Zero-Squat Glute Workout

Squats. I personally love them. I appreciate the burn they activate, the toning they promote and the long-term results they deliver… but if you’re not a fan of the good old squat or if you have a weakness that prevents you from reaping the benefits of them then listen up!

Here are FIVE amazing exercises that will work those glute muscles helping your derriere to become a little rounder and firmer….incorporating no squats whatsoever!

To find out what I do for a perkier bottom without heading to the squat bench then keep scrolling….
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  1. Single Leg Glute Bridge.

    Laying on your back, preferably on a yoga mat or carpet, bend your knees keeping your feet are flat on the ground. With your feet hip-distance apart, extend one leg up and then use the other to lift the hips up. This should, when done correctly,  create a straight line all the way from your shoulders, down your abs and to your feet. Lower your hips back down and switch legs. Do this 6 times on each leg and the whole thing three times, making that 18 in total for each leg…. (quick maths).

  2. Side Lunges.

    This one is amazing and can be done holding a kettlebell just below chest-height or two small dumbbells either side, or just clenching your fists together and out in front of you. You’re going to one foot out to the side, shifting all of your weight onto your that leg but keeping the other straight. Pressing through your heel and engaging your glutes you’re then going to stand up and bring the leg back in to meet the other, then do the other side. You can either alternate each leg one rep after the other or do the left leg then the right…. It’s totally up to you

  3. Curtsy lunges.

    While we’re in the mood for lunges, check this- So, stand with your feet hips-width apart and your hands pressed together at chest level, keep your hips square and step your left leg diagonally behind you and bend both knees as you would a normal lunge. (Might feel a bit awkward but when you get into the swing of things its great!) Then, press into your right heel to return to standing position as you extend your left leg into a side kick. That’s one rep. Now go do some more… Go on…

  4. Resistance Band Kick Backs.

    Ok, for this one, incase you didn’t notice from the title, you’ll need a resistance band. Holding the handles pop the band under the arch of one foot. Engage your abs and slightly shift your weight over to the other foot. Leading with the heel, press the foot with the band under it in a backwards motion so it’s parallel to the floor. Then, keeping those abs and obliques tight, bring your knee back in and push backwards again. Do this one 10×3 for each leg.

  5.  Rainbows.

    Right, now listen up. Begin on all fours. This can get confusing to explain so try and hear me out.  Extending your right leg, reach your foot toward the ceiling and then slowly lower your leg to tap the floor. Squeeze your glutes as you lift the leg back to starting position, then lower your leg again, this time tapping the floor to the left of your left, kneeling foot. Return to starting position to complete the rep and then swap legs.


Half Marathon Training

I had roughly 6 months to train for the 2017 Cardiff Half Marathon and, in the early days, I’d run merely once a week with a few gym sessions in between. Months down the line and I realised this wasn’t cutting it. And that’s when I created this plan.

If you’re thinking entering a 10K, half marathon or even if you just fancy getting into running, this table can be really useful tool to schedule your runs, improve stamina with interval training, and undergo regular strength training sessions. This timetable gave my half marathon training more structure, focus and helped me to keep track of my progression. So, here it is;

half marathon training plan

This training plan has been implemented with a race day in mind and is spread over the course of 4 months. However, if you have less or more time to play with before your event then this plan can be adapted, squeezed or stretched to best suit the amount of potential training time you have. On the other hand, if there is no event as such and you just want to improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance then you can always chose your favourite four rows (eg. 3, 5, 7 & 9) and alternate continuously throughout the months.

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Interval & Strength Training 

You’ll notice in my table that Mondays and Wednesdays are dedicated to interval and strength training. Now, just to clarify, on these days you will do an interval training workout as well as focusing on strength and conditioning, not one or the other. However as the plan intensifies, so does the interval training, hence there are four variations which are detailed below. OK, so what is interval training? Well, it’s a highly beneficial workout style in which cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) is improved and so is the body’s tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. It involves the alternation between high-intensity bursts of speed with shortened, slower, recovery phases, working both the aerobic and the anaerobic systems. It is a great way to improve speed, endurance, and enhance overall performance thus making it a vital element in your half marathon training.

Interval training

These can be swapped around and amended depending on what suits you, for example, you could alternate all four interval types for four weeks and then repeat.

Strength training throughout your program is equally as crucial, though I only realised it’s importance later on in my training regime. I would, admittedly, have an extra run or rest day on some of my allocated strength training days and, as a result, I lost a lot of power in my legs and my core stability and overall agility lessened. Targeting different muscle groups for just one day each week between runs will make such a difference. Don’t make the same mistake I did and think that the interval training and running will suffice. it wont. Remember these three important S’s: Stamina, speed and strength

The importance of rest days

Rest days are implemented into most training plans with good a reason and that is because they are essential in allowing our bodies time to repair and recuperate. As we work out, run, or weight train, we place greater strain on our muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. Our immune system is activated when there are muscle tears or joint strains, but if the body doesn’t come out of continual practice, this system doesn’t have the time to catch up, rejuvenate and repair where needed. This is why resting is so important. There is also a greater risk of injury without these much needed  days as your body fatigues so don’t be tempted to ignore them and over-train because it will do more harm than good.

 


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This may not work for everyone and won’t be the most refined, perfect training in the world but hey, if it worked for me, it can work for you. Following a structured yet adaptable, flexible plan like this allowed me to go from not being able to run to the corner shop for some bread without being out of breath to confidently running 13 miles in a matter of months. It’s a great starting platform and like I said, even if you’re not training for a specific event, this could be an ideal way to help you discover, or re-discover, your love for running.

As always, thanks for reading and until next time,

Anna x


Entering the Cardiff Half

Until last weekend, I hadn’t taken part in a race since my last sports day at high school,  which was probably about 8 years ago. I’ve always liked athletics (albeit mainly when I was watching it on TV) and was an OK sprinter but, even though I would often do cross country races with the school, long distance running was never really my thing. I remember doing one cross country race (which, looking back, was definitely the point where I thought ‘screw this’) that had me so numb with the cold that I hadn’t even realised that halfway through the race, amid the deep squelchy mud we had to trod our little legs through, I’d lost a shoe. I then had to walk around this stupid great big field, shivering like anything, with a coach full of kids watching and giggling at me as I tried to find my trainer in the swamp somewhere. Yeah. You’d probably be put off too.

Over the last few years however I managed to rediscover my love for fitness. I’ve become an avid gym goer, I created Anna Vitality, my health and lifestyle blog, and I train four- five times a week, mixing up my workouts and classes regularly to keep myself motivated. Although, cardio and running were always very much, shall we say, ‘uninvited’ to my fitness regime.

But all of this inadvertently changed when at the end of last year something pretty terrible happened. On November 8th 2016 a colleague of mine and friend took his own life. It was completely unexpected, not that I suppose suicide ever really is ‘expected’, and the shock of it had a really horrible impact on me. I spent weeks, if not months, thinking why and what if.

At the funeral, we were told about ‘CALM’, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, a charity of which encourages men to talk about their feelings and challenges a culture within which seemingly prevents men from seeking help when they need it….and I just wished I’d known about it before. Who knows, it might’ve saved him.

So, ‘how does this link up with running a half marathon’ you must be thinking?

Well, not long after losing Mike, I was asked by a fellow fitness enthusiast if I’d ever consider doing an organised race of any sort? A 10K, The Race For Life? But, as the humiliating lost-muddy-trainer-episode arose from my unconscious mind, I just shrugged off the idea and changed the subject. But that evening I thought about it. What if I DID? What if I went out of my comfort zone and put my determined fitness ethic towards training for a major running event? What if I entered a half marathon? What if I did it to fundraise for CALM?

Overcome with inspiration, that night I signed up for the Cardiff Half Marathon and the next day, my training begun. Six months and 251 kilometres of training later (yep, 251K) and I’m writing this. I’m overwhelmed to say that I raised a total of £707 for CALM and I completed the Cardiff Half in 2.15 hours, beating my estimated time by quarter of an hour. It was the most amazing experience and it just proves you really can do anything you put your mind to.

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For half marathon training, top tips and diet plans make sure you check out the other blog posts in this category. For now, I’d like to say a big thank you again to everyone who sponsored me and I’ll see you at next years race!

 


YouTube

Head over to the Anna Vitality YouTube Channel to watch my first ever video!

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It’s been a long time coming and I’m so excited to finally be a part of the YouTube Family!

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I hope you enjoy my first video and the many more that I have to come….

Please don’t forget to click the like/subscribe buttons and please share with your friends and family ❤

Thank you all and enjoy!!

Anna

x


The Anna Vitality Workout

#CardioIsHardio

I like to switch it up a bit when it comes to cardio and now that I’m training for my first ever half marathon I’ve seriously had to up my game. Cardio work outs/warm ups for me used to consist of ten minutes on the rowing machine and not a lot of sweat. Now, it’s a slightly different story. I do anything from 3k-10k runs, lots of interval training and the heart pumping wonder exercise also known as high inclined power walks.

