20 Nov

Exercise More To Feel Less Stressed

 

 

 

 

Stress. We all suffer from it in way or another at some stage in life & more than likely it will be multiple times. Many of my clients will come to me wanting to improve there physical appearance yet never think about their psychological well being.

Due to advances in technology the world we live now means you never get a chance to switch off from work. I see it countless times with clients that they look & feel constantly stressed. A natural way to beat it or keep it bay is to exercise which has a multitude of benefits to your mental well being .

 

Brain boost

From building intelligence to strengthening memory, exercise boosts brainpower in a number of ways. It also prevents cognitive decline and memory loss by strengthening the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Studies also prove that physical activity boosts creativity and mental energy. So if you’re in need of inspiration, your big idea could be just a walk or jog away.

Help for depression and anxiety

Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster, decreasing symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Physical activity kicks up endorphin levels, the body’s famous “feel good” chemical produced by the brain and spinal cord that produces feelings of happiness and euphoria. Even just moderate exercise throughout the week can improve depression & anxiety.

Decreased stress

Another mental benefit of exercise is reduced stress levels—something that can make us all happier. Increasing your heart rate can actually reverse stress-induced brain damage by stimulating the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which not only improve cognition & mood but improve thinking clouded by stressful events. Exercise also forces the body’s central and sympathetic nervous systems to communicate with one another, improving the body’s overall ability to respond to stress.

Better sleep

If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, exercise can help with that, too. Physical activity increases body temperature, which can have calming effects on the mind, leading to less sheep counting and more shuteye. Exercise also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, our bodies’ built-in alarm clock that controls when we feel tired and when we feel alert. Although improved sleep is a psychological benefit of exercise, sleep experts recommend not exercising close to bedtime.

 

 

 

12 Nov

Why You Need To Keep Hydrated

 

 

 

 

I have trained clients for many years & one of the questions I always ask when they start with me is, how much water do you normally drink within a day? It never ceases to amaze me that many of them will barely consume any.

If you are not drinking enough H20. Here are just a few reasons why you should be.

 

Water will reduce your cravings for empty calories

Some studies have shown that people confuse hunger with dehydration; others find that people eat less if they’re vigilant water-drinkers. Water won’t keep you from eating the food you need to be healthy, but it could help you stay away from the unnecessary junk food your body craves.

Water helps you maintain normal body function

Research has shown that water can speed up your metabolism, cleans the body of toxins, & generally helps to make everything in your body run smoothly. Considering an adult male is usually 60% water, this all makes sense. You need that water to digest food, circulate blood, keep your mouth from drying out, and do a number of other things we often take for granted. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty—be proactive about it

Flush toxins & prevent illness

While the kidneys naturally filter waste from the body, they require adequate water intake to function properly. When the body is dehydrated, the elimination of wastes is diminished. Conversely, when the body is hydrated, healthier functioning and transportation of nutrients is restored. Some medical experts believe proper hydration can help prevent joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, since water reduces inflammation and promotes cartilage health.

Improve mood

Dehydration is known to cause headaches, which might explain why it’s common to get cranky when one strikes. Many reports support this theory. Therefore, a glass of water might work double duty in helping prevent headaches as well as promote a sense of refreshment that naturally enhances mood, as well.

Improve skin complexion

Skin cells, like all cells, are made up of water. Therefore, if the skin is not receiving adequate hydration, it will appear dry, tight and flaky, and fine wrinkles will be more pronounce. A great indicator to make sure you are hydrated is the colour of your urine. Ideally it should be clear almost like water itself.

 

 

10 Nov

How To Survive The Festive Season

 

 

 

 

It appears the festive season is starting earlier & earlier each year. Some of my clients are cancelling or not making it to the gym as many times as they normally do due to attending parties & entertaining clients.

We have around a 6-week period when daily calorie consumption rapidly increases by eating more rich food & drinking on a more regular basis.

Here are a few pointers to get you through the festive season so you do not gain pounds & pounds over the coming weeks.

 

1. DO NOT STOP EXERCISING. If you cannot get to the gym, go for a run, swim etc as much as you normally do. Do not think “sod it” & just do nothing. The key to all of this is consistency. If you normally average 3-4 workouts a week, going 2 x is better than nothing.

2.  You will start to see more sweets & cakes appear in the office. By all means allow yourself some treats but do not eat everything in sight. Instead of having 5 biscuits, maybe have 1 or 2 & say that’s enough.

3.  If you do eat something heavy in calories, adjust the rest of your day around. Maybe eat a smaller dinner or do not have a snack you would normally eat later in the day.

4. Choose drinks that are lower in calories. 1 beer can around 200 – 300 calories, sometimes more. A gin with a slimline tonic is around 100 – 120 calories. I would recommend avoiding sweet cocktails as they can be very dense in calories.

5. Make sure you keep well hydrated. Not only will this shorten the length of your hangover but can keep you fuller meaning you may be inclined to eat less the day after. You may find you want to increase your daily water intake over the festive period. Even on the days you do not drink.

6. Sleeping is the time when our bodies recover from the excesses of life. Drinking and eating too much can severely affect our sleep patterns, as can the frequent late nights that are a regular occurrence during the festive period. Over Christmas and New Year, many people are sleep-starved leaving them not fit for much after a few late nights, let alone being the life and soul of the party.

 

 

 

 

08 Nov

4 Stretches To Do If You Are Stuck Sitting All Day

 

 

 

 

 

Working in central London means nearly all of my clients work long hours sat in the same position. Not only is this bad for long term health but it is also bad for your posture.

 

Here are some basic but effective stretches you can do to try & off set all of those hours sat down. Start off by holding for 30 seconds. If you wish to increase this , you can do.

Spinal Stretch

Sitting in your chair with a tall spine, keep your hips square and parallel to the wall in front of you, as you rotate your torso to the right . Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh to help you rotate. Always think of lengthening your spine and getting taller as you twist. Hold for 30 seconds, and then rotate to the other side.

Spinal Reach With Clasped Hands

Sitting upright, clasp your hands in front of you and rotate your palms away from you (this will give you an added wrist stretch!), & bring the arms overhead, reaching your spine tall. Keeping the weight even in both hips, reach the arms up and over to the right. You should feel a stretch in the left side of the body. Try to relax the shoulders away from the ears as much as possible, and not rotate the spine at all. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.

Chest Opener

Sit on the edge of your chair. Reach and clasp your hands behind your back, as you draw your shoulder blades down your back. If you can, slightly raise your arms up behind you to increase the stretch.

Seated Figure 4 Stretch

White sitting in your chair, cross your right ankle over your left knee, as if making a figure “4.” Keep your back as straight as possible as you hinge at your hips to increase the stretch. You can even apply a little extra pressure on the right thigh to deepen the stretch.

08 Nov

Roast Beetroot, Hazelnuts & Goat’s Cheese Salad

 

 

 

This autumnal salad recipe combines earthy beetroot, tangy goat’s cheese & hazelnuts to make a quick & easy salad that you can combine with a variety of winter warming foods.

 

Ingredients : 

1kg raw beetroot, trimmed, peeled & cut into wedges

2 tbsp olive oil for roasting

80g watercress

70g whole fresh herb leaves

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Chilli flakes to sprinkle

150g fresh goat’s cheese

50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted on a baking tray in a medium oven until golden, then roughly chopped

 

Preparation :

1.Heat the oven to 200°C. Toss the beetroot wedges with the 2 tbsp oil in a roasting tin, season, then spread out. Roast for 45-50 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft & slightly blackened.

2. When the beetroot is ready, put the watercress in a large mixing bowl and toss with the herbs. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of the molasses, and 1-2 tbsp of the extra-virgin olive oil, then scatter with chilli flakes

Toss in the warm beetroot wedges, then season and divide among 4 shallow bowls or plates. Crumble over the goat’s cheese, scatter over the chopped hazelnuts, then drizzle with the remaining molasses and extra-virgin olive oil. Add a final scattering of chilli flakes, then serve.

 

 

01 Nov

Why You Should Be Eating More Fibre

 

 

 

Everyone needs the right amount of fibre in their diet. It is found in a wide variety of foods & has a ton of health benefits both short term & long term.

What is it?

Dietary fibre is the indigestible part of plants that passes relatively unchanged through the stomach and intestines. It is mostly made up of carbohydrates, which consist of different types of sugars.

There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Both types are present, in varying degrees, in all plant foods. Soluble fibre can’t be digested, but it absorbs water to become a gelatinous substance that passes through the body. Good sources of soluble fibre include fruits, oat bran, barley, beans, lentils, peas, soy milk and soy products.

Insoluble fibre is mostly unchanged as it passes through the body and adds bulk to faeces. Good sources include wheat, corn and rice bran, nuts, seeds and wholegrain foods.

Resistant starch is not traditionally thought of as fibre, but it acts in a similar way. It is found in many unprocessed cereals and grains, firm bananas, potatoes & lentils.

 

The pros

Fibre is important in aiding digestion. Soluble fibre soaks up water, which helps to plump out the faeces, and allows it to pass through the gut more easily. It slows down the rate of digestion, and this is then counteracted by insoluble fibre, which speeds up the time that food takes to pass through the gut.

A lack of fibre, particularly insoluble fibre, can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, colon cancer & haemorrhoids.

It is thought that soluble fibre helps protect against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. Cereal fibre seems to offer more protection against coronary heart disease than the fibre from fruit and vegetables.

People who are overweight have been shown to lose significant amounts of body fat by increasing the amount of fibre, especially soluble fibre, in their diets.

A high-fibre diet also slows glucose absorption from the small intestine into the blood, reducing the possibility of a surge of insulin. Fibre is therefore recommended for people with diabetes and a high-fibre diet can help to prevent development of the condition.

Resistant starch is also important for bowel health. Bacteria in the large bowel ferment and change the resistant starch into short-chain fatty acids, which are important for bowel health.

The cons

A sudden switch from a low- to high-fibre diet can create abdominal pain and increased flatulence. Increase your fibre intake gradually and add it from food rather than supplements.

Very high-fibre diets may decrease absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium, so stick to the recommended intake.

 

29 Sep

Eat More Protein For More Productive Workouts

 

 

 

When people hear ‘protein’ and ‘exercise’ in the same sentence, they’re most likely to conjure up images of bodybuilders using protein bars and milkshakes in order to maximise their workouts. Protein is important for anyone  who is hitting the gym, playing sports, going for runs or doing any other form of exercise.

To put it simply, protein is one of the main nutrients that every person needs to maintain a healthy body. It helps to repair any internal or external damage, supports the immune system and contributes to an overall feeling of wellbeing. At a cellular level, proteins are used for just about everything, from transporting messages, carry out the instructions of DNA and defending, preserving and repairing essential life functions.

Nutrition and Health

It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, protein is essential for exercise. Anyone undertaking any kind of exercise routine is definitely going to need more protein than someone who doesn’t. This is because when you exercise, you are effectively tearing and breaking muscle fibres apart, which then need to be repaired by the body, requiring protein to do so.
So where do people get protein from? From a dietary point of view, day to day protein is gained from eating food such as beans, soy protein products, nuts, eggs , chicken & other such foods. If you are exercising, you can supplement your normal intake of protein with protein bars & shakes although I always advise to get all / mots of it from food.

Repair, Maintain, Grow

Protein is especially important to consume after a workout as during the exercise you are effectively breaking your muscles down. That is why it’s a common sight to see people at the gym eating protein bars or drinking  shakes when they have finished their routine to help increase the impact of their exercise.

Research varies on how much you need to consume from 1 – 2 grams per pound of bodyweight. I normally advise around 1 – 1.5 grams per pound of body weight as a good guide line.

Many beginners may struggle to eat as much protein required when first working out as they are normally use to over consuming carbohydrates but once you start to change the ratios around & consume more protein & less carbohydrates , you will soon discover you will feel better , feel less lethargic, get leaner & recover faster from exercise.

 

28 Sep

Lift Weights To Run Better

 

 

 

 

 

For many runners the thought of lifting weights can be a counter productive experience. Why  would you want to lift weights , they can make you bulky & slow you down which is the exact opposite to what a runner would want to do.

Over the many years of training clients , I have trained quite a few for marathons & other long distance running events & a crucial part of their plan is weight training as it will strenghten & condition the body making it faster & will also reduce the chance of injury.

 

Here are my favourite exercises I like to incorporate in a clients programme.

Wood Chop

Connect a standard handle to a tower, and move the cable to the highest pulley position. With your side to the cable, grab the handle with one hand and step away from the tower. You should be a few feet away from the pulley, with the tension of the weight on the cable. Your outstretched arm should be aligned with the cable.

With your feet positioned shoulder width apart, reach upward with your other hand and grab the handle with both hands. Your arms should still be fully extended. In one motion, pull the handle down and across your body to your front knee while rotating your torso. Keep your back and arms straight and core tight while you pivot your back foot and bend your knees to get a full range of motion.

Maintain your stance and straight arms. Return to the neutral position in a slow and controlled manner.

Bench Press

Lie on the bench so your eyes are directly under the bar.  Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width. Arch your back hard so that your lower back is completely off the bench. Your shoulder blades should be pulled together.

Squeeze the bar tightly and pull it out of the rack (if you have a spotter—and you should when the weight gets very heavy—have him help you get the bar into position).

Take a deep breath and lower the bar to your sternum (in line with the bottom edge of your pecs), tucking your elbows in at to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press it back up. Exhale at the end of the rep.

Hip Thrust / Glute Bridge

Set up the barbell parallel to the bench. Position yourself on the floor, with your shoulders and shoulder blades against the bench. Again, if they don’t reach the bench when you are sitting on the floor you can raise your butt a little bit off the floor. Roll the barbell toward you, over your legs until it’s directly over your hips.

