The Big Three

I’m talking about the deadlift, bench press and squat.

If you think you shouldn’t be lifting weights then head to my post over at https://fitnoodle.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/strength-training-for-women-debunking-myths/ first!

These are three big lifts which are often referred to in the world of weight lifting. Why are they so great? Well, they are compound movements which means they utilise several muscles or muscle groups and work across multiple joints. Doing compound exercises helps to give you a full body workout more effectively and burns more calories along with tons of other benefits such as joint stability. Are you in? Okay, let’s learn how to do them properly!

The Deadlift

Deadlifts are awesome for improving your overall strength.

Parts of the body targeted: Deadlifts give a true whole body workout! There aren’t many parts it doesn’t target. Your legs and back are given a thorough workout and these are the primary muscle groups worked but deadlifts can help transform nearly your entire body.

How to do it:

  1. With the barbell on the floor in front of you, stand with feet about shoulder width apart and your feet turned out at about a 45 degree angle. Walk up to the bar so that it is almost touching your shins.
  2. Keeping your back straight, bend at the knees and grab the bar with your hands about shoulder width. Do not round your back as this can cause injury.
  3. Keeping hold of the bar and breathing out, push up your legs and torso until you are stood up straight, pushing your chest out slightly and squeezing your glutes.
  4. Keeping the bar close to your body, lower yourself back to the starting position with the bar on the floor and your back as straight as possible. This is one rep.

The Squat

Squats are not only great for your legs, they help to build muscle in both your upper and lower body

Parts of the body targeted: Again, being a compound movement means that squats help to work nearly your entire body. The main muscle groups it will benefit are your quads, calves, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Oh, and ladies, it will give you a FANTASTIC bottom (You can thank me later…)

How to do it: 

  1. Place your barbell on the rack at about shoulder height (squatting straight from the rack is recommended as the safest way to do it). Step under the bar and place it just under your neck (at the top of your shoulders). Hold the bar with both hands, bending at the elbow.
  2. Push up with your legs to remove the bar from the rack and step away from it. Your feet should be shoulder width apart with slightly turned out toes.
  3. Bend at the knees and hips, lowering your body until your knees are slightly lower than a 90degree angle to the floor. Keep your head up and keep your back straight to avoid injury. Your knees should be in line with your toes.
  4. Slowly raise the bar whilst exhaling to the starting position. This is one rep.

The Bench Press

The bench press will help to sculpt your upper body

Parts of the body targeted: Your chest, shoulders and arms are the main areas targeted.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back on the bench. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Place your hands on the bar just wider than shoulder width apart. Lift the bar off the rack with your arms straight out.
  2. Inhaling, slowly bring your arms down until the bar touches your chest. Keep your elbows tight to your body to avoid shoulder injury.
  3. Exhaling, push the bar back up to the starting position using your chest muscles. This is one rep.

FAQ

‘What are reps and sets?’

Reps stands for repetitions, how many times you repeat the movement. A set is how many times you complete the repetitions with rests in between. E.g. If you did 2 sets of 5 reps it means you completed the movement 5 times, rested, then completed it 5 more times.

‘How many reps and sets do I start with?’

This is a tricky one as it truly depends on lots of factors including your starting point and fitness goals. Generally, fewer reps with a higher weight focuses on building muscle whilst more reps with a lower weight help your endurance. I would recommend that for most beginners you start with a medium rep range of about 8-10 for 2 or 3 sets. If this feels too easy or difficult you can adjust from there.

‘How much weight should I start with?’

Again, this is a difficult one to answer as everybody is different. The general rule is that the weight should allow you to complete all of your reps, but should be heavy enough that the last couple of reps are a struggle and you would not be able to repeat any more. As you get stronger you will find the last reps become easier and you can go up a weight. I would always advise to start out lighter than you think, as you can always build it up but if you lift too heavy you risk injury.

If you have any further questions I would be more than happy to answer them. Please ask below!

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Total Beginner’s Running – My Advice

Okay, Let’s talk running.

Running is undoubtably one of the most popular forms of cardio exercise. Whist I LOVE strength training and would encourage everybody to try it, running certainly has it’s merits and I really, really enjoy it (but wouldn’t have said that a year ago…).

I am not going to massively delve on the health benefits of running in this post, however I will make sure to dedicate a whole post on this soon!

Whilst I don’t want to appear to be endorsing a certain product, I HAVE to tell you about the app which miraculously turned me from a ‘Running?! Pfft no thanks!’ kinda girl to a ‘AHHH I RAN A WHOLE 30 MINUTES WITHOUT STOPPING AND I FEEL LIKE SUPERWOMAN’ kinda girl. I really, really recommend this approach for a beginning runner, even if you already consider yourself to be fit.

So about the app… It’s called ‘Couch to 5k’, the idea being that it takes you from being a total ‘couch potato’ to someone capable of running a 5k distance in 8 weeks. It uses an interval approach to build up your stamina and fitness and has plenty of features which encourage and motivate. A word of warning – you do need to be committed. You do need to go out (or in, on a treadmill) for roughly a 30 minute jog 3 times a week. BUT, it totally turns you into a runner and gives you an almighty kick of feel good when you progress… which you will.

Most importantly? It builds up your progress in a safe and achievable way. I would highly recommend it. I used this version downloaded onto my iPhone https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/5k-runner-0-to-5k-run-training/id448357306?mt=8. I believe there are other versions of the same thing out there and most are free, make sure the app you use remembers the 5 minute warm up and cool down walks and stretches to avoid injury. (PLEASE remember to stretch properly, there is nothing like an injury to stifle your fitness goals!).

Even when I was an extremely fit and healthy teenager who went to the gym religiously I could not run for more than about 7 minutes at a go, I would get out of breath, get a stitch or just get unmotivated. This app has made me fall in love with running and my stamina has improved ridiculously. Combine this with strength training and you are looking at a great fitness plan.

A few notes on other important things for beginners-

Shoes It is really important to purchase the right shoes for your needs. Every foot is different but as a general rule of thumb don’t go value on your trainers (your feet are so important!), go to a sports shop and try some on before buying anything online, stick to trusted brands (I personally love Asics), get advice from someone experienced and if something feels uncomfortable whilst you are running, don’t use these shoes!

Fitness friends You are more likely to achieve your goals if you have somebody alongside you to encourage and support. Choose somebody who is at the same level as you – ideally you don’t want to be running with someone who has a much faster pace than you are comfortable with or that wants to run a marathon every training session. There are tons of friendly running groups available – search around and find one that works for you.

Progress Remember to track your progress (Couch to 5K makes this really simple) so that when you look back you can see how far you have come. This is really motivating for beginner runners!

Don’t push it too far It is much more important to train safe than pushing yourself too far for the sake of burning more calories or impressing your friends and injuring yourself – please stay safe noodles!

If you choose to begin running then HOORAY TO YOU! I wish you the best of luck and please keep me updated on your journey or feel free to ask me any questions, I will do my best to help!

Keep noodling!

Introducing FitNoodle

Hello and welcome to my VERY FIRST blog post!

Here I will be telling you about me, about this blog and what you can expect from FitNoodle.

So first a little info about me… I am a 23 year old female who has always been motivated by fitness. When I was younger I used to dance daily and as I grew up I’ve tried a whole range of stuff from being a dedicated gym bunny to Ultimate Frisbee! Recently I have become much more clued up on what it takes to be fit and healthy which leads me on to my next point…

Why this blog? Well, I would firstly like to share my gained knowledge on ‘all things fitness’ as I research a lot into a whole variety of topics as a hobby and take part in lots of exercise. Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert, but there are a lot of misconceptions in fitness and poorly researched articles that can be damaging to your health and wellbeing. I am all about long term, sustainable health and fitness which is backed with solid research. 

I will be tackling big misconceptions through this blog, one of the biggest and (in my opinion) most important being women’s weight training which I’ve discovered holds hugely warped perceptions from many people. I will definitely be delving into this big topic in more detail in future posts and help women who are starting out know what’s what. For now, I will stress that I am a big believer in resistance training, and even (gasp) protein shakes for women and no it does not make you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger! Actually, weight lifting will help you to look lean and sexy (yes please!). 

I will be asking readers to ditch the scales and show them how to more effectively monitor their progress. Fad diets are a no no for me, especially anything which asks you to cut out a major food group! But I will include tasty and nutritious recipes and advice to help you achieve your goals and get clued up on important things such as portion control. I champion foods which are delicious and nutritious! I am never, ever going to tell you to ban carbohydrates from your diet.

Exercises which I think are great will be shared to this blog, ensuring correct form is shown to minimise your risk of injury. I’m a fan of mixing it up so you can be sure to see a range of workouts, expect to see Weight training, Running, HIIT (High Intensity Circuit Training), Yoga, Gym workouts, Home workouts, Workouts which take an hour, Workouts which take 7 minutes and more. I will also review popular workouts and apps.

You’ll see product reviews for a variety of things made with the intention of getting you fit. From products like the ‘Slendertone belt’ to supplements from Holland and Barrett, you can see my take on how effective they will be towards helping you reach your goals. I will direct you towards other great fitness blogs or articles to help you on your journey to being a Fit Noodle. If I can get interviews with people in the Health and Fitness industry then you can be sure I’ll put them on here too!

Finally, I will be sharing my personal progress with you. I may treat you all to some ‘before and after’ shots, I’ll let you know what my current fitness and diet (I hate this word) regimes are and what I am personally doing to improve my health and fitness levels.

As soon as I work out how to (noob alert) these will all fit into handy category tabs so you can navigate your way to fitness with ease!

So if you want to be a Fit Noodle too, read on!