womens blog

How To Deal With A Fear Of Commitment

Nick Harris-Fry
Monday, February 26, 2018 - 13:10

A fear of commitment can be hindrance in all walks of life, but it is with relationships that it most commonly arises. Everyone is naturally a little wary of making potentially lifelong commitments, but when that fear starts to strangle relationships or stop you from even starting one, it’s something that needs to be addressed.

Coach spoke to Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services at AXA PPP Healthcare, for more information on what drives a fear of commitment and how people can turn that fear into motivation.

What causes fear of commitment?

When we talk about fear associated with commitment we’re really talking about fear of failure and rejection. Committing to something can make us feel vulnerable. What happens if we’re rejected? What happens if this relationship fails?

Fear of failure focuses on our expectations of ourselves. We expect a lot more of ourselves – sometimes we even expect perfection. Our fear of commitment might mean that we need to be perfect. And as we all know, perfection doesn’t exist.

If we don’t commit then we don’t have to face the failure. It’s like...

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Get Bigger, Stronger And Faster With These Workouts

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 16:55

To celebrate the launch of its latest product Endorush, a high-quality energy and performance pre-workout product designed to take your training to the next level, leading sports nutrition brand BSN started a search for a new ambassador. To make the grade, applicants had to answer a series of questions online, with the most exciting candidates invited to central London to test their strength, speed, stamina and size to fight it out to become the newest member of Team BSN.

After hours of intense competition and incredible feats of physical and mental strength, one man emerged victorious – Liam Garner, a 30-year-old electrician from Nottingham.

“If I’m being honest, the competition was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever participated in – physically and mentally,” he says. “We had no idea of the events beforehand so it was very difficult to prepare for the competition. I just increased the intensity in my day-to-day workouts and made sure every set I did I mentally prepared myself to go to failure, so that my chances would be high of achieving anything that came at me. I enter everything I do with a...

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One Excellent Piece Of Gear For Your Marathon Training You Might Not Have Considered – But Should

Nick Harris-Fry
Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 16:14

As February turns into March it seems like there are more runners than ever on the streets, but it’s probably just the same number of runners staying out for longer, because it’s at this time of year that spring marathoners ramp up the distance of their long runs. Those following a strict training plan will probably have already hit the 20-25km mark on these runs, but now March has arrived it’s 30-35km that will become the norm – until the tapering period kicks in the final few weeks before the race itself.

You will probably have amassed a good deal of gear to support running all that way every weekend. Along with a trusty pair of running shoes, there will be technical T-shirts and shorts, and hopefully you’ve become well acquainted with on-the-go fuel like running gels and hydration tabs, because it’s worth getting used to these things long before race day.

But one piece of kit you might not have considered is a pair of recovery shoes. These can take several forms, with sliders and flip-flops the most common, but they all serve the same purpose – to help support your feet as they recover...

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The Best Glute Exercises For All Levels Of Gym-Goer

Nick Harris-Fry
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 16:39

The first benefit of strong, well-trained glutes is obvious – they look damn good in a pair of jeans. But there are many other reasons why you should ensure glute exercises feature in your workouts.

The glutes play a key role in keeping your body aligned correctly, which helps you avoid injuries, and provide the power for many movements, especially walking or running up hills or stairs. If your day-to-day involves sitting behind a desk there’s a good chance your glutes aren’t firing as efficiently as they should, and this can contribute to the type of lower back pain that plagues office workers.

To help you get to work on your glutes we asked Andy Macaulay, trainer and ambassador for Virgin Active, to pick and explain the best beginner, intermediate and advanced glute exercises.

Beginner Glute Exercises

Glute bridge

This is a great move for beginners, activating the glutes while giving a good stretch without the need for equipment.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep both arms on the floor by your sides with palms facing up. Before lifting your hips,...

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Stop Calorie Creep And Lose Weight With This Easy-To-Remember Rule Of Thumb

Nick Harris-Fry
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 10:27

While calorie counting is not the be-all and end-all of a healthy lifestyle, if you do want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, you do need to keep an eye on calories because it’s incredibly easy to eat more than you really need.

On average, adults in England eat 200-300 calories more than they need each day, according to Public Health England. That’s about the amount of calories in Mars bar (230 calories), so just a small snack can push you over the line. It may not seem much, but a daily Mars would see you eating 84,000 unnecessary calories over the course of a year.

Trying to count every single calorie you eat is not simple. In fact, the process is so exacting it takes an iron will to continue doing it for more than a few days, even with healthy eating apps like MyFitnessPal that can scan barcodes and count the calories for you.

To make things easier for those trying to stay within the recommended calorie intakes (which are 2,500 a day for men and 2,000 for women), Public Health England suggests you use the 400-600-600 rule for your meals. That’s 400 calories at breakfast, 600 at...

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What Is The DASH Diet And Can It Help You Lose Weight?

Nick Harris-Fry
Monday, March 5, 2018 - 16:25

Every year a new batch of fad diets makes headlines and every year flocks of people try those fad diets hoping to lose weight, only to find the regime impossible to stick to, reversing any successes in the time it takes to say “carbs”.

If that sounds familiar, don’t blame your lack of willpower – pick a diet that’s made to last. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been chosen as the best in the world for eight years in a row by US News& World Report, which recruits a panel of experts – including dietitians, academics and doctors – to review the diets du jour.

We weren’t just going to take their word for it though, so for more information on the DASH diet, we enlisted an expert of our own: dietitian Emer Delaney of the British Dietetic Association.

What is the DASH Diet and is it healthy?

No surprises here – Delaney gives the DASH diet two thumbs up.

“The DASH diet is rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, wholegrains, pulses, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds and lean meats such as chicken and turkey with minimal salt and foods high in saturated fat,” says Delaney....

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Challenge Yourself To Swim 5K In Just Eight Weeks’ Time

Jonathan Shannon
Monday, March 5, 2018 - 10:47

In most forms of self-powered locomotion 5km isn’t far – it’s an hour’s walk, a run of less than half an hour for most, or an even quicker bike ride. It’s a ruddy long way, though, when you’re propelling yourself through water – 2½ hours is a good target for the uninitiated.

That makes it a significant challenge for your average Joe or Josephine, but one that’s eminently achievable if you’ve got a solid base of fitness, some confidence in the pool and Swimathon’s training plans. Of course, don’t talk it down in that way when you’re soliciting sponsorship – “I’m doing 200 lengths of my local 25m pool” sounds much more impressive, as well as having the advantage of being true.

Swimathon is an annual aquatic fundraiser, which this year is supporting Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie. It’s being held in pools across the UK between Friday 27th and Sunday 29th April 2018.

The 5km distance is the longest you can set your sights on, but there are also 400m, 1.5km and 2.5km swims for individuals to take on, while teams of two to people can tackle 1.5km or 5km.

And there’s just the right amount of...

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How To Influence Others

Chris Miller
Friday, March 2, 2018 - 17:08

We all like to think we have rational minds, right? In fact, we’re ruled by our emotions and desires, even when we think we’re making logical, informed decisions. “An attempt to change someone’s mind will be successful if it aligns with the core elements that govern how we think,” says neuroscientist Tali Sharot, author of The Influential Mind. “Our desires are what shape our beliefs. It is those motivations and feelings we need to tap into to make a change.” So whether you’re trying to raise money, convince your children to do something (anything!), get ahead at work or simply make someone understand you better, follow Sharot’s suggestions to succeed sooner.

1. Find common ground

Our instinct is to try to alter people’s beliefs and actions with evidence that proves them wrong. But in the face of facts that clash with their prior beliefs, people come up with counter-arguments or simply turn away. Instead, find arguments that rely on common ground. If your spouse is set on moving to a different country but you’re not keen, don’t produce statistics showing crime is high or wages are low there....

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How To Do The Rack Pull

Nick Harris-Fry
Friday, March 2, 2018 - 16:08

If you’ve seen someone doing rack pulls in your gym you might have made the mistake of dismissing them as a poor man’s deadlift. While it’s true that rack pulls have a shorter range of motion than a deadlift, they work the same muscles and by shortening the movement of the exercise, rack pulls allow you to lift a heavier weight. This will result in stronger back muscles, as well as helping to improve your form and power in the top half of a standard deadlift.

