Functional warmups and exercises

Whilst at the gym yesterday, a boyfriend and girlfriend came into the weights area, and stood next to each other, in front of the mirror. They started, under the leadership of the boyfriend, to run through about 2mins of arm swings, windmills, shoulder rolls, and other such upper body mobility movements. He was calling out the next move, just before they ‘performed’ it. I tell you, if such movements were a synchronized Olympic event, they’d be coming home with a medal!

As they finished, I continued to keep an eye on them, between my sets of work, to see where and what they would do next. It all went downhill………

He started bench pressing, and she went straight over (to one of the most useless pieces of gym equipment) and sat on the seated abductor machine (Where you sit with your knees together at 90degrees, and take them outwards in a very attractive manner!). After a couple of mediocre sets, the next machine was the seated leg curl ( to ‘work’ the hamstrings).

My problem with this ‘workout’ is;

1) You should warmup specifically for what you are about to do. The girl in this case mobilised her shoulder joint and upper body, and then went and sat down to marginally work her lower body!

2) The choice of equipment is poor. The seated abductor machine attempts to work your abductor muscles (in your hip and bum) but from a seated position. When do you ever sit down and perform such a movement? The same can be said for the leg curl. Do you ever sit down and work your hamstrings from a seated position? No, they get used, walking, running, bending down etc etc.

What should be done is;

1) Warmup specifically for the exercises you will be doing. If you’re going to work the lower body, then perform some multidirectional lunges, some bodyweight squats, some knee raises and star jumps etc.

2) Perform functional exercises, ones that will mimic daily movement patterns, or at least those exercises which will be weight bearing, and using multiple muscles. Lunges, and jump lunges, squats, and jump squats, side squats, weighted step ups, staright leg deadlifts. Then look to incorporate the movement into a full body exercise by adding some rotational work as you lunge, some pressing overhead movements as you squat. These such exercises will work towards a lean, athletic body, whereas the seated examples are wasting your time and money!

(These ‘gym stories’ are not mean’t to be personal attacks, but to hopefully help you avoid the mistakes made by other people!)

High Cholesterol?

We know that nuts are a great natural food, and a great source of protein, vitamins, and good fats, but recent research suggests that just 20g of Macadamia nuts a day can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, and internal inflammation, therefore helping the body battle against coronary artery disease, or heart disease.
And a further study at the University of Newcastle, involving subjects with elevated cholesterol levels, found that participants who ate macadamia nuts showed significant reduction in blood serum cholesterol, total blood triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and blood clots.

Further reasons why you should include nuts in your daily eating plan.

Only in America…..

would people use the escalator to get from the car park to the gym……..I hope?!

The elusive flat stomach question!

This morning I was at the gym working out. I had my Ipod in as usual, and had just finished my first set of deadlifts. As I put the bar down and turned away, panting, and probably gurning from the effort, a middle aged lady approached me and mouthed something in my direction. I tugged an earpiece out, and raised my eyebrows in a “Sorry, say again” manner!
“Do you work here?” she said!
Now, I’d be pretty unhappy with the gym staff, if short of work, they went into the weights area, put their ipod’s on, and starting lifting weights, while wearing clothes that were definately not part of a uniform!
She obviously realised she was barking up the wrong tree, but continued;
“I wanted some exercises to lose and flatten my tummy”
(Ahhhhh!!!! If I had a pound for everytime someone asked that question, well, I could probably start work on our extension!)
I gave her the honest answer of;
“You probably won’t like this answer but the main thing would be altering your diet”
with this she replied, “Errm, maybe I should ask an instructor” (Yeah like that will give you the answer you’re after!)
“Well I am a Personal Trainer” I replied (She suddenly looked interested again!”
” You could try some medicine ball twists, and some rotational work, which will work your whole core unit” I suggested.
Anyway, she “ummed” and “aaghed” for a few seconds, and we jointly moved out seperate ways.
Me, back to my second set of deadlifts.
Her, to the decline bench for some useless, and possibly damaging decline crunches, putting extra stress on her back, and by the looks of it a potential strained neck!….. I tried!!
So the moral to this story and the answer to the above is;
Limit or cut out;
Alcohol / Wheat / Caffeine/ Processed Foods / Dairy / Sugar / Crunches
Do or eat more of;
Lean Protein / Nuts / Fruit / Vegetables / Water / Eat small and often
Lift challenging weights which work the full body / Short sharp interval training / Rotational Work

It IS possible….. the choice is with you!!

10 Super foods you should be consuming!

1. Berries(blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, etc.) – Offer powerful anti-oxidant protection, which not only protects the heart but also may protect against skin aging. Note that the darker they are, the more anti-oxidants they have. Aim for a handful serving a day. Frozen are just as good as fresh. Eat them as they are or on your morning cereal.

