‘Proper exercise form is important.’
It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard so much that you’ve grown accustomed to it. But like it or not, it really does bear repeating.
Well if your exercise form is off, you’re probably not hitting your muscles effectively, and you’re increasing the risk of injury - which ultimately means less time in the gym, working towards your goals.
Learning the correct movement patterns for each exercise is vital for progression in the gym, and your body will thank you for it once those weights start to get heavier.
If you’re not quite sure how to correct your form, seeking help from experienced professionals is a good place to start, although we understand it’s not always an option for most. Luckily, we live in an age where information is easily accessible online, and with the use of videos and ‘how-tos’ from trusted sources, we can ensure we’re doing exercises as intended.
AYBL Athlete Caroline Gravity uses her platform to help others practise good form. So, we asked her to join us to shine a light on exactly why form is important when working out.
HEY CAROLINE! WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL WEEKLY WORKOUT LOOK LIKE?
I typically split my day between fitness and my own form of physical activity.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, during the morning, I tend to focus on lower body, so glutes, quads and hamstrings. Then during the evening, I practise MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) to up my cardio.
On Tuesday mornings, I usually do upper body/push. Then in the evening, I do pole dancing.
On Thursday mornings, I also do upper body, but I do pull instead of push, followed by pole dancing in the evening.
On Saturdays, I do a combination of pull and push exercises. In the evening, I usually do a fun activity, like partner acrobatics.
Then on Sundays, I tend to do active recovery, so more exercise like yoga, or just rest completely. It depends on how I feel.
I like to do a variety of activities, as I get bored so quickly. So, doing MMA and then also pole dancing, they’re both the complete opposite.
YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT ‘DOs AND DON’Ts’ ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN GOOD FORM WHILE WORKING OUT?
When you adopt good form during your workouts, you get better results, as you will be able to perform a full range of motion during the exercise and you will be able to focus on specific muscle groups.
You’ll also be able to reserve some of your energy and work out more efficiently, which means you’ll be able to work towards increasing your performance. That’s because you’ll be able to use some of that reserved energy for extra push/to lift heavier.
Most importantly, good exercise form helps to keep you safe and lower your risk of injury.
Other benefits of good form include:
- Enhanced oxygen flow. Good form helps you to breathe more fully and supports better oxygen intake.
- Consistent performance. Using proper form means you’re doing the same thing the same way every time. Consistency is crucial for continued strengthening, toning and performance.
WHAT ARE FIVE COMMON MISTAKES IN THE GYM?
- Not warming up or stretching before you work out. When you first get into the gym, you can be tempted to do too much too quickly, which can cause you to strain your muscles and become injured.
- Not resting properly between sessions.
- Exercising with bad form.
- Doing the same workout routine over and over again. I’d recommend maintaining the same routine for around eight to 12 weeks maximum. After that, you need to change it otherwise you’ll struggle to see any progress.
- Training only the same muscle groups. For example, only training your lower body.
HOW CAN YOU CHECK YOUR FORM IF YOU’RE WORKING OUT ALONE?
Training in front of a mirror and recording your workouts are both good options, although, I’d say recording yourself is better, as it means you can keep your neck neutral rather than having to strain to look at yourself in the mirror.
I’d also recommend watching YouTube videos by fitness experts to learn the correct technique for particular exercises.
If you’re going to record yourself, it’s a good idea to practise exercises with just your bodyweight first. This way you can see if your technique is right and avoid injuring yourself. When you’ve mastered the correct technique, try to memorise the movements and slowly start to build from there.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR WORKING OUT WITH GOOD FORM?
My top tip would be don’t try to lift any weight that you can’t control and you may injure yourself with. So, make sure that when you do choose your weight, you can control the full rep. If this means reducing the weight and taking it down a notch, do it.
It’s important to concentrate fully, so that you can maintain control. Also, remember not to use momentum to lift weights.
Working with your breath and knowing how to breathe properly while you exercise is another important factor.
Last but not least, listen to your body. If you experience any pain, don’t push yourself, as this will only lead to injury. Either change the exercise or ask a professional for support.
WHAT OTHER HACKS DO YOU HAVE FOR MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR WORKOUT?
