Are you standing up correctly?

Do you spend a lot of time hunched over a desk or slumped on the sofa watching TV or reading a book? Even  standing we tend to slouch rather than hold ourselves upright. Yet our posture is so important in preventing back pain and also preventing injury whilst exercising. Bad posture can even be a cause of headaches.

When we are actually standing correctly then the spine is aligned so that the centre of gravity passes down the ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.  This position is called neutral spine.

Here are some quick tips to ensure you are standing  with a neutral spine. Think about your pelvis as a bucket filled with water. If you tip the bucket either forwards or backwards then water will pour out. This is bad.

Firstly let’s find the two positions where water will flow!

  1. Stand sideways in front of a mirror.
  2. Place your hands on top of your pelvis, just below your waist (If you bend to the side, the crease that forms is your natural waistline)
  3. Soften your knees and roll your pelvis forward and towards the floor (your bottom should be sticking out)
  4. Now slowly roll your pelvis backward dropping your tailbone to the floor
  5. These two are the extremes and what you are trying to find is the place in the middle where the bucket (your pelvis) is not tilting in either direction.

Practice finding this position and how it feels, it will probably feel odd at first. Do this several times a day so you get used to it.

Other things to remember

  • Your shoulders don’t belong by your ears! Relax and keep the shoulders back and down and chest up.
  • Look forwards.

The next blog post will discuss how you keep this position!

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

Helen Witcomb is a personal trainer in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. for more information. This will open a new browser window.

63-Year-Old Woman Powerlifter Takes Home Gold at First Competition

I LOVE this, more proof it’s never to late to change your health, to become a stronger you.

Full article here

Badass 63-Year-Old Woman Powerlifter Takes Home Gold at First Competition

Why it’s never too late to pick up a weight

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

Another quadricep exercise if you have arthritis.

The most common search term that lands a person at my blog usually incorporates the words quadricep exercise and arthritis.  I have already covered the topic here  but I thought I would explain another exercise that you can do to strengthen your quadriceps if you have arthritis in your knees.

This is not only for those with arthritis, if you still find wall squats difficult for any reason then this might be a good substitute.  This exercise does need a piece of equipment, a resistance band. Now you can get various different types of resistance bands, if you have any problems with your wrists I recommend you get ones with a handle.

Here are some examples of what you could use (not price checked)  Fitness-MAD studio Pro Safety Resistance Tube  or Perfect Fitess Resistance Band system  or USA Pro Body Bands (no handles).

As this exercise is for a large muscle group I recommend you get one of the heavier resistance bands.

I will be doing some more articles using resistance bands as they really are perfect for throwing in your bag and taking with you for a walk around the park.

Leg Press using resistance band

  1. Sit on a bench/chair, bend your left knee, and lift your foot from the ground. You can lean back slightly during the exercise but be careful that your don’t slump with rounded shoulders.
  2. Wrap the center of the resistance band around your left foot and hold both ends of the band in your hands.  Your hands should be  either side of your body at about waist level. Your toes should be pointed down at a slight angle.
  3.  Pushing out  with your foot straighten your  left leg out in front of your body and stop just before locking your knee.
  4. Bend your knee slowly to return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Do 5 repetitions and change leg.

Remember to do this exercise slowly to get the full benefit, there should always be tension in the band.

Once you are comfortable doing 5 repetitions on each leg then increase the number of repetitions you do.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

Butternut Squash Soup

Last week I ordered a butternut squash on my online shopping and this 1.7kg behmouth turned up!  I had planned having it roasted with chicken but it was so big I decided to turn it into a soup for lunch. It is an excellent source of vitamin A and C and good source of vitamin E. Surprisingly enough it is also a source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids (not as much as fish or flaxseed but if you are not taking a supplement every little helps)

  1. Turn on oven. Mine is a fan one and appears to have nuclear tendencies but 170 would probably be good.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthways.
  3. Mix 2 tablespooons of olive oil or coconut oil with 1 teaspoon of garlic (I am very lazy and use jar garlic, if you are not then I would crush about 2 cloves)
  4. Baste the tops of the squash with the oil
  5. Add a sprig of rosemary and sprinkle paprika all over
  6. Butternut Squash Soup - Whole Life Fitness

  7. Bake for about 45 minutes  or until a knife goes in easily, again oven dependent.
  8. Boil a pint of chicken stock, if you have home made it will taste better (after having a roast just boil the carcass with some water for a couple of hours, strain and then freeze)
  9. Remove the rosemary (I find it too overpowering)
  10. Butternut Squash Soup - Whole Life Fitness

  11. Scrap all the squash into the boiling chicken stock and simmer for about 20minutes.
  12. Butternut Squash Soup Farnham

  13. Use a handblender to blend the ingredients of the saucepan and there you go gorgeous butternut squash soup with a little bit of a kick from the paprika.

