Why a rowing machine may be the key to higher fitness levels

Rowing does me so much good. It hits the muscles that running and cycling don’t. My cardiovascular system is challenged to reach new levels. My shoulders, arms and back get a brilliant work out. My core works hard without me even realising it.

And after the workout is finished, I feel wonderful. Every muscle is tingling in that near-to-exhaustion state and I realise that this was a workout that I needed to shock my body into a higher level of fitness. Continue reading

Rugby fitness with two of the game’s stars

With the 2019 Rugby World Cup in full swing, we thought it was a good idea to offer up some tips on rugby fitness. To get some expert advice we called on two England super stars, Lewis Moody and Emily Scarrett.

Preparing your body for the physical challenge posed by playing rugby is key to remaining as injury-free as possible. This is why rugby players will spend a lot of time on a good warm-up. Not only does a well-structured warm-up get the body ready for the inevitable knocks of a match, but it is also a chance to get the brain ready. Continue reading

Fit for golf – how to hit like a pro

The 2019 Solheim Cup produced sensational golf and an absolute barnstorming finish as Europe clawed back the last three holes to beat the USA by one point after they were all but beaten going into the final day.

As sport goes it was golden stuff and all the players were performing at the very top of their game. Which leads to the question: what does it take to be a top golfer? We look at how you can tailor your fitness training to lower your handicap. Continue reading

Are you FITT enough?

One of the golden rules of fitness is to vary your routine to prevent the double whammy of boredom and familiarity setting in. The boredom element is the mental approach you take to exercise. If you are bored with what you are doing then you definitely will not be enjoying your exercise sessions and that will show in your performance.

If your body is very familiar with the routine, then it will have adapted to the stress you are putting it under and you will not find the exercises challenging. Again, this will not aid performance. So, we need to apply the principle of FITT. We have all heard of HITT, the high intensity method of training but now we are adding the concept of FITT to your exercise vocabulary. Continue reading

Teenage girls and the importance of exercise

The pressures of examinations, social life, hormones, body consciousness and a heap of other conflicting factors mean that only 10 per cent of girls age 14-16 get the recommended amount of physical activity – one hour of activity a day. While this might seem quite a lot, it could include walking or cycling to school, or small chunks of exercise taken through out the day. Continue reading

Fit to play football, whatever the level

With the football season bursting into life, we thought we would investigate what it takes to be fit to play football.

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup grabbing the attention and praise of millions of people around the world, and the league season now starting across the northern hemisphere, more people than ever are taking up the beautiful game.

Ready for the new season

Whatever the level, from complete beginner to semi-pro, there are some elements of fitness that everyone can work upon.

How to train to be fit to play football

Stamina is the first thing you need to master, if you aspire to be fit to play football. The average player covers up to 10 kilometres over a 90 minute game. The distance covered during a match is a mixture of walking, running and flat-out sprinting.

To prepare for this, you either need to hit the treadmill or the roads/parks for some serious leg work. There is little point in just banging out a 10k run at one pace as that doesn’t prepare your muscles or cardiovascular system for the stress caused by running at different intensities.

The most effective way to get fit to play football is by mimicking the demands of the game in your training. And that means interval training.

Stamina Session

Do four minutes of jogging followed by four minutes of hard running. Repeat this pattern four times. If space and facilities allow, you could also mix some footwork around cones into the session too.

The next component of the modern footballer’s game is speed over a short distance. It doesn’t matter what position you play, the ability to go as fast as you can over a short distance is vital. You need speed as the winger chasing down the left-side of the field. The defender rushing across to make a tackle must be speedy. The goalkeeper coming out to intercept the ball. Speed is a key component wherever you play on the pitch.

Sprint Session

If you are training on a treadmill then 30 second sprints with a minute recovery are an easy and effective way to work on your sprinting. After a five minute warm-up, crank up the pace to 80 per cent of your maximum speed and do 10 x 30 second sprints with a minute between each one.

For shorter, sharper sprints of 5-7 seconds, it is best to train on grass or in a sports hall. This session can include a warm up of five minutes, then 15-20 short sprints, with a 30-45 second jog between each one. The session should end with a cool down jog of five minutes.

It is not just stamina and speed that will give you the edge over your opponents. Being able to gain that first metre on another player is vital. This is all down to your explosive power. This is the moment you dart away to beat the defender to the ball, or you make a run into space to receive a pass. Training for explosive power is hard but it will turn you into a player with a frightening turn of speed.

Fit to play football, its all about power

Do four sets of 10 single leg box jumps – jumping one-legged from floor onto box top. Alternate legs as you do the exercise. As you get more powerful, increase the height of the box.

Being fast and powerful is all well and good but to be fit for football, you also need to be able to change direction swiftly and adeptly. The traditional training method of using cones still holds firm at football training grounds up and down the country. Do train with the ball as being able to run and turn with the ball completely under control is a fantastic skill.

Agility Session

Slalom through 10-20 cones, placed in zig-zag formation. Keep repeating the practice increasing your speed as you improve. You can tag this onto any other football training session.

Balance and stability are key components of football fitness and will allow you to twist and turn on the field without incurring injury. The traditional method of training the core is to hammer out as many abdominal exercises as possible. That is all well and good, but do add some unstable training into the mix.

Core Strength is key

There are hundreds of exercises and workout sessions dedicate to working the core. Choose what is best for you but remember to try to include unstable exercises in your plan. For example, squat on a Bosu ball or use a T-bar for single-leg Romanian deadlifts. Anything that gets you working for balance while working the core will help your on-field performance.

Krunch and Kore fitness abs class

For help and advice with any of these training activities, speak to one of the instructors in the Outlooks Gym or Free Weights Gym.

Step-up to better fitness

At its most basic level, the step-up is a great functional strength exercise that replicates a movement that most of us do every day – stepping up and down. The step-up is also a good way to exercise a group of muscles, rather than isolating just one muscle. The calves, the quads, the hamstrings, the glutes and the hip flexors all get a good workout. The core also comes into play as it works hard throughout the movement to stabilise the body. Continue reading

Strength and conditioning for cyclists

Cycling’s popularity increases year-on-year. You may have swapped the car for the bike as part of your daily commute. You might have installed a stationary bike in front of your television so you can cycle while you watch your favourite shows. You might be part of the crazy crew that sweats for an hour in the Kelsey Kerridge Spin class or you may just enjoy tootling around the streets of Cambridge on your elegant sit-up bike. Whatever your cycling preference – you can be proud of the fact that you are getting a healthy and sustainable form of exercise.

Whatever your cycling choices, you can use the cycles in the gym or your own machine to improve your cycling and general fitness. And, in a bid to maintain or improve all-round fitness, we would suggest some strength and conditioning exercises to make sure the muscles used by keen cyclists also remain as strong and flexible as possible. Continue reading