When you go to the gym, plan your workouts in advance, know what exercises you want to do and know how to use the machines as well. If you’re not sure how to use a certain machine or want some guidance on fitness technique, you can watch some videos beforehand. Also come with your goal in mind - your reason why.
I also recommend listening to music, as this makes your training more fun. If you have a partner or friend, invite them along too.
Another way to enhance your workouts is with additional equipment or props. For example, for pull ups, to make sure you’re using the right technique rather than momentum, you can use an elastic band. This can help your progression especially.
CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF WHERE CHANGING YOUR FORM OR POSTURE CAN HELP TARGET SPECIFIC MUSCLE GROUPS?
One good example is Bulgarian split squats.
If you want to target your quads, you need to keep your upper body upright in order to increase your knee flexion. However, if you want to target your glutes, you need to do the opposite. This means leaning forward with your upper body to increase hip flexion.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO OUR FEMALE COMMUNITY TO HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS?
Know your reason why - your reason for going to the gym, which is essentially your goal. For example, is it to lose weight, is it to feel more confident in your body, is it to have more energy? Once you know your reason ‘why’, you’ll be more engaged and you can envision what you want to look like or how you want to feel. When you really envision your goal, it makes you want to go to the gym and keeps you motivated.
Secondly, track your progress. Everyone is unique, so don’t try to compare yourself. Focus on your own journey and your own goals. This doesn’t just apply to physical progress, it applies to how you feel mentally too. For example, you may realise that you feel less stressed. To add to that, you may notice your sleep has improved, as well as your energy levels. If your sleep has improved, recognise that this is progress too!
What’s helped me to stay consistent and motivated is simply just getting ready, putting on a cute gym outfit and having fun while I’m at the gym. Always try to finish your session with an exercise you enjoy - working out isn’t meant to be something you dread!
Caroline wears our newest collection Pace in Taupe Brown.
Your exercise form and range of motion play an important role in helping you to perform better. Good job Caroline’s here with all the tips and tricks, right, girls?
For more fitness advice from our athletes, check out our Lower Body Workout with Bethy Red.
How To Stay On Track With Your Fitness Goals Over Christmas
The smell of freshly baked mince pies. The tubs of chocolates on the coffee table. The bottles of bubbly lining the fridge door. It’s no wonder why so many of us lose sight of our fitness goals during the festive period.
For the avid gym-goer, who’s used to meticulous meal prepping, morning sweat sessions and early nights, there’s nothing like a month of Christmas celebrations and festive food comas to disrupt your daily rituals.
That being said, we want you to know, you don’t have to sacrifice that second serving of pudding in pursuit of a new personal best. With some thoughtful planning and realistic expectations, you can have your (Christmas) cake and eat it too while keeping your fitness goals on track.
Here are our eight top tips on how to stay consistent while embracing everything great about the festive season.
HOW TO STAY ON TRACK WITH YOUR FITNESS GOALS
We’ve all heard of the ‘everything in moderation’ mantra, so if you’re indulging in that second helping of pigs in blankets after a week of healthy choices, don’t beat yourself up.
Food should be fun and free of anxiety or guilt, so empower yourself to embrace the extra carbs and use them to train harder and lift heavier with confidence. All of the extra glycogen in your muscles is ideal for high intensity movement, meaning there’s never been a better time to try for a new PR.
While Christmas might well be the most magical time of the year, it can also be the most exhausting.
It’s important to make time to deload and embrace recovery, as this will allow your body to rest, helping to relieve soreness and fatigue. It will also give your mind the necessary space to recharge, so you can refocus ahead of the new year.
Remember, Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself and if you put it into perspective, it’s only two weeks out of 52.
If you’re struggling to schedule your usual workouts due to a busy social calendar, try to plan a more intensive session to make the most of your workout window. Try VIIT (Variable Intensity Interval Training) to target all the muscles in your body, as well as the various energy systems. This will improve strength and endurance while burning more calories.
As well as this, focus on big compound movements that work multiple muscle groups like squats, deadlifts and bench press. You can easily cut that two hour workout into a 45 minute full-body session and still see significant gains!
Setting yourself a challenge is a good way to keep you on the straight and narrow over Christmas.
