Higher Tone

Variety is the spice of life and the fuel for fitness


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New Year, New You

How to make your New Year’s fitness resolution count this January.

fitness

Queues for the showers, zero mat space and a line for the treadmills which will take longer than the time you’re allowed to spend on it?  It must be January at the gym.  Every year this predictable phenomenon occurs due to thousands of individuals signing up to yearly gym memberships, full of good intentions for the New Year.  You can already start to see the numbers diminish in late January and by mid-February, things are back to normal.

I’m here to try and help you keep on track of your New Year fitness and health goals with a number of hints and suggestions:

1) Set a REALISTIC goal

Start by having an honest conversation with yourself and decide on a resolution which is achievable within a certain deadline.  It’s no good pretending you will have the time to run 10 miles everyday if you have a demanding job or schedule.  The number one killer for a New Year’s resolution is placing too much pressure on yourself.

Set a realistic deadline, for example: I would like to work my way up to a half marathon within 4 months.  The deadline can easily be changed along the way depending on your level of commitment and progress.

Take the next few days to set out your game plan.

dream

One of the easiest ways to stay on target over the next few months is to sign up to an event.  This will introduce a competitive element and added incentive to your training.  I’ve always been tempted by the gruelling Tough Guy competition, but this would involve an exhausting training programme and I’m not sure how well I would cope with burning obstacles and pools of freezing water.

If you think you’re up for a challenge, check it out:

http://www.toughguy.co.uk/    

Don’t go it alone

It can be really helpful to enlist the help of a training partner to keep you motivated and positive.  The alternative is to join a running/ cycling/ exercise group to make your workout more enjoyable and sociable.

Choose something you actually enjoy

This is probably the most obvious, but the most important piece of advice.  It’s best to focus on an activity, sport or form of exercise which you know you can really throw yourself into and have fun at the same time.

2) Track and reward your progress

My goal this year is to keep a workout log to make sure I meet my targets.

There are a few different ways to keep track of your progress such as the Nike Plus iPod Sports Kit.  This incredible device transforms your iPod into a personal trainer by providing real-time, spoken feedback that alerts you to workout milestones.  It fits inside your trainer and you can then track time, distance, pace, and calories burned by transmitting the information wirelessly to your device for instant feedback.  You can see it here on my Christmas gift wish list:

https://highertone.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/top-10-fitness-inspired-christmas-gift-ideas/

Another option is the Nike + Sports Watch which is easy to use and gives you great running data.

watch

Reward yourself with a little treat- a new gadget, running accessory or new music each time you pass a milestone.

3) Kick one bad habit

I’ll be giving up sweets for as long as I can bear.  What’s your weakness?

4) Go the distance

There’s always the opportunity to go further and train harder than you anticipated.  Don’t be put off by the January crowds in the gym.  Wait it out and you will be rewarded.  Remember- no one ever regretted a workout.

gym

My local gym at 5pm on 29th January

This really surprised me.  Saturday at 5pm is usually prime time, but clearly people have not decided to kick-start their New Year’s resolutions. Gyms are often really quiet around midday or late in the evening, so try and target the less busy times during January.

6) Change it up

Alongside your main fitness routine, try some additional exercise classes to avoid getting stuck in a fitness rut.  It is very easy to get bored of your usual workout, especially if your are just running alone or going to the gym.  Try a group fitness class, the camaraderie really helps, especially if you are lacking motivation.

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

I’d love to hear from you.  The 3 most inspirational goals will be posted up on Higher Tone on January 1st.  Feel free to send me as many as you like.

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12 Days of Christmas Workout

Christmas, traditionally a time of gluttony, overindulgence and excess can often result in festive fun turning into festive fat.

fat santa 2

You can enjoy a guilt-free holiday with a sneaky but intense 5 minute workout, repeated just once a day for the 12 days of Christmas.  This high-intensity program will improve cardiovascular fitness, endurance and even initiate calorie after-burn (when you continue to burn fat even after you’ve stopped exercising, ideal).  This means you can indulge and feast on mince pies and egg-nog to your heart’s content.

So here is my Christmas present to you, the 12 Days of Christmas Workout.  Be warned, it’s a killer.

Everyone probably already knows this song, but if not, the program works in a cumulative way.  This means you do exercise 1 once, then 1 and 2 (with 2 repeated twice), then 1,2 and 3 (with 3 repeated 3 times), continuing until exercise 12.  When you have completed all the exercises, repeat the whole workout in full once more.

1) Burpee x1

2) Side plank and reach under (one on each side-hold for 5 seconds)

3) Sit-ups x3

4) Lunges x4 alternating legs

5) Press-up x5

6) Leg Raises x6 alternating legs

7) Squats x7

8) Reverse Lunges x8

9) Star jumps/ jumping jacks x9

10) High speed high knees x10

11) Leg extensions (either alternate legs or both together for advanced) x11

12) Bicycle crunches x12

Burpee

  1. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground
  2. Extend your feet back in one quick motion to assume the front plank position.
  3. Return to the squat position in one quick motion
  4. Return to standing position. 

How to video:

Side Plank and reach under

How to video:

You can either have your arm straight (as shown in the video) or bent with the lower arm resting on the floor.  This exercise will really strengthen and tone your core muscles.

Sit-up

If you want a flat and toned tummy, this is the exercise for you, as the move will strengthen both your hip flexors and abdominal muscles.

IMG_1341

Bicycle Crunches

This is a tough exercise, but it is the best to target your rectus abdominis and give you rock hard abs.


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The Art of Kicking Ass

Martial Arts have an impressive number of exercise and health benefits as well as being great forms of self-defence, stress relief and a boost to confidence.

martial arts

Benefits

1) Cardiovascular health- high intensity martial arts exercise programs and fights will significantly increase your heart rate and test your rate of recovery.

2) Reflexes– to be a good martial artist, you must have very fast reflexes. Research has found that by participating in martial arts, you not only improve your reflexes while performing the activity, but actually experience faster reaction times in other every day activities.

3) Increased muscle tone- by participating in martial arts, you can greatly improve the amount of muscle mass in your body and consequently look more toned.  The higher your muscle mass, the higher your metabolic demands will be which means you will burn more calories each day.  High levels of muscle mass also lead to increased agility.

4) Weight Loss- during martial arts classes and fights you will burn a high number of calories with the diverse range of movements and footwork.

5) Improved Mood-  you will definitely leave any martial arts class on a high.  Performing martial arts is a great way to relieve stress and frustration.  The endorphins released by physical activity appear to be active in your body for as many as four hours after exercise.

kickboxing-woman-abs

With so many different types to choose from how do you decide?

Unarmed martial arts can be broadly grouped into techniques focused on strikes and grappling:

1) Strikes: Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Karate, Capoeira and Boxing

2) Grappling: Jujutsu, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling etc

It’s also a good idea to decide whether you just want a good workout without learning any intricate moves of techniques.  If this is the case then it might be better just to try a Kettle-bell workout class or cardio kickboxing.

If you want to be the next Jade Jones (2012 Olympic gold medallist), then try:

TAEKWONDO

Olympic Games 2012 Taekwondo

Jade Jones (blue) won the 2012 Olympic gold medal in Taekwondo and the BBC Cymru Sports Personality of the Year

Translated from Korean, “TAE” literally means to jump, kick or smash with the foot, “KWON” means to punch or destroy with the hand or fist and “DO” means art, way or method.

This sport will really improve your co-ordination and flexibility.  Many of the moves require core and spinal strength for upright kicking moves. Range of hip and shoulder motion is also important, as is balance. Whether balancing on one foot, performing a front or side kick, or striking, many moves require your legs and arms to work together to either defend or attack.

Taekwondo is all about the kicks, so it is really important to target, strengthen and stretch your hamstrings.

One Leg Dead-lift Balance (from about.com):

onelegdeadliftbalance

  1. Stand on the left leg with the right foot slightly back, resting on the toe.
  2. Hold a weight or barbell in front of the thigh and tip from the hips, keeping the back straight and the abs braced, bring the weight towards the floor.
  3. At the same time, lift the right leg up as you lower the weight, taking the leg up to hip level.
  4. Squeeze the glutes of the left leg to pull back up and repeat for 8-16 reps before switching sides.
  5. Keep the move slow and controlled and concentrate on keeping your balance at the same time you keep the core braced. If you feel wobbly, keep the back foot on the floor.

Taekwondo classes in Cardiff:

United Taekwondo International Wales: Wednesday and Fridays at 6:30

St Peter’s RFC, Minster Road, Roath

Cardiff North Taekwondo

http://cardiffnorthtkd.com

Training at Heath Sports and Social Club, Heath Park on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Cardiff Martial Arts

Training at Channel View Leisure Centre, Llanrumney High School and Pontprennau Community Centre

http://www.cardiffmartialarts.com

KICK-BOXING

kickboxing

Kickboxing is a great way to target your core muscles

This will really knock out the boredom from your workout and blast body fat fast with a range of toning and body-sculpting moves.

Kick-boxing burns an average of 500 calories an hour, some estimate 810.  The exercise targets your arms, shoulders, abs, thighs and bum all in one workout.  It is also an incredible form of stress release.

Kickboxing keeps you moving at an intensity that you probably not be able to replicate while doing cardio exercise on your own, so take advantage of the group energy of the workout to get the most out of this form of exercise.

