While most people are putting away their bikinis and short shorts and getting the woolly knit out, for anyone who trains this means putting the vests away and getting the base layers out; winter training begins!
Transitioning from summer training when the days are longer and brighter, you can wear a vest and shorts, and generally feel more energetic to colder, darker nights when you would prefer to just go home to a hot meal and a blanket can be tough, so here are a few tips to help keep your training on track.
The saying "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" is one of my favourites, because how true is that? Planning your week's training helps you stay on track. I ask my PT clients each week what their training schedule is for the week, then make a conscious effort to ask them each day how it went. It's all too easy to say that you'll go to the gym tomorrow and then skip the session. Make a weekly planner like mine below, set your alarms, and pack your bag the night before. Having something written down makes it real.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday S&C Legs S&C Back and Biceps Teach Spin Watt Bike Teach HIIT Long Run Rest Day Boxing Watt Bike Core Core Teach Spin Core Run Club Teach Spin S&C Upper Body
By planning your workouts, you are being accountable to yourself, because no one likes to see skipped workouts crossed off the calendar. Also, if you train with someone else you don’t want to let them down. Tell people what you are doing, and you’ll find they will encourage you more than letting you slip into the chunky knit!
Take the training inside
Used to running or cycling outside? There is no reason why you can’t keep your stamina and energy levels up during winter. The only time I don’t run outside is if it is raining, as due to injury I cannot chance slipping on a leaf. So the treadmill helps! At the gym where I work we also have a 'skill mill'. This is a self-propelled treadmill which is shaped like a banana. It is much more natural to run on as it replicates running outside. I mix it up by running intervals. By turning the resistance up to its highest, it replicates a prowler. My current plan is below:
- 5 mins warm up jog, halfway resistance
- 2 min sprint, low resistance
- 2 min prowler, heavy resistance
- Repeat x 10
- 5 min cool down walk
When it comes to cycling, this one is easy. I teach 3 spin classes a week, but also am a big fan of the Watt Bike. This feels more natural than an upright bike and you definitely get a big workout on it! There are workouts on the Watt Bike app, or I tend to log into my Zwift app and follow one of their plans.
Who doesn’t love shopping for sportswear? It’s the perfect excuse to get some winter kit to make you warmer and more visible outside. These are my winter activewear essentials:
Buff (for neck or ears)
Buff (I wear 2, one round my neck and one under my helmet)
Get a Personal Trainer
Think of the money you are saving by not sitting in the pub beer garden with a cider! You could be putting your beer money towards keeping you motivated during winter.
Most personal trainers sell sessions by the block which works out cheaper than individual sessions. I tend to run a 6-week kick start course just before Christmas which gets everyone into the mind frame of training and eating better before the festive period.
Speak to a trainer about what your goals are. They will keep you accountable and it is their job to keep you motivated! If you were to have 1 session a week it could cost you around the same as your week's worth of coffees that you grab on the way to work.
‘Summer bodies are made in the winter’
We've all heard it, but it is true! You might want to swap your water for a hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream, but think about your reason 'why’. As a personal trainer and nutritionist, I’m a believer in moderation. I don’t advise cutting anything out of your diet, unless it is detrimental to your health.
I tend to eat well during the week, but I always order a pizza on a Saturday night. My Christmas tipple? Baileys Irish Cream! I don’t deprive myself, but I factor it in when I am training and ensure I do an extra few squat jumps or an extra kilometre run. In the past, I have found that if I completely deprive myself, I get ‘hangry’ and start to resent everyone who is tucking into their selection boxes while I am trying to convince myself that this yogurt is equally as satisfying.
So if you want the chocolate bar, have it, if you want the glass of wine, have it. Just don’t talk yourself out of going to the gym to burn it off!
About the author: Emma Vincent is a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and Sundried ambassador.
We are forever being told we need to get fit and the question on everyone's lips is 'how do I get fit?' We look at what it means to get fit and all the ways we can get there. Your go-to guide for all tips to get fit.
What's Covered in this post
- How long until I get fit?
- How long does it take to get unfit?
- Could you be fit and fat?
- What is fit?
- Testing VO2 Max
- Cardio respiratory fitness
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Body Composition
How long until I Get Fit?
This question is one that most people will ask at one time or another, especially if they are keen to lose weight, tone up, and are working hard to achieve this. We all want to know when we’re going to see results, but unfortunately there is no clean cut figure which we can place on our fitness. We can, however, predict general patterns, though it is important to consider that everyone’s starting level of fitness differs and therefore so will the duration of time it takes to get fit.
Asking how long it will take to "get fit" is a difficult question to answer as it is not quantitative; there is no template to say what is and isn't 'fit'. Results can be seen as little as a few days, but typically it takes a few weeks for your body to adapt to new stimuli, whether that’s diet, training, or both. This is why if you don’t see results in the first week, you shouldn’t feel disheartened.
