With Christmas on the horizon, right now getting in shape may well be the last thing on your mind. But if you’re already planning on hitting the gym big time in January, Olympic boxer Luke Campbell is on hand to offer you his top tips for getting in shape.
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The father-of-two, who has two sons with his wife Lynsey Kraanen, won gold at the 2008 European Championships and at the London 2012 Olympics and is currently ranked the world’s fifth-best active lightweight by The Ring. And judging by his incredible physique, he certainly knows a thing or two about how to look after your body.
1. GO VEGAN
By adopting a vegan lifestyle, I have noticed a huge boost in my energy levels. It is something I do when training for a fight and I have noticed it helps reduce any injury time. Plant-based foods post-workout are essential, as you are feeding your body with all of the nutrients you need.
After a morning work-out, a fruit smoothie followed by a variety of nuts including Brazil nuts, almond nuts, and walnuts is ideal. It is important to not overload on natural sugars – the nuts will help counterbalance them. A lot of top athletes have switched to plant-based diets for health benefits.
2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO LIFT WEIGHTS
It is a familiar picture in any gym – the usual suspects hogging the weights and weight machines. As a boxer, I need to train more than the average person, but we should all be aware that as we age, our body muscles deplete – even someone who is still quite active will experience some muscle loss.
Make sure you are not putting stress on your back or joints, and lighter weights with more reps will give you a nice lean, toned look if you are dedicated. Even if you don’t see much physical difference, it is important to work on your muscle groups as your body will be thankful later in life.
3. FEEL THE BURN
Most people who start feeling the burn when they are doing sit-ups, stop. This is the opposite of what you should be doing!
When you feel your core muscles burning, this is a good sign as it means you have activated them. Push yourself to do more reps and every week add on another 30 seconds to reap the benefits.
4. ENJOY A CHEAT DAY
Life in constant training mode can get pretty tiresome – even if, like me, you have built a career around training hard. To keep on goal and motivated, it is key to enjoy yourself and eat some treats. I love a bit of chocolate at the weekend. Then comes Monday I am back into training mode.
5. SET YOUR BEDTIME
Sleep is key to mood and energy levels. I’d recommend eight hours’ minimum a night, but some people need more. The best time to go to sleep at night is generally just before 10pm. The reason for this is that from 10pm until 2am, our body goes into a deep sleep, which is very important for its recovery, where our muscles and brain get some real rest and time to revitalize.
You will be more up for training and have the energy to push yourself in your workout if you get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation only leads to craving sugar and junk food, which may give you a brief boost, but you’ll experience an even lower slump as your blood sugar levels start to decrease again.
6. WORKOUT MID-WEEK AND REST AT WEEKENDS
Be disciplined with your work-out routine. My top tip would be to train in the week and then let your body recover at the weekend. Exercise should not be mundane, so if you are finding it hard to get to the gym in the first place, stick to a schedule – work out three to four times mid-week and take the weekends off.
Enjoy yourself and spend time with friends and family. I think most people feel the weekend would be a better time to go as you have more time, but I disagree – give your body a well-deserved rest
7. MAKE MEALTIMES FUN
Do not grab a protein bar after the gym – they are full of sugar, preservatives and so high in fat. As we are time poor it is so easy to pick up a processed packet meal, but generally, these are so bad for you. My tip would be to learn to enjoy the kitchen and make dinnertime fun.
Use this time as ‘sociable time’ if possible. It takes 20 minutes to cook salmon, whole-wheat pasta and vegetables – which is a very healthy and balanced meal.
8. TAKE UP BOXING
You can burn up to 800 calories an hour by boxing! Do this even once a week and you will notice a huge difference. Boxing is the best sport you can do for shedding weight. There are lots of group classes you can join, such as ladies-only kickboxing, and some professional boxing gyms now also cater for after-work classes for all ages.
Weight-loss aside, boxing is also fantastic for self-discipline and boosting your confidence.
9. ONLY EAT CARBS AFTER A WORKOUT
Slightly switching up your eating patterns can make a difference. You don’t need to deprive your body of certain foods, but just be mindful of when you eat them.
For instance, when your body’s metabolism is boosted after a work-out, it is the perfect time to eat carbs as your body will continue to burn calories for a few hours afterward.
10. DITCH THE SCALES
With boxing it is important I make a certain weight pre-fight, but my advice to anyone not in my shoes would be to ditch the scales completely. Weight-loss and toning up is a slow process, so looking at the scales will be counterproductive and make you feel worse.
It is better to chart your progress by taking weekly progress pictures. Take them in the same position and spot so you can compare easily. This is a great tip for keeping on goal and motivated!