My Five Absolute Favourite Exercises

As a personal trainer, I often get asked what my favourite exercises are. Truth be told, that is a bit like asking a doctor what his favourite medications would be. I will never get tired of saying that fitness is a very individual thing.

Without taking you through an individual assessment I'm unable to determine exactly what type of training programme is right for you. Some of the exercises I love might hurt you if you have certain issues or there could be better options for your particular needs.

The bottom line here is that you should work with a trainer to find what the best exercises for you are. But still, to answer the question, here is my personal top five. These are all moves that I use myself, performed correctly, I am sure they will benefit you a lot!

The Overhead Squat

Woman doing ovehead squat

This is a slightly intimidating version of the traditional squat but trust me, it truly is for everyone. More than a simple leg exercise, this one is perfect for mobility training. It's a great exercise for your legs, but more importantly, the overhead squat trains stability and mobility in the core and shoulders.

It is one of my favourite exercises to use as an assesment tool. When a new client comes into my studios the overhead squat is one of the first things I have them do. Simply performing this movement will show me any tension or restrictions that exist in the hips, shoulders, and back.
Hunched back, rounded shoulders, rigid spine, and weak core are just some of the issues that you can notice. The overhead squat can also help you correct them.

Here is what I love to do. Start without any weight and simply extend your arms over your head. Watch yourself in the mirror while you perform the squat. Be mindful of any tension or pain you feel in your body. Do ten slow and controlled reps and notice what feels uncomfortable.
Is it difficult to keep your arms extended?
Does it create tension in your upper back? Are the fronts of your shoulders feeling really tight?
Or is your lower back taking too much stress?
How is your balance?
Are you able to perform a deep squat or does the tension in your hips, knees or ankles prevent this?
Is your right side tighter than your left in any of your joints?

Everyone will be different. Use this movement to find out more about your own body. Work on the overhead squat focusing on that weak link. Once this has been addressed you can gradually progress things by adding a small amount of weight each time. This way you can improve any issues you have with your posture, prevent back pain, and strengthen your core and lower body all at the same time.

The Deadlift

How do you build lean legs, a sculpted butt plus some solid core? Deadlift. It belongs in everyone´s list of favourite exercises. The deadlift builds upper and lower body strength like no other exercise. It is the quintessential compund exercise. One thing I particularly love about deadlifts is they build strength around ligaments and tendons. Over time this will really protect you from injury.

The flipside here is that technique is crucial. Here are a few tricks to perfecting your deadlift (a.k.a. not wrecking your back):

Keep your back strong and flat, learn to flex forwards from the hips don't round your back. If you can't help but round it then you need to lower the weight.

Push, don't pull. Yes, your upper body will be engaged in the movement but don't think about lifting with your arms, your glutes and hamstrings should be doing most of the work.
Your feet should always stay flat on the floor, find a position where they are as stable as possible.

Move in time. Make sure your shoulders and hamstrings ascend together. If either lags it means you are using your lower back.

Pull-Ups

Going fancy on equipment is not always the way to go. I believe bodyweight exercises are the true measure of strength. The pull-up in particular is a great benchmark for overall athletic ability.

Learning to use your body is truly empowering. The pull-up is challenging, yes, but it is also very rewarding. Most clients I work with hate it, I admit. At least they hate it at first because it seems impossible. But in fact anyone can progress to a pull-up. Here are the steps that have helped even complete beginners to achieve it:

Start with a row.
Move on to bodyweight row (in an upside down pushup position).
Go for band-assisted pull-ups.
Attempt the real deal.
Progress your training by working with a partner have them assist you to top of the movement and lower yourself down. This eccentric development will turbocharged your pull-up goals!
The Plank

Yet another bodyweight move. The plank belongs in my all-time favourite exerices as the king of abdominal work. Much like the deadlift, the plank is compound, it builds strength to protect you from injury, and it improves your posture big time.

There are studies that show planks to be the single best exercise for abs. They provide 100% activation of your abdominal muscles. Crunches only give you around 60% depending on your technique and the type of crunch.

I recommend planking every day and you will see a serious boost in fitness level in no time.

My secret tip for holding a plank longer is to relax the upper body, draw your belly button in and really focus on the core. When you tighten your abs your entire body becomes more stable. Less shaking means you can stay in the plank for longer. Of course, you have got to start small. 30 seconds to a minute is a good bench mark for a first timer but try to increase that by 10 seconds every other day. You will be surprised at the difference this makes! The goal of a serious "planker" is to achieve a 3 minute hold.

The Kettle Bell Swing

You can`t have a full list of my favourite exercises without mentioning Kettlebells. There are so many options, infinite modifications, ways to target every single muscle on your body. In my opinion, though, nothing can beat the simple, well-executed Kettlebell swing. It is a full-body workout in a single exercise.

What makes the Kettlebell better than other weights? The design. With the handle on top and the weight concentrated in the bottom, the center of gravity is significantly lower. You are forced to use muscles which builds strength and mobility.

The swing is mostly a hip movement, not a shoulder exercise so my biggest advice for you is to loosen up your upper body. If you grip too tight you put unnecessary tension in the back and shoulders. Hold the Kettlebell as you hold the remote control. Strong enough not to drop it but no additional clenching. Focus on the rhythm and really activating your glutes with every swing.

Do you have any favourite exercises of your own? Which of these do you think everybody should include in their workout routine? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Cheers,

David


Body Fat Percentage Calculator

It's well established that being fat is terrible for you. It's bad for pretty much every biological system in your body, it places unnecessary stress on your vital organs (including your heart) and makes you look less than your best. But. What can be measured can be changed. And that's why I recommend that all my clients trying to lose fat get their hands on a body fat percentage calculator.

This is what 5lb of fat looks like - disgusting isn't it? - this is at at the lower end of what you can expect to lose on my Can Do Chef diet (below).

The bottom line is it's well worth it and it's best to have your own at home so you can keep the time and conditions consistent each and every week so that you get an accurate, reliable reading.

The body fat percentage calculator scales I recommend are these ones

 These ones are wireless and connect to bluetooth and are low profile for ease of storage.

I'm sure you've seen them around. They look like regular scales but do so much more and link up to your phone so you can track your progress.

If you're still using simple scales to weigh yourself week in week out, you're missing out on key indicators regarding your body composition that your overall bodyweight alone will not reveal.

For instance, if you are trying to lose weight by following a weight training regime, you could have lost fat and gained muscle but still be the same overall bodyweight on traditional scales.

A good fat loss calculator, on the other hand, will give you a full panel of data that explains the numbers.

