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How to measure your strength progression

Strength progression is all about how much weight you can lift, over a certain number of reps or sets, here's how to measure your progression. What is it? Tracking strength progression is vital to any resistance based program, with muscles needing to be consistently challenged in order to fortify the neural connections and muscular adaptions

Health and fitness with Alexa Towersey

Health and fitness with Alexa Towersey We chat to September cover model, Alexa Towersey about all things fitness, health, career and self-love. Check out the exclusive cover story interview below!ON CAREERI’ve been in the health and fitness industry for over 15 years. I’ve played pretty much every sport known to man including American football, boxing, soccer, skiing and horse-riding. I completed a Bachelor of Science in biology and psychology and went on to do a post-graduate diploma in sports management and kinesiology, and then I interned with an All Blacks-endorsed Pilates studio.ON EXPERIENCESWhen I was 27 I moved to Hong Kong, where I was the senior strength and conditioning coach at a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym. I decided to get into half-Ironman events and I took two years to qualify for the world champs.

Fat burning tactics

Fat burning tactics If you’re aiming for quickish results, exercise that works out your muscles should be a priority.It provides the best bang-for-buck that will not only fast-track you towards a healthy body but also give you the toned features that can give you the appearance of being slimmer.This is because resistance training – using free-weights or resistance machines – fires up your internal furnace, which will continue to burn fat long after you’ve walked away from the gym and are lying on the couch. In fact, studies have found that after an intensive resistance workout, your fat-burn may continue for as much as 34 to 48 hours. Now that’s reward for effort.Importantly, a resistance session doesn’t take that long either.

Mindfulness exercises

There are tonnes of ways to get pumped using exercise, a HIIT class with booming music that shakes the floor, sprinting your morning run because your so pumped because your earphones are so loud they’re practically bursting your ear drums, or signing up for another spin class knowing full well that the instructor will be screaming at you the whole time. But, it’s important to make sure you’re getting a healthy balance of exercise and rest or relaxation to achieve good health – that’s why we love methods that combine the two.

If you thought ‘inner energy’ was all about sitting on a yoga mat in the lotus position while chanting ‘om’, then think again. Those familiar with the Chinese martial art tai chi may have come across qigong before. Sometimes known by its full name of taiji qigong, it consists of 18 exercises that are used to promote the body’s natural healing energy to reduce stress levels and increase your quality of life.

How does it work?

Focusing on postures and breathing, qigong is aimed at improving physical and mental health. ‘The exercises can help to promote the body’s natural healing energy, reduce stress and create a feeling of wellbeing,’ explains Ronnie Robinson the director of Taiji Europa, (taiji-europa.eu).
If you know a little about acupuncture, you may be familiar with the Chinese theory of internal energy pathways, or meridians, through which ‘qi’ or ‘chi’ – energy – flows through. ‘Each meridian connects to different internal organs and ensures a healthy energy flow to the connected organ,’ Ronnie explains. ‘When the chi flow is regular the body will remain healthy. However, if there are blockages in this energy flow, problems can result.’
The theory goes that ailments occur because there is disruption to the energy flow in the meridian associated with that particular area. The disruption can be due to stress, poor eating habits, or even being too hot or too cold, creating a build-up which energy can’t freely flow through. Qigong helps to clear these blockages so energy can flow through the meridians with as little disruption as possible.

How to do it

The movements are simple, slow and gentle, yet effective in restoring energy. The body is kept in alignment throughout, and breathing is soft and natural. You may not get your heart racing in qigong, but you’ll certainly benefit physically. ‘Think about the natural movements of animals,’ says Ronnie, ‘like how birds take off and fly. They don’t carry the stresses and strains in their bodies that we humans do. Try to emulate the smooth, easy, natural movements that you see in the rest of nature.’
Want to give qigong a go? Perform each move 8-10 times one after another to create a flowing routine. It’s ideal performed in the morning for a gentle start to the day, or a good option if you need to unwind after work.

Qigong decoded

Beihui: A pressure point at the central part of the top of the head
Dantian: A pressure point just in front of your tummy
Laogong: A pressure point on the centre of the palm of the hd
Zusanli: A pressure point a few inches below the outside of the knee

Top tips for qigong

 Listen to your breath Adopt a soft, natural breathing during the movements.

Be aware of your body Although aches and pains are sometimes normal, don’t overdo it. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

‘Sink’ your weight and ‘lighten’ your upper body Establish a connection with the ground by imagining your weight dropping deep into the earth while your upper body floats upwards. In reality, your upper body may be heavy with tension while you find it hard to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
Maintain alignment Keep a natural arch in your back and neutral spine, the way we’ve evolved.
Focus and intent Connect with all the movements you’re making and the directions you’re going.
Be natural Think of the movements you see taking place in nature and try to follow suit.

Strike a balance with this Inner thigh exercise

Blocking out the time to really delve into a stretching session can seem hard to justify if your busy schedule already makes squeezing workouts in difficult.But if you’ve found yourself hitting a wall when it comes to results, or you’re constantly plagued by niggling injuries, it might just be what the doctor ordered. US-based Lastics has taken inspo from the long, lean and limber bodies of dancers to come up with classes and online videos to help regular gym-goers get the most out of their workouts. ‘Dancers epitomise the balance between strength and flexibility to the extreme,’ says Lastics founder Donna Flagg. ‘Their bodies are graceful, sculpted and powerful.’Rather than overhauling your entire workout routine to emulate that of a ballerina, Lastics instead allows you to simply take a leaf out of their book, providing stretching-focused classes to help you develop an improved range of motion.

Break Through Plateauing Results by Training Smarter

Stuck in a rut? If you exercise regularlybut can’t figure out how to smashplateaus, you’re in the right place.This plan, by IFBB fitness pro Fiona Harris,will trim inches off your thighs, tone and sculptyour arms, perk up your glute-ham tie-in,and create definition like your Insta-idol@NicoleMWilkins. By manipulating variablessuch as intensity and frequency andincorporating different training techniques—like heavy/low-rep and light/high-frequencybody-part splits, plus cardio, HIIT, andplyometrics—you WILL keep your bodyprogressing right to the top.

Jenna Douros’ pyramid shred workout

As much as we appreciate the calorie burn native to hill sprints, they can get boring come the end of your training week. Change up your routine with this high-intensity blast courtesy of our beautiful cover model, Jenna Douros – if you’re game!Regardless of your fitness level or exercise experience – whether you’re a bodybuilder, gymnast or a weekend warrior – you can implement pyramid techniques and principals into your workout routine to achieve amazing results.One of the reasons I work pyramid sets into my own training and that of my clients, is because they’re so versatile – you can apply them to nearly any workout. Pyramids can be a great way to break through those barriers that have brought progress to a standstill. The abnormal rep range helps to shock your system, shift those stubborn plateaus and really wake those muscle fibres up to improve tone and shape.My training style contains a lot of exercise variety and an abundance of challenges to keep my mind motivated and my results moving forward.

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