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Pot bellies and pins: Setting the right tone to get in shape


It's important not to neglect your legs when training.

It's important not to neglect your legs when training.

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It's important not to neglect your legs when training.

Legs, or pins as they're often known - those two pole like limbs dangling from your torso. Reinforced in the middle by your knees, continuing all the way to your feet. Legs are a beautiful gift. They are completely under estimated, I see legs as the foundation of a body. The part that holds the other important stuff up.

A good house is built on good foundations, and our legs perform a similar task. That is why it's important not to neglect them when training. Most people in commercial gyms spend too much time working the upper body, eventually the body begins to look out of symmetry - good toned upper body versus a poorly toned lower body.

It's widely believed the legs are the hardest part of the body to tone. But it is possible, and consistency and good effort are key to achieving results: master consistency first then reap the rewards. These are my ultimate top three leg exercises, and all you need is a kitchen chair.

1. Bulgarian Split Squat

Tones front of thigh

Stand with your back about two feet from your kitchen chair. Place the top of your right foot on the seat and your hands behind your head. This is your starting position.

Keep your body upright, lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the ground. Pause for two seconds, then push yourself up to starting position.

Try for 10-15 repetitions, then switch legs.

2. Glute Bridge

Tones lower back, hamstrings and calves

Place the chair at a wall, lay down in front of the chair, put your arms beside your body, bend knees, legs should be about hip width apart, place your feet at the edge of the seat.

Slowly lift your hips up in the air until your body is in line from your head to your knees. Squeeze your buttocks for two seconds at the top, then slowly lower your hips back to the floor.

Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

3. Calf Raises

Tones calf muscles

Stand behind the chair, with fingertips placed gently on the back rest. Feet shoulder width apart, legs straight.

Raise up onto the ball of your feet and hold for two seconds. Slowly lower yourself but do not allow heels touch the floor until you've completed the desired repetitions.

Try 10-15.

So now let's look at pots (belly). A pot belly is described as the protective layer to what lies beneath (or as my wife says "the two jewels that are our ovaries!"). Personally I love to see a 'pot' on a woman. It's okay for women to carry a small amount of weight in this area. It's healthy. On the other hand though, its important the upper abdominal wall is kept a fat free zone. Fat build up on the tummy area is never good, for both men and women. There's two types of abdominal fat - the layer that sits in front of the tummy muscles everyone can see, and the layer that fills the spaces between our abdominal organs (the liver etc.) that we cannot see. Regular exercise and a good balanced diet helps keep both types of fat at bay.

Here I give my ultimate top three ab/stomach exercises, and again, all you'll need is a kitchen chair.

1. Bicycle Crunch

Assume the same position as the glute bridge mentioned above, except this time place your fingertips on your ears.

Bring right elbow to left knee, return to start position, then switch to left elbow to right knee. Just like cycling a bike.

Try 20 repetitions.

2. Chair Crunch

Sit on the chair and grip the sides to stabilise your upper body. Press your back against the back of the chair.

Keeping shoulders relaxed, bend the knees and lift to chest returning to start position. Do not rest your feet on the ground. Repeat exercise.

Try for 10-15 repetitions.

3. Seated Oblique Twists

Sit upright and on the chair edge, straight back, feet flat on the floor. Clasp hands behind your head. Pick a focus point directly in front of you.

Gently rotate your torso as far as you can without moving your hips, maintain your vision on the focus point. Hold for two seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

Try 15-20 repetitions.

Remember this: losing weight doesn't begin when you step into a pair of trainers. It begins in the kitchen. I eat everything in moderation, I'm not living otherwise.

Adapting a healthy eating regime is probably the easiest part of losing weight, it contributes so much to the pounds coming off. People don't quite believe this statement.

I sometimes overhear clients saying things like "just another five minutes on the treadmill", or "just another ten sit ups". If they could only apply that same determination around healthy food in the kitchen, they would find they get a lot more 'pounds' off for their effort. Eat five small meals a day. No food is off limits unless you've been diagnosed with an allergy or an intolerance.

If you consistently eat healthy and exercise regularly you have earned that bag of crisps you enjoy or perhaps its the two or three squares of dark chocolate. Don't treat these as 'guilty pleasures'. Never associate the word guilt with what you eat as you're only creating an emotional connection to food which in time will become an issue.