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Five Exercise Tips from Our Experts

The first two months of the year are nearly over and it may be challenging to stick to your exercise plan at times. Although it’s hard to stay motivated, be encouraged as you’re doing a fantastic job and people are already beginning to notice how great you look – even if they don’t say it aloud! Spring is also on its way which means you can soon move your exercises outdoors. Things will soon start to feel easier and part of your routine. 

Still, we know that continuing to #BeResolute can be difficult, so if you do feel like your motivation is starting to wane, read on to gather some inspiration from five exercise experts, including former professional rugby player Ben Cohen and professional dancer and yoga instructor Kristina Rihanoff.

Ben Cohen – The Press Up

For me, training first thing makes me feel good and sets me up for the rest of the day, but you have to find what works for you and stick with it. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym – I’m only in there for 30 minutes as 30 minutes of high impact exercise is far more impactful than spending 2 hours burning out – and I always warm up by focusing on exercises that work my core. I really believe that having a strong core gives a great foundation to the rest of your physical fitness. I then begin my weight training, followed by a sprint on the treadmill at 15-16km/h on a 4% incline – I do this for 30 seconds to 1 minute each morning.

To engage your core, sit tall with your chest lifted and shoulders back – your spine should naturally curve inwards towards your lower back. Your deep abdominal core muscles are usually just inside your pelvic bones; gently draw these muscles in so that your stomach feels tight but do not over-brace. Now that you’ve engaged your core, you should be able to perform a press up correctly; just make sure you keep it engaged throughout the exercise. A press up will work your shoulders, chest and triceps.

  • Your head should be neutral and in line with your spine; face in the direction you are moving.
  • Keep hands level with your chest, pointing forward with fingers slightly separated.
  • Keep your back, legs and arms straight. Your elbows, shoulders and wrists should all line up.
  • Your feet should be perpendicular to the floor and hip-width a part, but you can bring them closer together to make the exercise harder. Stay tall on your toes.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the ground.
  • When you go down, try and get your chest close to the floor.
  • Straighten elbows to rise up and repeat.

Kristina Rihanoff – the Cat Cow Pose

I wanted to get back into shape after the birth of my daughter Mila, but needed a low impact exercise, so yoga was my first choice. I had to make the effort to do something every day, even if I only had 15 minutes, so I started with basic yoga exercises and poses; it was scary though as, I couldn’t feel my core and got out of breath quickly. Coming from a competitive background, I had the mindset that although the first steps were very hard, I knew my body would adjust. Apparently it takes thirty days to retrain your body, but some days all I could manage was a walk around the garden with Mila while she was sleeping! I had to tell myself that it’s okay not to feel great some days after a workout, and I found it helpful to surround myself with positive people.

There’s lots of basic yoga poses out there and you can read about some of them here. I really like the Cat Cow Pose – it’s great for your spine and lower back, which was essential to me once I had Mila. It also strengthens your abdomen. 

  • Start on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Your fingertips need to point towards the top of your mat and your head should be in a neutral position; soften your gaze downwards.
  • To move into the Cow Pose, inhale as you drop your stomach towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze towards the ceiling.
  • Broaden your shoulder blades by drawing them away from your ears.
  • To move into Cat Pose, draw your stomach towards your spine and round your back towards the ceiling. Do this as you exhale. This pose looks like a cat stretching its back.
  • Without forcing your chin to your chest, gently move the crown of your head towards the floor. 
  • Every time you inhale, move back into the Cow Pose, and as you exhale, return to the Cat Pose.
  • Rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.

Sarah Matyjasik – The Super Squat 

My favourite exercise at the moment is the squat – it’s an excellent all-round core and lower body exercise. It's so versatile and can be done in so many different ways using alternative stances, e.g. narrow (using the muscles on the outside of your quad), wide (strengthening your inner thighs) and squatting deep (or pulsing) with a good range of motion. I have found that using an Olympic bar with 5/10/15kg plates, going below parallel, and using a sumo (wide) stance whilst pulsing with good range, has been super effective in making changes to my quads, inner thighs and glute strength.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outwards.
  • Bend your knees and lower your hips as though sitting down.
  • Lower your hips until they are even with your knees. Keep them slightly forward.
  • Push straight back up, lifting your hips up and forward. Don't curve your spine. 

Marcus Leach – The Russian Twist 

One of my favourite exercises is the Russian twist. If you have limited time to focus on your core, this is a great exercise as it engages all of the abdominal muscles, the obliques and the lower back muscles. This exercise also helps with your posture and balance. Having a strong core is vital with the amount of time I spend on the bike; whilst it’s my legs doing the pushing, without a strong core I wouldn’t be able to remain stable on the saddle for hours at a time. It gives me a solid platform for my hips, thighs and knees to work from, ensuring the most efficient transfer of energy into my pedal stroke. 

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent as though you’re in a sit-up position. The feet should be kept together and slightly above the ground or put under a stable surface. 
  • The torso should be kept straight with the back kept off the ground at a 45-degree angle. Arms should be held together away from the body in a straight fashion and hands kept locked together.
  • The arms should then be swung from one side to another in a twisting motion, with each swing to the side counting as one repetition. When moving your arms during the exercise, it is crucial to not stop between repetitions or else you will lose the effect of working the abdomen.

Mike Butterworth – The Bicep Curl with Shoulder Press 

Anyone wanting great looking arms will love the bicep curl with shoulder press. I love it as it works the front and back of the arm as well as the shoulder muscles. Whether you are male wanting to look good in your t-shirt on a Friday night, a bride-to-be pondering her off the shoulder wedding dress, or simply someone getting back into shape and wanting to tone up your arms, this exercise is a great all-rounder. All you need is a pair of light dumbbells and you’ll be able to work your biceps, triceps and shoulders.

  • Stand with your feet directly under your hips and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing out. Bend your elbows, bringing the weights to your shoulders and perform a bicep curl.
  • Stabilise your torso and keep your arms moving upward, straightening the arms above you and performing an overhead press with your palms facing out.
  • Bend your elbows, coming back to the end of your bicep curl, and then straighten your arms back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Perform two-to-three sets of ten-to-twelve reps.

Incorporate these workouts into your exercise routine and you should start to notice more muscle definition. Mixing things up and trying different things will help to keep your workout interesting and it’ll give you the motivation needed to power through and reach your goals. #BeResolute 

What’s your favourite exercise? Let us know in the comments below.

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