Tag Archives: exercise

Drop It Like a Squat…..

Wait.  That’s not how the song goes is it?   I don’t know.  *shrugs*

Anyhoo.  Today’s lesson kids is all about the SQUAT.  SQUUUAAAAAAAAATTT!!!! Oh, dear lord.  Why?   Why are you talking about that most (imo) discussed move in the gym?  Why discuss the elephant in the room that is “The perfect form”

post-30526-hot-fuzz-greater-good-gif-simo-frny

Just like “The Perfect Form”

I spent a year with Andy, PT extraordinaire & lot of our sessions were focused around squats; he mentioned not taking videos of clients because as soon as you do & post it on-line everyone has an opinion about whether their form is correct or not.  Helpful, you may think?  Yes, it can be from time to time…..the more stringent of moves can definitely benefit from opinions of others & I guess, that from time to time a form check on a squat can be advantageous too – however everyone has an opinion about whether your squat is correct or not.

Unless the person giving you feedback knows your bodily mechanisms – such as femur length, ankle flexibility, any prior injuries & how your hip joint sits into your hip socket, then they’re probably not overly qualified to give you advice.  I don’t mean that you can never ask for a form check, however there are a few things to bear in mind if you so choose to open yourself to the array of feedback from the internet (I have found myself on the receiving end of unwanted feedback, however that’s by the by)

I’m not an expert & I have NO intention of ever telling anyone their form is wrong – if they ask for critique then fine, there’s a set of basics I like to adhere to:

  • Warm up! Warm up! If you can squat with weight, body weight squat a few reps to engage your hips. At bodyweight?  That’s fine, hold onto something or box squat to warm up.
  • Break parallel – if you can’t with a barbell squat, do box squats with a kettlebell (known as goblet squats) to know where parallel is, then move the box & work on getting lower to the ground….not to low though, you don’t want you back to curl too much.
  • Keep your feet FLAT, or if ankle mobility could be an issue, raise your heels.  You don’t need expensive lifting shoes, just some small weight plates with your heels (up to your foot ach, I’d say) keeping your toes FIRMLY on the floor.
  • Flat shoes!  Converse, chucks, Crossfit style….not squishy style running shoes.  They’re too soft for all that weight you’ll squat – if you can’t afford other shoes, then take off the squishy running shoes & squat in your socks.
  • The way I squat isn’t the same as the person in the rack next to me.  Comparing our forms to be a “cookie cutter” one size fits all with squats is outdated, incorrect & potentially, harmful.

A little insight if this is the first post of mine you’re reading – I have degenerating discs in the lower area of my spine (L4 & L5) which can rub nerves through my SI joint causing pain across one or both hips.

When I squat my toes point out & my knees go over my feet – I have long femurs (or at least from what I read online it means they’re long) A lot of people who think they’re attempting to be helpful by telling me things like I need to open my hips more, or lean a little backwards, or whatever critique they want to lay on me when it comes to squats is either, A: Ignored. or B: Retaliated – this person doesn’t know me & I wasn’t asking for their input.  Their “help” is actually extremely out of date & if I wanted my form checking, I’d be asking Andy for a session in the gym.

****

This is why no two people will squat the same & why you shouldn’t expect them to.  If you can squat low & keep your knees from tracking over your feet, bravo. Well done.  If you can get “ass to grass” but your knees are over your feet?  Well done to you too.

In conclusion, you do you & don’t ask for multitudes of advice & opinions of others, too much information can be more confusing than helpful. This is why I advocate the use of a PT.  These guys are trained & should be up to date with all the latest sciences to help you prevent injury & become stronger.

This is me at work the other day, after reading a discussion about femur length on a group I wondered if mine tracked out farther than my shoulders (I tend to squat away from mirrors in the gym, so I can “feel” the movement) so I whacked on the self timer & repped out a few BW squats in the kitchen.  My position is what it right for me, it may not be right for you, but the best thing to do is to try. Don’t attempt to fit to the “perfect form” aim for form that is good, form that won’t cause injury.  Keep to the basics, don’t overthink, ask for feedback if you want it, but remember what works for one, may not be right for you.

A day of squats in the gym means it’s a day closer to deadlifts!

Untitled.png

Bonus last year vs this year BW squat

 

Advertisements

Who Took Away My Goddamned Vitamin D?!

The sun is gone.

I hate this time of year.

March 6th 1997 I moved 13,000 miles.  I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere, spent my entire childhood thinking winter were the months where it didn’t rain & the temperature got to 15 degrees.  That’s celsius by the way, not fahrenheit.  The first thing I said stepping off the plane was “send me back, it’s far too cold here”

The first winter, snow was a novelty but the long, dark evenings threw me.  The need for layers was weird, I grew up not owning a coat, or gloves or even a scarf.  The height of summer in the UK & I was wearing a jacket, 20 degrees was NOT warm.

