1. Sort out your CV
Get kitted out

There is so much faddy exercise kit out there that promises to revolutionise the way you train and guarantees you the body you have always wanted. Forget the home ski machine, here are a few suggestions for spending cash wisely:

Heart rate monitor

A superb tool that will give you an insight not only into how your cardiovascular system is coping but also whether you are exercising at the right intensity. Most models also keep a track of the calories and fat you are burning. To improve fitness you should exercise at around 70% of your maximum heart rate. From £30.

Speed and distance monitors

Whether cycling, running or walking, it’s a good idea to log the distance covered and average pace. You can either use “foot pods”, devices strapped to your laces which need to be calibrated on a treadmill, or GPS equipment. The latter requires no fiddly set up and is very accurate in the open, but falters when you are shadowed by tall buildings or trees. Set yourself weekly distance goals, trying each week to go a little further. From £75.

Fit ball

A cheap, multifunctional piece of kit. You can have a whole body workout without weights and use it to improve and stretch the core muscles From £10.

This week: Up your cardio by half an hour to six 30-minute sessions. Stick to doing the toning circuit directly before your continuous cardio sessions. This is how you should work it: day one, circuit and cardio; day two, interval cardio; day three, rest; day four, circuit and cardio; day five, interval cardio; day six, rest; and day seven, cardio and circuit.

2. Tone it
Ankle taps and scissors B A

Two more exercises to target the mid section, this time working the obliques (love handles) with the ankle taps and the lower abdominals with the scissors.

Ankle taps

i) Lie down on your back, feet flat on the floor, arms by your side

ii) Crunch up and hold.

iii) Reach with the right hand and tap the right ankle then do the same on the left side. All the time maintain the crunch.

iv) Perform 30-40 reps then relax.


i) Lie on your back, hands behind the ears or on the temples

ii) Crunch up and hold.

iii) Lift your legs up into the air at an angle of 45 degrees.

iv) Keep the legs straight and cross them left over right, then right over left, do this quickly and make sure the movement comes from the hips, not the knees.

v) Perform 30-40 reps at a quick tempo (one a second) then relax.

Easy? Then try this:

Ankle taps: move the feet further from your backside to make you reach further. Scissors: make them more intense by geting the legs lower than 45 degrees to the ground.

Circuit: 1 plank for 20-60secs, 1 side plank for 20-60secs on each side, 20 squats, 12-15 press-ups, 20 bridge, 12-15 dips, 12-15 lunges on each leg, 30-40 ankle taps and 30-40 scissors. Repeat this sequence three times.

3. In seven days’ time …

Upping it another 30 minutes this week should spur you on to even greater success. Setting and achieving these weekly targets will motivate you to continue. You should be feeling confident, fit, healthy and in control of your body. Think, too, about the following:

Light stress

Whenever the body is stimulated by light, it releases the adrenaline-like hormone cortisol. Our cortisol levels are naturally highest in the morning and lower in the evening. In our 24-hour society we have lights on late into the evening, leaving us with artificially long days, which stops our cortisol levels from returning to normal, leaving us biochemically “wired”, which causes stress. Try to avoid working late in the evening with bright lights; as soon as the sun has gone down use lamps, dimmed lighting and candles if possible so that your body can wind down.

What are you eating?

If you can’t pronounce any ingredients in a product, avoid eating it. In a packet of supermarket ham you may find: pork (80%), water, salt, stabilisers: sodium triphosphates, potassium diphosphates, antioxidant: sodium ascorbate, sugar, preservative: sodium nitrite. If someone put a jar in front of you containing powder labelled sodium nitrate and said “Have a spoonful,” would you? No. Matthew Robinson is a qualified personal trainer.


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