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This Home Cardio Workout Will Get Your Heart Pumping

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, April 6, 2020 - 21:33

If you’re looking for effective home workouts to do during the COVID-19 lockdown then try the website of London studio Flykick, which is posting workouts every Friday.

The Fitness Friday sessions include an exceptionally useful timer that displays the exercise you’re meant to be doing and how long for so you can follow itin real time. If you’re not sure how to do the move listed, there are accompanying YouTube videos that demonstrate each one.

For an example of the kind of workout you can expect, give this circuit session created by Flykick instructor Lily-Blue Beaumont a go.

How To Do This Workout

The workout is made up of two blocks. Complete six rounds of the first block, and then step things up for the final block which you’ll complete three times for nine rounds in total. In each round you do eight exercises for 30 seconds each, then move on to the next one without taking a break. After one round you get a minute’s rest, then go through that block of exercises again.

Block 1

Complete six rounds of the following before moving on to the next block.

1 Walking plank

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Get into a plank position supported on your forearms. Push yourself up one arm at a time until you’re on your hands, then come back down onto your forearms.

2 Press-up

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Start in a high plank position, or drop to your knees for an easier variation. Lower your chest until it’s just above the floor, then push back up.

3 Plank

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Get into a plank position supported on your forearms and hold it for the time.

4 Plank jack

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Stay in your plank position and jump your feet out to either side at the same time, as if you were performing a jumping jack, and then back to the middle.

5 Runner’s lunge

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

From a standing position take a big step forwards on your left leg. Bend your front knee until it’s at 90° and then put your hands either side of your front foot, keeping your back leg straight. Hold this position for the time, feeling the stretch in your hips and leg muscles. Alternate legs with each circuit.

6 Jump lunge

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

From standing, step forwards into a lunge and lower until both knees are bent at 90°. Push back up explosively, jump up and swap legs quickly so you land in a lunge position with your other leg forwards.

7 High knees

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Sprint on the spot, raising your knees as high as you can.

8 Burpee

Time 30sec Rest 60sec

From standing, drop your hands to the floor either side of your feet, then jump your feet backwards to land in the high plank position. Jump your feet forwards to your hands again and leap up, taking your hands above your head (make sure the ceilings in your house are high enough).

Block 2

Finish your workout strong with three rounds of the following.

1 Walking plank

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

2 Press-up

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

3 Mountain climber

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

In a high plank position, alternate driving each knee up towards your chest as fast as possible.

4 Plank jack

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

5 Jump squat

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Sit back into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive back up and jump up. Land softly and go straight into another squat.

6 Jump lunge

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

7 Burpee

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

8 Chest-to-floor burpee

Time 30sec Rest 60sec

Perform a burpee as before but when you drop to a high plank position, lower your chest to the floor and push back up before you bring your feet forwards again.

Struggling With An Injury In Lockdown? Visit A Virtual Physio

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Saturday, April 4, 2020 - 21:32

People who need physiotherapy right now – whether struggling with a long-term condition or having picked up a new injury attempting a wild array of new home workouts – are in trouble, thanks to the lockdown put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Fortunately, we live in a golden age of communication. While you may not be friends with a physio who you can lure into an ad hoc consultation with the promise of a trivia session on House Party, you can access one through Ascenti’s online service.

The service is operated through the Ascenti app which, along with video appointments with a physio, also has a variety of tools to help you manage your condition, including exercise demonstrations and progress diaries you can share with your physio. These are all restricted to clients, though – you can’t just open the free app and get access to them.

The online sessions cost £35 for 30 minutes, but are free for anyone over 65 or who works for the NHS. You just need to fill in this form to access the free treatment.

“The online physiotherapy sessions work just as if you’re having a Facetime or Skype call with a friend,” says Stephanie Dobrikova, CEO of Ascenti, “but these video calls are just part of a digital experience that will help to educate, motivate and rehabilitate patients through this challenging time.”

The lockdown has changed the way many people exercise, whether it’s taking advantage of the exercise allowance to get out for a run or cycle every day, or embarking on a series of increasingly aggressive home HIIT sessions. As we all know, changes lead to new strains on the body. Overdo it and those strains can lead to niggles, and niggles can lead to the dark side. Or injuries. If it’s the latter, don’t ignore it – see a physio.

The 1,000-Rep Home Workout Challenge

 

Jake Stones

Friday, April 3, 2020 - 07:36

We’ve all had a couple of weeks to adjust to exercising at home, so hopefully you’ve begun to hit a groove. Which means you’re as ready as you’ll ever be to tackle this mean 1,000-rep workout that can be done in your living room, without any equipment, from personal trainer Beth Thayne.

“It works the entire body for a comprehensive workout that you try to complete as quickly as possible,” says Thayne. “You start with 20 reps of the five exercises, then go down to 19 reps for the second round. Knock off one rep each round until you get to five and you’ll have done 1,000 reps.

“There’s a huge emphasis on core work but with the volume of reps you also get a good leg and upper-body workout in there.

“Because it’s a descending ladder to a completion point, you also have the chance to set a time and then aim to beat it next time. Rest when you need to, but try to keep the rest to the end of a round and aim for 30-45 seconds.

“Depending on your ability this will take between 25-35 minutes, so the challenge functions as a full workout. If the total proves too much, stop when your body tells you to, then target completing more rounds next time.”

The Exercises

1 Press-up

Start in the high plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders, feet together, keeping your core braced and with your body forming a straight line from your neck to your heels. Bend your elbows to slowly lower until your chest is just above the floor, then push back up. Rest your knees on the floor if you start to fatigue.

2 Squat shoots

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and, keeping your chest upright, lower until your knees are at 90°. Touch the floor between your feet, then push back up and extend your arms above your head.

3 Mountain climber

Start in the high plank position with your feet slightly apart and your hands underneath your shoulders. Keeping your core tight, drive your right knee towards your chest. Return your right leg to the floor and repeat on your left side. That’s one rep. Continue at pace.

4 Shoulder tap

Start in the high plank position with your feet slightly apart and your hands underneath your shoulders. Keeping your core tight, bring one hand off the floor and slowly raise it to touch the opposite shoulder, then bring it back to the floor and complete the same action with the other hand. That’s one rep.

5 Toe taps

Lie on your back and extend your legs straight up, or as close to that as you can. Reach up, raising your upper body off the floor, to touch your toes with your hands. Lower until your upper body is flat on the floor to complete the rep.

These Tennis Games For Kids Will Help Pass The Time

 

Jonathan Shannon

Friday, April 3, 2020 - 07:02

School’s out, extracurricular sports are suspended, and playgrounds are shut for the time being, so the onus to keep kids active falls squarely on parents and carers. Thankfully, there are plenty of options, and not just Joe Wicks’s 30-minute morning workouts, which is a good thing too because the NHS advice is for children between the ages of five and 18 is to aim for an hour of moderate to intense activity every day.

One great idea for slipping in some more sport is this set of 12 Tennis At Home games from the LTA, the sport’s governing body in Britain. The activities are split into two age groups, four to seven and eight to 11, often with the same game tweaked for different age groups.

The LTA has designed these games to be accessible to as many people as possible. “The activities are easy to complete in small spaces with siblings, parents or carers,” says Chris Pollard, the LTA’s head of strategy and innovation. Five of the 12 games also don’t require rackets so all you need is a ball, and not even a proper tennis ball. Bigger, soft balls are used in the demonstration videos – pretty wisely in our opinion, otherwise the LTA would be hit with bills to replace damaged TV screens up and down the nation.

If you want to get your hands on new rackets you can buy them from the LTA shop, with junior rackets going for as little as £12.34, or try your luck in a competition the LTA is running. Sign up to its newsletter by 11.59pm on 3rd April for a chance to win a racket. If you’re after some new balls, sports superstore Decathlon has softer baby tennis balls for £2.99 a pop, which should save your flatscreen if you’re playing indoors.

And even if you have no intention of taking your little ones to a proper tennis court for a match once the lockdown lifts, the games will help their physical development. “As well as being a fun way to stay active during this difficult period, the activities in these videos will also develop balance, co-ordination and other essential motor skills that children develop through playing tennis,” says Pollard.

We’ll be trying them with our kids, although won’t be making the mistake we made with the PE lessons shared with us by our eldest’s preschool. Never ask your (well, our) kids if they want to do a PE or tennis lesson. Just familiarise yourself with the game and dive straight in. In the case of the LTA’s videos, we’ll start by getting a game of catch going, then weave in the tennis games as extra challenges.

JTX Sprint-7 Treadmill Review: The Best Treadmill Under £1,000

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, April 3, 2020 - 06:47

Buying a home treadmill is an expensive business. Unlike exercise bikes and rowing machines, you can’t really replicate the experience you get in a gym for less than £1,000. However, you can get very close to it with the JTX Sprint-7. It might lack a few of the fancy extra features present on premium treadmills, but it nails the basics and will satisfy runners of all levels.

I consider myself to be an experienced runner, running every day with six marathons under my belt, and under current conditions I’ve been able to log lots of miles on its belt.

The machine has a top speed of 20km/h (12.4mph), not as high as some top-end machines but enough to satisfy the vast majority of runners. Crucially, the Sprint-7 has a powerful 3HP motor, which means that even when working at the top of its range, the belt runs smoothly. That isn’t always the case with advertised top speeds if the motor is too weak to back them up, but I logged long stints at 16-17km/h on the Sprint-7 without ever feeling like I was stretching its limits.

It’s not particularly quiet, hitting around 70 decibels as standard during my runs, so you’re probably not going to make any friends if you live in a block of flats with thin walls. But it’s not considerably louder than other treadmills, and this is something you’ll have to take into account if your heart is set on a home cardio machine.

The console display is pretty standard, showing the key stats on your run with a virtual track running around the main screen so you can watch your run fly by in 400m chunks. I found this oddly captivating – even when I had linked a footpod to training app Zwift to run in its immersive virtual worlds, I’d keep checking on my progress in the current 400m chunk.

There are quick speed and inline buttons on the machine that you can use to hit certain levels without having to hold the up or down buttons. These are very useful in interval workouts when you don’t want to hold down a button while trying to maintain your sprint speed.


The machine is loaded with 36 preset workouts, which are all displayed either side of the screen in tiny graphics that show how the speed and incline will change throughout. It’s not the easiest way to browse and decide on a workout. You select the one you want by pressing the P button until the number of your session comes up. All the workouts default to a duration of 30 minutes, but this can be adjusted to anywhere from five to 99 minutes using the speed buttons before you start.

You don’t get a larger, more readable version of the workout on the display once it’s started, or even a prompt as to what’s next in the session. You have to squint at the tiny image of the workout breakdown to try to see if the speed or incline is about to change.

If you use a Bluetooth heart rate monitor the treadmill will connect to that to display your heart rate on screen and it did this automatically with the Polar belt I use. You can then set workouts based on your heart rate, creating a target zone on the machine, which will automatically adjust the speed and incline to keep you in that zone. Setting this up is a bit of a faff, though – it’s easier to keep tabs on your heart rate and change the levels yourself.

