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Health and Wellbeing

Strike a balance with this Inner thigh exercise

Want to boost gym performance? It’s time to balance out your intense workouts with a good old dance-inspired stretch

Blocking out the time to really delve into a stretching session can seem hard to justify if your busy schedule already makes squeezing workouts in difficult.

But if you’ve found yourself hitting a wall when it comes to results, or you’re constantly plagued by niggling injuries, it might just be what the doctor ordered. US-based Lastics has taken inspo from the long, lean and limber bodies of dancers to come up with classes and online videos to help regular gym-goers get the most out of their workouts. ‘Dancers epitomise the balance between strength and flexibility to the extreme,’ says Lastics founder Donna Flagg. ‘Their bodies are graceful, sculpted and powerful.’

Rather than overhauling your entire workout routine to emulate that of a ballerina, Lastics instead allows you to simply take a leaf out of their book, providing stretching-focused classes to help you develop an improved range of motion. This is essential to anyone who’s looking to prevent injuries, boost conditioning and balance out strength training – as well as achieve a slender silhouette. ‘Lastics enhances all other activities, improves posture and circulation and gives you more freedom to move in your body,’ Donna adds. So if you’re intrigued by the slenderness and strength of a dancer but don’t necessarily have any goals to make it as one (bar the occasional tear-up on the dance floor on a Friday night), this is the perfect middle ground.

If you’re interested in subscribing to Lastics, trying out the DVD or even just having a taster of what it might be like, give this workout a go. Donna has devised it especially to supplement WF’s workouts, but it’s a wise and healthy addition to any active woman’s weekly routine. It can even be added to the end of a workout if you don’t want to dedicate an entire session to it.

How to do it

Breathe into the stretch and release when the body starts to resist. Then take a few breaths and release deeper into the stretch on each exhale. Repeat as desired. 


Sit in a straddle and let your head hang between your legs, rounding your back. Release any tension you may be holding.

After you’ve been hanging there totally relaxed, reach your nose a little closer to the floor. Hold your upper body where it is and press the backs of your knees down into the floor.

Hold your body and knees in place and flex your feet, making sure your knees don’t pop back up.

Finally, hold all of that and lift your chin to flatten your back. Hold for a few seconds.

Top 10 To Combat Eating Disorders

Women are constantly bombarded (in the press, advertisement, films and television) with images of the perfect body. The enormous pressure built up on them leads many women to go on diets to help themlose weight. Some women have developed a very unsettled relationship with food, followed by complains of chronic constipation, lack of energy or food intolerance. one thing common to all eating disorders is the love-hate relationship with food.

Try working out through following exercise to understand how your body works with food, so as to turn eating into a positive experience:-

1. Understand the nutrients your body needs:

Try to understand your nutritional needs with regards to caloriesfatproteinvitamins,minerals andwater to develop a healthy metabolism and gain energy to carry out your normal daily activities.

The body puts on excess fat only when it takes in calories it does not need. As a member, you will gain knowledge of your individual nutritional needs, so as to manage your body in a healthy manner. Here you will understand that food has far more uses than simply the negative one of “making you fat”. It is important to try to get your body to a stage where it is a little stronger, without feeling that your weight will carry on going up and up.

The nutrition content of WF fitness program deals with all essential nutrients individually along with their sources and daily requirements to help you make healthy choices of food.

2. Calculate your ideal body weight:

Use your body mass index to calculate your ideal body weight. BMI of 19-25 is considered healthy. Below 18 is considered underweight. You can check your target weight at: www.womenfitness.net/freetools.htm

3. Understand that body’s fluid levels change everyday, several times a day:

Try to get out of the habit of excessive weighing, once a week should be the maximum. This might not seem easy when you have been used to obsessive weighing, so throw the scales out, or give them to a friend or put them in a hidden place. Whenever you are tempted to weigh yourself adopt distractive therapies like, a walk etc.

4. Make a list of pastimes that make you feel good:

Write down your favorites pieces of music or books that you seem to associate with happy times. you can also list down name of friends and relatives who can offer you support in time of need. Keep your lists in prominent place so that you can take immediate action when you are feeling vulnerable.

Gentle exercise can help you feel good about your body, but punishing your body with 2 hrs. exercise is not what you need.

5. Make a food list:

Try dividing foods into four groups:


  1. Foods are those that you feel safe eating-include fruits and vegetables, apart from bananas, pineapple, avocados, along with yoghurt, canned diet drinks, black coffee. Occasionally try pasta, rice, potatoes and white bread.

  2. Carbohydrates foods. Other foods might include cottage or low fat cheese, fish, meat, chicken andbreakfast cereals.

  3. Food consisting of  fat and sugar such as crisps, pastries, cakes, biscuits, butter, oil, cheese, sauces and full-calorie canned drinks.

  4. These foods are those that you don’t like. These are genuine dislikes rather than any psychological fear of eating.

Try WF healthy recipes from: A list of choices various foods.

6. Try to reawaken the taste, temperature and sensation in your mouth:

Many anorexics and bulimics, don’t taste or feel food in their mouth. They see food as enemy and something that has to be swallowed quickly. Try to acknowledge food within your mouth, enjoy its smell and taste as you chew and swallow it down. This will help you to identify the signals of satiety and fullness, leaving you less guilty.

