Tag Archives: exercise

Handy Nutrients and Food for Muscle Recovery

Photo credit: takebackyourhealthconference / Best Bobs / CC BY

Photo credit: takebackyourhealthconference / Best Bobs / CC BY

Lately I’ve been working on several 6c+/7a projects I’m dying to crush, which means I’ve been spending a lot more time at the climbing gym and pushing myself at strength-training classes. The routes require just that little bit of extra strength, and no matter how much my arms and core muscles hurt after hours of pull-ups and clumsy bouts on the TRX, I know the exhilaration of reaching the top will easily beat any momentary pain. Or at least that’s what I tell myself at the time. To be honest, I’d love it if I could completely boss it up the routes and then be like “Oh, this old route? Yeah it’s a nice little warm-up for my 8a.”

Combine this with my running race this month and weekend hikes, and as you can guess, my muscles are feeling the brunt of my lifestyle at the moment. Considering my past mistakes of pushing myself too hard (bouts of bed-ridden tonsillitis and exhaustion, anaemia, and  preventable injuries aplenty) I’m keen to learn from them and not end up like that again. Which means I’ve been spending a predominantly large amount of my lunch breaks researching the best foods for muscle recovery to help me keep on top of things health-wise. Continue reading

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Three Simple Post Workout Recipes for Dinner

Like many people, I tend to squeeze my exercise in after work – there’s no way you’re getting me out of bed before six on a weekday, and even less of a chance of that happening on a weekend. Which is great and all, except when it gets to 9-10 at night, and I’m tired, hangry, and losing the will to care about anything except stopping that growling noise in my stomach.

While it’s really tempting to simply say screw it and order a takeaway or grab a supermarket pizza, after the initial food cravings have subsided, the rest of my body will complain about the junk I gave it to eat after it put out all that effort for me.

With spring races quickly approaching and a particularly difficult 6C climbing route mocking me after my every failed attempt,  I knew I had to do better for my body if I was to beat these challenges. And so a compromise was reached – I would cook dinners that were nutritious, delicious, and most of all, easy and quick to make, and in return my body would put out its best effort.

Listed below are my now go-to post workout recipes for weekday dinners. They’re quick, healthy and can easily be tailored to your own tastes – I prefer to throw in extra vegetables and cheese where possible!

#1 Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes

post workout recipes 1

Brought to you by the talented folk at the Minimalist Baker, there is nothing to not love about this recipe. With the delicious combination of sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and a lemon, garlic and lemon sauce with a liberal helping of spices and herbs, this is one of those unique recipes that is equally healthy and appetizing (although if you want to crumble some feta cheese over the top, I’m right with you there). Plus, it only takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook, which is perfect for those late evenings at the gym.

If you’re like me and hate spending money on small-portioned, over-priced lunches at work, then this recipe is simple to have as a lunch the next day. Just double the ingredients and microwave when you want to eat.

 

#2 Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables and Haloumi with a Basil Dressing 

post workout recipes 2

This particular post workout recipe is good when you’re feeling a little under the weather. With lots of tomatoes, peppers, lemon and garlic, all those Vitamins A and C make this meal an ideal boost for your immune system.

Simply chop everything up, whizz the lemon, garlic and olive oil in the food processor, and combine together to roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Ten minutes before the end, add the haloumi slices on top. For those wanting an additional protein hit, simply roast a chicken breast with the vegetables, or add a salmon fillet – the dressing goes great with fish!

#3 Chorizo Pilaf

Okay, so maybe the hearty amount of chorizo partially cancels out the health benefits of this recipe, but chorizo is too good not to include! Also, if you are looking to make this healthier simply add some chopped okra and broad beans.

Add sliced chorizo and onion to a pan on medium heat, and cook until brown. Add the spices, then the rice and vegetables with the stock, and let everything cook for approximately 15 minutes on a low heat.

Throw in some parsley and an extra squeeze of lemon at the end, et voila!

Credit to the Minimalist Baker, Waitrose and BBCGoodFood for the images – there’s no way my food sticks around long enough for me to take a photo of it!

What are your go-to recipes after a workout?

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Simple Exercises to Improve Your Climbing

Photo credit: Sky Noir / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Last week the lovely folk at the Swiss Cottage Climbing Centre invited me to try out their newest class – a military-style fitness session aimed at improving strength for climbers. After an hour of non-stop pushing, pulling and jumping up and down holds I ached all over, had ‘Bring Sally Up’ on repeat in my head, and was (dare I say it?) feeling pumped and having a great time.

Despite the initial aches and pains a few days later I was back on the climbing wall and noticed a definite improvement in my endurance and strength!

The instructor, Jack, designed the class to focus on core strength and muscles in the forearms and legs, which help you climb over ledges and build strength for small holds and awkward angles, without losing any flexibility or technical ability vital for climbing.

