Jurg Widmer Probst

What exercise barriers are there, and how can you overcome them?

Exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. But it’s not always easy to stay consistent and many people struggle to maintain a regular regimen of physical activity.

Many factors affect our ability to exercise. When life gets busy, or motivation starts dwindling, exercise is often one of the first things to be pushed aside. In addition, our want or ability to stay active can vary from week to week. Most of us have experiences where we get into positive habits and exercise regularly one week, yet everything feels much harder the next.

It’s easy to say you just need to get up and go, but that’s not always helpful. Instead, real, practical, and customisable solutions are required.

As a health, fitness and wellbeing enthusiast, Jurg Widmer has faced his share of difficulties staying consistent with exercise. It’s something that affects most people, so today, we’ll look at some of the most common exercise barriers and give you some handy tips to help you beat them.

What types of barriers prevent people from working out?

Not everyone faces the same barriers to exercise; obstacles may be specific to an individual’s situation. However, when considering what stops most people from exercising, we can divide these hurdles into 3 main categories:

  • Physical barriers (such as injuries or lack of energy).
  • Mental barriers (such as low confidence, self-motivation, or lack of enjoyment).
  • Environmental barriers (such as inadequate exercise spaces, limited time, or cost).

Some challenges may be easier to deal with than others, but there’s usually a way to improve your situation.

Parents, for instance, may not have childcare that allows them to go to the gym for an hour or two. But perhaps there are gyms in your area with childcare facilities, or there’s something you and your kid would like to do together. Sometimes we need to think outside the box to find solutions that work for us.

The 10 most common barriers to exercise and how you can overcome them

We all know that exercise is good for the mind and body, but knowing this doesn’t mean it’s easy all the time. So don’t worry if you’re struggling to keep active. It happens to everyone (even top Olympic athletes).

1. Not enough time

One of the most frequent excuses not to exercise is that people don’t have the time. You may have a big project, a busy season at work, or a lot of events on your social calendar. At times like these, it can be hard to fit workouts on top of everything else.

But there are ways to compromise. For instance, you could find a particular time of the day or week when things are quieter and block out some time. And remember, exercising doesn’t always mean you have to do a super long session at the gym. You could take a walk on your lunch break or start the day with a 10-minute yoga session. You could even build exercise into your routine, for example, by walking or cycling to work.

2. Tiredness

Who wants to get up and go for a run when they’ve had a poor night’s sleep or a hectic week? Not many of us. Ideally, you should get more (and better) rest when you’re tired, but this isn’t always easy.

Ultimately, sleep is essential for us to feel well and energetic. It can help to set a bedtime alarm, which signals when it’s time to wind down and head to bed. And while it might seem counterintuitive, it’s often better for you to get up and exercise even if you’ve slept badly. Many of us get into bad habits, but getting up and exercising despite your tiredness will ensure you’re tired enough to fall asleep at a more reasonable time the next night.

3. Low energy

While low energy is often connected to tiredness, they’re not the same thing. You might lack energy even though you got a full 8 hours of sleep. It’s hard to exercise when you barely have the power to roll out of bed or head to the fridge for a snack.

So if you’ve got no energy, how are you supposed to exercise? Firstly, you can try mixing up your schedule to fit in an activity when you have the most energy. For example, if you’re a night owl, you’ll likely prefer to work out in the evening than in the morning.

It’s also worth switching your diet if you consistently feel lethargic. Food is fuel, and eating right will ensure you have the energy to keep physically active.

It’s also worth acknowledging that many believe exercise increases energy levels in the body. So you could start with some light exercise and push yourself further as your energy increases.

4. Exercise is too hard

There’s no denying that exercise is challenging, especially when you’re pushing yourself. But it’s also true that it’s good for you, even if it’s uncomfortable.

The best trick to overcoming this feeling is to give yourself time to rest and choose activities you like. For example, if you’re not a big fan of jogging or weight lifting, why not try classes at the gym or online? It can also help to join a group exercise. You’ll be less focused on how hard something is if you’re doing it with friends.

5. No enjoyment

When you hate a particular exercise or are bored with your usual routine, you’ll likely find excuses to avoid it. Instead, switch things up and try something new. Again classes, online videos, and working out with friends can be a great way to change things up and rediscover your enjoyment.

6. Lack of confidence

Many worry about doing exercises wrong or being judged by those around them. Worries like this can completely halt your desire to stay active. It can help to find a quiet time to begin your fitness journey. You could also enlist the help of a friend or trainer to help build your confidence. In fact, many gyms offer one or two free sessions with a personal trainer where you can ask questions and try out new exercises or machines you’re nervous about using.

7. Self-motivation

Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to work out. It can help to build physical activity into your routine or join a friend or group. Most people are more likely to stick to an exercise regimen if they’ve got the accountability of meeting someone or attending a class.

8. Injury

An injury is a particularly challenging barrier to exercise. First, of course, you don’t want to risk worsening damage. Sometimes you must wait to recover before exercising again, but what if it’s a longer-term injury? In this case, you may want to consult with a doctor or physical therapist. Generally, you should try engaging in gentle workouts or something that doesn’t put pressure on the injured area.

9. Nowhere to exercise

It can be challenging to find space to exercise. You may not have transport to get to a gym, not have well-maintained paths in your area, or live in a busy city where spaces are crowded. You might not be able to solve these issues, but there are usually ways around them. For instance, you could walk rather than run on uneven paths. Or you could try online classes or tutorials at home if you can’t get to a gym.

10. Cost

Gyms and clubs can be expensive. You might not have the disposable income to partake in these exercises, but luckily there are lots of physical activities you can try for free or next to nothing. For example, jogging, jump rope, dancing, yoga, and bodyweight exercises don’t cost anything and can be done outside or at home.

Of course, this is not an unlimited list of barriers or solutions. So many things in daily life can prevent you from exercising as you’d like. But there are even more ways to overcome these barriers, living healthier and happier lives. There’s almost always a way to continue exercising if you’re flexible and willing to take a new approach to life’s challenges.

What type of cardio do you need to do based on your body goals?

People start exercising for lots of different reasons. Whether you want to improve your fitness, tone muscle, or lose weight, cardio can help. You can vary your cardio routine, even including other workouts like strength training, to keep things interesting and to better achieve your goals.


What is cardio?

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is a continuous exercise that aims to elevate the heart rate. This type of exercise can improve physical, emotional, and mental health.

Within this type of exercise, various low to high-impact and light to strenuous options exist. This means you should be able to find a cardio workout that suits your lifestyle, body, and health aims.

For instance, not everyone likes or can reasonably run several times a week. Some people dislike running, while others can’t do the exercise without feeling the strain on their knees. A lower-impact cardio workout like swimming or a spin class might be a better fit for someone who can’t or doesn’t like running.


Physical benefits of cardio

Many people start cardio aiming to lose weight. However, often their actual goal aligns more closely with wanting to burn fat. Losing weight can mean shedding muscle and water weight, whereas burning fat targets fat and often involves trying to tone up.

So, as stated above, cardiovascular exercise can:

  • Help you lose weight.
  • Burn fat.
  • Build and strengthen muscles.
  • Strengthen the heart, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Improve lung function.
  • Lower blood pressure.

You should do cardio 3 to 6 times weekly for around 30 to 60 minutes to get the best results.


The non-physical advantages of doing cardio

It’s not just the body that cardiovascular exercise is good for. Frequent cardio exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. It has been found to positively affect health in both an overall sense and in some precise ways. These include:

  • Improving sleep.
  • Feeling happier.
  • Boosting energy.
  • Enhancing cognitive function and memory.
  • Strengthening the immune system.
  • Cardiovascular exercise can even reduce the risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Cardio can do many wonderful things for the mind and body. It can even have long-lasting and life-changing effects if done correctly and regularly.

With all these benefits on offer, it is obvious why you should build cardio into your fitness routine. But also consider things like whether you prefer to work out alone or with people. After all, you’re more likely to continue exercising and to see more benefits if you find ways to enjoy cardio.


Our top cardio routines:

Cardiovascular routines come in all shapes and sizes. Some are higher-impact on joints than others, and most can be scaled to better suit total beginners to cardio pros.


Running is one of the most popular cardio exercises and a great calorie burner. It requires no equipment, apart from a pair of trainers, and runners can go for as long or as fast as they choose. A new runner developed the couch to 5K program for new runners. The free program has helped many start their running journey.


Cycling is another cardio favourite. This exercise is a lower impact than running and is a preferable choice for many. Additionally, while you may need to have or borrow a bike for cycling outdoors, that’s not your only choice. Most gyms have static bikes, and many run spin classes where you can get your heart rate up, strengthen your core and leg muscles, and lose fat.

HIIT workouts

HIIT workouts quickly became one of the best-loved cardio workouts. It involves bouts of high-intensity exercises spaced with lower-intensity ones that keep the heart rate up. This is one of the best cardio workouts for burning fat fast.


Swimming is a non-impact cardio and strength training exercise rolled into one. It’s a great way to work your muscles and burn calories and fat while strengthening the heart.


Walking is another low-impact and lower-intensity exercise that keeps the heart rate up and burns calories and fat. Hiking and stair climbers (or just climbing stairs) can help involve more resistance training and a core muscle workout into a cardio exercise like walking.

Jump rope

Jumping rope is one of the highest intensity and highest impact cardio workouts. Because of this, it’s not necessarily the best to do every day. However, it’s a great way to work arm and leg muscles while quickly burning calories. All you need to get started is a little time and a jump rope.


Working out safely

You should consider monitoring your heart rate if you want to get the most from your cardio workout. Too low, and you won’t see the full benefits of your efforts or too high, putting your heart under unnecessary stress and strain.

There are plenty of heart monitoring tools, including wrist straps and watches like Fitbits. Most gyms also have fitness equipment that can monitor heart rates. 220 minus your age is one of the most common equations used. This sum gives the maximum heart rate you should hit when exercising, so someone 35 years old should have a heart rate of no more than 185 when working out.

