Healthy Diet

We could go down the rabbit hole of eating to fuel yourself, not having any ‘treats’ until you don’t feel like having them etc.

However, we live in the real world, and it’s not always possible to make perfect diet choices all the time, equally if we are going away on holiday, do we really want to restrict ourselves when we should be unwinding?

Now that said, we still need to ensure we are fuelling correctly for our goals, so, if we want to lose weight we need to be in a calorie deficit, if we are looking to increase performance we may need to have a surplus and finally if we are happy (awesome job and well done!) then maintenance calories are for us.

Let’s take a look at the macronutrients that make up our foods:

Carbohydrates – Sugars, starches and fibers, arguably these have had the biggest bashing over the last few years, mainly due to being present in unhealthy foods such as donuts, cakes and the like.

It’s important to split carbs into their 2 sections

  • Simple – release sugar faster because they are made with processed and refined sugar and don’t contain any vitamins, minerals, or fibers
  • Complex – are processed more slowly and are filled with various nutrients.

So complex carbs are able to fuel us for longer and leave us feeling more satiated.

Protein – these make up muscle fibres, connective tissues, hair and skin. Sources include:

  • Animal products, such as meat and fish, contain all the essential amino acids.
  • Soy products, quinoa, and the seeds of a leafy green called Amaranth also contain all the essential amino acids. Plant proteins usually lack at least one amino acid, so eating a combination of different plant proteins throughout the day is important for vegetarians and vegans.

Fats – like carbs, fats come in 2 shapes:

  • Saturated – Animal fats, butters and some oils (coconut oil)
  • Unsaturated – Avocado, olive oil, cold water fish (salmon, mackerel) and nuts

Both play a role in our bodies, saturated fats assist in hormone production, help your metabolism function and produce vitamin D. Diets high in saturated fats can increase the risk of cholesterol, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease.

Unsaturated fats help to regulate our metabolism, improve blood flow and promote cell growth and renewal.

Whilst everyone is different, a general mix of the 3 can be done by percentages, there are many apps that allow you to see what your macronutrient breakdowns are, and Team SF can also help with this.

This isn’t a call to arms for logging every calorie, and tracking anything that goes into your mouth, however, we can by tracking a few days worth of our intake see what our percentage spread is for each of them.

Currently, the daily reference values are:

  • Carbs – 50%
  • Fats – 35% (no more than 11% from saturates)
  • Proteins – 15%

As with everything, there are a varying number of thoughts around these percentages, and it is dependent on a number of factors such as the type of training being undertaken, the volume and intensity and the goal.

Some people respond better to a lower carb diet and some to higher protein, there really isn’t one size fits all for this and as such indicates why the above percentages take a hit from many other professionals.

A bit like BMI, this is a general purpose, maybe those numbers don’t fit everyone exactly, but if it gets people understanding the types of food they are consuming and helps to move them towards their goals by doing so then have they not done their job?

If you have any questions about your diet and macronutrients, be sure to ask a Member of Team SF –

PNF Stretching

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation or as we are going to use for the rest of this article PNF!

PNF is technically a method of static and passive stretching while including isometric contractions of the muscle, wow that’s a lot of words, lets break that down…

Person A is led on their back and person B is pushing the leg up and back, Person B will apply force to stretch person A, once at the point of tension we would hold this passive stretch for 10-15 seconds, then release the stretch slightly before reapplying the force with an increase stretch (static). Control of breathing can greatly assist these stretches when additional static stretching force is applied.

Currently PNF stretching is considered one of the most effective ways of increasing static/passive flexibility and range of motion for joints.

We can perform 3-5 sets of PNF stretching, however a rest period of 20-30 seconds is recommended between sets. It should be noted that there is currently some studies which suggest that additional sets may not add to effectiveness in stretching sessions.

The 2 most common types of PNF stretching are:

  • Hold – Relax – used in the example above, this is passively stretching the muscle, holding for 10-15 seconds before slightly releasing the tension, then reapplying and increasing the stretch.
  • Hold – relax – Contract – the muscle is passively stretched for 10-15 seconds, followed by the person being stretched forcing in the opposite direction, in the case of a leg raise pushing against the partners had for 10-15 seconds, followed by contraction of the original muscle.

PNF stretching should be undertaken with caution, whilst its origins are in the field of rehabilitation there is an enhanced risk of injury, particularly as the partner is applying the external force.

If you have any questions about stretching be sure to ask a Member of Team SF –

Passive Stretching

Passive stretching, sometimes referred to as relaxed stretching, is a technique in which you are relaxed and make no contribution to the range of motion. Instead, an external force is created by an outside agent, either manually or mechanically.

Holding a position with a part of the body or some other apparatus, such as the floor or a stability ball. The aim is to relax into the stretch position and use the external force to enhance the stretch.

Kneeling on the floor and placing your hands on a stability ball stretched out in front is a passive stretch. Within this movement we are using the ball for assistance and creation of the external force.

