How to be a better Runner

Think you’ve got the hang of running? Run farther and faster with tips from our experts

Here’s something you already know: running is a simple sport. In the early stages, there’s little more to it than putting on a pair of trainers and running for as long as your legs will carry you. But at some point you’ll want to get faster, run farther and feel fitter. Regular runners ask our panel of running coaches and performance experts to spill the beans on how to go up a gear.

What sort of exercise should I do between training programs?

George Anderson, running coach at runningbygeorge.com says:

‘If you’ve just completed a focal race and have a few weeks before your next training programme starts, you’ve got a great opportunity to plug some of the gaps in your fitness. If you’re lacking speed, do shorter, faster sessions because these will make a big difference to your pace. If a lack of strength is your problem, hit the hills and work on conditioning your body for tougher terrain. If you lose posture and form towards the end of a run work on core strength in the gym and do running drills to improve your technique.

How do I forefoot run? I’ve read that elite runners do it and it’s better for avoiding injury.

Dr Mick Wilkinson, sport, exercise and rehabilitation scientist, says:

‘You don’t. Elite runners tend to forefoot strike because they’re running so fast and adopt the landing pattern to deal with the forces resulting from their speed. Barefoot runners also tend to adopt a forefoot or midfoot strike when running on a hard surface, as it allows a gentle absorption of their body weight and is therefore more comfortable than running with a heel-strike pattern. However, get a barefoot runner to train at a moderate pace on a softer surface and they often heel strike. As you run your brain will select the most appropriate footfall for the surface and speed you’re training on.’

I want to improve my running ability. How far should I run each week?

Mike Trees, elite running coach and Newton Running advisor, says:

‘I would recommend 30-50 miles per week for non-elite runners but it depends on your age and your sports background. What we need to do in our teens is different from what we need to do in our 40s or 50s. If you’re an ex-swimmer who has trained in the pool at a high level for over 10 years, I wouldn’t recommend you do much long, slow running because your aerobic system will already be highly developed. I would, however, advocate hill training and running drills to build up the necessary running muscles.

Should I lift weights to improve my running?

Dr Mick Wilkinson, sport, exercise and rehabilitation scientist, says:

‘This largely depends on your current running skill and experience. If you’re a beginner or fair-weather runner, first learn how to control your own body weight when doing running-specific drills (such as high-knees) before adding any additional load.

‘Many experienced runners don’t have the skill or single-leg strength to control the force of steady running. My advice is to work on plyometric bodyweight work by perfecting basic alternate-leg skipping with a rhythm of around 180 skips per minute. When you can do this, progress to single-leg jumps and don’t even consider adding additional load with weights. Very few traditional weight-lifting exercises have any relevance to running and offer minimal benefits.’

When and what should I eat before racing?

Mike Trees, elite running coach, says:

‘I’ve noticed that older athletes need longer to digest food before racing or hard interval running. So, I suggest that veteran runners leave at least four hours between eating and running. Comparatively, some teenagers can eat up to two hours before racing. The trick is to experiment in training and less important races to find your optimum time.

‘I always suggest eating simple sugars on race day to ensure that your bowels are not full of fat and fibre. For me, a bowl of cornflakes eaten six hours before I run, or toast and jam, is sufficient. Whatever food you choose, all you usually need to eat on race day is 600 calories because your body will struggle to digest more. But it’s important to eat the right things the day before a race. Ensure you consume carbohydrate foods and any other important nutrition the day before.’

What’s your exercise excuse?

Shore up your fitness routine and get your body in gear with these stay on track solutions

While we may take out expensive gym memberships and splash the cash on new workout gear in a bid to feel healthier and slimmer, sticking to an exercise regime for the long haul is another thing altogether. No matter how serious we are about achieving our goals, or how good our intentions, our get-fit resolutions can often slip off our to-do lists.

Need some motivation to recharge your get-up-and-go? Health and wellness coach Joanne Henson dedicates her book to doing just that. What’s Your Excuse For Not Getting Fit? (£4.99, amazon.co.uk) provides easy to follow advice and smart tips to stick with exercise long enough to see some pretty awesome results. ‘I wrote the book to help people take a fresh look at their own self-sabotaging behaviours and limiting beliefs, and to motivate them to change their mindsets, and move forward,’ she explains. Here she shares the most common excuses and her simple solutions to stay on track.

