Importance of Exercise Technique

There’s a reason why every exercise you perform comes with instructions. They’re not just to make you look good at training—they’re to train specific muscles the correct way. To get the most out of each exercise, it is VERY important to follow instructions carefully or to work on your technique with your trainer before adding load or speed. This will ensure that you safely gain the full benefits of your strength training program.

One main reason why technique lacks with some people is using too much weight. Take the Bicep Curl for example. Some people curl a large weight for show, but they bring their elbows forward and lean back, which reduces the effectiveness of the bicep-isolating exercise. For optimal results, less weight should be used so perfect form can be maintained—with the bicep actually doing all of the work.

Less is more must always be applied across all strength exercises. It makes no sense in performing an exercise—such as a Goblet Squat—if you aren’t able to successfully go through the full range of motion, or if you must compensate for a weakness. You will work harder with less weight, fully developing your muscles through the correct range of motion and using proper technique to produce improvements in training.

Finally, poor or improper exercise form can increase the risk of injuries. Lifting weight places enormous stress on your body, and exercise technique is specifically designed so that you can move the weight safely. If your technique is not spot on, you place vulnerable parts of your body, such as your back, shoulders or knees, in a danger zone, where they are more likely to cause an injury that can decline your strength training and your gains may drop off.

Healthy Tuna Lettuce Wraps

PREP TIME: 15 Mins

COOK TIME: 2 Mins

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 drops rapeseed oil for brushing
  • 2 x 140g fresh tuna fillets, defrosted
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 8 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, preferably on the vine, halved

METHOD 

  1. Brush the tuna with a little oil. Heat a non-stick pan, add the tuna and cook for 1 min each side, or a min or so longer for a thicker fillet. Transfer to a plate to rest.
  2. Halve and stone the avocado and scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Add the mustard powder and vinegar, then mash well so that the mixture is smooth like mayonnaise. Stir in the capers. Spoon into two small dishes and put on serving plates with the lettuce leaves, and tomatoes.

Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles

Are you guilty of often neglecting core exercises in your training routine? We’re going to give you reasons why not to, and why core exercises are an important part of a well rounded fitness program. Did you know that your core muscles include more than just the abdominal muscles? They are the muscles around your trunk and pelvis including pelvic floor muscles and your glutes. It is the core of your body, and building those muscles will benefit you for the rest of your life. They play a central role in everything you do, every movement you make stems from your core, since every muscle in your body is connected to the ones in the core. 

  1. Core exercises improve your balance and stability. Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in sync. This leads to better balance and stability. This can improve your performance on the field playing sport or in daily activities. Every time you walk on uneven ground or stand in one place, you use your core muscles to keep you there. The stronger those muscles are, the less likely you are to fall over.
  2. Core exercises don’t require special gym equipment. Any exercise that involves the use of your abdominal and back muscles in coordinated fashion counts as a core exercise. For example, maintaining a stable trunk can train and strengthen several of your muscles including your core muscles. You may also try different specific core exercises to stabilise and strengthen your core. E.g – planks, sit ups, crunches and hip raises.
  3. Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities. Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities, such as swing a golf club, reach for a glass from the top shelf and bend down to tie your shoes. Strong core muscles are also important for athletes, such as runners – as weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries.
  4. Strong core muscles will help improve your posture. If your core is weak, you’re more likely to slouch over, since it’s harder to keep yourself upright. Good posture is better for your spine, prevents back pain and allows you to breathe easier.
  5. A strong core will help you look slimmer! Even if you never get six pack abs, a strong core will help you stand taller and straighter, making you look instantly slimmer. The inner muscles of the core help tighten your stomach and give you a smaller waistline.

Core Workout

Try this 5 minute ab workout at home – you may need a mat for to lie on or some carpet.

  1. Crunch
  2. Right Oblique Crunch
  3. Left Oblique Crunch
  4. Bicycle Crunch
  5. Reverse Crunch
  6. Long Arm Crunch
  7. Crossover Crunch
  8. Half Curl
  9. Vertical Leg Crunch
  10. Plank 

Try and complete each exercise as many times as possible in 30 seconds, with a 5 second rest in between.

Smoothie Recipe to Help Bloating

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • handful of ice

METHOD

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until super smooth. Enjoy!
  2. Hardcore Version: Add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to the mix.

 

Cucumbers:  Are loaded with water, which helps fight bloating.

Banana:  Bananas are high in potassium.  Potassium helps regulate sodium levels, which prevents water retention.  Too much sodium is a big cause of bloating, so that’s why bananas (and other foods high in potassium) help with bloating.

Coconut Water:  Like bananas, coconut water is high in potassium.

Ginger:  Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory food as well as a digestive aid.  It soothes the digestive system and relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, which keeps you from getting bloated.  

Apple Cider Vinegar:   this one is optional in the smoothie recipe because the smoothie tastes better without it.  Apple cider vinegar, however, is great for reducing gas and bloating.  So if you are super serious about reducing your bloat, add this to your smoothie.

Savory Oatmeal With Cheddar and Fried Egg

SAVORY OATMEAL WITH CHEDDAR AND FRIED EGG

  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup dry quick-cooking steel cut oats
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shredded white cheddar cheese (add more if you like)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup diced red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
  • 1 large egg

Optional Toppings

  • chopped walnuts
  • sliced green onions
  • za’atar (or any other spice blend)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Stove Top Method: Bring water to boil. Add oatmeal, reduce heat a little and let it cook for about 3 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat and stir in cheese, a small pinch of salt, and pepper.
  2. Microwave Method*: Place oats and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Line microwave dish with paper towels to catch any spills. Microwave at a high setting (but not the highest, about 8/10 power setting) at one-minute intervals for a total of 3 minutes. If you want a softer texture, continue microwaving at 30-second intervals. Give the oats a little stir between intervals. When the oatmeal is done, stir in shredded cheese, a small pinch of salt, and pepper.
  3. Heat a nonstick pan with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they soften. Spoon vegetables over cooked oats. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil and fry egg. Cook until the whites are no longer translucent and serve over oatmeal.
  5. Top with chopped walnuts, green onions, and za’atar, if you like.

The Importance of Updating your Training Shoes Regularly

We all know how much I love checking out everyone’s new training shoes so this weeks topic all all about why updating your shoes are so important for preventing injuries. Did you know that when you reach your 30’s, the arches of your feet begin to fall, making you prone to balance issues, loss of ankle strength and hip and/ or glute instability which can result in plantar fasciitis, tendonitis or stress fractures.

So with that in mind, doesn’t matter what activity you’re doing whether you’re walking, hiking, running, outdoor training or cross training in the gym – YOU NEED A GOOD PAIR OF SHOES! A new pair of shoes will cost you far less than an injury in the long run. So, in need of a few tips to consider?

  1. AGE. If you wear your shoes almost everyday for some sort of moderate activity,it is encouraged to replace them yearly. What I like to do is have a few different pairs for training (2-3), and rotate them around. This can extend the shoe life and forces your feet to adjust to different kinds of support. Shoes, (just like how our bodies adapt to exercise) adapt to footwear too!
  2. ACTIVITY. With your activity type – consider what, where, when and how. What type of activity are you doing? If you are doing low impact exercise like stationary weights, then you may be able to replace your shoes less frequently (2-3 years). But if you’re doing HIIT exercises and lots of bound and plyometric type workouts then you need to be replacing more frequently, just as much as your running shoes. Where do you workout? Outdoors or indoors? Shoes will take a heavier beating from the concrete and rocky trails than someone who is exercising indoors at a gym. How long and how often do you workout? If every workout is a 2 hour one and you workout everyday, then the cushion will wear a lot faster than someone who only works out for 30 min or someone that only trains x3 a week.
  3. TREAD WEAR. You must be inspecting the bottom of your shoes regularly for cracks and tread wear. If you own a newer pair of shoes, it’s easy to see wear by comparing the shoes. You may also notice you wear the tread harder in certain spots. For example if you are someone who supinates their foot (when your weight rolls onto the outer edges of your feet) to compensate for your hips, you would see your midsole will wear out first. Once you see that spot is worn on that shoe – then you know it’s time to replace your shoes!
  4. HOW THEY FEEL. If you start to notice abnormal pains or aches in your feet, legs, knees, hips or back after a workout it could be a sign that you need a new pair of shoes. It would be likely that you would get friction or blisters in odd places. This could mean the shoes have stretched and your feet are sliding. Your body will tell you when it’s time so it’s important to pay attention to the signs.

