Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Cardio - What's Best and Injuries (and how to Prevent Them)

Cardio. Many people hate it, many people love it. Personally I love cardio but unfortunately, a few months back I injured myself running and have been out since then. I swam for a while but even that's painful now. Injured? You're not alone. But let's forget about that for a minute. 

What's the BEST Cardio?
We all love different things. I'm sure some of you are running enthusiasts or committed swimmers, and if you're just starting out in trying to improve your fitness then it can be confusing as to what to do!
My advice to you, if you just want to keep your body fat low (or lose fat) is the most simplest thing of all: WALKING. I know right, I must be nuts. Walking? Why would I tell you to walk to lose fat when there's all these fancy machines in the gym that will make your soul hurt and bring you to a point of collapse. 
Well, it's very simple actually, walking is very easy on the joints and a brisk walk once a day will have you burning a decent amount of calories, enough to make a difference in the long run. And that's all fitness is really, improving yourself slowly, step by step. 
I suggest waking up and going for an hours walk, not too slow but not too fast, you shouldn't be gasping for air. If this is too easy for you then you can try buying a weighted vest. You could also try this whilst holding dumbbells in each hand (this is also a great trap workout). This might not always be suitable in public though. 
Don't expect to see dramatic changes overnight, however. Typically, the more bodyfat you have the quicker you will lose fat. This doesn't mean you'll wake up one day with it all magically melted away though. 
Set yourself a target. This is the easiest way to get started. For 1 whole months don't eat any junk food, or don't drink any alcohol or make sure you get out and walk for that hour! After this month you'll not only feel great, but you'll have the motivation to keep at it. 

Running and Jogging
Running puts a tremendous amount of stress on the joints. When running, always consider what surface you're running on. Running on concrete on the sidewalk is not the way to go - try looking for grass to run on or even a running track nearby. 
Your shoes are also important. I know there's a whole "barefoot running" craze at the moment, but personally I don't want to risk cutting my foot on the paths thousands of people walk on daily. Do so at your own risk, haha. For years now we've been buying up thick soled shoes at hefty prices, but new research suggests that these shoes are actually doing us more harm than good. Many people are now suggesting we go back to flat soled shoes without that thick heel, the view will probably change in another 5 years or so. 
I recently injured myself running. I thought it was a classic case of the shin splints, but I've been out for 3 months now and admittedly the fat is rolling on. I'm going to hopefully start walking again next week. I guess we're in this together
ALWAYS make sure you stretch before you go on your run. I can't stress how vital this is. A great calf stretch is standing on a step, or the edge of the sidewalk, and lowering your calves down towards the ground till you feel the stretch. I'd also suggest strengthening the front of the shin. To do this stand on a step with your heels on the step and lower your toes towards the floor. Bring them back up and repeat. A quick Google search will provide you with countless amount of stretches to do before your run. Make sure you stretch the muscles which are effected in a major way throughout your run.

Swimming is a great form of cardio. Low impact and it hits such a wide range of muscle groups. Seriously, I'd suggest it for anybody who is looking to get a great work out from a low intensity activity. 
Some would say that swimming is not ideal for bodybuilders or powerlifters etc etc but I would have to disagree. I've made my best gains whilst swimming.
One thing I would say though, is make sure to stretch the pec-minor! A great way to do this is to stand at a corner of a wall, and put your forearm on the wall at a 90 degree angle to the way your standing. I will add a picture of this soon to make it more understandable. Till then Google pec-minor stretch if you need a more detailed view.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Drinking Water to Lose Fat, Stay Shredded and Keep Healthy

The first things to do, is drink NOTHING but water. Seriously, nothing.
There's so many reasons for this that I had actually written a never-ending post before deleting it. It was just seriously unreadable. 
Firstly, and possibly most importantly (for aesthetic reasons anyway) is the calories you'll be saving. DON'T DRINK YOUR CALORIES! Not only will they not fill you up, but they're going to be from simple carbs like sugar. Instead of drinking a can of soda every night or a huge glass of crap-filled orange juice from a factory in the morning, start your day with a big glass of water. It's cheaper too.
Now, I don't want to get too scientific otherwise I'll have a bunch of people calling me a broscientist or other silly things. However, it must be pointed out that when you start to notice that the number on the scales is dropping, it's likely to be water weight. When starting to lose weight, we often primarily lose water so it's important to keep the body hydrated.
Interestingly, drinking 2 glasses of water a while before each meal seemed to suggest people were less hungry and therefore ate less, according to one study or another. I don't know the ins and outs of this, it's probably true but I've never tried it. Try it if you want, or don't. What's more important is that you work out your basal metabolic rate using a simple calorie calculator (just google it) and you eat according to your goals.

Drinking Water and Looking Shredded
Do you feel as if you have a "puffy" layer and you're pretty certain it's not from your food consumption? Drinking enough water will prevent your body from retaining water, therefore you will lose that "puffy" look. Give it a go, it  might work. If unsuccessful, you may need to look at other aspects of your diet.

Guys, if you feel as if I haven't gone into enough detail here, please drop a comment and I'll happily edit the post. I'm trying to keep things clear and concise, like a basic guide. As I said before, there's plenty of in-depth articles online for you to check out the ins and outs of what I'm saying, but I thought I'd start a blog to summarise things.  


Where to Begin?

Want to change something about yourself? Want to lose fat and/or gain muscle? It can be a daunting task, especially if you're at the beginning of the journey. Because that's what it is: a journey. These things don't happen overnight, and they most certainly won't happen if you're not serious about what you want. 
Now, being serious doesn't mean not enjoying yourself. Working out and transforming yourself can be one of the most exciting things to do - EVER! However, if you don't know what you're doing and aren't doing things properly, it's easy to be disheartened and think "forget this man - I'm gonna eat a packed of doughnuts" when of course that's not going to solve anything.
There's a wealth of resources on the internet to help you get to where you're going, but with so many conflicting opinions and different pieces of advice it's easy to become confused.
I've decided to start this blog to help people who are at the very beginning, just like I once was. I don't just want to do this to make your lives easier, but to also help you avoid injuries that I've been unfortunate to come across (but fortunate enough to learn from - and thank goodness none were serious). 
I'll be writing regularly about various aspects of the fitness spectrum, including calisthenics to sleeping.
Please keep an eye out (possibly bookmark the page) for future posts, which will be regular and will start very soon. Feel free to comment. 

- A