It can be difficult to stay in shape throughout autumn London’s best personal trainers reveal how to re-charge your motivation and boost your fitness this season.
The days are getting shorter, the mercury is dropping and it’s tempting to hide under a baggy jumper while binge-watching Netflix. There’s no doubt about it – it’s tough to find the motivation to exercise in the autumn. According to research in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, you’re more likely to shape up in the summer because higher vitamin D (the ‘sunshine vitamin’) levels have been linked to greater cardiovascular fitness. But, you’ve worked hard to hone a beach body, so how do you stay fit in the autumn? Simple – give your exercise routine a makeover. We’ve tapped London’s top fitness brains for 10 ways to update your workout and fast-track your results. Ready to keep your summer body all season-long?
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STEP UP YOUR STRENGTH
It’s easy to get into a strength training rut, picking up the same weights, for the same exercises, every time you’re at the gym. If you want to avoid hitting a fitness plateau, change the way you train for strength (see points 3 and 7 select heavier weights that are right for your ability you’ve been lifting the same set of weights during your sessions for the first half of this year, it’s time to up take it up a notch,’ says Jemma McKenzie-Brown, Barry Bootcamp trainer (barrysbootcamp.com). ‘Start small – maybe add 2-3kg to your current weights, depending on what muscle group you’re working on. You can go heavier on larger muscle groups such as on your legs and chest. See how it feels and add extra if you’re feeling strong.
PHONE A FRIEND
Get a gym buddy. Working out alone could be a one-way ticket to zero exercise motivation, suggests the latest data on group exercise. Not only will hitting the gym with another make you more likely to commit to working out, but it could also be more fun. Recent research from MindBody (mindbodyonline.com), found that the majority of Brits prefer to exercise with a buddy than work out alone. In fact, over a third of gym-goers say that bringing someone else along for their sweat session makes them work harder. ‘Finding a friend to move with will help motivate you and make you more accountable for working out,’ explains Alex Parsons, personal trainer for Supreme Nutrition (supremenutrition. com).
If you know someone is meeting you at the gym, you’ll be less likely to skip a session because you won’t want to let them down.’ Easier said than done? Sure, it can be tough to align your free time with others’, but your exercise comrade needn’t be a close buddy – hiring a personal trainer can be as effective. In fact, research from Ball State University, USA, reports that those who worked out with an instructor gained 32 per cent more upper-body strength and 47 per cent more lower-body strength than those who didn’t. ‘If you already know what you’re doing, it can be useful to get some fresh ideas [from a PT],’ adds Parsons. ‘You might pick up tips that could enhance your results.’
MOVE YOUR BODY
For strength-training aficionados, an extra few kilos on the squat rack is a sure-fire sign of progress. But go too heavy, too soon, and you’re more likely to thwart results than achieve them. While it might be tempting to ramp up the weight you lift, too much load could lead to an injury. Follow our guide to increasing weight (see point 2) and carve out a bit of time to master bodyweight moves. Added bonus you’ll blitz fat while you perfect your form.
Bodyweight training is classed as a “closed-chain” form of exercise, which is science talk for moving your body through space instead of moving an object such as a barbell,’ explains Marvin Burton, head of fitness at Anytime Fitness UK (anytimefitness.co.uk). ‘A six-week study in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy reveals that closed- chain exercises were responsible for a 31 per cent increase in lower-body strength, while open chain only accounted for a 13 per cent increase.’ You won’t regret doing these moves!
GO FOR A GOAL
Has your summer exercise routine gone a bit stale? Training with purpose can really boost results. ‘What’s your reason for attending that gym class week in, week out?’ asks Kate Maxey, strength and conditioning master trainer at Third Space London (thirdspace.london). ‘You need to find out what you’re doing and why, then you’ll achieve more than you ever thought possible.’ Whether you want to lose weight or lift it, setting a goal can help get you there.
Here’s how to do it: S pecific Figure out what you want to achieve, whether that’s to lose weight, get stronger, run faster or be more flexible. M easurable Make your goal quantifiable. For example, if you want to lose weight, work out how much you’d like to shift. Want to get stronger? Perhaps mastering a press-up will be your aim. Ac hievable Aim small before you aim big. It’s great to have a big goal, such as running a marathon, but it helps to have smaller, attainable goals on the horizon, such as running a 5K. R elevant Attach some meaning to your goal. Why do you want to achieve it? Perhaps you want to lose 10Ib for your wedding, or maybe you want to get stronger for a sports event. Time Set a time period to your goal, whether it’s to shift 5Ib in two months or to run a marathon next spring.