The ultimate goal of this exercise is to stop the guilt/panic attacks that accompany eating, not to make you take in calories. Concentrate and respect everything that goes into your mouth to feel positive about food.


Top 10 to Combat Eating Disorders7. Avoid keeping your binge foods at home:

Keeping the binge foods locked in a cupboard will make it easier for you to avoid the temptation to binge. If you have a list of binge foods (the classic ones being bread, biscuits, cookies, cake, chocolate, ice cream) try to replace them with more nutritious foods which will provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals e.g. fruits, salad etc.

8. Try to drink no more than two litres of water a day:

There is no doubt that water is essential for healthy and normal functioning of various body function. But filling up empty stomach with water is not advocated. Take small sips of water throughout the day.

Also do limit your tea and coffee intake throughout the day. Tea and coffee bind vitamins and minerals in your gut and prevent your body from using them effectively. Being diuretic, they also make your body excrete nutrients in the urine. Initially you might face withdrawal symptoms like headaches, but this will pass out with time.

9. Stop Using Laxatives and diuretics:

Continued use of laxatives and diuretics can lead to abnormal amount of fluid loss. The temporary loss on the scales can prove damaging to your health. A healthy diet based on cereals, fruits and vegetables will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy state. Refer to the food guide pyramid to base your everyday diet on a healthy foundation.

10. Try to build a structure into your diet pattern:

Try to follow a meal pattern of at least 3-5 meals a day at the same time everyday, this will give you a sense of being in control. Whatever pattern you choose, adopt one that you will stick to, so that some normality can start filtering into your life.

You can even start by breaking up the day into 3 units for e.g., morning, afternoon and evening. At the end of each unit, analyze yourself and goals achieved. Give yourself positive feedback, you can even write it down in your personal diary.

If you are able to achieve your goals in all the three units, reward yourself with something other than food e.g.. massage or a facial. Remember the more positive attention you give yourself, the more likely will you be able to accept your body for what it is and not struggle for an unachievable image.

The transition from an unhealthy lifestyle towards a healthy one might not seem easy or come overnight. By modifying your eating habits you might be amazed as to how good it feels to release yourself from the eating disorder “jail”.

Women Fitness is here to walk every step with you towards a healthy and enjoyable eating of food.

What's your financial faux pas?

Get your cashflow back on track in next to no time with our top money-saving tips

Let’s face it – we all want to make life that little bit more affordable. So whether you’re saving to buy a house, have a little one on the way or simply want to boost your pension pot, there’s no better time to start thinking about safeguarding your finances. 

‘People often push finances to the back of their mind, thinking ‘‘I’ll deal with it when I get there’’, says Anita Naik, consumer editor forvouchercodes.co.uk. ‘And then find they can’t get a mortgage, or get married in the way they want, all because they didn’t start saving when they had the opportunity,’ 

Wanting security for the future is one thing, but most of us are guilty of everyday cashflow slip-ups that can have a long-term effect on financial stability. With new research showing that one in seven of us take on an extra job just to keep our heads above water, we’ve put together the most common money mistakes and asked the experts to come up with simple fixes. Break bad habits and beat financial pitfalls with these cash-savvy solutions.

You can’t stick to a budget

Solution: Budgeting may be boring, but if you want to build any sort of financial freedom it’s the first place to start. Begin by keeping a record of your daily expenditure and you’re sure to make some big savings as a result. ‘Carry a notebook or log it into your smartphone. This enables you to see what you’re spending your money on, work out what you have left to spend each day/week and identify your spending triggers (Lunchtime? Online at night? At weekends?),’ recommends Anita. 

It’s important to get realistic about your regular pay-outs, too. ‘You’ll be surprised at how many payments you hadn’t accounted for when figuring out how much you have left in your monthly wage,’ continues Anita. After figuring out your monthly outgoings you’ll be in the perfect place to start making tweaks for the better. ‘You will need to review your plan and be flexible while you get used to what works for you. Too strict a budget is no good as it just means failure; likewise, too big a budget is useless if it doesn’t suit its purpose.’

You don’t plan ahead

Solution: Spring often signals a fresh start, so there’s no better time to re-evaluate your bank balance. The good news is that there are many ways to foolproof your finances for the future and making sure your credit score is good is essential. Your credit rating has a massive impact on what you can do financially – from taking out loans to getting on the property ladder. Build up your score by making sure you’re on the electoral roll, space out applications for credit cards and keep up to date with monthly bill payments. Want to make sure you don’t go into the red? ‘Another way is to keep a spending diary,’ says Anita. ‘It sounds dull but there are apps that will do this for you, like Spendometer (free from iTunes). This app makes day-to-day money management simple. It enables you to set yourself a budget, log all your spending and review your spending reports,’ she adds.

You’re a secret spender

Solution: One in 10 people admit money matters have been the cause of a relationship break-up, while a surprising 15 per cent of us confess to lying to our partners about our credit card purchases, according to a study by comparison site moneysupermarket.com. Consider yourself a financial fibber? Splurging on stuff you don’t need and then hiding it from your other half breaks the trust in your relationship, so ask yourself, is any designer handbag really worth that? Sacrifice a couple of guilty pleasures and not only will your bank balance flourish, your relationship will, too. And be aware that secret spending can be a sign of something deeper. ‘Either you have a treat mentality, where you feel you “deserve” something for X, Y and Z in your life, or you spend to feel better emotionally,’ says Anita. ‘Aside from the guilt you feel and the impact of getting found out, if you do end up accumulating secret debt your spending habit could have a serious impact on your partner financially. If your spending is secretly racking up debt, or you are not even using what you buy, then it’s a sign you need to seek advice and help for your habit,’ she advises.

You’re not money savvy

Solution: Get smart! We all want to live a nice lifestyle, but cut a few corners and you can save a huge amount of dough. Thinking of signing up as a member at your local gym? Tread carefully! Before committing to an annual gym membership, use trial vouchers to help make your decision. Think realistically about the facilities on offer and which ones you’ll actually use. Access to things like a swimming pool and fancy sauna and steam room will substantially drive up the monthly cost, so make sure you don’t pay above the odds for facilities you can do without. Pay-as-you-go gyms are a great alternative to annual memberships. Although the facilities are often basic, these gyms are great if you’re on a budget as you don’t have to commit to an annual upfront fee. Want a whole new spring wardrobe? Swap the high street for vintage second-hand stores and trawl car boot sales to get bargains that don’t cost the earth. Debating going for the chop? Forking out for a haircut can be hefty on your wallet, so do your research and take advantage of training days at high-end salons where you can get a new ’do by a trainee stylist at the snip of the usual price.

You’re super-disorganised

Solution: Whether you’re late paying your credit card bill or don’t bother doing your research when it comes to insurance policies, being lazy will cost you big time. Avoid enormous annual premiums by shopping around for quotes on the best policies and sidestep high interest rates by setting monthly reminders on your phone to alert you when bills are due. Another way to streamline your bank balance is to ditch the credit card and shell out cash instead – that way you know exactly what you’re spending. ‘Paying by card doesn’t have the same psychological impact as literally handing over money,’ explains Anita. ‘Dealing in cash gives you a much clearer idea of how much you’re going through daily. Take £20 out for the day and it’s likely you’ll be shocked at how much is left by 6pm. If you know you need flexibility to spend more on some days than others, set a weekly budget and get out cash to that amount,’ she suggests.

Don’t suffer in silence!

Why 'putting up with' an injury could be a bad idea

If you’ve ever been injured, you’ll know it’s all you can think about.

But did you know that chronic pain could actually change the way you think?

Well, according to a study in mice carried out by researchers at Stanford University, it seems long-term pain can alter the part of your brain that controls motivation – which could explain why those who suffer from chronic pain become less active and often feel unmotivated. Formerly fit bods can become crisp-eating couch potatoes in a the blink of an eye when motivation hits a real low!

So, don’t put up with persistent pain – get it checked out and get your motivation back.

Bikram yoga

Heard about Bikram yoga? Read our top tips for surviving yoga in the heat

If you like your exercise hot and sweaty, then you'll love Bikram yoga. Not only does this class boast the usual benefits of yoga like improved flexibility and mood, but it's also great for the metabolism and gives you a serious muscular endurance workout. There's got to be a reason why there are so many adoring fans worldwide. If you want to take on the hardcore yoga class, check out our top tips for surviving your first class...

What is Bikram yoga?

Bikram yoga is 90-minute yoga class developed by Bikram Choudhury. It consists of a series of 26 postures. Easy, right? Not when the room is set to 40.6°C - the standard temperature for which Bikram yoga is practiced. Don't forget a towel!

Why would I do this to myself?

There are a range of benefits to doing Bikram yoga, from helping with weight loss and boosting metabolism to improving bodily pains and depression. During your session you will be exhausted and constantly wiping away that sweat, but as your session comes to an end, you’ll actually feel better than you did when you walked in. You will have worked your body and pushed yourself to its limits, and as a result you'll feel rejuvenated and restored.

Top tips
  • Stay hydrated. This doesn’t mean chugging a litre bottle of water when you’re walking in the studio door. Drink around 2 litres of water throughout the day before your session. And post-Bikram make sure you restore your electrolytes and rehydrate.
  • Don’t eat 2 hours before the class. A full stomach can be very uncomfortable in the heat. You don’t want to be hungry either, so a small snack might be okay, but you just have to experiment and see what level of food intake is right for you.
  • Show some skin. You are going to sweat, just accept it. So you want to wear light breathable clothing. Don’t be afraid to show some skin, yoga is not competitive - it’s about challenging yourself.
  • Let it rain. As you sweat throughout the class, try not to constantly towel yourself off. Sweat is your body’s way of cooling you down, so embrace it.
  • Come back. The first session is particularly hard as your body won't know what to expect. But make sure you come back for your second class - that's when the fun really starts! Be patient and enjoy yourself... and the sweat!

Yoga for everyone

If scanning the yoga timetable leaves you lost and confused, don’t panic. Just check out our simple guide to yoga styles old and new

From Ashtanga to Bikram – and beyond – the variety of yoga styles on offer in gyms and studios across the country is amazing. ‘It’s awesome that there are so many different types of yoga,’ says yoga instructor and key leader at Lululemon Katy Bateman (redpandayoga.com). ‘There’s a style for everyone!’ So how do you work out which class ticks your fitness boxes? ‘We all demand, want and need different things for our bodies. Whether you want to flow, sweat, invert, rejuvenate, recover or relax, there’s a practice out there for you,’ says Katy. ‘But our bodies (and minds) don’t necessarily need the same type of practice all the time – sometimes you want to stretch and strengthen, sometimes you just want to chill – there’s a whole menu of yoga out there to feed our bodies with what we need.’ So, whatever you fancy, check out the WF guide to some of the most popular yoga styles out there – plus some of the very latest classes to hit the mat – to find the perfect class for your mood!


Overview: Developed by BKS Iyengar, this is a technique-focused style of yoga. It concentrates on getting the correct alignment, and yoga blocks and straps are often used to assist with this.
Benefits: You’ll really nail every pose. And it’s perfect for injury rehab as it’s slower paced, but technically focused.
Expert tip: ‘The use of props (blankets, bolsters, belts, bricks) help to move students deeper into poses, and has influenced many schools of yoga,’ explains Katy. ‘It’s great for newbies.'


Overview: Developed by Bikram Choudhury around 40 years ago, Bikram yoga classes are a sweaty affair.
They are held in heated rooms (around 40°C) to aid detoxing and help muscles lengthen, and follow a set sequence of poses. It doesn’t move quickly in the same way that a flow class does, as poses are held for longer. Bikram is very popular and classes are held nationwide.
Benefits: The heat is said to help the body detox and can help to boost your flexibility.
Expert tip: ‘The heat is used to aid sweating, detoxing, sweating, strengthening, sweating and… Did I mention sweating?! Suitable for all levels, but remember to drink lots of water the day before your class – and after the class!’ says Katy.


Overview: Ashtanga is a lively style of yoga that follows a set sequence of postures. It’s flowing in nature and is a physically challenging style of yoga.
Benefits: The sequence is always the same so you’ll master it after a few sessions and be able to relax into the class.
Expert tip: ‘This demanding practice is not for the faint-hearted and will see you sweat,’ says Katy. ‘I’d recommend beginners take a few slower-paced Hatha classes before embarking on an Ashtanga session, to get used to the postures.’


Overview: This style is all about reaping the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga.
The idea is that the physical practice can help to let your inner goodness shine through.
Benefits: It’s a great way to clear your head and refocus on the things that are important to you. Perfect if you’ve got a lot on your mind.
Expert tip: ‘This practice encourages you to move from the heart, focusing on how you feel in a pose, and helping you move your body into its optimum alignment, which can be very therapeutic,’ says Katy. ‘It’s great for all levels, and creates a great foundation for a solid yoga practice.’


Overview: Hatha yoga covers any type of yoga that teaches physical poses, but these classes tend to be quite slow-paced and gentle. Classes advertised as Hatha usually provide a good grounding in the basics of yoga.
Benefits: You’ll feel more relaxed and give your body a good stretch out, without the intensity of some of the other classes.
Expert tip: ‘If a class is labelled “Hatha” it will probably be a bit slower, focusing on the alignment of your body and playing with some classic sun salutations,’ Katy says. ‘It’s perfect for all levels – beginners, intermediate and advanced all benefit.’


Overview: This is a very fluid practice, which enables you to get your heart rate up. It’s a very similar style to Ashtanga, but doesn’t follow the set sequence of Ashtanga, so every class will vary.
Benefits: You’ll never get bored, as each class is different from the next.
Expert tip: ‘It’s a dynamic style, but suitable for all levels. As with many styles of yoga, teachers often give variations on poses for different levels as you move through the sequences,’ Katy explains.

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Eight reasons to run!

8 ways to fit in a Christmas workout

Don’t let your fitness goals fall by the wayside this Christmas. There's always time for a quick workout - no matter the season.

Every year the holiday season sneaks up on us and before we can get a handle on the chaos, fitness has dropped way down the priority list. It can be tempting to postpone any workout plans until further notice.

Staying fit throughout the holidays not only helps to keep you in shape, but exercising will make you more productive and give you an energy boost. Here are 8 fast workout ideas for even the busiest schedule.

Fast classes

Health clubs and gyms know what we’re going through balancing a million things at once and barely having time for a lunch break some days. That’s why Virgin Active (virginactive.co.uk) runs fast classes: group exercises classes that last no longer than half an hour while promising to give you a workout that feels way longer. Check out twentyfour – a fat-burning session that gets you twisting, pushing and pulling in every direction while boosting metabolism and raising the heart rate.

Late-night affair

There’s nothing worse than rushing to the gym for a quick in-and-out session and being faced with a crowded gym floor, shower queue or sparse equipment. This kind of session involves weaving through people, wasting time trying to find a decent spot and waiting around for the dumbbells you want or the squat rack to free up. So, if your schedule allows for it, choose the absolute least busiest times, like late at night. You’ll get your pick of the kit, shower cubicle and mat space. No dilly-dallying. No fuss. No wasted time.

Cardio, meet strength

For the next few weeks, forget about separating cardio and strength days. Spin Mondays, leg Wednesdays and circuit Fridays can wait – over the party season there’s no reason why you can’t get your cardio and strength fix in one swift session. Creating a cardio workout using resistance exercises with little rest between sets means you’ll tick both boxes, so get moving with box jumps, mountain climbers and jumping lunges for now. Check out our tips in our ‘Make cardio your strength’ box.

More, but less

However many times you usually exercise, cut it. Switch from five to three sessions a week without sacrificing any of the effects by taking it up a couple gears when you are working out. Thinking quality over quantity could save you precious hours, and is as easy as modifying your moves. Turn squats into squat jumps, press-ups into press-up renegade rows and runs into sprint sessions. Cut rest periods, opt for supersets and incorporate warm-ups into sets, too.

Make your commute count

Currently taking the bus, train or car to work? Get yourself a decent backpack, a good pair of trainers and run or cycle instead. Not only will you be getting your workout done and dusted before you even start the day, but you’ll also be unleashing that eco warrior within. The environment, as well as your schedule, will thank you for it.

Keep it in the bedroom

No, not that! We’re talking, wake up, work out, get ready and go. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Well, why shouldn’t it be? There are plenty of ways to work out at home and if you complete a quick and intense bodyweight workout in your bedroom before you even take your morning shower, you’ll barely notice the dent in your day. Burpees by the bed, anyone?

Social affair

Around Christmas time, when everyone’s struggling to keep up with their schedule, for some reason we all think it’s a great idea to make loads of social plans, too. Not just with our best mates and families but with old friends for reunions. It doesn’t make sense, but we’re all guilty of it. So why not make your social events exercise-related? You could all go for run together, try a new class (great for a talking point afterwards, too) or hit the gym. Double whammy or what?

Make life harder

Yep, you read that right. Do exactly what you normally do every day but make it more difficult. The lift should become a stranger, while the stairs an acquaintance, shopping trolleys should be abandoned for your new best friend, the basket, and don’t you even think about driving a walkable distance. All of these switch-ups will get you burning calories while barely affecting your time.

Recover on-the-go

Refuelling and replenishing your muscles after a tough workout is essential. Not only does muscle growth encourage a boosted metabolic rate and in turn fat burn, but you also need your hard-working muscles to repair in time for your next session. Getting post-workout nutrition isn’t rocket science, but making it quick and convenient can be tricky. 


Make cardio your strength

Fat loss expert Dave Fletcher (theodysseyway.co.uk) explains how to make your cardio and strength workouts a match made in heaven.

1. Try a circuit of low-rep exercises with little rest to keep the heart rate up. This is the best way to maximise fat burn within a single workout.

2. Perform big, compound movements like squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and press-ups. Now is not the time for bicep curls.

3. Do heavy reps to stimulate your fat-twitch muscle fibres, which will help to boost metabolism.

The 10 exercise commandments

Want to make your workouts easier and get more out of every session? Follow these top tips and tricks to boost your results

When you first started working out, you were probably up to your eyeballs in exercise rules: engage the core, don’t strain your neck, don’t let the knees go past the toes and so on. 

Newcomers to exercise tend to make the extra effort to stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to following these guidelines, but those who are incredibly well-versed in working out often forget these all-important rules – and sometimes going back to basics is just what you need to make your workout as efficient as possible. Here are the 10 commandments of training and why you should never (ever!) forget them.

1 Don’t lock out

Keeping your elbows and knees slightly soft, even during full extension, is in your interest not only in terms of joint health, but also in making your workout more effective. ‘Not locking out when lifting weights will prevent joint deterioration and reduce your chances of joint-related niggles and injuries,’ explains personal trainer Dave Fletcher (theodysseyway.co.uk). Keeping your joints soft also calls for muscle recruitment throughout the entire move, as it doesn’t allow them to catch a break at the top of the motion. More work equals better results, right?

2 Eat wise

You don’t need us to tell you not to eat heavy meals too close to a workout – you’ll soon feel it if you do. The reason you might feel a little worse for wear when taking on a gruelling session after a big eat is because, when you exercise, the blood flow is directed to the muscles that are working. This means there’s limited flow to the digestive system – something’s got to give.

3 Give yourself a lift

Squats are a big deal now – it’s a fact. While serious lifters have seen the squat as the holy grail of exercise for years, initiatives like the squat challenge have really popularised the move. But a lot of people struggle to perfect the technique and are, as a result, missing out on maximum results. ‘For most people, squatting with your heels raised will dramatically improve your range of motion,’ Dave explains. ‘If you have tight calves, you tend to lean forwards during a squat and unnecessarily load the lower back, so by raising the heels (on a plank or weight discs, for example) you allow a greater activation of the glutes, quads and hamstrings (bottom and thigh muscles), increasing the effectiveness of the move while reducing the risk of strain to the lower back.’

4 Practise your turn-out

We’re not talking ballerina-worthy turn-out, but pointing your toes out just slightly while performing resistance exercises gives you an extra bit of stability that could make all the difference. Keeping your toes pointing forwards might seem like the safest option, but, according to Dave, the stance can feel unbalanced and unnatural since the hips tend
to rotate outwards a little.

5 Have a break

The jury always seems to be out on rest days, with different people recommending different things. Should you skip the gym if you feel rubbish, or just power through like a trooper? And how many rest days should you have per week? Either way, one thing’s for sure: you do need rest days, especially between strength sessions or sessions that target the same muscles again. You’re seriously compromising your safety by overdoing it. Even if you feel okay, your muscles will still be recovering, and won’t be able to perform to the maximum until they’ve been rebuilt.

6 Perfect your posture

It’s not as simple as standing up straight when performing your exercises, although this is pretty important, too. Having good body alignment can boost your progress by helping you perform exercises with better form, so working on your postural alignment outside of the gym is crucial. ‘Make sure you put the time in away from your workouts, too, by stretching, foam rolling and stopping yourself from slouching when you sit down,’ advises Dave.

7 Engage your core

This is probably one of the first rules you learn when you start exercising. Engaging the core almost goes without saying these days, right? But it really is at the centre of everything and ensures your upper and lower body work in synergy, taking the strain away from the lower back and enabling you to lift heavier weights. And you know what that means? Better results.

8 Refuel post-workout

Eating healthily in general is pretty important, but for those who go hard at it in the gym, you need to pay extra attention to mealtimes, too. You’ve probably seen those hardcore gym-goers glugging their protein shakes before they’ve even left the changing rooms, and here’s why: after a workout, the muscles are primed to absorb protein, so you want to take advantage of this. We’re not saying everyone should be on the shakes, but make sure you go for a protein-heavy meal like chicken or fish after you’ve exercised.

9 Prepare and recover properly

Let’s be honest, we can all be a little guilty of skipping warm-ups and cool-downs, even though we know we shouldn’t. And while we know stretching after exercise helps to reduce injury and aches, did you know that warming up efficiently before a workout actually makes the workout easier. How? Stretching dynamically pre-workout, in similar movement patterns to those you’re about to perform, means your muscles will be more elastic and the blood will already be flowing. ‘Stick to dynamic stretches before a workout and static ones after,’ Dave adds.

10 Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is important, regardless of how often you exercise – the body is primarily made up of fluid, after all. If you start to feel thirsty at any point, then you’re actually already dehydrated. And, while rehydrating is easy enough, taking preventative measures
by ensuring you never reach the point of thirst is even better. Even minor dehydration can affect your endurance and blood flow. The rule? The more you tend to sweat, the more you should drink throughout the day. So keep a bottle of water on you at all times. 


Want to run quicker? Just follow these 5 simple steps

Get stronger

The stronger and more explosive you are, the more force you’ll generate, and the faster you’ll be. Strength training in the gym, coupled with some plyometric exercises, are essential if you want to get faster. Don’t be afraid to lift some heavier weights, in the range of five to eight reps per set, as this is where you’ll see the most strength gains initially.


Become leaner

The heavier you are, the more difficult it is to move quickly, so decreasing your body fat is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your speed. What you eat will have the biggest impact here, so you need to be sure that you’re eating for your specific requirements. This will be different for us all, so recording what you eat and finding a way to track your body composition on a regular basis can be very useful to keep you on track.


Improve your posture

Structural balance and good posture play a big part, not only in keeping you injury free, but also in helping you move and breathe more efficiently. And the more efficient you are in both of these areas, the faster you’ll be. Typical areas of weakness that need attention are the hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes and lower and mid-back, which can be improved through exercises such as lunges, deadlifts and rowing variations. 


Work on technique

The more proficient you become in certain movement patterns, the more efficient your body will be and the faster you’ll go. Want to get faster at running? Working on the technical aspects of running mechanics, such as stride length and arm drive, will make a huge difference to your efficiency, and in turn, your speed. To improve stride length for example, think about driving your leg back to push you forward.


Do short sprints

Performing short sprint intervals and improving technique are the quickest ways to improve speed. It’s important to get a good base of overall conditioning and get yourself as strong and lean as possible at the outset, but once you have a good level of general fitness, you need to sprint if you want to go faster. Start with shorter distances of, say 10-30m, and make sure you get complete rest between sets.

Less pain, more gain

Step out of the hurt locker and stay on the safe side with our handy guide to ‘ouch!’ prevention

We know it, and you know it: getting in shape is hard work. Exercise demands a huge amount from your muscles and, occasionally, injury is simply inevitable. 

But, let’s face it, there’s nothing more frustrating than your goals being thrown off track by an annoying stitch during your boxing class or killer back pain during your weights session. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Figure out the triggers causing you pain – and learn the best way to safeguard your body before, during and after a workout – and you’ll be well equipped to make the most of every single session. 

1. Avoid dizziness

Ever feel light-headed when you’re sweating by the bucket load during your spin class or giving your all on the treadmill? A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that being dehydrated during exercise caused dizziness, reduced concentration and fatigue, so fuelling up before your session is really important. ‘Carbohydrate is your body’s primary fuel source for moderate-to-intense exercise,’ explains Reebok Club’s personal trainer and nutrition expert Tim Hart (reeboksportsclublondon.com). ‘If your levels are low then workouts do become harder, as the body has less immediate energy available. If you feel dizzy, rest and recover until the feeling goes before continuing. If dizziness lasts longer than five minutes, end the session or reduce the intensity.’ 

Tackle the problem: Staying properly hydrated is key. ‘For gym training, drink at least one litre of water per hour and an extra litre post exercise,’ Tim tips. ‘For long outdoor runs, sports matches or anywhere in high heat, consume at least one litre of isotonic water during exercise and one to two litres after your workout.’ 

2. Beat lower back pain

If you want to sculpt washboard abs or simply improve your all-over strength, core work is an absolute must. But, when your tummy muscles are weak, your back muscles are likely to take a hit, so it’s vital to work both areas. 

Tackle the problem: Avoid advanced movements if you’ve got a weak back and start with basic core exercises. ‘Lie on your back and bring both legs up into the air, knees bent at a 90-degree angle,’ says Rebecca Gentry, Bodyism performance specialist. ‘Push your lower back into the floor by pulling your bellybutton in towards the spine. As you exhale, slowly lower one leg – keeping it bent – until the heel brushes the floor, then return to the start position. If your lower back lifts up from the floor, or you feel any pain during this movement, stop immediately,’ adds Rebecca. 

3. Tackle muscle cramp

If you’re training for an event and striving to smash your PB or run further than you’ve gone before, muscle cramps are the last thing you need. ‘The primary cause of cramps is sweating during exercise,’ explains Tim. ‘Research indicates that a decreased concentration of electrolyte minerals, such as chloride, magnesium, potassium and calcium, is a big factor in muscle cramps. These minerals are lost through sweat.’ 

Tackle the problem: There’s no cure for sweating, sadly, but you can reduce its effects. ‘An isotonic drink containing sodium and other electrolytes can help to reduce the risk of cramps,’ says Tim. ‘A snack a few hours before exercise – such as some mixed nuts or dried fruit – can also help. However this will not stop the loss of electrolytes once you’ve started exercising. So if you’re exercising for longer than an hour, have some small snacks or an isotonic drink handy while you’re working out.’ 

To ward off cramp before it strikes, eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, for a hit of the muscle-easingmineral magnesium. 

4. Protect your knees

If you’re looking to tone up and boost strength, squats always hit the spot. When performed correctly, squatting sculpts the lower body andsupercharges your fat-burning engine. However, if other areas of your body are tight, such as your hips or hamstrings, pain is likely to be on the menu. 

Tackle the problem: Warming up your knees and butt with some hip extensions will help to take the burden off weak knees. ‘Place a Bodyism Mini Band (bodyism.com) just above your knees to keep your knees in line with your toes, and stop them dropping inwards as you move,’ Rebecca suggests. ‘Only bend to a point where you have no pain, keeping your heels firmly pressed into the floor – then push up through your heels, engaging your bottom, hamstrings and core.’

5. Reduce muscle aches

We’re sure we don’t have to tell you that post-exercise soreness tends to set in a day or so after your workout. Usually the result of overloading muscles, soreness is often necessary to help muscles repair and grow, but that I-can’t-get-off-the-sofa pain stems from an improper warm-up. ‘Foam roller work and stretching can loosen the fascia to allow muscles to work to their full potential,’ explains Rebecca. 

Tackle the problem: What you do before and after a workout is just as important as the session itself. ‘Use a foam roller on the body parts you’re going to work, and on areas of tightness,’ says Rebecca. ‘Follow with dynamic stretches such as arm circles and lunges to activate your muscles.’ If ice baths really aren’t your thing, use good nutrition to help you bounce back. Eat plenty of protein and put watermelon on your shopping list. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that watermelon juice can help alleviate muscle soreness thanks to high levels of an amino acid called L-citrulline.

6. Dodge stitches

Stitches are a common complaint when overexerting through exercise. Although rarely serious, they can impair your physical performance and reduce the effectiveness of your workout.

Tackle the problem: It’s thought that beginners suffer more than seasoned gym bunnies, so don’t go too hard if you’re a newbie. And, while it’s important to drink water prior to your workout, too much liquid could do you more harm than good. ‘Drinking water before your workout increases your chances of suffering a stitch,’ says fitness expert Dean Hodgkin (ragdalehall.co.uk). ‘There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest shallow breathing, or panting, can be a trigger, so concentrate on deep inhalations and exhalations during your workout.’ 

Full of flavour and so many health benefits, this humble bulb is undoubtedly a storecupboard hero… stock up now!

Garlic has lots of health benefits – it is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory to name a few!’


Most of us have this little bulb in our kitchens and use it for adding flavour to our cooking, but garlic has lots of health benefits and could technically be called an everyday superfood. It is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory to name a few!

One of the key benefits and medicinal uses of garlic is in helping to lower blood pressure, whether you have high blood pressure already or not. There has also been research that shows how garlic can also have a positive effect on your cholesterol, helping to keep it in check. So if you currently suffer from, or are predisposed to cholesterol or heart problems because of family genetics, then definitely add garlic to your cooking as much as possible.

Garlic was actually used to treat gangrene during the World Wars, probably because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and because one of the key biological components of garlic is a compound called allicin. These days, though, allicin, which is also found in garlic’s cousin the onion, can be used to help support your immune system and, according to research, may help  to prevent certain cancers, such as stomach and colon. 

The antibacterial properties of garlic also mean it helps to fight infections, and there has even been some evidence that it might help prevent food poisoning by killing bacteria, such as E. coli. One study even found that garlic was better at treating campylobacter, a bacteria commonly found in uncooked chicken, than two kinds of antibiotics and may be up to 100 times more effective!

In addition, garlic contains vitamin C, B6, selenium and manganese. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant so it also helps to protect your cholesterol from oxidation, the process that can cause damage to your blood vessels and arteries. As for B6, this vitamin will help prevent heart disease by lowering homocysteine, an amino acid that naturally occurs in your blood but can be dangerous when levels get too high. Selenium helps to protect your cells from damage, and manganese has many roles, including helping your body form connective tissue and bone, as well fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

The key to reaping the benefits of garlic is to aim for around two cloves a day and ensure that it’s chopped, crushed or pressed and then left for 60 seconds before cooking to release all of its benefits and flavour. Chopping the garlic and putting it straight into a heated pan or oven will destroy a lot of its goodness, as the oil and allicin needs to be released and the necessary chemical reactions started. So don’t be too tasty to get cooking immediately. 



Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and add ½ finely chopped onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach and 400ml vegetable stock and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Season to taste, blend with a hand blender and serve.


Finely chop 3 large garlic bulbs and place in a blender with 4tbsp olive oil, 4tbsp (total) pine nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a large handful of fresh basil. Blend to a fine paste and stir in 150g finely grated Pecorino cheese. You can add more olive oil if it is too thick or dry. Serve over fresh pasta or with meats.


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cut a small butternut squash in half, remove the seeds, rub with olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes until soft. About halfway through the cooking of the squash, rub a little olive oil over 2 bulbs of garlic (skin still on) and roast for 20-25 minutes beside the squash. When cooked, scoop the flesh out of the squash and peel the garlic cloves. Place in a blender along with the zest and juice of ½ lemon, and 2tbsp tahini. Blend until a smooth paste and season to taste before serving.


1 clove of garlic (3g) provides you with approximately:
4 calories
0g fat
0g protein
0g carbs
1g fibre

Get snap happy with the latest way to get your coconut fix

Rock that bikini with pride this summer with these deliciously healthy foods. 

Yo've booked your beach break and bought a new two-piece, but the fear of stripping off has got you panicked. Sound familiar? Then now is the perfect time to kick-start a summer eating plan so you look and feel amazing in time for take-off. 

This ancient South American grain packs a healthy protein punch, making it an excellent slimming aid. Super-versatile, it can be used to bulk out soups and stews and used in place of your usual carb choice. 

Looking for a fruit that works overtime for your health? Cherries are rich in the antioxidant anthocyanins, which increase fat-fighting enzymes. Plus, these little beauties could maximise workout results by warding off post-exercise muscle pain. 

Want to wage war on wobles? Stock up on salmon when hunger hits. This oily fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep skin cells plump, whilst keeping you full - curbing the the urge to snack.

Wonderful for adding flavour to food, garlic helps the liver to filter out toxins in the body. These pungent cloves are also packed with a molecule called allicin, which helps keep your immune system healthy, reducing the risk of summer sniffles. 

Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados help your body manufacture a compound called glutathione, which is needed to detoxify harmful substances. Plus, the good fat content will help to keep summer skin looking its best while filling you up - so you snack less! 

Nothing says summer quite like a fresh punnet of strawberries, and the good news is that this British seasonal staple is actually a slimming food. They rank low on the glycaemic index, which means they help to control the blood sugar fluctuations responsible for food cravings. Plus, they're a powerhouse of skin-perfecting vitamin C.

Cheap and versatile, eggs are a fab source of appetite-curbing protein, making them a dieter's best bud. A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Obesity reported that eating eggs for brekkie helps to boost weight loss for those following a calorie-controlled diet. 

Lemons are like a magic wand for weight loss. They're detoxifying and help to promote proper digestion, which keeps bloating at bay. If they're not already part of your morning routine, you're missing a trick. Sipping on a mug of hot water and lemon filters away any impurities in your system, boosts the metabolism and keeps your cells hydrated so your skin glows. 

Make dark green vegetables like broccoli a priority on your plate and the weight will fall off! Why? This green superfood helps your body to flush out everyday environmental chemicals due to its rich sulphur-containing compounds. Steam your veg instead of boiling to keep the nutrient content intact. 

Raw nuts act like a wake-up call for weight loss. Brazil nuts, almonds and cashews are all loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help to speed up the slimming process to get you in swimwear-worthy shape.

Power your workouts with these easy whey protein recipes

If you’re looking for more interesting and convenient ways toboost your protein intake, why not try incorporating whey protein into your diet? Not only is it easy to digest, it also serves as one of the best sources of protein for immediate muscle repair after working out. Whey is also naturally low in fat and can be a great supplement for weight maintenance.
To help you fuel up, here are three delicious and healthy ways to conveniently add this versatile ingredient to your diet – enjoy!

1) High protein vanilla porridge (serves 1) 
Mix one cup of jumbo oats with two cups of water in a large saucepan and cook on a low heat, stirring frequently. When the oats start to soften, stir in one scoop of vanilla (or chocolate) protein powder. Add a little low-fat milk or water to thin the mixture, stir and remove from the heat, then add your favorite toppings, such as cinnamon, agar nectar, raisins or chopped nuts.

2) Chocolate protein ice cream (serves 2)
Chop one small banana and two large dates and add to a large bowl with 35g of chocolate flavoured whey protein, 1 tbsp of ground almonds, 1/8 cup of cocoa powder and ½ cup of cottage cheese.  Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and place the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove the bowl from the freezer and stir the mixture until it becomes thicker and creamier. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes, before removing it once more and giving the mixture a final stir and serving.

3) Protein muffins (serves 8)
In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of egg whites, 1/2 cup of goji berries, 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes, 1/2 cup of chocolate hemp protein, 1/4 cup of blueberry and apple puree, 3 tbsp of chestnut flour, 3 tbsp of cocoa powder and 1 tbsp of baking soda until it forms a thick paste. Line a muffin tray with eight paper muffin cases and equally divide the mixture into eight portions. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes at gas mark 3/170°C. Remove from oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes and then serve. 

Let us know how you get on - we would love to know how these turn out for you. We thought they were absolutely delicious!