Typically, the most measurable results follow after a minimum of 6-8 weeks. There is a common saying that it takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.
The best way to determine how long it will take you to get fit is by setting fitness goals. You can also undertake fitness testing by doing physical fitness tests like a VO2 max test. There are other ways to test your fitness such as the sit and reach test or Astrand treadmill test.
Testing VO2 Max
Your VO2 max is an indication of how much oxygen your body can uptake during exercise. You can do several gym-based tests to determine your VO2 max. Alternatively, smart watches such as the Garmin Forerunner 235 running watch can calculate your VO2 max based upon your performance whilst wearing the watch. If running is not your thing, the Wattbike also calculates your VO2 max based on your performance during cycling.
Time trial Ideas
Time trial inspired fitness rulers are great for those who lack the technology to test VO2 max, as they are accessible to all. One example could be completing as many reps as possible of an exercise, for example burpees, in 2 minutes, or running a particular distance and measuring the improvement in time. Remember those awful beep tests at school? That’s just another fitness test and let’s face it you probably pushed that bit harder not because your PE teacher was shouting at you, but because there was an opportunity to beat your mates at something.
How long does it take to get unfit?
According to Dr. Edward Coyle, director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas, in highly-trained athletes, VO2 max decreases by 7 percent in the 12 to 21 days after stopping training and another 9 percent during days 21 to 84.
So after just 3 weeks of inactivity, your fitness could decrease by up to 20%.
VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
Can you be fit and fat?
Being thin on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit or healthy on the inside. Whilst getting fit should be about maintaining the ideal weight for your height, it’s possible to have a healthy BMI and be unfit. You have to work at your fitness, it really is a 'use it or lose it' scenario.
“Can you be fit and fat?” was a question posed by Professor Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina. For eight years, Blair and his team studied the health of nearly 20,000 men between the ages of 30 and 83. He put them through complete physical assessments including treadmill tests for cardiovascular fitness and body composition assessments. The results concluded that fitness turned out to be a far more reliable predictor of health and longevity than either weight or BMI.
Unfit men with BMIs of less than 27 had a death rate that was 2.8 times greater than men with BMIs of 30 or higher (considered obese) who were moderately fit.
Blair also published a study on the role that fitness vs. fatness, or higher BMI, plays in women’s long-term health. Among 9,925 women who had been patients at the Cooper Clinic at the Cooper Institute, moderately fit women of all weights averaged a 48 percent lower risk of dying prematurely (from all causes) than unfit women. Highly fit women (those who could walk longest on the treadmill) had the lowest risk of premature death of all, nearly 60 percent lower than thin but unfit women.
What is Fit?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
There are 5 recognised main components for fitness:
Cardio-respiratory fitness refers to how well our bodies can supply fuel during physical activity via our circulatory and respiratory systems. Any activity which increases your heart rate for an extended duration of time will help to improve your cardio-respiratory fitness. Exercising increases cardio-respiratory endurance in a number of ways: the heart muscle is strengthened so that it is able to pump more blood per heartbeat whilst at the same time additional small arteries are grown within muscle tissue so that blood can be delivered to working muscles more effectively when it’s needed. Cardio-respiratory fitness has been found to help ward off the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke, among other diseases.
The US Department of Health and Human Services defines muscular strength as "the ability of muscle to exert force during an activity."
Generally, muscular strength is measured via comparing a person's ability to lift or push a given weight against the ability of the general population to do the same. If a muscle is worked consistently, it should increase in strength.
Related: How To Get Stronger
Muscular endurance is similar to muscular strength, but requires the ability to repeatedly execute strength. What do we mean by this? Whereas with muscular strength luck or adrenaline may push you through a single lift, here it’s how long you can keep going before your muscle tires.
Muscular strength training induces hypertrophy (muscle building), whereas muscular endurance requires a different energy system, which can last for longer.
Body composition refers to the levels of muscle, bone, water and fat that make up your body. Two individuals who weigh the same could have completely different body compositions, which is why there is so much debate whether BMI is accurate as it only considers weight against height.
People with a high muscle mass will weigh more than those who are the same height with the same waist circumference because muscle weighs more than fat. The most accurate way of measuring body composition is through water submersion, and measuring volume and disposition. This is a long, tedious process and for most of us is inaccessible.
There are some smart scales and body composition monitors available on the general fitness market and whilst the accuracy of scales such as these often comes under scrutiny, it still gives the user a good idea of their body composition.
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints. Flexibility can be increased by a variety of activities designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons such as stretching, foam rolling, and yoga.
