500 Calorie Challenge – The Results!

One of the biggest lessons this challenge taught me was the discipline of doing something every day. One of the many reasons so many people find a training programme doesn’t work is because they cannot commit to the regular exercise required, and they cannot give 100% – particularly if they are “too tired” or just not up for it. I learned that by managing my state and pushing myself to do something that I wouldn’t normally do, I could achieve a far better result than if I had just exercised inconsistently for the past 30 days.

I hope you’ll give me a bit of grace on this one, but during Easter I put on a fair bit of weight. I gave myself the excuse that I was stressed and I needed to work hard, and that this meant I had no time to stick to regular exercise. As you can see in the picture below, I did not look good! That is both the effect of a bad diet and stress which I placed upon myself:

St_Albans_Personal_Training_500_Calorie_Challenge_Day1-min

Tired, stressed out, poor diet (I was still eating good nutritional food but I was snacking a lot on top of it), finding any excuse to avoid exercise. Even when I was exercising I was barely giving 50%.

That’s one of the great things about this challenge. It forced me to give 100%. If I were to beat my times each day then I had to give 100%.

My first time was pretty bad. I burned 500 calories in 00:28:29. With each day I gave it my all to beat the previous days time. Check out my times below:

Day | Time

1      00:28:29

2      00:24:58

3      00:24:13

4      00:21:02

5      00:21:13

6      00:21:29

7      00:21:12

8      00:21:35

9      00:20:56

10    00:20:53

11    00:20:30

12    00:21:31

13    00:20:49

14    00:21:49

15    00:21:44

16    00:19:55

17    00:19:49

18    00:21:49

19    00:20:24

20    00:20:01

21    REST

22    REST

23    00:19:26

24    00:20:01

25    00:19:39

26    00:20:08

27    00:19:50

28    00:21:01

29    00:19:57

30    00:19:58

My best time was 00:19:26. I knew that if I were to get a good time I had to burn at least 25 calories a minute, so this is what I aimed for. This is not at all easy, and I can tell you that you are left absolutely gasping for air and water once you reach 500 calories! But 20 minutes is not long and you equally recover quickly. It’s manageable and it’s something you can do every day.

So what did it to my body over the coming weeks? Take a look at the Gallery at the top of this post!

Not bad going for 30 days training for just twenty minutes. I did do this on top of my usual workout, but my usual workout (weights, calisthenics) did suffer. On some days I felt very tired, others I felt my muscles had nothing to give. But I still pushed through!

Do I think this is sustainable every single day? No, only as a 30 day challenge. Is it effective as part of your workout? Yes, this is a great way to burn fat in a short amount of time, and you can add it to the end of a workout. I wouldn’t do this without recovery days (unless I were to do the 30 day challenge, which to be honest I would still recommend 1 rest day a week).

What do you think? Would you like the training programme to build up to burning 500 calories a day? Would you like to take on the challenge? Drop me a message and I’ll send you the details (all for free!)

All in all this has been a great amount of fun, and I am going to continue utilising this particular exercise and add it into my own training.

Lower back pain solved! Fix poor posture caused by your office chair

Lower back pain solved! Fix poor posture caused by your office chair

St_Albans_Personal_Training_Lower_Back_Pain-min

 

A weak or painful lower back is often caused by two things:

  1. Stress from sitting with a poor posture (look at how the muscles are constantly under stress from maintaining a stretched position for long hours)
  2. Lack of core strength

 

Most of us know we need to strengthen our core muscles. The problem isn’t that we didn’t know this, it’s actually more the fact that many people aren’t aware of what back exercises you can perform in order to help strengthen your lower back and core. Most of us will know how to work the chest or arms, or how to improve our cardio. But how many Lower Back exercises can you name right now? Be honest, did your list look something like this:

Back Extensions, Deadlifts, Bent Over Rows (or rows in general – these are more focused on the lats and upper back muscles though, but a strong core is needed to perform variations of rows)

…and then you either hesitated and thought about 1 or 2 more, or you’re now kinda stuck with 3 exercises…By the way, there is nothing wrong with these exercises, they’re all good and will help you build a stronger core, so you could start with these. But there are many more exercises available, and this is where Calisthenics can show you creative and effective exercises to help build strength any where, any time and with limited resources (and finances!).

Ok, so as this is only a blog, not a text book, let’s go through this quickly. What do the lower back muscles do? Here is a quick breakdown:

  • There are three types of back muscles that help the spine function. These are extensors, flexors and obliques.
  • The extensor muscles are attached to the posterior (back) of the spine and enable standing and lifting objects, and extension (bending backwards).
  • The flexor muscles are attached to the anterior (front) of the spine (which includes the abs) and enable flexing, bending forward, lifting, and arching the lower back.
  • The oblique muscles are attached to the sides of the spine and help rotate the spine and maintain proper posture

 

So this description gives us a clue into how we can organise our lower back strength training. Extension, Flexion and Rotation – you need to work all 3 in order to strengthen your core (which includes the lower back). On Saturday we performed exercises in the transverse plane (rotation). If you struggled with transverse exercise you already know your core, particularly your obliques, need strengthening.

Here is a break down of both Calisthenic and standard weight training exercises you can do for each of the three muscle types. Try to do a few of these isometrically too:

 

Extensors:

  • Hyperextension
  • Reverse leg raises
  • Supermans (looks like a reverse V up)
  • 1 arm 1 leg supermans
  • Bird dogs
  • Deadlifts
  • Inverted hanging reverse leg raises (needs a pull up bar, or perform in a handstand)
  • Planks
  • Front and back levers (if you’re good at pull ups)

 

Flexors:

  • Full sit ups (remember hold the imaginary ball)
  • Leg raises (hanging and lying)
  • Ab twists or Holds
  • V ups
  • Planks
  • Front and back levers (if you’re good at pull ups)

 

Obliques:

  • Twisting planks
  • Sit ups with twists
  • Ab twists
  • Twisting push up
  • Planks with cross body knee tucks and cross body knee raises
  • Twisting leg raises

 

You’ll notice some of these exercises strengthen more than one muscle type. That’s because the core muscles all work together. Just remember, when constructing a core workout, consider these elements:

  • Different planes of motion (frontal, sagittal, and transverse)
  • Twisting, extension, flexion
  • Adding weights or resistance where possible (resistance bands are great for this)
  • Performing exercises isometrically for as long as possible
The One Best Bodyweight Exercise to do…in your Kitchen!

The One Best Bodyweight Exercise to do…in your Kitchen!

My kitchen floor isn’t carpeted so it has a slippery floor – an ideal surface for bodyweight exercise!

Here’s what I do:

1. I take a large tea towel and fold it in half.

2. I get on my knees, put the folded towel down in front of me, and place both hands on the towel

3. I start pushing the towel forward with my arms straight out in front of me, keeping my knees in the same place and lean forward

4. I go as far forward as I can without letting my body touch the floor (trying to go as flat as possible)

5. I then use all my strength to slide the towel back towards my body whilst maintaining straight arms. 

6. I then repeat until I cannot do anymore!

This is an intense move, but anyone can do it! Just start small, only going as far forward as you can and keep practicing that, whilst trying to push further forward each time. You’ll get to the point where you can go completely flat (and not letting your body touch the floor) sooner than you think.

If you’re not sure how this works then ask me after the class on Saturday and I’ll happily show you. If your kitchen floor has carpet then you can still do this move. You just need something that slides across the carpet (oven tray?).

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.