The frog and splits are both passive stretches where we are using the floor and our body as external forces on the hips.

As with all stretches, it’s important that we listen to our bodies and work to tension within the stretch, easing into stretching to aid our workouts and flexibility.

Calm relaxed stretching can aid in relief from muscle spasm and after injury, however we should ensure we are ready for stretching injured (recovering) muscles prior to starting a stretching routine. If in doubt, always check with a professional.

Relaxed stretching is also a great cooldown after a workout that can reduce the effect of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

If you have any questions about stretching, be sure to ask a Member of Team SF –

Dynamic Stretching

Controlled increase of reach and/or speed of movement in body parts, in a nutshell!

Swinging your leg forwards and backwards gradually increasing the range of motion, the key here is that we are controlling the increase in a smooth and consistent way – no erratic/jerky movements.

It’s important to note that dynamic stretching is very much inside of our range of movement, in that we are not trying to force ourselves beyond our range of motion. Working or forcing ourselves past this would be ballistic stretching.

Dynamic stretching is a very useful warm up tool, it improves dynamic flexibility which is useful for activities such as aerobics, dance and martial arts.

Typically, dynamic movements are performed in the range of 8-12 repetitions, ideally working to our full range of movement, once achieved or as the muscles start feel tired move onto the next body part.

Dynamic stretching is an odd one out stretching mechanism, in that once we have reached our full range of movement, we don’t seek to repeat it continually in that set or workout as this can lead to solidifying the muscle memory through repetition.

Instead we want to achieve full range of movement, then move on, this allows us to work to full range again in our next warm up hopefully with a slightly increased range.

Examples of dynamic stretches are:

  • Forward leg raises, allowing the leg to forward and backwards gradually working towards full range
  • Side leg raises, again allowing the leg to move fully to both sides
  • Arm swings in both the forward and side motions

If you have any questions about stretching be sure to ask a Member of Team SF –

Active Stretching

Active stretching also sometimes referred to as static-active stretching, is one where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance, other than using the strength of your opposite (agonist) muscles.

An example is bringing your leg up high and then holding it there without anything (other than your leg muscles themselves) to keep the leg in that extended position. The tension of the agonists in an active stretch helps to relax the muscles being stretched (the antagonists) by something called reciprocal inhibition.

Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the agonistic muscles. Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer than 15 seconds.

Active stretching is great during a warm up as it doesn’t allow for more than our body can tolerate, which significantly decreases the risk of injury. It also helps strengthen and warm the agonists which in turn can lead to improved performance.

Many yoga routines contain active stretches.

Here are some examples of active stretches for you to try out:

  • Laying on floor and lifting your leg to the ceiling until you can feel the stretch in your hamstring
  • Standing, pull your heel towards your glutes until you can feel the stretch in your quad.
  • Sitting on the floor legs extended, pull your toes towards your body until you can feel the stretch in your calf.

If you have any questions about stretching be sure to ask a Member of Team SF –

Static Stretching

We’ve all been there, rushed to get a workout done, no time to stretch at the end. We should consider the benefits of different types of stretches, so today we are looking at Static stretching.

Many people use the term “passive stretching” and “static stretching” interchangeably. However, there is a distinction between the two.

Static stretching involves holding a position. That is, you stretch to the farthest point and hold the stretch.

Passive stretching is a technique in which you are relaxed and make no contribution to the range of motion. Instead, an external force is created by an outside agent, either manually or mechanically.

Stretching can influence how well our muscles recover, aid our flexibility and increase our performance.

Static stretching is typically done at the end of a workout, and involves stretches that you hold in place for a period of time, without movement.

This allows your muscles to:

Gain flexibility and range of motion – stretching whilst the muscles are warm allows a deeper stretch.

Less pain and stiffness – stretching out after a workout can help reduce muscle stiffness in tight (worked) muscles.

De-stress – helping relax your muscles, combined with breathing exercises can assist in reducing tension and anxiety.

Increase blood flow – stretching after exercise increase blood flow to the muscles, which in turn improves recovery.

Increased performance – greater flexibility and range of motion helps with speed, agility and muscle strength.

We need to be cautious so as not to over stretch, we are looking for tension in the muscle not pain, slowly allowing the muscles to adapt to the stretch whilst ensuring we are breathing in a regular fashion.

Lastly start out slowly and build over time.

If you have any questions about stretching, be sure to ask a Member of Team SF –

Health and Wellbeing

Staying active and healthy is something we all know we should do, so why don’t we?

There are many reasons, time, motivation, even just knowing what to do!

If we look at our day to day tasks, these have changed massively over the last decade, the last year especially. We have (in the majority) more sedentary jobs, we order online and generally spend less time out and about.

All of these create a compound of less movement, this leads to more inactivity. The less we do means those tasks that used to be easy become a little more difficult, more taxing on the body and can take longer to recover from.

