As with any finely-tuned machine, your body’s inner workings can be tweaked to deliver even higher levels of performance today, and toughened to save costly repairs down the line. Use this complete guide to keep your machine thoroughly pimped – however many miles you put on the clock.
1 UPGRADE YOUR CV SYSTEM – Phase 1 keeps your body’s engine at full throttle
ALL SYSTEMS GO – 360-degree fine-turning of your heart, lungs and blood supply will boost performance and add years to your life.
IMPROVE YOUR LUNG POWER
Brunel University research found that even low levels of pollution can reduce your lungs’ ability to deliver oxygen to the blood by up to 5% when exercising. Cyclists and runners are especially vulnerable, as higher breathing rates increase the amount of particles they inhale.
YOUR MOVE Counteract roadside pollution damage with a 30g portion of watercress four times a week, says nutrition Consultant Judy Watson. “It’s packed with glucosinates-phytochemicals that prevent airborne pollutants from attaching to the lungs.”
DODGE HEART FAILURE
Beat-to-beat changes in heart rate-known as heart rate variability (HRV)-are the sign of a healthy heart.
YOUR MOVE HRV was 15% higher in yoga practitioners, research in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics revealed. Try this move from Triyoga teacher Jane Kersel: Form a plank position and push back into your heels. Keep your tailbone moving towards your heels and feel your core engage. Inhale. As you exhale, force the air out by contracting your belly muscles away from the floor. Repeat 20 times. Rest. Do two more sets.
UPGRADE YOUR BLOOD SUPPLY
Your blood vessels deliver fuel and oxygen to your muscles and clear away waste products. It’s well established that regular aerobic exercise keeps them in full working order.
YOUR MOVE High-intensity interval training (HIT) improves the function and structure of your blood vessels in a fraction of the time, particularly the arteries that deliver blood to our muscles and heart, according to US research from McMaster University.
Perform 10 all-out, one-minute blasts on a stationary bike with one minute of rest in between each. Doing it three times a week will definitely get the blood flowing.
2 IMPROVE MUSCLE EFFICIENCY - Phase 2 fine tunes your muscles, guaranteeing speed, power and endurance where you need it most
THERE’S THE RUB
Sports massage increases your strength by 13%. All you need is a tennis ball
EXPLOSIVE POWER FOR SPORTS PERFORMANCE
A) Cross one foot over the knee of the other leg. Place a tennis ball alongside the glute of your bent leg.
B) Supporting your weight with your arm, roll onto the ball and use your arms to move your bodyweight over the ball.
“These big, powerful muscles are key to good mobility in most sports. But uneven tension can build up and cause problems elsewhere. Balancing tension will help you dodge that crunching tackle.”
PERFECT POSTURE AND A TIGER DRIVE
A) Standing with your back to a wall, with the tennis ball to one side of your spine, gently lean back onto it.
B) Bend and straighten your knees, massaging a small section at a time. Start at the neck and work down the spine to the last rib.
Win when you’re swinging: “This counteracts hunched positions brought on by prolonged desk postures, which restrict rotational movements used in sports, such as squash or golf.”
SPEED PLUS FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
A) Sit so your legs can swing free and place the tennis ball under your leg in the middle of your hamstring.
B) Slowly bend and straighten at the knee, massaging one area, then move the ball to a new position and swing your leg again.
This will deal with the knots that can build up in the belly of the hamstring. Knotted muscles restrict movement-keeping yours in shape will get you to that loose ball first in five-a-side.”
A) Stand or sit (great for under your desk at work) with your foot on the ball.
B) Roll it in all directions through the arch of your foot.
“Massaging under the feet can release tension in your calves and plantar fascia, where a build up of tension could put a swift halt to a marathon-training programme.”
TAKE THE FAST LANE TO RECOVERY
Send your muscles on the shortcut to recovery with this simple pre-and post-training routine
A carb and protein drink before exercise benefits from muscles twice as much as after, says nutritionist Drew Price, who recommends shaking up 300ml of sports drink, three tbsps of coconut milk and 20g whey. “It supports glycogen stores and kickstarts the rebuilding process,” he says.
Stir 8g of branch-chain amino acids powder (£20.49 for 300g, hollandandbarrett.com) into a 300ml drink and sip a you train. “BCAAs defend against muscle breakdown,” says Price, meaning you can still lift with strength, even towards the end of your workout.
Taking 200ml of fat-free chocolate milk will repair your weary muscles after training, University of Connecticut research revealed. “The balance of carbohydrate and protein is ‘just right’ for rebuilding and replenishing your muscles,” says researcher William Lunn.
Eat salmon, basmati rice, grilled peppers and red onions. The amino acids in the fish repair tiny muscle tears, “Plus the starch in the rice drip-feeds the muscles,” says Price. “The veg adds antioxidants-but not too much, as it can cause inflammation.”
Not one for date night, the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy reported that wearing your compression kit to bed can give your weary muscles a boost. (MH recommends Skins A400 Long Compression Tights, £70.skins.net)
For breakfast, whizz together 4 tbsps quark-a quality protein source-a banana and mixed berries and 200ml of fresh orange juice, says Price. “Research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology revealed a second post-workout window where the body will more readily accept carbs and proteins.”
YOUR CV BOOSTER
Burn fat and lower your resting heart rate with this targeted circuit from PTSi Tate
SQUAT THRUSTS TO BURPEE
A) From a burpee position, squat-thrust back and left. When you return to the middle, jump up, land and return to the start position.
B) Now squat-thrust back and right, then as you return to the start position, jump straight up and repeat. Repeat 10 times.
MEDICINE BALL LUNGE TO PRESS-UP
A) Hold a medicine ball in front of you and lunge right.
B) Drop and do a press-up on the medicine ball.
C) Now stand back up and lunge left. Hit the floor and press up again. Repeat 10 times. If you’re feeling the pressure you can always split this into two separate exercises-but you’ve got more heart than that.
KETTLEBELL LUNGE TO CLEAN AND PRESS
A) Hold a kettle in your right hand, to your side. Lunging forward-left with your left leg, lift the kettlebell in your right hand so you finish with it over your right knee.
B) Now step back and as you do so, shoulder-press the kettlebell. Repeat 10 times on each side. “My personal favorite,” says Tate.Knackered? Repeat it for a total of 3 circuits!”
3 AGE-PROOF YOUR BONES - Phase 3 keeps your skeleton and joints reinforced and perfectly oiled
These moves will give your joints the support they need for the long haul, courtesy of sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapist Joanne Brown
“Reduces shoulder injuries.”
A) (External) Stand side-on, holding a resistance band.
B) Keep your elbow in, shoulder blade down, and turn your arm outwards. Return to the start. (Internal) Stand facing the opposite way and reverse the motion, pulling the handle into your body under tension.
Progression “Move your arm out to the side at 90 degrees to shoulder height, rotating outwards and inwards against the resistance.”
“Strengthening your glutes reduces lower limb injury risk.”
A) Lying on your back, bend one knee so the foot is close to your buttocks. Keep your knees level and the other leg straight.
B) Push through your heel to lift your pelvis, keeping your shoulders, hips and knees aligned. Don’t let the pelvis sag.
“Place your legs onto a Swiss ball to make the base more unstable.”
Swiss Ball single leg squat
“This exercise works all the lower limb muscles.”
A) Starting with the Swiss ball between the wall and your back, lift one leg. Ensure your pelvis is level on both sides.
B) Slowly lower your body, keeping your knee cap in line with the 2nd toe. Return to the start position and repeat.
Increase the depth of the squat, or hold for longer at the bottom of the movement.
Bosu board leg balance
“A Bosu board creates an unstable base to challenge your ankles and work your calves.”
A) Place your foot in the centre of the board. Roll the board around all edges in all directions, trying to keep an upright position.
B) Perform a rocking motion back and forth, then side-to-side. Easy? Try holding a cocktail.
Try bouncing a ball off a wall to really test your balance and coordination.
HIT OR MYTH
Separate the facts from the fiction for the better bone health
OLD BONES JUST GET WEAKER: MYTH
Its true that we reach our bone density in early adulthood, at around 20-25.After that, bone mass tends to fall.However, Tufts University research found resistance exercise can arrest the decline even among older adults. The study found adults who strength-trained twice a week for a year increased bone density by up to 2%.The key: keep increasing the intensity, says personal trainer Jamie Sawyer.
A CUPPA WARMS YOUR BONE: HIT
Drinking tea for 6 years is estimated to boost bone mineral density by up to 2.3% according to studies at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. Habitual cha-chuggers had thicker bones at three different skeletal sites, regardless of the type or amount of the tea they consumed.
High-impact activities have a thumbs-up effect on your frame over the long-term, say University of Missouri researchers.”Resistance training and high-impact endurance activities increase bone mineral density.”However, high-impact sports, like running, appear to have a greater beneficial effect, “says Pam Hinton, associate professor at the University of Missouri. A Hebrew University study found just a one-minute run, three times a week, can strengthen shin bones.
FORTIFY YOUR FRAME
Here’s how to build the bare bones of a brilliant body
It’s not much of a first date conversation topic, but synovial fluid-which lubricates your joints-thickens to a paste when your body is inactive. “If synovial fluid isn’t warmed up, you can suffer less freedom of movement, causing increased joint wear and tear,” says osteopath Nigel Gliders leve1.
SKELETON KEY “Don’t warm up on a bike if you’re going to be doing an upper-body workout. Rowing is a better warm-up exercise to incorporate upper and lower body movement. Or for weights, do a warm up set with a lighter load.” Says fitness trainer Jamie Baird2.
Bone marrow-the spongy, fatty tissue at the centre of your bones-plays a huge role in helping your immune system fend off respiratory viruses like flu, according to research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
SKELETON KEY Out-manoeuvre flu with 20 minutes of exercise five times a week: it just needs to be intensive enough to break a sweat and it increases marrow. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who did this took 40% fewer sick days.
It’s not just that half-yard you lose, the older you get, the more susceptible your cartilage-the tough, shock-absorbing tissue between your bones-is to wear and tear.
“It takes longer to heal than other tissue,” says osteopath Rebecca Bray. “And damage, like twisting a knee while playing football, is common among 30-something men.” You’ve still got the touch though, obviously…
SKELETON KEY Make your brew ‘milk and no’. “Sugar depletes magnesium, interfering with the production of mucopoly saccharides-which helps form healthy cartilage,” says nutritionist Judy Watson3.
A KEVLAR SKELETON
Bone’s combination of toughness and A&E avoiding flexibility is thanks to a collagen fibre framework reinforced with hardened calcium phosphate. “Bone holds up to 99.9% of your body’s calcium,” says Gildersleve. “Calcium deficiency weakens the whole structure.”
SKELETON KEY When you’re carbing-up, swap your Sarnie for a quinoa salad. “Gluten in wheat-based grains reduces absorption of calcium-and magnesium and Zinc which are also key for bone health,” says Watson. Just boil Quinoa for 15 mins, and you can leave it pre-prepared in the fridge.