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Tough Mudder – A Big Shout Out!

Just sending out a quick post as I wanted to congratulate 3 guys who are extremely important to me on their achievements last weekend! My amazing husband Rob and two fantastic friends (and also clients!) James and John (and number 4 teammate Nick) completed the ultimate fitness challenge of ‘Tough Mudder’ last Saturday in an amazing time of 3 hours. The average is 3-4 hours!

For those of you who are wondering what ‘Tough Mudder’ is, it is a hardcore 20km obstacle course that has been designed by the special forces. In between severe uphill sprints participants are faced with obstacles that are not for the faint hearted, comprising hurdles such as underground mud tunnels, fire, ice-cold water and 10,000 volts of electricity. The course is designed to both physically and mentally push you to your limits, working in teams to complete the event together http://toughmudder.com.au/about/

In order to prepare for an event like this you need to train hard and this doesn’t just mean going for your twice weekly runs. This means hardcore interval and resistance training. This means developing rock hard core strength to give you the strength, power and endurance that you need.  This means eating right and living right to ensure that your body has all the nutrients and energy reserves that it needs. They trained so hard for this event, tirelessly pushing themselves to their limits on a regular basis!

Well done boys, bring on next year!!!

PS – Special note goes to Rob who managed to dislocate his shoulder at obstacle 3 of 21, yet he still still finished with his arm in a makeshift sling made out a discarded t-shirt! (Thanks to Nick for popping the shoulder back in for him… nice!)

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Abs of Steel! Check out this hard core workout…

Engage your core, belly button towards your spine, zip up your core… you many have heard people mention these phrases on numerous occasions but what do they actually mean and what’s the big deal?!

Here’s my quick and very topline 101 on core and why it’s so important

What is your core?

Your core muscles are made up of several different muscles in your abdominals and back.  These include the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominus, the erector spinae, (sacrospinalis), the longissimus thoracis and the diaphragm.  

Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus and trapezius. 

In a simple form think of your core muscles as a highly supportive band or belt that runs around your trunk keeping everything in alignment.

Why is it so important to have a strong core?

Your body is highly reliant on the core muscles for functional movements and maintaining a good posture. If you look at people who slouch or slump they are unlikely to have strong core muscles.  

A strong core helps to prevent back pain which is often a sign of weak abdominal muscles and for you sporty people good core strength can dramatically improve sports performance or help you to lift heavier loads.

What is the Transverse Abdominus (TA)?

This hugely important muscle is the deepest of all the abdominal  muscles and is thought to be a significant component of the core. It provides thoracic and pelvic stability… and without a stable spine that is aided by this TA muscle functional movements can not be performed properly.

Therefore it is extremely important to activate and use your TA when carrying out any form of exercise from weight training to running to cycling.  It will help you to exercise safely and maintain a correct posture.

I always say to my clients that they should think of their TA  as being at the heart of them, their engine. In other words once they have activated this deep muscle they should then try to use it to give them power and strength.

How do I find my TA muscle?

The TA is notoriously a tricky to locate and recruit but once you have found it and practised using it  you will find that it works a bit like a light switch flicking on and off when needed.

To help activate this muscle imagine you are trying to zip up a pair of really tight jeans! You can improve the contraction further by also working the muscles deep within your pelvis, the ones that keep you from urinating.

How do I train my core muscles?

Here is a program of my top 6 core strengthening exercises. You don’t need any equipment, just an exercise mat, grassy area or a carpeted floor at home.

Work through the program from exercise 1 – 6 and then repeat 2/3 times.

Don’t be deceived, it’s harder than you think!

* For beginners I suggest  just doing the stage 1 of each exercise (for the ones that have stages)

EXERCISE 1…Plank with Leg Raise

  1. 60 seconds in plank position
  2. Then opposite leg raises counting to 10 before swapping legs – repeat 6 times
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise (in other words contract your TA and draw your navel in towards your spine). Push back with the heels and activate your thigh muscles pulling up from the knee caps. Tuck your tail bone under and keep breathing. When you lift the leg make sure you really activate the butt and flex the foot
EXERCISE 2…Plank with Leg Raise

  1. Side plank hold for 60 secondsResume starting position
  2. Back into the side plank position again and left let 12 times on each side 
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Come up onto the elbow making sure there is a right angle at the elbow. Squeeze the bum and pull the hips up using the oblique muscles down the side of the body. Keep the chest up and open and keep breathing.When raise the leg make sure you activate the butt muscles and keep breathing 
EXERCISE 3…Wide leg abdominal crunches

  1. Do 15 crunches with legs together
  2. Open legs wide and repeat with another 15 crunches
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Bring the shoulders are completely off the ground for the entire exercise as crunch the trunk up and down very slowly. Keep the back of the neck long at all times, tucking the chin slightly.
EXERCISE 4…Prone Ab Crunch

  1. Complete 12 reps of entire exercise on one side and then repeat with the other leg
  Start the exercise in a high plank position. Make sure the tail bone is tucked under and the core muscles are engaged. Push back with your heels and activate your thigh muscles pulling up from the knee caps. Keeping core activated lift the left leg up slowly behind you. Then bring the same knee forwards towards the chest – as far forward as possible. Next slowly lift the leg up again squeezing the butt and then finally bring the knee across the body to the opposite shoulder. Repeat these 3 moves for the desired number of reps and then swap sides.
EXERCISE 5…Bicycle Crunches

  1. Do 20 reps alternating side 
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Keep the shoulders completely off the ground as you crunch to the side and make sure the move is nice and slow.
EXERCISE 6…Sleeping Crab

  1. 15 reps of the entire move
    Begin the exercise lying on your back. Activate your core muscles as you crunch up into a sitting position with your arms behind you. Next lift your butt off the ground so your weight is in the arms and legs. Lift one leg up making sure you kick nice and high whilst breathing out, then kick up with opposite leg. Do 2 kicks each side and then resume the starting position and repeat for desired number of reps.

Workout 1 – See the Light!

This is my gym..the great outdoors! It’s free, no gym membership, no waiting for equipment,  no room full of sweaty people and no floor length mirrors that show every lump and bump! It’s fresh, it’s real, it’s in touch with nature!

Ok, for all you cynical people I appreciate that the weather isn’t always on our side and in winter the only window of opportunity may be in the pitch black but I guarantee you if you can work around it and take the plunge you will feel wonderful afterwards!

Here is the first in a serious of great outdoor workouts that I will be posting over the coming weeks and months!  For these workouts you will need no equipment, other than yourself and a park bench, a high step or a wall that’s around chair height. They are very high intensity workouts meaning that they are quick to do and yet great for calorie burn!

For the first one I am starting with quite simple moves (which will get progressively harder in subsequent workouts) but don’t be fooled, it isn’t as easy as it looks! Especially if you really put your all into it!

Don’t forget to have a bottle of water with you and do some good warm up stretches before you begin.  Also make sure that you leave plenty of time at the end to finish with some static stretches. In case you are interested, I will be posting a stretching program in the next few weeks…

Core Exercises:  Complete ONE set of a) followed by 1 set of b) then repeat for the second set
1a) Plank – 2 sets 30-60 seconds   Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise – in other words contract your pelvic floor and draw your navel in towards your spine. Push back with the heels and activate your thigh muscles pulling up from the knee caps. Tuck your tail bone under and keep breathing.
1b) Side Plank – 2 sets 30-60 seconds    Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged. Come up onto the elbow making sure there is a right angle at the elbow. Squeeze the bum and pull the hips up. Keep the chest up and open and keep breathing. Make sure you don’t allow all your weight to fall into your shoulder, try to distribute it evenly through the body.
2a) Crunches with raised legs – 2 sets 20 reps   Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Make sure the shoulders are completely off the ground for the entire exercise as you flex the trunk up and down slowly.
2b) Bicycle crunches – 2 sets 20 reps – SLOW! Hold each rep for 3 seconds   Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Make sure the shoulders are completely off the ground, bringing the elbow as close to the knee as you can. 
CIRCUIT : 45 – 60 secs for each exercise (depending on fitness level)
Complete each of the exercises below in turn and then move on to the next one with very little rest.  When you get to the end, have a short rest and then repeat the circuit 2 more times.
Side Step Ups – Do one leg for 45-60 seconds and then swap sides   FAST FAST FAST!!!! Keep your core muscles engaged (navel in towards the spine). Make sure that the heel that’s on the bench remains in contact with the bench at all times and push up through the heel and the bum. Do not let the foot on the bench leave the bench! Breathe out as you step up. Don’t let yourself bend forwards when you get tired.
Kick Ups – FAST!    Alternate legs making sure you kick nice and high! Keep your core muscles engaged at all times. Breathe out as you kick up. 
1-Leg Press Ups    Keep core muscles engaged at all times. Breathe in as you go down and out as push up contracting the chest muscles. Start with 1 leg if you can and then drop to 2 legs when it becomes too difficult. Or you can start with 2 legs or even on your knees depending on your level. 
Lunge to Balance    Keep core muscles engaged. Breathe in on the way down and out on the way up. Make sure you keep your back straight and don’t let your knee go over the end of your toe when you are in the down position. Push off from the heel as you stand up. 
Triceps Dips   Feel free to have your knees bent if too difficult with straight legs…Keep your back straight at all times and chest out. Make sure your core muscles are engaged. Breathe in as you go down and out as you come up. 
Mountain Climbers – Fast!   Keep your core muscles engaged and make sure you keep breathing! Make sure your shoulders remain above your wrists. Keep switching legs as fast as you can for the allotted time. GREAT WORKOUT!!! WELL DONE!!!

From the Sofa to 5km in 9 Weeks!

Have you always wanted to try running but lack the motivation to get started? As a personal trainer I am always surprised how many of my clients would love to give running a go but find the thought of starting from scratch very daunting!
 
A fantastic triathlete that I work with introduced me to this very simple, step by step program for beginners. It aims to have complete novices running for 30 minutes (approx 5k) in 9 weeks. I have used the program with a number of my clients who were complete beginners and they have all found it very effective and are still running now! The beauty of it is that the progression is broken down into small achievable chunks and as long as you stick to the program throughout you will build up your fitness levels safely and effectively.
 
Make sure you stretch well before and after and always get medical clearance from your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
 
 
Beginners Running Program  Number of sessions per week

Week 1

Walk for 6 minutes, then jog for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times

3 sessions

 

Week 2

Walk for 5 minutes, then jog for 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times

3 sessions

 

Week 3

Walk for 3 minutes, then jog for 4 minutes. Repeat 4 times

4 sessions

 

Week 4

Walk for 2 minutes, then jog for 5 minutes. Repeat 4 times

4 sessions

 

Week 5

Walk for 2 minutes, then jog for 8 minutes. Repeat 3 times

4 sessions

 

Week 6

Walk for 2 minutes, then jog for 9 minutes. Repeat 3 times

4 sessions

 

Week 7

Walk for 1 minute, then jog for 11 minutes. Repeat 3 times

4 sessions

 

Week 8

Walk for 5 minutes to begin and end the workout, and run for 20 minutes in between.  4 sessions

Week 9

Run for 30 minutes without stopping!Ideally aim to run for 30 minutes 4 times per week  4 sessions 

* Nergise will not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at your home, gym or elsewhere. Consult a Doctor before starting any exercise program.

Exercises you can do at home!

I have had a request from one of my lovely friends Emma back in London! She recently had a baby and requested some exercise ideas that can be done at home! So for all you mums out there, here is a simple ‘no excuses allowed’ home program…no equipment is needed!

Ideally you would combine this program with a short cardio warm up and some stretches.

Work through each section of the program by doing one set of a) followed by one set of b) then repeat, to do a total of two sets in each section.

Core

a) Plank – (2/3 sets of 60 seconds)

Plank - Strength Exercise - Step 3

Start on your hands and knees. Reach out and place your elbows and forearms on to the floor and grasp your hands together.Raise your body onto your arms and toes. Hold this position, keeping your hips and body as straight as possible.

a) Bridge – (2 sets of 12 repetitions)

Bridge - Yoga Exercise - Step 1

Lay down on the floor with your knees bent. Press down into the feet to lift your hips up off the ground squeezing the bottom.  Hold for 5 seconds, lower back to the ground and repeat.  Breathe out as you raise the hips up and in as you bring them down.

Superset 1

1 a) One Leg Squats – (2 sets of 12 – 15 reps)

One Leg Squat in Front of Chair - Gentle Exercise - Step 1One Leg Squat in Front of Chair - Gentle Exercise - Step 2

Stand with your back to the chair and extend one leg straight out in front of you. Slowly lower yourself as if to sit in the chair, reaching back to hold the arms of the chair for stability as needed.

Just before your rear touches the chair, dig the heel into the ground and squeeze the bum standing back up and returning to starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps and switch legs.

OR 

1 a) Simple Squats (easier option) (2 sets of 12 – 15 reps)

Traditional Squat with Weights - Strength Exercise - Step 1Traditional Squat with Weights - Strength Exercise - Step 2

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbel (optional) in each hand at your sides. Bend your knees to lower your hips down and back as if you were going to sit in a chair. As you reach the lowest point of your squat, push through your heels and squeeze the bottom to power your rise back to starting position and repeat. Breathe in on the way down and out on the way up.

1 b) Diamond Press Ups  (either on feet or knees) – (2 sets of 10-15 repitions)

Diamond Push Up - Strength Exercise - Step 1Diamond Push Up - Strength Exercise - Step 2

Place hands under your chest in the press up position with fingers facing  towards each other so that they are forming a diamond shape. You can either do this exercise on the feet or drop down on to the knees to make it easier.  Slowly lower yourself down to the floor by bending your elbows whilst breathing in.  Straighten the arms and breathe out to come up.

Superset 2

2 a) Tricep Dips – (2 sets of 12-15 reps)

 Chair Dips - Gentle Exercise - Step 1Chair Dips - Gentle Exercise - Step 2

Sit on a sturdy bench or chair. Place hands on the edge of the chair on either side of the hips with fingers placing forwards.  Position feet away from chair. Straighten arms, slide bottom off the bench and position heels on the floor with the legs straight. Whilst breathing in lower body by bending arms until slight stretch is felt in chest or shoulder, or rear end touches floor. Breathe out as you raise body and repeat.

2 b) Bulgarian Lunges (2 sets of 12-15 reps)

One Leg Lunge - Gentle Exercise - Step 1One Leg Lunge - Gentle Exercise - Step 3

Place your right leg behind you, resting the top of your foot on the seat. Do not go past the point at which your left thigh is parallel with the floor. Push through your left heel to straighten your left leg, keeping your back straight, and repeat.

OR

2 b) Static Lunges  (easier option) – (2 sets of 12-15 reps)

 Mini Static Lunges - Gentle Exercise - Step 2

Squat down by flexing knee and hip of front leg. Allow heel of rear foot to rise up while knee of rear leg bends slightly until it almost makes contact with floor. Return to original standing position by pushing the front heel into the ground, extending hip and knee of forward leg. Repeat for desired number of reps then continue with opposite leg.

Superset 3

3 a) One Arm Row – (2 sets of 12-15 reps)

One Arm Row With Chair - Gentle Exercise - Step 2One Arm Row With Chair - Gentle Exercise - Step 3

Step forward with your inner leg and back with your outer leg, bending forward at the waist and letting your outside arm hang straight down. Hold onto either a dumbell (if you have one) or another heavy object of the desired weight that you have lying around the house. Pull the weight towards your waist, keeping your elbow close to your side. Keep your back straight and your head level.

3 b) Big Arm Circles – (3 sets of 60 seconds)

Big Forward Arm Circles - Gentle Exercise - Step 1Big Forward Arm Circles - Gentle Exercise - Step 2

Stand up straight and stretch out both arms to make a 90 degree angle to your body. Open your palms and face them towards the floor. Keeping your arms as straight as possible, begin making big circles in a clockwise motion. Do 10 circles and then reverse to anti-clockwise direction. Keep repeating for 60 sections.

Finish with some stretching

CONGRATULATIONS FOR COMPLETING YOUR HOME WORKOUT!!

Increase your Metabolism by 50-100 Calories per Day!

If you want to burn off  additional calories then try weight training!

For every 1lb of lean muscle mass gained you can burn off an additional 50-100 calories per day at REST. To put it into context 100 calories equates to a bread roll, a cookie or a glass of white wine.

Ok, I am not talking about turning your body into Arnold Schwarzenegger but just doing your squats, lunges, shoulder presses etc will help you to build muscle and turn that flab into fab!

Make sure you also get in a sufficient amount of protein as this will help to repair and grow those muscles. Research has shown it is most beneficial to get additional protein at breakfast, so include a hard boiled egg with your toast or natural yogurt with your cereal.


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