Archive | August, 2014

10 Weeks til I Flip

22 Aug

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I have come to the end of my second full week of training and I’m loving it. I have experienced a few hurdles that have knocked my confidence this week, but I have managed to turn it around with the help of a few encouraging words here and there, and knowing I have the support of a fantastic team behind me helps a lot. Positive thinking and sheer determination is what is going to get me to the end, so head up and lets carry on!!

This week I have trained three times at The Lomax (www.lomaxpt.com), with three different trainers, each pushing me in a different way. I have had one core & endurance session, and two strength & power sessions. I did some very light cardio and stretching on my day off and finished the week with an exhausting gymnastics training session.

My strength session this week taught me a hell of a lot. I had the extremely talented Jordan Lue on my case and i thoroughly enjoyed our session. He is passionate about performance enhancement which is perfect for me. He watched my squat and discovered that due to my large range of motion, my hips and back were losing form as I reached the floor, and my glutes were disengaging therefore putting heaps of pressure on my already weak lower back. He assessed where my form was lost and had me do numerous sets to that point, making sure I pushed my knees out as far as possible both on the way down and up. Once he was happy that I was maintaining correct form, I was able to start squatting lower again and sure enough, if I did what he said and pushed my knees out and hips back, I was performing them with the correct form!

Sometimes it takes a new person to look at your posture and technique for them to pick up on something that no one else has. I think this will really help me as I go forward with training.

In gymnastics it is extremely important to be powerful in executing your skills to give you enough height to perform the entire movement correctly. I have been focusing on the power aspect of training in my olympic lifting sessions, focusing on a slow decent before coming up as fast as I can. Through engaging my core and glutes, and pressing my feet hard into the ground, I am able to do this without losing form which is important for injury prevention. It’s taking me a while to get the whole movement pattern correct but I am getting closer and closer with each session. With Olu Adepitan, olympic lifting legend, I have been working on getting the technique right for a ‘clean’ using a barbell starting at 20kg working my way up to 35kg so far. I am feeling more and more confident with this now as I progress through the stages. He is sure this is still too light for me and threatening to increase the weight next time, so I am sure this confidence will be short lived!!

Gymnastics training this week has involved plyometric work, with lots of jumping and quick explosive movements preparing for events such as vault and floor. I have been trying out some new skills to add to my routines, hoping to increase my difficulty score overall. We are still in the trial and error stage with choosing the skills to compete, with hopefully not too much error going on. It won’t be until closer to the competition that routines will start going together, for now it’s about learning and perfecting each individual skill in isolation, slowly building up the connections.

Next week I am taking an annual trip to cornwall for a week of surfing. I was initially looking forward to a week off but I soon realised that there is no point in taking a big step backwards when we only have 10 weeks to go. Johnny and Olu have put together a list of gruelling exercises to do whilst I am there so watch this space for sand sprints and other fun things I will be doing.

Engage Your Core

20 Aug

Screen-shot-2013-06-05-at-7.58.43-PM-474x220Some of the most frequent questions I get asked as a personal trainer, and I’m sure it’s the same for other trainers is “How do I get a flat stomach?” and “If I do sit ups every day will I get a six pack?”

The answer to the last question is no, not necessarily. Unfortunately we can’t spot reduce fat, and that is what is covering that mysterious six pack of yours. We can’t do exercises that target weight loss from a particular part of our body sadly. This would make life far too easy.

The answer is to learn how to engage the core in every exercise you do. There are many reasons you should aim for this. The first being that it will stabilise any other movements you are doing whilst ensuring proper posture, it will improve any lower back pain almost immediately and your core will get stronger and more reliable once you start learning to work with it not against it.

The core muscles will become stronger and work harder, the longer they are held under tension for. For example doing one minute of sit ups as fast as you can will only engage the core for about half of that time, because much of that minute it isn’t being used and momentum is doing the job for you. If you were to perform an exercise such as walking lunges with a lateral rotation, engaging in the core all the way through the motions, there is nothing to say that the core won’t work for the entirety of the movement. This could be 2 minutes non stop. Without engaging the core for exercises requiring rotation, you will find that your balance is off and you struggle to complete the set in control.

How do I engage my core?

220px-PostureFoundationGarments04fig1So often it’s because people rush and forget about their core that it is not engaged. Stop and think before performing any exercise. You must make sure you are starting in the right position, with the right posture first.

What you need to do is pull your core in and up, aiming to straighten out your spine. (imagine trying to do up a tight pair of jeans) To help with this, you must try and tilt your pelvis into a neutral position to minimise the curve in your lower back. This pelvic tilt is shown in the picture on the left. You can see that immediately she stands taller, with her stomach pulled in. The figure shows a neutral line from the head all the way down the body which cannot be achieved had she left her head hanging down. All of these points need to work together to engage the core. This same shape applies in the horizontal position for plank and other similar exercises.

 

If you can do this before each exercise, you will find your core will work much harder than it ever has before and there is no need to waste your time doing hundreds of sit ups and crunches. Lunges, squats, mountain climbers, kettlebell swings, shoulder press… all these movements will work your core IF you do them properly!

 

Before you start any exercise, stop and think about your posture. Don’t rush, look in the mirror and check your positioning is correct first.

Remember 3 things :

1. pull in CORE

2. tilt PELVIS

3. HEAD up

 

 

3 Months to Challenge Myself

13 Aug

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I am always telling my clients that they shouldn’t ever get too comfortable in their exercise routine. First of all, your body is far too clever at adapting which will lead to a plateau in results but equally importantly, it will get boring!!

I have decided to walk the walk and take on a challenge of my own to see what my body can achieve when it’s pushed. I had an operation earlier this year and what was meant to be one month off exercise quickly turned into a few months and I found myself losing confidence, and strength. I have taken on the challenge of competing in a British Gymnastics competition in November and in order to build up my strength, power and stamina I have enlisted the help of strength and conditioning experts Jonathan Lomax and Olu Adepitan from The Lomax Way in Chelsea.

When Johnny first expressed interest in helping me, his plans filled me with fear. Talks of olympic lifting, increasing my calories to 3000 calories a day minimum… not what I had in mind! I just kept imagining a fat lumpy gymnast in a leotard so thought I would nod along but tackle the calorie issue with him another day!

The next time I walked into the gym was for my testing session. The session was aimed at seeing my level of strength and whether I had any technique whatsoever for them to work with. Watching Johnny add weight after weight onto the bar was worrying me, but thankfully I didn’t fall when it was put on my shoulders. I was pleasantly surprised that just by having Johnny standing there I was able to push myself further than I ever thought.

The next hurdle to overcome was the words “olympic lifting” – with the word olympic there it sounds so out of reach and scary. I was excited though because I was told that Olu is some sort of Olympic lifting expert. We worked through some movements and the fear went away. Soon enough, he was adding on weight to the bar and here is where the challenges arrived. It’s safe to say that I have a lot of work to do regarding getting the techniques perfect but I really enjoyed my first session and can’t wait to see what I will be able to do in the coming weeks.

On top of my first few sessions with these two crazy trainers, I have also been focusing on training up some new skills in gymnastics so my body is calling for a rest. I have added in a few rest days into my week, involving a lot of stretching to maintain my flexibility for the sport, and mobility work to keep my body functioning properly and avoiding injury. Oh, and as for the calorie issue I quickly realised what he had meant, I have been continuously hungry since starting this new type of training and it is very clear that I need the extra calories to cope with it. I have been eating more protein to keep me full of energy and keeping my diet as clean and whole as possible.

 

I am certainly looking forward to my rest days, but even more excited to keep learning and pushing myself.