This post is about how to banish the infamous ‘bingo wings’, which secretly work to veil the triceps like a hood; those so-called ‘triceps’ are a large, three-headed group comprising a long, medial & lateral head, all positioned towards the back of the upper-arm. Whether in or out of the gym, we use them for every movement requiring a push, and indeed some that require pulls too. Weaker triceps could well limit the effectiveness of training shoulders, chest and back, and might also stop you from heroically saving the day if extreme arm strength is required in some sort of an emergency! When worked-out properly, you can actually sculpt these triceps so that they look just-so for an upcoming spring getaway occasion! Click MORE to see a full tricep-targeting routine shot wearing the latest collection of Forever 21 activewear … (more…)
I’m still splashing away in the pool, learning to swim the front crawl for the fabulous cause that is Sainsbury’s Sport Relief, kicking off on March the 23rd 2014 at the epic Olympic pool. Anyone can take part and if swimming isn’t your cup of tea there’s also the cycle / marathon . You’ll be getting fit for 2014 (the classic resolution) whilst raising money for some of the poorest in the world. Why not sign up?! Check it out HERE!
You might notice that whilst I’m rattling on about swimming, I’m not in a pool in these pictures (shot outside the newly re-opened Kenwood House, just at the top of London’s Bishops Avenue, aka Billionaires Row). Yes, it’s hard to swim through air, but this post is actually about training the small stabiliser muscles that comprise the shoulder; it’s usually these smaller ones that are susceptible to strains in the pool, and are often neglected when you train in the gym. To build them up and prevent injury, there are a few simple exercises you can do with just a trusty resistance band…
Dear Santa, I’ve been really healthy (almost) all year and I intend to be next year as well; after a festive wander through Harrods, here are my 18 top fitness gift ideas that’ll certainly help keep me on track through 2014; including some clothes, trainers, workout equipment, healthy food & drink and other gym knick-knacks. The sort of thing any fitness freak like me would love to open in just a fortnight’s time! 😉 Faya x (more…)
As per my previous post here, the Sport Relief Swimathon March 2014 is just around the corner and I’m burning off my early dose of mince pies in the pool – whilst raising cash for an awesome cause! ‘HOW ARE YOU GETTING ON WITH THAT, FAYA?’ I hear you ask? Well, one minor setback is that I can’t swim… the front crawl (which is the mandatory stroke)! Thankfully, Charlie to the rescue! She’s a fantastic and painfully-tough swimming coach who also happens to be a sports therapist working with Watford Football Club, & will be coaching me all the way into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic pool.
This post contains a ‘Progress Report’ from week 1, as well as the BENEFITS OF SWIMMING, as I see it. As the months go on, I’ll be blogging about my aquatic experiences & fitness tips/tricks along the way, as well as running through the stretching routines, land training, injury-prevention exercises, nutrition, etc. (more…)
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been asked to take part in the first ever ‘Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games’ next year, running from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. I think it’s such an awesome way to combine fitness with a very charitable cause, and represents a great goal or milestone date to aim for (which I always find a massive help with my fitness targets!)
The three fundraising events they’ve got scheduled are 1) the Mile, 2) the Swimathon and 3) the Cycle. You can run, swim and/or cycle your way to raising cash at around a thousand venues up and down the country. The Swimathon (my chosen event) takes place in the landmark Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, (THE venue of the London 2012 Olympics) where I’ll be swimming for a good cause – so ecstatic!
PROBLEM: Since I can only swim the breaststroke and not the required crawl, (oh dear!) the swimathon is going to be a huge challenge! But I’ve always wanted to learn and this is the perfect opportunity. Let the training commence! The great thing about this charity is it doesn’t matter how sporty or fit you are, there’s something for everyone to choose from and whatever event you pick every mile counts, because the money raised will be used by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both in the UK and around the world.
So why not sign up!?! It’s half price until mid Jan, and after the indulgent festivites around the corner – I’m talking about Christmas and New Year’s eve celebrations – surely this event comes at the perfect time to add some energy and focus back into your workout routine. Getting into a healthy cycle, knowing that every run, every swim and/or ride is for a tremendously important cause, that’s part of the fun on this one!
March is just over 4 months away so I’m starting my training now and hopefully by the time I need to jump in the Olympic Pool I’ll be able not only to crawl but also complete the full length in a decent time. I’ll keep you updated through the blog, Twitter and Instagram on how I’m getting on and what I’m learning through my training. HERE I GO! 🙂
It’s almost 35 degrees out – uncomfortable & sweaty, but I’m not complaining; it serves as a great reminder of just how important it is to stay hydrated especially in heat like this. I normally drink about 2 litres of water a day (we lose 2.5 litres during the average day, regain 1 litre through food, and the remaining 1.5 litres is supposed to be your drinking water… but I like to build in some extra!). In these pictures shot in Saint Tropez, en-route to Pamplonne, it’s more like 3-4 litres a day – I literally got through 8 of these 50cl bottles in the 24 hours. Water must be the most important ingredient we can give our bodies, which are 60% water anyway – it’s critically involved in pretty much every bodily function we humans are capable of. It improves overall well-being and quality of life in so many ways and will certainly improve your ability to achieve your training goals.
Click MORE below to read my 8 reasons for staying optimally hydrated, and a couple of tips to spice up the bland taste 🙂
Time for some Fitness On Toast ‘ethos’ 🙂 … I’ve always believed that there should be very little difference in how men and women train themselves. Women, like most men, hope to achieve the same aesthetic end-point; a lean physique (drop body fat percentage and in so doing, ‘tone’/sculpt the musculature), as well as wanting to build strength, endurance, flexibility etc.
