EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (13)

THE CALF RAISE 

 

The THIRTEENTH in our series of Exercise of the Week is the CALF RAISE.

The calf muscle (which is actually two muscles linked together) is situated at the back of the lower leg and as you can imagine does a tremendous amount of work as we walk around, climb stairs and so on. And because most of us do a great deal of sitting down, these muscles can become weak, which in turn means they are susceptible to injury or strain. So it’s important to keep them strong. The exercise I’m going to demonstrate is very simple and can be done anywhere when you have a few moments to spare.

 

 

You’ll need to be able to balance, so stand near something you can rest your hand on – a window sill, the back of a chair, even the wall. Stand with your feet pointing straight forward, about four inches apart. Stand up straight and tall with your head held high and your chest out, shoulders back. Rest one of your hands lightly on the thing you’ve chosen to steady your balance (back of the chair, window sill or whatever) and then raise yourself onto your toes. Keep your body straight. Hold for a second or two and then SLOWLY lower your heels back down to the floor. Repeat.

That’s all there is to it!

I’m going to repeat what I say every week. Take it easy to begin with, especially if you’re not used to doing exercise. The calves very easily tighten up and if you overdo it at first, you’ll definitely notice it when you try to walk! So GRADUALLY build up the number of times you repeat the calf raise. But if you do it regularly, you’ll definitely feel the benefit.

 

 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (12)

THE SUMO SQUAT 

The TWELFTH in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Sumo squat. The name is taken from the stance that the Sumo wrestlers in Japan take.

The squat is a fundamental exercise because it really works the lower body and is the first Exercise of the Week that we did. The Sumo squat is a variation on it. Like the regular squat, it works the glutes (the muscles in the buttocks) the hamstrings, the hip flexers, the calves and the quadriceps (the muscles in the thighs). But in addition the Sumo squat really targets the inner thigh adductors. Also, it’s good for developing that all-important sense of balance.

 

Stand up straight and tall but with your feet apart, wider than hip width and with your feet turned out. Cross your hands over your chest and then slowly lower your bum down as if you’re sitting on a chair. Keep your feet firmly on the floor – don’t tip forward onto your toes. And keep your upper body as straight as you can. Look forward. When you’ve lowered yourself as far as you can go, slowly return to standing position.

Repeat.

You’ll notice on the video that I squat down to ninety degrees. But if you’re doing it for the first time, don’t go down as far as I do – just so that it starts to feel a bit uncomfortable. Then as you do it more and more, you can gradually go down further and also increase the number of repetitions. That way, you’ll get fitter without risk of injury.

 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (11)

THE SINGLE LEG LUNGE

The ELEVENTH in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Single Leg Lunge.

Unlike the last exercise I showed you, this one is a bit more difficult. It really challenges the leg muscles and your sense of balance. So here goes.

 

You need some kind of block about 18 inches to 2 feet high to rest your foot on. I’m using a gym block but you could use a sofa, a strong chair, coffee table or even the stairs.

Stand with your back to the block and raise the foot of your right leg so that your toe rests on the block. Here’s where you need to have good balance so it might be an idea to have something nearby that you can put your hand on to steady yourself if necessary – the back of a chair, say, or even the wall. 

With the toe of your right foot resting firmly on the block, bend your left leg so that you are moving to a squat. Do it very slowly and look at the position of your knee. If your knee moves so that it is further forward than your ankle, come back up and shuffle your foot further forward. You want to be in a position that when you squat down, your knee is directly over your ankle. When you’ve got that position, now you can do the exercise.

SLOWLY lower your body (keeping the knee over the ankle) a few inches and then slowly come back to the starting point. As I said, this is a strenuous exercise so you want to take it very steadily. The more confident, strong and flexible you become, the further down you can go. But it will take time. SO DON’T OVERDO IT AT FIRST.

When you have done a number of repetitions, take your toe off the block and come to a standing position. Now put the toe of your left foot on the block and repeat the exercise.

I’m going to say what I always say:  GRADUALLY build up the depth of the lunge and the number of repetitions.  That way you’ll get fitter without injuring yourself.

 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (10)

THE PELVIC LIFT

The tenth in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Pelvic Lift.

At first sight, this exercise looks quite easy, but if you do it properly it targets those all-important core muscles round the stomach area as well as firming and tightening the gluts. It’ll also correct or even prevent that sagging bottom!

 

Begin by lying down on the floor. Put the feet flat on the floor with the legs in a tent position. There should be a 90-degree angle between the upper and lower legs. Place your hands by your sides with the palms flat on the floor. Roll your shoulders and pull your shoulder-blades down your back so that your shoulders are as flat on the floor as possible. Now press the small of the back into the floor so that there’s no space between your back and the floor. Take a deep breath and raise your hips into the air, breathing out as you do. Your body should be in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Your back shouldn’t either be arched or your hips sagging down. At this point you should feel the muscles in your thighs, your gluts and your stomach engaged and active.

Then very slowly, while you breath in, lower your hips until they touch the floor and the small of your back is pressed down.

Repeat the exercise.

Because with most people, one side of the body is stronger than the other, you might find that when you lift up the hips, they are tilted either to the left or to the right. So when they are raised, just check to make sure that they are straight. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to judge this for yourself so if there’s a friendly family member around who can watch, they’ll be able to see more easily than you can.

The important thing is to do the exercise SLOWLY – it’s very tempting to rush at it and feel you’re doing powerful things, but all it will do is tire you out without actually doing much good.

So start by doing it as slowly as you can and at the same time taking those good long breaths. Do it until you feel tired and then stop. See how you’re muscles feel the next day. If they’re a little bit achey, that’s good. Do the exercise again and push yourself a little bit further. On the other hand, if your muscles ache a great deal, do the exercise again but either do the same number of repetitions as before or even a bit less.

The important thing about this exercise, as with all the others, is that you GRADUALLY build up the intensity. That way you’ll get fitter without injuring yourself.

WELLBEING FITNESS BRACKLEY OPENS!!!

Yes, we’re open in Brackley! After weeks of brick dust and painting and cleaning and scrubbing and chasing suppliers to make sure all the new equipment will be here on time, we actually opened this morning. And though I say it myself, the place is looking pretty good – different from Towcester but I’m pleased with it. Have a look below and see for yourself.

 
 
 

And our very first customer this morning was someone I was delighted to welcome back. I’ve known Jeanne Robinson for a long time now and so it was great to see her again. Jeanne is someone I admire more than I can say because she does things that most people would shy away from. Despite not having a natural runner’s build she is training for her second (or even third) Half Marathon. And as she said to me this morning: “I don’t run, I plod.”

BUT SHE DOES IT!!! And that’s an inspiration for everyone.

She told me a great story this morning, which I know she won’t mind me passing on. She was out doing a run early one morning when she was suddenly confronted by a man in his dressing gown, shouting at her to stop, and waving his forefinger six inches in front of her nose. He then accused her of cracking the pavement in front of his house!! She told him to “go away” (but in rather stronger terms than I have indicated here).

But here’s the best bit. She was at an aerobics class a few days later and told the other ladies there of her experience. At which, as one, they all trooped down to the man’s house and did their exercises on the pavement outside. Jeanne said the man was peering at them through the window but he didn’t dare come out and confront them.

Now those are the sorts of women I admire! 

If you happen to be in Brackley, do pop in and see us. We’re at No 3 Oxford Court, which is on St James Road, just past the Fire Station and next to the Police Station. We’ll be delighted to see you.

Best wishes

Ian

Ian Ryves. Wellbeing Fitness 3 Oxford Court, St James Road, Brackley, Northamptonshire NN13 7XY E-mail: info@wellbeingfitness.co.uk        Tel:01327 351110

Wellbeing Fitness, Unit 4, Lucas Bridge Business Park, Old Green’s Norton Rd, Towcester, NN12 8AX. E-mail: info@wellbeingfitness.co.uk        Tel:01327 351110

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (9)

THE MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

The ninth in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Mountain Climber. Even though you do it on a flat surface, you feel as if you’re climbing a mountain – as you’ll see.

First of all crouch down on all fours and then stretch your legs out so that you’re balancing on your toes and your hands, arms straight. Spread your fingers out wide which helps with the balance. Your body should be in a straight “plank” position. Don’t lift your backside in the air or let it sag towards the ground.

Now bring your right knee towards your chest, pause for a second and return it back where it was so that you’re in plank position again. Now do the same with the left foot. Lift it so that the knee comes towards the chest, hover and return it back.

As you get used to the exercise and your balance is secure, you can increase the speed so that you get a nice flow to the movement. You can also try getting the knee nearer and nearer to the chest and as you do so, squeeze the stomach muscles. This will increase the intensity – and basically do you more good!

The Mountain Climber is a strong exercise and targets a range of muscles in the body: the core muscles round the midriff area, the buttock muscles (gluts), the shoulders, chest and arms, and the leg muscles. It also raises the heart rate – so a good all-round workout.

You’ll probably find it quite tiring at first (and you might find yourself getting out of breath) but it’s worth persevering with. It builds your strength and increases your aerobic capacity - so two things for the price of one!!

Because it’s so powerful it really is important to take it easy at first. Gradually build up the speed and intensity over a period of time. Don’t just rush at it and then find you can’t move the following morning!


HOW MANY 71 YEAR OLDS CAN DO THIS?

Last week I wrote about going to a lecture where I learned that exercise is FOUR TIMES more effective than anything else in helping us to have a long and healthy life. (If you missed it scroll down - it's below)

Yesterday, my colleague Ian Spiby, who is a member of staff at Wellbeing Fitness, celebrated his 71st birthday. He began as a client and then after a couple of years started working with me – and to be quite frank he’s one of the fittest 71 year olds I know. And what’s more impressive is that he didn’t start doing any exercise until 7 years ago when he was 64.  So I decided to ask him what effect doing exercise has had on him during that seven years.

I think you’ll find it interesting – and inspiring. I know I did.


MEDICAL MYTHS   

Do you know what? There are so many myths to do with getting healthy and staying healthy. Here’s one that I think will surprise you. And it was reported as a myth in the medical journal, Lancet so I reckon it’s pretty accurate. Here goes:

It is a myth that we need to drink eight pints of water a day, even though everybody you speak to repeats it as an irrefutable fact. Lancet could find no evidence at all to support the statement. Of course, it’s in the interests of the bottled-water companies to keep perpetuating the myth because it boosts their sales and profits. And of course, it doesn’t mean that we should stop drinking water – it’s just plain common sense that we need to keep hydrated. But we don’t need to be guzzling it every hour of the day. 

So why am I going on about myths? Well, I’ll tell you – and it rocked me back on my heels when I learned it.  A little while ago I went to a talk at Northampton General Hospital given by Dr Tom Yates who is a senior researcher in health at Leicester University. He’s been collecting all the evidence to do with the causes of death in mature adults. All the usual suspects were there: 

Smoking: yes that’s pretty bad and contributes to a good proportion of deaths. 

High cholesterol: yes that was there too.

High blood pressure: yes.

Obesity: yes, but further down the list than I would have expected. 

Alcohol: yes, a bit. 

But the highest factor – so high it was nearly off the scale and FOUR TIMES higher than the next cause was: wait for it – LACK OF EXERCISE. 

Let’s put it another way. You can smoke, drink, eat all the wrong foods and be overweight, but if you do exercise, you are four times more likely to live a long life than if you did all of those things but didn’t exercise. 

In order to be healthier, live a longer life, and actually feel better you need to do exercise – and without wishing to boast, that’s what we do best.  Apart from a very small percentage, most people don’t actually find exercise easy, particularly if they try to do it on their own. That’s why regular gyms make so much money. People sign up for a year in a rush of enthusiasm but after a few weeks, stop going.  At Wellbeing Fitness, we not only tailor the fitness programmes to suit you personally but we provide the motivation and encouragement, not only at the beginning but for every session. I’ve hand-picked my personal trainers because not only are they good at their jobs but they are likeable and personable: they are good at motivating and encouraging: making the exercise sessions enjoyable and fun. 

