Come (chest) fly with me.

10 10 2010

As I do a lot of sports outside, the gym revolves around my exercise routine rather than the other way round. I’m lucky enough to have a gym at my work, so when it’s Friday afternoon (the quietist day as everyone wants to go home!) I drag myself down to the gym for a purely weights-only session.

So with that in mind, I’m going to post a weights exercise on the blog that anyone can do with a little bit of instruction!

So this week I’m going to focus on the chest. Do you ever see guys at the gym who can bench press the weight of a small car but they still look like the have moobs (man boobs)? The bench press will strengthen your pectoral muscles, but to provide that definition, you need to add another dimension to your routine which provides a different range of movement. A perfect exercise for this is the inline dumb-bell fly…

So the benefits of this exercise are additional strength and definition for the pectoral muscles and it’s also a good work out for the anterior deltoid (just behind the shoulders.

Raise the bench a couple of notches from 90 degrees so there is a slight incline.

Ok, so starting in the position pictured left, palms facing inwards.

Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, lower your arms in a fixed position with the only pivot occurring in the shoulders. You should get to a point where you feel a comfortable stretch in your chest; it’s at this point that you raise the weights back up in the exact controlled motion used to bring them down. Imagine you’re hugging a barrel.

To get the full benefit out of this exercise, it’s important to use the correct weight. Don’t expect to be able to use the same weights that you can bench press as you will really struggle to keep your arms in that fixed position. If you find your arms start to bend, that’s your body trying to get other muscle groups to help out because the weight is too high. The way I decide which weight to use is to pick a dumb-bell which I can bicep curl without too much difficulty.

Work 3 sets of 12 into your routine, as well as a press-up or bench press set and you will be on your way to achieving moob-free, strong pecs.


Last minute golf shopping!!!

3 10 2010

If anyone tells you that you have to spend a small fortune to take up golf as a hobby, take a gander at this:

Second hand set of clubs, some cheapy Dunlop irons and Wilson woods. Probably from the 1970’s but awesome set of clubs or no I’m still crap. £40

Golf trousers: £10

Puma polo shirt: £12

Nike Power player golf shoes: These were the most expensive purchase of the day, but I got them to the counter and they gave me a further 20% off! £27

Set of 12 golf balls: £4.49

Tees: 99p!

I’m borrowing a mates bag and putter for Tuesday’s work golf day but it’s nice to know that you can get into the sport for about £150. The worst bit is getting started, but you can progressively upgrade as you go once you have the basic gear.

I’ll let you know if I make a complete berk out of myself or if by some ungodly pact with the devil I boss the show.


Sport of the week: Taekwondo

28 09 2010

This week, the sports and fitness feature focuses on Taekwondo which is the South Korean national sport week – North Korea’s is mentalism. My trusty wikipedia tells me that Taekwondo translated means “The way of striking and breaking with fists and feet”. The original name “smashyface-funtime” fell by the wayside.

No bad for my first session.

Although TKD was developed in it’s current form in the 1950’s, the martial art stretches back to the first millennia. It was only during the Korean War that a demonstration of the techniques prompted the Korean government to adopt the fighting styles to teach it’s soldiers. But, all you really need to know are two words: Chuck Norris.

Taekwondo focuses more on kicks than punches, starting with controlled basic movements and eventually becoming spectacular, Hollywood style kicks. As I was in the beginner class, we did some pad work and “patterns” which are routines of basic moves.

There are multiple health benefits of Taekwondo: it get’s your heart rate up, increased flexibility, more controlled body movement and speed. There’s also the added benefit of being able to kick through a block of wood… which we can all agree is an essential skill.

The equipment is normally supplied by the club, and membership is reasonable; the club I visited cost £4.50 a week and there are 3 classes in a week, which are all open to attend. If you do get up to a standard where you want to compete in Olympic style sparring competitions (which is normally the standard) then this site has a great range of high quality equipment.

I really enjoyed my first Taekwondo session, and besides some guy accidentally slapping me in the balls in the warm up (at least I think he was part of the class?) it was a really welcoming environment and the instructors really knew what they were doing. ITF England to find your local club!

Do run, run, run.

20 09 2010

Hi all,

Since it was the BUPA Great North Run on the weekend, the results of the ballot for the London Marathon and I am rushing out to running club in 15 minutes I thought running would be the best activity to come first in my series of sports to try.

Were you watching the run on the television thinking “if only”? If that’s the case, that’s great because chances are, the people running on your screen were in that position too once. Running is a wonderfully simplistic activity whether you are looking to complete your first fun run or you’re an elite athlete. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re into running up fells and over fields or you may enjoy the feeling of blasting out 100m.

I’ve recently rediscovered running outdoors after being a slave to the treadmill for 5 years. With that in mind, here is my top-5 “musts” if you really want to get the most out of the sport.

1. Kit

3 things – Trainers, watch, kit. If you are debating training and competing in a pair of old cross trainers you bought on sale please reconsider! I am not a millionaire but there are some things you should invest some money into. A good pair of trainers will cost around £60. You may not realise, but there’s a good chance you either pronate (where you foot rolls inwards when it hits the ground) or supinate (where your foot rolls outwards). If you want to do any kind of extra training, an inappropriate pair of trainers may exacerbate whatever tiny flaws you have in your running style which will lead to an injury that will put your race in jeopardy. Most good running stores have a treadmill where they film your running style and will recommend the trainer that will give you the right support. It sounds gimmicky but once you know how you run, it could be the difference between having a great day out and not finishing due to massive discomfort. A good watch (approx £50) will pay dividends when you want to know if you are getting faster – some even have GPS! Fitsense (linked) have a great range. Get some light running wear from a reputable manufacturer – Nike, Asics, Saucony or Ron Hill are all excellent – and you’re ready to go!

2. Picking your race

Going straight for the marathon is tempting but try to resist. For most, it’s probably a good idea to try one of the many 5km races around the country. Feeling adventurous? 10km or  half marathon races are brilliant if like me, you used to run so you have a good idea of what you’re capable of. The marathon is a good second year event!

3. Join a club

Purely a matter of preference. Some people like to run alone, some with a group. I used to think I was the former until a friend persuaded me to go along to the local club. For me, the benefits were huge! I met a good crowd of people that matched my ability; when you’re in that group you subconsciously try to keep up with each other. You can also talk on the way round the route and you’ve immediately found a group of people that you have at least one thing in common. It’s weird that running the same pace as someone can be such an icebreaker! Annual membership is a bargain (mine was £12!) Any good club will regularly participate in a raft of races from casual to competitive and it’s a good opportunity to experience running with other people before the big event!

4. Keep a log

Sounds like a major ballache? It’s not, honest! Going into the final weeks before the event, writing your results is a great way of seeing your improvement and preventing yourself from freaking out that you’ve not done enough training. Just get a notepad and jot down the time after each run. If you change your distance, use to calculate how far you went. Easy.

5. Enjoy the race and be true to your pace

The adrenaline is pumping and you want to beat any time you set in training. Believe me when I say you’ll be on such a high on the day you will beat your times without having to consciously try. Use your watch to assess if you are going too hard too soon. Pack your stuff the previous night, make sure you know where to park and get there with some time to spare. When you cross that finish line, you’ll be hooked I promise.

There’s your running! Next week – Tae Kwon Do!