Monthly Archives: July 2013

Training Review: Body Fat Test

Feared by the myth that I would get muscly and look like a man I always shy-ed away from using weights. Girls, do not be fooled into thinking lifting weights will make you big, we do not have enough testosterone in our bodies to grow big muscles like men. Around this time last year, I not only virtually gave up running, but gave it up and replaced it with weight training (shock horror!) I was oblivious of the toll pounding the pavements was having on my slight frame. Consistent long distance running can lead to stress fractures, shin splint, knee problems and loads more. On the flipside, it is a great cardiovascular exercise to burn fat. After trying out some dumbbell exercises and various assisted weight machines in the gym – I was hooked! Assisted pull ups were my favourite to begin with (I was keen to strengthen and tone my upper body). My PT gave me a plan which helped me focus on a different body part each different day of the week. This is a rough example;

  1. Back – pull ups, deadlifts, bench reverse, dumbbell pullover
  2. Arms – shoulder press, tricep dips, tricep extns, tricep pulleys
  3. Legs – squats, lunges, leg extns, hip abductor, hip thrusts

Building a little extra muscle can actually reduce the risk of injury. Strong muscles, tendons and ligaments are much more capable of withstanding stress, and the improved flexibility gained by strength training also reduces the likelihood of pulled muscles and back pain. Weight training is an excellent way of combating several symptoms we all face as we get a little older. Resistance exercise can reduce bone deterioration and build bone mass, preventing osteoporosis. Research has shown that regular resistance training can increase your Basal Metabolic Rate by up to 15% (meaning you still burn fat when you are resting VS cardiovascular exercise where you ONLY burn calories when you are exercising).

I used to think I looked good but I much prefer the way I look now; toned, strong and shapely. The first picture was taken in Topshop when I was buying those shorts and its visible that my upper body has got wider, my waist still seems small and my legs look less fatty and more toned (and I still havent worn those shorts!)

Which picture do you think looks better?

Which picture do you think looks better?

Running was an all time hobby – it gave me an opportunity to think introspectively but also gave me time to clear my head, heart and lungs and listen to my feet hitting the ground, my breathing, my music and check my watch constantly to see if I am closer to finishing (i miss checking my garmin). It’s great if you love it and are happy with it but if you aren’t happy – don’t be afraid to stop and revise your training plan. It might be the best decision you’ll ever make. I have my best friend to thank for coming into my life and teaching me so much about training and eating.

Eating is also equally as important if you are doing resistance work regularly. As you will be burning calories when you are exercising but also when you are resting too, you will inevitably feel more hungry. My appetite has increased but its all about grazing little and often. Try and aim for protein in every meal, and if your looking to lose a little weight, cut down your carb intake. If you’re working out most days, you will need a good amount of carbs pre-workout and post-workout, to give you ‘energy’ before you exercise and to replace the ‘energy’ you used during your workout. This is generally the rule with any type of exercise. Its a tricky balance to get it right but also to maintain, especially when you’re at work (in meetings, etc). I find preparing food in advance helps a great deal – so you don’t get stuck running to the nearest shop to buy whatever you fancy. Some may call me obsessive, I call it disciplined. If you get into a routine, it becomes habit. Lots of people say they dont have time and while I dont have any commitments (kids or husband) I dont see why ‘time’ should an be issue. Eating healthily doesnt take much time at all. If you are unsure about what changes to make to your diet, do some research (theres loads on the net), talk to people and make sure your changes are incremental. It will seem easier, more doable and you are more likely to stick to it, rather than completely changing everything you eat. I recently introduced eggs at breakfast, I have them everyday and they take five minutes to poach.

A food day in the life of me;

  • Breakfast – 2x choc chip weetabix with 2x poached eggs
  • Mid morning – 1x banana + handful of almonds and cranberries (on rest days, ill have a protein shake)
  • Lunch – chicken salad or tuna salad
  • Mid afternoon – bagel with(out) nutella
  • Dinner – chicken/ lamb/ fish/ with veg , halloumi + peppers and hummous
  • Post gym – protein milkshake
  • Before bed – total greek yogurt

We had body composition tests taken on the weekend courtesy of Virgin Active gym.

Our Body Fat Tests

Our Body Fat Tests

This was very exciting for me as I’ve never had one done before (Rajiv has). I knew I weighed around 55k but I had no idea my muscle mass was just under half of my body weight! I thought my body fat would be lower than 16% but pleased nonetheless with that result. We both have ‘D’ shaped bodies with ideal muscle mass and low body fat (creating a ‘D’ shaped letter on the bar graphs), although Rajiv’s muscle mass goes off the picture!!!

Have you had a body fat test done recently? Or are you thinking about changing your training/ eating? I would recommend doing all three, you’ll be surprised how far the human body can push itself.

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Running Review: Compression Socks

Foot Striking Position

I have thoroughly hated enjoyed the last seven years running and touch wood, have been pretty injury free. This is largely due to my weird but correct running form (I land on my toes). Forefoot running is more efficient produces fewer injuries and greater speed. Be careful not to overstride though. You should aim for your foot to land directly under your front knee. If your foot lands in front of your knee then you are overstriding. This means that your foot lands far in front of your centre of gravity, producing a ‘braking effect’ and an increased risk of injury. Try to land lightly and spend as little time in contact with the ground as possible – this will reduce the risk of injury and increase your speed. Tip: try to imagine yourself running on hot coal, you need to land lightly and move quickly so you don’t get burnt. You can try skipping with alternate feet to help increase your efficiency and energy return of your landings.

Arms

Perfecting your leg movement is important, but don’t forget your arms. Efficient arm movement can improve your rhythm, aid balance and increase your speed. Relax your shoulders and keep your arms at a 90 degree angle by your sides (they should not cross your body or flap around anywhere else)

Breathing

This is an important aspect of training all round, whether running or weight training. You should try and keep your breathing as regulated as possible and refrain from panting. If you need to go slower so you can take long deep breaths through your nose and exhale deeply through your mouth, then so be it. Tip: try and run in time with your foot strikes. I breathe in deeply for 4 foot strikes and exhale slowly for 4 foot strikes.

The aim of this post is actually about having the right training gear. I have always had the correct gear to train in because; a) I love nike (cue for Nike to sponsor or give me some shares in their company) and b) if you have nice gear, it makes you want to wear it and do a workout (win, win). From lycra leggings, sports bra, compression leggings, capris, vests, t-shirts, thermal hoodies, waterproof jackets to headbands. The one item I would recommend you invest in, even if you are not a serious runner is running compression socks.

A runners dream

A runners dream

I ordered these for a tenner courtesy of Wiggle and you can’t go wrong for that price. A great addition to any runners training gear. I know what you’re thinking…”I will look silly and they probably wont help”. These socks are not a fad and became popular in clinical use to prevent such things as deep vein thrombosis. They were initially used for people who were bed ridden or had forced inactivity, and then branched out to being prescribed for people who had to sit for long periods of time (airplanes or long car rides).

The Science

  • Blood Flow – The Blood flow hypothesis basically says that the compression of the lower leg increases the blood flow. Partially due to gravity, blood can tend to pool in the lower legs. This can occur both during exercise or when at rest. In terms of improving performance during a race, the idea is that if increased venous blood flow can occur, more by-products that are transported by the blood can be flushed out and cleared better. If these products that can cause fatigue are gotten rid of quicker, then performance improves. In terms of recovery after a race, the idea is similar. If you can increase venous blood return, you’re going to get back to feeling normal much quicker.
  • Muscle Vibration – When you run, and strike the ground, those impact forces cause the muscle/tendon/lower leg to vibrate. It’s thought that this vibration could be one cause of the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that you experience the day after running.
No leggings running

No leggings running

They are really comfortable, keep you warm and my calves definitely felt better the day after running.