7 expert tips to kick start your spring training
With the ushering in of spring and warmer weather last week, I realised that I’ve been neglecting my fitness. My feet found their way into Ugg boots on more occasions than sneakers this winter and I’m guessing I’m not alone. For those of us who have been in health hibernation, we asked some of Sydney’s top fitness experts for their best advice.
1. Plan your workouts
Instead of spending 30 minutes on social media or watching television, put that time aside for a quick workout and treat it like any other appointment, suggests Flow athletic founder and personal trainer Ben Lucas.
Lucas recommends writing down your schedule. “Great training sessions won’t happen by accident,” he says. “On Sunday night before you start your week, plan and diarise when you are going to fit in your training for the week.”
If you are new to training or are returning after time off, starting out with a group class or personal trainer and trying a few different classes can help ease you back in and rediscover what you enjoy.
“I suggest mixing it up, so do a cardio, then a strength, then a yoga workout as this will allow you to use different energy systems, but also different planes of movement as well,” says Lucas. “The first few sessions may be a little tough, so stick them out and give yourself a chance to get used to them.”
2. Be realistic
Don’t expect six months worth of results in the first session. If you can only do one push-up the first day, aim for two the next, and then three, and so on. Goals need to be realistic and personal, rather than based on what anyone else is doing.
“Far too often people go too hard too soon which often ends up with a negative effect, such as inconsistent training and eating habits,” says former elite gymnast turned personal trainer, Lauren Hannaford. “Ease into it and build yourself up gradually… Positive training equals positive results.”
3. Get stretchy
While injury is the obvious result of poor preparation, a lack of warm up and stretching can also result in underperformance, according to Robards.
“Dynamic stretching and mimicking the movements you are about to perform will not only warm up the muscles, but also the motor patterns that you are about to use in your sport or training,” he says. “If you’ve been sitting down all day your glutes may be inhibited and switched off, so if you’re going for a big squat you’ll want to make sure your glutes are part of the equation.”
“My go-to stretches are the gecko stretch, figure four supine hip stretch (for lower back), the handcuff stretch for the rotator cuff, thread the needle for thoracic, a good old pec stretch, downward dog for hammys and thoracic opening. Pigeon pose is great for the glutes and hammys against a door hinge.”
4. Incorporate sprints
Sprinting is one of the quickest ways to build strength and agility, according to Kevin Toonen, a strength and conditioning coach for the special forces.
“Speed is king” and it will “develop your engine a lot faster”, says Toonen, who recommends playing with sprint intervals to get the best results..
“There are a few ways to do intervals, the key is to recover enough so you can give equal to, or close to the same effort each time,” he says. “Try 15 seconds sprinting, 15 seconds rest, and repeat 12 to 15 times. Then rest for four minutes and go again. If you’re feeling stronger and getting faster after a few weeks try doing the same workout but make the intervals 30 seconds instead.”
Your legs will thank you for it too.
“One of the best things about interval running is it forces you to use your hamstrings, glutes and calves,” says Toonen. “Learning how to use and engage these muscles will ensure you run with better form before you start pushing the sessions out in time and distance.”
Remember to warm up and cool down for each session, as this will help with injury prevention.
5. Eat well
“Count nutrients not calories,” says nutritionist and personal trainer, Moodi Dennaoui. “We are caught up with numbers and nutritional labels and have forgotten to take a closer look at what we are eating.”
And while there is no blue print to eating correctly, he suggests avoiding fad diets and not eliminating whole food groups, including carbs.
Instead, Moodi suggests – shock horror – combining good food choices with regular exercise. “Always earn at least one meal a day,” he says. “Daily movement means better nutrient uptake from food, better digestion, and a far less likelihood of storing fat from the food you eat.”
6. Master the basics
Developing good daily habits for general health and wellbeing will support your fitness journey in every way, says beach sprinting champion, Katie Williams. “If the mind leads the body succeeds,” says Williams, who says she prioritises hydration, sleep and eating nutrient-dense foods.
“I aim for two litres [per day]. Some of my handy tips are to keep your keep your water bottle on hand everyday and create a habit of sipping it slowly throughout the day. Try adding some fruit and mint to make it a little interesting.”
“Aim to sleep between seven [and] nine hours… The good news is you don’t have to choose between your health and productivity, once you begin getting the zzz’s your body requires, your energy will increase as will mental focus and clarity.”
7. Be consistent
When it comes to good health “consistency is key,” says exercise physiologist and endurance runner, Veronika Larisova.” In other words, slacking off over winter is a big no-no. Whoops.
“Doing a six-week intense training and nutrition program to get in shape for summer and then eating poorly, partying and not exercising the whole summer will impact on your health and fitness,” she says.
“I’m not suggesting you have to diet and exercise like a maniac all year around. What I’m trying to get across is that to be fit and healthy throughout your life you have to adopt a certain lifestyle.
“There’s no one approach fits all although, the general recommendations for adults are – be active every day, accumulate 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity weekly and do some strength training at least twice a week.”
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