Posture: Look Good, Feel Good!

So you have worked the whole day, and then decided to hit the gym on your way back home. So far, so good. But if you think that that 1 hour workout on its own is going to make up for the 8 hours of slouching at your desk, I have bad news for you. This is not much different than hoping that a 1 day of dieting will make up for all the Christmas feast that has now officially become a part of your belly. Unfortunately they both are just wishful thinking. But I have also good news for you. There are a few extra steps that you can take in order to improve your posture and significantly reduce the risk of posture based chronic pains in the long run.

Before we move on, let’s understand what good posture is, and how it can help us improve the quality of our lifes.

Good posture helps you in the following ways ( :

  • Keeps bones and joints in the correct position (alignment) so that muscles are being used properly.
  • Helps cut down on the wear and tear of joint surfaces (such as the knee) to help prevent the onset of arthritis.
  • Decreases the strain on the ligaments in the spine.
  • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
  • Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, which allows the body to use less energy.
  • Prevents backache and muscular pain.

And let’s move on to the little details that you can work on and that will have a positive impact on your posture in the long run:

  1. Do not slouch. I know it’s easier to relax all your muscles and let your spine do all the work for you, but the price may be a bit higher than you are willing to pay. This habit adds extra stress to your spine as well as certain bones, tendons and joints. It can even put extra stress on your internal organs such as your lungs and intestines, which can eventually lead to complications in your breathing and digestive system. Instead you should sit tall on your chair, maybe even use a rolled-up towel behind your mid-back to support your spines natural curve. Also standing up and moving around every half an hour is a good strategy.
  • Stand up tall. Hold your head straight and tuck in your chin. Keep your shoulders back, knees straight, and belly tucked in. Your ears should be over the middle of your shoulders. Try to stand as tall as possible (Do not tiptoe! That’s cheating!)
  • Mindful texting. Smartphones are now a part of life, we can’t argue that. But when you tilt your head down to do whatever you’re up to on your phone, this will add extra strain on your spine and surrounding musculature. You may think a few seconds of bad posture would not hurt but if you consider the amount you spend on your phone, you’ll know it’s not a good idea (Let’s be honest it’s more than enough to turn you into a world known bodybuilder if you were to spend that much time in the gym). Instead lift your phone up, and let your eyes do the work, not your neck.
  • This one goes to all the ladies that enjoy the extra sex appeal of high heels. This fashion doesn’t seem to disappear soon, and neither do we want it to. But this attracting look and a few extra inches come with a hidden cost, a cost that your feet, knees and spine will have to pay. It’s simply because when you wear high heels you have to re-adjust your centre of mass in a way that pushes the base of your spine forward, and over-arches your back. And this eventually puts extra pressure on nerves and leads to back pain. Try to keep them for special occasions and avoid using them on a daily basis and for longer durations.
  • Sleep right. You’re not 15 anymore, and neither is your spine. It’s no surprise that you feel like you fell off of a tree when you wake up after a long nights sleep in awkward positions on your ultra soft mattress designed for princesses. Remember you spend –hopefully- a good amount of time sleeping.  Try to get a firmer mattress that will support your spines natural curve while you sleep. If you’re a side sleeper, find a decent pillow to keep your neck level with your spine. If you’re a back sleeper, go for a smaller pillow rather than a thick one.
  • Strengthen your core. Yes, I know you work out. But this is a little different than pumping up your pectorals or glutes. Having visible abs is also not the key, so forget about those never ending crunches. If you think about it, as you sit all day, your frontal core muscles remain in a shortened state. So strengthen them while elongating them.  You can never go wrong with planks!

Aydin Parmaksizoglu

Band Training For Bodybuilding During Lockdown   

As part of measures put in place to control the spread of coronavirus, all gyms in the country were closed and bodybuilders are facing a difficult time keeping fit. They usually train for hours almost daily in the in gym following a strict diet. During lockdown, there are no competitions to prepare for, no places available for training and they have difficulty staying fit and following the diet. Most of the bodybuilders who prepared for summer competitions had to change their diet and they have returned to a bulking phase because they are not sure when they will have to start cutting. This has had a negative impact on their development in the sport.

