TRAIN: Train Like An Athlete

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You’ll have often seen the phrase “eat like a nutritionist, train like an athlete, sleep like a baby” knocking around Pinterest, but what does it mean to train like an athlete? Athletes can train for seven hours a day or more, so unless you want to forego sleep or give up your full time job it’s just not possible for the majority of us. I take it to mean that you should train your body in an efficient, effective way, which is why most of my workouts involve HIIT (high intensity interval training) or lifting heavy weights.

I hope this doesn’t come across as preachy or showing off (because I am neither of those things! I hate selling myself) but I’m often asked how I get to eat so much, or how I got ‘x’ body part, so I thought I’d share my current workout routine as it’s likely to change soon as I go into full time work. I’m a social exerciser at heart, so most of my workouts revolve around clubs, class workouts or otherwise organised exercise, but I do some of my heavy lifting on my own. Remember I am not a professional, so you may want to consult your PT or even a doctor before switching up your exercise routine.

By the way, these photos were for my Women’s Health Body of 2014 entry – I don’t tend to make a habit of standing around wearing this little..!

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Monday: 30 minute abs class, half hour shoulder workout. Abs includes sit-ups, planks, mountain climbers, double crunches, Russian twists. Shoulders is lat pull-downs, seated rows, pull-ups, and 10 minutes of intervals on the rowing machine.

Tuesday: 50 minutes HIIT class. Very similar to Insanity, with sets of 3 minutes x 3 exercises like burpees, press ups, jump squats, high knees, and anything else the instructor thinks to torture us with that day.

Wednesday: Rest day. I will probably get antsy and do some yoga.

Thursday: 30 minute abs class, 45 minutes of BodyPump. I keep my arm and shoulder weights light during the Pump class but go heavy on squats, lunges, deadlifts and chest.

Friday: 45 minute CrossFit-style workout, usually involving a mix of heavy cleans and squats with lots of high intensity plyometrics.

Saturday: 5K Parkrun and 45 minute yoga class, or rest day.

Sunday: Butt-specific workout with kettle bells, squats in the Smith machine, and glute kickbacks on the functional trainer, or rest if trained on Saturday.

I add spinning classes and runs in as and when I have time or extra energy, usually 5-10K at an average of 5 min/km pace, but always ensure I have two full days of rest a week.

I’m not going to lie, my training is hard work – and yes, I have a substantial life outside of working out! – but the benefits outweigh the work: I get to eat huge amounts, and though I eat clean the majority of the time a little treat doesn’t even touch the sides. Ironically the more you train the more energy you have and I also tend to suffer with nervous energy which training hard helps to burn off, leaving a much more happy and relaxed me.

I encourage you to quit the hour-long treadmill and light hand weight routines for HIIT workouts and heavy weights. You will feel and see the difference in no time – I promise!

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How To Do A Pull-Up

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One of the goals I set for myself in 2014 is to do ten unassisted pull-ups in a row, and for a little while I was using the dip & chin assist machine though I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere. In a PT appointment with Jamie Ann I told her of my pull-up goal, and she’s given me a simple plan I can use to work towards my ten pull-ups, which I’ve added and tweaked a few parts of.

To warm up, I do ten minutes of short intervals on the cross trainer, then use the multi-station on low resistance to do straight-arm shoulder flies.

Then it’s the lat pulldown. I do sets of 20-12-8 reps with increasing weight with narrow underhand grip (the aim here to lift my own bodyweight on the machine, I’m about half way there now), then I do wide-arm overhand grip, again 20-12-8 reps. Learning to use my shoulderblades and back rather than just arm strength is the toughest part for me.

Onto my main exercise, which is on the functional trainer, the big thing shown in the pictures that looks a little like a torture device. I:

  1. Pull down the small step on the right and grab the bar closest in with underhand grip.
  2. Launch myself up to grab the other handle whilst also tucking my body up high – this is now the highest point of the pull-up.
  3. Lower myself down to straight arms over 4 seconds.
  4. Jump down and repeat for 10 reps!

Cooldown is a couple of intervals on the stationary rower. I’ve been doing this routine for a little over a month now and found that I can pull myself up from about three-quarters of the way up, which is huge progress considering how weak my upper body was initially. I totally accept this is going to be a long, tough process – though I now firmly believe I will be able to do ten underhand pull-ups by the end of the year. I’m already thinking of 2015’s goal: ten wide-arm overhand pull-ups!

Nike Miler tee, Adidas Response tights, Nike Free Run 2 EXTs.

girl practising pull up functional trainer gym girl practising pull up functional trainer gym girl practising pull up functional trainer gym

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