Stretch your way to a more muscular body

Hands up if you don’t stretch at the end of a workout..
Hands up if you stretch but don’t know if you are doing it correctly..

Both are very common and can be as bad as each other.

Let’s start with the difference between stretching before and after exercise.

Before exercise muscles need to be warm and lengthened, this is done by dynamic stretching. A proper warm up will bring about many physiological benefits that not only reduce the chance of injury during a session, but also lead to better performance in the main workout. Safe and effective activities for a warm up include gradual and progressive pulse raising and body warming activities with some range of motion activities including dynamic and static stretches.

After exercise, stretching will address flexibility limitations and return the body to an appropriate non exercising state. A cool down should include pulse lowering activities after any cardiovascular work as well as stretches to maintain and develop flexibility.

Why is flexibility important?

Without flexibility training, range of motion and mobility will be restricted. Any significant lack of flexibility can dramatically affect posture, impair performance and daily functioning. With consistent post workout stretching, the body becomes more flexible. You will find it easier to bend, stand, squat and do a host of other flexibility related exercises, which would have otherwise not been possible as well as increasing performance. It has been seen that leg stretches done after a long run, for example, increases muscular power and endurance for runners.

Certain activities, where the muscles are not used through their full range of motion, have potential to reduce flexibility, examples of these activities are running, football and cycling. This can lead to muscle tightness and adaptive shortening. If you don’t have a properly structured resistance programme then you may be overdeveloping one muscle group (prime movers) while neglecting the opposing muscle group (antagonists) which can cause muscle imbalances that restrict flexibility.

When and how often?

Flexibility is a core component of fitness that should be included in any training programme. So what frequency, intensity and time should you stretch for?
3-5 days a week, always after a workout when the muscles are warm
Stretch to the point of mild tension and mild discomfort
Hold for 10 – 30 seconds
A total of 60 seconds per muscle group is recommended, stretches can be repeated 2 – 4 times to achieve this total, such as 4 x 15 seconds.

Still not convinced?

Lengthening muscle tissue and increasing flexibility through stretching allows you to perform strength building moves with greater range of movement, making the exercise more effective and encourages muscle growth. Don’t just take it from me, research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found intense stretching after working a muscle group has the potential to increase it’s mass by 318% in 28 days..

Full body stretch anyone?!


5 holiday fitness tips

Family plankingThe holiday season is nearly upon us! If you are worried about how your well-earned break will affect your fitness/weight loss goals read on for some tips to help keep you on track.

  1. Don’t lose sight of your end goal.

You may have put in months (or years!) of hard work, there’s no reason why a holiday should spoil that. It’s important to strike a balance between maintaining your plan but also enjoying your break and making the most of rest days. Plan ahead, think about the type of workouts you can do, how you will keep track of what you’re eating and don’t forget to take some lightweight workout clothes that can be hand washed. If you are flying wear your trainers on the journey for comfort and to save the added weight in your luggage!

  1. Make HIIT workouts your best friend.

Simple exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and star jumps can be mixed up into a mini 30-minute workout. 30 seconds of work at maximum effort followed by 30 secs rest for each exercise and repeat is all you need. Don’t forget to build a warm up and cool down into those 30 mins. My weekly HIIT classes will give you good ideas of what to include, you could even use one of the sessions to take on holiday with you. Click here for more information.

  1. You don’t need equipment.

No gym? Don’t panic. Body weight exercises are just as effective, as are swimming and running. Use what you have to get what you want!

  1. Make the most of your new surroundings.

A walk or jog along the beach, exploring local towns, a swim in the pool (or sea!) or a bike ride all count as long as it’s at a good pace and raises your heart rate.

  1. Include the family!

Plank 1It’s likely you’re going away to spend time with your loved ones so don’t exclude them. Enjoy rounders on the beach, a game of football or volleyball, jumping waves, digging holes in the sand, a simple game of tag, they’ll thank you for it and it’s likely to create lots of laughter and special memories. Involve little ones in your workouts too, they’ll love trying to copy you!

Most of all enjoy! You’ve probably worked hard to get in shape for the holiday so maintain it but don’t feel guilty about the odd treat, you are on holiday after all..


7 tips for succeeding at weight loss

Weight loss blog.jpegThere are so many sources of information out there on how to lose weight, hundreds of diets, promises of dramatic weight loss, meal plans, books, videos, DVDs so I don’t blame you for feeling lost and wondering where to start. Take a step back and look at my 7 tips for succeeding at weight loss. Keep it simple, do the things you enjoy and do it your way.

1. Keep a food diary
To begin to understand how to lose weight you need to be honest with yourself about what you are eating. When people ‘diet’ they may think they are eating well but don’t always think about those extra calories that go ‘unnoticed’. That biscuit or cake at work, the fizzy drink at lunch, finishing the kids’ tea to ‘avoid waste’, a glass of wine (or 2) in the evening, all these calories add up and could be the reason you aren’t losing weight. If you keep a food diary and log everything (yes everything) you eat and drink you will be taking the first big step to losing weight. Click here to download my free food diary to start using today! Calorie tracking apps are also a great idea as not only will you see how many calories you should be consuming against what you actually are, you can also monitor vitamins and minerals to ensure you have a healthy, balanced diet. It’s also worth reminding yourself that you can’t out-train a bad diet…

2. Invest in a fitness tracker
If you are going to invest in any equipment to aid weight loss, make it a fitness tracker watch. This will help you monitor how active you are, how many calories you are burning and depending on the type you have, it will encourage you to move more and motivate you to take that flight of stairs instead of the lift or park further from the shops and walk. There are many relatively cheap ones available that all do the same job, there are also many second-hand ones available so grab yourself a bargain! Once you start tracking the food going in and the calories being burned it’s a simple game of maths, the calories burnt need to be higher than the calories consumed!

