Finding time to exercise can be tough, and there is so much conflicting exercise about working out that it’s easy to get intimidated. This month we’ve made a pledge to be more active as part of our Sport Your Style theme.
We asked bellabox personal trainer Dave a few fitness questions, and he was happy enough for us to share his answers with you!
What exercises can I do in the office quickly?
Ok, so you’re at work in your little cubicle in front of your computer and you want to do some exercise in your break but you only want to spend 20 minutes on it.
Let’s assume you don’t have any equipment and the best you can do is clear a small space around you. Squats and lunges are a great five minute workout. Start with two sets of twenty of each. If you’re able to lie down, add some crunches and push-ups. If you struggle with a push up, try using your knees like in the video below.
We often spend our whole day at our desks without moving at all. Try to add some incidental exercise into your day in the form of a walk. If you go to get a coffee, walk to the café that’s further away. If you have a park nearby and the weather’s nice, go for a stroll. Walk the long way to the station.
bb editor Julia attempts a push up
What’s a good daily workout for the time poor?
This is a hard one to answer but it’s one that is being asked a lot by people everywhere. “I work all day and want to exercise but I have no time and all I have the energy to do is go home and watch another episode of Game of Thrones so Jenny from work who’s read the books doesn’t spoil the season for me - whilst eating a double barrel of TimTams” is a common feeling amongst people in the modern day. We work long days in jobs that don’t let us move as much or in the way we were evolved to do. One way we can get around our hectic schedules and still get in some exercise is by taking advantage of HIIT.
HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is a method of exercising that uses short periods of intense work followed by a period of rest. Now, there are many ways to perform HIIT but a simple and effective example is to start by jumping on a bike at your gym and increase the resistance by 1-3 points per 30 seconds until you find something that gives you a reasonable resistance – this is your warm up time or about 5 minutes maximum. Once you’ve found your resistance start pedaling as fast and as hard as you can for 20 secs (Work) then take your intensity down for 40 secs (Rest) then repeat up to 10 times and follow up with a couple of minutes of slower lighter work for your warm down with a few stretches for those aching quads and glutes.
All up it should take no longer than 30 minutes to do and you’ve improved glucose metabolism and fat burning, stimulated your heart and stimulated the leg muscles to get stronger. One word of advice on HIIT, this isn’t training you do every time you want to work out as it can be hard to recover quickly enough to maintain effective workouts and continued growth. Use HIIT 1-4 times a week.
Are there any exercises that you can incorporate into your day that will relieve tension and stress?
Let’s start by saying that all exercise (when done properly) is going to help relieve tension and stress. Exercise stimulates chemical responses in the brain that make you feel good, particularly post exercise. When the body is exerting effort such as when you are exercising it requires greater energy and oxygen needs than compared to when the body is at rest. This means your heart has to pump faster and lungs have to pull in more air and exhale carbon dioxide at a greater rate. You’ll get a little hit of endorphins which will help to relieve some of that tension and stress. Another option is boxing – you’ll definitely feel some stress relief when you’re hitting those pads or bags!
Dave helping Julia to maintain her balance
Will doing weights make me bulky?
Okay maybe this requires more explanation. We are all familiar with the images of elite body builders, who look almost hyper real with their incredibly over developed muscles and unbelievably low body fat percentages. These people are the elite, the top of the pile, the dedicated few who put up with months of hard training and restrictive diets all for a few hours of flexing and posing on stage to be scrutinized by a panel of judges to decide who has the most symmetrical and impressive physique. It’s easier to view these people as the Usain Bolt’s of bodybuilding.
Now that is explained we can address the question. No, you will not get “bulky” by lifting weights. For the vast majority of women lifting weights for 30-60 minutes up to 4 times a week will not make you look like a She-Hulk. Even women who dedicate their lives to changing their bodies through resistance training often don’t resemble the stereotype, and they work their arses off in the gym and at home to get their impressive results.
What you might get though is stronger muscles, improved bone density, better muscle definition ie, “Tone”, a perkier bottom, slimmer waist, better arms, the list goes on. Gone are the days when exercising meant attending step classes in your leotard and leg warmers to the instruction of someone who resembled Richard Simmons. These days there are so many ways for women to exercise and weights is one of many options that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.
If you want to get started with weights, book in an assessment or appointment at your local gym so they can teach you how to use them correctly. Many gyms offer this service, and they will help to make sure that you use proper technique and don’t inadvertently hurt yourself. Don’t be put off by other gym members in the weights area, they are usually so focused on their own workout that they won’t even notice you!
How many times a week do I need to need to work out to make sure I continue to get toned and fit?
“Getting Results” is a multi-faceted dilemma. It requires a number of components to come together -Diet, exercise, frequency and intensity. The phrase “Abs are made in the kitchen” or some such derivative is a common one found on websites for those who think thigh gaps are aspirational, or getting up at 5am to go for a “quick” 20km run before work normal. While somewhat off-putting it does have truth behind it for a lot of people – eat less energy rich foods store less body fat. As in don’t eat both side of a multi pack of TimTams in one sitting. Also, how much are you wanting to slam some TimTams right now? But we’ll leave food here for the moment and focus on just the exercising related elements.
If you’re the type of person who finds the thought of going to the gym about as appealing as being naked in public then you’re probably the type of person who if you have a gym membership you have held onto it because having a gym membership is basically the same as being a gym junkie right? Right?
Wrong, it isn’t unfortunately, so aim to put aside some time that is realistic and use that gym membership. Start with a couple of times a week if that is all you can muster then be pleased that you’re reaching your goals and already making improvements to your health. Reaching that goal of going continuously is the hardest step. Once you’ve got into a routine with a couple of times a week add another sesh because by this point you probably feel better able to achieve that.
If you are already going to the gym and possibly playing a sport once or twice a week doing 3-4 sessions of exercise all up will grow and maintain fitness and muscle. The thing with exercise is though, higher frequency will allow for greater physiological response and greater scope for the types of exercise you employ. It’s pointless to compare your achievements with someone who spends their entire lives devoted to fitness as you won’t get results like them without spending as much time and effort as they do so worry less about that and focus on being healthy.
The most important thing to remember is that getting fit isn’t a competition! Just getting out and walking is a great start, and you don’t need a gym membership for that. Not everyone has the time to go to the gym, and chasing kids around or simply going on a walk is a great place to start.