You will need some kit to do rack pulls, namely a barbell and a power rack. That, and the large amount of weight involved, means it’s definitely an exercise best performed in a gym rather than as part of a home workout, even if you have a barbell at home.

The lower back muscles are the primary target of rack pulls, but the movement also works your upper back, glutes and hamstrings, and you’ll also increase your grip strength. Rack pulls don’t work as many different muscles and joints as deadlifts, so if you’re short on time it’s probably wise to opt for the latter, but if you’re looking to improve your deadlift or focused on bulking up...

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5 Barbell Workouts To Burn Fat Fast

Men’s Fitness
Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 17:18

Barbell complexes – workouts where you do multiple moves back to back without putting the bar down – seem simple enough. After all, the weight isn’t heavy – it’s perfectly acceptable to do one with an unweighted Olympic bar. And the rep count isn’t too high. In the instance of our first workout below you only do six reps per exercise. But simple isn’t the same as easy, and despite all that you’re likely to end up in a sweaty heap on the floor at the end of the session.

The reason is that the minimal rest and high volume means that you get through a lot of work in a short period of time. “Think of a 30-rep circuit versus a 12-rep set. Because of the lack of rest, each round becomes more challenging,” says expert Tom Eastham, who provided the first of our four workouts. “Throw in the additional load from the barbell and you have a huge fat-burning potential from these loaded compound movements.”

Barbell Complex 1

Do the exercises in order, performing 12 reps of each without resting or putting the bar down between moves. At the end of the last exercise rest for two minutes, then repeat the...

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How To Do The One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Nick Harris-Fry
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 17:41

Rows should be your go-to when you’re looking to build a stronger back, and there’s no shortage of different types you can do. The version you’re likely to be most familiar with is the bent-over barbell row, and it fully deserves its preeminent status due to the massive back-boosting benefits it provides.

However, it is perhaps fair to say that the one-arm dumbbell row is even better for your back than the bent-over barbell row. That’s because using one arm at a time allows you to really focus your efforts on the lats, traps and other back muscles targeted by the exercise.

Using dumbbells instead of a barbell also prevents you from relying on one side of your body to do the bulk of the work, and can highlight any strength imbalances that you need to work on. And the one-arm row also has a greater range of motion than the bent-over row, because you can row the weight higher than when using a barbell.

How To Do The One-Arm Dumbbell Row

You need a bench or a sturdy thigh-high platform to lean on when doing the exercise, so secure that first and place a dumbbell on the floor to one side of it....

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Why Bodyweight Exercises Are The Best Prep For An Adventure

Nick Harris-Fry
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 15:11

How do you prepare your body to walk the length of the Yangtze River? It’s a question that hardly any of us will ever have to consider the answer to, but it’s been at the forefront of adventurer Ash Dykes’ mind for some time because he starts his trek along the 6,380km-long river this June.

Dykes’s Yangtze expedition follows his treks across Madagascar in 2016 and Mongolia in 2014. He’s also cycled the length of Vietnam and Britain. A lot of epic stuff, in short, all of which requires Dykes to be in excellent shape. So does he load up the barbell? Or head for the gym machines? Neither – he turns to bodyweight exercises.

“Without a doubt bodyweight exercises are what leave me feeling the most agile and conditioned ahead of my expeditions,” says Dykes. "Not only do they help me work on my overall strength, but I also become more capable in terms of speed, reaction time, flexibility, balance, co-ordination, strength, power and endurance.”

Dykes’s trek along the Yangtze is scheduled to take a year, and his past expeditions in Madagascar and Mongolia lasted 155 days and 78 days respectively. On...

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Make This Sweet Potato Vegetarian Curry Recipe To Mark Plant Power Day

Jonathan Shannon
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 08:00

National Pizza Day is on 9th February. National Burger Day is on 23rd August. You’ve just missed National Cheese Doodle Day on 5th March (unless you celebrated it, perhaps by eating your bodyweight in cheese doodles). Sometimes it seems that every food worthy of overindulgence is given its own special day, giving you a little push to binge on things that are spectacularly unhealthy in anything but moderate amounts.