3. Exercise
So you’ve cracked the healthy eating and activity, now you need to think about structured exercise. Not only cardio to burn those calories but also resistance training to burn even more calories and to build lean muscle. If you are unsure about using weights, my blog on reasons to lift weights will reassure you. Take time to find an exercise that you enjoy, ask around to see what other people do, try different classes, join a gym, ask for recommendations, whatever suits you but it’s important to have structured exercise sessions. Working out at home from a magazine article or just doing exercises you like means they are exercises you may be used to and not necessarily what you need to achieve results. Classes are a great way to start as they will introduce you to new exercises and a good instructor will make them fun, different, tailor them to your own fitness level and more importantly, make them progressive to help you achieve results. Don’t be afraid to speak to your instructor about your goals and how you can achieve them. I run weekly boot camps, circuits and HIIT classes in Meon Vale and Lower Quinton with more locations and dates to be added soon. Click here to see the classes I currently run and register here to be notified when new classes are added.

4. Buddy up
Research shows that having an exercise buddy boosts results and increases motivation. You are far more likely to get up and out of bed in the morning or head back out in the evening if you know you are meeting a friend or personal trainer to workout together, it’s easy to make excuses to yourself when you are tired but knowing that someone else is also making the effort will make it easier. Working out together can also increase the intensity if there is a bit of fun competition, having someone there to cheer you on and tell you what a good job you are doing is also a great motivator. If you don’t have any exercise minded friends, classes are a great way to meet new friends with a common interest!

5. Avoid the scales!
There’s nothing more demotivating than eating well all week only to step on the scales at the end to find there has been no weight loss. There are several reasons why you may not be losing weight, if you are exercising, the most likely reason will be the increase of lean muscle, which weighs more than fat. The key is to take photos and measurements at the start of your weight loss journey and keep them safe for 4 weeks, then do the same again and compare. You are more likely to see results this way and there’s no better way to motivate you to continue than seeing and feeling results of your own hard work.

6. Don’t deprive yourself
The key in a weight loss programme is to not deprive yourself of everything, life is for living after all and healthy eating should be a way of life, not a ‘temporary diet’. We all have bad days, accept it as that, just a bad day. Remind yourself of what you want to achieve and why you are doing it and just start again from the next meal. However, try to avoid ‘fat days’, I see this too often when people weigh weekly, they think it is a good time to indulge, this will only slow down results.

7. Achievable goals
It’s important to know what you want to achieve, this may be a certain dress size, weight, fitness level, whatever it may be making sure the goal is achievable and break it down into manageable steps. You may have a lot of weight or inches to lose so think of it in stages, aim for a smaller goal first then reward yourself with a nice treat such as a new outfit or a spa day when you reach that goal, then think about and set your next goal. Sharing goals with friends and loved ones will help you stick to them too, having the support of those closest to you will help you to achieve anything, it will also make sure they remove the temptation to keep you on track!

Good luck on your weight loss journey, if you have any questions or need guidance please get in touch.

5 reasons why burpees are my favourite exercise

For those of you who attend my classes you will know that I love including burpees at every opportunity, here are 5 reasons why:

  1. They give a full body workout, upper body, lower body and core!
  2. They speed up metabolism, helping you to burn calories whilst at rest
  3. They get your heart pumping which will help improve overall fitness, from climbing the stairs to running and biking
  4. They can be done anywhere, no equipment needed
  5. They are quick to do and can be tagged on to the end of a workout or done on their own before you start your day, just be sure to do a little warm up first..


How to do a burpee..

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands by your side

  1. Lower body down so that knees are bent and hands are on the ground in front of your feet, shift your weight on to your hands
  2. Jump your feet back keeping your back straight and bottom down, you should now be in full plank position
  3. Jump your feet back towards your hands
  4. Jump up into the air reaching your hands up and clapping at the top
  5. Land and immediately squat down to repeat

Для ИнтернетаKeep your core tight throughout this move to protect your back and to work the abs a little harder.

Burpees can be slowed down by walking feet back one at a time and back in, rather than jumping. They can also be made harder by doing a push up from plank position then add a tuck jump at the top of the movement!

5 reasons to include weights in your workouts

23% – According to a recent study, this is the reduction in risk of premature death for people who do strength-based exercise, compared with the general population. Exercising in front of the mirror in modern gymNot just lifting heavy, body weight exercises too!

Read on to discover 5 more reasons to lift weights…

1. It’s easy to monitor

Seeing progress is important in any fitness regime, discovering you can lift more weights than the previous week will be all the encouragement you need to keep working at it. You are also more likely to stick with it long term when you can see results

2. Muscle burns fat

Dumbbells isolated on white background.It’s often thought that cardio is the only way to lose weight, but the more muscle you have the faster you burn calories, even at rest! Moving away from the scales is recommended though as muscle weighs more than fat, take photos and measure yourself instead and you’ll soon start to notice your new leaner figure.

3. Everyday benefits

Not only will you be able to lift more weights and do more repetitions, you will also start to notice everyday activities easier and less challenging, from playing with the kids to loading the shopping.

4. It reduces the risk of injury

Muscles protect joints so keeping them strong can reduce strains and other injuries, stronger muscles also lead to better performance in other sports too.

5. It reduces the risk of osteoporosis 

Amongst the many health benefits of lifting weights, increasing bone density will help reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life. Those doing high impact sport and older women are more susceptible to this so weight training should be an important part of any routine.