The Importance of Stretching and Cooling Down

Man Stretching Legs Outside
Man Stretching Legs Outside

Stretching Every Day has Many Benefits

How often do you take the time to stretch before and after your workout? We provide all of our Xercise4Less members the opportunity and space to stretch in our clubs as we understand the importance of doing so. Stretching after your gym session especially helps you to release any built up tension in your muscles, reduces the chance of DOMs the following day(s) and prevents any injuries.

Whilst you’re working at home, make sure that you’re finding the time after your workout to stretch and cool down. It doesn’t have to be long but it should always be done. Just as you’d perform a safe warm up before your workout, you need to cool down too. Stretching helps you to return your heart rate to a normal rate and is crucial for muscle recovery.

Woman Stretching on Yoga Mat

Make Time for a Cool Down

A cool down at the end of every workout is really important. It doesn’t have to be long but it should be done every time you work out. Whether you take 5 minutes or 25 minutes, set aside some dedicated time once your workout is done to really stretch out your body and return your body to its normal working rate.

A cool down and stretching session should always focus predominately on the key muscles that you’ve worked during the workout. This can be much more straight forward on a leg day or arm session in the gym but if you’re doing HIIT or Full Body workouts at home, aim to do full body cool downs to avoid any injury or pain the following day(s).

After a full body session, stretch out your quads and hamstrings the best that you can. You don’t want these to be tight the next day as this can cause discomfort. Next, stretch out your calves. Once your leg muscles are stretched and cooled down, move up towards your core, back, arms and shoulders. You should physically feel a release and pull on your muscles which clearly shows that they’re stretching out and reduce any built up tension from an intense workout.

Woman Stretching Legs

Stretch to Boost Flexibility and Mobility

If one of your goals for 2020 was to improve your flexibility or to be able to drop into the splits, you should be stretching even more regularly than just in a cool down. You can seriously boost your flexibility and mobility by stretching before and after your session. This is because you’re loosening up your muscles before your session, working them throughout and then stretching them off afterwards. Mobility stretches are really good for developing your fitness too. Hip mobility allows you to really elevate your leg day as you’ll be able to squat lower and sometimes heavier too. By neglecting your stretches, you could be really neglecting your ability to progress.

To reach goals and targets such as the splits and advanced Yoga movements, try to stretch in your spare time too. Spare 30 minutes throughout your day to stretch. By doing this ‘little and often’, you will start to notice a substantial impact on your flexibility and hopefully push yourself closer and closer to those all important fitness goals.

Fitness 4 All

At Xercise4Less, we’re proud to offer a wide range of digital tools to help you continue working on your fitness whilst you’re at home. Use this time at home to focus on things that you might otherwise neglect so that by the time our gyms reopen this is part of your normal everyday routine.

We’ve got a number of @Home Workouts that focus purely on Stretching. By follow these regularly, you’ll be able to improve your flexibility and mobility but most importantly, really ease the pressure off your muscles to ensure that you’re minimising any risk to injury. These stretches workouts are perfect to follow at home and include stretches for your full body but also specific focus areas including legs, arms and shoulders.

Don’t forget about our large number of Live Stream and On-Demand fitness classes available to book onto NOW. All of these include a dedicated stretch and cool down session as our expert trainers and instructors understand how important this is for you and your fitness.

Techniques to Help You Perform Stronger in the Gym

Man Using Leg Press
Man Using Leg Press

How to Perform Better in the Gym

Everyone has different goals and targets and most importantly, fitness journeys. However, there are things that all of us can do to help ourselves perform better in terms of fitness and to become a stronger, healthier, fitter and happier version of ourselves.

Whatever your goals are, use this time at home to focus on a few different training techniques and styles that your mind and body will thank you for once you step foot back into your Xercise4Less gym that you’ve so badly missed. We can’t wait to welcome you back and we want to make sure you have the best possible experience.

Squats on Squat Rack

Focus on Your Form and Maximise Results

If you’ve been trying to grow certain muscles or target areas for a while now but haven’t been seeing the results that you want, this may be down to your form. By really focusing on the form whilst you’re away from the equipment and environment, once you step back into the gym, you’ll be back like you never left and amazing results will soon come your way.

When working out, especially with weights, it’s really important that your form is right. With the correct form, you’re going to minimise the risk of injury but also make sure that you’re hitting your muscles right every time. This encourages your muscles to grow and your strength to increase.

If you’re a fan of squats and regularly use our squat racks, now that you’re at home without one, focus on your form to make sure your posture is right. Get your feet positioned correctly, keep your back straight, look forward and really sit into your heels. Sometimes equipment can distract us from form because we’re just focusing on the weight or hitting PBs but once you get the perfect bodyweight squat, we can assure you that those PBs will come a lot easier. Similar with deadlifts. Perfect your form with a lower weight or not weight at all and once your back in the gym, you’ll see results in no time.

Woman Stretching on Yoga Mat

Pay Attention to Mobility and Flexibility

This pandemic and lockdown has definitely made some of us realise that our lives sometimes ran at 100mph and we’re grateful for this period of slowing down. We would usually hurry ourselves into the gym, do our session and then rush out again. This is fine but we rarely stretched or took time to focus on mobility. Does this sound familiar? Now that you’ve got the time, work on your flexibility and mobility more often.

Stretching techniques are what will help you with mobility and flexibility the most. Note down what your problem areas are or what you’ve struggled with in the past. For example, if you’ve never been able to really improve the depth of your squat, try working on your hip mobility. By opening up your hips and releasing tension, you should be able to start squatting lower which means that you’ll feel it more in your legs and glutes.

If you’ve always wanted to be able to perform a bodyweight pull up but have struggled in the past, now is the time to really work on stretching out your lats and lower back muscles before your workout. By doing this, you’ll be increasing your chances of being able to do this in the future.

Being away from the gym may have been hard but by remaining focused on your goals, you’ll ensure that you can perform stronger and better once our gyms reopen. Your body may have been tight and calling out for a rest that meant you could come back better and bigger, so really listen to your body and do what you can to help yourself make amazing progress once you’re back in the gym.

Stay Focused on Your Fitness

At Xercise4Less Gyms, we understand how important your fitness goals are to you and we respect our varied fitness community. We’ve put together a wide range of @Home Workouts and now offer exclusive Live Stream and On-Demand Fitness Classes online that are both suited to all fitness abilities and people with weight loss goals, strength building goals and much more.

If you’re without equipment at the moment, don’t worry, we’ve put together a number of workouts that you can follow such as HIIT, HIIT Lower Body, HIIT Upper Circuit and more. All of these require only your bodyweight and will help you smash your weight loss goals whilst we’re temporarily closed. If you’ve got some gym equipment at home then that’s great because we also offer workout routines and Fitness Classes such as L1FT, Les Mills BodyPump and Indoor Cycling that will allow you to use the equipment and work really hard from home.

Having Fun with Fitness During Lockdown

Man Using Smith Machine - Weight Training, Resistance Training
Man Using Smith Machine - Weight Training, Resistance Training

Making Fitness Fun

The most important thing when it comes with fitness is to make it fun. If you don’t enjoy it, it will always seem like a chore and that will probably delay your progress and results. Whilst we’re at home and unable to go to the gym, use this time to try new things and most importantly have fun with fitness.

Play around with different styles of training to see which one works best for you and most importantly, which puts a smile on your face and makes you feel amazing. If you’re not sure where to start, let us help you.

HiiT Workout at Home

Finding the Positives of Cardio Training

Sometimes when people think about cardio fitness and cardio training they think dull. People automatically assume that this means spending hours running on the treadmill or cycling until your bum is numb but this isn’t the case. There are lots of different ways to put your body through cardio training in short and fun ways.

One of those ways is interval training. Whether you opt for HIIT or Circuit Training, interval training means that you perform an exercise for a certain short period of time and then move onto something else. As you’re never performing one specific movement for long, the time flies by. For example, say you’re following a circuit of Burpees, Mountain Climbers, Jumping Jacks, Sprints and High Knees and performing these movements for 30 seconds each, once those 30 seconds are up you’re moving onto something else so whether you love them or hate them, they don’t last long enough to give it much thought at all. This type of cardio training is really effective for boosting your heart rate and allowing your body to burn a lot of calories so if you’ve never tried it before, give it a go and really push your fitness to the max.

Don’t forget that low intensity walking is an amazing type of cardio. Aim to for 7,000 – 10,000 steps a day and burn away excess calories and body fat with a really simple type of cardio training.

Man doing Home Workout with Weights

Lift Weights to Lift Your Mood

At Xercise4Less, we love weight training. We provide a huge range of equipment and facilities to allow our members to work on their strength and build their muscles in our gyms. We’re aware that weighted equipment has been difficult to get hold of during lockdown but if you’ve managed to get hold of some, you can really maximise your fitness and have fun with weights.

When it comes to weight training, there are a few different styles of training you can follow. Again, try a few of these and just see what sticks; see which one you enjoy the most. You could do time under tension, progressive overload, low weight high reps and more. If you’ve got limited equipment, play around and see what works for you. You’re still able to build muscle and increase your muscle mass whilst working out at home, even if you don’t have much kit, so don’t give up on your 2020 goals just yet. This is all something that can keep you going until we reopen our doors and you have free reign of the equipment and facilities again.  

Online Training is Fun, Friendly and FREE!

We’ve been working hard during lockdown to ensure we’ve been able to offer our members and everyone who has an interest in fitness to stay active and healthy whilst gyms are temporarily closed. We’re proud to offer a wide range of digital solutions to help you keep smashing your fitness goals from home.

One of our best loved things about Xercise4Less Gyms is our motivational and inclusive group exercise classes and you asked, so we delivered! We’re now delivering a wide range of virtual classes including Les Mills BodyCombat, BodyPump, BodyBalance, HiiT, Yoga, Legs, Bums and Tums and many more. Whatever your fitness goals, we have something to help you focus on that from the comfort of your living room or back garden.

You can book onto our scheduled Live Stream classes or catch our pre-recorded On-Demand classes whenever and wherever you like. If you’re wanting to really have some fun with your fitness during this lockdown, our classes will offer you that and so much more so download the X4L app and book onto them now.

Improving Your Stability and Balance

Man Doing Lunge
Man Doing Lunge

The Importance of Mobility

How often do you focus on your stability and balance? For most of us, it isn’t very often. However, it should be. Regularly focusing on these two things will have a great impact on your fitness and your progress. With better balance, workouts such as Yoga and Pilates will become a lot easier and with strong stability, you’ll be able to perform heavy lifts such as squats and deadlifts better and even push closer towards those all important PBs!

Balance on Exercise Ball

Take Time to Work on Your Balance

Improving your balance shouldn’t just be for those who love Yoga and Pilates, it should be something that we all do as regularly as we can. Working on your balance has a lot of benefits that make your workouts and gym sessions better but also mean that your day-to-day life activities become a lot easier.

By working on your balance regularly, you’ll prevent any falls. This is because you’re a lot stronger on your feet so that you’re less likely to fall and injure yourself if you’re doing something that requires you to balance for a long period of time. Improving your balance also means that you’re reducing the risk of injuries in your knees and ankles because you’re able to take some weight off those areas and balance instead. Finally, don’t forget how much balance will help you progress. If you are a keen Yoga or Pilates person, you’ll be able to start performing much more advanced movements by spending just some time every day or week focusing on your balance.

mixed ages barbell lunges - never too late

Stability will Help You Get Stronger

Stability is again one of those things that are sometimes neglected. However, with all the extra time we have at home, now is the perfect time to work on this a bit more.

By working on your stability regularly, you will improve the amount of control you have over every single movement. Whether you’re working out in the gym or at home, stability is your friend! This will allow you to build strong muscles all over your body, especially your core and legs as you can really concentrate on the movement that you’re performing and how you can control it to allow you to reach your desired results.

Want to sit lower on your squat? Want to increase the size of your biceps? Whatever your muscle and strength gaining goals, working on your stability will allow you to get there quicker. To allow yourself to really smash your 2020 fitness goals, these two types of training – balance and stability – are really important and you should try them as often as you can.

Exercise at Home to Suit You and Your Goals

Do you remember why you joined one of our gyms in the first place? Whether that was to help you lose weight, build up strength and muscle, tone and condition or have a positive impact on your mental health, you can still do that at home whilst our gyms are temporarily closed.

It’s important not to cancel out any of that hard work by continuing to exercise at home whether it’s low or high intensity. We understand how important your fitness journey is to you and that’s why we’ve created a wide range of @Home Workouts and Virtual Classes that you can follow to suit you and your fitness goals. Really make the most of this extra time you have at home whether that’s in the mornings, evenings and weekends and keep working towards your fitness goals.