The benefits of plyometric exercises Plyometrics are great for cardio, toning and fat loss here, we take a look at how the humble plyometric box can be a killer workout session.“The plyo box has been popular among athletes and hard-core fitness enthusiasts for a while now, but has become more mainstream since the introduction of CrossFit,” says elite trainer of over 15 years Matthew Strickland.“They are great for cardio-based and high-intensity training, but can also be used for rehabilitative purposes and for evening out physique imbalances.”Plyometric boxes and aerobic steps come in a range of heights and sizes to adhere to varying fitness levels and exercise goals. While fixed-height boxes are available and usually come in sets of three to four, try opting for a sturdy, adjustable step if you are tight on space. And if you aren’t confident in the jumps, we say go for foam rather than metal or wood versions: a lot less chance of skinned shins.For cardio/fat loss: Plyometric training involves using explosive bodyweight movements to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time – making them the perfect fat-burning tool. Explosive movements also mean power and strength, especially in the lower body, can be achieved. Again, keep rest periods short and repetitions as high as possible – although given their taxing nature, sessions shouldn’t go much longer then 30 to 45 minutes.
11 reasons to lose weight Struggling to lose weight? Here are 11 reasons to drop a dress size.The pros of weight loss extend far beyond being able to flaunt your new look in skin-tight jeans. Think: Glowing skin Relief from arthritis Improved moods Better memory Improved sleeping patterns Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes Lower risk of dementia Depression prevention Improved breathing Lower cholesterol levels Increased libido The cons? You might have to go shopping for some fabulous new clothes to suit your smaller frame.NEXT: 15 ways to burn more fat>>
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
– 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
-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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.