I’m acclimated to the summer in the UK, more or less.  There are a few days a year where I will admit it’s “quite warm”  but once it hits late October, I’m a different person & it takes me aaaaaaaages to sort my head out.  This year seems to be harder than previous years….I could hazard guesses to why, but after chatting to a few of my peers, I think it may be SAD.

SAD-2

I’m not diagnosed but a few symptoms are there, but I don’t want to say I have it without a GP & I don’t think it’s at the point where I need medical intervention.  This week and last have been hard, despite eating right & continuing to cycle, getting up to go to the gym was overwhelming; to the point where I had like 4 rest days in a row (not 100% rest, I still cycle every day) My alarm would go off & I’d snooze for an hour & a half, despite knowing rush hour is a ballache to cycle in, I didn’t really care.

26d51e9a2217ad70903f07b68f2cf26d

I didn’t really want to leave the confines of my house, I like it in here, it’s safe & comfortable and I don’t have to deal with people.  However, I still got up (albeit too late to train) still cycled & still went to work.  Some cycle journeys have been a massive slog, others have been quite enjoyable, but nevertheless; the changing of the seasons has completely messedup my head.

tumblr_myajukqyel1r52w56o3_r1_500

Until today.  My lovely husband woke me when my alarm went off as he knew I’d not been to the gym in a few days (me not training means my back pain can return, & no one wants that) I got up, he made me a GLORIOUS pot of fresh coffee & I made it to the gym.

Saturday’s in the gym are a new thing for me as my time is extremely limited due to having to be at work before 9am, so i tend to train intuitively.  Today I opted for lats training as I can’t remember the last time I trained them.  On occasion I’ll film part of my session, today was such an occasion (just getting into the gym made me happier!!)

As you can see, it may still be double digits outside, but I’ve switched from leggings & vest to Adidas ClimaWarm gear (which, BTW is incredible!!)

So, yeah.  I hate the weather, I hate my mind, I hate people in general but today taught me that no matter how much I am feeling gloomy, it’s good to get up, inhale as much coffee as possible, layer up & go and train.  If you’re like me, you’ll feel a fuck ton better for doing so 🙂


I’m As Mad As Hell……

Another post I’ve pondered for a few days.

“It’s so easy for you. You’re thin already….”

“I bet you hardly have to work at all”

Sound familiar?

Well……let’s discuss why you should never, ever, ever, EVER say these to someone who trains.  (Even if you think it’s a compliment, it isn’t; you’re disregarding EVERYTHING they’ve done, so NO. Stop it. Now.)

Point one:

You may see me as thin.

You may have even thought the same a year ago when I weighed over a stone more than I do now. I carry my weight relatively well (I’m 5 foot 10 too), but that doesn’t mean I’m “thin”. Up until recently, my BMI (even though I loathe it) said I was overweight. My body fat percentage, again has only recently come down to a normal range.

It’s easy for me?  It’s EASY for me?  It’s easy for ME?! 

How dare you assume these things! Have you seen me train? do you know how far I’ve come in 8 months? Do you know how many times I’ve woken up & not wanted to go to the gym? Do you understand how disheartening it is not being able to lift more/do more reps/cycle faster one week to the next? You don’t see the struggle, you don’t see me willing myself to do that last rep, to pedal past the overwhelming quad soreness.

You don’t see me spend my Sunday’s cooking food for the week, or making sure I’ve packed protein shakes/snacks/spare socks etc. You don’t see me compare myself to others & look at how much our progress varies & how much I want to be better/stronger/more defined.  You don’t know how many times I’ve struggled to walk down stairs or get changed because muscles on me have screamed at them being used for the slightest of tasks.  (Can I get a Whoop-Whoop for DOMS???)

Point two: See point one’s reply, oh and……


Training With Prior Issues/New Injuries

I figure, that due to almost rendering myself unable to train yesterday due to massive pressure on my left side (that I ignored) it’d be prudent to make a post like this, as all of us at some point or another will suffer some level of injury that hinders our training; whether it be for a few days or a few months – it’s a good idea to be aware of some of the basics for training with injuries/issues.

69-380x380

I’ll use myself as an example; I have a series of issues with my back & sometimes it can flare up & render me to an almost immobile state – over the weekend I felt my left hip beginning to burn; the first sign of more pain to come.  It must’ve been bad as I had terribly interrupted sleep on Sunday, however I still went to the gym on Monday. I was doing ok until I got to 40kg barbell squats, did one….felt a pull across my entire lower back & made a noise that may have been heard by hades himself…I heard it & I had headphones in.  TBF, should’ve know as after I walked up the stairs I could feel my hips rubbing.  Sounds gross & painful??  Yeah, it is.  Anyhoo…..I was training on my own.  SHIT!  What do I do??  The urge to run downstairs, cobble my gear together & get the fuck out of the gym was my first thought.  However, I seem to be growing as an individual, so I racked the bar & attempted to compose myself.  I managed to (while thinking lots of encouraging things) do another one before I decided that it was probably wiser to drop the weight down, so I took 10kg off & did 10 reps before deciding that it may not be wise to continue with more reps.

Because of this, I began to wonder what would I do if I’d injured myself further or if it was a new injury & I didn’t know how to deal with it. The misconception that you should rest all injuries is still pretty popular & couldn’t be further away from the truth, resting completely can cause issues along the road – sitting immobile while you heal is gonna cause hindrance as the muscles seize up over time, making recovery longer and more painful.

You can still train if you’ve broken a limb, you can still go to the gym if you’re full of cold, you can even go to the gym after breaking your nose & recovering from concussion! That last one, I did actually do.  I just made Andy aware of how I felt & whathaveyou before we began training.Which leads me to how do you know if you’re fit for the gym? I’m came up with my own little checklist:

  • Does it hurt? Pain levels can vary immensely, let’s use this scale chart:

I’ve experienced all levels based on this scale.  Monday I’d say I was at about a 2-4, at this level I’d still go to the gym. I’d probably still go to level 6, pushing it a little with 7 & above.  So, go with this.  Does it hurt? Yes. Will I be off work cos of it? No. GO TO THE GYM.

  • Will it stop me from going to work? I know I’ve already mentioned this in the pain point, but it’s worthy of another mention. If you’re still able to go to work, then you’re able to train, however you may wanna take it slowly initially depending on the level of injury.  There’s the flip side too; post op it’s probably best to steer clear of the gym for a while (I avoided the gym when I’d had a rather large tattoo session) When I broke my nose I didn’t go for the first week after it’d happened, so I guess to assess on an individual basis.  However, if you feel well enough in yourself, then as long as someone in the gym knows you’re a little ill/post op/in severe pain so they can recommend things to do to avoid hurting yourself.
  • Progress or pain? This is an odd one, (I wrote some of this at work then carried on thinking about it on the cycle home & I think this was my point) Think about the pain you have – Remember the handy scale!! Now, if you’re teetering on a 7, will going to the gym hinder your progress? Yes, probably.  However, if the pain is localised to a body part that you can omit; a leg say then (imo) there’s no harm in going to the gym to do an upper body workout. Just remember if it hurts, STOP & assess the situation – can you carry on, even with a lower weight? yes, good on you – the Marines would be proud of you!
  • Is it gonna be a long-term injury? I consider my back issues to be a hindrance more than a debilitating irritation; however I received some interesting reading material to my work email today that suggests my back issues are worse than I thought, but I digress…..I have friends that are trying to regain strength after months of limited training due to needing bones pinning back together & extensive physio sessions. I have had my fair share of physio & I guess my issue is long-term too, seeing as how I’ve dealt with it since my twenties.  It was only when I started training with Andy that I learned how much of a complication it has been on my body, my left side is completely shot.  I say is because I still have a deficit that I’m trying to correct (I’ve blogged about this annoyance before)  What I will say though is that any progress is STILL progress! no matter how small, take the little victories! Did two more reps than before? Fantastic! Could lift a slightly heavier weight? Incredible!  Recovery takes time & it’s frustrating, but I refer back to the previous point; going too fast because you wanna catch up to the beautiful people will only make your journey more of a struggle in the long run.
  • DO NOT FORGET TO EAT! Oh, I’m not feeling too well, so I won’t have lunch or I’m not training today so I don’t need as much protein. Right? Wrong! I learned this the hard way. I started to do barbell squats; my first lot were going pretty well, then the following session I went to do them again & couldn’t.  During a conversation with Andy he explained my body hadn’t recovered from the last session, or my lurgy (I had a cold when I started BB squats) and that was why I couldn’t lift the weight. I was really annoyed with myself cos I thought I was doing ok, but I wasn’t.  I’ve since made a conscious effort to eat better & it’s definitely paying off dividends in the gym!

 


Personal Trainers – The FAQs

Before I start, I just want to add that this is my opinion & by no means a definitive “be all & end all” to Personal Trainers. I’ve asked around before creating this post about others opinions & will add that where I see fit.  Everyone will have a reason that they want to spend time with a PT, mine is mentioned very briefly on here.

I want a personal trainer, gimme! Gimme now!

Calm yo’self young Padawan!  You wouldn’t just walk in to a shop, pick the first thing you saw & pay for it would you? No!  (if you do, stop it. Stop it right now!) There are many ways to get one, main way being Go. To. The. Gym. There are independent ones out there, but unless you have a really bizarre schedule which means you can’t go to the gym then (imo) this isn’t really necessary.

OK, I’m in the gym, now what?!

If you’re an existing gym member, chances are you’ve already met some of the trainers – they’re the beautiful people in tight spandex looking ripped…..probably.  You may have been approached by one, or even just said hello to them.  If not, based on my experience in gyms there will be a “Meet The Trainers” board situated somewhere, you could read that to gain some info on them if you wanted to. Another way, would be the way I did it:  I contacted my gym & asked to meet a trainer, told them why & they suggested I meet with Andy.

Right. I’m meeting a Trainer, but….

Firstly, don’t be embarrassed or feel silly or whatever.  First meetings are usually to gauge your requirements from them, what you would like to achieve & how you want to be trained, or at least this was my experience.  I told Andy I prefer brutal honesty, don’t need regular encouragement (like, after EVERY rep) and am not adverse to swearing.  We discussed my goals, my flexibility/moveability and whathaveyou.

Don’t feel like you have to like them & sign up with them immediately, if you want to wait, think about it or meet some others this should be okay.  Not everyone is going to get on with everyone & there is always the possibility that what you want to achieve would be better handled by a different trainer.  They have the knowledge & expertise to guide you.

I’ve met with the Trainer, but I’m still not sure.  It’s a lot of money.

The average price for a Trainer in the UK can vary (the internet tells me “average” is from £15-£50 an hour) however, what you have to ask is how much do you value your health & well being? You’re paying for their knowledge, their skill set that they have spent years honing & refining to be able to tailor a lifestyle change specifically for you.  That’s the point, it’s not just paying to see someone in the gym, it’s a complete lifestyle change – Andy gave me nutrition advice, then a food programme & suggested protein shakes to help me as my training increased.

From my own experience, I’ve had people approach me in the gym after seeing posts on here to tell me how different I look in such a short space of time.  I’ve always told them who my trainer is if they didn’t already know & I know my story (so far) has helped others seek out the help they so deserve.

HELP ME! First session in & now I think I’m dying!

This is a feeling that I experience quite regularly – every time a new machine or weight is introduced my body normally screams at me internally for a day or two afterwards.  I’ll never forget my first leg day; the pain stayed with me for the better part of a week.  You learn to love it, to embrace it & eventually crave it!  If I leave the gym now without some level of ache I feel like I have not done enough – despite how much I may moan at Andy during training.

112cde6

And there you have it.  My opinions and advice about how to get yourself a personal trainer.

  • Do your research
  • Get to a local gym if you haven’t already
  • Check payment options with your PT
  • Be honest about your fitness levels/goals
  • Utilise the advice of your PT
  • Remember what you put in is what you get out

Motivation Requires Sacrifice

Whilst I was walking home from the school run my mind wandered to my Instagram post from this morning, I’m a massive convert to TimeHop; I find it fascinating to read over my posts from years ago – talk of cookies, eating whole tubs of ice-cream, being overwhelming tired & having pain that excruciating I needed steroid injections to stem it. Along with many, many rage posts.  It’s strange to read them sometimes & others have me instantly flashing back to the precise moment that they happened.

Anyway. Back to Instagram…..I walked past the mirror mid-getting dressed & I was pretty fucking pleased with my reflection.  My other half reckons I can’t walk past a mirror without looking in it & he’s right. I make no excuses for my narcissism, and have no intention of changing. I don’t make it a habit (much) to take photos of my reflection; in fact a massive pet peeve of mine is those who snap selfies in the mirror & look at their reflection instead of the camera lens.

I’ll admit, changing has not been easy – there are still days where I don’t want to cycle to work, let alone the gym and sometimes I will allow the want to be “lazy” and get the bus. I always pine for my bike when I do though.  However, the point in this post is to give some of my tips to stay the course & become the person you’ve only ever been able to dream about.

Zig-Start

TIPS:

  • Invest in a Personal Trainer – I know this may seem like a major expense, but even if you see them once a month & then follow a programme they have set for you will help!  In my early weeks going to the gym I only went if I felt like it. Paying to see Andy meant that I had to go, he sets me things to do without him & I know the next time I see him, he will ask if I’ve been to the gym since the last time we met.
  • Stay the course – It sounds easy enough; Go to the gym, train, ???, PROFIT. It really isn’t that simple though. We have, as a human race become so dependant on machines to do things for us. Yes, technology has advanced so we don’t have to hunt for our food or walk miles to get to places but does that mean we should be complacent with our health?  Training requires effort, it’s hard graft – if it was easy then everyone would do it.
  • Nutrition. Nutrition. Nutrition – Food!  Glorious food!  Anyone who reads this regularly will know I love food.  What you eat is tantamount to what you do in the gym, if not more so. Reduce the carbs & increase the protein is a good starting point.  I didn’t realise what a negative effect not eating correctly could do.  Seriously.  All that effort put in to training to lose it from eating poorly? Don’t forget to stay hydrated too!  I’ve seen what dehydration during sports looks like & it does not look like a pleasant experience.
  • It will hurt – After my first leg day I wondered if I’d ever be able to walk again properly. I wish I was joking, but I’m really not. When I was much, much younger I used to run cross-country at school & my legs never hurt to the degree a proper leg day gets you. It’s not just your legs either; ever tried to take a sports bra off after doing a silly amount of skull crushers & chest presses? No? It’s almost impossible.  How about laughing after crunches?  I’ve done it, it gave me muscle cramp in my abs which I couldn’t stretch back out for ages!
  • Weights! – If there is another reason to invest time with a Trainer, I can’t think of a better one than learning to use weights effectively. When I started going to the gym I spent most of my time on cardio machines, wishing I was fitter or dead….whichever was gonna come faster!  Cardio has its place, but I now believe it should be for warming up as opposed to the reason you go to the gym. Lifting heavy shit is awesome & with the right guidance is really, really awesome.  The feeling of beating a personal best? Incredible!  I did 90kg the other day – a good 20kg more than my body weight.
  • REST! – I know I’ve said stick at it, eat well, train hard but all of that work & effort is worth nothing without looking after yourself. I have two rest days a week – my days off work & Saturday is an “Only cycle” day, as the gym opens too late for me. The most important thing is to give your body the recovery time it needs, if that’s 4 rest days a week to begin with then so be it.  However, never drop them entirely. They are vital!

Doing Makes a Diff Pic


Groovy, Baby!!

Remember the slump I had?  The confidence knock & wondering whether training was worth it in case I hurt myself? Yeaaaaah.  That’s gone.

I’m currently sprawled on the sofa, wearing a dressing gown & supping from a giant cup of coffee – HOWEVER don’t let my image of listlessness be disheartening to you – it’s late & I’ve been at work all day.

On the way home the other night I had an overwhelming sense of calm, contentedness & a feeling that I’ve never been able to convey in words – er, euphoria might be close. It’s been a while since I felt like that regarding training.  I don’t know if it has something to do with the fact my training has ramped up or whether I’m just generally more happy.  A lot of credit has to be given to endorphins; my PT can vouch for that – when I first met him I was pretty angry & got wound up relatively easily.  Happy hormones are incredible!!!

I’m back on Fitocracy & adding my workouts to it a lot more regularly than I had in the past.  The weather is beginning to improve & the light of day is staying for longer which makes for a nicer cycle to & from work and the gym.

I was asked a few questions today from a friend who hasn’t seen me since before I started training; she commented on my weight loss and said I’d inspired her to go to the gym more often.

Questions:

Do you get cravings for food that is unhealthy?

Not really, no.  In the beginning satiating my want for certain foods was hard but not any more.

Do you not just fancy a Big Mac some days?

No. I never really ate fast food before I started training so being without really doesn’t bother me.

What about giving in to a craving? Have you do that?

Yes, absolutely. I won’t lie about eating – sure I’ve had cake, ice cream, dirty carbs and sweets in the past 6 months.  I don’t feel bad about it. The odd treat isn’t going to reverse all I’ve achieved, so there is no guilt.

 Is the cake I’ve seen you make really taste as good as normal cake?

Yes & no. Some that I have made that taste incredible but there have been some that have been thrown away after the first taste.  It’s all about experimenting to see what works well.

Er, so yeah.  the past week or so has had me remember the reason I started training & holding on to the goal I had in the first place.  I’ve had a lot of time off this year due to injury and I’m determined to not do it again….I know I shouldn’t think about where I could be had I not being in two accidents in such a short space of time, but I have.  It got to me, it started to gnaw away at me, and could have put an end to my training if I’d have let it.  I’ve never said I was a competitive person, I’m not.  I’m stubborn, I HATE things defeating me, I hate being beaten by something & will fight tooth & nail to overcome the hurdle.  I’m not beaten, not by a long shot.

The year is still young & I still have a lot to prove!