Fitness Tips

How To Improve Your Push-ups

The push-up is one of the bread-and-butter workouts that we all know, and we either hate them or love them. Sure, they seem simple enough on paper – lower your body to the ground and push it back up again – but it’s not always that easy for everybody. Luckily there are a few exercises and techniques that our personal trainers regularly advise, that will help you get better at doing push-ups and doing them correctly. First up, the basics:

How To Do A Push-up

Before you can even improve your push-ups, the first step is knowing how to do a strict form push-up correctly:

  • Keep your feet together and make sure that your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Your head and hips should be in alignment with your spine throughout the movement. Your body should form a nice straight line from your heels all the way to the crown of your head. Lock your body into position by clenching your glutes and bracing your core.
  • Keep your elbows tucked close to your body when lowering yourself down. Try to form a 45-degree angle to your torso when viewed from above.
  • Your chest should be a few inches from the floor in your lowest position
  • Don’t twist your shoulders or torso on the way up; keep the weight of your upper body evenly distributed between your hands

With the above in mind, practice makes perfect. Once you’re confident you have the basics of proper form mastered, you can figure out what your push-up level is. Keeping to proper form, see what your maximum amount of reps is. This will be the foundation on which you can improve your technique and max reps.

If you struggle do any push ups at all, try try incline push-ups and push-up static holds

If you can’t do any push-ups, try with your hands elevated (about 12 inches at least), by using a bench, table or box. These are incline push-ups and are fantastic for beginners. Start by performing 3 sets with a minute rest between each set. Once you’re able to do 3 sets of 10 reps at your starting height, try lowering the height and repeating the workout.

If you can do 3 to 6 push-ups, try negative reps and low-rep sets

On your workout days, try to do some push-ups stopping a couple of reps shy of your maximum (even if this means just doing one push-up). Try doing this up to a dozen times throughout your workout or just during the day at random intervals.

On those same days, practice with some negative reps. Using perfect form, take 10 or 20 seconds to slowly lower yourself from the starting position to the floor. Return to the top position and repeat for a total of three slow but effective reps.

If you can do 7 to 10 push-ups, try low-to-mid reps

It’s at this stage that it’s most likely just the ‘sticking point’ at the bottom of the push-up movement that’s holding you back. To remedy this, try 3 sets of regular push-ups, stopping a couple of reps before your max. Then add a full set of low-to-mid reps; which consist of going from the lowest position to the midpoint (chest halfway between the floor and the top of the position), once again stopping a few reps before your maximum.

Don’t stop there!

No matter where you start on your road to push-up mastery, there’s always ways you can change up your workout and perfect your technique. Start small if you have to, but with dedication and practice, you’ll be surprised how much a simple push-up routine can increase your strength.

5 Tips For Building Muscle as a Beginner

It can be difficult for people to start their fitness journey, particularly if they are looking to go solo and plan it all themselves. For those guys and girls interested in building muscle in particular, what you can find on the internet is vast and very daunting, to say the least.

But there are some things that are more straightforward and fundamentally important for beginners to know. Let’s take a look at five of them that our personal trainers think all beginners can benefit from.

1: Start with moderate resistance and volume.

“No pain, no gain”, as the motto says, couldn’t be any more devastating for a beginner to follow. You don’t want to find yourself in the common situation of not being able to walk after your very first training session! The fact is, studies do show that untrained individuals can get bigger and stronger without pushing their bodies to the absolute limit.

Certainly, maximum intensity and volume become important matters once you’re more experienced, but for beginners, it incurs much more exercise-induced muscle damage. Since your body is probably not used to such exertion, you’ll be sorer and weaker for longer, hurting your future exercise performance. Go moderately heavy, perhaps something you can do comfortably for 10 reps, and then slowly progress from there.

2: Get Your Protein.

Nutrition is vitally important in all aspects of fitness. I think we can all agree to that. But often beginners fall short on their protein. Within the fitness industry, not many aspects are messier and more confusing than protein intake.