Bodybuilding training programs are built around lifting heavier weights, so most of them have had to improvise their workouts and train at home. However, most home equipment will not have the same impact as a set of dumbbells, barbells and plates. But part of the key for bodybuilders is to change the way they workout, focusing on the volume of repetitions and putting the muscles under tension for longer to get a result similar to the gym. Therefore, it is crucial for bodybuilders to push their sets close to failure. This type of workout is called “metabolic stress style workouts”. Metabolic stress is commonly known as “pumping” and refers to cell swelling and increased acidity – the “burning” of a muscle during training. This happens when longer repetitions are performed with shorter rest periods and there is a lot of scientific research that shows that it contributes to muscle growth (Fink,2016).

Unfortunately for bodybuilders and for the people who love this sport, most of the competitions were cancelled or reschedule due to pandemic situations and new decisions were made by the competent authorities. (IFBB, 2020). As a result, this will be a stressful and hard period for professional bodybuilders leading up to the end of the year.

‘Make it Happen’ – Michael Jordan


I don’t think any athlete or coach put a “covid-19 lockdown” phase in their calendar when planning for 2020. We can no longer practice exactly how we used to we don’t know when we will be able to again but we can adapt.

If you picked up an injury mid-season you’d adapt and find other ways to get in the training – use that same mentality now. It is simply adjusting your routine and making it happen.

Don’t think too long term, stay present. Work in 7-day time frames. Invest time in putting together weekly plans, Monday through to Sunday and stick to it. If you haven’t watched The Last Dance on Netflix, make that a priority for this week!

Above all, use this time to reflect, clear your mind and reset goals as with solitude comes great power. Find out for yourself:

What brings you energy?

What brings you peace?

What motivates you?

What are you grateful for?

and write it down.

View this time as a gift to work on the things you said you would do however the timing was never right. Maybe you said you’d get more hours of sleep, maybe it’s time to start meditating, maybe it’s time to start a consistent skin/hair care routine, maybe it’s time to cut down your screen time and read an actual book. Whatever it is, you now have the time to do it. Make it happen.

How to become amazing at yoga during quarantine

After getting bored of the same old home workouts time and time again, I, like many others, resulted in yoga. While not the most cardiovascular challenging workout, I notice a huge difference in the tension I carry in my body before, compared to after a session. Getting used to a lot of positions can also take a long time.
So, what is the secret to having the perfect balance to hold any position?

  1. Do your research
    The maximum amount of yoga you will do in a day is no more than an hour, which is not enough when being self-taught. My solution to this is research. After a session, ensure you become more knowledgeable on any new poses by looking into the benefits and how to perform correctly.
  2. Experiment
    As you may be aware, there are many different types of yoga. Aim to try a different type each time to have a full experience. There may be one you prefer to another, which is useful to find your own niche.
  3. Close your eyes
    Blocking out the outside world can really help to become attuned with your own body. You may lose your balance and this is not something to worry about at all. Closing your eyes can add challenge and help you focus on your breathing, an essential part of yoga.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and fall
    I guarantee everyone who has perfected the headstand did not get there without losing their balance a few times. Let go of your ego and realise making some mistakes is part of the journey. People generally would rather stay in their comfort zone and not fall, which inevitably holds them back. The more you fall, the more you learn and the better you get.
  5. Be patient
    Developing good flexibility, a strong core, and balance takes dedication and time. Don’t be disheartened if you take longer than expected to adjust. Generally, it can take 2-3 months of daily practice for your body to become flexible. However, the benefits far outweigh the time put in.

Not only is yoga physically beneficial, but it is also proven to reduce mental stress. Make sure you stick to a schedule and soon you will notice considerable improvements.

How to turn your living room into a gym, without the price tag

Whilst gyms are closed across the nation, it is important that we keep ourselves moving and carrying out an as regular workout schedule as possible. At home gym equipment is more desired than ever however purchasing weights can end up being extremely expensive. The key to keeping costs low and buying the most useful workout equipment is to invest in multifunctional products. I have compiled a list of the best at home gym equipment, for anyone on a budget. Simply click on the title of the item to shop the product.

Resistance band

Resistance bands are super multifunctional and inexpensive. Add them to squats or use them on their own during hip abduction and there is no doubt that you will feel the burn! For under £20, you can pick up 3 different resistance levels, to allow you to build up to the hardest.

Kettle bells

One huge benefit to kettle bells is that they can be added to a huge range of exercises, very safely. Kettle bells are extremely unlikely to put strain on joints or lead to other weight-lifting related injuries, making them great for both beginners and weight-lifting regulars. Another benefit, is they are super easy to tuck out of sight, for when you are using a limited space.

Skipping rope

Without cardio machines, you may struggle to find ways to get your heart racing, whilst still indoors. Skipping engages the core, legs, shoulders and arms whilst still raising your heart rate and burning a huge amount of calories.

Pull up bar

Pull ups are easy on the joints and help to create the desirable V-shape physique, that we are all after. You may not be able to do many at the moment, but adding a long resistance band can help to support you until you get stronger. Proven to improve explosiveness, pull ups are seen as extremely beneficial to competitive sports players, such as football and basketball players. The pull up bar is extremely inexpensive and definitely not one to miss off of your home gym wish list.

Abdominal wheel

Improving core strength is essential to everyone working out. Reducing the risk of injury, the ab wheel is a cheap and small product which works both abs and some back muscles. This nifty, lightweight tool will definitely prove a challenge. Once you master using it whilst kneeling, you will find a whole different board game attempting to use this from standing.

Of course, you can always invest in weights however these tend to be extremely expensive. I recommend buying a wide range of products such as the ones listed as they are also super easy to hide, when you need the space.

Happy home workouts!

Developing a Good Morning Routine

The best time of day to prepare for a workout is one that you can consistently commit to. Each person is different. The “right” time depends on factors such as lifestyle, body type and preference.

What’s wrong with working out during the day?

During the day, most of us are most likely to be distracted by phone calls, emails or text messages. By doing morning workouts, it is less likely to be interrupted therefore, it will be easy to follow the workout easily.
It is known that physical activities improve mood by reducing stress. This happens due to the fact that the brain makes more endorphins called “feel-good neurotransmitters”. By doing morning physical activity these transmitters will make the person feel a sense of accomplishment and to be optimistic during the day.

Benefits of early morning workouts

According to Iwayama (2015), early physical activities may be the best way to lose weight. The study was found that 24 hours of fat burn was highest when the workouts were done in the morning before breakfast.
By doing workouts in the morning may control the appetite. It is known that exercises help regulate appetite by reducing ghrelin also known as the hunger hormone and also increase satiety hormones (Hanlon, 2012).

According to Gomez (2015), morning workouts lower the risk of type 1 diabetes. The study shows that morning workouts presented a lower risk of hypoglycaemic events compared with afternoon workouts. Researchers believe that an important role has cortisol because it controls the blood sugar level.

A morning workout may help with the body’s hormonal fluctuation and more exactly with cortisol level. Cortisol or ‘the stress hormone’ is the hormone that keeps a person alert and awake. Usually, the cortisol level increase in the morning and decrease in the evening. If there is too much or not enough, of the hormone, there may be complications.

Exercising early in the morning will boost energy and reduce fatigue. The nutrients and oxygen will travel towards the lungs and heart which will improve endurance and cardiovascular system.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine (2019) found that morning physical activities improve concentration therefore a decision will be easier to make as well.

It is known that physical activities reduce blood pressure. A study made by Collier (2014) showed that morning workouts are the best when they control hypertension. The same study also showed that people got better sleep on the days if they exercise at 7 am. This is due to the fact that the body is exposed early in the morning to daylight which helps to increase the melatonin levels during the night.

It is important to do physical exercise at the time of day that works best for you, however, different times of the day may be best for different types of exercise. It is important to do daily exercises for a healthy life.

Exercises to do at work whilst sitting

The chaotic schedules can make it impossible to place the workouts in our busy week. The prospect of packing a gym bag, going to the gym, working out, taking a shower, changing and returning to the place you came from takes a lot of time. Ignoring your health, you’re not doing yourself any favours, no matter how busy your workday is.

When you neglect exercise, you endanger your physical and mental health, which can affect your productivity and efficiency at work. In fact, studies (Ulrica, 2011) shown that people who exercise during the workday are actually more productive in the workplace, even if technically they work fewer hours.
The workouts can vary widely in type and intensity for everyone, from joining a lunch class in your local gym or running on your lunch break to quick body exercises on your office desk or just simple stretching. Also, don’t be embarrassed to do workouts at work. There are chances that your colleagues to admire your efforts, rather than be amused. You might even make them join you for a walk at lunchtime or help you lobby for yoga at lunch.

Where should I start?

By doing stretching exercises at work you will prevent muscle tightness as well as improving posture. Neck stretch, torso twist, reaches and shoulder blade squeezes are good ideas to start with. If your workplace can accommodate, you can do strengthening exercises such as: leg raise, desk dips, desk push-ups, calf raises, etc.
Researches (Gillen et. al., 2016) shows that short intervals of intense physical activity for just 10 minutes per day can promote overall fitness and health. Therefore, use that 10 minutes from your break to run on the stairs, or do jumping jacks.
Developing some easy habits will also help you to stay healthy and fit behind the desk. These can be as simple as maintaining a proper posture, drinking more water and taking breaks from the screen every 20 minutes.

Beginner Bodyweight workout

Whether you are returning from a long period of inactivity or just want to start physical activity, it is important to develop a strong foundation in the quality and technique of movement which will help you to improve your posture, strength and also create a pain-free body. And for that, the best instrument is your own body weight. All you need to start is some floor space, a stopwatch, and a good training guide.

Benefits of Bodyweight workouts

Starting with bodyweight workouts helps prevent injuries by developing muscle coordination and stability, as well as strengthening weaker areas before adding extra weight.
Simplicity is what makes this bodyweight workout so effective. You will perform just the most effective and basic bodyweight exercises, the movement which our bodies are designed to do on a daily basis. Nothing fancy or too hard for beginners.

A study made by Klika et. al. (2013) showed that bodyweight workouts could boost muscular fitness, decrease body fat, and improve the maximum rate of oxygen consumption.
Another study (Counts et. al., 2016) showed that performing exercises through the full range of motion and obtaining a swelling will help the muscles to grow.
Another benefit of bodyweight workout is that you can switch between lower and upper body which will make your heart work harder therefore, the cardiovascular function will improve.


How to get the best results

To get the most out of your bodyweight workout, establish a mind-muscle connection. This means that controlling the movement of the body will allow an effective and a safer workout. Also, by adding a concentration on the negative of bodyweight movements will increase the intensity.
No matter if you are the skinny type or on the heavier side, most of the exercises can be modified to accommodate the weight, just be creative.

As a beginner, you will always get significantly better results compared with a pro bodybuilder. All you have to do is to be consistent, patient and always challenge yourself.

Using Bodyweight to Build Muscle

Why should I start using bodyweight exercises?


Body weight exercises are a brilliant way to workout, when starting your fitness journey. Not only does it help to develop technique and prevent injuries, but it also creates less stress on the joints. Also, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, bodyweight exercises are an efficient way to boost muscular fitness, decrease body fat and improve VO2 max. It will take longer to build muscles, compared with lifting weights however for people without a settled down routine, it’s an excellent start.

How do I build muscle during bodyweight exercises?


There are 3 factors which you have to be aware when you want to build muscle:


· Mechanical tension
· Metabolic stress
· Muscle damage


When you lift heavy weights, for example a heavy barbell, your muscles are exposed to lots of mechanical tension. When you feel that burning sensation or a “pump”, used in the bodybuilding world, it means that your muscles are fatigued and full of blood. This makes them look vascular and swollen. Muscle damage or muscle soreness is feeling in the first 24-48 hours after the workout. It’s not necessary to feel soreness to build muscle however, this is a good sign that the muscles will get stronger.

To build muscle, the muscles must be in tension also called isometric contractions, according to Men’s Health. If you are new to exercise, you can use resistance bands to help you to lift your bodyweight easier. For example, using a long resistance band when you are doing pull-ups helps to build up to unaided pull-ups. For advanced people, bodyweight exercise can be a challenge to create enough mechanical tension. This becomes a harder task for the lower body, creating enough tension to stimulate the bigger muscle to grow. Therefore, you will have to be creative with your programming by making exercises more difficult. This can be done by adding more repetitions, more sets or just simple progressing with one arm.

The benefits of bodyweight exercises such as flexibility, maintaining/increasing strength and becoming comfortable with your own body, are endless. To achieve these benefits, you have to be consistent with both your workouts and have a good diet plan.


Exercise Afterburn

Want to feel great to enjoy the summer season to the max? Then you need to know about ‘Exercise Afterburn’!

What is EPOC?

Excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC), is the way you burn calories even after you have stopped exercising. It’s a process that helps to restore the body to a resting state after intense anaerobic or aerobic exercise. Just think for up to 24 hours after a workout you can still lose body fat!

Studies into Exercise Afterburn have shown 20-30 minutes post-High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has a better fat burning result than the time after going on an hour-long run (Purdue University 1992). To temper this ideal scenario for a minute, with the reality of modern exercise warfare, studies into the specifics of Afterburn benefits are still very much ongoing. So whilst Exercise Afterburn is beautiful in concept, it can in reality be a complete nonstarter if done wrong.

The Afterburn Effect is Nonsense

Lots of Industry experts have said that EPOC is insignificant with no measurable results. However, this industry expert acknowledges, that while it definitely exists, its effects depend on many variables. It is confirmed that the amount of energy your body burns and for how long it burns changes per person. Genetic factors and the amount of lean body tissue (muscle) you have will determine how many calories you continue to lose after a workout.

Dr. David Nieman, a pioneer in exercise immunology, monitored participants in his metabolic chamber for 24hrs and found that after exercising for 45 minutes at 70% of their VO2 max (the maximum rate at which your heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise) they increased their calorie burn by 37% for up to 14 hours after. It even occurred, rather wonderfully, while they were sleeping.
More studies are showing that the variables that affect the duration of EPOC are the intensity and length of exercise. The longer and more intense the exercise, the more oxygen the body consumes afterwards. This increases your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy. This results in a higher metabolic rate and more calories burned throughout the day.

Putting the results of Dr. Nieman’s chamber back into the realities of 2015 London Newham living for a moment, it is possible to burn up to approximately 50-150 calories over 24 hours after exercise. However, this is only when you exercise at intensity roughly equal to 70 percent of your vo2 max. This is the level of an elite athlete however and generally, all subsequent calorie loss will tend to be minor. This demonstrates that it is uneccessary to continuously exercise yourself to the point of torture, for more Afterburn. There are always other ways to measure the success of your training regime besides ending them breathing like Darth Vader.

How to achieve effective Afterburn

For the best calorie-burning exercise Afterburn, keep your workouts effectively intense gradually increasing your own workout limits. Not only will you have a longer recovery period if you don’t do it gradually, you’ll be compensating by eating more calories.

Come to UEL SportsDock this summer and solve the exercise Afterburn mystery with a diverse exercise training regime, mimicking the intense training habits of elite athletes within an environment of safety.