Wonder Woman Fitness

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Train with me

I need you!!!!

 

Train with me

Train with me

Do you think your training is going well?  Is it pushing you hard enough?  Want to try something different?  Ok then, I need you to read this and to do this.  I am basically trying to get you moving by giving you a training session a month to try and stick to.  They will be based on weights, intervals, pyramids etc all sound scary but all fun with a wee bit of hard work thrown in.  I will also give a 3 day ‘diet’ to have a look at and to follow, not for the whole month though just a max of 5 days to help with your training.  The idea of this is to show you different ways of training and to see how I train.  I will be giving beginner, intermediate and advanced options so all abilities can do this.  Give it a go what do you have to lose?  If done right the only thing you will lose is a couple of pounds or more.  Keep active………….

Session 1: Intervals

This is ideally suited to the treadmill as you will work harder, but it can be performed on the bike, rower or X Trainer.  All I will say is each session is 20 minutes in total so you should be pretty tired at the end of the session even if you are a beginner.  Also it can be performed outside if you have a hate or a fear of treadmills just make sure you have a stop watch.  Do the interval sessions at least 3-4 times per week.  If you are following a weight program do that alongside this, actually I highly recommend that you do follow one.  Remember to have your rest days to recover.  The next session will be weights based so it will work with this one nicely.

The beginners session:

Time  
2 minutes Brisk walk
30 seconds Jog
90 seconds Brisk walk
45 seconds Jog
90 seconds Brisk walk
60 seconds Jog
90 seconds Brisk walk
90  seconds Jog
90 seconds Brisk walk
90 seconds Jog
90 seconds Brisk walk
60 seconds Jog
90 seconds Brisk walk
45 seconds Jog
90 seconds Brisk walk
30 seconds Jog

The Intermediate session:

Time  
60 seconds Jog
90 seconds Run
60 seconds Jog
120 seconds Run
60 seconds Jog
90 seconds Run
60 seconds Jog
120 seconds Run
60 seconds Jog
90 seconds Run
60 seconds Jog
120 seconds Run
60 seconds Jog
90 seconds Run
60 seconds Jog

 

The advanced session: (To be completed with an incline of 2-4%)

Time  
60 seconds Run
30 seconds Sprint
60 seconds Run
45 seconds Sprint
60 seconds Run
60 seconds Sprint
60 seconds Run
45 seconds Sprint
60 seconds Run
30 seconds Sprint

Repeat this session twice if you dare!!!!!

Diet:

Try this for 3-5 days.  It has limited stodgy carbs so if you are used to them you will find it hard but keep with it.

Meal Food
Breakfast 2 scrambled eggs

Ham

Handful of spinach

Snack Low fat hummus

Celery and carrot batons

Lunch Ham and avocado salad

Salad leaves, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, ½ avocado and ham

Snack Cooked Chicken

Mixed seeds

Dinner Lean meat (chicken, fish, pork, turkey, steak)Roasted vegetables
Snack Small amount of low fat cottage cheese
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Secrets to Weight loss Is there such a thing? With so many diet plans out there surely some of them have to be right, right? Well to be honest most of the diets are out there are money making schemes and make money they do. In America it was estimated that the weight loss industry would make around $68 billion in 2010, through meal replacements, diet pills, diet plans and programs etc and not to mention the amount people spend on gym memberships they never use or home fitness equipment (don’t get me started on that). So how do we lose weight, burn fat and more importantly keep it off and keep active?

I have put together some simple guidelines that I think may help you. If I am honest it is not rocket science it’s about balance and knowing what to do, I am sure I will not tell you anything new but I may be able to iron out some issues.

life, exercise and diet balance

Its all about finding a balance

As the picture states its all about the right balance, from exercise to the food you consume. I have read a lot of diets and fitness plans over the years like most of us have. Read my 6 guidelines and see where the results take you.

• Smaller more frequent meals: Sometimes having 3 main meals (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner) can make you feel very full and sluggish. Smaller more frequent meals, every 2-3 hrs, can help maintain more stable blood sugar levels. This is one of the advantages I feel with smaller more frequent meals is that I feel I have more energy and not as sleepy (which is amazing for me). Smaller more frequent meals can help you control your weight because you may be less hungry and less likely to over eat at the next meal. Example of a typical day with smaller more frequent meals: 7 am 1 or 2 poached egg on toast, 10 am snack hummus with some raw veg, 12 noon ham and avocado salad, 3pm snack 3 oatcakes and cooked chicken, 6pm dinner lean meat served with vegetables and some brown rice.

• Cut out refined carbohydrates: There are two types of carbohydrates, the good ones and the bad ones. Refined carbohydrates are the ‘bad’ ones. The body processes this very quickly and causes a high rise in sugar levels like a high followed by a crash. Refined carbs are: In any beverage containing sugar or refined sugar including sweetened fruit juices, beer, wine (Boo!!), soft drinks and sweet tea or coffee. In Fruit, so be careful with it. Stick to berries if you are going to have fruit. Also be careful with tinned fruit as they usually contain sugar if they are covered in syrup also try and pick the tinned fruit with natural juice. Be careful with your grains and opt for the wholemeal or wholegrain version if you can. Stay away from white flour versions of things like your bagels, bread, muffins etc. White flour foods will leave you feeling bloated and heavy and possibly uncomfortable!! High sugar tasty snacks are always tempting but I don’t think I need to tell you that cakes and chocolate and all the tasty treats are not that good for you so limit yourself or if your will power is great get rid of them altogether. Just remember this, that refined carbohydrates are robbed of vital fibre, vitamins and minerals. Stick to a ‘diet’ rich in pulses, nuts, seeds, berries, vegetables, oats, whole grains and wholemeal foods. If you are looking to feel lighter and less bloated then limit the wholemeal and wholegrain foods, like pasta and bread but do not stop eating them, you need them for energy.

• Eat meals based on lean protein: Lean protein can be added to every meal and snack throughout your day, with eggs, chicken, fish, tuna, cottage cheese, feta cheese, etc. Eating more lean protein in our diet can lead to a higher metabolic rate as it requires a higher percentage of energy to process it in our bodies than carbs. It helps with muscle growth and repair and does not increase your insulin levels so having a lean protein diet can control your cravings. I regularly follow this for about a week and I always feel lighter and less bloated. I then include good carbs into my diet the following week so I am getting a good balanced diet for health and for my training.

• Limit your fruit intake: As mentioned in section 2 try and limit your fruit intake. Getting your 5 a day should be mostly from vegetables and try and stay with berries for your fruit. Fruit although very natural is full of sugary and this can hinder your weight loss plans even though you think you are eating healthily. Just as an example here are some of our favourite fruits and there sugar content: banana (5.5g) 1 teaspoon of sugar, 11g golden delicious apple 2 teaspoons of sugar, large bunch of grapes 500g nearly 8 teaspoons of sugar!!!!! Also fruit is packed with fructose which does not make you full as it does not trigger the insulin response of fullness, hence why some people can gobble a whole pack of grapes.

• Introduce interval training into your exercise regime: By mixing burst of high intensity work with low intensity periods of recovery, you’re overloading both the aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same time, getting the benefits of both aspects of training simultaneously. This type of training saves you time, it can be done in 20 – 30 minutes, it is a great way to relieve boredom and pass the training plateau, and most importantly it can help you lose weight. This is because you are challenging both training systems in your body and improving your bodies ability to burn more calories. Your adding new muscle groups to your training which speeds up your metabolism of fat, your getting an aerobic workout that burns calories, you’re pushing yourself beyond your limits, so your body is becoming a fat burning machine. But trust me when I say that interval training is hard work, sometimes uncomfortable and you never look sexy doing it but you can reap the fitness and fat loss benefits from doing it. General rules of interval training can be done on any machine in the gym or outside. Train intensely for 1 minute to 2 minutes then actively rest for 1 to 2 minutes. You are looking to feel the burn and repeat this process 4 – 10 times depending on your fitness levels. I will be adding a few interval training blogs for you to attempt soon so keep an eye out. With interval training it is also important to weight train to accompany it and get the overall lean look that you are looking for. Remember with weights try to lift heavier and use more full body movements. This will increase your fat burning efficiency and also give you a sleeker look if you use exercises for all your muscles.

• Most importantly listen to your body: This is the one I usually forget. It is important to listen to your body and not over train. Remember to stretch after your training, helps you look leaner and less sore, perhaps try yoga or pilates. Also treat yourself, this does not have to be food or alcohol based, for all your hard work maybe buy some new clothes a night out, a massage or a trip away. I always feel that if you have something to look forward to the training and the diet regime seems slightly easier. I also find that entering an event will boost your motivation and your training for example a 5k or 10k run, a walk, or even a triathlon!!! Anything that will keep you motivated, keep your training intensity up, keep your diet in check and keep you training hard will help you lose weight and burn fat.

A wee point to remember I am no saint when it comes to training or my diet. I enjoy food and red wine way too much but I also enjoy training. I understand the benefits of a good diet and a planned training session but I also like to enjoy my life and treat myself. My advice is find something you enjoy and make it part of your life, train hard, get the benefits and you will see results from all your hard work.

Any questions on diet or training leave a comment and I will get back to you

Keep active folks……………

Park Life

 

So it’s summer!!! The clocks have gone forward and the days are getting longer.  You will wake up to sunshine (hopefully) and hear the birds signing and the nights are ideal for being outside.  As I write this the sun is shinning and my phone told me it was going to be 11°C today, that might be slightly optimistic in Scotland but I’ll take it. 

Being outside is one of the best ways to exercise.  You get fresh air, lots of space and possibly some sunshine and if you get too hot then more likely some drizzle.  But exercising outside does not have to be all about running or cycling like you will probably see now in the parks and out on the roads it can also mean something else, something more exciting.

 So find yourself a park and tone yourself up, increase your fitness and feel better and as an added bonus no gym fees!!!  I have put together some exercises that you can do in a park all you will need is a bench or picnic table, a stop watch or watch with second hand, open space, motivation and determination.  Let’s go………………

 Always start with a 5 minute warm up.  This can be a brisk walk to a park, a wee jog, or even a bit of skipping if the mood takes you, just make sure you are warm before you start.

Step ups on a park bench/picnic table:

Step up on bench

Step up on bench

 

This is an exercise to get your heart racing, work the thighs and increase fitness.  Start by placing one foot on the bench then step up so both feet are on the bench then carefully step back down again same leg leading.  As you step up keep your back straight, tummy tight and think about your posture.  If this is a high ‘ish’ step then take your time if it is slightly smaller go as fast as you feel comfortable.  Do 60 seconds with one leg leading then 60 seconds on the other leg.


Tricep dips on park bench/picnic table:

Tricep dips on a bench

Tricep dips on a bench

 

This exercise is a real burner for your ‘bingo wings’.  Start by sitting on the bench with your hands next to you and fingers pointing the same way as your feet.  Bring yourself off the bench and lower your bum to the floor with your elbows going backwards as they bend.  The straighter your legs are the harder it will be.  As you bring yourself back up to the starting position you should be brushing your back with the bench.  Repeat this 15 times and try for three sets.

 Park bench press ups:

Park bench press ups

Park bench press ups

 

This is a great exercise for the upper body.  Start with your hands on the bench about shoulder width apart.  Keep on your toes, legs straight and feet together, keep your back straight and tummy in tight.  Bend your elbows and bring your chest towards the bench keeping your form at all times.  Straighten the arms to return to the starting position.  Repeat this exercise 15 times and try for three sets.

 Star Jumps:

Star jumps

Star jumps

 

This is another great exercise to get your heart racing and increase your fitness.  To do this all you do is start with your feet together then jump and land your feet more than hip width apart.  As your feet go out lift your arms up.  You are looking to make a star with your body.  To finish bring your feet back together and bring your arms down.  Repeat this for 60 seconds progressing to 2 minutes non stop.

 Squats:

squats

Stand with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line.  Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your tummy muscles.  Slowly lower your body, as though you are sitting in a chair.  Go as low as you feel comfortable.  Keeping the weight in your heels, slowly push your body back to starting position. Repeat the movement 10 to 15 times, performing 1 to 3 sets. For each squat, count to 3 on the way up and on the way down to ensure you’re not going too fast.

Squat thrusts with park bench:

squat thrusts off bench

squat thrusts off bench

Start with your hands on the bench.  Legs straight, tummy in tight and back straight.  To do this exercise you will be lifting one knee at a time up to your chest as if you were jogging.  When one foot lands back on the floor repeat with the other leg.  It’s as if you are running on the spot but lifting your knees up high towards you.  Try to do this for 60 seconds building up to 2 minutes non stop.

Lunges:

lunges

lunges

Stand in a split stance with one leg forward and one leg back.  Slowly bend the knees, lowering into a lunge while keeping the front knee and back knee at
90 degree angles.  Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up to starting position. Avoid locking the knees at the top of the movement.  Keep your front knee behind the toe as you lunge (you should be able to look down and see your toe).  Keep your tummy engaged and the back straight.   Do this exercise 10 – 16 times each leg trying for 3 sets altogether.

Burpees:

burpees

burpees

Start in the standing position, with your feet shoulder width apart, arms relaxed.  Squat down, placing your hands on the ground in front of your feet. Quickly kick your feet back and at the same time lower yourself. You should be down in the position of a push up.  Shoot your knees back to your chest as you push yourself up with your arms into the squat position. Jump as high as you can from the squat position.  End in the standing position.  This movement is very similar to a squat thrust. The difference is that at the end of a burpee, you jump as hard as you can.   This subtle difference builds explosive power in your legs. You should also focus on doing them as quick as possible. If done correctly, burpees can increase your stamina, explosiveness, and strength.

You can also jazz your running up in the park by doing interval training.  Research shows that interval training burns fat more efficiently and what I like the most about it is, that although its harder you can be don in 10 – 30 minutes rather than spending 60 minutes at low intensity training.  It is also very easy to do in a park, here’s how:

Walk briskly or jog to one lamppost then accelerate you speed to the next lamppost and walk to the next on for recovery, repeat this 10 – 15 times.  To progress this make the higher intensity interval (i.e. the hard bit) longer with 2 lampposts then recover to one lamppost.  You can also do this on a hill running or brisk walk up a hill as far as you can go or to the top and use the downhill as a recovery repeat this 10-15 times.

If you decide to use these exercises in the park just remember one thing stay hydrated and have a rest if you need one and most importantly stretch afterwards.

So now you know some exercises to do outside so find yourself a park and have ago.  Enjoy the fresh air and the sunshine (if we get it) and if you have a dog take them along for fun.  Keep active folks……………..

 

Want to slim down ladies?

 

Toned and lean look

If you want to change your shape or slim down or achieve a sculpted look you will not achieve it through cardio alone ladies.  You have to lift weights.  When I am working in the gym or training myself most women I see are on cardio machines for most of their workouts and most women that I train have not done much weight training.  I feel that this is due to inexperience and lack of knowledge and possibly a little bit of fear.  But I am going to put your minds at ease about weight training and show you the massive benefits from lifting weights.

I personally love strength training with weights for the pure reason that I get to train indoors in the warmth of the gym oh and ladies you get to train next to some good looking men.  Sure cardio training has its advantages but combined with some weight training you will really notice the difference.  When I do any kind of training with weights I feel stronger, leaner, more toned, I walk taller and more importantly I feel better about myself and I feel more confident.

So this blog is aimed to dispel some of the rumours about women and weights.  If you want to change your shape forever and slim down then read on.

So what will adding weight training into your programme do?

  • Make you physically stronger.  Increasing your strength will make you far less dependent upon others or assistance in daily living.  If you’re maximum strength is increased daily tasks and routine will be far less likely to cause injury. 
  • You will lose body fat.  An average woman who strength trains 2 to 3 times per week for 2 months will gain nearly 2 pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat.  As your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism, and you burn more calories all day long
  • You will gain strength without bulk.  Unlike men women do not typically gain size from strength training because compared to men women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle bulk.  You will however develop muscle tone and definition.
  • You decrease your risk of osteoporosis.  Weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density by 13% in 6 months.  Strength training not only strengthens your muscles but also strengthens your bones decreasing the chance of breakages and fractures.
  • You will improve your athletic performance.  Any sportsman can increase their performance with adding weight training into their programme.  Golfers can significantly increase their driving power, cyclists are able to continue for longer periods with less fatigue, skiers improve technique and reduce the chance of injury etc.  Whatever sport you play or whatever your fitness goal is strength training has been shown to improve all overall performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.
  • You will reduce the risk of injury, back pain and arthritis.  Strength training as said before not only strengthens muscles but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases your joint stability which in turn reduces chance of injury and will help as your body fights the aging process.
  • Like all aspects of exercise, strength training will reduce your risk of heart disease and reduce your risk of diabetes.
  • It is never too late to lift weights.   Women in their 70’s and 80’s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age.  However you should seek help from a fitness professional if you decide to take out an exercise programme.
  • Weight training will not make you bulky or masculine.  As said before it is almost imposible for women to gain huge amounts of muscle mass by merely touching a dumbbell.  This is due to our decreased amount of testosterone in our bodies.  However you will have seen pictures of professional female body builders unfortunately most of these women will be taking anabolic steroids and spending hours in the gym lifting very heavy weights to look like that it is no accident that they look the way they do.  Women who follow a good structured weight training programme get the firm and fit (almost) cellulite free body that most women would like.
  • Exercise with weights does not increase your bust size.  Women your breasts are mostly made up of fatty tissue therefore, it is almost impossible to increase your breast size through weight training.  However you may slightly increase your back size through weight training and this may increase your bust size.
  • Weight training does not make you muscle-bound and stiff.  If you perform all exercises through their full range of motion your flexibility may increase.  Make sure you balance your body and train your back muscles as well as your front muscles as this will help with your natural movement.  Make sure to train every muscle group to achieve an overall toned body. 
  • Your muscles do not turn into fat if you stop training.  Muscle and fat are two totally different types of tissue.  When people decide to stop training they start losing muscle due to inactivity (the use it or lose it rule) and their training diet usually drops also.  Therefore bad habits and lack of training lowers their metabolism giving the impression that the person’s muscle is being turned to fat where in reality the muscle is being lost and the fat is being put on. 
  • Weight training does not turn muscle into fat.  Very similar to the above.  The way your body transforms is by gaining muscle through weight training and losing fat through aerobic exercise and diet.  Again muscle and fat are two different types of tissue we cant turn one into another. 
  • Beware – Just because you train does not mean you can eat whatever you want.  Oh how I wish this was true though.  Our individual metabolism determines how many calories we burn at rest and while we exercise.  If we eat more calories than we burn on a consistent basis our bodies will accumulate these extra calories as fat regardless of the amount of exercise we do.  So be careful try and follow a healthy nutritious diet that will help you maintain your weight or help you lose a few pounds. 
  • Women should not be afraid to lift heavier weights.  If you only do cardio then muscle and fat will be burned for fuel.  You need to lift weights in order to prevent any loss of muscle tissue.  Women that only concentrate on cardio will have a very hard time achieving the look that they want.  Try not to lift light weights as muscle responds to resistance and if the resistance is too light then there will be no reason for your body to change shape. 
  • And lastly women do not be frightened to train hard.   I train hard with weights and I have trained my female clients hard with weights and they look nothing but feminine. 

 

 

 

So start lifting - what have you to lose except body fat!!!

The main thing is to get help designing a weight training program.  Most of my weight training is done with free weights (dumbbells) as they work more muscles (more muscles worked = more calories burnt) and I am unlimited in my choice of exercise so I never get bored.  My best piece of advice is give it a go – what do you have to lose.  If you are wanting a defined, firm, feminine, strong figure then you’ve got to start lifting – but lift right.  Keep active folks…..

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner mmm

You can’t fight it as it’s almost upon us but it is almost Christmas and with Christmas comes food glorious food.  I personally love Christmas as I get to eat so much good food and spend time with family and friends.  However too much over indulgence can cause you to gain a few pounds and make it harder to get back into training/shape in the New Year.  So ask yourself this would you like to be a Christmas cracker or a Christmas pudding??????

 A Christmas cracker?  Then read on how to tweak your dinner and cut the calories but not the taste.  Also try my 12 days of Christmas exercises to help shed any unexpected pound gain.

  • The meat:  Try to stick to turkey as your main meat, as it is one of the leanest meats out there
  • Stuffing:  Be careful with bought stuffing as they can be full of stodge, salt and you may be tempted to add butter for a better taste.  Try this variation to trim down on the calories:  Crumble a stale loaf into breadcrumbs, mix with an onion, large bunch of flat leaf parsley, 200g streaky bacon, all finely chopped.  Add the zest of one lemon,1 – 2 beaten eggs and black pepper to taste.  Shape into balls and roast in the turkey juices until browned and crisp.  Add some chopped apricots into the mixture to boost your immune system, ideal to fight the winter colds
  • Cranberry Sauce:  Best if you can to use fresh cranberries and make your own sauce, since bought sauces can weaken the berries natural powers of fighting infections.  Try this recipe its better for your immune system and it is healthier.  Simmer 250g fresh cranberries an a pan with 50g caster sugar, the zest and juice of a large orange and a tablespoon of port (optional).  After 10 minutes leave to cool. 
  • Roast Potatoes:  Potatoes are great when you are exercising as the body converts the starch of white potatoes into glucose ideal for energy.  However if you are not exercising it will be converted into fat, so watch out.  However a Christmas dinner would not be complete without roast potatoes so just have less and as an alternative try this:  Peel and roughly chop carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnip.  Parboil for 10 minutes before roasting in the turkey juices or in olive oil for 30 minutes.  Try walnut oil if you are using oil as it is tastier and healthier.
  • Gravy:  Unfortunately gravy lacks any nutritional value.  But you can try this alternative if you like.  It contains Miso which helps increase your muscle oxygen intake through zinc.  Fry a diced onion and clove of garlic, reduce the heat add two tablespoons of water then stir while gradually adding three tablespoons of unbleached cornflour.  Add 1 ½ cups of red wine, then increase the heat and stir regularly for about 10 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons of miso and leave on a low heat for 5 minutes to thicken.  Most of the alcohol evaporates during cooking but for those of you who do not drink you can substitute the wine for cranberry juice or cherry juice.

How are you going to fit in exercise over Christmas?  Well, why not try the 12 days of Christmas exercise?

 Do this little challenge in the lead up to Christmas and allow yourself to over indulge on the day.  The idea being that you do one exercise after another until all the exercises are done for example do 12 then onto 11 etc it should take you about and hour and a half.