Along with upping my cardio I’ve also increased the weights when it comes to strength training and toning. I’ve actually changed a lot about the way I work out over the last six months and it’s crazy to see how many changes have come from it. If you’re interested in how I made these changes and what a typical workout of Anna Vitality’s looks like then keep scrolling …

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Cardio Exercise Numero Uno

  • What: Treadmill
  • Duration: 25 Minutes
  • What I do: To warm I’ll set a medium incline and walk for 2 minutes, then set the incline to the highest level and power walk for another 5 minutes. I’ll then start my Interval Training which involves 30 seconds of walking and then a 30 second sprint. I repeat this 8 times. After my intervals I alter the speed and continue a fast paced jog with a small incline for 10 minutes.

Cardio Exercise Numero Dos

  •  What: Cross Trainer
  •  Duration: 15 Minutes
  •  What I do: Jumping straight from one cardio to another is a great way to increase fat burn and so often after using the treadmill I’ll jump straight onto the cross trainer. The great thing about doing this is that it will most likely feel a bit easier due to it being a slightly lower intesity exercise compared to running on the treadmill so you’ll be able to work harder and increase fat burning potential.When using the cross trainer I usually keep the speed and resistance the same for the whole 10-15 mins. However, I do sometimes like to throw in some more interval training as this is an effective way to improve stamina more quickly as well as burn fat. I’ll usually do intervals of either 30 seconds or a minute where the first bit involves getting into squat-like position and exercising with a high resistance (such a killer for the legs and booty) and then switching to a sprint, dropping the resistance and making sure I use my arms and upper body to fulfill the exercise… all you gotta do then is repeat.

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#GirlsWhoLift

I’ve never been one for ‘leg day’ and what not. For me, it’s ineffective to place the focus entirely on one particular area of the body. I will however have a simplified version of this and will rotate two or three different workouts, some focusing more on lower body while others focus more on core, back and upper body strength, but you’ll never catch me saying “I’m doing shoulders today mate, what about you?”

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So, here I have two very different workouts that do focus on alternative areas of the body, allowing recovery time for areas worked on previous days, but, for me, it’s more effective than restricting your workouts to literally one given body part.

I’ll often switch up the order of the exercises or I’ll vary the number of reps and sets but more often than not, they tend to go something like this…

Workout 1:

  •  What: Romanian Dead Lifts
  •  How Many: 10 Reps x 3 Sets
  •  Equiptment: 20kg kettle bell
  •  What to do: With straight arms and slightly bent legs, keep looking forward and begin to lower your kettlebell to the floor. Your back may be slightly arched and you should be able to feel the range of your hamstring flexibility just below the knee before driving the hips forward to stand back up into the starting position.
    Tip: Don’t feel like you have to use a heavy weight from the onset. Get your form perfected before you think about anything else!
  •  What: Squat & Press
  •  How Many: 5 Reps x 5 Sets
  •  Equiptment: 10kg bar
  •  What to do: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding your kettle bell close to your chest. Keeping your body neutral, lower yourself into a squat, keeping your chest up, bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold and then press up into standing position as well as lifting the weight above your head. Tip: Try to make the most out of the power in your legs when standing up from the squat position, thrusting your hips forward. This will help you to press your weight up as one fluid motion rather than two separate movements.
  •  What: Bulgarian Split Squat
  •  How Many: 8 Reps x 3 Sets for each leg
  •  Equiptment: 7.5 kg dumbell in each hand
  •  What to do: With one foot elevated behind you using a bench, step, chair, bed, cat, dog or whatever you’ve got that slightly raised…. (that last bit was a joke by the way, please don’t call the RSPCA on me) hop forward a little and then, holding a weight in both hands, descend into the squat by bending your standing leg to lower your body towards the floor. Then push back up using your quads and hamsting muscles to return to the starting position. Repeat and swap legs. Tip: To maximise results try controling the negative (on the way down) by moving slowly into the squat then hold the position for five seconds and then drive through your front heel in a more explosive movement to return to the starting position.
  •  What: Walking Lunges
  •  How Many: 6-8 lengths of the gym with 15 second rests between.
  •  Equiptment: 12kg kettlebell
  •  What I do: Step and lunge continuously down one length of the gym, pausing briefly in the lowest part of each lunge, then turn around and walk back. Rest for 15 seconds and repeat as many times as you want. I normally do this 5 times each way! Tip: When lunging try not to let your knee make contact with the floor, this is easily done and doesn’t seem like a big deal but in the long run can cause major joint problems.

DSC00529Workout 2 will be in my next post so stay tuned! 

 If you liked this post drop me a comment for what you’d like next from Anna Vitality x

 



My Top Workout Apps

Whether your goal is to lose weight, become fitter, or to complete your first half marathon, these five apps are for SURE going to help you get to where you want to be.

Map My Run Trainer:
Ok so, I’ve been using this app for the last two weeks to help me plan when my cardio days are and to basically help to improve my overall stamina. It creates a training schedule organising where your rest days, short workouts, interval training sessions and long runs fall and provides you with runner’s tips which are great when it comes to what to eat and how to take care of your muscles after a run. Just what you need, eh?

Nike Training Club:
Thinking about investing in a personal trainer? Well, don’t. Seriosuly. Don’t. Just download this app and you’re good to go. It has all the expert guidance and fitness tips you need as well as providing you with the motivation you need to really get fit. Like Map My Run, it too has personalised training plans that will help you get to where you want/need to be. Not only that but it also has workout videos that help with posture, form and general guidance.

8fit and Fitocracy:
To be honest, these two apps are both equally as effective and engaging when it comes to workout plans, ideas and nutritional advice. I recently downloaded both and with 8Fit I even went for the premium verison (as it has a 30 day free trail). I find that they’re both extremely personnalisable and are both great when it comes to needing that little bit of extra motivation.

FitStar by FitBit:
This one basically helps the FitBit lovers among us to get the most out of our gadgets. It syncs with your workouts, suggests new exercises and pushes you to the limits, encouraging you to work that little bit harder. Nice.

Womens Health:
I’m a big Women’s Health fan and tend to buy the hard copy magazine on a monthly basis (I’m quite old school and like to flick through the pages and have it look nice on my desk.) However, if you’re a busy commuter, on the go all day or want to make the most of your iPad or whatever tech you may have then the W.H app will suffice for sure.

Daily Yoga:
This coaching app is something different. It provides newbies with the basics of yoga, introducing them to various classes, scheduled plans and meditation tracks. It was put together by eight different yoga experts and offers more than 100 yoga/meditation exercises and has 500 poses for you to practice and try. With soothing music and all the tutorials you need you literally could well be taking part in the finest of yoga classes on a tropical beach in Hawaii….kind of.

So there you have it, my top favourite fitness apps.

 


Fit Bit Vs Apple Watch

“Now, this is your main present” my Mum told me on Christmas morning, handing me a clumsily wrapped rectangular box. My instinct was that underneath this golden gift wrap and tinsel would be, I don’t know, a Parker pen, a jewellery box,  an electric toothbrush perhaps?  “It’s a Fit Bit!” she blurted out, before I was even done unwrapping. “A Fit Bit Charge 2, to be precise. I’ve got one for myself and for your Dad so we can all track our steps and sleep and….” she went on, excitedly.

Now, I had obviously heard of these things but never had it occurred to me to find out about them, read about them, look at them in the store, let alone have one. So, I set up my new gadget Christmas evening and charged it overnight. The next morning I place my  ‘main present’ on my wrist and waited to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I haven’t taken it off since.

My boyfriend has an Apple Watch (you can guess where this is going). We like to compare our fitness devices and see how much exercise we’ve done, how many calories we’ve burned, what our heart rates are etc. and the one thing I particularly like seeing is how much sleep we’ve-wait…”What d’you mean your Apple Watch can’t track your sleep?” Ok, so Apple watches don’t monitor sleeping patterns (unless you get the app that allows you to). No big deal. “I know if I’ve slept well or not, or if I’ve been up in the night for a pee. I dont need some machine on my arm to tell me that” the boyfriend states, defending his precious Apple Watch.

So we go on, comparing how ‘fit’ we are for days and days on end and-wait… “What do you mean you have to charge your watch every night? It’s not like it’s going to die after a day or something…” Ah. Here comes problemo numero dos: It’s battery life. While I can wear my Fit Bit for sometimes up to five days without charging it, James’ £400 Apple Watch lasts on average twelve hours (2-0 to Fit Bit).

“But is your Fit Bit waterproof? Can you reply to texts using your Fit Bit? Does your Fit Bit have a navigator? Can your Fit Bit….” he fights back. Ok, so my Fit Bit is only splash proof while the Apple Watch is completely water-resistant. The Apple Watch is also much more than an activity tracker. It’s a smartwatch. It does a lot, so much so that I couldn’t possible try to jusify its capabilities in one paragraph. It can be more personalised with loads of styles, straps and colours to chose from and even the watch face itself can be altered depending on your mood. However, The Fitbit Charge 2 is undeniably much cheaper and gets down to the nitty-gritty of fitness. Plus, you can also get alerts from your smartphone.

Ultimitely, both the Fitbit and the Apple Watch have many features that will help you on your journey to becoming a fitter you. They both track your activities, they both monitor your heart rate, they both remind you to move, they can both be tethered to your phone, and can both be styled in a way that best suits your personality.

(But… the Fit Bit is better!)