Press up guide for beginners

beginner press up guide

Personal Trainer, Andy Donaldson, has created a press up guide for beginners.

Introduction

Press ups are easy-to-perform, suitable for all fitness levels and can be done anytime, anywhere without the need for any special kit or equipment.

Press ups are one of the four essential compound bodyweight exercises, with the other three being: squats, pull-ups and bridges. Mastering these movements  utilises the real power of your body, allowing you to be more agile. This type of bodyweight control is vital in sports, martial arts, lifting weights, or just general day-to-day living.

Ensuring the correct form is essential, so check out the guide below to perfect your press ups!

Why do press ups?

Press ups work the entire front of your upper body, with a focus on the pectorals (chest), triceps (back of the arms), your deltoids (shoulders), and your core (the muscles around the stomach area). They’ll give you a great workout, help burn calories and get your heart pumping!

How to complete a standard floor press up

As this is a beginner’s guide, we are starting with some modified press up movements to help you progress to performing a standard floor press-up.

Incline wall press ups

Doing a standing press up against the wall is a good starting place if you’re new to press-ups or if you’re recovering from an injury or illness. By standing, you put less pressure on your joints.

incline wall press up  Incline wall press up 2

  1. Stand about an arm’s length away from the wall
  2. Place your palms on the wall as you lean forwards into a plank position with your arms shoulder height and width apart
  3. Make sure that your wrists and shoulders are in line with your elbows
  4. Lightly squeeze your thighs together and then squeeze your stomach and glutes
  5. Initiate the press up by bending your elbows and slowly moving your upper body towards the wall while keeping your feet flat on the ground. Make sure you inhale as you do this
  6. Stop just before your forehead touches the wall and pause for a second or two
  7. Exhale and use your arms to push your body back to your starting position

Incline waist height press ups

Incline waist press up  Incline waist press up 2

This variation is a little trickier than wall press ups. Find a surface that is about waist height and can take your weight. I’m using the kitchen work surface in this example. Repeat the steps as listed above.

Negative kneeling press ups

   

   

The negative kneeling press up can help you to make that final transition to a floor press up. Balancing on your knees instead of your feet is another good modification while you build your strength.

  1. Start in a plank position with your arms fully extended
  2. Inhale and lower your body to the floor
  3. Once your body is fully lowered, instead of pushing back up, place your knees down on the floor
  4. Keeping your knees on the floor, exhale and use your arms to push your body back to the starting position

How to do a standard floor press-up

   

Once you’ve completed a few different press-up progression exercises and you’re feeling ready to perform a standard floor press up, follow the steps below:

  1. Start in a plank position with your arms fully extended and palms flat on the floor
  2. Keep your core locked so a straight line is formed between your head, glutes and heels
  3. Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground and then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms back to the starting position. Repeat for as many reps as you wish

We hope you’re feeling more confident in performing press ups after reading this guide. Keep your eyes peeled for our follow up blog article on floor press up variations.

 

 

5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing: stay active

staying active at home

‘5 Ways to Lockdown your Wellbeing’

To help us improve wellbeing during home living and social distancing, our Exercise Referral Instructor, Fran Andralojc, is sharing her ‘5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing’ over the coming weeks. The second way ‘eat well’ was released last week.

Some of you may be aware of the 5 ways to wellbeing report, researched by the New Economics foundation and proven to improve an individual’s wellbeing when practised regularly. Fran has used similar concepts but with tweaks and changes adapted to our experiences during lockdown. For information on these, please follow the links: New Economics and Gov.uk.

Fran’s 5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing are:

  1. Boost positivity
  2. Eat well
  3. Stay active
  4. Keep in touch
  5. Help others when possible

This week, we are sharing the third way to lockdown your wellbeing, staying active.

Stay Active

Now more than ever it’s important for us to stay active. Making sure you continue to move will help to improve your mental and physical health.

