Ana Maria

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Sports Nutrition for Body Sculpting

sports nutrition

Sports nutrition for the body you want

Sports nutrition isn't just for top athletes, because you deserve to have the best body you can as well! 

You do want the best body you can have don't you?

Robert Frost;

A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body - the wishbone.

You might have never been to see a sports dietitian or nutritionist, thinking that they are just for sporting teams or top athletes.  That's not the case, and in my experience pretty much everyone can benefit from their expertise.

They can help us become a healthier happier version of ourselves, so we can live our best life, and stay beautiful for longer. Because that's important too!

sports nutrition

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The importance of sports nutrition

You are what you eat - It is a simple philosophy that I endorse.

What you eat and what you do, defines your body. If we work this theory the other way around, what you look like, defines what you eat and what you do.  

When I look at an obese teenager, I’m quick to jump to the conclusion sedentary lifestyle, eats a lot of junk food.

On the other hand when I see properly defined six-packs on a lean college student, the conclusion is simple – Works her butt off, thinks before she eats, probably a dedicated sportswomen.

The importance of Sports Nutrition can’t be stressed enough

sports nutrition

Eat Clean, Train Hard

Often people ask me how I rate nutrition vs. training and my answer is 50% vs. 50%. I know a lot of trainers who would say it's more like 70% vs. 30%.

This is usually hard to digest for most people, but it is one of the uneasy truths in the field of fitness, especially weight training.

The truth of the matter is that sports nutrition is as important as the training itself.

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You don’t make muscles in the gym; you make them while you’re resting, by the help of whatever you’ve eaten.

Similar is the case of fat loss. Most of the fat is lost while you’re resting.

The math is pretty simple; work really hard in the gym, eat healthy, and rest plenty! You can’t lose weight without proper nutrition, hell; you can’t even breathe without proper nutrition!

When you dig into the world of sports nutrition, you sink into a deep abyss of Do’s and Don’ts. There is no easy way to wrap it up into a few pages or a few chapters or even a few books.

There is so much that can be said and done when you talk about Nutrition; What you eat, how much you eat, when you eat… are a few questions we can start off with.

Another thing, that is specific to women trying to lose weight, is that there is a common feeling that sports nutrition is detrimental to their weight loss effort.

First of all, by ‘sports nutrition’, I don’t mean ‘eating a muffin’. By sports nutrition I mean making accurate food choices.

It is true that excessive eating isn’t going to help you lose weight or sculpt your body but you can’t quit eating altogether!

Starvation is never the solution. What you need is an eating pattern that can be followed for a life time! It has to be healthy, it has to make sense and it has to cater for your fitness regimen.

If you take into consideration, these simple pointers, you’ll be able to successfully hit each defined milestone and target.

"Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

This quote pretty much sums up what I intend to do in this blog post. Rather than providing you with a custom diet plan, I'm going to teach you everything that you need to know in order to create your very own diet plan.

It is always a hard job to write content that applies to every reader. If I was to consider the needs of each of you I'd probably have to come up with 20 - 30 odd diet plans! Why not create your very own?

Why not learn what ever there is, that helps you to create your very own?

The philosophy is simple but knowledge is infinite. Even after years in the field I learn something new every day. So, to cut it short, I'll teach you how to catch the basic fish. You may use the method or customize it or improve it and catch a whale!

Nutrition for body sculpting

Macro nutrients come in three broad categories. They are known as Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats. 

Each of these Macro nutrients can be subdivided into a hundred different subcategories! Each macro nutrient has a particular function and purpose in the body.

Broadly speaking, the general purpose is to provide our body with energy. How much energy does each Macro nutrient provide?

It is quite simple.

sports nutrition macronutrients

Proteins

The favorite macro nutrient of anyone who weight trains!

Proteins are made up of smaller biological units called amino acids. Amino acids come together to form polypeptide chains of varying shape, size and compactness.

A typical protein may consist of 20 Amino Acids, other Proteins may contain thousands of these Amino Acids. Protein is present abundantly in the body. It is present in your hair, tendons, muscles, ligaments and even skin.

Talking about dietary protein; this protein has multiple functions:

  • Improves Immune system function
  • Required for growth
  • Required for tissue repair
  • Needed for the production of enzymes & hormones
  • Needed for lean muscle mass
In total there are 20 known Amino Acids. Out of these 20, the body can synthesize (Make on its own using dietary Protein as a source of Amino Acids) almost 11 of them.


The rest of the 9 Amino Acids cannot be synthesized by the body and as a result, they must be included in the diet. 


These Amino Acids are known as essential amino acids. The list of essential Amino Acids includes:
  • isoleucine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine
  • leucine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • histidine

We often hear the phrases 'Animal Protein' and 'Plant Protein'.

Ever wondered what the difference is between the two?

Animal proteins are called a high quality Protein or complete Protein because it contains all essential amino acids. On the other hand, plant protein doesn't contain the complete profile of essential amino acids.

But that doesn't mean plant protein is useless. Taken with a combination of sources, the amino acid profile can be easily completed.

For example, rice together with lentils contains the complete essential amino acid profile. Similarly, chickpeas with bread or potatoes with lentils complete the essential amino acid profile in the same way a grilled steak does.

Proteins can also be utilized by the body as a source of energy; However, proteins are hard to break down. 


The energy required by the body to break down Proteins is relatively high and for this reason, the body's preferred source of fuel isn't Protein. 

How much protein

How much Protein does a healthy person require

That's actually a question that can inspire much debate, and in terms of the scientific / nutritionist opinion, the jury is still very much still considering their verdict. 

We can form our own opinion though, based on what you would like to achieve and your current condition. 

The recommended daily dietary intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.  You can do the math, or use this simple online protein calculator.

That doesn't work out to be much, and is usually less than the average person is already eating.  

A sports nutrition diet plan will often be based around a higher protein intake, which is probably approximately twice the recommended daily dietary intake, or around 30% of the total caloric intake.

A protein summit of some 40 nutritionists who gathered in Washington DC reported that the potential benefits of a diet higher in protein included;

  • preserving muscle strength despite ageing
  • maintaining a lean fat burning phsique

Sounds good to me, high protein all the way!

If you'd like to read more about the debate and research on protein in the diet, Harvard Medical School have published an interesting article; How much protein do you need every day?

Carbohydrates

Next up we have the self sacrificing Carbs! To keep things simple, we'll divide the Carbohydrates group into 2 categories:

Simple carbohydrates

Simple Carbohydrates or mono-saccharides are ready made sugars. These types of carbohydrates cannot be further broken down into simple sugars.

Examples of simple sugars include glucose and fructose.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex Carbohydrates or poly-saccharides contain strings of simple sugars.

This means that these Carbohydrates need to be broken down in order to get digested or to be used as fuel.

Some examples of complex carbohydrates include lactose, maltodextrins and amylopectin.

The human body is a master of converting carbohydrates into energy.

Carbohydrate is the body's preferred source of fuel. The brain constantly needs glucose, the liver needs and stores glycogen, the muscles store glycogen as well.

This way, carbohydrates are needed by the entire body in one form or the other. Basic functions of Carbohydrates include:

  • A major energy source for the body
  • Helps to maintain bodyweight
  • Prevents Fat accumulation
  • Helps in digestion and bowel movement
  • Involved in organ repair
  • Food for the brain

Dietary fiber is another form of Carbohydrates.

Dietary fiber is a form on non-starch Carbs. Dietary Fiber consists of indigestible parts of plant food (Cellulose).

This property of dietary fiber helps us with our gastro intestinal tract.

The indigestible fiber ensures a good transit time (Time interval between eating a particular food and excreting it!), avoids problems like constipation and protects us from serious problems like colon cancer.

How much carbohydrate

How much Carbs does a healthy person require?

Dietary guidelines recommend a range of between 45% to 65% of your total daily caloric intake. 

In a sports nutrition plan that focuses on higher protein intake, your carbohydrate intake will likely be towards the lower end of that range.  

Obviously sports nutrition can cover a wide variety of sports, and depending on the particular requirements of each, some may need higher Carbs to provide quick energy replacement. 

The quality and type of carbohydrate that you're eating will have an impact on your results as well.  some further tips about proper carbohydrate intake can be read in this article by the Mayo Clinic on nutrition and healthy eating.

Fats

No one likes them, everyone avoids them yet they are responsible for many important bodily functions.

Fats have gotten a really bad rap for the past few decades, based on guidance from government organisations.  That's changing, and much of that guidance is being seen as based on advice from lobby groups or studies sponsored by other food groups. 

Who would have thought, special interest groups misleading the government, who then mislead the rest of us. Even about our diets!

Their is a growing body of research which contends that healthy natural sources of fat in our diet are actually really good for us. 

There is also a growing movement that says that high fat diets have advantages and can be best for weight loss. Many people following sports nutrition plans for body sculpting will in the later stages of their preparation, start following a Keto diet, with the intent of achieving a Ketogenic state in their body, intended to help burn the last of the fat off their frame.

The scientific jury is still out on that one too. (they just love continual studies!) But some interesting research on the topic is discussed in this article by Brad Deiter Phd on, Science Driven Nutrition.

Just look at the comments his article received for an example of how controversial this topic is.  I'm glad he closed the comments before it got really nasty:)

One quality of fats that sets them apart from Carbs and proteins is their energy density.

Unlike carbs or proteins, 1 g of fat yields 9 calories of energy. This may seem spectacular but fats are the hardest to burn for energy.

They are energy-efficient yet slow, meaning that they are an ideal candidate for energy storage. This energy store comes in handy on a rainy day when there aren't enough calories present from carbs and proteins. Under such circumstances, the body burns fat for energy.

Other functions of fats include:

  • Protects vital organs
  • Act as a solvent for absorption of many vitamins and minerals
  • Important for formation of hormones (E.g. Estrogen)

Fats can be subdivided into 4 categories. These subcategories are made on the basis of the double bond present between carbon atoms.

My apologies for diving deep into the world of biochemistry but this knowledge will come in handy when you are looking for healthy fats to consume during your training regimen.

Saturated Fats: 

These fats are saturated, meaning, they have no double bonds. This tells us that the fat is already fully saturated with Hydrogen atoms.

These kind fats are usually solid at room temperature. Examples include animal fat, Lard, fat found in cheese.

Saturated fats are important as they are a basic building block of a variety of hormones and cell membranes. The downside is that an excess of these fats can raise blood cholesterol levels.

Monosaturated Fats: 

These fats only have a single double bond.

These fats are usually liquid at room temperature. Examples include olive oil and canola oil.

The specialty of Monosaturated fats is that they help us protect against heart disease and blood cholesterol build up. 

Polysaturated Fats: 

Polyunsaturated fats have two or more carbon double bonds.

Polyunsaturated fats are known to reduce the risk of Coronary heart disease. They are liquids at room temperature as well. Polyunsaturated fats can be subdivided into 2 important subcategories:

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. Sources include Oily fish (Salmon, Mackerel), Soybean and rapeseed.
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids: Have a positive impact on brain function and normal growth. Sources include seeds and nuts (Peanuts, walnuts, Cashews)
Trans Fatty Acids: 

Trans Fatty acids are chains of unsaturated fats combined together in a Trans configuration.

This is done mainly by hydrogenation of vegetable oil. This is a seriously unhealthy type of fat that must be avoided at all costs. It is usually found in foods like margarine and baked goods (biscuits, cakes).

Trans fat intake elevates the risk of heart disease.

Micronutrients and macronutrients are equally important for the body. The body cannot function properly without both.

The difference between the two is the quantity in which they are consumed.

Micronutrients are required in minute quantities by the body. Any imbalance (Usually deficiency) in these quantities can cause problems in bodily functions.

Vitamins and Minerals make up most of the micronutrients. This list can be further divided into 30 (Approximately) different Vitamins and minerals that the body extracts from the food we eat.

Each Vitamin and mineral has a different part to play.

For example, Vitamin A is responsible for physical growth, immunity and development of white blood cells. Similarly, all 30 vitamins and minerals have a different story to tell.

To acquire all these micronutrients along with the required macronutrients, we are required to eat a variety of food.

Nature has been kind enough to supply these micronutrients abundantly in raw fruits and vegetables but unfortunately, the modern woman isn’t a big fan of the Broccoli! 

For this reason we are forced to go with the artificial alternative – supplementing vitamins and minerals.

The following table shows the normal daily requirement of various vitamins and minerals.

As a general guide line for people doing strength training, a good idea would be to go with the RDA’s recommendation of the listed dosage just to be on the safe side.

To make it simpler, go for a broad spectrum multivitamin that covers most multivitamins and minerals.

Try to get the RDA recommended dosage from the multivitamin pill itself. The rest you can extract from the diet you’ve opted for.

But be careful, anything in excess can create toxicity for the body. For this reason I wouldn’t go for supplements that provide 4000% of a typical micronutrient that is famous among the body builders; for example, Nitric Oxide (NO2) supplementation.

I’ll start by a typical statement: It depends on your goals and your current body type.

The statement holds; the number of calories you take daily depends on what your current body is like. Your height, age, BMI and weight can narrow down what your current body type is like.

Next comes your goal. What do you want to achieve?

Personally, I’m a big fan of mathematics. It allows you to quantify exactly what should be done.

Nutrition is no different. By using a few equations and simple Mathematics we can work out almost everything that is associated with Nutrition.

Let’s start by working out your daily caloric requirement.

Step 1 - Calculating Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)

For Women, the following formula must be used:

BMR = 0.9 x body weight (in Kg) x 24

Step 2 - Finding Your BMR Multiplier

Find your body fat percentage. This can be done by using a body composition analyzer, or by measurement of skin folds.  Once you’re certain about your body fat percentage, refer to the table shown to find out the multiplier that applies to your body type.

For Women

Body Fat Percentage of 14% - 18%

Multiplier is 1

Body Fat Percentage of 18% - 28%

Multiplier is 0.95

Body Fat Percentage of 28% - 38%

Multiplier is 0.90

Body Fat Percentage of Over 38%

Multiplier is 0.85

From the chart, we can draw a few important conclusions.

The first one is that people with a higher muscle mass have a higher BMR and thus, a higher metabolic rate.  Secondly, women have a slightly greater body fat percentage as compared to men.

Step 3 - Determining Caloric expenditure with respect to daily physical activity.

Steps 1 and 2 helped us to accurately calculate our BMR.

BMR, as we already know, signifies the amount of Calories we burn by doing absolutely nothing. It is our resting Caloric expenditure.

In step 3, we’ll calculate the number of Calories we burn by the physical activity we indulge in.

This step includes identifying the category you fit best. The categories are based on how much physical activity you perform on daily basis.

Category Type

Activity List

Physical activity Multiplier

Category 1

Sedentary Lifestyle. Sitting, talking. Little /Almost no physical activity throughout the day.

1.3

Category 2

Sedentary lifestyle 2. Little walking but no exercise. Some physical activity but nothing that can be labeled as ‘Exercise’

1.55

Category 3

Moderately active. Weight training with light weights for 30 – 45 minutes daily.

1.65

Category 4

Active Lifestyle. Hitting the weights hard for 45 – 60 minutes + 20 minutes of Cardio training.

1.8

Category 5

Intense physical activity. Weight training for 60 and over minutes, hitting the weight really hard. 30 - 45 minutes of Cardio Conditioning.

2

Step 4 - Final calculation: Compiling results.

Your Caloric Needs = (Value in Step 1) x (Value in Step 2) x (Value in Step 3)

Let’s take an example. 


Jane is an average working woman. She is 58 Kg, pretty lean and usually alternates between Cardio and weight training days. Her Cardio days involve Running/Cycling/Swimming (On average) for an hour and weight training days include lifting weights for 45 minutes (No or little warm-up Cardio). 


Jane has a day job where she mostly sits and does her work on a computer. Various other physical activities done throughout the day include the average post-dinner stroll in the street or walking the dog early in the morning. 


She had herself checked recently and her body fat composition test indicated that she had 15% body fat percentage. This is pretty much all the information you need to calculate the daily Caloric requirement.


Putting this into perspective, let’s see what the Calorie indicator suggests.

BMR Multiplier (Body fat percentage) = 1

Category Level 4 = 1.80

Calories = 1656 x 1 x 1.80 = 2255

or maintenance, Jane’s Calorie requirement is 2255.

The word to remember here is ‘maintenance’. Maintenance means that you don’t want to gain or lose weight. Anything above this caloric intake will prompt your body to start gaining weight while anything seriously below this intake and you’ll start to lose weight.

BMR X BMR Multiplier X Physical Activity Multiplier = Your caloric Needs 

Determining the right ratio of Carbs, protein and fats from your diet isn't less than a work of art!

A person consuming 2600 calories in a certain ratio could be losing weight but alter the mix while keeping the calories constant, he/she may start to gain weight.

You can never underestimate the effectiveness of the proportions by which you take your Macronutrients.

Another thing to remember is that Macronutrients are sometimes very unforgiving. An extra 100 calories of fat consumed daily adds up to 36500 calories a year which can be translated into 4.7 Kg of fat!

Of course, the body has its own regulatory system which will resist it to gain this exact 4.7 Kg as fat but a 2 Kg gain resulting from 36500 excess calories annually doesn't seem like a far fetched assumption.

After all, the human body has a limit to its resilience.  

Category Type

Activity List

Protein Requirement

Category 1

Sedentary Lifestyle. Sitting, talking. Little /Almost no physical activity throughout the day.

0.8 g/kg

Category 2

Sedentary lifestyle 2. Little walking but no exercise. Some physical activity but nothing that can be labeled as ‘Exercise’

0.8 – 1.2 g/kg

Category 3

Moderately active. Weight training with light weights for 30 – 45 minutes daily.

1.2 - 1.8 g/kg

Category 4

Active Lifestyle. Hitting the weights hard for 45 – 60 minutes + 20 minutes of Cardio training.

6 – 2.2 g/kg

Category 5

Intense physical activity. Weight training for 60 and over minutes, hitting the weight really hard. 30 - 45 minutes of Cardio Conditioning.

2.2 - 2.8 g/kg

I usually start off with my favorite macronutrient (The protein).

RDA recommends a meager 0.8 grams per Kg of body weight for an individual. This usually works fine for a couch potato who doesn't do much throughout the day.

For athletes and people who train/workout daily, this recommended dose of Protein isn't enough. Let's go with another table that categorizes Protein intake for different people (See previous page):

Going back to the example of Jane, her maintenance calories were 2255. Consulting the Protein chart, she would likely fall into category 4 which means that he requires around 2.2 g / Kg (Bodyweight) of proteins. Protein requirement for Jane:

2.2 x 58 (Bodyweight in Kg) = 128 grams of protein

152 grams of protein add up to 512 calories from protein.

So, out of 2255 calories, we have so far dedicated 512 calories to proteins. 

Next comes the fat intake. You fat intake must be around the 20 – 30% mark of your total calories.

This means that Jane’s calories from fat equal:

0.3 X 2255 = 676 calories

For fat, 1 gram equals 9 calories so,

676 calories equal around 75 grams of fat.


So far;

Protein : 128 grams or 512 calories

Fat: 75 grams or 676 calories

This means that we are left with

2255 - (512 + 676) = 1067 calories


These resultant calories will come from carbohydrates. 266 grams of carbohydrates will be included in Jane’s diet. Her final Macronutrient breakdown looks something like this:

Proteins

Carbohydrates

Fats

Total

in grams

128

266

75

469

Calories

512

1067

676

2255

Percentage

22.7%

47.3%

30.0%

100.00%

I’m certain that your head must be spinning due to the mathematics I’ve been throwing your way. So to wrap it up, let’s summarise how you would go about, determining your macronutrient breakdown.

  • 1
    Find your total caloric needs (step 4 above)
  • 2
    Protein recommendation X weight X 4 = Protein calories
  • 3
    Total caloric needs X 0.3 = Fat calories
  • 4
    Total caloric needs - Protein calories - Fat calories = Carbohydrate calories

Customizing nutrition

The discussion so far in this post deals with how to calculate your base caloric intake and macro-nutritional needs.

This means that if you continue to consume these amounts of calories or macro-nutrients, your Body Composition will remain pretty much the same; hence the word ‘Maintenance’ is used time and again.

Once you understand your base requirements, it becomes easy to tweak your diet plan according to your goals.

For example, if your goal is to lose fat while maintaining your current lean mass, you tweak your diet plan, do a few adjustments to your protein and carbohydrate and there you have it; a diet plan that helps you lose the fat without compromising on your lean body mass.

The same holds true for diet plans that enable you to gain muscle mass.


I know that this isn’t a very hot topic for women since they are usually looking for a leaner look compared to men, but all the options are there! 


Adjusting the timing of your nutrition, recalibrating your macro-nutrional breakdown and making minor adjustments to your diet can enable you to customize your diet according to your goals and preferences. 


Did I mention additional supplementation to aid your cause?


One of the most useful supplements is protein.  When on a high protein diet, it can be a challenge sometimes to get the correct amount of protein from your natural foods, so supplementing with a high quality protein powder as a snack can really help.

Let's start cooking!

Now that we have done the mathematics, now it’s time to convert those numbers into food items!

Now you can easily read food labels and decide what you’re going to eat. You can easily translate 6 g of protein into ‘An egg’ or 60 grams of carbs into ‘A cup of boiled rice.’

Nutrition is a very vast field and I’ve tried to squeeze in as much practical information here as possible.

I’ve tried to provide you with a starting point and an understanding of how to design your diet plan, following a sports nutrition pathway. However, most of the discussion has revolved around numbers and percentages.

Once you know your numbers, you can choose your food alternatives more wisely

If you'd like some inspiration for planning healthy meals, start with these 31 Easy Clean Eating Recipes.

clean eating recipe, garlic chicken

Garlic Chicken With Roasted Sweet Potato

Remember that the more you can get your nutrients from fresh wholesome food, like animal proteins, vegetables, grains and fruits, rather than from a packet or a tin, the less artificial additives you'll be eating, and the better you will feel. 

Get your sports nutrition right, and the results from your training will accelerate.  Focus on both, and achieve your body sculpting goals!

For those of you who are interested in the science of nutrition for weight loss, this Tedx talk by Ruben Meerman on the mathematics of weight loss makes for entertaining and interesting viewing.

Carmen Miranda;

Look at me and tell me if I don't have Brazil in every curve of my body.

*Nothing in this article is intended or should be understood as specific nutritional advice for you.  Before commencing any new nutrition plan you should consult with a qualified medical practitioner and nutritionist about your own particular circumstance to receive personalised advice on a sports nutrition plan. 

Weight Training Effectively for Body Sculpting

weight training

Weight Training for Women to Sculpt Your Body

Weight training if the truth be told, and you really want to sculpt your body, is really the only way to get the results you need.

The great thing about weight training and muscle mass is that you can tweak individual muscle groups and change the shape of your body, the way you like it.

If you want to, you can work on your Gluteus (The butt as it is commonly known as!) while keeping the rest of your body pretty much the same. If you want to work on your abdominals without changing how your shoulders look; that can be done as well.

It’s similar to working on a specific part of the painting while not touching the rest of the canvas.

This can only be done through weight training and this is one cosmetic, or pure vanity reason why weight training is advantageous over other forms of exercise.

Dave Barry

"Albert Einstein discovered that a tiny amount of mass is equal to a huge amount of energy, which explains why, as Einstein himself so eloquently put it in a famous 1939 speech to the Physics Department at Princeton, 'You have to exercise for a week to work off the thigh fat from a single Snickers.'"

Where do you start with weight training

Moving you onto hardcore strength training, but just a few notes of caution here though.

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to focus on building overall body strength, before shifting any focus onto sculpting individual muscles.  

Advanced lifters and body builders will focus on fine tuning specific muscles through isolation movements, but they already have a well developed foundation, which they will continue to maintain, by continuing with their compound lifts, while adding additional isolation moves into their program. 

If you maintain your focus on the big compound moves I would recommend to you, you will develop your muscular physique far quicker.

These gains will then allow you to progress onto specific fine tuning once your body has developed to a stage where you will be able to recognize the areas which can benefit from more specific focus, incorporating isolation exercises.

Compound V isolation exercises

Compound exercises

Compound exercises use your entire body (or multiple parts of your body). They span over multiple muscle groups and joints that work together in the given exercise.

You will maximize the gains achieved from weight training, as the multiple major muscle groups engaged in compound exercises can move more weight, thereby having a greater impact on the body. 

The amount of stress / impact your body goes through during training, triggers a corresponding recovery process, where the magic happens.  Your body adapts and improves itself to allow it to cope with the additional stresses which it is encountering. 

It's therefore only logical that.  If you don't put your body under much stress while training, it won't need to adapt and improve, and there wont be much change. 

A very good example of a compound movement is the Push-up.

When you’re doing push-ups, you’re immediately targeting your Pectoral region. But your shoulders come into play too, you use your core for stabilization, and your triceps get pumped up as well. This is a classic case of a compound movement exercise.

Good examples include:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Bench press
  • Bent-over rows
  • Shoulder press or military press
  • Pull-ups
  • Bar dips
  • Dead lifts
weight training squat

Isolation exercises

Isolation exercises are different in this respect. Isolation exercises put all the stress on a particular muscle.

There is no sharing of load with other muscle groups. Isolation exercises mostly work on muscle groups that are smaller in size E.g. Biceps, Triceps, Calves.

We often talk about ‘definition’ when we talk about isolation exercise.

The truth of the matter is that isolation exercise concentrate on smaller muscle groups. Hence, it is true that isolation exercises help to define your body.

Another factor of isolation moves is that you can’t lift as much weight as you do in compound moves.

For example, you can’t lift 120 Kg on a Barbell Bicep curl but 120 Kg seems plausible when you’re lifting it off the floor while performing the dead lift. 

Obviously you are not going to be able to continually progress to heavier weights in the same way that you can with compound exercises which are using multiple major muscle groups, and it's therefore important to continue training your compound lifts, for greater progressive overload.

Good examples of isolation exercises include:

  • Triceps push down on a pulley
  • Barbell preacher curl
  • Front shoulder raises
  • Leg extension
  • Dumbbell flies
  • Calf raises

If you're not sure what compound moves to start with, try these five strength training exercises.

Progress

By that stage, when you're adding isolation exercises into your program, you will find that you already have people in the gym asking you for training tips, because the body you’re developing tells them that you know what you’re doing.

Spend less time in the gym, but spend it wisely doing effective training, which means feeling some pain while you’re training, and you’ll have more time to rest, relax and do other things in life.  And your body will thank you for it, by making better gains.

You will also see many women who shape up certain parts of their body but lack in others.

A common example is toning your arms and shoulders but the love handles never seem to go away.  

They may give you meaningless reasons like, “I’ve always had love handles and it is a genetic thing!”  

The reality is, they are most likely avoiding, or not doing enough of the hard work that needs to be done.  

This is where your personal judgment and knowledge, or the advice of an experienced strength coach comes in handy. You can always reconfigure your workout plan according to the situation.

So, quit giving lame excuses for your failure and say hello to your two new friends; hard work and pain!

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weight training

Avoid weight training in the mirror

I hope you're aware, about how good the muscles on your back can look, before I mention how good the muscles on your front can look.  

There’s method to that.  Don’t fall into the habit of only training what you can see in the mirror.  

You need to train both the rear chain and the front chain of your body, otherwise, you will almost certainly end up with posture problems through muscle imbalances.  This leads to injury, including back and neck pain.  You’ll also just end up looking funny.

Remember that other people can see you when you are going as well as when you are coming!

And also, the muscles on your back comprise some big slabs of your lean mass, so work it hard, and you will be rewarded.

weight training results

Don't waste your time on isolation myths

Don’t think that I am saying that isolating a muscle group will cause you to lose fat on that part of your body first either.  

So many “fitness guru” programs that are sold, are marketed in a way that makes you think that you can target fat reduction on a certain part of your body, to melt the fat and see the abs, by some incredible abs magic move, or the like.

There is never, ever, any "magic muscle genie" waiting to transform your body overnight, with little to no effort.

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Don't ever waste your time or money on such false promises. 

Your body loses fat in a mostly even pattern, with the reality being that the last fat to be lost from your body will be from your stomach, or sometimes for women your legs and butt.

It's a bit cruel, I know. What you'd probably most like to fix first, will be the last thing to achieve satisfactory results.  But lets remember, these areas will continually improve, you just won't be satisfied with them too quickly, in most cases. 

Train your body with compound moves, remembering that it’s all about how much weight you’ve moved, because that’s what weight training is all about, and you’ll expend the most energy (calories) to lose the most fat. 

Think like a professional and do weight training like one

Let’s be clear on one thing; your ‘gender’ doesn’t define how hard you should work out!

The equation is simple, you need to push, you need to exert yourself and you need to feel like you gave all you had to give, after each workout.

If you don’t out-do yourself in each following workout, you won’t be progressing forward in terms of sculpting your body. It's a really important fundamental of proper weight training.

You can read more about this principle, including how to make sure you are achieving progress, in this blog on progressive overload.

‘Women don’t need to go at it with such intensity’; I’ve heard this phrase from fitness trainers to common folks and it is another misconception that plagues the fitness industry.

The truth is that gender doesn’t define the intensity of your training! Go hard or go home!

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Work out, or train?

Throughout this blog we talk about “training” not “working out”.  

There is an important reason for that too.  

While many people commonly refer to “working out at the gym” if you spend time around professional athletes from any sport, you will hear them refer to all the work that they do as, “training”.  

So do you think that you will get a better result doing things the way that the majority of people “commonly” do, or by doing things the way that athletes do?

I know which group I’ve always been inspired by.

Even if you don’t aspire to become a professional athlete, by adopting similar approaches to training as they do, you will be using your time more effectively, and producing far better results. 

The professional athlete will simply spend more time every day training, because it’s their job, and usually their all consuming passion.

So what do we mean when we say “training”? 

We mean consistently setting and monitoring “smart” goals, which are achieved because we ensure that our performance and therefore our results are improved upon, each time we train.

This concept is just so critical, if you want to achieve significant improvement.  It doesn’t mean that you will never have a bad session where you don’t manage to achieve what you set out to. 

Sometimes even the best athletes have off days, but you need to recognize it as such, work out what was wrong (did I not get enough sleep / rest, was my nutrition not good enough, was I not quite over a cold, did my technique let me down today, etc) and fix it for the next session so that you are training effectively. 

When you do weight training like this, you will see continual improvement, and this will continue to motivate you, and you will find that it also inspires others around you.

If you would like some inspiration for challenging weight training workouts take a look at these 20 killer leg workouts.

Fuel your body well

If you are training properly, you need to ensure that you are also eating properly.  You need to fuel the body properly so it can perform during your training sessions. 

It's really a whole other topic to study and perfect, but as a guideline;

  • You need to be eating a consistent diet with a proper balance of the three main macro nutrients; Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. 
  • Know what your overall caloric intake should be, to achieve your goals, including consideration of energy expended completing your weight training sessions and any other intense activity, along with regular daily calorie burn.
  • When you're shopping for food, remember to read the nutrition labels, and wherever possible, buy fresh food; I.e food that's not processed or comes from a tin.
  • Remember that everything that you put into your body, will have an affect on it.  Good food will have a good affect, and bad / junk food will have a negative affect.  It's your choice!

A great start is to make sure that you are "eating clean", so for some inspiration check out these 31 easy clean eating recipes.

clean eating recipe, almond crusted salmon

Almond Crusted Salmon

Once you have been "eating clean" for a while, you will really start to feel the positive affect of good nutrition on your body, and will find that you have less and less desire for bad / junk foods. 

Good nutrition has a massive positive affect on your body, and even on your mental health. When your body is healthy and operating well, you'll feel better energy which leads to a happier more positive life.

Rest your body well

Make sure that you are getting plenty of rest and recovery as well.  Our body repairs itself while we sleep, so it's just common sense that if you aren't getting enough sleep, then your body is not able to recover properly. 

Everyone knows that sleep deprivation is actually used as a form of torture, so don't do it to yourself!

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Wrap up our weight training

If for some crazy nonsensical reason, you still don't think that strength training is for you, then read this research article from The American College of Sports Medicine, who tested 35,754 women and found that strength training reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30% and cardiovascular disease by 17%.

I'm sure you'll agree they're good reasons to give it a try.

Author Unknown

"I consider my refusal to go to the gym today as resistance training."

So, get fit, inspire others and help others attain the same fitness level. That has been part of my own journey, and I continue to learn from and be inspired by others!

How do you find inspiration to train? 

Let me know in the comments below.

Kettlebell Workout Routine For Women: Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell workout routine for a full body blast

Kettlebell workout routine that will give you amazing toning benefits, with kettlebell exercises for the whole body. 

Designed to sculpt your body, these awesome kettlebell exercises are also a great way to introduce some fun into your training routine. 

Training in the gym all the time can get boring, so take it outside with a kettlebell workout routine!

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Kettlebell Workout Routine

**This is only an example exercise routine, and is not providing any specific advice to any person. As with any new exercise activity, you should check with your own medical and health professionals for advice on your own personal condition prior to commencing any new activity

Exercise

Reps

Rest

Sets

kettlebell swings

20

15 seconds

x 4

double kettlebell bent over row

30

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell front sqaut

30

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell double snatch

20

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell double clean and jerk

20

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell Turkish get up

10

15 seconds

x 4

*Instructions for each kettlebell exercise follow below.

Depending on how much training you've done before, and whether you've ever used kettlebells before, you might find this workout to be a bit challenging.

If that's you, then just double the rest between sets to 30 seconds, and cut back on the amount of sets you do to say three instead of four.  But try to at least some sets of each exercise, so you get the benefit of a whole body workout.

But it you'be been training for a while and are in good shape, you might want to add some ab exercises in between sets, or following your kettlebell workout routine.

Kettlebells as exercise equipment

I came across this strange looking piece of equipment in 2010.  I know, lots of people discovered it before me:)

It appeared very crude to me, and I was reluctant to use it for exercises initially. I started with standard squats and lunges where I was focusing for leg training routines.

Then I moved on to start a few 'swinging' moves for my core synergistic muscle groups and after a little while I became familiar with this brilliant piece of equipment. Ever since, I've been recommending kettlebells for  an alternate to traditional strength training workouts. 

Firstly, there's the advantage of the handle. Women who are lifting a great deal of weight often come across gripping problems. Whether it’s the barbell or the dumbbell, the firmness of your grip will play an important part in how well you can perform an exercise. In the case of kettlebells, the handle does the magic and you don't face any problems due to grip.

kettlebell exercises

Kettlebells are cheap to buy as well. They don't cost as much as fancy 'Aluminum coated' dumbbells so you can always go ahead and buy new one's when you grow out of your old pair!

If you are interested in more information about the history, terminology and rules of kettlebell lifting, you can find that here, and here.

Kettlebell benefits

Then comes the question of using kettlebells for exercises; 

Performing kettlebell workouts can be very beneficial for a large number of muscle groups at a given time. 

Kettlebells enable you to improve on your core. The core becomes involved when you complete actions that involve 'swinging' the weight. With dumbbells and barbells, swinging actions are usually negative and should be avoided, but with kettle bells, moves like 'Double windmill' will strengthen your mid section. 

Your mid section is a very important part of the body. It serves as a bridge between your lower and upper body.

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Your bodies ability to engage it's true strength can be limited by the strength of your mid section, but this fact is often forgotten in the world of weight training. Stability and swinging moves can be incorporated using kettle bells to strengthen your core, and you will feel the improvement in your traditional lifts in the gym.

Kettlebells engage your forearms a great deal, as compared to the dumbbell or barbell.

For most exercises, the grip is such that your arm is not in its natural straight line. The classic 'briefcase grip' engages the forearm and the stronger grip causes strengthening of your forearms.

The same holds true for functional strength. A Kettlebell workout routine is great to add raw strength to your armory. Since almost all of the moves are compound moves, anything involving the kettle bells will be a complete body workout.

The best thing about kettlebells is the size of the equipment. You can keep it anywhere; Under the bed, in your closet or just by your bedside table. Since it is a single piece of equipment, it doesn't require much space but this brings us to a problem as well.

Since kettlebells are fixed weight equipment, you'll probably have to upgrade to a heavier one every once in a while. If you keep working out with the same resistance level for an extended period of time, chances are that you'll hit a plateau. So, this is a major down side of kettlebells training and body weight training which needs to be kept into mind.

As mentioned in my post on progressive overload, your muscles need to 'overload' in order to hypertrophy. The same level of resistance, over and over again doesn't overload the muscles as the body becomes accustomed to the same resistance level. In order to progress, you'll need to increase the resistance level somehow.

Kettlebell workout routine versus traditional weight training

A good analogy between 'kettlebell workout routine' and a traditional 'weight training session' would be that of a classic muscle car and a new generation sports car! If you need raw strength, grunt and power without worrying too much about external looks, you go with a muscle car. But if you want a car that performs and has a clean look with exquisite styling, you'll be happy with a new BMW rather than going for a Chevy Impaler! Same logic applies to kettle bells training. You may not achieve the very best muscle isolation with kettle bells but it does wonders with functional strength, core stability, muscle endurance and even flexibility.

The workout routine that follows contains some of the best kettlebell exercises you can do.

As you've no doubt heard before, proper form is the key. Sacrificing form for even a single repetition can end up in an injury that can haunt you for months so always be wary of what you're about to do. Belts and gloves are there for a reason, so use them when it makes sense!

Also, it is best to work out with a spotter even when you're working out with body weight or kettlebells. Your partner can help you with your form and can assist you in performing additional repetitions which are crucial for muscle growth.

Kettlebell exercises

Kettlebell swings

kettlebell workout routine
kettlebell workout routine kettlebell swings

Kettlebell swings may look clumsy, but it is one of the most effective total body exercises you can do with the kettlebell.

It gets your shoulders engaged in particular, not to mention the balancing act of your core to oppose the swinging motion of the kettlebell.

This move will strengthen your lower body as most of the stress is endured in your mid-section and your legs during the 'return swing' of the kettlebell.

  • The proper starting point of this move requires you to squat with your feet shoulder width apart. 
  • The kettlebell is extended downwards and your arm must be placed between your legs. Use the overhand grip for this move. 
  • Your back must be taut, avoid excessive hunching. This is the starting point of this move.
  • Now, swing the kettlebell under the hips and swing it in the opposite direction while raising the upper body.
  • Extend the legs and help yourself with the swinging action. The kettlebell should swing back and forth between the distance of your legs and slightly above shoulder height.

The move is similar to Front shoulder raises, but with kettlebells the move is more 'dynamic' and compound engaging your entire body.

Double kettlebell bent over row

kettlebell workout routine bent over rows
kettlebell workout routine bent over row

This move is similar to the classic single dumb bell row. 

The difference is that double kettlebell bent-over rows focuses on both sides (Left and right) simultaneously and the grip is a little different as compared to the conventional dumb bell row. 

  • For the correct starting position stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and straight back. 
  • Squat down from this position and grip two kettlebells like briefcases and return to your starting position with the kettlebells hanging freely, vertically downwards.
  • From here lift the kettlebells by bending your elbows, like you would in the class dumb bell row.
  • Make sure that you lift both kettlebells simultaneously and bring them towards your ribs.
  • The only difference in this move is that due to the changed grip, you may not perform much of a 'swing'; rather, it'll be more of a vertical 'lift'. 

The benefit is that this move is a better stressor for the lower back as you're lifting more weight and using both sides of the body simultaneously.

This is a great exercise to consider if you're looking for an alternate to classic single dumbbell rows for the back.

Kettlebell front squat

kettlebell workout routine

This is a squatting move which can be executed with the help of a kettlebell.

  • To start off, stand with your feet shoulder width apart (or a bit wider). 
  • Next important thing is how you hold the kettle bells for this particular exercise.
  • The kettle bells are to be held right in front of the shoulders whereas the arms should be kept really close to the body for the correct execution of the starting point.
  • From here, you need to bend your knees and squat down (The way you do in the classic squat or weighted squats).
  • Keep lowering your body, keeping your back straight and bent hips.
  • Lower yourself until your butt is as low as it can go, in a full squat (ass to grass). Once you hit this point, elevate your body by extending the knees and hips, standing back up straight.

The kettlebell grip is important as well, hold them as you would hold a barbell in a shoulder press.

Kettlebell double snatch

kettlebell workout routine
kettlebell exercises double snatch
kettlebell exercises double snatch move

This is similar to the snatch performed in weight lifting.

The idea is to pick the weight up from ground level and raise it above your head in one quick action.

For this two major moves are required; the squat compounded with shoulder raises.

This is a very useful move for building functional strength but without proper form or care, this move is prone to injuries. Here is the proper form:

  • Straddle two kettlebells (Which are placed on the ground) with both hands (Single KB snatch can also be done) and stand with your feet shoulder width apart; 
  • Squatting down to grasp the kettlebells.
  • Your back should be straight and your shoulders shoulder be vertically above the kettlebells.
  • Without jerking, pull the kettlesbells off the floor by extending your knees and hips, to stand up straight.
  • This initial motion is quickly followed by ballistic upward movement of the shoulder and arms to raise the kettlebells further.
  • While the kettlebells reach their maximum height, extend your arms straight above your head and aggressively pull your body right beneath the kettlebells to support their weight.
  • During this 'pulling the body underneath the kettlebells, you should go into a squat to 'catch' the kettle bell without any impact. 
  • Once the kettle bells are stably held over your head, extend hips and knees to come out of the 'cushioning' squat and stand straight holding the kettlebells straight over your head. 

This is the first repetition, lower the kettlebells back to the floor by doing a partial shoulder press followed by a smooth dead lift and repeat!

Kettlebell double clean and jerk

kettlebell workout routine double clean and jerk
kettlebell workout routine double clean
kettlebell workout routine double clean move

This is similar to the clean and jerk performed in weight lifting.

If you've already performed the kettlebell snatch, this will become pretty easy. 

The moves are quite similar and the idea is to pick the weight up from ground level and raise it above your head in two quick actions.

For this two major moves are required; the squat compounded with shoulder raises, with a little pause in between (Unlike snatch).

This is a very useful move for building functional strength but without proper form or care, this move is prone to injuries.

Here is the proper form:

  • Start with 'Clean'. Straddle two kettlebells (Which are placed on the ground with both hands) and stand with your feet shoulder width apart; 
  • Squatting down to grasp the kettlebells. 
  • Your back should be straight and your shoulders shoulder be vertically above the kettlebells.
  • Without jerking, pull the kettlebell off the floor by extending your knees and hips.
  • This initial motion is quickly followed by folding of the elbows and brings your arms beneath the kettlebells to support their weight. This is the 'Clean'.
  • Now rest briefly with your shoulders and arms supporting the weight of the kettlebells.
  •  Continue with the 'Jerk'; continue with a ballistic upward movement driven by the legs and supported by shoulder and arms to raise the kettlebells further. 

  • Extend your arms straight above your head and aggressively pull your body right beneath the kettlebells to support their weight. 

  • Once the kettlebells are stably held over your head,  stand straight holding the kettlebells straight over your head. 

This is the first repetition, lower the kettlebells back to the floor by doing a partial shoulder press followed by a smooth dead lift and repeat.

Kettlebell Turkish get up

kettlebell workout routine turkish get up
kettlebell exercises turkish get up

The Turkish get up; they don't make exercises any weirder than this!

Well the goal is to lay down with a raised kettlebell and then lift your whole body into an upright standing stance.

For this, your body transitions into many different postures and for this reason it is a total body workout.

There are many different variations of the kettlebell Turkish get up but with this version, we'll be starting while lying on the ground.

  • For the starting position, lay down on the floor, fold your right knee and abduct your left leg slightly away from your body. 
  • Hold the KB in your right hand and raise it vertically above your right shoulder.
  • Your left arm should be placed comfortably on the floor.
  • From here, while keeping your right arm raised, crunch towards your left elbow, shifting your bodyweight to your left elbow and raising the right side of your body.
  • Also use your folded right leg to power yourself to the left side.
  • Now, shift your bodyweight to the left hand, keeping your chest up and out.
  • From here it's time to get your butt off the floor!
  • From the hand supportive position, drive your body into a high bridge.
  • The key to this position is to really squeeze your right side glutes, keep your chest out and position your body in such a way that you turn into a tripod with your bodyweight being supported by your feet an left hand while your right hand is still extended vertically upwards.
  • Now sweep your left leg and position your left knee on the ground, try to get up into a lunge position with your left knee supporting the weight of your body, right knee folded at 90 degrees, left arm hanging freely and right arm holding the kettlebell.
  • Now, one simple lunging move and you're standing up straight! 

Let's not forget that you've performed only 1 repetition. Let's repeat the whole thing in reverse for more!

Kettlebell workout routine wrap up

I hope that if you haven't tried kettlebell workout routines before, that you will now, as I'm sure you'll find it fun and will feel the benefits. 

It will change your training, and reshape your body.

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If you'd like to try more kettlebell routines and learn more about training with them, then I recommend that you check out Greg Brooks site.  His Complete Guide to Kettlebell Workouts for Women will give you instructions on a few more different kettlebell exercises and some further examples of kettlebell workout routines that are really good.

And if all this throwing around of kettlebells is just making you hungry, that ok. Good nutrition is a must for anyone who wants to maintain good health and shape up, so I'm with you there.

Try one of these easy clean eating recipes, guaranteed to fix a hungry tummy, with no added fat:)

clean eating recipe, garlic chicken

Garlic chicken roasted sweet potato

I'd love to hear about anyone else's experiences training with kettlebells, because it's always great to get different perspectives and keep learning, so leave a comment bellow, and let me know how you like to use kettlebells in your own workout routines.

Running for Strength Athletes

Running for strength athletes

Running makes most strength athletes cringe. 

Perhaps you're the same, and hate anything that even looks like cardio.  Often, once the benefits of strength training are experienced, running and cardio training are easily forgotten, and relegated to the scrap heap of, things we shouldn't do.

But; Do you really want to be the person who lives through, "that awkward moment when you're wearing Nikes, and you can't do it"?

The reality is, the right kind of cardio including running when combined with a proper strength program, can help improve performance and results. 

It's often like there are two separate worlds, that can't co-exist.  "Running world" and "Lifting world".  I've observed that people living exclusively in either "world" have sub-optimal health and performance.

Runners who don't lift, are falling apart, even if they're still awesome runners. And lifters who don't run, have little to no endurance and are puffed out even climbing a set of stairs.

The right mix of both training modalities in a smartly constructed program will help either athlete be the healthiest version of themselves, while producing optimum performances for their chosen sport. 

And if you're simply training for appearance, the combination of running with strength training will produce the type of body that most desire.  Most are not chasing the results achieved at either end of the spectrum of running and lifting, which can be like skelator, or the Hulk. 

We just don't want that.  So find the right balance and enjoy your training, and the results that come with it.

Obviously, you can run indoors on a tread mill or outside in the fresh air.  I find mixing it up works best, so I run indoors when it's cold or rainy outside, but really enjoy outdoor runs when the weather is good.  

Running outdoors also has a different feel and impact on the body to tread mill running, so it's good to not let the body settle into a rhythm just doing one.  Repetitively training the same way can  produce less results over time as the body becomes accustomed to it, and taken to extreme can lead to over training more easily than a varied program.  

So mix it up, and enjoy yourself as well.

Spend a few minutes to read this post, and I think you'll see how giving some running and cardio a try as part of your strength program is a good idea.

running and cardio

Integrating running and cardio into your weight training routine;

The list of reasons to integrate cardio into your training program is endless, and so are the advantages of running.

Smart bodybuilders and weight training enthusiasts have been long using running to supplement their workout routine so that they can burn fat more effectively.

The main aim is to increase the daily caloric expenditure, and improve general conditioning.

Endurance type running is typically defined as the 'common jogging'. Your heart rate is in the 50% - 75% of the Max HR, your breathing rate is high but stable, leg muscle contractions are not that intense, range of motion of your muscles is limited as well.

This type of running is aerobic and it is a great tool for burning fat.

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Such endurance type running conditions your heart and increases cell capacity to absorb oxygen (VO2 Max). One problem with endurance running is that some muscle loss along with fat loss is inevitable (Yes, the body has funny ways to get on your nerves!).

Muscle loss becomes a threat especially when you hit a stage where Glycogen reserves are nearing depletion. This is the primary reason why bodybuilders who want to pack on mass try to avoid endurance runs.

In my opinion, avoiding endurance running altogether is not a good idea. It's all about how you 'manage' your workout schedule. One long distance endurance run in the range of an hour isn't going to impact your body in a negative way, given your nutrition is impeccable and your workout schedule is flawless.

Let's not forget that you're pounding iron rest of the week which means that you'll be packing on muscle mass rest of the week.

I'm not recommending marathon or half marathon runs (or God forbid, Ultra marathons)! Endurance running is a perfect example of Low Intensity Training (LIT) for Cardiovascular strength.


No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable.


Sir Roger Bannister

Champion Runner

How one should incorporate LIT Cardio Training in their weight training schedule?

LIT Cardio which lasts about 30 minutes can be performed on weight training days.

A good idea is to separate your weight training session and your LIT cardio by 6 hours. I personally recommend doing Cardio in the morning while hitting the weights in the evening.

 Same day LIT Cardio shouldn't exceed the 30 minute mark and make sure you make up for the increased physical exertion via proper nutrition and rest. Same day LIT Cardio can be pursued as a means of rapidly losing weight while staying in control of your muscle mass.

If back to back LIT and weight training session seem unavoidable, try to do your LIT session after your weight training session. You don't want to feel listless once you hit the weights.

Your energy level should be optimal to lift as heavy as you can whereas a low intensity run can be performed even after a hard training session. But again, the best practice is to split them by an interval of 6 hours or you can go for LIT on alternate days if you don't aim for rapid fat loss.

running

Anaerobic running;

The second form of running is Anaerobic running.

Classic example of Anaerobic running is the 100 m sprint. Physical performance of such order demands a high volume of Oxygen which can't be supplied.

Anaerobic running can be considered as a form of 'Strength training' as the same energy and muscular system comes into play.

Therefore Anaerobic running is another great alternative to LIT.

Anaerobic running and the term HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) are often used interchangeably. A classic example of HIIT would be 'Performing a 100 m sprint, walking balk to the start line and repeating 10 times (100m X 10 sets)'.

This is known as High Intensity Interval training. The quick burst of energy associated with the 100 m sprint is High Intensity, followed by a rest interval.

This is quite similar to what you do in a particular weight training session (Rest followed by each set).

The great thing about HIIT is that it is Anaerobic and keeps your body in the anabolic state.

The risk of losing muscle mass is much less than that of LIT. For this reason, this form of running is favored by most fitness trainers whose aim is to build muscle mass.

