Three ways to radically rethink your workout ahead of summer
If you feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your gym sessions, we have some tips and tricks totake you to the next level
TIP 1: STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE
Bar legs (a day famously skipped by many), the “core” is the area of the body people are most likely to shy away from when training. Sure, working out your core can help you get defined abs – this visible part of the abs is actually just one component of our “core” – but working on your midsection can more importantly help unlock much wider progress and benefits within your training and general life.
Not only can a strong core help you move freer and more pain-free in all those seemly mundane everyday movements, from getting out of bed to walking to work, but it can also be a game-changer in the gym, improving posture and form during exercises, helping you lift heavier weights, and increasing balance and stability.
Many of these benefits will help reduce the risk of injury, too – and trust me, there are not many things more frustrating than having to stay static all summer with an injury when you have fitness goals to work towards. So how can we improve core strength?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that our “core” isn’t just one muscle but an area made up of several muscles including the ‘rectus abdominis’ – the famous superficial six-pack ones that’ll have you looking like a glistening Peter Andre – and the ‘transverse abdominis’, which help stabilise your spine and pelvis, wrapping around you like a corset (we also have the internal and external obliques, multifidi, erector spinae as major core muscles).
In addition to these, we also have some less obvious areas that support core stability such as your glutes and lats. In your routine, it is important to give all of these muscle groups some love. Choose exercises within your weekly programming that target each of these muscle groups to reap maximum benefits, such as plank variations, glute bridges, hip thrusts, supermans and leg raises.
If you are a more experienced gym-goer, bigger compound movements – exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time such as squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings – can help you target many different areas at once with a heavy load and blitz overall core strength.
Try these sorts of exercises alongside a well-thoughtout wider fitness programme, balanced diet and lots of sleep and you’ll be sure to see more visible abs alongside these larger-scale benefits.
TIP 2: GYMNASTICS RINGS
You may have seen a set of these hanging around your gym (literally) but not been sure what to do with them. I love gymnastics rings for many reasons.
Not only are they fantastic at providing an incredibly taxing full-body workout in a short amount of time, but you can also create progressions (making an exercise harder/more advanced) and regressions (making an exercise easier) with just a few simple adjustments.
Take a popular exercise such as an ‘inverted row’, which is great for targeting your back, biceps and core. A simple way of making this harder is to raise your heels onto an elevated platform, or to make it easier simply bring your body more upright. Not all of us want to be constantly stuck inside the four walls of our gym, and this is another aspect where rings shine. If you’re going travelling, rings can be a fun option to throw in your suitcase and use for some callisthenics if you don’t have a gym available.
I love to bring them out in the summer to an outdoor space and enjoy a workout in the sun. Just make sure you hang them somewhere sturdy and safe, and don’t forget to wear suncream.
TIP 3: RETREATS
If you’re feeling uninspired with your fitness routine, a retreat can be just the thing to give you a new lease of motivation, combining beautiful scenery, fresh air and exercise all in one!
It’s important to remember that exercise can mean many different things to different people. If you’re the sort of person who wants to get your sweat on in a more classic HIIT style set-up, consider something like the OG, Barry’s BootCamp (which has several Londonbased studios), which is launching a 6-week residency in Ibiza with Pacha Group.
If the gym isn’t your thing, try something that involves moving in a different way. Surfberbere in Morocco has a focus on surfing and yoga, which’ll look after your fitness levels and leave you feeling zen. Another retreat worth mentioning is personal trainer Tally Rye’s Train Happy Retreats, which has more of a mindfulness focus, with exercises and education based around how to train “happier”.
This can be a great option if you find the thought of a more stereotypical wellness retreat intimidating and want to share a nopressure environment with like minded people.
• George Palmer is a central london-based personal trainer and instructor. To find out more information about training with George and learn other fitness tips check out his Instagram @georgepalmerfitness or his website georgepalmer.me