  • Mentally, it will release endorphins, which are those feel-good hormones that are released when we exercise.
  • Physically, it will help to promote joint, bone and muscle health and reduce aches and pains. It will also improve your circulatory system, boost the health of your heart and lungs and it can prevent health issues developing or worsening such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and more.

Here are a few tips for incorporating exercise into your routine:

  • Try to do a mixture of stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular exercises each week to keep all areas of your body moving. Stretching is often overlooked by many but including stretching exercises in your exercise regimen is essential to maintaining good posture, balance and flexibility.
  • If you find that you’re struggling to fit exercise into your day, you could create a timetable so that you exercise on certain days of the week. For example, strengthening exercises on Monday, stretching on Wednesday and cardiovascular exercises on Friday.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes exercising. Add this time into your calendar like a meeting so that it’s in your diary. This means you won’t forget and it will make you more likely to do it!
  • If you don’t like exercising alone, how about creating a Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting with a colleague, friend or family member and do some exercise together? This will help your motivation levels whilst ensuring you’re staying connected to others.

Take a look at our hub, Your Home, Your Move for workout inspiration. We have lots of content on there from HIIT and P90X cardio to yoga, Pilates and mobility and postural videos.

Fran’s next way to lockdown your wellbeing: ‘Keeping in touch’ will be released next week. Fran is happy for you to email her directly if you have any questions on anything mentioned in this article.

Low fat turkey bolognese

healthy low fat turkey bolognese

Kate Petty, from the Health and Wellbeing team, shares a low fat alternative to bolognese.

Swap your beef mince for turkey to reduce the fat content of this classic Italian dish. It may be lighter, but the sauce is just as thick and tasty! If you want to go that one step further and make it even healthier, you can serve it with spiralized courgette (courgetti) instead of pasta. Or perhaps have a combination of the two, as we have done here.

Low fat turkey bolognese

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 45 mins Quantity: serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g lean turkey breast mince
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 100g closed cup mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 x 400g cans of tinned tomatoes
  • 400ml chicken or beef stock cube
  • Seasoning- salt, pepper and mixed herbs

To serve:

  • 4 large courgettes grated / 360-400g pasta of your choice

Method:

  1. Chop the onion, carrot, mushrooms and celery sticks into small chunks.
  2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and dry-fry the turkey mince until browned. Tip onto a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the oil and gently cook the crushed garlic, onion, carrot, and celery until softened (about 10 mins). Add a splash of water if it starts to stick.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few mins, then add the tomato purée, and cook for 1 min more, stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, turkey and stock with some seasoning. Simmer for at least 25 mins (or longer) until the sauce has thickened.
  6. If you would like to have it with courgetti, spiralize four courgettes and gently fry in a lightly oiled frying pan for around 5 mins on a low heat. If you would like to have it with pasta, boil a pan of water and cook the pasta as instructed. Serve and enjoy!

5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing: eat well

eating well healthy food

‘5 Ways to Lockdown your Wellbeing’

To help us improve wellbeing during home living and social distancing, our Exercise Referral Instructor, Fran Andralojc, is sharing her ‘5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing’ over the coming weeks. The first way to lockdown your wellbeing, ‘boost positivity’ was released last week on our ‘Your Home, Your Move’ hub.

Some of you may be aware of the 5 ways to wellbeing report, researched by the New Economics foundation and proven to improve an individual’s wellbeing when practised regularly. Fran has used similar concepts but with tweaks and changes adapted to our experiences during lockdown. For information on these, please follow the links: New Economics and Gov.uk.

Fran’s 5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing are:

  1. Boost positivity
  2. Eat well
  3. Stay active
  4. Keep in touch
  5. Help others when possible

This week, we are sharing the second way to lockdown your wellbeing, eating well.

‘Eat Well’

It can be true to an extent, that we are what we eat. Have you ever noticed how your body feels after indulging in less healthy meals or snacks? I know I feel lethargic, low in energy and low in mood. When I eat well I feel much happier and more energised. The timing of eating is important too and can affect things like how well we sleep.

