biking

New Years Resolutions Worth Sticking to

We’ve all done it. Made a resolution on New Year’s Eve and decided to stick to it, at least for a month; with one of the biggest being to cut out all booze for January and give our livers a rest. But is this actually doing you some good?

Going on a January detox and cutting out the alcohol may make you feel good at the time, but as soon as you start drinking again in February you’ll undo all the hard work. According to doctors, you’d be better off not drinking for a few days each week throughout the year so your liver gets used to the decreased amount.

So, rather than thinking you can make a one-month, one-hit resolution to cleanse your liver, how about drinking less and getting a little more exercise? Here are just a few places where you can start.

Mountain biking

The popularity of road cycling increased dramatically after the Olympics, but we’re thinking something a bit more exciting might be the best way to stay fit in 2013. Once you’re kitted out with your bike, some Bontrager mountain bike shoes, gloves and a helmet you can start off on your local mountain bike trails. Get to know the local vicinity and your skills, then try and build up the difficulty level. Setting yourself goals and building up your ability level each time you ride is the perfect way to keep you interested throughout the year. Once you’ve pushed yourself hard, you can look forward to summer riding with the sun on your back.

biking

Hitting the gym

Everyone goes back to the gym in January. A combination of too much over-indulgence over the festive period and cheap rates on gym membership makes it an attractive proposition. But you need to make sure you stick to it. It’s one thing signing up it’s another maintaining your level of attendance. Start off slowly and build the intensity of your workouts up, as there’s nothing worse for your motivation than pushing too hard early on for your ability level. It’s also important that you change up your workout too. Getting through the gym doors after work is arguably the most difficult element of your gym sessions – you need to keep the interest levels high.

Signing up for something

Come spring they’ll be marathons and half marathons aplenty up and down the UK, but if you want to compete you need to get yourself signed up as soon as possible. Once you’ve done this, you know you’ve got something to work for, as they’ll be nothing worse than turning up on the day and embarrassing yourself. No matter the weather, you need to be out training. Setting yourself a goal and working towards it like this is the perfect way to get fit and maintain that fitness in 2013.

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Facebbok page

How to Get ALL My Updates on Facebook

Not sure if you knew I had a Facebook page or not, if not, click here to visit and like for more great tips, photos and answers to all your questions.

If you’ve already liked it but don’t see many updates from me, it may be because Facebook have recently changed their settings for pages, the swines!

To get ALL my updates just hover over the LIKE button (once you’ve clicked it) and select ‘ADD TO INTEREST LISTS’ on the drop down menu, then follow the instructions from there.

Facebbok page

Just a heads up, if you do have any questions, Facebook is the best place to ask me, so fire away!

Hope you all had a great Christmas and are back into your training with a vengeance!

 

 

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The Problem With Fitness and Muscle Magazines

So I picked up a copy of Men’s Fitness today for the princely sum of four pounds. It’s a cracking read for the toilet, and contains some genuinely interesting articles and bite-size factoids, but I can’t get over the fact that a worryingly high percentage of the content of this and other well known muscle mags could well be confusing and even misleading for novice and intermediate trainers.

GET SHREDDED ABS IN 5 MINUTES’ is a common headline proudly displayed on the cover of such magazines,

Now, while I don’t suggest this is substituted with something more realistic like;

WORKOUT AND EAT WELL CONSISTENTLY FOR YEARS AND ACHIEVE A MUSCULAR, WELL-BALANCED PHYSIQUE

Publishers should be more response about a lifestyle they’re effectively trying to promote.

Just in this one magazine there are several things I take issue with, take this on the front cover;

‘Build Huge Arms in four moves’ puts the emphasis on the type of exercises used, when this is actually largely irrelevant – it doesn’t matter whether you do vanilla dumbbell curls or reverse-grip preacher EZ-Bar curls with added band resistance, the key deciding factor that will dictate whether or not you do indeed ‘build huge arms’ is a degree of intensity applied to each and every rep, and consistency in doing these exercises regularly and intaking all the key muscle-building nutrients.

Phew.

Something else that’s become a trend, or rather a bad habit for these magazines is the tendancy to feature film star workouts. Again, the problem is, specific single exercises are singled out as the key determinants in creating a given physique.

Just look at this, Men’s Fitness claims that to look like Tom Hardy, you need to do;

Upright rows
Handstand press-ups
Cable Trap pulls

Absurd.

Even the notion that you can achieve a physique possessed by someone is ridiculous (your shape is defined by genetics), let alone the fact that you can do it simply by focusing on three exercises.

You either gain muscle or lose muscle, burn fat or gain fat, all manipulated by consistent, hard training with heavy weights and meticulous attention to your nutrition. See a pattern developing?

Don’t believe everything you read, bare in mind that these articles and headlines are crafted to sell magazines, not necessarily to give you the best guidance.

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Do Bodybuilders Really Require a Tan?

Written by Jake Welford (@jakecutz) ( with a link to his google+) :

 

Tanning products and oils are used by many bodybuilders before a competition to make themselves look good and make their veins look as if they are popping out. And while tanning has often been used in professional bodybuilding comps, non-pros  are also using these techniques too. Why though?

Portrait of strongman Eugen Sandow (1867-1925)

Portrait of strongman Eugen Sandow (1867-1925) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because the demand has become such that the non pros feel that they will not be able to turn pro without their skin looking tanned Now most bodybuilders have started to believe without having then tanned look they will not be able to win comps. In addition many non pros get tanned to make their bodies look  (to what they believe to be) better and to help boost their self esteem. Some bodybuilders even go to the lengths of using melanotan tanning products- which has been known to cause short term and long term health damage.

Let’s take a moment to look at bodybuilders who have not bothered to use tanning techniques. Eugene Sandow who many consider to be the father of modern bodybuilding did not have a tan. He had a great body and massive amounts of power, but he didn’t use the tanning stuff- and he didnt need to. Also many professional wrestlers including Anderson Silva and Fedor are prominent names who did not advocate the use of tanning.

Tanning, as you may know can cause countless health risks. Even tanning sprays and lotions people use have been known to have side effects.

We have to question the idea that tanning is needed in the bodybuilding world. If so, why? It doesn’t make someone stronger so I question the need for tanning in general, within our industry.

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Laser Eye Surgery

How soon can I exercise after laser eye surgery?

Laser eye surgery has made giant leaps forward in the last decade, and the procedure is now safer, less intrusive and more effective than it has ever been. Most providers now offer laser eye surgery as an ambulatory procedure, which means you can walk in and out of the clinic by yourself and there’s no need to spend any recovery time in hospital – in fact, in some cases patients can return to work the next day, and usually require no more than three days off. And of course, one of the biggest benefits of the treatment for sports enthusiasts is that it allows them to play without the need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

 

However, as with any surgical procedure, it is vital to follow all your doctors’ recommendations to the letter and take as much time as you feel you need to recover. Many patients want to know how soon they start exercising in the gym, running or swimming after the procedure, but as tempting as it is to enjoy your new-found freedom by returning to the physical activities you enjoyed before your treatment, don’t forget to put your health first!

Laser Eye Surgery

The good news is that you can exercise quite soon after laser eye surgery, as long as you take some precautions. It’s usually advised that you take a break from all forms of strenuous activity for a day or two after the procedure, but after that you can safely jog, run and work out in the gym. When running soon after surgery, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind and sun and keep your eyes lubricated with eye drops. Wear a sweatband to soak up any perspiration, which can be be painful if it runs down into your eyes.

 

You may need to rest a bit longer before swimming in a chlorinated pool, as the water tends to irritate the eyes and make it more likely that you will rub them, which can interfere with the healing process of the eyes. This is why your doctor will advise you to use eye drops rather than touching your eyes if they feel itchy. You are also more likely to pick an infection from swimming pool water while your eyes are healing, so it’s usually recommended that you avoid swimming for at least two weeks after surgery, and wear goggles for six weeks.

 

Contact sports and any activity more strenuous than running or working out are best avoided until your eyes have completely healed, which is usually around six to eight weeks after the procedure. However, ask your surgeon to see what they recommend – you may be able to play sports like tennis and squash as little as two weeks after treatment, as long as you wear eye protection. The same goes for activities like motorcycling, skiing and mountain biking. If any activity is causing excessive pain or irritation, stop doing it straight away and if in doubt, always check with your doctor – they should be happy to advise you.

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Personal-Training

Six Jobs That Require Fitness and a Great Physique

Being buff is hard work which is why you should reap benefits from it. While you will most certainly get more jealous stares and attention at the beach and gym, you can also get jobs just because your buff. Here are just a few that you can consider.

Actor

Whether you want to be a TV extra, a guy in a music video or a one night stand for the leading lady in a soap opera; being buff can get you the job.  Producers love to include guys with abs in their shows because it attracts the attention of the ladies. You can also use small parts to attract attention and get larger roles. But don’t worry if you don’t land a bigger role; small parts and even body doubling for a more famous actor actually pay really well.

personal trainer

Image credit: Google Images

Personal Trainer

Being a personal trainer is easy. All you have to do is be in shape and talk to your clients to give them the motivation they need. You might also have to work out with them, go running and even spot for them but since your buff, you’re probably used to doing that with buddies without being paid. Personal trainers can work independently or for gyms and can earn a wide variety of salaries. However; you will need to get a personal trainer certification before you can legally work in this field.

Buff Butler

Working as a buff butler is a great way to earn a lot of money. You can greatly increase your earnings while doing pretty much nothing but showing up at an event for a few hours. You can expect to wear scanty or tight fitting clothing, serve drinks and play games or converse with the guests but considering the hard labour you could be doing instead; being a buff butler is both easy and fun. Usually if the maid of honour is stuck for hen party ideas, you will be drafted in to be the centre of attention!

Firemen

FireFighter

Fighting fires isn’t an easy job. However; it is a very rewarding job that can pay well once you get into the career. You will have to go through initial training but before you know it you will be running up stairs, hauling fire hose and well, putting out fires. Fire fighting requires you to be buff and can even attract female attention because the ladies will see you as a hero.

Model

Being buff can in fact get you a job as a model. While it helps to have a pretty face as well, it’s not really necessary. There are multiple male modelling agencies that can apply to too begin a career in modelling. Remember, most models start out small and sometimes work for free in order to build a portfolio. However; after you are a little better known, you shouldn’t have any trouble being hired to pose for a collection or even model clothes on a runway.

Lifeguard

Lifeguards have to be in good shape. A lifeguard is responsible for saving people (and sometimes animals) that are drowning or trapped in the water. This can range from rescuing children from a pool or swimming out to help people drowning in the ocean! Being a lifeguard is a very rewarding and physically challenging job for the right person.

 

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Dress for (fitness) Success

This is a guest post by Vicky Dean…

 

 

Many people do not give much thought to what they will wear during exercise. For most it is a simple case of pulling on an old, slightly worn out, t-shirt and pair of shorts or jogging bottoms.

workout clothes

Image credit: Flickr Creative commons

This is OK as a short term solution but if you are serious about exercise or if you are undertaking a certain sport then you need to make sure that the clothes you are wearing are not restricting your performance. Different types of exercise and sports, as well as the different seasons that you do them in, will require very different types of clothing. Let’s take a look at some of the most important considerations when choosing your sportswear.

 

Warmth: During winter many people make the mistake of not altering what they wear during exercise whether that is running or cycling and so on. They simply think that they will soon warm up and that will be enough. Actually, you should find a top or sports jacket that is made from a breathable material such as polyester.

This way you will be initially protected from the biting cold but still be cool when you do start to sweat. If you are doing indoor exercise then wear a hoody or sweat top until you warm up and then take it off and tie it around your waist. All in all go for breathable and cool clothing and layer it up. Invest in a good exercise hat and pair of gloves if you primarily exercise outdoors, you will definitely feel the benefits!

Comfort: Comfort is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing exercise clothes. If you are uncomfortable when you are exercising then you are likely to do the exercise wrong or be put off doing it all together. Make sure that you choose the right size of clothing and not something that is to small and tight.

When you initially try your clothes on in the shop try stretching in different directions and see how the clothes move. By doing this you will soon realise if your t-shirt rides up or if your jogging bottoms fall to low down when bending to stretch. This will save you making the discovery in the gym or out on the field when it is to late.

workout clothing

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Protection: It is especially important for ladies to find the right kind of sports bra otherwise they can cause themselves damage. They come in many different styles such as with or without under wire and padding. They will usually have an impact rating too such as for “moderate exercise” and “high impact exercise”. Some will even specify what sports they are best for to help you pick the right one.

Overall, you should choose appropriate, comfortable, protective and cool clothing to wear during exercise!

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10 Resolutions for a Better Body in 2012

Developed a couple of festive saddlebags over the Christmas period? You’re certainly not alone but if you want to power into 2012 ahead of the competition then you need a fitness and nutrition strategy you can stick with. Here are ten simple fitness and nutrition tactics you can employ NOW to get the new year off to a flying start.

 

1. Spend more time on your feet

Simply spending more time on your feet, whether that be standing up or walking around, will help your fat loss efforts no end.  You burn significantly more calories when you’re on your feet, so stand up for your right to get ripped in 2012.

 

2. Eat more Protein

Protein is key to thousands of bodily functions, as well as of course muscular growth, it is also very satiating, meaning eating more of it will result in less cravings for sugary fatty food. Ensure you get some form of lean protein with each meal.

Protein in chicken

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

 

3. Get Creative in the Gym

Boredom is one of the main reasons quit the gym, so ensure your workouts don’t stagnate by trying a new exercise every time you hit the weights room. The internet and fitness magazines are great sources to discover new exercises.

 

4. Be More Accountable

Record your progress in a workout log and set goals for yourself. This is an easy, cheap way to track your progress and is incredibly motivating, since you have constantly changing benchmarks upon which to judge yourself

 

5. Spend Less Time in Gym

Cut down the time you spend in the gym, but work harder… Short intense workouts are far more effective than long drawn-out ones peppered with idle chat and long periods spent looking in the mirror.

Stopwatch

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

 

6. Get Your Fitness Efforts Online

Facebook and Twitter are great ways to gain access to some of the best fitness brains and bodies in the business. Start off by following experts like Rob Riches and Carly Thornton on Facebook for loads of regular, professional, free tips.

 

7. Try something New

As well as trying new exercises, try totally different ways of training. Try a circuit class to subject your muscles to a totally new stimulus

 

8. Stretch

I bet you don’t stretch… Start. Stretching takes less than 10 minutes and stimulates blood flow to the muscles, aiding growth and recovery.

 

9. Optimise Your Supplementation

Stop wasting your time and money on useless supplements,  realistically, whey protein should be all you need to create a great physique.

Whey protein

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

 

10. Switch gyms

If you can, changing gyms is a great way to shove some rocket-fuel into your fitness regime. Different equipment, a change of scenary and some new faces all add up to create the feeling of a new start, and some extra motivation.

 

 

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workout log

How to Keep a Workout Log

Despite how it sounds, a workout log isn’t a cylindrical piece of wood used for doing clean and presses in the woods (though I wouldn’t advise against that). I’m talking about a cheap, simple tool, which could do more for your training results than any gimmicky supplement or exotic bosu-ball exercise ever will.

workout log

Simply put, a workout log is a record of every rep, of every set of every exercise you do in the gym.

Think it sounds tedious and time consuming? Think again.

A workout log can take a few seconds to fill in, and besides it’s not like you’re doing anything productive between your sets at the moment is it?!

To create an easy to read record of your workout, simply write the name of the exercise, with the set number, followed by the amount of reps you did, and underneath that, the weight you used for each set – something like this;

workout book

If you think writing numbers down in a diary isn’t going to help you squeeze out that last rep right then and there, you’re right, but a workout log will benefit you in the medium and long term. In fact when I say medium term, I mean within a week.

A workout log allows you to see exactly how many reps and sets you did, and what weight you used, so next time you train the same muscle group you can strive to improve at least one aspect of your workout.

Make no mistake, a workout log won’t see you going from benching 50kg to 300kg in weeks, but it will help you strategically progress over time… And give you something worthwhile to do between sets!

N.B. Yes, I know, there are hundreds of mobile apps out there that will help you log your workouts on your iPhone, forget that; use a sturdy notepad and a pen. Phones have no place in the weights room.

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Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

This is a guest post by Rob Powell…

 

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that diet and exercise can improve your physique and levels of fitness. You don’t need to be told that a healthy lifestyle leads to you looking great and feeling great. But what does ‘feeling great’ actually mean? Why should lifting those weights or running those miles make you feel better, and not just afterwards, but in the long term as well? Feeling healthy is a difficult thing to quantify, so is there anything we can point at and go ‘There! That bit! That’s got better’?

Of course there is, and below we highlight some of the benefits to your body and mind that a healthy lifestyle brings, benefits that you can’t see or won’t necessarily notice straight away but when they’re pointed out you go ‘oh yeah’.

  • Stress
    Some stress can be beneficial to you and everyone has felt a ‘thrill’ at working to tight deadlines, a tense ending to a sports game and many other times. It can help keep you motivated and even be creative. But too much stress, and the wrong sort of stress, is harmful. Regular exercise helps relieve stress and tension, especially cardiovascular exercise.
  • Sleep
    People who do regular exercise – even if it’s a little bit – tend to sleep better. And if you sleep better, you’re less stressed, less cranky, and you have better energy levels. Therefore you’re more productive and you work better.
how to sleep well

Image credit: Flickr Creative Comons

  • Energy
    It sounds a bit weird but the more you exercise the more energy you have. Coupled with plenty of fresh food (including lots of fruit and vegetables) full of vitamins, minerals and protein, you’ll have the energy to get through the day without feeling the need to curl up under your desk for a nap in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Stamina
    Whatever you choose do, you’ll be doing better and for longer, be it climbing stairs, walking around the shops or having sex. Now you’re convinced, right?
  • Sickness
    If you’re less stressed, sleeping well, with good levels of energy and stamina, and maintaining all this with regular exercise and good food – and by good we mean freshly prepared as opposed to processed – you’re less likely to get ill, and not just from the big illnesses that come from long-term unhealthiness like heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and a whole host of others, you’re better able to deal with short-term sickness such as colds, flu and stomach bugs.
  • Confidence
    Never under-estimate the power of self-confidence and self-esteem. When you start to feel good, you start to look good, both of which mean you start feeling even better, and then looking better. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course, it can go the other way too, but if you have the drive to keep up the healthy lifestyle there’s no reason why your confidence and self-esteem should fall, but be realistic: Accept your limits and that it might take longer than you anticipated achieving your goals. Don’t let it stop you.
build confidence

Image credit: Google

  • Money
    If you’re confident, full of energy, calm in a crisis and not constantly off work ill, you’re going to do well at your job and that won’t go unnoticed by the bosses. It won’t guarantee you a promotion of course but being good at your job is certainly going to help, so financial reward for being healthy is not unrealistic. Plus, most people have to have life insurance as part of financial agreements such as mortgages, and if you lead a healthy lifestyle your payments could be tiny. Ditto if you decide to take out private medical insurance.

If you’ve managed to make it this far through the article, well done, hopefully you haven’t been bored and you’re feeling keen to get healthy or, if you’re already on the road to a healthy lifestyle, you’re feeling a new surge to get fitter and maybe we’ve given you something to think about that you hadn’t realised before.

This article was written by Rob Powell from Confused.com, the price comparison website for life insurance

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