The importance of mixing up your exercises

For anybody that knows me, or doesn’t know me, you probably know that once upon a time I was a running fanatic.  In the height of my running I would run approx 8-10 miles per day x 7 days per week – and now I wonder why I have so many leg injuries.  Unfortunately I have learnt the hard way in that you cannot rely solely on once exercise as to do so can lead to irreversible damage which prevents you being able to do it ever again.

This blog post for me is more about warning every body to calm the fuck down when it comes to running because the damage it can cause through repetitive strain is unbearable.  This blog post isn’t about telling you that cross training will give you your dream body because a) I don’t know that and b) I don’t have a dream body so I am not the person to advise you on this!

Detailed below is a few different types of workouts I do which are hip and knee friendly.

Running

Believe it or not I do still run!! (not at the moment because I can barely walk) but nowadays I do not focus on distance and how long I can spend running, instead I like to do sprint work.  For me sprint work stops the repetitive strain on my legs.  If I don’t do sprint work then I often vary the inline instead.  These days I can only run for 45 mins max.  I’m hoping to recover from injury in time for the Manchester 10k.

Stair Master

I have become obsessed with the stair master because it doesn’t aggravate my leg at all.  I started off doing my own variations of speed/levels for approx 20 minutes.  However now I like to do 30-40 minutes on the ‘fat burner’ program, I use setting 17.  The fat burner program is basically just HIIT training but the machine does it all for you.  Once I tried level 20 and I nearly died so I wouldn’t recommend that if you’re not used to the machine!!  I also like to do 10 minutes on level 10 whereby you do bigger movements with your legs by missing every other step.  The stair master will have you dripping so definitely take a towel and definitely stretch after.  My top tip is to try not to lean your body weight on the bars at the side (although this is tougher than it sounds!).

Cross Trainer

To be honest I bloody hate the cross trainer but it gives me a little cardio workout without much pain.  I like to do 20 minutes, I start on level 6 and go up a level every two minutes.  I prefer not using my arms but that’s just personal preference.  I also like to do sprints for 20 seconds every minute.  This machine is a nightmare for tangling up your headphones!

Spinning

I loooooooooove spinning but I have the best spin teacher on the land so this may be why.  I tend to spin twice per week for 45 mins each time and its fabulous.  I always leave dripping in sweat and with no pain in my legs.  In my spin class we do a lot of sprint work and heavy resistance sprint work, my trainer pushes us to our limit and dedicates at least 4 minutes of the class to one person (brutal!).  Everybody fears that spinning will make your legs bigger, I have been spinning for around 18 months and I still wear the same jeans/clothes etc… so if my legs have got bigger it is not noticeable.

Pilates reformer

I go to a pilates reformer class on a Monday evening, this class is really good for slow toning of your muscles without any strain on your heart.  I love this class because it really stretches me out and makes me feel all balanced again, also you can find your inner zen as its quite calming.   However, do not be fooled, any pilates class will burn your muscles like an absolute biatch! I personally prefer pilates to yoga because I feel that pilates is more like a workout.

Bootcamp

I have recently started bootcamp with my bestie Lauren, we like to go twice per week when we can.  This bootcamp is not for the faint hearted and is not like a legs bums and tums class, it is absolutely brutal.  The bootcamp involves; hammer slams, tyre flips, prowlers, ropes, sprints, rowers, bear crawls, gorilla crawls, farmers walks you name it – VICIOUS but its so so good and we always feel incredible after it.  I have definitely got much stronger and leaner since going to this class.

Walking

Last but not least I love walking on my lunch break for 20 mins around the park and a Sunday morning.  Walking is a good form of peaceful and calm exercise which doesn’t strain your legs too much (however if I walk too fast it does).  So long as you focus on your posture, walking will do you the world of good! My mum only walks as her exercise (mainly shopping) and she looks fabulous.  Don’t run before you can walk is my top tip so walking will help get your fitness levels up!

 

Why international women’s day is a load of BULL

Unless you live under a rock you will know that today is international womens day, until viewing 1000 memes today I didn’t even realise that today was a day that followed pancake day but fell before Easter Sunday and here’s me thinking those days were the most well known.