So, as my Lancashire Grandma would say: “Think on!”

We’re running a campaign at the moment which is really putting my reputation (and bank balance) on the line. Basically you come for three personal training sessions and one way or another, you get your money back at the end…

Click here to see the details. 

Best wishes

Ian

Ian Ryves. Wellbeing Fitness, Unit 4, Lucas Bridge Business Park, Old Green’s Norton Rd, Towcester, NN12 8AX.

E-mail: info@wellbeingfitness.co.uk Tel:01327 351110

 


 

 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (8)

THE REVERSE LUNGE

 

The eighth in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Reverse Lunge

If you didn’t know, you’d think that doing the Reverse Lunge is very much the same as the Forward Lunge – only backwards! In fact it is much more difficult than the Forward Lunge.

Stand up straight with your feet a few inches apart, shoulders back and chest out. Make sure that there is room behind you and then take a large step backwards with your right foot (your left foot remains where it is). You will probably find that you are off balance a bit so if you are unused to this exercise, do it by a chair or a piece of furniture at the side so that you can just touch it lightly to regain your balance. Once you are steady, slowly lower the right knee towards the floor. Again, if you are a beginner, a few inches will do but as you get more practised, try to lower it so that it hovers just above the floor. Then power the leg back to standing position with the feet a few inches apart again.

Now do the same thing with the left leg. 

This exercise works the thigh muscles (the quads), the muscles in the buttocks (the gluts) and the back of the upper leg (the hamstrings). And like the Forward Lunge is good for strengthening the legs but it has additional benefits.

It’s great for increasing your ability to balance – one of those unsung facilities which are so important, especially as we get older. And because you are working backwards it develops your proprioception (which is a technical word for body awareness) - so important for all kinds of activities in everyday life. 

The usual warning: take it easy at first to see how you feel the following morning. Then you can increase or decrease the repetitions accordingly.


 

 

 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (7)

THE FORWARD LUNGE

 

The seventh in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Forward Lunge

This exercise works the thigh muscles (the quads), the muscles in the buttocks (the gluts) and the back of the upper leg (the hamstrings).

Stand straight with shoulders back, feet slightly apart. Take a big stride forward with the left leg – use the hands to make sure you keep your balance. Your left leg should be slightly bent at this point. Then lower the right knee a few inches. As you practise this more you should be aiming to get the knee nearer and nearer the floor so that eventually you can do it so that you’re almost kneeling- but not quite. Push with your left leg and drive yourself back to the starting position. Then do the same thing but striding forward with your right leg and lowering the left knee.

 

It’s great for strengthening the legs but it’s the very best exercise for the buttocks. So stop that sag – do some forward lunges!!

I’m going to give you the usual warning: take it easy at first to see how you feel the following morning. Then you can increase or decrease the repetitions accordingly.

But make sure you do some every day. It only takes a couple of minutes.


 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (6)

THE ADVANCED RUSSIAN TWIST

After last week’s easy Russian Twist, we’re now moving onto the hard-core version.

SO: the sixth in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Advanced Russian Twist

The Advanced Russian Twist works the stomach muscles but also the obliques, which are the muscles running down the side of the body as well as that problem area for so many people, the lower back. The muscles used are the same as for the seated twist but this exercise works them harder!

Sit on the floor with your feet in front of you, and raise the heels a few inches so that you’re balancing on your sit bones. The legs should be in an upside down “V” shape, with the knees sticking up in the air. Sit up straight and tall, shoulders back, stomach muscles engaged, hands in front of the chest about six inches apart, palms facing one another. Slowly twist the whole body round (including the head) to one side, return to the starting position, then twist to the other side and return again to the starting position.

As you twist make sure that you squeeze your stomach muscles and that YOUR LEGS DON’T MOVE.

Repeat this several times 

The exercise is tough so you’ll probably tire quite quickly but believe me, it is brilliant for developing those essential core and back muscles. So it’s important to take it easy at first to see how you feel the following morning. Then you can increase or decrease the repetitions accordingly. 

