Summer is well and truly here! And if you're like us - regretting those extra few slices of cheesecake we oh so desperately needed on Christmas day - you're probably wondering how you can undo the past few days of overindulgence and get into shape.
While we can't take back the extra helpings of dessert, we can look forward to making healthier, smarter choices this summer - and hopefully drop a few kilos and tone up along the way!
To help us on our journey to tone our bodies, we spoke to health and fitness expert and Voome's Stabilise: Core and Glutes program trainer, Sarah Biordi, about weight loss, motivation and toning particular areas - yes, we mean our bottoms and bellies!
How regularly should we exercise in order to tone up?
We're all different in how we respond to exercise, so how quickly we tone very much depends on the individual.
It's also important to note that any amount of exercise you can manage is beneficial! Try aiming for a minimum of three to four sessions a week, then four to six once you become better conditioned.
A varied mix of exercise types, e.g. cardio, strength and mobility, and exercise modes, e.g. heavy loads/low reps vs. lighter loads/high reps, HIIT vs. steady state, etc. can not only do a good job in toning you up, they can slim you down, promote good heart and bone health, and have you mobilising with ease!
What fitness classes are fun but also good for toning the body and losing weight?
My idea of fun may not be the same as yours, but I tend to gravitate towards innovative functional training workouts that scare me a little, e.g. those incorporating free and machine weights, battle ropes, sandbags, assault bikes, medicine balls, sleds etc., such as Strongman classes and F45 circuits.
The high-rep, mid-low weight model of BodyPump barbell classes yields excellent results in all areas, and the different types of circuit, resistance band, and boxing classes available in most gyms are great fun and provide good variety while aiding weight loss and improving muscle tone.
If you're a Water Baby at heart or have an injury, deep water aqua-aerobics works well as another resistance training option.
How do you motivate yourself to work out?
Personally, exercising on an empty stomach is futile, so eating enough across the day is important.
If I'm in need of a quick energy boost a strategically timed latte or dark chocky fix (or both) get me over the line. Having a particular fitness goal in mind helps too, e.g. an upcoming obstacle race or the requirement to keep fit to teach group exercise classes.
Finally, music is life and my main motivator, so I'll be scouring SoundCloud prior to each sesh for a killer DJ set that can take my head elsewhere when the body starts protesting.
What kind of exercises are great for zapping belly fat?
For most of us, it's wishful thinking to hope you can trim your waistline by relying on a few crunches alone.
You cannot 'spot reduce' anyway and if your food and beverage consumption is misaligned with your physique goals then you're facing a mountain to climb. Combining high intensity interval training (HIIT) with healthy portion sizes of a nutritious and wholesome diet isn't particularly sexy - but it's a combo that works.
Running, (think shorter and faster rather than longer, steady-state efforts), and other exercises that work your muscles just as hard as your heart and lungs are the big body-changers, so seek them out and push hard and often to tighten a notch in your belt!
What exercises are great for toning the bum?
It's all about the booty gains these days and the options are endless if you're willing to get creative!
First up activate your glutes and mobilise your hips with some unweighted unilateral exercises such as piston squats, Warrior III squats, supine single leg raises or glute bridges with side-to-side rocking.
Variations in depths, timings, foot placements and bar/plate/sandbag holds can be applied to weighted squats and lunges to target different areas of your glutes, and barbell or hex bar deadlifts, Sumo deadlifts, and hip thrusts fire things up nicely too!
GHD raises are one of my faves, but good luck finding a rig you can use comfortably if you're a vertically challenged female. Swings, goblet squats, and single-leg deadlifts can satisfy the kettlebell enthusiasts and single-leg cable kickbacks are great too if you can navigate the wires.
Introduce resistance bands to basic exercises such as squats, wide stance waddles, crab walks, side leg raises and glute bridges with butterflies - then embrace the burn! Load up the leg press and sled if you're hardcore, or try clams, glute bridges, single leg toes touches and or kneeling single leg side raises if you're looking for exercises that don't require equipment.
Many gyms run bum-specific group fitness classes too, so if you are a member check out the timetable or ask reception about these. You can also check out my Stabilise: Core and Glutes program with Voome.
Do you have any weight loss tips we should know about?
Losing weight on the scales doesn't tell the whole story and fluctuations can occur across a day, so my number one suggestion would be to take your eye off the prize and not focus too hard on those digits.
Many other factors such as increased fitness levels, positive body composition changes, having a happier disposition, strength gains (mind AND muscle), body measurement changes (bigger OR smaller depending on your goals), increased muscular endurance levels, better mobility, cleaner nutrition choices etc. should be recognised and celebrated if you're seeking a healthier version of yourself.
If you're a fast (lean muscle) gainer like me then you'll notice a weight gain before a weight loss anyway - even when you are shrinking in size! So instead of obsessively weighing yourself why not shoot for a fitness or a mental health goal instead? Even the smallest lifestyle changes, fortified through repetition, make a significant difference in the long run, and leaner bodies often happen as a result of prioritising health and happiness first.
Sarah is a Fitness Expert for Voome.com.au. She has been a training instructor for 25 years, originally trained as a Les Mills instructor. Fitness has been in Sarah's blood from early on, successfully starting her career as an international gymnastics representative, who then went on to become a competitive gymnastics coach. She is now a mum of two little elite-level gymnasts and one non-gymnast bulldog puppy!