Traditional scales are almost certainly giving you imprecise results

What does a body fat percentage calculator tell you and how should you interpret the results?

Getting down to the nitty gritty of the data, a body fat percentage calculator can tell you a lot about your overall health. I'm going to pick out the key indicators I use with my clients:

One of my female clients kindly agreed to share a screenshot of her doing well on the Can Do Chef!

  • Weight - a body fat percentage calculator will give you an accurate and exact total body weight which it will use in combination with your height to give you your BMI.
  • Your BMI - your body mass index, the universal measure used by doctors to determine if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
  • Body fat percentage - useful for measuring actual progress in fat loss and excludes water weight and changes in muscle volume density - unlike traditional scales.
  • Body water percentage - how well hydrated are you, this number is usually around the 50% -65% mark  if it is much less than 50% then you probably need to recover better with proper hydration.
  • Visceral fat - this is the nastier kind of fat that hangs around around your vital organs and has a higher likelihood of causing conditions such as diabetes. Avoid.
  • Muscle mass - increased muscle mass starts a positive feedback loop for fat loss, the more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. Weight training is shown in countless studies to be excellent for your physical and psychological well being.

One of my male clients agreed to share his overall health indicators before starting the Can Do Chef

Things to remember when buying a body fat percentage calculator

  • Don't mess around trying to write things down on paper to record them, you'll lose/forget your details.
  • For this reason, you'll want one that has bluetooth and connects to your phone.
  • Always be consistent and weigh yourself under the same conditions in the morning before breakfast.
  • Don't weigh yourself more than once a week, it'll create an emotional rollercoaster. If you keep the time of your weigh-in consistent it's something to work towards. I like to recommend my clients use their body fat percentage calculator on Monday morning first thing.
  • It should go without saying you shouldn't be wearing much other than underwear when you weigh yourself!
  • Use an app so that it instantly sends the results to your phone. That way you can always have easy access to a list of your results and the full data to track your progress in your phone.
  • Get scales that allow multiple family members to use the device during the same period where individual data is stored for each person.

I find the 1byone  interface to be the most user-friendly for tracking progress

Cheers,

David

P.s. the body fat percentage calculator scales I recommend are these ones.

P.p.s....

Lose Fat By Following the Can Do Chef

To get the most out of body fat percentage calculator scales you need to use them in conjunction with a tried and tested diet regime (you get fit in the gym but you lose weight in the kitchen).

Earlier this month I put together the 'Can Do Chef' a very specific diet programme I now insist all of my clients in London follow when they begin working with me. It's designed with the general population in mind (rather than endurance athletes and power lifters). I've since made it available for free online (below).

The thing that works about the Can Do Chef is that it is an exact programme. Nothing is left to chance. There are no cheat days. That's the only requirement is that you stick to the full 30 day programme. During that time most people will lose 5lbs - 8lbs of body fat (depending on your starting point).

The point is you can't just leave things to chance by eating salad and 'health foods' and expecting the scales to move in your favour. You have to be exact (at least at first) and then get the specific data by using a body fat percentage calculator in order to track progress and move forward.

Get the Can Do Chef - 30 day elimination programme


The Overlooked Benefits Of Stretching - You Will Be Amazed When You Try It

Let's face it – stretching is the least glamorous and the most overlooked part of your workout. You probably hear mixed messages around stretching and whether it's all a bit outdated now. Some professionals prioritise so called mobility techniques and using foam rollers, but I’m still a big fan of stretching and in this article I’m going to discuss the amazing health benefits of stretching!

Improve your flexibility, optimise your health

Flexibility

This might seem obvious but a well-designed stretching routine is the best way to improve flexibility. Because most of my clients work desk jobs, they tend to have problems with muscle stiffness, back pain, and headaches that can all be tracked down to poor flexibility. Having a sedentary lifestyle means that over the years you will see your flexibility decrease much more than it naturally would for an active person.

Low flexibility means a smaller range of motion, less effective workouts, and a higher risk of injury. The stiffness in your neck muscles can lead to a poor circulation to your brain which then translates into excruciating headaches. Finally, as you get older, you are more likely to experience postural problems which is why I always encourage my clients to do plenty of stretches to free up their lower back and hips as they can effectively prevent lower back pain with the correct approach.

Improved Blood Flow

When you perform dynamic stretches before a workout, you increase the blood flow to your muscles. This improves performance significantly and it also reduces the soreness afterwards. The benefits of improved circulation go even beyond that. It also promotes cell growth, function, and recovery in your muscles even post-workout. Not to mention that an increased blood flow is great for your brain and it will boost mood and productivity throughout your day.

Decreased Stress

Stretching can be a powerful way to decompress. I usually tell my clients to always stretch after a long day, even if they don't do any other workout. Stretching helps you tune back into what your body is telling you. When you are busy, you can often get too worked up about all the things you need to achieve. A nice stretch once you are back from work allows you to unwind and notice those tight spots in your body that have developed throughout the day and to work on releasing that tension.

Stretching helps you stand taller and straighter, and makes you look leaner!

Better Posture

Stretching lengthens your muscles and soothes the tension buildup. When your muscles are more flexible, they are less likely to pull you into unnatural positions. An example I like to give for this are the muscles in your shoulder region. The ones responsible for rolling the shoulder inward are much stronger than those that roll it back. In some athletes, the muscle imbalance causes a visible change in posture.

Even if you are far from that point, chances are you still have your shoulders more hunched than they should be. This can be helped quite easily with a few stretching and lengthening exercises. An improved posture can prevent so many health issues and it will even make you feel more confident and productive.

How to Build a Stretching Routine?

Not all stretching exercises were created equal. There are numerous different stretches you can incorporate into your routine. When I work with clients, I always customise their stretching routines to their particular needs and goals. However, even if you are not working with a professional trainer, you can build a basic set of stretches that works for you. Here are the main types of stretches to include:

Static Stretching

Static stretching is your most basic sort of a stretch. You extend the muscles as much as you can and maintain the position for at least 30 seconds. If you are using an outside force to help with the stretch, then this is passive static stretching. This outside force could be anything from gravity, to an elastic strap, or even a partner. Active static stretching is when you are contracting the muscles that do the opposite movement to the ones you want to stretch. For instance, if you contract your triceps, your bicep will stretch.

Static stretching is perfect as a cool-down exercise. After a workout, your muscles are warm and very elastic. If you continuously challenge yourself with stretches after a workout, over time you will see a very impressive increase in your flexibility as well as overall performance.

Incorporate dynamic movement into your stretching routine

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is geared around sports specific training and all about controlled movement through an exercise that mimics what you will do during the rest of your workout. I tell my clients to focus on control rather than speed when they are doing these stretches. The point here is to condition your muscles to maintain proper form as well as to improve range of motion, circulation, and mobility.

Some of my favourite dynamic stretches before a workout are twisted lunges, inchworms, and variations on the sun salutation. On rest days, I recommend doing relaxing yoga flows as they provide great full-body dynamic stretching.

When Should You Stretch?

Whenever you feel that you need it. Stretching comes naturally to animals and humans alike. Stretch right after waking up, when you start to feel stiff at your desk, and definitely before and after your training sessions. Stretching in some way will always make you feel better and if anything makes you happy do more of it!

If you have any questions about stretching please leave them in the comments below.

Thanks,

David

 


Are you doing it wrong? For quick results, slow things down

Here is the harsh truth: you could be working out for one hour every day, watching your diet like a hawk and yet getting little to virtually no results.

How many people have you met or seen at the gym who always seem to be there, week in week out, year after year but don't actually ever seem to change? There's a lot of them.

There are many, complex reasons for this but a big piece of the puzzle is a lack of focus on 'time under tension' training (my preferred method of generating maximum results in as little time as possible).

First, watch this video:


Fortunately, science allow us to understand what actually happens during a workout and crucially, what makes actually makes a difference and what is simply a waste of your time and accomplishing very little.

The Conventional Workout Wisdom

First let's take a look at where most conventional workouts are going wrong. For most people, going to the gym typically involves one of two things:

  1. an aerobics class such as Zumba, Spinning or something similar;
  2. 30-60 boring minutes of low intensity treadmill work plus some wasted time on the resistance machines.

While neither of those are inherently bad, and moving your body around is better than not moving your body around, people quickly become discouraged with the lack of results on the scales and in the mirror.

Being physically present in a gym or a fitness studio does not, in an of itself, produce any results whatsoever.

Pounding out hours of steady state cardio on the treadmill or the spinning bike tend not to produce a positive adaptive response

I know people that go to the gym seven times a week, eat clean and still aren't getting the result they really want.

In fact, contrary to what might be instinctive, more time in the gym or placing your body under a lot of stress from exercise day in day out can in fact harm your results, not improve them.

Focus on quality, not quantity or duration. But how?

Time Under Tension Training to The Rescue

Time under tension is the opposite of conventional exercise regimens which tend to focus on low intensity, steady state workouts. It is about slowing things down, maintaining correct (perfect) form, and triggering as much change in your muscles as possible. Most people have twigged that weight training is good for you by now (even if you're a woman).

BUT most people are doing it wrong for various reasons. The main reason? People are going too fast and not spending enough time under tension to generate a positive change.

Time under tension workouts can be performed using a swiss ball

So if you've already converted to weight/resistance training over workout DVDs, the following might apply to you:

  • As weight/resistance workouts become more challenging, people tend to speed up the set as it progresses and 'bang out those last few reps to get it done'. This is a false economy and you are in fact cheating yourself. Your body does not know the number of repetitions, only the amount of stress you place it under;
  • While this is a natural response, quick reps are actually easier. This is because you are cheating by using momentum. I'd rather see one of my clients perform a movement at a slow controlled pace for one minute with a light weight than perform 10 fast repetitions of a heavy weight.
  • Let's take an example: If you do a set of 10 repetitions in 20 seconds you have probably only properly fatigued the muscle for a very short amount of time. In other words, you haven't used up all the fuel in the muscle.
  • Compare that to slowing things down and doing a single rep in around 15 seconds - with a slow speed (cadence) of raising and lowering whatever weight you are moving.

The Do's and Don't of Time Under Tension Training

Do

  • You do prefer compound movements instead of isolation exercises.
  • You do focus on 'time under tension' (around 90 seconds is an optimal point to reach failure).
  • You do focus on failure, not repetitions;
  • You do focus on the negative part of the movement rather than neglect it (the part where you are working with gravity in moving the weight in a controlled manner).

Don't

  • You don't stop with your arms or legs locked out at the top or bottom of the movement;
  • You don't 'swing' the bar or the weight;
  • You don't cheat by using other muscle groups to get the weight up and down;
  • You don't perform the moment so quickly that you're relying on momentum;
  • You don't 'bounce' at the bottom of a movement.
Compound movements are far superior to isolation exercises to produce maximum results

For more guidance on this, see the Can DO Plan.

It can be difficult to understand what proper time under tension training looks like, so see this video to see a proper time under tension set and how hard it can be.

If you're honest with yourself - you know when you are 'cheating' and you know how you could physically make the exercise more difficult - you need to be honest, make it hard for yourself to get results. Training with your ego doesn't work.

By placing the greatest possible demand on the muscle, we trigger the optimal amount of positive change. What is more, we reduce our risk of injury because the movement is controlled and the form is good.

Time under tension is not about counting reps, it is about making every rep count. By 'in-roading' your muscles as deeply as possible, you achieve results faster than ever.

Crossfit and other recent exercise fads are not consistent with time under tension training principles

Why Cross fit sucks

This is also why things like Crossfit (whilst better than sitting at home eating pizza) are not particularly good for you. They focus on quick reps with poor form and often weird, uncontrolled movements. Stay away from the fad diet/exercise regimes. Your body is an ancient machine that likes conventional, familiar movement, not complex 'innovations'.

Pressing the failure button

Once you've hit the 'failure' button once, there is no point pressing it over and over again. By this I mean, once  you have completed one proper time under tension set in which you have reached failure, there is no need to keep pressing the button with more sets - your body got the message the first time.

You've damaged your muscles sufficiently for them to respond and repair and for you to come back next time even better and stronger (and leaner!).

It's a bit like pressing the button to call the lift - once you've pressed it once, there's no need to keep pressing it. You'll generate more muscle mass through using this approach and that's great because more muscle mass = greater fat loss and a stronger leaner physique.

If you've reached true failure once, your body will adapt - performing multiple sets of the same exercise doesn't get you any further along the road to change

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

If you want to check out the full science behind the above approach, read Body by Science: A Research Based Program to Get the Results You Want in 12 Minutes a Week (NTC Sports/Fitness)

Thanks

D

DISCLAIMER 1

PROPER TIME UNDER TENSION WEIGHT TRAINING IS VERY, VERY TOUGH - BUT YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF WHETHER YOU WOULD PREFER TO WASTE TIME IN THE GYM MAKING SMALL INCREMENTAL PROGRESS OR SPEND AN EFFICIENT AMOUNT OF TIME MAKING MASSIVE PROGRESS IN A SHORT RESISTANCE SESSION.

DISCLAIMER 2

HAVING A WORKOUT PARTNER REALLY HELPS FOR TIME UNDER TENSION TRAINING, PARTICULARLY WHERE YOU ARE USING RESISTANCE MACHINES OR FREE WEIGHTS. IF YOU HAVE A SPOTTER, YOU CAN ASK THEM TO HELP YOU WITH THE POSITIVE PART OF THE MOVEMENT AS YOU APPROACH MUSCULAR FAILURE SO THAT YOU CAN COMPREHENSIVELY FATIGUE THE MUSCLE WITH THE CONTROLLED NEGATIVE PART OF THE MOVEMENT.


The Power Of A Workout Partner - Accountability = Results

The Power of Having a Workout Partner

In my opinion, most people don't hire a personal trainer for his or her knowledge and experience, at least not at first.

They have often tried numerous times to get fit on their own, had multiple gym memberships (that have rarely been used!) and obsessed over online diet plans, training programmes and social media "gurus" but little has changed. They just can't stay focused on their goals and sadly, never achieve their dream body.

It's not that they don't have the resources to succeed, it's all too often, the persistence that they tend to lack.

Those that have personal trainers know that they serve the key role of increasing PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY - which I believe is the key ingredient in the success of your health and fitness goals.

If you don't have access to a Personal Trainer at present, there is a very simple thing that you can do right now to increase the likelihood that you will not fall back into your bad habits and quit after two workouts... Find yourself a workout partner!

You Become The Person You Spend The Most Time With

It's catching

Harvard University researchers found that obesity can be contagious. If you spend time with people who don't treat their bodies right, you are more likely to overlook your own diet and fitness. The reverse is also true. By surrounding yourself with happy, healthy people you will see your own habits start to change.

Sometimes it's difficult to cut out friends and family who lead an unhealthy lifestyle but you can always add new ones that will encourage you to make a positive change.

Your chosen workout partner should be somebody that is actively working toward the same goals as you are. Seeing their dedication is often enough to make you more persistent. This sort of positive peer pressure comes in incredibly handy when you are first starting out and you need all of the momentum you can get.

Working out with friends is a great way to increase accountability

Accountability and Motivation

I often tell my clients to treat their gym session as they would an important work appointment. While this change of mindset can be incredibly beneficial, you are still more likely to cancel a workout session than a business meeting. It is much easier to cancel when nobody else is involved.

When you have a workout partner, your plans immediately become more difficult to cancel. Not only do you let yourself down, you let them down too.

Whats more, even if you choose to have a remote workout partner or a remote PT,  psychologically knowing that you have an agreement and you would be letting them down if you don't put in the time doing the work (nutrition or exercise) is a powerful motivator.

In terms of accountability, I have never seen a tool quite as effective as having another human to "answer to". There are so many progress tracking systems --- mobile or desktop apps, keeping a journal, ticking off days where you work out and trying to keep a streak etc. These are all much easier to lie to than a  person.

Simply having a living breathing person to check in on you makes you much more responsible in doing what you said you would do.

Finding a workout partner 

Friends

In an ideal world, we would all have a loyal friend willing to embark on a body transformation journey with us. Friends work well if your ambitions are aligned and you are roughly on a similar level in terms of fitness and motivation. Avoid a big mismatch in ability or fitness levels because it will just leave one of you demoralised and the other under-challenged. The great thing about working out with friends is you are less likely to ditch them or somehow escape when the going gets tough!

The gym class hero

Gym-organised workout or yoga classes can be a great way of meeting potential workout partners

We all have different routines and chances are that your current goals are different than those of your friends and family. Maybe you want to try proper weight lifting but all of your friends are stuck on doing hours of low intensity cardio.

Well, an simple way to get a fitness buddy is to simply start a conversation with someone at your gym. This tends to feel less awkward if you are taking a class together.

So perhaps at your next yoga or spinning class you might want to suggest buddying up with someone to spot you for the *really* effective stuff of weight training.

Training with a trainer

Personal trainers provide an excellent source of motivation, accountability and friendship

As I alluded to above, training with a personal trainer can be beneficial for a great number of reasons. They can help you define a proper training and nutrition  programme and increase your personal sense of accountability.

And if you are already working with a personal trainer, you could ask them to recommend a workout partner. Considering they know your personal fitness goals and interests better than anyone else, personal trainers are the perfect workout buddy matchmakers!

If you're a personal trainer yourself (or want to know what to expect from an excellent personal trainer) check out my book.

Trusted online programmes

Most of what is online and on YouTube is wishful thinking and designed by its very nature to get clicks. It's really tough to know exactly who you can trust online.

With that being said, home coaching products with accountability built in to the system itself can be highly effective. That's why my own online training programme is for those who want to get a head start but also seek credible advice from someone with realistic claims that is not just trying to make a quick buck online!

Free copy of the Can DO Plan

With all of the above in mind, I am looking for women to get an advanced free trial of my online video trainer, the Can DO Plan. There are currently four spots left so please do get in touch. This will feature not only hours of video content that comes in the Can DO Plan but a free hour phone consultation with me at the outset of the programme to make sure you get the most out of it and regular 'accountability calls' with me to see how things are going - just email me on david@davidosgsthorp.com with a short note on your fitness goals and we'll be in touch with the winners of the free places.

Cheers,

David


10 lies women's health and fitness magazines tell you

Women’s magazines are lying to you!

In the run up to Christmas every year, health and fitness magazines go into overdrive with ridiculous headlines such as:

'How to lose two stone in two weeks'

'Get your 21 yr old body back'

and

'Get little black dress ready in a week'

Obviously these headlines are there to grab your attention to sell magazines. Let me be honest with you: some things just won't be achievable in a narrow time frame as these magazines would have you believe.

If you feel as though you’re not in great shape for Christmas party season, then please don’t fall for the stories in the glossy, photoshopped pages of health magazines.

These articles are not only false advertising but they can actually be quite damaging to your long-term health and body shape.

Ten lies the health and fitness magazine industry tells you

If it looks too good to be true, it's probably airbrushed!

Imagery

Take a look at the front cover of any of health and fitness magazine and inside artwork next time you're at the news stand. They are without fail, decorated with a man or woman in perfect, almost impossible, physical shape. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that people don't actually look like that when the photograph is taken! These photos have been Photoshopped and the magazines are duping you into believing people actually look that good. It creates a false reality, don't be fooled. Even on Instagram, it's possible to nip and tuck with a finger swipe - so don't be fooled by flawless Instagram girls either.

One size fits all

The thing that frustrates me about these magazines is they offer 'one size fits all' solutions. Take a look back at the headlines I’ve written above. All of them are ludicrous as it is but they don't make any allowance for people being DIFFERENT. Just as we all look different on the outside, we all function differently on the inside. Just because Jennifer Aniston looks amazing on the cabbage soup diet, doesn’t mean that you will too!

Quick Fix

Let's assume 'Lose two stone in two weeks' really does work. What then? I’ll admit it is possible to lose a significant amount of weight in such a short period of time BUT there is a HUGE difference between weight loss and fat loss. Losing this much weight in such a short period of time often means losing a lot of body water and muscle mass. For a woman, losing muscle mass may sound like a good thing, but the reality is you need this muscle mass to give you shape and keep your metabolism high, without it you’re actually setting your body up to store more fat.

This is the reason why diets fail, you follow a massively restrictive diet for two weeks, and in doing so you put your body in a worse place, because your body is now less efficient at burning fat because you have less muscle mass as soon as you return to your normal eating pattern you’ll quickly put all of this weight back on and often a little bit more!

You need at least 30 days to make a lasting change. Don't settle for quick fixes - go for long term sustainability.

Long, steady state, low intensity cardio is the biggest lie you've been sold over the last 20 years - it doesn't work!

Cardio training

There are so many mixed messages out there about cardio training. My belief is that it can be good for you but only if performed correctly. The majority of health magazines will recommend 'steady state' cardio in which you perform the relevant exercise for long periods at a very low intensity. Put simply, this type of training doesn't work and who really has 90 minutes per day to find time to exercise?! It's best to go high intensity with your cardio for intervals, or, even better, try weights.

Spot training

Spot training is targeting very specific areas of your body. Sports scientists are in basic agreement that there is no such thing as spot fat reduction. And yet, these magazines continue to promote training protocols that offer to 'shed to belly fat' 'lose your bingo wings' or 'lose your flabby butt'.  Whilst you can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles, your body has a pre-determined order in which it loses body fat, and sadly, you can't play god. A long term plan with full body training and a continued healthy eating plan will always achieve the results that this type of training simply can’t.

Calorie restriction diets will just make you grumpy 

Calorie restriction diet 

Far too many diets in magazines are focussed on 'calorie restriction' rather than focussing on reducing inflammation and increasing 'good calories' such as quality proteins carbohydrates and fats. Obviously, you can't just consume as many good calories as you want. But strict, calorie counting, diets have been done to death. They'll leave you feeling tired and worn out and you'll eventually give in to cravings. Eat a diet of real clean food that energises you and follow a progressive training programme in order to change your body shape.

Easy

A lot of these magazines suggest their programmes are 'easy': such as 'try these 3 simple steps', 'learn the big secret to losing belly fat'. Nothing is 'easy' if it's worth having. It doesn't have to be crushingly difficult but let’s be honest, if you really want to make a change, it will not be easy.

'Fad' diets

The reason that magazines advertise fad diets is because they sell well. Usually, it's the same old diet with a few simple tweaks here and there - rebranded, perhaps with a celebrity endorsement to gain a few extra sales! Don’t believe the hype of a new fad diet.

Experts 

Be careful when these magazines talk about any kind of quote 'expert', sure: they're called a 'health and fitness expert' but what has this person actually done to get that title? Usually nothing, they just like the idea of getting their name in a magazine! Only trust people that can back up their claims with qualifications and give their real name.

With incremental, sustainable progress you'll get there.

No motivation to continue

A classic problem is starting a diet in a bubble of motivation and enthusiasm and then the bubble bursts, leaving the individual depleted and feeling like a failure. Most people think that motivation leads to action but it's the other way round. Do one thing first, get motivated by your own mini successes and pretty soon you'll have great momentum towards your goals.

I don't believe in the promises of health and fitness magazines, what I do believe in is steady progress towards your dream physique. If you want to discover a nutrition programme that guarantees results and works for your specific needs in a safe and effective manner whilst really looking after your body - check out the Can DO Plan.

If you want to find out more, you can contact me directly here.


Running Advice and Red Bull Wings For Life Run

On Sunday, 7 May I am running alongside my colleagues and friends in the 'Wings For Life World Run' an incredibly innovative charity event sponsored by Red Bull (where I currently serve as Human Performance Coach to the Formula One Racing Team). The run is unique in the sense that every participant will finish the race. Why? Because there is no finish line! Oh, and there's also a car that chases all participants down to decide the winner.

I have to say, I'm excited because in previous years everyone has pushed themselves to the max and it's always great fun running alongside a couple of famous faces! The event is ideally aligned with my overall training philosophy: everyone comes to exercise from different starting points and it's about taking action and doing what is achievable for you.

I've been gearing up for this event for some time with my friends and co-workers and I thought I'd share a message I sent to Red Bull employees on Monday to prep them for race day.

If you're taking part good luck!

Here's the email I sent on Monday, enjoy and leave any questions in the comments below:

Wings For Life Run

It’s less than a week to go until race day and typically in the build up to a big event there is a huge amount of confusion over what to do or not to do. So before you head out for that one last big run, (again!) or load up on bowl after bowl of pasta, or simply wrap yourself in cotton wool and wait for Sunday to arrive, here are my top tips to get you through this week and really enjoy the race on Sunday…

Don’t Worry!

The biggest problem I see with so many runners, no matter how experienced they are is a fear of not finishing. The good news is this doesn’t apply with the wings for life event as there is no finish line and with it being such a positive charity event that so many of you from the factory have signed up to (125 and counting!) it’s an opportunity to just get out and enjoy a great event with so many great people. So put those fears aside and have fun.

Eat what works for you.

Please don’t start googling “pre run event meal suggestions” to try out new carb loading meals this week. We are all very different athletes and therefore what works for one may have a very bad effect on someone else. Loading up on very high carbohydrate based meals this week will give some of you a bit of a boost but may upset the stomachs of others! Just stick to whatever has worked for you in the past.

I would also recommend that rather than devouring a gigantic bowl of pasta the night before the race, which will probably sit very heavily on your and upset your digestion, try eating carbs in small increments throughout the day before the race.

With regards to your pre-race preparation, I would again advise that you don’t eat anything too heavy within two hours of the race. Have a good early morning breakfast and then my pre-race choice would be a smoothie containing fruit and yogurt as it gives a good balance of carbs and protein but not too much fibre.

Get ready the night before.

