• 5 Body Weight Exercises To Add To Your Workout Routine

    plank push up gym workout fitness

    You don't need weights to get great results as body weight exercises can be hugely effective. Add these 5 bodyweight exercises to your workout routine to boost the burn and ramp up your results.

    1. Lunge Kickthrough

    If you want to torch your legs without doing squats, this is the move for you. This exercise will target every muscle in your legs from the glutes to the calves and can even target your core if you do it correctly.

    Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Step back into a lunge on one leg, making sure you bend the knee at a 90 degree angle and keep your chest proud. Using your arms for balance, bring that leg forward and instead of placing it back on the floor, kick it in front of you. Really squeeze your glutes as you kick and then step straight back into a lunge on the same leg. This will also test your balance! Complete 10 reps on one leg and then swap to the other.

    lunge leg workout fitness gym

    leg exercise home gym workout fitness sport

    2. Two-Footed Jumps

    Not only will this exercise tone your legs, it will increase your power and therefore help your sports performance. This is a full body exercise utilising your arms, core, and legs to achieve the best result. It will also work your cardiovascular system and help to improve your lung capacity and VO2 max.

    Mark your starting point with something; this can be anything from a jacket to a towel to a water bottle, anything you have nearby. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Slightly bend your knees and draw your arms behind you. Jump forward with both feet as explosively as you can. Once you land, shuffle back to your marked starting point. Jump as far as you can and try to beat it each time. 

    3. Pull Ups

    This is a classic exercise that will be found in all good strength training routines and is well-loved by those who do callisthenics, CrossFit, and free running. This is an upper body move and will target your lats and shoulders mainly with a little of the core being hit too. 

    Place your hands wider than shoulder width on a bar and dangle your body so that your feet don't touch the ground. Pull your entire body weight up until your chin goes over the bar. Pull your elbows in and tighten your lats. Breathe out as you pull up to assist in the movement. If you cannot complete this move unassisted, have a friend hold your legs to help you or use a resistance band

    pull ups

    4. Plank Get Ups

    This is a killer exercise which is perfect at the end of your workout. It will target your shoulders, triceps, core, and chest. It is a mix between the classic plank hold and push ups and will really test your strength both physically and mentally.

    Start in a push up position with your wrists under your shoulders and your feet slightly wider than hip width. Lower yourself down onto your forearms one arm at a time, then push yourself back up onto your hands, again one hand at a time. Keep your core squeezed tight and don't rock your hips as you move. Complete as many reps as you can in 30, 45, or 60 seconds. 

    the plank exercise push up core abs strength

    5. Back Extensions

    The posterior chain refers to the muscles down the back of your body, from your hamstrings to your glutes and into your back. This is a really important set of muscles to work as they will help keep your posture correct and can often be neglected during a workout. Back extensions are the perfect way to really target your posterior chain and help to tone your legs and butt as well as reducing back pain.

    Start by laying on the floor face down with your fingers by your temples. Keeping your eyes looking at the floor and your elbows high, lift the upper part of your body off the floor. It will feel quite tough and you might not be able to move very far, but really squeeze through your back and glutes. Take the reps slowly and really focus on every movement. 

    back extensions posterior chain glutes workout fitness

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Summer Scorcher Workout To Melt Fat And Increase Fitness

    beach workout summer fitness

    As summer approaches there's always more pressure to lose the excess pounds and look your best for beach trips and holidays. Try this summer scorcher workout which is guaranteed to burn tons of calories and get you fit for summer.

    How it works

    This is a type of circuit workout, but instead of doing each exercise for a certain amount of time, you do a set number of reps and use a stop watch to time how long it takes you to complete the entire workout. Once you've completed it, try it again the following week to see if you can improve on your time!

    For the first exercise, you do 10 reps. Then 9 reps for the second exercise, 8 reps for the third, then 7 reps, 6 reps, then 5. After the 5 rep exercise, you go back up; so you do the 6 rep exercise again, then 7, then 8, 9, 10.

    You can rest whenever you need and for as long as you need. The point is to keep doing the workout each week and improve your fitness so that after a while, you don't need to rest as much (if at all!) and can smash through the workout in a much quicker time than your first attempt. 

    The exercises

    This is a complete full-body workout and will target every part of your body so that you get great all-round tone while also working your lungs and heart to improve your fitness and burn maximum calories. This workout includes some weighted exercises and some body weight exercises. All of these exercises can be done at the gym or at home, so long as you have dumbbells and a kettlebell at your disposal. 

    10 reps - Dumbbell Burpees

    For this exercise you will need a pair of dumbbells in a fairly light weight. Anything from 2kg to 6kg will be plenty. Hold one dumbbell in each hand, bend down so that they rest on the floor, then jump your legs back while still holding the dumbbells in place. Jump your legs back in and stand up with the dumbbells still by your side. As you stand fully upright, push both dumbbells to the ceiling and then return to your starting position. That's one rep. 

    9 reps - Jumping Lunges

    Drop into a lunge on one leg, then jump into a lunge on the other leg. Use your arms to help with balance and momentum and make sure you keep good form on each and every lunge. One rep is a lunge on each leg, so you will do 18 lunges in total.

    8 reps - Kettlebell Swings

    This exercise is a classic and for good reason, it works the back and core while also targeting the legs and arms. Use a heavy enough weight and you'll be feeling the effects in your lungs and heart too!

    Start by holding a kettlebell with both hands in front of you. Bend your knees and swing the kettlebell between your legs and then up above your head. You can swing it high than eye level, but shoulder-level is safest, especially if you are a beginner. Keep the movement controlled throughout and do not let the kettlebell pull your shoulders forward as it swings down each time. Keep your back straight and your core tight. 8 reps!

    7 reps - Jumping Squats

    This exercise will target all parts of your legs and give you great tone and definition while also challenging your cardio fitness. Drop into a squat, then as you come up, jump as high as possible. Keep your ankles and knees flexible and try to make the movement as fluid as possible. As with the jumping lunges, use your arms for momentum and to help with balance.

    6 reps - Inch Worm With Upright Row

    To start this exercise, place your kettlebell on the floor in front of you, keep it the same weight as you used for the kettlebell swings. Bend your legs and pick up the kettlebell while keeping your chest up and looking ahead. Stand up and pull the kettlebell up to your chin, keeping your elbows high and squeezing your upper back.

    As you lower the kettlebell, put it back down on the floor, then - keeping your feet firmly planted - walk your hands forward along the floor until you are in a press up position. Then, walk your hands back in and pick the kettlebell back up. This is 1 rep.

    5 reps - Burpees

    Enjoy the pain!

    Once you've done these exercises, go back up the ladder, so after the burpees do another 6 inch worms, then 7 jumping squats etc. 

    Your time

    Compare your times to get an idea of how you did!

    Beginner - a beginner will do well to finish inside 20 minutes

    Intermediate - someone with intermediate fitness would do well to finish between 10-15 minutes

    Advanced - someone who trains regularly should be able to complete this workout in under 10 minutes

    Elite - an elite athlete should be able to complete this circuit in under 5 minutes

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Resistance Band Workout

    resistance band workout stretching gym exercise Sundried

    Resistance bands are a great way to get a workout in wherever you are. You don't need expensive equipment or even a gym membership, just a resistance band and your body weight. Follow this resistance band workout with exercises for arms and legs for a full body workout that will get results.

    What are the benefits of resistance bands?

    There are many benefits to using a resistance band to workout. They are very convenient and portable so you can take them with you wherever you go for an outdoor or home workout. You could even take your resistance band on holiday to keep your fitness and strength ticking over while you're away.

    Body weight exercises are great, but adding resistance will really ramp up your workout and give you better results. By using a resistance band you can increase the return on your workout and get better results in a shorter time. They are not only great for strength workouts, but also for lower intensity training like stretching and physio.

    Resistance band exercises for legs

    Using a resistance band when you train your legs can not only strengthen the muscles but also the joints and supporting muscles which will lead to better balance and reduced risk of injury. Try some of these resistance band exercises for the legs and feel the burn!

    Side Raises

    Place the resistance band around your ankles and stand square with your hands on your hips. Find your balance on your left leg and lift your right leg out to the side as far as you can. Make sure you keep your foot facing forwards and squeeze from the hip. Repeat 10 reps on each leg.

    Donkey Kicks

    With the resistance band still round your ankles, this time squeeze your bum and lift your leg out behind you, keeping the leg straight. This will really challenge your glutes and hamstrings as well as working your core. Do 10 reps on one leg then swap and do 10 on the other.

    Glute Bridges

    Lie on the floor and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. With the resistance band just above your knees, lift your back off the floor and squeeze your bum into the air. Keep your arms and hands flat on the floor and use them to help push you up. Keep your knees out and push them against the resistance from the band. Do 10 repetitions.

    Banded Squats

    This is a great exercise if you've got flat feet or if you struggle with your squat form. Place the band just above your knees and make sure you use a fairly light weight. Drop into a squat, but keep your knees pushed outwards against the resistance of the band the entire time. You'll notice that they want to cave in, so stay strong. You'll realise how much you need to use your glutes to fire you back up, and this will highlight any muscle weaknesses. Try 3 sets of 10 reps.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • The Benefits of Joining A Running Club

    Flyers Southend Running Club

    It can be hard to stay motivated when running solo. Cold winters, shin splints, boring playlists... sometimes getting up and out can be the hardest part. So what about joining a running club? Have you ever thought about it? What are the benefits, and are there any drawbacks?

    Companionship

    Running alone can be dreadfully lonely, especially on the long winter nights when you find yourself plodding along for 10 miserable miles. But who said running has to be boring? If you join a running club, you'll be among like-minded people who may be training for a specific event or just out for a fun jog with their friends. You'll meet people from your town who you may never have met otherwise, so it's a great opportunity to make friends. 

    Motivation

    There's been countless times that I've set out for a run but ended up turning back after only a mile or two because it's too cold or I'm too tired or my legs hurt too much. But if you're running with a club, there is much more motivation to keep going. You can chat to your running buddies to keep your mind occupied and you can explore new routes, which will be covered in the next point.

    New Routes

    When I run, I'm very guilty of always going the same way, which can get very boring after a while. I'm not very adventurous with my runs because I'm never too sure of where will be safe to run, or if the route will even have pavement the whole way along. I certainly never bother to drive out to a run location; I always start and finish at home. But by joining a running club you will be encouraged to try new routes that you would never have even dreamt of before. The best part is that the distance will already be tried and tested so all you will have to do is turn up and run! You may experience runs through woodlands or off-road for the first time which is a great added bonus.

    Safety In Numbers

    Running alone, especially in the evening, can feel a little unsafe. Running with a club means you will be a lot safer in all aspects as there will be so many people running alongside you. Traffic is also more likely to stop to let you cross the road if there is a large number of you, so your run will be less interrupted if you are running on busy streets or in a city.

    Doors to other events

    Before I joined a running club, I never even thought about running a race or joining the local Parkrun. By being a member of a club, you will end up being motivated to train for events such as 10ks and half marathons, which are always more enjoyable when you have comrades to cheer you on. Feeling part of a team is a fantastic feeling. 

    Choosing the right club

    There may well be more than one running club in your town or city, so choosing the right one is fairly important as they are not all the same. In my town for example, we have one club which is free of charge to be a member of and it is very much a relaxed group of people who love to run for fun and eat cake afterwards! There is another club which is on the other end of the spectrum, who take running very seriously, so they motivate each other in a very different way. This club has an annual fee, however being an affiliated club means you get cheaper entry to races so after a while your fee should pay for itself. Run Together has a list of nationwide running clubs, or doing a simple Google search will provide you with local clubs around you.

    Parkrun Running Club Get Fit Outdoors

    Parkrun

    If you don't feel ready to join a run club just yet, why not try Parkrun? This weekly event is a 5k run held in your local park (you can find your closest Parkrun here) It is a growing community, with hundreds of participants showing up each week at each location! It is completely free of charge and you can be of any ability, many people just walk the course. It's great for those trying to improve their running as it is chip timed so you get an official finish time every time you turn up and run. The atmosphere is incredibly supportive and it will allow you to meet like-minded people from your local area who are all there for the same reason - to get fit and enjoy the process!

    So what are you waiting for! Let's get running!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • What Is A Healthy Lifestyle?

    How to live a healthy lifestyle work stress exercise workout

    We often read about living a healthy lifestyle and there are countless 'lifestyle bloggers' making a fortune from advocating this way of life. But what actually is a healthy lifestyle? And how can you live a healthy lifestyle?

    Why is having a healthy lifestyle important?

    A healthy lifestyle is all about the choices you make regarding your daily habits. Do you slump on the sofa and eat an entire packet of biscuits when you get home from work or do you go for a run and eat a healthy dinner? These daily choices determine whether you're healthy or not, and can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Not only will you feel better mentally, living a healthy lifestyle will lower your risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases meaning you are physically healthier too.

    The benefits of living a healthy lifestyle

    • Reduced risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases
    • Improved mood and brain function
    • Improved work performance and concentration
    • Better self-confidence and happiness
    • Improved appearance due to better quality skin and hair
    • Improved relationships
    • Reduced frequency of minor illnesses such as common cold
    • Improved immune system

    How can I live a healthy lifestyle work running happy

    How can I change to a healthy lifestyle?

