My first yoga class

Source: Lululemon athletica

Yesterday I went to my first ever yoga class with Dan’s mum – can’t beat bonding over exercise! I’ve gotta say it was very enjoyable except for the fact it was cold in the studio. I did several poses I hadn’t done before including the fish which felt awesome.

I really got a chance to stretch out my tight thigh and hip muscles which was nice and set me up for being in a great mood all day. As highlighted in my 15 reasons why you should be doing yoga post, I highlighted all the benefits of incorporating yoga into your work out week. I’ve been very slack about yoga recently and I have no idea why I’ve neglected it. So, I’m setting myself a challenge to do yoga every morning for the next 14 days starting tomorrow (Sunday) with nice long sessions on my days off from Insanity/weights.

Who’s interested in joining me with this challenge? If there are FSB readers who fancy doing this but don’t know much about yoga, I’ll happily put a post on here about how to get started with useful resources and perhaps some handy youtube videos (not of me).

Hope everyone’s work out week has been as epic as mine, anyone got any triumphs to report?

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Fitness challenge #2 – the early bird

This is my next fitness challenge for you guys and, don’t worry, it’s only a week this time.

As well as your usual work outs, I challenge you to get up 30 minutes earlier than you usually do to work out. This can be running, cycling, interval training (check out ZWOW on Youtube for ideas) or even powerwalking with the dog.

This’ll help improve your sleep patterns, overall mood, energy levels and will kick start your metabolism for the day. What’s not to love! Even if you get tired, try powerwalking to still get those endorphins going.

Starting on Sunday, who’s in?

Swat up on squats!

Okay, this is definitely my last post tonight, there is such a thing as overkill. But I did promise a post on squats, so here it is.

Image courtesy of Zusana and Bodyrock.tv

Whether or not you’re taking part in my fitness challenge for the week or month, squats are an exercise that should not be ignored. There’s a little confusion as to whether full, deep squats are bad for you as opposed to 90-degree-angle squats known as half squats and that is because some trainers believe they put excess strain on your knees, potentially causing damage.

I do not agree. Why? Any exercise performed incorrectly will cause excess strain on your joints and cause damage. Done properly, any exercise will cause strain on your joints which your body then adapts to – so don’t sweat it and in the words of Nike: Just do it.

Benefits of full squats instead of half squats

  • Works the quadriceps (thigh muscles), gluteus maximus (your booty) and hamstrings primarily, as well as erector spinae (the long muscle on either side of your spine), transversus abdominae (your deep ab muscles), pelvic muscles (both medius and minimus) and soleus (a lower leg muscle) as secondary muscles
  • Infact, indirectly, they work your entire body – no other exercise compares in that sense!
  • Contraction of the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the gastrocnemius maintains integrity around the knee joint. “What?!” – it basically means you’re helping preserve your knee joints
  • Squats help to release the most anabolic growth hormones and testosterone into your body so you’ll start to gain muscle in your upper body as well
  • They increase your balance

Not sure how to squat properly? Here is a great squat form video – that is a half squat but the same form applies to full squats, just go lower.

Whether you are a runner, body builder, Zumba enthusiast, football player, volleyball player and so on and so forth, squats are for you so what are you waiting for?
If you have a lower leg injury, be gentle with yourself and if you’re not sure you’re up to squats, don’t try them without seeking medical advice first!

Tips for correct squat form:

  • Do not look down: this is very important and extremely important if you have a weighted bar over your shoulders. The floor isn’t going to change colour so you don’t need to watch it.
  • Do not arch your back
  • Do not bring your knees in: you will put extreme pressure on the ACL and MCL (they’re ligaments in your knees)
  • Avoid allowing your knees to reach past your toes: this is a controversial one, most professionals say don’t ever, however I’d say try not to make a habit of it because it’s bad form.

Hope this helps everyone, particularly those doing my squat fitness challenge.

Fitness challenge: 210 full squats

zusana light squat

Starting on Sunday, I am throwing down the gauntlet for myself and any of my followers who are wanting to tone their thighs. We are going to be doing 30 squats a day for 7 days. I’m not talking about half squats either, I mean full butt down past your knees squats.

Already masters of the squat? Do the squats while on your toes – the killer.

Who’s with me? You can tag them on to the end of your workouts and on your days off just a quick warm up, squats then 5 minutes walk and stretch to cool down.
Can’t do a full squat set? Don’t worry, alternate 5 sets/6 reps full squat then half squat.

Remember to do them in sets with a break in between to prevent burning yourself out! Also have your toes pointed out at a 30 degree angle, that way if you’re struggling to lift yourself back up, your knees won’t buckle in.

Go for it, kick your ass metaphorically and sculpt those thighs. Let me know how you get on.