Put your elbows on the bench and your hands on the bar to steady it.  It is very important that your body is aligned and your spine is neutral. Take a deep breath in, then exhale all the air out through your mouth and brace your core.Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips (and the barbell). Come down smoothly, with your core still braced.

Squat

Begin with the barbell supported on top of the traps. The chest should be up and the head facing forward. Adopt a hip-width stance with the feet turned out as needed. Descend by flexing the knees, refraining from moving the hips back as much as possible. This requires that the knees travel forward. Ensure that they stay align with the feet. The goal is to keep the torso as upright as possible.

Continue all the way down, keeping the weight on the front of the heel. At the moment the upper legs contact the lower legs reverse the motion, driving the weight upward.

Lat Pulldown

Grab the bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width. As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.

As you breathe out, bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull down the bar using the forearms.

After a second at the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.

 

 

 

 

27 Sep

Drink Coffee For Better Workouts

 

 

 

One of the biggest things to hit the supplement market in the past 5 years is the pre workout. If you do not know what this, I would say the best way to explain it would be a mild stimulant that you take normally around 20-30 minutes before you train.

Most of them will contain L-arginine , Beta-alanine , Tyrosine , Caffeine & possibly other ingredients. Out of all of the ingredients they contain , caffeine will be the most prominant .

Whilst caffein is a great product to use before you train , too much of it can be a bad thing & many of these pre workouts can contain 3 – 4 cups of coffee in one shot which can be counter productive & not good health wise long term for you.

For me , a good old cup of coffee about 30 minutes before I train does the trick. Here are some of the benefits of having a cup of the stuff before you train.

 

 

 

 

25 Sep

The Top 4 Exercises For Increasing Quads Mass

 

 

Legs. The muscle group that many do not like to train. Why? They are a biggest muscle groups on the body which require heavier weights to be stimulated. Leg workouts are by far the hardest but also the most rewarding I feel.

These are some of my favourite ” go to ” exercises for my clients to perform.

Barbell Step-Ups

One of the best ways that you can train your body is to work through functional exercises . A functional exercise is any workout that mimics real life movements that you perform every day when you’re at home, or at work or out in the world. The barbell step up is one of the top exercises because it’s so similar to the lunge and it mimics those movements we do every day while stabilizing our bodies across multiple planes.

To set this exercise up, use a barbell (or dumbbells , though the weight will be significantly less) across your shoulders similar to a squat. Step forward onto a small box or bench at a low height. Make sure the item you’re stepping up to can support the weight. When you step up, use your forward leg to propel yourself up. Bring your back foot forward and raise your knee up as high as you can. Step that foot back down while maintaining tension on the leg you first stepped forward onto the box with.

Barbell Lunges

This exercise is very similar to the step up, & is an extremely effective workout that targets your quads. Additional weights on a barbell aren’t necessary, as variations of this workout can be done with dumbbells or simply using your own body weight to tone the quads.  It’s all a matter of preference and the intensity of the workout.

Your goal is to work through a set of lunges, just like you would normally do them, while maintaining a weighted barbell on your shoulders or with dumbbells at your sides. When you lunge, you want one foot forward and one foot back with both knees bent. Your forward thigh should be parallel to the floor in order to achieve an optimal lunge – without your back knee touching the ground.

Squats

Squats have long been the king of all leg exercises. The barbell squat activates all the muscle groups in the legs. This compound exercise requires complete body stabilisation which makes it one of the most physically demanding exercises to perform. Adding additional weight can put a hard strain on your leg muscles to spur on the growth and recover of new and stronger muscle tissue. While effective, this exercise does require stronger shoulders as the barbell is held either across the top of the chest or across the shoulders behind the neck.

When performing the squat, it’s important to keep the back straight and lower the body slowly under tension to a point where the thigh is parallel to the floor (though you can go lower). Raise yourself back to a standing position and repeat.

The Leg Press

It’s important to keep in mind that the leg press is not a functional exercise. It does not mimic the gestures or movements of work we do on a daily basis. This is more for weight trainers that are serious about applying heavy weight to the muscle groups of the legs.

Using machines & various foot positions, it’s possible to apply a large amount of weight to the legs from a safe and comfortable position that will target all of the muscle groups within the upper and lower legs. If your aim is to tone the individual muscles and muscle groups in the legs then the leg press is an ideal choice to supplement the other top quad exercises.

Weight lifters and trainers all too often forget about the legs beyond some run, sprint or walk time. It’s necessary to do various exercises  that will not only tone the legs but strengthen the core muscles of the quad & lower legs as well. Remember that your legs provide the core strength that your other muscle groups need to function throughout your workouts.