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The Exercise Commandments
1. Eat wise
You dont need us to tell you not to eat heavy meals too close to a workout you will soon feel it if you do. The reason you might feel a little worse for wear when taking on a gruelling session after a big eat is because, when you exercise, the blood flow is directed to the muscles that are working. This means theres limited flow to the digestive system – somethings got to give.
2. Give yourself a lift
Squats are a big deal now its a fact. While serious lifters have seen the squat as the holy grail of exercise for years, initiatives like the squat challenge have really popularised the move. But a lot of people struggle to perfect the technique and are, as a result, missing out on maximum results. For most people, squatting with your heels raised will dramatically improve your range of motion, Dave explains. If you have tight calves, you tend to lean forwards during a squat and unnecessarily load the lower back, so by raising the heels (on a plank or weight discs, for example) you allow a greater activation of the glutes, quads and hamstrings (bottom and thigh muscles), increasing the effectiveness of the move while reducing the risk of strain to the lower back.
3. Practise your turn out
Were not talking ballerina-worthy turn out, but pointing your toes out just slightly while performing resistance exercises gives you an extra bit of stability that could make all the difference. Keeping your toes pointing forwards might seem like the safest option, but, according to Dave, the stance can feel unbalanced and unnatural since the hips tend to rotate outwards a little.
4. Have a break
The jury always seems to be out on rest days, with different people recommending different things. Should you skip the gym if you feel rubbish, or just power through like a trooper? And how many rest days should you have per week? Either way, one things for sure: you do need rest days, especially between strength sessions or sessions that target the same muscles again. You’re seriously compromising your safety by overdoing it. Even if you feel okay, your muscles will still be recovering, and wont be able to perform to the maximum until they’ve been rebuilt.
5. Engage your core
This is probably one of the first rules you learn when you start exercising. Engaging the core almost goes without saying these days, right? But it really is at the centre of everything and ensures your upper and lower body work in synergy, taking the strain away from the lower back and enabling you to lift heavier weights. And you know what that means? Better results.
6. Refuel post workout
Eating healthily in general is pretty important, but for those who go hard at it in the gym, you need to pay extra attention to mealtimes, too. You have probably seen those hardcore gym goers glugging their protein shakes before they have even left the changing rooms, and heres why: after a workout, the muscles are primed to absorb protein, so you want to take advantage of this. Were not saying everyone should be on the shakes, but make sure you go for a protein-heavy meal like chicken or fish after you have exercised.
7. Prepare and recover properly
Lets be honest, we can all be a little guilty of skipping warm-ups and cool downs, even though we know we shouldnt. And while we know stretching after exercise helps to reduce injury and aches, did you know that warming up efficiently before a workout actually makes the workout easier. How? Stretching dynamically pre workout, in similar movement patterns to those youre about to perform, means your muscles will be more elastic and the blood will already be flowing. Stick to dynamic stretches before a workout and static ones after, Dave adds.
8. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water is important, regardless of how often you exercise the body is primarily made up of fluid, after all. If you start to feel thirsty at any point, then youre actually already dehydrated. And, while rehydrating is easy enough, taking preventative measures by ensuring you never reach the point of thirst is even better. Even minor dehydration can affect your endurance and blood flow. The rule? The more you tend to sweat, the more you should drink throughout the day. So keep a bottle of water on you at all times. Bobble bottles (right) are a team WF fave!
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