Your HIIT can be different. You may go with 200m sprinting followed by 300 m walk or you may go with the 100m spring followed by a rest interval. The choice is yours really. Here are a few examples of HIIT that I usually recommend.

  • (100m Sprint + 400m Jog) x 10
  • (100m Sprint + 100m Walk-back) x 15
  • (200m Sprint + 300m Jog) x 10

There’s no rocket science to designing your very own interval program.

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The only thing you need to remember is that the high intensity interval needs to take your heart rate above 75% of your HR Max and the low intensity interval needs to be such that your heart rate falls back to at least 50% of your Max HR.

Usually, a good idea is to wear a device that can monitor your heart rate and time interval. A heart rate monitor along with a stop watch can do the magic.

You can even do it without these gadgets, all you need is a track (Or a well calibrated pathway) and good pair of running shoes.

The time you spend in a HIIT should be somewhat similar to the time you spend in a normal strength workout. Ideally, a 30 - 45minute HIIT workout (Including warm-up, cool-down and rest intervals) will leave you exhausted.

To sum it up, a few workout schedules have been illustrated following;

Lean Mass Gain

Day

AM

PM

Mon

LIT for 20 - 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Tues

Rest

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Wed

LIT for 20 - 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Thur

Rest

Rest

Fri

LIT for 20 - 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sat

Rest

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sun

Rest

Rest

Rapid Fat Loss

Day

AM

PM

Mon

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Tues

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Wed

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Thur

HIIT lasting 20 - 45 minutes

Rest

Fri

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sat

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sun

Rest

Rest

1 muscle group a week split

Day

PM

Mon

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Tues

LIT for (45 - 60) minutes

Wed

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Thur

LIT for (45 - 60) minutes

Fri

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sat

HIITfor 30 minutes

Sun

Rest

running cardio

Working with cardio alternatives

Once again, nothing is set in stone. There are many alterations you can try with your running even.

It is not necessary to stick with HIIT or LIT, be creative, go with variation and variety.

Here are a few recommendations that can ramp-up your running session:

  • Wear a weight vest to increase intensity of your running. Ankle weights can do the magic as well but vests help improve better weight distribution.
  • Go with hill running. Running on an incline is the hardest thing you can do to yourself! You may know this already if you're into hiking.
  • Trail running is another adventurous alternative. If you live in an area with many natural trails and pathways taking you into the wilderness, go with trail running.
  • Hiking! Yes, it may not sound like something a 'body sculptor' would do but hiking is a great mix of Anaerobic and aerobic cardio training. 30 - 45 minutes of a tough hiking can actually equate to 60 - 90 minutes of jogging. Just make sure you don't book a flight to the Himalayas as that would be a clear misinterpretation of what I'm trying to say!  

If you're not a big fan of running (Or its various alternatives) you can always go with alternatives.

I won't go into much details as it is beyond the scope of this post, but you can always go with alternatives such as cycling or even stair walking.

As long as your heart rate is up and the activity itself is a challenge, you're golden. But make sure that it is something that doesn't mess up your weight training schedule.

I wouldn't recommend swimming a day after you've done a killer Chest & Back routine. The same goes for other alternatives such as Yoga.

Try to do your cardio on days where you don't have a leg workout. The 'chicken-leg syndrome' is all too common in a lot of fitness trainers so it is always a good idea to pay attention to your legs as much as your upper body.

Create good working splits between your weight training and cardio days and try to make an intelligent routine.

Remember to always build progressive overload into your program so you will continually achieve gains.  Need some tips on how this works, read this post.

Don't go overboard with your creativity. You don't want to design a routine that looks like superman's work chart! Keep it simple, functional and realistic.

If you're so used to casting scornful glances at the girls on the tread mill, that you're still not convinced that this can work for you, but you think there might be something to it, I suggest you read Alex Viada's post on complete human performance, for his experience getting the training mix right. Read it here. 

Running and lifting weights are two of my favourite things in the world to do.  I'm really happy that I found and enjoy both, as it keeps my body more balanced and healthy, and I believe it stops training becoming a boring chore.  There's enough of them in all our lives already!

So I hope that if you haven't been including running in your training, I've helped inspire you to give it a go, and;

Last but not the least, stick to it!


We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.


Jessie Owens

Champion Runner

31 Healthy Dessert Recipes For 2018

healthy dessert recipes

Healthy Dessert Recipes For 2018 That won't Ruin Your Resolutions!

Good for you .... You made your health and weight loss resolutions for 2018, and remembered to include healthy dessert recipes? 

That's a really smart choice!

At this time every year, so many people try to follow a clean eating diet and fail, because it ends up being too boring, and not giving their taste buds enough treats to keep life interesting. 

That's a real shame. 

There are so many healthy options which you can include in a balanced clean eating diet, that will satisfy your cravings for something sweet, and won't affect your waist line. 

Following are 31 of the best healthy dessert recipes that you can follow in 2018.  yes, that's a new recipe for every day of the month.

Click on each healthy dessert recipes title for the full recipe.

healthy dessert recipes

With just 23 calories, no sugar, melted chocolate or heavy cream involved, you wouldn't think this would be such a tasty treat.  

Just trust me, it is!

Only four ingredients needed to make this oh so simple recipe.  It's easy to make, and a great guilt free healthy treat. 

If you take a look at Amy's blog while you're there, you'll see that she's a real chocolate lover, and has some great recipes for tasty chocolate treats, that are healthy as well. So, I'm a fan!

healthy dessert recipes - oatmeal cups

At just 15 minutes baking time, and only a couple of minutes prep time, this healthy dessert recipe won't keep you waiting. 

It's a great treat to cook, because you can really add whatever you would like as a topping on the oatmeal, so you can add your favourite fruits or other flavorsome treat, to add some variety.  

breakfast desserts

Some countries actually have a second breakfast tradition, which I think is really cool. 

Even if you only have one breakfast, you should make sure that it gets your day started well.  

Ensuring that there is a good serving of protein included, will keep you feeling full, satisfied and with good energy for longer.  

This recipe ticks all those boxes, with a good dose of protein in the yogurt (I use high protein yogurt) and healthy grains which add fibre to your diet and help with good digestion. 

healthy dessert recipes -chocolate pancakes

Packed with 18 grams of protein and a good dose of fibre in every serving this is one satisfying healthy treat. 

Sugar free, gluten free, keeps you guilt free!

Just make sure you don't top them with too much cream if that's what your taste buds are telling you to do.  These are full of flavour already, and are great on their own. 

Healthy dessert recipes - Banana Cake Recipe

Bananas are a great food if you are into fitness, as they help recover electrolytes, and prevent cramps, and are a source of long lasting energy.

So baking a cake that contains a few bananas is a great idea for a healthy treat.  

Bake a good size cake, as it keeps for a while, and is a handy treat to have on hand.

healthy dessert recipes - baked apples

This is such a simple healthy recipe, with just seven minutes of prep, and 20 to 30 minutes cooking. 

I just love the taste of cinnamon with the cooked apples, it's got a bit of zest with the lovely smooth apple texture. 

I like to eat these hot or cold.

healthy dessert recipes

Another recipe with apples, just has to be healthy. Remember the saying? An apple a day keeps the doctor away. 

Well this simple recipe gives you a healthy treat that is super tasty as well. 

healthy dessert recipes - blueberry

With 18.6 grams of protein per serving, this healthy dessert recipe is a great choice to keep you feeling satisfied for longer. 

When I tried this recipe, I added custard on top with some chopped bananas and it was even more filling and gave me a great energy boost. 

Try it with your favourite added topping as well. 

healthy dessert recipes - fried pie rolls

My husband loves baked apple pie, and I was worried that this recipe from eating well just wouldn't pass muster with him. 

It was actually a great hit. The wanton pastry just changes the taste experience, and compliments that apples so well. 

These are great eaten on their own, but adding some healthy yogurt is yummy as well.

healthy dessert recipes - banana split

With 23 grams of protein and some great long lasting energy from the bananas this healthy treat is sure to satisfy both your appetite and taste buds.

I actually swapped the ricotta cheese out with high protein yogurt as a healthy option, that actually increases the protein content as well. 

healthy dessert recipes - protein pudding

This is another option for a breakfast dessert, to get your day started the right way. 

In fact recent studies have shown that eating breakfast desserts can be good for weight loss.  See the scientific study here.

And for those people who are including an extra protein supplement in their diet, this is a great way to include it as part of a meal. 

You can top this with any chopped fruits that you like.  I like to have it with chopped strawberries or whole blueberries. 

healthy dessert recipes - vegan peanut butter fudge

Such a simple recipe with only two ingredients. 

As someone who loves peanut butter, now that I've tasted this healthy treat, I can't believe that I never thought of making a fudge like this myself.  I'm so glad that I found Laura's recipe!

If you love dessert recipes then you should spend some time on her site, because she's like the queen of healthy desserts.

healthy dessert recipes - banana cheescake

This is another great recipe from Laura. Desserts are really her passion, and the recipes that she comes up with I think are just divine. 

Bananas are a great food for sustained energy, and I just love nuts, so given this recipe contains almonds, walnuts and cashews it's like it was just made for me:) 

healthy dessert recipes - mango rice

Mangoes are one of my favourite fruits, and rice is a great source of lean carbs, so as far as healthy dessert recipes go, this one definitely keeps me happy. 

I use brown rice, and I actually replace the brown cane sugar with a tablespoon of honey.  

I just love honey as a natural sweetener, which I believe contains so much goodness for our bodies. 

healthy dessert recipes - banana nut muffins

Annie's healthy desert recipes are a real treat. She seems able to find some of the yummiest, healthy fresh ingredients and combines them  to create recipes that will have your taste buds singing her praises too. 

I love the chopped walnuts, as I'm nuts about most nuts really:) 

These are great on their own, or you could try them with some healthy high protein yogurt, or protein ice cream for an extra good treat.

healthy dessert recipes - apples bars

I think that these are a great healthy dessert alternative to an apple pie.

These bars are really quick and easy to make, are super tasty either on their own, or sometimes I like to have them with a high protein yogurt or protein ice cream.

Just note that they should be eaten at home, as they get soft and so don't travel well. 

healthy dessert recipes - coconut puddng

Who doesn't love some coconut?

Erin's recipe is super simple to make, with some really healthy ingredients and you can make a big enough serve to keep for several days.

