Raise The Bar With This Five-Move Barbell Workout Routine

In a barbell complex, you do several moves back to back without putting the bar down, and it’s a fast and effective way to shift body fat while simultaneously building strength. “It is great for perfecting technique because you generally use a lighter weight than if you were simply doing one of the lifts on their own, so you can focus on improving the movement pattern,” says performance coach Tom Eastham (@EasthamsFitness). “As a result it’s great to do a barbell complex as a warm-up before a big lifting session or paired with some short cardiovascular work as a metabolic conditioning circuit. The complex enables you to use your entire body in one set and is harder than it looks, so it’s great to spice up the end of a training session.”

The workout

  1. Deadlift
  2. Bent-over row
  3. Front squat
  4. Overhead press
  5. Back squat

Do ten reps of each exercise in the order stated and move on to the next without putting the bar down. Your aim should be to complete all the moves without resting. Rest for two minutes between rounds and do five rounds in total.

The benefits

  1. Lose fat Doing heavy circuits will get your heart rate soaring and your muscles working, which will result in a huge calorie expenditure both during and after the session as your body recovers.
  2. Save time The whole session will only take about 20-25 minutes to complete, making it an efficient as well as effective way of training.
  3. Improve grip strength That might not sound like a big win but you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and that’s likely to be a weak grip. The better your grip, the more you can lift and the more gains you’ll see.

1 Deadlift

Start with your feet hip-width apart (for the ideal foot position, read the tip below) and grip the bar just outside your knees. Pull your shoulders back to engage your back muscles and protect your spine. The aim is to load your hamstrings, so straighten your legs as you start the move by pulling the weight off the floor, then straighten up and engage your glutes. Reverse the movement back to the start.

Expert tip “After your warm-up perform five tuck jumps,” says Eastham. “Pay attention to where your feet land after the final one – they should be roughly hip-width apart. Everyone is slightly different in their start position, but one thing is ever-present: the need to develop power by pushing your feet ‘through’ the floor. Wherever your feet land is generally close to the stance you should use.”

2 Bent-over row

Once you’ve completed your last deadlift, hinge at the hips to lower the barbell down the front of your thighs to knee height. From there, row the barbell up to your bellybutton by drawing your elbows back. Try to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the move, and lower slowly under control.

Expert tip “This one targets the middle of your back,” says Eastham. “Pull your shoulders back and down so your traps (the muscles at the top of your back) are relaxed. This should target your lower traps and rhomboids (the muscles in the centre of your back), which are two common areas of weakness.”

3 Front squat

After the rows, flip the bar up onto the front of your shoulders with your palms facing upwards and your elbows high. Simultaneously bend at the knees and the hips to squat down while making sure you keep your elbows high and your torso upright. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as low as you can with good form, then stand back up to return to the start.

Expert tip “This targets the quads because of the position of the load,” says Eastham. “However, if you truly want to maximise your athletic potential, focus on the position of the bar and don’t allow it to rest on your fingertips. Stretch your pecs and your lats (the big back muscles) then, during the movement, keep your elbows up and use a full grip throughout. This is the first step on the path to a decent clean and jerk – a true marker of any serious lifter.”

4 Overhead press

After your final front squat, drop your elbows so they are below the bar and press the weight overhead. Avoid locking your elbows at the top of the move, so you keep the tension in your muscles as opposed to loading your joints. Reverse the movement back to the start.

Expert tip “When the bar is overhead and your arms are fully extended, try shrugging your shoulders up towards your ears,” says Eastham. “This forces your traps to fire and in turn creates space for your rotator cuffs – the small muscles that stabilise your shoulder joint – to move around it without causing impingement.”

5 Back squat

Once you have completed the overhead press reps, lower the barbell onto your shoulders. Try to push your elbows forwards to engage your lats. Bend at the knees and hips simultaneously to lower into a squat. Try to lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as low as you can with good form, and stand back up to return to the start.

Expert tip “Before you perform the first lift, imagine you are trying to screw your feet into the ground,” says Eastham. “Imagine you’re trying to turn your feet out, but don’t let your toes move. You should feel your glutes contracting, giving you more muscle activation when you lift. Try to keep this feeling throughout each rep.’

The Best Water Bottles To Buy In 2018

You know what’s great for you? Drinking water. We’re pretty sure everyone agrees on that. Even in the darkest corners of the internet, where the Earth is flat and humans have never walked on the Moon, people accept you need to drink water to survive.

To drink water you need a container to put it in. We’ve long moved beyond cupped hands – it’s just not practical. A reusable water bottle can be a lifelong companion if you buy a good one, and by going with one of our picks you can be sure you’re getting a good one.

Must-have attributes for water bottles include not leaking (obviously) and a sturdy build, so that it won’t start leaking after a couple of accidental knocks. Not quite must-have, but undoubtedly desirable features include a stylish design, vacuum seals to keep drinks at the right temperature, and clips to attach the bottle to a backpack. Then there are a few bonus features that will appeal to some, like built-in filters or an infuser.

