We are loving this stylish new workout label – called Colosseum MCMXCII (you can check out their stuff here: http://www.colosseumbrand.com/). Very Stella McCartney, and affordable as well – we’re loving their windbreakers and the sleek sports luxe feel of their tanks – all very streamlined. Working out in style is never a bad thing.
Let me start off by saying that no amount of crunches in the world will get you abs.
That’s not to say that strengthening your core doesn’t help – it definitely does. Pilates, yoga, those big compound lifts, all of these utilise abs and having a strong core is important in maintaining posture, balance and strength.
But that elusive six pack that everyone wants but nobody can attain? It’s simple:
1. Eat well. Going along the mantra of 80% diet, 20% exercise, food and diet is the number one reason why it’s so hard to get abs – especially for women. As we naturally have a higher percentage of body fat that we carry, especially because we need to maintain reproductive bodily functions, it’s a lot harder to see the muscle hiding underneath all that belly chub. The easiest way to overcome this is to cut refined sugars and saturated fats out of your diet, as well as necessary sodiums.
2. Cardio. You can do as many ab workouts and planks as you want, and you will build muscle, but you won’t be able to see them if they’re hiding under a layer of fat. Incorporating a range of cardio exercises, especially high intensity interval type training, will definitely help you burn the fat and maintain the muscle at the same time.
A combination of those two simple steps is a surefire way to reach a flatter and more toned tummy.
A lot of girls will stick to the formula of cardio, cardio, more cardio, avoiding carbs and neglecting strength training.
Cardio is definitely a great exercise to condition your heart, lose weight and stay fit but its all about how you do it. When it comes to running – there are two general options. Steady state cardio, and HIIT.
Steady state cardio is prolonged durations of cardio – for example a 40 minute run around the neighbourhood, where you’re working at the same intensity throughout. Long duration cardio increased endurance (your cardiovascular fitness), burns fat and is great for the heart…however it can lead to injuries and it can also be quite boring and time consuming.
The other end of the spectrum is HIIT, which stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. Lasting only 15 minutes usually, it’s much more efficient as it recruits different kinds of muscles and burns fat faster than long-duration cardio does, in less time. It’s also more difficult, try sprinting 30 seconds mixed with running for a minute and you’re bound to puke everywhere.
There are other ways you can do HIIT, not just sprinting. Burpees are a whole body exercise that you can vary. I usually incorporate my HIIT days after an upper body workout or on rest days.
In theory, yoga can seem so far removed from weight lifting that they’re not even in the same category as ‘exercise’. Yoga is taut little things drinking organic tea and chanting. Weight lifting is massive guys grunting and listening to electro music.
I personally balance both my yoga practice and weight lifting – and I find that it can actually be quite complementary. One of the major similarities is the use of body weight in yoga – a move called chataranga is a more fluid version of a push up. Some poses in yoga requires a huge amount of personal strength.
Though seemingly contradictory, there are ways you can successfully balance both. Using yoga post-recovery is so good with the deep stretches and mentally relaxing.
Another aspect of yoga is that yoga is an intensely mental based practice, all about taking account of your actions and working to the best of your ability. You could definitely take this practice to weight lifting. Both types of exercise also help each other – yoga can build up your muscle strength and endurance, and vice versa.
Book yourself into a studio and figure out what your favourite kind of yoga you enjoy – there’s everything from Bikram to yin to suit all types of people.
Sometimes we can get a little overexcited when it comes to training – and it definitely comes down to a case of ‘less is more’ sometimes. Overtraining happens when you don’t give your body enough of a recovery. This happens when you don’t get that high after working out, you feel tired, lethargic and dread your next workout. You feel pain instead of soreness afterwards – there’s a clear difference between productive soreness that means your muscles are recovering and straight up pain when you do everyday movements.
If you’re getting injured from doing things you could do before, your performance is dropping and you’re not getting those gains – these are sure signs of overtraining. When your body starts telling you that you’ve been overtraining, here are a few tips to follow:
- Variation is key – keep your body guessing, don’t just do one type of exercise over and over. Make sure you’r working different parts of your body on consecutive days. This means yoga, stretching, cardio, weightlifting. I like to use yoga on my rest days as a light type of exercise.
- Some ways of avoiding overtraining is alternating high intensity days with low intensity workouts.
- Keep a record of what you trained and when. Take notice of how you and your body are feeling and behave accordingly.
This post was overdue – your diet plays a MASSIVE role in being a healthy individual – putting hours of work in the gym, in the studio, on the pavements – none of it counts when you’re not putting in the hard work in the kitchen and the supermarket.
The rule I generally follow: good fats, lots of protein, lots of vegies, lots of water, stay away from processed foods. I don’t count calories, I feel as though it’s better to play it by ear and learn to listen to your body. A few tips:
- Portion control. Grab a smaller plate, or for dinner play by the ‘meat the size of your palm’ rule. Pace yourself while you eat so you give your body time to register. Stop when you’re satisfied.
- Eat a protein-packed breakfast. Eggs, greek yoghurt – stay away from sugary commercial cereals and fit in your protein. It will keep you full and stop the mid morning-early arvo hunger pains. It’ll also kickstart your body into fat burning (not storage) mode.
- Carry healthy snacks. Avoid seeking out unhealthy instant hits by carrying nuts, fruit, eggs and protein bars with you.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself! Treat yourself occasionally – it’s all about moderation.
You might have seen these blue round foam contraptions at the gym, fellow gym-goers wincing as they contort their body around it. Welcome to the world of foam rolling. Familiar with the feeling of a massage on sore muscles, or even just pressing down on sore muscles and thinking, ‘that hurts so good’?
Foam rolling is a way to put pressure on muscles in order to smooth and lengthen them out – unlike your traditional stretching but just going a bit deeper as it is external pressure. Ironing out all the kinks, it helps your muscles relax, increases blood circulation and this means less time feeling a bit sore post-recovery. The trick is to do it until you hit the sweet spot – the place that makes you wince, and keep going. 5-10 minutes post workout is all it takes to speed up recovery.
It’s not just for athletes as well, everybody can do it – ironing out knots helps prevent the build up of fascia which can leda to more long term problems.
See below for a few examples of what to do if you’re still unsure.
Meet Mary Macken. She’s 51, a mother of two, a corporate lawyer, weighs 48kg…and lifts weights up to 180kg. Seriously insane. Just goes to show that lifting enormous amounts of weight does not always come with the mass. An inspiration.
Definitely check out the Ninemsn article here in full: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2013/02/19/17/55/mother-of-two-displays-incredible-strength
Compound lifts are about full body workouts – spot targeting is not what we are talking about. It’s any exercise that recruits more than one major muscle group at once when performed. Compound lifts are also popularly known as Olympic lifts – think the deadlift, the squat and the clean and jerk. They’re superior to isolated machine movements because it’s all about putting on the most weight possible and giving your whole body some love.
Some of my favourite compound lifts to do include the almighty squat and deadlift. Not only a killer move for your glutes and legs, they work your upper body, fore-arms and back as well.
Better yet – there’s nothing better than dominating the weights section and showing the guys that you can do it too. Doing compound movements with barbells are also a surefire way to ensure that you’re doing whole movements and not partial reps. It takes a lot more work and will make you a lot stronger – so don’t be scared of the barbell. Always ask a professional the basic form before you attempt on your own – and don’t forget the safety locks!
Finding a friend to bring along to the gym can sometimes be the key to maintaining consistent and worth-it workouts. They’re there to drag your lazy ass out of bed on days you can’t motivate yourself to, and it has been proven that people who work out with someone better than them work harder. Incorporating the social with health – two birds with one stone.
Choose someone who is motivated. The number one thing you don’t want to hear from your gym buddy is, “I can’t be bothered.” Choose someone who will pep you up and convince you that the workout is better than the Game Of Thrones session in bed. Someone with a can-do attitude who pushes you to work harder and smarter.
Choose someone who is willing to try new things. Mixing up your workout routine and keeping your body guessing is key to consistent gains and improvements. Find someone who trains similarly to you but is willing to mix it up – yoga, steady-state cardio, HIIT, rock climbing, weights, the stairmaster, a game of soccer – you name it, they’re up for it.
Choose someone at a similar or higher fitness level than you are. I say higher because it gives you something to work towards – healthy competition is never a bad thing. Finding someone who can work out at the same intensity as you or more pushes you to work harder and also avoids any possibility of you slacking off because the other person is too.
Choose someone who has similar fitness goals. It doesn’t work if one of you is looking to lose enormous amounts of weight and the other is looking to build muscular mass – you have to be on the same page or you won’t even be in the same area of the gym! Similar goals and interests keep you in line and your motivation levels up.