Improve Your Balance with this Bulgarian Split Squat and Shoulder Press

Generally one side of our body is stronger than the other so if you don't work the individual sides of your legs and arms then you will only accentuate this imbalance as the stronger will always be compensating for the other. 

Also, balance itself is an equally important component of our general fitness which needs to be worked on on a regular basis. 

Do this dynamic and full body exercise to help improve both of these aspects of your strength and fitness.  Make sure to start at the correct variation for your current level of fitness.

 

Place one foot on a stepper or bench, hold a Dumbbell or Kettlebell in the opposite hand. Here we have 3 different variations.

1 - Hold the weight down by your side to whichever leg is out in front. 

2 - Hold the weight in front of the shoulder on the down movement & press overhead as you come up.

3 - Hold the weight down by your side & this time we're looking to clean & press overhead as you come up. 

The main muscle groups worked here are your Glutes, Quads and Deltoids. As it is a full body exercise your core is strengthened also. Keep your tailbone lengthened to maintain good pelvic stability and core activation.

Complete 10 repetitions each leg by 3 sets. 

Strengthen your core and shape your waist with this Side Plank Medley exercise

This is a great all-round exercise that focuses mainly on toning your oblique muscles (the muscles at the side of your waist) while at the same time strengthens your deeper core muscles needed for good torso stability and strength. It is tough but well worth it!

How to do this exercise:

Lie on your side. Place your elbow under your shoulder and bend your lower leg to 90 degrees and straighten your top leg.

1. Lift and lower your hips for 10 reps focusing on using your oblique muscles

2. Hold your hips high in a side plank for 10 seconds while stretching your arm overhead for a full side stretch.

3. Raise your top leg using your bum muscles and hold for 10 seconds

4. Bring your top elbow to your top knee into a side crunch for 10 reps.

And your done! Now do it the other side!

If it is too much initially, practice each of the 4 parts separately and then gradually add in each part until you can do all 4 parts together.

If you want to make this more difficult, straighten both legs and stack your feet. 

Susie Special - a delicious Banana and Strawberry Muffins recipe from our Inspiring Client

This is a great snack to help beat the morning/afternoon slump: banana and strawberry bread/muffins (using only half the sugar in recipe). They've now become a massive hit with all my family.

I don't possess a weighing scales so the recipe uses 'cups' as measurement.

I sometimes add a cup of strawberries too or poppy seeds and today tried choc chips (not as healthy but Devine!)

banana muffins Susie.jpg

 

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas

2 cups of plain flour 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup of sugar 

2 large eggs

1 cup of melted butter 

Method:

  1. Mash bananas, add sugar and the slightly beaten egg.
  2. Stir in melted butter.
  3. Stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Spoon into medium size muffin pan, silicon muffin tray or any oven tray used to make bread.
  5. Bake 20 minutes at 350F/180C.

Susie Special - an update from our inspiring client

At the end of the year our training with Susie, our 10th anniversary Inspiring Client winner, comes to a close. To celebrate Susie's great dedication to her fitness and health we are going to have a Susie Special series where over the remaining weeks we are going to hear what motivates her, her favourite snack recipe and other tips.

First of all an update from Susie herself....

download.jpg

"My progress has been incredible. Not only physically has there been a change in my measurements but I feel so much stronger, healthier and energetic.  Most importantly, for the first time in my life when I got injured I was still able to exercise through it with Sarah's guidance and expertise. Normally when I get injured I would stop exercising completely, let the pain consume me and convince myself I wasn't able for anything which then made it so hard to get back into exercising once the pain goes.
I recently ran a 10k which is something I would never have been able to do in the past. Exercising the wrong way and not building overall strength meant that in the past when I ran I would end up injuring myself. Now that I feel stronger and fitter than ever I'm not happy with just completing it. I set myself a goal to do it within a certain time and achieved it!"

More from Susie next week....

A huge thanks to our event sponsors

These fantastic businesses sponsored our spot prizes and goodie bags for our 10 years in business celebrations. Please support them whenever possible.

Functional Fitness Over 55s | Galway Water | Sarah Lynch Swimming | Pat Hogan Pharmacy | Clean Cut Meals | The Sports Dome | Chi Toulou Shea Butter | Ocean Fitness | Yo!Fit

Our Top 10 Tips to Keep You Motivated to Exercise

In keeping with our 10th Anniversary theme,  here are our top 10 tips to keep you motivated to exercise:

1. Join Charity Events

Join a long charity walk or mini-marathon! Look out for these types of events around your area. If you sign up, you are more likely to put in the training. Participate.

2. Turn off the phone

There’s nothing that disrupts our lives more consistently and insistently than the telephone. Don’t let your phone interfere with your workout! Turn off your home phone. Leave your mobile phone on silent if you go out for a walk. This is your time!

3. Persistence is more important than hard work

Consider doing just 30 minutes of exercise a day. This will feel more realistic especially if you are a busy person. Just exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, adds up to 2.5 hours of exercise per week! Not bad for a busy person. Consistency is key. Focus and consistency will bring you a long way.

4. Coping with rainy days

Check out your local community or leisure centre for winter classes and activities, know what is available. Try something new.

5. Get wet

Swimming is a great activity at all times of the year. You might not be setting Olympic records but it will still help you towards your daily amount of exercise. Relax in the sauna or steam room afterwards as a reward.

exercise-for-each-decade-card.png

6. Invest in rain gear

There is nothing like walking in the rain. Ensure you have adequate protection from the elements, proper reflective gear and a light if necessary for the long evenings ahead. Be prepared.

7. Make the most of windy weather

Just because the sun has gone it doesn't mean you can't go to the beach. Wrap up well and try an activity like flying a kite with your children, jogging along the beach front, going for a brisk walk in the sea air.

8. Go exploring

Buy a local map and go for family cycles or walks every weekend. Make it more interesting by choosing somewhere new to explore every time.

9. Remind yourself

Help yourself not to forget - set a reminder on your phone or leave your exercise shoes by the door. Arrange to meet a friend for a walk instead of a coffee on a regular basis.

10. Make it sociable

Meet up with friends for your exercise or join a class or a club. Set it up so that you have someone to encourage you to exercise especially when you least feel like it.

Core Series: Swiss ball back extensions

Back extensions are a great strengthening exercise, and you don't need any special equipment to do them.

Here I use a stability ball as it makes your core work harder throughout the exercise.

Main muscles: Lower and middle back muscles (mainly Erector Spinae). Also deep back muscles (multifidus and semispinalis)

Secondary muscles: Glutes, hamstrings and neck muscles

 

How to:

1.    Lie facedown on a stability ball, hands behind your head, feet against a sturdy object.

2.    For the beginner verion, keep your knees on the ground.

3.    Squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up until your body forms a straight line. Hold for one or two seconds.

4.    Slowly return to start.

 

Progressions:

For the next stage, perform the same movement but with your knees off the ground

 

Twists:

To add more of a core element, you can include twists (this can be done in both the beginner and progressed version).

 

This exercise targets the lower back but also incorporates the obliques (the muscles on the outside of your torso).

You can also add a weight by holding a disc across your chest.

 

 

Why I like it

The lower back is a really important area of the core that can sometimes be forgotten when doing core work.

This stability ball version is great for all fitness levels, and you can feel those back muscles work as you do it. 

Core series: Step up and twist

As our core links our upper body to our lower body it is important to do core exercises with movement involving other muscle groups.

I have chosen this double action exercise to do just that. It also is an efficient way to workout if you are stuck for time as it works many muscles at the same time.

Main muscles used: Hamstrings, quads, calves, obliques, shoulders and arms

1. Place the right foot on a step or bench and keep it there. 

2. Hold the weight by your left hip with both hands.

3. As your lift your left leg onto the step bring the weight from your hip across your body and high over your right shoulder. Keep arms as straight as possible as you do this.

4. Lower your left leg down to the ground and the weight back to your left hip again keeping your arms straight. Repeat for required reps. Then change sides.

It is important with this exercise that you keep the leg that is on the step in good hip, knee and foot alignment. Make sure you twist your body around with the weight, not just your arms.

Progression:

You can use a higher bench once you have your technique right and need an extra challenge.

Do 10 reps each side x 3 sets. Hold a weight that is challenging but comfortable to swing without losing your balance.

Core Focus: Hanging Knee Raises

For the next few weeks we are going to focus on building your core strength.

We often think of the core as being just our “abs”, but there are much more areas involved in core strength than the abdominal muscles alone.

Exercising your core also means training the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen.

And having a strong core isn’t just about having a leaner midriff either.

Core strength also helps with stability and balance and improves posture (vital these days when we spend so much time at desks or in the care). Of course, core strength also supports any athlete (from the dabbler to the professional) to improve their technique and help to avoid injury.

It’s useful to consider our core as the trunk of a tree – the trunk needs to be strong and supportive around the full circumference of the tree, and not just at the front 

Oisin has chosen this exercise, Hanging Knee Raises, as one of his favourite. It is a challenging exercise. If you don't have a high bar or access to one, visit your local playground, find the monkey bars and give it a go!

Reason he loves this exercise: There's no hiding!!

Body parts used: Abs, arms, shoulders, back

Muscles worked: 

Primary- Rectus Abdominis, Obliques 

Secondary- Forearms, deltoids, upper back

Sets/Reps: reccomend 3 sets, 8-12 repetitions

Execution: 

1. Grab and hang from bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width. 

2. Raise legs by flexing the hips and knees until hips and knee are fully flexed or knees are above hip level. 

3. Return until hips and knees are fully extended downwards. 

4. Ensure hips go into full flexion, otherwise the rectus abdomonis and external obliques will only act as stabilisers to the pelvis and will not necessarily be put under optimal tension. 

4. Control and tempo is key. Keep exercise slow and avoid any swinging. Exhale during concentric(way up) phase, inhale during eccentric(way down)

 

Swimming - an excellent addition to your exercise regime

As you may be aware, I am swimming across Galway Bay on 22nd July as part of a two-person relay team. I am quickly learning that it is not a race about distance but a mental challenge about dealing with the open water elements – the cold, the choppy water, the brown jellyfish – and trying to get your training in while coping with all of that.

Aside from all of that, swimming, whether in the open water or the pool is an amazing and invigorating sport. If it is not already part of your exercise regime, then it is worth considering. If you can’t swim, look up your local pool for classes. My recommendation would be www.swimbuddies.ie – Sarah and Caitríona will look after you very well for both pool and open water swimming lessons.

Here are some of the main reasons to get into swimming:

1. Swimming is a great workout:

  • It provides an all-over body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming as it moves against the resistance of the water.
  • It keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body
  • It builds endurance, muscle strength (in particular your upper body which in a lot of people can be weak) and cardiovascular fitness
  • It helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs

2. Swimming can be a relaxed and peaceful form of exercise, especially when done in the open water. People often comment on the serenity of swimming in the sea on a calm day, with the hustle and bustle of daily life being left on the shore.

3. As with other forms of exercise, it can help to relieve stress by producing endorphins. This can help improve your mood, improve the quality of your sleep and help you to manage stress and anxiety.

4. Swimming is a great low-impact cardio exercise which can be so beneficial if you have an injury or want to avoid impact sports. But don’t be fooled – just because it’s low impact, doesn’t mean it won’t give you a workout.

5. You can use swimming intervals to improve your cardio fitness. This can be done most easily in the pool. For example, you can do 8-10 lengths of the pool to warm up. Then you can do 2 lengths at a fast past, and 4 lengths at a recovery pace. Repeat for the desired number of intervals and see your cardio fitness improve.

6. When done correctly, swimming can really help to improve your flexibility. You need a broad range of motion in the shoulder area to get full benefit from your stroke so the more mobility you have (and increase) in this area, the more efficient you will be.

7. It is also a great workout for the core. You need to keep your body in good alignment in the water, and one thing that can help this is core strength. You will work your abdominals and obliques as you hold your body straight in the water, and stroke correctly with your arms.

8.  You can take it on holidays with you! Many of us (at least in Ireland) like to spend some time in a sunny country during the summer if we can. And most warm countries provide somewhere to swim – whether it is the sea, lakes or outdoor swimming pools. And packing your swimsuit won’t take up an extra space in your luggage!

The Galway Bay swim is a charity swim for Cancer Care West. If you would like to sponsor me and donate to a very worthy charity please follow this link:

https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/maeve-sarah-swim-the-bay-frances-thornton-memorial-galway-ba

Thanks,

Sarah