Its not all doom and gloom though, we can get back to feeling fit and healthy and it doesn’t mean crawling out of the gym!

Working our body, inline with the activities and movements we do daily can help us strengthen and have a greater level of endurance. Following a program that increases our ability to perform daily activities and puts a spring back in our step!

Whether it’s skipping across the park with grandchildren, being able to go out for a long walk or getting back into a sport we played in our youth, we can help you build the fitness you need.

Making daily activities easier will give you more energy, improve your sleep, help keep you in shape and looking good.

Gradually building up your fitness doesn’t need to take hours of gym work, or having to work at maximum intensity.

Starting with a simple workout that you can build on will allow your body to adjust and adapt to working out, plus you’ll start feeling great afterwards and who doesn’t want that?!

If you want to improve your fitness levels, speak to one of Team SF and we’ll help advise you on the best way to get started –

Athletic Performance

Over the last two decades, we have seen an increase in the use of strength building to support performance in sports, ensuring we have the movement and strength to support the sporting skill makes complete sense.

If we delve a little deeper into this, we can better understand how increasing both movement and strength can improve and unlock performance and skill.

For example, a swimmer diving off a starting block requires strength in their legs and hips to leave the block, their skill level can be near perfect, however if they lack maximal strength the distance travelled will be less than their full capability.

By increasing this strength, we can travel further, by having control over our muscles (holding the correct shape) we can capitalise on the strength, both increasing performance and allowing the skill to be delivered to its fullest potential.

It also gives us the chance to look at the shapes that are made during the activity, the forces that are placed on the body, whilst we are not here to coach the mechanics of the sport (sport specific coaches have these covered) we can provide the exercises that compliment and improve the underlying muscles used for these.

A good example is a tennis player, when lunging for a return shot, 3-5 times the player’s body weight will be placed through the foot and in turn the ankle, leg and hip. Strengthening these will reduce the injury risk, ensure the action is repeatable, and allow for faster recovery/return ready for the next shot.

Understanding how these components fit into a training regime/competitive season is crucial to allow optimal performance.

We need movement to deliver strength and strength to deliver skill, and if we are seeking the best performance possible, we need to ensure we are doing more than paying lip service to them.

To be able to improve these we must understand where we find issues, what shapes/movement paths are less comfortable and then work backwards to understand why this occurs, only then can we improve these areas.

To find out how we can help you improve your performance, contact a Team SF member –

Fat Loss

Straight to the point on this one, if we want to change the way our body looks, we need to lose fat and retain as much muscle as possible.

Everyone is slightly different, what works for one, will not work so well for another.

Workouts need to match your goals, your ability and most importantly your body.

That’s great and all, but what does it actually mean?

We should take into account how people move, what their desired outcome is and understand how best to train in relation to these.

It’s no good telling someone to run everyday if they don’t like running, the same goes for lifting weights. Your program should contain the right movements to support positive change in your body.

We also need to understand how to fuel ourselves, we all know that food = fuel and ensuring that we have the right mix there is vital to support the exercise program that we do.

Establishing a healthy relationship with food is vital, that doesn’t mean we have to eliminate all of the things we like, more so understand how these can fit into or daily lives and the results we want to obtain.

Ensuring that the right amount of fuel (food/calories) is consumed is vital to making sure the body is having to use our reserve energy stores rather than adding to them.

Fat loss is a mix of all of the above, in the shortest form we need to get our bodies using their energy stores.

If you would like to understand more about how we can help with fat loss speak to a member of Team SF –

Muscle Gain

Why gain muscle? – what’s in it for me?

There are so many reasons to gain muscle, we could be here for days! So, let’s look at some of the tangible benefits:

Increased strength, I’m not talking winning a powerlifting competition, more along the lines of active daily living. Need to move some furniture, getting bits in and out of the car, carrying objects or being able to more easily get up and down from the floor, it goes on and on.

As we age, we lose strength, resistance training can stem this loss and allow us to continue with our lives normally, as our lives become more sedentary it is even more important to be active and keeping our bodies nice and strong.

Improved metabolic rate, not going to over complicate this one:

Muscle burns energy

Fat cells store energy

The more muscle we have, the higher our energy requirements leading to more energy being burnt from our stores, provided we aren’t topping them up too much!

Injury prevention, this isn’t just whilst playing sports, injuries can occur at any point whilst carrying out daily tasks and having more muscle can assist in injury prevention by supporting our bones, ligaments and tendons.

Increasing our core strength will assist with balance and co-ordination as well as helping to protect our lower back, which is crucial for almost all daily activities.

Increased leg strength can help with slips and trips, as we are able to hold our body weight more efficiently and counteract sudden movements that take us by surprise.

Lastly (for this article) muscle gives you shape, whether that’s looking good in a dress/shirt or a bikini/swim shorts. It’s an ideal scenario really, check off all the important points above and look good for doing it!

If you would like to know more about how gaining muscle can help you specifically speak with a member of Team SF –