Put your back into it!

Generally we think core – stomach muscles, but part of our core is the back. An often missed part of a workout, here are some great back exercises to add into your usual workout. A strong back is just as important as strong abs for good posture. Try these moves.

core work

Here are some pretty tough core exercises to add in (or an adapted version) to any of your workouts. A strong core will enable you to improve posture, which in turn will help you avoid injuries, Maybe start off adding in one or two and then progress to more as you feel them getting easier.  Enjoy!

October challenge for beginners

As the days draw in, heading out to the gym might not seem so inviting especially if you are new or returning to exercise. So this, at home, beginners workout might be for you. For those more advanced you can increase timings/intensity to make it suit your level.  Enjoy

300 workout

This is the kind of workout I really like. 300 reps and done. Give it a try, adapt as you need to including taking rest – as your stamina improves you can do more as long as it’s with good form! Always keep in ind quality over quantity!

September

Usually I write about a challenge, I decided to take August off, and actually maybe the rest of the year. Challenges keep me very motivated, and that can be really helpful, however, it’s also good to be spontaneous. So for the time being, I am back at the gym, following a split programme (different muscles each day) and mixing up the cardio with spinning, swimming and some interval training. Following a varied and balanced training plan will keep my fitness up without stressing my body too much, which will help me avoid further injuries and enable me to take up a new challenge as soon as I am decide on what is next!

If you want to be motivated by following a challenge why not try this for a full body workout.

Full body workouts

Lets get a full body workout done! If you are at the gym then you will have dumbbells easily to hand, if not, grab whatever you can at home – cans/bottles/bands or just do bodyweight versions…. Start where you feel is right for you and make each exercise a little harder as you feel ready to (if you can do the whole workout without tiring or ‘failing’ to complete the set then it’s time to up the weights!),

 

Buddy up Challenge

How about trying out a few challenges over the course of this month. The difference is, you are going to persuade a friend or a fellow gym goer to do these with you. It will help motivate you and keep you committed. Have a look at these – you may decide to do all of them, perhaps a different one each week. Or maybe stick to one and see how you progress over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Tabata time

Tabata is a HIIT workout (high intensity interval training), In it’s truest form it’s only 4 minutes of work. Yep, not long at all, but you have to go at it hard! Not many people do, which is why you will find all sorts of interval training options.

This plan offers a couple of variations, and if you want to you can make it a longer workout by repeating it in circuit style two or three times. Along with a warm up and cool down, you could be done in 20 minutes. Give it a try!

June challenge – 4 week gym plan

So here’s a great plan (not for the new gym goer), if you are hitting the gym again, go in with a plan. This is split into days, it may not suit you exactly, so tweak it to fit in around what is realistic for your life. Fall in love with weights and still do a little cardio to get an all round plan.

Try this plan! I am going to.

Hip work

One of the key bits of kit I recommend to client is a band, they are so versatile and you can buy all sorts of variations now. They are fairly cheap and so easy to store, which makes them so useful. And don’t think they won’t give yo a good workout – they really do!

Try this workout to strengthen hips (great for runners – still doing my 50km challenge).

Challenging core work

My challenge for this month is running 50km, a big part of running without injury is core work, a strong core, is required for many everyday moves (carrying, lifting, sitting, standing), so it’s not just to get six pack abs!

Try this weighted workout to get some serious strength. Start of slowly and build up, if it’s too easy – add weight or reps.

Weight loss worries

As we come out of lockdown (again) and the summer approaches, our weight make take a central focus. This feature gives you a few ideas why you might find it trickier than you thought it might be.

While these points are valid, don’t forget this last year or so has been hard on all of us, physically, mentally and emotionally. Beating yourself up over a few excess pounds isn’t going to help. Getting your head into a good place so you can tackle getting back to work, losing weight (if you need to), dealing with life in general, will all be much easier when you are kind to yourself and feel able to focus on each aspect.

Maybe try a challenge like this  full body workout you can do at home (or at the gym) if you want to challenge yourself this month.

Full body workout

Time for a new challenge. A full body workout you can do at home or at the gym. If you are back at a gym (or just joined and want something to follow), this might be the plan for you. If you feel ready to take it to the next level, you can add in weights, number of reps or sets, to increase the work your muscles need to do.