By monitoring your heart rate, you can ensure you hit your ideal fitness or fat loss goals without overexerting yourself.


What should you know before you start your cardio journey?

There are a few things you should take note of before you start your cardio journey.

  • It’s crucial you build rest into your workout regime. Your body and mind need downtime to recover and start stronger than before.
  • Listen to your body. The same cardio workouts won’t work well for everyone, and you might need to switch things up. For instance, if you run a lot and start experiencing pain in your knees, you should swap out your run for a lower-impact exercise like swimming or cycling for a few days.
  • Choose exercises that you enjoy. You’re more likely to keep it up if you don’t dread doing it.
  • Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. You’re bound to miss workouts here and there, and that’s alright. One skipped session isn’t going to ruin what you’ve been working towards, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Reasons why you are not seeing results from working out?

Have you been working hard had the gym? And yet, you’re not feeling or seeing the results you want.

It can be frustrating to spend hours every week training, only to see no or minimal changes in your strength, endurance, and physical appearance.

Many of us realise that exercise is a long game. Results shouldn’t be expected immediately, but even with patience, some people don’t see the results they deserve. It can be discouraging and block or interrupt our fitness journey.

If this rings true for you, don’t worry. Several common mistakes may be preventing you from seeing your desired results, and there are effective and simple solutions that will help you overcome these difficulties.

Let’s look at what you might be doing wrong and how you can start achieving the results you desire.

You’re taking it too easy.

On average, you want to be hitting a heart rate of about 220 minus your age. So if you are 30, your heart rate should be about 190 when you are doing intense physical exercise.

If you’re putting in a small amount of effort, you can expect your body to show it. Luckily, having a goal can help and measuring your heart rate is easy. You can buy and wear a monitor of your own or use any gym machines fitted with one.

You’re not eating right.

Remember, you can only get so far with your workout goals if you are not feeding your body right.

If you want to lose weight, you should not be eating excessive calories. On the other hand, if you are trying to bulk up, you need to be giving your body the right food to support this growth.

Try eating slow-release energy foods like porridge before exercise, as these will keep you going for longer. You can also try having some caffeine before training. Recent studies have shown that caffeine can allow people to exert more power and train for longer intervals.

One way to keep yourself on track with your overall health pursuits, while still being kind and understanding about natural cravings, is to practice intuitive and mindful eating. These methods allow you to focus on listening to your body. Let it tell you when it is full or when it’s hungry and what types of food it requires.

You’re doing exercises in the wrong order.

Many gym-goers, especially beginners spend their time inefficiently. For example, expending most of their effort on isolation exercises like bicep curls at the start of their session. These activities are actually best left until later so the muscles can go into a state of exhaustion known as hypertrophy that encourages growth.

It is best to begin your workout with compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups. You will need a strong foundation to hit your other fitness aims.

You’re doing reps at the wrong speed.

Generally, doing slow reps helps to fill the muscles with blood and encourages them to grow. Faster repetitions are better for those who want to build their strength.

Make sure you are sticking to your chosen rep speed throughout your session. Otherwise, you end up sending your muscles mixed messages and slow your results even further.

You’re all about cardio.

Cardio is great and necessary for those who want to improve their heart, strength, and endurance. It is also useful as part of a weight-loss plan. But alone, it is not enough.

Did you know that muscles burn calories even at rest? If you are hoping to lose weight, you must incorporate weight training exercises into your routine. You can lift weights or do movements that involve using your body weight (such as push-ups).

You’re focusing on the wrong exercises.

It’s easy to assume that focusing on a certain movement or body part will automatically lead to toning or growth in that zone, but this isn’t always the case.

For instance, if you are training for a six-pack, crunches and sit-ups should not be where you focus your energy. In fact, planks are far more effective.

You’re not monitoring your workouts and progress.

While variety is important, it is first essential to have a strong base from which you can build. There are many fitness plans, usually lasting between 8 and 12 weeks, that can help give you a clear idea of what exercises and what muscles you are using every time you workout.

Additionally, you should track numbers associated with your result goals. You’ll need to know your weight or body measurements if you are looking to lose weight or tone up. You will also want to record the weights you’re lifting and the reps you complete if you aspire to continue making progress.

Knowing where we have come from, and seeing how things change, can help us make and keep making progress towards our objectives.

You never change things up.

Not only will you end up bored of your workout if you never change it, but you will also begin to see less effect from your exertions. It is important to vary the exercises you do and to try to increase the intensity if you want to keep progressing.

You’re glued to your phone.

Many people use their phones while they exercise. Often the purpose is simply to listen to music or keep an eye on the time. But, for many, their phone usage doesn’t end there.

If you are using your phone to scroll through social media or reply to messages, it could be a problem. You are likely spending more time resting than you intend. It’s easy to do and often seems like a non-issue. But resting for too long, particularly while using a phone, reduces our heart rate and leads to a less intense workout.

You’re not allowing yourself enough time to rest

On the other side, you may not be allowing yourself enough time to rest and recuperate between sessions.

You’ll end up with fatigued muscles if you never let them recover from the soreness of the last workout. Plus, sore muscles often prevent us from training as hard or for as long as we would otherwise.

It is also critical that we get enough sleep, typically at least 7 hours per night for adults. Sleep is essential for the healthy function of our minds and bodies, and a lack of it can even result in reduced metabolism and increased appetite.

Ten tips to get the most out of your tennis game

Tennis is a multidisciplinary sport that can offer numerous health benefits, including enhanced aerobic and anaerobic fitness, speed, power, flexibility, and muscular strength. The sport also allows players to build up physical and cognitive skills, such as hand-eye coordination, focus, and dedication.

Few sports require whole-body fitness like tennis. Players must demonstrate powerful bursts of energy and enduring strength, as well as substantial levels of overall flexibility and mobility.

Tennis is a demanding sport – training properly is important

For those serious about improving their tennis skills, it is essential to choose exercises that target muscle endurance, strength, and movement. Resistance training, for instance, appears to enhance growth and improve the strength of ligaments, tendons, joint cartilage, and connective tissues inside the muscle.

Sport and motion specific resistance training exercises seem to minimise the occurrence of multiple overuse injuries, such as tennis elbow.

10 exercises to improve your tennis game

1. Lateral lunges

Also known as a side lunge, this exercise focuses on muscles throughout the lower body, including the glutes, quadriceps, abductors, adductors, and hamstrings. Practising this movement improves lateral mobility, which is highly useful for tennis players.

To complete a lateral lunge, step to your left side and squat back and down with your left leg, keeping your right leg straight, to lower your hips. Push up with your left leg to return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on each side. You’ll feel it exercising your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, as well as a stretch in the straight leg’s inner thigh.

2. Shoulder rotations

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons that allow your arm to roll fluidly in the shoulder socket. These muscles are often fully extended in serious tennis matches and can make playing impossible if injured.

Your shoulder is capable of two core movements, internal and external rotations. Internal shoulder rotations involve rotating the upper arm toward the front of your body, while external ones require you to rotate it away from your torso’s front side. These exercises can be performed while standing or lying down.

3. Hand walk

This stretch encompasses the entire body and allows for smoother racquet strokes when done regularly.

Bend over at the waist and place your hands in front of you on the ground. Walk your feet up to your hands while maintaining straight legs until you feel a stretch. Then plant your feet and walk your hands out in front of you to a push-up stance. Make sure you only take small steps using your ankles, not your knees.

4. Knee hug

This exercise enhances lower-body flexibility and mobility, crucial for those looking to up their tennis game.

To get more from this stretch, lift one knee to your chest and hold it below the knee with both hands from a standing position.  While squeezing the glute muscles, pull your lifted knee towards the chest. Step forward, then repeat on the opposite side, completing 10 repetitions for each leg.

5. Cardio

Jump rope and running are two of the best cardiovascular exercises for tennis players. Whole body fitness is essential for those who want to keep up with the sudden energy sprints required when playing tennis.

Aerobic conditioning ensures the heart and lungs work at optimum capacity to pump blood and deliver oxygen to muscles more efficiently. Regular cardio workouts can have significant endurance and speed benefits.

6. Box jump

Tennis games require explosive action to counter fast-flying hits. Box jumps are a relatively low-impact exercise that improves power and speed while allowing you the chance to practice shock absorption.

Swing your arms behind you while bending your knees and pressing your hips back. Explode up into the air from the balls of your feet, swinging your arms up and forward as you completely extend your knees and hips to achieve as much height as possible. Repeat the jumps back-and-forth over the box.

7. Medicine ball toss

This exercise helps increase strength so you can perform more powerful racquet strokes. Medicine ball tosses use the whole body from legs to core and upper body.

Holding a medicine ball below your waist with straight arms, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hips back. Lower yourself into a squat while keeping your arms straight. Jump out of the squat and launch the ball as high as possible. Return to your starting location and go again.

8.Bench press

Engage your chest, triceps, and shoulders with the bench press to dramatically enhance your serve during tennis matches. You should start with lighter weights and gradually increase them if you haven’t done this exercise before.

Lie flat on your back on a bench with a shoulder-width, overhand grip on a barbell held above you. Keep your feet on the floor, and steadily lower the bar until it skims the centre of your chest. As you exhale, push the bar back to the starting position fast.

9. Foam rolling

Foam rolling may help with a variety of things, including improving flexibility, decreasing discomfort and removing muscle knots.

Roll over your foam cylinder for compression that relaxes the nerves and muscles, increases blood flow, and aids recovery from exercises and day-to-day activities. Apply the roller to any area of your body that feels stiff and in need of a massage.

10. Trigger point

You can use a tennis ball to quickly target sore or tight areas of muscle in the foot.

To feel the fullest effects of this therapy, stand and place the tennis ball under your bare foot. Roll the ball back and forth under your foot applying pressure to the arch.

