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Fitness

Fitness for dummies

Weight lifting

I feel the time has come for me to truly write a beginners guide to training. I found this post difficult to write as I have been in the gym a long time and couldn’t really remember how I brought myself into the weight area of the gym, or where I learned the majority of what I do know. I once had 0 clue about weights and the gym, and still have so much to learn, but I hope this post sheds some light on the topic for beginners. So in order to write this, I questioned many of my friends/readers about why they find it difficult to enter the gym and what would entice them inside. As many Bodyfit Geek readers have access to a gym, they need to overcome the obstacles and understand there should be nothing to fear in the gym. I am going to attempt to tackle this right now and give you the reassurance you need to give it a go.

There are a few questions you must ask yourself before entering a gym; why haven’t you tried going until now? What are your goals? These basic questions can help you understand what you hope to achieve whether it be for health reasons, increasing fitness levels, body shaping , increasing strength, toning or a combination of all. So the real question is Why don’t you go to the gym? Many readers answered with intimidation, lack of knowledge of equipment and exercises, embarrassment and not enough time in the day. These problems each need to be tackled one by one..here it goes.

Lack of Knowledge

For regular gym bunnies this may be repetitive but this blog is to inform people who have never stepped foot into a gym. Weight training is simply a form of exercise that involves lifting weights. The first thing to state is always start off with light weights, and do not increase these too soon. I have listed types of equipment below that you should become familiar with. After this, I will explain some terms used by trainers who write programmes etc. The exercises I briefly mention below are not too advanced and anyone reading this is very much capable of carrying them out.

Equipment and machinery for – working arms (Biceps and Triceps), chest and back

  • Dumbbell (Free weights)db

 

Dumbbells are found in every commercial gym and are used to perform chest press, shoulder press, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and front raises (Youtube these moves if you are not familiar)

 

  • Barbell

Use light weight (10kg) to perform movements such as bent over row, Clean and Press, front raises, chest press and shoulder press.

 

  • Lateral pull down machine

This machine targets different back muscles depending on where you choose to grip the bar. Leaning back about 30 degrees, Pull the bar towards your chest while squeezing your lats. Think of squeezing your shoulder blades together to pinch & hold a piece of paper in place. Make sure you feel the squeeze in your back muscles and not so much in your arms (use low weight). Hold at contracted position for 1/2 seconds and then slowly return to starting position. During this movement you should not lean back too far, as this will put strain on your lower back.

  • Kettle bells kb

Kettle bells are useful little gems when you want to increase cardio by performing kettle bell swings, as well as using them for sumo squats or even holding them when carrying out single leg lunges.

Working legs (Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calves)

  •  Squat rack

This is a very diverse piece of equipment as it also contains a 20kg barbell which can be used for squats, deadlifts, bent over rows, shoulder press etc. As well as this, squat racks can be used for pull ups and chin ups. This is a very important piece of equipment in the gym and you just become familiar with racking the bar safely. Do not fear asking for help with this as safety comes first. Everyone starts somewhere, and at some stage, personal trainers did not know how to use a squat rack. Remember that.

  • Leg press machine

This is found in essentially all gyms and involves weighted plates being manually added to the machine. Start by adding the lightest weight plates to each side and gradually increase to understand your strength. As leg press is a compound movement, it means many muscle groups are used (Glutes, quads, hamstrings). Place legs on the platform about shoulder width apart (can vary depending on muscle targets) and release safety handle to allow weight to be released. Push the platform away from you until your legs are fully extended. Never lock out your knees. Lower the platform and bring your knees towards your chest, and fully extend again. Fully lock the security handle when the repetitions are complete.

  • Hamstring/Leg curl

An isolation movement is performed on this machine targeting the hamstring muscles. It involves placing legs on a padded lever and flexing the knee. Hold the flexed position and slowly return to starting position.

  • Leg/quadriceps extension

This involves extending your leg fully while legs are holding the padded weight on a machine.  This machine involves pushing the weight and opposes muscles used in the hamstring curl seen above.

Don’t forget the most important tool of all when exercising-

  • Body weight

You can use your own body weight to perform movements such as push ups, planks, body weighted squats, pull ups, leg raises. The list is endless!

Other things to take note on:

Repetitions: This is the amount of one exercise performed consecutively.

Sets: This is the amount of cycles of repetitions that you carry out.

Training ‘core’: Exercises to increase strength in abdominal muscles, back muscles and pelvic muscles.

HIIT training: High interval intense training involves bursts of anaerobic exercises with slower and less intense recovery periods in between (i.e Sprint for 30 seconds, jog for 30 seconds for 10 minutes)

PT: Personal trainer

I recommend training different body parts on different days. When beginning I used to use every machine whether it be training my legs back or arms. Now I have come to understand that going into the gym with no programme is like entering a swimming pool with an anchor on your leg. You really need to have a plan made and know what you want to achieve. You could use up a lot of energy and see 0 results because of this mistake.

Intimidation

I don’t think a single person has NOT felt intimidated one time or another in the gym. The key to overcoming this is looking at the bigger picture. People go to the gym because they want to improve their body image, increase their fitness and wellbeing and simply feel good. Even though you may feel like all eyes are on you and your clumsiness, I can assure you they are not. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that people are very self-obsessed in a gym environment. As a matter of fact, you really are just a number to every other gym goer and this should not prevent you from going to blow off steam. Ways to tackle this will be increasing your self-esteem by gaining knowledge on exercises. Plus, the more you go the gym, the more conditioned you will become to using equipment. You will get used to it sooner or later.

(Let’s be real.. I was in the gym about a month ago doing HIIT (High interval intense training) on a treadmill and fell off, most embarrassing moment. All I wanted to do was go home, but instead I stayed as long as possible until the feeling of utter embarrassment wore off. You gotta accept it happens & realise everyone makes mistakes and feels intimidated, but they really aren’t!)

Unapproachable Staff

This does fit into intimidation at the gym, however I felt it was so extreme it needed a paragraph on its own. If the personal trainers at the gym are not helpful or approachable, this should not deter you from all gyms. It is beyond me how people who choose to train people as a career can give off the impression as if they don’t want to help or have anything to do with potential clients. If you do not know how to use a machine or do not understand a workout or programme, you should feel you can ask a personal trainer as that is what the gym is paying them for. If you feel you can’t do this, maybe ask someone who is doing it to show you, or even a friend. If this still is not possible, I would consider changing gyms, as this environment is not good. Some readers would be interested in a buddy plan, where you can go with a friend to the gym as a guest on a pass. I highly recommend this as going once does give you the confidence to continue to test your abilities.

Men only zone

This is a common misconception. The majority of readers find it very daunting to head over to the weight lifting area as they feel it is packed with men and they would look silly if they went over to lift weights. All I can say is nuh-uh. The weight area is for ANYONE who want to learn more and improve their physique. I feel this issue varies as there are plenty of women in my own gym who work out in the weights area and that this is growing in popularity. However if you feel that this is a problem, a friend can always calm these fears if you bring them with you. Also some gyms have a women’s only area if you really don’t want to train there. The way I see it though is men and women do everything else together, so why should training be any different? You really need to get through this one by slowly allowing yourself to get more confident, and making new friends in the gym the more you go.

Don’t know what workouts to do.

First things first, get a programme from either a personal trainer, a friend who knows their stuff, online coach or even from a reliable internet source. This is such a simple step, yet can be detrimental to you kicking off your gym days if you do not do this. Also I’ve been asked about ab workouts etc. My simple answer is, if your body fat percentage is not low enough, your abs will not be seen. Majority of slim people still have too high a body fat %, meaning all of their painful crunches and sit ups have gone to waste. Other workouts such as squats and deadlifts still work these muscles along with many other ones, which is why they are so important in training. You should be shown had to do these carefully by a professional.

Cardio

I know people think I’m the anti-cardio girl (slightly true) but cardio is SO important for maintaining a healthy heart and reducing risks of so many diseases. Always incorporate low intensity exercise into your week such as walking, cycling etc. as well as higher intensity training. If you only run, or cycle, you can still lose weight, but it will pack on much quicker and will not tone your muscles.

Best time to go to the gym

In my gym, I notice the busy times to be at around 8-9am, 12-2 pm and 6-9pm. This reflects that people gym before work, during lunch and after work. If you feel your schedule is too busy to exercise, you are fooling yourself. There is always an hour in the day which should be for you, and if there isn’t, something needs to change. It is important for your physical and mental health, so buy a diary and plan where you can fit your workouts in.

Always remember to ASK SOMEONE-anyone

If you are ever confused about what exercises to do or are unsure about your safety while carrying out an exercise please ask someone around you. Bite the pride and ask, as it will remain with you for your gym days. Feel free to drop me an email on info@bodyfitgeek.com. I stress that I am not a PT but can offer my advice on what has worked for me & info from the many talented people I have had the opportunity to have worked with over the last year.

This blog is simply to provide a more thorough understanding of terminology and equipment. Each person reading this blog has different strengths and body weight; therefore I cannot recommend certain weights to every reader. I have just provided some basic views and am always happy to help anyone with questions. Go over any advice you have read with a PT at the gym when possible and stop movements immediately if you feel pain.

& Finally—Thank you ALL so much for voting for me in the Aussie blog awards. Still so happy I won best readers’ choice awards and I want to continue providing everyone with good quality information, tips and recipe ideas.

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I must say a special thank you to my science girls of UCD for providing their individual thoughts on the gym and providing great ideas for this post. S.O to Ashleigh B too <3 Have a smashing summer guys xxxx

BFG TRIC

 

Fitness

Training with the BodyFit Geek

I have received many questions on what exactly I do at the gym, so I’ve decided to give you all the main idea of what I try to achieve by going to the gym. I alternate between four day splits however I have been going six times a week at the moment because I have so much time! You can achieve your goals with four great sessions a week, so don’t get too overwhelmed. A few things to incorporate into workouts are as follows;

HIIT– High interval intense training in a popular method used to burn fat. If your goal is to shed excess body fat, I would strongly suggest you throw this into your routine once or twice a week. HIIT training involves alternating between moderate to high levels of intensity and has been shown to burn fat more effectively than regular cardio. Aim to avoid being in a steady catabolic state that many can associate with jogging. The aim is to keep shocking your body with bursts of exercise to increase fat burn. HIIT training is recommended for anyone who is unsatisfied with fat loss. Types of HIIT include kettle bell swings, heavy rope training, boxing and my go to- Sprints. I love sprinting because I find it the easiest to throw into a workout. I sometimes only add 10 minutes of HIIT to the end of a weight training session!

An example of my HIIT training on a treadmill involves warming up with a brisk walk for around 2 minutes, followed by a moderate jog for another minute. I then go into a sprint for 30 seconds and jog for 30 seconds. This is continued for ten minutes on/off.

Cardio acceleration – I find this tough when I decide to add this to a full weight training session. Instead of taking a break in between sets, I add cardio such as kettle bell swings or burpees. I must say that I am truly wrecked after a CA workout but the results are great and I feel fitter since I have started this! I like to add this at least once a week because I don’t really run anymore and find it more time efficient in a busy week.

Super setting – I absolutely love supersets. A superset is when two exercises are performed in a row without a break. For example I would do 8×3 reps of shoulder press followed by 8×3 sets of bench press consecutively.

Light V Heavy – I highly recommend doing lighter weights with high repetitions followed by another day with heavy weight and low repetitions. I find I become stronger faster when I alternate between both. When I lift a heavy weight I am only able to complete 3-4 sets however you should be hitting 10-12 reps with a lighter weight.

Plan your workouts- I urge each and every one of you to make a plan for the week. There is no point walking aimlessly from machine to machine for an hour and then heading home to demolish a chicken fillet roll. It won’t work. You need to pick certain muscle groups and even pair them for a session. I also train legs and abs together because I find it works best for me. If I’m training my back, I would usually train my chest as well. Trial and error will enable you to see what works best for you and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.

Please remember, setbacks will happen. That’s life. Your success mirrors how your respond to your failure. Take breaks and rethink your plan. If you aren’t seeing results, gather yourself, regroup and start again. Do not give up, you will get there so commit to your plan and start training!

Fitness

Tackling New Year’s Resolutions

New Year Resoloutions

New Year’s resolutions are probably one of the biggest fails I have come across, but why? It is shown that over 90% of people will not stick to their resolution, so aim to be in that 10% of the population that does. First things first, what really is your goal? If you want to lose weight, you need to ask these questions; How much? Why? What to you hope to look like?  If you hope to tone up and lose weight, you need to start lifting! Running and cardio are amazing for your health and decreases the likelihood of illnesses so incorporate this, but the main focus for those of you trying to lose weight and tone up is too put all your energy into lifting those weights. Many people don’t realise that when you run for twenty minutes, you are burning calories for only twenty minutes, but when you lift weights for twenty minutes, you increase your resting metabolic rate which means you will continue to burn calories throughout the rest of your day! It’s a win win!!

  • You need be a visionary here. Create a vision of what you want to look like and think about how you can change your lifestyle to get there.  Once you know how you want to look, make it your screen saver, stick it to your fridge or leave it beside your bed so you don’t stray from your goal!
  • Another key way of sticking to your New Year’s resolution is training with a buddy! It is so much harder to bail on going to the gym if you’ve already told someone you will go with them. You’re not only letting yourself down but your pal too.  You can even decide to do one class a week with a friend and train by yourself on the other days. It is also nice to change up your work out with classes and can help you generate new ideas into your workouts.
  • Change your diet. If you aren’t happy with how you look, you can probably blame the food you eat. You may be eating very little and are still failing to see results. This is down to what is actually in the foods you’re eating. You need to avoid too much sugary foods, and begin building your diet around fats and protein while limiting carb intake!
  • Keep a diary. If you do not schedule your workouts in to a busy 2016, you will more than likely fail to make a change. A diary can be used to write down what foods you have eaten too so you can face the reality that you are not eating as well as you think. That chocolate bar may be small, but the amount of sugar in it is not, so stop hiding behind that baggy jumper and get moving!
  • Start small and aim big. Any exercise is better than nothing. Try walk for at least 30 mins each day and build yourself up to joining a gym. If you can’t afford that, home workouts are a great way to get fit too. Talk to friends about it and get the support you need!

Hope this helps and please email me at info@bodyfitgeek.com with any questions & check out my new Instagram account @BodyfitGeek.

 

Thanks & Have a healthy 2016

x

Fitness

Getting Started

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When beginning to train follow these tips:

1. Get Familiar with equipment

There is nothing more daunting than walking into a gym and not knowing how to use anything! And if you try, you might injure yourself. Everyone starts somewhere.. So ask a member of staff or get a PT to show you!

2. Build yourself up

Just because the girl beside you or your friend can do things.. Doesn’t mean your body is ready yet. So start small & gradually develop your muscles.. You will get there.

3. Do not train the same body part consecutively ( I stress this point)

If you have trained your legs and think you can do it again the next day.. You either haven’t trained them hard enough or you are going to defeat the purpose of training by not allowing the fibres to grow & repair!
Do not do this!!! There is so many areas of the body to target that it’s a struggle to fit them all in during the week.

5. Don’t over train

This is a tricky one because everyone has different gym session lengths. You can fit in a great workout in under forty minutes and you do not need to spend two hours at the gym.

I will be writing a blog “Guide for Beginners” within the week so check back!

Thanks everyone 🙂

Fitness

My 8 week transformation

My 8 Week Transformation

Hi Everyone!

So I’ve completed my 8 week transformation which I decided to do after the summer in Canada. I needed to tone up and lose the excess weight I put on thanks to too many nights out & pizzas….

You will always hit a wall when it comes to training so it’s important to remain open minded and try to incorporate new ideas into both training and nutrition. I decided to add new pieces to my workouts including new circuits where I have pushed myself and feel stronger already! I also have looked into CrossFit which I recommend but am nowhere near an expert in this. I want to continue learning and developing myself as much as possible

This change involved cleaning up my diet, counting macros (sorry to say) and weight lifting. As some of you know I really have gone off cardio and would occasionally go for a run, with a push. I am in the middle of exams but will be putting up a Guide for Beginners which I know a lot of you want info on so I’ll do this ASAP. It will include info on what to eat and how to train. Again, Thank You all for the positive messages and keep checking back for new recipes & tips!

Fitness

When I first started

Weight Training

When I first joined a gym, I ran 4-5 times a week and thought I could run off a bad meal. I may have stayed the same weight but felt I wasn’t getting out what I had put in. I turned to weight training and my body and mind has changed for life. I no longer ‘dread’ the gym, but almost look forward to feeling strong and healthy. The key to success is realising you can’t out-do a poor diet. No amount of cardio will get you the results you long for. There is no quick fix, but i guarantee weight training will get you the result a hell of a lot quicker.