Post Covid workout

As we approach a time when the gyms reopen and we get back to some sort of normal, consider long term affects of exercising post COVID. This is a very long read, however here are some useful points about exercise and the impact on the body for those who have suffered COVID. Many instructors are (myself included) taking courses to ensure we can help people exercise safely. Even if you haven’t had COVID, you may not have been doing the usual amount of exercise and therefore you also need to start slowly and progress as your body allows. Don’t go full steam ahead and then have to take more time out. Keep safe.

If you are looking for something to get into a routine — here’s a 30-day bodyweight challenge to get you started. If you are ready to take it up a level add in weights to some of the exercises.

April challenge

Time for my challenge! April will hopefully see the gyms reopen (among other things)! However, it’s not certain, and maybe you’re not ready to go back. So my challenge is something anyone can do (with variations), 2000 burpees throughout April. Yes that is a lot… I am not entirely sure how well it will go as I intend to keep running, teaching online classes and my strength sessions. I expect April to hurt. It’s for a good cause – Bone cancer. So I reckon it is worth a try. I will let you know how I get on!

If that challenge doesn’t sound so good to you, you could get yourself back into a routine (or start one) with this instead – – here’s a 30-day bodyweight challenge to get you started. If you are ready to take it up a level add in weights to some of the exercises

Why should you strength train?

This is a simple feature that highlight some of reasons why everyone, but especially women, should strength train. For years women have avoided anything that might add ‘bulk’ to their frame, but there are so many health and functional benefits to having some muscle, bulking up is really unlikely (you need to follow a very specific weights and nutrition programme for that to happen). In fact, most trainers you will see have some definition but even though they train regularly they don’t look like bodybuilders, why? because they aren’t training to be one. Simple.

So once you have read that – what is strength training? Try this plan – adding in extra reps or weight as your body adapts (you find it easier).

Upper body

So last week was all about lower body, here’s an upper body workout  – easy to do at home. If you don’t have weights use cans/bottles of water or something similar that adds some resistance. Work slowly to keep the muscle under tension if you don’t have anything you can use. Enjoy!

Lower body workout

This workout is useful for everyone not just cyclists. However, if you are a cyclist or runner and you aren’t doing any strengthening work then this is a good starting point.

Give it a try!

Posture

Being more sedentary, sitting more, less ability to exercise in our usual way, all are bad for our posture. which in turn causes more health problems for us all. So make time to work on it.  These body weight exercises can help you avoid aches and pains associated with poor posture. Even when life returns to ‘normal’ it is still a good idea to keep up work on your posture.

Put your back into it…

With lots of time sitting often comes back pain. there are plenty of other reasons for back pain, poor posture, muscle inactivity causing weakness and tightening. So how about combating the issue with some specific exercises. Included in any balanced workout plan should be back work, so add these in, if you aren’t already doing some – especially if you find yourself being seated more often at the moment.

And if you want something a little more challenging why not take part in a four week HIIT challenge 

February HIIT plan

It is unlikely the gyms will be open in February, so this 4-week HIIT plan works strength and cardio each week. Adapt as needed, work to your own pace and hopefully you will be feeling on fit form at the end of the month, ready for spring!

Give it a go. Don’t forgot to warm up and stretch off after each workout.

At home cardio

It’s January in Lockdown 3.0 and I am guessing that you have some spare time. Even if you are working from home, homeschooling and doing all the usual chores. Well this at home session will lift your mood and get you fit and it is only 20 minutes long. So on those wet grey days when you really don’t feel like getting outside much, why not give this a try.

Remember to warm up before you begin and stretch off after!

January blues or time for a re-boot

It’s January, it’s cold, we are living with restrictions still and motivation might be at a bit of a lull. But lets try to focus on some things we can do, diet, fitness, mental health. None of these things need to cost more financially, maybe just time.

Look at your nutrition, eating well will give you energy and help lift your mood. It also means you are more likely to want to exercise, both these things can help improve sleep patterns and adding all these elements together can help you feel better mentally and physically. Start of with small steps, maybe include more fruit/veg and  reduce sugar (don’t we all need to post Christmas), can you tweak your sleep routine, and then get involved in some exercise. Be it simply walking more. Or you can try this four week plan.

Here’s a 4-week workout you can try

Start slowly, don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day, we all do. Look at where things went awry and reset. Make this month a positive one by focusing on your health.

Band core

December won’t have the usual Christmas parties, but we still want to feel fit and strong, even if we aren’t worrying about fitting into party dresses, so lets work on our core. All you need is resistance band. And actually, you can do these exercises without…you just get a bit more work with. Give it a try.

Are you doing the four week workout? You could add in/tweak with this workout too.

Four-week workout plan

Here’s a plan to try out, limited space or equipment needed. It does include some running, but along with other exercises, you can adapt them to suit you. Or just do less reps, time or intensity as you need to. Ensure you warm up and stretch!

 

Strength & Stretch

If you have been working from home, you probably don’t have the best set up, which can lead to poor posture. And of course this has been an extra stressful year. So as well as sleeping and eating well, looking after yourself with some strengthening and stretching your body will improve posture, sleep patterns and improve your general, physical and mental health. Why not give this a try?

Tabata or HIIT

Circuits, bootcamp, HIIT (high intensity interval training), Tabata and so on.. Are all names for a similar type of workout, timed exercises. However, each does something a little different. Most commonly HIIT and Tabata get mixed up, so this feature explains the difference.

So maybe now would be a good time to try a Tabata workout? It can be done in 4 minutes (plus warm up and stretches).

November challenge

I had all sorts of ideas about a November challenge but then we got locked down, so I decided that while I plan to keep up some running, I don’t think I will put myself through another big challenge this month. Instead I plan to do two simple things, drink more fluids (isn’t it harder in winter to keep up the water intake?) or maybe just me. And keep up my steps, my goal is 15,000 a day, which is usually quite easy, but during lockdown it was much harder. So come rain or shine I will get out and walk (or run sometimes).

A simple but effective challenge to get though what is going to be a tough month for us all.

I know everyone may be getting a bit fed up of all the exercise plans – but this challenge is basically one exercise a day and means you can easily fit it in, even if you are having an off day. Give it a go.

Circuit style

If you are at home, pushed for time, not happy being back in the gym yet, or just want something you can add in when your favourite class is fully booked, here’s a workout you can do. t’s quick, simple and requires nothing but yourself.  Give it a go!

Core

This is a tough core workout, well worth giving it a go. Why is core work so important? Think about it – core is the centre, where everything comes from. It’s the trunk of your body – if it’s strong and stable you will be able to move more easily, pick up heavier items, walk further or run faster. So give this a try!

Hit the BARRE

Barre is a ballet/Pilate style class that works your body at a slower pace and i generally lower impact than many other exercise classes. This little routine works the full body, giving you a taster of what you can expect. No need to be a ballet dancer! I qualified to teach this recently and I am definitely not a ballerina! Give it a try..

October squat challenge

Here’s a new challenge for you. Squats. Concentrate on form, Use a mirror if you can – check you are not bending forward and dropping your chest to your knees (a common mistake) or that you aren’t arching your back as you lower down (this can cause low back pain).

Give this a go! 

Jump rope

A simple workout session – using a skipping rope and your own bodyweight or maybe a resistance band. Although this feature suggests a plan, you can always alter it by changing duration, number of repetitions or choice of exercise. Keep it simple and you can do it anywhere.

Deadlift

A fantastic exercise, functional and one that makes you feel strong! You can do it with bands, dumb bells and bar bells, and this feature shows you some variations to keep it interesting. 

A deadlift is basically how you pick things up – that simple. Working on your technique with the basic deadlift will help you when it comes to picking up heavy boxes, shopping, children and so on… And once you have got the basic lift form corrected you can increase weights or variety of exercise. Add it into your next workout!

300 workout

I love this type of workout so simple 300 reps and you are  done…give it a go and see how easy it is(n’t).

September challenge

If you have read my blog  you will have seen my running challenges, this month I am kicking off a bigger one, aiming for a 10km distance, the first time in a few years, I will have run this far.

If that seems a bit too much, then maybe try this 4-week running plan, aimed at getting you to run for 30 minutes, don’t worry about the distance, just focus on slowly building up, listen to your own body, and you will progress or improve your running pace/distance/duration.

Try following this programme.

Abs

Now we (some) are back at the gym, you can add in this weighted core workout to finish off your usual routine. Just remember that if you haven’t been working out regularly over these last few months, you will need to take it steady. Don’t assume you can do exactly what you did before. Slowly increase your intensity/repetitions/weight until you are back to your pre-COVID sessions and then work on progressing further.

August challenge

August has arrived! Many of us won’t be going on holiday anywhere too far afield this month so sticking to some sort of routine should be fairly easy. I signed up to one of my favourite trainers to take part in a challenge #takeback2020 – the app is brilliant but has a fee attached to the premium workout (there are some excellent short free workouts too). If you fancy being put through your paces by Jillian Michaels then download it and sign up! That’s my challenge sorted – I am adding in running and swimming (if I can get a place) and I may even add in a spinning class (space permitting). We all just have to be a bit more organised with our fitness plans!

Alternatively, if signing up to an app isn’t your bag, Jillian has also created this 30-minute session you could add into your routine. 

Do you enjoy running?

Maybe, like me, you have been a runner on and off (mostly off in my case), then you may appreciate these tips to make it more enjoyable. 

Sometimes I love it, luckily I live near a lovely park with different options for my runs so I don’t get bored, but sometimes it just doesn’t work for me. My legs aren’t happy and my brain keeps telling me not to do it. I rarely come back from a run, however short, wishing I hadn’t done it though. I guess that could be why I keep doing it.

At the moment running is one form of exercise that seems easy to do, it’s free, it gets you outside, it can really boost your mood. Just don’t forget to warm up and start slowly and stretch post run!

Running

So many more people are taking up running at this time, it’s great to get outdoors and run/walk/cycle. Just being outside boosts  your mood, vitamin D (at this time of year) and is a perfect way to get some time out, especially if you are living in a busy household.

How do you start running? Just grab shoes and go? Well to look after your body I would suggest having a read of this feature and consider some of the points. If nothing else make sure you start with some gentle movement to get the body warmed up for running and don’t forget to stretch afterwards!

Other things to consider are – your shoes! Posture – do you get any pain? Work on strengthening glutes, back and core as these are usually areas that cause problems. And enjoy it!

Planks

A plank can be done any time and anywhere, no equipment needed and with so many variations, you can always find an option to suit. Make sure whichever option you choose (on your knees or in full plank) that your hips don’t dip too low (you will feel it in your back) or too high (you will feel it in your shoulders). Keep the core engaged and squeeze the glutes. Try these out! 

28-day at home challenge

We are all stuck at home at the moment, and using gyms is out of the question (unless you have your own at home), so here is a challenge to keep you fit over the next 28 days.

Work to your level and don’t forget to warm up at the start. cool down and stretch at the end. Give it a go!

knee pain

A very common issue seen in gyms is knee pain! Sometimes this is caused by postural imbalance from poor posture created by an injury or habit. Quite often there is something else not in the right alignment – hips, ankle, poor core or glute activation. So strengthening the muscles around the knee area can help stabilise and reduce pain. Here are a few exercises and some more details and resource that can help you deal with this pain. 

If you have ongoing pain then it is advisable to get referred for a scan or physio to find out what the problem is exactly.

30-day bodyweight challenge

Since we aren’t going to the gym for our workouts (maybe you never did), this challenge can be done at home or in your garden, using just your own bodyweight. Keeping active is really important.

Try this 30-day challenge.

And if you are taking part on online classes please check the person you are following is qualified.

Standing ab work

Some ab work to keep your core strong, without having to get on the floor. At this time when you may be stuck inside or have small spaces this upright workout might be a good one for you.

If you don’t have any weights use cans/bottles or just reduce the speed of the exercise, by keeping the muscles under tension it encourages them to work harder.

Give this a go.

Glutes

It’s not all about the perfect looking bum. Having good strong glutes is actually important for even the simplest of things – walking. If you have weak glute muscles then you may find you have lower back or knee pain amongst other things.

So it’s important to put some work in to strengthen them, not only will it reduce your risk of injury, you could also improve performance in sport or simply just walk  further or for longer.  Try these exercises as part of your gym session – or try some of them at home.