Why is it then, that so often I see women performing simpler, less effective (and perhaps less ‘intimidating’) exercises than men in the gym? Take the deadlift – a phenomenal compound exercise, yet 80%+ of the time men dominate the freeweight area with not a single woman in sight! Women should squat, dead lift, bench press, sweat and work hard! Go heavy and work to the maximum – THAT gets results much faster, which is of course the key reason we seek progress at the gym in the first place – to see results, and preferably quicker!
The popular misconception that ‘wafer-skinny’ is the ultimate reward for sacrificing hours on end at the gym, is misguided and unhealthy. That’s just so ’80s. These days ‘strong is the new sexy’; people want to FEEL strong and BE healthy, not just LOOK thin at the cost of feeling malnourished. That’s not to say we should all end up looking like Muscle Mary’s either, by the way, but it is far tougher for women to gain physical mass than for men.
Muscles constantly burn fat, which combined with a healthy diet, can help to yield the ‘lean’ look. However, female bodies have a different hormonal set-up. Men naturally have higher testosterone levels (a ‘muscle-building’ growth & repair hormone) and because women have significantly less of this, it’s harder for us to gain muscle mass. Those few women you may see in the gym who look huge have most likely worked incredibly long & hard for that look! So stop worrying about ‘bulking up’. You just wont wake up one morning and split your blouse sleeves because you lifted heavy weights the night before!
There are certain muscle groups (& therefore certain exercises) that women should probably de-emphasise, relative to men. The Trapezius (neck & surround) muscle is a good example – something most women don’t care to develop. Likewise, few mademoiselles want comically-pronounced quadriceps – but what woman doesn’t want a perky, round firm ass – which by the way, is the gift you get from almighty squats and thunderous dead lifts! Or toned arms and defined shoulders? So start benching, or keep lifting heavier – I don’t want to come across all feminist, but ‘Go take over the weights area, Bitches !!!‘
(click MORE below to see all the photos from my workout at the very well equipped gym in the Hotel Byblos, Saint Tropez).
Alot of my clients don’t (at first) think they need to stretch. Some don’t see the value. Some think they should be lifting something instead, or running somewhere. Some think they’ll (embarrassingly) never be able to reach their toes! BUT by stretching for a few minutes, you will see and feel the benefits. Here are just 6 (of many) reasons why I consider it vitally important to stretch, in no particular order!
1) Reduces your risk of injury drastically, and keeps you mobile as your body matures.
2) Improves your flexibility, by increasing the range of motion of a joint by stretching out the surrounding soft tissue (i.e. muscles tendons & ligaments)
3) Speeds muscle recovery – after an intense workout, the muscles remain in a partially-contracted state, and by not stretching afterwards, you will feel stiff and sore for longer. Stretching relaxes, elongates and softens the muscles which is important for both strength and endurance training.
4) Creates correct muscle balance – failing to stretch regularly after workouts can lead to problems with posture, & muscle imbalance. Consider someone who sits at a desk for 10 hours everyday, some of his / her muscles will naturally become tighter, others weaker. For example, the hip flexors will be in a mildly contracted state whilst seated, and after a while the hip flexor can tilt the pelvis forward, causing the spine to round, which leads to pack pain. So even if you’re not working out, stretching out the pelvis, hip flexor, back, neck and shoulders for a few minutes every day, will help your body stay conditioned.
5) Improves balance – by increasing the range of motion in joints, it gives the body one fewer reason to impede itself and fall over, as stretching encourages uninhibited movement.
6) Muscular growth – The fascia (fibrous tissue) surrounding muscles is said to limit the amount of space muscles have to grow. By stretching a muscle under a resistance, you can encourage further muscular growth (hypertrophy). Be aware though, Extreme Fascial Stretching (for muscle growth) is very stressful to muscular tissue and can cause injury if not practised properly.
TYPES OF STRETCHING ?
1) PRE WORKOUT ? Dynamic Stretching – always warm up for c. 5 minutes before stretching, making sure the muscles are actively prepared, and then perform dynamic stretches, which effectively means ‘stretching whilst moving’. These stretches should only be held for 3-10 seconds each. Some examples are walking lunges, lunging and reaching, power skipping, knee hugs, quad walks etc.
2) POST WORKOUT ? Static Stretching – these are slow and constant, and each stretch is usually held for 10-30 seconds, during which you’ll consider them mildly uncomfortable. Sometimes they’ll be passive, as someone stretches you out whilst your body relaxes. You should avoid bouncing whilst holding your static stretch, as it can risk tearing muscular fibre. These stretches aren’t designed to make you sweat, rather to lengthen/relax the muscle spindles.
Stretch safe, here are some pics of me having a stretch! Faya x
STAGE 3) PROTEIN POWER!!!
Sugar cravings under control √. Complex energy understood √. Now it’s time to fuel your training! Protein is part of any balanced diet; in the gym environment it’s often known for ‘growth and repair’ properties, but every function in our cells/organs/bodies are regulated by protein – ‘growth and repair’, yes, but also, digestion, absorbtion, healthy blood oxygenation, bone strength, antibody production, brain activity etc. With this in mind here’s a good recipe to make a yummy dish packed with high quality sources of protein!
This picture is of my healthy, home made, grilled (avoid frying) tuna steak ‘burger’. Tuna is a naturally rich source of lean protein (c. 25g of protein per 100g), and has very low saturated fat content especially when compared to red meat. The calorific content is also low, at c. 220 calories per 150g tin. It also contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins B12 & B3 and other essential fats. I topped it off with half an avocado (tasty, with essential fatty acids), rocket (for iron and a vitamin boost) and some chilli powder (to set my metabolism racing)! Also, the bun is wholegrain (complex carbs, slow release energy)!
Burger King, eat your heart out! x