Don't forget to check out the 3 easy daily work out ideas at the end of this article!
We’ve all been there, the first days of summer arrive and as we peel the jumpers and jeans off and step into our light, flowy summer wardrobe, we realise our body confidence isn’t quite as high as it could be.
For me, it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are; it’s about how you feel in your body – and if we feel confident, we look great. When it comes to being body confident, personally I’ve found that when I take care of my body, I begin to build that trust, gratitude, appreciation and respect that all adds up to body confidence.
And as much as it would be great to hear that there was a quick fix to get in shape for summer, talk to any personal trainer and you’ll hear the same answer: ‘there is no quick fix’. There’s no healthy way to make huge physical transformations two-weeks before a vacation. “A fitness journey is about a long period of dedication and realistic goals. Putting pressure on yourself to earn quick results will ultimately cause people to crash diet, over train and usually lose motivation when the results aren’t long term” explains Simon Parrot, Personal Trainer and founder of Intensifit limited in Manchester. But does that mean that there’s no hope for feeling great in our bodies this summer?
HIIT Training and Cardio
Alastair Crew, Master Trainer at David Lloyd Clubs advises that highly efficient HIIT training sessions could help us kick start a new fitness regime.’ Swapping your steady state treadmill workout for a 30 or 45minute HIIT style workout can do more for you… in less time! Even more exciting is benefiting from EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption). In other words, help boost your metabolism and burn more calories post workout. Some research suggests you can continue to burn calories up to 24 to 36 hours post workout.’ Now that sounds like an efficient use of time on the lead up to summer.
And when it comes to feeling better in clothes, Parrot advises ‘The best method to get in shape is a mixture of strength and cardio exercises. We use cardio such as running to burn maximum calories by raising the heart rate and breathing heavily. It’s also a positive thing to do for general health. Strength exercises such as squats are great for shaping up the body. Developing muscles in key areas will give the body shape so that you feel much better in clothes’.
Crewe adds, ‘When we want the best results quickly, remember that a strength workout can provide you with cardio too. If you’ve ever strapped a heart rate monitor to your chest whilst lifting weights or using your own bodyweight you will see how effective a total body strength workout can be. Choose to focus on big muscle groups and multi-joint/compound moves. Examples of this would be Squats, Crawl Patterns, Lunges, Push Ups & Pull Ups or Rows, and Hinge/Bend Patterns like Kettlebell swings and twist patterns like cable or resistant band chops and rotations.’ (Check out his daily workout and others at the end of the article).
So what are your goals?
When it comes to simply losing a small amount of body fat that might be making us feel uncomfortable or less confident in our bodies, Parrot advises us not to overcomplicate it. ‘If you want to lose weight, the main thing to concentrate on is creating a calorie deficit; eating less calories than you burn within a day. Let science take over!’ So, beginning an exercise routine can help us to create a calorie deficit without needing to deprive our bodies of food. ‘The most important thing alongside exercise, is nutrition. Eating a healthy balanced diet not only reduces fat, it gives you energy, helps reduce fatigue and helps focus. Look after your gut and you will have a very happy mind and body’.
Diet and Nutrition
Aha, food. Of course, it plays a huge part in how effectively a new fitness regime will work. Crewe reminds us ‘You can’t out-train a poor diet. We have established that the type of exercise you choose to dose your body with is important, but even more important is the type of food we dose our bodies with too. My key principles are eating enough protein; a good rule of thumb is to aim for 30 grams protein per meal or one gram per pound of bodyweight per day. Drink enough water; water provides us with a whole host of benefits including increasing the body’s ability to burn fat. Aim for 0.0333 litres of water per kg of body weight per day. And carbohydrates; choose to eat vegetables as a first choice of starches, and bread, pasta and rice as second choice starches. Choose fruit instead of sugar, so limit sources of sugar such as cakes, biscuit, processed foods and even low-fat foods! Some foods that advertise being lower in fat can be higher in sugar!’
Reduce your alcohol intake
I talk to my friend Fiona Berry, who’s job it is as a Wellness Manager to have a passion for nutrition. She notes that often when it comes to nutrition, we fail to count the empty calories that alcohol delivers. ‘Be aware of the units you are consuming; the maximum per week for a woman is 14 units, that’s 5 large glasses of wine. And it’s not just the empty calories in terms of nutrition, and bloating that works against us,’ Fiona says. ‘Alcohol is damaging to our health in so many ways’. Her solution to not over-drinking or eating? ‘Make sure you're hydrated before dinner with a chilled soda and lime, or a light cordial. Having a glass of water before a meal, can also stop the urge to reach for extra bread’.
Don't be afraid of carbohydrates
And it’s important to know that the food we eat has an impact on how well we workout too. If you’re thinking of adopting the motto ‘no carbs before Marbs’ and cutting out carbohydrates in an attempt to lose weight, well, maybe think about being a little kinder to yourself and what your body needs to function properly. “One myth that really grinds my gears is that eating no carbohydrates will get you skinny’ says Parrot. ‘The body needs this macronutrient for energy for everyday activities. Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates. Be more considerate of how many calories you are consuming and eating a well-balanced naturally sourced diet. Meats & fish, fruits & vegetables with rice, potatoes, oats as examples.”
Toning and building muscle
And if we want to tone up our bodies, or maybe even build some muscle? ‘If you want to build muscle then the process is more complicated’, he explains. ‘You will have to dedicate yourself to a long and consistent strength & hypertrophy program. You will also have to consume enough calories to build good muscle fibres. It’s tough but very rewarding in the long term!’
But women often shy away from this kind of exercise, and miss out in the process. ‘Women in particular still seem resistant to include strength exercises, with fear of getting ‘bulky’’, explains Crewe. ‘But this type of training will do more for burning calories when you are not training. For every 1lb of extra lean tissue (muscle) that you create, your body will be burning an extra 50 calories by just having it on your body.’
And after you’ve worked out? ‘Refuel (nutrition), recharge (sleep), recover (choose active recovery days, mobility, speed tissue recovery with SMR (Self Myofascial Release) or foam roller’, advises Crewe.
‘Muscles need enough time to recover through rest and sleep. If you don’t give your body this time then you risk injury which can put you off training all together.’ says Parrot. ‘Looking after that body of yours, it’s yours for life!’. I couldn’t agree more.
Keep it going!
And when we’re finally on holiday? Does it all end there? ‘For me, holidays are all about the food! It’s a huge part of experiencing another culture, trying something new and eating local and fresh produce’ says Fiona. I agree, but is there a way to keep on track so as not to undo all our hard work? I take my travel yoga mat everywhere so that I can always practice a few rounds of sun salutations, getting my heart rate up, strengthening and stretching my body, and helping me to enhance those relaxing holiday benefits.
But what about food? ‘Holidays are for indulging yourself, you’ve worked hard for a break and so you should’ advises Fiona. ‘Just be mindful of your weaknesses, it might be ice-cream, and you can have the ice-cream. Just consider what else you’ve had that day too. When we overload our bodies with sugary and fatty foods, it can start to make us feel unwell, and that’s not what you came on holiday for. I truly believe in balance, and if you can make a better food choice, then do. Is there a frozen yogurt with berries available for instance, or can you skip the pizza for the ice cream instead?’.
Ultimately, I’ve realised in recent years, it’s about love. Loving yourself and your body enough to treat it well, to give it the nutrients it needs, to keep it strong and healthy. When we take the time to love our bodies, our confidence living in them thrives, and so do we.
Alistair Crewe, Master trainer at David Lloyd, www.davidlloyd.co.uk
3 Workouts for a confident body this summer!
A simple daily workout for the gym to improve strength and cardio
By Simon Parrot, Personal Trainer and founder of Intensifit limited www.intensifit.co.uk, @intensifit
Warm up: 500m on the rowing machine
Circuit A. – Performed 4 times with limited rest between exercises
15 body weight squats
15 knee press-ups
15 abdominal sit-ups
Circuits B. – Performed 4 times with limited rest between exercises
20 body weight lunges
10 dumbbell single arm rows (each arm)
40 abdominal cycles
Cool down: 500m rowing machine
Simple daily yoga practice at home or on holiday
By Ali Roff, Yoga teacher, www.aliroff.com
Sun salutations are a fantastic all body exercise that both strengthens your body and, depending on how fast you move through them, can also be a great cardiovascular practice too.
Warm up: Breathing in and out through your nose
8 breaths – Cat/cow
8 breaths downward dog
Step through to tadasana
Sequence 1: Sun Salutations A
Complete 8-16 rounds of Sun A on each side of your body. For greater focus on strength, go slow. For greater focus on cardio with strength, speed up! Perfect to keep up your fitness regime and helping you to relax on a deeper level while on holiday.
- Raise and stretch arms straight above your head
- Forward fold
- Right foot back to low lunge
- Left foot back to plank
- Chaturanga dandasana
- Upward facing dog
- Downward facing dog
- Step or jump forward to forward fold
- Stand up to tadasana
- Repeat the above, stepping back with the left foot this time. That’s one round.
Simple PHA workout (Peripheral Heart Action) using limited equipment
By Alistair Crewe, Mater trainer at David Lloyd, www.davidlloyd.co.uk
A PHA workout is a circuit style of training where moves alternate between working the upper body and lower body. This creates a big stimulation for the Cardiorespiratory System to satisfy the demand of shunting blood to the upper and lower extremities.
- LOWER BODY: Weighted Front Squat – use dumbells or kettlebells
- UPPER BODY: Shoulder Press – use dumbells or Kettlebells
- LOWER BODY: Goblet Lunge – use dumbells or kettlebells
- UPPER BODY: Bent Over Row – use dumbells or kettlebells
- LOWER BODY: Sumo squat – use dumbells or kettlebells
- UPPER BODY: Lateral Raise – use dumbells or kettlebells