Lifestyle | Monday 9 October 2017

Pump it up


Fitness expert Amy Abrahams tells us why it’s cool to feel strong

Newsflash: being strong isn’t just for the bodybuilders who flex their pecs in the gym. More than ever, women are lifting weights and gaining enormous benefits from adding strength training to their routine. But feeling strong is about more than just the physical gains – it’s about realising you’re powerful too. Here’s how to embrace your inner Wonder Woman


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Don't fear the weights


‘Building muscle isn’t about “bulking up”,’ says fitness guru Svava Sigbertsdottir founder of The Viking Method and PT to stars including Nicole Scherzinger. ‘It’s about increasing your bone density, being fit, having good posture and cutting your risk of injuries.’

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On top of all that, muscle burns more energy than fat. The more muscular you are, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be, which means you burn a significant number of calories even when you’re not working out (win!). Weight training can be done anywhere, says Svava. ‘You don’t need machines, or even weights. And it’s not only bodyweight exercises that strengthen your muscles – try incorporating balancing exercises, too.’


Be inspired...





Northern beauty Mel Sykes always looks in tip-top shape – see her on Insta pushing weights… and smiling.





Parent and PT Jemma motivates mums (herself included) to squeeze in teeny snippets of exercise – and it works.


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We love the motivational tips from this Canadian trainer – and her belief that everyone can tap into their inner athlete.



View the videos below to see Amy try out Svava’s favourite strength-training moves at home



Improves upper body, core and leg strength

Method: Start in a press-up position on your toes or knees. With hands wide, wrists in line with your shoulders and core engaged, lower your whole body down until your chest just about touches the floor – then push your body up again.



A full-body power move that works your arms, back, glutes, core and legs

Method: Squat with your bottom sticking out, then place your hands on the floor in between your legs and jump your feet backwards into a press-up position. Jump back to the squat, jump up and land in a squat. That is one burpee. Tip: When you jump out of the press-up position back to the squat, your heels need to be down on the ground.


Kneeling kick

Increases lower body and core strength

Method: Start in a kneeling position, then bring your left leg forward, bending it at the knee with your foot flat on the floor. Press your left heel into the ground and stand up, lengthening your left leg while kicking your right leg forwards. Control it as you come back down.



How to get through those days when mainlining chocolate feels like the only thing that will get us through the afternoon


For optimal energy and to keep us feeling strong, we need to be eating the right foods. Include those full of B vitamins, such as eggs and broccoli, high-in-vitamin-C berries, tomatoes and kiwi fruit; and those containing essential fatty acids like salmon or mackerel, as well as avocados and olive oil.

Nutritionist Angelique Panagos


Don’t give carbs a swerve if you’re hitting the gym. Good pre-exercise food contains slow-release carbohydrates [wholegrain rice and pasta] to boost your blood sugars and glycogen stores. And protein is also key to prevent muscle breakdown and help with repair.

Dietician Priya Tew


Be inspired...

 Check out these lovely ladies for some yummy food ideas, fitness and general kick-a*** inspo.


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 Confidence isn’t about how we look – it’s about how we’re feeling. And while we don’t always wake up feeling like a badass, there are ways to help ‘think’ ourselves out of a slump. ‘Practise interrupting your negative, self-critical thoughts and stepping back from them,’ says chartered psychologist Jess Baker. ‘Doing this reduces their negative emotional impact on you. Say to yourself: “I am noticing that I am having this negative thought”, which can help you to remember that these are *just* thoughts. Instead of letting them sabotage your goals – fitness or otherwise – simply notice them and carry on.’


Be inspired...





Body activist and curvaceous model Ashley keeps fit while remaining curvy and absolutely smoking hot.

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Stunning plus-size model Iskra champions the ‘strong not skinny’, sex-kitten vibe that we love.


Think the benefits of building strength stop when you walk out of the gym? Not so. By working out we sharpen our minds, and the focus on finishing the routine teaches us to stay motivated and not to give up. It makes us more confident, more resilient and even helps us to control anxiety.

Dr. Rhonda Cohen, Sport & Exercise psychologist at Middlesex University


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