The press-up is a savage test of a host of upper-body muscles, especially the chest, shoulders and triceps. Your core will also benefit from the standard press-up, and if you introduce a few basic variations on the move you can recruit even more muscles.

Before you start varying your press-ups, however, it’s important to ensure your form on the classic move is correct. Even if you’ve done a million press-ups in your time, make sure you check your form against the following technique guide.

1) Start on all fours, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart – moving your feet further apart will make it easier, while bringing them closer together makes it harder.

2) Straighten your arms. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders throughout the movement.

3) Lower your chest towards the ground by bending at the elbows, keeping them by your sides. Flaring your elbows works the chest more, while keeping them close to you targets the triceps more. The closer your chest gets to the floor the better, unless you end up just lying down. That’s not going to help anyone.

4) Press back up. Then do it all again.

Diamond press up

This variation shifts the focus of the exercise to your triceps, though you’ll still be working your shoulders and chest as well. Start in a standard press-up position, but place your hands together under your chest with the thumbs and index fingers touching so that they form a diamond shape. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, lower slowly until your chest is just above the ground and then push back up.

Decline press-up

While the diamond press-up hits your triceps harder, the decline variation is tougher on your shoulders and upper chest muscles. To perform the exercise, get into a press-up position with your feet on a raised surface, which should be about 30-60cm off the floor. Lower your chest towards the ground, then push back up.

My challenge this month is the press up challenge. This can be done anywhere and although it’s far from easy by the end of it you will be so pleased with your new toned upper body! Let’s come out of lockdown stronger and leaner than ever!

Day 1 20 press-ups
Day 2 25 press-ups
Day 3 30 press-ups
Day 4 35 press-ups
Day 5 2 sets of 20 press-ups
Day 6 2 sets of 25 press-ups
Day 7 2 sets of 30 press-ups
Day 8 2 sets of 35 press-ups
Day 9 45 press-ups
Day 10 30 press-ups + 10 diamond press -up
Day 11 35 press-ups + 15 diamond press-ups
Day 12 35 press-ups + 20 diamond press-ups
Day 13 40 press-ups + 20 diamond press-ups
Day 14 40 press-ups + 25 diamond press-ups
Day 15 45 press-ups + 25 diamond press-ups
Day 16 50 press-ups + 25 diamond press-ups
Day 17 2 sets of 30 press-ups + 30 diamond press-ups
Day 18 2 sets of 35 press-ups + 30 diamond press-ups
Day 19 60 press-ups + 30 diamond press-ups
Day 20 30 decline press-up + 30 press-ups+ 30 diamond press-ups
Day 21 35 decline press-ups + 35 press-ups + 30 diamond press-ups
Day 22 35 decline press-ups + 35 press-ups + 35 diamond press-ups
Day 23 40 decline press-ups + 35 press-ups + 35 diamond press-ups
Day 24 40 decline press-ups + 40 press-ups + 35 diamond press-ups
Day 25 40 decline press-ups + 40 press-ups + 40 diamond press-ups
Day 26 45 decline press-ups + 40 press-ups + 40 diamond press-ups
Day 27 45 decline press-ups + 45 press-ups + 40 diamond press-ups
Day 28 45 decline press-ups + 45 press-ups + 45 diamond press-ups
Day 29 50 decline press-ups + 50 press-ups + 45 diamond press-ups
Day 30 100 press-ups
Have fun & remember- if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you!
I am not immune to, and hate every minute, of it. But I know that I am sadly not superwoman either (damn!) and accept that I just need to rest.
For me exercising is an escape mechanism helping me manage the symptoms of long term Crohn’s disease.

I have been so frustrated by long episodes of having to go cold turkey from the gym and the thought of having to build my muscles up again after total inactivity.

I have had to be a little clever about how I have returned to my exercise and consider the changes that have occurred in my body since another abdominal operation.

Yes I know that many of you lovely ladies will embrace the opportunity to lounge about with a latte (dreadful pun); nevertheless you might find this blog helpful if you are unlucky enough to be in the same position.

I soon realised that my strength and endurance levels had become significantly lower. This should be a note of caution to everyone; if you try to exercise with intensity, the larger muscles may not be able to react and provide stability to an action. Weaker muscles are forced to work harder and become overstrained, and your risk of injury is elevated.

Do

  • Start off at a lower intensity
  • Keep training sessions short to begin with
  • Take lots of time to warm up and down
  • Dedicate as much time to improving your nutrition as you do to your physical fitness
  • Take time to concentrate on your breathing
  • Really enjoy (without overdoing it) stretches and extending those muscles

Don’t

  • Copy workouts from the internet
  • Try to recreate a workout you did months or years ago
  • Participate in high-impact activities, like HIIT workouts or ones which involve jumping.

I began with walking. First to the end of my road, then to the high street and shops. At first I had to stop, rest, then restart – working in intervals.

I don’t really use resistance machines preferring free weights and kettlebells. However I have found fixed-weight machines useful as they helped my stability. You can mix both types of exercises into your workout, but remember, you are trying to stimulate your joints, muscles and nervous system. Overloading them in the first few sessions is going to create more stress in your body.

If you are not a gym bunny you can I swim as it’s the ultimate low-impact exercise which gives a whole-body workout.

Alternatively yoga and Pilates will improve your strength, endurance, flexibility and posture.

Wishing you all good health and an easy return to being active.

Love Lauren x

Either way if you have been working out, not just for life, but to feel more confident on holiday, don’t let all that hard work go to waste! You can continue to exercise even on holiday and if you don’t want to do the gym, here’s a way of doing a workout from the comfort of your hotel bedroom!

An extremely effective way to do that is to pull a stretchy bit of elastic in several directions.

Resistance bands are cheap and effective for a variety of workouts – probably far more effective than you might think. Resistance bands are also the most portable form of fitness equipment. Pack them in your luggage and you can slip in a workout in a hotel room just as easily as you would in your own front room.

So grab a band and follow these moves

1) Biceps curl

Sets 1 Reps 12-15 each side

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with both feet on the resistance band. Grasp the band with one hand and hold it with your arm down at your side, palm facing forwards. Bend at the elbow and lift your arm toward your shoulders until you get a good biceps contraction. Then lower slowly back to the start. Do all your reps on one arm, then switch.

2) Flye

Sets 1 Reps 12-15

Hold the resistance band in both hands, arms stretched straight out to the sides at chest height, with the band going behind your back. Press the band straight out in front of you, bringing your hands together with your arms fully extended, keeping your elbows up throughout and squeezing your chest muscles as you press. Slowly return to the starting position.

3) Squat

Sets 1 Reps 8-15

Stand on the resistance band with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and bring the top of the band up to rest on the front of your shoulders. Lower into a squat, with your chest up and your knees over your toes. Then push up to the starting position.

4) Side hip abduction

Reps 10-12 each side

Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent at 90° and the resistance band looped just above your knees. Raise the upper leg to pull your knees apart while contracting your glutes for two to three seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Do all your reps on one side, then switch.

5) Bridge

Sets 1 Reps 10-15

Loop the resistance band just above your knees and lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent at 90°. Lift your toes off the floor, then raise your hips until you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, contracting your glutes throughout the entire movement. As you raise your hips open your knees slightly to press against the resistance band

6)Splitter

Sets 1 Reps 8-10

Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip a shoulder-width section of the resistance band with both hands in front of you at shoulder height. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band out and back until your shoulder blades contract. Slowly return to starting position.

7) Side walk
 Sets 1 Reps 8-10 steps in each direction

Loop one resistance band just above your knees and another around your ankles. Drop into a half squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart to create tension in the bands. Then take a small step to the side, keeping tension in the bands as you move. Do all the steps in one direction, then switch.

8)Press up

Sets 1 Reps 5-15

Get in a plank position, draping the resistance band across your upper back and holding the ends under your hands. Drop your chest down towards the floor, then contract your glutes and abs and push straight up until your arms are fully extended.

Happy hols!

So with 3 stone to lose, and 3 months till I am going to have to reveal a bit more flesh than I would usually choose to, I reluctantly dragged myself away from my desk and into a gym!

I told my trainer to go easy on me.  As a woman who has recently turned 50, being overweight and unfit, I have lost an enormous amount of confidence and to be honest looking at images of petite little 20 something gym bunnies on social media, is not a true representation or motivation of who or where I want to be in this next half century.

I want to lose weight and get fit for my health not for the beach or an event or to fit into a dress. I’ve had too many health issues in recent years to be doing this for any other reason other than to be fit and well for me, my family and for life now!

I won’t lie, this morning was very tough and tiring and i find it’s depressing looking at myself in the mirror, compared to how i used to look a decade ago, but you have to start somewhere and I hope others, who may feel the same as me, will be motivated following my journey on what I hope will be a steady and successful trip back to good health!

And if I fall off the wagon a few times? Well I’m only human I’ll just try my best to drag myself back up onto it! So watch this space.....! ???

So here is an illustration of my first day back in the gym, no make up, no hair done, no filters, no vanity, only real torture on show here!!!!

So how do I feel now?

Well I definitely feel very virtuous, but also a bit nauseous!

However I have good intentions of eating a salad later, if that plate of doughnuts manages to make its way swiftly into the bin!!

Wish me luck!

Love & Extra Skinny Lattes,

Katie xxx

N.B. I do want to make it clear that i'm not being paid to promote this personal trainer,  i pay like anyone else has to, but i would like to publicly thank her for her kindness, understanding and patience in committing to helping this old bird feel a bit better!!! So.... Juste Freeman, thank you!
Taking a 30-minute walk a day is like that proverbial apple: There's a good chance it'll keep the doctor away. From helping you lose weight and de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of many chronic diseases—going for regular walks is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health.
Walking is the number one exercise I recommend to most of my clients because it is very easy to do, requires nothing but a pair of tennis shoes, and has tremendous mental and physical benefits.
Here's what you can expect when you start walking for just 30 minutes every day, most days of the week.
Your mood will improve

You know how sometimes it takes a glass of wine or a square (or three) of dark chocolate to blunt the edge of a rough day? Well, going for a walk is a zero-calorie strategy with the same benefits.

Research shows that regular walking actually modifies your nervous system so much that you'll experience a decrease in anger and hostility.

What's more, when you make your walks social—you stride with, say, your partner, a neighbour, or a good friend—that interaction helps you feel connected.

Your creative juices will start flowing

Whether you're feeling stuck at work or you've been searching for a solution to a tricky problem, research shows it's a good idea to get moving: going for a walk can spark creativity.

Your jeans will get a little looser

This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly

As you continue to walk, you may notice your trousers begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much.

That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilise fat and positively alter body composition.

Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older.

The best part? You don't have to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym to see these benefits. One of my clients reduced her body fat by 2% in just one month by walking home from work each day, which was just under a mile.

You'll slash your risk of chronic disease

A recent study showed that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%.

You'll keep your legs looking great

As we age, our risk of unsightly varicose veins increases—it's just not fair. However, walking is a proven way to prevent those unsightly lines from developing.

If you already suffer from varicose veins, daily walking can help ease related swelling and restlessness in your legs by improving the body’s circulatory system.

Your other goals will start to seem more reachable

When you become a regular walker, you will have established a regular routine—and when you have a routine, you are more likely to continue with the activity and take on new healthy behaviours

So now you have no excuse to walk YOUR way back to happiness and good health.

By Guest Blogger Amanda Thebe

Living in 3 different countries, has meant that I have experienced 3 different healthcare systems, and let me tell you they all vary so much.  We have the NHS in the UK with free healthcare for all.  In the USA you need to have private health insurance. This is either provided by your employer or self-funded.  If insurance isn’t financially viable, the US government does fund two kinds of health plans: Medicare and Medicaid (remember Obamacare?).

In Canada you see a hybrid of both systems, the  “Canadian healthcare basically works like Medicare, but for everyone. Medical care is free, and it covers almost everything other than prescription drugs, glasses, and dental care. (Most people have supplementary insurance to cover those things).” Suffice to say, they all systems have their good, bad and ugly traits.

During my time living in Toronto I became unwell. It was 2013 and I was 43 years old.  I started experiencing bouts of severe vertigo and nausea. Times where I couldn’t get out of bed, and had to crawl along the floor so that I wouldn’t fall over.  I had visual problems and loss of feeling in the left side of my face and arm.  For the next 2 years, I underwent every test known to man.  MRI’s, CT scans, x-rays, induced balance testing sight and hearing tests to name a few.  All came back as inconclusive.  I then ultimately feel into a deep depression.

I was not well, nobody knew what was wrong with me, it was a very isolating time. Then on a routine visit to my gynaecologist, he asked me how I was doing, and then the water-works started. I broke down in despair and told him I thought I was going crazy. When he told me that the symptoms I had been experiencing were ocular migraines, which were  common to perimenopause, a huge sense of relief washed over me. It all made sense and it was the start of me regaining my life back.

I am sure my story is similar to yours.   I was misdiagnosed. I was misunderstood. I was failed by the system.  At no stage did any of my doctors consider that I was in perimenopause. Instead they pushed me full of pills and more tests, leaving me exhausted and frustrated.

When I moved to Houston, Texas I decided that I needed to go on HRT. I went to my GP with the request, but to my dismay he refused me HRT, telling me that it would put me at risk for breast cancer.  Unfortunately for him, I had thoroughly researched the topic ( to the extent that I wrote a soon-to-be-published book about menopause) and insisted that he give me a prescription. HRT should be the first line therapy for menopause, but according to Dr Avrum Bluming, many GP’s just don’t know this.  “Only 20% of gynecologists will even study menopause, and in general practice this number is less.” We are literally the forgotten crowd.

I pushed for my HRT and he prescribed me Premarin. This is a synthetic hormone derived from pregnant mares, I did not want this, I wanted  FDA approved bio-identical hormones (called body-identical in the UK), but I was informed that my insurance would not cover the cost of those.  Now I might add that I have really good health insurance, I am talking from place of privilege and yet I was being denied.  I pushed again until I got a prescription for bioidentical estrogen, but he refused to prescribe me progesterone, stating it was unnecessary.

By now I was incredulous, this is malpractice at its finest. If you are a woman in perimenopause and you have your uterus, you must be given a progesterone to accompany your estrogen - plain simple facts.  In the end I left the surgery, ran over to the nearest women’s clinic in tears, where I saw a gynecologist who prescribed me the correct HRT.

This was not the first time she had seen this happen. In fact it was more common than not.  Unfortunately, ill-informed GP’s are scaring women away from a treatment that they need.  Lots of women here in the USA don’t even have the correct insurance to pay for HRT, and are denied the correct treatment from the insurance companies.  Out of frustration and sometimes self-diagnosis, there has been an upturn in the number of women buying their hormones online. You can in fact buy hormones from Amazon!

I totally get it, I see and hear the desperation from women, who simply are not being supported by the medical community.  But the answer isn’t to self-prescribe, the answer to educate and advocate.  I got what I wanted because I was informed and determined, but not every woman feels like this.  GP’s need to get with the times and offer help, not fill us with antidepressants to numb the pain. Women have to demand to see a specialist if their GP will not help them, both the British Menopause Society and the North American Society, offer a list of menopause specialists in your area.

In addition to this, we see the added problem of racial disparity in the health care of African-American women in the US, receiving a lower standard of healthcare.  African-American women are more likely to struggle with the vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes than white or Asian women, but are not getting the correct level of service or treatment.

There is much work to be done on both side of the Atlantic.  We all have a shared voice and we all can light small fires.  Let’s do this together and get menopause education out to women, GP’s and educators.

Amanda Thebe is a force of nature for women who are experiencing menopause hell and want to start feeling healthy and fit in their 40s and beyond.

Through her very frank articles, hilarious social media posts and inspirational and entertaining talks, she’s here to help you find the tools to have more energy and zest for life, while making you laugh like a 20 year old throughout the process.

Her workouts and fitness tips have been featured in Breaking Muscle, Girls Gone Strong, and Ultimate Sandbag Training. Her adoring fans and clients have called her a ‘resilient bitch’ and ‘an unstoppable inspiration’, with one woman naming her “the over 40 guru to watch in 2019.”

And when she’s not fitnessing, you can find her socializing with her family and friends and the occasional Netflix binge session with the hubby.  For more info on Amanda, head over to her website Fit & Chips.

Social media

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amanda.thebe

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fitnchips

Menopause community: www.facebook.com/groups/menopausingsohard

For some of us (me especially) this includes going back to the gym.

Of course, for many of us, getting back into working out can be a little scary. Am I ready to start exercising again? Am I pushing myself too hard? Am I not pushing myself hard enough?

The truth is whether you have had a large or small operation, a serious or minor operation – every experience is different. To get the best results and post-workout feeling, however, there are some universal rules.

Give yourself enough time to heal

Follow your doctor’s instructions. Your surgeon will be able to give you the best advice and guidelines on when you can start exercising again. They know what they’re talking about and can answer specific questions, so listen!

Plus, it is normal to feel more tired than usual following surgery, so make sure you take plenty of rest, even if that means taking a few extra weeks off than what your doctor suggests. Indeed my surgeon said I could go back to the gym after 4 weeks but for once I was sensible and knew I physically wasn’t up to it until at least week 7/8.

Start light

When you’re first post-op, your main focus should be on getting mobility back at a pace that works for your body. Every one is different, and going slow and steady is the best to make sure you don’t injure yourself. Add weight training later and listen to your body now.

  • If you’ve had top/chest surgery, avoid all overhead exercises for the first few months.
  • If you’ve had a lower surgery, start by walking. Walking is a good form of activity as it puts little strain on your surgery site.
  • Focus on muscle groups farther away from your surgery site.
  • Try to add in more cardio. Now’s the best time to do it!
  • There are tons of ways to hit your different muscles without strenuous weight lifting or certain motions, so get creative.

Keep realistic goals

It’s not out of the ordinary to not be able to do the same workout post-op as you did pre-op. 6-12 months is a realistic goal for most athletes to return fully to a gym routine. Don’t get discouraged! This is a normal part of the healing process.

Stretch, stretch, and stretch some more!

Remember to be careful of any stitches and scars.

Know your limits

If something hurts or feels weird, stop.

Try these light-weight or no-weight exercises

  • Side arm raises : if you are recovering chest surgery try and do these to help stretch shoulders without raising your arms above your head.
  • Dynamic chest stretch :Take this exercise light if you’ve had a chest surgery. Bring your arms in front, then move them backwards as far as you can comfortably.
  • Elbows back stretch : Great for stretching your chest muscles without much movement.
  • Seated foot taps : A great exercise to start to mobilise the legs
  • Calf raise: A great exercise for lower legs and developing better balance.
For those of you into lifting weights improved mobility can help you train injury-free for longer, or get more range in moves like the squat, leading to improved results. There’s more to it than just stretching, though: mobility is about being strong in your new range of motion, whether you’re doing a low squat or the splits!!
It’s  easy to combine mobility work with another goal, like strength or fat loss, since throwing in some dynamic stretches before your session (or on non-training days) won’t mess with recovery too much. Alternatively, you can mix mobility moves with some bodyweight work and create your own routine, allowing you to work on strength and stability wherever you go.
The key for consistent mobility work is making it both quick and meaningful. The quick part is obvious – a 30-minute routine before your regular training session is simply too much. Assess what two to four movements or stretches will benefit you the most. For instance, if you know your overhead reaching needs work, you should be doing an upper back stretch.

I recommend doing mobility work at the beginning of each training session so you don’t neglect it or rush through it at the end. Start at it when fresh and do it thoroughly but efficiently and you’ll get the most out of it. Start your session with a minute or two of skipping, then go straight into your mobility movements. If you’re really trying to save time, do them during the “rests” between your warm-up sets.

Concentrate your efforts on the body parts that take the biggest battering from work and play, and you’ll see results fast. Upper back work is essential for basically everyone.

Everyone is hunched forwards during the hours they spend driving and doing computer work. Ideally you need to counteract that daily. Similarly, pretty much everyone needs to work on their hip extension – with all the sitting or lounging on the sofa we do, it’s an area that needs constant work. Finally, you should work on hip rotation: again, everyone needs it, and it has direct benefits for squatting .

Here are some useful exercises to try-

Cobra

Get on your stomach with your elbows underneath your shoulders and forearms on the floor. Bring your shoulders upwards gently, and when you get used to the stretch, straighten your arms. Hold the top position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat twice.

Kneeling lunge

Get into a modified lunge position so your back instep and knee are on the floor. Shift your hips forwards to rock gently. To make it harder, bend your back knee and grab your foot. This will stretch your hip flexors.

Modified pigeon

This is modified from the full yoga version, which you don’t need if you haven’t got the flexibility. Bring one leg ahead of you with your shin parallel to your body, your back leg bent at a comfortable angle behind you. As you get better, work on straightening the back leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

Travelling butterfly

Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, then put your hands behind you and your weight on your heels, bringing yourself forwards into a butterfly stretch – knees out to the sides. Repeat five to ten times.

Enjoy!!

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