Enjoy

 12 days of Christmas exercise circuit

12 = 12 minutes on the treadmill – brisk walk with incline or a fast run

 11 = 11 reps at a heavy weight on the leg press machine or a free weight squat

 10 = 10 full or ¾ press ups

 9 = 9 reps at a heavy weight on the lateral pulldown machine or a cable seated row

 8 = 8 minutes on the bike.  Cycle as fast as you can with level 5 – 8

 7 = 7 reps at a heavy weight on the shoulder press machine or free weight shoulder press

 6 = 6 reps at a heavy weight on the chest press machine or free weight bench press

 5 = 500m on the rowing machine rowing as fast as you can at level 10

4 = 4 x 25 ab exercises (choose a hard exercise and complete 4 x 25)

 3 = 3 x 20 tricep dips

 2 = 2 x 10 full burpees

 1 = 1 x 30 minutes minimum on a cardio machine of your choice

Cold cartoon

The winter blues

As I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis I have an impaired immune system which unfortunately gives me an increased risk of catching the cold.  Like most people I can catch a cold at this time of year quite easily.  As your walking around, on the bus or in the shops you will hear or see someone sniffling and coughing away.  It unfortunately affects us all.  Boo!!!! This is particularly annoying if you are training for an event or trying to do your winter training, a wee cold can knock you back a few weeks and if you are like me when your sick you like to feed a cold (with all the wrong stuff) lol

 However there are some things that seem to protect us from picking up colds.  One of those things is moderate consistent exercise.  So the good news, and this even comes from research, is that there appears to be a link between moderate exercise and a strong immune system through the increased speed in the circulation of immune cells around the body which are able to battle bacteria and viruses more efficiently.

 But beware!!!! There is also evidence that too much exercise may decrease your immunity.  If you are training extremely hard the body produces hormones which temporarily lower your immunity.  During extreme training or doing too much training your body produces extra cortisol and adrenaline which raise the blood pressure, increase cholesterol levels and can suppress the immune system.  So listen to your body if you are run down, doing too much training, or have symptoms of over training (increased resting heart rate, slower recovery heart rate, irritability, general heaviness and fatigue) then you may have to tone down your training or take some days off from it, it will do you good I promise.

 I am sure you will have heard people say “it’ll either kill me or cure me” in reference to training when ill or having a cold.  So should you exercise with a cold?  The answer is it all depends on your symptoms.  Your immune system is already being over worked trying to fight your infection so adding the exercise into the equation you are adding additional stress and could undermine your recovery.  Normally if you have mild cold symptoms and no fever then possibly very light or moderate exercise may help you feel a bit better and could actually boost your immune system.  Intense exercise will only make things worse.

 Other things that will help boost our immune system:

  • Eat a balanced diet.  The immune system depends on many vitamins and minerals for optimal function.  These can be found in a balanced nutritious diet with fruit, vegetables, protein, fats and carbohydrates.  A good rule is to eat 10 – 15 calories of “desired body weight”.  For example if your ideal weight is 170lbs then consume 1700-2500 calories a day (1700 for sedentary individuals and 2500 for extremely active people).
  • Avoid rapid weight loss.  Low calorie diets, long term fasting and rapid weight loss have been shown to impair immune function.  Also losing weight while training heavily is not good for the immune system.
  • Get enough sleep.  Lack of sleep or not getting enough can reduce immune functioning making you susceptible to illness. Also make sure you get at least 8 hours sleep a night if possible (6 at a minimum) as major sleep disruption has been linked to immune suppression.
  • Continue a moderate exercise program.  Try to maintain a consistent exercise routine over the cold periods.  Aim to do some form of moderate exercise (i.e. swimming, exercise class, gym session) at least 3 times per week for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Limit alcohol intake.  Although this time of year it is the season to be jolly alcohol can be dehydrating and it may increase your resistance to bacteria.
  • As I have said before, listen to your body.  If you are less than 100% you will feel better and recover faster if you let yourself rest.

 As I was speaking to one of the members in the gym where I work she told me of a few vitamins and minerals she has been taking and how much they have helped her battle the winter blues.  So I decided to increase my vitamin and mineral intake through supplementation.  So here are the tablets that I am going to try for 2 months:

  • Vitamin C which is a big time immune booster.  Can be found in citrus foods but I have to limit them with my colitis.  The benefits of Vitamin C in your diet may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease and even skin wrinkling.
  • Zinc which increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively.  It also helps the pancreas make insulin and keep normal sugar levels, adds calcium to the bones and teeth and improve brain function.
  • Echinacea when used correctly can be the closest thing to a cure for the common cold.  It stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection.  Unlike antibiotics, which directly attack bacteria, Echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells.
  • Gentle Iron.  Iron is efficient in providing a number of benefits including increased brain function, increased muscle health, increases concentration, increases the strength of your immune system and many more.  My body does not absorb iron particularly well and I have to have blood tests every couple of months to check my iron levels.  When I have low iron levels I suffer from decreased energy and I lack in concentration. I have tried iron tablets in the past and let’s say they made me run to the toilet a lot I just couldn’t keep anything in my system.  So gentle Iron is that it’s a gentler supplement of Iron

 I will let you know how I get on with my increased vitamin and mineral dosage…..

 So look after yourself this winter and keep active as this will help keep you healthy and ladies it will certainly get you ready for the LBD you are going to wear at all the Christmas parties, keep active folks…. 

Keep on running part 2

Improve your running

So you have completed your first 5k, found the joys of running, or feel ready to push yourself a little further.  Yes you can easily just run further or faster but there are other ways to improve your running training.  From years of training, mostly doomed attempts, I pushed and pushed my body because I was young and I didn’t feel any pain.  I would run and run and I never thought that I was actually overtraining my body.  However this all became apparent when I turned 29!!!! My body fell to bits, it basically told me it had had enough of me.  So after hip, lower back, knee and a major Achilles problem I decided to look at how I train and it was easy I just replaced some of my running with cross training (cardio exercise that isn’t running) lifted some weights (to strengthen and build my muscles) and most importantly I rested my body.  If you take anything from this blog trust me when I say listen to your body.  It is a great piece of machinery.  When it comes to our bodies we really do have to use them or lose them, but it’s how we use them that counts.  If we let them go to waste, we’ll wake up one day wanting to do something and realise that we can’t.  By not pushing and challenging ourselves we are going to lose mobility and our bodies will decline.  So if your goal is to stay fit, lose weight, or run a marathon understand that your body is a marvellous machine, make it your best friend and most importantly treat it well.  For example if there is pain there is normally something wrong.  If you feel tired, no energy or no strength then don’t train, simples…….

 So lets look at how you can improve your running:

 Fartlek training: This running technique is similar to interval training however the sprints and recovery are not as measured it really depends on how you are feeling at the time.  When you are out running or on the treadmill you might warm up for 5 minutes at a brisk jog, then increase the speed for 3 minutes, then increase it further for another 2 minutes, then decrease your speed for 5 minutes so you can recover and so on.  So the interval times are sometimes just made up.  The good thing about fartlek training is it is up to the individual as to how long and how hard you run.  A good fartlek session would last no more than 30 minutes and you should feel like you have worked hard by the end of it.  Remember you can take it down to a walk if need be in the recovery or slower phase.

Try these sessions:

Interval

Fartlek Workout

Warm up

5 minutes – walk/slow jog at 3.5 MPH, at a 7% incline.

One mile

Run at 6.0 MPH.

Rest Set

Slow it down to 5.0 MPH and run for 3 minutes.

Work Set

Speed up to 6.8 MPH for 30 seconds.

Rest Set

Go back to 5.0 MPH for 3 minutes.

Rest/Work Sets

Keep repeating the 3 minute/30 seconds intervals until the clock reaches 25 minutes.

One mile

Run at 6.0 MPH for another mile.

Cool down

Slowly jog for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH at a slight incline (5% to 7%).

 Or try this beginners one:

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 30-45 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. After a 5 to 10-minute warm up, speed up to faster than your comfortable pace.
  2. Run at this pace to a nearby landmark, such as a parked car, a telephone pole, or a stop sign.
  3. Once you’ve reached your landmark, slow your pace to below your normal running pace, until you’ve fully recovered and your breathing has returned to normal.

Then return to running at your normal pace, and repeat the same pattern of fast segment, short recovery, normal pace, until you’ve completed four to six fast segments

Hills:  This is exactly what it says on the tin, running up hills for a period of time.  Hill training is a great way to strengthen the larger muscles of your legs plus with the incline it becomes more challenging so therefore burns more calories.  Try this very simple training program: find a steep hill roughly 40 – 80 m long.  Run up and jog/walk back down to recover.  Try these drills: start with 10 reps building up to 20, 5 runs at 50% max speed, 2 to 3 runs at 80% max speed and 1 sprint at max speed.  Phew, however, I can tell you that hill training really works and it doesn’t take long.  Down side to it though it is hard work but on the plus side its great for your butt!!!!

