Switch It Up
Over the last few months I've been getting back in to training after a few (quite a few) months on not doing much of anything consistently (well, apart from yoga!). It's been a great opportunity to play around and explore new workout, I've discovered that I actually really love going to classes and lifting weights, and Pilates has definitely found a place in my ever changing routine. However, did you know that around 44% of people never change their routine! According to research by Brita people aren't switching things up because they don't know what else they could be doing or because they don't have access to an expert to help them, and that doesn't surprise me. Most people aren't fitness professionals, and some people can find the gym environment or approaching a pro an intimidating experience - I know I would've in the past. What's more, while we're doing the same old thing we're wasting an average of 21 minutes doing exercises we're now executing properly, which is basically a bit of a waste of time.
Thankfully Olympic heptathlete Katarina Jonhnson-Thompson has taken it upon herself to sort us all out with her Switch7 workout, in partnership with Brita. Switch7 is all about switching up your exercise regime to challenge and optimise in, you guessed it, seven ways - from gain explosive power to effective hydration. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Switch7 by the woman herself last weekend and was seriously impressed (and not just because an Olympian was cheering on my hill sprints!!) by both the workout and the Brita fill&go Active bottle, which kept me hydrated while I challenged myself.
I loved that the workout was challenging yet accessible (there were people with all levels of fitness taking part as well as a few star struck kids who were amazing, oh and the odd dog!) and although there are a few bits of equipment involved you could easily modify the moves if you don't have kit available. The variety of moves meant my whole body was worked, including a few key skills I often forget about, such as agility (really need to work on that one!). Brita's fill&go Active bottle was fab too, light weight and squeezy it's the perfect for for a sweaty circuits workout (although a bit bulky for running) and I swear London's nasty hard water tastes better when it's filtered and both Mike and I have been using our bottles all week and we love them!
Fancy some coaching from Katarina yourself? While I can't guarantee she'll turn up at a Rabble session again I can share the Switch7 workout and some of her top tips for you to try!
I think we probably all know that your performance can be compromised if you don't hydrate properly when working out, but in reality just 38% of us only reach for a drink when we feel thirsty. To ensure you're performing your best keep a water bottle handy and make sure you hydrate every 10 minutes.
These were two of my favourite moves from the workout - I've been working on my push up form and was so excited to do 10 FULL push ups in my first set of 40 seconds and could definitely feel that my core had got stronger and I had greater stability.
To ensure your power is explosive do these moves in short bursts of 20 seconds work followed by 40 seconds rest and repeat 5 times. If you want to up your game then do the exercises in bursts of 40 seconds work followed by 20 seconds rest.
- Box jumps
Stand opposite a box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and drive up through your heels to jump onto the box, landing with your feet flat.
Beginner option – use a step rather than a box
- Power push ups
Starting from a low plank position, lower yourself down and push up driving all your power through your chest and arms to lift off the ground. Land back in a low push up position.
We did all these moves with partners, which was a lot of fun! I really enjoy working out with other people and Switch7 is the perfect workout to do with a group of friends in the park.
The goal is to overload the muscle and complete each move for a full body workout. Start with a round of each exercise for one minute, then 45 seconds and a final round of 30 seconds per move. These can be done using a wall or with a partner (it is always more fun with a partner!).
Squat jump ball throw
In a squat position and using a football sized or weighted ball, hold the ball above your head. As you drive up from the squat into a jump, throw the ball at a wall (or to a partner) as hard and high as you can, catching it as you sink back into the squat.
Chest ball throw
Face a wall, holding the ball at your chest. Thrust the ball against a wall (or at a partner) as hard as possible and catch it, throwing it straight back at a wall or partner. .
Side rotation ball throw
Stand with your back to a wall, holding the ball at your chest. Keep your feet still and rotate your body to the right, swinging the ball against a wall (or pass to your partner). Rotate 180 to the left to do the same and repeat.
Sit up ball throw
In a sit up position in front of a wall, hold the ball to your chest and launch into a sit up. Thrust the ball at a wall (or your partner) as you come up, hold and catch the ball then recline onto the floor and repeat.
I LOVE the extra challenge that the resistance band created in this exercise! I felt like a total badass sprinting against resistance, it was a great challenge.
Combine explosive power with strength to work on your speed over a short distance. Complete a pyramid of sprints followed by 40 seconds rest after each set: 10 meters, followed by 20, 30, 40 and 50 meters.
Resistance band sprints
Place a resistance band around your waist and ask a partner to stand behind you and hold it. Sprint forward 10 (followed by 20/30/40) meters, driving forward with your arms and leaning forward slightly. As you run ask your partner to pull on the resistance band to challenge yourself.
Agility is something I really need to work on! In theory this move looks simple but can be tricky done at speed, which is the point when your agility is tested. Repeat the move for three minutes with each leading foot.
Start with both feet outside the first square, to the left. With your left foot leading, follow the pattern of left-right-left-right inside and outside of the squares. Gradually increase your speed and complete it as many times as you can within three minutes, moving up the ladder as you do so.
There is nothing more satisfying than a good sprint - it's hard but in a good way, and it's especially fun when you're being cheered on by an Olympian! Serious fan girl moment!.
Aim for 10 repetitions, otherwise continue for as long as you can.
Find a hill with a good incline and run up it as fast as you can. Drop a marker and jog back to the bottom (recovery). Turn around and sprint back up, aiming for the marker. Repeat until you can’t reach the marker or until you have finished your 10 repetitions.
Recovery is something I really need to get better up, especially now I'm getting back into regular training. Luckily my background in yoga helps, it's just a matter of actually doing it!
Primary yoga stretches are a great way to increase flexibility of the whole body and aid recovery. Start in the downward dog position and move fluidly through these stretches.
Lower back and abdominal muscles
Lower yourbody to the ground lay facedown on the floor with hands directly under the shoulder, keeping your toes on the floor. Push hips towards the ground raise your chest off the ground facing ahead creating a cobra position. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
Move into a full push-up position with hands under shoulders and straight arms.
Bring the left knee underneath you up to the left shoulder with the heel on the floor by right hip or if possible up towards the right shoulder.
Lower upper body over the left leg with the chest facing forward. If you want to deepen the stretch bring the chest down to floor and reach arms out in front of you. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then switch sides.
Upper back and shoulders
On all fours, turn your left palm upwards and straighten your left hand underneath your chest towards your right arm. Slowly lower the left shoulder toward the floor, turning your head so it's left side is near the floor. Hold for 20 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.
Calf muscles and quads
Move up to standing position with feet shoulder width apart.
Step right foot ahead but keep weight equal between both feet. Slowly bend both knees, allowing your back heel to come off the floor and you should feel the stretch along the left quad. Hold for 10 seconds then straighten left leg pushing it further behind you and try to bring the heel of the back foot down to the ground where you should feel the stretch in your left calf. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on each leg.
**All images used with permission of Brita. All opinions my own. Thanks to Brita and Rabble for hosting this event**