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6 In fitness

Health and Fitness Q&A | Regime, Butt Workouts and Secrets For Abs

Girl with wind blown hair doing side lunges

Another fitness post because I’m all about the snazzy fit kit at the minute.  For both gymming and wearing around the house, that is.  Can’t get enough of it!

I feel like fitness blogging is a bit of an odd one, because unless you’re a qualified PT or something, you don’t want to come across like you think you know what you’re talking about when in actual fact you don’t.  That’s how I feel, anyway.  Almost slightly fraudulent if you will.  I’m no personal trainer, I didn’t even do GCSE PE (my efforts were much better placed in physics and textiles lol), so it seems slightly odd to say anything in a remotely advisory tone.  Even when people ask for tips.  Other gals out there know their stuff far better than I do!

However.  Health and fitness is such an integral part of my life that I want to talk about more, so I will.  But only in a ‘This is what I do, not necessarily what you should do’ kinda way.  I think that’s the safe option given my lack of credentials but keen interest!  So rather than answering some of the questions I’ve been asked in a post each, I thought I’d sling them together into a mini health and fitness Q&A for anyone who’s interested in the workout habits of a 19 year old girl who loves the gym and loves food equal amounts.  Here goes!

‘Health and fitness regime?’

In short, I don’t have a routine.  One week I’ll be all about the weights, the next I’ll want to join every exercise class going, and another I’ll just want to run outdoors by myself.  This week I’d really like to work out early in the morning every day, and am fancying hopping back on the spinning bike for some intense 6:55am classes.  Most weeks I work out between 3 and 6 times, depending on how busy I am and what last minute stuff comes up.  That includes anything from running, gentle home workouts on my bedroom floor, lifting as heavy as I can whilst pulling the ugliest faces ever, HIIT classes at the gym (Bodypump, Metafit, Grit Plyo/Strength, spinning), boxing workouts, and more.  Can you tell I get bored easily?

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m confident and happy with my body (I’ve worked bloody hard for it for years) and I’m happy to be neither particularly skinny, chunky or ripped.  I’m just somewhere in between, which I attribute to the fact that I mix my workouts up.  Like I said, this gal is no PT, however one thing I will say is that I couldn’t cope without weight training in there somewhere.  I think most girls know now that lifting weights isn’t going to make you bulky and manly, but some still are shy about getting in there!  Make those weights a non negotiable.

As for food, I’ve never attempted a diet, counted calories, or stopped eating a particular food group.  Ever.  And I don’t intend to.  Instead I try to just have a healthy attitude towards food, and have done for so long that it’s just second nature to me now.  For example,  if I go out to an Italian restaurant, you bet I’ll eat a whole pizza (after garlic bread, potentially before dessert, and usually alongside wine).  This girl likes her pizza and it’s a nice occasion and nice food.  However, I’ve never ordered a takeaway pizza in my life.  Chinese takeaway yes, but not pizza.  I’ve also lived literally around the corner from a chippy for 2 years and am yet to go in there.  I’ll pinch a couple of my brother’s chips, but that’s all!  So whilst I said I don’t have a diet, there are some things I just don’t ‘do’.  Crisps, chocolate bars, and cakes in coffee shops for example.  It’s really difficult to explain without sounding obsessive, but I’ve kinda unknowingly trained myself to think of them as things I just ‘don’t eat’, to the point where it doesn’t even cross my mind to get a cake with my latte.  But I do eat treats and chocolate sometimes.  And I’d never turn down birthday cake.  This is so difficult to explain!

Like I wrote about here, I believe having a healthy mindset towards health and fitness is a really important place to start, and that applies to food as well as workouts.  Basically, there are a few types of ‘treats’ (namely chocolate bars and crisps) that I think of as things I ‘just don’t buy’ – but not in an obsessive or unhealthy way.  I haven’t eaten an actual chocolate bar in years, despite the many, many other treats I’ve had in that time.  And I genuinely don’t remember ever buying a muffin in Starbucks or something.  I don’t feel deprived nor do I ever go hungry.  I eat pasta, dairy, bread (although always wholemeal when possible), sometimes chocolate, biscuits, roast dinners and more.  Anyone who knows me knows what my appetite’s like!  You’ll see me pile my plate and go for seconds at a buffet, but you’ll never see me snacking on a Mars bar.  I think I have a good balance!

I must add that it helps that I genuinely enjoy the taste of ‘healthy’ food more than fast food, am the least fussy eater on the planet, and have no dietary issues.  I’m well aware it can be far more difficult for others!

‘How to get a bum like yours’

Promise I was actually tweeted this question and am not just being up my own arse, pardon the pun!

I make no secret of loving leg day, so I thought I’d answer this question with my current favourites for absolutely murdering your glutes.  Most of these revolve around gym equipment because personally I’ve found there’s only so much bodyweight can do.  Not that bodyweight stuff isn’t important, but you asked for peach exercises to build a butt so here they are!

— Cable kickbacks.  Attach the stirrup-like thing (technical term) to the cable machine with it anchored pretty low, place your foot in said stirrup, and kick backwards.  With the right amount of weight this absolutely kills your glute muscles without putting a strain on your back, so I often finish with these when my back’s feeling knackered.

— Weighted lunges without tapping your foot down in between steps.  I’ve found this makes a big difference!  Not tapping your foot to the floor means you have to engage your muscles to stabilise yourself, and boy oh boy that works those glutes.  I like to do these with 10 or 12 kg in each hand and do about 30 lunges before taking a breather.

— Smith machine step ups.  Some hate it, some think it’s cheating, but I love the smith machine.  It’s like a squat rack but the barbell’s fixed between rails so can only slide up and down, if you haven’t come across one.  They can be used for loads, but my current fave booty burner involves placing a step just in front of the bar, then lunging backwards and pushing back up with your glutes.  Can’t for the life of me think how to articulate this one so just type ‘smith machine step ups’ into YouTube.  Like with most glute exercises though, squeezing hard at the top is where it’s at.  Mini hip thrust really makes it burn!

— Deadlifts superset with calf raises. – personally I prefer doing deadlifts with a barbell (not crazy heavy) and doing more reps with quite a range, rather than lifting really heavy, because it just hurts my back and I have scoliosis so need to be careful.  – calf raises *kind of* work your bum too but only a little bit, so they’re good to superset with deadlifts to give your muscles a chance

— Single leg leg-press.  I only recently started doing this one but it’s in my top 5 already.  I also like ‘frog presses’ too – heels together, knees pointing out, push and squeezeee that butt.

— Incline walk fast/incline run.  This isn’t a butt exercise but is the cardio I pair with leg day (when I haven’t forgotten my key fob and can only use the rowing machine like I did today, that is… But yes.  Jogging at a reasonable pace on an incline is OMG so tiring.  And walking uphill obviously works your butt.  Just don’t hold on to the machine and lean back – that’s cheating and defeats the object!

— And finally, Blogilates Call Me Maybe Squat Challenge.  It’s an oldie but a goodie, trust me! I don’t care if you think bodyweight squats won’t cut it, just do it.  Your ass will thank you afterwards!  If you do squats with proper form (I’m no PT but leaning forwards and not actually bending your knees ain’t gonna do anything) then it will work your legs nicely.  And can be done wherever whenever, whilst you’re waiting for a pan to boil or something like that.

Of course it’s mighty important on leg day that your workout clothing is up to scratch or you’ll be giving the whole gym a view when you hit those squats, so study leggings are an absolute must!  Someone else’s nether regions are not what you want to see in the gym.  Speaking from the perspective of someone who’s seen way more than they wanted to of a man’s crotch wearing runner shorts on the leg press.  But yes, I’ve tried and tested this latest set already and not only are they a fab fit (long!!! high waisted!!! don’t fall down!!!) but they’re nice and thick too.  Both my top and leggings are c/o Elle Sport at M&M Direct, a brand I’m loving for workout gear at the minute.  The jackets and tops fit me so well.

‘Workout secrets for abs’

In all honesty I work my abs (specific targeted abs exercises, that is) less now than I ever have, and I’m totally happy with how my subtlest-of-the-subtle abs look. Aside from a few favourites, I prefer to really engage and actually use my core in other exercises rather than targeting solely abs.  The kind of thing that gets your deep core muscles going, not just the ‘surface’ ones.  Can tell I’m really good at explaining this so technically can’t you?

I’ve also realised that I really just don’t like sit ups and shouldn’t bother anymore.  Yep, the abs classics.  Don’t like ’em.  Not because they hurt my abs – I enjoy that sensation – but because they strain my neck in a just plain uncomfortable way.  So after years of trying I’ve sacked them and found other exercises that work for me.  Currently my favourite abs exercises involve a bench rather than a mat on the floor, and I was kinda inspired by the abs section of the new Bodypump100 workout.  By lying on your back on a bench and extending your legs and/or arms you can seriously work the abs without lifting and straining your neck at all.  Gripping the bench behind your head with your hands whilst lowering and raising your legs is a good start, but my fave absolute killer is to hold a 5kg plate with both hands, drop both legs to horizontal whilst extending the plate over your head, then bringing both arms and legs back to centre and crunching the plate up to touch your feet.  That’s probably the worst explanation ever.  Must shoot photos in a gym sometime soon!

Another favourite is doing chest flys (with pretty light weights) on a bench whilst doing double leg raises.  Sounds weird, kills chest/upper abs/lower abs all at the same time because you gotta use that whole core for balance.  Oh sweet pain.

I have a love/hate relationship with planks. One of my 2017 fitness goals was to hold a 4 minute plank though so I don’t have a choice now I’ve put it in writing!

Anddd that was supposed to be a quick post and has somehow become 2000 words.  Enough fitness-y ramblings from me today!  Now I’m off to bed before getting up for early morning spinning tomorrow.  Hopefully this was remotely helpful or interesting!

lily kate x

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Max
    February 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I really enjoyed reading all the fitness information here even though I do not intend to do any of these things. Ha ha! You have inspired me to be more fit in the last year despite everything. I am now doing 2 ballet classes a week, about 3 hours a week, plus I still skate weekly. Also I have done plank 5 or 6 times in 2017, as opposed to 2016: the year of no plank! I would like to have a more toned looking belly, but I do not think it is a priority for me. I also do not think I could ever get a bum like yours, so why bother? I am having trouble getting into jeans and high boots already with muscular legs. Oy! I need flares to come back into style now.

    I have a similar attitude towards food as you do. I do not eat chocolate bars, but I do have real chocolate -lots of iron in that. I do not eat pastries, except savoury ones, and generally avoid sweets in restaurants. I love fried potatoes in many forms, so I try to avoid the sweet stuff. This is simply because I do not enjoy them as much as other food such as pizza. I do drink wine, but I am thinking of cutting down, all thise empty calories. I only have wine on Friday and Saturday with dinner, and usually drink more wine if I am thirsty. But I end up feeling more dry. I have to watch out at family dinners and parties when there is more than one bottle open and I keep finishing my glass because the food is not ready or I am so sweaty because I am wearing too much wool.

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      February 23, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading it regardless Max, thanks! Flattered to have been an inspiration of some sort. 😛 I agree that looking toned doesn’t have to be a priority, which is why I set strength goals like holding planks rather than inches goals. Indeed, why bother trying to change your natural shape! A couple of people have asked me (in a jokey way) and asked about my workout recommendations so I thought I’d share. But yes, the struggle to get muscular legs into jeans is real!
      You have less of a sweet tooth than I do haha. Wine is just too easy to drink isn’t it!

  • Reply
    Dave
    February 18, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Agree 100% regarding the smith machine, it definitely has its place. For people with muscular limitations, it can be very beneficial.

    I took part in a strength training program that was based around a barbell, yet my gym only had a smith. Really helped in terms of shaping my legs when doing smith machine squats, as well as my backside. As my ex said at the time “you’ve got a black girls ass”. Whether that’s a good thing for a guy is debatable, but improvements were there!

    The only thing I would say is make sure you focus on form when using it. Due to its fixed position some people tend to keep their form veeeerrry loose from what I have seen.

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      February 23, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      Thanks for commenting Dave!
      I do find the Smith machine really helpful for limiting the strain on my back. I’ve recently started using it for hip thrusters too, as it’s much easier to get into position with a machine that holds the bar up for you!
      Haha nothing wrong with a guy with a backside!
      I’ll be sure to keep an eye on my form and ask a PT to check every now and then. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jo
    February 28, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Squats are the bomb for glutes! My butt has never looked so good! I do hanging leg raises for abs, and haven’t done crunches in years -I absolutely hate crunches! I agree that a health mindset towards food (and exercise) is important; it’s all about balance.

    • Reply
      lily kate
      March 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Can’t beat a good old squat can you! Hanging leg raises are a killer. Definitely all about balance – I wouldn’t enjoy food and exercise nearly as much if I was really strict about it!

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