• 5 Ways To Get Motivated (For When You Really Don't Feel Like Hitting The Gym)

    gym motivation workout training exercise fitness Sundried

    The energy and excitement of making new year's resolutions and getting fit is well and truly burnt out and the gym is starting to empty out again. How can you stay motivated when all you want to do is melt into the sofa and eat? We're here to help. Follow these tips to boost your motivation when it feels like there's no hope.

    1. Partner up

    If you have someone to let down, you'll be less likely to flake. Having accountability means you have more of a reason to get to the gym and it will be more hassle to have to text your friend or personal trainer to say you're not going and then get an earful from then than to just go. Plus, you'll know that once you're there you'll have a great time because training with a buddy makes training more bearable

    2. Get changed

    How many times have you been sat on the sofa watching TV after work telling yourself "I'll go in a minute" or "I'll go when this show is finished" and then it never happens? By getting changed into your activewear you're getting the ball rolling and getting into the right frame of mind to work out. Once you're changed into your sportswear you're already halfway there and will be much more ready to get out there and go train. 

    3. Take your gym gear to work

    If you go to the gym straight from work, you won't have a chance to talk yourself out of it. If you pair this with point number 1 of partnering up and telling your friend you'll join them at the gym, you'll be well on your way to success. Get changed at work and go straight to the gym instead of going home first. It's much harder to gee yourself back up once you're home from work than if you continue the momentum from your day at the office. 

    4. Have a workout to look forward to

    There's nothing worse than finishing a monotonous day at work and thinking about now having to go and run on a treadmill for half an hour while staring at a wall. By planning out a fun and exciting workout, you'll actually want to go to the gym and do it. Try circuit training or functional training to mix things up and talk to a personal trainer if you'd like to try something new like Olympic weightlifting or CrossFit. If you're dreading the workout, getting motivated can be impossible. Whereas if you're actually looking forward to it, exercising can be a joy instead of a chore. If you enjoy something like Zumba, sign up for a class! Group exercise can be a great way to stay motivated too.

    5. Use the 10 second rule

    If you find yourself making terrible excuses like "it's raining" or "I'm too tired" then use the 10 second rule. It's very simple: count to 10 and then go anyway! This will eliminate your mind telling you that you can't do it and 9 times out of 10 you'll find that you actually enjoy the workout and will be pleased that you went.

    Articles related to getting motivated:

    The Benefits of Joining A Running Club

    How To Exercise When You Have Kids

    7 Ways To Make Winter Training More Bearable

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Couples Valentine's Workout

    couples valentines workout

    Happy Valentine's Day lovebirds! If you're not going out tonight, why not try this couples workout with your loved one or even just a best friend? Training with a partner is a great way to increase motivation and to bond with someone too.

    Lunge with Med Ball Pass

    This exercise will torch your legs as well as your core and will require teamwork and co-ordination!

    Stand next to your partner, both facing the same way. One of you holds a medicine ball or slam ball. Both lunge forward at the same time. Hold your arms out as straight as possible to work your core hard and twist your entire torso to face your partner. Make sure to twist from the waist to work your abs and keep your core tight. As your partner takes the ball, both of you step back to your starting position. Now repeat this by lunging forward on the other leg and receive the ball from your partner. 

    Try to stay synced up with your partner and stay in a good lunge as you pass the ball between you. Repeat exercise for 30 seconds if you're beginners or try 60 seconds if you're already fairly fit.

    Press Up with High Five

    This exercise is great for your shoulders and core and will really help create a rapport and bond with your partner. Make sure you don't slap each other in the face!

    Both adopt a press up position facing each other. Both drop into a press up at the same time, then at the top, both using your right hand, high five each other. Drop into another press up and then high five with your left hands. 

    If you cannot do full press ups, you can do them from your knees (it doesn't matter if one partner is on their toes and one is on their knees). Try to stay co-ordinated and make sure the press ups are good quality. 

    Plank Jump Throughs

    This one can be great fun to do together and will really test your trust! This will work your core but also acts as cardio as you will be jumping.

    One partner adopts a plank position with their legs wide apart. While partner one holds this position, partner two jumps between their legs. There should be three jumps: outside the left leg, between both legs, and outside the right leg. Try to do two-footed jumps to get the most out of this exercise. You will need to jump your legs high so that you don't trip over your partner!

    Do this exercise for 30 seconds and then swap positions. If you are more advanced, try it for 60 seconds.

    Burpee with Med Ball Pass

    Now we're really increasing the intensity! Burpees are an excellent full-body exercise and will get your heart racing for all the right reasons this Valentine's Day!

    Stand facing your partner and hold a medicine ball or slam ball. Throw the ball to your partner who then throws it straight back and drops into a burpee. As soon as they stand back up, throw them the ball again and as soon as they throw it back they do another burpee. Repeat this for 30 seconds and then swap roles.

    This is a high intensity exercise and requires team work and co-ordination. Make sure the throws to your partner are good ones so that you can keep the movements streamlined without dropping the ball. To make this exercise harder, stand further away from each other and see how far you can go. 

    Partner Russian Twists

    Our final exercise will target your abs and really finish you off in style.

    Sit on the floor next to your partner, fairly close to one another. Adopt the classic Russian twist position by balancing on your seat bones, lean back, and hold your legs and feet off the floor. Pass a medicine ball or slam ball between you and really over-exaggerate the twists to work the abs properly. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Make Your Own Energy Gels & Bars For Endurance Training

    endurance athlete running marathon

    If you're an endurance athlete, you'll know how expensive it can be to buy countless energy gels and bars for long training rides, runs, and races. A great alternative is to make your own, as this is more economically sustainable and also means you know exactly what is going into them.

    Trail Mix

    One of the easiest things to make for an endurance event is trail mix. As is hinted in the name, trail mix was originally developed for long hikes as a source of energy which is easy to make and suitable for carrying long distances. The great thing about trail mix is you can put whatever you like best into it and leave out anything you don't like.

    Trail mix is usually made up on granola, oats, nuts, seeds, and even chocolate. If you want more protein, add more seeds and nuts into your mix. If you feel you need a larger sugar boost, add more chocolate, and if you feel you need lots of carbs to keep you going, bulk out your recipe with more granola and oats.

    There is no right or wrong way to make trail mix, and tasty additions can include dried coconut curls, banana chips and dried fruit.

    trail mix hiking outdoors endurance activity

    Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

    Another easily portable and tasty snack to keep you fuelled on a long endurance trip is a granola bar. Branded bars can set you back quite a lot even though they're easy to make, so why not make you're own? Try our homemade no-bake granola bar recipe for your next run or ride.

    Ingredients

    • 100g oats
    • 30g butter
    • 25g sugar
    • 50g honey or agave nectar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • a pinch of salt
    • 40g flaked almonds
    • 30g raisins
    • 20g chocolate chips

    Method

    • Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4.
    • Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with baking parchment leaving about an inch sticking over the top.
    • Put the oats and almonds on a small baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring them around occasionally. Put to one side.
    • Combine the butter, honey, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.
    • Pour the butter mixture into a bowl and add the toasted oats and almonds. Mix well.
    • Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes then stir in the raisins and half the chocolate chips.
    • Transfer the mixture to the lined pan and press down so it's even. 
    • Scatter the remaining chocolate chips over over the mixture and gently press them into the top.
    • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.
    • Pull the baking parchment up so that the block of granola comes out of the tin in one piece then slice into bars.
    • Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. If you prefer soft bars, keep them at room temperature or for slightly harder bars, store them in the fridge.

    homemade granola bars trail mix sugar energy

    Energy Gel Recipe

    If you prefer something less bulky and solid for your training, then energy gels are for you. Making your own is easier than you'd think and can save a lot of money!

