Monday 10 October 2016

Getting My Sweat On – Never Neglect a Niggle!

Well, that got off to a good start – not! I launch a new monthly series, Getting My Sweat On, and then fail to do the follow-up post!

In fairness it was August. I spent half of it on hols in Spain and had just the one personal training session, at the very beginning of the month. But before I gloss over August and crack on with September, I wanted to quickly talk about Spain.

I guess most people go on holiday to relax, unwind and do very little. I’m all for that too, but I do like to keep training– even a two-week break can cause havoc with fitness levels. If you’re with me on this, I can highly recommend checking out the local gyms. 

Chances are there’ll be one around the corner from where you’re staying, it’ll take day guests, and be better equipped than any hotel gym. If that doesn’t grab (though just look at the view from my gym in Denia, below), check out my post from last year, ‘saying goodbye to training holidays’, which has a list of fitness you can do outdoors.

So, on to September. There was never a dull moment – I was battling an old hip injury, having weekly physio sessions, I switched gyms and starting working with a new personal trainer. Yep, all in the space of four weeks!

Don’t neglect a persistent niggle

Two years ago I started getting pain in my hips. A trip to the doctors led to a course of physio and everything settled. Things flared up again about a year later. Then settled. Then flared up again. To cut a long story short, I decided to go back to my GP a few months ago and before I knew it I was having ultrasound and MRI scans, X-Rays, and meetings with hip specialists.

And this is why you should never neglect pain: through persistence I’ve been diagnosed with shallow hip sockets. That may sound ominous but it’s much better to be aware of it than not - knowing means something can be done.
Bar Supine Row

When I got into weight training two years ago, I never realised what a big impact it would have on my physique. I’ve leaned up and gained muscle definition. I’ve never felt happier in my own skin.

What I didn’t know was that it was also the best thing I could have done for my health, and more immediately my hips. I say ‘my’, but this goes for us all. As we age, our bones become thinner and more fragile (osteoporosis is a common problem). Weight training builds muscle, which supports our bones. But that’s not all: weight training also increases bone density. It’s a win-win!

New PT - long may independent gyms thrive!

My road to recovery is a combination of physio and exercise. The latter has made me re-evaluate my gym training. I’m a member of two gyms: Halo, an independent and PureGym, a low-cost chain. One gives me oodles of support and top-end kit; the other 24/7 opening.

Since my health problem, I’ve become ever more dependent on the extras I get at Halo - budget gyms are fine but If your PT is not around there is no one else to help out -  so much so that I’ve now switched the bulk of my training there. I’ve just started proper PT sessions with Jake, the owner and a qualified PT, and he’s putting together programmes in consultation with my physio.
Cable Punch Pull
We’ve done a few sessions and it’s a case of stripping everything back, adding one glutes exercise at a time so we can isolate any problems. This has meant I’m doing a lot of upper body work currently – we’ve taken muscle measurements so we can keep tabs on progress as I don’t want to bulk up.

Everything I’m doing is standard fare – regular weight-training – only I know it’s hip safe (working with a good PT gives you that assurance). For glutes I’m doing kick-backs; for upper body a combination of eccentric pull-ups, push-ups, supine rows, banded crunches, and cable push pull (if you like boxing you’ll like this – it’s effectively a one-two punch).    

Fave Exercise
Glute Kick-back

Kick backs on the glutes machine. My bum is my weakest spot. Not only does this machine help to build the booty but it should also strengthen my hip area. Plus I love doing it!

Most Insane Exercise 
Eccentric Pull-Ups
I’ve set myself a challenge to do full pull-ups. They’re incredibly tough and one of those exercises that many gym goers want to master. Jake has started me off on eccentric pull-ups (the downward move only). It’s widely considered to be the quickest way of getting there – check out this video for more here.

One to Try 
Banded Ab Crunches
Banded ab crunches. If you do standard crunches, try using a band for extra resistance. It’s a step-up. I do them on a bench – hey, you get to lie down! - and perform 15 reps, two sets (I’m supersetting this with the cable machine punch pull).

Any Other Business – September’s Find 

High5 Zero energy tabs. These containing electrolytes, magnesium, vit C and green tea. They’re designed to boost hydration, and help against muscle fatigue when training. Simply add to water - pop one inside your gym bottle. They’re zero sugar, zero cal, very refreshing and, while not exactly fizzy, they do deliver quite a kick. You can buy them from Holland & Barrett, £6.99 for an 80g tube, here.

You can follow my fitness journey on Instagram here. More on Halo here.

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