• How To Improve Your Coordination (And Why It's So Important)

    Have you ever wondered why your friends can dance so much better than you? Or why you sometimes trip over your own feet? Do they throw you things and you always drop them? It's most likely because you have reduced proprioception.

    balance coordination

    Proprioception is your awareness of your own body and movements. Improving your proprioception can help improve your balance, coordination, and make every day tasks easier. It could even improve your confidence and mental health as you will feel more at home in your own body and more in control of your life.

    So do you want to be able to execute an awesome catch when your friend throws you something or move with more confidence? Try the following exercises to improve your proprioception and see if it could help improve other areas of your life too.

    football catch hand eye coordination proprioception

    Perform exercises and daily tasks with your eyes closed

    Have you ever noticed that balancing on one leg is much harder when you close your eyes? When you close your eyes, you lose the visual cues that your brain is used to so it has to work harder to balance. With your eyes closed, you are forced to become more attuned to your surroundings and you will be able to practise controlling your body and your movements.

    If you practise daily tasks with your eyes closed (sensible options only please, no cutting or chopping with sharp knives in the kitchen!) you will find that your brain can connect more closely to your muscles and you will be able to improve your coordination and proprioception.  

    Learn a dance routine or try a group exercise class

    Dancing is one of the best ways to improve your coordination and proprioception because it involves the entire body and requires the brain to coordinate every muscle group at once in a required sequence. If you think you have two left feet, try learning and practising a specific dance routine every day – you'll be surprised how quickly you improve!

    Similarly, participating in a group exercise class can have a similar effect as you will be copying what the instructor is doing and commanding your body to move in the same way. This is great practice for improving your coordination and you'll be getting super fit at the same time!

    Zumba group exercise coordination dance

    Practise catching with one hand

    We all have a dominant and less dominant side. It can be useful to improve the coordination and abilities of the less dominant side, such as practising catching with your left hand if your right-handed (and vice versa). Catching a ball with one hand specifically improves your hand-eye coordination which refers to the way your hands react to what your eyes see. If you miss the ball, it might be because you are closing your fingers too fast or not fast enough. By practising this exercise, you can train your hands and eyes to work together better and in turn improve your proprioception and hand-eye coordination.

    catching a ball with one hand

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Learn How To Do A Handstand | Easy Beginner Handstand Guide

    how to do a handstand easy beginner guide

    For many people, holding a handstand is the ultimate sign of fitness and strength as well as being fun to practice and satisfying when you get it right. But it is a difficult move, so how do you train for it and how do you hold a handstand for a long time? Read our guide to find out!

    How do you train to do a handstand?

    Mastering a handstand is like mastering any skill; it takes a lot of time, practice, and patience. You will need to work on your strength, especially in the upper body and core, by doing other exercises and workouts, which will in turn help you to get better at holding a handstand for a long time.

    One of the main muscles used when holding a handstand is the core. Your core (or abs) will be holding your legs steady and keeping you balanced. Do plenty of core workouts and ab exercises to strengthen this part of the body to help you stay balanced and hold your perfect handstand.

    As well as your core, your upper body will be holding your weight so you will need to be strong in this area. Do upper body strength training as well as body weight training to train your upper body muscles such as your shoulders so that they are strong enough to hold your weight.

    handstand practice technique how to

    How do I practice a handstand at home?

    Practising a handstand at home is easy and you have lots of options. The best way to practice a handstand at home is by using a straight wall that you can kick up against. By allowing the wall to support your feet and legs, you can get used to the feeling of being upside down and holding your weight on your arms. You might find this quite taxing, so practice holding a handstand against a wall for a few minutes each day until your upper body gets stronger.

    Once you find holding a handstand against a wall easier, you can try kicking up near the wall, but not letting your feet rest on it unless absolutely necessary. Hold the handstand yourself for as long as possible, then let your feet rest against the wall. Again, practice this for a few minutes each day until it gets easier. Then you should be ready to practice holding a full handstand!

    If you have someone that can help you, another option is having someone hold your feet for you. This can be very helpful as they can adjust how much support they give you until they are barely supporting you, but still giving enough that you don't fall back down. Practice this a few times each day, with your supporter loosening their grip each time until you are used to the feeling of holding your own weight.

    CrossFit training bodyweight workout handstand push up

    How do you do a controlled handstand?

    The secret to doing the perfect handstand is maintaining it for a long time and keeping it controlled. It may seem like it just takes practice, however you also need to have strong core muscles and good balance. These are both things you can work on to improve your handstand technique and keep it controlled.

    The best way to do a controlled handstand is to take your time and use your muscles to support you, rather than kicking your legs up wildly and hoping for the best. Breathe slowly and focus on your muscles working, keep everything tight and control that handstand!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Beginner Jump Rope Workout And Skipping Guide

    Beginner Jump Rope Workout Skipping Guide

    Looking for a quality skipping rope? Buy the Sundried Skipping Rope for £20 with free delivery.

    Skipping is a fantastic way to get fit and stay fit, even when you don't have access to a gym or even the outdoors. It's compact and can be done anywhere – indoors or outdoors. Skipping will raise your heart rate, improve your fitness, and tone your body. Read on to find out how to skip properly and try our beginner skipping workout to get started.

    Is Skipping A Good Form Of Exercise?

    Skipping is a fantastic workout and can burn up to 10 calories per minute if done at a high intensity! In order to get skilled at jumping rope, it's important to practice and to break it down into sections.

    Let’s start with the jumping. When most people start skipping for the first time they jump too high, just going for it and doing what feels natural without any knowledge on proper technique. But skipping too high is not efficient for a workout and will leave you unable to skip for longer than a few seconds.

    When skipping, the key is to not actually jump. Wait, what? That’s right! If you change your mindset about what your feet are doing, it becomes a lot easier. Instead of jumping, think about doing a calf raise. Practice doing it without the rope to start: raise your heels so that you are on the balls of your feet, and then lower yourself back down using your calf muscles. You’ll soon realise there’s a reason why boxers have such defined calves! You may need to increase the strength and stamina in these muscles before skipping feels easy. Take your time and enjoy the process.

    Once you’ve practised a few times without the rope, try applying this technique with the rope. You should only come a few centimetres off the floor on each bounce. Keep your ankles loose and feel the balls of your feet flex. See if you can keep it up for 30 seconds without stopping.

    Your Arms

    After your feet, what you do with your arms is the most important part of skipping. Hold the handles near the rope-end as this is the most efficient and will allow the rope to swing better. Keep your wrists loose, and your elbows close to your hips. It is a very subtle movement; you do not want to be swinging your whole arm, just a slight movement of the wrist. It will be tempting to tense your arms and lock them by your sides, so try to relax from the shoulder.

    Your Posture

    This moves us onto your posture. Make sure you are standing tall, with your shoulders pulled back and down, and your core and glutes tight. The key to skipping is to relax! If you are skipping for the first time in a gym or a public place, it may be a little daunting, and you may worry about tripping in front of everyone. Let go and have fun and try not to take it too seriously, at least while you are starting out. The looser and more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to trip over and you are less likely to incur an injury.

    Is Skipping A Good Cardio Workout?

    Skipping is a surprisingly demanding cardio workout! If you are skipping for the first time as an adult, you will be shocked by how out of breath you get on your first try! Don’t let this deter you, take your time. If you are new to fitness altogether, then you may wish to just skip in 20-30 second bursts. If you are a seasoned gym-goer, then skipping for intervals of 60 seconds may be more for you. Try our skipping workout plan and see what works for you! Or create your own jump rope routine. Supplement your skipping with leg exercises and mobility drills so that you do not get injured, especially if you are not used to exercising. Skipping has the fantastic benefit of being great for weight loss and by adding skipping into your existing gym routine you can expect to burn up to 10 calories a minute.

    Where To Jump Rope

    Where you choose to do your skipping is important too. If you are skipping outdoors, try to avoid jumping on concrete as this can be harsh on the joints. Skipping on softer tarmac or grass will be better. If you are indoors, avoid carpet as this can make the rope more likely to bounce which can cause you to twist your ankle. Hardwood floors are the perfect surface on which to jump rope.

    How Long Should You Jump Rope For A Beginner?

    When I first got back into skipping as an adult, I was really put-off by the fact that I couldn’t do it well. I saw lots of people in the gym skipping with ease and doing neat tricks so it deflated me somewhat that I was finding it so hard. But don’t let this be the case! After only a few sessions my technique improved hugely and skipping started to feel a lot more natural. Take your time, enjoy it, and maybe even let us know how you get on by leaving a review of the Sundried skipping rope on our website!

    Beginner Skipping Workout

    Day 1

    Skip for as long as you can, rest for 60 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes.

    Day 2

    Skip for as long as you can, rest for 45 seconds, repeat for 7 minutes.

    Day 3

    Skip for 20 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes.

    Day 4

    Gym cross-training - leg, ab, and back exercises

    Day 5

    Skip for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes

    Day 6

    Skip for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 10 minutes.

    Day 7

    Rest

    Read more about Skipping on the Sundried Skipping page.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Improve Your Swimming Fitness & Technique – 2 Week Training Plan

    how to improve swimming technique fitness

    Looking to start swimming? Return to swimming and improve? We have provided an easy-to-follow 2-week training plan that will help your fitness and technique. Drill demonstrations are included. Just watch, print and take to the pool.  One of the best things you can do is take a session to the pool to help you accomplish more, swim further, and feel like you completed something worthwhile.

    Download your 2-week training plan here

    How important is technique when you are learning to swim?

    Swim technique is harder to change later in life so the fewer mistakes made earlier when learning, the more effective you will be later in your swim career.

    If you've never had swimming lessons/coaching, does this necessarily mean you will have poor technique?

    Swimming is highly technical and not easy to change, even for advanced swimmers. It is actually an illogical and counter-intuitive movement and we naturally want to fight the water, so to get proper swimming technique right without instruction can be very hard. Some people are naturals but it is rare. On the upside, this means there is lots of scope for big improvements with some guidance.

    Can you teach yourself better swimming technique?

    This is not the easiest since most people struggle to imagine what they are doing right and wrong while in the water since it is such an alien environment. You can watch good technique, read good technique, even picture good technique in your mind but this is rarely translated into correct movements performed. Most of your swimming stroke happens behind you so you can see how hard it is to get it right. Video analysis can be a great help to narrow the disparity between what you think you are doing and what you are actually doing.

    What are the main benefits of having a coach to help you improve?

    They will be the eyes you need to guide you and describe the mistakes you make. They will help translate the technical points you might be misinterpreting into fluid swimming movements.

    Which stroke is the hardest to master and why?

    They all have their complexities but perhaps Butterfly is the most difficult due to the very specific timing issues; if your timing is out, you will struggle to take in air. There is also no slow option for Butterfly such as there is with the other strokes. An amount of momentum is needed for it to work and this can be tiring.

    Butterfly swim technique stroke advice guide how to improve

    What are the benefits of good swimming technique? Does it improve fitness as well as performance?

    Good technique will exhaust you less than swimming with poor technique, so you can do more of it at a steadier pace. The fitness benefits are well documented but until the mechanics of your strokes are efficient, it will be hard to do much more then a few lengths. You are also less likely to injure yourself if the correct movements are made with the correct muscles.

    If you've never thought about technique before, which stroke should you start with and why?

    Front crawl and Backstroke are perhaps the two least tiring if done well. Backstroke removes the need to time a head turn, allowing for air to be taken when you want so could be considered an easier starting point. Front crawl can create concerns since to do it well you need to put your face in the water. Depending on fitness levels and starting point, Breaststroke might appear simple but done well is highly technical. Confidence, the ability to relax, and timing of the breath should be early aims regardless of stroke.

    Are there different techniques you should employ for pool swimming versus open water swimming and why?

    Swim movements do not necessarily need to change due to being in open water, but you will need to add in a method for sighting and looking where you are going. If you are swimming in a wetsuit, this will impact body position so we might take into account this change but legs still kick and arms still pull.

    Read our expert wetsuit buying guide here

    open water swimming technique wetsuit guide

    What do you think is most important and why: stroke technique or breathing technique? Or do you need to have everything working together to swim effectively?

    The two are inextricably linked. Controlled breathing allows you to swim relaxed with a stroke that can be reproduced over and over again. Swimming well with good technique allows you to breathe when you want. On dry land, breathing is not an interrupted stop/start function due to only being allowed a short window of opportunity to inhale when swimming. In the water, until you have better control of your swim technique, your stroke will dictate when you get to take a breath and that can only lead to further frustration.

    What is your top technique advice for:

    A swimming novice: Swim more frequently but perhaps for shorter periods. Tremendous gains can be made if you reduce the amount of time ‘unlearning’ between swims.

    A swimming enthusiast: Work with a coach. Huge gains can be made for modest changes to your swim technique.

    An experienced, high level swimmer: Check progress by performing some specific, reproducible swim sets each 6 weeks or so. Measure if you are getting faster, fitter or swimming further. Add some accountability to your swimming. It might help get you to the pool on those days you are not so keen to go.

    Technique Pointers

    Tips for breast stroke

    • A symmetrical leg kick is important as propulsion comes from the legs returning together and pushing water backwards.
    • Tuck the chin into the chest, head down, as you drive the hands forwards to keep narrow and streamlined

    breaststroke advice swimming technique coach how to improve

    Tips for front crawl

    • Arms pulling with the palms facing the bottom of the pool send you upwards not forwards. Check the palms are facing the wall you are swimming away from.
    • 90% of the people I see need to reduce the size of their leg kick. It is a far smaller movement at the hips than most imagine. 

    Tips for back stroke

    • Your head must remain still with your chin kept high, otherwise you will snake down the lane with your hips sinking (if your chin is low).
    • This stroke needs a stronger leg kick than most imagine, helping support the body and keeping the body position high.

    Tips for butterfly

    • Breathe as low as possible to the water when the head lifts. The mouth just needs to be clearing the water when the head comes up for air. Excess height sinks the legs.
    • Attempt 2 kicks to one arm cycle, most ‘general butterfly’ in public sessions involves 1 kick to 1 pull which usually has you swimming ‘uphill.’

    About the author: Dan Bullock has been coaching since 1990, holding qualifications with the ASA, BTF, ASCA and the World Open Water Swim Association. Dan’s accolades include being National Masters Open Water Champion frequently since 2008, Former British AG Record Holder for 800m Front crawl and a European & World Masters medalist.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • How Do I Wash Lycra Cycling Gear?

    Claire Steels Duathlete Cycling

    Taking care of your sportswear is very important, especially if it has special active technology and was expensive to buy. Follow this guide so that you never ruin another pair of cycling shorts again!

    Get A Mesh Laundry Bag

    Especially when it comes to pro bib shorts, parts getting caught in the machine is definitely something you want to avoid. Putting your cycling gear in a mesh laundry bag will mean it won't get caught on the spindle, and it also means that the zip on your jersey won't cause any damage either. Always wash your cycling gear separately from your other laundry. If you don't have the time or means to get a mesh laundry bag, a pillow case does the job too.

    Wash Cool

    Make sure you wash your Lycra gear on a cool setting of 30 degrees or below. Most machines will have a button where you can change the temperature. Also make sure the spin cycle isn't too aggressive and that it doesn't go on for too long. An extra rinse can help to make sure the material stays fresh, and an extra spin at the end will speed up the drying process. I recommend a temperature of 30 degrees, spin cycle of 1000, and duration of 30-40 minutes.

    Sun Dry

    Never put your Lycra cycling gear in a dryer! Hang it up and let nature take its course. It shouldn't take too long to dry, and this will ensure it stays premium quality for as long as possible.

    Claire Steels Duathlete Team GB Cycling Jersey

    Posted by Alexandra Parren