With the gyms closed again, millions of Britons rely on home training to stay fit beyond the lockdown. But how can you get the most out of your exercises?
That's the question host Mehreen Baig tries to answer in the BBC documentary The Truth About … Getting Fit At Home, which airs tonight.
Mehreen speaks to heart health, fitness, and physiology experts to find the most effective ways to exercise without setting foot in a gym.
Perhaps surprisingly, Mehreen discovers that it only takes six minutes a week to build muscle and that resistance bands that cost only 5 pounds in a supermarket trigger more muscle growth than heavy dumbbells.
She also learns one of her favorite exercises – "prey training" – which is not a shortcut to a curvy figure.
Host Mehreen Baig (pictured) explores the secrets of successful home exercise in the BBC documentary The Truth About … Getting Fit At Home, which airs tonight
Exercise six minutes a week to build muscle
Studies show that just a few minutes after the muscles are exercised, the release of protein molecules is triggered, which helps them gain in size and strength.
"You have to do as many repetitions as you can until you can't get any more, even if it's only one," says Professor Jason Gill, an expert in heart health at the University of Glasgow.
It is known that strengthening exercises like dumbbells, pushups, or squats are good for our overall health and are linked to longer lives. But how much is enough?
According to Prof. Gill's research, the answer is quite simple until you have to stop.
Based on the evidence, Prof. Gill explains that for beginners, exercising each major muscle group in the body for just one minute per week, it is enough to increase strength and has benefits for heart and lung health and longevity is.
That is a total of only six minutes a week – training the muscles in the legs, chest, stomach, back, shoulders and arms. "Most people think" one minute per muscle group per week? "Yes, I can," says Prof. Gill.
Mehreen speaks to heart health, fitness, and physiology experts to find the most effective ways to exercise without setting foot in a gym. Image from a picture agency
DITCH the dumbbells for resistance bands
Resistance bands, which are available in the budget supermarket Lidl for under five, trigger more muscle growth than even the heaviest dumbbell, according to research by Tony Kay, Professor of Biomechanics at Northampton University.
Prof. Kay uses stick-on arm sensors that measure electrical activity in muscle fibers and send the information back to a computer. This indicates how hard the muscle is working – and whether new fibers are growing.
Acting as a guinea pig, Mehreen performs a series of bicep curls with 5kg dumbbells, followed by the same number of repetitions with a resistance band wrapped around the hand for maximum tension.
Analysis shows that towards the end of the routine there is more electrical activity with the resistance bands. The muscle change occurs in the second part of the movement when the arm lowers while the biceps remain tense, explains Prof. Kay. However, when using the dumbbell, the arm muscles tire quickly. However, the stretch in the resistance band makes it easier to control and maintains tension.
Just 15 minutes a week to see the results
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become even more popular during lockdown because it's so easy at home in the front room. This is the type of exercise Joe Wicks does in his exercise classes.
Yoga also gets the heart pumping
Notably, Dr. Phillips suggests that the same effects can be achieved with some forms of yoga – especially Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga, which are fast-paced.
This is welcome news for people with reduced mobility who want to exercise.
Previous research supports this. An American study tracked more than 15,000 obese adults for four years and found that those who regularly did yoga as their main form of exercise were a stone lighter at the end of the experiment.
HIIT involves short bursts of strenuous cardio exercises like running or jumping that are interspersed with the same amount of rest. It It has been shown to increase the fitness of your heart and lungs, reduce body fat, and improve blood sugar control.
So, is it the best way to do an aerobic workout at home?
"In terms of heart and lung benefits, HIIT and running are likely pretty similar," says Beth Phillips, an expert on clinical physiology at the University of Nottingham.
"But one of the great things about HIIT is that it can be done on this compressed timescale. So many HIIT workouts only take 15 minutes while you might run for 45 minutes."
And you don't have to do too many of these to see the benefits, says Dr. Phillips.
“We did a study and found that five intervals were better when we had seven intervals versus five, but with a slightly higher intensity. Intensity is key to realizing benefits with HIIT. & # 39;
One study found that you only need to do 15 one-minute intervals per week (so a single 30-minute workout) to see significant health gains. And you can see results in four weeks.
BOOTY WORKOUTS ARE NOT A SHORT CUT FOR CURVES
Instagram is full of influencers demonstrating "booty workouts" that promise to create a curvy pert derriere, as is the case with many celebrities and social media stars.
"It is effectively just about using your own body as body weight and doing exercises to increase muscle endurance, especially in the lower limbs," explains Dr. Phillips how the exercise works. "So why could it be called prey training, they really are for the entire lower body."
But she cautioned against seeing training as a shortcut to a curvy figure.
"There are so many other factors to consider," she says. & # 39; Genetics play a huge role; where your muscles and fat are distributed throughout the body and there is also food. & # 39;
FITNESS TRACKERS MAKE YOU MOVE MORE
Another surprise was the program's discovery that it was worth investing in fitness trackers, which most users will ditch after just six months. A study featured on the show put 100 volunteers through a 12-week exercise program. Half wore a tracker and half didn't. Those who exercised twice as long on average and burned twice as much energy.
According to the experts behind the Liverpool John Moores University study, trackers can show wearers how hard they are working in real time – their heart rate and calories burned – which motivates them to keep going.
"About six weeks into the study, the tracker group did four routines a week, which is more than we asked for, while the other group only did a session or two," says physiologist Dr. Matt Cocks. "None of the studies we've ever done got participants to exercise that much."
With the latest fitness watch, you don't have to shed hundreds of pounds – a simple wrist-worn heart rate monitor, available online for around £ 20, can do the same thing.
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