2. Beans – A great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Look to steam rather than boiling, and if you do boil, don’t (literally) boil the life out of them! A bit of crunch is better than soft and squidgy! Soya beans(edamame) have a very high protein content as well. They can be eaten with lean meats or put in salads. Other sources include red clover, kudzu, mung beans, alfalfa sprouts, black cohosh, and chickpeas.

3. Eggs– A great source of natural protein, and a good source of vitamin B12 and choline, which is linked to brain development, and contains antioxidants, such as selenium,which protect the body from free radical damage. You should only look to limit eggs if you have high cholesterol levels. Even then, you can still use the eggs whites for protein!

4. Fatty fish– like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. A great source of omega-3. Aim to consume 2-3 servings per week, alternatively combine with a good quality Omega-3 supplement.

5. Green Tea – As discussed in the Green Tea post, Catechins, the main polyphenolic constituents of green tea leaves, have been found to have a number of significant antioxidant properties and health-promoting effects.

6. Nuts – Another great source of protein, and are rich in fibre, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. Nuts are also high in plant sterols and fat – but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 – the good fats).Use them to snack on mid morning and afternoon, but aim to only have roughly 25g or a small palmful. They are a concentrated food, go easy on them!

7. Oats -A great, slow energy releasing food to start the day. Rich in soluble fibre which can help your body from absorbing fat. Plus, fibre keeps you satisfied, and boosts your energy levels.

8. Spinach & dark green vegetables – They are very filling, high in fibre and vitamins, and low in calories, making them perfect foods to keep your heart healthy and your waistline slim.

9. Tomatoes – The powerhouse nutrient in all these super foods is lycopene. Research is starting to show that lycopene may protect against cancer and it’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help fight heart disease.

10. LIVE Bio Yoghurt – contains healthy “probiotics” which will help your digestive system to process nutrients from food, and continue to work as it should.

Fire up your metabolism for fat loss

My clients will regularly hear me talking about keeping your metabolism high, and kick starting your metabolism, as the crucial tool in burning fat. A slow metabolism leads to the release of fat storing enzymes in the body which will aid fat gain, and will also result in lethargy and fatigue.

So what is your metabolism?

Well, your metabolism, or your metabolic rate, is what determines how many calories your body burns each day. It is affected and controlled by your thyroid, and is largely a factor of your muscle mass. For every 0.5 pound of muscle you add, your body will burn 25 calories per day, just to maintain it, let alone further calories burnt training and further developing the muscle. This equates to 9140 kcals per year, or just over 2.5lbs of fat. So you can see that gaining and maintaining just 2.5lbs of lean muscle will assist in burning over 13lbs or 1 stone of fat over the next year! This is through lean muscle gain – add on the cutting out of bad foods, short sharp interval training, and you’ll be dropping fat by the load!
Just another benefit of resistance training over steady state cardio!
Below are 7 key tips for raising your metabolism;
1) Exercise – it’s a sure-fire way to increase the amount of muscle you have, which in turn will speed up your metabolism. Do a mixture of short, sharp, cardio and resistance training for best results, and continued calorie burning effect. High intensity work is more beneficial than slow laboured workouts. Lean muscle gain is the key!
2) Eat little and often – there’s evidence that eating small, regular meals throughout the day, rather than one or two large meals, will help to keep your metabolism high. Aim to eat small every 3 hours. Surprisingly, around 10% of the calories we use each day go on digesting and absorbing food – so the more times you eat, the greater this effect is likely to be.
3) Eat a decent, low sugar breakfast. As you body has been asleep overnight, it is ready for nutrients to feed and fuel your body for the next few hours. What you eat should also rev up your metabolism. Stick with low GI foods such as oats, fruits, eggs, and wholemeal breads. Cereals should have 5g of fibre or more, less than 8g of sugar, and ensure sugar(glucose syrup, corn syrup, anything ending in xxxOSE) is not near the top of the list of ingredients. Oat based cereals are the best, eggs and wholemeal toast, or some fruit with nuts and live bio yoghurt will give a good balance.
4) Eat plenty of protein-rich foods, preferably with each meal – research shows that around 25% of calories in a protein-rich meal may be burnt off. But make sure you choose low-fat protein foods such as lean meat, skinless chicken, fish and low-fat dairy products.
5) Spice up meals -Spices like chilli are thought to raise metabolism by up to 50 percent for up to three hours after eating, due to increasing your heart rate. But before putting the local Indian takeaway on speed dial, work out which curries have the lowest calorie and fat content.
6) Swap you daily cuppa for green tea – there’s evidence that it contains antioxidants that speed up metabolism.
7) Get some kind of exercise in daily, even if its a walk at lunchtime, climbing the stairs at work, etc, anything to get the heart rate up, and the body working. Off the bum and onto the feet!
Your metabolism is your main fat loss key…keep it high , and work it hard!

Get in the zone!

A superb piece of gym comedy from Gavin and Stacey. Some worthless exercises performed, the only thing they have right is that you do have to push yourself through the zone, working harder than before to achieve results. Ok, maybe don’t workout topless though……!!