    Diet

    Probably the most obvious thing to address when changing to a healthy lifestyle is improving your diet. For a lot of people, the first thought is to make a complete overhaul and take extreme measures such as doing a detox or following an extreme diet. However, this is not a viable or sustainable way of changing to a healthy lifestyle. Consistency is key, so you need to make your changes for life and make sure you get into daily healthy habits that you can stick with long term. Take control of your diet by learning about macronutrients and how counting them can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

    Eating a snack or a treat every now and then is also part of living a healthy lifestyle, as a restricted diet is not healthy and not sustainable. Balance is important, so make sure you don't remove entire food groups from your diet.

    One way to improve your diet is by going vegan. This can be fairly extreme, so make sure you do your research first, and it certainly isn't suitable for everyone. Find a healthy diet that works best for you and your unique needs and you'll be well on your way to having a healthy lifestyle.

    • Eat plenty of protein
    • Limit unhealthy foods but still allow a treat from time to time
    • Limit processed foods
    • Cook from scratch wherever possible
    • Do not take extreme measures to lose weight

    Drinks

    When changing to a healthier diet, many people tend to neglect what they drink and focus only on what they eat. You could be drinking lots of sugar in your drinks if you enjoy branded soft drinks, and there are even worse health effects associated with drinking large volumes of alcohol. If your lifestyle currently consists of going out drinking with friends every weekend, or drinking regularly as part of your daily routine, this is not healthy. In order to change to a healthy lifestyle, you will need to reduce or even eliminate altogether the amount of alcohol you drink. There are many benefits of giving up alcohol or even just drinking less, such as better skin, reduced risk of cancer, and improved mood. Not to mention no more hangovers!

    • Limit sugar drinks
    • Limit energy drinks
    • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
    • Drink more water

    Drink hydrate healthy lifestyle

    Sleep routine

    Third in the pecking order of living a healthy lifestyle after diet and drinks is sleep. If you have poor quality sleep or do not get enough each night, your health will deteriorate quickly and you will have a poor quality of life. The average healthy adult should aim for an absolute minimum of 6 hours each night, but 8-10 hours is optimum for healthy brain function and performance. 

    Not only is it important for your daily functions, sleep is important for recovery too. If you do a great workout at the gym or go for a long run or cycle, having a good night's sleep is vital for recovery so that your muscles can grow and your tissue and immune system can stay healthy. 

    Not getting enough sleep is not the only unhealthy habit you may have; the quality of your sleep is important too. If you sleep with a television or music on, this is not conducive to a good night's sleep and it will mean your hormones are negatively affected. If you are continuously awoken throughout the night by loud noises, a baby crying, or a snoring partner, you will definitely suffer from bad moods and lack of concentration the next day. You can track your sleep using a fitness tracker or wearable to analyse the quality of your sleep and see if you are constantly being disturbed throughout the night. Getting a good 10 hours of high quality sleep every night is key to living a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, you cannot 'catch up on sleep' at the weekend - you have to be consistent!

    • Try to get 8-10 hours sleep every night
    • Don't try to catch up on sleep at the weekend
    • Get into a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time 7 days a week
    • Eliminate disruptions to your sleep by not sleeping with television or music on

    Work habits

    We spend a lot of our time at work, so your healthy lifestyle needs to translate into the office as well as at home. If you can, try to work out while at work, as working out at work can help prevent health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. If you sit at a desk all day, try to get up and walk around every hour and if you have a manual job where you are on your feet all day, make sure you take rests.

    There is lots of advice out there on how to workout at work and it is easier than you think. By following healthy work habits, you will greatly improve your chances of benefiting from a healthy lifestyle.Try to avoid snacking and avoid the temptation of all the unhealthy food in your workplace! Bring a homemade lunch with you each day so that you can control your portions and know exactly what you're eating. 

    • Get up and stay active while at work
    • Avoid temptation by bringing your own food to work

    workout at work sleep routine healthy habits lifestyle

    External factors (family, friends, stress)

    After all is said and done, there will always be external factors that you cannot control and which can undo all your hard work. If your home life is hectic and stressful, there is not much chance that you will be able to live a fully healthy lifestyle. Try to address the things that are causing you to have bad habits, such as grabbing a ready meal because you don't have time to make a healthy dinner or not getting enough sleep because of stress.

    There are ways to manage depression which don't involve going to see a therapist, such as meditating, doing vigorous exercise, and finding a new hobby. All of these are very important for living a healthy lifestyle, and can make a huge difference to your well being. You can manage stress with exercise by going for a long run to clear your head or taking your frustrations out at the gym. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren