As the king of lower-body exercises, the squat is a fundamental movement pattern and a staple exercise in the majority of training programmes. Whether you’re a regular gym goer, a bodybuilder, a stay at home parent or an international rugby player, everyone can benefit from doing some sort of squat variation. The problem is that very few people have the pre-requisite mobility to perform a technically decent squat through a full range of motion. This often leads to compensations in technique, which can ultimately cause aches, pains and injury in addition to muscular imbalances and weakness in specific areas.
If you’re not able to squat as well as a two-year-old toddler then give these five yoga-inspired mobility exercises a go. Do them every day and you will be able to unlock the full benefits of the squat. I would suggest doing them for one minute each and repeating 2-3 times.
Push the knees out with your elbows. Keep your heels on the floor, spine neutral and torso as upright as possible.
Keep your heel on the floor and aim to get your foot as far from the wall as possible while keeping your heel anchored to the floor.
Aim to feel the stretch on the hip flexors of the back leg and the groin of the front leg.
Keep the heels in line or wider than the knees and push your hips as close to the floor as possible whilst pushing them backwards.
Take a wide stance and slowly sit your way back onto your heel so that your buttocks are working hard. Turn the heel back and then rotate to the other side.
I’m sure many of you have heard or have been told that abs are made in the kitchen. You may have heard of the 80/20 rule, that the equation to get a six pack is made up of 80% nutrition and 20% training, but really it’s both nutrition AND exercise which are going to get you the best six pack.
First things first, to have visible abdominal muscles you need to be lean. The common consensus is that below 1012% body fat is lean enough to show your abs. However if you don’t have developed, thick abdominal muscles you will have to get even leaner for them to be on show. To develop a thick, muscular six pack visible through a thin layer of fat, strength training is a must! You need to be doing challenging core training exercises, which place your abdominals under significant tension for a period of time, so 30-45 seconds (or 8-12 reps) per set is a simple prescription and 2-5 sets of this with 1-2 minutes rest in between should do the trick. Check out my last myth buster article in edition 14 of BestFit for my exercise recommendations.
You can achieve getting lean through diet or exercise but a combination of both is optimal. Some of the most efficient methods for fat loss are metabolic resistance training, high intensity interval training or simply anything your body is inefficient at sustaining!
Your genetics, current body composition and current diet dictates what the best specific prescription for fat loss is for you but in short, combining both exercise and good nutrition is optimal for getting abs!
Most nutritional advice available today is aimed at meat eaters, but an increasing number of people are adopting a more plant-based approach that may or may not contain dairy, fish, eggs or derivatives of them.
Vegetarians can get ALL of their nutritional requirements from whole foods and are perfectly able to optimise health, body composition and competitive performance in any discipline they choose. However, we should probably say here that plant-based living is not more health promoting than a varied and mixed diet that includes animal products.
We can thrive without eating animals, but this isn’t to say that we can’t thrive whilst eating them, too. Removing animal products from your diet because you want to, or because of ethical beliefs is fine; but cutting them out because you believe it to be a positive step to take for your health is mistaken, and could indeed make it difficult to get some important nutrients (as you’ll see when I make my recommendations below).
Here are five essential items for any health-conscious vegetarian. Next month, you’ll find a similar list suitable for vegans.
Referred to as a ‘complete food’ for good reason; providing one of the most perfect amino acid profiles in nature, plus a large dose of essential fats and cholesterol. Eggs are also a marvellous source of choline, which can improve mood and concentration – the perfect start to the day!
Fish oil, and the Omega-3 fats therein, are hugely important for anyone wanting to optimise their health. They are powerful anti-inflammatories, they help keep your joints healthy, they can improve brainpower and even improve glucose management. An Algae-based omega 3 supplement is what you need, as algae is the only real plant-based source of EPA and DHA. I can’t rate this highly enough!
A vegetarian may find it difficult to meet their protein needs whilst keeping overall energy intake low enough. Throw a scoop of whey protein in a shaker of water, problem solved.
Milk is often referred to as a perfect food. It contains protein, carbs and fats in a fantastic ratio, it tastes great and it’s been shown time and again to be a fantastic recovery drink. Milk also contains calcium, used for bone and dental health, of course, but also required for a huge number of cellular actions. Plant-based calcium has a really low bioavailability, meaning that we can’t use it very well. So, opting for a dairy source is a really good idea if you want to keep them bones healthy!
Believe it or not, the ‘veggie free veggie’ is a pretty common character. Don’t be lazy, get your greens!