Roundhouse Kick

kickboxing

Warning: Do not perform this move without first thoroughly warming up and stretching

The roundhouse move is a as your leg moves in an arc.

  1. Stand with right foot forward in fighting stance.
  2. Bend your right knee bringing your heel towards the glutes and pivot on the left foot, turning your hips to the left.  This is not shown in the picture.
  3. Strike from right to left in an arc with right foot, extending kick from knee, toes pointed.
  4. Retract and return to fighting stance.

Classes in Cardiff

Vitality Gym:

Wednesday 20:00-21:15

http://www.vitalitygyms.co.uk

This class will really help you to bring strict discipline to your everyday life.

Cardiff Karate and Kickboxing Academy

http://cardiffkarateandkickboxing.com

These award-winning classes are designed for men and women of all abilities and ages.

Boxing and Boxercise

Boxercise is an addictive exercise class based on the training concepts boxers use to keep fit.  A typical class may involve shadow-boxing, skipping, hitting pads, kicking punchbags, press-ups, shuttle-runs and sit-ups. Most boxercise classes are aimed at men and women of all ages and fitness standards.  It is a fun, challenging and safe workout because no class actually involves hitting an opponent.

Woman boxing and exercising

Bonus:

Increased mental agility and decision-making

Improved hand-eye coordination

Increased stamina: High-level boxing boxing is around 70%-80% anaerobic (high-intensity) and 20%-30% aerobic, therefore training increases stamina in heart and lungs

Raised core strength: To take a punch and hold your balance, your abdominals need to be strong and toned – this strong core stability can reduce the risk of back pain and improve posture

Arm Exercise

Strengthen your upper body and blast those bingo wings with:

Tricep Dips:

  1. Sit with your back to a bench or chair and have your legs either bent (beginner-shown in picture) or straight (advanced)
  2. Place hands on the bench so they are pointed towards you
  3. Raise body up into a seated position
  4. Bend elbows out behind you to lower your bum to the floor
  5. Push back up until arms are straight
Classes in Cardiff:
Elite Fitness       http://www.elitefitness.co.uk/
Boxercise– punch your way through a variety of pad work and bag exercises.
Friday 17:30 with Kyle
Pads and Abs– a studio based women’s only boxing and Ab’s workout with pumping music.  Get ready for your summer vest top and leave on a high.
Tuesday 17:30
Boxfit Express– Learn to box and get your body fighting fit.
Monday 18:45
Or
Vitality Gym
Boxercise 17:15


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RESULTS: BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year

WINNER: JADE JONES 

Won Britain’s first Taekwondo gold medal

Jade Jones

The 19-year-old really put Wales on the map when she kicked ass in the 2012 Olympics, beating Yuzhuo Hou 6-4 to take the women’s 57kg title in Taewkondo.

Her courageous win was Great Britain’s first Olympic gold in the sport.  Born in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire, Jones managed to give us one of the most iconic moments in this year’s Olympics.

“I’ve already started thinking about defending my title in Rio de Janeiro [at the 2016 Olympics]. I’m not competing again until next year and my coach has given me until January to be a normal person.”

Jade Jones

2nd Place: Dan Lydiate

Dan Lydiate

The Newport Gwent Dragons blind-side flanker was also named the Six Nations Player of the Tournament.  This was after featuring in every game except the opener against Ireland and receiving man of the match awards against Scotland and France.  

“To be part of such a talented Wales team and win the Grand Slam in Cardiff was incredible in itself but to then be voted player of the championship [was] absolutely unbelievable.”

3rd Place: Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas

Cyclist Geraint Thomas became one of only four Welshman to win multiple Olympic gold medals when Great Britain’s team pursuit quartet smashed the world record at the 2012 Olympics in London.

“It was a lot of sacrifice, I missed a lot on the road and put all my eggs in one basket… the Olympics was everything.”

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lynn Davies 

Lynn Davies

‘Lynn the leap’ won the Olympic gold medal for long jump in 1964 with an impressive leap of 8.07m.  He also competed in the 100m and 4×100 relay.

He became the first man to win two long jump titles at the Commonwealth Games in 1966 and 1970.

Daves was also a two-time winner of the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year award in 1964 and 1966.

Team of the year: Welsh Rugby Team

wales-rugby_2151012b

Winners of the male and female Carwyn James Award (Junior Sportsman and Sportswoman)

Ieuan Lloyd: He competed at the 2012 Olympics in the Men’s 200m freestyle event.

Leuan Lloyd

Elinor Barker: won a silver medal in the junior women’s time trial at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen.  She was promoted to the Great Britain senior squad for the Glasgow round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup series

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS - JUNIOR WOMEN TT

Unsung Hero Award: Arthur Wood

Long-term volunteer at the Swansea Rifle Club has been honoured with this grassroots award.

arthur