• 3 Ways To Test Your Fitness

    ways to test your fitness tests vo2 max sundried

    If you've been training hard 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
  • Benefits Of Training Outside During Winter

    benefits training outdoors winter

    The weather is certainly feeling colder, but that doesn't mean exercise has to move inside. Training outdoors has lots of great benefits. Sundried ambassador Heather Taylor gives us a list of the extra benefits you gain when exercising outside during winter.

    It’s good for your mind and your body

    A large study found that outdoor exercise is associated with increased energy and revitalisation, as well as decreased confusion, anger, depression and tension, when compared to exercising indoors. Outdoor participants also reported enjoying their workouts more and said they were more likely to repeat them than participants who trained inside.

    It may make you feel better about yourself.

    No need to feel self conscious outside, regular outdoor exercise has been proven to boost your self esteem. 

     Soak up the sunshine benefits (even in winter)

    When the sun hits the skin, it creates vitamin D3 which is important for bone health and metabolic function. Extra exposure to sunlight during the day can also help you sleep better at night, improve immune function, and increase endorphin production. 

    You can burn more calories when you exercise outside

    Resistance to the wind when running or cycling outdoors means you often burn more calories than if you were indoors and hills/uneven ground make your body work harder as it has to respond to the unknown. 

    So there's a few reasons to put on a few extra layers and keep moving. Why not take a look at Sundried's range of winter activewear to kit you out for the winter months? Such as compression base layers, hoodies, and long-sleeved training tops.

    About the author: Heather Taylor is a personal trainer, triathlete, and Sundried triathlete.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • Battle Ropes: Your Ultimate Guide (With Workout)

    battle ropes gym workout

    Chances are you've seen people thrashing around ropes in your gym and you may have wondered how they work and how they can benefit you. Here's your ultimate guide to battle ropes with a battle rope workout included at the end.

    What are battle ropes?

    Battle ropes are large, heavy ropes that are anchored to a single point and used for a powerful, dynamic workout. Using battle ropes in your workout can torch fat and build muscle in your arms, chest, shoulders, back, core, and legs. Using battle ropes can be hard work and will really get your heart rate up and have you breathing heavily, enhancing cardiovascular function and improving your overall fitness.

    battling ropes workout gym strength

    Which muscles do battle ropes use?

    There are many different moves you can do while using battle ropes, and each move will use different muscle groups. It's possible to employ every muscle group in the body while using battle ropes and to get a really good full body workout done.

    The main muscles used are always the arms, shoulders, and chest, as you are using your arms to move the ropes. You will also use your back as a secondary muscle group and squeezing your core throughout the workout for proper form will get that burning too.

    muscles gym workout battle ropes

    How many calories can you burn using battle ropes?

    Battle ropes are a really tough workout and are not for the fainthearted. According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a 10-minute battle rope workout can burn up to 112 calories – that's as much as running!

    Battle ropes are a very high intensity workout and so you may also benefit from the after burn effect, whereby your body continues to burn calories after the workout is finished. This can last up to 72 hours!

    core strength workout battle ropes

    How to add battle ropes into your workout

    There are many different variations to battle rope workouts and you can adjust a battle rope workout to fit your goals and your current fitness level. As they can be so high in intensity, you'll want to take it easy if you're a beginner or are starting from a low base fitness. Be warned: many people start to feel nauseous after a particularly intense battle rope workout!

    battle ropes battling ropes gym workout strength core

    Battle Ropes Workout

    Battle Rope Waves

    1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
    2. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight.
    3. Hold one rope in each hand and wave them up and down, alternating between each one.

    Keep your core tight and don't move your body, only your arms. Make sure you remember to breathe throughout! Try to last 30 seconds at first and build up more time the fitter you get.

    Battle Rope Slams

    1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
    2. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight.
    3. Hold one rope in each hand and slam them up and down in unison.

    This should be a powerful and dynamic move. You can move your body along with the movements, bending and straightening your legs as necessary. Try 30 seconds at first and slowly build up to 60 seconds as you get fitter and stronger.

    Battle Rope Slides

    1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
    2. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight.
    3. Hold one rope in each hand and wave them widely outwards then inwards, repeating constantly.

    This exercise will challenge your body laterally; working your lats, shoulders, core, obliques, and legs. Remember to breathe and don't let your arms drop as they get tired.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Train Like A Pro: Strength Training For Triathletes

    triathlete strength training

    Swimming, cycling, and running will inevitably take up most of your time as a triathlete, but hitting the gym and doing strength training is just as important. We chat with two professional triathletes to get the low down on how they strength train to improve their performance and get the most out of their training.

    Matt Leeman - professional triathlete

    Matt doesn't do strength training in the typical sense. Instead of hitting the gym and lifting weights, he uses natural factors like hills to help him improve his strength and increase his muscular endurance. 

    Triathlete strength training

    Strength training is a big component of any sport, the common definition of strength is "the ability to exert a force against a resistance". Each sport has different demands and hence requires different classifications of strength, triathlon predominantly requires strength endurance - the ability to express force many times over.

    Although I personally do not lift weights, which are commonly associated with strength training, I do triathlon-specific strength training, adapting the training of the disciplines to a strength based way of training.

    Swim

    There are swim specific tools that can be utilised to enhance swimming strength, the main ones I use are the pull buoy, hand paddles, and band. The muscles used in swimming are predominantly the lats (side of the back) and triceps. The pull buoy enables swimming with less kicking to maintain the body position so that the upper body can be worked more. The hand paddles create a larger surface area to increase the resistance of a stroke. The band is used to take leg kicking out of the equation and rather get propulsion from the overall movement of the body and core muscles.

    Matt Leeman pro triathlete swimming training triathlon

    Bike

    The majority of the time in a triathlon is spent on the bike so having good bike strength is essential for putting together a good race, both directly, making you ride faster, and indirectly, the less the bike takes out of you, the more you’ll have left for the run. The two things that can be utilised for bike strength are the bike's gears and hills.

    By doing specific intervals ‘over-gearing’ i.e. using a bigger gear than you would usually use to train your leg muscles to produce a greater force so that when we are racing we are working at a lower percentage of our overall capacity. Hills obviously give a great stimulus for developing strength, ensuring you ride on different terrain is important for developing a well rounded strong athlete.

    strength training cycling

    Run

    The main ways in which I train my running strength is using hills and mixed surface terrain. I will often do a specific hill repeat session where one specific hill is targeted and run up multiple times. The beauty of hills is that it prevents you from over-striding and promotes glute engagement, which improves our ability to utilise the bigger muscles in the legs such as glutes and quads that handle fatigue better than the smaller muscles of the leg, which is very important in an endurance sport.

    winner triathlon strength training

    Claire Steels - World Champion duathlete

    Claire tells us about her three favourite strength training exercises and why they are well suited to an endurance athlete.

    Bulgarian Split Squat

    This exercise is great for running and cycling power but also glute, hip and core stability. Unilateral exercises like the Bulgarian split squat are fantastic for developing the individual leg strength required for sports such as running and cycling, where each leg is required to produce power independently.

    duathlon strength training

    TRX Mountain Climbers

    This exercise requires core stability and control whilst moving each leg independently. This replicates the physiological control that is required in a duathlon as a strong core is essential for efficient running and cycling.

    TRX mountain climbers strength training for duathletes

    Kettlebell Swings

    This is a fantastic exercise for developing power through the posterior chain along the back of the body. It challenges the strength of the whole body but primarily the glutes and hamstrings. It is also a fantastic exercise for testing the cardiovascular system while also trying to produce power making it yet another great exercise for duathletes.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Exercise When You Have Kids

    How to exercise when you have kids at home working mom

    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 working mom lose weight

    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. 

    how to work out with a kid at home

    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.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren