Tag Archives: fitness

What exercises make for the best quickie workout?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

In this fast-paced busy world in which we live it seems the world is spinning faster and faster. Those 24 hours in a day now feel like much less as we struggle to fit ‘life’ in. So it’s no wonder we’re focussing less and less on the things that improve our health. Fast food and convenience meals have become the staple and “a lack of time” is the number one excuse for not exercising.

It’s long been promoted that adults need to partake in around 150 minutes of exercise each and every week to maintain flexibility, health and muscle tone. But recent research is now busting this myth wide open with startling results. Science may just be coming to our rescue.

Can you get “Fit in 6 Minutes a Week?” Catalyst’s Anja Taylor tells.

In 2013 Chris Jordan, Director of Exercise Physiology at the Human Performance Institute Division of Wellness & Prevention, Inc., designed a practical body weight circuit workout that became known as the “7 Minute Workout”. Published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, it revolutionised and reinvigorated the fitness craze.

It works by employing the High Intensity interval Training (HIIT) methodology, getting your heart rate up and you sweating through the mix of 12 strength and cardio exercises. There are literally hundreds of testimonials and dozens of free Apps to guide you using only a wall and a chair. But if you delve into the research you’ll discover Chris actually recommends doing the workout three times in a row two to three times a week to achieve great fitness. So it’s really a 21 minute workout, or 63 minutes a week.

HIIT training seems to now be popping up everywhere. It’s the new buzz word. But HIIT originated informally in the 1970s, used by track and field athlete Sebastian Coe and has since morphed into the Tabatha regimen (1996), the Gibila regimen (2009), Zuniga regimen (2011) and finally the Timmons regimen (2012) used by Dr Michael Mosely in his BBC documentary the “Truth about Exercise”.

HIIT, also known as interval sprints, is basically a form of interval training – a series of high-intensity exercise workouts (anywhere from 8 seconds up to 20 minutes) interspersed with a rest or relief period before repeating. HIIT provides a good cardiovascular workout and can be coupled with strength exercise for circuit training if desired. But it’s the “sprint’ component of HIIT that has the greatest impact for minimal effort.

In 2015 the ABC Catalyst report “Fit in 6 Minutes a Week” reporter Anja Taylor shows us her personal test of “sprints”, training for two-minutes three times a week over 16 weeks. Her approach involved a 30-second sprint followed by a 4.5 minute rest, repeated 4 times, although Anja admits that sprinting up a hill was not a good idea and that a stationary bike would have been a better choice. But after 16 weeks the results were startling: Anja shed 1.5kg of body fat reducing her BMI dramatically whilst improving her VO2Max by more than 10% and moving her from the “unfit” into the “fit” category.

Whilst the approaches vary, they all show that HIIT is a highly effective strategy to improve your fitness whilst dramatically reducing the risk of illness, disease and human aging. But the interesting thing about Anja’s Catalyst report is that she explains the science behind why this works – and it’s fascinating (and well worth a watch).

Put simply “sprints” boost your mitochondrial DNA function by triggering your flight or fight mode, producing adrenalin and improving your VO2Max. Sprinting improves not only the way your body operates at a cellular level but also your fat burning capability. Sprinting reduces your visceral fat, counteracts diabetes, helps to prevent diseases, reduces the effects of menopause, improves your sleep and reduces most of the signs of aging. So “interval sprinting” could just be the fountain of youth we’ve all been seeking.

And at only 6 minutes a week, this could be the time effective quickie workout you’ve been seeking.

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What are the best foods to eat before working out

Click here for the original InShape News article.

Essentially WHAT you should eat depends on the aim of your workout – are you building muscle or improving your fitness through cardio? Also, WHEN you eat is just as crucial; it’s timing dependent on what foods you’ve chosen to use to fuel-up.



If building muscle is your game, as well as losing fat and increasing your metabolism at the same time, then you’ll want a pre-workout meal which focuses on lean proteins. Some of the best lean proteins are grilled meats, eggs (or egg whites), low-fat Greek yoghurt or cottage cheese – anything low in fat and high in protein.  These foods contain Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) which help increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown during and after your workout, minimising muscle wastage and maximising muscle-building opportunities.


If you’re going for a high-energy cardio workout, then you’ll need to consume items that are higher in complex carbohydrates, to give you enough slow released energy to push yourself through an energetic workout. Low Glycaemic Index (GI) carbohydrates like quinoa, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, cauliflower, zucchini and green leafy vegetables help to fill up your glycogen stores and also create a more anabolic effect.  Avoid carbohydrates like processed foods, grains, wheat, sugar and high-starch root vegetables (no potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot or beetroot) which convert to sugar and negatively impact on the results of your workout.


If you’re doing a combined workout, like interval training, then simply eat a balance of the two – protein and carbohydrates – focus on fibre, this will fill you up so you don’t get hungry. Don’t over-eat and keep your calories to between 200 and 350 depending on your weight and workout plan.


Also, remember that WHEN to eat is just as crucial. Eating on an empty stomach (unless it’s first thing in the morning to kick start your metabolism with a post-work out breakfast) is generally not recommended, although it does work for some people. Knowing how long to eat before your workout helps is the key to maximising your results and minimising any pre or post workout fatigue.


Different types of foods take different times to digest, from the stomach to the small intestine, which is when its nutrition is available for absorption and use by the body in your workout.


Proteins take around 3-4 hours to digest, muscle-building workouts benefit from eating a high-protein low-fat meal containing 100 to 250g of raw protein weight (size depends on your body weight) 3-4 hours before working out. Mix your high protein up with some non-starchy vegetables for a boost of low GI energy.


Carbohydrates take around 2-3 hours to digest but simple carbohydrates like sugar, grains, flours and starchy vegetables convert quickly and, while they release energy, it’s a short burst that can also throw your insulin balance out. Low-GI complex carbohydrates give you sustained slow release energy that lets you power through your workout.


Dietary fat takes 6-8 hours to digest, so it’s best to consume high-fat (good-fat) foods like nuts, avocados, and salmon in the meals following your workout.

If it’s been longer than 3-hours since your last meal and you’re soon to hit the gym consider adding a pre-workout snack, such as an orange or an apple, or strawberries, raspberries or blueberries with a little low-fat Greek yoghurt a couple of hours beforehand. Most fruits, including convenient bananas, are too high in simple fructose sugar which reduces the benefits of your workout; slows your metabolism and raises your body’s natural weight set point.

Work Out Type Foods to Eat Eat Before Workout
High Energy Cardio Complex Low-GI carbohydratesIncluding green leafy veggies 2-3 Hours
Resistance or Weight Training Lean Protein 100g-250gGreen leafy veggies 3-4 Hours
Combination Workout Mix of the two above 3-4 Hours
Emergency Fuel Apple, Orange, Berries and/or low-fat Greek yoghurt 2 Hours

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When’s the Best Time to Workout

Click here for the original InShape News article.

Many people swear by morning workouts, but is there a ‘best’ time of day to maximise your exercise efforts? Science says there is, but is science right?


Yes, science apparently has the answer, but it’s not the same for everyone. Studies reveal that to get the most out of your workout means you have to be at your ‘best’ – both physically and mentally – to be able to put as much into your workout as possible, as consistently as you can.

Your Biological Rhythm

But what time of day are you at your ‘best’? Well science says this entirely depends on your biological rhythm, and it’s not the same for everyone. Rhythms are influenced by your sleeping and waking habits, so your peak exercise time will vary usually in-line with the time of day you are at your most alert.

However, when it comes to working out there are many other factors to consider other than how alert you are. These include:

  • The consistency of your workouts.
  • How effective you sleep at night.
  • Your stress levels.
  • The environmental conditions of exercise.
  • The convenience.
  • Location and availability of your workout.
  • How your workout influences your day-long performance.
  • Your workout’s relative safety.

Any one of these factors, or a combination of them, can seriously reduce the effectiveness of your chosen workout, not to mention the impact of the type of workout you choose to do.

Morning Workouts

Many report that the morning workout is high-effective, especially before eating a healthy breakfast, as it encourages an all-day fat burn. Others proclaim that an evening workout will help you to continue to burn calories while you sleep.

And science again reveals some more influencers. Generally speaking morning workouts can assist with fat loss or fat storage prevention as well as increased serotonin levels improving your mood and fighting depression all day long. Plus once your morning work’s done, it’s done for the day.

Evening Workouts

Evening workouts can be best for high strength work, help tire you out for a better night’s sleep as well as be part of a convenient after-work schedule. But end-of-day lethargy may cause your enthusiasm to wane and for you to skip your workout.

Midday Workouts

And, like you would expect, day-time or afternoon workouts sit somewhere in the middle. It’s a bit like Goldilocks and the three bears. Everyone is different.

Workout When You Feel Your Best

Look, there’s no ‘one fits all’ answer to this complex question. The simple answer is if you feel better working out in the morning, then do that. If you’d rather use exercise to de-stress during or just after a long day in the office then by all means, go for it. And if you’re a night-owl and hunger for that pre or post-dinner surge then why not take advantage of all those new 24-hour gyms opening up.

In the end it’s all about personal choice. Do what works for you best. If you’re not sure then alternate the time of your workout and see what feels best. In the end, the most important bit of any workout is that you do it.

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