It all makes for a decent range of workouts and although the way they’re implemented leaves a little to be desired, if you’re looking to mix up your training you can pick one pretty much at random and be assured you’ll get a tough session. You can also set a simple target using the M button before starting your run, whether that’s a time, distance or calorie goal.

The treadmill itself requires very little technical expertise to assemble – there aren’t very many parts and they just need to be screwed together. However, step one is getting the base out of the box and in position, and it’s very heavy. I just about managed to do it solo, but what would have been an easy one-minute job with two people took 15 minutes of sweating and swearing by myself. Get someone to help you assemble it, is what I’m saying.

The machine comes with a bottle of lubricant, which you are advised to use every three months. That and keep it clean – not a particularly onerous task but one that’s vital to keeping the belt running smoothly in the long term. The Sprint-7 also has a three-year in-home repair warranty.

The 145cm by 51cm belt is spacious enough to accommodate taller runners – I’m 6ft (182cm) and found I could run comfortably on the belt without any fears of tumbling off the back. The folding system is handy for reducing the room the machine takes up, but it is still pretty large even when you do bring the belt up to the console. Once folded you can wheel the machine around fairly easily and tuck it into a corner at least.


With pricier treadmills you get extra features like flashier consoles or connectivity to a range of apps. Although the Sprint-7 can connect to the Kinomap app to follow routes and workouts uploaded by other app users on a tablet or phone – the machine comes with a tablet holder you can attach to the console – it doesn’t really excel on this front. The free version of Kinomap doesn’t have a vast amount of content and it’s less engaging than using something like Zwift or just streaming something on a tablet.

However, not excelling when it comes to those kinds of frills is hardly a reason to criticise a machine at this price. It matches up well with top treadmills when it comes to the essentials – running smoothly at high paces, with a solid interval range and a decent array of preset workouts to try. If you’re a runner of any level looking for a well-priced treadmill that will last you even when using it regularly at high speeds, the Sprint-7 should be top of your list.

Buy from JTX Fitness | £899

This No-Kit Home Workout Combines Moves To Test Your Whole Body

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 22:07

Exercises like press-ups, squats and lunges are all very well, but what if you doubled the benefits of every rep by adding in a secondary move? That’s what this workout does. All but one of the exercises is a combination of moves.

The workout has been created by Joel Freeman, super trainer at home fitness app Beachbody On Demand. The app has over 700 fitness and nutrition programmes and you can try it out with a 14-day free trial.

Full-Body Home Workout

With each move the aim is to do as many reps as possible in the time. Complete three sets of each exercise, then tackle the next move.

1 Wide press-up with alternating oblique crunch

Sets 3 Time 50sec Rest 15sec

Muscles worked: Chest, shoulders, core

“Lie on your front with your hands on the ground next to your shoulders,” says Freeman. "Push yourself up into a high plank position – on your toes or your knees depending on your fitness level – keeping your body straight. Bring your left knee towards your left elbow, as close as you’re able to, without turning your torso – keep your shoulders square to the floor. Return your left leg into high plank position and lower your body back to the floor. Repeat, alternating the leg you use for the oblique crunch each time.”

2 Triceps press-up with alternating leg lifts

Sets 3 Time 50sec Rest 15sec

Muscles worked: Triceps, shoulders, core, glutes

“Lie on your front with your hands underneath your shoulders,” says Freeman. “Push yourself up into high plank – on your toes or your knees depending on your fitness level. Lift your right leg as high as your range will allow while keeping your hips and shoulders square to the floor. Lower your right leg and repeat with your left leg, then lower your body back to the floor.”

3 High plank twist with oblique crunch

Sets 3 Time 50sec Rest 15sec

Muscles worked: Shoulders, core

“Begin in high plank with your hands directly underneath your shoulders – on your toes or your knees depending on your fitness level,” says Freeman. “Shift your weight onto your right side, rotate your torso towards the side and extend your left arm upwards, keeping your hips off the floor and your body in a straight line. Lift your left leg, then bring your left elbow and knee together, or as close as you can manage, into an oblique crunch. Extend your leg back out, then rotate back into high plank. Repeat on the other side.”

4 Glute bridge with alternating leg lift

Sets 3 Time 50sec Rest 15sec

Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, core

“Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor,” says Freeman. “Keeping your shoulders on the ground, lift your hips into a bridge position, keeping your weight on your heels. Extend your right leg, then lift it. Lower, bend your knee and return your right foot to the floor. Repeat with your left leg, then lower back to the start.”

5 Alternating squat reverse lunge

Sets 3 Time 50sec Rest 15sec

Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, core

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms crossed over your chest,” says Freeman. “Bend your knees to lower your butt towards your heels, keeping your weight more on your heels than your toes. Your knees should stay in line with your toes without pushing forwards, while your chest should stay upright. Stop at knee height, then come back up.

“Keeping your feet hip-width apart, step your right leg back with a long stride and bend your knees until they’re both at 90°, stopping before your back knee touches the ground. Keep your bodyweight centred between both legs and don’t allow your front knee to push past your toes. Come back up, then lunge on your left leg.”

6 Front lunge with torso twist

Sets 3 Time 50sec Rest 15sec

Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, core

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms crossed over your chest,” says Freeman. “Keeping your feet hip-width apart, step your right leg forwards with a long stride and bend your knees until they’re both at 90°, stopping before your back knee touches the ground.

“Rotate your shoulders to twist your torso in the same direction as your forward leg, keeping your hips facing forwards. Step back, then repeat on the left side.”

7 Back extension

Sets 3 Time 50sec Rest 15sec

Muscles worked: Lower back

“Lie on your front with your hands on the ground slightly wider than shoulder-width apart,” says Freeman. “Lift your chest and hands off the floor, raising them as high as possible without your toes coming off the floor – even if it’s only an inch or two. Bring your chest and hands back down and repeat, squeezing your glutes to get even more out of the move.”

Go Easy On Your Joints With This Low-Impact Home Workout

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 21:19

If you’re currently exploring the world of home workouts then here’s a type you might not have considered – the low-impact workout. While jumping around doing HIIT sessions is great for burning calories and getting fit, it’s a good idea to give your joints a break, especially if you’re also taking advantage of your one exercise outing a day to go running.

This low-impact workout has been created by Katie Anderson, head of training at London studio FLY LDN. It works muscles all over the body, and your core strength in particular will benefit from the exercises involved.

Low-Impact Home Workout

The workout is made up of two blocks of three exercises done in a circuit. Before you get going you should warm up with some mobility work and light stretches, and the same goes for warming down afterwards. If you’re not sure what to do, try these warm-up and warm-down routines.

Block A

“Repeat each exercise for 45 seconds, then take 15 seconds of rest,” says Anderson. “Repeat the circuit three times.”

1 Squat kick

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart,” says Anderson. “Keeping your weight on your heels, bend at your knees and hinge at your hips, pushing them back until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. As you push back up to standing, kick one leg up in front of you and reach with your opposite hand to tap the toe. Repeating, alternating the leg you kick with.”

2 Single-arm burpee

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Just like a normal burpee but with one arm!” says Anderson. “It might feel scary at first, so when you come down to a single-arm plank, step backwards and forwards rather than jumping until you gain confidence and strength. Alternate the arm you use and be careful not to rotate your hips open during the move.”

3 Walking plank

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Start in a high plank position with hands under your shoulders and arms extended. “Lower to your forearms one at a time into a forearm plank, then reverse back up to a high plank.” says Anderson. “Alternate which arm leads each time you lower down. Try not to rock your hips – keep them square and level.”

Block B

“Do all the exercises for 30 seconds each without pausing, then take a 30-second rest. Repeat the circuit three times,” says Anderson.

1. Plank jack

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

“Start with your hands directly under your shoulders in a high plank position,” says Anderson. “Mimic the motion of a jumping jack, jumping your legs wide and then back together. Make sure to keep your hips in line with your spine.”

2. Chest press pike

Time 30sec Rest 0sec

“Get into a high plank position with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, put your knees on the floor for an easier version,” says Anderson. “Lower your chest to the floor, push back up to return to a high plank, then pike your hips up to the sky, keeping your heels off the ground (this is not to be confused with a downward-facing dog). Return to plank position and repeat.”

3. Squat commando

Time 30sec Rest 30sec

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart,” says Anderson “Lower into a squat position, keeping the weight on your heels. Lower onto your knees, one leg at a time, then reverse back up to the low squat and stand up. Keep repeating and alternate which leg lowers first. Challenge yourself by not standing up between reps, only returning to a low squat, and feel those legs work!”

The New Fitbit Charge 4 Adds Built-In GPS And Spotify Controls

 

Jonathan Shannon

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 14:00

Coach’s biggest gripe about Fitbit devices has been the lack of built-in GPS in all but one of its models. That’s set to change, though. Fitbit is adding built-in GPS to the next generation of its flagship tracker, the Charge 4, which will cost £129.99 when it’s released on 15th April.

GPS is a far more accurate way of tracking the distance and pace of runs than using steps, and you can find built-in GPS on devices as cheap as £50. The majority of Fitbits do offer GPS – but only by connecting to your smartphone’s GPS. Establishing that connection often takes a minute, more than many people are willing to wait at the start of a run, and it also means you need to take your phone with you. Built-in GPS varies in quality and accuracy, so it will be the first thing we test when we get our hands on a sample, but we consider this change the most exciting Fitbit development since the company first moved into smartwatches.


The integration of Spotify into Fitbit devices, which began with the Versa 2, continues with a dedicated Spotify Connect & Control tile on the Charge 4, although the feature is still limited. There’s no music storage on the device so the app acts like a souped-up remote for only those people who pay for a Spotify premium subscription. As well as playback controls there’s the option to switch playlists and favourite songs. It can also control Spotify on multiple devices so you don’t have to reach for your phone when you’re on the move, or get up and cross the room if you’re streaming music through a computer.

The Charge 4 retains many of the qualities that made its predecessor a best-seller, including a light, sleek design with fashionable special editions (£149.99), a swimproof body that can automatically track lengths in the pool and a reliable battery which Fitbit says can last up to seven days. That’s the same as the Fitbit Charge 3, which will actually be a significant improvement in performance if it accounts for regular GPS tracking.

It keeps the relative SpO2 sensor too, which offers a Estimated Oxygen Variation Graph of your sleep each night. This measures the saturation of oxygen in your blood, which for most people will be the same every time and can be ignored. It can indicate, however, the possibility of breathing difficulties like sleep apnoea, a fairly rare condition but one it’s important to diagnose and treat.

The Charge 4 is also due a software upgrade and will get the Smart Wake feature currently restricted to Fitbit’s Versa and Ionic smartwatches. You set a 30-minute interval when you want to wake up and the device will try to rouse you at the best point in your sleep cycle.

Fitbit Pay is now included on all Charge 4 models, having previously only been available on the more expensive special editions of the Charge 3, so you can make contactless payments, including in the Transport for London network. The number of compatible UK banks and third-party services remains small, though – Santander is the one high street bank signed up – but perhaps that situation will improve now Fitbit is owned by Google.


The other major change, which will apply to all Fitbit devices with a heart rate monitor, is the upgrade of Active Minutes to Active Zone Minutes. This is based on the globally recognised, NHS-approved recommendation to be active for 150 minutes a week, with every minute of vigorous activity like running counting twice towards the tally. Fitbit will automatically tally up your progress, present you with daily goals in the app to keep you on track and break down the contribution made to your weekly total from each tracked activity.

At this stage, before we’ve seen the device in the flesh, it looks like Fitbit has nailed the next generation of its Charge line. It’s made a major improvement without compromising any of the great features that made the Charge 3 so popular – and it’s kept the RRP the same, although the Charge 3 is invariably available for under £100 on Amazon.

When the Charge 3 replaced the Charge 2, the differences between the models weren’t so pronounced and we couldn’t justify spending an extra £30 for the upgrade, but things appear different this time around. We’ll know for sure once we get our hands on the device in the coming days.

Pre-order from Fitbit (shipped 15th April) | £129.99

Asics Announces The MetaRacer, Its Rival To The Nike Vaporfly

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 12:34

As more and more companies release running shoes with carbon plates in the midsole, it becomes increasingly clear that the magic in Nike’s Vaporfly shoes – the 4% and NEXT% – doesn’t just come from the carbon plate. Nike’s lightweight ZoomX foam is also vital, contributing to the fast, soft and efficient ride the Vaporfly is famed for.

That’s why Brooks’s Hyperion Elite was disappointing – the hard DNA Zero foam used in the midsole had none of that bounce. And that’s also a reason why the Asics MetaRacer might struggle, because in our experience the Flytefoam foam used in the shoe is nothing like as bouncy as Nike’s ZoomX.

However, Asics does have one notable extra trick up its sleeve: the Guidesole design on the shoe, which produces a rocker effect from heel-to-toe. This Guidesole was first seen on the MetaRide running shoe, which admittedly we did not like, and then on the GlideRide running shoe, which we also did not like. However, the third time was the charm, because the recently-released EvoRide is great.

Key to the improvement is that Asics made the EvoRide lighter than the MetaRide and GlideRide, so it lost the cumbersome feel of those earlier shoes. With the EvoRide we could feel the benefit of the rocker in the shoe, and rolled through our runs in comfort and at speed when required.

That bodes well for the newly announced MetaRacer, which will use that rocker in a stripped-back racing shoe that weighs just 190g in men’s and 155g in women’s. The result should be a fast and efficient ride, because the Guidesole tech is designed to reduce the energy lost with each stride.

The MetaRacer also has a new toe-spring shape to improve your push-offs and reduce the load on your calves, which get beaten up badly over the course of a long race like a marathon.

We’ll be putting the MetaRacer to the test as soon as we can to see if it is any match for the all-conquering Vaporfly. The shoe will be available in Japan from 17th April and globally from 26th June, and will cost £180.

Stay Limber With This Home Mobility Workout

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, March 30, 2020 - 22:21

Mobility work is something most of us could stand to do more of. That’s especially true if you’re currently stuck at home with a little less to do than normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, or working hunched over a laptop at the kitchen table. Both scenarios mean now is a better time than ever to work on your weaknesses by tackling this mobility session created by Starks Fitness trainer Tommy Owen.

If you enjoy it, tune in to the Starks Fitness Instagram channel at 8am each morning, because its trainers are running daily workouts to help keep you moving during the lockdown. If any of the moves below aren’t clear, watch the video tasters of each workout and you’ll find most if not all of the moves below demonstrated at some point.

Warm-Up

The warm-up lasts around ten minutes and begins with upper-body moves before focusing on the lower body. Work through the exercises without pausing to rest.

As well as doing a great job of warming you up for the workout, the exercises count as useful mobility work too.

1 Pulse raiser

Time 2min

Start with your preferred method of increasing your heart rate, whether that’s jumping jacks, high knees or just jogging on the spot.

2 Bear crawl

Time 30sec

“Start on all fours, with your knees under your hips and wrists under your shoulders,” says Owen. “Raise your knees just off the floor and hold them there throughout. Using small steps, crawl forwards and backwards moving opposite limbs together. Imagine you’re on train tracks to minimise twisting your hips.”

3 Frog squat

Time 30sec

“Start in a deep squat with your elbows pressed to the insides of your thighs and your palms together,” says Owen. “Straighten your legs until you feel tension, then lower back into a deep squat. Your hands should stay together and your elbows fixed to your thighs throughout.”

4 Bear crawl

Time 30sec

5 Frog squat

Time 30sec

6 Lying pec rotation

Time 30sec

“Start face down on the floor with one arm out to the side,” says Owen. “Rotate your torso away from the arm out to the side until you feel a stretch through your pec. Hold for two seconds, then release and stretch on the other side.”

7 Thoracic rotation

Time 30sec each side

“Start on all fours, then sit back,” says Owen. “Put your hand on the side of your head, and raise your elbow as high as possible. Lower your elbow as far down as possible towards your opposite hip. Push your other hand firmly into the floor for support.”

8 Downward-facing dog/upward-facing dog

Reps 5

“Start in a high plank position with straight arms,” says Owen. “Move your hips back and up. Drive your heels down and move your chest towards your feet. Pause for a second, then lower your hips towards the floor – put your knees down if this is more comfortable. Lift your chest and head up pushing your hands down firmly, and hold for a second. Reverse the moves and repeat five times.”

9 Shoulder complex

Reps 10

The final section of the upper-body block involves doing three shoulder exercises without pausing.

“Stand with your glutes braced,” says Owen. “Raise your hands to shoulder height, arms extended. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and then move them forwards. Repeat ten times forwards and back.

“Next raise your hands overhead, arms extended. Pull your shoulder blades together and down firmly and then drive your hands up high, moving your shoulders up towards your ears. Repeat ten times up and down.

“Finally, with your arms extended to the sides, perform five exaggerated circles forwards and five back.”

10 Calf raise/toe raise

Reps 20

“Standing tall, push up on to your toes and pause for a moment at the top of the range,” says Owen. “Control your weight back down till your feet are flat, then rock back on to your heels, lifting your toes as high as you can.”

11 Lunge with rotation

Reps 5 each side

Get into a forward lunge position, holding your back knee off the floor if comfortable, and place your hands on the floor either side of your front foot.

“Take the same hand as the forward foot and rotate it towards the ceiling, twisting your trunk,” says Owen. “Press your other hand firmly into the ground to stabilise.”

12 Bear squat

Time 30sec

“Start in a high plank position with your hands in front of you,” says Owen. “Move back, bending your knees, into a squat position so your glutes almost touch your heels. Your palms should stay in contact with the floor so you feel a stretch through your shoulders and lats. Move back to the high plank position.”

13 Couch stretch

Time 30sec each side

Get on your knees and back up against your sofa. Step one leg out in front of you with your knee bent at 90°. Position your other knee at the base of the couch with your shin against it so your foot is near your glutes. You should feel the stretch in your hips and rear quad.

Workout

Take a one-minute break after the warm-up before starting on the workout proper, which consists of two blocks.

Block 1

In this block you’ll be doing three rounds of four exercises, working for 45 seconds and then taking a 15-second break before moving on to the next move.

1 Persian press-up

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Start in a high plank position,” says Owen. “Bend at your elbows to drop down until your chin, chest and hips are all touching the floor. Push back up to a high plank, then move your hips up and back into a downward-facing dog position. Return to the high plank.”

2 Squat hold shoulder press

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Get into a squat position with your feet hip-width apart and your toes turned out. Hold your squat as you raise your hands to just outside your shoulders with palms facing and fists clenched. Press your arms fully overhead, keeping them just outside shoulder-width apart, then bring them back down to your shoulders.”

3 Bridge thruster

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hands behind you. “Your fingers should be pointing towards your heels,” says Owen. “Push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to drive your hips towards the ceiling. Brace your abs at the top of the move, then slowly lower until your glutes are a few centimetres above the floor.”

4 Travelling ape

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Start in a squat position,” says Owen. “Reach both hands to place one in front of one foot and one to the outside of it. Put your weight on your hands, lifting your feet off the ground and driving your hips towards the ceiling. Move your feet sideways to land to the outside of your hands and go back into a squat. Repeat for a few reps, then change direction.”

Block 2

Take a one-minute break, then go into three rounds of the following exercises, again working for 45 seconds and resting for 15 seconds.

1 Pancakes

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Lie on your back, with your knees tucked in to your chest,” says Owen. “Look down your body so your abs are braced. Shoot both legs out to the sides, tensing your thighs, and roll with the momentum of your legs to reach your hands forwards, feeling a stretch through the back of your legs. Maintain a tall posture in your torso. Slowly pull back and roll gently back to the start position.”

2 McGill aeroplane

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Stand on one foot with your arms out to the sides with thumbs up,” says Owen. “Hinge forwards at the hips and lift your other leg backwards, keeping your spine neutral and hips level. When you reach a comfortable stretch, squeeze the glutes of the standing leg and rotate at the hips. Come back to a neutral position and then back up to standing.”

3 Hand walkout shoulder tap

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“From standing, bend over, keeping your legs as straight as you can and put both hands on the floor,” says Owen. “Walk your hands forwards until you reach a high plank position. Tap each shoulder with the opposite hand. Walk your hands back until they’re close to your feet and stand back up. Keep your abs braced throughout and try not to rotate your hips.”

4 Copenhagen plank

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

In simple terms, this is a side plank with your top leg elevated on a platform. “Lie on your side with your top foot placed on a chair or box,” says Owen. “Your bottom hand should be pressing firmly down on the floor. Squeeze the underside of your obliques to drive your hips up towards the ceiling. Place your other hand on your chest or reach up towards the ceiling. Hold for ten seconds, then switch sides.”

Warm-Down

1 Pigeon stretch

Time 60sec each side

“Start in a high plank position,” says Owen. “Bring one leg up and move your lower leg so it sits perpendicular to your torso. Drop your back knee down and lower your body over your front leg to feel the stretch in your hip.”

2 Forward bend

Time 90sec

“Sit on the floor with your legs together,” says Owen. “Lower your upper body forwards, stretching your hands forwards as far as you can. Tuck your chin in and hold.”

3 Straddle stretch

Time 60sec each side

“Sit on the floor with your legs as far apart as you can comfortably manage,” says Owen. “Reach your left hand overhead and lean over to the right leg – you should feel the stretch in your left side and right leg. Hold here, maintaining contact between the back of your legs and the floor throughout.”

Take On The Cyclist x dhb 100km Challenge

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, March 30, 2020 - 21:51

It’s perfectly understandable if it’s escaped your attention, but Cyclist magazine is going to be 100 issues old next month. That’s a reason to celebrate – and we all need more of those right now – so Cyclist has partnered up with Strava and dhb to create the Cyclist x dhb 100km Challenge.

The challenge is simple: ride 100km in the two weeks between 6th and 19th April 2020. Given the circumstances, there’s no need to do this outside if you’re self-isolating – you can log your distance on a turbo trainer instead if you have one. And if you’re just observing social distancing rules, remember that you should minimise your outside rides (and keep checking official sources like this UK Government FAQs for the most up-to-date advice).

To get involved you need to join the challenge, which can also be found under the Challenges tab on Strava as Cyclist 100.

If you complete the distance, you’ll earn a Cyclist x dhb 100 Challenge digital badge on Strava, which is nice, but what’s even nicer are the following rewards that you’ll also unlock:

  • Six issues of Cyclist for just £10 (RRP £35.94)
  • A free digital copy of Cyclist Off-Road
  • 25% off dhb’s premium Aeron kit (valid orders over £150)

There’s an extra reward on offer for those who knock it out in one week. You’ll be entered into a draw to win an outfit of your choice from the dhb Aeron range (up to the value of £300), plus Cyclist goodies worth over £100.

We’re still not done! There are yet more prizes on offer throughout the two weeks for people who upload photos of their ride to Instagram and use the hashtag #cyclistdhb100. Each day there will be a prize draw for those who do, with jerseys, socks, books and plenty of other cycling goodies up for grabs.

Join the Cyclist x dhb 100km Challenge | Free

The Gocycle GS E-Bike Is Now Under £2,000

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, March 30, 2020 - 21:09

While we’re a fair way off leaving our places of residence for anything but essential reasons, once the current restrictions are lifted you can be sure things won’t immediately go back to the way they were. If owning a car isn’t practical where you live – a city centre for instance – you may wonder how you’re going to get around. Crowded public transport seems like it will be inadvisable for a long time after limitations on movement are relaxed.

A bike is an obvious and affordable choice, but if you anticipate travelling considerable distances daily it’s certainly worth considering an e-bike.

One that city-centre dwellers in particular might want to consider is the Gocycle GS, especially as it’s just had its price reduced from £2,499 to £1,999. If you plan to use it to commute to work and can access a Cycle To Work scheme, you’ll be able to knock that price down even further – by up to 39%. (NHS workers in London can get a free three-month loan of the GS or other e-bikes from Fully Charged. Register your interest here.)

The Gocycle GS can be packed down to make it easier to stow away in a cupboard when not in use. It’s not a full folding bike like the Gocycle GX (from £2,899), which has a hinge in the middle of the body, but being able to reduce its size is handy for anyone lacking space for a full-size bike.

The eye-catching design of the bike isn’t just a way to attract admiring glances. Having the gears and chain stowed away in the magnesium frame rather than exposed means you’ll avoid getting any mess on your clothes, as well as reducing the amount of maintenance required. The diagonal seat post also means the distance between the seat and handlebars is closer to a full-size bike than a folding one, which we found felt more natural (as a gangly six-footer).

At 16.5kg, it’s lighter than most e-bikes, and that plus the lack of a crossbar makes it relatively easy to carry up stairs. It’s always one of our key considerations when trying out e-bikes, because everyone – including flat-dwellers who live up one or more flights of stairs – will want to keep such an expensive ride indoors.

With a range of 40 miles (64km) the Gocycle GS should be able to handle whatever trips you need to make in a day, and you can recharge the battery overnight.

If you buy the bike now, which comes in white/red, grey/black or white/black, you also get a free Gocycle Portable Docking Station, which can be used to store and transport the GS. The storage is particularly useful, helping you to keep it in a cupboard or neatly in a corner of a room.

Even at its reduced price the Gocycle GS still requires a considerable outlay, and our electric bikes round-up includes some great, cheaper options. However, its stowable design and array of clever features make it a standout option for some commuters.

Buy from Gocycle | £1,999 | Gocycle GS review

Strava Launches New Routes Feature For Runners And Riders

 

Jonathan Shannon

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 20:43

Strava, the social app for logging and sharing your sporting activities with the world, has announced a major new feature for subscribers: route suggestions for runs and rides in the mobile app.

You’ll find it prominently placed in the Explore tab, and users with premium Summit accounts who click through will be presented with three 15-mile (24km) bike rides from your current location. There are filters to toggle where the route should start from, whether you want it to run or ride the course and how far it should approximately be.

Cyclists can choose one of 13 distances between one and 100 miles, or if you prefer the other unit of measurement, eight between 2kmand 160km. Runners get nine options between one and 30 miles or ten distances between 2km and 50km. Obviously the distances at the upper end of those scales aren’t appropriate to use while the UK is in lockdown, but you can at least plan epic outings for when it’s safe to do so.

There are also filters for elevation, so you can head for the hills or avoid them, and surface, with the split being paved and dirt.

Strava deserves kudos for putting the data it has to good use, chiefly by using its records of three billion activities to create heatmaps of popular recreational routes to inform this feature (it guesses which journeys are commutes and doesn’t use them). There’s also the option to overlay heatmaps on the map in the app. Each route also has an estimated time it’ll take you to complete it based on your recent activity and the breakdown of the surface type is in part worked out by looking at the type of bike frame people use on certain stretches.

In practice, however, this beta version can’t match local knowledge and, for now at least, lacks practical application. In the Coach editor’s patch of south London, there are four parks in the vicinity which he runs to and around. Strava’s route suggestions, however, only occasionally recommend running down the side of one – odd, since the circuits round the green spaces are white-hot.

Another contributor found only one of three suggestions went through nearby Epping Forest. To be fair to Strava, the new feature is labelled as beta so it’s still being developed, and we’d wager the suggestions will be refined through taking on board this kind of complaint, and the suggestions people actually save and use.

We expect more developments in the feature soon as well to make it more useful. For one, Routes beta doesn’t offer point-to-point mapping, something that’s offered in Strava’s free route creator on desktop. The most important thing that’s missing, to our minds at least, is better ways to follow the route. For now, you have to have your phone out to follow the route – it won’t sync to a smartwatch so that you can follow it from your wrist, or offer audio cues. This is less of a problem if you’re a cyclist with a phone mount on your handlebars, but runners will find it too much of a faff to pull out, unlock and check a phone periodically. We found the mapping features on Garmin’s Fenix 6 Pro GPS watch so useful we’d go so far as calling it life-changing – a rare thing for technology to achieve. If Strava manages to add that utility, paying £6.99 a month for one of the stand-out features on a £600-plus multisport watch is a no-brainer.

Strava does offer a free two-week trial that will let you try the routes feature, but if you’re not currently a premium user, we’d suggest letting the feature mature – and the lockdown lift – before cashing in your ticket to try it.

Subscribe to Strava | £6.99 a month, £47.99 a year

The Best Running Drills

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Sunday, March 29, 2020 - 21:58

Drills, like warming up, stretching, and strength and conditioning work, fall into the category of things runners know they should do, but never seem to find the time to. And you know what? That’s hardly a surprise – free time is always at a premium and merely managing to run regularly is cause for celebration.

However, if you want to do everything you can to improve your running, drills are a worthy addition to your weekly schedule.

"Running drills will prepare your body for the effort it is about to undertake when used as a warm-up, but they should also be part of your weekly mix if you are serious about taking your running forwards,” says Nick Anderson, founder of RunningWithUs and official Cancer Research UK London Marathon coach.

“If you add in drills after some easy runs or do them as a separate standalone training session, you should see big improvements in your running technique. These drills will build strength and good posture and form.”

Running drills are especially useful during this period of social distancing when a daily run should be limited in scope. If you have a private garden bigger than 10m long, knock yourself out.

Below you’ll find Anderson’s top running drills along with instructions and pictures showing how to do each one, but first here’s some general advice to keep in mind when executing each drill.

“Aim to complete each drill landing on your midfoot or forefoot,” says Anderson. “Be light on your feet. Focus on staying tall with a slight forward lean and remaining relaxed. Keep your hips high and stable. Make sure your arms are working hard and in a full running action. Be careful not to have your elbows wide to assist with balance or your hands crossing the natural midline of your torso. Your arms should be bent at 90° and almost brushing the sides of your body. Look forwards confidently, with your head up.

“Aim to complete each exercise in two to three sets over a 10-20m grid on a safe, firm and flat surface. Then walk or jog back to the starting point for your recovery.”

The Best Running Drills

Ankling

“The aim of this drill is to strengthen and warm up the achilles and calf muscle group, increasing eccentric muscle strength,” says Anderson. “Place your foot on the ground with the toe of your foot first and then lower your weight until your heel just barely touches the ground.” Walk forwards in this manner.

Straight-leg kick-out

“This drill strengthens the dorsiflexion in your foot and lateral calf muscle groups,” says Anderson. Essentially this is running without bending your knees, which sounds difficult – but not if you use these tips from Anderson. “Kick out in short fast movements, bringing your toe up to extend your leg. Maintain your upper-body posture.”

A-skip

“Skip forwards, lifting your lead knee to waist height while keeping your back leg straight as you come up off your toe,” says Anderson. “Strike the ground with your midfoot or forefoot while swinging your opposite arm in unison with your lead leg.”

B-skip

The B-skip is nearly identical to the A-skip, but you extend your lead leg as it comes down. To make sure you’re doing it correctly, Anderson advises listening to the pattern of sound your feet make, which should be a tap then a brief scuff along the ground. Use the same arm motion during this drill as you use while running.

Active glutes stretch

Stand up straight. Lift and turn your right leg so you can take hold of your right ankle next to your left thigh, with your right instep facing up. “You’ll feel the stretch in the glutes and lateral quad area,” says Anderson. Lower your right leg to step forwards and repeat on your left.

Knee hugs

“Roll off your heel onto the ball of your foot and push off,” says Anderson. “Drive your knee up, grab and pull it to your chest. Dorsiflex your foot [lifting your toes up] as you lift your knee. Ensure you maintain an upright posture throughout.”

Hamstring sweeps

“This is a great drill to increase your hamstring’s dynamic flexibility,” says Anderson, “as well as its strength and range. Plant your right heel on the ground in front of you and point your toe up, keeping your leg straight. Bend at your left knee and hips as though you're about to sit on a chair. Move your hands from front to back, sweeping the ground. Keep your back straight and head up. Repeat, alternating legs.”

Team Cancer Research UK aims to raise £1.2m running in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon. Visit cruk.org/sportschallenges for more information on a Cancer Research UK sports event.

The Best Folding Bikes

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 21:33

The folding bike at first glance seems an odd development, a niche product in some ways. But with shrinking homes, traffic jams and overcrowded public transport it’s found its way into a fair few niches – and many users find them something of a revelation. Consider someone who only needs to cover a small distance but doesn’t have the storage space for a full-sized bike – an apartment-dwelling urbanite for instance. Or a suburban rail commuter who can’t park their bike at the station and doesn’t fancy the eye-popping parking fees. A folding bike doesn’t just make sense; it makes life better.

The best folding bikes are lightweight and easy to fold, and pack down small enough that you can pop them under a desk or into a cupboard. Below you’ll find a selection of the best models to suit different needs, including picks for short and long commutes, plus our favourite electric options.

Best Folding Bike For Commuting: Brompton


Brompton bikes are known for their distinctive looks, but that shouldn’t hide the fact that there is plenty of substance to them as well. The steel frame is robust, the bike folds up as easily as anything on the market, and the whole thing is small enough to stash in a cupboard when folded. You can customise many aspects of the bike to suit your needs when ordering too, whether you want gears, a lighter frame or a sportier handlebar style to improve handling. If you’re stumped by those choices, the website has a handy bike builder that will guide you through creating your bike based on a few questions.

Buy from Brompton | From £900

Lightest Folding Bike: Hummingbird Single Speed


Very light and very expensive. Those are the key bits of information about the Hummingbird bike, which is just 6.9kg. For comparison the Brompton’s lightest bike is 10.49kg, so the Hummingbird really is considerably lighter, even if you opt for a geared version, which is 8.2kg. The bike also folds up easily, and of course it’s extra portable thanks to the light weight. Your wallet will be a lot lighter as well, but even at this price it’s certainly worth careful consideration if you plan on humping it through train stations repeatedly.

Buy from Hummingbird | £3,495

Best Electric Folding Bike: Brompton Electric


We’ve tested a lot of electric bikes, and of the foldies we’ve tried the Brompton is clearly the standout pick. For one, it’s genuinely small enough when folded to be easily stored, which is rarely the case with electric options, and it keeps the weight down to a manageable 16.6kg. It also comes with an integrated bag that holds the battery so you can pop it off, sling the bag and battery over one shoulder and carry the folder bike in the other. The 30-70km range from one charge is also more than enough to get through any journeys you’re likely to undertake on a folding bike.

Buy from Brompton | From £2,595

Best Budget Folding Bike: Carrera Intercity


Clearly, we love Brompton bikes, but they’re not to everyone’s taste – or budget. Fear not, there are many great affordable folding options too and our pick of them is the Carrera Intercity, which is a snip at £350. It’s a little on the heavy side at 13.6kg, and the hinge in the middle of the frame makes it more suited to packing down for storage than carrying on to a train, but its chunky 20in tyres handle the many potholes on UK roads impressively well.

Buy from Halfords | £350

Best Folding Bike For Long Commutes: Gocycle GX


If you have a bit more room to play with than a cupboard at home and a desk at the office, but still want the convenience of a foldie, the Gocycle GX will provide that and make short work of most commutes. That’s partly because it’s an e-bike and will chew up any hills you encounter, but also because the tyres are larger and the geometry is like that of a traditional bike, factors that make it easier and more enjoyable to ride long distances on. It doesn’t fold up very small at all, but it is still much smaller than a full-sized bike, and great fun to ride. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re keen on a foldie and plan to ride it for longer than 20-30 minutes regularly. Just make sure you have somewhere to keep it under lock and key, because it’s gorgeous and therefore a target for thieves.

Buy from Gocycle | £2,899 | Gocycle GX review

The Gut Health Doctor Explains How To Avoid Constipation Right Now

 

Jonathan Shannon

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 21:04

We thought seeking out information about avoiding constipation from dietitian and expert in the field Dr Megan Rossi would be a good idea under current circumstances. We do not need to delve too deeply into why. Suffice it to say it seemed like the change in habits and likely drop in physical activity almost the entire population is currently experiencing might lead to some changes in bowel habits.

That, Rossi explained, isn’t the half of it. “It’s also about things like the gut-brain axis – stress can change bowel habits. In fact, the cause of constipation of most of the people I see in clinic is actually stress-related. Stress makes some people have diarrhoea, but there is a group of people whose constipation gets worse with stress.”

Rossi also highlighted that constipation is very common, but the good news is that you don’t need to live with it. “There are heaps of strategies,” says Rossi. “It's just about finding the one that’s right for you.” For instance, mindfulness exercises can help with stress, and there are plenty of mindfulness apps to try.

Rossi helpfully detailed a number of techniques and tips in her book Eat Yourself Healthy, but obviously couldn’t convey all the details. Rossi’s book is available online through Amazon’s Kindle reader. The flow chart on how to address constipation and the gut-directed yoga flow, in particular, may be worth the price of purchase alone.

Before any of that, here’s Rossi on what can cause constipation, how to remedy it and when it’s worth consulting a doctor (not in person for now, of course).

What is constipation?

People’s perception of constipation can differ. For some people it’s how often they actually go, whereas for others if they need to strain they call that constipation. Other people might be wanting to open the bowels and it doesn’t all come out.

What doctors know as functional constipation is people who open their bowels fewer than three times a week, combined with another factor, like straining.

Is constipation likely to become more of an issue in the current “lockdown” circumstances?

There are many different triggers for constipation. Obviously, physical activity’s decreasing and we know that activity can help move the bowels, so it can help prevent constipation.

Then there’s the stress element. There’s a constipation-predominant type of irritable bowel syndrome that has a lot to do with stress. If people are experiencing mental stress and anxiety that can in turn cause their bowels to essentially shut up shop and not move as effectively.

Any change in habits and routine can throw the bowels. That's why when people go on holiday they often struggle with a bit of constipation because their eating routine is out of whack and their safe place of the bathroom is different.

Another issue can be when people have a phobia of opening their bowels in a communal toilet – especially when we’re house sharing, and there might only be one bathroom.

Is it important to deal with constipation rather than ignore it and hope it goes away?

Constipation can be hugely debilitating if people are blocked up for more than a week or two. There are excruciating physical symptoms. The NHS England 2017-2018 report said that constipation cost the government £162 million for that one year, and 196 people a day were actually admitted to hospital because of severe constipation.

Outside of coronavirus it affected up to one in seven adults and up to one in three children. With corona maybe it could be more, but we don't know yet.

What can people do to lower the risk of developing constipation in the current situation?

If you’re sitting down all day and not moving, then spending at least 30 minutes doing something like power walking can help. Or try something like the gut-directed yoga flow [in Rossi’s book], which can help stretch and contract your gut muscles to help them get moving.

In terms of the dietary factors, getting enough fluid in – so around two litres a day, depending on the individual – and also plenty of dietary fibre. That comes from plant-based food groups, so things like wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruit and veg, and we know that the fibre from wholegrains in particular is quite good for helping move the bowel.

Eating 50g of prunes a day can really help increase people’s bowel movements if they're struggling with constipation. Equally, one green kiwi fruit a day. But it’s 50g or the kiwi fruit – just once a day, for a week. If it’s going well, you double it, so 100g of prunes or two kiwi fruit a day for three weeks. Both strategies have been shown in clinical trials to help move people’s bowels. Flaxseed or psyllium husk added to breakfast can also help get the bowels moving a little bit more.

The flow diagram in my book can be really helpful for people who have constipation to identify what strategies are right for them. There are various simple recommendations – more fibre, more water, move more – but actually, it will depend on the individual and their trigger.

For the people who’ve got a toilet phobia, more fibre could make the constipation worse. What they need to do is overcome that fear and in the book I’ve got a “poop-pourri” recipe. It’s super-simple and people can make it at home. It’s just adding essential oils to a bit of detergent and alcohol – vodka or something – and you spray it in the toilet beforehand to trap all the smells under the water. It sounds hilarious but it works incredibly well. I’ve used it for so many of my patients who have a fear of going to the toilet, whether they’re at work or somewhere like that, and they hold it back which causes more issues.

At what point do you think people should get in touch with their doctor?

If it’s a one-off sort of thing, then they can probably just use an over-the-counter treatment. It’s hard to make these recommendations at the moment – we don’t want to be clogging up the NHS with issues of constipation. I think if you can self-manage for a month, try to do that, but if it’s any longer then it might be worth a call.

Get Fresh Pasta Delivered To A Loved One’s Door

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 22:16

Pasta is at a premium right now, so we don’t think there’s anyone who’d say no to some premium pasta delivered to their door. That’s the service offered by Pasta Evangelists, a company that makes fresh pasta and sauces and sends them out all over the UK. Once they arrive, you can freeze them or prepare a delicious meal in under ten minutes.

With all of us staying put in our houses unless absolutely ruddy necessary to stop any further transmission of COVID-19, the idea of getting fresh pasta through the mail sounds very appealing. And Pasta Evangelists has created a special care package you can send to help someone out if they can’t get to the shops, which should brighten up their day in general.

The package contains three meals and costs £25, with £5 from every purchase going to charity Age UK, which is playing a vital role during the pandemic supporting the elderly. You can choose vegetarian-only meals, a mix of vegetarian and meat, or meat only, and the package will be delivered in three to five working days of your order.

Pasta Evangelists has several other gift options as well. These include a pasta-making kit, which is one way to while away the long hours of social isolation if your loved one is unable to work at the moment.

There are other prepared pasta boxes to choose from too, including a date night package and a new parent treat box. Anyone who has just become a parent is definitely in need of a treat right now, so do check that out. Needless to say, if you don’t order the care package, you should consider making a donation to Age UK separately.

If you like the idea of getting meals delivered to someone but are less keen on the pasta angle, consider these alternatives. All are available nationwide.

Fresh Fitness Food

The best meal delivery service out of the many we’ve tried, and you can get 10% off an order using the code WFH10 at the moment. And if you work for the NHS, the discount available is 50% – email sales@freshfitnessfood.com from your NHS email address to take advantage of the offer.

Buy from Fresh Fitness Food

Mindful Chef

This meal delivery service offers healthy frozen meals for £7 apiece as well as recipe boxes. There’s a £20 discount spread across your first two orders to be found on the web – start by checking Instagram or searching for Mindful Chef.

Buy from Mindful Chef

Allplants

Incredibly tasty plant-based meals that can be frozen or thrown straight in the microwave for a delicious dinner. There’s no discount here – they’re just excellent and we thought you should know about them.

Buy from Allplants

No Kit? No Problem! Keep Fit With This Bodyweight Spartan Workout

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 20:48

If your fitness routine has always been dependent on hitting the gym, we’ve got good news for you – you can get and stay in great shape at home as well, even if you don't have any of your usual equipment to hand. You just need to change your approach.

“We have to be adaptable and change the way we go about keeping fit and active in times like these,” says Sam Stauffer, director of training at Spartan Race UK.

To help you out, Stauffer has put together this full-body workout, which is suitable for all fitness levels.

“This workout can be completed with no weights or equipment and can be scaled to be super-easy or super-hard,” says Stauffer.

Warm-Up

1 Leg cradle

Reps 8-10 each side

From standing, bring your right knee up as high as you can while maintaining your balance. Hold the outside of your knee with your right hand and grab your ankle with the left. Slowly pull your ankle towards your chest. You’ll feel this stretch in the back of your glutes.

2 Unweighted squat

Reps 10

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bending at your knees and hips, lower as far as you can. The goal is for your thighs to be parallel to the ground. Once you’ve lowered as far as you can, stand back up and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. Keep your hands out in front of your chest.

3 Single-leg deadlift with reach

Reps 8-10 each side

This is a great exercise to challenge stability! Stand with a slight bend in your knees and put all of your weight on your right leg. Hinge forwards at the hips, sending the left leg backwards and your arms forwards. Reach as far as you can to create as much distance from fingertips to your toes as possible.

4 Arm circles

Reps 8 each side

Stand with your core engaged to avoid arching your lower back. Extend your arms out to the sides and move them in big circles forwards and backwards.

5 Jumping jacks

Time 30sec

Start with your feet together and your hands crossed over one another. From here, jump your feet and hands out wide, then jump back to the starting position.

Repeat the warm-up as many times as it takes to feel ready to take on the workout.

Workout

The workout is split into two tri-sets, followed by an intense superset to finish. Perform all exercises in each tri-set for one minute without a pause, only resting after the last exercise is complete. Rest for two minutes and repeat the tri-set. Once you have completed the tri-set three times in total, move on to the next tri-set. Then complete two rounds of the superset without rest. All exercises have regressions and progressions to suit your level of fitness. To make the whole thing a whole lot harder, reduce the rest period to one minute and perform each tri-set four times.

Tri-Set 1

1A Triceps dip

Sets 3 Time 1min Rest 0sec

Sit on a stable surface like a chair, bench or low table with your hands gripping the surface next to your hips and your feet on the floor. The farther your feet are from you, the harder it’s going to be. Move your bottom off the surface so you’re supporting yourself with your hands, then bend at the elbows to lower your body. Once your elbows are bent at 90°, push back up until your arms are extended.

Make it easier: Bend your knees.

Make it harder: Extend your legs further or add a weight on top of your knees.

1B Reverse lunge to knee drive

Sets 3 Time 30sec each side Rest 0sec

Stand with your feet together. Take a step back with your right leg and lower slowly until your right knee taps the ground. Return to standing and drive your right knee towards your chest. Alternate legs with each rep.

Make it easier: Lose the knee drive.

Make it harder: Add weight, holding dumbbells by your shoulders or kettlebells in the front rack position.

1C Active plank

Sets 3 Time 1min Rest 2min

Think the regular elbow plank – but harder. Lie on the floor supported on your elbows and toes, forming a straight line from the back of your head to your heels. Keep your feet together and your forearms parallel so your hands aren't touching. Squeeze your glutes and abs as tight as you can and drive your elbows in towards your chest but without taking them off the ground. This will activate your core in a way you never thought possible.

Make it easier: Elevate your upper body on a stable surface like a sofa.

Make it harder: Place a light weight on your back.

Tri-Set 2

2A Side squat

Sets 3 Time 30sec each side Rest 0sec

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Move your torso over your right leg, and bend at your right knee and hips to lower, keeping your left leg extended. Your goal is to sink down so your right thigh is parallel with the floor without the knee coming over the toe. This means you are going to have to sit back as far as you can.

Make it easier: Do an unweighted squat as in the warm-up.

Make it harder: Side lunge, where your feet start together and then you step out wide and sink into a side lunge position. Or add weight.

2B Bulgarian split squat

Sets 3 Time 30sec each side Rest 0sec

Stand about 60cm or so from a stable surface like a sofa or bed, facing away from it. Rest the top of your left foot on the surface. Bend at your right knee to lower your left knee as close to the ground as possible, but don’t let your right knee move forwards past your toes. Push back up.

Make it easier: Use a broom handle or something stable to assist the movement.

Make it harder: Add weight, holding dumbbells by your shoulders or kettlebells in the front rack position.

2C Woodchop

Sets 3 Time 30sec each side Rest 2min

Start off in a half-kneeling position with your left knee on the ground and your right foot on the ground in front of you, right knee bent at 90° and heel directly below your knee. Hold a weight – a heavy book will be fine if you don’t have any free weights at home – in front of your left knee. Lift the weight up and across your body until your arms are extended above your right shoulder. Reverse the move.

Make it easier: Use a lighter weight.

Make it harder: Bring your back knee off the ground slightly.

Superset

Do two rounds of this superset without resting to finish your workout strong.

3A Mountain climber

Sets 2 Time 1min Rest 0sec

Get into a press-up position, supported on your hands and toes, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your body forming a straight line. Alternate bringing each knee up to your chest, moving at pace.

3B Burpee

Sets 2 Time 1min Rest 0sec

From standing, bring your hands down to the ground and kick your feet back to get into a press-up position. Do a press-up, then jump your feet forwards again so they’re next to your hands and return to a standing position. Then jump, bringing your hands high over your head.

Saucony Kinvara 11 Running Shoe Review: Better For Training, Not For Racing

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, March 23, 2020 - 21:37

When a shoe reaches its 11th edition, it’s a good sign that it’s doing something right. The Kinvara has been immensely popular since its launch over a decade ago, with its lightweight, cushioned ride and 4mm heel-to-toe offset appealing to runners seeking a low-drop trainer that can handle a variety of runs.

This is the third edition of the Kinvara that I’ve run in, having used and enjoyed running in the 8 and 10. With a new midsole material thrown into the mix for the 11 – Saucony’s bouncy and lightweight PWRRUN, which was the highlight of the Triumph 17 – I was excited about trying it.

That excitement only grew when I saw the shoe, because the blue colourway might be my favourite running shoe design ever. I know that’s a matter of taste and irrelevant to how it runs, but it’s fair to say I was rooting for the 11 to be a brilliant shoe on the basis that I wanted it in my rotation for its looks.

Fortunately the Kinvara 11 backed up its appearances with a top-quality ride. The last edition, the Kinvara 10, stood out for me by offering an incredibly smooth transition from heel to toe. That’s not the case with the 11: it has a bit more bounce instead, and also feels a little softer.

Bouncier and softer are good things in my book, but I’d also say the Kinvara 11 has moved the shoe more firmly into the training arena, whereas past Kinvaras have been all-rounders well-suited to racing, especially over long distances. The 11 is no slouch and still light at 233g (men’s), and it would make for a comfortable and quickish marathon shoe, but I found picking up the pace easier in the 10.

It’s a more enjoyable shoe to use for easy training, though, and still great for tempo and harder long runs too. The padded tongue and collar, plus the stretchy upper all combine with the underfoot cushioning to create a shoe that’s comfortable from top to bottom.

This all makes the Kinvara 11 a lightweight and comfortable daily trainer, but there is increased competition in that area from shoes that are also better for fast running. Chief among these is the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2, which is also soft and bouncy but feels quicker too. Admittedly the Turbo 2 is expensive at £159.95, compared with £115 for the Kinvara 11, but there’s also the Hoka One One Rincon at £105, which is another excellent shoe that’s lightweight, cushioned and fast. The Rincon also has a low heel-to-toe drop – 5mm, similar to the 4mm of the Kinvara – and I’d certainly lean towards the Hoka if I was picking between the two shoes as a versatile trainer.

If you’ve loved the Kinvara in the past, the new edition does tweak the formula to be more of a trainer than a trainer-racer but it’s not so drastically different that I’d recommend steering clear – it’s still a great shoe to pull on day to day. If you’ve no experience of this line, however, I’d say the Hoka Rincon offers a faster ride while still being comfortable to use for easy runs.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £115

Saucony Kinvara 10 Running Shoe Review

When a shoe reaches its tenth edition, that’s usually a good sign that it’s doing something right. The Kinvara has been an immensely popular shoe for Saucony since its launch a decade ago, with its lightweight, cushioned ride and 4mm heel-to-toe offset appealing to runners seeking a low-drop trainer that can handle a variety of runs.

I’ve run in one previous edition of the Kinvara – the 8 – which I found was especially good to wear on long steady runs, and the same holds true for the Kinvara 10.

The shoe weighs just 221g (men’s) or 190g (women’s), yet has a good stack of cushioning that makes for a fairly soft ride. However, the overwhelming feeling I associated with the ride is not softness, but how smooth it is in rolling through from heel to toe. It’s great on runs of any length where you’re working at a steady or easy pace, but shines over longer distances, where you positively eat up the miles while feeling like you’re cruising. And if you fancy upping the pace towards the end of a long run, the Kinvara feels quick enough to let you do just that.

It’s also very comfortable to wear. The mesh upper holds the foot in place without being oppressive and the FORMFIT contoured footbed also helps to envelop your foot in the shoe. I found there were no pressure points on my foot and the Kinvara wasn’t far off the plush feel of the Saucony Triumph ISO 5, which is purpose-built for comfortable cruising.

The ride and fit of the Kinvara combine to make it a solid option for long-distance racing. It doesn’t have the snap and responsive feel of something like the Adidas Boston 7 or Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit and I found it lacked a little oomph in short, speedy runs, but longer efforts at a good if not all-out pace feel great in the Kinvara.


To put its speed credentials to the test I took the Kinvara to the track for some 2km intervals as well as tackling a fast 10K, alternating between something like marathon pace and 10K pace for each kilometre. On both occasions I found that I was craving something a little faster on my foot, especially towards the end of the rep or workout. The Kinvara isn’t slow, but it doesn’t provide the propulsive feel of a true racer which you want at track session or for 5K and 10K races.

It will do a great job over a marathon distance, however, and would be good pick for half marathons as well, offering a balance of weight, comfort and cushioning, as well as that silky-smooth ride – perfect for long races.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £115

Saucony Kinvara 8 Running Shoe Review

Running shoes can come a cropper when they try to appeal to too many different people. Different runners want different things, whether that’s the amount of cushioning a shoe has, or its overall weight, or its offset – the difference in height between the heel and forefoot. A shoe that seeks the middle ground can result in a shoe that no-one especially wants.

Fortunately, this is not the case with the versatile Saucony Kinvara 8, which has always enjoyed a large fanbase. The neutral, low-offset (4mm) shoe is comfortable to wear for all kinds of running, with a plush tongue, heel padding and enough cushioning packed into a 224g frame (men’s size 9) that you can head out for longer runs without fear of putting your legs through undue stress.

I’ve never tended to use low-offset shoes but the Kinvara 8 was comfortable from the first run onwards. The ride was smooth, especially when I picked up the pace but also on long weekend plods. Despite its slightly bulky appearance, the Kinvara 8 is light, responsive and eminently suitable for fast training runs or races.

If you prefer a low-offset shoe, the Kinvara 8’s good chunk of cushioning makes it especially well-suited to races of half marathon distance and above. A common worry at these distances is choosing a shoe that’s not so weighty as to slow you down, but with enough cushioning that you can complete the distance in (relative) comfort. The Kinvara 8 should solve this problem for many runners.

The upper is thin and breathable, with Saucony’s internal strap system securing the midfoot in place. If you prefer a completely loose upper this might feel a bit tight, but I found the extra security comfortable.

With the Kinvara 8, Saucony has maintained the good name of the Kinvara line and produced a fine all-rounder that will fit the needs of almost any runner who prefers a low-offset shoe.

If you are keen to move to a low-offset shoe, the bounteous cushioning and smooth ride make the Kinvara 8 a great first option to start the transition.

How To Do Flutter Kicks

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, March 23, 2020 - 18:06

Like all the very best abs exercises, flutter kicks don’t seem very hard at all when you first start doing them. Then, after 20 seconds or so, as the tension builds in your abs, you start to realise that you’re in for a world of pain, and then 25 seconds in you absolutely will not believe how slowly those last five seconds passed.

Flutter kicks are an essential abs exercise for anyone looking to sculpt a six-pack or strengthen their core. It’s a particular good exercise for swimmers, working the muscles needed to propel yourself through the water with your legs. Flutter kicks sometimes also go by the name scissor kicks, but to us that implies more movement of the feet than required. A flutter really is all it takes.

How To Do Flutter Kicks

Lie on your back with your legs extended. Lift your head, neck and shoulders slightly off the ground and engage your core muscles. Lift your feet 15cm off the ground, keeping your legs extended. Move one foot up and the other down, alternating at pace while keeping your torso still – maintaining tension in the rest of your body is crucial to gaining the core benefits of the move.

Aim to flutter for 30-60 seconds, but don’t be surprised if you tap out earlier than that at first – the burning in your abs builds up remarkably quickly with this exercise. If you’re really struggling with the move, try doing it while keeping your head and shoulders on the ground.

Flutter Kicks Variations

Reverse flutter kicks

Flip yourself over for a flutter kick variation that mainly targets the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and obliques. Lie on a weight bench with your hips on the edge so your legs are free to move up and down. Hold the front of the bench for balance. Start with your legs level with the rest of your body, squeeze your glutes, then start to slowly move them up and down under control.

Chris Hemsworth’s Fitness App Now Offers A Free Six-Week Trial

 

Jonathan Shannon

Monday, March 23, 2020 - 15:48

When you’re a Hollywood A-lister, it’s somewhat easier to stay in great shape thanks to the team of experts guiding your training and diet, and ensuring you’re in the right state of mind. The neat trick the Chris Hemsworth-fronted app Centr pulls is to gather the Thor actor’s supporting cast and give you access to them.

We had a great experience when we reviewed Centr, and the service has now been opened up to all with a free six-week trial for new customers who sign up before April. “We hope that by making Centr available to everyone for this extended period, we can help even more people stay strong, healthy and find a sense of calm at a time when we all need that the most,” says Hemsworth.

There are plenty of no-kit workouts of many different types – HIIT of course, as well as yoga and other disciplines which will help with your mobility and general limberness, which will be particularly useful as most of us face extended periods indoors.

The app offers a complete meal planning feature, although we found committing to it requires a lot of shopping, cooking and money, which won’t be practical for most at the moment. Treat it as something to dip into – as Centr points out, many meals use store-cupboard staples.

Perhaps the most useful part of the app for now will be the sessions aiming to help your mental state. “The mindfulness sessions were an unexpected highlight,” Coach reviewer Sarah Lienard wrote. “It turns out sleep visualisations are the practice I never knew I needed.”

You will need to add in your payment card details and select a payment plan when you sign up, but there is an auto-renew option which you can turn off straight away so you’re not charged and the trial will continue for the full six weeks.

If you want to try before you commit your details, give this 15-minute MMA workout from one of the Centr trainers a go, and see if this smoky steak tacos recipe from one of the chefs who contributes to the Centr meal plans gets you salivating.

Sign up for Centr | Free six-week trial; £22.99 a month,£44.99 for three months (£15/month) or £93.99 for a year (£7.83/month)

Anyone Can Use This Bodyweight Workout To Get Fit At Home

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Saturday, March 21, 2020 - 20:31

Even if you’re working out at home without weights or any equipment, you can improve your fitness in under 15 minutes, as demonstrated by this bodyweight workout from Harriet Le Seze, duty manager and trainer at ONE LDN.

However, it’s not only physical benefits you’ll get from exercise, there are mental benefits too, especially if you find yourself working from home for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You’ll see benefits and you’ll feel benefits,” says Le Seze. “It helps to structure the day, and by getting up and challenging yourself to do something that initially you might not want to do, you’ll feel good and proud of yourself for completing it. You get the endorphin rush.”

The workout is also suitable for pretty much everyone, since it can be scaled to suit your fitness level by making small adjustments to the exercises.

“For example, if you’re new to working out, when you’re doing a press-up you can put your knees on the floor rather than starting out in the full plank position,” says Le Seze. “Or if you want to make triceps dips harder, you can have your legs straight out in front of you or even raise your feet off the floor.”

Follow the links on most of the exercise names to see Coach’s exercise guides for easier and harder variations to try. One universal way to make any exercise more challenging is to vary the tempo, doing parts of the move slowly to keep your muscles under tension for longer.

How often you should do the workout depends on your existing fitness level.

“I’d suggest every other day. If you’re a beginner, maybe a little less, but if you’re advanced then you could do it every day,” says Le Seze. “Listen to what your body’s telling you.”

Bodyweight Home Workout

The workout consists of two tri-sets. Complete the first set of three exercises twice, then move on to the second tri-set, which should also be done twice.

The first tri-set works the upper body and core, while the second hits your abs. If you’re a beginner you may find this second section particularly difficult. Putting your hands under your bottom or lower back for the final two moves can help, but if you feel that your abs and core aren’t doing the work and you’re putting pressure on your lower back instead, stop. Make a note of the time you worked for, then see if you can increase it next time you do the workout.

1A Press-up

Sets 2 Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Start on your hands and feet in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Bend at your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then push back up. Le Seze recommends using a 3030 tempo, so three seconds to lower, then three seconds to come back up, with no pause at the bottom or top.

“Keep your body in a straight line, and pay attention to where your hips and bum are. A lot of people raise them, which takes pressure off the arms, shoulders and abs and means the move isn’t as effective,” says Le Seze.

1B Triceps dip

Sets 2 Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Use a sturdy table or chair for this exercise. Facing away from the table, put your hands on it with your feet out in front of you – the further away they are, the harder the move will be. Lower your torso by bending at your elbows, then push back up.

“If you allow your elbows to flare out behind you then you’re not going to be targeting your triceps as vigorously as you could be,” says Le Seze. “Keep them tight to your midsection.”

1C Walking plank

Sets 2 Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Start in a high plank position, then drop onto your elbows one arm at a time, keeping your body straight and level. Then come back up onto your hands. Keep going up and down for the time.

“As with the press-up, keep your hips level,” says Le Seze. “Imagine you’ve got a glass of water balanced on your lower back. You want to make sure the water doesn’t spill out. Control is as important as pace.”

2A Crunch pulse

Sets 2 Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor,” says Le Seze. “Bring your hands up, pointing your fingers towards your knees or the ceiling.”

From this position raise your torso off the ground, then “pulse” your torso up and down. If you don’t let your back touch the floor, your abs will be engaged throughout.

“I’d recommend doing it to a favourite song and trying to stay on the beat,” says Le Seze.

2B Leg raise

Sets 2 Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Lie flat on your back. “You can put your hands under your bum, which eases the pressure on your lower back,” says Le Seze. “Slowly raise your legs until they’re pointing straight up, then lower them. The downward movement is the most important part, so lower slowly and with control.”

2C Flutter kick

Sets 2 Time 45sec Rest 15sec

“These are deadly,” says Le Seze. Lying flat on your back, raise your legs about 30cm above the floor, and with small movements alternate raising your feet up and down, as if you were kicking your legs when swimming.

ONE LDN is a boutique fitness brand with a studio in Imperial Wharf, Fulham. ONE LDN offers classes including HIIT workouts, Muay Thai boxing, yoga and “booty- focused” routines.

Run The Local Landmarks Challenge Virtual Event And Keep Fundraising

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Saturday, March 21, 2020 - 19:18

Spring usually brings a host of mass running events, from 10Ks to marathons, which means a medal bonanza for many runners and a vital source of funds for charities. Of course in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, all those events have been cancelled or postponed.

But in an exceptionally admirable move, the organisers of the postponed London Landmarks Half Marathon (LLHM), a closed-road event around central London, have come up with the Local Landmarks Challenge virtual event. The aim of the virtual challenge is to give runners a new target and complete their charitable efforts, while also helping the event reach its original £8.5 million fundraising target for baby charity Tommy’s.

If you had a spot in the LLHM you can register online for the virtual challenge for free. If you didn’t it’s £12 to enter, with all profits going to Tommy’s.

Once you’ve entered you can do your run at any time before 3rd May. In the spirit of the original event, which has a route that passes many central London landmarks, the organisers are asking you to run to the landmarks near you – whether that’s a historical site, your favourite park or something quirky that you want to share with the world.

Replicating the full half marathon is encouraged, but you can also run just 5K or 10K if you prefer. Track your run with your preferred app and then upload a screenshot of it to the LLHM website to claim your medal.

Since the event calls for outdoor running, the organisers are paying close attention to government advice on the subject. As of now it’s deemed safe to run outside by yourself, keeping your distance from others while you do so, but if that changes the virtual challenge will be paused. Remember to check just before you head out.

With so many running events being cancelled, the LLHM isn’t the only one that is now going to take place virtually. You can also run, or just be active, for 60 minutes to earn a medal from the organisers of the Adidas City Runs 1-Hour race, and all of RunThrough’s March and April events can now be completed virtually.

Get Stronger And Improve Your Posture With This Home Back Workout

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 17:04

Many of us have a selection of favoured home exercises that provide a testing workout for most parts of the body, but the back is often not included in that, for the simple reason that it’s a bit trickier to target without weights to row.

Trickier, but not impossible. In this workout created by Jo McLelland, co-founder and head trainer at London gym Body Society, you’ll give your back an effective workout using just bodyweight moves and one resistance band row. It’s worth doing, because the benefits you’ll get as a result are considerable.

“Regularly training the back can lead to a reduction in back pain, improved mobility and posture, says Watson. “By developing strength here, there will be an improvement in the body’s ability to complete day-to-day activities.”

Home Back Workout

1 Cat-cow pose

Sets 1 Reps 10-15

“This is a great way to warm up the spine, and improve balance and posture,” says Watson. “Additionally, this pose can help prevent back pain when practised on a regular basis.”

Get on all fours with your back horizontal and hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Inhale through your nose. As you exhale, slowly arch your back, allowing your belly to sink towards the floor. Inhale and round your spine, pushing your belly towards your spine and pulling your pelvic floor up towards your navel. Keep your head neutral – don’t force the chin to the chest.

2 Standing T

Sets 1 Reps 15-20

Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a slight lean forwards, hinging at the hips. Raise your hands out to the sides to create a T shape, thumbs pointing up. You can increase the difficulty using 2kg dumbbells if you have them.

3 Standing Y

Sets 1 Reps 15-20

Set up in the same way as with the standing T – stand with your feet hip-width apart with a slight lean forwards, hinging at the hips – but form the letter Y by moving your arms out and further up, at about 45° to your head. Again, you can use 2kg weights to increase the difficulty.

4 Seated banded row

Sets 1 Reps 15-20

Sit on the floor and place a resistance band – a strap or long loop – around your feet. Bend your knees slightly, sit tall and hold the band by your knees. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and draw your arms back until the band meets your upper ribs. Hold at this tension point for one to two seconds. Slowly return to the starting position.

5 Wall angel

Sets 3 Reps 10

“This exercise helps improve your shoulder and upper-back mobility,” says Watson, “and builds strength in the glutes, lower back and core.”

Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet away from the wall and slide your back down until there is a 90° bend at both your hips and knees. Bring your elbows and the backs of your hands up to the wall, so your elbows are level with your shoulders and your hands are at head height. From here slide your arms up and down the wall.

6 Alternating Superman

Sets 1 Reps 3 each side

“This is a good exercise to improve lower-back and core strength,” says Watson.

Lie face down with your arms extended forward past your head. Inhale and lift the opposing arm and leg about 15cm off the ground, and hold for three to five seconds. Exhale and relax. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

7 High plank

Sets 1 Time 15sec

Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders. Step one leg back at a time with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Keep your core tight and don’t let your hips dip to the floor because this will put pressure on your back.

As your core gets stronger, work up in 15-second increments to holding this position for up to two minutes. You can also increase the difficulty by adding shoulder taps. Lift one hand and tap it on the opposite shoulder, then repeat on the other side, keeping your body as still as possible.

Adidas SL20 Running Shoe Review: A Great-Value Speedster For Under £100

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 16:17

Adidas has not been especially active in performance-focused shoes over recent years, aside from minor updates to the popular Adios and Boston lines. However, it was only a matter of time before that changed, and the company is releasing two speedy shoes in 2020 – the SL20 and the Adizero Pro.

The latter is Adidas’s answer to the controversial, record-breaking Nike Vaporfly. A cushioned but lightweight racing shoe with a carbon plate and a high price, though at €180 (expected to be around £150 in the UK) it’s still substantially cheaper than the £240 Vaporfly NEXT%.

Like the Adizero Pro, the SL20 is also designed to be used for fast running, but the price is much lower. It has an RRP of £100 that’s already been discounted to £80-ish by some retailers, which looked like great value before I ran in it, and looks like an even better deal now I have.

The SL in the name stands for super light, although at 230g for a UK 8.5 it’s more a case of pretty light. It’s not as light as the Brooks Hyperion Tempo (207g) or Hoka One One Rincon (218g), which are both also fast training shoes, but the SL20 is impressively light considering it has a decent amount of Continental rubber on the outsole, which helps with grip and durability.

Adidas has kept the weight off by using its new Lightstrike foam, which is also used in the Adizero Pro. In the latest Adios and Boston shoes, Lightstrike is used alongside Boost, which has long been Adidas’s go-to performance foam.

Boost is a great, responsive foam, but it’s a little heavy compared with the proprietary foams other companies have developed of late, like Nike’s ZoomX or New Balance’s FuelCell. Lightstrike is made of the same TPU material as Boost, but is lighter and trades some of the comfort and bounce of the latter for a firmer, faster ride.

The SL20 is the first shoe I’ve run in with a Lightstrike midsole, and it certainly delivers on the speed front. I used the shoe for two sessions – one interval session doing mile reps and another doing 20 laps of the track, alternating between 90-second and 80-second laps – as well as a few easy runs, and it definitely felt better when running fast. The heel-to-toe transition is smooth and the toe-off is pretty punchy, though not quite the propulsive effect you get from a shoe with a carbon plate.

I don’t think the SL20 lost anything in those fast runs compared with the past versions of the Boston and the Adios I’ve used. It’s not the Vaporfly, of course, and I personally prefer the slightly softer, bouncier feel of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel and Brooks Hyperion Tempo as fast trainers, but the SL20 is comparably quick and far cheaper than either of those.

The Hoka Rincon is another fast option, but with no rubber on the outsole it is likely to fall short in the durability stakes, whereas the SL20 should be as reliably long-lasting as Adidas’s other shoes with Continental rubber on the bottom.

The firm ride of the SL20 is less welcome on easy runs, but it wasn’t really uncomfortable. The Boston would be my preferred pick of the two for long running at any pace, and I don’t think the SL20 would make for a great marathon racing shoe – but if you want one shoe to do it all while mainly being a fast shoe for racing in, then the SL20 is fine for short, easy efforts too.

As with all Adidas’s performance shoes, the fit of the SL20 is narrow, to the point where you might consider sizing up if you have wide feet. The tight fit helps the shoe disappear on the foot when you up the pace, but only if it’s not uncomfortably tight.

The SL20 is a racing and fast training shoe for the masses, in that it doesn’t come with an eye-popping price tag like most new launches. It should be durable too, though all I can say for sure at the moment is that there isn’t any noticeable wear after 60km or so of running in it. I don’t think it will be the perfect marathon shoe for most people just because it is quite firm, but it would work well for 5K up to half marathon distance. If you have the need for speed but don’t want to spend more than £100 on a shoe, there’s nothing better available right now.

Buy men’s from Adidas | Buy women’s from Adidas | £100 (some styles currently reduced to £79.95 at Sports Shoes)


The Best Apps for Men to Stream a Workout

 

There’s no arguing the fact that fitness is expensive. Personal trainers, boutique studio classes, fancy equipment, and even plain ol’ gym memberships can make you wince not from post-workout soreness but from straight-up sticker shock. Luckily, we’re living in an age where technology is the great equalizer: There are amazing apps to stream a workout.

These Abs Exercises Make Core Work Fun (We Swear)

 

Holding a plank or banging out dozens of crunches gets monotonous. These variations make for a more fun abs routine (we swear)—while getting the brain to play along.

7 Jump Rope Workouts to Blast Fat and Get Fit

 

Forget any association you had with jump ropes and gym class. The jump rope is a powerful workout tool. It builds cardio fitness, balance, agility, and bone strength. It’s also one of the best go-anywhere fitness accessories, fitting easily into even a crammed carry-on.

Trainers Secret: Two Easy At-Home Moves To Fuel Your Core

 

GRIT BXNG trainer Evan Betts demonstrates two easy moves you can do at home to work your core and balance like a pro. Betts’ secret to getting the most of your workout? Use an essential oil like Forest Remedies’ Citrus Lemon Essential Oil to stay awake and energized throughout your workout.

Exclusive: Trainer Jill Barger Shares Three Do-At-Home Moves

 

Feel the burn! GRIT BXNG trainer and NBA dancer Jill Barger demonstrates three of her favorite do-at-home moves that will have you training just like a pro while keeping you healthy and fit. After you’ve worked up a sweat, Barger recommends two secret weapons to get the most out of your recovery:

Chef Michael Chernow’s Kitchen Essentials

 

Chef and Restauranteur Michael Chernow rose to prominence with popular NYC foodie staples’ The Meatball Shop and Seamore’s. When it comes to his own kitchen, there’s a few things he can’t live without:  a chef’s knife, a cast iron skillet and a blender, which Chernow says he uses 3-4 times a day.

How A Trainer Trains: Jill Barger

 

As a GRIT BXNG Trainer and NBA Dancer for the Brooklyn Nets, Jill Barger knows the importance of keeping in tip top shape at all times, even when the gym isn’t accessible. Jill shares some of her favorite do-at-home exercises while spilling the beans on her favorite pre and post workout secrets.

How A Trainer Trains At Home: Evan Betts

 

No access to the gym? No problem.  GRIT BXNG trainer Evan Betts shares some of his favorite moves you can do from the comfort of your home while sharing some of his favorite post-workout secret weapons for enhanced recovery: Forest Remedies’ Hemp Extract Soothing Balm and Hemp Extract Massage Oil.

How Lamorne Morris Got Action Hero-Ready For ‘Bloodshot’

 

Lamorne Morris was looking for an excuse to get in shape when he snagged the role of eccentric coder Wilfred Wigans in Bloodshot, starring alongside Vin Diesel.

All About Krill Oil

 

Men’s Journal sat down with Dr. Graham Wood, Chief Scientific Officer from Neptune Wellness Solutions to discuss the various benefits of Krill Oil.

How to Stay Healthy (and Sane) While You Ride Out COVID-19

 

If you’re fortunate enough not to have coronavirus in your home, lucky you. No one’ll fault you for throwing on the television, heating up frozen meals, and counting down the days. But after you’ve done the bare minimum—washing hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces and doorknobs—there are some simple ways to feel better and saner in the coming weeks, according to Myles Spar, M.D., chief medical officer for Vault Health and author of Optimal Men’s Health. “Every day, there are four things you need to consider: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress,” Spar says. Here’s how to get it done.

A Look Inside Laird Hamilton's Wellness Practices

 

It’s impossible not to be inspired when listening to Laird Hamilton speak about his wellness journey and obvious deep-rooted passion for healthy living.

How Supplements Can Support All Types of Adventure Lifestyles

 

This article was produced in partnership with U.S. Doctor’s Clinical.

5 Exercises to Activate Your Glutes Before Your Next Run

 

If you’re a runner, there’s no question about it: You have strong legs. That’s because you need and use them in order to propel yourself forward and successfully log miles. Muscular calves and thighs can be a telltale sign that someone is a runner. But there are more muscles involved in running that are often forgotten about—namely the glutes.

How Distilleries Are Now Producing Hand Sanitizer

 

While booze is still a great elixir to help people get through these self-quarantined times, a number of distilleries are now diverting their wares from spirits to an even bigger market: hand sanitizer.

Chris Hemsworth Offers Free 6-Week Trial of Centr Fitness Program

 

As people continue to search for creative ways to cope with social distancing due to novel coronavirus, millions are staying connected with virtual happy hours, family gatherings, and business meetings. While technology is playing a key role in keeping our society connected, it’s also helping us stay in shape.

FINE ART: CHISELING A COMPETITION QUALITY UPPER BODY

 

You don’t earn a top-tier sponsorship with MusclePharm and retain a roster of personal training clients without being committed and consistent—but men’s physique competitor Osamoje Imoohi isn’t afraid to lean on his friends and family for support, either.

Latest Updates From Celebrities and Athletes Who Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

 

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to sweep across the globe, everyday life has come to a grinding halt. Restaurants and bars are shuttering, stock markets are tumbling, and #socialdistancing is trending. While it can be hard to accept this new reality, you may find solace in the simple fact that we are all in this fight together––and celebrities are no exception.

Mark Wahlberg Is Using Self-Isolation to Step Up His Fitness Game

 

Now isn’t the time to sit on the couch and binge TV all day. Or at least, it isn’t for Mark Wahlberg, who is using his self-isolation time to step up his wellness and fitness game. The impossibly fit, nearly 50-year-old actor posted a video of some downtime from his latest self-isolation workout to Instagram.

These Stretches and Exercises Will Relieve Your Achy Wrists

 

Yes, sitting is the new smoking, and that desk job might just kill you. But that’s not all. Sitting in front of a computer all day might also be causing you a lot of pain right now, in your hands and wrists.


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