SHAPING UP: Four ways to increase flexibility
There is only one hole in your overall good health. You’re as flexible as a piece of plywood. But there’s good news! You don’t have to stay inflexible your entire life.
With the right steps, you can improve your flexibility, which will make life that much better.
Ready to get started building a more flexible you? Here’s how.
Roll With It
For many years, it was common practice to stretch before working out. In recent years, folks have ditched that advice for something better: lightly performing whatever you plan to do. Going to run? Walk and then jog before getting into a run. For those who want to take their routines to the stretchy limit, it’s time to use a foam roller.
With a foam roller, you work to gently stretch your muscles before working them out, and better yet, you stretch them out safely. Essentially a massage for your muscles, foam rolling helps your muscles relax and stretch. This, in turn, allows your entire muscle to be worked out in the gym afterward and prevents an already tight muscle from growing tighter through your exercise routine.
Once you knock out a little foam rolling, the time is right for a round of body-weight exercises or light activity before going full force.
Go All the Way
As you exercise, you can help your flexibility by working throughout your entire range of motion. Initially, you may have a harder time squatting your full range of motion, but sticking with it will allow your muscles to work all the way and will lead to their being more flexible.
To get to where you can squat or perform other exercises as deep as your body allows, you will probably want to reduce the amount of weight you use. As your body grows accustomed to going through a fuller range of motion, you can increase the weight and enjoy improved flexibility.
Your routine winds down, and your muscles feel tight and want to stay that way.
Folks who are new to working out often enjoy the feeling. It lets them know their body has worked hard, and so they allow the tightness to remain as they leave the gym and return to their daily routines.
However, this is when your stretches become most important. By taking 10 minutes to slowly stretch, you can take a huge step toward your overall flexibility.
A good post-workout stretch will focus on the areas worked during your routine, but will provide a little stretching for the entire body. You can also finish your stretching with more foam rolling if you have time, as this will help further your flexibility goals.
Take It Slow
When stretching for increased flexibility, you may be tempted to push it as far as you can.
But don’t give in. Instead, you should relax and take the slow and easy-going path to flexibility.
Going too far too fast will actually have the opposite result that you want, as your body will have to repair itself from small injuries that occur from stretching and won’t want to stretch further in the future. Instead, take your time and allow your body to ease into stretches.
Feel an uncomfortable burning sensation that actually hurts? That is not your body’s way of thanking you. Back off and stretch to the point of slight discomfort. Accept that you can’t increase your flexibility overnight, and you will make better headway than beating your muscles into flexible submission.
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RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Yes, it is possible to enjoy Spaghetti night while living a fit and lean lifestyle. This is accomplished with noodles made from fresh courgette and a sauce that is simply made and packed with protein. Feel free to sub in ground beef for the minced beef if desired.
Here’s what you need …
2 lbs minced, grass-fed beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 large tomatoes
1 tbsp chili sauce
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ tsp sea salt
¼ cup fresh parsley
l In a large skillet, brown the beef over medium-high heat. Drain the skillet and turn down to medium heat.
l Add in the tomato paste, diced/blended tomatoes, chilli, cherry tomatoes and sea salt. Mix to combine. Sauté until the cherry tomatoes are soft, about five minutes.
l Peel the green skins from the courgette, the run through a spiral slicer to create long, thin spaghetti noodles.
l Plate a handful of courgette noodles topped with the beef sauce and a sprinkle of parsley.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 255 calories, 7g fat, 9g carbohydrate, 2g fibre, and 33g protein.
Add this full body workout to the end of your existing sessions or try it when you don’t have time for a full workout or simple use it as a mini daily workout. Great to burn fat, and tone and strengthen the whole body. Plus this will increase your run times over longer distances.
Find a field and mark out 20-30 metres or us lamp posts if you run along a street.
This will seem easy but trust when I say its not.
• Walk to the first marker/lamppost
• Jog to the next
• Sprint – and when I say sprint this is your top speed, 100% flat out – to the next
• Repeat x10-20 sets
Always warm up before and stretch after any workout, all exercises are easily found online.
No.1 Rule of Clean Eating – No Refined Sugar
I can’t say enough about the dangers of refined sugar. Regular sugar consumption will always cause weight gain, and puts you at risk of numerous health problems. It’s hard to quit, but once you’ve broken the habit you won’t give sugar a second thought. Whenever your sweet tooth flares up eat a piece of fresh organic fruit.
David Souter is an award-winning fitness trainer based in the North East and creator of IN10SITY. David is one of the co-stars of Charlotte’s 3 Min Belly Blitz – the platinum-selling No. 1 DVD of 2015 and record-breaking fastest-selling fitness DVD ever. David was also the exercise choreographer behind the No. 1 selling fitness DVD of 2014 – Vicky’s 7 Day Slim and has appeared on BBC1 warming up 45,000 Great North Runners. For personal training, online workouts and nutrition plans email [email protected] or visit www.My-IN10SITY.com