August 12, 2016

The key building blocks to achieving your health and fitness goals

IN THE LAST two weeks you have seen Ciarán Burns’ incredible transformation and I’ve discussed what you should look out for when trying to find the right gym.

Today, let’s focus on what you should be working on if your goal is to lose weight, look better, stay injury-free and overall, feel fitter and healthier.


The most common issue I see with clients is poor mobility and/or flexibility.

If you want to improve your strength, fitness or become less prone to injury, then you need to work on your limiting factors first.

Some people have tight ankles, hips, shoulders or inactive glutes.

We all have different weaknesses and they can arise from simple things such as sitting down at a desk for eight hours a day, standing for long periods or even just by wearing the wrong footwear.

You have to work on this initial roadblock. All trainers should run their clients through a simple mobility test in their first session.

It is imperative to point out the areas that a client needs to work on so that they move better and without restriction.

Spending 10-15 minutes per day working on your movement, mobility and flexibility will pay off over time.

Master the basics

Are you able to move for a steady 20-40 minutes without letting your heart-rate and lungs go into overdrive?

Diving straight into high intensity training will lead you to burnout and run the risk of injury. Work on good movement patterns throughout these exercises for 20-30 mins and keep your heart-rate at a reasonable level.

Strength and interval training

Incorporate compound movements that give you the best bang for your buck. Movements and exercises like squatting, deadlifting, pressing, pulling and carrying.

These are functional movements that you perform during your normal day. Master the movement, work through a good range of motion and keep your reps relatively low and the weight heavy.

Keeping a log of your work is important. Try to stick to two or three strength movements per session which should take you 20-25 minutes.

Every now and then it’s good to make yourself uncomfortable and finish with an interval workout. This part of a session should take no more than 10-12 minutes.

Try hill sprints, or pairing two or three exercises together and then rest and repeat for a couple of rounds. You could run 200m, do 12 kettlebell swings and rest for 90 seconds. Five rounds of that will help you burn fat, maintain strength and complement your earlier strength workout.

Stay in control

Sleep, stress, hydration and nutrition are other areas you need to focus on to reach your health and fitness goals. This is perhaps the most important thing to manage before you start to look at other areas such as mobility and strength.

Remember, these are personal things so go with what works best for YOU.

Sleep: Shooting for eight hours is a good start.

Stress: Invest at least 15 minutes each day to yourself, slow down, breathe, stretch and just switch off. It could be doing some yoga poses, going for a walk or playing with your kids.

Hydration: Aim for 2.5-4 litres daily. Little and often throughout the day.

Nutrition: There is no single diet solution for everyone. We have different metabolisms so it is really important to work out a diet plan that works for you. Focus on getting the basics right first; cut out the junk food, go easy on the wheat, gluten and sugar, and keep alcohol and caffeine in moderation.

If you follow these tips you are certainly on the right road. And remember, success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.

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