Archive | February, 2018

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Alexa Towersey’s resistance training workout

Resistance training targets the full body with particular emphasis on the posterior chain and core for both strength and physique shape and allows you to work towards your own objective by having targeted options with both your rep range and load.

It also provides exercises designed to challenge your grip, in addition to providing some of the progressions needed to achieve a pull-up.

The HIIT component is representative of Jenna’s ALL IN program. It is designed to challenge your strength, power, coordination and overall fitness, with the metabolic requirement of high reps, moderate load and minimal rest raising your heart rate as quickly as possible and keeping it elevated for up to 36 hours post workout.

The active rest and recovery component is highly recommended – not only as a stress management tool, but also to allow you enough time between workouts so that you can perform at your best. For both increased fat loss and muscle repair, in addition to supporting all the detoxification channels that may have been overworked over the holidays, I recommend power walking, foam rolling, infrared sauna and epsom salts baths.  Supplementing with a pharmaceutical-grade magnesium is also suggested.

 

This workout consists of a standalone EMOM, followed by two supersets.

EMOM stands for ‘every minute on the minute’. The beauty of this format is that you can structure the rep range and load of the EMOM to target your own specific goals.

If you’re an advanced lifter, know your one rep max (1RM), and if you want to opt for pure strength and no advance in muscle size, aim for three reps with an exertion level of 8/10.

If you’re a beginner to intermediate lifter and want to aim for more strength and minimal size, aim for five reps and an exertion level of 6–7/10.

If you’re a beginner lifter and prefer to stick to lighter weights for form OR you want to aim for fat loss with a little lean muscle gain, then aim for 10 reps with an exertion level of 5/10. You should be able to complete all 10 reps for all 10 sets at the same weight – so don’t be a hero by trying to go too heavy!

Perform each exercise for the reps/time that are prescribed.  Where there is a superset [e.g. C1 & C2], perform the exercises one after the other with no rest in between. After you have completed the superset, rest 30 seconds. Complete three to five rounds before moving on to the next superset. To progress these workouts, you can increase the load (heavier weights), the time under tension (slow it down), and/or the volume (add a set each week).

NOTE: you should never sacrifice FORM for load, time or volume.

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Feet need to be set up in line with the sit bones: so align the hip bone, knee and 2/3rd toe. Place a towel or mat across the front of the hips underneath the barbell.  Drive your hips up to the ceiling, squeezing the glutes. Keep a slight posterior pelvic tilt throughout to make sure you are using the glutes rather than the lower back. If you struggle to engage the glutes, pop a band around your knees, lift the toes and even turn your feet slightly out.

NOTE: 2 mins rest after EMOM to start first superset

B1

10 x barbell romanian deadlift into bent-over row

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Feet hip-distance apart, hold the bar in front of your thighs. Pin the shoulders back and keep them set throughout.  The RDL part of the movement is initiated by a hip hinge (imagine you’re shutting a car door with your butt) – as your hips go back, the upper body naturally comes forward.  Come to a position where your upper body is almost parallel with the floor, then perform the bent-over row, pulling to the bottom rib with elbows squeezing in. Drive through the heels to come up and squeeze the glutes at the top.

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NOTE: If you struggle to keep your shoulders back throughout, you can perform this movement with an underhand grip.

B2

30-sec dead hang

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With hands just wider than shoulder distance, hang from a pull-up bar using an overhand grip. Note: make sure you wrap your thumb around the bar and focus on gripping hard. Let your shoulders shrug up to your ears.

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Hold two kettlebells in front of the body with the inside of your wrists touching.  Plant your top foot on a box and focus on engaging your glutes and hamstrings to pull you up through the heel, as opposed to pushing too much with the bottom leg. Keep the top leg elevated for all of the reps, then switch sides.   

