The Route to Recovery: How to Get Back on Point After Injury

Recovering from an injury is a tedious process, particularly when you’re itching to get back in the gym. Guest Blogger and Freelance Writer, Tom Wishart, shares his top tips and advice for getting back in the game safely and efficiently…

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It happens to everyone at some point. Maybe you were pushing yourself to go an extra set, maybe you slipped while out for a run; whatever the reason, you’ve injured yourself training. After having sat through the excruciating time away from the gym and your workout routine, you’re finally ready to get back into the game and pick up where you left off.

But it’s not that easy. It’s important to note that performance drops significantly after 2 weeks’ rest; research shows aerobic conditioning has a noticeable decline after this period. Your body simply isn’t ready to return to full training straight away. I know, as last year I slipped doing balance practice and fractured my right arm’s radial bone (what you might consider the “outside” bone of the forearm) near the wrist. This led to six weeks in a wrist brace, which imposed severe limitations on how I could train. I then rushed back to full training without giving myself the proper recovery time, which led to my recovery taking far longer than it should have.

This is a common feeling amongst athletes, either professional or enthusiastic amateur. Time off is time wasted, and getting back to the gym as quickly as possible is the only priority. I can empathise with this feeling. Despite that, this blog will explain why rushing things is a bad idea, while outlining the best ways to ease yourself back into your normal routine. Rest, rehabilitation, and re-engagement are the three crucial steps.

Step One: Rest 

This may seem obvious, but as stated before, many of us are just too eager to get back to the free weights. You must give yourself the necessary amount of time to recover from an injury. This varies depending on the injury itself, but the essence of recovery is always the same – be patient and wait it out. Chris Thomson, Club Manager of Glasgow Gym Anytime Fitness St Enoch says “It’s a common mistake I see amongst gym goers, both newcomers and experienced users. Returning to exercise too soon after injury can be a real blow to your physical form.”

Avoid putting stress on the affected areas wherever possible. The “rest” period is for just that; the rehab period can come after. Violating this simple principle can leave you with chronic injuries that will inhibit all future training. I will point you to my wrist injury from last year. I now have reduced movement that will take several years of corrective training to return to normal.

It should be noted that rest only refers to the area of injury. If you have an injured shoulder, it’s entirely possible to go to the gym and do a leg day, as there is no need for your shoulder to come into play here. Recognise what your injury is and what exercises it affects, and alter your workout accordingly.

Step Two: Rehabilitation

Physio techniques are essential to recovering from all but the most minor of injuries. They allow your body to familiarise itself with the normal range of movements required in exercises. Physio Tim Keeley has a great selection of videos on his YouTube channel ‘Physio Fitness’ that outline a variety of exercises for a range of injuries.

Depending on the injuries, the use of a wobble board could be a great option. Designed to improve proprioception, our awareness of the position of our body parts relative to each other, they are excellent for lower body issues such as ankle or knee problems. Given that they are a low cost, at-home alternative to in-clinic sessions with professional physios, with many different exercise tips online, this one off investment has the potential to become an essential part of not only injury recovery, but your workout routine as a whole.

If you’re looking to take your route to recovery up another notch, incorporating a Power Plate into your routine will boost your rehabilitation further. Moving 25 to 50 times per second to engage muscles in a consistent and controlled manner, the Power Plate’s vibrating platform rebuilds strength and accelerates training at a pace appropriate for you.

Step Three: Re-engagement

One tactic to test your capabilities upon returning an injured area to training is to start with half-weight reps. For instance, if you injure your bicep and normally work with 10kg on a curl, drop to 5kg when starting back. This gives you an idea of how your injured area will respond to strain and finds out if your lift range has dropped. Work upwards in small increments to find the weight that works best for rehabilitation. The key point here is to listen to what your body is saying. No pain, no gain is in reference to the day after a workout, not during one. If an exercise is causing you pain, stop. This will only cause further damage.

Low impact activities are good means of working through injury, and after injury. Such exercises might include:

  • Yoga – The go-to low impact workout and rehab exercise, yoga is great for increasing flexibility and movement while gently testing joints and muscles. It has also been shown that holding poses for more than 72 seconds can increase restoration of connective tissues, a necessity following training injuries.
  • Swimming – Swimming alleviates some of the stress on joints and ligaments, making it an ideal low impact exercise that still gives a good full body workout.
  • Cycling – Cycling is great for aerobic conditioning. Just make sure it’s not a knee or ankle injury, and you’re good to go.

Guest blog from Tom Wishart, a Freelance Writer from Glasgow with a passion for healthy living and exercise.

 

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A Guide to Gifts This Christmas

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It’s that time of year again. Love it or hate it, Christmas undoubtedly requires a lot of prep work – a significant amount of which is dedicated solely to your Christmas shopping. If shopping in-store is your thing, no problem, because we have nine stores nationwide which you can find here. More into your quick, hassle free online shopping? Our website hosts over 3,000 products with something to suit every budget.

So, where to begin? We’ve put together the ultimate Christmas Gift Guide on our website packed with products for the beginner, to intermediate, to advanced fitness enthusiast – while here on our blog we have a range of products from a low to high price tag, helping you to make those all-important present purchases this December. And if you’ve got your own Christmas list to write, well, consider this as a little bit of inspo and get hint dropping, because Christmas is only 23 days away after all…

LOW – MID BUDGET

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1 Raze Slam Balls 4-14kg

Tested in elite sport, these durable Slam Balls allow you to unleash your aggression and add a new dimension to your training. Perfect for slams, throws and functional training exercises, with 6 sizes from 4-14kg to choose from, they’re the perfect gift for those fitness enthusiasts around you.

2 GoFit Ultimate ProGym with Training DVD

The Ultimate ProGym includes three resistance tubes (10-30lbs) with 7 resistance levels, designed to build strength and enhance muscle definition. Better still, this kit comes with a free training DVD featuring fitness and nutrition expert Brook Benten. Ultimately, the ideal home workout!

3 GoFit Fit Mat with Carry Strap

What’s a home workout without a good, sturdy mat? The GoFit Fit Mat offers a comfortable 3/8 inch thick, ribbed finish, comfortably supporting you during every training session. Complete with a carry strap, this mat can go everywhere with the lucky recipient of this affordable and essential gift.

4 Body Power 30Kg Spinlock Dumbbell Set

Fantastic value for money, the Body Power 30kg Spinlock Dumbbell Set is a versatile product for those who love to lift in the comfort of their own home. Easily adjustable, the user can select the weights to suit each workout.

5 Home HIIT Kit 1

Our four Home HIIT Kits each offer incredible tools for the ultimate home functional training workout. Suitable for any user, these make an excellent gift for those who love to exercise. Our Home HIIT Kit 1 is the most affordable in the range, featuring 3 key items for resistance workouts:

Home HIIT Kit 1:

Power Band 32mm
10kg Rubber Hex Ergo Dumbbells
Lightning Jump Rope

6 Jordan Fitness Classic Rubber Studio Barbell Set

Durable, easy to use and versatile, the Classic Rubber Studio Barbell Set comprises 1 x Standard Studio Barbell, 2 x Quick Release collars and Classic Rubber Standard Weight Discs: 2 x 1.25kg (yellow), 2 x 2.5kg (blue), 2 x 5kg (red). This set is ideal for those looking for an inexpensive option for lifting.

MID – HIGH BUDGET

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1 Home HIIT Kits 2-4

Following on from our Home HIIT Kit 1, we have Kits 2, 3 and 4, each with additional products that are perfect for the intermediate to advanced fitness enthusiast. Here’s what they include:

Home HIIT Kit 2:

Power Band 32mm
10kg Rubber Hex Ergo Dumbbells
Lightning Jump Rope
Body Power 6kg Cast Iron Kettlebell
Jordan Fitness 7kg Slam Ball

Home HIIT Kit 3:

Power Band 32mm
10kg Rubber Hex Ergo Dumbbells
Lightning Jump Rope
Body Power 6kg Cast Iron Kettlebell
Jordan Fitness 7kg Slam Ball
Body-Solid 12″ Plyo Box GoFit 5.5kg (12LBS)
CrossFit Style Wall Ball

Home HIIT Kit 4:

Power Band 32mm
10kg Rubber Hex Ergo Dumbbells
Lightning Jump Rope
Body Power 6kg Cast Iron Kettlebell
Jordan Fitness 7kg Slam Ball
Body-Solid 12″ Plyo Box GoFit 5.5kg (12LBS)
CrossFit Style Wall Ball
Body Power 7′ Olympic Bar (320Kg / 700lb Rated)
Body Power Olympic Quick Lock Collars
Body Power Deluxe Rubber/Chrome Olympic Plate Green 10Kg (x2)

2 Jordan Fitness Ignite Premium Rubber Studio Barbell Set

A step up from the Classic Rubber Set in terms of its quality, the Ignite Premium Rubber Studio Barbell Set is equally as robust, easy to use and flexible, comprising 1 x Standard Studio Barbell, 2 x clamp collars and Ignite Premium Rubber Weight Discs: 2 x 1.25kg (red), 2 x 2.5kg (orange), 2 x 5kg (green). This set is ideal for those looking for a slightly bigger investment when it comes to lifting equipment.

3 Jordan Fitness Ignite Urethane Studio Barbell Set

Similar to both the Classic Rubber Studio Barbell Set and Ignite Premium Rubber Studio Barbell Set, the Ignite Urethane Studio Barbell Set has a durable urethane finish and comprises 1 x Standard Studio Barbell, 2 x clamp collars and Ignite Urethane Standard Weight Discs: 2 x 1.25kg (red/black), 2 x 2.5kg (orange/black), 2 x 5kg (green/black). This set is ideal for those looking for a top of the range option for their lifting equipment.

4 Bowflex Max Trainers

Looking to treat a loved one who has a passion for their cardio training? With the no-impact Max Trainer you can maximise your calorie burn via its revolutionary 14-minute MAX Interval™ workout, which provides 2.5x the calorie burn, 8 manual resistance levels and an interactive LCD display. Whether you go for the Max Trainer M3 or Max Trainer M5, this is a gift not to be forgotten.

5 Schwinn Airdyne Dual Action Cycles

The Airdyne Dual Action Cycles were made for those who love cycling and high intensity training. Powered by a high-strength ABS plastic fan and offering infinite resistance levels, both the Airdyne AD6 Dual Action Air Cycle, and the newer AD8, offer a revolutionary upgrade to your training, including the ability to review all workout data such as RevMeter™, Time, Distance, RPM, Calories, Power and Pulse, via the high-resolution LCD screen.

And there we have it, our 2016 Christmas Gift Guide! Feeling like it’s time to spread a little Christmas cheer and get into the swing of your annual Christmas shopping marathon? Check out our ultimate 2016 Fitness Superstore Gift Guide, or have a browse at what else we have to offer throughout this festive season. Tis the season to be jolly…!

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How to build muscle every day

With strength training being such a crucial part of anyone’s fitness progression, PT and Media Fitness Expert, Carly Tierney, explains how you can build muscle both with equipment and simply your body weight alone…

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What are strength exercises?

A strength exercise is any activity that makes your muscles work harder than usual, which in turn increases their strength, size, power and endurance. The activities involve using either your body weight, or working against a resistance with equipment. You should aim to do two sessions or more of muscle strengthening exercises per week.

Strength training is important for everybody

Strength training is excellent for both men and women, though you may be one of the many people who has been influenced by those common myths that strength training will make you bulky. You’re not alone in thinking that, but the good news is that strength training is more about toning muscle than building it up, and lean muscle is more compact than fat, so strength training can actually make you smaller – not larger.

Examples of strength training activities include:

  • Using your own body weight to do push-ups, squats, etc.
  • Using resistance bands.
  • Using weights or objects around the house for exercises like bicep curls.
  • Using weight equipment at a gym such as a leg curl machine.
  • Lifting weights or heavy objects such as furniture.
  • Vigorous cleaning activities such as vacuuming and scrubbing.
  • Heavy gardening such as digging and shovelling.
  • Climbing stairs and uphill walking.
  • Fitness activities such as cycling, dancing and yoga.

How do I know I’m working hard enough?

For an activity to be muscle-strengthening, it needs to work your muscles to the point where you may need a short rest before continuing. For example, if you’re lifting weights you would have to put the weight down after doing a number of lifts before carrying on.

My top tip

A good weight loss diet plan helps more than you might think, preferably a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good fats and lean protein. A simple muscle building meal that I love is chicken breast, avocado and sweet potato with broccoli.

Example exercises with and without gym equipment

While gym and fitness equipment is great to incorporate into your routine, body weight exercises can be just as effective as an occassional alternative. Here are two examples, one with equipment and one without, both of which you can do with ease in the comfort of your own home…

Overhead Press using a weighted gym bag.

Muscles Worked: This exercise works your triceps, deltoids, and traps, making it an excellent way to strengthen your arms and back. You also need to tighten your core to successfully complete this exercise.

How to: Stand straight with your feet positioned shoulder-width apart. Push your chest up, as if you’re puffing it out. Grab your gym bag by its ends and position it across your front shoulders so that it’s resting on your collarbone. This is the starting position. Next, squeeze your glutes as this helps stabilise you, and push the bag up in a straight line. You may have to move your head back while pressing it up to ensure it goes up in a straight line. Hold the gym bag above your head with your arms straight for a couple of seconds before lowering the bag back to your shoulders. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions.

Chair Dips using a sturdy chair.

Muscles Worked: This exercise primarily works the triceps, as well as the pectorals and deltoids.

How to: To begin, place a sturdy chair behind you. Face away from the chair seat and put your hands on the edge of the seat, spaced about shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight and bend your knees so you’re almost in a seated position in front of the chair. This is the starting position. Next, slowly bend your arms to a 90-degree angle, lowering your entire body. Once you reach this angle, hold it for a second before straightening your arms again and resuming the starting position. This is one repetition. Aim for at least five repetitions to start, but don’t exceed a dozen. To increase difficulty, place a heavy textbook or gym bag in your lap.

Read more blogs from Carly Tierney.

Carly Tierney Personal Trainer

Carly Tierney is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, Pilates instructor, fitness feature writer and is also the new DW Sports Fitness Expert across social media. In 2014, she became Ms Bikini Tall Miami Pro champion and is sponsored by BSN, Bio-Engineered Supplements and Nutrition, Inc. Carly was also a finalist for Gym Based PT of the year.

Visit Carly’s website, and check out her newsletter!

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5 Steps to Conquer the Winter Workout

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If working out during winter is something you dread year after year, now is the optimum time to switch up your training plan to accommodate the dropping temperatures and darker days. How? Here are our five top tips for conquering fitness this winter…

Get yourself organised

Waking up and assessing whether or not today is a training day or a rest day will leave you unmotivated and lost for direction. By creating a winter training plan with up to date goals and targets, you will see the festivities through with success and progression.

Try something new

Summer workouts are ideal as you’ve got the option of working out both indoors or outdoors, but winter? Not so much, unless running or cycling in the cold is your thing. If not, now is the ideal time to adapt your workouts to suit the seasonal changes, with the added benefit that your body will react brilliantly to change – rocketing those results just in time for Christmas. Stuck for ideas? Try weight training with different equipment, or opt for a home cardio workout instead.

Schedule an early workout

Admittedly morning workouts in winter are tough. It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s basically anything but appealing – but believe it or not they are worth doing. Why? Here are three reasons: your motivation will be at its peak, your body will react better to the shock of training first thing, and last but by no means least, you can spend all evening relaxing in the warm – guilt free.

Refuel with a hot breakfast

Porridge, pancakes and omelettes are all great options for breakfast on a cold, winter’s morning.  If you wake up and can’t bring yourself to stick even a single toe out from underneath the duvet because it’s that cold, then a hot, hearty post-workout breakfast is going to be the ultimate get up and go motivation.

Allow time to relax and indulge

We believe that scheduling in time to relax with loved ones over the festive period, with or without a few treats here and there, is a good way to spike your motivation just in time for the New Year. If you avoid down time or your favourite Christmas treat, there’s a chance you will roll into January thinking “why did I bother with training in winter? It was miserable”. News flash: it doesn’t have to be. Find a balance and do what works for you, we’re all human, after all.

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A Champion’s Guide to Prepping Like a Boss

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If you’re a winner at prepping than you will be completely familiar with seeing the phrase “#preplikeaboss” floating about social media on a regular basis, perhaps you’ve even used it yourself, however if you’re new to this phrase then at this point you’re no doubt questioning why people are prepping and why that makes them a ‘boss’.

So, what does that phrase mean? Prepping like a boss means you spend your weekend, typically a Sunday for many fitness enthusiasts, planning and preparing your meals and snacks for the week ahead. Why? The idea of it may be somewhat overwhelming, but in doing this you avoid picking up the Chinese takeaway menu or darting to Tesco for a ready meal. In summary, you remain healthy at all times, maximising your health and fitness progression.

Fancy becoming a fully prepped boss? Give it a go following these five top tips, you might find this way of life to be a total game changer.

Stock up on tubs

Thankfully they’re cheap, because you will need to get yourself a vast selection of freezer and dishwasher friendly tubs to store your weeks’ worth of prepped food in. A variety of big, medium and little tubs are ideal, as this will suit anything from a small portion of nuts to huge batches of casserole. Just prepare yourself for an increase in washing up, unless you’ve got your trusty mate known as ‘The Dishwasher’ to do your dirty work for you.

Clear out your fridge

When there are tubs, there is little in the way of space. Firstly clear your fridge of junk food (because who needs that now you’re almost a fully prepped boss?), and secondly, be space efficient in the way your store your refrigerated products. Still an issue? Well at this point you may need a bigger fridge.

Shop like a boss

Yep, this means no faffing around and causing havoc in the isles. Know what ingredients you need to buy in order to create all of your meals and snacks, and avoid swerving from the shopping list. Got stuff in the fridge that you could use? Use it! Don’t waste perfectly good food and save yourself a few extra pennies when shopping, even if this means having to re-jigg the ingredients slightly.

Allow time to prep

There’s nothing worse than getting to Sunday evening and realising you haven’t prepped. If you plan on organising a couple of meals, you may be able to get away with doing it on a spur of the moment basis, but if you plan to go the whole hog and prepare seven breakfasts, seven lunches, seven dinners and fourteen snacks, then you’re going to need a good two or three hours.

Create a good set up

There’s no point beginning your weekly food prep if you’re working with a messy kitchen and a stressed mind. Gather your sanity, put on a motivational playlist, clean your cooking station, get out what you need and get to work. By all means dance your way around the kitchen if this means that meal prep becomes fun, because let’s be honest, it’s hardly a party.

This may all sound extremely daunting, but two or three meal prep sessions in and you too will be a meal prep champion. Once you start seeing less of the Dominos leaflet and more of the results you’ve worked your behind off for, you will be eternally grateful for that hashtag that we all love to hate.

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Why Does It Take Some People Longer to Lose Weight?

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You start a new regime and spend most of your time scrolling through progress pictures of what people have achieved in as little as four to eight weeks, and of course, you hope for the same results. However that is not necessarily possible. A friend or colleague might have lost ten pounds in a month, with somebody else losing fifteen pounds in two months, but unfortunately, no matter how well you stick to your targets, there is no guarantee that you will achieve your dream bod in a matter of weeks. Why? Each individual is different, and who’s to say your metabolism is the same as the guy who just shed half his bodyweight, or the woman who dropped twenty inches? All we can do is work with what we’ve got, and nine times out of ten, you can achieve the same results with a little extra time and effort. How? Follow these vital steps, because the harder you work and the clearer the end goal, the more likely you are to see incredible results quicker than anticipated.

If it’s taken you years to get out of shape, you can’t expect to get back in shape in a few weeks

Think about it this way, would you spend four weeks eating junk food and being completely inactive and expect to appear significantly overweight at the end of the month? No, because our bodies simply don’t work like that, and it works exactly the same in reverse too. You can’t spend years letting your body get out of shape and assume it will be slim and lean within no time at all. Of course you can make amazing improvements, but don’t beat yourself up when it takes a little longer than expected.

See it as a permanent lifestyle adjustment, not a short-term diet

Further to the previous point, you need to look at the bigger picture here. If you want to lose weight and earn yourself that lean, defined physique, excellent, but if you want to keep it you’re going to have to continue to work hard with nothing in the way of an ‘end date’.

You can’t out train a bad diet

Success in weight loss and becoming a fitter, healthier person is based 20% on exercise, and 80% on diet. Although 20% isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, exercise is absolutely crucial. What people don’t realise is that without that healthy, structured diet, your efforts at the gym will be wasted. As soon as you sort your diet out, you will notice significant changes to your health, body and overall performance with day to day tasks.

Every workout needs to be a challenge

Three months in and finding the workouts a piece of cake? Something needs to change. If a workout is easy, you’re doing it wrong, as they say. Learn to challenge yourself consistently, tackling new ways of exercising to reach those new and improved goals.

Look at people as an inspiration, not a comparison

If you’re a fan of social media, you’ll no doubt have spent hours scrolling through Instagram and Facebook looking at people’s amazing transformations. If you find yourself feeling envious, use that emotion and turn it into inspiration. There’s nothing better than a team of people sharing the same passion and mission, supporting and motivating each other along the way.

Results can be achieved, but it WILL take time. Does that mean you should give up? Absolutely not. Prove to yourself and those around you that you did this for YOU. You will then become the inspiration, and no doubt will think “do you know what? I did it, it was actually ok, and I’d do it again any day”.

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Everything You Need to Know About Bulking & Cutting

Are you keen to hop on the bodybuilding bang wagon? PT and Media Fitness Expert, Carly Tierney, explains the process with both the highs and lows included…

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When you begin bodybuilding there are two main options available to you, bulking and cutting. Contrary to common belief you cannot just eat whatever you like and call it “bulking” or start eating salads and assume you are “cutting” . Both are equally challenging and rewarding. So, what are they and are they right for you?

A Cutting Diet

 The highs:

  • Lowering your body fat to a desired level will be considerably easier than cutting after a bulking phase.
  • Those gains will be phenomenal when the bulking phase begins.
  • Your self-esteem will improve.
  • Your motivation will be greatly increased when the bulking phase occurs as mass will be more noticeable.
  • After bulking you should not have that much fat to get rid of, so you can cut down easily with this diet.

The lows:

  • When you start with your cutting diet, you will have a lot more fat to get rid of to obtain your ripped physique.
  • Muscle loss will occur, but not too much providing your diet is on point.
  • No more eating whatever you want to eat! That is extremely hard for some people, but eating is a science and so you can’t cheat and expect it to work.
  • Cardio will be required due to the lack of it during the bulking phase. No one likes cardio and it can be tough after a long time without it, though it’s essential that you don’t miss this and give it your all.

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A Bulking Diet

The highs:

  • Muscle gain will be noticeable within the first few months.
  • You’ll have more self-esteem.
  • Your strength will increase.
  • You get to eat a *lot* of food! The more muscle you have, the more calories you need to maintain that muscle, hence you burn more calories with more muscle.

The lows:

  • You will lose some of that lean shape when you begin bulking.
  • This condition is not sustainable long term for health reasons, performance issues and also because you cannot improve and progress without cutting.
  • Muscle loss will have occurred during the cutting phase so you may be weaker to begin with. Please note that reverse dieting should be done under supervision and should not be more than 1-2 lbs per week. You want to gain muscle, not fat!
  • A depressive feeling can occur in some people after they lose some of that ‘ripping’ progression. It’s my belief that you need to accept your body and appreciate it both when it’s lean and when it’s strong.

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The important thing to remember here is to think of the process as a journey to overall improvement, it will take time, but it will be completely worth it.

Are you bulking or cutting at the moment? Let us know, we’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

Read more blogs from Carly Tierney.

Carly Tierney Personal Trainer

Carly Tierney is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, Pilates instructor, fitness feature writer and is also the new DW Sports Fitness Expert across social media. In 2014, she became Ms Bikini Tall Miami Pro champion and is sponsored by BSN, Bio-Engineered Supplements and Nutrition, Inc. Carly was also a finalist for Gym Based PT of the year.

Visit Carly’s website, and check out her newsletter!

Posted in Carly Tierney, Fitness and training, Guest blogs, Nutrition and Recipes, Tips and advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment