Summer is well and truly here, which means it’s the perfect time to exercise outdoors! Outdoor workouts are great because you can bathe in the glorious sunshine and reap the extra health benefits of the vitamin D exposure from the rays - just make sure you wear plenty of sun cream!
The Sundried Summer Workout can be done anywhere outdoors and doesn’t require any equipment so you can do it whenever the mood strikes. Maybe in your garden, while the kids play, or maybe in the park in an open space. Always remember to warm up properly before a workout and stay hydrated by always having a water bottle with you.
The first round is a small circuit comprising of 5 exercises. Aim to complete each exercise for 60 seconds with no rest. If you are a beginner or you have an underlying injury, take it at your own pace and rest whenever you need. If you want more information on how to do an exercise, click or tap the name of the exercise.
The second round is based on a Tabata style of HIIT training. HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and is a great way to burn fat and get fit. Tabata consists of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, and you can repeat that as many times as you like with as many different exercises as you like. In this workout, you'll be completing 8 rounds (1 round = 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest) to last 4 minutes with all different exercises. Go straight from one round to the next until you are finished.
Your final round is based more on body-weight strength training. You don't need equipment to have a good workout! Complete 3 sets of 10 reps on each of the following exercises with 30-60 seconds of rest in between each one. This is a full body workout which will target every muscle group. Take the exercises slow and perform each repetition with care, focussing on the muscle under tension.
Well done for completing the Sundried Summer Workout!
On completion of this workout, you should really be feeling the effects. If not, you can either work harder or make the exercises tougher. Remember, exercise is supposed to make you feel good about yourself, and you should fuel your body with nutritious food afterwards. If you find a particular workout boring, don't make yourself suffer by doing it. Find something you love, and you will find that staying fit has never been so easy.
We often go for the traditional approach to exercise and stick to the tried and tested methods. We jog, run, cycle, weight train and so on, but have you ever thought of trying something new?
Fitness crazes are something we are used to seeing come and go because people can’t help but invent new ways to do things. A lot of sports just modify themselves slightly and create a craze that sticks. Spinning, for example, has become a massive hit and a great way to keep fit.
So what else is there as an alternative for those who want to shape it up?
Hula hooping is a great way to get fit as it raises your heart rate, improves your cardiovascular performance, and will strengthen and tone your core, arms, legs, and back. If you'd like to know more about hula hooping, check out our ambassador Emma Barrett who does hula hooping full-time!
Pole fitness classes have gained a lot of popularity recently as a new way to get in shape. They are a fun and social way of getting fit as well as strong as it is very hard work! Pole fitness will improve your balance and coordination as well as your cardiovascular fitness and it's a great way to spend the evening with your friends. Pole fitness is suitable for both men and women.
If normal yoga isn't enough for you, then you may want to try aerial yoga. By supporting your body weight on an aerial sling, you will be able to achieve yoga poses and deep stretches in a more relaxed way. One of the primary features of using a yoga hammock is its ability to take pressure off the spine and joints as you practice stretches and positions with the support of the sling.
Ballet dancing is classically a great way to keep in shape but it takes a lot of discipline and a lifetime of practice. A ballet barre is a straight bar attached to the wall which ballerinas use to support them while they practice and hold demanding isometric movements. Isometric holds are exercises that you do while not moving (think of the plank.) A modern barre workout is one that has been adapted to suit modern gyms and uses weights and yoga poses to help you achieve a better posture and more toned physique.
Trampolining is another gym-based workout that is gaining a lot of popularity. Using mini-trampettes, these classes are high intensity and fast-paced meaning you are bound to work up a sweat! This is a fairly specialised workout so your local commercial gym may not offer it, but if you go on the look out you will be able to find a gym nearby that offers this type of class. Check out this video of a trampolining class in action!
Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable and it is worth exploring some alternatives whenever you can. The body gets used to the same type of training very quickly, so if you do the same thing at the gym every day you will stop noticing any changes in your fitness and physique.
Fitness testing and assessment is an important part of training. There are many different ways of testing your fitness and strength, with some better than others. The dreaded bleep test at school is a classic example of a fitness test and is still used in policing today. Nowadays, chances are your smart watch can track your fitness for you, with many of the newer Garmin watches providing VO2 max testing as well as lactate threshold testing. But you don't need an expensive watch to track your fitness! We've put together some of the best fitness assessments around, why not give one a try and see if you're where you want to be?
The VO2 Max test is a very popular fitness test among runners and triathletes as it is a universal indication of cardiovascular fitness. VO2 max is a rating of your body’s ability to consume oxygen. This is affected by factors such as how adapted your muscles are to exercise and how much blood your heart can pump.
This is the classic scene that you have probably seen in films and TV shows many times.The most accurate VO2 max tests take place in laboratories, whereby participants are given an oxygen mask to wear while running on a treadmill with their effort getting progressively more intense. Oxygen intake is monitored and VO2 max is the point at which oxygen uptake stops increasing. The units of oxygen are then measured per kg of bodyweight and a VO2 max score is calculated.
It is possible to do a VO2 Max test yourself outside of a laboratory. You can do this at the gym on a regular treadmill, all you will need is a stopwatch and a calculator.
How To Perform A VO2 Max Test
- Warm up on the treadmill for 10 minutes by walking and jogging at a gentle speed.
- The test begins at a speed of 8km/h (5mph) and an incline of 0%.
- Start the stopwatch and begin jogging.
- After 3 minutes, adjust the treadmill incline to 2.5%, and then keep increasing by 2.5% every 2 minutes thereafter.
- When you are unable to continue, the test stops.
- Make a note of your time.
- Once you have your time, use the following equation to calculate your VO2 Max:
VO2 Max = (Time x 1.444) + 14.99
Time is calculated in minutes and fractions of minutes, so for example, 13 minutes and 15 seconds would be 13.25 minutes, 13 minutes and 30 seconds would be 13.5 minutes and so on.
Whilst many new smart watches provide VO2 max readings, these are only estimates, as they don’t take into account the measure of ventilation, oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air. While they may be a useful guess, don’t get caught up by the value you’ve been given.
What Does Your VO2 Max Score Mean?
Once you have your score, you'll want to know what it actually means. Use the table below to see how your score rates.
Age Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior 13-19 <25 25 - 30 31 - 34 35 - 38 39 - 41 >41 20-29 <24 24 - 28 29 - 32 33 - 36 37 - 41 >41 30-39 <23 23 - 27 28 - 31 32 - 36 37 - 40 >40 40-49 <21 21 - 24 25 - 28 29 - 32 33 - 36 >36 50-59 <20 20 - 22 23 - 26 27 - 31 32 - 35 >35 60+ <17 17 - 19 20 - 24 25 - 29 30 - 31 >31
Age Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior 13-19 <35 35 - 37 38 - 44 45 - 50 51 - 55 >55 20-29 <33 33 - 35 36 - 41 42 - 45 46 - 52 >52 30-39 <31 31 - 34 35 - 40 41 - 44 45 - 49 >49 40-49 <30 30 - 32 33 - 38 39 - 42 43 - 47 >48 50-59 <26 26 - 30 31 - 35 36 - 40 41 - 45 >45 60+ <20 20 - 25 26 - 31 32 - 35 36 - 44 >44
As you can see, the higher the reading, the better.
Top VO2 Max Scores
These athletes achieved the highest VO2 Max scores in the world. How does yours compare?
VO2 max (ml/kg/min)
Espen Harald Bjerke
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Skiing
Tore Ruud Hofstad
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Runner
Sit and Reach
The sit and reach test uses flexibility as a basis for judging your level of fitness. The test measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings. Tightness in this area is associated with lumbar lordosis, forward pelvic tilt, and lower back pain.
How To Perform A Sit and Reach Test
- Warm up for 10 minutes by doing dynamic stretches.
- You will need a box, a marker, and a ruler/tape measure.
- Sit with your legs outstretched and your feet flat against the front of the box.
- Place the marker (it can be anything, a rubber is probably best) on top of the box at the edge closest to you.
- Keeping your legs dead straight, lean forwards and push the marker along the box as far as you can using your fingertips.
- Once you have pushed the marker, measure how far it went.
What Does Your Sit and Reach Score Mean?
The Vertical Jump Test
The vertical jump is a measure of fitness through explosive power in the legs. The test is really simple to complete, to set up all you need is a wall and a tape measure. Start by getting the participant to stand next to the wall and stretch their closest hand up as far as they can and make a mark of this point. This is the standing height. The participant then leaps as high as they can in the air and touches the wall at the highest point of their jump. The distance from the start point to the highest point is then measure as your score. Take the test 3 times and take an average for the most accurate results.
What Does Your Vertical Jump Score Mean?
Males (height in cm)
Females (height in cm)
Cooper Run Test
The Cooper run test is one of the most popular fitness tests used to determine aerobic endurance. It is also used as part of military training, with different scores being required to make the different role entry requirements. The test lasts just 12 minutes and participants are required to run as far as they can for the entire duration. The test can also be used to measure VO2 max using several equations (in ml/kg/min) from the distance score (a formula for either kms or miles):
VO2 max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29
VO2 max = (22.35 x kilometers) - 11.29
What Does Your Cooper Run Score Mean?
Very Good (metres)
Male: 2700m +
Male: 2800 +
Male: 2400 +
Female: 2200 +
The Bleep Test
The bleep test is a classic and is often used in school lessons. The test involves 20m shuttle runs from two marked points. The aim is to reach the cone before you hear the bleep. As the test continues, the frequency of the bleeps increases, with the time between getting shorter and shorter. The test requires a recording of the bleep and the score is then measured depending on how many rounds you last.
What Does Your Bleep Test Score Mean?
11 - 13
10 - 12
9 - 11
8 - 10
7 - 9
6 - 8
5 - 7
4 - 6
Whichever test you decide to do, don’t just do it once and leave it at that. In six weeks time, hit it again, and see if your score has improved. Fitness tests are a great way of monitoring your progress and seeing if your training is actually working. Fitness tests make goals measurable and give you a benchmark to aim for. Do you have any other fitness tests that you enjoy doing to measure your fitness?
We are almost all guilty of being chronic sitters. In fact we spend on average 8.9 hours a day sat down in the UK. The result is slumped shoulders, arched backs and poor posture, but functional training can fix that. Knowing the right corrective exercises can help you to improve and even correct your posture.
Effects of poor posture
Posture helps stabilise the spine and prevents back pain and fatigue. When the back is straight, the spine is supported by stabilising muscles. As you slouch or practice other methods of poor posture, your spine no longer has the support it needs to stay balanced which can lead to health problems.
Poor posture causes aches and pains. In an ideal world your spine is in neutral alignment and your muscles support your frame, however as we fall away from this alignment, the muscles have to over extend or contract to try and keep the spine stable and protected. This then leads to tightness and fatigue. The major muscles which suffer the effects of this are the Rectus Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, Erector Spinae, Splenius and the Multifidus. This is why aches are not limited to the lower back, but can also be felt in the neck and shoulders.
Curvature of the Spine
A more serious effect of poor posture is the development of a spinal curve. Naturally your spine should resemble a soft “s” shape, however poor posture can cause this to become exaggerated. When bad posture becomes a habit, pressure on the spine builds and slowly but surely, the curves in the spine change position. Once its position has changed, the spine's ability to achieve what it’s designed to do - absorb shock and keep you balanced, is significantly reduced.
A change in the spinal curve can cause subluxations. A subluxation is a partial misalignment of the vertebra which can become a major issue. One affected vertebrae can then affect the integrity of the entire spinal column. The knock on result of this is that spinal nerves can then become stressed and irritated.
Blood Vessel Constriction
Poor posture changes the alignment of your spine, the resulting movement and subluxations can cause problems with blood vessel constriction. The constriction of the blood vessels around the spine can cut off blood supply to the cells of the muscles, which can then affect their nutrient and oxygen supply. Blood vessel constriction can also raise your chances of clot formation and deep vein thrombosis.
One of the most common side effects of bad posture is nerve constriction. As the spine changes in shape, the resulting movements or subluxations can put pressure on the surrounding spinal nerves. The nerves that connect to the spine come from all over the body and when pinched can not only cause neck and back pain but may also cause pain in other unrelated areas of the body.
How can you fix your posture?
Tight hip flexors often occur as a result of extended periods of sitting and can cause shortening of the muscles. Tight hips can also lead to a restricted range of motion and discomfort around the lower back muscles, joints and legs.
Functional corrective exercises: Corrective exercises for tight hip flexors would include lots of dynamic movements to strengthen the hips, making sure to mobilise this normally static muscle group. Tight hip flexors will restrict your range of motion for a good squat, so try warm up exercises to activate the hips before you step into a squat rack.
Exercises may include:
- Standing donkey kicks
- Cross body leg swings (these could be banded or performed with a cable attachment)
- Yoga moves such as the “Open Lizard Stretch” or “Pigeon” or “Butterfly” stretch
Internally Rotated Shoulders
Typically it’s those with office jobs who tend to suffer from internally rotated shoulders the most. This is because you’re sat leaning over a computer and extending the arms to type. This causes a craning of the neck and pain around the top of the neck and shoulders and can also result in weak chest muscles. In order to correct this, we need to strengthen the chest and perform exercises which retract the shoulders.
Exercises may include:
- Cable flyes - Always opt for standing over seated when trying to train functionally. Sitting is not functional. Strengthening the chest will help to push your shoulders back and improve your posture, as the chest muscles are reactivated.
- Rotator cuff exercises such as a lawn mower pull - A lawn mower pull requires you to pull a band or cable from the ground, across the body and up to the shoulder joint, retracting your shoulder.
This is caused by... wait for it… you guess it, too much sitting! Sitting completely deactivates our largest muscle group and can cause weak, tight glutes. This can often lead to sway back and an overextended pelvis.
Exercises may include:
- Deep sumo squats - These will activate the glutes and fire up the hip flexors, taking a wide (sumo) stance also enables you to get lower into the squat, activating more of the glutes and training the abductors.
- Multidirectional lunges - Multidirectional lunges are great for reactivating tired glutes as you fire up the muscles in multiple planes of motion, you should complete a lunge on each leg at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock.
As well as targeting areas which have suffered the effects of too much sitting, we can also stretch to prevent these tight zones in the first place or be more active throughout the day. A great way of doing this is EHOH, an initiative designed to prevent the dangers of sitting, where every hour on the hour, you get up and do a mini workout routine, stretch your legs and move your body about to prevent the dangers of sitting.
Doing cardiovascular exercise is proven to improve your lung capacity, heart health, as well as aiding weight loss. Many people do not enjoy doing cardio and some don't do it at all. But which is the best type for you?
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)
Low Intensity cardio is accessible to most people as you do not need a high level of fitness to begin with and you can easily incorporate it into daily life by going for a walk. Low intensity cardio exercises include things like walking, climbing stairs, or going for a gentle bike ride. These types of exercises are low impact and typically performed at around 40% of your maximum heart rate, which makes them easy to recover from and therefore can be performed on a regular basis. You probably won't break a sweat doing this type of cardio so you could do it on your lunch break at work. Bodybuilders often prefer this type of cardio as it is less likely to break down muscle tissue but can still help you drop body fat.
Benefits of LISS:
- It is low impact so you can still do it if you have a minor injury or have limited mobility.
- You won't break a sweat so you can fit it into your daily routine without having to plan around it.
- It doesn't break down muscle tissue so you can still improve your strength while dropping body fat.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training sees you working very near 100% of your maximum effort for short bursts with short rests in between. This type of training can help to improve your VO2 and cardiovascular fitness very quickly and is proven to aid weight loss. This type of cardio is not suitable for those who are pregnant or those who have injuries. You need a fairly high level of fitness to start with otherwise you will end up feeling very sick!
Benefits of High Intensity Cardio:
- Boosts Metabolism for up to 24 hours.
- Increases VO2 max.
- Shorter workouts are great for those who lack a lot of free time to train.
- Increased Lactate Threshold. Your ability to handle increased lactic acid buildup in your muscles increases.
Do you have to do cardio to burn fat?
The only way you can lose weight is by eating a calorie deficit. This means burning more calories than you are eating. While you don't need to do cardio to burn fat, it certainly helps! There are so many other benefits to doing cardio other than just weight loss, so it is definitely an important part of a healthy lifestyle.