The Happy, Healthy Mom is an excellent resource for all moms who are looking to get in shape, lose weight, learn about exercise, look after their skin, be happy, and so much more! The post-pregnancy period can be a tough time for many moms, but hopefully with the help of this book, you can turn this round and thrive!
Further more, this book is completely FREE today. Please make the most of this amazing opportunity and download NOW!
I am really excited to announce the release of my first book, available here and also available through Amazon in all other countries for example amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr etc.
I have already had 7 five star reviews and over 135 downloads and it has only just been released!
The Happy Healthy Mom is a great resource for post-pregnancy fitness and health and gives:
Reassuring information as to what is happening to your body and how best to help recovery after birth
Precise advice for caring for skin and hair post baby
Practical tips as how to manage time and prioritise, following the dramatic change to parenthood
Life changing advice on nutrition – including what supplements could help with the present challenges of motherhood. Tips for healthy snacks.
LOADS of encouragement and advice as to the exercise and activity you can perform from the first day of motherhood through to regaining your full fitness. Included are pictures of the exercises you can perform at home with clear explanations. Also includes specific advice for those post C- Section.
Following the practical and realistic advice in this book, mums will find they feel they can make confident steps forward in aiding recovery, regaining their fitness and losing the baby weight. Rather than worrying about the changes to their body and struggling with the changes in life’s routine, mums will be loving their new life with their little one, confident in the knowledge they have gained and the encouragement they have received!
Even if you are not a new mum yourself, this would be an excellent gift for mums to be!
A paperback version will be available through the same link on Amazon very soon.
Please download and enjoy! If you love it, please leave a review.
Following the popularity of my last post, I wanted to look more closely at High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), of which Tabata is a part of. I also want to offer some more workout ideas that you can try. If you’re looking for some ideas to boost your post pregnancy fitness and to get you in shape fast, then this is probably for you.
HIIT can be any type of circuit training or interval training where you work at a high intensity for a period of time, followed by a rest. This can be done with bodyweight exercises or weights Alternatively it can be done using any form of cardiovascular exercise such as running, cycling or rowing.
It has however, very quickly become its own unique type of training which is synonymous with bursts of high intensity exercise lasting 30-40 seconds, followed by 15-20 seconds rest. This is then repeated for 10-12 exercises to form a block. Between blocks there is a larger rest period of up to 1-2 minutes, followed by the same block, or a different block of similar exercises.
How does HIIT work?
During a HIIT workout, your body isn’t able to get enough oxygen during the periods of hard exercise. You therefore accumulate a debt of oxygen that must be repaid post-workout in order to return to normal. As a result, your metabolism is elevated for a number of hours after the session, allowing you to continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours. This phenomenon is often referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
Why should I try HIIT and what does it involve?
HITT is extremely effective for fat burning therefore you can quickly transform your body with this type of training. It’s also very time efficient as workouts typically last from 10-30 minutes, making it very accessible for busy mums.
Being interval based, it allows you to keep the workout intensity high while still maintaining form. When creating your own workouts, try to include complex movements that will challenge your entire body in a single exercise.
Due to the high intensity of the exercise, HIIT is extremely good for developing cardiovascular fitness, strengthening your heart and lungs. By incorporating running, cycling or rowing intervals on a machine in the gym, at home or outside you can really vary your workouts.
Since HIIT can be done using body weight exercises or weights, it can be used to improve strength too. As long as your form is good throughout, this kind of training is great for people who have suffered overuse injuries related to certain types of exercise. For example, if you have had lots of running or cycling based injuries due to the repetitive nature of the sport, HIIT can be great for you. By changing the exercise every 30 seconds or so, you are reducing the continual impact to a particular part of the body.
Here’s a couple of workout ideas to get you started:
1. Bike session (stationary bike):
5 minutes of warm-up at level 7 (on a bike with a maximum of 20 levels of resistance)
6 sets in 6 minutes, with each set consisting of:
40 second burst at 90% effort – level 12 to 16 (max of 20)
20 second rest at snails pace – level 5 (max of 20)
12 sets in 9 minutes, with each set consisting of:
30 second burst at 95%+ effort – level 14 to 20 (max of 20)
15 second rest at snails pace – level 5 (max of 20)
5 minutes of cool down at level 7 (max of 20)
I’d like to introduce you to a type of training that I highly rate, and give you the reasons why you should try it. I rate this method so highly that I even did a Tabata session today…first thing on a Sunday morning! Tabata first came to prominence in 1996 when Professor Izumi Tabata of Japan published a study showing the efficacy of these methods of training.
It is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HITT), which lasts just 4 minutes and allegedly is as good as an hour of moderate jogging, an hour of moderate cycling, an hour of Zumba, or two hours of yoga!
So what’s there not to like about it? Well, you could say everything really! During these 4 minutes you push your heart rate up to a maximum and then basically tolerate the pain.
Tabata training involves you working for 20 seconds, followed by resting for 10 seconds. You then string together 8 of these cycles, and you have 4 minutes of flat-out exercise. And this is supposed to give you both aerobic and anaerobic exercise benefits.
The great thing about Tabata training is that you can design your own circuit with the exercises that you want to use. You can vary your circuits each time and develop 4 or 5 different ones that you like using. You can design some easier ones, and some which are more difficult.
It is important that you warm up well and perform some dynamic mobility and stretching exercises before you start. Make sure that everything is ready, that any equipment you’re going to use is in place, and that you have a list of exercises on a piece of paper so you don’t forget what’s next. When you’re in so much pain you may find you can’t think straight!
Here’s a Tabata circuit that you can try. Remember, perform the exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then move to the next exercise. Keep doing this until you have worked down the whole list.
Pure Tabata training is only one circuit lasting 4 minutes. However, you can repeat the same Tabata circuit or do a different one following the first one, but by doing this the emphasis changes. You won’t be working as hard, but you will be working for longer. Both methods work so see what you like best!
One word of caution. Make sure that each exercise is performed well and with good technique. One of the problems of going “all out” is that the quality of exercise can be lost and you could be putting yourself at risk by not doing things right. Just be careful. Additionally, although this is a great post pregnancy exercise tool, this kind of exercise is certainly not recommended for the first 6 weeks after having a baby. Make sure you have properly healed, and that you have spent several months doing low level exercises to re-build your base fitness before going mad with Tabata.
Just a quick reminder, you’re not just burning calories throughout this 4 minute workout. You’re spiking your metabolism to keep burning calories throughout the day!
Finally, don’t forget that you have to psyche yourself up! You’ve got to give it your all, push yourself, and really dig deep because it’s gonna hurt! So get the music playing, get the stopwatch ready, and off you go!
I have decided to write this post in response to a question from a friend of mine. She is concerned that she is gaining size on her legs and butt through the exercise she is doing, and doesn’t really want to. There are different types of exercise that can cause you to see an increase in size and it can be pretty complicated to give a straight answer. So I am going to try to be as clear as possible without skirting round the issues. I have to give credit (or blame!) to my husband, Pete, who is a strength and conditioning coach for elite athletes, for a lot of the information in this article. He is more of an expert than me when it comes to the intricacies of weight training!
First and foremost, there are a number of factors that can impact how you respond to exercise and training. These include:
The type of exercise you currently do
The volume of exercise you do (how much of it)
Your somatotype (this is your natural build. Training can impact and change this, although a tendency remains towards one particular body type)
Whether you are a novice, intermediate or advanced trainer
Your exercise history (the types of sports or exercise that you have done in the past)
Your injury history
I am not going to look at all of these variables, but I will present a few key ideas that will include a number of them.
Figure 1. and figure 2. show the difference in responses to weight training between novice trainers and advanced, well-trained individuals. When novice trainers train with heavy weights but low repetitions, they generally lose weight and therefore the girth of their legs decrease. This is due to the high calorie burning effect of this type of exercise. When advanced trainers train with heavy weights and low repetitions, however, they generally gain a bit of muscle mass slowly over time. This is because they are lifting relatively heavier weights than novice trainers (because they are stronger), and they have already experienced the early adaptations that novices experience, and therefore, put simply, growth is the next adaptation to happen. One way to slow down this growth is to keep the volume of heavy lifting low. This means that you still lift heavy for few repetitions, however, you will not do multiple sets. The total amount of work done will be less. If you wish to continue lifting heavy for the strength gains, you should do something like 3 sets of 3 repetitions instead of 5 sets of 5 repetitions for example. That way you can keep the load high but the volume low.
Lifting moderately heavy weights for 10-15 repetitions is the best way to get muscle growth. These are the typical parameters used by body builders. The reason you get maximum growth in this rep range, is that the muscle is under tension for a long period of time, with the addition of a heavy load. This means that the maximum amount of damage is done, and if you recover properly, the maximum amount of growth occurs. “Time under tension” is one of the keys for muscle growth. Therefore this is the type of training to avoid if you do not desire size increase.
When lifting light weights for high repetitions, you do not experience the same physical adaptations of muscle growth despite the fact that the muscle is under tension for a long time. The reason is that the weight is not high enough to cause a large enough stimulus for growth. Less damage is done with a lighter weight, so less growth occurs as a result. The time under tension may be high, but the light weight means the degree of tension is much lower.
Nutrition plays a key role in muscle growth too. By reducing your overall calorie intake, you will get less growth as a result of training. Be aware though, that training at a high volume and high intensity, on a low calorie diet is not sustainable for long. When bodybuilders train on a reduced calorie diet in their pre-competition “cutting” phase, they are not able to train at the same intensities or with the same volumes as when they are feeding well in a growth phase. If you are smart with your nutrition and training, however, you will be able to find a balance where you can train hard and lift quite heavy, and still not grow. Make note, cutting calories does not necessarily mean cutting down on volume of food. By making smart choices, and eating plenty of vegetables, you can still reduce your amount of calories without going hungry.
If you are a relatively advanced trainer, like my friend who asked the question, perhaps you still want to lift weights but do not want to continue to see significant muscle in your thighs and butt (or anywhere!) you have a few options:
Lift light weights for high repetitions. That way, the exercise becomes more aerobic, with the weight not being high enough to stimulate growth
Lift heavy weights but keep the volume low. This can either mean reducing the number of sets performed in a session (as stated above), or keeping the number of sessions per week low. If you limit yourself to 1 session of heavy lifting a week, to maintain strength, and your other exercise sessions are non weight training activities, the stimulus from the one heavy session, compared to the stimulus from the multiple other sessions of different activities will not be high enough to elicit a huge amount of muscle growth. The thing you do the most of, will have the biggest effect. So if you do 1 weight training session, and 4 other sessions, the other 4 sessions with have a greater effect on your physical adaptation than the 1 weight training session.
Lift heavy but learn to manipulate your diet to minimise the amount of growth through calorie reduction, timings of meals, and macronutrient manipulation.
I hope you find this useful. Keep trying new things but most of all, enjoy your training! Give me a shout if you have any questions
Here’s the final blog to complete the series of 4 exercises to get you in shape in no time!
So far we’ve looked at the lunge, squat and press-up. That’s two lower body exercises and one upper body exercise. The forth exercise is another upper body exercise – The Band Pull-up.
The pull-up is an exercise that works many muscles in the body and is functional to everyday arm movements. It is the extending and flexing of the elbows and shoulders that works muscles throughout the whole of the upper body. The pull-up develops the muscles of the back, shoulders, arms, trunk, and hands. When working the shoulder, it not only strengthens the large muscle groups, but it also works the smaller muscles that stabilize the scapula, facilitating improved posture. The benefits to the trunk are surprising as the core does get a fantastic workout! Often those who are new to pull-ups report aching abs the day after, even though they’ve done no isolated abdominal work.
Why the band?
Pull-ups are extremely hard. They are so hard that most normal people can’t even perform one pull-up. In fact, I would suggest that you start with chin-ups (palms facing towards you) and progress to pull-ups (palms facing away from you) once you have improved your level of strength. The band is useful because it assists you in performing the movement. Fortunately you can choose the strength of band, depending on your ability. The stronger you are, the less assistance you will need, so using a thin band that contracts with less force will be fine. If you are new to this exercise, I advise getting a strong, thick band that will enable you to perform a few reps to get started. As your strength increases, the number of repetitions you can do in each set will increase. The great thing about using a band is that it gives the most assistance when it is under most tension. The most difficult part of the pull up is at the start of each pull up, when your arms are straight and the band is stretched. Hence, when you need the most help it gives it! As your elbows get into a more flexed, mechanically stronger position where you require less help, the band offers less assistance.
Here’s how to do it
Loop the band round a stable bar and thread it through itself. Hook the loose end of the band round one or two knees, take hold of the bar and hang with your arms straight. If you have hypermobile joints, do not fully lock out your shoulders and elbows in this bottom position, but keep them very slightly bent. Then bend your knees and cross your feet behind you. Make sure your grip on the bars is narrower than shoulder distance apart if you are doing chin-ups and hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart if you are doing pull-ups. Pull hard and keep pulling until your chin is over the bar. That is one repetition. Lower yourself down slowly to the starting position, then try to do a second repetition. Repeat until you can no longer get your chin up over the bar.
Progressing your pull-ups
I would suggest starting with 3 sets of 5 reps. As this gets easier, begin to increase the number of reps until you can complete 3 sets of 10 reps. When you successfully manage this, move onto a thinner band that provides less assistance and go back to doing 3 sets of 5 reps and build up again. As you continue to get stronger, add repetitions and change to thinner bands that give less help. Ensure you take adequate rest between sets (between 1 and 2 minutes), or perform a leg exercise between your sets of pull-ups.
As with the other exercises, try doing this twice a week initially, and you will begin to see improvements. After 6 weeks of consistency, you should see some amazing results!
If you’re looking for an effective way to get in great shape quickly, and burn considerable amounts of body fat, then this exercise cannot be excluded from any weight training programme. In my opinion, the squat is one of the most fundamental exercises for a number of reasons.
1. The movements of flexion and extension of the ankle, knee and hip joints are similar to daily activities such as standing up, walking, jogging, and jumping. Therefore, training the body in this movement is functional to daily life.
2. There are numerous muscles used in this exercise, and therefore it really is a whole body exercise. The quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, adductors (inside of thigh) and gluteus (bum!), the muscles of the lower body do most of the work in lifting the weight. In addition to this, the weight is held on the trapezius (below the neck), and the muscles of the trunk and lower back, also known as “core” muscles, are required to stabilise the upper body to effectively, correctly, and safely perform the movement.
3. A much greater amount of calories are burned by doing this exercise compared to many other exercises you could chose. The reason for this is that so many muscles are being used, as mentioned above. Not only are a large number of muscles used, but also the muscle groups that are used are large muscle groups like the quads, glutes and hamstrings. For example, an exercise like this burns far more calories than a bicep curl, which primarily works the biceps, which are a relatively small group of muscles.
4. Due to the fact that a number of large muscles groups are used, testosterone is released. Testosterone is an extremely effective fat burning hormone, which also helps boost energy and libido, and helps sharpen memory and mental focus. It can help keep bones strong too, which is extremely important for pre-menopausal women as bone density can deteriorate during menopause.
5. Finally, this exercise is effective at building lean muscle in the body, which is one of the biggest factors in returning to your pre-pregnancy body shape (or better!) and getting rid of that baby belly. Read my previous post “The Truth about Lifting Weights” to find out why you need to build muscle, and learn why building muscles does not mean getting “big”!
