Early morning exercise gives you a whole new way to wake up and kick-start your day in the best possible way.
Here’s some top tips for getting the most out of your session.
Fat burning benefits
Training early in the morning is a great way to burn fat. Yes it is. Think about it. We worry, first thing, that we aren’t going to have enough energy to train on an empty stomach. But, guess where you have loads of lovely energy, all stored up, ready and waiting to be used? In your fat cells! If you don’t eat anything beforehand, your body will have to use up the stored energy, which is basically another way of saying you’ll burn up fat. The only time this might not be a good idea is if you already have a very low body fat ratio, and don’t want to lose any more, in which case make sure you get some of the right foods in you before you start.
Getting the most from your body and your food early in the morning
If you want to get the best out of your early morning training session, how do you prepare and what are you supposed to eat? Eat high energy foods, and risk sharing them during the session with your fellow exercisers? Not eat anything at all, and not have enough energy to make it through the session? Drink an energy drink to get you through? Have a protein shake?
So many choices, and so many ways to get it wrong. Here’s some things to think about in terms of eating before your early morning session:
Get some quality sleep the night before so that you are in top form when you wake up.
Drink plenty of water. Strangely, we forget that even though water is calorie free, it gives us a huge energy boost.
Get some anti-oxidants in your body to negate the (very natural) damaging effect of the free radicals you produce when you burn energy. Huh? Yes, exercise, without antioxidants is damaging. Not in a ‘help, my leg is on fire’ kind of way, but in the slow, inflammatory kind of way which can cause you to put on weight, get injured or create other long-term chronic illnesses. Anti-oxidants are in loads of foods, but to be a little specific for you, think fresh veg or fruit juice, a piece of fruit or some nuts or seeds.
Don’t eat/drink energy bars and gels for your training, but especially not before a morning session. In the morning, you should be at your brightest, most energetic best. If you need that kind of energy boost in the morning, you need much more than just a gel to sort you out.
Protein shakes…..hmmmm. If you are training because you want to get fit and healthy, a protein shake shouldn’t really feature in your routine. If you think I have gone mad, just check out the ingredients in most of those things. Yes, there is protein there, as well as a host of crazy ingredients which do nothing for your health at all. Granted, there are one or two protein shakes out there which are fine, but I’m willing to bet that yours isn’t one of them. You absolutely do need protein, but it’s best to get it in as natural state as possible, and it’s certainly not required before a session.
So there you have it. My five little pointers for eating before you hit the early morning session. I personally just hit a big ol’ veg and fruit juice 30 mins before my session, which gives me all the antioxidants I need, without filling up my belly. I then make sure I get a good amount of natural protein with my brekkie around 40 mins after the session, and it works a treat.
One of my favourite quotes is: ‘you can’t out-exercise a bad diet’ and this is so true. You need to eat well enough to get the best from your exercise. If you feel that you could do with a whole session that doesn’t just give you pointers, but gives you a personalised plan to get you in the right place when it comes to food, i’d love to hear from you.
High Intensity Training has been a topical subject in the news recently, with new research claiming that just three minutes a week will give us longer and healthier lives.
The BBC2 Horizon documentary The Truth about Exercise covered some interesting physiological points about this, but my feeling is that it is easy to take some of them out of context.
What the telly said…
New research has shown that just three minutes of High Intensity Training per week will lead to improvements in insulin sensitivity (the removal of sugar from the blood) and VO2max (the maximum amount of oxygen the body is able to use).
Insulin sensitivity and VO2max are the two most important factors in improving health and fitness; they influence weight loss, body composition and physique, so you can see how this research has sparked so much interest.
However, the research also said that this ‘three minute’ method of interval training will only benefit a ‘super responder’. A DNA test of 11 different genes would need to be carried out to determine a ‘responder’ from a ‘non-responder, and even after that as little as15% of the general population would be ‘responders’.
This is not to say that High Intensity Interval Training as a whole does not benefit a non-responder. It does benefit hugely, but it requires more than three minutes a week. The increase in organ, insulin and fat cell function all contribute to lower visceral fat stores helping to prevent illnesses such type II diabetes and heart disease. Within a few weeks a non-responder should see a change in their glucose adaptations and after about six weeks (depending on the individual) VO2 Max improvements should also be noticeable.
What Wendy says…
High Intensity Training is about working at extreme intensity for short periods of time. Three minutes a week may improve your fitness if you are a ‘super responder’, but many of us aren’t and unfortunately we don’t have much say in the genes we are born with.
It’s important not to get caught up in genetic make up; posture, diet, mood and personality all have an influence on how we respond to exercise. It’s about finding the best type of exercise to suit you and your make up and incorporating variety and interest into your routine.
Equally, the duration of your training shouldn’t be the most important factor, the intensity and reason should. Other forms of interval training can be incorporated into any routine to give you the intensity you need as well as being time efficient and fun.
Ask yourself these three questions based on your current training routine:
Why did I choose this training routine?
What results have I seen from training in the last 6 weeks?
How do I feel after my work out?
Many training sessions at in touch studios are based on the interval technique; they are intense and don’t go over 45 minutes, some can be completed in 30 minutes. Our ethos is to educate on the importance of why, what and how.
Many of our clients see results quickly; with regular training and healthy eating they also find short intense sessions fit in well with their lifestyle and are sustainable in the longer run.
We are approaching the most popular time of year to start or restart our running training.
Whatever your running goals – training for an event, rehabilitation, muscular imbalance or conditioning your body for overall health – the continuous repetitive impact of running can be harsh on your body, so getting a good training plan in place is imperative.
Here are my top two recommendations for your training plan:
1. Complement your running with quality resistance training. Done correctly this can be vital for muscle development.
2. Always include a muscle recovery plan. This can consist of many techniques, but the one I recommend for runners is myofascial release. When we run our muscles are hard at work protecting our spine, pelvis, and major joints such as our knees, ankles and hips. Myofascial release is designed to break down scar tissue and stimulate a relaxant to the myofascia; in other words softening tight areas of deep muscle. This helps reduce muscle spasms, restrictions and dysfunctions which can be brought on by the extreme impact of running, bad training posture or overload to the muscular-skeletal system.
The most common areas to release include I.T bands, piriformis and gluteals, hips, hip flexors, calves, feet and shins. The thoracic section of the back is also an important area.
Release can be performed in many ways; it can include rolling the affected areas over a foam roller or grid, tennis ball or squash ball, or getting a sports massage from a qualified practitioner. This blog will show you some good techniques on how to roll release effectively: www.lululemon.com/community/blog/find-your-trigger-point
Runner or not, anyone can benefit from myofascial release work – athlete, parent or office worker. We all get a build up of scar tissue and muscular tightness.
At in touch studios we specialise in quality training techniques to help you achieve your goals and get the best out of your body. For assistance with training plans, resistance or release work please get in touch. We also have a free running club for members.
To find that our obesity statistics are getting worse not only horrified me but also got me thinking about the way we are starting out in life. Children at this age should not be obese.
As a nation we have become influenced, largely by the major manufacturers of junk food and quick fix fad diets sending us as a nation on a road to obesity.
What can we do about this? I can only draw on my own experience to share with you what I think needs to be done.
I was brought up on simple, clean, healthy food. I remember the pantry shelves would be beautifully decorated with jars of orange, green and brown pulses, rice and pasta. There were spices and herbs and fruit and vegetables always on display. We had chives, gooseberries, mint and rosemary growing in our garden. The kitchen shelves had jars of baking ingredients, different types of sugar, flour, raisins and nuts. There was one red biscuit tin, which was positioned too high for us to reach. When we were old enough to try our luck the only biscuits you would find there were ‘rich tea’! yuck! We would bake and cook together and be out picking fruits together. This was all education and access to different food varieties, without even realising it.
My mother brought my sisters and I up not knowing what junk food was until we were old enough to discover it for ourselves and make our own choices. By this time my organs, metabolism, cell growth and circulation had completed its most important development. Little did I know, at the time of all my tantrums, that this stubbornness my mum was displaying wasn’t out of spite. This was going to secure my future health and prevent my body from obesity and breaking down.
I didn’t have a large television, computer games or consoles. Our friends did! Yes we were envious and jealous but we weren’t allowed. This forced us outside, in our garden, dressing up, in the street, at the park on our bikes. We were active. My body was developing and functioning at a rate it was designed to.
What I am trying to say is that my mother didn’t have much money, or a great amount of time, she brought us up single handedly, working and studying full time. Not only did this approach set my body up for my future, it taught me how important the value of simple food, exercise and good health is.
Now, I know that the reason I don’t put weight on easily, and that my total body fat percentage has always been below 23%, is because I have always eaten well. I have always exercised and my body was given the best start to life.
I’m not a party pooper and it’s important to keep it real and practical. We all like to indulge a little more during the festive season. However, you don’t have to completely over do it this year. Things in moderation won’t set you back too far.
However, if you let your exercise slip too much during this time then you will find dramatic drops in your fitness, strength and overall motivation. So, come New Year when you want to pick it all up again you will find you hit a wall in your performance. Use this time to maintain the current level of fitness you have achieved. That way, when everyone else is struggling to start afresh, you will have already pushed through that wall and you can use the New Year to get ahead and start to enjoy making real changes to your health & wellbeing.
Personally, I like to train harder in November & December and to really push myself ahead of my game. January is my worst month so I know I really need to prepare myself for looking and feeling good.
If you are new to exercise, now is the best time to start making changes to your life. Don’t wait. Waiting is putting off the inevitable. If you start making small changes to your life today then come January you will already be well into a new routine. It won’t feel as difficult to get used to. Then, when Spring comes and our bodies prepare to come out of hibernation, we will find that ‘spring’ in our step and the energy we have all worked for. The weight will start to strip off, the strength will increase and the fitness levels we all look for will appear from beneath. Our performance will surge forward and we will look to the summer.. this is when we will be at our best.. Are you ready?
Try some 30-45 minute effective training sessions 2 to 3 times per week, to start you off. This is achievable and will prepare your body for further exertion later on.
Training sessions at in touch studios are never more than 45 minutes. Every session is tailored to the individual and we work you to your own level of capability. It’s important to understand your threshold, your body’s capabilities and where your comfort zone ends. Every client is screened and assessed before joining so that the exercises can be tailored.
If you think this is for you, please get in touch for further information at email@example.com or call us on 0117 9396601.
Pain creeps up on us. We’ve been so busy getting stressed by work, or by the kids, or so busy getting comfortable in front of the television every night that we have neglected our body… then its too late, the pain has taken hold of us. So this then becomes the reason not to exercise! “I’ll wait and rest for a few weeks and start exercising when the pain has gone”… hmmm!
Back pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain, knee pain, neck ache, foot pain, jaw ache…. I could go on. Pain comes in all sorts of sensations; deep & dull, sharp & jabbing, tight & throbbing, … again I could go on.
I work with a lot of pain sufferers, whether it is back, shoulder, knee or hip and in my experience and opinion there is an awful lot more pain out there these days, caused by, well not doing a lot. I’m not going to go on a rant, but we all know why: lack of movement and technology have sedated our bodies and made our muscles lazy. Our bodies were not designed for this. (To read more about this see my previous write up on core strength here.)
Most people seem to rest in response to pain. 20 years ago the general advice was to rest but now we know (and research has proven) that inactivity can make things a whole lot worse. I’m not saying you need to be walking about on a broken leg or doing press ups on a bruised rib. What I am saying is that movement is crucial to easing the type of pain that I am talking about: Musculoskeletal pain!
We have all felt pain somewhere in our bodies at some point in our lives. Whether it’s sharp or aching, it is our body telling us something.
What is it telling us? It depends on the sort of pain or the area of the body where it occurs, but overall it’s almost certainly telling us something is not quite right and needs addressing.
Do we ignore it or do we get it checked out? It depends on the severity and type of pain. If pain is acute and you find yourself unable to move then I would say get it checked out. If it’s a temporary pain then listen to it instead of panicking. Panic will make things worse causing the muscles to tighten up further. What you shouldn’t do is ignore it! Here’s why:
Our bodies were designed for movement. Our muscles enable us to move in a certain motion and they work in groups. If a muscle is tight or weak then this inhibits our movement. The other muscles in that group, that were ok, will now be held back or restricted by this one weak or tight muscle. Then our overall movement is affected and imbalances in other major muscles occur…the chain continues and, without getting too technical, the nerves and tendons get involved and this is when pain strikes!
If this pain remains unaddressed it can lead to further distortions and muscular imbalances and possibly to serious injury.
The root cause of this pain needs to be figured out. You can retrain your muscles to contract correctly, encourage movement patterns to work positively and ensure that posture is realigned. However, the choice and type of muscle movement needs to be correct. A physiotherapist or exercise professional should be able to tell you which exercises will make the difference.
If you have yet to experience pain and you don’t move very often or you sit down or drive all day, it will almost certainly catch up with you if you don’t start to include regular exercise into your daily life. Don’t wait to feel pain!
How’s your core strength? I have written a similar post recently but this subject is commonly misunderstood so i will continue to express further.
The majority of our goals consist of weight loss and toning. We are all so concerned about how we look and feel to others and ourselves. Rightly so, there is nothing wrong with that, we are all human. However, our core strength sometimes doesn’t come as a priority when we exercise. Did you know it has a huge role to play with the way we look and feel, so core strength is vital to include in your weight loss routine, here’s why..
You’ve probably heard me say this a thousand times, but you all know how I love to talk about the core. Core strength isn’t about abdominal strength or about how much of a six-pack we have, its much more complex than that.
Without a strong core, our supportive muscles (the ones you can’t really see) don’t get a look in, and so our larger muscles (the ones we primarily move with) want to dominate and bully our body into moving with negative movements. If this continues, over time our core muscles become weaker and our dominant muscles become stronger, so there is more chance of those niggling injuries and bad postures. This then prohibits certain muscles igniting efficiently and so our movement is restricted. When our movement is restricted, we cannot use our energy system as fully as we would like, which slows the process of weight loss and the ability to burn fat quickly.
The muscles of the core lie deep within the pelvis, bottom and the mid back region of our bodies and are vital also for holding us in the positions we spend most of our daily lives living in. So try to think about using them when working, sitting, standing and walking, not just when training. This is the principle, that most people don’t apply, when trying to achieve optimum core strength.
Flexibility. I want to express why this subject is so important and why many of us don’t take it as seriously as we should.
Flexibility isn’t about whether you can touch your toes, it’s not about doing the splits and it’s not about how far you can bend back your wrist or hyper extend a joint. It is about your posture, it is about your sports performance, it is about your ability to train effectively so it then has an effect on your weight loss, your speed, your aesthetics, your job, your life!
So why do you stretch? The stretching you carry out after exercise will not achieve major improvements in flexibility, however it is important to do as it aids in the muscle relaxing and increases recovery after exercise thus decreasing the chances of injury.
Why is flexibility important to us? Our bodies do not get enough movement, mainly due to the fact that we sit down for more hours than we spend moving each day. You may try and argue with me but it’s the truth of the situation. I’m not saying that we are lazy (some people just simply are) but our lifestyles and our work just force us into these situations.
So whilst we are sitting, our muscles are switched off, our limbs are put into positions of shortness and/or restriction, so the muscles, tendons and ligaments become tight, short, and yes restricted. Then when we try and move, (for example raise our arms above our head) the range of movement in which we are trying to achieve.. is just not!
These important connections in our bodies affect our range of motion immensely. So then we develop (with the down-side of a weak core) bad backs, tight neck and shoulders, over dominant quads (thighs), weak glutes (bums) and hamstrings. Now if you could imagine adding on just 10 degrees more range to your movement when you walk, run, lunge, weight train, or swim.. Imagine how much more energy you would burn and how much more fat loss or fitness or speed you would achieve.
So how do we increase our flexibility? We simply just have to move more!
Moving slowly under resistance is one of the most effective ways. Now this is just my fancy way of saying exercise correctly with good technique. This is why dynamic yoga is so good for increasing flexibility, the movements are dynamic, they are slow and controlled, and they test our range of motion. Lunging and squatting are other examples, movements that are large and dynamic and use lots of joint areas but don’t involve too much impact or too heavy weights initially. Standing in a hunched position, bicep curling a dumbbell that is too heavy for you… will not improve you flexibility..FACT!
We have Flex-AGILITY training sessions at in touch studios, these sessions focus on dynamic and controlled movements that will increase range, suppleness and strength. This session will make you sweat; it will utilise your energy systems and give you a thorough workout. If you are interested and feel you need to increase your flexibility please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reaching your goals through eating the right food, drinking the right drinks and getting the exercise that your body needs will obviously make a difference but its the consistancey that will give you long term acheivements.
Try looking at it this way. Imagine dealing with a badly behaved toddler or a puppy that keeps jumping up at strangers. You would approach it by repeating and reiterating the correct behavior and ignoring the bad. If your approach kept switching or changing because your frustration kept getting the better of you then the child or puppy would receive mixed messages and so they would behave with this in mind, confusion! If there’s no consistency, they won’t learn.
Now apply this same approach to your body. If you are exercising really well, with regular training sessions, eating clean and healthy food every day, being mindful of how much caffeine and alcohol is going into your body, and getting good rest and sleep in a consistent manner throughout your life then your body will know what it needs to do and how it needs to respond.
If you have a bad day or weekend, then just dust yourself off and continue. Be patient with yourself but beware of the trap of doing all these things for a month, getting frustrated that you’re not making headway so you let the demons creep back in for another few months, only to realise you are gaining weight or feeling low on energy so hit the healthy routine again for a bit. This is called living in a YoYo and creates confusion for your body, denying it time to adapt or respond.