10 Workout tips from experts

Getting and staying fit can be a challenge. For many of us, it’s hard just to get up off the couch. So what’s the secret of people who have managed to make exercise a way of life?woman working with trainer

1. Be Consistent

Chase Squires is the first to admit that he’s no fitness expert. But he is a guy who used to weigh 205 pounds, more than was healthy for his 5’4″ frame. “In my vacation pictures in 2002, I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at the beach,” says the 42-year-old Colorado resident. Squires decided enough was enough, cut out fatty food, and started walking on a treadmill. The pounds came off and soon he was running marathons — not fast, but in the race. He ran his first 50-mile race in October 2003 and completed his first 100-miler a year later. Since then, he’s completed several 100-mile, 50-mile, and 50k races.

His secret? “I’m not fast, but I’m consistent,” says Squires, who says consistency is his best tip for maintaining a successful fitness regimen.

related content

7 Risky Exercises and Better Bets

Start

“It all started with 20 minutes on a treadmill,” he says. “The difference between my success and others who have struggled is that I did it every single day. No exercise program in the world works if you don’t do it consistently.”

2. Follow an Effective Exercise Routine

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently surveyed 1,000 ACE-certified personal trainers about the best techniques to get fit. Their top three suggestions:

  • Strength training. Even 20 minutes a day twice a week will help tone the entire body.
  • Interval training. “In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, FACSM, chief science officer for ACE. “It is an extremely time-efficient and productive way to exercise.”
  • Increased cardio/aerobic exercise. Bryant suggests accumulating 60 minutes or more a day of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, running, or dancing.

3. Set Realistic Goals

“Don’t strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can’t be met,” says Kara Thompson, spokesperson for the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). “Focus instead on increasing healthy behaviors.”

In other words, don’t worry if you can’t run a 5K just yet. Make it a habit to walk 15 minutes a day, and add time, distance, and intensity from there.

4. Use the Buddy System

Find a friend or relative whom you like and trust who also wants to establish a healthier lifestyle, suggests Thompson. “Encourage one another. Exercise together. Use this as an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company and to strengthen the relationship.”

5. Make Your Plan Fit Your Life

Too busy to get to the gym? Tennis star Martina Navratilova, health and fitness ambassador for the AARP, knows a thing or two about being busy and staying fit.

Make your plan fit your life, she advises in an article on the AARP web site. “You don’t need fancy exercise gear and gyms to get fit.”

If you’ve got floor space, try simple floor exercises to target areas such as the hips and buttocks, legs and thighs, and chest and arms (like push-ups, squats, and lunges). Aim for 10-12 repetitions of each exercise, adding more reps and intensity as you build strength.

6. Be Happy

Be sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy doing, suggests Los Angeles celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree.

related content

The 30-Minute Workout Routine

Start

“If you hate weights, don’t go to the gym. You can lose weight and get in shape with any type of training or activity,” he says.

And choose something that is convenient. Rock climbing may be a great workout, but if you live in a city, it’s not something you’ll be doing every day.

7. Watch the Clock

Your body clock, that is. Try to work out at the time you have the most energy, suggests Jason Theodosakis, MD, exercise physiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. If you’re a morning person, schedule your fitness activities early in the day; if you perk up as the day goes along, plan your activities in the afternoon or evening.

“Working out while you have the most energy will yield the best results,” Theodosakis says.

8. Call In the Pros

Especially if you’re first getting started, Theodosakis suggests having a professional assessment to determine what types of exercise you need most.

“For some people, attention to flexibility or to balance and agility, may be more important than resistance training or aerobics,” he says. “By getting a professional assessment, you can determine your weakest links and focus on them. This will improve your overall fitness balance.”

9. Get Inspired

“Fitness is a state of mind,” says fitness professional and life coach Allan Fine of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. One of Fine’s tricks to get and stay motivated is to read blogs or web sites that show him how others have been successful. “Who inspires you?” he asks.

10. Be Patient

Finally, remember that even if you follow all these tips, there will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories, advises Navratilova. Just be patient, and don’t give up, she says on the AARP web site: “Hang in there, and you’ll see solid results.”

Dead strong

Image result for Deadlift

Want to bolster your muscles and get better at everything you do in the gym? Perfect one of the three big lifts: the deadlift

Never tried a deadlift before? You’re missing out. ‘You need to be doing this move,’ says Richard Tidmarsh, lead trainer at London’s Reach Fitness. Here at WF, we’ve long been huge advocates of lifting weights, but it’s nice to see such a huge phenomenon take off thanks to its benefits for strength, fat loss and wellbeing.

But let’s get one thing straight: you can only reap these amazing benefits if you’re doing it properly. ‘Awful form, wasting time on isolate movements and using weights that are too light or too heavy are all common mistakes,’ says Richard.

So let’s take a step back and look at the humble deadlift. ‘It works pretty much every major muscle group in your body hitting your back, glutes, legs and core. So, if you get it right, it’ll improve your posture and strength – and, with time and the right training plan, will be a huge weapon in your armoury to add lean tissue to your body.’

Deadlift

Technique

-Set up behind the bar with it touching your shins. Hinge at the hips and knees taking a grip a little wider than shoulder-width apart. With your weight in your heels and spine long and straight, prepare to lift with your chin in a neutral position.

-Now with a deep breath in that you will hold tight during this phase, simultaneously push down through the floor with your heels and drive up with your hips and legs to lift the bar. Maintain a straight spine with your shoulder blades pulled together throughout with your core and back engaged.

-Finish the lift by locking out to full hip extension and standing up straight with the bar tight against you, your back and glutes engaged. You then return the bar in reverse order to the floor, maintaining the positive spine position to execute the lift.

Safety tip

Start with a weight you are comfortable with to get your form perfect. If you have poor spine and hip mobility, you will not be able to get into a good lifting position. So work on these areas of movement before even considering doing this lift.

6 Practical Tips For CrossFit

So you have been doing CrossFit for some time now, and you have made noticeable gains in your fitness. That is great! Now, you should take some time to stop what you are doing and reflect on how incredible it is that you are improving your body’s health and capabilities. Getting your first chin up, muscle up, or handstand push up is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
But as you continue to progress in CrossFit, you might reach a point where you find yourself pushing harder and harder to get extra reps and rounds to the detriment of your form and technique. This is not the way to go. If the quantity of reps you perform only increases by sacrificing the quality of said reps, then your body is likely to reach a plateau, or worse, incur an injury.
Rather, you should prioritize quality over quantity so that in the future you may continue to make gains in strength, work capacity, mobility, and overall fitness. Here are some practical tips for how to do that in a CrossFit setting.
Image result for Crossfit Breathe

1. Breathe

What a simple thing that we all do everyday. However, mid-WOD, it suddenly becomes apparent that you have not been breathing adequately. How about this: focus on inhaling. Long, slow, controlled, and in through the nose.
If you are doing a twenty-minute AMRAP, then I want you exclusively breathing through the nose for at least the first ten minutes. Heavy mouth breathing should be reserved for sprints, short efforts, and the ends of workouts. While you initially might need to slow down in order to breathe through your nose, in the long run your body will experience positive aerobic adaptations.

2. Break Up Sets

Have you ever stopped and thought about why 21-15-9 is such an effective rep scheme? One reason is because each set can be broken up into three distinct sub-sets: 3 sets of 7, 3 sets of 5, and 3 sets of 3. Another great way to break up this rep scheme is: 11 and 10, 8 and 7, then 5 and 4. So the next time you do “Fran,” “Diane,” or “Elizabeth,” strategize a bit beforehand and see if that helps you set a new personal record.
Another way to state this is that you should not push yourself to failure every round of every workout. Rather, choose a sub-maximal number of reps that you are confident you can complete, and aim to keep yourself just shy of the danger zone for the majority of your workouts.
Image result for Rest Between Sets

3. Rest Between Sets

Rest?! Are you not supposed to go all out as fast as you can? Okay, yes, I get it – the workouts are done for time. But you might end up with an overall faster time (and thus greater work capacity) if you actually plan to rest between sets from the get-go. 
For instance, next time you do “Cindy” (AMRAP in 20 minutes of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, and 15 squats), try to do one round at the top of every minute. If you succeed, you will have accumulated twenty rounds. It will feel very easy in the beginning and very not-so-easy at the end. 
If twenty rounds of Cindy is out of your reach, then try one round every ninety seconds. Or, vice-versa, if your old personal record is higher than twenty trounds, try one round every 45 seconds or so.

4. Prioritize Mobility

You know you are supposed to do it, but somehow you only manage to hit the foam roller or grab that stretch band once or twice a week. How about this: you are not allowed to do a WOD unless you have first done your mobility work for the day. 
Have you ever set a timer for five minutes and then rolled out your thoracic spine? Or what about grabbing a lacrosse ball and hitting your entire shoulder girdle? Check out Kelly Starrett’s awesome MobilityWOD for more ideas.
Image result for Prioritize Mobility

5. Scale Movements and Weights Efectively

If you only take one principle away from this post, please pay attention here. You want to make optimal choices in your life, correct? If you could take two routes to your destination, but one of them was longer and riskier, what would you decide? You would take the optimal route. Duh!
Similarly, learning to scale movements and weights effectively is how you optimize CrossFit workouts to fit your individual fitness level and needs. Refer to Prilepin’s Chart (a guideline for what percentage of your 1RM to lift for each given rep range) when choosing what weights to do for WODs. Hint: it might be lighter than you think!
twitter birdClick To Tweet: How to determine the ideal weight to use in a CrossFit WOD

6. Take Individual Accountability

How can you reach your own goals when someone else is planning the workouts for you? This is when you need to take individual accountability for your own CrossFit practice. If the WOD has back squats for strength, but your goal is a double-bodyweight deadlift, then explain to your trainer that you are focusing on the deadlift that cycle.
Similarly, if you want to get your first strict chin up, then reduce the reps of banded chin ups, kipping pull ups, or ring rows in the WOD and do a few super-slow negatives each round instead. It might be different than what is written on the whiteboard, but I am willing to bet that you (and your goals) might be a little different than everyone else in the class around you, as well.

ARE YOU PUSHING YOURSELF HARD ENOUGH?

Jogging on the treadmill whilst having a gossip is not going to reap real results – it’s time to get down to business!

If you’re pottering along to the gym two or three times a week, but don’t feel you’re seeing real results, the answer may be simple. The workouts you’re doing may not be very effective, or you may not be working hard enough! But don’t worry, if you think you’re guilty of taking your foot off the gas, we’ve got four sure-fire ways to give your workouts the boost they’ve been waiting for!

Up the intensity While a 30-minute steady-state run has long been the fall back of many a fitness fan, research is now stacking up to show that these sorts of workouts are considerably less effective than those of a higher intensity and shorter length.

Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a bike with about a minute’s rest between, three times a week, is as effective at building muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously, according to research conducted by scientists at McMaster University in Canada. So ditching your slow and steady sessions on the treadmill, cross trainer or pavement for a shorter workout of sprints and rests should help you see results in no time.

Get a personal trainer
Sometimes there’s nothing like a scary ex-marine shouting at you from across the park to get your backside in gear. We’re all guilty of giving ourselves an easy ride now and again, so getting a personal trainer could be your route to the body you’ve always wanted.

Sometimes we simply underestimate our own physical ability and it can take an outside with an objective viewpoint to make us see what we’re capable of. ‘A personal trainer will mix up your routine with a variety of exercises and challenge your body in new ways, which should kick-start your metabolism. Having someone else pushing you to achieve will also increase the intensity of your workout, helping you to overcome the plateau,’ says London-based personal trainer Mollie Millington (www.ptmollie.com). ‘Be sure to let your trainer know what your goals are so they can tailor the workout accordingly.’

If you’re going to get a trainer, find someone who’s registered with REPs, and who is prepared to offer a free first session to see if you like it before you commit to more. Try to find someone who you can afford to train with at least once a week so you can really get the most from them.

Get a heart rate monitor
Getting feedback about how hard you’ve pushed yourself in a session is a great way to monitor your progress and identify where you’re doing well and where you might be slacking. Heart rate monitors, usually comprising of a belt and a watch, are a great way of doing this.

MYZONE (www.myzone.org) monitors are the next generation of this and can display your effort levels live in real time, when used in a class, or store your effort levels (in the memory of the belt) when you’re working out independently. This information can then be wirelessly uploaded and accessed by an online user account, letting you check out how you did post-workout.

H2 Bike Run (www.h2clubs.co.uk) offer spin classes using the MYZONE heart rate monitor, which allows you (and the rest of the class) to see your effort levels projected onto a wall at the front throughout the class in the form of a coloured square with a percentage in it.

MYZONE effort points are awarded for each minute that you spend within each heart rate zone so, under 50 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 0.5 points, 50-60 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1 point, 60-70 per cent of your maximum heart rate equals 1.5 points 80-100 per cent equals 2 points and so on.

As your effort increases, your square changes colour from blue to green to yellow and finally red, so everyone in the class (and your instructor!) can see if you’re really putting the work in! You wouldn’t want to be lagging behind with your square lit up in blue if the rest of the class are powering ahead with their squares on red!

And it can be used in other forms of exercise aside from spin. ‘I use MYZONE as a way of carefully tracking the intensity I am putting clients through during their SGUT (Sol Gilbert Ultimate Training) sessions,’ says Sol Gilbert of ZT Family Fitness (www.ztfamilyfitness.com). ‘Using MYZONE has definitely helped to show clients in real-time how hard they’re actually working. I often tell them to work out within a certain heart rate zone, so if I tell them to work out in the yellow zone they can actually see if they’re in it, or if they need to work harder to get into it.’

Lift heavier weights
There’s a common misconception that if women use heavy weights they will end up looking bulky, but doing fewer reps with a heavier weight could actually be the key to seeing real results from your workouts, particularly for weight loss.

‘Lifting heavy weights will not make you huge! You simply don’t have the testosterone levels in your body to build big muscles!’ says Rory James Manning, personal trainer and managing director of RJ Fitness (www.rj-fitness.co.uk). Rory says this is one of things he has most difficulty getting female clients to understand.

‘Lifting light weights will not get you nearly as toned as lifting heavy weights and there is no such thing as toned or un-toned muscle, muscle is muscle.  It can be big or small, but not “toned”. The best way to appear lean or “toned” is to have as much muscle as possible, while having the lowest body-fat percentage possible,’ says Rory.

If you’re doing lots of reps with light weights, it’s time to change up your game plan. ‘Are you guilty of going too light? If you are completing 15 reps or more you almost certainly are, as this won’t be heavy enough to split the muscle fibres! And you won’t see the same kind of fat loss you would if you increased your weight!’ says Rory.

And having more muscle will burn more fat. ‘A pound of muscle burns about 20 calories a day while a pound of fat burns less than five calories. Therefore the more muscle you build, the more fat you burn!’ says Rory.

If that sounds appealing to you, put down the light dumbbells, swap them for a weight that will really challenge you and take the number of reps you’re doing right down. ‘Take your rep range down to between six or 10 reps per set and increase your weight so the last two reps are almost impossible to get out (while keeping good form)!’ says Rory.

The 10 exercise commandments

Image result for womenworkout
 Want to make your workouts easier and get more out of every session? Follow these top tips and tricks to boost your results

When you first started working out, you were probably up to your eyeballs in exercise rules: engage the core, don’t strain your neck, don’t let the knees go past the toes and so on.

Newcomers to exercise tend to make the extra effort to stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to following these guidelines, but those who are incredibly well-versed in working out often forget these all-important rules – and sometimes going back to basics is just what you need to make your workout as efficient as possible. Here are the 10 commandments of training and why you should never (ever!) forget them.

1 Don’t lock out

Keeping your elbows and knees slightly soft, even during full extension, is in your interest not only in terms of joint health, but also in making your workout more effective. ‘Not locking out when lifting weights will prevent joint deterioration and reduce your chances of joint-related niggles and injuries,’ explains personal trainer Dave Fletcher (theodysseyway.co.uk). Keeping your joints soft also calls for muscle recruitment throughout the entire move, as it doesn’t allow them to catch a break at the top of the motion. More work equals better results, right?

2 Eat wise

You don’t need us to tell you not to eat heavy meals too close to a workout – you’ll soon feel it if you do. The reason you might feel a little worse for wear when taking on a gruelling session after a big eat is because, when you exercise, the blood flow is directed to the muscles that are working. This means there’s limited flow to the digestive system – something’s got to give.

3 Give yourself a lift

Squats are a big deal now – it’s a fact. While serious lifters have seen the squat as the holy grail of exercise for years, initiatives like the squat challenge have really popularised the move. But a lot of people struggle to perfect the technique and are, as a result, missing out on maximum results. ‘For most people, squatting with your heels raised will dramatically improve your range of motion,’ Dave explains. ‘If you have tight calves, you tend to lean forwards during a squat and unnecessarily load the lower back, so by raising the heels (on a plank or weight discs, for example) you allow a greater activation of the glutes, quads and hamstrings (bottom and thigh muscles), increasing the effectiveness of the move while reducing the risk of strain to the lower back.’

4 Practise your turn-out

We’re not talking ballerina-worthy turn-out, but pointing your toes out just slightly while performing resistance exercises gives you an extra bit of stability that could make all the difference. Keeping your toes pointing forwards might seem like the safest option, but, according to Dave, the stance can feel unbalanced and unnatural since the hips tend
to rotate outwards a little.

5 Have a break

The jury always seems to be out on rest days, with different people recommending different things. Should you skip the gym if you feel rubbish, or just power through like a trooper? And how many rest days should you have per week? Either way, one thing’s for sure: you do need rest days, especially between strength sessions or sessions that target the same muscles again. You’re seriously compromising your safety by overdoing it. Even if you feel okay, your muscles will still be recovering, and won’t be able to perform to the maximum until they’ve been rebuilt.

6 Perfect your posture

It’s not as simple as standing up straight when performing your exercises, although this is pretty important, too. Having good body alignment can boost your progress by helping you perform exercises with better form, so working on your postural alignment outside of the gym is crucial. ‘Make sure you put the time in away from your workouts, too, by stretching, foam rolling and stopping yourself from slouching when you sit down,’ advises Dave.

7 Engage your core

This is probably one of the first rules you learn when you start exercising. Engaging the core almost goes without saying these days, right? But it really is at the centre of everything and ensures your upper and lower body work in synergy, taking the strain away from the lower back and enabling you to lift heavier weights. And you know what that means? Better results.

8 Refuel post-workout

Eating healthily in general is pretty important, but for those who go hard at it in the gym, you need to pay extra attention to mealtimes, too. You’ve probably seen those hardcore gym-goers glugging their protein shakes before they’ve even left the changing rooms, and here’s why: after a workout, the muscles are primed to absorb protein, so you want to take advantage of this. We’re not saying everyone should be on the shakes, but make sure you go for a protein-heavy meal like chicken or fish after you’ve exercised.

9 Prepare and recover properly

Let’s be honest, we can all be a little guilty of skipping warm-ups and cool-downs, even though we know we shouldn’t. And while we know stretching after exercise helps to reduce injury and aches, did you know that warming up efficiently before a workout actually makes the workout easier. How? Stretching dynamically pre-workout, in similar movement patterns to those you’re about to perform, means your muscles will be more elastic and the blood will already be flowing. ‘Stick to dynamic stretches before a workout and static ones after,’ Dave adds.

10 Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is important, regardless of how often you exercise – the body is primarily made up of fluid, after all. If you start to feel thirsty at any point, then you’re actually already dehydrated. And, while rehydrating is easy enough, taking preventative measures
by ensuring you never reach the point of thirst is even better. Even minor dehydration can affect your endurance and blood flow. The rule? The more you tend to sweat, the more you should drink throughout the day. So keep a bottle of water on you at all times.

Why we love cycling

Image result for cycling
 There are so many reasons to get back into cycling – or try it for the first time – get started with our top tips

Jumping on a shiny new steed and pedalling off into the sunset is a glorious feeling – you just can’t beat it! But if you haven’t saddled up for a few years, you may be wondering where to start or why to bother. Don’t worry! We caught up with Gareth Turner from Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) to chat about the benefits of life on two wheels and how you can get back in the race.

Slim cycle

Jumping on your bike is a fantastic way to blitz calories and trim down. ‘Cycling is a great way to lose weight and a brilliant way to burn calories – you can burn around 500 calories an hour cycling and sometimes much more,’ says Gareth. ‘Cycling can also have the added benefit of increasing your metabolism – even after the ride is over.

And it’s a great option for working out on your commute. Think about it – you can get your workouts in on the way to and from work and cancel that gym membership altogether if you want! ‘And, because it is a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s a lot easier on the joints than something like running, so you can do it more often,’ says Gareth. Sounds good to us!

It’s also a great toner, working your lower body hard, which – thanks to this focus on the bigger muscles in your body (bum and legs!) also burns fat. ‘Cycling helps to tone your muscles and works your calves, thighs and bottom, while also giving your shoulders and arms a workout, too,’ says Gareth.

Healthy heart

Cycling is not only bags of fun, and a great way to stay in shape, it’s good for your heart, too. ‘Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness,’ explains Gareth. ‘And the British Heart Foundation says that cycling regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.’

Mind matters

And getting on your bike could have benefits for the mind, too. ‘It’s not just the body that sees the benefits, as cycling is believed to reduce stress, anxiety and provide a sense of wellbeing,’ says Gareth. A cycle home after a long day is a great way to shake off your worries.

Wheely wheely fun

Whizzing around on a bike gives you a great sense of freedom and there are so many types of cycling, and types of bikes, you can try. ‘Cycling can be very varied and fun – try mountain bike trails, exhilarating downhills, BMX and road biking with amazing views,’ says Gareth. Plus it’s one of the few workouts in which you can have a good gas with your mates, too! Have you every tried catching up over a quick swim or disco rave class?! ‘Cycling can be very social by riding in a group and also with the family – everyone can get involved,’ adds Gareth.

Bikram yoga

Image result for Bikram yogaHeard about Bikram yoga? Read our top tips for surviving yoga in the heat

If you like your exercise hot and sweaty, then you’ll love Bikram yoga. Not only does this class boast the usual benefits of yoga like improved flexibility and mood, but it’s also great for the metabolism and gives you a serious muscular endurance workout. There’s got to be a reason why there are so many adoring fans worldwide. If you want to take on the hardcore yoga class, check out our top tips for surviving your first class…

What is Bikram yoga?

Bikram yoga is 90-minute yoga class developed by Bikram Choudhury. It consists of a series of 26 postures. Easy, right? Not when the room is set to 40.6°C – the standard temperature for which Bikram yoga is practiced. Don’t forget a towel!

Why would I do this to myself?

There are a range of benefits to doing Bikram yoga, from helping with weight loss and boosting metabolism to improving bodily pains and depression. During your session you will be exhausted and constantly wiping away that sweat, but as your session comes to an end, you’ll actually feel better than you did when you walked in. You will have worked your body and pushed yourself to its limits, and as a result you’ll feel rejuvenated and restored.

Top tips
  • Stay hydrated. This doesn’t mean chugging a litre bottle of water when you’re walking in the studio door. Drink around 2 litres of water throughout the day before your session. And post-Bikram make sure you restore your electrolytes and rehydrate.
  • Don’t eat 2 hours before the class. A full stomach can be very uncomfortable in the heat. You don’t want to be hungry either, so a small snack might be okay, but you just have to experiment and see what level of food intake is right for you.
  • Show some skin. You are going to sweat, just accept it. So you want to wear light breathable clothing. Don’t be afraid to show some skin, yoga is not competitive – it’s about challenging yourself.
  • Let it rain. As you sweat throughout the class, try not to constantly towel yourself off. Sweat is your body’s way of cooling you down, so embrace it.
  • Come back. The first session is particularly hard as your body won’t know what to expect. But make sure you come back for your second class – that’s when the fun really starts! Be patient and enjoy yourself… and the sweat!

6 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE

Image result for exercise

Too shy to work the weights room? Here’s how to beat your gym fears!

We’ve all been there – ready to smash the latest TRX class or finally get to grips with the Smith machine only to lose our nerve when a group of super-fitbies hit the gym floor. It’s a common scenario, with a survey by Sport England showing that 75 per cent of women want to be more active but fear being judged for their appearance or ability. The aim of the viral This Girl Can campaign is to quash those worries and show it’s OK to jiggle or sweat while you work out. We at H&F couldn’t agree more, so – to ensure you don’t retreat to your ‘comfy’ workout zone – we asked the experts how to beat confidence demons.

1 CONQUER THE CHAOS

People who plan feel in control – over 80 per cent of workers claim that being organised improves their performance. The same goes for gym goers, so ask an instructor for a workout plan and watch your gym confidence soar.  ‘Before you walk in the door, make sure you know exactly which exercises and weights you’re going to use,’ agrees Scott Laidler, top trainer at scottlaidler.com. ‘You’ll feel far more comfortable when you know exactly what you’re doing.’

2 BEAT THE GYM CROWD

If you’re not ready to train with the rest of the gym crowd, consider hitting the weights room during off-peak times when the gym’s quieter. ‘I often train clients that are self-conscious very early in the morning or last-thing at night,’ reveals health coach, Joshua Silverman (@silvermanhealth). ‘This helps them to build confidence and start feeling more at ease in a gym environment.’ Off-peak memberships are cheaper, too!

3 KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE

Don’t be afraid to be a newbie. Remember that everyone started somewhere – yes, even Mrs Bodybuilder was a beginner once upon a time. ‘So many people have a perception that they will not be fit enough to go to the gym,’ adds Gillian Reeves, national group exercise manager at Virgin Active. ‘There’s really nothing to worry about, as there are lots of different people at the gym and no-one minds if you can’t touch your toes or run a mile!’

4 PUMP UP YOUR PLAYLIST

Music makes people feel powerful. Research in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science shows that heavy-bass tracks makes athletes feel empowered. ‘Pick a good playlist that will help you to focus on your workout without being distracted,’ says Silverman. ‘Make exercise your “meditation time” – an hour that is all about you. By doing this, you’ll lose your inhibitions and forget to worry about what anyone else is thinking.’

5 DITCH THE SWEATPANTS

A good excuse to go shopping – buying new gym kit can do wonders for your confidence. ‘No end of people sidle into the gym wearing an unflattering old T-shirt to cover up their body,’ explains Silverman. ‘Believe me, investing in clothes that make you feel more comfortable and confident will make all the difference to how hard you work out.’ Just remember to keep comfort in mind – new clobber won’t boost your confidence if it’s too tight, bright or daring!

6 FIND A FRIEND

Feeling really out of your comfort zone? Don’t go to the gym alone. ‘Sometimes, being alone can be quite intimidating, but training with a friend will give you confidence,’ says Tyrone Brennand, founder of Be The Fittest (bethefittest.co.uk). ‘Training with a buddy will also help you to push more, as people often train harder when they see their mate working their socks off!’