You’ll find the best water bottles to cater for all desires below and you can also rest assured that any plastic in the below bottles is BPA-free. The risks of BPA seem to have been slightly overblown, but most reusable water bottles are BPA-free now anyway.

Brita Fill And Go Active

You don’t need to filter tap water in the UK but if you want to, this water bottle is one of the most efficient ways to get it done on the go. A small replaceable filter fits in the bottle itself so you can just refill it and drink as you would with any other bottle. There are 600ml and 1-litre versions available, and the squeezable body and sports top makes it easy to chug down water quickly. The bottle itself is pretty cheap but it’s around £12 for a pack of eight filters, and Brita recommends changing them every week. £4.93, buy on amazon.co.uk

S’well

The brand that, more than any other, has made spending £35 on a reusable water container a thing that seems somehow reasonable. You can scoff all you want at the idea of a stylish water bottle, but that’s the only way to describe S’well’s wares. The marble and wood designs in particular are downright sexy. S’well’s stainless steel bottles are also vacuum-sealed so they keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. £35, buy on johnlewis.com

Stay Sixty

Those thinking long-term with their water bottle usage would be wise to check out Stay Sixty’s offering, mainly because its canny removable base makes it so easy to clean. That means if you tire of water and want to sup on something more exciting like *gasps* orange juice, you can clean the bottle and avoid a citrus tang plaguing your water consumption for the next week. The stainless steel bottle comes in three matt colours: coal, stone and pink. £29.95, buy on staysixty.com

Nalgene

They may not be the most practical for office use, but Nalgene’s plastic bottles are basically indestructible, making them ideal for the great outdoors. Also, using a Nalgene as opposed to one of those hipster stainless steel bottles everyone else has shows you’re not a poser – you just bloody love water. Yes, we know, drinking water has never been more socially complicated. £10.76, buy on amazon.co.uk

Infruition Sport

You know you should be drinking more water, but you just can’t make yourself do it. You need some flavour in your liquids. If that’s you, get an infuser bottle like the Infruition Sport. You can put berries or mint or cucumber or whatever your taste buds desire (mint and cucumber?!) in the infusion chamber and, just like magic, your water will taste a little bit like that fruit or those herbs or… whatever you like. Probably not chocolate though. £14.99, buy on infruition.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk

CamelBak Eddy

This sturdy, double-walled bottle will keep your cold drinks cold and can be clipped to the outside of a rucksack via the loop on its lid. The chunky bite valve allows plenty of liquid through, so you can refresh yourself in a hurry. £18.12, buy on amazon.co.uk

Keep Your January Resolutions Running – Win £250 Of Iffley Road Kit

If your motivation is flagging, something as simple as a kit upgrade can spur you on to go that extra mile. That’s why we’ve teamed up with premium running wear brand Iffley Road to give you the chance to win a £250 gift voucher to spend at iffleyroad.com.

Created by runners for runners, Iffley Road unites high-performance fabrics, precision fit and rigorous attention to detail to deliver a capsule collection that seamlessly combines athletics and aesthetics. Forget ill-fitting and unflattering Lycra – Iffley Road’s heritage-infused pieces offer a sartorial solution for those who want kit that works equally well in the gym and in the pub.

The collection includes everything from T-shirts and vests made with the brand’s unique dri-release piqué fabric (designed to wick away sweat four times faster than cotton) to luxe merino wool base layers and trackster pants. Whether you’re a regular marathon runner or just signed up for your first 5K run, Iffley Road is your go-to for stylish yet highly technical pieces you won’t want to take off.

Iffley Road draws inspiration from Britain’s running heritage. In fact, the brand is named after the Oxford track where Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile in 1954 and to commemorate that achievement each piece of kit features a signature tri-stripe hanging loop.

So get your trainers on and be in with a chance of making your wardrobe ready for race day. To win, all you need to do is answer the question below.

When It Comes To Visiting A Doctor, Do You Have FOFO?

When you are worried about your health it’s tempting to bury your head in the sand and hope whatever symptoms are concerning you will just go away in time. Even if you know that’s not a sensible move, the thought of going to see the doctor is daunting for several reasons, one of the biggest being that you just might have your worst fears confirmed.

This Fear Of Finding Out (FOFO) is widespread and has serious implications, for both individuals and the NHS. Research commissioned by biopharmaceutical company AbbVie found that 61% of people admitted that they would delay visiting a doctor owing to fear of being diagnosed with a serious illness, and 32% avoided the doc because they don’t want to be pressured into making changes to their lifestyle.

The research also found that 10% of people believed delaying seeing a doctor would have no impact if they were later diagnosed with an illness. This, unfortunately, is just wrong – your chances of surviving something serious are reduced the longer it goes untreated. Late diagnoses also hit the NHS in its pocket, with an extra £150 million spent on treating cancers spotted belatedly.

To help experts understand what makes people avoid seeing the doctor, AbbVie and the Patients Association have created a quiz about FOFO which you can take at crushyourfofo.co.uk. It’ll analyse your answers and allocate you a personal fear gremlin, which you can then crush by taking positive steps to remedy any health problems you might have, such as visiting your pharmacist or GP.

Simon Bullmore, an associate at the Open Data Institute, which is also part of the project, is personally invested in learning more about FOFO, having experienced it for himself.

“One of the reasons I wanted to get involved in the project was that it put a label on something from my own experience,” says Bullmore, 45. “My own FOFO had stopped me from going to the doctor when I should have and it almost killed me.”

“I’m generally in pretty good health. I exercise, I don’t drink too much, and I haven’t smoked since I was at university. Towards the end of 2013 I started to feel very ill. I had very bad night sweats, and I also started to develop a cough. I did go the doctor and they gave me antibiotics. I felt a little better but the illness crept back. That was when I started to get scared about what might be going on, because most of the time you take antibiotics it sorts you out, or your body sorts itself out.

“But I tried to push through for a few weeks, and then I went back to the doctor and got given some different antibiotics, but I really didn’t push it. The health service wouldn’t have known I had something particularly wrong, because I wasn’t sticking my hand up and saying I was really worried about this.

“Then for a further month I was in complete denial about having to go back to the doctor. I was off work by that time and having terrible night sweats. I was losing weight and felt very ill. My wife put her foot down and took me to the doctor. I ended up in hospital on a intravenous drip. They found I had hepatic amoebiasis. It’s effectively the same amoeba that give you dysentery but in a small number of cases it creates a large abscess on your liver, and if that grows and bursts you have like a 5% chance of survival, because the amoeba gets into your bloodstream and into your brain. I was days, possibly a week, away from that happening.

“I was in hospital for almost two weeks and I had to go through some very unpleasant procedures, but once I was being treated with the right spectrum of antibiotics within a day or two I felt better – better than I had for months. When I put myself in the hands of the NHS the experts did a stand-up job of getting me better very quickly. Within a few weeks I was back on my feet and there was no long-term damage.

‘What I realise now is that while I was saying ‘I’m fine, I don’t want to trouble the NHS, I’ll get better, I need to go to work’, actually I was scared that there was something wrong, that maybe I had cancer or something like that. I didn’t want to know.”

Take the FOFO quiz at crushyourfofo.co.uk

The Best Wireless Running Headphones Of 2018

A pair of headphones can make or break a run. If they’re fiddly, uncomfortable, don’t fit or run out of juice before you’ve broken sweat, they can send your stress hormones skyrocketing and bring your outing to an abrupt, angry halt. But get them right, equipped to provide the feedback and beats you need to power your runs and they can be a core instrument in keeping you motivated. Here are Coach’s top earphones for running and, below, what to look, listen and “feel” out for when buying yours.

Jaybird Run

We called the Jaybird Run the best headphones a runner can get in our review, and the main reason behind that glowing appraisal was the secure, comfortable fit of the lightweight truly wireless earbuds. The sound quality is also impressive, and you can set up the Jaybird Run buds with a partner app, so the sound profile is ideal for your favourite kind of music. They’re pricy, but there’s no doubt Jaybird nailed it with these running headphones. £170, buy on jaybirdsport.com, check price on amazon.co.uk

RECOMMENDED: Jaybird Run Review

Apple AirPods

If you are looking for a truly wireless set of headphones for running, don’t discount the Apple AirPods. Their odd shape doesn’t work for everyone, but we found them ideal for running – the pods are lightweight enough to stay in the ear and aren’t so noise-isolating that you can’t hear the world around you. Battery life is also exceptional for wireless buds – five hours – and the carry case doubles as portable battery that will recharge the AirPods four to five times. Furthermore, a mere 15 minutes in the case yields three hours of use. Finally, as you might expect, the AirPods connect faster and more reliably with Apple devices than any other headphones. £160, buy on apple.com

RECOMMENDED: Apple AirPods Review

Aftershokz Trekz Air

The bone-conducting tech in these headphones allows them to deliver music, podcasts or whatever else you listen to through your cheekbones, leaving your ears completely open to take in ambient noise. This makes the Trekz Air useful both for people who run around busy city streets regularly and for those who want to actually hear instructions from marshals during races. In fact, Aftershokz’s bone-conducting earphones are the only ones allowed in all UK Athletics races due to a partnership the company has with England Athletics. £150, buy on aftershocks.co.uk

RECOMMENDED: Aftershokz Trekz Air Review

Avanca D1 Sports Headphones

As a budget option the Avanca D1 headphones don’t match the sound quality of the others on this list, but for just £39 they do offer a secure fit, a reliable Bluetooth connection and a decent eight-hour battery life. If you’re bargain-hunting, fix your sights firmly on these. £39, buy on amazon.co.uk

RECOMMENDED: Avanca D1 Sports Review

Plantronics Backbeat FIT

If a secure fit is your main concern for sporty headphones, you can’t do better than the Backbeat FIT. Once you’ve wriggled your ears through the hooks, the headset simply isn’t going anywhere for the duration of your run. The sound quality is good – not as impressive as fully isolating earbuds but loud enough for the gym – and the battery life is up to eight hours. The Backbeat FIT will also tell you how many hours of juice you have left when you turn them on, to reduce the risk of them dying as you sprint for the finish line. £109.99, buy on amazon.co.uk

RECOMMENDED: Plantronics BackBeat FIT Review

Monster iSport Intensity

Monster’s varied iSport range is designed to cater to all preferences regarding fit and style, but we’ve picked out the Intensity due to the slightly open design, which allows a little ambient noise in. When working out or running, it’s handy to have some awareness of the world around you. The Intensity also offers an excellent, secure fit, six hours of battery life and fine sound quality. If you really prefer isolating earbuds, the Monster iSport Victory is the better bet. £79.95, buy on monsterproducts.eu or amazon.co.uk

RECOMMENDED: Monster iSport Intensity Bluetooth Headphones Review

Running Headphones Buyer’s Guide

Sound

One thing that doesn’t change from regular headphones is that you want them to sound as good as possible – it’s just that you might be more limited in your options. While over-ear cans might sound amazing, they’re likely to be too hot to run in, whereas buds that sit deep in your earholes can block out ambient noise entirely, which means a bus might sneak up on you while running. Don’t fret, though: there are plenty of options that sound amazing while being suitable for running, even if they might not match up to the quality of your top-end non-sports headphones.

Fit

A secure fit is crucial to stop your headphones becoming a huge annoyance when running. If they’re dropping out of your ears or require frequent adjusting, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Ear hooks usually provide a fit that won’t slip, and if you’re opting for in-ear buds then ensure they come with a variety of wings and buds so you can pick the combo that keeps them in your ear when running.

Battery

The headline figure is the total battery life, and obviously that’s a key consideration, but it’s also worth checking out if the headphones you’re looking at have a quick-charge option. This will usually net you an hour of power for just ten to 15 minutes of charging, which is perfect if you only realise you’ve run out of juice just as you’re getting ready to run. Generally you’ll get at least six to eight hours of battery life from most Bluetooth headphones, but expect more like three to five from truly wireless earbuds.

Remote

Naturally you want to be able to control your music without having to get your phone or MP3 player out while running, so check out the remote on any running headphones – it’ll either be on the strap between the earbuds, or built into the buds themselves. The main factor here is how fiddly it is. They can be very fiddly, and fiddly is annoying.

Connection

Many cheaper sets of Bluetooth headphones match the stats of far more expensive pairs – on paper. When you try them and discover their connection drops the moment they are more than 10cm from your phone, you’ll realise where the money was saved. If you keep your phone in your pocket or in a bumbag when running, you need a strong Bluetooth connection or your tunes will never make it to your ears.

Heart Rate

There are several pairs of headphones on the market that will monitor your heart rate while you run, and some even use that info to coach you through a session. They use light to detect your pulse from within the ear, a place used by doctors because of its accuracy, so you can expect good results.

Waterproofing

There are some fully waterproof headphones available, but for running you just need to ensure they can withstand a sudden storm or an especially sweaty session without packing up. Look for a minimum rating of IPX4 for running headphones that won’t let you down when wet.

The Best Free-Weights Workout Plan To Build Strength

When most people want to get bigger they try to target specific muscles. And when they want to get stronger they focus on specific exercises. But this four-week plan is different because it is built around movement patterns.

In the first workout you’ll perform a series of pushing moves, which work your chest, quads, shoulders and triceps. In the second you do four pulling exercises, which work your back, hamstrings and biceps. In the final workout, you do moves that involve either rotation or the resistance of rotation.

The result? Balanced, full-body strength and muscle gains that will also get you moving fluidly and athletically.

How to do it

Follow the sets, reps and rest instructions for each move to get the maximum benefit. Do each workout once a week for four weeks, aiming to increase the amount you lift each week – and make sure you note how much you lift in each session to track your progress and keep yourself motivated.

Workout 1: Push

1 Dumbbell bench press

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

Why The week kicks off with a double header of everyone’s favourite move – the bench press. You start with the dumbbell version because you’ll go a bit lighter than with a barbell, and it’s better for warming up your shoulders because you have to work harder to stabilise the joint.

How Lie on a bench with your feet on the floor directly underneath your knees, holding the dumbbells above your chest. Lower them to your chest, then drive your feet hard into the floor and push the dumbbells back strongly to the start position.

2 Incline bench press

Sets 4 Reps 6 Rest 60-90sec

Why The incline version of the move puts a slightly different emphasis on your muscles, working the front shoulders a bit more than the flat version does. You’ll probably find you can’t lift quite as much weight because of this.

How Lie on a bench set at a 45˚ incline, holding a bar over your chest with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar until it’s touching your chest, then press it back up.

3 Back squat

Sets 5 Time 5 Rest 90sec

Why The king of the legs moves works your entire lower body and, when you go really heavy, turns into a whole-body move as your entire upper body is recruited to control your torso and prevent your body from slumping. It’s a really useful, functional exercise so, if your mobility permits it, you’d be wise to make it a cornerstone of your training programme.

How Rest the bar on your back with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out slightly. Keep your spine in alignment by looking at a spot on the floor about two metres in front of you, then sit back and down as if you were aiming for a chair. Lower until your hip crease is below your knee. As you drive back up, keep your weight on your heels.

4 Overhead press

Sets 4 Reps 6-8 Rest 60sec

Why Lifting a heavy weight overhead will work your entire shoulder joint and will also improve your core and abdominal strength because those muscles need to be switched on to stabilise your spine.

How With your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a bar on your upper chest, hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your abs, glutes and quads as you press the bar straight upwards. Pause at the top, then lower. You may find wrapping your thumbs around the same side as your fingers allows you to lift more weight.

5 Diamond press-up

Sets 4 Reps 6 Rest 60-90sec

Why This is a deceptively tough exercise. Moving your hands close together to form a diamond shape will put a lot more emphasis on your triceps. Don’t be surprise if you struggle to hit the rep count if you’re new to this exercise – just focus on maintaining good form.

How Get into a press-up position, placing your hands close together so your thumbs and index fingers touch. Keeping your body in a straight line with your abs braced, lower your torso until your chest is just above the floor, then press back up.

Workout 2: Pull

1 Snatch-grip deadlift

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

Why Any form of deadlift is an excellent full-body exercise that focuses on the posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body). We’ve gone for the snatch-grip version because the wider grip forces you to reduce the weight and you therefore won’t use up too much energy early in the workout. The next two moves are quite taxing so you want to keep a bit of energy in the tank.

How Hold a barbell with your hands roughly double shoulder-width apart. Push through your heels and keep your chest up as you drive forwards with your hips to lift the bar.

2 Romanian deadlift

Sets 5 Reps 5 Rest 60-90sec

Why Like the previous move, this develops your glutes and hamstrings, areas that most men would benefit from strengthening. The movement is essentially a hip hinge and has a huge positive carry-over to everyday activity.

How Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip just outside your thighs. With a slight bend in your knees, bend forwards from the hips and lower the bar down the front of your shins until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Push your hips forwards to reverse the move to the start.

3 Bent-over row

Sets 5 Reps 5 Rest 60-90sec

Why By now your grip should be getting a bit fried but hang on in there for this first-class back-builder. Having a strong back will improve your posture, which will allow you to lift heavy weights safely and also reduce your chances of injury.

How Hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip, bending your knees slightly. Bend at the hips until your torso is at roughly a 45˚ angle to the floor. Pull the bar up to touch your sternum and then lower under control. If you’re moving your upper body to shift the bar, the weight’s too heavy.

4 Biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60-90sec

Why You’ve done all of the worthy work. Now it’s time for a bit of guns glory. Don’t be tempted to go too heavy. – pick a weight that allows you to complete the reps with a slow eccentric (lowering) phase. And hey presto, you’ll be bursting out of your T-shirt in no time.

How Stand tall with your shoulders back and feet close together, holding a pair of dumbbells with palms facing forwards and hands just outside your hips. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, curl the dumbbells up towards your chest, stopping just before your forearms reach vertical. Lower under control to return to the start position.

Workout 3: Rotation

1 Kettlebell walking lunge

Sets 3 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec

Why The lunge is an excellent exercise and this version is useful because it increases the co-ordination and stability challenge. You spend a significant amount of time on one leg so your body has to fight the force that are pulling it off balance and out of alignment.

How Start by standing upright with a dumbbell in each hand with plenty of space in front of you. Take a big stride forwards and simultaneously bend both knees until your rear knee is just above the floor. Ensure that your front knee is in line with your front foot and that your knee doesn’t travel in front of your mid-foot. Push through your front foot to stand upright then bring your back leg through to lunge forwards with that leg. Continue that pattern for the duration of the set.

2 Kettlebell windmill

Sets 2 Reps 8 each side Rest 60-90sec

Why This impressive-looking move is one of the most effective abs exercises you can do. It’ll also test your hamstring flexibility and shoulder stability, and it’s vital to concentrate during the entire rep. It’s a tough and technical move but if you persevere and put in the work you’ll be well rewarded.

How Press the kettlebell overhead, then lean your torso forwards and to one side so that your free hand travels down your leg. Keep your arm and back straight throughout. Turn your head at the bottom of the move so you can check that the kettlebell’s directly overhead. Reverse the movement to return to the top position.

3 Russian twist

Sets 3 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec

Why This is a much simpler side abs move than the windmill so we’re introducing it into the workout once you have already been fatigued. The key to getting this right is slowing it down, really controlling the movement and focusing the tension on your abdominals.

How Sit on the floor with your torso at a 45° angle to the floor and your knees bent. Hold a kettlebell by the handle with both hands then rotate to one side. Return to the middle and rotate to the other side, then return to the middle again to complete one rep. Once you can complete the reps with relative ease, raise your heels a few centimetres off the floor to increase the abs challenge.

4 Kettlebell Turkish get-up

Sets 3 Reps 5 each side Rest 60sec

Why This isn’t something you see the average person doing in a high-street gym, but it has wide-ranging benefits. Each rep involves about 20 seconds of continuous work so it’ll get your heart rate up. It’ll also build full-body strength and enhance your co-ordination and proprioception (your body’s ability to sense and react to its own position).

How Lie on your back with a kettlebell in one hand. Roll slightly away from it as you press it upwards, coming up to support yourself on your opposite forearm. From here, plant the foot on the same side as the kettlebell on the floor, and use it to take your weight as you sweep your other leg underneath you into a half-kneeling position. Stand up with the kettlebell overhead. Reverse the whole movement to go back to the floor.

Running Supplements For Marathon Runners

Even for regular runners, training for a marathon is a steep learning curve. While running a few times a week and tearing it up at your local parkrun every Saturday doesn’t involve too much thought beyond what gear to wear, covering the long distances required to prep for a 42.2km race means considering how to avoid injury, how to fit in and vary all the running you need to do and, lastly but by no means least-ly, how you fuel your body for all that exercise.

Most, if not all, of your fuelling should be done through your diet, but there are times when eating real food just isn’t possible or desirable – one of those times being the race itself – and that’s where supplements can help.

The main supplements to consider are ones that top up your carb reserves and electrolytes during long runs, and ones that help you restock and help the body recover during an arduous training schedule. There are also supplements like beetroot juice and caffeine that can help to boost your performance. In short, there are loads of different supplements you can use to help you body cope with the demands of marathon training. Here are the top types you’ll come across.

Running gels

Probably the most common marathon training supplement, these are scoffed by runners during long runs (anything over 90 minutes) to replenish their carb stocks. In the marathon itself, you’ll probably go through four of five gels – make sure you’ve already tried the ones you use in the race, because they can be hard on the digestive system.

Sports drinks

These are a combo of carbs and electrolytes, and are good for fuelling before or during your longer runs. You won’t want to carry these with you for the event itself, which is why most people opt for more portable gels and electrolyte tabs, but they’re good during training or if you can grab them en route during the race.

RECOMMENDED: What Are Electrolytes And Why Do You Need Them?

Electrolyte tabs

Pop these in water and they dissolve quickly to create an electrolyte-rich cocktail, containing minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium, which help your body to hydrate itself. Carb gels generally don’t have electrolytes, which you need to replenish when you exercise for a long period and sweat a lot. Having the tab with you means you can just grab water on the course of the race and create your own electrolyte drink.

Beetroot juice

Research into the nitrates found in foods like beetroot, spinach and rocket suggests they can have a positive effect on performance in endurance activities – apparently Leicester City used beet juice to great effect in their Premier League title-winning season. Beet It shots contain 400mg of dietary nitrate – try drinking them daily in the week before your event as well as having a couple in the 12 hours beforehand.

Carb rinses

While this category is a new form of supplement that’s yet to really take off with amateur runners, Unit Nutrition plans to bring carb rinses to the mass market soon, so you might come across them in your training. You swill the carb rinse your mouth and then spit it out or swallow it. Early studies have found this boosts performance, which might be down to you tricking your brain into thinking it’s getting fuel. Carb rinses are obviously very easy to take and guarantee no gastric distress if you’re spitting them out, so they may be worth a go if you detest gels and can’t eat anything while running.

Recovery drinks

When weightlifters finish a workout they reach for a protein shake – but while runners need protein too, it’s more important to replenish carbs and electrolytes. If you’re undertaking a loaded training schedule and don’t have time or the inclination to do this through meals, a recovery drink like SiS REGO, which contains carbs, protein and electrolytes, is useful to have on hand.

Caffeine

We don’t mean chugging down a coffee before running, mainly because that’s a gastrointestinal risk only the foolhardy would take, but getting versions of the above supplements that contain caffeine can provide a timely boost. Save a running gel or electrolyte drink with added caffeine for kilometre 30 of your marathon – it might be just what your body and brain need to spur you on to the finish line.

How To Nail The Kettlebell Snatch

Kettlebells are an amazing muscle-building and fat-loss weapon – if you use them correctly. Get the technique wrong, however, and the most likely outcome is lower back pain. To make sure you use them effectively, we’ve enlisted kettlebell king Mike Mahler to provide an in-depth guide to executing the key kettlebell moves with perfect form so you can add them to your training arsenal. In this article, Mahler details how to get the the kettlebell snatch, a demanding fully-body exercise, right. 

Kettlebell Snatch Form

  • Start with the kettlebell on the floor slightly in front of you and between your feet, which should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Bending slightly at the knees but hingeing mainly at the hips, grasp the kettlebell and pull it back between your legs with one hand (with your thumb pointing backwards) to create momentum.
  • Drive your hips forwards and straighten your back to initiate the upward movement of the kettlebell.
  • Once the bell passes chest height, gently pull it back and slide your fist around and under the bell, then punch it upwards so it nestles softly on the back of your wrist with your arm straight above your head.

Tip You should punch the bell up at the end of the move just as it nestles onto the back of your wrist. If it’s slapping the back of your wrist with a thud it’s a sign that you need to work on your timing.

Mahler says “With poor technique the snatch often looks like a clean to head level and then a press out. “It should be an uninterrupted motion from the floor to overhead. As with the clean, you want to focus on getting your hand around the bell rather than letting it violently flip over and bang up your wrist. Swing the bell out and then imagine you’re trying to throw it behind you. This will change the trajectory and get it to the lockout position more seamlessly. At the top, rotate your wrist so your thumb is pointing back and lower down and towards the body to avoid straining the lower back.”

5 High-Protein Recipes To Help Improve Your Diet

Food that’s unequivocally good for you has an image problem – it’s too often seen as boring. Nonesense, of course, and to prove it, we’ve put together five dishes that are not only good for you – high in protein and micronutrients and low in calories, fat and sugar – but also so plain good you’ll never miss junk food again.

Loaded Chicken Fajitas

Photography James Ransom

Ingredients (Makes 2 Servings)

  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 200g chicken breast, sliced into long strips
  • ½tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • ¼tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 taco-style sprouted-grain tortillas
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • 2tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1tbsp salsa, no sugar added
  • 2tbsp shredded lettuce
  • 1tbsp grated Monterey Jack or cheddar

To make

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/gas 5.
  2. In a small baking pan, spread the sliced peppers and onion on the bottom, then spread the chicken strips on top of the peppers and onions.
  3. Add the olive oil and spices to the chicken, peppers and onions. Toss the mixture until they’re well coated. Completely cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. While the chicken and vegetables are cooking, heat the tortillas in the microwave (about 30 seconds) or oven (60 seconds).
  5. Fill one warm tortilla with half of each of the chicken mixture, the avocado, the Greek yogurt, the salsa, the lettuce and the cheese. Then repeat with the other tortilla.

Nutrition (per fajita): 510 calories, 40g protein, 45g carbs, 20g fat

Coconut Curry Buffalo Fried Rice

Ingredients (Makes 1 serving)

  • ½tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ an onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 140g bison mince (or beef if you can’t get it)
  • Large handful of frozen mixed vegetables (sweetcorn, peas, carrots)
  • 100g brown rice, cooked
  • 2tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1tbsp Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1tbsp coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1tsp curry powder
  • 1tsp ginger paste (or ½tsp ground ginger)
  • ¼tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites

To make

  1. Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Stir and let the onions start to caramelise. Then add the bison mince, breaking it up with a large spoon as it cooks.
  2. Once the meat is starting to brown, add the frozen vegetables. Stir, then cover and cook for three to five minutes.
  3. Uncover and stir in the cooked brown rice, soy sauce, hot sauce, shredded coconut, curry powder, ginger paste and sea salt.
  4. Make a hole in the centre of rice mixture (revealing the bottom of the pan) and carefully add the egg and egg whites to it. Cook the eggs in the hole, then mix into the rest of the dish. Serve in a large bowl.

Nutrition: 487 calories, 37g protein, 36g carbs, 22g fat

Turkey Bacon and Kale-Stuffed Sweet Potato

Ingredients (Makes 1 serving)

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1tsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 1tbsp for sautéing
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • ½ a red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 slice unsmoked turkey bacon, sliced into thin strips
  • 170g turkey mince
  • 60g kale, chopped
  • ½tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch of black pepper

To make

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/gas 7. Wash the sweet potato and coat it with 1tsp olive oil, sea salt and garlic powder. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. It’s done when a fork can pierce the skin easily. Let it cool for ten minutes.
  2. While the potato is baking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add 1tbsp olive oil, onion, garlic and turkey bacon. Cook for about three minutes until the onions caramelise, then mix in the turkey.
  3. Once the turkey begins to brown, add the kale, paprika and black pepper. Stir, then cover and cook for about five minutes to let the kale wilt and the flavours develop.
  4. When the potato has cooled, carefully cut off a thin layer from the top and scoop out a few spoonfuls, forming a hole in the middle.
  5. Spoon the turkey mixture in and serve.

Nutrition: 440 calories, 37g protein, 46g carbs, 12g fat

Blueberry and Almond Overnight Oats

Ingredients (Makes 1 serving)

  • 45g rolled oats
  • 180ml unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • 1tbsp natural almond butter
  • 75g blueberries
  • 4tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1-2tsp sugar-free sweetener (optional)

To make

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least three to four hours.

Nutrition: 495 calories, 45g protein, 49g carbs, 19g fat

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Banana Pudding

Ingredients (Makes 1 serving)

  • 2tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ a ripe banana, mashed
  • ½tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1tsp cocoa powder
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1tsp sugar-free sweetener (optional)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1tbsp peanut butter powder
  • ½tbsp peanut butter

To make

  1. In a bowl, combine the chia seeds, mashed banana, vanilla extract and almond milk.
  2. Slowly add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, sweetener, protein powder and peanut butter powder, whisking with a fork as you go. Protein and cocoa tend to clump, so stir enough to make it smooth. Top with peanut butter
  3. Refrigerate for ten to 15 minutes. Chia seeds expand in liquid, so the mixture will thicken in the fridge.

Nutrition: 384 calories, 32g protein, 27g carbs, 14g fat

A version of this article first appeared in the US edition of Men’s Fitness

5 Christmas gifts for him

Present-hunting season is upon us once again and it’s time to hit the shops to ensure you find the perfect Christmas gifts for him ahead of the big day. 

Men can be notoriously difficult to buy for, so if you’re buying for a significant man in your life – whether that’s your dad, your big bro or your other half – we’ve got all the inspiration you need right here. 

Boring old socks are a no-go (though swanky thermal numbers might just make the grade), so we’re getting our thinking caps on early to ensure we find the perfect gifts this year. 

Is he an outdoors lover? A traveller? An active bod? A snappy dresser? Whatever his passion, there’s a gift out there that will make indulging in his favourite pastimes just that little bit more enjoyable this year, so check out our top 5 Christmas gifts for him! 

1. Fitbit 

If he’s a man who likes his gadgets, a Fitbit deserves a place under the tree this year. Whether he’s a keen fitness fan, likes to keep active or simply wants to be a bit heathier in the new year, there’s now a Fitbit to match his lifestyle. Think Fitbits are all step counting and no fun? Think again. The range now boasts a waterproof Fitbit Flex 2, designed to help him track his swim sessions, and the Fitbit Surge for real sports pros (heart rate monitor, GPS and multi-sport modes, as standard). Buying for your other half? Why not nab yourself one, too? There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition at Christmas – time to get that step count up and burn off those mince pies! 

2. Aftershave 

Yes, it’s a classic, but it’s still a great gift for your partner. Encourage him to consign the barely-there leftovers of previous fragrances to the bin and indulge in a new, signature scent. Whether he’s a sporty type, likes to stick to familiar territory or considers himself a trend-setter, there’s a fantastic range of sprays, eau de toilettes and parfums on offer in silly season. Plus, the real winner here is that you get to pick said scent, so he’ll smell great – to you, at least – all Christmas long. Our top picks for this year? Yves Saint Laurent Y for men packs a sensual, yet modern, punch, while Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver offers a woody and invigorating hit. You can’t go wrong with either. 

3. Posh grooming products 

A bit of an upgrade to his grab-and-go supermarket purchases won’t do his bathroom cabinet or complexion any harm. A great gift for those who aren’t inclined to splash out (excuse the pun!) on themselves when it comes to toiletries, he’ll secretly love a super-smelly body wash, foaming shaving gel or posh face cream. And don’t be afraid to make it personal. Facial hair? A beard care kit is a winner – Johnny’s Chop Shop Beard Up kit gets our vote. Cyclist or trail runner? Muc-Off’s Dirty Work Kit is a must. Man about town? Refinery’s Shave Oil will do the trick. 

4. Toiletry bag 

Throw out the tatty striped number with the broken zip and treat dad, bro or spouse to a smart leather or cotton travel bag. Many come packed with the aforementioned posh toiletries, come Christmas time, so you can double up if you’re feeling generous. Perfect for weekend getaways or trips further afield, a smart new bag will make sure spillages are kept to a minimum and upgrade your loved one’s travel status to first class. 

5. Star Wars gifts 

If there’s a Star Wars fan in the house, give them the super-fan treatment this Christmas. It’s the perfect time to settle down with the family and spend a luxuriously lazy afternoon watching back-to-back films – so, give him the present he really wants with a full afternoon of Star Wars viewing. Then top it off with an array of themed gifts he’ll love – with everything from a Darth Vader soap on a rope to Stormtrooper gift sets on offer, this Christmas is the perfect time to indulge their inner Jedi. Head to Boots for an impressive selection that will please super-fans everywhere.