Tips on how to stay physically fit during Coronavirus: An interview with personal trainer Richard Palmer
May 07, 2020
Physical activity is necessary for the balance of mind and body and during the new reality of spending the majority of our lives indoors, we need to find ways to be active and keep a healthy routine. For some tips and guidance on how to do this, we reached out to Richard Palmer, a very knowledgeable trainer and all-around great guy.
So Richard, I really miss the gym. It was so easy to walk in there and know you were there to push us all to get through the workout. Now that we are at home and unable to go to a gym, and facing a sedentary life, physical activity is more important than ever.
Can you tell us why we feel better after a workout? What are the mental benefits?
When you workout and are active your brain starts to release chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals reduce pain and leave you feeling positive. In order for these endorphins to flow, you can practice handstands, do cart wheels, and simply put, by keeping it fun, it feels like you’ve done a workout without the ‘workout’ label.
Stress release is one of the most important mental benefits of working out. Exercise can also give you a feeling of accomplishment, and for some of my clients that train in the morning it sets them up with a positive outlook for the rest of the day allowing them to face the day's challenges. I’ve noticed through my own experience that staying physically fit gives you confidence that has a carry over effect to your everyday life and work.
How can someone that tends to go to the gym, keeps active, get good exercise now that we are stuck at home?
I’d say review your goals. If you go to the gym to get stronger/faster/fitter/burn loads of calories, I’d change all those goals to a maintenance phase, if you’re working out from home. It might not feel like it at the time but working out is meant to be fun. If you set your goals high during this period you’ll probably end up stressing yourself out especially if you’re not used to training at home.
Get used to doing simple exercises. Most of us won’t have all the fancy gym equipment and there are hundreds of bodyweight exercises which means using your body alone for your workout. Examples of these exercises are squats, burpees, and any exercise that you can do with no equipment. The truth is we shouldn’t be touching any weights until we can manage our own body weight.
Have an idea of what stimulus you want from the workout. For example, I can feel equal satisfaction from a 6 min workout and a 45 min workout. It is just about how you attack it.
Working out 2 or 3 times a week is 100% enough to maintain a decent fitness level, so don’t stress about hitting your regular 5/6 sessions a week. I’m currently training 5 times a week but 3 of those are just stretching.
PLANNING A WORKOUT
Can you share some recommended workouts and styles that can be used?
A way to program workouts for yourself is just splitting it into 3 different categories: Upper body, Lower Body and Cardio.
You can then pick and choose how you want to work it, for example:
Upper Body + Cardio.
Upper Body + Lower Body.
1 min of press ups + 1 min rest.
5 mins of jumping jacks + 5 mins of down ups.
Sets and reps workout:
3 sets of 50 squats
80 sit ups, 60 leg raises etc….
If you’re on Instagram there’s quite a few gyms/accounts that are producing daily workouts or providing online classes:
Daily Home Workouts
Online Classes including online Yoga Classes
More useful pages for fitness info:
ROUTINE IS KING
What is your routine? Do you work out in the morning before breakfast, or in the afternoon and why?
My routine at the moment is:
Morning Stretch & Cardio or Stretch & Gymnastics then breakfast just because it gets it out the way and I don’t have a panic about squeezing it in in the evening because sometimes I get carried away with other tasks.
I think when you’re a freelancer it’s better to get your workout done in the morning or as early as possible because you never know what your schedule will look like, especially towards the end of the day.
Since most of us are at home these days, starting your day early with a workout will set you up with a positive mindset for the rest of the day.
Since we have a lot more time on our hands, would you recommend multiple workouts per day?
I wouldn’t say multiple workouts a day, just one workout is sufficient. You could practice things like press ups, play around with headstands or handstands and try to keep whatever you do fun, especially in these stressful times.
What physical habits can we get into while indoors that will get us off the couch/chair? I am seriously considering raising my work table so that I don’t have to sit all day while I work. Do you have any other ideas to share?
Standing to do your work is a good option or even just sitting without a chair. I’m currently practising trying to accumulate 30 mins of sitting in a squat position every day for 30 days just to help bring some youth back into my legs. Kids and babies can do it so as adults we should be able to do it too but years of sitting in chairs has disabled our bodies from doing so. So yes, standing, squatting, walking around are all good habits to get us off the couches and chairs. I am also finding I feel like I have endless hours of housework now which is annoying but keeps me active.
Can you tell us a little bit about the importance of breathing while working out and if you have any advice on breathing techniques that we can keep in mind while we are working out?
Breathing depends on the type of exercises you’re doing:
If it’s concentric/eccentric movement you inhale on the concentric and exhale on the eccentric phase. For example, when you are doing biceps curls and you are lifting up (concentric) breath in, and when bringing it down (eccentric) you would breath out.
When doing an isometric movement, like a hollow hold for example, you should take short breaths.
When the movement is more intense, and a lot of things happening all at once like burpees, just find your small breathing pockets similar to what you do when you swim. When I do my burpees for example I breathe or count the rep when i’m at the bottom, I say 1 then when I jump I say 1 again then 2-2,3-3 and so on and so forth but only till I get to 12 because when I get to the teens I feel like it messes up my breathing pattern because the words are too long (haha!). .
When running or biking you try matching your breath to your body’s movement.
Stretching is just as important as the workout itself. I have heard it is best to wait a few hours before stretching after a workout. Is this true?
This is one way, but I wouldn’t say this approach is the best way. Stretching right after the workout is important, but I do not mean the typical 2-5 minute post gym class workout. What I am talking about is a proper 12 mins+ stretch that will help keep your body flexible and injury-free.
How long should we wait after the workout until we eat and can you recommend a good meal that will add fuel to our day?
You can eat 20 minutes after a workout but you probably don’t want to eat while your heart rate is still beating at 170bpm! Give your heart time to go back to its resting rate.
Foods to eat:
-Protein of any kind, will help repair and build muscle.
-Carbs will replenish glycogen so if you’re into long endurance activities you should consume a good amount of carbs.
-“Good fats” such as eggs, nuts, extra olive oil, cheese and avocados are high fat foods that pack-in the nutrients and are super filling.
What is your favourite cheat-day food that doesn’t give you too much guilt?
Ahhh cheat day. I’m probably the worst PT you should ask when it comes to cheat day and guilt meals because I am one of the lucky people that can get away with a lot, so feeling guilty after eating something doesn’t really happen, but if I had to pick a go-to place for cheat meal it would be Dip’n’Dip.
SUPPORTING THE GYM COMMUNITY
Everyone is in this together, and I can’t help but think about personal trainers that have no income coming in. Can you recommend ways in which we can support you through these tough times, like pay-it-forward initiatives?
I think just keep interacting with them on whatever platform they are using, share their content and provide them with ideas that you know people have been requesting. If I see something another personal trainer is doing I will share it or I will tag someone in their post to help keep them motivated to keep going and doing what they are doing. We are all in this together.