Friday 23 March 2018

Karl Henry: It's time to up the ante

As we near the end of our August Challenge, you should have built up enough fitness to push yourself even harder, writes our fitness expert

Stay on track: Karl Henry has devised a month-long challenge
Stay on track: Karl Henry has devised a month-long challenge
Beef and red wine stew

Karl Henry

Here we are in week four of the August Challenge - how fast has this month gone? Hopefully, you have noticed an improvement in your fitness levels compared to previous months, and have been cooking a lot more, too. As we near the end of our month-long challenge, I am upping the ante - because I know you're well able for it. Well done on all your hard work so far, and keep it up, as I will have a brand new challenge coming in three weeks' time!

Complete the following exercises for 75 seconds and take a 15-second rest afterwards. Do all exercises and then repeat five times. If you find this too hard, you can increase your rest time to 30 seconds, or until you feel ready to start again. Always stop if you feel unwell. You can do this as many times during the week as you like.

Burpees: We did this one in week two, now aim to add in an explosive jump as part of the exercise to really make it tough. Start on the floor in a press-up position, bring your knees in to your chest, jump up as high as you can and then back into a press-up position. Do as many as you feel is a challenge.

Half squats: A simple but tough adjustment to the regular squat. Start in a normal squat position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. With your back straight, push through your heels on the way down. Go all the way down and just half the way up, then back down again. Ensure the heels stay flat on the floor all the way through.

Alternating straight arm plank: Start in a straight arm plank position, tummy pulled in towards your spine, back straight and arms straight to the floor under your shoulders. Now go down onto your right elbow and follow with the left and the straighten the right arm followed by the left. Be careful not to rock the hips and just take it at your own pace.

Abs criss crosser: Start on the floor with your hands under your bum, palms to the floor. Bring your legs to 45 degrees and keep them straight. Cross one leg over the other. The lower the legs go, the harder it gets.

Cardiovascular workouts

Here are two that you can choose from or aim for both if you can. These can be done on any form of cardiovascular training, walking, running, swimming or any piece of cardiovascular gym equipment. For the final week we are adding yet more tougher intervals. By now you know how tough intervals can be, but they are so effective. You now have eight sessions that you know how to do, but remember, you can make up your own, following the same principle of hard/easy, just with different times in both zones. Here are the final two for you.

Session 1: 5-minute warm-up. 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. 30 repeats in total and then a 5-minute cool-down at the end.

Session 2: 5-minute warm-up. 6 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy. 5 repeats and then 5-minute cool-down.

Sweet potato, beef and red wine stew

Okay, so I can't really call this one a super fast food, but it's so yummy and healthy, I couldn't resist. It's a great take on a classic dish, I make a large pot and then freeze portions so I can have it when I feel the need for something comforting.

Beef and red wine stew


* 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil

* 300g of mushrooms chopped

* 1 large onion

* 3 garlic cloves, chopped

* 1.5kg of beef, diced

* 250ml of red wine

* 2 tablespoons of wine vinegar

* 3 large sweet potatoes


* Heat a large non-stick pan to a medium heat and place the oil on the pan.

* Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic and allow to cook until soft, generally 8-10 mins.

* Now add the meat and wine, bring to the boil and then cover with a lid.

* Place the dish in the oven at 160 degrees for 90 minutes.

* Now take out the dish - watch your hands - and arrange the sweet potato in slices on top.

* Place back in the oven at 200 degrees for 40 minutes and bon appetit.

Irish Independent

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