8 Benefits of strength training

Strenkettlebellgth training is essential for anyone who wants to be fitter, stronger and healthier.

Many people are spending most of their workout time on cardiovascular exercise (treadmill, cross-trainer, jogging) and less time on strength training (also known as resistance training), with a common belief that the best way to lose weight is to count the calories that was burnt, and the longer the session the better.  The truth is, strength training may just be the missing piece of puzzle to take your fitness to another level. Moreoever, there are many health benefits associated with strength training.

Here are 8 reasons why you should include strength training in your workouts:

1. You will be be physically fitter and stronger

2. Feel mentally stronger and more focused

3. Lose body fat and become leaner, which also means your body will be toned and looke sculpted

4. Raise your metabolic rate with ‘after burn’ effect

5. You will feel more energized

6. You will develop stronger bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis

7. Help manage a variety of health conditions, e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, back pain, arthritis and obesity

8. Enhance performance which makes everyday tasks easier

There are many ways to do strength training, which can be done at home or in the gym.  My favourite choices are body weight exercises and using free weights (dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells).

When it comes to strength training, it is essential to exercise with good form. If you are new to strength training, always ask your trainer for a demonstration.

If you are based in Leatherhead, Surrey, why not book a free taster session to experience the benefits yourself?

Benefits of outdoor exercise / fitness training

Outdoor fitness photoSummer is just around the corner. If you have spent the winter exercising in the gym, or working out at home with fitness DVD, now is a good time to head outdoors and refresh your fitness routine.  So why is outdoor fitness good for you?

Top 5 benefits of exercising and training outdoors:

1. Boost your endurance, stamina and tone your whole body for FREE

So there are lots of fancy machines, equipment and classes at the gym. But let’s face it, not everyone has a gym membership, or has the time to travel to a gym. The good news is, you can get an AWESOME outdoor workout using your own body weight, and it’s free! There are so many exercises you can do outdoors.  Different variations of squats and hill sprints are just two of my favourite exercises that you can do without any equipment. I also love to work my upper body with push-up using a park bench and mix in some step ups too. Interval training is also fantastic to improve endurance and stamina.

2 Psychological benefits – the feel good factor

Exercising outdoor not only keeps you healthy and fit physically, it also works wonder for your mood. The green environment and fresh air helps delivering oxygen to our body, combat stress, declutter our mind, feel positive, motivated and energized!  It also helps focus on our workout and reconnect with our mind and body. For mummies with buggies, fresh air and change of scenary are fantastic for your babies too!

3. Burn more energy

Certain weather conditions are known to boost your energy burn during a workout. Resistance from the wind, for example, makes you work harder while running and cycling as your body needs to counter-balance the added resistance. Your body also burns more energy while exercising in the cold compared with working out in a warm environment. The varied terrain and slopes also makes the workout more challenging, keeping your core hard at work!

4 Sunshine

Not only sunshine cheers you up and gives you an instant lift in the mood, our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin. Vitamin D helps strengthen the immune system and makes bones stronger. Sunlight also boosts the levels of endorphins, aka the feel good hormones, and helps prevent depression. The best time of the year to get vitamin D from sunlight is from March to October.  20 minutes in the sun is enough exposure for an adult to see the benefits. To protect your skin from sunburn, don’t forget to apply suitable sunscreen before a workout.

5 Get your family involved

Keep your family fit and active by heading outdoors! Let the kids run around, play a ball game with the kids, there are so much activities to choose from.  It really helps motivating each other in staying active, and creates a foundation of healthy living in the family.  Why not make it a regular weekend activity and spend some quality active time together?

Outdoor family-friendly fitness training now available in Leatherhead, Surrey. Visit WinnieFitness.com to find out more.

Related article: Outdoor fitness sun safety tips

What is abdominal separation / diastasis recti?

Abdominal separation is a common condition that occurs in pregnancy and postpartum, where the left and right halves of the rectus abdominis (six pack muscles) separate.  Diastasis means separation, and recti refers to the rectus abdominis muscles.

abdominal separation mutusystem

Abdominal separation is caused by overstretching of abdominal muscles, to allow to growth of the uterus and baby during pregnancy.  A small amount of widening of the gap happens in all pregnancies and is normal. Abdominal separation occurs in about 30% of all pregnancies.  The gap returns to less than 2 finger-widths spontaneously in most pregnancies, but for many, the tissue remains too wide, causing problems.  The abdominal muscles become weak, and therefore reduce the protection and stability of the whole body, not just the abdomen section.

How to test for abdominal separation / diastasis recti?

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips just above the belly button
  3. Lift your upper body a couple of inches off the floor, and gently press your fingertips on the abdomen
  4. Move your fingertips along the midline, above and below the belly button to check for separation
  5. A gap of two or more finger-widths is generally considered as abdominal separation

What exercises / movements should be avoided when abdominal separation is present?

Once abdominal separation is confirmed, you will need to focus on pulling the abdominal muscles closer together, and avoid any movements that pull the muscles apart on a daily basis.

Here’s a quick checklist of exercises / movements to avoid:

  • Flexion of the spine. Examples: crunches, sit-ups. Not only crunches and sit-ups make the separation worse, they are also bad for the back. So no more crunches or sit-ups ladies!
  • Crunching up to get out of bed or get up from the floor. Always roll over to your side, then use your arms to push yourself up to a sitting position.
  • Any movement that involves strong / resisted rotation or side flexion. Examples: side crunches, russian twists, ab ‘bicycles’, side-bends with dumbbells.
  • Plank.  The amount of pressure placed on your abdominals while holding a plank can be immense, it can easily make any gap in your abdominals worse.  As the separation heals, this exercise can be slowly introduced into your workouts.
  • Movements that stretch the abdominals. Example: back extensions. Not only these movements will feel uncomfortable, they are inappropriate for weakened abdominal muscles.

So you might be thinking ‘what can I do about my abdominal separation’? Luckily, there are specific exercises you can do to help your abdominal muscles recover, and I am here to help explain it to you. Find out more on our ‘Abdominal Separation Recovery Programmehere.

What exercises should a postnatal fitness programme include?

mumbabyexerciseSo you just had your 6-8 weeks postnatal check up with your GP, who gave you the green light to exercise. Or you had a C-section and now that you are 12 weeks postnatal, you want to get back into a training routine. You have certain fitness goals, e.g. lose baby weight, improve your abs, work on your posture, but what exercises are safe and effective, and what exercises should be avoided? As a trainer specialized in pre and postnatal fitness, I highly recommend a programme that is specficially designed for new mums. A good postnatal programme should contain the following components:

A good warm up:

This is essential in all training programmes, to warm up the muscles, joints, and slowing increasing the heart rate. This is especially important for postnatal women as body is still recovering, and a slightly longer warm up period is required.

Strength training:

Lower body strength training – glutes and legs

The glutes (butt muscles) are often weakened during pregnancy, as the pelvis tips forwards to allow the baby bump to expand. By strengthening the glutes, the pelvis becomes more stable. This in turn means butt muscles become more toned, pregnancy posture fixed, and the strength makes everyday tasks easier.

Exercises for the legs and glute are wonderful. Not only these muscles become more toned and change the shape of your legs and bum, they are also large muscle groups which burn a lot of calories! And big calorie burn means fat loss – which happens in your entire body. My favourite lower body exercises are the squats and lunges.

Upper body strength training – shoulders, chest, back and arms

Strengthening the upper body is essential for any new mum. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the bump of the baby and the weight of the breasts shift the centre of gravity forwards, causing the shoulders round slightly. Working on the shoulders and chest will help correct the new mum posture, allowing you to tone your shoulders and chest and stand up tall.

Strong upper back and arms are just as important. Mums use a lot of their upper body to carry out every day tasks: bending down and lifting the baby / toddler, pushing the pram, feeding the baby, changing nappies, bending down again to clean and tidy up the room, stretch up high to reach things in the cupboard, and sometimes holding a toddler in one hand while carring shopping in the other. Having good upper body strength will certainly make these tasks more effortless. Continue reading

Top 10 tips on post-natal exercise

Are you mum-to-be who is planning ahead on losing baby weight after baby is born? Or are you a new mum who is keen on getting fit ?

Here are 10 tips which might help you get started.

1.  Get the all-clear from your GP at your post-natal check up. This is usually 6-8 weeks after a vaginal birth and 12 weeks after a C-section.

2. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity of the workout accordingly.  Some days you might feel you are up for a challenge, and some days you might feel a bit drained, perhaps due to lack of sleep. When you are tired, you are more prone to injury. The best thing to do is to stick to the workout, but lower the intensity, and aim to feel better and more energized after the workout.

3. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding.

4. Wear a supportive sports bra.  If you are breastfeeding, make sure you use nursing pads during a workout as arm movements may promote milk flow.

5. Exercise your pelvic floor muscles reguarly.  If you have weak pelvic floor, focus on strengthening these muscles and avoid plyometric moves, jumping, or anything that puts pressure on the pelvic floor.

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