Anyway this is a blog post to all the men in our lives that actually assist in our happiness as we all know that a world full of females would be a hell hole of bitches.  Please take a moment to consider all the times a female has been an absolute arse hole to you, this is likely to be more so than any man had ever done.  Everybody talks about women sticking together but it’s the women in the world who will comment on your looks, talk about you in a vile way or pursue your man because men generally don’t give a dam about those things.  

Also remember your dad, if it wasn’t for your dads rapid sperm you wouldn’t even be here to have your international women’s day opinion.  I have wonderful men in my life and to live in a world of crazy strong minded females would be world war 3 so, shout out to all the men folk because without you I’d probably be a little bitchy female talking about how I should stick with other women who would easily stamp on your happiness in a heart beat and accuse you of weight gain.

xo

Ps: why do you need an international day to ‘be true to yourself’?

Weekends in London

I get the opportunity to speak to so many wonderful brow clients on a daily basis and I am so surprised that the majority of people have never been to London yet half of them have been to NYC!! In my opinion (expert opinion) everybody should get a trip to London sorted because theres so much you can do in such a short space of time!

When we visit London we tend to go down after work on a Friday evening and return on a Sunday evening.  Two days with me (power walking queen) is enough for anybody!  I would recommend booking your train tickets in advance with the train line.  If you’re aged between 16-25 then definitely get yourself a young persons railcard as this will knock off loads of discount!! (top tip: keep your train tickets, you can get discount on entry to certain places e.g. the Tower of London!)

Here’s a bunch of photos which show my favourite places.  However, I haven’t got a photograph of the nicest indian ever which is Benares in Mayfair (owned by Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar), be sure to book in!


Above: Kensington Palace & Gardens

The gardens are lovely to walk around on a Sunday morning before you travel home.  At the moment Kensington Palace have an exhibition on showcasing all of Princess Diana’s most iconic outfits/dresses, tickets are rather cheap and I am planning a trip down to see it  with my mum ASAP.  In addition to the palace you can sip some tea in the orangery at the bottom of the gardens – this is especially nice if the sun is shining but there’s a chill in the air.  If you walk through the gardens you will come to Kensington High Street and South Kensington.  South Kensington has some great little back street residential areas (very made in chelsea) whereby you can amble for hours day dreaming about one day living in such a beautiful location.


Above: The Tower of London 

The Tower of London is a great day out and very family friendly.  I love anything that glitters or sparkles so the Crown Jewels are most definitely my ‘thing’ to admire.  Not only do you get to admire the Crown Jewels, you get an insight into the history of UK prisons and the monarchy – a little history never hurt nobody.   We used our train tickets (national rail tickets) to get some discount on entry which was ideal.  The closest tube station is Tower Hill, upon exit you’re automatically directed to the entrance so you won’t get lost!  We left after a few hours and decided to walk towards Somerset House (if you’re looking at the thames then turn right).  If you walk this way you’ll go past the Harry Potter bridge and ITV/This Morning studios.  We stopped for a cuppa in Somerset House & then had a little wander around Covent Garden.

Above: The Mayfair Hotel 

The last time we went to London we stayed in the Mayfair Hotel which was a prime location for us as we love to look at expensive cars/houses & lifestyles.  The breakfast at the hotel was INCREDIBLE, I would recommend anybody go here for a big Saturday breakfast.  The breakfast choice was awesome for me as a veggie, they had an array of seeds/powders/nuts and smoothies but also treats like croissants/pancakes & waffles.  Breakfast is a must in London as you will be walking all day! This hotel also has a bar on the ground floor which is popular with party goers before a night out.

Above: Primose Bakery – Nr. Covent Garden

Only serving coffee/tea & cakes this is a great pit stop for anybody who has just wandered the streets of Covent Garden or strolled up from a walk along the Thames.  This cute cake shop is tucked away so is nice and peaceful.  They have baking books dotted around the tables so you can get inspired whilst you indulge.

Above: Deviously Ella – The Mae Deli 

Anybody that knows me knows that I absolutely love anything deliciously Ella, I think that Ella Woodward is the bomb, I love all of her recipes and the fact that she now has two eateries in London is just incredible.  We visited the eatery near to Marble Arch tube station.  The perfect thing about this veggie friendly eatery is that its open until 9pm, the photo above was actually a photograph of a takeaway we picked up and took back to the hotel (we were very tired).  There can be a wait on tables but the deli won’t disappoint. Unfortunately I’ve never been for breakfast but I imagine its great.

Above: Example of how much walking you will do!!!

Above: Big Ben

You have to visit Big Ben & the London Eye or you can’t claim to have been to London! The architecture of this monumental structure is an absolute dream and never ceases to amaze.  The hustle and bustle of people in this area is rather crowded but so long as you’re not in a rush and you’re happy to get in peoples way then head to Big Ben & The Houses of Parliament.  We tend to walk this way after peeking at Downing Street.

Above: The London Eye 

The London Eye itself is bloody boring to go around – its fun for the first few minutes that your stood in a glass pod but after that the London skyline doesn’t change! We decided that late afternoon/early evening would be the best time to see London via the eye.  Great to take photos of and from but apart from that its boring!

Above: Kensington Creperie

One of my favourite things to eat are pancakes, my two favourite pancake houses are this one and one in Anglesey.  The one above is a 2 minute walk from S.Kensington tube station and it is to die for.  Me & my mum always manage to squeeze in a pancake here.  Usually I go with banana & chocolate however on the above occasion I did maple syrup.  Again there can be a que.  We would recommend sitting outside – weather permitting!

Above: Liberty’s

My mums favourite place to visit, not only is the liberty fabric beautiful, the architecture inside this building is fascinating.  At Christmas time the decorations are somewhat magical but the designer floor is my favourite.  The design and aura of Liberty’s is somewhat more tasteful than Harrods.  Liberty’s is on Regents Street which is pretty much in the heart of the City.

Above: Harrods

Ok so I have never actually bought anything from this store nor do I believe I can for a long time to come however one can browse! You must go up & down the Egyptian staircase and down to the very expensive jewellery/watch area.  Top tip: don’t take a photograph or you will be shouted at by the security staff! Around the back of Harrods you will find a lot of expensive cars either parked up or circling the area which is great to appease your boyfriend/dad/brother.

Above: Westminster Abbey 

I’ve never actually been inside the Abbey because every time I have been to London there has been either a service or some school event on which has prevented admittance so defiantly check the website to make sure its open to the public when you’re planning on going.  The Abbey from the outside is magnificent and I can only imagine that the inside is just as wonderful.

Above: The Supreme Court 

If you’re a legal loser like me then you definitely have to get yourself to the Supreme Court which is literally opposite the Houses of Parliament.  You can go inside and they have a little cafe in there.  Your bags are always checked before you go into most courts.  Inside theres not really much to look at unless you actually in the hearing, but its still cool to have a look around.  Also amazing is the High Court which is spectacular inside, the High Court is more Covent Garden way.

Above: Buckingham Palace 

Last but not least any regal lover will want to check out the Queen’s gaff (even though she actually resides more in Windsor Castle).

Other favourite areas/places include: 

  • Covent garden – Street entertainment & great market on a Sunday
  • Somerset house – Coffee & cake
  • Baker street – Some good Brunch spots & Sherlock Holmes house at 221B Baker Street
  • Camden Locks – If you’re edgy & don’t mind feeling a little grubby
  • Boris Bikes – Great through the parks (designated areas) you can cover some ground real quick especially through Hyde Park
  • Walk over the top of the 02 Arena – Who knew this was a thing but it is and the views are great (its not as hard as it sounds)
  • Fortnum & Mason – If you’re doing Harrods & Liberty’s you have to do this department store also.
  • The Spaghetti House – for late night pasta (chain restaurants)
  • Home Slice Pizza – for yummy pizza
  • The good life eatery – for good healthy food
  • Abbey Road – Beatles fans
  • Carnaby Street – for shopping & general admiration of unique shops

I am sure theres lots more wonderful places in London but unfortunately I don’t know them! I am not suggesting that I am a London boff or fanatic but I am fortunate to have friends who can show me around however if you’re reading this I hope it gives you a little insight as to what you can do without being to edgy and untouristy!

xo

Our favourite makeup – Pigments galore

Both me and my little sister, Lucy, love doing our makeup before a night out or if we’re chilling at home and have nothing better to do.  Fortunately I have the perfect brow salon in my house to play with her face & vice versa (I am better).  I personally made a pact to go out more and do more fun things in 2017 and therefore I have painted my face a few more times this year as a consequence.

Our favourite products are detailed below (unfortunately we have about 1000 separate eye shadows and lip sticks so we can’t name/find them all!):

Primer 

Kate – Smashbox / Laura Mercier illuminating primer

Lucy – Laura Mercier non illuminating primer

Foundation 

Kate – Estee Lauder Double Wear (1N2)

Lucy – Illamasqua / Urban Decay setting spray

Tinted moisturiser 

Kate & Lucy – Laura Mercier (warm radiance) / rimmel fresher skin in Ivory

Highlighter 

Kate – Anastasia Beverley Hills in peach / Becca in Champagne Pop

Lucy – Anastasia Beverley Hills  / Becca in Champagne Pop

Concealer

Kate – Nars creamy concealer (vanilla) / laura mercier

Lucy – Nars creamy concealer (vanilla) / Bobbi Brown duo concealer / Anastasia Beverley Hills contour kit (light)

Bronzer

Kate – Laura Mercier (dune bronze) / Clinique contour stick

Lucy – ABH powder contour kit (light to medium)

Mascara

Kate – Lancome doll eyes

Lucy – Illamasqua / Revlon / Lancome hypnose

Eyes

Kate – ABH self made palette / Naked (2) basics / MAC Nutcracker sweet warm / HD Brow palette in Vamp / peaches & cream disco glitter / MAC crystal avalanche / NYX zen & whipped cream

Lucy – Naked (basics) / Morphe palette 35O / Naked 1,2 & smokey

Tweezerman eye lash curlers

Brows

Both – ABH dip brow dark brown / High Definition brow palette in Vamp / HD brow tech in Vamp / HD Brow colour fix in Vamp / ABH colour corrector & brow primer / rapid brow

Lips

Kate – ABH lip glosses x 1000 (dainty current favourite) / Laura mercier lip liner

Lucy – Kylie Jenner lip kits x 1000 / ABH liquid lips x 1000 / Laura mercier lip liner

Fake tan 

Bondi Sands in Dark / Palmers gradual tan


Ps: my sister is a babe ❤

Exploring Cambridge

Unfortunately, all of my best friends appear to have moved to all ends of the earth, fortunately they all seem to live in wonderful places which are ideal for me, my camera & for picturesque gatherings.

We recently went to visit our gorgeous friend Liv in Cambridge for a surprise birthday party, my bestie was the best host ever.  Whilst beautifying herself we got the opportunity to wander around the streets of Cambridge & manage to take lots of snaps!

Heres a list of all the things you should do in Cambridge (not that I did any/all of them!)

  1. Fitzwilliam museum
  2. Cambridge University Botanic Garden
  3. Cambridge University Colleges
  4. River Cam for tours and punting (romantic?!)
  5. The round church (we did visit this!)
  6. Afternoon tease for a great brunch and/or cake
  7. A visit to the churches & chapels – St. Peter’s, St Mary’s and King’s college chapel
  8. Wander around all of the shops (me & Sophie found some great little independent stores)

Fortunately we get to visit Liv again for her birthday at the end of March, here are some snaps from our last trip :


(Photos below are not mine)



My favourite base foods

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Cocoa Nibs

Chocolate is my guilty pleasure, I personally love dark chocolate but I also love milk and white! Unfortunately I cannot have chocolate for breakfast before a busy day at the office, however I can add Cocoa Nibs to my banana smoothies to make them taste chocolatey and delicious, I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw but by all means give it a go! I like to add them to baking, especially banana and chocolate muffins.  The health benefits are:

  1. Loaded with antioxidants, which prevents DNA damage and premature ageing
  2. Loaded with flavonoids which have anti cancer properties which can fight cardiovascular disease
  3. Loaded with fibre which will control your blood pressure and glucose levels
  4. Loaded with magnesium
  5. Loaded with potassium
  6. Improved mood as chocolate and cocoa help stimulate the brain
  7. Cures your chocolate cravings!!
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Rye Bread

I love bread and could not cut it out of my diet, in any event I don’t believe you should cut out any one item of food from your diet simply because there will be a day when you will eat it again and you will gorge which won’t be healthy!! you should have what you want but just be cautious.  My favourite way to eat rye is to toast it and top it with avocado and feta cheese.  I love how full rye makes you feel after a big gym workout or a cosy winter day.  The health benefits are awesome too:

  1. Crazy fibre, the fibre in rye is extremely binding with water molecules so it makes you feel full very quickly
  2. Great for digestion due to its composition and density of dietary fibre
  3. Its heart healthy, it can reduce blood pressure and will increase overall heart health
  4. Great for respiratory health
  5. Tastes delicious!!
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Chia seeds

Chia seeds are renowned for their ability to provide sustainable energy with chia meaning “strength” in ancient Mayan.  They have become increasingly popular and are thrown into most health food dishes and/or smoothies! I personally add them to porridge, smoothies or greek yogurt.  I believe you can also add them to healthy bakes, they don’t really have a test and are therefore perfect for children as well as adults, the health benefits are:

  1. Loaded with antioxidants, antioxidants can prevent ageing and damage to cells
  2. Full of fibre and low in carbs, this makes you feel fuller for longer
  3. High in protein (for plants), protein is the most friendly macronutrient and can reduce cravings
  4. High in Omega-3 fatty acids
  5. High in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus for healthy bones
  6. They are easy to incorporate into your diet!! – raw, soaked, sprinkles, added or bakes.
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Hemp Protein Powder

Hemp protein powder is great to add to your smoothies, it has little taste but is loaded with health benefits.  It is a bright green colour so looks great on your kitchen shelf again it is loaded with benefits that we should all experience.  I usually add this to a banana smoothie after the gym if I’ve had a workout in the middle of the day.  Its benefits are:

  1. Packed with protein
  2. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Great source of dietary fibre
  4. Increased levels of energy/productivity
  5. Improves metabolism
  6. Reduces food cravings
  7. Reduces blood pressure
  8. Improves your immune system

 

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Maca powder

My first piece of advice when it comes to Maca powder is DON’T dip your finger in the powder and lick it because it tastes vile on its own, however in a boss smoothie it tastes great because has the effect of giving a caramel taste (nice and sweet).  My fave Deliciously Ella often uses Maca in her smoothie and baking recipes so check out her website/books if you need some inspo.  The health benefits are:

  1. It is rich in Vit B, C and E, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and amino acids!!
  2. It is used to promote sexual function (each to their own)
  3. It relieves menstrual issues and menopause, it also alleviates cramps, body pain and mood swings
  4. It increases your energy levels if consumed over time
  5. The iron aids anaemia (helping people like myself)
  6. It decreases sensitive skin
  7. It helps restore mood balance and can restore focus
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Acai powder

If you love berries, you need to add acai powder to your smoothies, you can buy the acai sachets however I have never used these but I know they are loved by my idol and aussie babe Steph Claire Smith.  I haven’t used acai in ages simply because I’ve been eating porridge in the morning however I do need to get back into it because the benefits are awesome:

  1. Major antioxidant
  2. Promotes heart health due to anthocyanins
  3. Reduces the negative effects of a high fat diet
  4. Promotes skin health
  5. Aids digestion
  6. Reduces irritation
  7. Improved cellular health
  8. Great immune booster as it is high in Vit C
  9. Energy booster and has anti ageing effects
  10. Improves mental function

 

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Kale

Kale is the queen of the greens and the modern day spinach, it is thrown into so many super food salads and salad bowls all over the high street.  You can eat it raw (added to a salad) or you can cook it to make kale chips, you can add it to curries or pasta and even smoothies! Its pretty tasteless so it won’t ruin your taste buds (if you’re fearful of healthy foods).  My favourite way to eat kale is in a superfood salad mixed with quinoa or mixed into my mums awesome chickpea curry. Look at the massive list of health benefits:

  1. Low calorie, high in fibre, zero fat
  2. High in iron
  3. Vitamin K which helps protect against various cancers
  4. Full of those antioxidants we all need to prevent premature ageing
  5. Anti inflammatory food
  6. High in Vitamin A which relates to your vision and skin
  7. High in Vitamin C which relates to your immune system, metabolism & hydration
  8. High in calcium
  9. Great if you need a good detox due to the high fibre and sulphur content
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Lentils

As a vegetarian we love the lentils! my mum puts them into every curry we have but also summer salads and pasta dishes, I don’t think you could be a vegetarian if you didn’t eat or like lentils! They are a staple to a veggie diet and are hassle free and compliment any meal.  My favourite way to eat lentils is in a tasty home made soup.  The benefits are:

  1. They lower cholesterol
  2. They maintain a healthy heart
  3. They promote a healthy digestive system
  4. They stabilise blood sugar levels
  5. They are a good form of protein
  6. They increase your energy levels due to the slow burning effect of the fibre content
  7. They are low in calories and keep you fuller for longer which can lead to weight loss
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Oats

Oats are the best thing for breakfast by far! they can be incorporated into your smoothie or can be soaked over night.  The way I like my oats is porridge!! I am currently being very lazy and adding hot water to instant porridge oats as opposed to cooking oats in the pan.  Oats in the pan will keep you fuller for longer, instant porridge won’t keep you as full for as long due to the fact that the oats are thinner and are therefore digested more easily.  I love to add fresh fruit to my porridge and chia seeds, you can play around with what you add to your porridge such as acai or mashed bananas.  Be careful when buying sachets of porridge especially if they are flavoured such as ‘golden syrup’ flavour as these may contain a high amount of sugar.  Other than tasting delicious the benefits are:

  1. Keeps you fuller for longer
  2. Boosts energy levels
  3. Provides a great source of soluble fibre
  4. If applied directly to the skin it can relieve itch and irritation
  5. Supports weight loss as it acts as an appetite supressor
  6. Helps prevent diabetes due to its low gylcemic index
  7. Promotes a healthy heart due to a high level of calcium and potassium
  8. Lowers cholesterol

I buy most of the above foods online or in supermarkets, some high street stores can surprise you for example home bargains stocks chia seeds! however less common powders and grains I buy from whole foods UK.

Thursday’s sweaty workout – no running!

I’m on a running ban after my Manchester 10k due to persistent injuries so here’s my Thursday night sweaty workout!!!

1. 5 minute walk on the treadmill (speed 6k)

2. 20 minutes stair master on the fat burner program

3. 5 minutes stair master cool down

4. 5 minute walk (walk dem legs off)

6. CIRCUIT – HIIT (not strength training) 

10 burpees jumping onto a box

20 jump over box (put aerobic step between your legs, place your hands on either side of the box and jump your legs over to one side then the other, keep your legs together)

10 1 legged squats off box (keep one foot on the aerobic step, squat to the floor (sideways) using alternate legs)

20 one step leg off box jumps (stand on the stepper drop one leg to the side step back on the stepper and step to the other side, fast pace)

50 high knees

10 explosive star jumps

Repeat 4-5 times

Smoothie bowl and 35 minute quick workout 

The hot weather in England is a rarity! Therefore I personally do not want to eat lots Carby food when I wake up and/or spend lots of time in a hot sweaty gym when I could be enjoying the sun.  Below is an example of my go to smoothie bowl and quick HIIT workout for when the weather is hot! 


Breakfast smoothie ingrediants: 

1 banana 

4/5 strawberries 

1 large handful spinach 

1 teaspoon maca powder 

1 teaspoon natural hemp protein powder

1 tablespoon chia seeds 

2 table spoons of oats 

1/2 cup of almond milk 

Blend all together in your trusty smoothie maker, mines a vitamix and it’s the best ever. 

Smoothie topping: 

Cocoa nibs 

Dorset cereal spelt muesli 

Raisins 


The quick workout
12 burpees (6 with a tuck jump, 6 with a normal jump)

50 toe taps (stand on a aerobic step tap your toes to the floor & alternate legs) 

25 glute kick backs right leg 

25 glue kick backs left leg 

20 sit-ups with medicine ball or 25 ab bikes with medicine ball (8-10kg) 

12 press ups 

X REPEAT 4-5 times 

Stretch 


Then enjoy the sun!! 🌞☀️☀️🌞

The untaught rule on Ab exercises

“Belly button to spine”

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Stephanie Claire Smith and Camilla Akaberg have some of the best abdominal muscles around but how do we get abs like these Australian babes?

Cardio

Cardio is a big fat burner especially if you are doing HIIT cardio, the results of cardio are fat loss, once you lose fat your muscles become more defined= SIMPLE! however there are certain things you can do whilst doing certain cardio which will strengthen your abdominal muscles (increasing the likelihood that they will appear).

Running = When running you have to be careful not to twist your body too much to work your abs as this can cause a shift in your hip placement which will ultimately lead to leg and hip pain (and nobody wants that!).  Instead you should hold your stomach tight whilst running, in pilates this is known as “belly button to spine”.  You should ‘tense’ your abdominals whilst running as opposed to letting your stomach make your legs do all the work.  You will twist your body a little to keep the abdominals tight but this is inevitable, so long as your twist doesn’t become too great (if you feel any pressure in your back you’re twisting too much) your abs will be worked.

Spinning = My theory with spinning is ‘every time you are told to sprint (standing or sitting) you should squeeze your abdominals really really tight! by the end of your sprint sessions your abs and your legs will be burning.  Holding your stomach tight whilst cycling/spinning is really good for your abs due to the fact that the motion of cycling is quite similar to a ‘crunch’, you are raising your legs closer to your stomach and then pushing them back down again.  I try to bounce in my pedals so that I can get some twisting motion which ultimately works the obliques.

Stair master = Again the motion of a stair master is similar to a sit up/crunch.  You should exhale whilst lifting your leg and inhale when you are not.  When you exhale you should think “belly button to spine” and tighten your abs.

Specific Ab work

There are so many ab exercise out there and we all have our own favourites.  My favourite ab exercises are: crunches, leg lifts, bicycles, leg raised crunches and mountain climbers.  Prior to starting pilates I would do these exercises with little thought, I understood that you should keep your back imprinted on your exercise matt and then try and do as many reps as you can.  I have been attending pilate reformer classes for several weeks and I now understand that this theory is completely wrong!!!

The correct theory = I will use the example of a ‘crunch’.  When you crunch and your abdominal muscles tighten you should exhale, when you release (come back to a lying position) you should inhale.  The motion should be slow and controlled.  When you exhale you should think of making the torso significantly shorter, you will do this by increasing your muscle tension.  The aim in concentrating on breathing and “belly button to spine” is that you will target your deep abdominal muscles (transverse abs) which will improve your core strength overall, this will prevent lower back pain and strained abdominal muscles.

Belly button to spine = Remember that when you exhale your stomach should not ‘bulge’, the muscles should contract but your stomach should remain flat, if your stomach muscles bulge you are not ‘sucking in’ hard enough.  If you feel you are then you should try some core strength exercises first to build up your stomach muscles.  After several repetitions with this theory your deep stomach muscles will burn.

My last piece of advice is DO PILATES!!! if you have any pilates classes in your area (especially reformer pilates) then go and try them out, once you have attended some classes you will never forget the importance of correct breathing whilst exercising!!!

Top tip : Work your abs whilst you are walking around, just hold your stomach properly!

Link to beginner pilate ab exercises: Exercises

Link : Common ab mistakes 

Link: Ab workout video 

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My abs are a working progress!!

Cardio Machines – HIIT workouts 

The majority of people hate doing cardio in the gym, too much of the same cardio/same pace can prevent your progress in the gym therefore you should try to mix things up with a little HIIT.  Not only is this really good for your fitness levels and metabolism it is also a really good mental challenge.  We all know that too much time spent on these types of these machines can lead to a really boring workout that you dread.  By mixing things up time goes much quicker and your workout won’t feel as monotonous.  I’ve listed below my favourite machines and the variations which I tend to do/should do.

The stair master 

Speed 10:

1 minute step on every step

1 minute step on every other step

Repeat for 10-15 minutes

 

Treadmill

Variations :

Number one 

1 minute sprint (I do 8.3mph +)

2 minutes run (I do approx 7.2mph)

x Repeat 10 times (30 minutes)

Number 2 

1 jog (approx 6.3mph)

1 minute run (approx 7.2mph)

1 minute sprint (anything above 8mph)

x repeat 9 times (27 minutes)

Number 3 

1 minute run (approx 7mph)

30 seconds sprint (anything above 8.5mph)

Repeat until you reach 15-20 minutes

Number 4 (beginner HIIT)

4 minutes of comfortable running

Every 5th minute run outside of your comfort zone for one minute

x Repeat until your reach 3 miles

The stepper 

Level 8-10 : increase level by 1 every 2 minutes

1 minute tiny little steps (pulses)

1 minute big steps to the floor and back up

x Repeat for 10-15 minutes

 

Rower machine 

I personally can’t use the rower as it makes me sea sick/nauseous but I imagine this type of workout would work!


Level 6

1 minute normal row but work hard

1 minute pull rower handle bar to your right hip (should engage abs)

1 minute pull rower handle bar to your left hip

x Repeat 5 times (15 mins)