Monday, 30 January 2012



A major, potential, problem with people exercising is overtraining. Many beginners, when they first begin training, over train, I know I did. Overtraining, as the name suggests, is essentially when some trains too much so that their body cannot recover in time. Overtraining is most common in weight training, but can also occur with runners and other athletes. Overtraining can stem from many things. For example, some people feel that the more they workout, the more they will benefit and they allow for no recovery time.

Symptoms of Overtraining

There are a wide variety of problems that can develop through overtraining. This list covers many of them:

  • Plateau in performance
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Injury
  • Sore Joints and Muscles
  • No motivation to workout
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Lack of Sex Drive

Recovering from Overtraining

Luckily, overtraining is easy to get over. Essentially, the only thing that needs to be done is rest. We still need to maintain your diet as we would normally, but the rest will allow the muscles to recover and get back to the levels they should be.

Prevention of Overtraining

There are simple ways of ensuring that we do not overtrain in the first place. Firstly, and possibly the most important factor, we should allow for a substantial rest period between workouts. If we have an intense arms workout on Monday, then Tuesday we should rest the arms and focus on other muscles. Another good method is to ensure that we have a variety in our exercise routines and training techniques. Outside of exercise, things like a good diet and the correct amount of sleep will help to ensure that we do not overtrain.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Dietary Fibre

Recently I wrote a blog discussing carbohydrates, and this post will address dietary fibre. Fibre has a major role with the body but often people lack knowledge of what it actually does.

The main function of fibre is to keep the digestive system healthy. Essentially, fibre speeds up the excretion of waste product and toxins from our body in order to prevent diseases building up. If there is not enough fibre present in our diet can cause irregularities in the bowel as well as discomforts with the stomach. Around 18g of fibre is an acceptable amount each day, however up to 35g is recommended. We must ensure that higher levels of fibre consumed is matched with higher consumption of water, as fibre absorbs water from our body.

Dietary Fibre and Weight Loss

There are a number of benefits to eating fibre when look at weight control. Firstly, foods that are high in fibre are generally low in fat and calories, and therefore we are less likely to put on weight. However, there are two key points that make eating fibre essential for weight control. Fibre slows down digestion, which leaves us feeling full for longer, so we remain satisfied for longer after a meal meaning we are less likely to eat extra calories that we do not need. Fibre also helps us to fill up quicker, so we are less likely to over eat and gain weight and fat.

Not All Good

Of course, while too little fibre is bad for us, too much fibre can be just as bad. Too much fibre can lead to problems such as dehydration or internal discomfort. A major potential problem of consuming too much fibre is that it can lead to the body not absorbing fewer minerals, especially zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium.

So, it is important that we get enough fibre in our bodies everyday but we do need to be aware of how much and ensure we do not go too far. There are many foods that we probably should be eating anyway that will help us meet our fibre requirements, things such as vegetables, wholemeal foods and whole grains.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Benefits of Water

Are we drinking enough water?

We here a lot about the importance of drinking water on a daily basis for the good of our health and that is what this blog will look into. Simply put – the body cannot function without water.

Many sources agree that water is one of the most important factors for weight loss and keeping the weight off. Not only does water help to keep us naturally satisfied, in terms of controlling our appetite, it also helps our body to metabolize fat.

Another major positive of water is what it can do for the skin. Some research claims that it helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles on the skin and other research states that acne is reduced through higher water consumption.

Water can help to fight infections all over our body. The main reason behind this is that it helps to flush toxins from the body and this prevents them from infecting our body.

Here’s a benefit of water to exercise. It helps us train more effectively. Obviously, after working out it is essential that we replace the water that we have sweated out, but research also suggests that our bodies work harder and better when exercising if we are more hydrated.

There are many more benefits to water, such as aiding digesting and protecting tissues, as well as reasons why we need to keep hydrated, but these are some key things that I feel are important to me and bear some importance to fitness, health and weight loss.

Oh, and just on a kind of side not, there is no need to purchase bottled water, regular tap water is fine and, in some cases, is better than the bottled water we buy.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


There is a lot of confusion with regards to healthy eating. Carbohydrates is a major discussion point with some quarters stating that carbohydrates should be cut down (or even out) and some people suggesting that carbohydrates are the best thing for you. The truth is that carbs are not all bad, and are not all good. Simple?

What are Carbohydrates?

So what are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides, can be split into two separate groups; simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are, essentially, sugars and can exist in natural or refined forms. Complex carbs are referred to as starch and also be found in natural or refined forms. The main function of carbohydrates is to provide energy to the body.

Simple Carbohydrates

As mentioned before, simple carbs can be natural or refined. Common examples are lactose and sucrose. Sources of natural sugars are fruits and vegetables. Refined sugars are found in things like cakes, chocolate, honey, soft drinks and sweets.