Who doesn't love chocolate cake? 

Problem is that usually when looking for healthy dessert recipes, you won't find a chocolate cake recipe that's actually going to create a truly delicious taste experience for you. 

When I tried this recipe from Mary's blog, barefeet in the kitchen, it was just the best.  With a lovely smooth moist texture and fully flavoured, this is healthy, but real, chocolate cake, so try it and enjoy!

healthy dessert recipes - peanut butter ice cream

Ice cream has to be one of the all time favourite desserts.  Most people wouldn't think of it being healthy for you, but with some creative twists it can be. 

This recipe from cookery author Roz Purcell ticks lots of boxes.  With high protein bars, banana's for a long lasting energy boost, and honey for energy and a shot of pure goodness, this dessert is really tasty and the energy hit leaves you feeling great.

healthy dessert recipes - yogurt pie

This is probably one of the simplest healthy dessert recipes that you will ever find. 

It's just two ingredients mixed together and frozen.  I use a high protein vanilla yogurt, and add some cinnamon spice for some extra taste.

The original recipe doesn't include the pastry base shown, but I just use a simple biscuit base pastry in a pie dish for this. 

healthy dessert recipes - chocolate mint slice

Chocolate and mint together are an awesome combination, that's sure to give your taste buds a blast of satisfaction.

I found this recipe on the Sarah in shape blog, and couldn't wait to try it for myself. You will find on Sarah's blog that she has been through her own journey developing an interest in healthy but tasty desserts. I'm so glad that she came up with this one, because it's just so decadent, but doesn't ruin your diet.:)

healthy dessert recipes - workout brownies

If you like chocolate then you should do yourself a favour and check out more of the healthy dessert recipes from this cook.  Her blog is actually called "Chocolate covered Katie", and if that isn't enough to convince you that she truly is worth following, then what if I told you that she believes in eating dessert every day. 

That certainly convinced me to try some of her recipes!

This recipe for workout brownies sounded just right for me, and it has become one of my favourite recipes. It's great to keep some of these on hand, as they are a good protein snack if I'm feeling peckish. 

healthy dessert recipes

I really love nuts!

So finding this recipe from Lauren Kelly made my day. Lauren is a nutritionist so I knew I could trust her saying that this was a healthy recipe, and I knew that I'd love the taste with the pecan nuts included. 

I like to add about double the cinnamon, but that's only because I really like it's flavour, so I'm adding extra to the original recipe.

healthy dessert recipes - chocolate avocado pudding

I love avocados, and they contain healthy fats which are an important inclusion in your diet. 

I use honey in the recipe, which I also consider to be a healthy way to add sweetness. 

Surprisingly the end dessert doesn't taste like avocado, but still contains all the goodness.  Not that I'm against the taste of avocado's, it's just surprising given that's the main ingredient.

healthy dessert recipes

Chocolate and coconut are such a great combination of tastes, and they really make this dessert a divine healthy treat. 

This recipe contains a good serve of protein and fiber.  Fiber is really important for your digestion and gut health, so I'm loving the combination. 

I add a spoon of natural bush honey to add some extra sweetness to the recipe as well.

healthy dessert recipes - peanut butter cookies

I often get caught eating peanut butter straight out of the jar.  I know, that's not a real healthy snack, and I'm  being naughty. 

So, I was really happy to discover this recipe by Lee.  She's obviously into fitness as well, so knows what it feels like to have to fuel your body properly. 

Containing protein and an egg, these healthy treats will keep you feeling satisfied, with a good energy boost.

healthy dessert recipes - cookies

This recipe by Faith is truly one of my favourites, because you get to use up those over ripe bananas.  Let's face it, they are always getting over ripe. 

These are super tasty, and I love to have them as a small guilt free treat with my coffee.

protein yogurt ice cream

Ice cream is such a treat especially during summer, but it's usually a guilty treat.  

This protein yogurt ice cream recipe is completely guilt free.  With a healthy serve of protein for long lasting energy, you can eat it on it's own or with your favourite fruit. 

healthy dessert recipes - chocolate bars

Chocolate, coconut and peanut butter.  Can you think of any three treats better than these together? 

I love this recipe by Shelly of Two Healthy Kitchens. It's loaded with taste with a great texture, and is gluten free, which is great for me because gluten can really mess with my stomach.

healthy dessert recipes - almond bites

I love almonds and coconut, both of which give you a serve of healthy fats in your diet, so this recipe by Kelly of Life Made Sweeter is a great choice if you are looking for a healthy treat.

With no baking required, this is a super simple recipe, and you can make up a batch and keep them refrigerated to have one with a coffee whenever you feel like a quick treat.

healthy dessert recipes - fig cake

Another gluten free paleo recipe which is kind to my stomach, I just love these cakes. 

I came across this recipe on A Healthy Life For Me, and Amy has done wonders with this recipe, that's healthy but still has heaps of flavor and a great texture.  There's lots of great recipes on her site, so do yourself a favor and take a look around once you've read how to make this cake.

I like being able to make the several small cakes and keeping them to eat as snacks when my sweet tooth calls. 

There's your healthy dessert recipes to enjoy

I love trying new recipes, and I just love healthy food in general.  I'm so glad that I also love to workout.

A lot of the "diets" that people are following, thinking that they are doing the right thing in their quest for weight loss, or the perfect body, I think are just depriving them of both proper nutrition, and the joy of good eating. 

I hope that sharing these healthy dessert recipes with you, will help show that you can really enjoy eating tasty treats, while still maintaining great levels of fitness.  I know that I do:) 

These are really some of the easiest to make, but most enjoyable to eat recipes that I have tried, and I hope that you enjoy some of them too.  

If you've got any other healthy dessert recipes that are personal favourites, please share them with me in the comments below.  I'm always happy to try new sweet treats!

Protein Yogurt Ice Cream

protein yogurt ice cream

Give your taste buds a treat with protein yogurt ice cream

Protein yogurt ice cream makes a great snack, or healthy dessert, that won't ruin your training goals.

Sometimes when you're chasing new health and fitness goals, whether they are related to weight loss, or gaining muscle and strength, you can start to feel that your meal plans are a bit bland. 

That leads to cravings, which leads to unplanned cheat snacks, which leads to feelings of guilt and affects your progress.  That's a bad path to follow. 

It's much better to plan to include some healthy treats in your diet, so sweet tooth cravings are taken care of, while still eating clean. 

If you need any extra convincing that yogurt is great for you, see all the details here.

This protein yogurt ice cream recipe is a perfect healthy dessert, as it's full of protein, which actually keeps you feeling full and satisfied for longer, and helps with muscle recovery from your workouts. 

Protein yogurt ice cream ingredients

  • 1 serve of vanilla yogurt (I use high protein yogurt)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon spice
  • 1/2 glass of water
protein yogurt ice cream ingredient prep

Making your yogurt ice cream

This is a really easy recipe to make, with just a couple of minutes prep time, and pop the ice cream into the freezer.

Just a few easy steps;

  1. Chop the banana into slices
  2. Add the yogurt, banana and water into a blender
  3. Add protein powder
  4. Add cinnamon spice
  5. Blend until smooth
  6. Pour mixture into plastic cups and freeze
protein yogurt ice cream ingredients

I really like the cinnamon spice, but you can consider that optional if you just like a really pure vanilla taste.

The protein yogurt ice cream will freeze really hard, so I usually shift a cup into the fridge for about 15 minutes before eating, so it's a bit softer.

My husband has a real love affair with ice cream, and always has a tub of it in the freezer, so this recipe has given us a great healthy option so he still has a tasty treat that he can enjoy, while getting a good hit of healthy protein and yogurt.  That keeps everyone happy:)

If you are looking for some healthy dinner recipe ideas as well, then you'll enjoy these 31 clean eating recipes.

Enjoy, and stay healthy!

Breakfast Desserts Healthy Treat Recipe

breakfast desserts

Breakfast desserts recipe for a healthy start

Breakfast desserts might sound strange, but it's actually a great idea!

Why start the day being boring? 

In some countries within Europe including Bavaria, Hungary, Poland, Vienna and Austria, they traditionally even have a second breakfast.  So if they can create a tradition like that around breakfast, why can't we start our own?

I vote that we all start creating breakfast desserts, to get our days underway with a tasty treat.

Anyhow, fire up your taste buds with this super tasty and simple recipe, which is also great for your digestive health and keeps you feeling full for longer with a hit of extra protein. 

Breakfast desserts ingredients;

  • 1 portion of high protein yogurt
  • serve of fresh sliced strawberries
  • serve fresh sliced mango
  • 1/2 cup of healthy grains mix
breakfast desserts ingredients

Making your breakfast desserts

Soak the 1/2 cup of grains in 1/2 cup of water kept in the fridge overnight, to activate the grains so that they are easy for your stomach to digest quickly. 

Prepare a serve each of sliced mango and strawberries.  I include a fairly generous serve of both, because I just love sweet fruits, and they provide a real burst of flavour combined with the vanilla yogurt. 

Place a serve of high protein yogurt in a bowl

Add the healthy grains.  They will have absorbed the 1/2 cup of water and have swelled up a bit.  

mix the yogurt and grains together till the grains are well blended into the yogurt. 

add the sliced fresh fruit on top, and your healthy breakfasts desserts recipe is complete and ready to enjoy. 

How quick and easy is that! 

While I've called this a breakfast recipe, it's actually really handy to make this up and keep some in a container to eat as a filling snack throughout the day as well.

It's a tasty treat, that due to the high protein yogurt, will keep you feeling satisfied, with good energy, for longer.

If you are constantly craving sweets in your diet, it's a good indicator about your food personality.  if you'd like to find out more about your own food personality, try taking the simple test below;


Food Quiz: Food Preferences and Personality

fruit basket

Food Quiz; What do your preferences say about You?

A food quiz can tell you a lot about your food persona, and how you really relate to food. 

Are you really a healthy eater? 

Or do you cave in to emotional hunger occasionally. 

Take the quick food quiz and find out!

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Why your food preferences are important;

Cravings for different types of food, whether it's spicy, salty, sweet, fast food or natural organic can have as much to do with your personality as it does your taste buds. 

But whatever the reason, you can be very sure that your food preferences are going to have a major impact on your life. 

The foods you choose to eat will have an affect on;

  • Your energy levels
  • Your body fat
  • Your digestive health
  • Your strength / muscle density
  • Your weight
  • Your sleep
  • Your bone health
  • Risk of diseases including heart disease, cancer and diabetes to name a few.
  • Your mental health
  • Your immune system
  • Blood pressure
  • Your teeth 
  • Your skin / Acne
  • Cholesterol 
  • And many more; 

You get the idea.  What you eat will to a very large degree influence what kind of health and enjoyment you achieve in life. 

Food has an affect on us all, physically, mentally and many would say spiritually as well. 

food quiz

Food and your spiritual balance;

In Ayurvedic medicine practice there is a strong belief in eating to balance your dosha.  The spiritual nutrition principles are based around three doshas;

  • Vayu
  • Pitta
  • Kapha

By eating the correct foods for the dosha which is in most alignment with your shakra, you maintain harmony within the body, by soothing the dosha. 

Recommendations for each are;

Vayu - warm foods with moderately heavy texture. See more here

Pitta - cool or warm with moderately heavy texture and bitter, sweet and astringent tastes. See more here

Kapha - warm and light foods without much water. See more here

Have you taken the food quiz yet?

I hope that you're convinced that it's worth having an understanding of your food personality, and you've taken the quiz to find out. 

If not, jump back to the top of the page and start the quiz.  Whether you are really serious about it, or just curious, it only takes a couple of minutes to do, and just might help you to understand why you eat the way you do.

If you're ready for some great healthy eating, check out some of the easy to prepare dishes in these clean eating recipes.

Yoga Poses; How to do Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana

Yoga Poses; How to do Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana is a deeply relaxing pose which is great to include in a yoga practice for any level

To relax the mind, body and restore the spirit, regular practice of this pose will have great benefits.

You can try doing a simple Baddha Honasana pose to start with if the reclining pose is stretching too much through the groin.

At the end of a long day, try practicing Supta Baddha Konasana, and feel the lift in your spirits.

Watch the video below as Kerri McCubben shares easy to follow instructions on how to do Supta Baddha Konasana;

Some benefits of Supta Baddha Konasana

  1. Increased energy levels
  2. Decreased heart rate
  3. Reduced fatigue 
  4. Relief of panic attacks and anxiety 
  5. Reduced tension and stress
  6. Lower blood pressure
  7. Good for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or PMS
  8. Provides a great stretch of the groin and inner thigh muscles.

Steps

  1. Begin seated in staff pose with your legs extended in front of you. 
  2. Bend your knees, pressing the soles of your feet together and draw your heals back towards your pelvis.
  3. Lean backwards and place your elbows on the ground.
  4. Close your eyes and internalise your thoughts.
  5. Breath deeply for five long breaths, feeling your chest and ribs expand and your body relax.
  6. Role to the side and come up into a seated position.

Tips

  1. Relax your belly to allow maximum extension through your spine.
  2. Breath deeply and naturally throughout
  3. Centre your mind and focus on relaxing through your entire body.
  4. Depending on your flexibility, you may find placing a block under each knee helps to keep you relaxed without over stretching the groin. 
  5. Place a small pillow behind your neck for extra comfort.

Learning to listen to your body is an invaluable benefit of regular yoga practice, and a relaxing pose like Supta Baddha Konasana can really help with this. Feel the stillness, and focus your thoughts throughout the pose while continuing to breath deeply to expand the chest. 

Once you're comfortable try some more of these 50 beginner yoga poses, for a well rounded yoga practice. 

Sagittal Plane, Frontal Plane & Transverse Plane

sagittal plane

Do you know about the sagittal plane and the other different planes of motion your body works in every day?

These days, our life-style has changed to become busier.

Sometimes we don’t spend time to better understand or reflect on our actions, nutrition, health and fitness decisions. Including how the way we train impacts on our body over time.

We need to care for our body, this amazing machine that we use every single day, and sometimes it’s important to spend some time to know more about it!

Since, I’ve been training, I incorporate diverse exercises to work my whole body.

Different types of cardio and weights training, to keep me in good condition to operate in my every-day life.

As happens to me sometimes, I got curious enough to want to understand, what does it mean to move in a plane, and why is it important at all?

If you'd like more technical details about the anatomical planes, then you may like to read this wikipedia page. I'm going to keep things practical here for you.

Let’s talk about the different planes, so we understand more why we should do each exercise we do in our training routine.

And the importance of including different moves in your workout, that work the body in all planes, in which we usually move.

The body moves in three motions or planes known as: Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse plane

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Before we go ahead with some exercises, let’s understand each plane.

Sagittal Plane:

Movements in this plane are flexion and extension. Also up and down exercises.

Frontal Plane:

Exercises in this plane are sideways movements known as abductions and adduction.

Transverse Plane:

Movements in this plane are rotational, internal and external rotation, pronation and supination. Most sports include rotational moves.

When we don’t work our bodies in all those planes, the body will start to have an imbalance. Because we start to develop strength in some muscles leaving others out.

The muscles you leave out become weaker, and as a result your posture changes and injuries start to appear.

So, let’s mention some exercises in each plane that will help us to keep the full body in balance. You should try to incorporate some of each into your workouts to keep the body in balance.

There are many exercises in the front sagittal plane that you can include in your workout. For now I will only mention a few of the main one’s being, squats, bench press and push ups.

Squats:

squats

This is one of the compound exercises, because squats involve practically the whole body. But, the work is focused in the lower body, and the muscles with major involvement are the quadriceps, hamstring and glutes.

There are different types of squats, but I will explain the classical squat.

The start position for squats is standing. With the bar placed above the trapezes, (Shoulders, behind the neck) with your feet separated at shoulder width, and back straight.

The squat move is performed by descending as if you are going to have a seat. Without bending the back, and ensuring that the knees don’t pass in front of the tip of your feet. Your legs forming at least 90 degree angle. Also remember to keep your head straight looking up.

Remember to push your bum back first. This keeps your back in the correct position as your knees bend to lower you into the down position of the squat.

Power yourself back up, by driving down through your heels to stand up straight again.

Push ups:

push ups

I love push ups! They are a great exercise for the upper body. You will work your arms, chest and core. While you develop strength in your upper body you are also shaping your arms.

Place your hands on the floor at shoulder width. Feet on the floor, with legs extended and push your upper body until your arms are extended. Then lower back to the floor and hold for few seconds, and repeat the move.

For more variations of push ups which you can do. Check out this post 

Bench press:

bench press

This is one of the most classical exercises in any workout routine and for sure nobody forgets it.

Bench press is a compound exercise, as it involves a lot muscle of the upper body and It is great for developing great strength. Bench press not only works the pectorals, you also are working your triceps, front shoulders and back.

The starting point to do bench press is lying on the bench with your feet placed on the floor completely. Create an arch in your back, without taking your feet from the floor; the bar must be over your chest, your arms wide creating a 90 degrees angle at your elbow.

Press the bar back up until you have almost locked your elbows. Then bring the bar down until your mid-chest, and press it up again, keeping the arch in your back and keeping your butt on the bench.

We have mentioned the sagittal plane above, and a few exercises that can be done in this plane. Now let’s bring up some samples of exercises that work in the frontal plane.

Side lunges, lateral dumbbell raises and military press.

Side lunges:

side lunge

This is an exercise for the lower body, mainly targeting the glutes, quadriceps and adductors. It is an excellent exercise to start with body weight, until you get the technique down pat, and it becomes easier. Then you can step to the next level adding dumbbells or a barbell.

Here is how to do them.

Stand with your feet and knees together. Contract your core muscles and take a lateral step with one of your feet opposite to it lunging toward the floor. Make sure the other foot is stable and the knee is not passing the toe, keeping the other leg moderately straight. Keep the upper body vertical while you are lunging back to the starting point, pushing off all the weight of the other with the tension to start again.

Lateral dumbbell raises:

lateral dumbbell raise

This exercise is mainly focus in shoulders (deltoids) and it is simple to do it.

Now I will explain the way to train your shoulders with lateral raises.

Stand straight holding dumbbells in each hand with your palm facing your body. Keep your core stable by squeezing it. Then slowly raise the weights until they are parallel with your shoulders, and stop at the top for few seconds. And then slowly lower your hands down to the starting point.

Military press:

military press

It targets shoulders and triceps, although your core will be involved as well to keep the stability in your body.

Military press can be done standing up or even sitting on the bench. I prefer to do it standing up. You can use dumbbells or a barbell. Put your feet at shoulder width, hold the barbell with your arms with width of your shoulders, placing the bar on your collarbone. Then press the barbell up until your arms are fully extend over your head, keeping your torso stable and then lower it back to the initial point.

To complete all the planes, it is important to understand the transversal plane, and which exercises we can do in this plane.

As mentioned before, all movements with rotation are working on the transversal plane. Let’s point out a few of them such as right or left cross (boxing), twisting crunches with a medicine ball and wood chop exercise, with a dumbbell or cable.

Right or left cross:

right hook

To perform this exercise always keep your hands guarding your chin, while the other hand is throwing the cross.

When you are throwing the punch your hand should be extended. Your left foot is in front of your right (if you are right handed, or the reverse if you are left handed “Southpaw”). Bending both knees a bit and remaining balanced.

When you are punching your body is rotating with the power coming from the full body.

Twist crunches with a medicine ball:

russian twist

I have been doing this exercise for quite a long time, and let me tell you how good it is for your core muscles. I started with a light medicine ball and I have stepped up in weight when the exercise becomes easier. Twist crunches is also identify as the Russian twist.

To do this exercise, lying on the mat, bend your knees and crunch your core at 45-degree approximately. Hold the medicine ball and swing the ball side to side, keeping the lower body straight and only twisting the core.

Wood chops with a dumbbell or cable:

dumbbell woodchop
dumbbell woodchop up

It is manly focused on the core muscles and the oblique.

To perform wood chops you must hold the weight with both hands, bend your knees as if you were squatting. Cross the weight over your body from the left hip to the right upper body, with your lower body stable while you are doing the rotation. Repeat the same move to the other side.

Now we understand how in our every day life every move belongs to a different plane of motion, such as sagittal plane, frontal and transversal plane to have a normal function.

And also knowing all these planes of movement, we now have the understanding to perform a proper training routine. Incorporating exercises which use each one to keep all your muscles strong, prevent injuries and bad posture.

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