Jennifer Hanway

Enliven Your Lightest, Brightest You

Jennifer Hanway is a Holistic Nutritionist, Bio Signature Modulation Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer, originally from London but now living in Newton Centre and working in Back Bay, Boston.

Filtering by Tag: workouts

Fitness Friday: The One Ab Exercise You Should Be Doing (But Probably Arent)

Planks, Crunches, Curls, Twists; we all know the benefits of ab exercises for core strength, overall fitness, and looking cute in a crop top. But surprisingly when I introduce the 'Dead Bug', one of my all time favourite ab exercises to my clients, many have never performed it before. 

The Dead Bug is an awesome core workout in so many ways - unlike Crunches and Sit Ups which require you to flex your trunk, the Dead Bug involves training the abdominals to resist extension which not only activates your deep core muscles. but helps protect your lower back. 

I love to include the Dead Bug either as part of a client's warm up and mobility work, or at the end of a workout as a great accessory exercise. It is also a great exercise to add into your home workout, as all you need is a yoga mat or a thick towel to lie on. 

To start, lie on your back with arms directly above your shoulders with your arms reaching up to the ceiling, and your knees directly above your hips, lower legs at right angles (think upside down tabletop, or Dead Bug!)! 

Before moving take a deep inhale, and as you exhale feel your lower back flatten to the floor, and the sides of your rib cage draw together (you can place your hands on your rib cage and feel your fingertips come together as you exhale if this helps you with the movement). 

Now inhale again, and as you exhale slowly extend your right leg out in front of you, lowering it so it is parallel to the mat (but not touching it). At the same time extend your left arm slowly so it is parallel to the mat (but not touching it). Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. This counts as one rep. The goal is to keep your lower back against the floor throughout. If it starts to arch then do not lower your legs as far, and continue to work towards full extension as you get stronger. 

I like to use a rep range of 10-12 Dead Bugs with my clients, ensuring slow controlled movements throughout. To progress this exercise try holding a dumbell, or pulling against a resistance band as you move. 

Want to learn how to train smarter, not harder? Develop confidence in the gym in a supportive and fun environment? Get a kick-ass workout surrounded by like-minded women! Join me and my team for my 'Sweat and Superfoods: Strength Training Masterclass' Sunday on 2/18 at my boutique gym in Newton Centre!


Hips and Thighs and Tri's - Oh My!

Confession time - my thighs are not dimple free. Shock horror! Also there is a reason I often stand with my hands in pictures, its not because I'm feeling extra sassy, its because it makes my triceps look waaaay leaner (and yes, you are welcome to steal that tip)...

If I were to name my 'trouble spots', it would be, like many women, my thighs, hips and triceps. This is because I tend to be 'Estrogen Dominant' - meaning my body both produces a lot of estrogen, and my estrogen levels are higher than those of my other hormones. Estrogen dominance does not effect just women however, and it can have more serious effects than just some extra pounds, it can negatively effect your mood, fertility and in some more serious cases increase cancer risk. 

Now thats not to say all estrogen in the body is bad, just like our other hormones balance is key, and optimum estrogen levels play a big part in fertility, bone health and exercise recovery. 

Here are three simple but very effective ways to help with estrogen metabolism, and improve the health and appearance of those darling 'trouble spot's'...

Improve Your Gut Health

If you have read any of my previous articles, or attended any of my events, you will know that I believe great gut health is one of the foundations of health, and it is something that everyone should be looking to improve. Poor gut health can inhibit estrogen metabolism and detoxification by stopping the body fully eliminating excess estrogen. 

Some simple ways to improve gut health are eliminating trigger foods such as wheat and gluten, adding in some great fiber rich foods, and adding a probiotic supplement to your daily diet. My favorite is the Poliquin Proflora Excellence. 

Up Your Fiber Rich Cruciferous Green Veggies

I'm a huge believer in getting up to 9 servings a day of fiber rich veggies, and adding in cruciferous varieties such as broccoli and kale can have a double whammy effect on that pesky cellulite. The fiber in the veggies can help with estrogen metabolism and detoxification, and a compound called DIM (Diindolylmethane) can help aid the detoxification pathways that deal with estrogen metabolism. 

My Alkalizing Green Soup is a great way to add in more cruciferous veggies at this time of year, and is nourishing, delicious and super economical to make!

Build Muscle Around Those Areas

There is a reason most of my training programs contain a lot of glute, hamstring and tricep exercises; these are the areas that most women tell me that they want to improve. By building muscle in these areas it improves the shape and appearance of the trouble spots, and in the case of the glute and hamstrings, focusses on muscle groups that burn a lot of calories, therefore aiding fat loss throughout the body. 

Deadlifts and all of their variations are among my favorite glute and hamstring shapers, and below is a short guide deadlift technique.

Stand super close to the bar (it should be touching your shins), with your feet about hip distance apart, facing forward. Hinge forward from the hips (as if you were bowing) and grip the bar firmly, with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart, knees will have a soft flexion, but not a bend. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, hold your core tight, and you should feel tension in your upper back, triceps and abs. 

Keeping this firm grip and tension throughout the body stand up straight - the bar should come up with you and will stay close to the body. To lower, again hinge from the hips, keeping the back straight and torso lifted, and slowly bring the bar to the floor. 



Fitness Friday: Why I Love HIIT Workouts and You Should Too!

Fat loss and lean muscle gain in one workout? In just 20-30 minutes? It sounds too good to be true but High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be one of your strongest weapons when looking to improve body composition.

A study in the "Journal of Obesity" showed 12 weeks of HIIT reduced body fat and increased muscle mass. There were also substantial reductions in abdominal fat and visceral fat, and increases in lean muscle tissue and overall fitness.

But what about steady state cardio (SSC) or low intensity aerobics? Steady state cardio makes the body work in the most efficient way possible - think of a fuel efficient car, it uses as little gas as possible to get from A to B, which is what SSC does for our bodies, so we burn very little fat and carbohydrates when training this way. Going overboard on SSC can also lead to the loss of lean muscle mass (remember we want lean muscle mass as it is a metabolically active tissue that helps us burn calories), increase cortisol production (cortisol is the stress hormone that can lead to belly fat) and hinder increases in both muscle strength and size.

A lot has been written about HIIT, and there are many ways to utilize this training method. Put simply, there are three different energy systems that we can utilize when performing HIIT training.

In terms of efficiency and results the one that provides the most ‘bang for your buck’ when your goal is fat loss (whilst retaining calorie burning lean muscle tissue) is the Anaerobic “Lactic Acid Glycolytic System, which we shall explore in further detail below.

Why should I train this way? 

  • It has 3 main physiological benefits: you burn calories during the workout, it prevents lean muscle loss (and can even build lean muscle depending on the type of workout you do), and ensures you burn more calories throughout the day through a process called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption).
  • Its easy to fit in – workouts should be no longer than 20-25 minutes (if you can train any longer than this then you are not working at a high enough intensity and are therefore not reaping the benefits).
  • You don’t need any equipment to train this way on your own. Sprints, hill sprints and bodyweight exercises are all great tools for this style of workout.

The Workouts: 

  • To start, try a work to rest ratio of 8 seconds on, 12 seconds off. This can be done in many ways, sprints, hill sprints, on a stationary bike, on a rower, etc. Work towards completing 60 rounds, which should take you 20 minutes. This is great for someone who is new to HIIT, and you can work up to the 60 rounds by adding in longer rest periods every 4 -6 rounds. Hill sprints are a great option for beginner as they force you to have good sprint technique (a strong elbow and knee drive), and ensure you are working a the correct intensity.
  • To progress, you can lengthen your work time to 30 seconds with a 1 minute recovery between sets.
  • If wanting to combine resistance training with HIIT (talk about multi tasking) circuit training with 10 reps per set with 10 seconds rest per exercise for a total of 25 to 30 minutes is a great option. Choose compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts and pull-ups.
  • What about Tabata? The 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off protocol, commonly known as Tabata is a another option. However the fact that 1, 4 minute round will produce results is a fallacy (wishful thinking)! Tabata intervals are a great tool, however you will need to complete 4 rounds of the 4 minute protocol to achieve results, or combine it with another HIIT protocol to achieve a total workout time of around 16-20 minutes.

Things to consider:

  • Always include a 5 min warm up of pulse raising, multi joint exercises such as High Knees, Star Jumps or Burpees. Think of the R.A.M.P. process: Raise, Activate, Mobilize, Potentiate. Because of the level of intensity needed to reap the benefits of HIIT, a warm up is essential to prime the body for this level of work and to prevent joint and soft tissue injury.
  • The work to rest ratio should be between 1:8 to 1:12 when starting interval training in this way, as you become more used to it and the body starts to adapt you can move to a work to rest ratio of 1:6 to 1:10.
  • The ‘work’ phase of the workout needs to be ‘all-out’ for the benefits to kick in. If you feel nauseous with your heart jumping out of your chest and your lungs in your mouth you are doing it right! As you progress and your fitness level raises this will become more comfortable, so stay with it!
  • If resistance training on the same day as HIIT always resistance train in the morning and HIIT later in the day as you will attain more strength gains when your central nervous system is fresh at the beginning of the day.
  • Never repeat the exact same workout twice – just as with resistance training you always want to improve something in each session, either by adding work volume, lengthening the work to rest ratio, or by increasing intensity. This will also keep the workout fresh and interesting, improving compliance.
  • Don’t train this way more than 3 times a week, it is challenging on many of the bodies systems and more than 3 times a week can lead to burn-out, especially if training with other modalities (eg. resistance training) in the same training phase.