It’s easy to get bored of the same old workout routine, so try something new, like an early morning 5k walk or uphill running in the park. Granted, both are a challenge, but anything that can add movement to your day will positively impact your health - and your goals.
If you don’t fancy venturing out into the cold, an at-home workout can be just as effective.
This is the number one thing to bear in mind when it comes to your fitness regime over Christmas. Everyone deserves a rest and the festive break is a great time to take some well-earned downtime.
Keep sight of your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself - perfect is the enemy of good. Instead of pledging to hit the gym every day, try to reduce this to three or four days a week and up the ante during these sessions. Alternatively, try to maintain a low, but sustainable level of exercise, such as a short walk every morning, half an hour of yoga at the weekend or a quick 10-minute blast of HIIT.
Places to go, people to see, potatoes to roast? How you’re meant to do all that and make it to the gym is a mystery.
Well, why not kill two birds with one stone and combine your workouts with socialising by inviting a friend or loved one to tag along? Exercising with a friend is a great way to ensure you see your fitness goals through, as you can hold each other accountable for showing up to the gym and cheer each other on.
If you know when you’ll be out boozing and filling your face with food, try to plan your workouts around these times. For example, if you have a Christmas party coming up, put a workout in your diary the morning of or, if you can hack it, the day after. Knowing you have a workout planned will help you stay focussed and be guilt-free.
It’s also worth noting that our bodies are better at burning carbs and sugars after an intense workout. Time your heaviest meals one-to-two hours after your session. Carbs consumed post-workout are more likely to be used for recovery and stimulating muscle gains, and are less likely to be turned into fat.
The festive season would be nothing without a few delicious sweet treats, but if you want to keep on top of your fitness goals, be sure to also incorporate plenty of vitamins and nutrients into your meals.
The easiest way to do this is by making dinners ahead of time, taking willpower and decision-making out of the equation. This will also help you to control portion sizes, so you’re less tempted to over indulge.
The best part? The nutrients from leafy greens and other winter veg will give you a healthy festive glow and help replenish energy levels, so you can keep going (and going) throughout the party season.
We know how important maintaining your fitness goals is - and, so much so, we see it as our duty to do everything we can to help you do just that.
But, girls, we also want you to remember to enjoy Christmas. Spend time with loved ones, celebrate with friends and don’t be afraid to say yes to that second helping of turkey! You’ve earned it.
The Athlete Spotlight: Meet Ana Learmann
It’s time to catch up with some more of our AYBL Athlete family…
Meet Ana Learmann, a fitness influencer and Nutrition major who, like us, is using her platform to help empower others to take charge of their own fitness journey.
Her kind and down-to-earth nature shines through every piece of content, from Instagram and YouTube to TikTok. And as someone who has bounced back from injury, it’s clear to see she won’t let anything stand in her way of achieving her goals.
See what else Ana had to say when we caught up with her below.
THANKS FOR CATCHING UP WITH US, ANA! TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY.
My fitness journey started with sport and just a genuine love for staying active, having teammates, working together and winning together. But that all came to a stop at the end of my sophomore year of basketball when I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), meniscus, PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and various other ligaments. I was then due to have surgery, but due to covid, it was postponed until the next month.
Once I had surgery, I realised that staying in shape and moving my body has always been important to me and because I could no longer participate in sports, I opted for the gym. From there, I started learning and seeing progress, not only from physical therapy for my knee, but in myself.
Online, I started posting TikTok dances and people admired the way I looked and started asking for workout routines. The positive feedback from others online gave me the confidence to start posting more regularly, which has allowed me to learn and grow with my supporters and audience ever since.
Months went by and I started to attract more and more attention for fitness, lifestyle and fun. Now, here I am, a year later still doing content creation online due to the fact that I tore my ACL.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS OR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO START SHARING THEIR FITNESS JOURNEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Just do it! It sounds so simple - and believe me, it’s not - but you’ll miss every chance you don’t take.
Start out by just doing it for yourself and use it as a way to track your progress and learn as you move through your fitness journey.
Be consistent with posting once, maybe even twice a day, depending on the platform. Also, be creative and be yourself - never be afraid to show your personality, as it shows people that you’re relatable and real. From there, you will start to attract an audience that has goals and ideals that align with yours. After that, you’ll have your own community of people who are invested in your journey and just you in general.
All it takes is one post, you got it!
@ana.learmann Here are some things I do if I’m not feel like going to the gym, try one of them out to get you up and motivated🙌🏽 #beaybl @ehplabs ♬ original sound - I am Regina Phalange
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL WEEKLY WORKOUT ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
My typical weekly workout routine looks like this:
- Mondays: Back and biceps.
- Tuesdays: Quads and calves.
- Wednesdays: Glutes and hamstrings.
- Thursdays: Chest and triceps.
- Fridays: Abs and cardio.
- Weekend: Rest and get outside.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST AND MOST CHALLENGING MOMENT SO FAR IN REGARDS TO YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY?
I think my proudest moment in my fitness journey was finally getting the ‘all-clear’ from my physical therapist. When my injury occurred, it was the first serious injury I’d had. I’d never broken, sprained or severely hurt any part of my body prior to that, so losing most, if not all, of my muscle mass in my right leg for nine months was the most challenging thing I have physically had to go through.
I remember at one point, I was lying down at physiotherapy and was asked to lift my leg up. Although it seemed simple, I was unable to do it - I didn’t have enough muscle to do so. That gave me the motivation to give it my all in the gym and push myself to get back to being me.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING AN AYBL ATHLETE AND HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE SEEN AS INFLUENTIAL TO OTHERS?
I love the AYBL community and family!
It doesn’t feel like work to me, it feels more like a hobby. Getting to work not only with the brand itself, which is amazing and empowering, but working with the people behind the scenes is so surreal. I would not be where I am without the constant love and support from AYBL.
As far as being influential goes, I don’t think I have my head wrapped round it still. I feel as though my supporters are my best friends and we are all learning and growing together in life. My platforms are just large groups of people with common interests uplifting each other and that is what I love most about what I do.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE AYBL CAMPAIGN TO WORK ON AND WHY?
My favourite AYBL campaign has to be going to LA for the Summer Sale photoshoot. I had so much fun, the AYBL family were so nice, generous and kind. They made sure I was well rested, fed and had fun throughout all of the shoots.
My favourite memory was when we stopped and went on a rollercoaster - because why not?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AYBL COLLECTION OR SET AND WHY?
My favourite AYBL collection is the Motion Collection. I love the variety of dark and light colours. The comfortability of the fabric, whether I want to lounge around the house, go on a hike or workout, is a perfect fit for every occasion. I’m obsessed to say the least!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TOP TIPS TO HELP OUR FEMALE COMMUNITY ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS?
Listen to your favourite music, take your supplements, put on a cute outfit and do your workout. It can be intimidating going to a gym and seeing people work out, feeling as though all eyes are on you, but trust me, they’re not. People are at the gym to work out just like you, so go in and work hard and reward yourself with a protein shake for the gains when you get home!
WHAT DOES THE NEXT SIX TO 12 MONTHS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I’m currently studying Nutrition, so I’ll be continuing my college education.
I also want to continue to build my platforms and audience with my sister, especially YouTube, as that’s been our favourite as of recently.
I also want to continue to better myself emotionally and physically, so I can grow as a person throughout everything that I have going on.
DO YOU THINK YOUR CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH LEXIE HAS HELPED YOUR CONTENT GROW AND BE AS SUCCESSFUL AS IT HAS BEEN?
Completely! People love the fact that we’re twins and look so much alike. Online, people engage because they think they’re seeing double or that it’s cool we look so similar. Every time we post something together it does well too.
I would not be where I am without her in general, but also, I could not have done this without her support, motivation and creativity through this entire journey that we’ve accomplished together. She’s my best friend!
Together, the two of them are truly unstoppable - and it just proves that with the right mindset, you can achieve anything!
Take a look at what Lexie had to say when we caught up with the other half of the Learmann Twins.
How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe
If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, you'll no doubt have heard of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ - sometimes called an edited or minimalist wardrobe.
The idea behind it is that you get rid of all those pieces that you say you’ll wear again, but never do (we know the drill!) and revamp your wardrobe with everyday essentials that go with everything. In theory, it’s pretty simple, but if you’re unsure how to create a capsule wardrobe, we’re here to lend a helping hand.