10 x knee tucks

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Set yourself up in a plank position with your shins and the top of your feet on a Swissball, hands directly underneath the shoulders. Initiate the movement from the lower abs by lifting your hips towards the ceiling as you draw your knees in towards your chest.  Lower with control and repeat. To avoid dropping through the lower back, keep your glutes tight and your abdominals drawn in to the spine throughout.

Alexa Towersey’s resistance training workout

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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 too much exercise? So much that it takes over your life?

This may sound strange, but lately I’ve come across several women who seem to be controlled by eating and exercise. I have to admit, for a few years I was in that headspace too and every now and then I have to keep myself in check. There really is a fine line between exercising enough and becoming obsessed about it. Read on to find out how exercise addiction may be affecting you or someone you know.

Exercise addiction: positive vs. negative

“Addiction occurs when adaptive changes in the brain cause symptoms of tolerance, sensitisation, dependence and withdrawal,” (Leuenberger, 2006).

Positive Addiction, written by William Glaser (1976), first addressed positive and negative addiction to exercise. He refers to positive addiction as “involving a love of the activity that is characterised by controllability, an ability to integrate exercise into everyday activities, and an ability to miss exercisesessions when it is necessary”. People with a positive dependence schedule exercise carefully around other aspects of their life, so their exercise schedule is not detrimental to their wellbeing in these areas. They feel increased feelings of control, competence, physical and psychological wellbeing. Negative addiction to exercise, on the other hand, “involves a compulsive desire or need to exercise that overrides a person’s considerations about their health, relationships and career”. When these people have to miss an exercise session they experience feelings of loss, guilt, physical and psychological discomfort. Large amounts of time are dedicated to training, leading to many ‘negative addicts’ giving up other important aspects of their life.

Health risks of too much exercise

Exercise, like anything, can be carried too far. Overexercising stresses the body to the point of weakening the immune system, making people more prone to illness. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can lead to sore muscles, loss of appetite, headaches and trouble sleeping. More serious effects include joint pain and injuries, anaemia, weakening of the bones and the hormonal cycle shutting down (Cline, 2007).

Yes, exercise is good for you, but when it reaches the point of excess it can indeed make you sick. A study of Harvard Alumni by Stanford University’s Ralph Paffenbarger found death rates were lower for men who were involved in regular physical activity. But then death rates began to go up in those who burnt more than 3000 calories per week. His 10-year study also found that mood disturbances such as tension, depression, anger, confusion and anxiety were found to rise significantly as training loads increased.

Dr Kenneth Cooper, author of Aerobics, believes excessive exercise also produces unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals that cause harm to the body. These have been linked to health problems such as premature ageing, heart disease and cancer.

Why the addiction?

Psychological and physiological factors

There is still a great debate happening on the ‘why’ of exercise addiction. Some believe it’s associated with certain personality traits, including obsessive compulsive disorder, high-pain tolerance, high self-imposed expectations and narcissism.

Others propose it may be a result of low self-esteem, where exercise is used to improve this, or that endorphins released in the body during exercise, lead to a psychological state called ‘runners high’, which creates a relaxed state of being that people thrive to achieve over and over again. Some also say there are physiological causes, where the exerciser relies on exercise to increase their arousal to an optimal level.
Participants in sports that focus on body size and shape, such as dance, figure skating, ballet, gymnastics, distance running, body building, wrestling and boxing may be at higher risk.

Are you at risk?

Does all of this sound a little too familiar? Or perhaps alarm bells are ringing around one of your friends or family members? Well here are some of the typical symptoms of someone who is letting exercise take over their life:

  • Withdrawal

They will experience anxiety, fatigue and other similar symptoms if they don’t exercise. Or will have to exercise to relieve these.

  • Intention effects

The amount of exercise or length of exercise sessions is longer than originally intended.

  • Loss of control

A persistent desire to train or make unsuccessful attempts to reduce the amount of exercise they do.

  • Time

Large amounts of time are spent exercising and conflict with other areas of their life.

  • Continuance

Will continue to exercise even with persistent physical or psychological issues that are made worse from exercising, such as a recurring injury.

Other warnings signs are a fixation on weight loss, whereby they will talk about exercising to burn off a meal or treat. Compulsive exercisers will also try to lose weight in order to improve their exercise performance.  They often exercise alone and avoid interaction and exercise assessments, and will usually have a rigid routine.

However, as Amy Gleason, senior nutritionist from the McLean Hospital in the United States says, “unhealthy uses of exercise are not necessarily obvious. Exercisers won’t complain or bring their potential problems to anyone’s attention. Asking why a person is training or what their goals are is a great way to find out more.”

If you still feel like you can’t break the chains of obsessive exercise, consider talking to an expert, who can help you let go of it gradually.  A great book to check out is Appearance Obsession: Learning to Love the way you look, by Joni E. Johnston. This contains quizzes than can help you assess whether your exercise habit is becoming an unhealthy one. It also offers helpful suggestions, in addition to the ones I have given you.

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10 ways to melt more FAT

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, light weight workouts according to the Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education. To maximise the calories burned long after you and your gym bag have left the change room, shoot for three to seven reps.

2. Mix it up
Don’t put your light weights out for hard rubbish. While lifting low and heavy burns more kJs later, lighter weights may burn more calories during your session, according to researchers from the College of New Jersey. Hedge your bets by splicing heavy and light routines – three to seven reps with heavy weights one day, 10 to 20 with light weights the next. If you want to get tricky, do both in one session: two sets light, two sets heavy.

3. Cut rest time
Sleep is critical; research consistently shows that skipping your kip can undermine intensity. But your workout isn’t the time to be loafing. You’ll torch 50 per cent more calories if you cut rests between sets from three minutes to 30 seconds, a College of New Jersey study found.

4. Speed demons inc.
Yes, you need slow, controlled reps. But don’t ditch the fast moves. Instead, make your reps rapid and explosive and reap the calorie burn rewards. The fast twitch muscle fibres engaged during fast lifts are less energy efficient than their slower cousins, meaning they chew through more fuel, according to Ball State University researchers. You’ll need a weight about 30 per cent of your one-rep max (1RM), which means being able to lift it for 15 to 35 reps per exercise. Aim for four to five sets comprising two fast sets of three to eight reps, and two to three at normal pace.

5. Listen to your favourite tunes
Cranking the tunes before you hit the treadmill is a free hit in the fat-loss stakes, with listening to your favourite playlist linked to greater intensity and fat loss according to a study presented to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The headphone set registered significantly more reps than those listening to the purr of the treadmill engine.

6. Put resistance training before cardio
Burning more fat is as simple as switching the order of your workout components according to Japanese researchers. By putting your resistance training before your cardio workout, you can seriously boost your fat burn. The better news is that the fat burn was highest in the first 15 minutes of cardio, so say arrivederci to hours on the elliptical and set your stopwatch for quarter of an hour.

7. HIIT
To burn fat with cardio, you can’t go past intervals. Commonly shortened to HIIT, high intensity interval training demands intervals at 90 per cent of your maximum heart rate (MHR) interspersed with bouts at walking pace. For the record, most steady-state cardio hangs around the 60 to 70 MHR mark. A good rule of thumb for HIIT is 20 seconds/10 seconds (sprint for 20, walk or jog for 10).

8. Try intermittent cardio
In the vein of HIIT, intermittent cardio burns more fat than continuous movement. A study pitting subjects doing steady cardio for 30 minutes against those doing three 10-minute bursts broken by 20-minute rests, found the staggered group burned more fat, with the bonus of greater calorie burn after the fact.

9. Exercise after work
Good news for night owls – exercising after work raises your metabolic rate more than morning sessions. Subjects who cycled for 30 minutes between 5 and 7pm got a greater spike in post-workout calorie burn than their early-rising counterparts, said University of Wisconsin researchers. The after-work window also trumped lunchtime workouts for efficiency.

