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Cycling Electric Is The New Magazine All About E-Bikes


Tuesday, July 7, 2020 - 06:54

Do you have questions about about e-bikes. Questions like: What are they? How do they work? How fast do they go? How much do they cost to buy and run? What are the regulations surrounding them? All these questions and more are answered in Cycling Electric, a new magazine from the publisher of Coach.

Whether you’re looking to ease yourself into getting active again, continuing to explore long after your legs would normally have given up the ghost, or simply avoiding public transport during, er, a pandemic, then you’ll find everything you need to know inside.

The magazine provides in-depth details on a wide range of e-bike models, from commuter and folding bikes to road bikes and cargo bikes. It is a vital resource for anyone thinking of buying an e-bike for work or leisure.

E-bikes will play a significant role in the future of cycling, Cycling Electric is your ultimate guide to what’s coming.

It’s on sale 7th July, priced £5.99, from shop.cyclist.co.uk, WHSmith, Sainsbury’s and independent retailers.

The Polar Unite Looks Like The Perfect Fitness Watch For Beginners


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, July 6, 2020 - 21:08

Once you’ve resolved to do something to get fitter, one of the hardest things can be knowing what to do. Or, almost as importantly, what not to do, because it’s very easy to go in all guns blazing and either injure or overwork yourself, nipping your new-found determination in the bud all too soon.

You can seek advice from more experienced friends, the internet, or professionals like personal trainers. Only recently could you also say technology like fitness trackers could perform that role, and that tech is best realised in the Polar Unite.

Polar’s new fitness watch, the cheapest in its current line-up, is laden with clever features to help track and guide your exercise. The stand-out is FitSpark., a feature we’ve used on several Polar watches in the past, but it feels best suited to the Unite because FitSpark is absolutely perfect for those just getting into fitness.

The feature will provide you with daily recommendations for cardio, strength and stretching workout, based on a variety of factors including your fitness level, training history and, crucially, your overnight recovery and sleep quality. That means you’re always getting recommendations that suit your fitness and ability to train that day, so you avoid overworking yourself.

FitSpark isn’t the only feature on the Unite, of course. The watch is waterproof and has an optical heart rate monitor that is used in the guided workouts to ensure you’re working at the right intensity, and it also tracks your everyday activity alongside your sleep and sports sessions.

What the Unite doesn’t have, however, is built-in GPS. If you want accurate outdoor activity tracking for running or cycling, you’ll need to take your phone with you so the watch can piggyback off its GPS. This isn’t a great hardship, but the lack of built-in GPS is still disappointing – even the latest Fitbit Charge band has finally brought that feature on board.

Not having GPS does mean the Unite lasts for 50 hours during training mode, but the overall battery life of four days is underwhelming. The colour touchscreen no doubt saps a lot of juice, but still we’d have liked five days at least.

The Unite costs £134.50 and is available to order now on the Polar website with different colour bands available. If you are keen on the idea of the watch but consider GPS a necessity, then the Polar Ignite (£174.50) is the one for you.

Buy from Polar | £134.50

A Low-Impact Cardio Workout That Goes Easy On Your Joints


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, July 6, 2020 - 20:55

If you’re looking to do a cardio workout at home and don’t have access to equipment like a treadmill or exercise bike, the usual recommendation is to start jumping around. Bodyweight exercises like squat jumps, burpees and jumping jacks will do a great job of raising your heart rate.

However, they are also high-impact exercises. If you’re looking to avoid that, either because you’re nursing an injury or simply don’t want to annoy the neighbours, then try this low-impact cardio workout from personal trainer Cecilia Harris, co-founder of fitness platform Results Wellness Lifestyle. You will need a kettlebell (although a dumbbell will also suffice) and Harris recommends performing it three times a week.

Low-Impact Cardio Workout

How To Do This Workout

The 20-minute workout is split into four five-minute blocks that each involve doing the same three exercises. However, in each block the amount of time you spend working will increase and your rest period will decrease.

Block 1: Work 20sec, rest 40sec
Block 2: Work 30sec, rest 30sec
Block 3: Work 40sec, rest 20sec
Block 4: Work 45sec, rest 15sec

“Keep in mind that during your rest periods you should be transitioning to the next exercise,” says Harris.

You’ll spend each five-minute block cycling through the exercises below in order, so you’ll perform the kettlebell swing, goblet squat and plank, then go back to the start and do the kettlebell swing and goblet squat again. Then you start the next block and repeat that sequence again.

1 Kettlebell swing

“This is the most popular kettlebell exercise,” says Harris. “It’s pretty basic and seems like it wouldn’t be very effective but if you use the right weight it will wear you out quickly! Your shoulders, forearms, legs and core will feel the burn.

“Hold the weight by the handle between your legs, with your arms straight. Using your legs, shoulders and core, swing it up until it passes shoulder height. Lower it under control to the starting position and repeat.”

2 Goblet squat

“Hold your kettlebell by the sides of the handle, also known as the horns. If you’re using a dumbbell hold it by one end on the sides,” says Harris.

Bend at the knees and hips to lower, keeping your torso upright and pushing your hips back. Push through your heels to stand back up.

“To make this exercise as effective as possible, you must squat down until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor,” Harris adds. “When you stand back up, flex your quads and squeeze your glutes at the top."

3 Plank

“Get in a press-up position, holding yourself up with your hands or forearms,” says Harris. “Pull in your stomach and tighten your entire body. Hold this position for the time required.”

The Best Beginner Running Watch Is The Cheapest We’ve Ever Seen It In Amazon’s Summer Sale


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, July 6, 2020 - 10:43

If you’re looking for a beginner running watch then you need the Garmin Forerunner 45. It has built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and excellent run tracking. It also allows you to set up interval workouts and, with the included Garmin Coach feature, full training plans for 5K, 10K and half marathon races to follow from your wrist.

It’s those training plans that make the Forerunner 45 so good for beginner runners, because you can tailor the training plan to your ability and target for your race, and then sync all of the workouts to your watch so it can guide you through them. It’s a brilliant feature for guiding you through training so you arrive on the start line of your event – whether it’s real or virtual – in great shape. With different styles of plans, including a run-walk approach, it’s also a great way to be coached from your couch to your first 5K.

However, while beginners will get the most from it, the Forerunner 45 is a watch that will satisfy the needs of most runners. Our only minor gripe with the watch when we reviewed it was that its RRP of £170 is a little high for a budget watch, and even with discounts it’s rarely available for under £150 (Black Friday 2019, when it briefly dropped to £125, was a notable exception).

That’s why we think you should seriously consider snapping it up during Amazon’s Summer Sale, in which the Garmin Forerunner 45 has been reduced by more than £50 to £116.99. All colours and sizes of the watch have been reduced, so if you have a smaller wrist the Forerunner 45S might be a better pick.

The Forerunner 45 is also waterproof and tracks several sports alongside running, including cycling, swimming and strength workouts. It offers 13 hours of GPS battery life, lasting about a week in watch mode. We found that when running every day we had to charge it every four days or so.

Along with sports tracking the 45 will monitor your day-to-day activity, including steps and calories burned, and it also tracks your sleep.

If you’re keen on a Garmin device but aren’t sure the 45 works for you, then Amazon has also reduced several other watches in the Summer Sale, including Garmin’s Venu smartwatch. The Venu boasts the nicest screen you’ll find on any Garmin watch, alongside the usual excellent sports tracking, and has been reduced by £85 from £329.99 to £244.99.

Everyone Should Enter The Free Great North Run 2020 Virtual Race


Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, July 3, 2020 - 16:46

While lockdown might be starting to ease in the UK, no-one is expecting mass-participation running events to return to the calendar any time soon, and one of the biggest races to have been cancelled is the 40th edition of the Great North Run, which will next take place in 2021 instead of this September.

That’s a blow to the many runners who were successful in the 2020 ballot and were looking forward to the incredible atmosphere of the event. The Great North Run is one of the biggest half marathons in the world with over 50,000 participants and the people of South Shields come out in force, lining the route come rain or shine. However, the organisers are putting on a special virtual event to replace this year’s Great North Run.

This event will involve running a half marathon on the original race weekend – 12-13th September – and it’s free for anyone to enter. You’ll be able to sign up for the “Official” Virtual Great North Run from Monday 3rd August, but if you’re intending to do so then it’s a good idea to start training before then. Race weekend is just over ten weeks away, so why not check out our 10-week half marathon training plans – there’s one for beginners and another for intermediate runners shooting for a sub-1hr 45min time.

It’s hard to overemphasise how beneficial following a training plan can be, especially for new runners. The primary reason is that a good one (like ours, natch) progresses the distance you run each week gradually to minimise your chance of injury and also includes different types of run, which is key to improving your running.

More details about the event will be announced in the coming weeks but there will certainly be an element of fundraising involved, given that the organisers are trying to make up some of the £25 million that the event usually raises for charity.

If you’re looking for something to get involved with before the event weekend, there’s also the Great North Run Solo challenge. This started recently on 28th June (the date on which the first Great North Run was held in 1981), and continues until 13th September, when the 2020 race would have been held.

The challenge is to run 40 times during those 78 days, so you log a run for each year the event has existed. Those runs can be any length and at any pace. If you do it, you’ll get a special medal. It costs £10 to enter and all profits go to the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. You can sign up for that event now – it makes for the perfect motivation to keep logging those training runs in the build-up to the Great North Run virtual event weekend.

EXCLUSIVE: Joe Wicks’s Low-Carb Hoisin Turkey Lettuce Cups Recipe


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 12:38

If you think about it, what is lettuce if not nature’s pancakes? You’ll be trading in the leafy vegetable for pancakes in this hoisin turkey recipe, so really do try and think about that.

The recipe has been created by Joe Wicks for Gousto as part of his new range of Lean In 15 recipes. The series of fast, healthy meals is split into high-carb and low-carb, and this is one of the low-carb options best saved for days when you’re not particularly active and don’t need to refuel.

“Think duck pancakes, but we’re making them super-lean!” says Wicks. “You’ll fill lettuce cups with turkey mince, pan-fried in sweet hoisin sauce. Add fresh cucumber, spring onion and carrot to serve.”

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 15g fresh root ginger
  • ​1 spring onion
  • ½ cucumber
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 2 carrots
  • ​40g hoisin sauce
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • ​1tbsp rice vinegar
  • 250g turkey breast mince


  1. Grate the carrot. Peel and finely chop (or grate) the ginger. Peel and finely chop (or grate) the garlic.
  2. Slice the cucumber into discs. Slice each individual cucumber disc into matchsticks. Trim and finely slice the spring onion.
  3. Remove 12 leaves from the little gem lettuces and set aside. Shred the inner cores.
  4. Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) over a medium-high heat with 1tbsp vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the turkey mince with a pinch of salt and cook for three to four minutes, or until starting to brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go.
  5. Once the turkey has browned, add the chopped garlic, ginger and grated carrot and cook for a further one to two minutes or until fragrant and cooked through.
  6. Add the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar and soy sauce to the pan and give everything a good mix up.
  7. Remove from the heat and add the shredded little gem lettuce, cucumber matchsticks and sliced spring onion to the hoisin turkey mixture and stir it all together – this is your hoisin turkey filling.
  8. Load the little gem lettuce leaves with the hoisin turkey filling.
  9. Bosh!

Echelon Review: A Cheaper Alternative To Peloton For Home Spinning Sessions


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 07:14

You can’t talk about Echelon without talking about Peloton. Peloton is a spinning bike with a built-in monitor to show you live and on-demand classes that replicate the atmosphere of studio sessions. It’s very expensive and even more successful –so expensive and successful that it’s no surprise that a raft of cheaper alternatives have appeared.

One of these alternatives is Echelon, which is a home exercise bike that links up to an app full of live and on-demand spinning classes you can follow on a tablet or phone. That’s the key difference – there’s no built-in monitor on the Echelon bike, but it is a lot cheaper than the Peloton at £1,199 compared to £1,990, so you can buy yourself a very nice tablet with the difference and then you own a tablet as well as a bike!

On top of that, there is a £39.99 a month subscription to the Echelon app – the same price as Peloton’s app, which you need to use the bike. It’s a closed system, then, plusyou’re on the hook for a fair chunk of change every month, so is Echelon worth that kind of money? As with Peloton there is a certain audience who will get a lot from the bike, but there are definitely cheaper alternatives to consider, including a membership to a gym that offers spinning classes.

The Set-Up

The Echelon bike arrives in an impressively small box, which means there’s a fair bit of construction to do once you take all the components out of their slots in the polystyrene within. The set-up is not complicated, though, with clear instructions and no real heavy lifting involved. All the same, it took me around an hour to get everything in place.

On the handlebars of the bike is a tablet holder that is easily adjusted to hold your device securely. Once you open up the Echelon app it takes seconds to link the bike to it.

The pedals have cages on one side to accommodate normal shoes and SPD clips on the other so you can clip in if you have the appropriate shoes.

From there you can pick from the wide range of on-demand classes available, or check the live class schedule and book one for a more immersive experience – there’s a leaderboard and the instructor might even say your name. The classes can be filtered by distance covered, difficulty level and type, the primary ones being speed, strength, power and fusion, with the last being a mix of the first three. There are also non-spinning classes to be done off the bike, like HIIT, yoga and meditation sessions.

The app includes some scenic rides if you don’t fancy entering a virtual spinning studio. These allow you to cycle through Sydney Harbour, or along a beach, or up a mountain in Corsica. They’re nice enough, but not all that diverting. This bike is for spinning classes, after all.

Resistance is controlled via the knob on the frame, and there are 32 levels to scroll between. It takes a few turns to raise the level by a couple of points, and once I hit level 30 it felt like I was pushing through treacle to turn the pedals. Note that you need to be connected to the Echelon app for the resistance to work.

Once you start a class you see a range of stats on screen, including your resistance level, calories burned, power output and cadence. The instructor will explain what you should be aiming for throughout the classes, though unlike on Peloton these targets aren’t displayed as numbers on screen. You have to listen carefully to know how hard you should be pushing.

The Experience

From the off, the experience with Echelon is a little less impressive than on Peloton because even a large tablet isn’t quite as immersive as the huge screen on the Peloton, and the bike itself feels slightly less solid and stable, especially when you’re pushing hard at a high resistance. Also the empty studio where the classes are filmed gets slightly echoey between songs, which does take you out of the experience.

The classes do the job though, with a variety of incredibly upbeat instructors ready to push you to your limit using uptempo music and an endless supply of motivational maxims. I was told “every pedal is an opportunity” in my very first class on Echelon and that has stuck with me. Mostly because of how silly it is that every spinning class is granted such enormous levels of importance, but still, you will not be short of motivation, even if it does grate at times.

Sometimes the instructors could be clearer with their instructions, especially as the targets are not given on screen. There were also some terms thrown about that are clearly well known to spinning regulars but a little baffling for beginners, such as “isolate” (hover just above the saddle) and using numbers to describe where you should put your hands on the handlebars.

The leaderboard on the side of the screen shows your position against everyone who has ever taken the class, which is another source of motivation, though you can hide it if you don’t enjoy that type of competition. You can also see your heart rate on screen if you’re wearing a sensor – the Echelon picked up my Polar H9 chest strap as soon as I tapped the heart icon.

I tried a few classes, testing out the speed and fusion sessions as well as with one labelled one-hit wonders (sometimes the class names really don’t give much away as to what you’ll be doing in them). Speed classes involve more intervals at high cadences, while power and strength ones focus on higher resistance, while fusion combines all these.

Whatever you pick, all the classes do the job of burning calories and increasing your fitness, and there’s little doubt that if you used the Echelon bike a few times a week you’d be doing your fitness a world of good.


The Echelon experience is not as good as you get with Peloton, but it’s not far off and the money you’re saving is substantial. Many people will already have a tablet they can use with it (iOS and Android apps are available), and if you don’t you can buy yourself one and still have money left over by not paying for Peloton.

However, the bike is only cheap compared with Peloton. It’s still comfortably over a grand for hardware that’s only useful if you then spend another £40 every month. You can get excellent spinning bikes for £500 to £700 and follow classes on YouTube, though you’ll have to live without the bike connecting to the screen and showing your stats.

As with Peloton, the closed Echelon system is also off-putting – it would be a huge bonus if you could link the Echelon bike to an app like Zwift, rather than restricting you to what’s available in the app.

But committed spinners will find a lot to like about the Echelon, not just the relative value compared with Peloton. It’s easy to use the bike once it’s set up, and you have a vast array of classes to tackle, plus an inexhaustible amount of motivational patter to keep you going.

Buy from Echelon | From £1,238.99 (bike, plus one month subscription), monthly unlimited classes £39.99

This Home HIIT Workout For Beginners Will Get You Started With Lockdown’s Biggest Fitness Trend


Jonathan Shannon

Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 06:36

Interest in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exploded during lockdown in the UK according to Reebok’s analysis of Google searches, with interest rising by 60%. That’s on top of its rocketing popularity over the past few years.

We’d wager the dramatic rise was mostly driven by HIIT hero and PE teacher to kids and adults alike, Joe Wicks, whose daily HIIT workouts reached millions of people. Of course there were plenty of other PTs and studios streaming their own workouts, which would have contributed to the surge, and the fact that as a format it’s easy to create workouts without equipment meant everyone could have a crack.

“Lots of people are seeing the benefits of HIIT workouts,” says Joe Mitton, founder of MittFit. “The soaring popularity will continue post-lockdown now that people have seen the benefit and created the habits.”

We asked Mitton to share a simple routine first-timers could try, or fans could have in their back pocket to fall back on, and he came back with the fine full-body workout below. It cycles through five fundamental exercises which together hit your upper and lower body and abs and slip in some cardio for good measure, too.

Here’s Mitton to run you through the workout.

Home HIIT Workout

Run through the following five exercises, doing as many reps as you can in 50 seconds. Rest for ten seconds, then move on to the next exercise. Don’t worry if you need to take more rest when you’re starting out – ten seconds of rest is short for HIIT. An interval timer on a fitness tracker like a Fitbit or Garmin device will help you keep tabs on the time, or you can use a dedicated interval timer – there are web-based ones, as well as apps on the App Store or Google Play.

You can perform the sequence just once for a short five-minute HIIT taster, repeat it three times for a 15-minute workout or six times for a 30-minute session. Adjust your intensity according to how many rounds you plan on doing – you should aim to maintain the same intensity throughout, so dial it down if you’re going to work for 30 minutes.

Before you start make sure you perform some dynamic stretches to warm up and spend some time winding down afterwards to avoid stiff and sore muscles later.

1 Squat

Time 50sec Rest 10sec

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Bend at your knees and hips to lower, pushing your bum back as if you were sitting down. When your thighs are roughly parallel to the ground, push through your heels to stand back up. Keep your back straight throughout.

2 Press-up

Time 50sec Rest 10sec

Get on all fours with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Lower your chest to the floor, then push back up. Go from your toes to your knees if you need to make it easier.

3 Lunge

Time 50sec Rest 10sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your torso upright, step forwards, bending both knees and lowering until your rear knee is about to touch the floor, then return to standing. Alternate legs with each rep.

4 Jumping jacks

Time 50sec Rest 10sec

With your feet almost together and hands by your sides, jump your feet wider than hip-width apart and simultaneously raise your hands to the sides, bringing them back together above your head. Reverse the movements back to standing.

5 Crunch

Time 50sec Rest 10sec

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Using your abs muscles, raise your shoulders off the floor, pushing your chest towards your hips, then lower back to the start.

You Can Win Some Of The Best New Running Shoes Of 2020 With This Strava Competition


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 14:36

If you’re not familiar with the Challenges section of the Strava sports tracking app, it’s a great place to find some targets to shoot for in your running or cycling. Most of these challenges involve simply hitting a certain distance either in one go or over a week or a month, with the reward of a digital badge and a sense of achievement. That’s nice enough, but sometimes there are greater prizes on offer.

This is one of those times. In fact, we’d go as far as to say this is the best prize we’ve ever seen on a Strava challenge. If you log your fastest 5K of 2020 between 29th June and 19th July you will be in with a chance of winning Saucony’s new Endorphin collection of running shoes.

The star turn in the trio of shoes is the Endorphin Pro, which we rate as one of the very best racing shoes in the world, right up there with Nike’s Alphafly. Along with the Pro, you will win the Endorphin Speed, which is designed to be used for your fast training, but is also set to be a pretty great racing shoe in its own right. Finally, the Endorphin Shift will be yours too, which is a comfortable shoe best used for your easy runs.

In short, if you’re lucky enough to win the Endorphin line, you’ll own some of the very best shoes available for all your training and racing.

Assuming your interest is piqued, here’s what you need to do to be in with a chance to win. First, join the challenge on Strava. Second, run a quick 5K between 29th June and 19th July. Your quickest of the year, at least as logged on Strava. We’re not sure how that’s going to be checked, but get out and do it. We believe in you.

Once you’ve run your 5K you’ll be sent a link by Strava to register for the prize draw. Then sit back and cross your fingers.

If you can’t wait for the results of the draw, the Endorphin Speed and Shift are set to be available from 1st July, costing £155 and £130 respectively. The Endorphin Pro (£190) has already had a limited release and sold out in next to no time, so if it’s also available on the 1st July move fast to avoid disappointment.

Join the Saucony Strava Challenge | Free | View the Saucony Endorphin Collection

How One Pro Runner Is Adapting To Training During The Pandemic


Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, June 26, 2020 - 16:45

While the UK is starting to ease lockdown restrictions, things are not going to go back to normal for quite some time. For runners, while training in small groups is now allowed again, the regular routine of track nights, club sessions and real-world (rather than virtual) racing still feels a long way away.

That doesn’t mean your training has to suffer, however: you can still get the same results if you adjust to the new normal. We’ve enlisted runner Katrina Hart, Paralympic medallist and Saucony ambassador, to provide expert advice on adapting your training.

How has your training changed during the COVID-19 lockdown?

I’m used to running on a track and doing gym sessions in an actual gym. I’ve done a lot of my usual track sessions on grass and I’ve adapted my gym work to use what’s available, doing things like step-ups to get the most from my sessions. There’s a hill by me which I find quite good to run up and down as well. You have to adapt to what you’ve got to play with.

Why do you use grass rather than the road for track-style sessions?

Just because of the impact of it. I still do some on the road, but I found that the impact on my legs started to hurt a bit. Because of my disability I have one side that is different from the other, so I’m putting a lot more force through my right side than my left. I’ve always done occasional sessions on grass – they’re also a lot harder than on the road, especially for sprinting.

Have you found training by yourself difficult?

I usually train with a group and then I sometimes go to club nights, so I’m always used to being around other people and that has been quite different. I find it hard when I’m on my own to get the best out of my sessions, but I feel like I’m doing OK now.

How do you motivate yourself when training solo?

I always find the best thing to do is to write your session down. Then you feel like you’re achieving things. Obviously at the moment it won’t always go well, some days you feel great and some days you won’t, so it’s about doing the best that you can on that day to get the most out of your session.

Under normal conditions, how would you recommend people get into sport?

I always think sport is not a one-size-fits-all thing. There are loads of different sports to choose from, and you don’t just have to do one. The best thing to do is try different sports, see where it takes you.

You make loads of friends by doing sport. You can be doing parkruns, where there are loads of different people, and the best thing to do for athletics in particular is to go to your local club. They usually run on a Tuesday and Thursday evening. It’s a good way to boost your mental health, meet new people and challenge yourself.

Katrina Hart is a Saucony UK Ambassador. The Endorphin collection is available to buy from 1st July.

Ampler Curt E-Bike Review: Light, Fun And Great For Short Trips


Jonathan Shannon

Friday, June 26, 2020 - 16:29

Electrification has come to all of the major categories of bike now: road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes, hybrids and even folding bikes. With the Cowboy e-bike and now the Ampler Curt, even the more niche flat-bar road bike has gotten the electric treatment.

Flat-bar road bikes split the difference between the more comfortable, upright riding position of a hybrid and the light and stiff frame of a road bike which is built for speed. While two isn’t really a trend, I wouldn’t be surprised if more flat bar road e-bikes were released – partly because cities are becoming more bike-friendly to cope with the people shunted off public transport in the name of social distancing, and partly because e-bikes like the Ampler Curt are very city-friendly.

The weight is one chief reason these bikes are suited to urban living. The Ampler Curt single-speed is 13.5kg (there’s a ten-speed version which weighs 14.3kg), lighter than any other e-bike I’ve tried except the Ribble ALe hybrid (13.1kg). Its flat-bar rival Cowboy is 16.1kg, while most city-suited hybrids I’ve tried are 20kg and over. That makes the Curt more manoeuvrable when riding, and much easier to carry up and down stairs – a real bonus if you live in an apartment block without a secure bike store.

Ampler has pulled off an impressive trick of hiding the battery in the downtube, like the Ribble ALe. But unlike Ribble’s effort, which uses the Ebikemotion system (which trades some power for being small and light), Ampler’s own system hasn’t noticeably sacrificed power, or at least not to the same extent as Ribble.

While hiding the battery makes the Curt look great, there is a flipside, which is that you can’t detach the battery to charge inside while your bike is locked up outside. Not a problem if you plan on keeping your bike in your home, but it could make for an added inconvenience. On the other hand, the Cowboy places its battery vertically on the seat tube and while it can be removed to be charged remotely, it’s pretty heavy and does change the centre of gravity on the bike.

Like the Cowboy, the Curt single-speed also uses a rubber belt instead of a chain, so there’s no chance of getting grease on your clothes – plus mudguards come as standard. And since there’s little need to work up a sweat on an e-bike unless you have to go faster than 25km/h (when the motor cuts out in accordance with UK law), you’re very unlikely to have to change clothes at your destination – making the Curt a very convenient way to get around.

The downside of a rubber belt is that it won’t be as efficient as a well-maintained chain, but then I’m not great at maintaining my bikes and anyway there’s a motor to pick up the slack. Cycling without the motor isn’t even that bad – in fact on my first ride it took a while for me to clock that one of the modes is “no assistance” (why?!). Otherwise there are normal and boost moods, with the latter providing 50% more assistance. I spent practically all my riding time in boost mode, which felt like you were getting turbo-charged assistance. The normal mode did help a little, but I’d rather let the motor do as much of the work as possible.

This did mean I found the battery didn’t get close to the quoted 70km range. On an 8km round trip using the boost mode with the integrated lights (another notable convenience) I found the battery level dropped by around a quarter. It doesn’t strike me as a problem though – this isn’t a touring bike. One 18km-long cruise to the river and back to escape lockdown for a bit pushed the limits of comfort, with the hard seat and stiff frame (despite the carbon fork which reduces the vibrations travel through the bike) better suited to shorter journeys.

The Curt has one button placed next to the charging socket by the bottom bracket, which can be used to turn the bike on and cycle between modes. I’m surprised it’s located there because it’s not very convenient – the Ribble ALe and Cowboy both place their single button on the crossbar so you can switch mode mid-ride. Like the Cowboy, the Curt connects to an app over Bluetooth, allowing you to turn the lights on, switch between modes and adjust the amount of assistance provided in normal and boost modes.

There’s also the ability to plan routes and navigate, although only if you can mount your phone on the bike because it’s visual only, rather than including audio cues. The routing software looked promising, however, choosing quieter back roads rather than the A-roads Google Maps preferred when I did a side-by-side test.

It’s a well-designed, modern app and I only had one connection problem, which was solved with the standard rigamarole of making my phone forget the Bluetooth connection and starting over again. It’s certainly an order of magnitude better than some I’ve tried (cough GoCycle cough), but doesn’t reach the heights of Cowboy’s, which includes support live chat and an integrated tracking SIM in the bike so you can find it if it’s nicked (although you can insure the Curt against theft and damage for the reasonable annual cost of €120 through Ampler).

A few other things are worthy of mention: Curt uses hydraulic brakes, which are more powerful than rim brakes and perform better in the wet. The tyres are reasonably wide and puncture-protected, and in a surprisingly practical move for a sleek single-speed, attachments (sold separately, €25) to the rear axle make it suitable to use with a Thule trailer.

The bike set-up experience is worthy of praise. All other bikes I’ve had shipped to me involve you leaning in and lifting out. That would not have been so much of a problem with a bike as light as the Curt, but it can be a bit awkward. However, with the Curt the box lifts off a base which keeps the Curt upright so you can finish the set-up – turning the handlebars around and attaching the pedals.

It’s all very easy with clear instructions – and bear in mind this comes from someone who once put the handlebars on a review bike the wrong way round.

Perhaps the biggest thing the Curt has in its favour, at the moment at least, is that it arrives in between seven and 14 days. The UK is virtually sold out of bikes, e-bikes or otherwise, with Cowboy on an eight-week delivery schedule and Ribble offering to dispatch the ALe on 15th September.

The Curt does cost more, something like £2,600 depending on the exchange rate (the cost can be split over three months with Klarna, interest-free), in contrast to the Ribble ALe and Cowboy which are both around £2,000. The Curt has advantages over the Ribble in that it’s more powerful, although perhaps less practical (Ampler’s slightly cheaper Stout/Stellar commuter bikes are better rivals to the ALe).

In a straight head-to-head, taking price into account, the Cowboy edges it. Even though the ride isn’t as pleasant, the addition of a SIM and the convenience of a removable battery are major advantages which you pay less for. You’ll have to wait for the Cowboy, though, and if you’re a bit stuck getting around a major city without a car (or are fed up sitting in traffic in one), Ampler will get you in the saddle in next to no time – and you won’t be disappointed with the experience.

Buy from Ampler | Single speed €2,890 (around £2,600)

The Adizero Adios Pro Is Adidas’s Fastest Ever Marathon Racing Shoe


Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, June 26, 2020 - 15:48

In a bold and somewhat confusing move, Adidas has followed up the announcement of the Adizero Pro earlier this year – which goes on sale Monday 29th June at 11am – by revealing another carbon-boosted long-distance racing shoe: the Adizero Adios Pro.

Looking at the specs on the Adios Pro, however, it looks to be more of a direct competitor to the Nike Vaporfly (and now Alphafly) shoes that have dominated road racing in the past couple of years.

For a start, the Adios Pro has a similarly massive stack of cushioning. The height of the shoe at the heel is 39.5mm in a UK size 7.5, just squeaking in under the 40mm limit, set by World Athletics In January.

The heel-to-toe drop of the shoe is 10mm and the cushioning is a new LightstrikePRO material, which promises to be lightweight and responsive. Not the most lightweight, however, since the shoe weighs in at 246g for a UK size 8.5. For comparison, the UK size 9 Nike Alphafly and Saucony Endorphin Pro we have tested both weigh around 230g.

Perhaps the most innovative feature in the shoe is found sandwiched in the middle of all that LightstrikePRO cushioning. Adidas has not gone for the increasingly standard full-length carbon plate, or even a half plate like the one used in the Asics Metaracer Tokyo. Instead there are five carbon-infused EnergyRods placed in line with the metatarsal bones of the foot.

These rods are designed to improve your running economy so you can maintain your race pace for longer, and recover faster after hard, long runs – just like the carbon plate in other shoes does.

For good measure, Adidas has also popped a nylon and carbon-fibre heel plate on the top of the midsole. This will also help to promote better running economy, while also providing stability at the ankle joint, which will be needed given the chunky stack of cushioning you’re landing on.

The Adizero Adios Pro will launch in limited numbers on 30th June via the Adidas app, and will cost £169.95, which puts it at the cheaper end of the scale for racing shoes with carbon plates, or indeed carbon-infused EnergyRods. You can register now to enter the draw for a chance to buy the shoes.

Joe Wicks’s Diet And Cooking Tips


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 16:10

Joe Wicks has been shouting about the benefits of cooking quickly for a long time, and his Lean In 15 recipe books are incredibly popular, so it’s clear that many people agree with him. For Wicks, the reason is simple.

“If you can give people time, so they get more time with their kids or on the sofa, they’re going to be all over it,” says Wicks, who has created a range of Lean In 15 recipes for recipe box service Gousto. “Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals was the most successful book of all time, but now even that [30 minutes] seems like a long time. People are busier and busier so speed is very important.”

However, speed alone isn’t enough. You also want your meals to be tasty and satisfying, otherwise you’ll struggle to stick with making your own meals no matter how little time they take. We asked Wicks for his tips on how to make quick and delicious meals, along with some advice on how to make your diet healthier.

Use Healthy Shortcuts

“The way you can do 15-minute meals is by having shortcuts,” says Wicks. “So putting sweet potato in the microwave, using microwaveable rice or a stir-fry veggie bag. There’s nothing wrong with buying that stuff. If it makes you eat a big bag of veg, that’s a really good thing. Imagine sitting there cutting all those vegetables up – you wouldn’t do it. I’m all about shortcuts and convenience, just not the processed style of food where it’s a ready made meal.”

Stock Up On Staples

Having certain ingredients to hand at all times means you always have the ability to whip up a tasty meal quickly.

“It’s really good to have some staple ingredients in the house,” says Wicks. “Like a base for a curry, so coconut milk and a tin of chopped tomatoes, and some soy sauce. And spices like paprika, turmeric and curry powder – I always have a good store of them – and herbs.”

Be Clever With Your Carbs

“I’m not a zero-carb guy at all – I love my carbs. I just use them more around training days,” says Wicks. “I tend to eat reduced-carb meals, like scrambled eggs with avocado in the morning, then I’ll train and after that I’ll have my post-workout meal with carbs. It’s not essential for fat loss, but it’s a simple way of eating.”

Meal Prep Makes For A Healthier Week

“Meal prepping is fantastic,” says Wicks. “It seems like such an annoying thing to do but if you can spend a couple of hours doing a massive chilli or bolognese, or making your overnight oats for a couple of days, it makes your life so much easier. Rather than go to the supermarket to buy a ready meal, you’ve got your ready meal made in your fridge. It’s so much better. You save money, you do fewer dishes. Meal prepping is a great way of staying on track.”

Think About Your Day-To-Day Activity

Many of us eat the same size and type of meals throughout the week without really thinking about how that fits with our activity.

“Energy input is important in terms of how much you’ve eaten – although I don’t really count calories – but you need to think about expending energy as well. If you want to sit down and enjoy really big portions of food you have to be active. You can’t expect to be able to eat massive meals and have snacks, then be sedentary all day and get results. I’m trying to promote movement and exercise. If you’re going to be active today, have a few more carbs. It’s a simple way to do it without overthinking too much.”

Wicks’s new Lean In 15 range for Gousto is made up of reduced-carb and carb refuel meals, to fit with what you’re doing that day.

“The reduced-carbohydrate meals, which are higher in fats and protein, are good for rest days where you’re adapting,” says Wicks. “The carb refuel meals are lower in fats and higher in carbs, so they’re great for after a workout.”

Rethink Snacking

Speaking of snacks, ask yourself whether you really need them or you’re snacking out of habit.

“I do recommend snacks on my 90-day plan, because people are so used to them they can’t get their head around not eating snacks, but I personally am not a massive snacker,” says Wicks. “I have three main meals and that’s kind of it. If I have a snack I don’t have energy bars, that sort of stuff. It will be a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, or olives – I love olives.”

Learn To Enjoy Cooking

Maintaining a healthy diet in the long term is going to be much easier if you look forward to cooking your meals, rather than considering it an inconvenience. So try to embrace the process.

“If you learn to enjoy it – try new things, cook with your partner – then you look forward to prepping and that’s going to change your habits,” says Wicks. “Then you’re not going to be relying on fast food or convenience food. Falling in love with cooking is important.”

Wall Tennis Practice Drills From Judy Murray To Improve Your Game


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 15:48

Who among us has not spent many hours hitting, kicking or throwing balls at walls over the years? Any time friends stood you up, or you were forced not to see them because of a global pandemic, the wall was there for you, unflinching in the face of balls launched at it from all directions, unfailingly reliable in its rebounding ability.

If you’re a tennis player in particular, walls can play a hugely important role in your training, because most people who enjoy the sport cannot rely on a hitting partner being at their beck and call 24/7. You just need to know the right drills to use with your wall.

And the right drills include those like the ones below, which come from Judy Murray, who is an ambassador for REBO walls. Without putting too fine a point on it, REBO walls are essentially the best walls, at least in terms of their ability to help you practise your sports.

The tennis drills below are all about training the non-dominant hand and you’ll need two rackets to do them, one for each hand. Do bear in mind this will not be allowed next time you step on the court for a match. Tennis umpires are real sticklers about the “using one racket” thing.

Wall Tennis Practice Drills To Improve Your Non-Dominant Hand

1. Place the ball between two rackets, one in each hand. Keeping the ball trapped between the strings, rotate as if preparing to hit a forehand or backhand. Then release the ball in the direction of the wall and catch the ball between the rackets on the rebound. Try alternating sides and be careful not to release the ball too early or too late.

2. Once you have accomplished drill one, you should attempt this next stage. With one racket in each hand again, first hit a forehand using your dominant hand. Hit your second shot using your non-dominant hand and keep the rally going. Keep count of how many you can get in a row and aim for a set target which you can make higher as you progress.

3. To progress this drill, bump the ball on your racket in a controlled upward direction to set up the next shot. Let the ball bounce and then hit a groundstroke against the wall using the other hand against the wall. Do this on both sides.

Skullcandy Push Ultra Wireless Headphones Review


Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 16:40

Unlike other truly wireless earbuds, it’s very hard to lose the Skullcandy Push Ultra headphones, and that’s not just because of the bright yellow design (a black option is also available). It’s because each headphone has Tile’s Bluetooth beacon in it, so once you’ve set up the Push Ultras in the Tile app you can see their last location on a map and activate a sound if you’ve misplaced them.

It’s a nifty feature and one that’s found on several Skullcandy headphones (and similar to Apple’s Find My AirPods), but there’s not a whole lot else to write home about. The Push Ultra aren’t awful headphones by any means, and £120 is reasonable for a set of sports buds that offer a decent fit and battery life.

The fit should be better than decent though, given the ear hook design. I found that although you can bend and twist the hook to fit your ear better, it still never felt quite as secure as other ear hook headphones I’ve used, like the Beats Powerbeats or Plantronics Backbeat Fit. I didn’t feel that the Push Ultra buds might fall out, but they didn’t sit in place as solidly as those others – and my wife couldn’t get them to fit her ears at all.

Part of that might be the open design. The Push Ultra doesn’t have an in-ear tip, so the weight of the buds falls to the outside. This design does mean you’re more aware of sounds around you – which is sometimes handy when out in the world – but has a negative impact on sound quality, which is not the Push Ultra’s strong suit in the first place.

When listening to music at high volumes I found that instruments and vocals were mashed together harshly, and there wasn’t a lot of punch to the bass. The open design also means you can’t zone out the rest of the world as easily (when it is safe to do so), and it’s still not as open as bone-conduction headphones like the Aftershokz Air. All this means that the Push Ultra ends up offering a halfway house that doesn’t really satisfy on either front.

Each bud does offer independent controls so you can use just one if you prefer to keep one ear open. The controls are fairly easy to use even while running: the volume up and down buttons are also used for commands like skipping tracks, and the main play/pause button also turns the headphones off and on.

The Push Ultra headphones will last for six hours on a single charge, and the case holds another 34. Those are good numbers, especially for the case, though I’m a little surprised there isn’t more in the buds. Six hours is now fairly standard on much smaller in-ear headphones, while the (admittedly much pricier) Beats Powerbeats Pro ear hook buds hold up to nine hours.

It’s a little fiddly to get the headphones back into the case correctly and you have to be careful to make sure they’re charging – a few times my phone remained connected to one bud that wasn’t sitting in the case correctly. If you adjust the ear hooks a lot when wearing them you might also have to bend them back to fit them into the case, and then go through the process of reshaping each time you wear them, though this doesn’t take long.

With a waterproof rating of IP67 you can be sure the Push Ultra headphones will withstand even very sweaty exercise sessions or long runs in the rain. The case itself is also pretty rugged so it won’t get damaged if you drop it accidentally.

The Push Ultra buds are an OK set of sports headphones but won’t wow anyone with their sound quality, and the fit is odd, feeling a little insecure despite the ear hook. They are reasonably cheap for truly wireless buds, but there are still better-value options – the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 3100 truly wireless headphones are under £100, and if you don’t mind a wire between your headphones the Beats Powerbeats 4 have far superior sound quality and a better fit than the Push Ultra for £129.95.

Buy from Skullcandy | £119.99

Are You Stress Eating During The COVID-19 Pandemic?


Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 15:36

We’re living in stressful times, and one of the results of that for many people has been an unhealthy change to their diet. A new survey commissioned by the British Nutrition Foundation has found that 27% of people are eating less healthily than usual during lockdown, and 45% said that stress, anxiety or tiredness is one of the main reasons they were eating more.

Stress eating doesn’t just occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, however. It is something that can hinder attempts to eat a healthy diet at any time. We spoke to Helena Gibson-Moore, nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, for more information on stress eating and what you can do about it.

What is stress eating?

Stress-related eating, sometimes called comfort eating, is a type of disordered eating pattern when someone uses food as a means of coping with a stressful experience, rather than just eating in response to internal cues of hunger. This type of behaviour can lead to overeating and consumption of foods that are high in calories, fat or sugars, which over time can cause people to become overweight or obese.

How common a problem is it? Is it more common in men or women?

Although it's unclear exactly how many people are affected by this type of eating behaviour, some people appear to be more susceptible to it than others. Stress-related eating seems to be more common in women and people with obesity, compared with men and those of normal weight.

What are the main causes of stress eating?

Stress can cause psychological and physiological changes in the body that may lead to someone seeking foods high in fat and sugars, as well as changes in the regulation of appetite hormones that may increase appetite and promote weight gain. Stress can also cause lack of sleep and reduce motivation to be active, which could also be associated with weight gain.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing more stressful situations than we did before – and as our recent survey suggests, stress may be one of the main causes of unhealthy eating habits during lockdown.

What are the best ways to tackle the problem?

If you feel you are eating more unhealthily during this time then there are some things that may help – like having healthy snacks readily available, such as a fruit bowl on the table, and resisting the temptation to buy foods high in fat and sugars. If you find you’re snacking when you’re not hungry then try to distract yourself by doing something else like taking a walk, trying a new hobby, reading a book or calling a friend. You could also try some stress management techniques such as meditation or yoga.

If you’re still struggling to control your eating habits and feel you need extra help, get in touch with your GP who can refer you to a qualified healthcare professional.

What Causes Muscle Strains And How Do You Treat Them?


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 16:25

Muscle strains run the gamut from a mild annoyance that goes away after a few days to a serious injury that requires surgery and knocks you off your game for months. Either way, it’s best to avoid them and you can dramatically increase your chances of doing so by taking a few simple steps.

However, if you’ve suddenly increased your level of exercise during the COVID-19 lockdown, you might not be aware of those steps, and you might have suffered a pulled muscle as a result. A study from Bupa UK has found that 14% of UK adults have injured themselves during lockdown and of these injuries pulled muscles are the most common, making up 36%.

For expert advice on how to spot, treat and ideally prevent pulled muscles, we spoke to Damian McClelland, clinical director for musculoskeletal services at Bupa UK Insurance.

Why do pulled muscles happen?

Your muscles are made up of bands of fibres, which relax and tighten to make you move. You may strain a muscle if you stretch it beyond its normal comfortable range, or make it work too hard or too fast, such as during exercise or sports.

The most common muscle strains tend to be in the legs, such as calf, hamstring or quadriceps strains, but other common strains occur in the back, neck and arms.

What are the symptoms?

Muscle strain symptoms vary depending on how bad the injury is, but normally include pain, tenderness when you touch the muscle, swelling or bruising, and weakness or loss of movement.

The symptoms normally ease in a few days, depending on the grade of muscle strain. The longer your symptoms last, the worse your injury is likely to be. A grade one muscle strain is where the fibres are slightly damaged – there may be some pain but the strength of the muscle shouldn’t be affected, and it should settle in a few days.

A grade two strain is a partial tear of the muscle, and you might have some bruising or swelling as well. If you have a grade three strain, you may have felt a popping sensation when you hurt your muscle, and you may have a lump at either end of your muscle and have lost all the strength in your muscle so you can’t use it. If you think you might have a grade three strain it’s important to go to A&E immediately.

How can you prevent them?

There are lots of steps you can take to help prevent muscle strains when exercising. Make sure you warm up thoroughly first with some gentle exercise. Ideally, you should do a dynamic warm-up, which takes your muscles through the range of motion for the activity that you’re about to do. Do this for around five to ten minutes. Warm down afterwards by gradually decreasing your activity levels until your breathing and heart rate return to normal.

It’s also important to use the correct equipment, and always wear the right shoes for your activity: for example, wearing running trainers when you go jogging, and replacing them when they wear out and no longer provide any support.

Make sure you take the time to perfect your technique when you try something new – especially when using weights. Although you might not be able to speak to your gym instructor face to face at the moment, many are offering online appointments to make sure your technique is safe.

And most importantly, seek help if you think you may have hurt yourself. There’s no need to grin and bear it if you’re in pain. If you need to speak to a physiotherapist or a consultant, phone or video appointments allow quick access to advice and treatment. Bupa’s Direct Access MSK service allows customers to bypass the GP and be referred directly to a specialist.

Are there more serious conditions that have similar symptoms, and if so how can you tell the difference?

If you heard a crack, or the injured body part has gone numb, discoloured or cold to the touch or has changed shape, you may have a broken bone so it’s important to go to A&E immediately.

You should also go to hospital if you felt a popping or tearing sensation when you pulled your muscle, are in a lot of pain, have a lot of swelling or find it difficult to move the muscle – for example you may not be able to walk on it. These symptoms can indicate a more serious condition such as grade three muscle strain, where the tendon has separated from the muscle or the muscle has torn apart.

How do you treat pulled muscles?

You can usually treat mild muscle strains at home. Sometimes you may need to see a physiotherapist or have an operation to repair your damaged muscle depending upon how severe the strain is.

If your muscle strain isn’t a bad one, there are several things you can do at home to ease your symptoms and speed up your recovery. You should follow the POLICE procedure as soon as possible after you’ve injured yourself, which will give your muscle a chance to heal and protect it from any more damage:

  • Protect your injury from further harm, for example by using a support.
  • Optimal Loading. It’s important to start moving the muscle again sooner rather than later, but only do what feels comfortable and speak to a physiotherapist if you’d like further advice.
  • Ice. Apply ice or frozen peas wrapped in a towel. Use for around 20 minutes roughly every two hours. Avoid putting ice directly on the skin.
  • Compression. Bandage your injury, but not too tightly and remove before going to sleep.
  • Elevation. Try to keep your injured muscle raised above the level of your heart to help reduce swelling.

You can also use over-the-counter painkillers if you need pain relief. It’s important to rest your muscle immediately after an injury. After this, you can start to move around gently and slowly, as long as this doesn’t cause any pain. Gradually build up your activity until your muscle feels like it’s getting back to normal. You might also want to do some exercises to strengthen the muscle. A physiotherapist can advise you on what’s best.

If your muscle doesn't start to get better and you can’t put weight on it after about a week, contact a physiotherapist or your GP.

How long do they take to heal?

Recovery from a muscle strain will depend on how bad the injury is and which muscle is involved. It may take you a few weeks to be able to walk as normal and it may take even longer for you to get back to your normal exercise or sports. With a very bad strain, it may take months for you to recover completely.

It’s important to keep your muscle moving after an injury, but you may need to make some changes to the way you do things. You may be more prone to hurting that muscle again in the first four to six weeks, so you’ll need to take extra care not to re-injure it.

Sleep Tracking Arrives On The Apple Watch This Autumn


Jonathan Shannon

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 12:47

In our eyes the Apple Watch is the undisputed champion of fitness smartwatches, combining genuinely useful smart features with accurate heart rate and GPS tracking hardware. The one glaring omission in its suite of features, compared with virtually every other health wearable, is sleep tracking – perhaps because the Apple Watch’s battery life hasn’t been up to the task of handling heavy use during the day and night.

That’s all set to change in the autumn once the new Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 7, is released as an update to the Apple Watch series 3, 4 and 5. Along with sleep tracking this will bring enhancements to watch faces, more workout types to choose from, cycling directions, and a way to monitor your headphone use to protect your hearing. There will also be hand-washing tracking to make sure you scrub for a full 20 seconds.

The sleep tracking, while welcome, looks surprisingly basic, reporting only the time in bed spent asleep and awake. Apple says it measures these using the device’s accelerometer, so we assume Apple has disabled the heart rate monitor to conserve the battery. That would explain why the feature doesn’t stack up to rival fitness brands. The heart rate monitor is what Fitbit uses to provide details on the sleep stages of REM, light or deep sleep, while Polar uses it to measure heart rate variability which informs its data about how well your autonomic nervous system has recovered.

The new watchOS does add features that help you go to bed and wake up at consistent times. Wind Down allows you to trigger apps or music at the same time every evening to help you relax, while haptic alarms where the watch vibrates gently can be set to gently rouse you from your slumber.

In another indication that Apple is concerned about battery life, the watch will notify you if the battery is too low to last the night in the hour before the device thinks you’ll be going to bed. It will also clearly display the state of the battery when you wake up.

The hand-washing feature, however, is a peerless offering. The Apple Watch will recognise sounds and movement to guess when you’re washing your hands and trigger a 20-second countdown.

It will also prompt you to go keep washing if you stop short of that recommended period, and you can set up reminders to wash your hands when you arrive home. Information on the frequency and duration of your hand washing will be displayed in the Health app on your iPhone if you want to prove to others you’re on top of your hygiene.

In the current watchOS, the Noise app keeps tabs on ambient sound to alert you if the volume is loud enough to affect your hearing. In watchOS 7, your use of headphones will be logged and you’ll be told if you exceed certain limits for both duration and volume (based on WHO recommendations) that might put your hearing at risk.

The ability to personalise and share watch faces, as well as the addition of dance workouts to the list of workout types, are banner updates in Apple’s eyes – but we’re more intrigued by the new ability of the Apple Watch to provide cycling directions.

Plotting routes for bikes, especially in major cities, is no easy feat. We’ve used some services that often put cyclists on major roads where back streets would be far preferable. It’s one of the first things we’ll try when watchOS 7 launches in the autumn because with more and more people cycling, a quick and convenient way to guide you through a city safely will be worth its weight in gold.

Here’s How PureGym Plans On Making Its Gyms COVID-Secure


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, June 22, 2020 - 20:53

Although the exact details have not yet been announced by the government, it seems likely that gyms are set to be among the businesses that will be allowed to reopen in July in England, with the rest of the UK to follow before too long. If you’ve been itching to get back into the weights room, this is great news – but of course training in the gym is going to be a different experience from what it was before the lockdown.

Even if the 2m social distancing guidelines are reduced to 1m before gyms and other businesses reopen in July, it will clearly be vital to keep your distance from other people when working up a sweat.

In a glimpse into what gym-goers everywhere can expect, PureGym has revealed the major changes that will help to keep ’em separated, with every other cardio machine put out of use and limits placed on overall numbers in the gym.

Furthermore, boxes will be marked out on the floor of the gym to delineate the area you should stick to during your workout where possible.

Of course, keeping your distance is only part of the solution. The gyms will also have more cleaning stations installed so you can disinfect the equipment before and after you use it, and there will be hand-sanitising stations throughout the gyms. Each night the premises will be deep-cleaned with antiviral disinfectant, and teams will be cleaning all the equipment throughout the gym as well, on top of the cleaning done by the members.

The gyms will have contactless entry using a key fob or a QR code in the PureGym app, which will also show you how many people are in your local gym so you can plan your visit to avoid the busiest times.

These measures will reduce the risks of visiting the gym during the pandemic, though of course if the infection rate in the UK starts to rise again you can expect gyms to be among the first businesses to be shut down again. PureGym will contact its members once it has a reopening date for each of its gyms.

Join Live Workouts With Top Athletes To Celebrate Olympic Day 2020


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, June 22, 2020 - 17:04

The Olympics might not be happening in 2020, but Olympic Day is, and it gives you the chance to join in with live workouts led by Olympic athletes.

Olympic Day 2020 occurs on Tuesday 23rd June and 23 athletes have already been involved in shooting a workout video, which is available now on the Olympics website. Then on the day itself there will be workouts at 11am local time in 20 time zones that you can follow on the Olympics’ Instagram page.

Some of the athletes involved in the Olympic Day workout video include Team GB’s Lutalo Muhammad, who represents Great Britain at taekwondo, USA gymnast Laurie Herandez and Kenyan runner Faith Kipyegon, the current Olympic champion over 1500m.

The range of athletes leading live workouts on the day is just as varied, with Indian badminton player PV Sindhu, Australian diver Melissa Wu and Senegalese surfer Cherif Fall three of those on the docket. That means if you can make it through several different workouts you’re sure to hit different parts of the body, with each athlete throwing some of their favourite exercises at you. You can see the full schedule for the day in the gallery above.

Instagram has been a great source of free workouts during the COVID-19 pandemic – not least because we’re hosting regular workouts on the Coach Instagram account – and Olympic Day will provide a host of training sessions that are a little different from what you get from personal trainers and studios, since they’re led by athletes training for specific sports rather than general fitness. We urge you to get involved where possible throughout the day, though we do understand if you want to stick to workouts that are in daylight hours where you are.

Use This Arm Workout With Resistance Bands To Build Muscle


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, June 22, 2020 - 06:50

While you might view resistance bands as a bit lightweight compared with dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, all that really means is you’re not using your bands right. With the right workout, you can use resistance bands to achieve most fitness goals, and that includes adding muscle to your upper arms.

This resistance band workout from Beachbody On Demand super trainer Joel Freeman focuses entirely on your biceps and triceps, so if you’re looking to build sleeve-busting upper arms, grab your bands and get going.

Resistance Band Workout For Your Arms

Using a resistance band with handles makes most of these exercises a little easier to perform, but you can adjust the instructions to work with a large looped band or a straight band without handles. You can make any move harder by standing on the band with both feet rather than just one, which shortens the band, or by switching your band for a heavier one.

1 Biceps curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Holding each handle, with your arms by your sides and palms facing forwards, place one foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, bring your hands up towards your chest, stopping a few centimetres before you touch it or when your elbows start to leave your sides, whichever comes first. Bring your hands back down and repeat.

2 Wide curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Holding each handle, with your arms by your sides and palms facing forwards, place one foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, bring your hands up and to the sides to create a W shape with your arms and upper body, then bring them up towards your armpits/chest, stopping before your elbows start to leave your sides. Bring your hands back down and repeat.

3 Hammer curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Adopt the same starting position as with both curls, but with your palms facing each other. Repeat the same movement as the biceps curl, keeping your palms facing. Bring back down and repeat.

4 Bottom half curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Start in the same position as the biceps curl. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, bring your hands up towards your chest, but stop at mid-torso level and come back down. Think of a full biceps curl, but you’re only doing the bottom half of the movement.

5 Top half curl

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Your starting position is halfway through a biceps curl, with your hands at mid-torso level holding the band with your elbows by your sides. Raise your hands until they’re a few centimetres from your chest or when your elbows start to leave your sides, whichever comes first. Think of a full biceps curl, but you’re only doing the top half.

6 Triceps kick-back

Sets 4 Reps 12-15 each side

Holding one handle with your right hand, place your right foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor, and take a small step back with your left foot to get into a split stance, with your left heel off the floor. Hinge at your hips and lower your torso so it’s at 45° to the floor. Place your left hand on your hip. Bring your right elbow up and pin it to your side with your forearm at a 90° angle to your upper arm. Keeping your elbow in position, move your hand behind you, extending the arm, to stretch out the band between your foot and hand. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance. Bring back down and repeat. Do all the reps on one side, then swap hands.

7 Triceps extension

Sets 4 Reps 12-15

Holding both handles, place one foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor. Bring your hands behind your head with your knuckles pointing towards the floor. Your elbows should be pointing forwards on either side of your head. Keeping your elbows as close to your head as possible, extend your arms to raise your hands, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance. Bring back down and repeat.

8 Single-arm side extension

Sets 4 Reps 12-15 each side

Hold one handle and the middle of the band. Bring both hands up to head height, with the hand that’s holding the middle of the band behind your head. Keeping the middle of the band stable close to your head (but not pushing on your head), take the handle straight out to the side, stopping just before your elbow fully extends. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance. Bring back down and repeat. Do all the reps on one side, then swap.

9 Banded triceps press-up

Starting on your knees, bring the band around your mid-back and hold one end with each hand, leaving a little bit of slack. Place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and push up to create tension in the band. Keeping your elbows as close to your body as possible, hinge at the elbows and lower your chest to the floor, stopping right before it touches, and push back up while still keeping your elbows in. You can choose to keep your knees on the ground to make it easier or go up on your toes. Shorten the length of the band between your foot and hand if there’s not enough resistance.

Joel Freeman is the creator of online home fitness programmes 10 Rounds and LIIFT 4. To find out how you can access these workouts visit beachbodyondemand.com

It’s Astounding How Much Running Can Improve Your Mental Health


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 16:27

While most people start running for the physical benefits of the sport, it can also be hugely beneficial for your mental health. A study on 14,000 people undertaken by Asics during the pandemic has found that 82% of UK runners say running is helping to clear their mind, and 78% feel more sane and in control as a result of running.

As regular runners ourselves, we were keen to find out where the science stands on the mental health benefits of the sport. With the help of Asics we enlisted Dr Brendon Stubbs from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London for more information on the research being done in this area.

How does running help your mental health?

There is really good evidence that running can improve our mental health and protect us from various mental health conditions. Whenever you’re running, you get this great increase in electrical activity in key areas of the brain that are essential for processing emotions and helping consolidate memories from the short and the long term. One area we’ve been looking at in scans of people who engage in aerobic activity like running is the hippocampus. The hippocampus is really important for emotional processing. If you look at conditions like dementia, cognitive impairment or even depression, this area of the brain shrinks.

It’s been shown time and time again that in the medium term – 12 to 16 weeks – you can get increases in volume of the hippocampus through running, but also in the short term, after just ten minutes, you can get a real spike in electrical activity in this emotion-processing area of the brain.

Recently in younger people we’ve also found that running results in this great increase in activity in an area of the brain called the anterior cortex. Again, this is a key area for problem-solving and emotional resilience.

There’s a number of other factors that contribute as well, and one of the key things running does is release this brain fertiliser called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Whenever you undertake a single bout of running you get a release of BDNF and this encourages new brain cells across key areas of the brain.

There’s also a reduction in some inflammation. People who develop mental health conditions or become stressed have an increase in peripheral inflammation. By that I mean the body starts producing these inflammatory markers that are a sign of stress within the body. These start to increase when the body is stressed and it often happens if we’re fighting a physical disease. When people are becoming unwell with mental health conditions or their mental health is an issue, these markers are increased as well. We’ve seen that running can reduce these peripheral inflammatory markers.

You also get changes within the endocannabinoid system. This is a really important reward-processing area of the brain. We think this is the main reason why people experience the runner’s high.

Those are some of the key biological neuroscience perspectives on why running helps us, but it’s important to acknowledge there are other factors as well. Going outdoors and being in an open space is good for our mental health, as is feeling a sense of achievement, a sense of completing a goal. There are some important biopsychosocial mechanisms that make us feel good when we have run as well, so it’s a complex interplay of many of these mechanisms.

Is it better to run outside than on a treadmill?

All movement is good, particularly when you’re putting a demand on the body. So running indoors is good, but there are studies showing there is an added benefit to being outdoors. And outside of running there is evidence of mental health benefits from just being outdoors.

How much running do you need to do to get the benefits?

The key message is that for people who are not running, just getting started is really important. Through a few minutes of running and building up gradually, you can start to experience those benefits. For instance some brain imaging studies have shown that within just ten minutes of doing light, gentle jogging you can get the rapid electrical activity in the hippocampus, giving you some real mental health benefits.

For people who are already running there are continued benefits going up in a linear fashion from 30 minutes to about 300 minutes a week, where we believe the mental health benefits start to plateau.

Can running be used to both prevent and treat mental health problems?

Yes, both. We did a study published in 2018 looking at 260,000 people all over the world. We looked at physical activity including running in people who were free from any mental health condition as a baseline. We followed them over an average of 7.5 years, and what we found was that the most active were around 15% less likely to develop depression than the least active. When people did 150 minutes of moderate and vigorous activity a week, the risk of depression was reduced in the future by around 30%.

To add to that, there have been large genetic studies looking at people who are genetically predisposed to depression. If you engage those people in physical activity, even though they have a genetic predisposition you can reduce their risk of developing depression. We’ve done similar work on anxiety, and how running and exercise can help prevent it developing in the future.

On the treatment and management side, I led European guidelines to make recommendations for the treatment of recognised mental health conditions. We looked at all of the best available evidence to make recommendations for the clinical care of people with mental health conditions across Europe. We made a strong recommendation that for people who are presenting with mild to moderate depression, exercise and physical activity should be a frontline treatment. There is very good evidence that as a treatment on its own, compared with the usual care, you can get meaningful reductions in people’s depression symptoms.

There are also a small number of studies that have directly compared exercise versus antidepressants or psychological therapies such as CBT. We have to be cautious interpreting these, because there are only a few studies, but broadly there seems to be no real difference between these treatments in mild to moderate depression. If somebody has more severe depression you may need other additional treatments as well, such as medication or psychotherapy.

Are there extra benefits if you run with other people?

Absolutely. Not only in terms of the mental health benefits, but also in terms of engagement. Whenever we engage in activity such as running, it’s important that we do it for the long term, so we get the long-term physical and mental benefits. One of the key factors that influence people doing anything in the long term is a sense of social cohesion. So running activities that involve groups and have a social aspect have been shown to have more favourable outcomes in the long term. If you look at interventions and studies that have done randomised control trials, group-based interventions tend to have better mental health outcomes as well.

Clearly not everybody wants to run in a group – if you want to run on your own, of course that’s OK too – but on average group-based interventions appear to have an added benefit due to that social aspect.

Can you get similar benefits from other types of exercise?

Broadly we define physical activity as any movement that increases energy expenditure. There are really good mental health benefits from just brisk walking, and we’ve often neglected the importance of light physical activity. If you’re unable to run, other activities like cycling or swimming have mental health benefits as well. And for some people who may prefer resistance training, like lifting weights, there is really good evidence that this can also have benefits in terms of preventing you from developing depression and anxiety, and could also be used as a treatment.

We broadly think that all types of movement are good. It’s up to the individual to find something they enjoy, and then keep doing it, because you’re much more likely to engage and maintain a behaviour – be it running or going to the gym – if you enjoy it.

The Best Golf Balls To Buy In 2020


Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - 16:30

If you’re reading this in the hope that there is one perfect golf ball out there that will transform you into the next Rory McIlroy, then we have bad news – there isn’t. However, if you do pick up the right ball for you, you will find that your game benefits, even if you still have to be swinging true and making smart decisions on the course to bring your scores down.

Aside from the colour, golf balls don’t vary a great deal in appearance, but there are differences in material that make certain balls better suited to different players. The amount of spin they generate is the main point of difference. Low-handicap golfers will benefit from a softer, high-spin ball that they can control to perfection, while high handicappers will find a harder, low-spin ball helps them to keep their shots straight.

More expensive golf balls usually have a urethane cover, which is softer and generates more spin than the ionomer cover on cheaper balls. The downside of urethane is that it scuffs more and your balls won’t last as long, so if you’re just getting into the game cheaper balls that spin less will be better picks for a number of reasons.

Beyond these basic differences, golf ball manufacturers will claim any number of magical benefits to their products, backed up by the ecstatic reviews from the pros who are paid to use them. We reckon it’s worth fully embracing this hype, because golf is often a confidence game and if you really believe your ball makes you better, it just might.

The Best Golf Balls To Buy In 2020

Titleist Pro V1

A hugely popular pick for golfers of all levels, the Pro V1 is designed to go long with low spin when hitting shots like drives, while still having a soft feel to allow for greater control around the greens. Since it’s such a popular ball, you can find refurbished Pro V1 balls on sale easily if you’re still losing balls regularly enough to make the full price feel a bit of an extravagance.

Buy from Titleist | £48 for 12 balls

TaylorMade TP5

This urethane-covered ball is made up of five layers and is an all-rounder that aims to offer the ideal combination of spin and speed to help you get from tee to the hole as efficiently as possible. There is also the TP5x, which offers a higher trajectory, a more piercing flight and a harder feel, so it will add distance but lose a little spin compared with the standard TP5.

Callaway Chrome Soft

The large core and thin cover on the Chrome Soft should help you hit long off the tee without worrying about too much spin dragging your ball off-course, while still allowing you to engage that spin in your short game to give you control around the greens. For those who need extra help lining up their putts, the Chrome Soft Triple Track ball has three lines marked on it to help you swing true on the greens.

Srixon AD333

The AD333 offers excellent value and is a popular choice with new and high-handicap golfers, offering a firm feel as well as a long and true flight off the tee and on iron shots. It might not have the outstanding control around the green of a softer, urethane-covered ball, but it still allows for enough spin to help you post low scores.

EXCLUSIVE: Joe Wicks’s 20-Minute Harissa And Tomato Chicken Recipe


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 16:51

If you’re a regular subscriber to recipe box services then you will probably be well acquainted with harissa, since delicious spicy paste is a favourite of companies like Gousto and HelloFresh.

However, you might never have ventured to use it outside of those deliveries and that’s a shame, because harissa paste is now fairly easy to find in supermarkets and can even be made at home if you’re feeling adventurous. Whether you prefer to buy or make your harissa, you’ll need some for this tasty chicken recipe from Joe Wicks.

The recipe has been created by Wicks for Gousto as part of his new range of Lean In 15 recipes. The range, which doesn’t exclusively stick to 15-minute meals but is made up of speedy, simple recipes, includes high- and low-carb options. This one is high in carbs and is ideal to help you refuel on active days.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 125g cherry tomatoes
  • ​1 large chicken breast fillet
  • 80g trimmed fine green beans
  • 15g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 32g tomato purée (about 2tbsp)
  • 120g couscous
  • 20g harissa paste
  • 80g natural yogurt


  1. Boil a kettle and chop the chicken breast into small, bite-sized pieces. Chop the green beans in half. Roughly chop the cherry tomatoes.
  2. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick with a lid) over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chopped chicken and green beans, and cook for three to four minutes or until the chicken has browned all over.
  3. While the chicken is browning, add the couscous to a heatproof bowl. Crumble in half the chicken stock cube and add 200ml boiled water, cover and set aside.
  4. Dissolve the remaining chicken stock cube in 100ml boiled water. Stir in the tomato paste and harissa paste – this is your harissa stock.
  5. Once the chicken is browned, add the cherry tomatoes and harissa stock to the pan. Cook, covered, for five to seven minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (there should be no pink meat), the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes are starting to break down. Season with a generous grind of black pepper.
  6. Fluff the couscous up with a fork. Serve the harissa and tomato chicken with the couscous on the side. Dollop on some natural yogurt and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds.
  7. Bosh!

What’s The Difference Between Sports Training And Normal Gym Workouts?


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, June 15, 2020 - 21:07

Whenever you get really into a sport, be it running, swimming, rugby or football, you start looking for ways to get better at it. Early on this mostly involves simply doing more of that sport, but there comes a time when in order to improve you have to step into the gym and do some supportive strength work.