Well, purveyor of soy-based foods Alpro is trying to get in on the act by coming up with National Plant Power Day, which falls on 7th March. Will this succeed in convincing you to overindulge on plants by eating your bodyweight in butternut squash or mainlining almond milk? No, it will not, in part (and only in part) because Alpro has set its sights a little lower by asking everyone to make plants the star of the entire day, or a meal, or a snack, or even just replacing the milk in your coffee.

We’re fully behind this admirable effort because while there’s a frankly dizzying number of diet plans and conflicting nutritional advice out there, everyone – everyone – agrees that we...

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How To Do The Landmine Press

Nick Harris-Fry
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 16:34

Landmine exercises involve lifting, squatting or pressing one end of an angled barbell and they’re a worthy addition to any workout regime, but they’re especially good for those new to the weights room. That’s because they act as a stepping stone between unweighted versions of exercises like the squat and the full, loaded-barbell versions.

Some gyms will have a dedicated landmine, a device that you insert one end of a barbell in, but you can also do these presses with one end of a barbell pushed into a corner (we recommend wrapping the end in a towel or something similar to avoid marking the wall).

The landmine press is a great exercise for almost all of your upper body, with the chest, triceps and shoulders taking the brunt of the work. The curving path of the press and the neutral grip also make landmines presses slightly easier on the shoulders than vertical presses.


How To Do The Landmine Press

There’s no agreed standard for this exercise, so don’t be surprised if a PT asks you to do the landmine press differently to the way described here. The variations come...

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The Ten Best Running Books

Nick Harris-Fry
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 15:00

Even the most obsessed runners can only spend at most a few hours running every day, which leaves a lot of time to fill. Sure, you might “work”, and occasionally need to “sleep” and “eat”, but there will be plenty of free time left where you need something to do that isn’t running. So why not pick up one of these excellent books and use that time to read about running?

Feet In The Clouds: A Tale Of Fell-Running And Obsession

If you’ve only ever run in cities, we heartily recommend expanding your horizons by reading Feet In The Clouds, which dives deep into the world of fell running – an obsessive passion in areas of Britain like the Lake District. The author, Richard Askwith, falls so in love with the sport that he tackles the infamous Bob Graham Round – an attempt to summit 42 of the Lake District’s highest peaks in 24 hours. Paperback £7.75, buy on amazon.co.uk

Two Hours: The Quest To Run The Impossible Marathon

Even if you only have a passing interest in running you will probably have heard of Eliud Kipchoge’s (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to run a sub-two-hour marathon as part of...

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How Meditation Can Help You Sleep Better

Nick Harris-Fry
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 17:49

If you’re struggling with your sleep there are many things you can try to improve your rest. Regular exercise (but not late at night), a bedroom free of tech and other distractions, and ditching the late-afternoon coffees are all common strategies. One thing you might not yet have tried, though, is meditation.

Coach spoke to Niraj Shah, founder of Meditation: Unlocked, for more information on how meditation can help you get some valuable shuteye.

How does meditation help sleep?

There have been a couple of studies in this area. One in particular from the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre looked at meditation and the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

What’s supposed to happen is when it gets darker our natural rhythms start producing this melatonin and it helps us to sleep. But in modern life we’re always on, using screens, working late, eating late – it messes with that melatonin production.

The study showed that melatonin levels in meditators were significantly higher than in non-meditators, but the most interesting thing about it was that it showed it was a short-term...

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Frozen Fruit And Veg Are Just As Healthy As Fresh Produce

Matthew Kadey
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 11:20

People frequently dismiss the idea of frozen foods being better for you than fresh food. And it’s true that the boxes and bags of nutritional land mines found in the freezer aisle can easily blow up your diet. But it’s not all doom and gloom for frozen fare. Fresh produce that’s picked up and transported around the world loses nutritional value as it travels, but freezing it slows the breakdown and helps maintain freshness.

In fact, multiple studies have found frozen foods to be just as good and usually better for you than fresh. In 2013 a study conducted at the University of Chester found that about two-thirds of the frozen fruits and vegetables it tested had more vitamin C and antioxidants (including polyphenols, lutein, betacarotene and anthocyanin) than refrigerated produce.

Another study from the University of Georgia in the US compared fresh and frozen strawberries, blueberries, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, spinach and green peas from six grocery stores. Initial tests found both varieties had similar nutrition levels. The food was then returned to the fridge or freezer, and...

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How To Do The Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Nick Harris-Fry
Friday, March 9, 2018 - 17:03

How many deadlifts do you need in your life? It’s a question that everyone who lifts weights regularly should ask, and the answer is at least three. The standard deadlift is, of course, an exercise that should be on the workout schedule of every serious gym-goer. The other two deadlifts to consider are the Romanian deadlift and the stiff-leg deadlift. These two exercises look similar, and both put more focus on the hamstrings than a standard deadlift, but they differ in how much you flex your knee. The stiff-leg deadlift, as you might expect, involves less bending of the knee, and so increases the work the glutes have to do along with the hamstrings.

How To Do The Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a barbell in an overhand grip (palms facing you). Your knees should be slightly bent and the aim is to maintain this slight degree of flex throughout the movement.

Bend at your hips and lower the barbell, keeping your back straight. Lower until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, and then slowly straighten back up. Keep the bar close to your body...

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Attention Footballers: Get A Free Supplements Pack Courtesy Of Man Utd And SiS

Jonathan Shannon
Friday, March 9, 2018 - 15:30

Runners, cyclists and gym-goers are all over energy and recovery supplements, but it’s fair to say amateur footballers aren’t quite as keen. The pros are, though, especially now that players cover more distance and complete more sprints in a game than ever before. And while you may find you’re covering less distance and completing fewer sprints than ever before (hey, time takes its toll on us all), it’s worth remembering football is especially demanding because it’s an endurance and an anaerobic sport.

Supplements company Science in Sport has been working with Manchester United since 2008, but to celebrate a recently announced multi-year partnership SiS is giving away 100,000 supplement packs for amateur players to try. Just pay £2.99 P&P and you’ll get isotonic energy gels, an energy and caffeine gel, an energy sachet, a recovery sachet and tube of hydration tablets. Go get yours at scienceinsport.com/football, and then come straight back because we spoke to SiS nutritionist Ted Munson to find out how pro footballers use supplements and when they might come in handy for amateurs looking to...

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How To Nail The Kettlebell Snatch

Men’s Fitness
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 11:34

Kettlebells are an amazing muscle-building and fat-loss weapon – if you use them correctly. Get the technique wrong, however, and the most likely outcome is lower back pain. To make sure you use them effectively, we’ve enlisted kettlebell king Mike Mahler to provide an in-depth guide to executing the key kettlebell moves with perfect form so you can add them to your training arsenal. In this article, Mahler details how to get the the kettlebell snatch, a demanding fully-body exercise, right. 

Kettlebell Snatch Form

  • Start with the kettlebell on the floor slightly in front of you and between your feet, which should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Bending slightly at the knees but hingeing mainly at the hips, grasp the kettlebell and pull it back between your legs with one hand (with your thumb pointing backwards) to create momentum.
  • Drive your hips forwards and straighten your back to initiate the upward movement of the kettlebell.
  • Once the bell passes chest height, gently pull it back and slide your fist around and under the bell, then punch it upwards so it nestles softly on the back of...

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5 High-Protein Recipes To Help Improve Your Diet

Olivia Langdon
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 16:43

Food that’s unequivocally good for you has an image problem – it’s too often seen as boring. Nonesense, of course, and to prove it, we’ve put together five dishes that are not only good for you – high in protein and micronutrients and low in calories, fat and sugar – but also so plain good you’ll never miss junk food again.

Loaded Chicken Fajitas

Photography James Ransom

Ingredients (Makes 2 Servings)

  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 200g chicken breast, sliced into long strips
  • ½tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • ¼tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 taco-style sprouted-grain tortillas
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • 2tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1tbsp salsa, no sugar added
  • 2tbsp shredded lettuce
  • 1tbsp grated Monterey Jack or cheddar

To make

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/gas 5.
  2. In a small baking pan, spread the sliced peppers and onion on the bottom, then spread the chicken strips on top of the peppers and onions.
  3. Add the olive oil and spices to the chicken, peppers and onions. Toss the mixture until they’re well coated. Completely cover...

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Can a vagina be too tight?

Sometimes women feel vaginal tightness, but can a vagina be too tight? Included is detail on how the vagina changes during the course of a woman’s life.

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