Make the whole day an enjoyable experience, don’t be stressing at the last minute. Make sure you lay out all of your race kit the night before and aim to get as close to eight hours of sleep as possible.

Don’t do anything new

The week of a race, or even race day itself isn’t the time to be trying out new trainers! Likewise with compression tights or any other fancy new training gear. No matter how cool you make look at the start line if you haven’t tried these things out in several previous runs, don’t try it on Sunday. Just stick to the routine that works for you.

Guarantee success

Remember this is a great charity event and therefore you want to make sure you have a positive experience. So I would advise that you set at least two goals for race day. Set one goal for a perfect race and another as a back-up, in case the weather has a big impact, you pick up an unexpected injury or it’s simply not your day.

Having spoken to a few of the guys that ran last year on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year, all of them fell short of their distance goal and as a result they left the event feeling a bit disappointed. If something makes your first goal impossible halfway through the race, you’ll need another goal to motivate you to finish strong.

Start slow, and stay even. 

One final piece of advice, I would strongly advise that if you’re relatively new to big race events then you should run the first 10 percent of the race a fraction slower than you normally would, with the idea that you’ll finish strong.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event and pace yourself alongside other runners that head off a lot faster than your normal race pace. If you do this, you risk burning out early. Try to keep an even pace throughout the race, and save your extra energy for later on in the race.

I hope these little tips will allow you to relax, look after yourself this week and thoroughly enjoy yourself on Sunday.

I’ll follow up on Monday with some post-race tips to reduce any of those aches and pains and ensure you have a speedy recovery!

 

 

 

 


Postnatal Exercises - What You Need To Know To Perform Them Safely

Having worked with numerous new mums, I know that the postnatal stage is a vitally important time for a new mother’s body to return to its pre baby best. During this period, many changes in your hormones, muscles, and emotions occur. Taking proper care of yourself after birth is therefore essential for a speedy recovery and to feel great about yourself in this new stage of your life.

postnatal exercises
It is important to focus on your emotional and physical wellbeing at this critical time - not just the new arrival's!

During this time, exercise may be one of the last things on your mind. With all the physical and psychological strain pregnancy and birth put on your body, this is no wonder. There is a long-standing myth that postnatal exercises in the first six weeks following the birth are a strict ‘no-no’. However, depending on the precise circumstances of the birth, light postnatal exercises (walking plus gentle pelvic floor exercises) might be ok as early as two weeks after the birth, or you might have to wait six to ten weeks, especially if you have had a C-section. Of course, you should always ask your doctor for advice specific to you at this critical stage.

Once your doctor says moderate exercise is safe for you, try to resist the urge of doing too much too soon. Young mothers often worry about getting their ‘pre-baby body’ back as soon as possible. Unbelievable celebrity ‘shedding the baby weight’ transformations don't exactly encourage you to take it slow, either. However, quick fixes are dangerous during this period. You need to give yourself time to heal and recover and any postnatal exercises you do should be modest, and achievable!

I recommend to new mothers that they should, rather than focussing solely on shedding the pounds, consider the emotional benefits of exercise first: the feel-good hormones released during exercise can be beneficial in preventing depression and anxiety. It is not just about getting your body back, it’s also about looking after your emotional wellbeing and properly performed postnatal exercises are absolutely fantastic for that!

Postnatal exercises - Abdominal exercises

During pregnancy your abdominal muscles stretch and can take a little while to return to normal

The first thing that surprises new mothers is how obvious their baby bump still is, even though there is no longer a baby present! Even though exercising the abdominal muscles will eventually help regain your well defined tummy, don't rush it. You can do yourself a lot of harm if you try to work these muscles too soon - so again, be sure to consult your doctor before the ab crunches.

During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles stretch. Sometimes the muscles separate and they can even tear. While it is unlikely for pregnancy to cause any long-term damage, the abdominal muscles are still weakened and vulnerable in the postnatal period.

If you have abdominal muscle separation

A number of my clients have abdominal muscle separation. If you have separation, I am sure your doctor has assured you that you will be fine and the ‘gap’ will close soon. However, crunches, twists, and other more intensive ab exercises will not be safe in the first month or two. Try this gentle but effective exercise instead:

Place three pillows on an exercise mat and lie on them so that your navel is above the centre of the pillows. Cross your hands over your tummy. Touch your sides with the opposite hands. Inhale, raising your head a few inches above the floor. As you exhale gently, push the ab muscles together with your fingers. Draw your navel inwards toward your spine. Keep your lower back muscles as stable as possible. Inhale and repeat 10 times. Be persistent and try to work your way toward being able to lift your shoulders off the mat, while maintaining the same position.

Pelvic floor exercises

Your pelvic floor muscles are working overtime during pregnancy and childbirth. Regardless of exactly how you gave birth, your pelvic floor muscles will be weaker after the pregnancy. Pelvic floor exercises, therefore, are an essential part of most postnatal exercises regimes. Here are the typical pelvic floor exercises I ask my clients to perform:

Pelvic Floor Exercises do not need to be performed in a gym

Simple pelvic floor muscle squeeze

Start by getting in a comfortable position. It really does not matter if you sit, stand or lie back. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. How do you know that you're squeezing them? Apologies for the graphic description but I tell my clients to imagine trying to stop peeing midstream. Squeeze slowly and hold for as long as you can. Repeat a total of 10 times and then rest for a few seconds. Repeat this set of 10 a total of five times.

At first, you won't be able to hold the ‘squeeze’ for long. This is completely normal. You might not feel the exercises working at the start, but if you practice consistently, in a few weeks you will feel stronger and better supported in this area.

Pelvic floor muscle squeeze modification

A useful modification to the above movement is to fold a towel and sit on it so that it is positioned between your legs. Perform the squeezes as above. Mentally focus on raising your pelvic floor muscles. Still, really try to be mindful of the movement. As the muscles get stronger, it will be easier to do the exercises.

Seated pelvic floor exercise

This exercise will work wonders for your pelvic floor muscles

Sit upright with a 90-degree angle bend in your knees. Your lower back and abdominal muscles should be as relaxed as possible (while still maintaining good upright posture). Put a small ball (such as a tennis ball or stress ball) between your knees. Alternatively, you could clench your fist and put it in the same place. Squeeze together with your knees. Try not to engage your leg muscles, but focus on engaging the pelvic floor muscles instead. A few weeks in and you can try to use a larger ball such as a small medicine ball.

Lying Leg Raises

Lying leg raise for postnatal exercise

Lie down with your lower back flat on the mat. If you are uncomfortable, place a pillow under the small of your back. Slowly raise both legs. Keep them as straight as possible. Do 10 then rest. For the next 10, try to lift your legs up to a 90-degree angle. If you feel pain or other physical discomfort stop, rest and next time don't push yourself so much. On the return motion you need not lower your lets right to the floor, you can stop a short distance from the floor to make the exercise more manageable.

After the four week mark, you could try more demanding core stability exercises using a Swiss ball.

For cardio

Childbirth probably seemed like a marathon, but your heart and lungs will thank you if you keep up light aerobic exercise as a new mother. With all the stress of parenthood, the new schedule you have to follow, and the inevitable sleep deprivation, you may not be feeling your best. Start small, but keep it consistent. Walking is the best cardio during those first few weeks. Take your newborn baby out for a walk every day– it is wonderful for the baby, and great for you too. As a general rule, I don't advocate low intensity cardio, but when it comes to postnatal exercises the doctor’s orders are always to take things slow and some limited cardio with fresh air is much better than sitting on the sofa all day.

Gradually pick up the pace on your mother/baby walking sessions!

This low level cardio is best performed before noon ideally first thing in the morning. Getting some sun in will also help your biological clock as UV light in the morning is known to promote healthy circadian rhythms (and yours will be in slight disarray due to your baby's irregular sleep cycle). At first, you should go slow, but try to walk faster and longer every day. You want to get to the point where you are slightly out of breath during the walk. After the first three to four weeks, if you feel strong enough and your doctor approves, start adding in some light jogs. More intensive forms of cardio should be saved for later, as they can exacerbate other problems in the postnatal period.

I wish you the best of luck with your postnatal exercise programme. If you have any questions, leave them below and I'll respond.

Thanks

David


5 Swiss Ball core stability techniques for busy women

I wanted to do a piece about some effective exercises that can be performed at home with relatively little equipment, time or expense, such as one of my favourites: the Swiss Ball rollout (see below).

Background to why Swiss Balls are a really helpful fall back

The main reason I see people failing to achieve their overall exercise and health goals is not the exercise or the work itself. More often, it is a practical or logistical problem. Life can sometimes rudely interrupt your exercise plans: you need to join an early conference call, you need to look after a sick child, there's a work function you cannot miss, there is simply not enough time (there really isn't enough time- sometimes!) – there are so many valid excuses that act as a barrier to taking exercise and getting proper nutrition. I know that the many stresses of  life in 2017 can sometimes feel overwhelming and exercise inevitably falls by the wayside.

The key is to remove as many logistical and practical barriers to exercise as possible. Make a small amount of progress each day and a year from now you'll be amazed at the progress. Small habits repeated each day result in massive and lasting change.

That is why I am a fan of the trusty Swiss Ball for home workouts, particularly those exercises that give you a great core work out. Yes, lifting weights is excellent for you but it demands travel and much more preparation. If you haven't already, you should absolutely have a Swiss ball and mat at home as a back up to prevent your routine from falling apart if circumstances interfere with your usual workout plan. For homework outs, the Swiss Ball I use with my clients is this one (because it offers total safety for new and expectant mothers) and the mat I recommend is here.

"How many repetitions?"

A question I am often asked by clients is 'how many reps should I do of xyz exercise?', the answer is always the same: "You must focus on fatiguing the muscle enough to make a positive change. Perform the exercise in a controlled manner (no jerky movements or using momentum)" until you feel like you cannot physically perform the exercise any longer. Your body does not know the difference between 10 repetitions or 50 repetitions or the amount of weight you are moving. It only knows the extent to which the muscle is fatigued to create an adaptive response! This applies to all of the challenging movements below. You should be aiming for muscular failure, not a certain amount of reps.

5 Swiss Ball core stability techniques for busy women

Swiss Ball Rollout

The reason I recommend the Swiss Ball Rollout is that whilst this exercise is a very efficient method of strengthening stability in your core it also supports stability in your triceps and shoulders. The Swiss Ball Rollout is particularly effective for new mothers looking to regain abdominal strength, improve the appearance of the abdominal and upper arm area during the post-natal period and to provide support for your back and posture at a time when your body needs it most.

Here's how a Swiss Ball rollout is performed:

  • First, kneel facing the ball ensuring it is far enough away from you so that you can place the palms of your hands on it when your arms are fully extended.
  • Ensuring you keep your knees in the same position and the palms of your hands on the ball, push the ball away from you slowly so that your torso gradually becomes extended.
  • Next, pulling with your stomach muscles, and keeping both of the palms of your hands on the ball, return to  your vertical starting position.
  • During the Swiss Ball rollout mentally focus on squeezing your abdominals tight.

Swiss Ball Plank

This exercise is more difficult to perform correctly than the Swiss Ball rollout but will work the same muscle groups and, in addition, work your glues and hamstrings. This will work wonders for your posture and support your other training goals (including more difficult pursuits like free weight training).

Here's how a Swiss Ball Plank is performed:

Alternative to the Swiss Ball rollout
The Swiss Ball Plank

To perform the exercise, you simply hold the position without moving. The challenge is staying still when the stability ball starts to move underneath you. Because the exercise ball challenges your balance, it is harder to keep your alignment and your abs and shoulders work much harder than during the floor plank; because your knees are off the ground, you also work much harder than during the Swiss Ball Rollout.

  • Start by placing your elbows on the ball.
  • Balance on your toes, while keeping your body in a straight line.
  • This is an isometric exercise, which simply means that you hold the same position without moving.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  • Make sure that you keep your body in a straight line.
  • Keep your abs pulled in to stop your back from arching.
 If you feel your back arching too much, have someone (such as a workout partner) support the ball so it doesn't move as much.

Swiss Ball Leg Raise

This again will work your entire core and gives a mini-aerobic workout and muscle 'burn'.

Here's how a Swiss Ball Leg Raise is performed:

  • Place the Swiss Ball between your feet as you lie with your back flat on the ground with your hands by your sides.
  • Squeeze the Swiss Ball with your feet and ankles and slowly raise it a raise it a few inches off the ground.
  • Lift your legs to produce a 90 degree angle with the floor.
  • Lower your legs back down but do not let the Swiss Ball touch the floor.
  • Raise and lower your legs 15 times, or as many times as you can manage.

Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl

Different from the Swiss Ball rollout and the other exercises mentioned above, this exercise primarily works the hamstrings. The Swiss Ball uses a support to help raise the legs and hips off the floor. This leg exercise also works the glutes and the core very well.