There are three types of exercise that are generally utilised to increase flexibility:
- Dynamic stretching: the ability to complete a full range of motion of a particular joint. This type of flexibility is used in standard "warming up" exercises as it helps ready the body for physical activity
- Static-active stretching: holding the body or part of the body in a stretched position and maintaining that position for a period of time. One example of static-active stretching is doing the splits
- Ballistic stretching: only to be used when the body is already warmed up and limber from exercise, it involves stretching in various positions and then bouncing while holding the stretch. Some governing health bodies, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, believe that ballistic stretching can cause injuries.
A combination of these 5 elements will make a good overall level of fitness, although some may excel at some principles and not others. Fitness is largely subjective and it is important to balance good fitness and health.
To “get fit”, focus on any of the areas above which are weaker for you personally and work to improve them while also setting goals so that you know if you are making progress.
Having little ones at home can leave you feeling like you don't have a spare second in the day. Between rushing to and from school and picking the little ones up from activities and trying to squeeze in daily errands too, it's no wonder that the average mother only gets 17 minutes of 'me time' each day. So how can you fit in exercise when you have no time? We give you all the tips you need along with with a working mom workout routine for you to try.
How can I find time to workout with kids?
Finding time to exercise as a working parent can feel almost impossible, but it doesn't have to be! Try some of our ideas and see if you can fit exercise into your busy day.
1. Get a training buddy
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to partner up. Whether it's a work colleague, your husband/wife, a friend, or a family member, working out together can make things more fun and interesting. Not only this, but if you have someone to be accountable to and someone who you will let down if you skip your session, you'll be more motivated to get that training session done!
2. Utilise playtime
When it's your child's playtime, get involved and burn some calories! If you have an energetic toddler, run around with them by playing adrenaline-fuelled games that involve running or chasing. If your children are a little older, find games where you can both get active, especially in the garden if it's summer time as there are lots of benefits to training outdoors.
3. Try dancing
Dancing is something that burns a lot of calories, will get you up and active, and can be very fun! If your children are very energetic, put on some music and dance away. This will not only help them burn off that extra energy and get you moving, it can be a great bonding experience.
4. Swap your car for walking or cycling
By combining your errands with exercise, you can make the time to get active without compromising any of your daily activities. Try walking or cycling to the shops instead of driving, or walking your children to school. It may be easier than you think to get around without your car!
5. Exercise before you start your day
By getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual, you could fit in an entire workout and start your day right. There are lots of workouts you can do in under 30 minutes, like this 5-minute punchbag workout, 10-minute tabata workout, or this 20-minute home workout. Even a short workout is better than no workout at all, and it'll energise you for a productive day. If you don't want to get up earlier than you already do, try this lunchtime HIIT workout instead.
How can a stay at home mum lose weight?
There are lots of tips and tricks to losing weight if you are a stay-at-home parent. Follow these dos and don'ts to make sure you're staying healthy while at home with the little ones.
1. Don't eat anything you wouldn't feed to your kids
There are lots of things you wouldn't feed to your children because the salt or sugar content it too high, so why feed them to yourself? A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you wouldn't give it to your child because of the ingredients, you should avoid it yourself too. Stick to whole foods and try to avoid anything overly processed or pre-packaged.
2. Don't snack mindlessly
If you find yourself in a rare moment of calm when your child is playing happily alone or watching a television show, it can be tempting to mindlessly eat food that you don't really need. Avoid temptation by not having snacks in the house, and stick to eating at set times.
3. Do make mealtime an occasion
If mealtime is an occasion to look froward to when you eat together with your kids, you'll be less likely to have an unstructured day. Try to have at least one meal a day together as a family where you sit at a table and focus on what you're eating, rather than grabbing whatever is nearby because you're so rushed off your feet. This might mean deliberately making time for it in your day, but it will be worth it ultimately.
4. Don't eat through stress
Being at home on your own with the kids all day can get pretty stressful. If tempers raise and tantrums ensue, make sure you're not reaching for food as comfort. Comfort eating is something that many of us do without realising and can be an almost impossible habit to break. As above, not having any temptation in the house will help with this and always count slowly to 10 before you eat a snack so that you're not eating it out of a stressed panic.
5. Do make food fun and creative by getting the children involved
Getting your kids to help in the kitchen is a fantastic way to bond and to help them develop vital skills for later in life. Let them get creative by coming up with new recipes and help them with the cooking. If you really want sweet treats, bake cookies or cupcakes together so that you really feel you've earned them and can have fun in the process.
Working mom workout routine
If you have kids at home or are pregnant, try this working mom home workout routine by Sundried ambassador Carly Newson.
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.
