Is This What You Want?

My Pilates instructor said “yes, that’s it perfect! Just stay like that while I find my phone and I’ll take a picture”. A couple of minutes in that position and your abs definitely know that they’ve been worked so I was cursing her by the time she took the shot :o)

Yes I’m talking about the six pack, what did you think I meant cheeky?! If you’re a gym bunny you’ll know that the female six pack is pretty much the holy grail and, if you get one, you’ll be able to rock a bin bag let alone a teeny pair of cut off shorts. So, how do I get me one of those I hear you ask?

First things first, you have to be really determined and prepared to work your backside off for months and months; a defined tummy is not a goal for the faint hearted and it’s a big fitness commitment.  Secondly, the older you are, the more difficult it will be (sorry) as women tend to carry more fat around their midriff as they approach and go through menopause.

If you’re still determined this is what you need to know:

  1. You cannot crunch your way to a six pack. If you have a lot of fat around your tummy area you can certainly exercise your way to better core strength and you will be able to build muscle but, unless you change your eating habits to lose the fat, it will stay hidden and you will still have a family pack rather than a six pack.
  2. You will need to reduce down your body fat to around 16-18% in order to get definition but if you want the really sculpted look you’ll need to go down as low as 10 or 12%. Trust me, that’s not a lot for a woman! This will give you an idea:

body-fat-percentage-women.jpg

If you still haven’t given up on the idea I really admire your tenacity! So, what are we talking about here:

  • Your diet will need to be a permanent juggling act as you will need to eat enough to give your body the fuel that it needs to be able to build muscle but you will need to keep your calories low enough that you will burn fat. That means a combination of natural carbs and protein: very lean meat, fish, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. Refined sugars and carbs will be a no no so you’ll need to cut out all junk and processed foods, white bread and rice etc etc. [Nb that’s pretty much my diet and I don’t have a 6 pack]High protein foods
  • Losing fat through diet i.e. ingesting less calories is not an exact science as it depends on many factors such as body type, muscle mass and activity levels but, as a rule of thumb, if you burn around 3,500 calories, you’ll lose about a pound of fat. That means, to lose a pound each week, you’ll need to reduce your calorie intake by around 500 a day.
  • At the same time as cutting your calorie intake, you’ll need to up your activity levels. Workouts should be a balance between cardio, weights and exercise designed to build core strength such as Pilates. RunningCardio means running, walking, swimming, biking – effectively any exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you sweating. Working out with weights will grow muscle and the larger and stronger the muscles, the more fat you will burn.[Nb. I walk 25km per week on average and I’m doing cardio and weights in the gym at least twice a week and I don’t have a 6 pack]
  • Next, comes core strength. You will need to include exercises which specifically target your abs and obliques in order to get real definition. Pilates is brilliant for this as building core strength by using your own body weight is a fundamental part of the exercises! Abs are the muscles that run down the centre of the stomach and obliques are those down the side and you have to work both. Shown below are a couple of exercises for abs on the left and obliques on the right. Personally I find abs exercises far easier than obliques but everyone is different. [Nb I do 2 hours of Pilates each week and I don’t have a 6 pack]

Yes, top left picture is me; you can’t see me gritting my teeth. My Pilates instructor said “yes, that’s it perfect! Just stay like that while I find my phone and I’ll take a picture”. A couple of minutes in that position and your abs definitely know that they’ve been worked so I was cursing her by the time she took the shot :o)

That’s pretty much it; a strict diet and bucket loads of exercise for months and you too can have a 6 pack. Simples!

Ps. Why don’t I have a bloody six pack?! Oh yes, I like a glass of wine in the evening and there’s only so many things that I’ll trade for a washboard stomach ;O) x

Stairway to Hell

It might sound daft but one way I’ve found of dealing with it is to find a really fast paced track on my i-phone and run up simply because it gets them out of the way more quickly. I should have said that I run up the stairs as a way to boost my cardio fitness but that’s crap, I just don’t like the bloody things! 

You may be wondering what the connection is between the title of this post and the picture that comes with it. It’s quite simple really (at least in my mind) – that’s the way I want my legs to look and putting myself through hell is the only way I’ll get them.