    Ingredients

    • 130g brown rice syrup (this can be expensive, but there are cheaper versions available in most supermarkets)
    • 70g barley malt syrup (again, opt for the ones you find in the supermarket)
    • 35g coconut oil
    • 35g smooth peanut butter (make sure it's an organic version with no sugar, salt, or palm oil added)
    • a pinch of salt
    • 60 ml hot water

    Method

    1. Place a glass jar in a saucepan then fill the saucepan with water so the jar is a little more than half immersed.
    2. Mix together all the ingredients except for the hot water and put them in the jar.
    3. Warm the mixture over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently until it’s runny and well combined. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
    4. Add the hot water to the jar, stir, and shake vigorously until well combined and no separation occurs. Allow to cool completely
    5. Fill gel containers as needed for workouts.
    6. Store extra gel in the jar with a lid in a cool, dry place.
    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Set Fitness Goals

    goal setting fitness goals weight loss workout strength

    If you want to make progress with your fitness or weight loss, you need to have a goal. Otherwise, how will you measure your progress and know that you've succeeded? We take a look at how to set fitness goals and importantly, how to achieve them. 

    What is a SMART goal for fitness?

    The most common and successful way to set a goal for fitness (or for anything for that matter) is to create a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and with a Time frame. By creating a SMART goal, you will avoid making unrealistic and unspecific goals which may not be achievable, and will help you to create an excellent goal that will get you where you want to be. By creating a SMART goal you are almost guaranteeing yourself success and you will be able to better assess your progress as you go.

    CrossFit clean and jerk goals smart fitness weightloss

    What is an example of a long term fitness goal?

    There are two types of goal: long term and short term. A short term goal is one which you aim to achieve in a relatively short space of time, perhaps within 3 months. A long term fitness goal is one which you will continue to tweak and work on progressively for an extended period of time, such as 1-3 years. 

    An example of a long term fitness goal would be to go from being overweight to completing a marathon in 3 years. You would need lots of short term goals in between, such as completing a couch to 5k programme, successfully completing a 10k, a half marathon, losing an amount of weight, eating better etc. By creating short term goals, you break down the long term goal and make it far more manageable. This will aid your chances of success and keep you focused and motivated the entire time. 

    SMART goals for weight loss examples

    Having the goal to 'lose weight' is far too broad and you are very unlikely to succeed in it. There is no time frame so you won't know when you've achieved it, and there is no measurement so it could go on indefinitely as your weight fluctuates up and down. An example of a SMART goal for weight loss would be:

    "I will lose 10kg in 6 months by running 3 times a week and going to the gym twice a week. Once I have achieved this goal, I will treat myself to a new set of activewear in a smaller size."

    This is an example of a SMART goal as it is very specific, it is measurable because you can weigh yourself each month to make sure you're on track, it is achievable as that is a healthy amount of weight to lose in that time, it is realistic, and it has a time frame of 6 months. It even includes a reward at the end for extra motivation.

    Examples of SMART goals for strength training

    Another example of a bad goal is to say 'I want to tone up'. This is extremely vague and ambiguous and you are unlikely to ever achieve it. An example of a SMART goal for strength training would be:

    "I will increase my squat weight from 30kg to 50kg in 3 months by following a strength training programme and lifting 4 times a week."

    This SMART goal is specific as it includes specific weights, it is measurable as you can measure the weights you use and keep track by writing down your progress each week, it is achievable, it is realistic as that is not a crazy amount of weight to increase by in the time, and it has a time frame of 3 months. You will know for sure if and when you have achieved your goal and can therefore be proud of yourself once you have accomplished it.

    strength training workout goals fitness smart

    How can I achieve my fitness goals?

    Staying motivated can be tough, especially for those who have made a fitness goal as a new year resolution. One of the most important things when trying to achieve a fitness goal is consistency. If you start going for a run every morning but then can't maintain it and stop after 2 weeks, you will never achieve your goal. You need to start gradually and make fitness a part of your every day lifestyle. By adding an exercise regime into your daily routine, you will be able to stay consistent and have a better chance of succeeding. Sometime it just takes sheer willpower and determination, so remember why you started and have an end goal and incentive in mind. Perhaps it's buying yourself new fitness clothing or taking yourself on a spa day, whatever it is, it could help you to stay on track and stay focused. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 3 Ways To Test Your Fitness

    ways to test your fitness tests vo2 max sundried

    If you've been training hard since the new year but not sure whether you're getting fitter, you need to do a fitness test. But there are so many out there, which one is best? We take a look at 3 different fitness tests as a way to track your fitness.

    The Astrand Treadmill VO2 Max Test

    This test is fairly advanced and is good for people who are already fit and active and would like a quantitative assessment of their fitness that they can compare to others. This VO2 Max Test is a universal test, so you could have all your friends or club members do it and compare your results.

    For this test, you will be jogging on a treadmill. Start with the treadmill at a gradient of 0% and a speed of 8km/h. After three minutes, increase the incline to 2.5% (keep the speed the same throughout the entire test). After another 2 minutes, increase the incline by another 2.5% and repeat every 2 minutes until you cannot run anymore. Write down the time you finish. 

    In order to get your results, input your time into the following equation:

    (Time x 1.44) + 14.99

    For example, say you are a 35 year-old male and you make it to 15 minutes and 15 seconds. That is 15.25 minutes, so you would calculate:

    15.25 x 1.44 = 21.96

    21.96 + 14.99 = 36.95

    Therefore, your VO2 Max would be 36.95

    To find out how your score stacks up, use the following charts:

    Female

    astrand treadmill vo2 max test results

    Male

    male astrand vo2 max test score results

    So our example 35 year-old male who got a score of 36.95 is at a 'fair' level of fitness. He could follow a training regime for a number of weeks and then repeat the test to see in clear numbers if his fitness has increased or not.

    This test is fairly advanced and is not suitable for pregnant women, those who cannot run, or those with health conditions.

    Chair Sit Test

    Dr Michael Mosley has been making waves recently with his BBC programme 'The Truth About Getting Fit'. In his programme, Dr Mosley showed one way you can easily test your fitness in the comfort of your own home and it's suitable for people of all ages. The test simply asks how long it takes you to sit down in a chair and get back up again 10 times. Men under 35 should be able to do it in under 10 seconds, with women under 35 aiming for under 12 seconds. Men aged 35-55 should be able to do it in 13 seconds with women aiming for 15, and people over 55 should be able to do it in under 19 seconds. 

    This is obviously a very broad and unspecific test, but if you live a sedentary lifestyle and are looking for somewhere to start, this is an easy test to give you an idea of where you stand.

    chair sit test the truth about getting fit bbc sundried fitness

    Vertical Jump Test

    Our final test is different yet again. This time, we are testing the power in the legs, which is another great way to test fitness. If you want to be fit all-round, you need to have strength, power, and stamina. The vertical jump test is very easy and you only need one thing: a measuring tape.

    Stand next to a wall, and jump as high as you can while reaching upwards. Have a friend mark the wall where you managed to touch, and then measure the height. This is your score.

    vertical jump fitness test score result

    Why is it important to do fitness testing?

    There are several reasons why you may want to do a fitness test. You may feel like you live a healthy lifestyle, but there is no way for you to know for sure until you do a fitness test. If you live a largely sedentary lifestyle, your health could be at risk, so doing a fitness test could help to determine whether you need to get more active.

    For those who are already very active, doing a fitness test is a great way to see if your training and hard work is paying off and you are actually progressing. If you see that you are not, you will know to change up your exercise regime so that you do get fitter.

    Of course, it always depends on your goals, so make sure you set some goals first before you embark upon a fitness journey. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren