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Top 30 Flat Tummy Tips of All Time

Try these lasting weight loss tips from top experts & you WILL love your results!

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Stay consistent with these tips. Research shows it takes 21 days for the human body to form a habit. These tips will give you quick results, but should also be a part of your healthy lifestyle. Enjoy your journey!


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Natural Highly Effective Ways To Get Rid Of Cellulite Fast

Try these healthy, quick, painless, & free methods to rid your body of that dreadful cottage cheese!

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12 Minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workout For Bad Knees

Bad knees but want to burn massive calories & tone up in only 12 minutes? You will love this workout!

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Perform this workout for most days of the week and you will get amazing results in no time! Keep it up and you will transform your body with no more knee pain!


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Beginners 5K Training Plan: From The Couch To 5K In Just 8 Weeks

If you’re determined to start running but are struggling, then this is the perfect plan for you!

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 24 Best Workout Tips of All Time

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Want to know the secrets to getting trim and toned in record time? Here’s the best advice from personal trainers, exercise physiologists and fitness instructors for the ultimate moves and motivation tricks to kick your fitness routine into high gear. Put a few of these 13 Best Workout Tips into action each week, and you’re guaranteed to see faster results!

1. Chart your progress.  What a great way to stay motivated. Set goals and grade yourself A through F at least four times a year. When you see how much you’ve improved, you’ll want to stat in good shape. Photos are a great way to track your progress as well.

2. Tone up on the treadmill. Save time at the gym with 8-15 minute cadio/sculpt sessions. Hop on a treadmill while holding a 3-5 pound dumbell in each hand, then set the speed to a brisk walk. Do a one minute set each of bicep curls, shoulder presses, triceps extensions, or anything you can think of. Be creative. It’s a great upper body challenge which also gets your heart pumping. Try this 2-3 times per week. As you improve, work up to doing higher minute sets.

3. Break out the shovel. Why pay someone money to clear snow from your driveway? On top of torching 400 calories per hour, shoveling snow develops muscular endurance and power. Plus, it works different muscles in which you aren’t used to using which is always a plus.  Be safe though. Don’t lift staining amounts and be sure not to lift with your back, use your knees and hips instead.  You can try power cleaning your house or any household chore.

4. Trade steady-state cardio for interval training. The journey to a leaner body isn’t a long, slow march. It’s bursts of high intensity effort paired with slower, recovery efforts. 15-20 minutes of interval training performed like this can burn as many calories as an hour of traditional, steady state cardio. Plus, unlike the slow stuff, intervals can keep your body burning long after the workout ends.

5. Explode through each rep. The slow lifting trend should be confined to the eccentric, or easier portion of any exercise. During the eccentric portion, where you push, pull, jump or press, move the weight quickly it will turn on fast- twitch muscle fibers, which will make your body more athletic and train it to burn fat for fuel.

6. Use multiple joints with every move. Single joint exercises like bicep curls and triceps extensions will build build your muscles, but slowly. Unless your a bodybuilder and spend hours in the gym, get more done in less time. Switch these inefficient moves for exercises that work multiple muscles and joints. Squats will build your legs and back, a bent over row will build your biceps and your back, and a narrow- grip bench press will train your triceps while it sculpts your chest.

7. Mix your grip to do more reps. If your hands and forearms give out before your back or legs when doing dead lifts, chin ups, bent over barbell rows, or inverted rows, mix your grip while working with the hand the opposite way, meaning your back and legs will determine when you’re through with the set.

8. Lift, then do cardio. If you perform your strength training before cardio, you’ll burn more fat while you do your cardio session. It is said that weight training burns the glycogen in your muscles (carbs turn into glycogen, then is stored in the muscles). So when you perform your cardio, your body must burn body fat for energy.

9. Get explosive to add more strength.  Explosive exercises involve flight- your body leaving the ground (as in a jump) or the weight flying out of your hands, as in a bench press throw. These moves also increase strength significantly. In a study, men who inclined explosive chest exercises benched five percent more than those who performed a similar routine without the ballistic moves.

10. Reduce soreness with active recovery. Resting isn’t always the best prescription for sore muscles– you’ll actually reduce pain with little activity. Metabolites in your sore areas that cause pain are dispersed and diffused by activity, and blood flow is increased to the muscle tissue, speeding recovery by up to 40 percent. Play a light game of  soccer, clean the house, or go on a walk the day after the workout.

11. Sweat to your favorite workout beats. Rocking out to your favorite workout songs help you power through a challenging workout. Research shows that singing, humming, or whistling may be just as beneficial. A Belgian and German study found that making music- and not just listening to it- could impact exercise performance. People who worked out on machines designed to create music based on their efforts exerted more energy (and didn’t even know it) compared to others who used traditional equipment. Sweating to your own tune may help make physical activities less exhausting, researchers say.

12. Love your trainer.  It’s very important to have an instructor who motivates you to get out the door – they’ll be your best advocate. If you look forward to seeing your favorite Pilates instructor, you’ll be more likely to hit the gym more often. Same goes for videos.

13. Muscle over mind. If you normally head to the gym after work, take notice: Mental exhaustion can make you feel physically exhausted, even when you have plenty of energy. Next time you doubt if you can push out those last 10 minutes on the stair stepper, remember you can!

14. Having proper footwear. Proper footwear is essential for any workout, especially for hitting the pavement.  When the cushions get worn out it creates a harder impact.

15. Be consistent. Every bit of effort all adds up. Just be patient and consistent, and confident you’ll see positive results.

16. Set realistic goals.  You shouldn’t strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can’t be met. Don’t worry if you can’t run a 5K just yet. Make a habit of jogging 15 minutes a day, and add time, distance, and speed from there.

17. Have fun. Be sure to pick an activity you enjoy doing. Swimming, walking, sports. You don’t have to dread getting fit, you should be happy.

18. Watch the clock.  Your body clock, that is.  Try working out at the time you have the most energy. If you’re a morning person, schedule your fitness activities early in the day; If you liven up as the day goes on, plan your activities later.  Working out when you have the most energy will create better results.

19.Get inspired. A great tip to get motivated is to read blogs or web sites that show how others have been successful.

20. Go to the gym with a plan.  It’s so often that people go to the gym without a plan and wind up standing around, deciding what to do next. Planning ahead can make your workouts more effective. Having a plan before heading off to the gym can make your workouts shorter and more effective.

21. Make your workouts more challenging. In order to get visible results, your workouts need to be challenging. This means as your fitness level increases, your workouts should become more intense too.

One weay to challenge yourself is to set small goals. You can use these as milestones to guide yourself as you improve. Reward yourself with a spa day or a new outfit you’ve  been wanting.

22. Having the right pre and post workout snack. It’s tough to workout if your belly is full and bloated, and is also difficult if you’re starving.

Having the right pre workout snack can help you avoid these moments. Aim to eat something that’s light on your stomach, but still provides you with plenty of energy for lifting, running, and jumping. Fruits and snacks made with unrefined sugars are ideal. Combine with lean protein or a protein shake is a great idea.

23. Be realistic about the calories you’ve burned. Many people treat themselves to high calorie foods after a workout because they believe they’r just replacing the calories they’ve just burned. The truth is that it’s very difficult to burn off a 500 calorie ice cream sundae in a 1 hour workout. Find other ways to reward yourself than with food.

24. Wear the right clothes. Getting good gym clothes is a good investment. They don’t have to be costly though. Just nothing restraining. Stretching ability is key. Also, clothes that don’t chafe, ride up, or prevent your skin from breathing may help you have a more enjoyable workout as well. Additionally, the proper shoes can help to avoid injuries, especially when doing cardio.

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Steps to Heal a Pulled Muscle

No excuses. Get back on track fast!

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Pushing yourself to the limit at the gym is great, but if you’re pushing yourself too much to where it hurts isn’t good. Some people experience pain after a workout, mainly due to minimal stretching, poor stance, lack of education, among other factors. You should listen to your body and differentiate pain from soreness. When you feel pain, you need to take certain steps to heal the injured area. For instance, a pulled muscle, also called a muscle strain, occurs when the muscle is stretched too far and small tears occur within the muscle. In oreder to feel better after this type of injury, you need to take specific precautions. Here’s some great simple steps to heal a pulled muscle so you can feel better and get back to the gym!

1. Rest. Rest is the first priority when treating a pulled muscle. The resting period depends on the severity of the injury, but can typically last 1-5 days.

2. Identify the level of severity the pulled muscle is.

a. Grade I: Mild discomfort

b. Grade II: Moderate discomfort

c. Grade III: Significant discomfort

3. Anti-inflammatory medications. Anti- inflammatory medications may help reduce swelling and relieve painful symptoms. These include Ibuprofen, Adivil, Aleve, or Asprin.

 4. Ice. Icing teh injured area will help reduce swelling, bruising, and overall pain. Don’t exceed over 15 minutes a session.

5. Stretching. Slowly stretch the injured muscle. Including stretching in your workouts helps prevent future muscle strain injuries.

6. Strengthening. Make sure to strengthen your muscle before returning to physical activities. By regaining strength, you lessen the chances of you re- injuring your muscle.

7. Avoid muscle fatigue. Be aware of your muscles. Don’t exceed your limit when they become tires and shaky. Fatigued muscles are more prone to injury.

8. Warm up. By properly warming up, you allow your muscles to loosen up and prevent injuries.

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The 10 Exercise Commandments

Make working out easier and get more out of each session!

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Want to make working out easier and get more out of each session? Follow these top tips ‘n’ tricks to better your results.

 1. Don’t lock out. It’s best if you keep your elbows and knees slightly soft, even when doing full extensions. It’s not only better for joint health, but also making your workouts more effective. Not locking out when lifting weights will prevent joint deterioration and reduce your chance of joint related injuries.

2. Give yourself a lift.  Squats have long been popular. But a lot of people struggle to perfect the technique and are missing out on maximum results. For most, squatting with your heels raised will improve your range of motion. If you have tight calves, you tend to lean forwards during a squat and unnecessarily load the lower back, so by raising your heels, you allow a greater activation of the glutes, quads and hamstrings, increasing the effectiveness of the move while reducing the risk of strain to the lower back.

3. Eat light. You likely know that eating heavy meals before a workout doesn’t sit well. You probably won’t feel so well working out on a bloated belly, likely because the blood flow is directed to the muscles that are working. This means there’s limited flow to the digestive system, plus it’s often tiring.

4. Have a break. You do need rest days, especially between strength training sessions, or sessions that target the same muscles again. You’re compromising your safety by over doing it with not enough rest time.

5. Perfect your posture.  Having good body alignment can boost your progress by helping you perform exercises with better form, so working on your posture outside the gym is also important. You should put in the time after your workouts to stretch, and avoid slouching when you sit down.

6. Practise your turn out.  Pointing your toes out just slightly while performing resistance exercises gives you an extra sense of stability that can make all the difference.

7. Engage your core. Engaging your core Might be one of the first rules you learned when you first started working out. Engaging the core almost goes without saying these days, right? But it really  is at the center of everything and ensures your upper and lower body work in synergy, taking the strain away from the lower back and enabling you to lift heavier weights, which means better results.

8. Drink enough water. This is important regardless of how often you exercise- after all, the body’s mostly made of water. Even minor dehydration can effect your endurance and blood flow.

9. Refuel post workout. Those who go hard in the gym need to pay extra attention to mealtimes.After a workout, the muscles are primed to absorb protein, so you want to take advantage of this. Make sure you go for a protein heavy meal after the gym.

10. Prepare and recover properly. Warming up efficiently before a workout can make the workout easier. Stretching pre workout, in similar movement patterns to those you’re about to perform, means your muscles will be more elastic and the blood will already be pumping.

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Best Ways to Become More Active

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Exercise doesn’t have to mean daily gym visits. There’s many ways to raise your fitness levels in everyday life too. There really are no excuses when it comes to living a more fit life.

1. Skip the elevator. Quit taking the elevator and take the stairs instead. It’ll get your heart rate pumping and whole body moving to build your fitness levels. Plus, climbing stairs requires you to burn calf and thigh muscles, helping tone your legs and rear.

2. Choose the furthest corner. Instead of wasting time and stressing to fight for parking spots, park far away as possible. This gives you the opportunity to walk further, for longer, and avoid car door dings!

3. Get pedalling. Cycle to and from work to boost your fitness level. It’s a great way to get two cardio workouts into your day without having to take time out for exercise. Cycling is also a great way to burn calories and tone your lower body.

4. Walk the last step. If you commute to work by bus, jump off one stop early– or even two! to increase the distance you walk. This won’t only add in some extra cardio to your day, but it’ll burn a few extra calories too.

5. Leave your car at home. Walk your kids to school instead of driving, if it’s close enough that is. You’ll also encourage your kids to be more active. If walking isn’t an option, try taking them to the park after school. Try running around as much as your kids do.

6. Use your lunch hour. Instead of staying glued to your computer screen, use your lunch hour to walk around the park, or around the block, or do some squats.

7. Be a tourist. Instead of the usual coffee shop or diner, try arranging a jog around the park with a friend instead. Shopping is also very active.

8. Stand up more. While talking on the phone, at home or the office, get off your chair and stand up or pace up and down. This can have real benefits for your health. Standing an additional three hours a day will burn around 140 extra calories. Over one year, that adds up to about 30,000 calories and 8 pounds of fat.

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Top Facts About Exercise In the Cold

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Here’s what you should know about your winter workouts….

1. Be sure to wear good shoes, less likely to slip.

2. Stay dry. If you run in the winter and you sweat into cotton, it will stay wet because it dries slowly. So your body struggles to heat up since the cotton is wet. Wear dry fit material which will dry quickly as you exercise.

3. Avoid over dressing. Many people wrap up in warm clothes when they exercise outside. You risk excessive sweating which can cause dehydration and use more energy. It’s alright to start a run cold, since you will warm up and your body will regulate your temperature.

4. Protect your hands and feet. Heat loss tends to come from hands, feet, and heads. Therefore, wear gloves, a hat, and good socks. It’s about protecting the places heat escapes from.

5. In evolutionary theory, humans tend to store more fat in winter to keep ourselves warm and with that, comes weight gain, so working out in the winter is actually more relevant for that reason.

6. We drink a lot more in summer. In the winter, we’re not as aware that we’re dehydrated. It’s dangerous if you reach this point, when the body loses it’s ability to regulate temperature, so hydrating in winter is important too.

7. Burning more calories in the cold is really a myth. The body actually uses more energy to cool down in the heat, then it does in the cold.

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How To Avoid Post Workout Pitfalls

Avoid these common mistakes and get the most out of your workout

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If you’re not seeing the results, you could be sabotaging your workout efforts with these silly mistakes….

Pitfall 1: You chug sports drinks. Staying hydrated during and after a workout is a no-brainer, but you don’t want to be chugging down high sugar drinks. Or any for that matter. The average sports drink contains about as much sugar as a candy bar. Try naturally sweet coconut water instead, which will replace your electrolytes as well.

Pitfall 2: You don’t think ahead. If you don’t stick to a workout schedule, it’s easier to skip gym or prioritize other plans.  If you book your session while you’re high on the endorphins of your last workout, you’ll make the positive mental connection when you’re thinking about the next one.

Pitfall 3: You weigh yourself too often. Keeping your eyes on the scales is important if losing pounds is the goal. Weighing yourself too often can be counterproductive and leave you feeling less motivated if you aren’t seeing constant results. Since healthy weight loss is slow, you’re not likely to see a noticeable difference in the number on the scales after a single training session. Try finding a time once a week when it’s best to weigh yourself. First thing in the morning before eating and drinking is the most accurate.

Pitfall 4: You can’t resist the treats.  Indulging too much post workout will derail all your hard work. If you find it difficult to refuse a sweet tooth, try something more waistline friendly such as fruit, or low sugar yogurt with berries.

Pitfall 5: You’re a night person. Research has shown that lack of sleep after a fitness session can impair recovery from exercise. Sleep deprivation throws off your hormones, increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and reducing muscle protein synthesis. It also causes a drop in the production of the growth hormone that promotes fat loss and minimizes fat storage. So make sure to get your zzzzz’s!

Pitfall 6: You skip the steam room.  As a stretching session makes up for part of a good cool down, so should a quick stint in the sauna or steam room. Headin’ for the heat after a workout provides relief for sore muscles and helps flush toxins from your body. Avoid dehydration by limiting your sessions to no more than 10-15 minutes and drink plenty of water.

Pitfall 7: You forget to eat good post workout snacks.  Eating after a workout is essential for repairing and building muscle tissue.  To ensure you reap the rewards of all your hard work, aim for a combo of carbs and protein to boost energy levels- a protein shake made with a scoop of whey protein, water and a banana will efficiently replenish energy levels.

Pitfall 8: You stay in the same clothes. Sweaty, damp clothes are a breeding ground for bacteria which leads to infections. When you work out, you create body heat and moisture through sweat in those places where bacteria loves to hang out. While exercising, the body naturally sweats out water, and also chemical compounds that eventually break down into bacteria which makes your clothes smell. If you can’t shower, take some sweat-proofing precautions instead. Ditch cotton, which takes a long time to dry, and opt for sweat wicking that repels moisture to keep you cool and dry. Always have a stash of antibacterial wet wipes for a quick wipe down.

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Top 6 Ways To Squeeze in a Workout

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You can fit fitness in- no matter what!

1. A social affair.  We love out social plans with out friends and family, so why not make your social events exercise related? You could go for a run together, try a new class, or hit the gym.

2. Make life harder. Yes, harder. Do exactly what you would normally, but make it harder. The elevator should be forgotten and the stairs a new friend. Walk to do errands instead of drive, or do your own yard work. Each one of these swaps will get you burning calories throughout your regular day and will all add up.

3. Keep it at home. Wake up, work out, get ready and go. There’s plenty of ways to work out at home. Squeeze in a quick, intense body weight workout before you take your morning shower. You’ll barely notice the dent in your day, plus you’ll already have it off your checklist.

4. Make your commute count. If your taking the car or bus to work, get yourself a good pair of shoes or a bike, and run or cycle instead.You’ll have your workout off your checklist before even starting the day.

5. Cardio, meet strength.  For the next few weeks, forget about separating cardio and strength days.  Creating a cardio workout using resistance exercises with little rest between sets means you’ll kick both boxes, so get moving with jumping lunges, mountain climbers, and box jumps for now.

6. Fast classes.  Health clubs and gyms know what we’re dealing with- balancing a hundred things at once and barely having time for a lunch break some days. That’s why they often run fast classes: group exercise classes that last no longer than half an hour while promising to give you a workout that feels much longer.

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The Best Reasons to Work Out

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Losing weight shouldn’t be your only motivation for headin’ to the gym. Regular sessions benefit your entire body.

1. Bones.  Bone thinning–osteoporosis now effects about one in three women in the U.S. Taking part in a 45 minute aerobics class three times a week, will help boost bone density, especially for your spine, heels, and legs. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also reports that heavy resistance training may increase bone mass, as it places strain on the bones.

2. Brain. Staying active cuts your risk of dementia and age related memory loss by increasing the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that makes memories. A Norwegian study found that those who engage in regular activity of any intensity are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.

3. Breasts. Brisk walking for even twenty minutes a day can help reduce estrogen levels in the body, which may lower your breast cancer risk by 18 percent!

4. Appetite. Intense exercise can reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite, while raising levels of the peptide YY, which lowers appetite. A study in the journal Appetite also found that a brisk 20 minute walk decreased chocolate cravings by 12 percent!

5. Heart. Not only will exercise add about four years to your life, it can also lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number that measures your blood pressure while the heart is beating) by as much as five to 10mmHg (millimetres of mercury). This is as good as some blood pressure medications. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.

6. Pancreas. Lifting weights and upping your lean muscle mass could lower your insulin resistance, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. For every 10 per cent increase in muscle mass, the risk of pre-diabetes should drop by 12 per cent.

7. Gut. Three to five weekly workouts of 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity is an effective treatment for IBS, according to a Swedish study. Demanding workouts improve bowel movements, and relieve gas and constipation.

8. Sex drive. Around 20 minutes of cardio exercise gets your body aroused faster and more intensely for a bit of rough and tumble. Not only that, lifting weights can also cause testosterone surges, and women with more testosterone tend to be more aroused and enjoy sex.

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5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise

Here’s some effective tips to help you stay on track and motivated to keep up your exercise goals.

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Staying motivated is essential for your exercise goals, and there are simple changes you can make to keep moving forwards. Stuck for ideas? We’ve got a few to get you started.
1. Find a workout buddy
Exercising with a friend who has similar goals to you can be more fun and motivating for the both of you. Working out together will help push you both in the right direction to reach your shared goals.
2. Create your own workout playlist
Whether it’s on iTunes, Spotify or another music programme, creating the perfect playlist will give you the motivation to get up and get moving while listening to it. Listening to the right upbeat music while working out has also been suggested to increase the length of your workout!
3. New workout gear
You don’t have to spend loads of money, but treating yourself to some new workout kit is an exciting prospect and will spur you on to get them on as soon as possible and to have yourself a confident workout! Plus, you’ll look good doing it.4. Change it up
We all need change and variety to keep ourselves motivated, so whether it’s taking on a new workout class, joining a sports group or a change of scenery when outdoor exercising, do something different and new that you will thank yourself for later.
5. Reward yourself
Find something you’d like to work towards so you can strive to achieve just that, such as fitting into a pair of jeans you’ve bought yourself. Maybe even treating yourself to something new each month to enjoy and reward yourself for your exercise.

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How To Fit Running Into You Busy Schedule

Want to take up running this year, but aren’t sure where you’l find the time? Get help from the experts.

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Life’s unexpected curveballs can easily scupper your training plans. In fact, research shows one-in-five people blame lack of time (and lethargy!) for not exercising at all. We’ve asked a panel of experts how you can stay on top of your goals when life is crying out for you to let them slide.

The Hurdle: Family Commitments

If you’re struggling to squeeze a run into your busy family life, it’s time to think outside of the box.

Train Together

Data from Bupa shows that running moms spend more quality time with their children. And not only that, 65 per cent of running moms find it easier to juggle everyday tasks compared to 43 per cent of non-active moms. ‘Use family as a positive by getting your partner or children involved, and encouraging them to train together,’ suggests Tom Coates, personal trainer.

Book in Runs

Research in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology shows people who diarise their training sessions are more likely to stick to their programme. ‘Those of us who record runs tend to exercise more frequently than those who don’t, so are far more likely to see results.

Run to School

Ditch the car and encourage your children to get fit by scooting or cycling to school. ‘That way you can run alongside them at a leisurely pace (or faster if you’re running late) and then run back home, too,’ adds Alison Beadle, pre- and post-natal fitness author.

Buddy Up

A recent poll by the British Heart Foundation confirms that women would rather run as part of a group, with almost half confirming that group running is preferable to jogging alone. ‘Consider joining a mummy running club, in which people run with buggies,’ suggests Beadle.

The Hurdle: A Demanding Job

Don’t let your job define your fitness levels. With these nifty notions, you’ll clock that training session, whatever the agenda.

Club Together

Two-thirds of British workers take less than 20 minutes for lunch. Not only is this not good for your health, but it’s also bad for your productivity. ‘Running in your lunch hour provides a change of scenery from the office that can help you de-stress and re-focus,’ points out Brook Fenton, Proskins running expert.

Run To Work

Try running to and from work. Park the car a few miles away from work or get off the train a stop earlier and run into the office. Not only will you save money and keep fit, but research from the University of East Anglia shows that active commuters are better able to concentrate than workers who travel by car.

Train Fast

Even if you’re training for an endurance race, speed sessions are worthwhile workouts, too. ‘With interval training, it’s easy to fit in a shorter run if need be,’ says Coates. Try squeezing in a run by doing three lots of one-, two- and three-minute efforts, with 30 seconds’ recovery between intervals.

Stick Up Reminders

If you’re still struggling to swap work for miles, try hanging a medal from your computer says Hodgkin. ‘Even keeping a spare pair of trainers in the back of your car, so that you see them every time you open the boot, can be quite persuasive.’

The Hurdle: A Busy Social Life

One of the benefits of running is that it’s a solo sport but swapping days out for miles on the road can be a bit lonely.

Get ’Appy

Running doesn’t have to be a lonely activity. Social training apps such as Sprinter, Garmin Connect or Strava are a fantastic way to connect with other runners. ‘With 100,000 new members signing up to Strava each week, athletes of all abilities are joining the community so that they can track and compare their activities to help motivate them,’ explains Gareth Nettleton, director of international marketing at Strava.

Run with Friends

Far from detaching you from your social group, running could be a great way to bring you together. ‘Research shows that training with a friend leads to greater adherence to your workout schedule,’ explains Hodgkin.

Rise Early

If you’re finding it difficult to balance weekend runs with social events, get into the habit of running before the day starts. ‘Waking up earlier for a run is tough at first but, by training in the morning, you’re giving yourself the rest of the day for other commitments – not to mention starting the day in a positive way,’ says Coates.

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How To Become a Better Runner

Think you’ve got the hang of running? Run further and faster with these expert tips.

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Here’s something you already know: running is a simple sport. In the early stages, there’s little more to it than putting on a pair of trainers and running for as long as your legs will carry you. But at some point you’ll want to get faster, run farther and feel fitter. Regular runners ask our panel of running coaches and performance experts to spill the beans on how to go up a gear.

What sort of exercise should I do between training programs?

‘If you’ve just completed a focal race and have a few weeks before your next training program starts, you’ve got a great opportunity to plug some of the gaps in your fitness. If you’re lacking speed, do shorter, faster sessions because these will make a big difference to your pace. If a lack of strength is your problem, hit the hills and work on conditioning your body for tougher terrain. If you lose posture and form towards the end of a run work on core strength in the gym and do running drills to improve your technique.

How do I forefoot run? I’ve read that elite runners do it and it’s better for avoiding injury.

Dr Mick Wilkinson, sport, exercise and rehabilitation scientist, says:

‘You don’t. Elite runners tend to forefoot strike because they’re running so fast and adopt the landing pattern to deal with the forces resulting from their speed. Barefoot runners also tend to adopt a forefoot or midfoot strike when running on a hard surface, as it allows a gentle absorption of their body weight and is therefore more comfortable than running with a heel-strike pattern. However, get a barefoot runner to train at a moderate pace on a softer surface and they often heel strike. As you run your brain will select the most appropriate footfall for the surface and speed you’re training on.’

I want to improve my running ability. How far should I run each week?

Mike Trees, elite running coach and Newton Running advisor, says:

‘I would recommend 30-50 miles per week for non-elite runners but it depends on your age and your sports background. What we need to do in our teens is different from what we need to do in our 40s or 50s. If you’re an ex-swimmer who has trained in the pool at a high level for over 10 years, I wouldn’t recommend you do much long, slow running because your aerobic system will already be highly developed. I would, however, advocate hill training and running drills to build up the necessary running muscles.

Should I lift weights to improve my running?

Dr Mick Wilkinson, sport, exercise and rehabilitation scientist, says:

‘This largely depends on your current running skill and experience. If you’re a beginner or fair-weather runner, first learn how to control your own body weight when doing running-specific drills (such as high-knees) before adding any additional load.

‘Many experienced runners don’t have the skill or single-leg strength to control the force of steady running. My advice is to work on plyometric body weight work by perfecting basic alternate-leg skipping with a rhythm of around 180 skips per minute. When you can do this, progress to single-leg jumps and don’t even consider adding additional load with weights. Very few traditional weight-lifting exercises have any relevance to running and offer minimal benefits.’

When and what should I eat before racing?

Mike Trees, elite running coach, says:

‘I’ve noticed that older athletes need longer to digest food before racing or hard interval running. So, I suggest that veteran runners leave at least four hours between eating and running. Comparatively, some teenagers can eat up to two hours before racing. The trick is to experiment in training and less important races to find your optimum time.

‘I always suggest eating simple sugars on race day to ensure that your bowels are not full of fat and fiber. For me, a bowl of cornflakes eaten six hours before I run, or toast and jam, is sufficient. Whatever food you choose, all you usually need to eat on race day is 600 calories because your body will struggle to digest more. But it’s important to eat the right things the day before a race. Ensure you consume carbohydrate foods and any other important nutrition the day before.

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 Boost Your Willpower!

Seem difficult to achieve your fitness goals? Train your brain to resist temptation at every turn.

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Imagine resisting those afternoon snacks, that second mini-cupcake or that sugary morning latte with ease – without feeling you’re missing out or being deprived. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

Well, it is possible. Don’t believe it?  Well, that’s where top psychologist Walter Mischel comes in.

All about marshmallows

At a Stanford University nursery back in the ’60s, Mischel began a series of tests, which looked at the ability of pre-school children to delay instant gratification in return for a bigger reward. In other words, forgo a treat now, for two treats later. 

The tests themselves were centered on actual treats, from cookies to cakes, earning the study the nickname ‘The Marshmallow Test’. The children were left in a room on their own and given two choices: ring the bell, the supervisor will return and you can eat one marshmallow; or wait until the supervisor comes back of their own accord (around 20 minutes later) and you can have two marshmallows. 

The choice was entirely theirs: immediate satisfaction with one yummy treat? Or exercising that willpower for a little longer to get double the reward? Which would you choose?

Surprising results

While the children all had different reactions to the test – some diving in for the first marshmallow straight away and some waiting patiently for the two marshmallows – what was really fascinating was that their reactions to this simple test actually determined their success in later life. Yup, really!

The children who had been able to resist the temptation of those marshmallows were, as teenagers, able to show better self-control in frustrating situations and ‘yield less to temptation’, as well as being less easily distracted, more intelligent, confident and self-reliant. A pretty impressive skill set, we’re sure you agree. And these positive traits continued into adulthood, where they reached higher levels of education, achieved more of their goals and had a lower body mass index, among other desirable qualities. So being able to resist temptation and having strong willpower was shown to have a whole host of positives in the long run.

What is willpower?

Some people are better than others at resisting temptation. But the idea that willpower is an innate quality is simply not true, according to Mischel. He states that willpower is often ‘mischaracterised as something other than a skill’. Willpower is often thought of as an elusive quality. But this research shows that willpower is, in fact, a skill, which you can develop and then choose to use. 

Mischel reiterates that ‘no matter how good we are at self-control “naturally” we can improve our self-control skills’. Wonder how your running buddy always makes it out for that 6am run, while you lounge in bed? Or how your bestie always manages to forgo dessert? Well, it’s not magic – you can do it, too!

Putting it into action

But willpower isn’t just about being really determined to do something; it’s about using strategies to ensure you avoid temptation and get the long-term reward you’re really after. Mischel uses the concept of hot and cold systems to show our reactions to high-temptation situations. The hot system – when you love it and cave in – is geared towards the present moment and, when it takes over, can cause you to forget those long term goals. For example, eating a large slice of cake for elevenses rather than resisting, which will help you achieve your goal of losing half a stone. To remedy this we need to reverse these processes. In Mischel’s words, we need to start ‘cooling the present and heating the future’.

The real world

So, what does all this mean for you? Well, Walter Mischel’s experiments reveal a great deal about what willpower is and how it can be fine-tuned to help you reach those elusive goals – whether that’s losing half a stone, running a marathon or staying away from the cookie jar. Ready to get started?
Here are some of his top techniques to help you boost your willpower – for good!

The technique: Push the temptation away

One of the key ways you can ‘cool’ the temptation is to physically and mentally push it away from you. And bring your long-term goals closer.

Use it: Work buddies offering around the choccy? First up, make sure that choc box is as far away from your desk as possible. Then Google some pictures of your upcoming holiday destination or do a bit of bikini shopping online to keep your mind focused on that longer-term goal.  

The technique: If, then

According to Mischel, one of the best techniques for honing that willpower is to employ the ‘if, then’ strategy. First you identify your ‘if’ trigger point – feeling too tired to exercise, feeling hungry mid-afternoon, canapés being handed around at an event – then you come up with a ‘then’ distraction strategy that will get you out of bed to exercise, away from the chocolate snacks or on the other side of the room from the canapé tray. 

Use it: Want to steer clear of tempting party treats or make sure you stick to that exercise routine? Try this: If the canapé tray comes around, then I’ll go and get a glass of water. Or if I feel too tired to exercise, then I’ll walk home instead of getting the bus instead. Simple, huh?

The technique: Think visually

Another weapon in your willpower arsenal is the ability to visualise the negative consequences of giving into temptation. The example Mischel gives is of a smoker wanting a cigarette – he recommends that you ‘visualise your lungs with cancer on an X-ray the doctor is showing you as he gives you the bad news’. It may seem a bit extreme, but imagining the future in the present moment can be a powerful tool for resisting temptation.

Use it: Lost a lot of weight? Keep a pic of the old you on your desk or near the fridge to remind you of the consequences of sacking off the healthy diet or exercise regime. Or find a picture of someone with a figure you crave and put it in the kitchen to stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks!

The technique: Be the third person

Another great technique suggested by Mischel is to imagine yourself as a fly on the wall in the situation. It’s a good way to remove yourself from the ‘hot’ impulses and give yourself the space to think calmly and rationally. 

Use it: Done a gruelling workout, but now gagging for a sweet treat? Take five minutes to sit down, imagine yourself as a fly on the wall and think rationally about the situation.

The technique: Enjoy the rewards

One of the best bits about exercising your willpower is that when you start to succeed, the benefits – a smaller waistline or a new PB – provide such a great reward that it makes your new behaviours easier to maintain. But Mischel emphasises the fact that, as with learning any new skill, ‘practice,’ is key.

Use it: Record each triumph! Every achievement on the road to your long-term goal deserves a little celebration, so keep a journal dedicated to recording your results – whether that’s the distance you’ve run, the inches you’ve lost or the number of pull-ups you can now do.

Motivational magic

It’s worth remembering that the key to willpower is actually wanting to achieve your goals. If you don’t want to do something or you’re not that bothered, it will be hard to conjure up any sort of willpower. As Mischel says, ‘you have to want to change, with the emphasis on want to’. So, before you take on a big goal, ensure that it’s something you really want.

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What’s Your Exercise Excuse?

Step up your fitness routine and get your body back in gear with these stay on track solutions.

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While we may take out expensive gym memberships and splash the cash on new workout gear in a bid to feel healthier and slimmer, sticking to an exercise regime for the long haul is another thing altogether. Here’s the most common excuses with simple solutions to stay on track:

Excuse 1: I don’t have time to exercise

Workouts don’t necessarily have to be lengthy or laborious if you’re looking to lose weight or get healthier. A short, sharp sweat sesh will see you bid farewell to hundreds of calories while targeting a whole range of different muscle groups. ‘Three to four times per week is ideal – this still leaves another three to four days a week when you don’t have to exercise. High-intensity interval training sessions could be as short as 10 minutes, and the best way to ensure that it gets done is to prioritise and diarise. And if you think you don’t have time, try keeping a log of how you spend your time and re-evaluate what’s important,’ says Joanne.

Excuse 2: I live too far away from the gym

Brrrr! When it’s freezing cold and chucking it down outside you’d probably prefer a date with your duvet over dragging yourself all the way to the gym – especially if it involves an epic commute. We get it. Even those of us with the loftiest intentions can falter when inconvenience thwarts our fitness plans. ‘There’s no point in joining a flash new gym if it’s a 15-minute drive away, which you might not fancy after a long day at work. Much better to join the more basic gym at the end of your road. Then you’ve only got to find time for the workout, not the workout and a journey,’ says Joanne. Gym still not near enough? Try out a range of fitness DVDs and apps that fit easily into your lifestyle.

Excuse 3: I’ve lost my fitness mojo

Having a dip in motivation every so often is normal and if that means you miss a few sessions, so be it – but don’t let that derail your efforts to get back on track. ‘If you do skip a few workouts, remember that the longer you leave it the harder it’s going to feel when you go back. And consider how far you’ve already come – do you really want to waste the effort you’ve already put in? Capitalize on the progress you’ve made so far and stick with it,’ advises Joanne.

Excuse 4: I find exercise boring

Exercise doesn’t have to be difficult and unpleasant. Ease yourself into it and up the ante when you’re ready. ‘Find something you enjoy. This is an obvious one, but so many people treat exercise as a form of punishment, as something to be endured not enjoyed. But there are dozens of different forms of exercise which you might find more fun, from dancing to rock climbing,’ says Joanne. And, if you get bored of your routine, switch things up a notch by trying new classes, working out different body parts and varying the intensity of your workout.

Excuse 5: I’m not seeing results

Let’s be realistic; you won’t see results overnight, but the more dedicated you become, the faster you’ll see improvements in your overall fitness and your figure. ‘Be patient, give it some time, and remember that exercise has long-term, ongoing health benefits beyond body shape,’ says Joanne. Try keeping a workout journal so you can chart your progress, writing down small achievements after every session, whether it’s going for two minutes longer on the treadmill or reaching a press-up PB.

Achieve your best-ever results

Try Joanne’s shortcuts to help you stay on track


If you treat exercise as an afterthought, and put it at the bottom of your list after checking Facebook and work drinks, you’ll run out of time every day.  But, if you schedule a workout into your day and plan your activities around it, it will get done.


People give up because they are looking for a quick fix, and when they don’t get one, they become disillusioned. You’re not going to undo years of unhealthiness or change your shape in a month. But be patient and you will see results.


If you have a specific goal, and you’re going to invest a lot of time and effort in exercising, make sure that your time and effort is well spent. Consider carefully exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Be honest with yourself and then, if necessary, get some good advice on what sort of training would be most effective. For example, if you want to get rid of bingo wings, try resistance training rather than going running every day. And it you want a flat tum remember it’s fat-burning workouts, not crunches, that will make a difference.

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Perk Up Your Indoor Workouts

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If heading outdoors to work out doesn’t appeal to you, then make sure you keep your gym sessions fun and challenging to bust that boredom.

Plan a gym session with a friend – get competitive and act as spotter or buddy for each other as you do your resistance session. Then relax in the sauna or hot tub afterwards.

Move into uncharted territory and try some new equipment, such as kettle bells. Ask one of the gym staff to advise you.

Spice up your treadmill, bike or rowing machine routine with some interval sessions – after a good warm-up, work very hard for one minute, then easy for one minute, and repeat.

Ask for some guidance – book a health assessment or a couple of top-up sessions with a personal trainer. Review your program after a couple of months and set yourself some new goals.

Relight your competitive fire. Enter a gym challenge – most gyms run competitions for members. Or try an intense class, such as circuits, kickboxing or Spinning.

Warm up for longer than you usually do, taking around 10–15 minutes. This will ensure your muscles are thoroughly warm given the colder weather and will get you more in the mood for working out.

Set easy-to-achieve workout targets, write them in your diary and monitor your progress. Seeing your improvements written down will motivate you to stick to your workout regime.

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Waist Exercises For Women

Slim and tone your sides with these waist sculpting moves.

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REPS: 12
BENEFITS: These help elongate your torso and flatten your tummy. Control your muscles throughout for best results.
Lie on your back on the floor with arms and legs stretched out so your body’s in a line. In one movement, lift your torso and legs up as if you’re trying to touch your toes. Keep your legs straight throughout. Pause, then lower back slowly to the starting position.


REPS: 15
BENEFITS: This move will tighten up the full length of your core, while targeting the muscles at the sides of your torso (the love handles!).
Lie on the floor with your arms bent and fingers touching the sides of your head. Lift your shoulders using your abdominal muscles and twist your body so your left elbow meets your right knee. Switch sides, bringing your right elbow towards your left knee.


REPS: 20 (10 on each side)
BENEFITS: Helps stabilize your spine and protects your lower back while working your entire core.
Start in a press-up position, forming a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Bring your right knee towards your right elbow. Pause, then straighten the right knee so you’re back in the start position. Repeat, bringing your left knee to your left arm, and continue alternating.

BENEFITS: Targets your upper abdominals and obliques (at the15 sides of your abdominals).
Sit on a gym ball and hold a medicine ball straight above your head with both hands. Walk your feet out and roll the ball beneath you until your torso is supported on the ball at a slight incline. Keeping your arms by your ears, contract your abdominals and curl your head, neck and shoulder blades up. Pause, then slowly lower to the starting position.

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The Ultimate Good Squat Guide

What exactly is a good squat?

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It’s a compound exercise (uses two or more different joints) that uses multiple, large muscle groups.
Great for… targeting glutes, quads, quadriceps and hamstrings!
Strengthens bones, ligaments and tendons.
And you’ll burn calories.
An arched lower back or rounded upper back.
Bending from the knee rather than the hips.
Weight forward, not back.
Heels raised off of the floor.
Gaze is down and closed chest.
Feet hip width apart – facing forward.
Flex at the hip first (not knees) by sticking your bottom back and down.
Keep looking forwards while pinching your shoulder blades together.
Keep your knees over your toes.
Drive back through heels.
Keep chest lifted.
Using a wall for guidance sit in an imaginary chair (90 degrees – knee, shin and ankle alignment).
Try jumping vertically – being sure to maintain your squat stance when you land.
Travel side to side – jump squat travel right, jumps squat travel left.
Use a resistance band and ‘crab walk’ sideways (don’t allow the knees to roll in).
Accelerate forward with a long jump (think like an Olympic Long Jumper).
Add weights, squat to shoulder press.
Squat to bicep curls.
4 min  Squat workout.  20 seconds of work (push hard). 10 seconds of rest x8 (20.10 x 8)
Jump squats 20 x secs, REST x 10 sec
Side to side jump squats 20 x sec,  REST 10 x sec
Forward long jump squats 20 x secs, REST 10 x sec
Low squat pulse (hips and knees in line and tiny up and down pulse)
Repeat whole sequence again.

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Avoid Mistakes at the Gym

Take these expert tips to avoid mistakes and get the best out of your workout.

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Dodge a fitness faux-pas and maximize your workout with these handy expert tips

Weights – should we go for low weight higher reps or vice versa – how many reps would you need to be doing if using lower weights?“                                                                                                                 If you are looking to ’Tone and Shape’ your muscles then you want to go for low weights, high reps. Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 16 reps per exercise. That way you tire the muscles out so that encourages them to change shape but not build muscle.”

“If you are looking to build muscle (look bigger) then you want to use heavier weights and lower reps, Aiming for 2 to 3 sets of 6 – 8 reps per exercise.”

“It is worth noting that its quite hard for women to ‘bulk up’ as we don’t have a lot of natural Testosterone in our bodies, and it this hormone that helps to bulk muscles as well as a planned high protein diet.”

What about speed? Do fast reps count or should people be slowing down?

“Don’t be tempted to go too fast, or the muscles don’t have time to react to the exercise in the correct way. Every time you use your muscles your brain sends the signal to allow the movement, if this happens before your brain has a chance to acknowledge the weight that is being lifted, pushed or pulled, it follows that it doesn’t have time to acknowledge that it needs to  tell the muscle to be stronger to cope with that weight.”

“By the end of your last set of exercises the last 3 to 4 reps should be hard work, if you reach that point you then know that you have exhausted the muscles and that then encourages all the correct body changes to develop the muscles.”

Is there a point at which you should just stop – does your body stop building/burning?

“Yes! Assuming you are following a programme that includes aerobic ( CV – Cardiovascular) and Resistance (Weights) then by the end of that programme you should be hot, sweaty and tired. At this point if you carry on you will be putting yourself at risk of injury.”

Are there people wasting their time doing two hours cardio when they could be doing 45 minutes resistance?

“Yes. As above, again assuming you are following an inclusive programme, there is no need to be in the gym for hours and hours. You will work a lot more efficiently if you follow a programme and ensure you are giving everything your full effort and attention, 45 minutes to an hour is plenty, ideally at least 3 times a week. Think of your effort levels on a scale of 1 – 1. 1 you are not doing anything to 10 you simply couldn’t work any harder. Each workout you want to finish between an 8 to 9.”

Are there mistakes people make, focusing on fat burn rather than muscle build?

“This all depends on what you want to achieve with your workouts. I would always recommend that you have a plan on what you are trying to achieve and set yourself some goals, however, small, so that you know what you are working for and towards. This will also help you to focus on what exercises you need to do during your workouts and which equipment or classes to use.”

What about protein shakes – are people over using them? How much do you have to do to really need them?

“Protein shakes are expensive, can be full of unnecessary added sugars and for the majority of us don’t really enhance our workouts. Unless you are specifically strength training then you can get all the protein you need to help repair and build muscles from a balanced diet and a good night’s sleep.”

Any other mistakes?

“Lot of people think that they don’t need to warm up or cool down and stretch after a workout, but you do. A warm up, which need to be no more than 3-6 minutes, allows your brain and body to prepare for the workout to come. By warming your body up slowly your brain releases extra hormones into your muscles and joints to help prevent injury.”

“A cool down and stretch at the end of your workout enables your body temperature and heart rate to return to normal as well as reducing the rate at which blood is pumped round your body steadily as well as encouraging any lactic acid (It’s lactic acid that gives that ‘burning’ feeling in your muscles) that has developed to be flushed out of the system. If you simply just stop, you risk the blood that is moving very fast round your body to go drain away from your heart towards your legs and this can make you feel unwell to say the least and your muscles to feel sore the next day.

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Are You Pushing Yourself Hard Enough?

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If you’ve been hitting the gym, but don’t feel you’re seeing real results, the answer may be simple. The workouts you’re doing may not be very effective, or you may not be working hard enough! But don’t worry, if you think you’re guilty of taking your foot off the gas, we’ve got four sure-fire ways to give your workouts the boost they’ve been waiting for!

Up the intensity While a 30-minute steady-state run has long been the fall back of many a fitness fan, research is now stacking up to show that these sorts of workouts are considerably less effective than those of a higherintensity and shorter length.

Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a bike with about a minute’s rest between, three times a week, is as effective at building muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously, according to research conducted by scientists at McMaster University in Canada. So ditching your slow and steady sessions on the treadmill, cross trainer or pavement for a shorter workout of sprints and rests should help you see results in no time.

Get a personal trainer
Sometimes there’s nothing like a scary ex-marine shouting at you from across the park to get your backside in gear. We’re all guilty of giving ourselves an easy ride now and again, so getting a personal trainer could be your route to the body you’ve always wanted.

Sometimes we simply underestimate our own physical ability and it can take an outside with an objective viewpoint to make us see what we’re capable of. ‘A personal trainer will mix up your routine with a variety of exercises and challenge your body in new ways, which should kick-start your metabolism. Having someone else pushing you to achieve will also increase the intensity of your workout, helping you to overcome the plateau,’ says London-based personal trainer Mollie Millington. ‘Be sure to let your trainer know what your goals are so they can tailor the workout accordingly.’
If you’re going to get a trainer, find someone who you can afford to train with at least once a week so you can really get the most from them.
Get a heart rate monitor
Getting feedback about how hard you’ve pushed yourself in a session is a great way to monitor your progress and identify where you’re doing well and where you might be slacking. Heart rate monitors, usually comprising of a belt and a watch, are a great way of doing this.
MYZONE  monitors are the next generation of this and can display your effort levels live in real time, when used in a class, or store your effort levels (in the memory of the belt) when you’re working out independently. This information can then be wirelessly uploaded and accessed by an online user account, letting you check out how you did post-workout.
H2 Bike Run  offer spin classes using a heart rate monitor, which allows you (and the rest of the class) to see your effort levels projected onto a wall at the front throughout the class in the form of a coloured square with a percentage in it.
MYZONE effort points are awarded for each minute that you spend within each heart rate zone so, under 50 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 0.5 points, 50-60 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1 point, 60-70 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1.5 points 80-100 per cent equals 2 points and so on.
As your effort increases, your square changes color from blue to green to yellow and finally red, so everyone in the class (and your instructor!) can see if you’re really putting the work in! You wouldn’t want to be lagging behind with your square lit up in blue if the rest of the class are powering ahead with their squares on red!
Lift heavier weights
There’s a common misconception that if women use heavy weightsthey will end up looking bulky, but doing fewer reps with a heavier weight could actually be the key to seeing real results from your workouts, particularly for weight loss.
‘Lifting heavy weights will not make you huge! You simply don’t have the testosterone levels in your body to build big muscles!’ says Rory James Manning, personal trainer.  Rory says this is one of things he has most difficulty getting female clients to understand.
‘Lifting light weights will not get you nearly as toned as lifting heavy weights and there is no such thing as toned or un-toned muscle, muscle is muscle.  It can be big or small, but not “toned”. The best way to appear lean or “toned” is to have as much muscle as possible, while having the lowest body-fat percentage possible,’ says Rory.If you’re doing lots of reps with light weights, it’s time to change up your game plan. ‘Are you guilty of going too light? If you are completing 15 reps or more you almost certainly are, as this won’t be heavy enough to split the muscle fibers! And you won’t see the same kind of fat loss you would if you increased your weight!’ says Rory.And having more muscle will burn more fat. ‘A pound of muscle burns about 20 calories a day while a pound of fat burns less than five calories. Therefore the more muscle you build, the more fat you burn!’ says Rory.

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10 Ways to Beat Your Gym Plateau

Not getting the results you want? Don’t lose motivation–tweak your workout!

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Let’s bust through that plateau!

1) Mix it up If you suspect that your body has become accustomed to your regular exercises, try variations. Swap lunges for jumping lunges, press-ups for explosive press-ups and planks for one-legged planks.
2) Same muscle, different move Make sure your muscles don’t get too comfy by working them with different exercises. If you’re used to pumping your pecs with a press-up, try switching to a bench press.
3) Get into intervals
If your cardiovascular workouts consist of interval training, you’re onto something good. But there’s no point in keeping the intervals the same forever. Make sure that you’re constantly upping the ante by shortening the periods of rest and increasing the intensity when it comes to sprints.
4) Time for change If you’re a lunchtime gym bunny, set your alarm for early morning workouts, and vice versa. Disrupting your body clock will give your muscles a wake-up call to get working again.
5) Stick it in reverse Too busy to devise a whole new plan? Just do everything that you do already… but in reverse order. It’ll make a nice change for both your body and your motivation.
6) Give it a rest
If you don’t give your muscles time to recover, they’ll reach a catabolic state, in which the tissue breaks down. This slows your metabolism and stops you losing weight and building muscle.
7) Drink up Glugging plenty of water is important. It’s good for the metabolism and helps transport oxygen around the body, assisting muscle recovery. Gym bunnies should drink an extra litre per workout.
8) Count on it
To rouse your muscles, perform as many reps as you can in a certain amount of time. For instance, instead of a set of 12 biceps curls, try as many biceps curls as possible in 30 seconds.
9) Ommm…
Stretching is essential – but yoga is one better. It boosts circulation, draws oxygen to the muscles, removes lactic acid and melts away the stress that causes muscle depletion and fat storage.
10)Eat up If you’re wondering why, despite being strict with your diet, you’re not shifting those extra pounds, it might be because you’re not eating enough. Your body is very clever, and when you’re not eating enough – particularly if you exercise – it will slow the metabolism right down. So eat a rich and varied diet every day.

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Best Summer Fitness Tips

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Stay in shape this summer and retain your fitness A- game with these expert tips.

1.  TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK: With a rise in popularity of team sports such as Netball and Women’s Football, we are seeing an increased emphasis on the importance of teamwork. Group classes are always in demand, with members telling us that the supportive environment of sessions like fast-paced body weight training class where participants high-five and shout encouragement to each other, have a positive effect on how they feel about their workout.

There are many benefits of working out in a group, as explained by Hugh Hanley, National Personal Training Manager:

– Training with a friend or in a group will help push your training even further and will also help keep your training interesting and intense

– You will skip fewer workouts as you will have to deal with the guilt of letting your training buddy down and potentially spoiling their workout

– Once at the gym with your workout partner they will help push you further and to the best of your ability.

– When you and your gym buddy have got in a groove you can start to try new exercises and make the workouts more interesting

– If you need a spotter they are right there with you

– Time flies when you’re having fun, so keeping the workouts sociable yet intense passes the time and you may even start to work out longer


When the sun is shining during the summer months there’s no better time to sign up for an outdoor challenge or to pick up your favorite outdoor activities. Whether you’re training for a half marathon or feeling inspired by the likes of Wimbledon and the Tour De France, Virgin Active has the kit  and innovative classes you need to get fighting fit and ready to compete, whatever the event.

– Cycling: When the commute gets hot and sticky in the summer and public transport is your worst nightmare, cycling is great alternative to help you get from A to B.
– Swimming: With so many outdoor swimming ponds opening up in the UK, and the inevitable dip in the sea while at the beach, it’s important to be a confident swimmer. Whether it’s recreational or competitive swimming you’re into, there are multiple benefits to be gained from a few laps in the pool. Swimming is low impact exercise (so perfect for coming back after injury or if you have stiff joints), and it gives a full-body workout, working almost every muscle in the body without putting it under stress. It’s also a great cardiovascular workout that helps build strength in the legs, arms and torso.
For people who are just discovering the benefits of swimming, Virgin Active recommends Aqua Aerobic classes, like Aqua Zumba, that will build water confidence whilst giving a full body workout. The class uses cardio fitness using low impact moves against the resistance and inertia of the water all to great latin music! By attending classes regularly, participants can expect to gain lean muscle tissue and tone as a result of working-out against the resistance of the water and burn up to 400 calories in a 45 minute class.
– Tennis: If you’re new to the court or you’ve been playing tennis for years, it is important to vary your gym workout to get the most out of your tennis game. Strength training and cardiovascular exercise will both help to give you an edge over an opponent. Strong legs are key to being king or queen of the court, with so much space to cover and with so many changes of direction.
– Rowing: Whether you want to take advantage of the UK’s stunning waterways or put your body to the test on the machines in the gym, using a rower provides a full body workout using all the muscles in the back, glutes (butt) and legs. Rowing will also help build upper body strength while improving cardiovascular endurance.
An example of a rowing workout is 30 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds recovery rowing – repeat this sequence for 10 minutes to get the heart rate up and work every major muscle group in the body.
Virgin Active clubs have water rowers, which use water as resistance. This natural element increases resistance the harder the cable is pulled. Catering to all levels of fitness and experience, no settings are necessary beyond switching on the monitor and positioning your feet in the foot straps- Running: Training for a 5K, 10K or a Marathon? The benefits to running are endless, it’s a great cardio workout that’s good for the heart and lungs, and also strengthens the bones and tendons. It’s also been found to increase brain power, alleviate stress and boost overall energy levels.

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Make Exercise a Habit

Turn your fitness routine into a habit by staying on track with these easy solutions.

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Need some motivation to recharge your get-up-and-go? Here’s top easy-to-follow advice and smart tips to stick with exercise long enough to see  great results.

Excuse 1: I don’t have time to exercise

Workouts don’t necessarily have to be lengthy or laborious if you’re looking to lose weight or get healthier. A short, sharp sweat sesh will see you bid farewell to hundreds of calories while targeting a whole range of different muscle groups. ‘Three to four times per week is ideal – this still leaves another three to four days a week when you don’t have to exercise.

Excuse 2: I live too far away from the gym

Brrrr! When it’s freezing cold and chucking it down outside you’d probably prefer a date with your duet over dragging yourself all the way to the gym – especially if it involves a long commute. We get it. Even those of us with the best intentions can falter when inconvenience prevails over our fitness plans.

Excuse 3: I’ve lost my fitness mojo

Having motivational dips every so often is normal, and if that means you miss a few sessions, so be it – but don’t let that derail you getting back on track. ‘If you do skip a few workouts, remember that the longer you leave it the harder it’s going to feel when you go back. And consider how far you’ve already come – do you really want to waste the effort you’ve already put in? Capitalize on the progress you’ve made so far and stick with it,’ advises Joanne.

Excuse 4: I find exercise boring

Exercise doesn’t have to be difficult and unpleasant. Ease yourself into it and up the ante when you’re ready. ‘Find something you enjoy. This is an obvious one, but so many people treat exercise as a form of punishment, as something to be endured not enjoyed. But there are dozens of different forms of exercise which you might find more fun, from dancing to rock climbing,’ says Joanne. And if you get bored of your routine, switch things up a notch by trying new classes, working out different body parts and varying the intensity of your workout.

Excuse 5: I’m not seeing results

Let’s be realistic; you won’t see results overnight, but the more dedicated you become, the faster you’ll see improvements in your overall fitness /and/ your figure. ‘Be patient, give it some time, and remember that exercise has long-term, ongoing health benefits beyond body shape,’ says Joanne. Try keeping a workout journal so you can chart your progress, writing down small achievements after every session, whether it’s going for two minutes longer on the treadmill or reaching your PB in press-ups.

1 Make exercise a priority

If you treat exercise as an afterthought, and put it at the bottom of your list after checking Facebook, drinks after work and binge-watching a box set, you’ll run out of time every day.  However, if you schedule a workout into your day and plan your other activities around it, it /will/ get done.

2 Don’t expect miraculous results

One of the reasons people go so hard at first and then give up so quickly is that they are looking for a quick fix, and when they don’t get one, they become disillusioned. In fact, you’re not going to undo months or years of unhealthy living with a month of exercise, nor are you going to dramatically change your body shape in that time. But be patient, give it some time, and you will see results.

3 Make sure you’re doing it right

If you have a specific goal, and you’re going to invest time and effort in exercising, make sure that time and effort is well spent. What is it you want to achieve?  Be honest with yourself and then, if necessary, get some advice on what would be most effective (e.g. if you want to tone up your bingo wings, target that area with resistance training rather than going running).

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Walking and Weight Loss

Walk this way!

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Working out in the gym is ideal for some but what’s the best way to prepare you for a strenuous outdoor walk? Personal trainer Anne-Marie Lategan has six moves to get you walking fit.

Being outdoors is a great way to get fit and burn calories. It is rewarding and can lead to a feeling of wellbeing. It also offers variety and makes you less likely to look at your watch while you’re doing it. With over 13 500 walks across England, you are bound to find a walk that will suit your taste and fitness level.

Plan your walk in advance and ensure that everyone in your walking group is fit enough to do the walk. If you think that you can walk 30 miles a day, then go for a 20- mile walk. Adding a backpack with food and water, the weather and the terrain will make it much harder and burn a lot more calories, draining your energy.

This is one reason why it’s important to be prepared and have the strength and stamina needed to keep going, especially when tough weather conditions strike. By strengthening your body, you will also reduce your risk of injury and help prevent stiffness afterwards. Walking not only uses your leg muscles but also your upper body, back, stomach and core. The exercises here will strengthen your whole body ensuring an enjoyable walk. Depending on the amount of walking you plan to do, try to complete these exercises at least four times per week for eight weeks, leading to your walk.

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Best Running Tips For Women

Ace your next race with these top tips

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Going for a run is probably one of the most popular ways to get your workout on, whether it’s hitting the roads or jumping on a treadmill when the weather’s gross outside. If you sometimes find running a little tedious, why not challenge yourself to go faster or further?
Here are our top tips to smash your run.

To the gym

Weight training could make you a better runner. A Norwegian study found that resistance training three times a week for eight weeks significantly improved running efficiency and endurance in well-trained, long-distance runners.

Uphill battle

Want to conquer the hills? To race uphill, run with a short stride while pushing off the balls of your feet and pumping your arms. Then relax your arms and use a longer stride to go downhill.

Ready, set, splash!

Getting wet could make you a better runner. Swimming increases your upper body strength, making your runs more efficient, while aqua jogging mimics your usual movement sans impact – reducing the risk of injury.

Bright idea

‘Watch your stance when running,’ tips Fitness First trainer Andy Hall. ‘Leaping forward and striding too far will drain your energy fast. Instead, make sure you stand tall and lean slightly forward, so when you feel like you’re going to fall, you step forward just enough to catch yourself. This should be the length of your stride.’

Take five

Listen to your body! If you’re feeling under the weather or if your body is sore and ready for a rest, take a recovery day. Only you know if those aches and pains are from a good run or the sign you need to rest.

Sand storm

Here’s a good excuse to book a beach getaway – running on sand can improve your speed and muscle tone. A study from St Luke’s University Clinic in Belgium found that pounding the sand requires 1.6 times more energy than running on pavements as your body has to work harder to deal with the soft, unstable surface. That adds up to more defined muscles and a swifter run when you get back to solid ground. Neat!

Drink up

Hydration is key for runners, but plain old water is best if you’re only doing short runs. Upgrade to a sports drink if you’re running for longer than an hour to help shuttle glucose to your muscles and combat fatigue.

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Double Your Fat Burn

Boost your results!

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Could you hit the gym twice a day? The truth is, you probably could. People do two-a-days all the time. Busy commuters cycle to and from work. Body builders split their daily weightlifting routine into two smaller workouts. Active mommies walk the dog in the morning and then head to bootcamp with friends. Your body is capable of doing more than one sweat session if you really want it to. But the question is – is it worth it?

For some exercisers, two-a-days are a no-brainer; numerous studies show that, when planned correctly, doing two workouts in one day is a very effective training method for those wanting to build muscle, race ultra-distances or compete in multi-discipline events. But the jury is out on whether working out once or twice a day is most beneficial for weight loss. In fact, when it comes to losing weight, a plethora of scientific literature confirms our bodies respond better to intensity of exercise than duration. The take-home message? Weight-loss fans should split one long workout into two parts and then perform at least one part at near maximum effort (think: 75-85 per cent of heart rate max) to reap results.Staying on target

But what if working out twice in one day did mean exercising more? Turns out doubling up on the amount of daily exercise you do is a great way to hit weight-loss activity targets. The current guidelines for activity among the general community state that adults should clock 30 minutes of exercise – whether gym-going, running or gardening – five days per week. Sounds doable, right? Well, for long-term weight loss, you need to up the ante. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), fat-loss fans should aim to do 250-300 minutes of moderately intense exercise (in other words, challenging exercise) each week. That’s a whopping four to five hours of tough exercise each week – and a stroll with the dog doesn’t count!

Of course, you could aim to perform four to five gruelling sessions, but research shows that motivation drops after the 30-minute mark. So long workouts aren’t the best strategy for long-term results. ‘Exercise needs to suit the individual, otherwise you won’t stick to it,’ agrees Hayley. ‘Finding time to train isn’t easy but you must /make/ time for exercise. Get up an hour early and do a 30-minute cardio session. Then do another 30 minutes of strength work in the evening.’ Put like that, it certainly sounds more achievable, right?

Potential pitfalls

It’s clear that exercising twice a day does boast weight-loss benefits, but it’s not without its problems. Crucially, it’s important to keep in mind what you’re physically capable of. ‘It takes a certain level of fitness to start this style of training,’ warns Hayley. ‘You need to get the go-ahead from your doctor beforehand, and then start slowly. For some people, a brisk 30-minute walk is tough enough.’ Don’t be misled by the super-fit looking folk who seem to live in the gym, either.  Chances are they’re not fit because they train often; they train often because they’re fit enough to do so. Every exerciser has to start somewhere, and the best place to begin is with the basics before progressing on to two-a-days.

It’s also important to consider why you want to exercise twice a day – is it a logical way to reach your weight-loss goal or are you simply addicted to working out? According to research from the University of Southern California, exercise addiction affects three per cent of us, and it increases the risk of injury or illness. Clocking up extra workout hours doesn’t signal a problem, but if it’s accompanied by withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or irritability, you should consider cutting back rather than doing more. ‘Rest between double-workout days is crucial,’ adds Hayley, ‘Exercise twice a day every day and you’ll fatigue pretty quickly, not to mention increase your risk of burn-out.’  The right amount of recovery – not only between exercise days, but also between exercise sessions – is key. ‘You need to leave a minimum of four to six hours between sessions to recover fully,’ warns Jéan, ‘and the dedicated approach to your health needs to apply to all aspects of your weight-loss journey, which includes staying on top of your nutritional needs and getting adequate amounts of sleep.’ So the harder you work out, the longer you’ll need to recover.

Choosing your workouts

Think exercising twice daily is the best approach for you? That’s great news. Unfortunately, any old workout won’t do – working the same muscle group twice, for instance, will only wear you down. Here’s how to make your AM and PM sessions work well together.

1. Do different workouts in the morning and evening. Unless you’re training for a specific sport, doing the same discipline or working the same body part twice in one day will only result in fatigue.

2. Find a balance between high and low intensity. Don’t do two vigorous cardio or two heavy weights sessions in a row. Mix high, moderate and low intensities to keep muscles guessing and stay enthused.

3. Separate your schedule into cardio and strength training. Perform a cardio session in the morning when you have bundles of energy and your strength session in the evening when you’re feeling focused.

4. Choose activities that you enjoy – hiking, cycling, team or club sports. The more you can minimise the psychological stress of exercising, the better it is for your body. When it comes to weight loss, anything that gets your heart pumping works.

5. Following a strength program. Split it into two sessions. Target the large muscle groups in the morning with compound moves like burpees. In the evening, focus on small muscle groups with isolation exercises like bicep curls.

6. Rest, rest, rest. This approach is not about doing as much activity as possible, but about performing at the best of your ability. Rest is key to staying healthy and maintaining exercise quality. Have one to two days off scheduled activity each week.

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Top Workouts for Better Sex

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Want to improve the quality of your sex life—or just have better luck getting in the mood? Start with fitness! Our experts share the moves they recommend most for ramping things up in the bedroom.


You already know this move as a terrific leg and butt toner, but did you know that it can also get the blood flowing to the places that may energize your libido? “Sometimes your heart might be there, but you don’t feel anything in the ‘southern hemisphere,'” explains Debbie Mandel, MA, a stress and fitness expert and the author ofAddicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. “Many women need a little physical help with arousal to get blood flowing to the genitalia.” She suggests squats. With your feet spread shoulder-width apart, “make sure your heels stay on the floor as you ‘sit’ on an imaginary chair,” she explains. “The lower you squat, the more you recruit your glutes and reap the benefits. Push off from your heels and hold your abdominals in tightly [as you return to standing position].” Do them slowly, aiming for 15 to 30 reps. Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

Happy Baby Pose

Limberness goes hand in hand with great sex—after all, who wants to deal with aching legs or a stiff lower back while in the heat of the moment? That’s why Marta Montenegro, MF, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, a fitness expert and the creator of the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method, suggests certain stretches to prepare you for agility between the sheets. “One of the most common reasons for lower back pain is tight hamstrings and hip flexors,” she says. “Also, after spending eight hours asleep, there is a natural inflammation of the spinal discs due to the increase of the homeostatic pressure.”

The happy baby pose to the rescue! “It will stretch the spine while loosening up the adductor muscles and the hamstrings, which are heavily compromised in traditional positions such as the missionary,” she says. Lie on your back with your knees bent toward your chest. Grasp the outside of each foot with your hands, allowing the knees to drop down toward the floor. Align your ankles with your knees so that the shins are perpendicular to the floor. Apply downward pressure with your hands to encourage deeper opening. You can allow the tailbone to curl up off the floor slightly to decompress the lower back. Hold the pose for three to five minutes.

Pelvic Tilts

Want a move that will strengthen the muscles you use most during intercourse? Try the pelvic tilt. “Women tend to suffer from lower back pain, and this sometimes affects sexual positions as well as desire,” says Mandel. “Pelvic tilts give you a bonus of core strength and strengthening the lower back.” Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Raise your pelvic region in a straight line like a bridge. Hold your abdominals in while you tighten your glutes and push your inner thighs toward each other. Slowly lower to the floor and repeat, 20 to 25 reps, if possible.

Kegel Exercises

When it comes to fitness, Kegels count too! These pelvic-floor-strengthening exercises that your ob-gyn is always encouraging you to do can have big payoffs when it comes to sexual satisfaction. “Kegels consist of contracting and relaxing the muscles in your pelvic floor,” she explains. “Improving the strength of these vaginal muscles is beneficial for greater sexual satisfaction and stronger orgasms, as well as preventing urinary or bowel incontinence and pelvic prolapse in women.” To do a proper Kegel, tighten your pelvic muscles (the ones that control the start and stop of urine). Hold for about 5 seconds, relax and then repeat. Dawn recommends doing Kegels for at least 5 minutes every day. (Psst! You can do them anywhere—even right now—and no one will know but you!)

Ab Rolls

The core is compromised of more than 20 muscles, and working them “will give you the strength to support your man’s weight without hyperextending your back,” says Montenegro. “A great exercise that works both the core and the muscles of the upper body is the roll-in, roll-out on a stability ball.” Start with your hands fully extended on the floor in a push-up-like position. Place your shins on a stability ball, keeping your back straight. Roll the ball in toward your chest and back out, using the abdominals to drag your knees toward your chest and to push your feet back out. Keep your back flat and hips tight, and don’t move your upper body. Do three sets of 10 reps.

Plank Pose

Is there one move that can make you more sexually confident, daring and strong? Yes: the plank, a core-building exercise popular in yoga, says Madeleine Castellanos, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in sexual medicine and sex therapy in New York City. “This exercise works upper arms, abdominals, obliques, thighs and buttocks,” she says. “These are important muscles that help stabilize you when you are engaged in intercourse on all fours, any position where the woman is on top, or in transition from one position to another while maintaining close genital contact with your partner.” Lay facedown with the palms of your hands flat on the floor on each side of your shoulders. In this position, your forearms should also be flat on the floor and will act as your support when you raise your body. Push your weight to the balls of your feet as you push up onto your forearms and palms so that your entire body is suspended in the air. Be careful to keep your body as straight and flat as possible, and avoid lifting your hips in the air. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then relax for a few seconds before repeating; do three sets of 10 reps.

Bridge Pose

Another yoga pose that can improve your sexual enjoyment is the bridge pose. “This exercise helps strengthen the lower back, gluteus muscles and hamstrings,” says Dr. Castellanos. “It helps enhance a woman’s sexual experience because it increases her strength and endurance in these muscles, which are used to create resistance during a man’s thrusting, thereby increasing the intensity of the thrust.” Start out lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lay your arms to the side of your body, lift your hips up in the air and squeeze your gluteus muscles. Continue to press upward until just your upper back/shoulders, arms and feet are touching the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly lower back down to the floor and relax for a few seconds before repeating again. Aim for three sets of 10 reps each.

Seated Leg Extensions

Do your thighs quiver during and after sex—but not in a good way? “The large muscles of the thighs are often used during sex and can get fatigued quickly since they are such a large muscle group,” says Dr. Castellanos. The solution: seated leg extensions. “Find a stable chair in which you can sit up straight and have your knees bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor,” she says. “While keeping your thigh and knee as steady as possible, lift one foot up to straighten your leg slowly, then bring it back down to the floor. Do three sets of 10 reps for each leg.

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Best and Worse Exercises for Bad Knees

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Exercise may be the best medicine for chronic achy knees.”Strengthening the muscles around the joint protects you from injury by decreasing stress on the knee,” says Willibald Nagler, MD, chairman of rehabilitation medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Campus in New York City.But you must use good form and technique.

The First Commandment

Never bend your legs to a point where your knees stick out past your toes. That puts a lot of pressure under the kneecap. This not only applies to the following exercises but also when you’re stretching or doing aerobic activities such as step aerobics.

Except where stated, do 10 to 12 repetitions of each of the following, two or three times a week.

Best Exercises to Do

Partial Squats

Stand about 12 inches away from the front of a chair with your feet about hip width apart and your toes forward. Bending at the hips, slowly lower yourself halfway down to the chair. Keep your abs tight, and check that your knees stay behind your toes.


Using an aerobic step bench or a staircase, step up onto the step with your right foot. Tap your left foot on the top of the step, and then lower. As you step up, your knee should be directly over your ankle. Repeat with your left foot.

Side-lying Leg Lifts

Wearing ankle weights above the knee, lie on your left side, legs straight and together, with your left arm supporting your head. Keeping your right foot flexed and your body straight, slowly lift your right leg to about shoulder height, then slowly lower. Repeat with your left leg.

Inner-thigh Leg LiftsWearing ankle weights above the knee, lie on your left side, slightly back on your butt. Bend your right leg and place it behind your left leg with your right foot flat on the floor and your left leg straight. Support your head with your left arm. Slowly lift your left leg about 3 to 5 inches, then lower. Repeat with your right leg.Calf RaisesUsing a chair or wall for balance, stand with your feet about hip width apart, toes straight ahead. Slowly lift your heels off the floor, rising up onto your toes. Hold, then slowly lower.Straight-Leg RaisesSit with your back against a wall, left leg straight and right leg bent with your foot flat on the floor. Slowly raise your left leg straight up about 12 inches off the floor. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat with your right leg.Short-Arc Knee ExtensionsIn the same starting position as the straight-leg raises, put a ball (about the size of a basketball) under your left knee so that your leg is bent. Slowly straighten your leg. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat with your right leg.Hamstring StretchLie on your back with your left leg flat on the floor. Loop a towel or rope around your right foot and pull your leg as far as comfortable toward your chest, while keeping a slight bend at the knee. Keep your back pressed to the floor throughout the stretch. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and then release. Repeat three or four times with each leg. Do this stretch five or six times a week.

Worst Exercises—Avoid These

A few of the following exercises can be done safely if you have chronic knee problems; they’re on this list because they’re more likely to be done improperly. The exercises above are safer, while still giving you similar results.

  • Full-arc knee extensions
  • Lunges
  • Deep squats
  • Hurdler’s stretches
  • Quads extensions
  • Jumping

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