The truth is that I really don’t like stairs, well to be totally accurate, I don’t like climbing them, I have nothing against them otherwise. I don’t like the stair master in the gym and I don’t like being faced with a flight of stairs when I’m out on a walk. However, I know that they’re a great way to build muscle in my thighs and calves, keep my backside as perky as it can be at my age and improve my core strength so I grit my teeth and get on with it.

Where I live it’s pretty much impossible to find a route to go out walking without hills, stairs or both so, as I love walking, I have plenty of opportunity to do battle with my stair demons. It might sound daft but one way I’ve found of dealing with it is to find a really fast paced track on my i-phone and run up simply because it gets them out of the way more quickly. I should have said that I run up the stairs as a way to boost my cardio fitness but that’s crap, I just don’t like the bloody things!

This will give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

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This isn’t me looking for stairs you understand – they just all happen to be along my favourite walking routes and there’s just no getting around them.

On the upside at least there’s an equal number that I can run down on the way home :O)

Please share with me the exercises you love to hate – it would be great to hear from you x

 

Pump it Up

This wonderfully inspiring man shows how building strength in our bodies can help to keep our minds and our spirits strong. He has cancer but he is determined to keep it at bay by working out. He trains with and motivates a guy who is 87 years old and, as he says, “It’s never too late to start working out”

 

A big shout out to all the guys who want to trade their family pack for a six pack:

What puts you off going to the gym? Is it the fact that you’ll be sharing it with lycra clad beauties and hunks who obviously don’t need to be there? Do you feel that the gym is only for twenty somethings? Maybe it’s just the fact that it looks like bloody hard work?

Well, yes there are going to be people there who look like they don’t need to be but that’s simply because they have spent so long there in the first place; to create a toned and muscular body takes time and dedication but the results that you can achieve are certainly worth it.  Don’t forget, we don’t just build muscle when we work out, we also strengthen our hearts and bones as well as keeping down our weight and body fat. Exercise that tests us and pushes our bodies is also a great way to relieve stress which means that we will then worry less and sleep better which will, in turn, give us a greater sense of well-being.

gym equipmentSaying that, the first time in a gym can be intimidating, you might feel as though everyone is looking at you as you go round with your instructor who introduces you to machines that, at first glance, look like instruments of torture. There will be a lot of information to take in and you might feel a little bit overwhelmed by it all but, it’s like anything else, you will learn over time. In my experience, because gyms are places where everyone is there because of a common interest, it’s really easy to get help if you need it; people are usually more than willing to give you the benefit of their experience if you ask. Consequently you very quickly get a sense of belonging and will probably make new friends too.

You will also find, if you combine your workouts with a healthy diet, that you’ll see results pretty quickly; you’ll notice that your body changes shape and you’ll begin to develop muscles where you didn’t even know you had places ;O) For this reason alone it’s easy to keep motivated and to keep working towards improving your physical condition. If you chose to work with a personal trainer you’ll find that you’ll see any even more rapid change as they will work out a programme tailored especially for you.

As for gyms just being a place for twenty somethings, check out the guy in this video; he looks a hundred times better at 50 than he did at 40! The hard work that he has obviously put in at the gym has paid off big time – at age 49 he was adopted as the ‘poster boy’ for the MegaGym Group. His dedication to transforming his body is proof that you don’t need to be a teenager to start working out.

Maybe you used to work out when you were younger but just reached a point when you decided that you were too old to continue? Forget that, have a look at someone who started training young and just carried on – a 69 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger show us that you don’t have to stop when you reach a certain age. His body still looks incredible and yours could too if you stop reading this and get yourself off to the gym!

This wonderfully inspiring man shows how building strength in our bodies can help to keep our minds and our spirits strong. He has cancer but he is determined to keep it at bay by working out. He trains with and motivates a guy who is 87 years old and, as he says, “It’s never too late to start working out”

Many in the medical world are right behind the idea of working out to help reduce the risk of illness but also to reduce the symptoms of chronic illness. There is also research to show that regular exercise can reverse the aging process. The author of a recent study, Larry Tucker, claims that there is a definite link between physical activity and aging at a cellular level so if you want to live younger it’s time to get off the couch and get in the gym….