Celebrity personal trainer Nicola Addison, who has trained Daisy Lowe, Elle Macpherson and Erin O’Connor brings you her 20 best fitness tips ever
1. Learn to love weights
Most calories are burnt in the muscles (specifically the mitochondria (they create energy required for the body) So, muscles are the furnaces – the more furnaces you have fired up (or the greater the mass of muscle that is active), the more calories you will burn, not only in your workout, but also throughout the day as a boost to your basal metabolic rate.
2. Focus on compound movements
It has been proven that regular weight training can boost your basal metabolic rate by 15%. So incorporate exercises that challenge numerous muscle groups and multiple joints (compound movements) into your workout routine. For example, squats, lunges, pull-ups, deadlifts and bent over rows.
regular weight training can boost your basal metabolic rate by 15%
3. Work the correct ratios
No one wants to look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Always work the chest to back (opposing muscle groups) on a 2:3 ratio; working the back 3 times & the chest 2 times. It is common practise to see (particularly males wanting to be beach ready!) complete 10 sets of chest and 1 set of back. This will lead to muscular imbalance and ultimately a strong, tight chest and a weak back.
4. Stand Proud
Walking tall, lifting your chest and keeping your eyes on the top of the road will instantly remove pounds and make you appear taller and slimmer. Standing proud is essentially thoracic extension, where you lift the chest. It is often very difficult for clients (particularly if the client has a tight chest and a weak back). When we complete exercises we must try and keep our chest lifted, this will help protect the lower back.
5. Eat your breakfast
Break the fast. Eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism for the day whilst skipping breakfast often slows down your metabolism as your body adjusts to cling on to any nutrients and calories it can find. Food is energy (the petrol in the car), so without it, exercise can be very challenging. If you are a fan of early morning exercise try and have something light, a banana for example 20-30 mins prior to exercise.
6. Not all carbs are bad
It is a myth that eating carbohydrates after 4pm makes you fat. Eating excess calories makes you fat! Try and space four hours between breakfast and lunch and six hours between lunch and your evening meals making protein the base of all meals. Complex carbohydrates are the good carbs because of the longer series of sugars that make them and the time it takes the body to them break down – these include brown rice, brown bread, quinoa and wholewheat pasta. Simple carbohydrates, the bad carbs are composed of simple-to-digest, basic sugars with little real value for your body include sweets, sugar, white rice, bread, biscuits and pastries.
It is a myth that eating carbohydrates after 4pm makes you fat
7. Learn and love the squat
Every workout should include some kind of squatting movement. A squat is the staple of all great exercise programs as most functional movements (both in and out of the gym) require a level of squatting. The squat is also a key compound movement, working many muscles and joints, so in turn, it’s a big calories burner. Bottom line is that making improvements to the way you look and feel starts with the squat.
8. Swap sit ups for planks
Static contractions like planks will help strengthen your abdominal wall. Holding a plank for 30 seconds every day will tighten your transversus abdominus and give the appearance of a flatter stomach. Unfortunately, sit ups will not get you a flat stomach. No matter how strong your abdominals are, if they are covered by layers of fat you will simply never see them. Sit ups, unfortunately, do not reduce fat from the tummy, spot reduction of fat is a myth.
Sit ups, unfortunately, do not reduce fat from the tummy, spot reduction of fat is a myth.
9. Abdominals are made in the kitchen
Sadly, abs are made in the kitchen. You simply cannot out train a bad diet. A diet that is high in processed foods, sugar, salt, saturated and trans fats will massively hinder that 6 pack. If your energy in (the food/drink you consume) is greater than the energy you burn you will not see a change to your aesthetic appearance.
10. Walk, walk and then do more walking
Walking is hugely underestimated for its health and fitness related benefits. It costs nothing and is a fantastic starting point for anyone that has not exercised in a while. For me, daily walking is a non-negotiable baseline for health. Start with walking for 10 continuous minutes. Do this three times a day and eventually aim for 30 continuous minutes daily. The average adult should aim to walk 8,000-10,000 steps a day.
daily walking is a non-negotiable baseline for health
11. Opt for the more active choice.
Opt for the stairs, not the lift. Wash your own car at the garage rather than sitting in it and watching someone else do it. Sweep the leaves up in your garden, rather than employing a gardener to do it. Choose to be more active.
12. Hit that dance floor.
Dancing can burn 400 calories per hour! So pop on your favourite song and dance around your living room. Dancing often feels like hidden exercise! You don’t realise you are exercising, you are simply moving to your favourite song. Feeling brave? Try out the running man!
13. Little and often is key and adherence is the biggest WIN!
Move away from stressful HIIT workouts leaving you unable to exercise for two weeks due to sore muscles and move towards steadier activities. So seek ways to sustainably exercise at a slightly lower, less stressful levels. For example, complete a circuit of exercises based on repetitions (15+ repetitions) rather than of times and speeds. Remember, simply doing ten minutes of activity every day will drastically improve your health.
14. The 80/20 rule.
Adopt a mindful approach to your food, exercise, sleep, stress, alcohol choices for 80 per cent of the time and allow for flexibility for the remaining 20 per cent. The 80/20 rule is all about setting realistic goals – accepting that we cannot be perfect, and patting ourselves on the back when we achieve that 80 per cent. Achieving 80 per cent across the board will see rapid, consistent, sustainable body results. It is far better being consistently good at 80% than being inconsistently excellent at 100 per cent!
15. Give yourself permission
Following the 80/20 rule gives you complete power and the permission to enjoy your life. The 80/20 rule for me means that for five days of the week I won’t have that biscuit with my mid-morning cuppa, I will opt for a sparkling water over the bottle of BrewDog in the fridge, I will ensure protein is in every meal, I will make sure I go to bed at a decent time. For two days of the week, I enjoy my curry, have that drink, go to bed a bit later, eat the odd Malteaser and just basically live guilt free with a smug smile on my face.
16. Attempt to increase daily movement
You can burn 250 calories more each day increasing incidental movements – walk when on the phone, do housework, even fidgeting will make a difference. Remember, exercise is not expensive and can actually save money
17. Try group exercise
For most people, the thought of exercise is not fun. Group exercise can be a great way to inject some fun into your training. Why not team up with a couple of friends to make it social and keep each other motivated. Select a class that will be fun! As the more you enjoy it, the more likely you will return. Remember, exercising regularly is the key. The mode of exercise (particularly at the beginning) is less important. So chose a class that you think will be fun.
18. Go heavy or go home
Don’t be scared to lift weights and lift heavy. You can lift weights to help develop muscle without becoming a muscle mary. Muscle (protein) is metabolically active, burning energy even when at rest. Meaning you will carry on burning calories post workout and far into the next day if you eat right. Go on, venture into the weights room.
Women have much lower levels of testosterone (similar to that of an eight-year-old boy), their hormonal makeup is not designed to add large amounts of muscle mass.
- Heavier weight lifted = more muscle worked
- More muscle worked = more strength
- More strength = more muscle built
- More muscle built = less body fat
19. Book into a yoga/pilates/meditation class.
Whilst, not the biggest calorie burner you are conditioning and stretching your muscles, resulting in better overall athleticism and injury prevention. I would suggest a weekly class which works perfectly as active rest.
20. Jump in the pool
Swimming is often overlooked but is a great workout as whilst it can be high intensity there is very little impact on your joints – so perfect for anyone within. Start off small by completing 10 minutes in the pool of continuous swimming. Don’t forget to do a few warm up and cool down stretches at the end!
Nicola Addison is the founder of Eqvvs Training, Knightsbridge and also the creator of Healthista’s Couple’s Workout Series: