Hey beginners, start with exercise snacks

Kia ora Sweaty Pals! How are you doing? Good? I hope so.

I wanted to have a yarn about exercise snacking. Have you heard of it? Also just a note after you have your first session of exercise go directly to a northern beaches physio.

Aside from having a great name – snacks rule! Exercise snacking is an excellent choice for people very new to moving, those in rehab from an injury, people who are mostly recovered from a cold or similar but can’t exercise around people.. so many reasons.

But what is it?

Exercise snacks are simple 10-12 reps exercises done at home or work for a couple of minutes, a few times a day, instead of a 30-45 minute daily workout at a gym or outside.

For those improving mobility or their range of motion, it could be a few on the spot exercises while waiting for the kettle to boil, or for lunch to heat up. You could set a timer for every 90 minutes, reminding you to stand up and do a few exercises or a simple yoga flow, or a muscle stretch. Or even a short walk to the end of your driveway or maybe your street if it’s a short one?

For experienced exercisers at home, you can try burpees or pushups or squat jumps or or .. the list is endless.

In my last email I shared about doing what you can do in the time you have where exercise is concerned. Meaning that 15 minutes of moving is far greater than skipping exercise entirely because you don’t have a full hour spare. Exercise Snacking is here for that.

Here are my favourite ones for beginners:

Step ups if you have steps, or just lifting your foot to a low sofa and then alternating with the other foot
Push ups against the wall or a kitchen bench
Toe tap crunches

If you’re slightly more advanced try:

Squat or lunge jumps – watch your form, and wear some good shoes for these.
Pushups from the floor
Mountain climbers
Walk outs

Remember all we’re doing is moving for a short amount of time a few times a day. So it might be that you do 10 of any of the mentioned exercises – less if you’re injured or recovering. It really is about the dial. I waffle on and on to my poor clients about this. The dial is for you to acknowledge how you’re feeling when you exercise. Turn it up for those burpees if you can, but absolutely feel free to do a set of squats and leave it at that. Or nothing at all! I always point my new clients to our massage chairs in the gym, as walking through the doors of the gym when you really don’t want it is hard enough. Reward it with ten minutes in the massage chair and head home. You might feel up to staying and doing a bit more after ten minutes space to clear your head.

Give it a go. Exercise is not about going from 0 to 100 in a day. Build up to it slowly.

Protein shakes, pre workout, bcaa.. huh?

To supplement or not to supplement. Let’s be clear. Just because you have started to exercise and maybe even lift some weights, heavy ones, doesn’t mean you need to go crazy at SprintFit and buy all the things. I love SprintFit – it’s where I get my supplements from, but before you start adding to cart, here’s what a few of those things do so you can make a good assessment as to whether you need them.

Protein helps to repair and grow muscles. It’s good for our organs, skin and nails. It’s a little bit of an energy source, but mostly it’s about repair. Most people can get enough protein from their food, and actually that’s probably better for you. Certainly in terms of time and cost.

Protein is available in plentiful sources both animal and plant, and not just meat. Dairy is a great source as is hemp or soy, legumes, chickpeas.. so many sources.

However, if you are quite sure that you aren’t getting enough, a supplement might be useful. The fall down here, is that people start at a gym and see some of our experienced exercisers at the gym smashing a shake back or a brightly coloured fluid in their drink bottles and think they need to do this also.

Not really. If you are just starting out with exercise, eating a balanced diet, and probably exercising 3 times a week, you’re good. If you’re not sure, a way to work out is to multiply 0.8 grams (of protein) by your bodyweight in kilograms to find out how much you should be eating and then take a look at the food you eat to make sure. It isn’t an exact science, but it’s a good enough estimate. I don’t really care much for scale weight, but in this case of using body weight to figure out your protein needs, well it’s taking a stab in the dark on how much muscle you have that potentially needs repairing or maintaining at the least. Don’t read too much into this, if you’re like me and haven’t weighed yourself in years and don’t intend to (definitely me) then just have a guess and you’re golden.

On the flip side of this, if you are exercising in a moderate to significant style of 5 times plus a week, an extra bit of protein will be useful. This blog isn’t going to cut it as far as information goes, so message me directly and I’ll send you on to the right people.

Pre workout
Pre workout exists to give you a boost of energy to get through a challenging workout. For the past 20-odd years that I have been working out (on and definitely off) the first time I tried a pre workout supplement was this year when I started to lift some considerably heavy weights. I’ve always knocked back a bit of coffee beforehand but it was actually my wonderful gal pal Vicky (she is a trainer at CityFitness too and a powerlifter coach), anyway, she mixed up an extremely bright blue drink prior to one of our workout sessions to see if it would perk me up to be able to lift a bit heavier.

I have no evidence to suggest it works. My personal experience is that I was able to lift heavy afterwards, but is it psychosomatic for someone like me (not a powerlifter or competitive athlete)? Maybe? However I see results whenever I do take it which to be honest is not every work out. I’m not convinced it is a good supplement to take every single workout, but I’d take it before my sessions with my trainer, lift sessions with Vicky, and that’s it. Not when I am training by myself, and not when I’m doing cardio.

BCAA’s are branched chain amino acids are essential amino acids, because our body cannot make them, they need to be ingested through food or supplements. For beginners of exercise I am super skeptical of their usefulness, but for those going a bit harder, then sure. Maybe. Ahhh, it’s difficult because some people rate them and some don’t. Honestly, I’d rather take vitamin supplements than BCAAs. But if you’re starting to rack up some weights, heading towards more powerlifting type exercises, you’d take BCAA’s in the middle of your workout. Chuck some in your water bottle. It’s quite next level.

Exercise to try – walking burpee!

If you follow me on twitter – a lot of my anti-diet, your body is normal, don’t sweat it rants are there. One thing I talked about last week was the reason people generally don’t like burpees. It’s because burpees are actually an advanced exercise. Your PE teacher at school shouldn’t have forced you to do them. Your trainer shouldn’t be getting you to do burpees when you are new to exercise and the gym. Burpees hurt an unconditioned body. Same with box jumps, but that’s another story. If you are mildly curious about burpees, or it’s something that you’ve wanted to be able to do, here’s how you get started with conditioning (practice) so you can do them.

1) Get your squat on – the lower the better. Incorporate a set of ten squats into your day several times (see exercise snacking above) Try putting your hands on the floor as if you were to hop back, but don’t actually. After that, rise up to your starting position, and do it again.

2) Once you’ve gotten really good at low squats, so you can put your hands on the floor. Try a burpee walk out. Here is a video with both a burpee walk out and an easier modification before that.

There’s no hopping or jumping or anything particularly dynamic about this move and you can go as fast or as slow as you like. Try one. If it wasn’t bad, do a couple more. Try not to go overboard though. Any questions on this, let me know, I quite like burpees but since I left F45 I haven’t done many at all. Time to get practicing and get my fitness up!