Just like that... its February! Hopefully you all made the most of the long weekend and found a way to beat the humidity. Apologies for the absence of a newsletter, I've included photos below from the last fortnight to make amends, but first up, Kathryn's captured the beautiful natural light you all get to witness at 6 am. Thanks, Kathryn!
Thank you to those who got involved with my goal poll (its not too late for anyone who forgot). It wasn't surprising to see that strength came out ahead, though I've since realised I didn't include an option for fat loss! Fat loss is best achieved in partnership with other goals, particularly gaining strength. Chasing gains is much more satisfying than chasing a loss, and an increase in metabolically active muscle mass is a much more sustainable approach to weight loss than hours of cardio, particularly when accompanied by good food choices (keep scrolling for the return of recipe suggestions).
Getting stronger is a fantastic goal. Most of us will have heard that we begin to lose muscle mass from around the age of 30, with the process accelerating from about 50. Load bearing exercise is crucial to prevent this decline. But the benefits of strength training are numerous:
Strong muscles protect joints from injury and improve balance and posture
Strong bones (improved bone density) reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone injury
Increased muscle mass maintains or improves metabolic function, burning through more energy at rest
Assist in the management of chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes
Improved self-confidence, body image mood and sleep... And lets not forget that feeling strong just feels great! Moving with ease is hard to beat.
When it comes to strength goals, one thing always comes to mind: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten". The absolute key to progress is change, but more specifically, progressive overload. No matter what resistance you're working with (body-weight, bands or weights), if the stimulus doesn't increase you won't gain strength. If its a body-weight workout this might be the difference in the depth of a squat, plyometrics to target explosive muscle groups or simply increasing the load by moving the fulcrum. A great example of this is push-ups on your toes instead of knees, or if you're really keen, raising your feet to increase the load on your chest, upper back and shoulders. If you're working with weights or bands, you simply MUST increase the work in small increments REGULARLY. Increasing the actual weight is ideal, but adding a couple of reps to ensure you work the muscle to capacity can also help. Every resistance session should challenge you, so try picking up something a little heavier this week. You can always skip a rep if you need to, or do one heavier set before returning to the weight you're more confident with.
And now for the fun bit - highlights from the last fortnight. All the best for the week ahead!