Nutrition and diet

Remember, no tennis player who excels in their field relies solely on exercise. You cannot expect your body to perform at its best if you are not feeding it a healthy and nutritious diet.


It’s not always easy to stay motivated, but regular exercise is necessary if you are serious about levelling up your tennis skills.

Try these exercises and nutrition tips to develop your key tennis playing skills and watch how your game improves.

Is the Fitbit Charge 5 a Good Fitness Tracker? | Jürg Widmer Probst

Is the Fitbit Charge 5 a Good Fitness Tracker?

If you’re looking for the next best thing in fitness watches, look no further than the Fitbit Charge 5 fitness tracker which went on sale late September 2021.

The performance of this fitness tracker is excellent and is tipped to be a serious rival for all the other wearables which monitor health stats and activity levels. Sleep tracking accuracy has been lacking in many of the other brands, and Fitbit Charge 5 has stepped up its game to ensure the latest tech offering doesn’t disappoint.

This affordable fitness tracker can hold its own against ones that are twice the price with highly accurate heart rate tracking. Some call this the best fitness tracker on the market so far, which is a bold statement considering the number of smart wearables available.

The global fitness tracker market size was valued at USD 34.6 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.9% from 2021 to 2028.

The Fitbit Charge 4 stepped up the game by introducing onboard GPS, but the latest model has fine tuned what’s under the sleek interface and taken the accuracy of the tech to a whole new level.

The introduction of the inside GPS turned avid runners onto the Fitbit Charge as a serious contender for other fitness trackers. Those who previously avoided Fitbit because it lacked this capability that other brands had as standard were now interested in this alternative fitness watch. While the Charge 4 was showing promise and reaching new audiences, it wasn’t yet ready to take on the fitness trackers used by serious athletes and fitness fanatics.

Is the Fitbit Charge 5 a Good Fitness Tracker?

One of the areas the Charge 4 was lacking was the monochrome low resolution display. While the watch was functional, it had limited capabilities in terms of the information it could display, making it less impressive.

Thankfully, the Charge 5 looks set to transform all that and impress us all with its bright and punchy colour display more in line with the Fitbit Luxe, which is a significant upgrade from what it was.

The new look fitness tracker comes in Black/Graphite, Steel Blue/Platinum and Lunar White/Gold. The design is very similar to the Luxe model, but the Fitbit Charge 5 has a soft infinity band, and the case sits flush with the band rather than having a strap with a buckle.

An important aspect of a fitness tracker is comfort, and this is where the Charge 4 needed to make improvements, and indeed Fitbit has. The Charge 5 design is more practical and is now an excellent choice for workouts and also wearing every day to monitor steps and stress levels.

The Fitbit Charge release price was $179.95, including a 6 month membership to Fitbit Premium, which helps you get more from your fitness tracker and smartwatch.

The paid for Premium membership provides a service to complement your Fitbit. It holds all of your data to deliver a personalised and actionable coaching service to enhance your fitness and health to achieve your goals. If you want to get a six pack, the coaching could come in very handy.

The Premium membership service provides additional features, such as a Health Metrics dashboard, guided video and audio workouts, and sleep and mindfulness tools.,

The Fitbit Charge 5 is similar to the Sense in that it provides a personalised score called the Daily Readiness, which collates data from your activity level, sleep quality and heart rate variability to understand if your body is primed for a workout or would benefit from a recovery day.

As standard, the Charge 5 has Bluetooth connectivity, in-built GPS, Fitbit Pay and all the usual fitness tracking benefits such as steps and flights.

One of the best features on so many new fitness trackers and the Charge 5 is the stress alert.

We all know that too much stress can increase your cortisol, and too much cortisol can increase hunger and fat storage! The handy stress monitor lets you know when your heart rate is peaking, and your body is in a stress state with the electrodermal activity (EDA) and electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors.

Is the Fitbit Charge the best fitness tracker available in 2021?

I certainly think so. As an avid fitness fan, I think it’s a serious contender and worth a look for a mid-range activity smartwatch.



Jürg Widmer Probst get a six pack

The Best Way to Get a Six Pack

One of the most asked questions in fitness is the best way to get a six pack. Everyone wants to look fit and strong, and a six pack certainly gives the appearance of that. But what does it really take to get that look, and can anyone do it?

Surely the way to a six pack is simply through doing lots of sit-ups and crunches?

While core exercises are vitally important for a strong core and body, doing daily crunches can actually lead to a distended stomach appearance which is the opposite of what anyone wants when trying to get a six pack.

Many people believe you can spot reduce fat and by doing lots of abdominal crunches that will help to ‘burn’ and eliminate stomach fat and allow the hard work to show through. Unfortunately, the human body doesn’t work that way, if only it did!

So, what is the best way to get a six pack?

The first place to help a six pack show on the outside is to clean up your diet and trim down body fat. This doesn’t need to be dramatic and should be done over a period of time so that the results are gradual and will, therefore, last longer. Changing habits is the safest way to do this rather than dramatically cutting foods out.

It’s all about balance, consistency and determination.

The dedication and discipline this effort takes are considerable, and why so few of us tend to have a ripped six pack to show off.

Why is diet so important to get a six pack?

Diet alone won’t keep your body strong, fit and healthy. Exercise and a poor diet will help you build some level of fitness but won’t generally mean you’re healthy. Combining the two elements is a recipe for health and fitness success. The level of effort, consistency and patients are what will help you get a six pack.

20% exercise and 80% nutrition is the optimum effort level.

Nutrition first, exercises second. Overeating or eating foods high in sugar, salt and processed fats alongside not enough movement will lead to weight gain. A balance of these two will result in maintenance of current weight. Eating natural foods in balanced quantities and increasing energy output will lead to losing weight and body fat.

A diet rich in healthy proteins, whole grain carbohydrates including vegetables and fruits and reducing sugar laden foods will help to reduce any unwanted body fat around your middle. While many people still believe that fats and carbs like bread are to blame for extra body fat, it’s most often caused by processed fats, too much salt and carbs in the form of sugary products.

Water, fibre and natural foods are all essential elements for anyone who wants to get a six pack. These all help with digestion and reduce bloating and inflammation within the body, adding to a firm torso.

Mindful eating and intuitive eating can also play a part in helping to ensure you make lasting, sensible and balanced decisions where your nutrition is concerned.

Aren’t crunches the best way to get a six pack?

Unless you have received proper and specific training on how to perform a sit-up safely, many people do not perform them with the correct form and that way; it creates weakness, pressure and strain in other areas, including the spine and neck. Performing exercises with correct form the get you better results and ensure they keep your body safe.

To get a six pack, you need to do a combination of exercises, including mobility, cardio, strength training and abdominal. This can be achieved through bodyweight training alone but is equally effective using equipment such as medicine balls, slam balls, swizz balls and weights.

The ab workout exercises you perform need to hit all the angles of the abs to develop balance strength and the look required. Do exercises that work on the top, middle, sides and bottom sections of your abs.

  1. Hanging Knee Raise
  2. V-Sits
  3. Bicycle Crunches
  4. Russian Twists
  5. Sit-Ups
  6. Pike Plank
  7. Lying Leg Raise
  8. Leg Up Crunch
  9. Plank (with variations for increasing difficulty)
  10. Mountain Climbers

Make friends with the plank abs exercise.

The forearm plank is one of the best exercises you can do for your abs but will also help keep your entire core strong, including your whole torso and glutes. A strong core is the foundation of a fit body.

Forward planks and side planks will help hit all areas. Start with just 20 seconds a day and then build up to as long as you can hold it. Remember to rest when needed but getting a six pack requires determination and dedication. Keep the tension out of your shoulders, neck and jaw.

These tips are the best way to get six pack abs.

Consider a complete lifestyle overhaul too. Sleep, relaxation techniques and active rest are all important tools to help ensure fat isn’t stored instead of utilised for energy.

The venture is not for the faint hearted. It will take time, but the effort is always worth the reward. If you embark on this journey, remember to take photos every few weeks to document your progress and consider keeping a diary to monitor your progress on what’s working and what’s not so you can make tweaks.

Jürg Widmer Probst - fitness apps

Studies show fitness apps are more popular than ever

Coronavirus and the ensuing measures taken by Governments to contain the virus have changed the way we work, socialise and, of course, exercise. Many of us are changing how and where we exercise. With gyms closed and restrictions for many countries restricting outdoor time, fitness apps and home exercising are getting us through.

Whether we choose to do HIIT in our living room, count our steps while we walk round the house, or are now exercising more often outside as lockdown lifts, there’s no doubt that people are exercising in a different way. Lockdown is not only fundamentally altering our collective attitude to health, exercise and looking after ourselves, but it’s changing the way we do so. And most of our actions are now virtual.

Fitness apps more popular than ever due to coronavirus

Data from mobile phone operator EE shows that people in the UK are now relying on apps more than ever. And many of these are exercise specific apps. In addition to a notable increase in video apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, lockdown is also boosting our use of fitness apps.

Between February and May 2020, there has been a huge increase in downloading and use of apps of all kinds. Already popular fitness app Strava now has triple the number of users and data usage compared with figures from before lockdown. The app is used mostly to track cycling, running and walking, although it can also be linked to other devices to track different kinds of exercise too.

MapMyRun is also dealing with higher user numbers. The app’s users and data usage has doubled between February and May as many more people began running outside for their daily exercise.

Interestingly, Fitbit shows considerably lower numbers and data usage on the network compared with pre-lockdown. Of course, this is just one mobile network, but it does show a general trend towards jogging, running and cycling as preferred exercise habits during the pandemic.

Health, wellbeing and nutrition apps are also popular

Meditation, nutrition and relaxation apps are also experiencing higher numbers of users since lockdown began. There has been an overall increase in online use and the way we’re using mobile networks. According to Marc Allera, CEO of the consumer division of BT: “Lockdown has driven huge changes in the way our mobile network is being used.

Fitness apps in particular are leading to huge spikes in data usage by people on the network. In the initial weeks of the lockdown, supermarket orders using mobile apps also spiked, but have now settled to a new normal. It’s likely that the same pattern will occur for health, wellness and fitness apps too, as we all adjust to the new normal.

3 fitness apps to try right now

Here are three of the best fitness apps to take you through lockdown and out the other side:

  1. Aaptiv – this app’s USP is that it gives you a personal trainer to take with you wherever you go. When you log in and record your personal settings, the app creates a weekly plan. Each day you choose form a number of different workouts that aim for your fitness goal. These include everything from stretching to cardio and strength training. Each workout is led by a different personal instructor and comes with a soundtrack.

The app is audio led rather than video, so while you exercise you hear instructions rather than see then. However, there is an archive of video clips so you can check your form. It’s ideal if you only have a small indoor or outdoor space to exercise in.

  1. Fiit – an app that is easiest to use when you hook it up to your TV, Fiit offers hardcore workouts. You really do need to see the movements and exercises to ensure your form is correct and safe. The workouts on offer are challenging and effective, with trainers that help you stay motivated. It needs more space than Apptiv, so it’s one for people who have a decent sized room in which to exercise.
  2. Nike Training Club – this fitness app is for experienced exercisers who already have a good standard of fitness. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners or those returning to exercise after a long gap. This is because the workouts are challenging, with plenty of exercises that will push your strength and endurance. Each workout is broken down into clips that show you exactly how to do each movement. It can be a bit repetitive as it concentrates on repetitious movements, but it is effective. And it’s the only free app on this list, so it has that in its favour.



Jürg Widmer Probst- Core strength 1

The importance of core strength

Everybody should have good core strength, because without it you are less likely to achieve your exercise goals and more likely to pick up injuries.

The good news is that you can benefit from the work of researchers, trainers and athletes who have spent many years developing excellent ways of building core strength.

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What is core strength?

Your core muscles include the muscles in the abdomen, back and pelvis, and when they are strong you will find it much easier to do many physical activities.

Different people will need different approaches to core strength, whether you are an athlete looking for a slight edge in performance or a novice trying to get started on a new exercise regime.

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When to do core strength exercises

The key to understanding core strength is realising that just about every exercise you do requires it. This means that you need to be careful about when you plan to do exercises which target your core muscles.

Do your dedicated core exercises at the end of a workout, because you run the risk of suffering an injury if you have tired core muscles when doing other exercises.

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Types of core exercises

You can train your core muscles in a number of ways, and the ones that work for you will depend on what you need and what you enjoy doing.

Pilates is one of the best known fitness systems and it places great emphasis on core strength through using body weight exercises.

Yoga is a similar approach, but it involves more elements of mindfulness, mental discipline and relaxation. A lot of people enjoy this, and it has some great upsides in terms of mental health.

You can also simply add individual exercises at the end of your existing routines, drawing on some of the aspects of Pilates, yoga and other approaches.

Most core exercises can be placed into one of two major groups: static and dynamic. The static exercises involve working your muscles without moving, by holding a certain position for a set time period, then resting. In contrast, dynamic exercises require you to move to work the muscles.

Static exercises

Static exercises, also known as isometric exercises, are an excellent way to build core strength.

One good example is the plank. To perform a simple plank you lie on your stomach, then rise up so you support your upper body with your fore arms and your lower body on your toes. Your body should be in a straight line, so your core muscles are supporting you.

You can then repeat this position and rest in patterns which best suit your needs. You can develop this basic approach into a number of variations to work slightly different parts of your core or to make the exercise more challenging.

Other static exercises include the bridge, dip hold and the banana. The latter is a great name for an exercise, and involves lying on your back, squeezing your tummy in then raising your straightened legs and arms off the ground for a set period and then resting and repeating.

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Dynamic exercises

Dynamic exercises are those where you move to work the muscles. You should always take care with these exercises and check with a personal trainer to ensure your technique is correct.

Crunches are a superb abdominal exercise, and if you do them well can quickly improve your core strength. You can also introduce different positions, or equipment like a Swiss ball, to work different parts of your abs.

Rollouts are another effective exercise, using a barbell on the floor in front of you with weight plate on each end. You kneel in front of the bar and hold it with both hands about shoulder-width apart. Tighten your tummy muscles, then slowly roll the barbell ahead of you until you are almost parallel to the floor, then roll backwards to the starting position.

One exercise to avoid is sit-ups, which most personal trainers will recommend that you avoid because they can cause back injuries.


The beauty of core strength is that you can develop it without any special equipment by doing things like crunches and planks.

However, some simple and cheap pieces of equipment can dramatically expand your options.

A Swiss ball is a large, soft inflated ball which you can sit on or use to add new position options for crunches and planks.

A soft exercise mat can come in handy, just because they provide a non-slip, comfortable surface on which to work out at home. It’s not much fun lying or sitting on a hard wooden or concrete floor, and you don’t want to be slipping when you try to hold a plank position.

A set of light weights enables you to increase the resistance for exercises like crunches, and you can also buy cheap but durable ab wheels which let you do roll outs without a barbell.

Overall, core strength is a key part of your physical health even if you aren’t very active. You are less likely to suffer back and neck pain if you have a strong core, and it only takes a little effort to get good results.

Jürg Widmer Probst Fitness health podcasts

Health and fitness podcasts

We love podcasts. They’re convenient and easy to listen to anywhere. Our favourite player is Pocket Casts, but Stitcher and even Spotify also offer great services. Try them all out, and pick the best one for you.

If you haven’t already joined the podcast revolution, now is the time to start. Why? Well, if you’re into health and fitness then you’re going to find lots of great podcasts out there to enjoy. Here is our pick of just some of the best health and fitness podcasts we’ve been listening to.

1. The best podcast to listen to on your run

Personally, we prefer to not listen to anything when we run – we’re all for listening to the world around us. But we get it: sometimes you just want to  plug in and zone out as you eat up the miles. Strava are probably best known for their all-conquering route-logging app. But they also do an excellent podcast series to keep you company on those long runs.

Athletes Unfiltered is exactly that – the stories of normal runners and athletes, just like you, doing some extraordinary things. A sample episode follows Ricky Gates. He decided to run over a thousand miles following every (and we do mean every) street in San Francisco. Compelling and inspiring stuff.

2. The best podcast about diet

We are what we eat. And of course, exercising gives you some leeway in terms of what you eat – to a degree. But how many of us actually know exactly what we should be eating to get the ultimate performance when we work out?

Sound Bites from nutritionist Melissa Joy Dobbins gives you all the advice you need to eat well, all the time. It’s not just for those of us who exercise a lot. But it is a fascinating, well-informed podcast that’s packed with science-based advice and plenty of nutritional goodness. Tuck in.

3. The best podcast for mental wellbeing

We all know that mental wellbeing is as important as physical health, and that the two are inextricably linked. But too often we put all of our energy into working out, and neglect our inner health too.

So, we love the 10 Percent Happier podcast from US journalist and self-confessed sceptic Dan Harris. If you’re looking for an honest discussion around the benefits of meditation, then this is the podcast for you. Harris gets different guests in all the time, and is always an interesting interviewer. A great place to begin an exploration of the world inside your head.

4. The best podcast to help you warm down and unwind

After some serious exercise, we all need to relax a little. To help you unwind, our favourite podcast is The Dumbbells. It’s hosted by a couple of comedians who chat about the journey we’re all on to get fitter.

None of this banter is particularly high brow – watch out for some adult language too, if you’re not a fan. You’re not necessarily going to get nutrition tips, kit reviews or help with your running technique here.

But that isn’t really the point of The Dumbbells. It’s silly, and it’s entertaining – and the perfect way to chill out after a hard work out.

The art of warming up and down

The art of warming up and down

Age teaches many valuable lessons. But one of the most important for athletes is how the increasing vulnerability of our bodies underlines just how important it is to warm up and cool down when we exercise.

Don’t get us wrong – it is important to warm up and cool down at any age, and regardless of your fitness levels. You’ll never see a 20 year old sprinter just wandering out of the changing rooms at the Olympics and straight into a race. Whatever our age, we need to prepare properly for what we are about to do. The issue as we get older is that we have less and less margin for error – the things we can get away with when we’re 25 just don’t work when we’re 45.

So, the bottom line is that warming up and down is important – but what might not be quite so clear is exactly why we need to do it. The basic principles are these.

A double benefit

By warming up before we exercise, we’re doing a couple of things. The first is that we’re getting our heart pumping just a little faster. That’s preparing it for the activity to come, but it is also starting the process of getting more blood pumping around  your body. As your circulation increases in around your joints and muscles, you become more flexible and your muscles are getting ready to move once you start exercising.

But when we warm up, we often also stretch our muscles – which also gets them in the right shape for the activity we’re about to do.

There’s another benefit to warming up properly too – and that’s on the mental side of things. When we take the time to warm up we’re also giving ourselves the space to transition into the activity, not just physically but also in terms of our focus. Anyone who has done any sport at all will understand just how important the mental side of it is, and warming up plays a key role in this.

Time to cool down

But what about cooling down?

Often, when we’re tired, it is the last thing we want to do. Most of us just want to grab a quick shower and get some food inside us – but warming down is just as important as warming up. Obviously, most of the benefits are simply the reverse of warming up – it returns our heartbeat to something like normal, and gives our muscles a chance to relax back into shape. But it’s also a chance for our muscles to get rid of some of the lactic acid that builds up when we exercise hard.

Again, warming down also serves as an important opportunity to bring our minds back into every day life. We can reflect on how we performed while we were exercising, and begin to reconnect with the world around us.

We’re often asked about what pre- and post exercise routines we recommend, and the one we always suggest is one of the very simplest. Our advice is simply to walk a little before you run, or on your way to working out at the gym. Walking is a great way to gently begin to raise your heart beat and warm up your muscles.

And of course, if you’re feeling really good (and you think no one is watching) you can always throw in a few dynamic lunges as you walk, just for good measure.