Wednesday 23 January 2019

Siobhan Byrne: Achieving the goal of a leaner, fitter, stronger you

Our fitness expert dispels common myths about training to help you achieve realistic goals

Fitness expert Siobhan Byrne. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Fitness expert Siobhan Byrne. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Floor dips 1
Floor dips 2
Sumo 1
Sumo 2
V-up 1
V-up 2
Diamond crunch 1
Diamond crunch 2
Front bridge 1
Front bridge 2
Reverse lunge 1
Reverse lunge 2
Skipping rope
Facts vs myths

Welcome to week three of our eight-week fitness challenge. This week is all about dispelling myths so that you can be realistic in your goals and what you can truly achieve.

As we go into the last two weeks of bodyweight workouts before we start adding in weights, let us look at banishing some of the most common fitness and training myths.

Women bulk up when they strength train

The simple answer is - no they don't. At the best of times women find it very hard to even develop a small amount of muscle that makes them look like they train. If you feel you are getting stocky-looking, then you are simply eating too many calories and there is more body fat developing around the small amount of muscle because the food balance isn't right.

Facts vs myths

Strength training is not for women

I really hope people still don't believe this. Strength training is important for everyone as we get older, especially for women, down to its effectiveness at keeping osteoporosis and osteopenia at bay.

Muscle turns to fat when it's not used

Muscle and fat are two completely different types of tissue and one cannot turn into the other. You simply notice the fat and the loss of muscle when you stop training. All the more reason never to stop training.

Cardio is better to do before weights

The answer is no. Strength training burns more calories, so it is better to use your energy to get good strength training sessions in rather than expend all your energy on cardio first, leaving you with little energy to strength train.

It's best to always stick to light weights to stop you bulking up

You should absolutely use light weights when you are starting out with your strength training journey and never be tempted to lift heavier than you are able. Bad form or technique along with overdoing the weights can lead to injury. As your body develops strength and your technique is perfected, you should increase the weight gradually to help develop the muscle and help your body get stronger.

You can't regain muscle once it's gone

Untrue. As we get older we do lose muscle, therefore it would be better to train all the way from your 20s. However life doesn't always allow for this. You can always develop muscle no matter at what age you want to start.

You need a gym to train in

I'm a huge gym advocate for so many reasons. Sometimes I just feel it's my escape, it's my time to myself with no other distractions, while it can be so easy to get distracted at home with household chores. However, the correct home workouts can be extremely effective in the comfort of your own home with little to no equipment, as you have seen over the last few weeks, so using the lack of access to a gym as an excuse is just that.

Week 3 of your workout plan

Let's get started with the third week's exercises. Each week we are going to look at six exercises.

For this week I have picked reverse lunge, floor dips, diamond crunch, sumo squat, front bridge to T and V-up.

You will need to complete each exercise for 20 seconds before moving on to the next exercise and completing all six exercises in the same format.

Afterwards, pick one of the following cardio workouts, depending on your ability and fitness level, and complete this for two minutes.

Complete three more circuits of the exercises breaking each circuit with the same cardio workout.

Skipping rope

Choose your cardio workout from:

* Two minutes of stair climbs or two minutes step-ups;

or choose

* Two minutes of jumping jacks;

or choose

* Two minutes of skipping with/without skipping rope.


Reverse lunge

1/ Start by standing upright with your arms by your side.

2/ Take a step backward, dropping your back knee to the floor and leaning your torso slightly forward with your weight on your front leg.

Push off your front foot to return to the start position and repeat on opposite foot.

Floor dips

1/ Start by sitting on the floor, with your hands behind you, fingers pointing towards your feet and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground, so your weight is on your hands and on your feet.

2/ Dip down towards the ground bending at the elbows and return to the start straight-arm position. Your glutes should not touch the ground throughout this exercise.

Diamond crunch

1/ Start by lying on your back with the soles of your feet together, knees out to the sides and your arms straight up over your chest.

2/ Raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Lower the body back down to the start position and then repeat the movement. Keep the soles of the feet together throughout the exercise.

Sumo squat

1/ Start by standing upright with your arms bent and your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.

2/ Lower yourself towards the floor, sending your hips back and down and bending your knees. Then push through your heels to return to the start position, keeping your back straight and head up throughout the exercise.

Front bridge

1/ Start by supporting your body off the floor in the top of a push-up, resting on your toes and hands with your arms straight.

2/ Raise one hand upwards towards the ceiling rotating your body at the same time. Look up at your hand and hold that position briefly, then lower yourself back to the floor and repeat the same movement on the opposite side.


1/ Start by leaning back while balancing on your hands in a sitting position, with your knees bent and your feet flat and slightly off the ground.

2/ Lift your upper body towards the knees and raise your knees to your chest at the same time coming into a V position. Return to the start position and then repeat.

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