Excuse 1: I don’t have time to exercise

Workouts don’t necessarily have to be lengthy or laborious if you’re looking to lose weight or get healthier. A short, sharp sweat sesh will see you bid farewell to hundreds of calories while targeting a whole range of different muscle groups. ‘Three to four times per week is ideal – this still leaves another three to four days a week when you don’t have to exercise. High-intensity interval training sessions could be as short as 10 minutes, and the best way to ensure that it gets done is to prioritise and diarise. And if you think you don’t have time, try keeping a log of how you spend your time and re-evaluate what’s important,’ says Joanne.

Excuse 2: I live too far away from the gym

Brrrr! When it’s freezing cold and chucking it down outside you’d probably prefer a date with your duvet over dragging yourself all the way to the gym – especially if it involves an epic commute. We get it. Even those of us with the loftiest intentions can falter when inconvenience thwarts our fitness plans. ‘There’s no point in joining a flash new gym if it’s a 15-minute drive away, which you might not fancy after a long day at work. Much better to join the more basic gym at the end of your road. Then you’ve only got to find time for the workout, not the workout and a journey,’ says Joanne. Gym still not near enough? Try out a range of fitness DVDs and apps that fit easily into your lifestyle.

Excuse 3: I’ve lost my fitness mojo

Having a dip in motivation every so often is normal and if that means you miss a few sessions, so be it – but don’t let that derail your efforts to get back on track. ‘If you do skip a few workouts, remember that the longer you leave it the harder it’s going to feel when you go back. And consider how far you’ve already come – do you really want to waste the effort you’ve already put in? Capitalise on the progress you’ve made so far and stick with it,’ advises Joanne.

Excuse 4: I find exercise boring

Exercise doesn’t have to be difficult and unpleasant. Ease yourself into it and up the ante when you’re ready. ‘Find something you enjoy. This is an obvious one, but so many people treat exercise as a form of punishment, as something to be endured not enjoyed. But there are dozens of different forms of exercise which you might find more fun, from dancing to rock climbing,’ says Joanne. And, if you get bored of your routine, switch things up a notch by trying new classes, working out different body parts and varying the intensity of your workout.

Excuse 5: I’m not seeing results

Let’s be realistic; you won’t see results overnight, but the more dedicated you become, the faster you’ll see improvements in your overall fitness and your figure. ‘Be patient, give it some time, and remember that exercise has long-term, ongoing health benefits beyond body shape,’ says Joanne. Try keeping a workout journal so you can chart your progress, writing down small achievements after every session, whether it’s going for two minutes longer on the treadmill or reaching a press-up PB.

Achieve your best-ever results

Try Joanne’s shortcuts to help you stay on track

1

If you treat exercise as an afterthought, and put it at the bottom of your list after checking Facebook and work drinks, you’ll run out of time every day.  But, if you schedule a workout into your day and plan your activities around it, it will get done.

2

People give up because they are looking for a quick fix, and when they don’t get one, they become disillusioned. You’re not going to undo years of unhealthiness or change your shape in a month. But be patient and you will see results.

3

If you have a specific goal, and you’re going to invest a lot of time and effort in exercising, make sure that your time and effort is well spent. Consider carefully exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Be honest with yourself and then, if necessary, get some good advice on what sort of training would be most effective. For example, if you want to get rid of bingo wings, try resistance training rather than going running every day. And it you want a flat tum remember it’s fat-burning workouts, not crunches, that will make a difference.

THE FINAL

As race day approaches, take your running to the next level with our secret training weapons

If you’ve got a big race on the horizon (hello, London Marathon runners!), it’s time to make those final tweaks to your training to ensure you cross the line with ease. We’ve put together our top tips for acing the last few weeks of training. Twenty-six point two miles? Easy!

Get drilling
Doing some basic running drills is the key to running efficiency and a better performance come race day. Think arm swings, high knees and running on the spot. ‘The point of these exercises is to wake up the nervous system, warm up all the muscle tissue, and put the joints through their full range of motion,’ says elite running coach Andrew Kastor (coachkastor.com). ‘This allows your body to move more efficiently in the running motion.’

Each exercise has a different purpose. ‘High knees activate the hip flexor muscle tissue, butt kicks activate the hamstrings and provides a subtle stretch in the quadriceps, and movements such as “fast feet” [running on the spot] excite and heighten the nervous system just minutes before you need to perform fast running,’ says Andrew.

Hit the decks
A great soundtrack is a sure-fire way to boost running motivation, but it’s also the secret to giving your all out on the pavement. ‘Music can make runs more interesting, but studies also suggest that music with an upbeat tempo, similar to your stride rate, can actually help you run harder, for longer,’ says personal trainer Jessica Wolny (jessicawolny.com). The best tracks are those that match the pace you’re aiming to stick to, so head to jog.fm for a great selection of music designed for every pace. But do bear in mind that you won’t always be able to rely on music to get you through. ‘It’s well worth putting together a running playlist, but don’t get entirely reliant on it,’ says Jessica. ‘A lot of marathons and races won’t let you wear headphones.’

Head for the hills
Want to build leg strength and boost your speed? Hill runs are about to become your best bud. ‘Running hill repeats is resistance training in disguise!’ says Andrew. ‘The muscles recruited to run up a hill strengthen as they are the ones with the most amount of stress being applied to them.’ Hills can also help to boost your running form and efficiency when you return to the flat. ‘Running hills helps refine your biomechanics for flat-land running,’ says Andrew. ‘Running uphill is very hard to do with bad mechanics, so the body gradually begins to recruit muscle tissue much more efficiently.’ A more efficient runner is a faster runner.

Fuel up
Get your nutrition right and you’ll give yourself a real head start. But don’t go mad on the pre-run spag bol. ‘There’s no real need to carb-load as a recreational runner, so forget massive bowls of pasta,’ says Jessica. ‘Just eat balanced meals with plenty of protein and veg, and you’ll be fine.’

But what if your energy is running low before you even get out there for a session? ‘If you feel like you need a bit more energy pre-run, a slice of toast with a banana can help,’ Jessica says. ‘You’ll get instant energy from the fructose sugars in the banana, and slower-release energy from the toast.’ Plus it’s super-cheap!

On shorter runs you shouldn’t need a snack mid-run to keep going. ‘A good rule of thumb is that you don’t need to refuel during any run that’s shorter than an hour,’ Jessica explains. So what about long-haul runs? ‘If you’re planning to run a half marathon (or longer), it’s worth experimenting to see what works for you on some of your training runs.’ But do make sure you’ve tried and tested these in training before using them on the big day, as you never know what effect they might have. ‘Don’t try any gel, drink or pill for the first time on race day,’ tips Jessica.

Turn up the speed
We’re sure you’ve heard that interval training is a super way to boost your fitness. But we’ll bet our bottom dollar it’s not your first thought when it comes to long-distance training. Well, the good news is, interval training can boost your overall running speed. ‘The point of interval training is to challenge both your mind and body while running at an uncomfortable pace,’ says Andrew. ‘The main goal of this kind of workout is to lengthen the repeat distance, and shorten the recovery interval while keeping the same desired pace.’ It’s a gradual process of course, but it can yield great results. You’ll be working towards running further, faster – what’s not to love about that?

Move your butt
If you want that extra advantage on race day, focus on getting your best asset working its hardest. ‘Spending all day sitting down puts most people’s glute muscles to sleep,’ says Jessica. ‘And runners are often no different – if yours aren’t firing properly, you won’t be as efficient as you could be.’ So how do you fire up your backside? ‘Try the wall squat – stand in front of a wall with your toes touching it, and sit backwards into a squat,’ Jessica tips. ‘If you find it impossible, or your knees are touching the wall, your glutes aren’t working properly.’ But don’t worry, it’s easily fixed. ‘Add some glute bridges into your routine: lie on your back with your feet close to your bum, and drive off your heels to push your hips into the air. Too easy? Try with one leg in the air.’

Find the right shoes
A good pair of training shoes is essential if you want to get to race day injury-free. Your best option is to get a gait analysis, where an expert assesses your running style, and a shoe recommendation. Sweatshop (sweatshop.co.uk) offers a great treadmill gait analysis service and can also create insoles moulded to your feet. Most amateur runners can happily race in the same shoes they train in, but if you’re looking to challenge that top 10, it might be worth investing in some lighter, faster racing shoes. ‘It depends on the type and calibre of athlete,’ explains Andrew. ‘Most athletes competing for a place on the podium or racing for personal bests should have a pair of racing shoes to race and train in.’