START WITH SOCIAL
If you’ve really pushed yourself to shape up or reach a goal this summer, you might be running low on exercise enthusiasm. Social media can help you. ‘Follow good fitness pages that give advice and workout tips,’ suggests Parsons. ‘There are so many great social media accounts with good content and many regularly post workouts you can do at home or in the gym.’ If you’re struggling for ideas, check out influencers such as @kelseywells and @emilyskyefit, and, of course, @HandFmagazine.
DO THIS WARM-UP
Adding something new to your workout routine could refresh your interest in it, d it could be as simple as doing a warm-up. Data (and a quick look around he gym floor) shows that the majority of people don’t warm up properly. Big error, as the right kind of warm-up – aka one that’s dynamic – could really ramp up your results. ‘A dynamic warm-up has two phases,’ explains David Weiner, training specialist at fitness app Freeletics (freeletics.com) which includes guided, dynamic warm-ups as part of its workouts. ‘The first phase literally warms up the body. An easy run, skip or a quick row on the rowing machine are all good examples. The second phase activates and mobilises the body [through dynamic exercises that mimic those done in the main workout, such as bodyweight squats or press-ups on your knees], as well as connects the rain with distinct muscle groups. This stage is crucial. The connection tween body and brain allows you to target the correct muscles required to rm movements quickly, unconsciously and without injury.
CHOOSE LIIT OVER HIIT
While HIIT High-intensity interval training) still deserves a place in your exercise plan, this year the experts are raving about the benefits of LIIT (low-intensity interval training). LIIT involves teaming slow and controlled movements to bring about results. Take note – half the pace doesn’t mean easier, as the focus is on good form and a slow muscle burn. Try building strength and endurance this autumn with these tips from Ian Campbell, trainer at Fly Ldn (flyldn.co.uk). OJ Do low-impact moves: the most important thing is to ensure that your basic techniques are correct. Perfect your squats, rows, dead lifts, shoulder presses and more. OJ Perform supersets: rather than doing more repetitions, group exercises together. Instead of resting between move alternate between push and pull upper-body and lower-body exe Want to make it harder? Perfor same exercise in various forms, such as TRX squats, squat holds, squat pulses and single-leg squats. Ouch! OJ Try isometric exercise: increase fatigue by doing isometric (holding) exercises when your muscles are in peak contraction. For example, hold the weights with your arms fully extended above your head in-between sets of shoulder press. This can help to recruit more muscle fibres.
FIND YOUR FIX
One of the best ways to freshen up your fitness is to try something new. ‘A new season is a great opportunity to start a new programme,’ says Maxey. ‘It’s a great time to find a new focus and goal to keep you interested and challenge your body with new stimuli.’ When starting a new programme, Maxey recommends completing the exact same class or workout for four weeks (based on training once or twice a week.) This allows you to develop good technique and gain fitness over the four weeks. Depending on your workout goals, you should be able to lift heavier, or move faster or for longer, by week four.
BEAT THE BARRIERS
Losing weight, cycling faster, building muscle – it’s great to have an aim but James Pisano, personal trainer at Sweat by BXR (bxrlondon.com), tells us fitness experts are always prepared to move the goal post for better end-results. ‘A client may wish to lose a certain amount of weight in a specific time frame but not have the mobility or strength to do basic movements, so that must become the priority, not the weight loss.’ Is your squat form en pointe? Do you have the core strength for a full press-up? Assess your weaknesses and overcome them. Be honest with yourself, even if it means taking a step backwards this season.
TAKE TIME OUT
News flash – skipping a rest day could derail your results rather than cause your fitness to dwindle. Down time is when your body repairs and recovers, leading to an increase in strength and fitness. ‘So often I find out that my clients exercise for three to five hours a week and only spend three minutes stretching and foam rolling, but the more you look after your body, the more it will do for you,’ says McKenzie-Brown. Rest days don’t have to mean sitting watching TV. Try these recovery activities from Ben Leonard- Kane, founder at Flykick (flykick.co.uk) OJ Have a cold shower. Inflammation can slow down recovery. Although unpleasant, daily cold showers have been shown to reduce inflammation by up to 20 per cent, so speeding up recovery. OJ Find a foamie. Jumping on a foam roller might not be the most fun activity, but it’s effective. Rolling will break down any knots and increase blood flow to your muscles. Once you’ve rolled, be sure to stretch. OJ Snooze or lose. Are you getting a minimum of seven hours’ sleep a night? The body grows, repairs and recovers during sleep. If you’re having trouble drifting off, a quality magnesium supplement could help.
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