But make sure you do some every day. It only takes a couple of minutes.


 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (5)

THE RUSSIAN TWIST

 

The fifth in our series of Exercise of the Week the Russian Twist

This exercise works the stomach muscles but also the obliques, which are the muscles running down the side of the body as well as that problem area for so many people, the lower back.

Sit on the floor with your feet in front of you, heels on the ground and toes sticking up. The legs should be in an upside down “V” shape, with the knees sticking up in the air. Sit up straight and tall, shoulders back, stomach muscles engaged, hands in front of the chest about six inches apart, palms facing one another.

Slowly twist the whole body round (including the head) to one side, return to the starting position, then twist to the other side and return again to the starting position. As you twist make sure that THE LEGS DON’T MOVE.

Repeat this several times

 

This doesn’t seem very difficult but you’ll be surprised how much it takes out of you. As usual, take it easy on the first day to see how you feel the following morning. Then you can increase or decrease the repetitions accordingly.

But make sure you do some every day. Next week I’m going to give you a more advanced version!!


 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (4)

THE TRICEP DIP

 

The fourth in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Tricep Dip

After last week’s Press Up, which worked the muscles in the shoulders and the arms, I am concentrating this week on those hard-to-exercise muscles at the back of the arms – the triceps (also known as the bingo wings). None of us wants bits of flab flapping away at the back of our arms and the tricep dip helps to turn those bingo wings into firm, toned muscle.

For this exercise I use a gym box but you can use a solid chair, sofa, bed or even coffee table. Make sure it is solid enough not to tip forward.

Sit on the edge of the box (or sofa or whatever) with your hands placed firmly either side of your hips. Make sure the chest is out and you are sitting up tall with the head straight. Walk your feet out until your bum comes off the edge of the box and then gently lower it towards the floor.

Don’t go too far down towards the floor otherwise you’ll put unnecessary strain on your shoulders – just a few inches will do. Then raise yourself up again. Don’t forget to keep your shoulders back, chest out and head held high.

Repeat the tricep dip just a few times times to start with until you feel the strain; then you can gradually increase the number of repetitions each time you do the exercise.

The tricep dip is quite a hard exercise so you should take it gently at first, particularly if you are a beginner. You should feel a gentle ache in the muscles the next day but only a gentle ache. Any more and you know you have overdone it.

 

 

 

 

 


EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (3)

THE PRESS-UP or PUSH-UP

 

The third in our series of Exercise of the Week is the Press Up

The Press Up is a very common exercise – everyone knows it. But it’s easy to do it badly so there’ll be some tips on how to use the correct technique. It targets the upper body – the chest and shoulders in particular but also the triceps (the back of the upper arms) – also known as “bingo wings”.

As with the first two exercises I’ve devised a Beginner’s version and an Intermediate/Advanced one.


 

HALF PRESS-UP (Beginner’s Version) 

Start by kneeling on the floor and place the hands in front of you, fingers spread and the hands slightly more than shoulder width apart. Make sure that your back is straight. Don’t let the hips sag down to the floor and don’t raise the bum too high in the air.

Bending your arms at the elbows, slowly lower the chest almost to the floor and then slowly raise back up again. If you find it too difficult to take the chest to the floor just lower yourself a few inches. Don’t rush. Repeat the exercise 10 times to start with, gradually increasing the number of repetitions each time you do the exercise.

Like all exercises, take it gently at first. You should feel a gentle ache in the muscles the next day but only a gentle ache. Any more and you know you have overdone it.

 


PRESS-UP (Intermediate/Advanced Version)

Start by kneeling on the floor and place the hands in front of you, fingers spread and the hands slightly more than shoulder width apart. Take the feet back and raise yourself onto your toes so that the body is in a straight plank-like position. Don’t let the hips sag down to the floor and don’t raise the bum too high in the air. You should aim for the body to be straight.

