Monday, 17 October 2016

MY TRAINING: how often, what style and why

Like most girls, I have been all over the place with my training style and training intensity in a bid to try and find what I like, what suited me and what my body responds well to. This is one of my most asked questions and one I feel like people have completely wrong about me. I don't train every day, I don't do cardio and here's why...

How Often 

Cheeky flex post Core Collective class
So compared to a lot of fitness bloggers I'm quite different. I love exercise, don't get me wrong. That feeling after smashing a good session, the endorphin rush, the clarity in my mind after a care free workout and of course, the aesthetics that come with regular training - I'd be lying if I said the latter wasn't a huge source of my own motivation...

One of my favourite ways to train is with friends at classes over London. My fav class is the Velocity class at Core Collective and I'll tell you why in the section below. But I would much prefer to socialise with training and brunch than a boozy night out. Call me crazy but each to their own I guess.

However, training is not the be all and end all for me. I certainly do NOT train every day and would never ever consider training twice in one day (believe me there are a lot of people out there that do).  I know if I did train daily, it would become a chore. It would become something I dreaded and I would lose the motivation I have each time to put on my gym kit and step into that gym or studio. When I find myself with extra time on my hands and I haven't trained, you'll often find me going for a walk and listening to a podcast or calling my mum (always!) over going to the gym.

Training dates @ Core Collective > going out... soz
I won't lie, it's taken me a long time to realise that I didn't need to exercise six times a week. But now, if I just don't feel like it or if I have DOMS from the previous day, I just won't train. Simple. This and this alone, is one of my suggestions when people ask me how I stay motivated - if you don't want to train, don't train! Take some time off, wait until you have that craving and that desire to train again and trust me you'll come back stronger and more determined than ever before.

Exercise breaks in my mind are key, especially in a fitness world where over training and under eating is SO common yet never talked about or just brushed under the carpet... Ever been on holiday, exercised less and come back more refreshed than ever? Maybe it was the sun, lack of work and good food. IDK. But maybe it was also the fact you gave your body some time to recharge and recover. I have started taking these little mini breaks of 3 days off from training (I wish I could go on holiday to do this but heck, Streatham Hill will do for now..) It's enough time to recover, it's enough time to want to get back into the gym but it's not enough time off that you'll lose progress and undo your hard work.

So ramble over and straight to the part you've been waiting for, which may surprise you - I only train 4 times a week. Sometimes this is actually 3 times, like this week if other things take priority and on the odd occasion, this could be 5 if I have an event to go to.

I would 100% rather have 4 good sessions a week than 5-6 average sessions. This lifestyle is not my occupation. I do it because I love it and I don't want to fall out of love with it. I'm not in any way slating people that do train 6 times a week as I have a lot of close friends that do. And if that's what you enjoy then absolutely fine, carry on. But I'm just saying it's not the only way to get results and reducing my training is actually when I've noticed the best results! Your body works hard for you and training puts a hell of a lot of stress on it so don't forget to reward it with rest. In my mind, it's just as important as training.

What style

If you know me or know my blog then you'll realise that blogging is not my job, it's my hobby. So for one, my training schedule has to fit around my sedate job of being a dentist. I sit down from 8.30am to 5pm on working days and sometimes even longer. If I have time to get out on a lunch break and take a quick walk then I absolutely will. However, I can count on one hand the times I've had the opportunity to do this, which I know sounds awful but it's the truth and I'm sure a lot of you with desk jobs will unfortunately find the same.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to squat for gains 
Given the above, I needed to find a way of training that I not only loved, but was quick and efficient too. This is when I stumbled across interval training. Now the benefits of HIIT have been extensively documented but a lot of people mistakenly say they are completing HIIT when in actual fact, if you're not giving it 110% in that interval period and you're not out of breath, exhausted and feel like you have nothing else to give afterwards, then soz, you're not doing HIIT, you're completing intervals.

There's nothing wrong with intervals (obv, because that's exactly what I do) and training in this way means that on most days I can be in and out of the gym in under half an hour, which gives me more time to work, study and socialise. Winning.

So 2-3 times a week I will complete some form of interval training, either on my own in the gym where I set up my own circuit or at a class like Core Collective. My circuits in the gym are actually based on what I would do in a class at Core. I started going to Core in January this year and I have to admit, I have never found another class in London that rivals their Velocity class. I will do a big blog post focussing on this place as I do genuinely love everything about it but for this post I'll concentrate on the training.

In a 45 minute class we would start with a warm up and then usually progress to some floor work, followed by a circuit. The circuit is comprised of a variety of things from box jumps, burpees, sled pushes and battle ropes all in a dark room with an awesome playlist. Of course, I have my favourite trainers there and if you're booking in I'd recommend Liberty, Paddy or Em's classes. Nothing pushes me as hard as Velocity and the buzz I feel when leaving that room is insane!

So for the other 1-2 days a week I'll take a slower approach to training and lift moderately heavy weights. I usually focus on legs (glutes, obv) or back as these are the things I enjoy training and for the most part, the other areas of my body (especially my damn huge shoulders) are worked enough during interval training.

The reason I don't lift as heavy as I once did is that I don't actually enjoy it and I've realised I don't need to. My good friend Ben Lauder-Dykes corrected my mentality on this topic. He was actually the one that allowed me to realise intervals trumped heavy weights and since seeing the results for myself, I've never looked back.

During the interval you're pushing yourself hard to get that heart rate up and due to this, it's meant I've not done any 'proper' cardio since January! The main benefits of cardio to me are to improve cardiovascular health and metabolism yet interval training does all this and more. In addition, due to the intensity and stress this form of training places on the body, sessions are only 15-25 mins max. Therefore, being able to find something I love doing and that doesn't take an hour to complete has completely transformed my exercise regime, my physique and my diary!

So I don't like cardio (I despise running) but I do love going for walks. I wear a Garmin fit watch to track my step count and it has been really helpful to monitor my movements, or lack of... On a working day, I barely hit 2000 steps so after dinner I'll often go for a quick 30 minute walk and try to hit 5-6000 steps. On the weekend when I have more time and am usually in central London, this step count often hits 10,000 without me even trying. I think the extra walking and benefits of LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio are well known and I do think it not only gives me some head space and time to myself but also contributes towards my health and physique.

So in short, I train around 4 times a week and I mix up interval training and moderately heavy weights with some LISS in between. By no means am I saying that this is what everyone should do! But it's what I enjoy, it's what gets me the results I want and it's how I stay motivated.

Happy training :-)

Jess x

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