Exercise: expert advice


Got a workout worry? From weight loss to winning formulas, top PT Matt Roberts has the answers to all your get-fit dilemmas

‘There is nothing wrong with aching after a
 workout – this is simply the muscle fibres breaking down and repairing to
become stronger’

Q: I started running a couple of months ago, but still experience really
tired legs – even days following my runs – to the point where I struggle with 
stairs! I stretch after my runs. What else can I do to help?

A: Tired legs a few days after running is caused by delayed onset of muscle
soreness (DOMS). To alleviate the effect of DOMS, be sure to do an
appropriate warm-up – some dynamic stretches for the legs and hips, such as
leg swings, calf mobility drills and hamstring extensions are great
examples of these. Also, certain routes can increase the rate of DOMS.

Running downhill is particularly tough on the front thighs, as the muscles have to
 work eccentrically – meaning they stretch as opposed to contracting. New
 runners may wish to limit hills to begin with and if the pain is
 debilitating, then treat the tender area with alternating heat and ice
to help the muscles relax. Hold stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds
until the tension eases.

There is nothing wrong with aching after a
workout – this is simply the muscle fibres breaking down and repairing to 
become stronger. Short, high-intensity bursts of running are likely to achieve great fat-burning effects without the long distance and without the
aching, so mix some of these into your regime and ensure adequate rest to get the best recovery.

Q: I don’t have a gym membership and don’t enjoy running. Are there 
other cardio options for me?

A: Many gyms offer swimming and classes without being tied into a membership so it’s worth shopping around and trying different activities to find what you most enjoy. Get outside and try a new sport or bootcamp, cycle to places instead of taking the
 car or do a high-intensity bodyweight workout at home. Mountain
climbers, star jumps, lunges, squats and press-ups are all great exercises
 you can do with no equipment.

Q: My stomach is fairly flat, but my main issue is with my love handles/muffin top. Do you have any advice?

A: Where we store fat in the body is related to our endocrine (hormone)
 system. Fat storage around the hips and/or triceps is usually down to the body’s inability to handle the level of induced sugar intake. Vegetables and green tea are fantastic natural fat burners and will help you to target these sites. Decrease sugars (there are often hidden sugars in
 ‘low fat’ products) and you will soon notice a difference in these areas.

Q: What exercises can I try, other than squats, to help lift my bottom without bulking up my legs?

A: Lunges, glute bridges, resistance band clams, resistance band side-walks and split squats (lunges with your rear foot elevated) are fantastic for targeting the bottom. You can also try different types of squats, such as regular squats with a pause at the bottom, squat holds against a wall or sumo