From the time I was a teenager, I’ve been a runner. In school, I was encouraged to run the 400 meters by my track coach who always told me I “ran like a gazelle”. As a grumpy teenager this comparison invariably annoyed me, although later as an adult when I saw gazelles in action on a trip to Kenya, I really understood what a compliment it was. As a teen, I just wanted to run short distances like the 100m (which I didn’t have the power or the build for).
But when I hit university, I started distance running. I would strap in my tunes (hugely important part of the process) and run around beautiful rural New Hampshire. I found it hugely relaxing, super addictive, and running became a lifelong habit.
Fast forward to London (middle-aged!) life in 2016, where I was working in a busy creative agency as an art director and producer. I was routinely running about 8-10km before work every morning when I decided it was time to run a marathon. I’m from Boston (USA), so after the marathon bombing in 2013, my very first reaction was that I just had to run Boston. But I somehow never realised it was an elite marathon (you need to hit the qualifying time for your age group in another marathon first). So, no pressure, I decided to run my first marathon with the aim of qualifying for Boston.
Although my fitness has always been pretty good (bar some back issues), I had been hypoglycaemic (and a vegetarian) since I was a teen. Low blood sugar and marathon running don’t exactly go hand in hand so I knew I’d really have to nail my nutrition if I wanted to make it through the training. After a serious look at my diet, I realised (finally!) that despite all the healthy food I was eating (mainly lots and lots of veg), I was getting it all wrong. It turns out, lo and behold, I was ‘protein deficient’. I had a lot of the classic symptoms. I was tired a lot, my hair and nails were always breaking, and my blood sugar was all over the place (aha!).
Short of eating chicken and almonds all day, I needed a way to get more protein into my diet. A lot more protein. I searched endlessly for decent high protein snacks to supplement my diet, but every protein bar/ball I found was packed with sugar. Most were also whey or soy based--I didn’t eat dairy and I was trying to avoid soy (it can disrupt your hormones). And almost all bars I found were really samey, date-based, and despite being full of sugar, didn’t even taste that good. I also ideally wanted a snack that was bite-sized so I could nibble en route to meetings. At work, I was managing up to a dozen campaigns at any one time so eating on the run was mandatory!
I gave up searching for my perfect high protein snack so I decided to make my own—and Nibble Protein was born!
With Nibble, my mission was to create a high protein snack that was not only lower sugar, but low on the glycaemic index, so it would keep my blood sugar stable. Many popular protein snacks use high GI sweeteners like brown rice syrup, which create a blood sugar spike then subsequent crash (which negatively affects energy, mood, concentration, and satiety). With no food industry (or food development) experience, this was going to be a steep learning curve!
Meanwhile, I was hitting my marathon training hard. I had been following Hal Higdon’s legendary training programme pretty religiously. I got up to my 20 mile run (2 hours 37min—hurray!), but on the following run, I herniated a disc in my back. I was out of the marathon and inconsolable. My physio estimated I would have run the Brighton Marathon in 3:20—well within Boston qualifying time for my age group which was 3:45. I was gutted.
So I was out of commission for quite a while, but the upside is it gave me a lot of time to research how to make this elusive snack! I learned everything I could about nutrition, food science and manufacturing and I consulted with anyone who might be able to help including cooks, food scientists and a friend and dietary expert, Gudrun Jonsson, the author of the international bestseller, Gut Reaction.
After making hundreds of batches of nibbles (most of which were in my kitchen), Nibble was finally cracked! We launched with our first retailer, Ocado, in September 2017.
Instead of using dates, Nibble Protein is made with antioxidant-powerhouse, low GI dried plum purée. Dried plums have over 40% less sugar than dates, they’re the food ranked #1 in antioxidant power, and they have a really delicate taste so Nibble flavours really pop. With 1/2-2/3 less sugar than most other snack bars/ balls, each piece contains just 1g of sugar or less. Made with slow-digesting pea protein, all of our award-winning bites are vegan and gluten free.
Inspired by my niece Julianna, our newest range, Nibble Brownie Bites, are still packed with protein (18%) and dried plums, but they taste like naughty, indulgent little brownies. And they come in at under 100 calories a pack. Our Nibble Brownie Bites have just launched in Sainsbury’s “Taste of the Future” bay.
Nibble is available from leading retailers including Ocado, Whole Foods, As Nature Intended, Amazon, and Harvey Nichols. Nibble Brownie Bites (RRP £1.50) can also be found in 69 selected Sainsbury’s (see store finder here).
About the author: Erin Moroney is the founder of healthy snack brand Nibble Protein. She is back running and due to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon next year for Nibble’s charity partner, the Mintridge Foundation. The Mintridge Foundation is a registered charity that helps get kids into sports and wellness. Working with pro athlete ambassadors, Mintridge goes into schools and provides mentoring and training for youths (ages 4-18).