P.S I love coconut so if you want add roughly 50g coconut cream to the pint of chicken stock. Also test whilst the soup is cooking and add more paprika/chill if you want a real kick.

Adding weight to your workout part 3 – The back.

Very important muscles to exercise as we age are the upper back muscles to prevent that hunched over look where the chest muscles are too tight and the upper back muscles are weak.  Exercises that don’t use any equipment to work the upper back aren’t thick on the ground, however there are a couple.  If you can’t safely get up and down from the floor (which this exercise requires) then please comment and I will post another exercise that you can do.

The (snazzily named) Y-T-I raises target the muscles of your upper back that stabilize your shoulder blades  and strengthen your shoulder muscles.

Y Raise

  1. Lie facedown on the floor with your arms resting on the floor above your head, completely straight and at a 30-degree angle to your body, so your body forms a Y shape.
  2. Your palms should be facing each other so that the thumbs point up (as if you were doing an ok sign!)
  3. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can, concentrate on your upper back doing this work and not your arms.

 T Raise

  1. Still lying facedown move your arms so that they’re out to your sides—perpendicular to your body.
  2. Your thumbs should be still pointing upwards with palms now facing forwards.
  3. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can, concentrate on your upper back doing this work and not your arms.

I Raise

  1. Still lying facedown move your arms so that your body forms a straight line from your feet to your fingertips.
  2. Like with the Y your palms should be facing each other  with your thumbs pointing up.
  3. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can,  concentrate on your upper back doing this work and not your arms.

Do 10 reps of each Y, T and I  (immediately after one another) and then rest for 1 minute before doing another 10 reps of each exercise.

For a no equipment required lower back and core exercise please see the following article I wrote which details both Bird Dog (great name!) and the plank.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here

Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s

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Adding weight to your workout – Part 2 – The Squat

I am going to nominate the squat as one of the most important exercises you can do whether its the wall slide, body weight squat or squat with added weight. To prove how important it is one of the most oft used phrases when teaching the squat is “pretend you are sitting down in a chair”. Yes being able to squat means you will continue to be able to sit down and stand up safely without using your arms (or the chair arms) for assistance. Stronger legs means better balance, so less likely to fall. They also reduce your risk of lower back and knee pain, improve mobility  and of course who doesn’t want a bottom that fills out their trousers.

Beginner – Walls slide  (also good for those with arthritis in the knee)

  1. Stand against a wall with your back touching it. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.
  2. Begin by slowly sliding down the wall, maintaining contact, until you are in seated position.  Your  hips and knees should both  be at 90-degrees, your back flat against the wall, your heels  on the ground and your knee joint should be directly above your ankle joint.

Do not worry if you can not get this far down to start with, just slide down the wall to a position comfortable for you.

3.  Slowly push with the legs, weight going thru the heels and slide up the wall to return to starting position.

Start by doing this 3 times a day, to increase the difficulty of this exercise then when you are in the seated position hold for 5 seconds before sliding back up the wall.

Intermediate – Body weight squat to chair

When you first try these place a chair behind you, it will help you visualise what you are suppose to be doing. If necessary actually sit in the chair when you lower yourself.

  1. Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder width apart with toes turned out at a slight angle.
  2. Push back your hips as if you were going to sit in the chair, think about reaching back with your bottom attempting to touch the chair . Whilst you are doing this you need to remember
  • Do not round your back
  • Keep chest up
  • Your knees should track over your toes i.e. you should be pushing your knees out, they shouldn’t be collapsing inwards.
  • Keep weight toward the heels, you should be able to wiggle your toes.
  • Eyes looking foward, your chin should be parallel with the floor

3.  The position you are going down to is just below parallel for your thighs, where your bottom drops below your knees BUT this is a position you are working towards, when you start just go down as far as it feels comfortable. At this point your form is more important than your range of movement.

4. Keeping the weight in your heels, slowly push your body back up.

5. Start with 3 repetitions and work up to 10.

So 2 exercises the press up and squat, both movements which use lots of muscles but no equipment! The next post will be covering a back exercise, as we age it’s actually important that we strengthen the back to help prevent the hunching that can occur as we age for now – as you are probably reading this on a PC or laptop –  I will just say sit up straight!

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

Helen Witcomb runs Whole Life Fitness which is a personal training company which specialises in the over 50s. For more information please visit Whole Life Fitness or call 01252313578.

Adding weight to your workout – Part 1

I was asked the following question after my (slightly ranty) post about celebrity trainers and weight training.

“I’ve never thought about lifting weights. How does one get started, and how do you work into a cardiovascular work out?”

Some people are put off doing weights as they think it involves equipment they might not posess or because they don’t know how.

The poster makes this slightly easier for me as they already do a cardiovascular workout so the answer to how do you work it into a cardiovascular workout would be to put it after the main cardo session when your muscles are nice and warm before your stretching, or you could alternate cardio for 5 mins, weights for 5 mins. As long as you are warm when you start your resistance exercises it’s fine, so if you don’t already do cardio then I would recommend a 5-10minute warm up first, this could be marching on the spot or marching around the park.

If you already belong to a gym then ask one of the instructors to write you a programme, personally I would request it is based around free weights rather than resistance machines.

If you don’t belong to a gym then my next few posts are going to explore some bodyweight exercises you can do at home with no equipment. They will be multi joint exercises which means you get more bang for your buck. I will also in the near future be talking about some exercises you can do with equipment which requires very little financial outlay – resistances tubes (which are also very friendly for people who have arthritis).

The exercise I am going to talk about in this post is the push up. Now before you stop reading thinking there is no way I can do a push up there are lots of ways to do push ups and I promise there will be a modification to suit you.  The only people who may find push ups difficult are those with wrist problems such as arthritis. For those with arthritis please be very careful when trying this exercise, definitely start with beginners and stop if there is any pain.

The push up will primarily target the following muscles.

  • Pectoralis major (chest)
  • Triceps (back of arms)
  • Deltoids (shoulder)

However due to you needing to keep your body in a straight line there will be other muscles being utilised.

Beginner – Wall push up

  1. Stand facing a wall roughly arm length away. Place hands on the wall at chest height and shoulder width apart with fingers pointing to the ceiling, there should be a slight bend in the elbow. The closer you stand to the wall the easier the push-up will be.
  2. Bend your arms (whilst inhaling) and your body will lean towards the wall, you should be aiming to get a 90 degree bend at the elbow but don’t worry it you can’t do this at first just lower yourself as far as it feels comfortable.
  3. Push off the wall (whilst exhaling) until your arms are back in the starting position with elbows slightly bent.

Intermediate – Back of sofa/bench push up

Instead of using the wall your hands will rest on top of the back of the sofa (or bench).  Again the closer your feet to the sofa/bench the easier the exercise. Lower your chest to the top of the bench/sofa and push up again. Gradually try to lower your elevated hands (i.e. go from back of sofa to seat of sofa).

Advanced – Floor push up

  1. Lie face down on the floor, hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Push off the floor(whilst exhaling), keeping your body straight, until your arms are extended (but do not lock elbows out)
  3. Bend your arms (whilst inhaling) and lower your body to floor.

For all variations try and work up to 10 repetitions but do not work to failure, stop when you think you have one more with good form left in the tank.

Things you need to remember with all variations.

  • Keep back and body in straight line
  • Your elbows should not point out straight out to the side but slightly behind you
  • Dont lock your elbows out
  • Hold your stomach in

You may have seen a modification of the press up where the person is on their knees. Whilst a valid variation I prefer to do it with hands starting high and moving gradually lower, this is because the postion of the body mimics that of a full push up.

In the next post I will talk you thru how to do squats which will target the lower body muscles.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

Helen Witcomb runs Whole Life Fitness which is a personal training company which specialises in the over 50s. For more information please visit Whole Life Fitness or call 01252313578.

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