Exercise #3 – The Squat
To perform the squat, place a barbell across your trapezius, hold the bar in your hands with a grip wider than shoulder width, and pull your elbows down and back. Stand up straight with your feet just wider than shoulder width apart with your feet pointing slightly outwards. Lift you head up so that you are looking straight ahead and stick your chest out. To start the movement, bend at the hips and knees and sit back so that the weight begins to transfer from the middle of your foot towards your heels as you go down. If you are able to maintain good form, you should try to achieve a deep squat position where your hips are lower than your knees. Maintaining good form is keeping a good flat back throughout the movement, with your chest up and head looking forwards at all times. To go back up, push your feet into the floor and extend your knees and hips, returning to a standing position.
Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions if you are using weight or 2 sets of 20-30 repetitions if you are only using your bodyweight. Once this gets easy, move to 3 sets of 10 repetitions, making it challenging so that the last 3 repetitions of each set feels difficult.
If you are doing bodyweight squats, build up to 3-4 sets of 20-30 repetitions. To really get the benefits mentioned above, after the first 3-4 weeks of doing 10 repetitions, increase the weight and aim for 5 sets of 5 heavy repetitions. As with the other exercises, you should start by doing this 2 times per week and aim to hit a rhythm of maintaining this on a regular basis 2-3 times per week. You will notice it gets easier the 2nd or 3rd time but you’ll see drastic improvements after 6 weeks! If you have no barbell, but still would like to add weight to the squat, you can hold dumbbells with your hands by your side, or hold a medicine ball in your arms against your body.
I’d love to hear how you get on with this, so please leave me a comment.
Join up for my husband’s Fitness camp this April to help burn off some of that baby weight and get fit. This camp is aimed at those who are actively playing sports and desire to learn how to improve their training. It may be that you have some post-pregnancy weight to burn off that you haven’t managed to shift over the last year, or even few years.
Date: 27th APRIL – 3rd MAY
Pete hosts this unique and high quality fitness training camp using his experience from 10 years of working with Elite-level athletes. If you are playing sport, especially a team sport, and are looking for ways of improving your training and conditioning to make you an all round better athlete, this week is for you.
Pete will be on hand all week to coach, guide, inspire and motivate individuals to take the next steps towards their personal goals and aspirations. All this is done is a warm, approachable, welcoming, friendly and supportive way, taking your personal goals and aspirations into account.
Enjoy some great running in the mountains, learning how to build your fitness and strength more efficiently through training, design your own training programme, swim and kayak on Lake Annecy and more to get the ultimate week’s workout during your stay.
Insights and training will include:
Discover the secrets of the best training for the best results. What to do, when, why and how. Your week will include;
Great workouts every day; fun, challenging, varied for every level of performance, every session personally coached by Pete
Eat healthy, natural, nutritious and tasty food; what works to support your training, racing and recovery
The best way to warm up, mobilise the body, cool down and stretch to stay injury free
How to optimise your recovery
Effective core conditioning, dispelling some of the myths of core work
Improve your speed and agility, giving you a competitive edge
How to plan your own, personalised training programme
Best ways of improving strength and power for optimised performance
Improve your anaerobic fitness
How to train the whole body with limited equipment, when you can’t access a gym
Come away with an understanding of speed, agility, strength, power, endurance, flexibility, mobility, and recovery, and how they can be worked together to improve performance
Training in a stunning environment surrounded by beautiful scenery
Friendly coaching team lead by a top strength & conditioning coach with experience of working with team sports and individual athletes at the highest level
I hope you’re now into the swing of regularly doing the lunges that I described in my previous post. As I said in Part 1, this programme is going to be a quick and simple way to get a full-body workout, which will burn the unwanted fat and tone up your legs, arms and core. This simple, but effective programme should be tried by anyone who is trying to lose that post pregnancy weight and is ready to start exercising again.
This exercise is one of the simplest as it requires no equipment and it is so effective. It is possibly one of the most under-rated and under-utilised exercises that exists. That’s why I love it so much! The press-up really is a great exercise for toning up your upper body, arms and core. Another great facet is that you can vary it and adapt it in so many different ways to make is easier or more difficult, or to work the muscles in different ways.
The press-up predominantly works the chest muscles (pectorals) and triceps, but additionally the shoulders (deltoids) and all the core muscles. The core is required to work hard to keep the body held in a flat ‘plank’ position throughout the exercise.
Exercise #2 – The Press-up
Lie flat on your belly and place your hands flat on the floor, by your side, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keeping your body perfectly flat, push against the ground with your hands and straighten your elbows. Keep your head in a neutral position to reduce any strain on your neck. Lower yourself back down to the ground, but do not rest. Repeat the first movement of lifting yourself up. It is the arms that do the work of moving your body weight. Don’t be tempted to use your butt, stomach or the lower half of your body to heave yourself up.
If this movement is too difficult to start with, try an adapted press-up on your knees. For this exercise, place your knees on the floor and position your body weight forwards and over your arms. In this way, your knees take some of the weight, however there is still enough weight over your arms to make it challenging. Extend your arms and lower yourself back down in the same manner as a full press-up.
Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions with your knees on the ground. Once this gets easy, move to 3 sets of 6-10 repetitions of full press-ups. As with the lunges, you should start by doing this 2 times per week and aim to hit a rhythm of maintaining this on a regular basis 2-3 times per week. You will notice it gets easier the 2nd or 3rd time but you’ll see drastic improvements after 6 weeks!
Enjoy it, and let me know how you get on by leaving a comment!
There are so many fitness fads and so many different diets out there that it is hard to know what to choose. You can get fit in so many different ways, using so many different modes of training – that is the beauty of exercise – it is so varied! As you may know I am a fan of having some form of weight training as part of a fitness programme for several reasons (see my other blogs). I want to show you a great but simple way of training with weights. If you ask a personal trainer to write you a programme, you may be given a list of 10-12 exercises to do over a period of an hour or so in the gym. To get through these exercises, you have to rush through each one, keeping the weight low, as there’s not much time to rest. Sometimes the exercises are so easy that you hardly break a sweat, and other times you find yourself working a small muscle in your arm that you never even knew existed. You rightly begin to wonder if this will really burn the fat off your bum and thighs.
So, I want to offer you a simple but extremely effective programme that, if you follow for 6 weeks, you will see a complete transformation to your body! These 4 exercises will burn the fat and tone you up in all the right areas. I haven’t just chosen any 4 exercises, or even my favourite 4 exercises. I have chosen 4 exercises that will give you the perfect balance of a full-body work out. These 4 exercises encompass the upper body and lower body, pushing and pulling, all of which compliment each other. In addition to this, you are effectively working your core without doing any direct abs work.
This blog is Part 1 of a series in which I will explain everything about this programme! I will give you tips on technique, so that the exercises are executed correctly, as well as justification on why these exercises work so well, and how this simple system can transform your shape. By the way, don’t wait until you have read all the parts before getting started. Why wait? Start today. Start now!
Exercise #1 – The Lunge
Begin standing upright, feet together, holding a dumbbell in each hand and head facing forwards. Take a step forwards of about 80-100cm, and then lower yourself keeping the knee of the front foot over the ankle. Make sure your upper body is upright, shoulders back, your head facing forwards and your core is engaged, not soft. Go as far down until your back knee almost touches the ground. Then, push upwards and back with the front foot and return to the upright, standing position. Repeat this 10 times! I’ve done it today!
The lunge predominantly works your quads, hamstrings and glutes (bum!) in a really effective way. In addition to this, by engaging your trunk area and maintaining and upright posture throughout the movement, you are giving your core a blast at the same time!
I hope you enjoy this and I’m looking forward to sharing the next part really soon!