Do this 15 minute flexibility routine everyday to boost your performance

Flexibility is the ability of a joint or series of joints to move through an unrestricted, pain-free range of motion. Although flexibility varies widely from person to person, minimum ranges are necessary for maintaining joint and total body health. For anyone who is physically active and doing weight-lifting or bodyweight training, more flexibility will generally aid you to perform better in that. Most people rarely stretch after a run or workout. If you only have an hour to lift, you should set aside at least 10-15 minutes to properly stretch post workout. It is key to stretch after you workout because it reduces the risk of injury and increases the overall benefit of the workout.

Here are some benefits to performing flexibility exercises as often as you can, increased flexibility:

  • Decreases muscle stiffness and increases range of motion. Stretching helps improve your range of motion, which may also slow the degeneration of your joints.
  • May reduce your risk of injury. A #flexible muscle is less likely to become injured if you have to make a sudden move. By increasing the range of motion in a particular joint through stretching, you can decrease the resistance on your body’s muscles during various activities.
  • Helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains. After a hard workout, stretching your muscles helps keep them loose and lessens the shortening and tightening effect that can lead to post-workout aches and pains.
  • Improves posture. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest helps keep your back in better alignment and improves your posture.
  • Helps reduce or manage stress. Well-stretched muscles hold less tension and, therefore, can help you feel less stressed.
  • Reduces muscular tension and enhances muscular relaxation. Chronically tense muscles tend to cut off their own circulation, resulting in a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients. Stretching allows your muscles to relax.
  • Improves mechanical efficiency and overall functional performance. Because a flexible joint requires less energy to move through a wider range of motion, a flexible body improves overall performance by creating more energy-efficient movements.
  • Prepares the body for the stress of exercise. Stretching prior to exercise allows your muscles to loosen up and become better able to withstand the impact of the activity you choose to do.
  • Promotes circulation. Stretching increases blood supply to your muscles and joints, which allows for greater nutrient transportation and improves the circulation of blood through your entire body.
  • Decreases the risk of low-back pain. Flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles attached to the pelvis relieves stress on the lumbar spine, which in turn reduces your risk of low-back pain.

Below, we’ve added a link to a flexibility routine by Tom Merrick, an online health and fitness coach who is passionate about bodyweight movement, flexibility and mobility.

8 Lessons about Muscle Growth worth learning

Adding size may not be rocket science, but it still does require a lot of good old-fashioned hard work.

Correct muscle growth requires an investment in consistent resistance-based training, nutrition, and a basic understanding of how your body works. Unless you check all three of these categories, your progress is likely to be weighed down by frustration and inefficiency.

Here are 8 lessons about Muscle Growth to keep in mind:


1. Perform Multi-Joint Exercises

Resistance training is the most efficient way to build lean mass — especially if you pack your workouts with big, compound (multi-joint) moves like the squat, bench press, lunge, and pull-up.

2. Vary intensity

Once every week or two opt for low-weight, high-rep work (e.g., 3-4 sets of 15 or more reps per exercise). This helps you target type I fibers – fibers used in endurance activities – instead of type II fibers – the kind you stimulate with heavy weights.

3. Don’t rack up sleep debt

The human growth hormone spikes when you’re in dreamland, so make sure you’re sleeping enough. Not getting enough sleep can put the brakes on protein synthesis (in English, muscle growth). 

4. Increase weight responsibly

Applying correct form and using your full range of motion is always more important than how much weight you’re lifting. Pay attention to the effort you’re exerting.

5. Don’t overdo it

Training too often or at too high an intensity too frequently – especially if not accompanied by appropriate rest and recovery – can actually hurt your muscle-building efforts. Take at least one to two days off per week.

6. Eat more protein

Now that you’re lifting weights, you need to consume more protein to promote muscle repair, recovery, and growth since amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are necessary to build muscle tissue.

Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20 grams of protein each) is about right for most people.

7. Increase calories

Editor’s note: The importance of the calorie-muscle gain equation is why the idea of “lifting weights makes you bulky” is more myth than reality. If you’re not eating in a way to add size, you’re not going to add size. You’ll become stronger. You’ll add definition. But, the amount of muscle you can gain is directly influenced by how much you eat. 

To find out how many more calories you should consume to gain weight, determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight — your baseline — then add 300.

8. Strike the right mix of macros

You can get calories from carbs, fat or protein. The best way to gain muscle is to bulk up first, and then leaning out afterwards. For this reason, emphasise carbohydrates and fat. Try to get the bulk of that fat from unsaturated sources such as avocado, olive oil and salmon.

Perform these four stretching moves before your work-out

There’s a vast range of stretching movements you can do for every part of your body; for this article, we want to focus on a simple sequence of movements that affects your entire body. We’ve gotten this stretching exercise from Adam Bornstein, , and one of our favourite fitness experts.

Before we continue, here’s a quick round-up of some key benefits to stretching:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Flexibility allows us to accomplish everyday tasks of daily living such as bending over to tie our shoes, or reaching to put groceries away in a cupboard. More demanding tasks such as jumping to throw a basketball or swim 100 meters are also easier if your joints can be taken through a full range of motion with minimal effort.
  • Flexibility minimizes our risk of injury by allowing joints to move through their full range of motion without putting strain on ligaments or capsular structures.
  • Flexibility allows for good circulation. This circulation is necessary to provide working muscles with nutrients and to allow for a speedy recovery following exercise.
  • Thanks to better recovery through stretching, muscle soreness is mitigated, allowing you to keep progressing
  • Flexibility allows you to maintain a good posture. Tight muscles will pull you into poor postures.
  • Stretching exercises help muscles to relax, relieving tension.

And now that we (hopefully) convinced you that you should be stretching on a regular basis, we’re going over the four step stretching exercise we recommend you do whenever you don’t have time for a more thorough stretching session.

For this stretching exercise, you’re going to be moving from one step to another, so in other words, there’s no ‘rest’ between each move you make. 

Step 1: Walking High Knee Hug

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Step forward with your right leg, bend your knee, and lean forward slightly at your hips. Lift your right knee toward your chest, grasping it with both hands just below your kneecap.

Then pull it as close to the middle of your chest as you can, while you stand up tall.

Release your right leg, and step into…

Step 2: Spiderman

Still balanced on your left leg, step forward and outwards at a 30-degree angle with your right leg and slowly lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees.

(Your rear knee should nearly touch the floor). Keeping your legs in the lunge position, and back straight, bend forward and touch the floor with both hands.

Step 3: Overhead reach (in lunge position)

Keep your right hand near your right instep and then rotate and open your torso and reach over head with your left arm until it is straight. (Both arms should form a straight line.) Then return your left arm to the ground.

Step 4: Hip Raise

You should be in an off-set lunge with your right knee at 90-degrees, your back knee grazing the ground, and both hands touching the floor with your arms at close to 90 degrees. Next, push your arms, rock back, and straighten your front and back legs.

Then step forward and do the series on the left side.

While this exercise is a great shortcut, we still recommend you sometimes dedicate a longer, more comprehensive session dedicating to stretching. This website is a fantastic resource that offers a range of stretching exercises for different body parts. 


HIIT for Beginners: 6 Steps to getting started (and why you should try it)

High-intensity interval training – HIIT for short – is a workout strategy that focuses on high-intensity exercises with short rest periods to maximise calorie burn and cardiorespiratory fitness. HIIT is an exercise program designed to torch fat, increase anaerobic and aerobic capacity, and fit a full workout session into the smallest window possible. 

In simple English, HIIT is an approach to cardio-based workouts that take a shorter amount of time, but are a lot more intense. Most people tend to get terrified by the idea of having to do a workout with less resting time, but there’s a number of reasons why HIIT is worth trying. First, HIIT can be modified for pretty much every fitness and ability level, with or without equipment. Second, HIIT comes with the enormous advantages of reducing your workout time dramatically. Third, HIIT has been proven to be massively effective not just at helping us shape up, but also for neuroplasticity.

What is neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity is a phenomenon that refers to the brain’s ability to adapt to change by altering its functional and structural properties. When these changes occur, great things tend to happen, like learning and acquiring new skills.

Here are the steps to getting started with HIIT

1. Recognise that HIIT and HIIRT are different 

HIIT is a strategy to improve your cardio-based workouts, it DOES NOT replace weight-based resistance training. There’s a version of HIT (high intensity training) that tackles resistance based training called HIIRT – High-Intensity Interval Resistance Training. Like HIIT, HIIRT involves a burst of strenuous exercise, followed by a period of rest; however, HIIRT involves not just exercises, like running or cycling, but also heavy resistance exercises designed to add strength training to the cardio routine.

For this article, we’re going to focus on cardio-based HIIT. 

2. Choose a workout

There’s a large number of HIIT workouts available online, so you can rest assured that you’ll find something that caters to your level and preference. We suggest using google or youtube to search for an HIIT workout. Here are some of our favourites:


3. Start small

Since HIIT is geared toward a more intense workout, pacing yourself is critical — especially if you don’t want to burn out or increase your risk of injury. If you haven’t been physical active for a while, be careful to ease into this slowly.

4. Find the right schedule

Aim for one or two days each week for a total of 15 minutes each session. As your body adapts, you can slowly increase the total time of your workout to 30 minutes. If you still want a challenge, then you can add one more day of HIIT to your overall fitness plan.

5. Be aware of muscle soreness

Chances are you’re going to experience delayed onset muscle soreness when you begin doing HIIT. The best thing to do is continue doing small, short workouts. In the days following your muscle soreness, these recovery workouts may help prevent or reduce soreness:

  • stretch out sore muscles
  • do light resistance exercises, such as core strengthening workouts
  • do low-intensity cardio, such as walking or swimming

You can also focus on muscle groups that you didn’t work on previously. 

Fuel your body

Making sure your body is properly fueled before a workout is essential, especially for a beginner. To maximize energy, aim to eat a light meal one to two hours pre-exercise consisting of healthy fats and complex carbs. Then, opt for a post-workout snack or meal within an hour of finishing your session.

We’ve talked about the importance of nutrition before in our article on how to approach nutrition in order to maximise your workout gains, give it a read here.

4 Reasons why Lifting Weights is key to Losing Fat

A big reason the majority of people join a gym is to lose fat, and amongst many, the dominant belief is that cardio is the most effective way to go about doing this, whether that’s in the form of cycling via an elliptical machine or running on a treadmill. While cardio should definitely be a part of your workout, we want to explain why you should still incorporate resistance training (weight-based workouts) in your routine.

NOTE: This applies to both MEN and WOMEN. The idea that you’ll bulk up if you do resistance training is a myth. You can only increase your size if you purposefully consume more calories than you’re burning through your exercise. Resistance training will help you tone up and grow your definition, it won’t turn you into hulk. 

For various reasons, resistance training is better for losing fat than just running; in this article, we’re going over the four major reasons why this is so. 

1. Relying only on cardio-based work-outs leads to a slower resting metabolic rate

Our muscles burn more calories than fat does. Therefore, if you build up your muscle mass, you increase your metabolism and burn more calories – even when your body is at rest. The changes to your metabolic rate are going to be slight, but not insignificant.

When you cut back on calories and/or emphasise cardio to lose weight, you lose both fat and muscle (‘lean mass’), meaning the rate at which you burn calories when at rest decreases. This makes it easier to gain back the weight you’ve lost. 

2. Weight training preserves muscle as you shed fat

Whatever your goal is, your aim at the gym should be not just to lose weight but to improve body composition by maximizing fat loss and minimizing muscle loss. If you lose muscle along with body fat, you won’t necessarily improve your body composition – or its appearance.

Weight training, not cardio, is what changes your physique. It’s not uncommon for people who do lots of cardio to lose muscle mass and become less firm and defined. Working against resistance creates a more pleasing physique and body composition. You look lean and strong, as opposed to the skinny, ill-defined physique some people get when they restrict calories too much and combine it with cardio.

3. Your body works hard to rebuild torn muscle fibers after each weight training session

The American Council on Exercise also shows how resistance training can lead to exercise post-oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Your body works overtime after vigorous exercise, consuming oxygen and increasing your metabolism. This burns lots of calories even after you’re finished working out.

The ACE says: “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is a physiological phenomenon that increases the net caloric expenditure after a workout. In simple terms, you continue to burn calories after you’re done exercising.” In addition, this process primes your body for losing fat and gaining muscle more efficiently.                  

4. Burns abdominal fat more effectively

If you take a look at people who just run, you’ll notice some interesting things. Yes, these people are very skinny, but they often have noticeable body fat in their stomach, thighs, and buttocks. It’s very rare to see someone who just runs with a set of six-pack abs. One study performed at the University of Alabama found that people who trained with weights were able to lose more stomach fat than those who just performed cardio exercises. One reason for this is that weight training helps you burn intra-abdominal fat more effectively. 

Our argument here isn’t to ditch cardio, it’s to do a little bit of both.

If you can only manage a couple of exercise sessions a week, you can do some running or walking to lose weight on one day, and a HIIT workout in front of the television on the other day. The best elliptical machines also act as a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training.