Here's how the Swiss Ball Leg Raise is performed:

  • Lie on your back with your feet resting on top the ball.
  • Place your arms out to the side in a relaxed state.
  • Lift your bottom off the floor by raising your hips.
  • Pull the ball in to your body by driving your hips higher and curling your legs.
  • Slowly return to the start position still with your hips raised.

Swiss Ball Press Up

This is the most challenging exercise on the list and will work your pectoral muscles, triceps and all over core. It's highly effective, if you can do it!

Here's how the Swiss Ball Press Up is performed:

  • Put your toes on top of a Swiss Ball to elevate your body.
  • Lower your body until your upper body is just about to touch the floor.
  • Focussing on using your chest muscles, press into the mat and push your torso back into the starting position squeezing your chest at the top.
  • After a second pause at the contracted position, repeat the movement until you are fatigued

Good luck with these exercises - if you have any questions please leave them in the comments below and I will respond.

Remember that diet forms 80% of the work in getting the abdominals that you desire.

Thanks,

David


Female Weight Training Programmes - Don't Make These Four Big Mistakes

It probably does not come as news to exercise-savvy women that weight training is really good for your body and for your overall wellbeing. Hopefully, some women’s fears that training with weights will give a bulky, manly appearance have long been dispelled. There is an excellent scientific literature supporting the benefits of weight training for both men and women. And, no, it does not make women look big and muscular.

Weight lifting, performed correctly, can be of significant benefit to women.

Perhaps you have tried weight training for a short time in the past but it didn’t produce any results or just felt really awkward?

As with all things in the diet and exercise industry, for every sound piece of advice there is a myriad of conflicting (and frankly wrong) advice out there. As a general rule, if you are new to weight training you should always seek professional advice and assistance from a qualified professional, anything less carries significant risks.

Whilst you shouldn't ever feel 'bad pain' when exercising with weights, it is important to really push yourself and 'feel the burn', the good pain in the following days through delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) means you've done a good job!

That said, in my experience, there are some common areas that can typically be improved in female weight training programmes to maximise positive results (and the problems are usually different from the typical issues found in male weight training).

Mindset - fail as much and as often as you can

One of the most common problems when following a weight training programme is the person’s mindset. Whereas men tend to make the mistake of choosing a weight that is far too heavy, leading to injury on the gym floor; some women tend to select weights that are slightly too light. We’ve all seen those puny pink 2kg dumbbells that weigh less than the groceries and I can confirm they don’t do very much for your physique, they just look nice! Think about it: the average 2 year old girl weighs 12kgs and careful mums don't hesitate to lift and carry them! Going to the gym to lift anything less than something you're very comfortable with lifting in everyday life is, well, a waste of time.

If you select a weight that is too light, you may successfully ‘complete’ a set of repetitions but you are not creating a state in the body that delivers real change and therefore could be wasting a lot of time. Follow these tips before and during your session to adapt your mindset for success:

  • If you’re a beginner, understand that there are plenty of people that can help you and that you should feel fully entitled to take your spot in the weights section of your gym.
  • Do not be afraid of using the bigger weights and olympic bar equipment in the gym if you need to. Select a weight that becomes very difficult (and preferably, impossible) to lift after you have been performing the exercise for around one minute to 90 seconds (focus more on ‘time under tension’ rather than how many repetitions you are able to push out).  
  • Remember the aim is to put the muscle under a proper amount of stress to encourage growth and change, not to race through the workout as quickly as you can. Use slow, controlled movements and mentally focus on the muscle group you are working.
  • The aim is not to ‘complete’ the set of repetitions, it is to fail - as odd as that may sound. It is actually very difficult to achieve true failure, so you must keep pushing longer than you think is possible, this will bring about real change. Prepare yourself mentally before the session to ‘go all the way to failure’.
  • Remember, you should be just as puffed out at the end of a set of weight training as you would be after sprinting 100m - it is meant to be hard on your muscles and your cardiovascular system. 

If you want to read more about my thoughts on failure as the only true path to success read this.

Avoid isolation exercises

Squatting is the preferable compound movement for female weight training programmes

If you have received quality formal advice from a good trainer she or he will likely have told you to favour compound movements (including squats/leg press, chest press, shoulder press lateral pull downs and rowing movements) instead of isolation exercises (think arm curls, ab crunches, lateral raises, butt workouts, inner thigh workouts etc.). However, I still see a lot of women following weight training programmes or circuit programmes that favour isolation exercises that work smaller muscle groups.

The best advice is to stay away from isolation exercises unless you are an athlete training for a specific sport or have a very specialised reason for weight training that muscle in isolation (e.g. recovering from an injury). It produces much greater results to work many major muscle groups at once rather than isolating one muscle alone. Search for ‘compound weight training movements’ or ask your trainer to help you with them.

Start with squats for big results! Your heart will be pumping harder and you’ll create a greater adaptive response to lose fat and improve core stability and muscle tone.

Not enough rest

Do you need a break? Don't stress, your progress won't disappear!

If you do weight training properly, your body and mind need the proper amount of time to recover. You need a break.

If you are a beginner using lighter weights the particular muscle group trained will typically need less time to recover, perhaps four clear days without working out. If you are more experienced, you will typically need seven clear days to recover for the muscles to have properly healed. As you become stronger and fitter it is possible to achieve a higher level of ‘muscular failure’ than it was before.

Many women attend Crossfit or difficult circuit training group classes that do not tailor the pace or intensity to individual abilities. In general, relatively fewer women spend time the weights room or with resistance machines performing simple and safe compound movements. Crossfit is an incredibly demanding and technically difficult exercise programme and those whose business it is to sell Crossfit classes are focussed on regular attendance at sessions - not on promoting a healthy amount of recovery time.

As a rule of thumb, if you perform less well in one session compared to the session before, it can be a good indication you are working too hard and are overtraining. Next time, give yourself an extra day of rest to recover before training the same muscle group again. Remember that compound movements train lots of muscles at the same time so make sure you know what muscles you are working and give them adequate rest.

All of this is is only true if you have followed the advice in point number one above. That is: you must have reached muscular failure during the session to get great results!

Train with a partner

A work out partner can help you perform exercises safely and give you a boost

I see a lot of women ‘going it alone’ in the weights room. It is much safer and more effective to train under the supervision of a Personal Trainer or a training partner that knows what they are doing. They can 'spot' you and help you with your form when performing exercises. In particular, they can help you achieve a proper level of failure. If you are a beginner and choose a friend as your training partner, it is preferable for them to be more experienced. Having a training partner also helps keep you accountable if you don’t much feel like going to the gym.

If you have any questions about female weight training programmes, leave your questions in the comments area below and I will answer them!

Good luck!
David