Bending your arms at the elbows, slowly lower the chest almost to the floor and then slowly raise back up again. If you find it too difficult to take the chest to the floor just lower yourself a few inches. Don’t rush. Repeat the exercise 10 times to start with, gradually increasing the number of repetitions each time you do the exercise.

Like all exercises, take it gently at first. You should feel a gentle ache in the muscles the next day but only a gentle ache. Any more and you know you have overdone it.


 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (2)

THE PLANK

 

I’ve chosen this exercise because it targets that all-important “core”. It provides a basic strength for the body and prevents common problems such as lower back issues. Essentially though, it tones the midriff and reduces those unsightly “spare tyres” that we all try to hide. You can do it at any odd moment. Give it a try during the adverts when you’re watching television.


 

The usual warning: unless you’re very experienced in physical fitness it might be an idea to start with the beginner’s version of this exercise, called the Half Plank. Then, if you find you can do it easily without feeling stiff and uncomfortable the next day, you could move on to the Full Plank. 

Start by holding the half plank for 30 seconds. Don’t overdo it at the beginning – take it gently. Remember you won’t feel the full effects until the next day when you should feel a gentle “ache” in the muscles but not so much that you have to reach for the paracetamol. The key to successful exercise is to start gently and gradually build up your tolerance. 


HALF PLANK

 Start by kneeling down and cross the ankles. Lean forward until you are resting the forearms on the ground in front of you. Lift the feet so that they are a few inches from the ground. Squeeze the stomach muscles to prevent the two common mistakes. You don’t want to either let your midriff sag towards the floor and you don’t want to lift your bum up high. Keep the body in a straight position with the gaze down to the floor. 

 

 

FULL PLANK

Start by kneeling down. Lean forward until you are resting the forearms on the ground in front of you. Then stretch the legs back and lift yourself up onto your toes. The aim is to make the body as straight as possible (like a plank!) Squeeze the stomach muscles to prevent the two common mistakes. You don’t want to either let your midriff sag towards the floor and you don’t want to lift your bum up high. Both of these mistakes can put a great deal of strain on your lower back – something you want to avoid at all costs. Keep the body in a straight position with the gaze down to the floor. 

 

 


 

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK (1)

THE SQUAT

We've chosen this as the Exercise of the Week because it's such a good all-round work-out - and yet is so simple to do and can be done anywhere. It doesn't need specialised equipment and you can do it at any odd moment at home such as when you're waiting for the kettle to boil.


 

Unless you’re very experienced in physical fitness it might be an idea to start with the beginner’s version of this exercise, called the Half Squat. Then, if you find you can do it easily without feeling stiff and uncomfortable the next day, you could move on to the Full Squat. 

Start with 10 repetitions of the exercise. Don’t overdo it at the beginning – take it gently. Remember you won’t feel the full effects until the next day when you should feel a gentle “ache” in the muscles but still be able to move around easily. Overdo it and you’ll be feeling as if you should be applying for a disability pass! The key to successful exercise is to start gently and gradually build up your tolerance. 


Half Squat

This exercise works the gluts (muscles in the buttocks) quads (muscles at the front of the thighs) and hamstrings (at the back of the thighs). It also targets the core muscles around the abdomen and helps strengthen the muscles around the hips and knees

Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, feet facing forwards. Cross the arms loosely across the chest.  Pull the shoulders back.

Keeping the weight of your body on the heels, squat down a little way until the upper part of your leg is at an angle of about 45 degrees. A good technique is to push out the bum as if you are sitting back onto a chair.

Make sure you don’t go onto your toes as you squat down and remember to keep your shoulders back!

 

 


Full Squat

This exercise works the gluts, (muscles in the buttocks) quads, (muscles at the front of the thighs) and hamstrings (at the back of the thighs). It also targets the core muscles around the abdomen and helps strengthen the muscles around the hips and knees

Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, feet facing forwards. Cross the arms loosely across the chest.  Pull the shoulders back.

Keeping the weight of your body on the heels, squat down until the upper part of your leg is at an angle of about 90 degrees. A good technique is to push out the bum as if you are sitting back onto a chair.

Make sure you don’t go onto your toes as you squat down and remember to keep your shoulders back!