WHAT IS A CAPSULE WARDROBE?
The simple definition is that it’s a curated wardrobe composed of versatile pieces that you can wear time and time again - and, more importantly, that you love to wear.
Featuring a variety of garments, from tops to outerwear, a capsule wardrobe is made up of a limited selection of interchangeable styles that complement one another. These are often timeless pieces that don’t go out of style and are of a better quality, meaning they can be worn for years to come.
Creating pieces that are long-lasting and are of a remarkable quality is something we pride ourselves on. With a range of premium styles for both your workouts and off-duty days, you’ll find everything you need and more to create your own capsule wardrobe and carry you through this season and into the next with ease.
HOW TO CREATE A CAPSULE WARDROBE
1. REVIEW YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE
Building an efficient capsule wardrobe takes time and patience. Looking at what you already have - and what you might be missing - is a good place to start.
Go through every piece you own and assess what you wear regularly and what you never touch. For each item, ask yourself ‘When was the last time I wore this?’
If you haven’t reached for something in a while, chances are you’re not going to, meaning it's time for it to go.
2. INVEST IN SOLID BASICS
Bearing in mind your favourite colours and favourite styles, choose basic staples that are versatile and work well together. The most important thing is that they’re durable and made of high quality materials, so that they last longer.
Other capsule wardrobe essentials include:
3. KEEP IN MIND YOUR LIFESTYLE
When creating your capsule wardrobe, consider your lifestyle, as this will give guidance on what type of clothing you wear regularly.
For example, do you have a 9 to 5 job? If so, it’s likely you’ll need more office-appropriate clothing. Or if, like us, working out is your lifestyle, then you’ll need plenty of premium gym ‘fits to hand - that’s where we come in…
If you buy things that don’t fit your lifestyle, you’ll never get the wear out of them.
4. DON’T BE A SLAVE TO THE TRENDS
The more traditional capsule wardrobes tend to be devoid of quirky, trendy items, as they can quickly go out of style - but that doesn’t mean you need to sit the trends out entirely. Besides, paring down your wardrobe shouldn’t have to mean editing out personality.
As you know, we’re all for statement prints and dynamic patterns, so if a trend feels intrinsic to your personal style, then by all means embrace it.
You don’t always have to stick to the rules, and anyway, your outfits will be way more eye-catching.
WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A CAPSULE WARDROBE
IT’S MORE SUSTAINABLE
One of the downfalls of social media is that it’s led us to believe we can never be seen in the same outfit twice. This has spurred the rise of fast fashion, which is said to produce 92 million tonnes of landfill waste every year.
A capsule wardrobe is a more sustainable approach to your closet, as it encourages you to invest in timeless pieces that you’ll wear for years and that won’t go out of style. And while you won’t have as many clothes, you’ll feel like you have more, as you’ll get use out of every single piece, meaning no clothing goes to waste.
MORE TIME, LESS STRESS
Ever head of decision fatigue? It’s the notion that our brain is only programmed to make a certain number of decisions a day, after which, it gets tired and struggles to make additional decisions.
By having a capsule wardrobe, you’ll have fewer clothes to choose from, but essentially more of what you know works well together and that you love to wear. This means when you’re getting ready in the morning, it’s easier for you to choose what to wear, so it doesn't contribute to your decision fatigue.
We’ll take an extra 15 minutes in bed any day…
IT SAVES MONEY
We’re all for a money-saving hack and having a capsule wardrobe is a great way to save a few pennies.
Investing in pieces that are interchangeable and versatile means you can wear them again and again, meaning you no longer have to buy pieces that you’ll only wear once.
Remember, you don’t need to buy an item just because it looks great on someone you follow on Instagram - really think about your shape, style and whether their lifestyle aligns with yours.
While most minimalist wardrobes would have you commit to a lifetime of black, white and nude - and those tones are great and all - the bottom line is, a capsule wardrobe needs to work for you. So, if you’re a lover of all things bright and bold, then your wardrobe needs to reflect that! Just make sure your clothing can be mixed and matched and they aren’t too trend-led.