 Cross – Training: This is a great way to recover and have a day off from running.  However there are people who think that the best way to train for runs is to run and I do agree with that to some extent.  I think that cross training is great when you are not weeks away from a run or an event as you really want to be running and it is also great when you are injured.  Cross training was my saviour when I couldn’t run for nearly 3 months with an Achilles injury, I mainly did cycling and swimming and some weights.  So cross training does have its benefits.  If you are doing a cross training session try and use exercises that use the same muscles as running for example cycling, X trainer, rowing, swimming and weight exercises that use full body movements.  So why not skip a running session with 15 minutes hard push on the X Trainer with 15 minutes on the bike and maybe 10 minutes on the rower.  Make sure that when you have finished on these machines that you feel you have worked hard.  Full body movements with weights can include squats, squat and press, lunge and raise and press ups.  I use my cross training days to do whatever I fancy as long as it does not involve running and it usually always ends with a good relaxing stretch session.

 Strength Training:  This training is ideal for strengthening your bones and your muscles, however to run and run over a good distance and in a good time, you do not want to be carrying extra weight or bulk that can be added with weights.  So there are mixed views on strength training and running.  Personally I love weight training, I get to train indoors in the warmth and I like to be strong.  The best way to look at it is that weight training will give you a nice toned look and change your shape.  You can use weight machines (which are safer for beginners) or use hand weights (which use more muscle = burn more calories) to do your training.  If you spend most of your time running and you are entering runs then the best option would be to lift weights but to lift a lighter weight over higher reps.  This will give your muscles more endurance.  A good tip is to try and cover all the muscles in your body to achieve a balanced look.

A beginner’s weight training session would include something like this:

Exercise

Rep

Set

Notes

Chest:

Bench press (FW), chest press machine, press ups, chest flies (FW)

10 – 20

1 – 2

 

Back:

Lateral pulldown machine, seated cable row (FW), one arm row (FW)

10 – 20

1 – 2

 

Shoulders:

Lateral raise, shoulder press machine, seated shoulder press, front raise

10 – 20

1 – 2

 

Biceps:

Bicep curls, hammer curls both FW

10 – 20

1 – 2

 

Triceps:

Tricep extensions, tricep dips, tricep kickbacks, cambered French press all FW

10 – 20

1 – 2

 

Lower Body:

Squats, lunges, leg press machine, leg extension machine, leg curl machine, calf raise

10 – 20

1 – 2

 

Abdominals:

Ab curls, oblique twists, reverse curls, leg drops, swiss ball curls, back extensions, plank, superman

10 – 20

1 – 2

 

 If you are unsure of these exercises please ask a qualified instructor at your gym or contact me via email and I will explain them in more detail

FW = Free weights or dumbbells

When doing weights it is important to find the right weight for you.  If you are doing 10 reps the last 2 should be difficult but you can still manage the exercise correctly.  If you feel that is getting easy, either increase the weight or the reps but you don’t really have to go above 20 reps.  If you end up doing 2 x 20 best to increase the weight then drop the reps to 2 x 10 again.

 Remember to Stretch:  Stretching is a good way to loosen off your muscles, improve flexibility and keep them healthy.  It should be part of your routine after every workout to have a good stretch.  The best way to do this is to stretch at the end if the workout.  The reason that you don’t stretch at the beginning of a workout is because stretching lengthens your muscles into a rested state.  When you are exercising you want your muscles short ready for action.  You can do mobility work before a workout for example high knees, arm swings, walking lunge, hip twists etc these will help loosen off the joints and make you feel ready for your workout.  Static stretching (where you don’t move) should be done at the end of your work out to relax your muscles and return then to their rested state.  Here are some stretches that I find great after a hard session in the gym or after a run.

Calf Stretch: Hold for 20 – 30 seconds each leg.  Put your weight into a wall and you will feel a further stretch.  Make sure the back leg is straight and keep your heel down 

running stretches

Calf stretch

Quad Stretch: Hold for 20 – 30 seconds each leg.  Balance on one leg use wall for support if needed.  Keep your knees together and push your hip forward slightly, hold foot at your laces.

running stretches

Quad Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch:  Hold for 20 – 30 seconds on each leg.  Kneel on one knee and bring the other foot forward, a good distance between the front and back foot.  Push forward with the hips.  I find that if I place my hands on the inside of my front foot I get a further stretch.

Running Stretches

Hip Flexor Stretch

Glute Stretch: Hold for 20 – 30 seconds each leg.  Place one ankle on the other knee.  Lift one leg up and hold behind the thigh, you should feel a stretch in your butt.  Try and keep your head and shoulders relaxed on the floor

Running stretches

Glute Stretch

Hamstring Stretch:  Hold for 20 – 30 seconds on each leg.  Lying on the floor hold one straight leg behind the thigh.  You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.  With the other leg you can either leave it lying on the floor straight or bend in and keep your foot flat on the floor.  For a further stretch hold behind the calf of the straight leg.

Running stretches

Hamstring stretch

 

Running

One for the ladies!!!! Keep on running.....


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