Saturday 24 August 2019

Karl Henry: Simple exercises to help you look your best for the Christmas party

Tone up in six weeks with these light workouts from our fitness expert

Karl Henry: Aim to add balance to your life.
Karl Henry: Aim to add balance to your life.
Elbow bridge
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

Last week Ireland got a shock when the World Health Organisation announced that processed meats and too much red meat is bad for us. In the following days, newspapers, websites and Twitter was full of supporters and non supporters of the statement - it was fascinating to watch.

The reality is they actually told us nothing new. There were two key aspects to the statement that were blindingly obvious:

* processed food isn't good for us;

* too much of something isn't good for us.

There is nothing new here at all. Foods that are laced in additives, e numbers, preservatives and lots of other ingredients on the label are worse for us than the natural products that they replace.

Real food, in its most natural state, is healthy - the uber-long shelf life version isn't. Seems to be that it's an obvious statement. Don't believe me? Try the trolley test. The next time you are in the supermarket, look for the trolley that has no one beside it. Take a look at what's in the trolley and try to match it to its owner.

The more processed foods in the trolley, sugar laden, the chances are there will be someone who is unhealthy pushing it. Have you seen an unhealthy person pushing a trolley full of vegetables, fruit and water?

Too much meat, too much fruit, too much water, too much exercise, these are all bad for us. Fad diets that increase our consumption of just one nutrient, are bad for us. No matter what the product is, too much of it isn't good for us.

I suppose its a great lesson to learn from the statement. Balance is the key - the key to health, the key to living healthier, the key to real health. Aim to add balance to your life. Exercise several times per week, eat a diet full of all the food groups, full of colour and have the odd treat.

If you want to be well, this is very much your blueprint.

Along with discussing the biggest health topic of the past few months, I also wanted to bring you some simple exercises to help you get into shape for your Xmas party. In five or six weeks, the nation will go into Christmas part mode. That dress or that suit will get pulled out of the wardrobe and you want to feel and look your best. So, along with your balanced lifestyle, I thought I would bring you some simple exercises to add into your exercise routine that will give you a little bit of help.

Wide foot squats

This is my other favourite exercise for the legs. It's super for the inside of your legs, that soft part and the outside of your bum, the part that you always want to lift.

Start the exercise with your feet wider than your shoulders, the wider the better. Turn the feet away from the body and lower your bum towards the floor and hold it there. This is your starting position. From there simply lower your bum towards the floor and pulse it around three inches.

It's this pulsing motion that is doing all the toning!


No matter what shape your biceps are, they will tone up simply and effectively. Chin-ups are certainly one of my favourites but they can be scary for so many people.

Until you build up to them, begin with bicep curls. You can do them standing or seated, the essential point is to keep your elbows by your side, this ensures that the biceps do all the work. Start with the hands fully extended, curl the dumbbells up and return them back down.


Dips, dips and more dips! Got to love these. Start by sitting on a bench or a chair. Place your hands by your side and simply bend the elbows, lower your body towards the floor and then extend the arms out.

Pelvic floor kicks

Another simple exercise that is incredibly effective for the bum area and lifting the bum as well.

Start by lying on the floor on your back, with your knees bent, hands lying by your side. From here just push your pelvis towards the ceiling using all the muscles in your bum, return to the floor and push back up to the ceiling. If you find that it's too easy for you then just bring your heels towards your body.

If it's still too easy, then hold for 30 seconds between sets.


This is another classic exercise for the stomach and the centre of the body. However, if you have back pain this is best avoided unless you have a fitness professional close by.

Otherwise, start with your elbows on the floor and your toes on the floor, knees bent. This is the beginner's exercise and if you want to advance it from here just take the knees off the floor, keep the back straight and pull the belly button in towards your spine, keeping it engaged. Hold for 30 seconds and then release back down with your knees on the floor.

Add these into your exercise routine, aim for three sets of 15 reps and watch what they will do to your body - you will be rocking that party in six weeks.

Irish Independent

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