10. All in the preparation
Just two weeks of strategic exercise may reduce blood glucose and insulin, leading to greater fat burning and less fat storage, say scientists at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh. A two-week schedule of four to six 30-second sprints divided by four-minute rests was linked to reduced blood glucose (15 per cent) and insulin (40 per cent), and correlated with a 25 per cent drop in insulin resistance.

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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 needs whether you want to work on your heart rate and endurance, or a slower strength-based workout.”

Sand also adds to the resistance, which Lucas says is great for your core, thighs and glutes – hello, booty. The unusual surface also helps with stability and is lower impact than running and sprinting on regular ground. Plus, with an array of exercise and timing options, you won’t get bored. Win, win, win.

Once a form of military entry training, outdoor boot camps typically involve a mix of bodyweight exercises, interval training and strength training in a group fitness environment – a good way to cover all fitness goals. Outdoor boot camps also help you to continuously progress and see results due to the variety of exercises and intensities involved.

For beginners, bodyweight exercises will likely produce some muscle gains, but for the more advanced you can add equipment such as kettlebells and resistance bands to allow for heavier loads and progression.

Max Gains

Limitations to keep in mind

The potential to improve all areas of your fitness and physique skyrocket given your ability to adjust the workout to your goal: want to lose fat? Keep the cardio exercises at high intensity with limited rest. Want to gain muscle? Add moderately weighted resistance exercise into the mix and increase your rest times between movements. Think time under tension – slow and steady movements to ensure the muscles are under load for longer periods of time, maximising ‘tone’.

That said, the high intensity and fast-paced nature of circuits can cause injury – particularly if overtraining and poor technique are a factor, warns Ferstera. Recovery sessions and a balanced training regimen, again, are important.

“Mixing up the type of activities you do in your boot camps means you’re likely to continue to see improvements. Most people who are stuck in a plateau and then have a rest from their training often find their plateau ends after their rest,” says exercise physiologist and exercise scientist Naomi Ferstera.

“Plus, when you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re more likely to keep going and push yourself harder.”

Doing what you enjoy seems to be the best strategy for success when it comes to getting your recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. A study published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that among two groups of people – one that did HIIT and the other longer moderate-intensity exercise – those who did moderate-intensity exercise compared to high-intensity reported greater pleasure and enjoyment, and felt more likely to keep it up.

If circuit training on the beach is your pick, Lucas recommends 3 to 4 workouts per week at 30 to 40 minutes in duration, supplemented with low-intensity steady-state cardio such as walking and yoga.

Try the following exercises, completing:

»10 reps

»Repeat for 3 rounds

»30 seconds’ rest between rounds

1. lateral lunges

2. squat jumps

3. push-ups

4. 20 metre shuttle sprints (use towels or cones as markers and set them out 20 metres apart)

“Training on the sand can cause lactic acid to build up in the legs, so you want to flush it out. Lighter exercise will ensure your muscles have a chance to recover, and will also keep your cortisol and inflammation levels in check,” he says.

Image: Elise Carver Surf Trainer.

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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!

Train like an elite

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‘How I regained my health after bikini competitions

After getting in the best shape of my life, I didn’t know what to do next…

After four months of strict dieting, twice-a-day gym sessions six days a week, endless chicken breasts and egg whites, layers of fake tan and learning how to walk in six-inch heels; competition day arrives. All of the sacrifices and exhausting workouts lead to those 60 seconds on stage. I had shed 12kg and got my body fat down to 11 per cent. The day comes and goes. Now what?

‘I found myself feeling really low’

For me, that question lingered for a long time. I placed fourth and third in my competitions, bringing home two glorious trophies which still manage to pick me up if I am feeling sorry for myself. The highs of show day leave you feeling somewhat useless once it is all over. Every day for the past 16 weeks has been dedicated to reaching one goal, and during that time nothing else outside of the competition bubble has seemed important. Yeah, I know… it seems like a selfish sport.

After the photo shoots, congratulations and celebratory cheat meals (plural indeed), I found myself feeling really low. I struggled to get back into my normal eating habits, lacked enthusiasm and lost focus. On top of that, months of strict dieting and a gruelling exercise regime left my hormone levels awry.

Sports nutritionist and dietician Helen Phadnis explains, ‘Inadequate energy intake affects not just menstruation but also bone health, cardiovascular health, metabolic rate and immunity’. The stress hormone cortisol ‘causes the release of glucose into the blood stream and insulin resistance’. In the long term, continuously raised cortisol levels can ‘directly contribute to weight gain, increasing hunger and cravings for high fat food’. To say I could relate to this is an understatement. Pizza, anyone?

‘Constant overeating’

Feeling low and hormonal led to binge-eating, an emotional comfort. Takeaways followed by Krispy Kremes and late night cereal, constant overeating… we’ve all been there. Jennifer Low, dietitian and health writer, describes binge-eating as ‘a maladaptive coping mechanism that can really harm a person’s health – both physically and mentally. The person will have learned to not recognise negative feelings, they may binge as a way to cope with the feelings’.

After a week of indulging I gave up on trying to weigh my food and instead started to just eat sensibly, allowing myself a treat if I felt like it. The problem is I had no idea how many calories I was consuming, and as predicted, gave in to my sweet tooth whenever it called. Over the summer I partied, like any normal 22-year-old should if they want to (which always leads to the local kebab shop), and continued not to track my food.

‘My gut was irritated and I was extremely bloated’

The consequences? Five months post-show I felt awful about myself and was unable to find balance. I would eat well, binge, and then do extra cardio workouts to make up for it. More importantly, I was having gut health issues. I suffer from ulcerative colitis, a chronic irritable bowel disease, and after spending the summer consuming food that I wasn’t used to, such as dairy and alcohol, my condition flared up. My gut was irritated, I was extremely bloated and I had terrible fatigue (a common symptom of UC). A specialist put me on an eight-week steroid course to calm my symptoms – I was taking up to eight tablets per day.

Being an aspiring nutritionist, I wanted to use food as medicine where possible, too. I saw it as a push to get my eating habits back to normal, stop binging and feel healthy again. At the same time, I started an Access to Science course to study nutrition and also landed a magazine internship, which gave me a new motivation and focus.

‘Reverse dieting ensures your metabolism can adapt steadily’

The right thing to do straight after competing would have been to reverse diet. Jennifer Low explains that ‘calorie-restricted diets might reduce your basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy you expend)’. This in turn slows your metabolism, ‘so it is then a lot easier to gain body fat once you resume normal eating’. I had been on calories as low as 1100 for four months, so you can see why my body had a shock. Reverse dieting ensures that your calories increase gradually week by week, your metabolism can adapt steadily and that you can make some lean gains.

To get back on track I began a ‘gut restoration’ plan eliminating irritants like gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and alcohol; which commonly cause my ulcerative colitis flare-ups to worsen. My plan consists of five meals spread out over the day and includes sweet potato, chicken, white fish, green veg, white rice and gluten-free oats. Little and often is the key. I lift heavy weights four to five times a week and do four 10-minute HIIT sessions a week.

12 weeks after starting my new plan I felt better than ever. I reached a maintainable weight and built muscle, my digestion and gut health improved and I am now back in love with training. I don’t obsess over the scales but I have gone from 62kg to 57kg and can see my results through weekly progress pictures. I weigh my food to ensure I hit my macro goals every day and stay in control of what I am consuming. On the other hand, if a friend wants to go out for dinner, I will happily say yes without stressing that it won’t fit into my eating plan.

‘I haven’t binged for months’

That is the difference between prepping for a competition and prepping to feel healthy. I know that weighing my food and being on a plan can’t last forever, just as my competition couldn’t, but I am able to maintain it for now and it has given me a positive approach to food. I haven’t binged for months, my calories are high and I don’t schedule in huge cheat meals to go wild. I simply stay on plan, but if a social event comes up or I fancy something different, I’ll go with it.

A study published by Dr. Sherry of Dalhousie University, The Perfectionism Model of Binge Eating, states that ‘individuals with a high degree of perfectionism are often setting themselves up for a host of physical, emotional and mental problems– particularly related to binge eating’. Competing is all about bringing the perfect package to stage and you can become obsessed with achieving this image.

My aim is not to put you off competing entirely, because I gained so much confidence, experience, strength and friendships from mine. My aim is to help spread the importance of setting goals after the show, and to make people aware of the damage it can cause if you push yourself to these extremes. Dr. Sherry’s study looks at the mistaken belief that ‘perfectionism will ultimately produce achievement and social success’. My journey to the stage gave me a huge sense of self-achievement, but taught me that having abs isn’t the key to happiness after all.

Aimee Corry, 22, London

@aimeecorry

Sources/references:

 

Source:

‘How I regained my health after bikini…

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resistanceband

How to use your resistance bands for 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.

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“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. For a toning-style session, ensure high reps (15 to 20) with little rest in between sets.

For recovery: Resistance bands are particularly useful for deepening the stretch of large muscle groups, such as the legs and back. Try this exercise for the hamstrings: lying on the floor, loop the band around your right foot and grab onto the band ends to create tension. Straighten the right leg as much as you can – think a deep stretch but not to the point of pain – and keep the left leg on the floor. Gently pull the right leg back towards you, stretching the back of the leg. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching sides.

Words and workout by Ashley Azevedo.

Photography by James Patrick.

 

 

How to use your resistance bands for recovery and…

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Weight loss0 Comments

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}  

DIY diet 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.”

 

 

DIY diet success stories

Posted in Exercises0 Comments

Rowing team (Quadruple Four) at the start of a regatta

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. Several events now exist purely to test the competitor’s proficiency on an indoor rowing ergo.

Rowing is often labelled as one of the most physically strenuous of all sports, and it’s not without credence…

In tests designed to mirror the demands of a 2000m race, caloric expenditure has been calculated as 36kcal per minute making it one of the most energy demanding activities ever studied (1). It’s not surprising then that the aerobic power (VO2max) of elite oarsmen and women is substantial (1).

Aerobic energy metabolism is responsible for up to 75% of the energy required to row a 2000m race (1,3). The rest is derived from anaerobic metabolism, predominately through the lactic acid system with a small contribution from alactic pathways (2,3). Muscle fibre type composition in oarsmen and women resembles that of distance runners although they demonstrate significantly greater leg power than other athletes.

Tactically, rowers take a unique approach to race pacing. Up to the first 500m are completed with a vigorous sprint so athletes can look back on competitors. This places an immediate strain on the anaerobic energy pathways, which is followed by about 1000m of very high steady-state aerobic activity. The final 500m consists of an exhaustive, anaerobic sprint. Unsurprisingly, studies show Oarsmen and women have an exceptionally high tolerance to lactate accumulation (6,).

Strength is also important to the rower. Peak power, power endurance and muscular endurance should be the ultimate goal of a rowing training program. Excessive hypertrophy can be detrimental to rowing (4) while peak power, rather than maximal strength, is associated with good performance (5).

This section of the site covers the different conditioning elements important in successful rowing. You will find a range of sample indoor rowing training programs designed to build aerobic power and anaerobic endurance. You will also find strength training advice and exercises specific to the sport and learn why the traditional bodybuilding approach to weight lifting is not the best use of your training time.

Rowing Training Articles

The Different Types of Endurance Training
Endurance is a heavy component of a rowing training plan. There are different types of endurance training and the concepts are the same whether exercise occurs on land or the water

Interval Training for Sport-Specific Endurance
Interval endurance training can be used to increase lactate threshold, exercise economy and muscular endurance. There is an increasing body of research that suggests pure endurance athletes who have favored only steady-state training can benefit by substituting some of that for interval work

VO2max – Your Aerobic Potential
Endurance training and VO2 max seem to inextricably linked. While maximal oxygen uptake is certainly not the be all and end all of rowing performance, understanding what it is and how it can be affected by training, can help athletes better prepare themselves for competition…

Lactate Threshold – Tapping Your Aerobic Potential
Perhaps more indicative of success in rowing, an more trainable, is lactate threshold. Often a confusing subject for some coaches and athletes, from a practical point of view, improving lactate threshold is relatively straightforward…

How to Determine Your Anaerobic Threshold
Here are some non-invasive tests used to determine an athlete’s lactate threshold…

Lactate Threshold Training
Training tips to improve anaerobic threshold…

Lactic Acid, Blood Lactate & The ‘Lactic Acid Myth’
Blood lactate is not be all bad! In fact there is research questioning whether it causes fatigue at all. This review of the literature highlights the good and bad of both lactic acid and blood lactate…

Heart Rate Training for Endurance Events
Heart rate training, despite being erratic, is still popular with many athletes. Here’s how heart rate can be best used to monitor the intensity of a rowing training program

Rowers must be both powerful and possess good strength endurance. Sport-specific strength training is very different to bodybuilding or simply lifting weights however

How To Design Resistance Training Programs For Athletes
Here is the step-by-step process of developing a sport-specific strength training plan – one that meets the demanding nature of rowing…

Power Training for Athletes
What are the best methods for improving power?

Muscular Endurance Training
While explosive power is key in rwoing, muscular endurance is equally as important. But lifting weights for sets of 20 repetitions is not the most effective approach…

Flexibility Exercises
Flexibility training is part and parcel of most athletes’ conditioning program. Increased flexibility may reduce the risk of certain long-term injuries…

Self Myofascial Release Exercises
Many Exercise Scientists believe that enhancing recovery between training sessions is the key to winning. Myofascial release exercises are said to relieve and release trigger points in the muscle sheath that may compound leading to injury and sub-optimal performance…

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
We’ve all suffered it – the stiff, aching muscles that follow the first day of training or a long layoff. But can it be prevented or treated?

Best Rowing Machine

The Sunny Health Fitness SF-RW5515 Rowing Machine is our best rowing machine, which is very convenient due to the magnetic[…]

References

1) Hagerman FC. Applied physiology of rowing. Sports Med. 1984 Jul-Aug;1(4):303-26

2) Pripstein LP, Rhodes EC, McKenzie DC, Coutts KD. Aerobic and anaerobic energy during a 2-km race simulation in female rowers. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999 May;79(6):491-4

3) Mickelson TC, Hagerman FC. Anaerobic threshold measurements of elite oarsmen. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1982;14(6):440-4

4) Bompa, Tudor. Periodization training for sports. 1999. Champaign: IL, Human Kinetics

5) Bourdin M, Messonnier L, Hager JP, Lacour JR. Peak power output predicts rowing ergometer performance in elite male rowers. Int J Sports Med. 2004 Jul;25(5):368-73

6) Perkins CD, Pivarnik JM. Physiological profiles and performance predictors of a women’s NCAA rowing team. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Feb;17(1):173-6

7) Cosgrove MJ, Wilson J, Watt D, Grant SF. The relationship between selected physiological variables of rowers and rowing performance as determined by a 2000 m ergometer test. J Sports Sci. 1999 Nov;17(11):845-52

8) Ingham SA, Whyte GP, Jones K, Nevill AM. Determinants of 2,000 m rowing ergometer performance in elite rowers. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Dec;88(3):243-6. Epub 2002 Oct 10

Source: Sports Fitness Advisor

Posted in Exercises, Training Methods0 Comments



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