While few of us have our our climbing wall at home (I’m still dreaming of the day I have climbing Twister in my imaginary backyard), many of the exercises practiced in the class can easily be done at home. Below I’ve given a selection of the ones I found the most beneficial to improving my climbing ability.

#1 Pull-ups

Quite possibly the most difficult of exercises for anyone, find a sturdy bar (or perhaps door frame?) that can withstand your weight, and practice pulling your chin above the bar. When doing this exercise, the main muscles you should be using are your forearms, to help build muscle that can easily pull you up to holds. If you find you are unable to pull yourself up, just try dead hanging for as long as possible.

 

pull up

Photo credit: sirgious / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

#2 Leg Lifts

Laying straight on your side, lift your leg straight as high as it can go, hold it for 20 seconds. Then bring it down, careful to ensure that you continue holding it just above your resting leg. Do this for approximately five minutes. At first I thought this exercise was easy, but by the end my legs wouldn’t stop shaking! This exercise helps build strength in your legs, which means more power to push for holds and less reliance on your arms.

 

oblique leg lift

photo credit: Kathryn Wirsing/Hearst

 

#3 Planks

Keeping your forearms rested shoulder-length on the ground as well as your toes, hold your weight for 30-second increments, with 30-second rests in between. This exercise works your core muscles, which are essential for helping you push yourself over ledges or give you strength on steep-rock overhangs.

 

planking

Photo credit: suanie / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

Most importantly however, is to remember to push yourself. It is easy to stop when your muscles feel a little tired and you have no-one to motivate you, but your muscles will only benefit from the exercise if you give them something to work with.

Interested in the classes? Then head to the Swiss Cottage Climbing Centre on Thursdays for an 8pm start (classes cost £8 a session).

 

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Why Every Woman Should Check Out the #thisgirlcan Campaign

 

In recent weeks I’ve noticed a takeover on my bus stops, shopping centres and tv screen. Those women in ads, looking perfectly coiffed and slightly dead behind the eyes have disappeared, and been replaced by women of all backgrounds and sizes dripping with sweat, charging up hills, dancing round gyms or even charging into the boxing ring, all as part of the #thisgirlcan campaign.

The #thisgirlcan campaign is aimed at encouraging women of all abilities, shapes and sizes to participate more in sports and exercise more often, and challenge their fear of judgement that stops them from doing so. Approximately 75% of women between the ages of 14-40 state they want to be more active, yet there are two million fewer women than men that regularly participate in sports.

Every woman has felt intimidated when trying out a new sport or in new surroundings at some point, particularly when you’re by yourself. That little voice, niggling in the back of your head, questioning your ability, the competency of others, whether you will be ostracised or not based on those criteria, how you will look. The list goes on.

This uncertainty is then compounded with the issue of body image; look at anything related to fitness in the media or in fashion, and it will be closely followed by images of tall, slim girls without any muscle mass, dieting tips, or clickbait articles varying between cellulite eradication or how to make your bum look bigger. Not very representative of the general public.

And not very fun either. Who wants to spend their precious free time counting calories, or toiling in the gym for sculpted abs, while you spend the rest of your time miserable and obsessive? Not you, and if the 5/10 diet is anything to go on, nor does anyone around you, either.

Which is another reason why I think the #thisgirlcan campaign is so important – it reminds everyone that sport is for fun. You don’t have to be the best, or work towards winning a competition, just enjoy the sport you’re participating in.

As someone who enjoys trying out new sports, and for the most part has little regard for the judgement of others, even I have felt somewhat disheartened if I haven’t picked a sport up straight-away or felt judged on my ability, like I was in a contest I didn’t know I had registered for. All you can do during times like those is ask yourself “Does it really matter?” and remember why it is you decided to try out the sport in the first place. And if you don’t enjoy it the first time round, ask yourself why and find alternative solutions.

So the next time you start to feel down or intimidated, just remember the message of #thisgirlcan. Fitness is for everyone, and comes in all sizes and ability.

 

biking-this-girl-can

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Outdoor Gear you Want to Wear in Public….Sweaty Betty’s Athlete Workout Vest

geometricvest

Bright splashes of pink, blue and sea-green promise to be a big hit from the runways this season, and with Sweaty Betty’s new season Athlete Workout Vest, you can combine several of those colours in one top.

With sweat wicking technology and soft fabric to prevent chafing, the Athlete Workout Vest is versatile enough for any form of exercise. It’s racerback design provides a more ergonomic fit, plus the breathable fabric makes it a good choice for intense workouts.

Of course, the real draw of this vest are the colours and designs! Sold in either a faded purple, blue and yellow combo, or geometric black and blue patterns, it was reminiscent of the bright geometric trends found on the runways of Alexander McQueen and Vanessa Bruno in Paris this season.

With spring in full bloom and summer just around the corner, this top is the ideal workout piece to make you feel cheery for the new season and get outdoors!

The Sweaty Betty Athlete Workout Vest is £35, can be ordered online here or in their store.

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