Friday 11 November 2016

Getting My Sweat On – Light at the End of the Tunnel

It’s only when you emerge from one of life’s little difficulties do you suddenly realise quite how much it was dragging you down.

After months of being in a lot of pain with my hips, I’ve finally turned a corner. The inflammation in my muscles and joints has settled and life is getting back to normal.

The hip issue has impacted every aspect of my physical life, not just my fitness. Walking has not been pleasant (a twinge every time I stepped on my right leg) and sleeping has been difficult (a hit of sciatic nerve pain in the middle of the night).
Banded Pull-ups
But it’s been the mental challenges that I’ve found most difficult to deal with. When you’re in constant pain it affects your mood and thinking. I’d convinced myself that my hips were never going to get better, that I was heading for surgery.

What I have learnt from the whole episode is this: never give up hope and have total trust in the professionals. My physio and personal trainer have been brilliant throughout, reassuring when I needed them to be and the architects of a rehabilitation programme that has done the trick. 

The month didn’t start off quite so rosy, though. I was down in the dumps, with acute pain and a decision by my PT Jake to impose a ban on all glute and leg exercises. That really isn’t what you want to hear when your bum is the main bit of your bod that you want to improve!
MAG close-grip pull-down
So, for the first half of October it was upper body, upper body, and more upper body work. Consequently I’ve become rather adept at banded pull-ups, pull-downs, rows, and push-ups. My abs have certainly felt the benefit of all the extra crunches – and seen them too (every dark cloud)…

…but the strategy worked and a few weeks later I was back working the lower body. We returned with the single leg glute bridge. And what an exercise to kick start everything off. Not only do these feel fab to do, but they are brilliant at toning the booty (see Fave Exercise).

October also saw me try my hand at boxing for the first time (see One to Try). Looking ahead to the rest of November? More glute work – and a pain-free life!

Fave Exercise – Single Leg Glute Bridge 

A fab exercise for strengthening the glutes and hamstring. It’s suitable for beginners upwards. Start by lying down on the floor or resting your shoulders on a bench (as I’m doing here) with feet flat and knees bent. Lift the left leg up and hold out straight. Lower down (if using a bench), then raise the glutes upwards. Swap legs. It’s crucial to squeeze the glutes of the supporting leg as you drive through the heels upwards. Also extend up as far as possible.

Most Insane Exercise – Narrow Grip Push-Ups

A tricky variation of the full push-up. Rather than placing hands shoulder width apart, position them close together. So far so good. Here’s where it gets nasty: as you perform the push-up, keep your elbows tucked in. You can really feel the burn in your triceps. I’m doing the exercise here with hands elevated on a bench to make it a little easier.  

One to Try – Boxing 

OK, so my form is ropey but this was my first try at boxing. There’s a lot of technique involved – more than I ever imagined! Boxing is a good option if you’re not keen on more typical forms of gym-based cardio such as treadmill running, the bike or cross trainer. I’ve just added four sets of 20 punches to one of my upper body routines.

Fitness Find – Pret A Manger’s Protein Bowl 

New it at Pret A Manger is the Protein Superbowl salad: chargrilled chicken breast, avocado, egg, lentil and quinoa mix peas. Per serving: 411 cals, 32.7g protein, 26.4g carbs and 16.9g fat. The optional post of dressing adds a further 148 cals. More on Pret food here.

For daily updates on my fitness journey, follow my Instagram page here. I also crop up on my gym's Instagram feed, from time-to-time, here.
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