Complex Carbohydrates

As with simple carbs, complex carbohydrates can be natural or refined. We can get our natural complex carbs from foods such as bananas, beans, potatoes, nuts, whole grains and root vegetables.

So should we eat carbohydrates or not?

We should absolutely have carbohydrates in our diet. Carbs are a fantastic source of energy for the body. Low carb diets exist, and have had major publicity, but the truth is that eating too much is why people put on weight, regardless of where we get our energy from. In fact, there are fewer calories in 1g of carbohydrate than in protein or fat. The key to carbohydrates is, essentially, choosing the right type of carbohydrate to consume. We should focus at getting our carbohydrates from vegetables, wholemeal foods, and other complex carbohydrates. Most reliable sources will suggest that around 60% of our energy should come from carbohydrates.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Importance of Mixing It Up

An interesting idea with regards to training is that of mixing your workout up. People get together a set of exercises that make up their regular workout, and they start to see the benefits. When I first started out I had my set routines that I would do every workout. Now, this is not the worst thing in the world. However, there are some issues that can arise through completing the same routines.

The first issue is the idea of the workout becoming ineffective. If we run at the same speed on the treadmill everyday for 20 minutes, our body will eventually hit an area of stability, where the body has become accustomed to the workout so it has a lessened affect.

Another issue that can arise is that muscles can not get enough time to recover. If we pound our muscles everyday then they have no chance to heal between workouts, and the chances of injury increase. Ensure that we complete low intensity workouts in between highly intense workouts and this should not be a problem.

One final issue that can arise is boredom. If we do the same workout everyday, there is a good chance we will get bored of it. This can lead to us not completing the workout fully or to the best of our ability and can sometimes lead to skipping workouts altogether!

There are many ideas to ensure that our workout does not become stale. First of all, we can be more flexible with our workouts. If we like to workout on an evening, try throwing in an early workout to change it up a bit. In terms of weight lifting, we can change from weight machines to using free-weights. There are many other ways of changing up our workouts so be creative and keep the workouts working!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Do Not Underestimate the Power of Walking

Many people struggle with the idea of weight loss and are often defeated before they begin on their quest. It is often simple little changes that can make a big difference with regards to weight loss. People expect that they will need to be on a treadmill for an hour a day, every day to see real results. This is not quite the case! Walking at a regular pace for just half an hour can really help to burn stored fat and help that weight come off. Walking is great for improving our overall health and fitness as well as helping to tone our muscles and strengthen our hearts.

Walking at 3mph for 10 minutes will burn around 43 calories. This may not sound a lot, but it all adds up! Besides, this is just 10 minutes.

One of the great things about walking is that it is so easy to do. The effort required is not too great, and most people can do it. Walking can really boost your weight loss, even if you can only manage a small amount each day so there is no need for making excuses about not having the time to exercise – go for a 10 minute walk for a start.

Try to make walking part of jobs you would be doing anyway. For example, instead of driving to the shops, walk. We will be burning calories doing something we were going to do anyway. Or why not add an extra 5 minutes to walking the dog. If we walk the dog for 15 minutes, add extra time on to burn some extra calories.

Another great thing about walking is that it is free! Many people, understandably, avoid the gym due to high prices. With walking there is no cost and so money can be saved while getting in shape!

Walking is a great place to start with weight loss, as it is easy to do, can be incorporated into our normal daily routines and, best of all, it is free! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

3 Eating Rules that Bodybuilders Use

Today I found an interesting article that discusses three eating rules that bodybuilders follow. So if you are wanting to bulk up in muscle, then take a look at these ideas.

1. The first rule is to never skip breakfast (bodybuilding or not, you should never skip breakfast by the way). In terms of building and maintaining muscle, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The main point behind this rule is that the longer you wait before eating after you wake up, then the longer the body remains in ‘fat storage mode’. This means that muscle is broken down and used for fuel, but eating sooner stops this from happening.

2. The second rule in the article is to eat protein and carbohydrates after a workout. Again, this seems to me like something we should be doing anyway, whether we are trying to build up or not. However, in terms of bulking up this is important as muscle growth is sped up through eating protein and the carbs are to refuel and aid in muscle repair.

3. The final rule is to take a daily dose of creatine. Research has shown that older men taking creatine have increased muscle strength and power after just seven days. The article claims no side effects to creatine but great gains. You should certainly do your own research when using supplements and be careful but studies seem to support the benefits of creatine.

So these are the eating rules for body building but these rules can be useful in helping with weight loss, toning up and building lean muscle too, we just have to adapt them to our workouts.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tests of Fitness

Upon browsing the internet I came across a page that offered 6 tests of fitness. The idea is to complete the set exercises and a rating is given as to how well we complete each exercise. Now, I would not consider these rating accurate myself, the tests certainly give goals to aim for. For example, being able to only do 10 body-weight squats is not poor (despite these tests indicating so), it is an excellent exercise to build strength. Here are the tests though:

The Plank – get in the push up position but rest on the elbows and forearms. Keep the back straight. Hold the position for as long as possible. Here are the ratings for The Plank; if you can hold for 2 minutes or more then you get an excellent rating, 75secs to 2 minutes is good, 45 seconds to 75 seconds is average and anything less is poor!

Body-weight Squat – keep the feet shoulder width apart and lower the thighs slowly until they are parallel with the floor and slowly raise back up. The ratings for a body-weight squat are; 50 or more reps is excellent, 30-49 is good, 16-29 is average and 15 or less is considered poor.

Press-up – straight back, hands on the floor, bend the elbows lowering the chest to the floor, and raise again. The ratings for a press ups are; 50 or more reps is excellent, 30-49 is good, 16-29 is average and 15 or less is considered poor.

1km Run – simply run a kilometre. The ratings for this run are; 3 minutes or less gets an excellent rating, 3mins-3min 29 seconds is good, 3mins 30secs to 4mins 29 seconds is average and any longer is considered poor.

500m Row – obviously we require a rowing machine for this part of the test, and the idea is to complete a 500m row as fast as possible. The ratings are; 1min 30 sec or less is excellent, 1min 31sec–1min 44sec is good, 1min 45sec–1min 59sec is average and 2min or more is poor.

Pull up – the final test is pull ups, one of the hardest exercises out there. 12 or more reps is excellent, 8–11 reps is good, 4–7 reps is average and 3 or fewer is poor.

I would be careful not to take the ratings too seriously, as we all have different levels and I would say that these tests should be used to set goals for our self rather than put us down if we hit ‘poor’ in a rating. That being said, all these exercises are useful and can help improve our fitness and health levels. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My 5 key exercises

I am going to discuss what I consider to be 5 key exercises that I incorporate into my workouts each week. These are exercises that I think are the best. I primarily complete home workouts and each of these exercises can be completed at home any time.

1. Pull ups – pull ups are probably the best exercise from this list. They are so beneficial to us and should be included in our workouts. They are great for the biceps, the back, the shoulders and the core.

2. Push ups – a must in any home workout! This exercise works the triceps, shoulders, chest and back muscles and also helps strengthen the core.

3. Squats – this is my favourite workout for the legs. Squats contribute to increasing the size of the leg muscles (and the buttocks) and also help to develop core strength. The exercise can be made more difficult by adding weights. These help to create explosive power in our legs!

4. Skipping – the benefits of skipping are vast. This is where the cardio comes from in my list. Skipping helps to improve fitness, flexibility, co-ordination and balance. The great thing about skipping is that it is easier on the knees than running/jogging and cycling.

5. The Plank – my love for The Plank is no secret. It may be my favourite exercise of all time! It has been in my workouts for so long now and I can’t see it leaving. The Plank helps develop core strength, and tones the abdominal muscles.

This, of course, is just my opinion. These are the exercises that I get the most out of and do the best for me. However, I think that if you use them correctly, they will help to develop the body that you want.

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Benefits of Stretching

We are often so pressed for time (a poor excuse) that we often forget the importance of stretching and leave it from our workout. However, a few minutes invested in stretching, before and after a workout, can be extremely beneficial.

Here are some of the benefits:

1. Increased flexibility - some reports suggest that as little as 5-7 minutes before and after exercise will lead to an increase in flexibility.

2. Injury prevention - through stretching it has be found that we are far less likely to injure ourselves when exercising and exerting our muscles.

3. Muscle tone - it is suggested that through stretching our muscles can gain a more defined look as muscle toning is heightened.

There are many other benefits to stretching too, such as improved circulation, and it is important that we make sure we do not miss stretching from our workouts.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Benefits of Weight Training for Fitness and Health

When thinking of our general health and well being weight training is something that should definitely be considered. In this post I will discuss some of the many benefits of building muscle.

Firstly, although cardiovascular exercise is a fantastic method for us to burn fat, building muscle will help us burn extra calories each day. Some sources claim that an additional pound of muscle gained can lead to our body burning an extra 50 calories each day. The good thing about this is that we're burning muscle while we are resting.

An obvious, but important, benefit to weight training is the increased strength we can achieve. For many this is why we begin weight training.

Another great benefit of weight training is that the risk of injury can be reduced. The stronger the muscles we have, the more stress and impact our body can take and we should see increased muscle flexibility, which can help keep us from pulling muscles.

Our physical appearance can improve through weight training. Aside from the fact that muscle building can help us to lose fat, we can also can lean muscle and get a more defined look about us, a look that many people want.

The final benefit that I will mention in this post is the fact that weight training can help our body to function better. Through stronger muscles we can get more support to our joints and will also see an improvement in our posture.

These are just some of the benefits of weight/muscle training, there are others too. Hope these inspire!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Curl Ups - A great abdominal exercise

This blog post is about an exercise known as Curl Ups and they target the whole abdominal area. This is a very effective abdominal exercise and will help tone and develop the abdomen.

To do the exercise, firstly we lie down; face up with our left leg straight on the floor and the right leg bent, with the right foot flat. Underneath the natural arch of our back we place our hands, palm down. We then slowly raise our head and shoulders from the floor without bending the lower back and spine. When we are in this position we hold it for 8-10 seconds. This counts for one repetition. Complete 5 repetitions and then swap legs and complete another 5 on the other side.

This exercise is so good because it works the whole abdomen but minimises the stress on our back/spine.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Four Key Rules for a Great Workout

This blog entry will discuss four key ideas that will make for a great workout. These are simple tips that will ensure that we make the most of our workout.

1. The first rule is to make sure you breathe. I know this seems fairly obvious, but I have seen it many times before where people are holding their breath while doing reps. It is easy to forget. A simple way to remember is to ensure that on the harder part of the exercise, the pulling up of a pull up for example, we breathe out and on the easier part we breathe in. The main thing is to make sure that you are breathing!

2. Your aim is to fail! This may seem silly. Ok, this is not exactly what the goal is. The idea of this rule is to push ourselves to the limit of our strength. Always be safe, however, we don’t want injuries.

3. Take things slow (or fast). With cardio exercise we should perform as fast as we can! However, with other exercises it is often best to perform slowly. Performing exercises at a slower rate will help to work the muscle more and therefore we can get stronger.

4. Finally, one of the most important things with exercise – FORM. Good form is arguably the most essential thing with getting the most from a workout. Through correct form we reduce the risk of injury and gain more from specific exercises. We will see the best results from performing exercises correctly.

Hope these tips help!

Pull Ups

Me doing chin ups
Today I am going to discuss an exercise that should form some part of any home workout, pull ups. To do a pull up we need something to pull up on, a pull up bar is an affordable and easy item to use, that can be inserted into a doorway.

To beginners, a pull up can be a truly challenging exercise, and it may be useful to use, for example, a chair to help practice good form. When we start getting good at pull ups though, they are one of the most beneficial exercises out there. Pull ups work the biceps and the muscles of the back; trapezius, rhomboids, the posterior deltoids, the latissimus dorsi and the teres major. The biceps get more work when the exercise is completed with the palms facing towards our self (this is the one often referred to as a chin up), and the back muscles gain more from the exercise being done with an overhand grip.

To complete a pull up, the body is suspended by the arms as we grip our pull up bar, and we pull ourselves up with muscular effort. The elbows will bend and we aim to bring our head above the bar and lower again. This is one repetition.

A good tip for when the pull up is mastered is to add a weighted belt (or any other weight) to make it even more challenging and to help develop our muscles further.

This exercise is highly recommended, and when we combine it with press ups, we get a decent upper body workout.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Inspirational Fitness Quotes

Today I though I would share some quotes about health, fitness and exercise that I enjoy and that may help to inspire you in some way!

“Be careful about reading health books.  You may die of a misprint.”  - Mark Twain

“In general, mankind, since the improvement in cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires.” - Benjamin Franklin

“There’s lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven’t the time to enjoy it. ” - Josh Billings

"If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all." - Joey Adams

"You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be." - David Viscott

 "The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results." – Anthony Robbins

"Today I do what others won't, so tomorrow I do what others can't"  -  Jerry Rice

"No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch" - Unknown

Hope these inspire you, let me know what you think!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Calorie Listings

On Twitter I saw a post that claimed calorie listings can be up 20% wrong. I found this fascinating. I decided to look further into this and found many different reports (just do a search on Google) that make claims that back this up. It appears that in restaurants the calorie amount listed may be accurate over an average.

“On average, the calorie counts were accurate. However, the lab analysis showed that 19% of the foods tested had 100 or more calories in excess of what was on the website.” (CNN)

Another report, however, is even more damning. This report suggests that on average, the food measured ten calories higher than what the restaurant had claimed.

With much focus on healthy eating and ‘calorie counting’ this makes things slightly harder!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Two simple rules for working out

As I have mentioned before in my blog posts, food and diet is such an important part of fitness, health and muscle building. It is therefore very important that we eat correctly around our workouts but this can be hard to do. Here are two little tips though:

1. Avoid eating a full meal less than an hour before a workout. No our body won't explode if we do, but we will be very uncomfortable and will not be able to get the most from our workout. If we are hungry before our workout we should grab something like a banana that has a good supply of carbs as it will help us during the workout.

2. After a workout it is important to re-fuel as soon as possible. We need to ensure that we take in carbs to replenish the energy levels that we have been using and we will need protein to repair the muscles that we have used during our workout.

Hope these little tips help!