Make sure you train in your racing shoes from time to time. ‘Speed sessions should be run in the same shoes you’re racing in,’ says Andrew. ‘It’s a good idea to have two to three pairs of shoes on rotation over the week.’

Rest up
Don’t forget to rest and recover. You need to approach your R&R with the same vigour you approach your training. Stretching, massage and foam rolling will all help your muscles to recover in time for your next session. ‘The easiest and best ways to recover from any sort of exercise are with sleep and food,’ says Jessica. ‘Make sure you’re eating plenty of protein, vegetables and fruit, and getting eight hours of sleep a night, and you’ll see the results.’

Don’t just collapse on the floor after a tough run. ‘Grab a foam roller, and do five to 10 rolls each along your bottom, hamstrings, calves, quads and IT bands (the sides of your legs),’ says Jessica. ‘Wherever you find a painful spot, that’s a muscle knot – keep gentle pressure on it until the pain subsides.’

THE LAZY DAY WORKOUT

When your best excuse is ‘I can’t be bothered’, this easy, speedy circuit has you covered

You love the idea of getting fit. You even have all the kit – hanging in your wardrobe. Hey, it’s OK! Sometimes, working out is just too much like hard work – especially when the weekend rolls around.

But, here’s the thing: working out is super good for you! It’s not just about losing weight or toning up – a heart-pumping sesh is great for your mood and brain too. So if your excuse for every skipped session is ‘I can’t be bothered’, listen up. Working out can be as quick and easy hitting snooze on your alarm. You don’t even have to leave your bedroom to get this workout done – you can do the whole thing in your pyjamas! As long as you’re moving, we don’t care.

To get the most bang for your fitness buck, it’s wise to choose a resistance workout that also gives you a serious cardio challenge, so you can get fitter and stronger in one go. This workout does just that, targeting muscles in the upper body, lower body and mid-section to encourage blood flow to all areas. It means your body is using energy (and burning cals!) just moving the blood back and forth. Smart, huh.

Kit you’ll need:
Chair, resistance band

How to do it
First, roll out of bed! Then follow this workout, performing one set of each exercise back to back without rest. Once you’ve completed one full circuit, take 30 to 60 seconds’ rest before repeating the whole circuit again. That’s it! If you really want a challenge, repeat the circuit a third time. Hit repeat on this easy workout two to three times a week for best results. Who’s lazy now?

Beginner: 2 x 8 reps each move
Intermediate: 2 x 10 reps each move
Advanced: 3 x 10 reps each move

Incline press-up
Areas trained: Chest, rear upper arms, shoulders, core

Safety tip: Keep your body straight throughout

Technique -Start in plank position on your hands with your feet on a chair.
-Bend your arms to lower your chest to the floor, making sure your hips move with the rest of your body.
-Push back up to the start and repeat.

Squat jumps
Areas trained: Bottom, legs

Hot tip: Land straight into another squat for an extra challenge

Technique
-Bend at the knees and hips to lower your bottom back and down as low as possible.
-From this position, jump up as high as you can.
-Land softly with knees bent and repeat.

Tuck jump
Areas trained: legs, stomach

Hot tip: a great way to hit the abs and cardio at the same time

Technique: -Jump up as high as you can and tuck your knees in towards your chest.
-Land softly and repeat.

Knees to feet jump
Areas trained: Legs, bottom, core

Technique
-Start kneeling on the floor with your toes tucked under.
-In one explosive movement, jump up to land on your feet.
-Return to the start and repeat.

Marching plank
Areas trained: Core, stomach, shoulders

Safety tip: Don’t tilt your hips

Technique
-Start in plank position on your hands with your feet on a chair.
-Keeping your body straight, bring one knee towards your chest, then return to the start position and repeat on the opposite leg for the next rep. Continue alternating legs to complete the set.

Burpee
Areas trained: Legs, bottom, core, shoulders

Safety tip: Don’t let your hips drop lower than the rest of your body while in plank position

Technique
-Crouch down, placing your hands on the floor by your feet.
-Jump your feet back into a plank position, them immediately jump them back to the start.
-Jump up as high as you can, then land softly and move straight into another rep.

Modified V-sit
Area trained: Stomach

Technique
-Sitting on the floor with knees bent, lift your feet and extend your legs. At the same time, recline your upper body as far as possible.
-Engage your core to bring your knees and chest together. Repeat.

Marching glute bridge
Areas trained: Bottom, rear thighs, core

Safety tip: Try to relax your shoulders

Technique
-Lie on your back with your arms by your sides and your legs bent, feet flat on the floor close to your bottom.
-Lift your hips up as high as you can.
-Keeping them raised, life one foot off the floor, then lower it back to the start and repeat on the opposite leg. This is one rep.
-Repeat, keeping your hips raised.

DOUBLE YOUR FAT BURN

exercise: boost results

Working out twice a day – smart weight-loss strategy or reckless routine? Sarah Ivory reveals how to do two-a-days the safe way, and pummel pounds in the process!

 ‘By separating an hour-long workout into two 30-minute sessions, you’re able to rest in between and push harder throughout each session’

Could you hit the gym twice a day? The truth is, you probably could. People do two-a-days all the time. Busy commuters cycle to and from work. Body builders split their daily weightlifting routine into two smaller workouts. Novice triathletes start the day with a swim and end it with a cycle. Active mummies walk the dog in the morning and then head to bootcamp with friends. Your body is capable of doing more than one sweat session if you really want it to. But the question is – is it worth it?

Is it for you?

For some exercisers, two-a-days are a no-brainer; numerous studies show that, when planned correctly, doing two workouts in one day is a very effective training method for those wanting to build muscle, race ultra-distances or compete in multi-discipline events. But the jury is out on whether working out once or twice a day is most beneficial for weight loss. In fact, when it comes to losing weight, a plethora of scientific literature confirms our bodies respond better to intensity of exercise than duration. The take-home message? Weight-loss fans should split one long workout into two parts and then perform at least one part at near maximum effort (think: 75-85 per cent of heart rate max) to reap results.

There are plenty of waist-whittling benefits to be had by splitting a sweat session in two – researchers from the University of New Mexico note that EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or the metabolic-boosting ‘after-burn’ effect) increases for at least two hours after exercise. Put simply, your body will burn extra calories as it replenishes oxygen stores, removes lactate from the muscles and restores body temperature after each workout. And every calorie counts when it comes to fat loss. Of course, if you’re guilty of drifting around the gym in a semi-conscious daze and performing sub-maximal efforts on available kit, following a two-a-day schedule will offer the added benefit of encouraging you to be more results-driven about your daily plan. ‘Two-a-days should make your training more targeted and intense,’ explains celebrity trainer Hayley Newton. ‘By separating an hour-long workout into two 30-minute sessions, you are able to rest in between each one. So, in theory, you should be able to push harder throughout each session.’ Jéan LK, founder of London training studio Timed Fitness, agrees, ‘Splitting your workout not only makes it easier to fit more comprehensive sessions into your schedule, but also requires careful planning – something plenty of people fail to do.’

Staying on target

But what if working out twice in one day did mean exercising more? Turns out doubling up on the amount of daily exercise you do is a great way to hit weight-loss activity targets. The current guidelines for activity among the general community state that adults should clock 30 minutes of exercise – whether gym-going, running or gardening – five days per week. Sounds doable, right? Well, for long-term weight loss, you need to up the ante. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), fat-loss fans should aim to do 250-300 minutes of moderately intense exercise (in other words, challenging exercise) each week. That’s a whopping four to five hours of tough exercise each week – and a stroll with the dog doesn’t count!

Of course, you could aim to perform four to five gruelling sessions, but research shows that motivation drops after the 30-minute mark. So long workouts aren’t the best strategy for long-term results. ‘Exercise needs to suit the individual, otherwise you won’t stick to it,’ agrees Hayley. ‘Finding time to train isn’t easy but you must /make/ time for exercise. Get up an hour early and do a 30-minute cardio session. Then do another 30 minutes of strength work in the evening.’ Put like that, it certainly sounds more achievable, right?

Potential pitfalls

It’s clear that exercising twice a day does boast weight-loss benefits, but it’s not without its problems. Crucially, it’s important to keep in mind what you’re physically capable of. ‘It takes a certain level of fitness to start this style of training,’ warns Hayley. ‘You need to get the go-ahead from your doctor beforehand, and then start slowly. For some people, a brisk 30-minute walk is tough enough.’ Don’t be misled by the super-fit looking folk who seem to live in the gym, either.  Chances are they’re not fit because they train often; they train often because they’re fit enough to do so. Every exerciser has to start somewhere, and the best place to begin is with the basics before progressing on to two-a-days.

It’s also important to consider why you want to exercise twice a day – is it a logical way to reach your weight-loss goal or are you simply addicted to working out? According to research from the University of Southern California, exercise addiction affects three per cent of us, and it increases the risk of injury or illness. Clocking up extra workout hours doesn’t signal a problem, but if it’s accompanied by withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or irritability, you should consider cutting back rather than doing more. ‘Rest between double-workout days is crucial,’ adds Hayley, ‘Exercise twice a day every day and you’ll fatigue pretty quickly, not to mention increase your risk of burn-out.’  The right amount of recovery – not only between exercise days, but also between exercise sessions – is key. ‘You need to leave a minimum of four to six hours between sessions to recover fully,’ warns Jéan, ‘and the dedicated approach to your health needs to apply to all aspects of your weight-loss journey, which includes staying on top of your nutritional needs and getting adequate amounts of sleep.’ So the harder you work out, the longer you’ll need to recover. Capiche?

Choosing your workouts

Think exercising twice daily is the best approach for you? That’s great news. Unfortunately, any old workout won’t do – working the same muscle group twice, for instance, will only wear you down. Here’s how to make your AM and PM sessions work well together.

1. Do different workouts in the morning and evening. Unless you’re training for a specific sport, doing the same discipline or working the same body part twice in one day will only result in fatigue.

2. Find a balance between high and low intensity. Don’t do two vigorous cardio or two heavy weights sessions in a row. Mix high, moderate and low intensities to keep muscles guessing and stay enthused.

3. Separate your schedule into cardio and strength training. Perform a cardio session in the morning when you have bundles of energy and your strength session in the evening when you’re feeling focused.

4. Choose activities that you enjoy – hiking, cycling, team or club sports. The more you can minimise the psychological stress of exercising, the better it is for your body. When it comes to weight loss, anything that gets your heart pumping works.

5. Following a strength programme? Split it into two sessions. Target the large muscle groups in the morning with compound moves like burpees. In the evening, focus on small muscle groups with isolation exercises like bicep curls.

6. Rest, rest, rest. This approach is not about doing as much activity as possible, but about performing at the best of your ability. Rest is key to staying healthy and maintaining exercise quality. Have one to two days off scheduled activity each week.

LOSE BELLY FAT

It takes an all-round, holistic approach to health to get a flat tummy

shiftign that muffin top and belly fat can be a real issue. If you fidn that you slim down quite easily and feel fit yet still struggle with that stubborn paunch, it might be time to approach your quest for a flat tum from a few different angles.

While tummy and core exercises like crunches, planks and leg raises will certainly help to define and tone the mid-section, they alone don’t eliminate the fat. So how can you melt away that layer of fat and reveal those abs underneath?

  • Sleep

Could having a flat belly be as easy as laying in bed? In a way, yes! Health coach and founder of Definitive Health, James Driscoll, emphasises the effect that hormones have on belly fat: ‘Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people make poorer food choices and crave high-energy, calorie-dense snacks in an attempt to boost energy levels,’ he explains. ‘Important hormones are released during deep sleep, too, which aid muscle repair, detoxify the body and increase fat burn; directly impacting your physique.’

Make sure you’re getting enough good-quality sleep – 8 hours at least. If you have trouble drifting off, set aside some time to unwind before bed. ‘Drink valerian tea, dim the lights and avoid electronics one hour before bed,’ advises James. ‘Develop an evening ritual that works for you.’

  • Eat
A healthy, balanced diet is crucial to keep belly fat at bay. Watching what you eat is just as important as how much you’re eating, so make sure you’re getting the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. ‘High-protein diets have been scientifically proven to promote greater fat loss and keep you feeling fuller for longer,’ says James. ‘Aim to eat 2 grams of protein a day per kilogram of bodyweight, and include protein with every meal. Steer clear of sugar, which switches fat burn off completely – stick to 50-70 grams of carbohydrates a day, choosing those that are low-GI such as quinoa and fibrous green vegetables. Avoid starchy carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and potatoes. Avocado, oily fish, nuts, coconut oil and hemp oil are good ideas for quality fat sources.’
  • Exercise

To torch the fat that’s hiding your toned tum, you need to adopt an intense fat-burning approach to exercise that targets the whole body, not just your stomach. Check out our workouts section for plenty of whole-body fat-burning routines.

FAT FIGHTING WORKOUT

Use this clever workout to blast the fat

Diary jam-packed? Our clever fat-fighting workout will prepare your body no matter how time poor you are!

We’ve developed smart, insulin-stabilising and metabolism-boosting workouts that’ll get your body in the best shape possible to deal with whatever your week has in store. The compound exercises are designed to really crank up your metabolism speed by targeting all the big muscle groups. How? Building lean muscle mass means your body has to burn more calories at rest, so this workout will keep your fat burn ticking over. And if you do it all at a high intensity like we’ve suggested, you’ll be working wonders for your body’s insulin sensitivity, making it better able to deal with blood sugar spikes from treats!

How to do it
Perform one set of each exercise in a circuit-style with no rest between moves or sets. Then take a one to two-minute rest and repeat for the allocated number of sets for your level.

Kit you’ll need
2 x dumbbells
Barbell
Box

Beginner: 2 x 10 reps
Intermediate: 3 x 10-15 reps
Advanced: 4 x 10-15 reps

Burpee

Areas trained: Legs, bottom, core, shoulders

Technique
-Crouch down to place your hands on the floor by your feet.
-Jump your feet back to bring your body into plank position, then immediately jump them back to the starting position.
-Jump up as high as you can, then land softly and go straight into another rep.

Safety tip:
Don’t let your hips drop lower than the rest of your body when you’re in plank position

Squat and press

Areas trained:
Bottom, legs, shoulders, rear upper arms

Technique
-Holding a dumbbell by each shoulder, bend at your knees and hips to push your bottom out behind you and lower into a squat.
-Extend back to the start and press the dumbbells overhead.
-Slowly lower and repeat.

Safety tip:
Keep your shoulders back and chest up

Lunge with rotation

Areas trained:
Legs, bottom, sides of stomach

Technique
-Holding a weight in front of your chest, take a large step forwards and bend both knees to about 90 degrees with the back knee just above the floor.
-As you do this, twist your upper body to the side of the front leg, bringing the weight toward your hip.
-Push back up to the start and repeat on the opposite side. Alternate sides for each rep.

Safety tip:
Don’t let your shoulders hunch

Plank transfer

Areas trained:
Core, shoulders, rear upper arms

Technique
-Start in plank position on your forearms, with your body in a straight line.
-Push up onto your hand on one side, then the other side.
-Go back down to your forearm on the side you started with, and do the same on the other side.
-Repeat fluidly.

Safety tip:
Keep your neck lengthened throughout

Press-up renegade row

Areas trained:
Chest, upper arms, core, shoulders, upper back

Technique:
-Start in plank position on your hands.
-Bend your arms to lower your chest to the floor, keeping your body in a straight line throughout.
-Push back up to the start, then row one dumbbell up to your side.
-Lower it, then repeat from the start, alternating arms with each rep.

Safety tip:
Don’t let your lower back over arch

Clean and press

Areas trained:
Legs, bottom, shoulders, upper arms, back

Technique:
-Holding a barbell in front of your thighs, bend your legs to create momentum, then row the barbell up toward your chin.
-Rotate your grip to drop your elbows under the barbell then press the barbell overhead.
-Reverse the movement and repeat.

Hot tip:
Great whole-body move

Single-arm snatch

Areas trained:
Bottom, legs, core, shoulders

Technique
-Bend at your hips and knees to take hold of a dumbbell between your feet.
-Explosively extend your body, driving the dumbbell towards the ceiling using the momentum generated.
-Lower and repeat, alternating arms with each rep.

Box jumps

Areas trained:
Legs, bottom

Technique
-Stand with a box or deck in front of you.
-Jump up onto the box and land softly.
-Jump or step back to the start and repeat

Hot tip:
Plyometric moves help to build power

Fat-fighting foods

Prepare for party season with these metabolism-boosting foods.

1. Chicken breast Fill up on protein-packed foods like chicken and fish, which help to maintain lean muscle mass – the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism.

2. Chillies
Not only do these fiery little things fight fat, they can also suppress cravings. Chop them up into your stir-fries and curries.

3. Leafy greens
Spinach, broccoli and other green vegetables help to detox the liver to create a better environment for fat-burning. Load up!