To explain why and how training for a particular sport is different from hitting the gym just to improve your fitness in general, we spoke to Phil Greening, former British Lions and England rugby union player, and founder of The Athlete Factory training facility in Chester.

How is strength training for a sport different to general gym training for fitness?

You can support your sport by doing work in the gym that helps you stay fit and healthy, injury-free, and also aids your performance. The big thing is to tailor everything to the sport. So you need to understand the demands of the sport and how it impacts your body.

For example with running you need to make sure your glutes, hamstrings, core and posterior chain are strong. Then it’s about how efficient you can be with your force through the floor, how you can get more power to help improve your times.

Why is it important to do supportive training alongside your normal training?

There are so many things you can do in the gym that enhance your sport. In rugby we do a lot of non-rugby conditioning. All the gym work supports the actions we do in rugby, be it small muscles for stability or big muscles like your hamstrings. People say “I don’t want to get big or bulky” – but it’s not that. It’s getting those muscles efficient and strong enough to support the work that you want to do in your sport. It’s something that’s neglected.

We do everything we can to stop us getting injured. As a coach we try to keep our total injuries for a squad down to 5% and the gym work helps that. That’s soft tissue injuries, and obviously with rugby there’s going to be collision injures as well!

How often should you do supportive gym work for your sport?

Twice a week would be a minimum. Aim for two to three times a week, following a proper strength programme.

Along with strength work, what other kind of things can you do to support your main sport?

The big thing we do is dynamic mobility work, putting the joints, muscles and tendons through a full range of motion so your mobility gets better, so that when you do your sport, your body can function in that range.

Should you do mobility work before your strength sessions?

With elite teams at The Athlete Factory we go through some trigger point work – foam rolling – into mobility and movement prep. Then you go into your session. For us the hips and glutes are key, so getting them firing before you do any work is crucial, because the glutes and hips are not only the engine of the whole body, they’re also key to your stability. We do a lot of hip work, like mountain climbers and going over hurdles, to achieve that range of motion.

How Philly Chef Michael Schulson Lost 35 Pounds in Less Than 3 Months


When COVID-19 forced chef and restaurateur Michael Schulson to halt his always-on-the-move schedule, the 61-year-old had no choice but to find a change of pace. Here’s how he lost 35 pounds in two and a half months.

5 Intense Core Workouts to Sculpt a Summer 6-Pack


If your summer six-pack is still in winter hibernation, you’re certainly not alone. With a global pandemic forcing gyms to close and people to stay indoors, staying motivated to workout has been challenging to say the least.

The Best Exercises to Activate Muscles, According to Physical Therapists


Even if work-from-home life has left you with more time on your hands, we all still want our workouts to be effective and efficient. Unfortunately, they might not be either if you don’t activate muscles correctly.

National Heat Safety Month


July is a time for sunshine, swimsuits and serious sweat sessions. It’s also a time to make sure we all stay cool, covered and safe. That’s why MISSION Instant Cooling Gear and their proathlete founders are dedicated to spreading the importance of National Heat Safety Month this July.

Co-founder Chris Valletta, former NFL player, experienced heat related illness during his college and professional football playing days — so this initiative is personal for him.

Chris Valletta

Mission is so passionate about Heat Safety they invested in The Mission Heat Safety Lab at UConn’s Korey Stringer Institute. Mission products have been tested on athletes with state-of-the-art equipment like high speed treadmills, advanced bike ergometers and a comprehensive physiological monitoring system — so you know these items are legit!

Mission Gym

“Mission and the Heat Safety Coalition has the ultimate goal of improving heat safety in the consumer and industrial settings. These cooling products are a vehicle to get there.” —Dr. Casa, CEO, Korey Stringer Institute, Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Director, Athletic Training Education.



Here are some tips to stay fit, cool and most importantly safe this summer with Mission Cooling Gear.



Don’t forget to wear a MISSION Cooling Performance Hat to block the sun and try to avoid running outside between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is strongest.

Mission Cooling Hat


Look for a shaded area where you can all get a little family fitness in! Make sure to arm the entire family with MISSION Cooling Towels. Their brushed microfiber cools instantly.

Mission Cooling Towel


Even moderate workouts like taking your furry BFF Gaiter to stay safe for a stroll are more intense during the summer months. Rock this MISSION Gaiter to stay safe and cool. And don’t forget water for you and your pet.

Mission Cooling Gaiter

Mission Cooling Gear available at Walmart, The Home Depot, Target, CVS and Mission.com

Does Running Shirtless Keep You Cooler on Hot, Humid Days?


On the muggiest, swampiest days of summer, you’ve no doubt questioned if running shirtless is the best way to beat the heat. But before you start thinking about how to kit up or strip down, you should understand what happens to your body in the heat.

The Surfing Injury You Rarely Hear About: Surfer's Ear


While every surfer has spun a tale or two about surf injuries—a board to the back of the head, a hand sliced on a fin, a dislocated joint after a particularly violent closeout—these injuries are actually rather rare.

Two-Time Olympic Runner Guor Mading Maker on Escaping War-Torn Sudan and the Black Lives Matter Movement


Olympic marathoner Guor Mading Maker thought he was done running when he was granted asylum by the United States in 2001. No one would blame him. He spent most of his childhood running for his life.

How to Avoid Injuries Now That Gyms Are Re-Opening


Since May 20, all 50 states have started to ease COVID-19-related shutdown restrictions. The first wave of re-opening included gyms—big box franchises and boutique studios. Understandably, many people are itching to get back into their strength regimens—to throw some weight around that’s not an adjustable dumbbell. Beyond safety precautions you should take before running to your iron palace, there are other things to keep in mind to avoid injuries getting back in the gym.

How Brad Pitt Got in Boxing Shape for ‘Snatch’


Brad Pitt has been fit since he came on the scene in Hollywood, but there are a few of his movie physiques that are etched indefinitely in our brains. The first is Fight Club, in which he played the underground resistance leader Tyler Durden. The dirty, shirtless image of him standing over a bloodied opponent, celebratory cigarette hanging from his lips, has remained a physical pillar of masculinity for many a young man (even if it’s a bit stereotypical).

How the Stroopwafel Could Help Power Your Next Outdoor Adventure


If someone asked, “Want an energy waffle?” what would be the first thing that popped into your mind?

How Rapper and Humanitarian Michael Franti Got Into the Best Shape of His Life at 54


You know the saying: Old habits die hard. For musician and filmmaker Michael Franti, those habits finally caught up with him in March 2019 when he stepped on the scale and saw 240 pounds. But he had some serious doubts about overcoming them. After all, he’d been living this way for decades—touring on the road, working 18-hour days, sleeping four hours a night (if he was lucky), and using sugar as a crutch to boost waning energy levels.

Inside the Nike Science Research Lab: What Every Runner Can Learn From the 2-Hour Marathon


“Most people remember Breaking2 as a spectacle. Three runners, pacers, big crowds, and a race track in Italy, trying to break one of the last great thresholds in sport. But it started years earlier, humbly, on a whiteboard,” says Brett Kirby, a Human Performance Researcher at the Nike Science Research Lab (NSRL) who quarterbacked the project.

I Used the COVID-19 Pandemic to Try a 5-Day Fast. This Is What I Learned.


All it took was a brief text conversation with a friend about how he planned to keep the quarantine weight off for the algorithm to find me. In an hour, my Instagram feed filled up with ads featuring indistinguishable influencers selling weight-loss juices, estrogen-suppressing health bars and militarized yoga routines. The one ad I saw most frequently was for an app that guided the user through an “intermittent fasting” program. A cheap, animated graphic showed a translucent, genitalia-free body emptying itself of some evil-looking red liquid like it was an hourglass dropping sand. The fast was simple enough: You have an eight-hour window to eat every day. For the remaining 16, you fast and only drink water. If I adhered to this, I would become a new and better man. I’d burn fat, increase my ability to focus and have more energy. I’d also slow down my aging process, prevent Alzheimer’s and cure cancer.

The Most Creative Dumbbell Workouts to Build Muscle and Burn Fat at Home


You don’t need to hit the gym to get a workout that burns out—and builds up—your muscles. To get seriously strong and lean, all you need is a set of dumbbells—and these six creative dumbbell workouts. Each one adds a fun, challenging element to your typical free weight routine, whether that’s with exercises you’ve never tried before or a change in tempo that tests your strength.

6 Challenging Workouts You Can Tackle at Just About Any Local Park


If you really need to squeeze in a workout during your work-from-home day, the normal strike-mission gym routine probably isn’t in the cards just yet. And with the weather warming up and summertime on the horizon, what better way to get creative with your fitness routine (and practice your social distancing) than with a few challenging park workouts.

Trail Running Tips for Staying Hydrated in the Heat


It’s beginning to feel a lot like summertime, and the trails are beckoning. But in a rush to play outside it’s easy to overlook preparation for running in high heat.

High-Protein Snack Strategies to Keep Your Kid Full and Happy All Day Long


It’s time to snack smarter.

The Best Prowler Exercises to Challenge Your Power, Strength, and Endurance


Sleds, also known as prowlers, have become emblematic of football training, because they’re used to replicate the effort of pushing an object that doesn’t want to budge (like an offensive lineman). But more gyms are starting to offer them—typically if there’s a turf area.

What Happens to Your Body When You Train in Hot-Weather Conditions?


It’s 90 degrees and humid outside. The last thing you want to do is workout in the heat—but did you know that training in the heat could actually work to your advantage?

The At-home Workout George Kittle Uses to Build Unilateral Strength and Power


Despite some serious uncertainty, the NFL season is still on track despite COVID-19—and 49ers tight end George Kittle hasn’t been resting on his laurels. In fact, the two-time All-Pro player is putting in some of the biggest workouts of his life in the garage gym of his home in Nashville, TN, programmed by strength coach Josh Cuthbert. The motivation? Seizing the Lombardi trophy and bringing it back to Levi’s Stadium.

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