Why Taking A Holiday Benefits Your Training

So, it turns out that one of the best things you can do for your next fitness goal is to take some downtime and try something completely different like mess around with different types of sports, keep workouts short or even try a different activity like hiking, rollerblading with a friend or skiing. All coaches know and encourage this. Cyclists, soccer and football players take a serious break after every season to let the mind and body recover.  But you don’t have to be a pro to need a break. Everyone benefits from easing up now and then, setting aside out gym and sports routines precisely so that we can return stronger than ever. 

Your body has only a certain bank account of adaptive energy. It will keep responding to training for only a certain period of time before that bank account goes into the red. What we really do in hard workouts is apply a stimulus that elevates our heart rate, breaks down muscle fibers, causes the adrenal glands to secrete the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and generally tells out body that the status quo wont cut it anymore. The “getting fitter” part — the body’s response to that stimulus — comes afterwards. While you eat and rest, the body gets to work repairing tissue damage, strengthening the heart and other muscles, restoring depleted fuel reserves and getting better at transporting oxygen throughout the body, making itself a little more efficient and stronger than before. Then we go out and do it again. 

By training carefully and modestly – stressing the body to stimulate change, and then letting it recover and adapt- we stack up these little adaptions one on top of the other until we find ourselves fit enough to run a marathon, lift a heavier weight or play the best footy game of our adult lives. The problem is that we usually don’t completely recover between workouts. Some of the fatigue stays with us, gradually accumulating during long periods of intense training. Even as we get fitter and fitter, the mechanisms of recovery and adaption begin faltering, putting us at risk for chronic exhaustion, difficulty sleeping and loss of motivation.

The secret to optimal performance, therefore, is to take a break long enough to let all signs of fatigue disappear, it’s essentially a recharge point for those adaptive mechanisms, but not long enough to lose all of your current fitness. As for how long that break should be, it depends on how hard you’ve been working out, but one month is PLENTY for most nonprofessionals.

Taking a long break doesn’t mean getting overly friendly with the couch – you don’t wait to fall completely out of shape, and you certainly don’t want to add KGs that will be hard to shed later. But steer clear of anything remotely resembling a training plan, don’t consider lung- busting interval workouts, and most of all stay away from your primary training/ sport. Instead look for other sports/ active training that either build up some attribute useful in your main training or keep you in similar shape but with a different mental focus. Taking away that thing you love can really reinforce how much you love it, helping to bring back that motivation, otherwise, training feels like a job!

Holiday Workout

It’s likely that your hotel gym or room won’t have the necessary poundage to allow you to smash personal bests. Therefore – try and take the time off and deload. If you are like most lifters, you wait for life to tell you to deload and you could probably do with a week or two off. Regardless of what people tell you, you won’t become catabolic and shrink to the size of a pre-pubescent boy (or girl). In fact, you’ll probably come back stronger and more determined post- holiday. 

By selecting 4 compound exercises (that either target all the same muscle or a plethora of different ones), a rep scheme, and a time limit. Density circuits work great when you only have body weight to work with. For example:

  • Bodyweight Squats x 30
  • Push ups x 20 
  • Elevated Hip Raises x 10 
  • Mountain Climbers x 40 

Repeat as many times as possible in 10 minutes- resting as necessary.

Cauliflower, Paneer & Pea Curry

 Ready in less than an hour, this easy, vegetarian curry recipe made with pan-fried Indian cheese and vegetables is also cheap to prepare
Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 Min
Cook: 45 Min
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 225g pack paneer, cut into cubes
  • 1 head of cauliflower broken into small florets
  • 2 onions thickly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 heaped tbsp tikka masala paste
  • 500g carton passata
  • 200g frozen peas
  • Small pack coriander, roughly chopped
  • Basmati rice or naan breads, to serve
  • Raita or your favourite chutney, to serve

METHOD

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the paneer and fry gently until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the remaining oil and the cauliflower to the pan, and cook for 10 mins until browned. Add the onions, and a little more oil if needed, and cook for a further 5 mins until softened. Stir in the garlic and curry paste, then pour in the passata and 250ml water, and season. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 18-20 mins or until the cauliflower is just tender.
  2. Add the frozen peas and crispy paneer to the pan and cook for a further 5 mins. Stir through most of the coriander and garnish with the rest. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread, raita or your favourite chutney.