a chiropractor, suggested I eliminate sugar from my diet. Six weeks later, by accident, I was staring at a positive pregnancy test. “I ended up with a second pregnancy right after, and the baby weight was so easy to lose. I’m actually thinner now than I was pre-babies!   Quitting sugar was hard for me at first because I was a sugar-holic. However, it’s gotten easier. Now real (processed) sugar makes me sick. I can tell immediately now if I do eat sugar because I get instant brain fog, and the issues that plagued me in the past immediately come back. “I now have two toddlers, more focus, a thriving business, and less weight to carry around all because I gave the boot to sugar.”  NEXT: Try this 5-day sugar-free diet plan>>         {nomultithumb}  

Rowing Training

Rowing has become popular not only with aspiring oarsmen and women, but with the general population who see it as an effective form of fitness training. The success of the Concept 2 rowing ergometer has meant that health club members can develop substantial rowing-specific fitness without ever taking to the water.

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