New Year Shape Up
At this time of year many of us are thinking about getting into shape, the advent of the New Year providing a surge of motivation. People want to know how to lose weight and get a toned appearance as quickly as possible. Well, I have asked Coriander Firmager who is a qualified personal trainer to give all of us her expert advice. As many people are so pleased with how good their legs look and feel once I have treated their leg veins, I have asked Cori to start with some general tips and then to give us instructions on how to perform the single best exercise to get toned and shapely legs – the Squat! Over the next few weeks, Cori will help us with other exercises for other parts of the body.
“A body that feels and looks toned is less about what the scales say and more about body composition, changing the ratios of muscle and fat.
There are three key elements to achieve this:
1. Metabolism: 70% of the calories we burn (energy used) are from our Base Metabolic Rate (BMR), this is our bodies at rest just performing normal body processes. 15% of energy used is from the thermic effect of digesting food. The other 15% comes from active daily living, cardiovascular exercise and moving around. From these figures you can see that if we want to maximise energy requirements raising our BMR would be an efficient way of doing this. Two ways of raising this are increasing active muscle mass this is best done through full body, compound resistance training and cardiovascular training which over time will raise BMR through improved CV fitness.
2. Nutrition: Most people have a reasonable idea of what constitutes healthy eating; the issue is usually that there is difference between this concept and what they actually eat. Take a look at what you eat, see if there are ways in which you can make changes that bring you closer to your idea of healthy nutrition. Some people find keeping a food diary for a week or two helps examine the reality such as maybe noticing the need to adjust portion sizes or nutritional imbalances.
3. Exercise: We have already touched on the role of certain types of exercise and their effect on metabolism. Getting the result of what is commonly considered a ‘toned’ appearance requires increasing muscle size. This, at least initially is best done through full body, compound resistance training where the resistance level is such that overload is reached within the 10-15 repartition range (a compound exercise is where the movement uses more than one joint). Reaching overload means you could not perform another rep without losing good form.
‘Overload is a principle of fitness that states: only when the body is presented with a stimulus above and beyond what it is used to it will adapt’.
As mentioned before BMR can be increased by improving cardiovascular fitness over time. Research shows that high intensity interval training (a type of cardiovascular exercise done in intervals of for example 2mins hard, 1min easy for 20-30mins) burns more calories than going constant over a longer time, this is both during the exercise and in the two ours afterwards.
Lower Body Resistance Exercise: Body Weight Squat
The squat is a great compound exercise, using all the primary muscle groups of the legs.
• Stand with feet hip width apart as if on ‘train tracks’, throughout the movement the knees and ankles should remain hip width apart.
• On the way down inhale, on the way back up exhale (exhale during the working phase).
• 2 seconds down, 2 seconds up.
• Ideally a 90° angle at the knees should be reached; sometimes it can help to build confidence to place a chair or bench as if you are going to sit down.
Many women fear becoming ‘bulky’ if they weight train however generally speaking women’s levels of testosterone are much lower than in men, this makes it incredibly difficult to become bulky. Resistance training is essential for building and maintaining a toned appearance.
If in doubt, always consult a GP or fitness professional before beginning a new exercise regime, particularly if you have a medical condition for which it may not be advisable.”
Coriander Firmager is a qualified personal trainer. To contact her direct please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07968 033642.
Thank you Cori for some great advice to get us started on getting in better shape in 2012. The really nice thing about the leg squat exercise you have shown us is that you don’t need any special equipment and it can be done almost anywhere.