How to Keep Up with Your Workout and Look Summer Sexy

The weather is suddenly starting to improve, the shops are getting in more pastel colours and most of us are thinking about summer. With that season comes a myriad of reasons to take care of your wellbeing, with everything from sunbathing to all those summer weddings meaning you need to look your best. But it is only March after all, so how do you keep yourself motivated to go the distance, and make sure you look summer sexy? We spoke to Fitness Director Susi May for her advice on helping you maintain your fitness routine for months to come.


1. Fuel Up: ‘Timing is everything when it comes to eating and working out,’ May asserts. ‘If you’re too full, you get cramps, and if you’re too hungry, you can’t work your hardest. Keep pre-workout snacks, eaten 30 to 90 minutes prior to exercise, mostly in the carb family. These foods should be easily digestible and should contain about 40 to 100 grams of carbs with a low amount of fat. It’s also a good idea to keep the fibre content to a minimum since high-fibre foods can be difficult to digest.’


2. Avoid Peak Times: May recommends, ‘To ensure a good workout, avoid peak times like right before work, lunchtime, and immediately after office hours. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are great times to hit the gym. If you can hold off until after 7pm, the crowd will have diminished – just be sure to have a healthy, fuelling snack around 5.30pm.’


3. Don’t Trust the Calorie Counts: ‘Cardio machines are a great way to get your heart rate up, but they are notorious for overestimating calories burned,’ warns May. ‘The most accurate way to measure your caloric output is to wear a heart rate monitor, which calculates based on your heart rate rather than averages based on the speed of the machine. While we’re on the subject of cardio machines, don’t hold on to the handles of the treadmill, since it truly undermines your workout and compromises your posture.’


4. Ask the Staff: May instructs, ‘When confronted with a weight machine that confuses you, don’t skip it or plow ahead and hope for the best – many injuries begin with this attitude. Instead, ask for help. The gym staff is there to help you and should be happy to show you how to work the equipment.’


5. Breathe: May outlines different breathing techniques for different activities:

  • Cardio: ‘Avoid shallow breaths since they are often an indicator that you are working too hard,’ May cautions. ‘Shallow breathing also indicates that you haven’t established a suitable breath pattern for your activity. You want to take stronger and deeper breaths when doing cardio, so take the time to find your rhythm.’
  • Strength training: May points out, ‘Generally, you want to breathe out on the difficult part of the lift or move to help stabilise your body during exertion. Exhale when you are lifting a hand weight to your shoulder during a bicep curl. This helps you engage your core to prevent you from swaying into your heels, which is cheating and could set you up for a lower-back injury. Think: “Inhale to prepare.”’
  • Stretching: ‘Slow, steady breathing is preferable when stretching and will help you relax,’ says May. ‘Try to focus on breathing from your diaphragm, which will make your belly move out on the inhale and not your chest and shoulders.’


6. Don’t Fear Free Weights: May comments, ‘Working out with weights is essential to achieve toned, strong muscles. Lifting weights can also decrease overall body fat by three percent in 10 weeks if you lift twice a week. Weight machines are fine, but they tend to work just one muscle at a time. You get more bang for your buck working with free weights since you can work multiple body parts in one exercise.’

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