Whether that’s protein timing, eating protein with your carbs, or using specific types of protein shakes. The information is overwhelming, and often unsubstantiated, but none of it matters more than simply getting enough protein each day.

We advise eating a palm-sized portion of protein of some kind; lean meat, fish, eggs, pumpkin, hemp or chia seeds. If you are vegetarian or vegan we would suggest you include a moderate amount of fermented soy foods such as tempeh, no more than 50g per day.

3: Focus on Compound Movements First

The best way to achieve overall growth and strength is through compound movements. These include things like squats, pull-ups, bench presses, push-ups and deadlifts – all heavily targeting multiple muscle groups unlike isolation exercises.

It will take more effort to master such movements, but the payoff in terms of growth and strength is much more lucrative. .

Once you get your compounds down, then you can focus on isolation exercises targeting muscles that you want to improve.

4: Work on your mobility.

Many beginners, and even a lot of experienced trainers for that matter, believe that they can neglect stretching and warming up their muscles and joints.

But without proper mobility, improper lifting technique, lack of range of motion, and injuries often follow behind. If you feel like you’re not doing a certain exercise correctly no matter how much you practice, chances are that your mobility is holding you back!

Implementing dynamic stretches, PNF stretches, joint flows, and even foam rolling can go a long way in improving mobility.

5: Ask for Help!

There’s absolutely no shame in getting assistance in your fitness journey. Our personal trainers and other members of the Go-FitUK have been in your situation in the past and have the tips, knowledge and motivational words that you need. Come and join us today and let us help you get the best out of your workouts.

How to Relieve Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

What is Delayed onset muscle soreness?

DOMS or Delayed onset muscle soreness also called muscle fever, is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise.

Now many of you will know from experience that these can cause a lot of pain! There is no shying away from it, if you are not used to exercise or higher intensity exercise your body is going to be annoyed at you! You will not be used to it and your muscles certainly aren’t going to be happy!

But don’t worry! It does get better, it does get easier and it should NOT put you of moving forward!

The pain you’re in today is the power you are going to have tomorrow!

Below are some of ways to relieve the symptoms of DOMS –

  1. Blow Hot and Cold in the Bath or Shower, Blood flow transporting nutrients to the muscles and clear metabolites are an important aspect of reducing DOMS. Physiotherapists often advise switching between cold and hot while in the shower. This causes alternating vasodilatation and vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the affected area. Try to switch the temperature every two minutes, but keep it fairly comfortable – nothing too extreme in either direction – and you should notice some improvement in the severity of your DOMS.
  2. Light Massage: Massaging a sore muscle can help reduce tightness while promoting blood flow, which in turn helps speed recovery, thus shortening the duration of DOMS.
  3. Adequate protein consumption is not only essential for building muscle mass, but ingesting protein during and after exercise has also been shown to decrease post-exercise muscle damage Protein comes from a variety of sources. You might prefer getting your protein from solid foods (such as meat) or supplements (i.e. powder, bars, liquids, etc.)

Whether it’s Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Atkins, Cambridge… all diets start with the very best of intentions, but historically the majority then don’t manage to stick to it. Why is this!? Why are over 25% of adults in England classed as obese? (according to NHS survey 2012). This is 3 times the amount since 1980!

More and more research is now proving that it isn’t fat that is the enemy but it’s sugar. The common trend since 1980 is that as our sugar consumption has increased so to has our obesity problem. The MASSIVE problem that exists is that sugar comes in all sorts of disguises and it’s ridiculously addictive.

If you check out the ingredients of the stuff that you really crave and enjoy and see anything ending in “ose” then it’s a sugar

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose
  • Lactose
  • High fructose corn syrup

Let’s keep this simple now. Once we have consumed any of these ‘oses’ the body will deal with it in one of two ways. Either we burn it off as energy (just about impossible given the amount that the average person consumes each day), or it’s converted into fat by the liver and stored in fat cells.

The biggest danger of the above is type 2 diabetes of which there are twice as many known (there are also a huge number of people that don’t realise they have it) in the UK since 1980.

As far as healthy guidelines and limits of sugar each day (remember we are talking added and hidden sugars here – anything ending in ‘ose) is 6 teaspoons per day for women and 8 teaspoons per day for men. An easy way to measure this is divide the number of grams by 4 to get the number of teaspoons. Couple of examples then:

  • Snickers bar has 27grams (so around 7 teaspoons) of sugar
  • 330 ml can of coke has 35grams (around 9 teaspoons) of sugar
  • Krispy Kreme doughnut has 26grams (6 1/2 teaspoons) of sugar

Get this then. In America of the 600,000 different food items found in their Supermarkets 80% are spiked with added sugar and the industry uses 56 different names for them! Why do they do this?

Because people are becoming aware of the dangers of over consumption of the stuff and so if we don’t realise we’re actually buying it then they will sell more, especially given that it’s proven that it can be as addictive as many class A drugs!!

If you’re wandering whether you might be addicted to something then just try giving it up for a couple of weeks and see how you feel and if you crave it.

These big companies (usually the culprits are any company that advertises) have us held hostage and herein lies the major problem with sticking to these so called diets and resolutions. We blame ourselves for not having the ‘willpower’ to keep going.

Hidden sugars to look out for on that ingredients list:

  • anything with syrup in the name
  • anything ending in ‘ose’
  • fruit pulps and concentrates
  • anything with sugar in it (obviously)

Check out those pasta sauces, salad dressings, breakfast cereals, low-fat yogurts, and breaded fish fingers and chicken bits.

Our bodies treat those white carbs in a similar way to pure sugar unfortunately. So breads, crackers, bagels, pretzels, starches such as rice, cereals, potatoes, corn and fruit juice all come under this category.

So watch your sugar intake. Be wise to these big companies that are very cleverly trying to push their addictive foods on to you. I can absolutely guarantee that if your sugar intake comes down so to will your weight and body fat %. This then becomes more about a long term lifestyle change rather than a short term diet that doesn’t work.

1 Tip To Boost Your Fat Loss By 100%

On our plan we ask you to drink four litres of water daily. This will leave you running to the loo every 30 minutes or so for the first few days but we promise this gets better and the benefits far outweigh the extra few sprints in the beginning (plus think of all the extra calories when you are doing the 100m across the office)

The process of burning calories requires a decent amount of water. If you are dehydrated it will slow down the fat burning process. When you burn calories it creates toxins in your body and you need water to help flush them out.

Water assists the body in other ways; it helps maintain muscle tone as well as lubricating your joints.

Proper hydration can help reduce muscle and joint soreness when exercising. Water is also required to help prevent constipation in a high fibre diet.

Every day you lose water through perspiration, breathing, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming drinks and foods that contain water.

Here’s 5 top reasons why H20 will be your new best friend:

  1. Water helps reduce wrinkles. According to recent studies, almost 1 in 5 men and women who drank 1.5 litres of water per day saw a reduction in wrinkles after 6 weeks without making any other changes to their diet. As well as wrinkle reducing it can also give us sparkly eyes, clear skin and make us look glowing and healthy
  2. Water stops headaches and dizziness. Don’t reach for the painkillers straight away, your headache could be a symptom of being dehydrated so drinking water should make it go away.
  3. It fights infections. Drinking water can help fight infections all over your body, not only because it flushes out toxins but because when you’re dehydrated you’re more likely to catch a bug.  Being well hydrated is also great for allergies and colds, because it clears the airways.
  4. It makes you exercise better. It’s common sense to replace the fluids you lose when you sweat with water, but what might not be obvious is that your body works better and harder during your workout if you drink water.
  5. It improves concentration. Because your brain is made of around 85% water if you get dehydrated it can affect your concentration and even your short-term memory. It has a particularly strong effect on your maths skills and it’s all because lack of water causes your brain’s energy levels to decrease.
How to beat two of Britain’s most common vices this New Year

How to beat two of Britain’s most common vices this New Year

It’s now just a few short weeks until the end of the year. As we say goodbye to 2016 and look forward to the coming year, our thoughts inevitably turn to New Year resolutions. A recent YouGov survey found that 63% of Brits intend to make a New Year resolution, with more than a third of respondents acknowledging that their resolutions had usually fallen by the wayside by the end of January. No matter how many times we have tried to stick with a resolution in previous years, we all like to try again each year, eternally hopeful that this year things will be different. For many, resolutions tend to focus on health-related issues, such as eating more healthily, losing weight and giving up smoking. Let’s take a look at how to tackle the two most common resolutions, to maximise your chances of success.

Why make a resolution?

At some stage or other in our lives, most people are conscious that they could do more to look after their health. Throughout the year, we somehow put those thoughts to the back of our minds, and do nothing about them. As the New Year approaches though, we have time off work for the festive period, and we start to look forward with optimism for the year ahead. That optimism gives us the impetus to set those goals, but to succeed we really need to plan a little on how to stick at it.

Resolving to eat healthily

Many resolutions to eat more healthily or to lose weight are driven by the excesses of the Christmas holidays. On average, we consume an astonishing 7,000 calories on Christmas Day, so it’s perhaps not all that surprising that come the New Year, gyms and health clubs are packed with new customers, determined to change their ways.

For many people who resolve to eat more healthily, January 1st will come as something of a shock. The vast majority of people have no idea of their daily calorie intake, or how to understand food labels. With little or no planning, it’s not that surprising that so many of us fail in the first few days of our resolutions.

The NHS actually recommends breaking down your resolution into more manageable and more measurable chunks, to increase your chances of success. Planning ahead of New Year’s Day will give you time to research meal plans for the first few days, and to buy in any food you might need. Rather than setting unrealistic goals, it’s better to set smaller, more achievable goals. So, instead of resolving to lose a stone in a month, why not resolve to lose 1lb per week for 14 weeks? Having smaller goals with smaller timeframes will help you keep momentum and will give you a sense of achievement.

Aside from dieting, the other food-related resolution that many of us make is to eat more healthily and more cheaply. All too often, we fall into the trap of believing that supermarkets offer the cheapest and best food, when in fact this isn’t usually the case. By buying locally, from independent butchers, greengrocers or farm shops, you can buy fresh, seasonal produce in the quantities you actually need, rather than the pre-packed quantities that the supermarkets force us to buy. If you’re unconvinced, do your own field research and shop local for one week, to see the difference in quality and price. As well as sourcing fresher food at better prices, you’ll see the additional benefits of less food waste and reduced food miles, and you’ll be putting money into your local economy.

Resolving to give up smoking

Every year, thousands of people resolve to give up smoking. Given that almost a third of all deaths in the UK are attributable to smoking, it’s not surprising that so many people want to quit. Even if the health benefits of giving up smoking don’t hit home, the thought of how much money you spend per year on cigarettes might do the trick – on average, each smoker spends over £2,500 per year on the habit.

Going ‘cold turkey’ is the least likely way to succeed, when giving up smoking. Again, you need to plan your strategy to have the best chances of permanently quitting. Consider using patches or gum, or even switching to e-cigarettes. Vaping, or e-cigarettes, could one day be available on the NHS to assist smokers to give up, per a 2015 report by Public Health England. Whichever means you choose, it could also help to have a friend give up at the same time, so that you can stick at it together and motivate one another. Do tell your friends and family that you’re quitting too, so that they can be supportive and aware of what you’re going through.

Whatever resolutions you make this year, with a little forward planning and a clear strategy, you could dramatically increase your chances of success. 85% of people who quit smoking at New Years are still going strong 6 months later, which is surely proof that short term pain can bring long term gains. It’s also worth looking at your New Year’s resolution success as part of a wider picture. Doing well with a resolution to eat more healthily and lose weight could see you taking up a new sport or hobby, getting out more and meeting new friends, for example. With luck, some solid planning and a little determination, your actions on January 1st could kick-start a whole new you!