Here are a few tips that may help you to continue eating well during this time. Be sure to have a look at the recipes we have on Your Home, Your Move for some food inspiration.

1. Try to stay hydrated, drink plenty of water throughout the day and be aware of liquid energy: Adding sugar to teas, drinking hot chocolates or lots of juices and sugary drinks are best avoided in large volumes, especially if you are less active during this time than you may usually be.

2. Eat when you need to, not when you’re bored: It’s so easy to grab a snack when you’re bored, when actually that extra energy isn’t needed. Try to listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry. If you’re unsure whether you’re hungry or not, have a glass of water and do something to distract you. If that doesn’t do the job and you’re still feeling hungry, go for a healthy snack like a piece of fruit.

3. Plan your meals in advance: You’ll be less likely to overeat this way and more likely to eat healthier meals. It is important to plan before going food shopping so you don’t get tempted by the sugary snacks on offer when you’re wandering the aisles. Make a meal plan for the week and write down the ingredients you need and stick to this shopping list when in the supermarket.

4. Take time out to eat rather than eating on the go or whilst you’re busy working: Try and have some quiet time where you can either sit with your family and eat, or just eat by yourself without any distractions. You’ll be less likely to eat as much as you will recognise when you’re full. Any leftovers you have can be kept for lunch the next day!

5. Batch cook meals and make the most of store cupboard ingredients: We’ve been making lots of bean and vegetable chilli and stews as they’re cheap and easy to make and don’t require too many ingredients. You can keep the cooked meals in the fridge or freeze them and have them later.

6. Substitute foods if you need to: Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you use kidney beans or borlotti beans in a chilli, or beef, pork, turkey mince or quorn mince. It all still makes a hearty nutritious meal. If you’re out of tinned tomatoes and can’t find them in the supermarket, tomato puree and water is a good substitute.

7. Try not to go to bed on a full stomach: This could affect your sleep. Have a read of Lucy’s blog post on ways to improve your sleep for more information.

Professional chef, Jamie Oliver, has put a series together on eating well and cooking during social distancing. Have a look at his ‘Keep Cooking & Carry On’ videos for some recipe ideas.

Fran’s next way to lockdown your wellbeing: ‘Stay Active’ will be released next week. Fran is happy for you to email her directly if you have any questions on anything mentioned in this article.

Basic Exercises: Perfect your technique

Banner for Exercise techniques home workout blog post

Improving your form

Personal Trainer, Lucia, gives you some top tips on how to complete some basic home exercises with correct form. These can be done in any space with minimal equipment.

 

1. The plank

The Plank is a fantastic, static exercise which strengthens your core.

  • Keep your hands below your shoulders and fingers spread out.
  • Make sure you keep your core tight and back straight, with a gap between your ear and shoulder.
  • If you’re finding it hard to balance, you can move your feet further apart.
  • If that’s too difficult, you can drop down to your elbows. This will put less pressure on your shoulders.

 

2. Sit-ups

Sit-ups are a great exercise for building strength in the abdominal muscles.

  • Sit up tall and keep your core tight.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your knees apart.
  • Curl down in a C shape, breathing in.
  • Breathe out as you come up slowly, maintaining the C shape.
  • Keep your hands by the sides of your legs.

 

3. Split Squats

Split squats are a great way to improve muscle balance and range of motion while activating quads and glutes.

  • Keep both your knee’s at a 90 degree angle.
  • Push up through front foot.
  • Keep your back straight and core tight.
  • Breathe in as you come down and out as you come up.

 

4. Triceps Dips

Triceps dips are a very popular exercise that can be done almost anywhere to engage the triceps muscles and improve strength.

  • Use a bench/chair that is around knee high.
  • As you go down, stay close to the bench, pointing elbows back and keeping them close to your body.
  • To make the exercise harder, you can move your feet further away or fully extend legs and rest on your heels

 

There are many other great workouts for you to try in our Hub.

5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing: boost positivity

ways to boost positivity

‘5 Ways to Lockdown your Wellbeing’

To help us improve wellbeing during home living and social distancing, our Exercise Referral Instructor, Fran Andralojc, will be sharing her ‘5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing’ over the coming weeks, starting today.

Some of you may be aware of the 5 ways to wellbeing report, researched by the New Economics foundation and proven to improve an individual’s wellbeing when practised regularly. Fran has used similar concepts but with tweaks and changes adapted to our experiences during lockdown. For information on these, please follow the links: New Economics and Gov.uk.

Fran’s 5 ways to lockdown your wellbeing are:

  1. Boost positivity
  2. Eat well
  3. Stay active
  4. Keep in touch
  5. Help others when possible

This week, we are sharing the first way to lockdown your wellbeing. Fran introduces her first suggestion, boosting positivity!

‘Boost Positivity’

You may think, how can I stay positive in the midst of all this, and why?

There are many ways you can look at things, but putting a positive spin on things in testing times can really help to boost your wellbeing. I believe that if you look for it, there is always a positive side to something. Focusing on positivity can help to boost your immune system, reduce stress and boost your energy. After all, our mindset has a bigger impact on how we feel than we realise.

There are a few things that I do regularly to stay on top of positivity which I wanted to share with you, in the hope that practising these regularly may help you to feel more positive too!

5 things I’m grateful for: Spending a little time each day to focus on what I’m grateful for. I like to do this before going to bed as it ends the day on a high and helps me feel thankful for what I have. So why not give it a try? Each evening you can say them out loud, write them down, or just think to yourself. What are 5 things you’re grateful for right now?

Take a moment to be mindful: Taking time out during the day to just focus on the present moment helps with grounding and I find that it helps to take my mind off any stressors. All days are different, and some days I may only manage a couple of minutes, but every minute counts. How about taking some quiet time either before you eat your lunch, or sometime in the afternoon. Do it anywhere that’s comfortable and just focus in on your breathing and the space around you. Take a look at the Your Home, Your Move hub and follow Charlotte’s relaxation and breathing video to assist you.

Now is all that matters: It’s easy to get carried away thinking or worrying about the future. When I feel like this, I remind myself that the only time we ever have full control over, is this moment, right now. If I’m feeling negative, I find a good way of bringing myself back to the present is choosing a colour, and counting everything around me that is that colour. It’s the really simple things that can help a lot!

Do something you enjoy: If you’re stuck in a bit of a rut and can’t seem to get out of it or change your mindset, try doing something you really enjoy, or that you know calms you. Have a think back to a time when you felt truly relaxed and recall what you were doing then. Can you recreate this? And if not, why not try any of the following:

  • Have a warm, relaxing bath or refresh with a shower
  • Do some drawing or colouring
  • Call a friend for a chat
  • Get some fresh air
  • Do some exercise
  • Stretch your body
  • Practise some meditation

Fran’s next way to lockdown your wellbeing: ‘Eat well’ will be released next week. Fran is happy for you to email her directly if you have any questions on anything mentioned in this article.

Quick and easy healthy flapjack

quick and easy healthy flapjack

Kate Petty, from the Health and Wellbeing team, shares her favourite flapjack recipe.

These quick and easy flapjacks are packed full of nutritious ingredients that are slow releasing so they will keep you fuller for longer. They are perfect for a morning or afternoon snack during work or study and you can even freeze some spares and enjoy for up to a month after freezing.

Quick and easy healthy flapjack

Prep time: 10/15 mins Cooking time: 1 hour Quantity: Makes 16 squares

Ingredients:

  • 250g oats
  • 50g butter/margarine
  • 5 tsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 40g dried apricots, chopped small
  • 60g sultanas
  • 40g mixed seeds- pumpkin and sunflower
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 100ml hot water

Optional extras: desiccated coconut, cranberries or other dried fruit

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Heat the butter/margarine, peanut butter and honey in a small pan until it’s melted.
  3. Mash the banana in a bowl and add the grated apple. Pour this mixture into the melted butter and honey mix. Add 100ml of hot water and mix to combine.
  4. Tip the oats, apricots, mixed seeds, sultanas and chia seeds into a separate bowl. Add the cinnamon. Pour in the banana mix and stir until everything is coated.
  5. Tip into the tin and level the mixture off with a spoon. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for a few days. You can freeze the flapjacks- place flapjacks in a sandwich bag in the freezer and consume within a month.

Customer Service Accreditation success

Waterside Cafe

We are delighted to announce that our services in the Facilities Directorate have received re accreditation of the Customer Service Excellence ® (CSE), a government standard that recognises an organisation’s commitment to putting customers first.

Following a tremendously busy year in 2019 services in the FD have worked harder than ever to deliver continuous improvement on their existing compliance plus status. Earlier in March the Services received a one-day surveillance visit from the CSE accreditor who looked over this year’s submission and met with colleagues to find out more about the great work that is taking place.

Jo Hynes, Deputy Director Estates and Facilities commented:
“I would like to thank and congratulate all our staff across Campus Support Services, Catering and Events Management, Marketing and Communications and Sport and Physical Activity. This achievement is testament to everyone’s continued hard work and commitment to deliver excellent service to our customers. This year, we have achieved compliance plus across a further 10 accreditation criteria. This is a fantastic result and demonstrates our ability to deliver continuous excellence.”

Our Services received compliance plus and additional praise for the following:

We use reliable and accurate methods to measure customer satisfaction on a regular basis.

We analyse and publicise satisfaction levels for the full range of customers for all main areas of our service and we have improved services as a result.

We have made positive changes to services as a result of analysing customer experience, including improved customer journeys.

There is corporate commitment to putting the customer at the heart of service delivery and leaders in our organisation actively support this and advocate for customers.

We empower and encourage all employees to actively promote and participate in the customer-focused culture of our organisation.

We can demonstrate our commitment to developing and delivering customer focused services through our recruitment, training and development policies for staff.

We provide our customers with the information they need in ways which meet their needs and preferences, using a variety of appropriate channels.

We take reasonable steps to make sure our customers have received and understood the information we provide.

We have improved the range, content and quality of verbal, published and web-based information we provide to ensure it is relevant and meets the needs of customers.

We identify individual customer needs at the first point of contact with us and ensure that an appropriate person who can address the reason for contact deals with the customer.

5 ways to improve your sleep

tips on improving your sleep

It’s essential to go back to the basics of good health during this unprecedented time — and that includes good sleep.

Lucy Alderman, one of our Exercise Referral Instructors, has suggested 5 ways to improve your sleep during this time.

  1. Keep your sleeping pattern consistent

It may be tempting to stay up into the early hours of the morning watching your favourite Netflix series or playing your favourite video game. However, to help your wellbeing and improve your sleep, sticking to a normal sleeping pattern is key. Go to bed at a similar time and set your alarm to get up as you would do during a normal working week. If you’d like to use the time you’d normally commute to work to have a little sleep in, that’s fine, just adjust your morning alarm and stick to this. Consistency is key.

  1. Set a bedtime routine to relax and switch off

With everything going on at the moment, allowing yourself some time to relax and switch off from life is really important for a good night’s sleep. Activities such as reading, listening to music/podcasts and meditation or mindfulness are some good ideas for you to consider but do what relaxes you. Try to avoid activities that use a screen.

  1. Engage in regular physical activity/exercise

This is increasingly challenging with the shutdown of gyms, but we are permitted one form of outdoor exercise a day, whether this be a jog, walk or cycle. Let’s make use of it while we have the time to do so. Sleep studies have found that although exercising right before bedtime could lead to a poor night’s sleep, being active in the day could aid sleep.

There is lots of content being posted online from our own instructors at The Edge as part of our new hub ‘Your Home, Your Move’. Take a look for videos such as home HIIT workouts, cardio and postural exercises.

  1. Avoid caffeinated drinks from late afternoon

The average effects of coffee last between 4-6 hours!

Instead of reaching for your favourite coffee in the evening, look for decaffeinated alternatives as these won’t interfere with you trying to wind down. There are plenty of decaffeinated coffees and teas now available. If you want to go the extra mile, there are herbal teas containing ingredients such as chamomile, lavender and peppermint which all have properties to promote sleep.

  1. Don’t go to bed with a full stomach or having consumed excessive alcohol

Allowing 2-3 hours between your last meal and bedtime allows you to digest the food. Without this time you may suffer from heartburn symptoms which could disturb your sleep.

Although alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep, it actually reduces your rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep) which is the restorative sleep we need to help with cognitive development and learning. When you drink more than usual you may have to get up in the night to go to the toilet, so if you are drinking alcohol, try to avoid it too close to bedtime.

 

 

Free nine week Couch to 5K programme

Couch to 5K nine week programme

Running 5K without stopping is a great goal to have. It only requires a pair of trainers. It can be done anywhere and is something that you can easily fit around your daily routine.

So why not use this time to get into running?* Running is a fantastic activity that helps you keep a healthy body and healthy mind. Follow our free programme and it will take you from couch to 5K in just nine weeks. It is designed so that you will complete each session twice a week or optimally three times to enhance progression.

You will receive clear feedback as to how much you are improving your fitness, as you’ll be able to run further every week.

*Please ensure you’re following government advice and social distance yourself from other people when running and only do so once a day as part of exercise.

Couch to 5K nine week programme

Couch to 5K programme

Follow this nine week running plan and you will be able to run 5K without stopping.

Tips on progression

This programme is designed for beginners so they can eventually run 5K without stopping.

This 9 week programme has been tried and tested by many staff and students across campus as part of the Couch to 5K programme hosted by Get Out, Get Active. Our spring Couch to 5K programme has just finished. Read of how participants got on.

Each session has been carefully planned by a team of qualified run leaders. This programme builds up the amount of running you do very slowly so your body can acclimatise.

If you are struggling with advancing from one week to the next, you can repeat any one of the weeks until you feel physically ready to move on to the next week.

Structure is importance for motivation. Try and allocate specific days of the week for your runs and stick to them. For example, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Free apps to use to track your runs

Strava

Strava will use the GPS signal on your phone (or fitness tracker if you have one that does that) to accurately log the route and speed of your runs. You can also plan a route on a map on the Strava website, then send it to the app to follow while you run.

It’s a very popular app so chances are some of your friends and family are on it too. Once you’ve downloaded the app and have connected with your friends, you can send each other kudos and support their running journey.

MapMyRun

MapMyRun is a tracking app that is very handy when it comes to route planning. Open the app wherever you are in the world and you can load local routes that other runners have created and follow one on your phone during your run. You can also create your own routes.

Rest days

Rest days are vital. Having one between each week’s runs will reduce your chance of injury as you allow your body to recover from what is a high-impact exercise.

Aches and pains

Some people who are new to running may experience calf pain or sore shins. These aches can be caused by running on hard surfaces or by running in shoes that do not have enough foot and ankle support. Be sure to also check that your running shoes are offering you good support.

Always make sure you do the 5-minute warm up walks and some dynamic stretches to warm your muscles before beginning to run and the 5 minute cool down walk and static stretches after your run.

Ellie, one of the GOGA run leaders, who delivers the couch to 5K programme leads you through the warm up and cool down you should do before and after every run.

Stay in contact

We’d love you to let us know how you’re getting on with the programme and to share your progress with other Couch to 5K participants. Please join our virtual Couch to 5K Facebook group. Run leaders are ready and waiting to chat and answer any questions you have.

Also you can get in touch with leaders Kate Petty, k.petty@leeds.ac.uk or Greg Hull, G.D.Hull@leeds.ac.uk who will be more than happy to help you.

Best of luck with the programme!