Don’t forget to stretch after you have worked them – tight muscles will more likely cause injury!

 

Cardio HIIT challenge

Spring is coming – soon – I hope – so it won’t be long before we all start thinking about summer holidays and the summery clothing. And that may mean we need to start putting in a bit more effort to feel better about how we look in the swimwear.

But it’s not all about looking good. HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – is a great way to workout, especially if you are short on time. It will get the heart rate up in  short bursts which improves cardiovascular function (meaning your heart works more efficiently). If you are new to HIIT take it steady at first and build up. It will also improve strength and is an ideal way to cross train – in other words doing a mix of training to improve performance for whatever goal you are working towards.

Give it a go! 

Posture improvement

Here is a core workout that can help not only improve your core strength but also your posture.

The core, a it sounds, is the central point of the body, by having strength in the core – which are the muscles around the back/stomach – will enable you to keep good posture, we spend lots of time sitting or leaning forward and this can weaken the muscles, eventually creating poor posture. Poor posture also increases risk of injury and falls.

Time to get that core engaged!

Pelvic Floor

Pelvic floor work is really important, not just for those who have given birth, but for everyone. Not only will they help with flatter abdominals but can reduce back pain and more embarrassing issues like leakage from  coughing/sneezing. Don’t wait for their to be an issue, these exercises can easily be added into any workout.

Standing core work

When you think about working your core, undoubtedly you think floor work, well here’s a session to try that will make you think again. When you are standing up you are using your core, adding in some of these exercises means you engage more muscles, the floor keeps you stable, when you are on your feet you have to use more stabilising muscles, not only helping you work the core but balance work too. Add some of these into your weekly workouts.https://www.wellandgood.com/good-sweat/standing-ab-exercises/

Core HIIT

I love HIIT – high intensity sessions, they get the job done and quickly. This session is focused on core work so could be done alone or added to your other workouts, maybe a cycle, swim, run or weights session. By mixing up your workouts it not only keeps them interesting but also makes your body work harder because it doesn’t know what to expect. if you get high intensity training right, you will also burn calories long after the workout. Win win!

Strength HIIT

HIIT with a difference. This time it’s about strength work. If you can get into the gym for some time out this workout might be just what you need. It’s less about speed and more about tempo, with good form. Still a short workout, so won’t take much time!

Quick workout

A quick workout to get you through the party season. Not actually HIIT but a speedy session that won’t take more than half an hour. If you have a band and some sort of weight – cans/water bottles, you can do this at home. Give it a go couple of times this week.

HIIT running

As we get closer to Christmas it gets harder to fit everything in, but keeping fit over the festive time is more beneficial for us all. Apart from keeping extra weight off, regular exercise is good for our mental health – for some this time of year is really stressful, setting aside time for a workout – however short – will help refocus the mind.

But, fitting in a workout can be tricky, so that is why HIIT workouts can be helpful. This running HIIT plan can be done in a gym or out in a park, I like Fartlek training – random speed/duration. Give it a go!

And if running doesn’t appeal you could always try this 30-day challenge.

30-day HIIT challenge

You may or may not like HIIT, but you can adapt this 30-day challenge to make it less intense, 2-3 sessions a week would keep up your fitness over the busy time. Slowly increase your intensity or the length of the sessions as you feel it gets easier.

See how I get on with my December challenge here.

Band workout

Add to your basic workout with a band. The best thing about this piece of kit is that it doesn’t take up much room and it doesn’t have to cost much either. The band enables you to strengthen muscles without adding in to much resistance, ideal if you are a beginner, if you need to work on any imbalances or your technique, which will enable you to progress safely to heavier weights. Add a band to your sessions!

Bodyweight workout

It’s January, resolution time of year – and for many, that means getting into a fitness regime. If you have had a couple of weeks off, coming back from injury/illness or a newbie, bodyweight workouts are a good place to start. This one takes about 30 minutes. 

Don’t forget to warm up and stretch after! Do what you can, start off slow and build up. And enjoy it! Working out should never be a chore – it’s keeping you healthy and helping you do more for longer.

5 minute abs

This little ab blast can be done anywhere, with no equipment, when time is not on your side. Ideally you will do this as part of your workout routine, but if you don’t have one just get started with this.