How to Train for Your First Triathlon (Beginners Guide)

Want to train for your first triathlon but not sure where to start?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone…

In this post, Ironman UK finisher Robert Jackson from Minimal FiT will show you how to train for a triathlon so you’re feeling confident come race day.

What we’ll cover:

  • Triathlon distances and beginner-friendly races
  • How much time to train each week
  • Pro tips to maximise your training sessions
  • Race day preparation

But first, what order is a triathlon raced in?

Traditional triathlons always have the same 3 disciplines and order of events:

  1. Swim
  2. Bike
  3. Run

Swimming is done first for safety reasons. Imagine trying to marshall 1,000 tired triathletes spread out hours apart in the water.

The distances of each section vary a lot, so let’s take a closer look.

Triathlon distances and beginner friendly races

The 4 most common distances for a triathlon are:

  • Sprint (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run)
  • Olympic (1,500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run)
  • Half (1,900m swim, 90km cycle, 21km run)
  • Full (3,800m swim, 180km cycle, 42km run)

What is an Ironman triathlon?

An Ironman triathlon is a full distance triathlon. Ironman is a company, who have marketed themselves well enough to become synonymous with that distance.

What distance should I race as a beginner?

A sprint triathlon is the most suitable race for a beginner. If you’re not that comfortable in open water, you can find pool based swims rather than open water ones.

How long does a sprint triathlon take?

Anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, so don’t let the name fool you into thinking it will be short!

How much time should I train each week?

For sprint triathlon training, aim for at least 3.5 hours per week. That’s an absolute minimum and you’d benefit from doing more.

You could split that up as follows:

  • Swimming – 1 hour
  • Cycling – 1.5 hours
  • Running – 1 hour

More details on training sessions to complete below, but first…

How long do I need to train for a triathlon?

12 to 16 weeks before your event is ideal. Start too early and you might burn out from too much training. Start much later and you might not get enough training in.

Pro Tip: The cycling section of a triathlon is the longest, proportionally, so more time on your bike will pay off.

Pro training tips to maximise your training sessions

Let’s look at each discipline in order.

Swim training essentials

Most triathlon swims will be in open water, which means it will be nothing like your indoor pool swim.

Getting plenty of open water practice is the most important part of your swim training. That means at least 7 or 8 sessions before your race.

Many first-timers fail to do this and regret it. There is very little pool swim training you can do that will prepare you for open water.

Pro Tip: The aim for the swim is to stay calm and relaxed to have more energy for the bike and run. Going hard on the swim will not gain you much time vs using that energy on the bike or run.

Here are the key things you need to practice and train for:

Sighting

Put simply, sighting is looking where you’re going while continuing to swim.

This is absolutely critical because in open water you have no lines to guide you like in a pool. If you don’t swim straight, you’ll end up swimming way further.

Wetsuit wearing

Swimming with a wetsuit will make you more buoyant and, most likely, change your body position in the water. It also restricts movement in the shoulders.

Getting out into open water is essential for practicing this skill.

Group swimming

In a pool you likely swim in lanes and have very little contact with other swimmers. At the start of an open water triathlon swim, you will be surrounded by other people.

Prepare ahead by taking some open water group swim lessons.

Boost your bike training

For 99% of people, the bike section of the race will take the longest. Spending extra time training for it will help you get a faster overall time.

Indoor training can be very useful, as it’s rare to get stretches of road outside where you can ride continuously without stopping for cars or traffic lights, especially in London.

Keep it simple for your first triathlon and aim for these two sessions each week:

  • 1 x long ride – Ride outside for 1-1.5 hours. If that’s too much to start with, aim for 30 mins and then build up each week.
  • 1 x interval ride – Ideal to do indoors. Warm up for 5 minutes, then ride at 80% effort for 3 mins, followed by 50% effort for 1 min. Repeat 8 times, then ride slow to cool down.

Pro Tip: Always wear the same clothing that you train in when you race. Changing anything on race day is a big no-no, as it might cause issues like blisters and chafing. Not fun!

Run training recommendations

A sprint distance event will be a 5km run. Your first challenge is to be able to run 5km continuously. Once you can do that, complete these two sessions each week:

  • Brick session – This means doing a bike ride first, then running immediately after, just like in the race. If you’ve not done this before, be prepared for your legs to feel very weird! Combine this with the indoor interval session mentioned above.
  • Interval session – Can be done indoors or out. Warm-up for 5 mins. Then run for 90 seconds at 80% effort (faster than your normal 5km time). Jog or walk for 60 seconds. Repeat 8 times. Cooldown and stretching.

Race day preparations

If you’ve been training consistently, you will need to “taper” before your race.

Tapering just means to reduce the volume of training you have been doing. In reality, if you’ve only been doing 3-5 hours a week, you should still be doing some swim, bike and run sessions in the week leading up to your race.

The key is not to do too much for you. Normally run 5km a week? Maybe just run 3km instead.

Pro Tip: If you feel underprepared, don’t go hard on your sessions only a few days before your race to make up for it. This will not work.

What to do on race day

The same as you have done in your training sessions. Make sure to eat the same foods you normally would, wear the same clothes and don’t change anything.

Testing out a new gel or drink on race day can lead to stomach upset and destroy all your hard work.

All the hard work is done. All you have to do now is relax, do your best, appreciate the experience and have fun.

You can always sign up for another one once you get the triathlon bug! There are a few good websites to find your closest race on:

  1. British Triathlon
  2. Find a Race
  3. Tri Finder

And if you’re still not that confident in the water, you could consider doing a duathlon first. A duathlon is just cycling and running. Usually, run, bike, run in order.

Good luck. Train hard, race easy!

Author Bio

Robert Jackson has completed Ironman UK, finished L’Etape du Tour twice and cycled 750km across The Pyrenees in 6 days. He owns a personal training and massage studio called PT Pod and works as a personal trainer with Minimal FiT, his PT business.

Why should you take up spinning?

Indoor cycling can sometimes seem a bit intimidating, but, trust us once you’ve sweated through your first, you’ll soon catch the bug. Spin class is a common feature to lots of people’s workout week, ranging from a 30-minute hard burst on the bike to 90 minutes of technical riding in the confines of a studio. 

Our top 5 London spin classes

Whether you’re more of a beats on the bike, dance type Soul Cycle spin goer or really more keen on the ‘real riding’ Digme experience, there’s a class for everyone, making it accessible to all. We’ve tried and tested classes across the capital some of our favourites are:

Benefits of spinning

There are numerous benefits of spin, first and foremost it’s a full-body workout, benefiting cardiovascular health. Plus, it’s a great mood booster, with party vibes and high-energy routines to give you that endorphin kick before a day at the desk.

Top tips from a pro

We’ve teamed up with leading spin instructor Carl Van Heerdan to see why he thinks a spin class is the way to get your fitness wheels in motion.   

What attracted you to spin? 

It was a total chance. I was never actually a fan of indoor cycling. But in 2015 I went to a friends audition and got coaxed into jumping on the instructor bike myself…  and there discovered I loved it. That was the start of my spin career. I would teach classes in the morning before heading to my day job in the city. I soon learned that spin was one of the best workouts, strongest endorphin kicks and the perfect way to start my day.

What’s the best thing about being a spin instructor?

Ready for a cliche? The people. 

I’ve met some fantastic individuals over the past 5 years teaching spin all over the world, some of who are now close friends. Best of all, I met my wife in a spin class. 

I love that as a group we can push each other, motivate each other and reach new goals together. There’s a real sense of community, even though at 6am nobody really wants to talk – it’s just the fact that we got up and will get it done together. 

How many total kms do you think you’ve done on a spin bike to date?

I average about 24km in a class, teach 5 classes per week and have done so for 5 years. So if my maths is correct, that’s 31,200km of teaching time on a spin bike. 

Do you ever take your spin skills outside the studio and do road races?

Absolutely. My classes are based on how you would ride on the road (I don’t do too many tap-backs or choreography). Over the summer I was working on longer climbs and increasing everyone’s average watt output during the ride. This massively paid off during the recent “Ride London 100” cycling event where I was able to maintain 220 watts and 32 km/h over the course. 

What are the max calories you’ve burnt in a spin class?  

I once did a 1,000 calorie ride. I was a bit broken afterward. On average I burn about 600-700 calories in a class.

What physical and mental benefits can you expect from spin classes?

The physical is easy – massive calorie burn! Plus it stimulates your cardiovascular system – the heart and lungs primarily. The greater cardio fitness you have the more physical benefits that you’ll experience. It’s also great for increasing muscle definition in your legs and core.

The mental benefits are even better. Exercise produces endorphins which trigger positive feelings (endorphins = the feel good hormone). So even though you walk out of a spin class physically exhausted, mentally you’ll be on a high. You also get a big hit of dopamine which elicits a feeling of motivation, accomplishment, and progress and is released when you set a goal and achieve it. Which is why each of my rides has an overall goal, with a few fun challenges during the ride.  Many people find that spin becomes addictive as it helps people realise how strong they are and how hard they can push. 

To feel the real benefits of spin how regularly do you need to go to a class?

This will vary based on your individual goals. I think even when you’ve found your spinning legs, daily sessions are a bit of an overkill. I always advise my clients to keep their routines varied. But if you’re looking for a high-intensity workout a few days a week—and especially if running or other forms of weight-bearing exercise hurts your joints—spinning is the ideal way to keep your heart and body in shape. 

Do you need a base level of fitness before joining a spin class?

No. You don’t get fit to do spin. You get fit doing spin. 

The first class is the hardest, simply because it’s new. If you’re planning on trying a class for the first time maybe go with a friend and definitely introduce yourself to the instructor.  They should coach you through it and get you out the other side feeling awesome. 

 Is spin for everyone? Are all classes alike?

My best advice? Stop overthinking it, just try it. 

Not all spin classes are alike. Some are literally a dance party on a bike whilst other simulate real road riding. Try a few studios. Each studio will have a different vibe and each instructor will be different. There’s bound to be one or two you love.

Author: Carl Vanheerdan – spin instructor at Core Collective
https://www.instagram.com/carl_vanheerden/

What’s the best exercise to lose weight?

When you are working out several times a week, you actually want to know if it’s worth your time and what exactly will help you shift some pounds the quickest. 

Simply put, losing weight is determined by the energy balance, meaning the relationship between the calories you consume and the calories you burn.

Exercise can support your weight loss goal by creating a calorie deficit. Exercise only accounts for a small portion of the daily calorie deficit. In order to lose weight, physical activity alone is not going to get you the results, a healthy diet is key. But, it’s not to say exercise isn’t important.

Is exercise beneficial for weight loss?

Exercise helps improve good health. It contributes to weight maintenance, it can lower your blood pressure, help control cholesterol and blood-sugar levels, improve your sleep, and boost levels of self-confidence which can lead to an improved mood.

If you reduce your calorie intake by simply eating less, the chances are that you will be losing muscle mass as well as fat. By combining a reduced calorie intake, with an increased level of activity, you are likely to achieve better results.

So what kind of exercise is best to lose weight?

It’s a common debate whether cardio (aerobic) is more beneficial than resistance (strength) training. 

Benefits of aerobic exercise

Research has shown that aerobic exercise like running, cycling and swimming burns more calories in less time compared to those who do solely weight training.

Regular cardiovascular exercise helps strengthen your heart and lungs. Studies have also linked this with a decreased risk for certain diseases like obesity, cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, high cholesterol and anxiety.

Benefits of strength training

Strength training may have a lower energy expenditure (EE) during training but the EE after the activity can be elevated. This is because over time you increase your muscle mass. Leading to higher resting metabolism – so you will burn more calories whilst being in rest.

Strength training benefits your balance, coordination, and posture.

If you feel awkward about going to the gym and using dumbbells, there are other bodyweight exercises that you can easily do at home. A yoga or pilates class is a good option for added variation.

Find a form of exercise that’s right for you and your goal

Overall, there isn’t a definitive answer to the question of the best forms of exercise for weight loss. There might be minor benefits of one type over the other, but realistically, the difference is small. That’s why we recommend a combination of both aerobic and strength workouts. Start/end your gym session on the treadmill or add on a quick core session after your run.

Based on your fitness goals, it’s possible you will benefit more by focussing on specific forms of training. If you’re planning to run a race, the best thing to do will be, you guessed it getting out for a run. If your aim is to increase your strength, you’ll benefit more by going to the gym and booking in a PT session to get pointers on how to improve your strength.

To improve your general fitness and be more active, find an activity that you like. By finding forms of exercise that you enjoy, you’re more likely to work your training into your daily routine and sustain this for a longer period of time. 

Top tips ahead of Ride London

Are you taking on Ride London this weekend? Is it your first ride, or perhaps you’re a regular returning to tackle the infamous Surrey Hills once again. 

As tempted as were, our in house team have decided to sit it out this year but FFF ambassadors Lucy Charles and Reece Barclay are ready to ride, and we’ve no doubt they’re set up for a stirling performance. 

They’re no strangers to long rides (or long swims and runs for that matter), so who better to seek some tips off than the champions themselves?

Top 10 tips

Tip 1: A few days ahead, think about starting to add some extra carbs ready for the big day out. If you want to know more about carb loading, check out our blog.

Tip 2: Service your bike so it’s ready to go, and you’re happy to ride it in any weather conditions.

Tip 3: On the morning of the race, be sure to have a big breakfast. Why not try our chocolate bircher oats?

Tip 4: Puncture protection tyres are far more important than speed on the UK roads. You can ask your local bike shop about these!

Tip 5: Pre-ride bike checks, wheels, brakes, and repair kit. Be sure to write a checklist and tick each off. You can also take your bike to your local shop to check wheels and breaks. They may also be able to advise on repair kits if you’re unsure about what should be in there. It’s also worth noting, Prudential has a team of Evans cyclists on the route, ready to help with punctures and repairs if you happen to be close to one of them.

Tip 6: During the race carry plenty of nutrition/fuel, especially if you like specific things. Use the aid stations as well, they are great and super friendly often offering an excellent selection of snacks and drinks.

Tip 7: Make sure you have checked the weather forecast, and have appropriate clothing to match this. Saying that it’s important to be prepared for it to change… this is the UK after all!

Tip 8: Ride on the left, overtake on the right. Always think about other riders, and be aware of what they are doing.

Tip 9: Ride at your own pace! It’s so easy to get sucked into going too fast, but remember there are plenty of reasonable hills, especially the lesser mentioned Leith Hill and you do not want to be left lacking the energy to tackle this.

Tip 10: Smile for the cameras, remember your chamois (bum numbing cream) and be sure to sport a strong sock game.

Bag yourself a free day of FFF

Laura Hoggins holding kettle bells

Want to get your hands on a free day of food? Well, now you can!

Simply complete 15 classes during the month of July and we’ll reward you with a free day of food from our new Training Plan package.

We’ve teamed up with a few of our favourite studios to share this super offer with you.

Pick one of the places to sweat below. Simply complete 15 classes at one of the studios, and drop us an email to 15in30@freshfitnessfood.com to register.

– Metabolic
– The Engine Room
– City Athletic
– ONE LDN
– CFLDN
– Core Collective
– F45 tower bridge
– grow
– Evolve 353
– Fitting Rooms
– f45 Kensington Olympia
– HIIT
– Ride Republic

The Truth About Carb Loading

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Oats on a wooden spoon

We’ve all heard about the benefits of “Carb-loading”, but is it really a good idea to have an “All-you-can-eat” pasta dinner the night before a big race or event?

The science

Our body stores carbs in the form of glycogen in our muscles and liver. When we workout and our body needs energy, our glycogen stores are the easiest accessible way for the body to convert glycogen to glucose again, which can be used as energy. The average amount of glycogen we can store in our muscles is between 350 to 500g. This equals around 90 minutes of endurance exercise.

The body can also use fat as a fuel to generate energy. This process is happening often simultaneously to burning glycogen but this process is more complex and slower.

It’s the moment when our glycogen runs out, that athletes ‘hit the wall’. Beyond this point, you can still use the fat metabolic pathway to produce energy, but this is about 15% less efficient, and this is why, inevitably, you’ll slow down.

Are you training for a marathon or race this year?

Do’s and Don’ts

To increase your glycogen storage to full capacity for race day, you can ‘carb load’. But how does that actually work?

A frequent mistake made by athletes is eating an extra large dinner the night before. The problem with this is that it doesn’t give your body enough time to digest and you’ll still feel bloated in the morning. On top of that, you can’t completely fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal.

For this reason, it’s better to start choosing your carbs wisely three days prior to your race or event. Since you’re tapering and doing very little activity over these final days, the glycogen will accumulate in your muscles.

Aim to keep your total calorie intake for the day in line with your normal intake, but swap fats for more carbs. Try to get around 70% of your intake from carbs. Go for healthy unprocessed foods and leave the junk food out. It’s a good idea to scale back on fibrous foods the day before the marathon as this could cause some discomfort in the gut whilst running.

The night before the event, enjoy a normal sized, but carb-heavy meal. Don’t eat too late and give your body enough time to digest. You don’t want to wake up on race day full from the night before, it’s better to wake up hungry. Schedule your breakfast 3 hours before the start of the event.

It’s normal to gain some weight over this period but there’s no need to get worried about this. For every gram of glycogen, your body stores around 2.6 grams of water too. This extra weight isn’t going to slow you down and it can be helpful in keeping you hydrated during the race.

Read how the two of our FFF’ers fuelled ahead of Paris marathon, and their top tips ahead of the big race!

marathon meal prep

Fresh Fitness Food Nutritionist Lisa

Meet our Marathoners

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Hannah and Emily running through the park

You think the miles slow when you hit commuter traffic? Try running 26.2! The major marathon that takes over the roads we know so well, and asks of all of us to celebrate the effort put in by so many is slowly (but oh so surely) creeping up.

This week we chat with 2 of our team taking on the big challenge. With their marathon prep plans firmly in place, while they may not be mastering London this year, with Paris two weeks earlier, they’re one step ahead of the game! Be it nerves or niggles, they’ve got numerous stories to tell…

Lisa: FFF nutrition team, and keen to conquer Paris in record time.

Hannah: FFF marketing team who regularly bores the office with running antics.

1) Two words to describe how you’re feeling weeks out from the 26.2…

Lisa – Nervousited (Nervous and excited at the same time)

Hannah – Hungry and Excitable

2) Which mile are you most excited for?

Lisa – Mile 13, halfway through, the countdown can begin.

Hannah – 25, the victory lap begins!

3) What will be your go to 24-mile snack saviour?

Lisa – Larabar! (TTH run club introduced them to me, yummy!)

Hannah – Sachet of Pics Peanutbutter

4) Pre-race breakfast and dinner… GO!

Lisa –  Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter and banana/ Dinner: Spaghetti Pomodoro

Hannah – Breakfast: Toast with marmite and butter/ Dinner: Cheese and wine in plentiful amounts.

5) Cross the line finishing pose… let’s see it!

Lisa crossing a marathon finish line

 

 

marathon meal prep

4 Weeks Out – Your Pre-Marathon Prep Plan

marathon training

So you agreed to a marathon many months ago? Now the time is fast approaching, there are a few things you should do in the final month of preparations.

Here are the 4 top things you should concentrate on, to allow you to step up to that start line strong.

1. Schedule in your longest training run.
2. Follow this with a good taper to give your marathon training the time it needs to settle in, and your body the chance to recover well for the race ahead.
3. Test your kit, and any gear you plan to use on race day.
4. Map out your nutrition.

Your longest run

Most marathon training plans schedule a 20 miler (or 32 kilometres) run 4 weeks before race day. You might wonder if running a longer distance will help you to get more confident about running the full marathon distance. Whilst yes, if all goes well it’s likely to help rid you of fear, the real reason for this is that for a lot of people 22 miles is to simply test the point at which the body begins to fight back, to help confirm your fuelling strategy and also your mental game.

Tapering

Tapering is a very important part of marathon training. The marathon taper is a delicate balance of maintaining fitness whilst promoting recovery. Tapering means reducing the volume of your weekly training distance during the final weeks leading up to the marathon. Do not fear that cutting back on training will affect your performance on race day.

Most training plans start tapering after the longest run, around 21 days before the big day. During tapering, muscle damage will be repaired and depleted levels of glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants and hormones will be replenished again.

Tapering will also help to combat mental fatigue and give you a fresh burst of energy. This will help you to arrive with fresh legs on marathon day, and to keep you going through the final stages of the race.

Marathon gear

Test out every item of your race day kit during your long runs. Make sure all items fit, feel comfy and will match the suggested weather conditions. If it’s going to be sunny, try out things like sunglasses and a running cap to ensure you are comfortable with any items you may use on race day.

Running shoes need to be replaced every 300 to 400 miles (500 to 700 km). On race day itself, it’s not a good idea to run in brand new shoes or old shoes. If you’re thinking of buying new ones, now is the moment. They’ll be worn for a couple of your long runs but they’ll still be fresh for the marathon.

Fuel your body right

Focus on healthy eating in the weeks leading up to the marathon. Avoid junk and highly processed foods, and cut down on your alcohol consumption.

Make sure you know what you’re going to eat before and during the marathon, and plan out the timing of any food and gels. Don’t introduce new things on race day. This may have an unwanted effect! Not everyone tolerates the sports drinks and gels well and you could end up with an upset stomach mid race. Try to avoid relying on what the race offers, and pack your own fuel, fuel you have tested and run with before.

On your final long run days, pretend it’s race day and eat the same things before and during your run. If the race is in the morning, try to go for your long runs in the morning too.

Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep during the last weeks of training. There’s evidence that a lack of sleep interferes with the metabolism of glucose, which muscles depend on for recovery. Banish your phones and laptops from the bedroom and get some good quality sleep.

 

A good taper, good nutrition and good sleep will help you feel motivated and make sure you will find the willpower to cross that finish line strong!

 

Looking to get your marathon time down? Check out some tips from FFF Ambassador and co-founder of Track Life LDN, Rory Knight in his ‘Run with Rory’ work out.

marathon meal prep


Lisa Scheepers
FFF Nutritionist


Health and Fitness tech 2019

Woman wearing a fit bit versa

For many of us, the idea of forming a deeper connection with our bodies through means of tech seems somewhat contradictory.
But there’s a lot of evidence to suggest there are actually a number of great benefits in incorporating a gadget or two which allow us to make healthy changes to our daily routine and improve our quality of life.

Some of the best health and fitness tech comes in wearable form, helping to measure the bodies activity levels and translate signals into easy to digest data.

We’ve put together a list of a few exciting pieces of health and fitness tech that have landed this year and have caught our attention.

Top Picks: Health and Fitness Tech 2019

Wearables:

Oura Ring

close up of a hand with an Oura ring

We can all agree a good nights sleep makes all the difference. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercise.

The average person is said to spend 26 years of their life asleep. That’s time well spent considering sleep affects your metabolism, immune function and productivity. A lack of sleep can even put you at risk of developing heart disease and increase the likelihood of a stroke.

But more often than not, sleep gets neglected – especially with all those fun swipes, notifications and other ‘pop-ups’  on our screens that we seem to like so much nowadays.

It’s certainly time to implement a bit of discipline in the bedroom, leave those addictive devices on flight mode and away from the bed, so we can drift off for a quality 8 hours.

Ironically, there’s new tech out there that can help you establish a healthy sleep routine based on a number of markers made during your sleep cycle.

One product that’s particularly good is the Oura ring. It’s a small, minimalist and highly accurate tool for measuring your sleep as well as your daily activity levels.

It measures body temperature every minute, comparing values from previous nights to form baseline profile from which to can compare future variations. Temperature measurements can reflect signs of impending sickness, a need to rest, or detect menstrual cycle stages.

Oura also measures your pulse with the use of an infrared lens from the palmar arteries in your finger. Heart rate is one of the most common indicators of recovery. It shows your resting heart rate, as well as how it varies throughout the night, indicating how your body is recovering from exercise, stress and fatigue.

It also measures your activity levels and sets your daily activity goals based on the quality of your sleep and status of recovery. This is useful to help you balance your activities with your rest time.

The Fitbit Versa

image of girl wearing a fit bit versa

If you’re looking for a compact fitness tracking wristwear that provides accurate activity data along with a decent battery life, then the Fitbit Versa is worth a good look.

This lightweight smartwatch is taking the 2019 wearable tech scene by storm, scoring wild reviews across the board after Fitbit showcased this new product at the CES (mecca of tech fairs) annual fair in January.

Fitbit have also chopped away some of the previous flagship’s unnecessary features and focused on improving some of the fundamentals, as well as adding in plenty of nifty extras.

Features:

  • An all-day activity tracker, so you can keep tabs on your step count, distance covered, active minutes and calories burned with ease. It also reminds you to move – a useful feature for those of us at the desk all day.
  • On-screen workouts with Fitbit coach – providing guidance and workout inspiration.
  • Swim-proof, with water resistance up to 50m. It even tracks your number of lengths.
  • Sleep tracker, so you can monitor your performance in the bedroom, keeping tabs on duration as well as general quality of sleep (light, deep, REM). It even features a silent alarm that wakes you gently by vibration, so you can slip into your 5am workout gear quietly without rousing a cranky bedmate.
  • 24/7 heart rate monitor – as well as guided breathing sessions that are personalised based on your heart rate, to help you find a place of calm wherever you are.
  • Access your favourite apps as well as the calendar and messages – if you’ve got an android you can even send quick replies.
  • Access music without the need of your phone with the use of a 300+ song storage and Deezer.

Worth noting:

It’s a fraction of the cost of Apple’s iWatch, with a much better battery (4+ days to the iWatch’s 2). Though you cannot receive calls or use a voice assistant.

AMAZFIT Bip

A cheaper option still, is the newest addition to the Fitbit family, the Versa Lite. Still aiding you in step count, heart rate, sleep tracking and supporting 15 exercise modes it’s a worthy winner when it comes to saving the pennies.Image of Amazfit watch

Athos Core

Image of Athoscore - fitness tracking body suit

If you’re not a fan of wearing something around your wrist while exercising, there’s now a range of high tech clothing that provides an even more advanced level of fitness tracking than the popular wristwear models.

Athos  make a range of performance garments integrated with lightweight sensors that analyse athletes’ activity and sends the data to a mobile app via Bluetooth.

The app provides a highly detailed breakdown of the individual’s movements in the form of a live view to help them facilitate a stronger mind-muscle connection, and present a valuable insight into each muscle’s power distribution.

It also displays a data split between the left and the right-hand side of the body, identifying areas that are overworking or compensating as a result of poor form.

This tech is now being used by a number of high-level professional sportsmen, providing them with a whole new level of insight into areas of muscular weakness for which they can improve.

For muscle recovery

HYPERICE VYPER 2.0

Hyperice - high tech foam roller

Using a foam roller is a great way to improve mobility and aid muscle recovery. It’s long been a staple feature when it comes to mobility and stretching and often paired with the characteristic grimace brought on by the rolling out of a painful knot.

Now there’s something on the market called the HYPERICE VYPER 2.0 that said to both reduce the discomfort and be twice as effective in the recovery process. Count us in!

Much like its traditional counterpart, the VYPER 2.0 is compact, portable and easy to use. What sets it apart, is its ability to emit high-frequency vibrations that help work into stiff muscles, improve circulation and reduce the pain associated with myofascial release.

The digitally-controlled vibration frequency can be set at 3 different levels of power, making it customisable to preference and its rechargeable battery allows two hours of usage per charge.

Photo of Jack Banister

Jack Banister
Creative Content Exec


Why we hit a plateau – and what to do to kick start your progress

Laura Hoggins holding kettle bells

What is a training plateau?

 

Almost everyone will experience it at some point during their training; when we reach a period where our progress levels off and we ask ourselves the questions “Is this all I’m capable of?’

When you stop seeing results, you may have reached a training plateau. Don’t panic and don’t let this discourage you! Instead let’s have a look how you can overcome a plateau and take your fitness to the next level.

 

Why do we hit a plateau?

 

Physical exercise is a stressor to the human body, as it disrupts the body from homeostasis (= steady state of the body for optimal functioning). A plateau occurs when our bodies become accustomed to the stresses we place upon it and it adjusts to meet the demands of the workout.

 

Hans Selye was the first one to describe how the body responds to stressors. He divided the stress response to a stressor in 4 stages:

 

diagram describing exercise plateau

1.  Alarm reaction stage

This stage is the initial response of the body when stress is first recognised. Our body releases a series of hormones (stress hormones) which trigger the ‘fight-or-flight response. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. After the threat is gone, it takes between 20 to 60 minutes for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels.

 

2. Resistance phase

The resistance stage, also referred to as the adaptation stage, occurs if the stress continues or recurs for a period of time. The body wants to protect itself against the stressors and makes adjustments so the body is more resilient. It’s very important to give our body enough rest in between exposing it to stress in order to allow it to adapt.

 

3. Supercompensation stage

The body is always seeking to maintain a state of homeostasis so it will constantly adapt to the stressors placed upon it. The desired adaptive response is called supercompensation.

 

4. Exhaustion stage

It’s important that we provide a stimulus that improves performance. When we place too much stress on the body or we don’t give our body enough time to recover, performance will be reduced in response to the inability to adapt to the stressor.

We need to keep in mind that all stressors are cumulative and that factors external to the training program (e.g., interpersonal relationships, nutrition, sleep, career stress,…) can limit the the body’s capacity to recover.

 

 

If easy training is continued over several training cycles and  we don’t change our work-outs, we will keep our body from adapting. We will stay on the same performance level and we will no longer reach a supercompensation effect. Instead we will hit a training plateau!

 

So, what can we do to avoid a plateau?

Training must be tailored to each person based on their goals. This means that training volume, intensity and frequency must be appropriate. If training is too intense, we will struggle to get back to baseline, and no supercompensation will occur. If training is too easy, there will be very little adaptive response.

 

Here are our top 5 ways to avoid hitting a training plateau:

 

1) Change things up!

It’s easy to stay in the same routine for a long period of time. People always tend to choose their favourite exercises and don’t explore other options. A good piece of advice; Try new things!

Instead of doing your slow and steady run, swap the run for an intense interval training or create a new route and incorporate some hill climbs.

In the gym you can change your usual routine for a new circuit or HIIT class or add in supersets/drop sets to your schedule.

 

2) Cross-train

If you are training for something specifically, cross training will be beneficial to achieve your goal.  Try to combine some strength training with cardio; mixing in a variety of training styles will target different muscles. Cross training might even reduce the risk of injury as well.

 

3) Use Periodisation

‘Periodisation’ is a type of training that’s commonly used by trainers and athletes to avoid hitting plateaus. Periodisation is a program which is carefully and systematically designed to help you to reach your optimal performance level. The training plan gets divided into specific time blocks and each block has a specific goal. This not only gives variation to your training, but also provides the body with different types of stress.

 

4) Get rest for recovery

Don’t forget to take it easy sometimes, by including rest days into your programme. Our body needs time to recover and rebuild muscle. It is far better to rest, than to push through and risk injury or burnout.

 

5) Improve your nutrition

A well balanced diet will help to fuel your workouts and enable muscle growth.

Eat consciously, choose healthy options and cut down on processed foods. Try to spread out your calorie intake through the day in order to ensure you remain satisfied. Eat enough before you start to work-out, and ensure you refuel afterwards as well.

 

Not sure if it’s training plateau hindering your progress? There could be other reasons too, check out our article 6 reasons why you aren’t hitting your goals to find out more.

 

If you have any questions about your diet or want some advice for your training, feel free to contact our Nutrition team!

 


Lisa Scheepers
FFF Nutritionist