It ’s time to leave behind the comfort food and boxsets that defined winter and rediscover the joy of exercising and feeling strong now the energising longer days and warmer temperatures are here. We know it’s hard to get started, so we’ve enlisted the perfect person to help. ‘Don’t say “I should start exercising”; say “I will”,’ advises top trainer Svava Sigbertsdottir, author of new book The Viking Method (Penguin Random House, £16.99), which includes exercise programmes, nutritious recipes and eating plans, and plenty of advice on mental strength and how to get the most out of your body.
Didu you Let Mthingsslipa Mbitoverthe Ecoolerrmonths? Rediscover Your inner and Outer Strength so You can Enjoy Those Sunny days to The Max, Says Founder of The Viking Method, Svava Sigbertsdottir Photo Gallery
The trainer behind Nicole Scherziner’s amazing body, Svava devised The Viking Method after drawing on inspiration from her Icelandic upbringing to create her a programme that’s designed to build a body that’s not just strong and powerful, but agile too. When embarking on an exercise programme, don’t take before and after photos, says Svava. ‘When you focus on what you look like, you’ll often start from an unhappy place. Fashions change for body ideals, too, so while big bottoms are in vogue now, they may not be in a few months’ time,’ she says. ‘Looking good is also very subjective, and it’ll be hard to ever be totally satisfied. Instead, measure your fitness progress – that’s a fact you can’t argue with.’ Wise words indeed.
PREPARE TO SUCCEED
Want to give her method a try? You’re in luck – Svava has given us a taster of her programme below – but you must be prepared to give it your all, Viking style. Your first task is to count how many burpees you can do in five minutes. Yes, five. ‘It doesn’t matter if you do three burpees the first time round or need lots of breathers. What matters is how you progress over the four weeks you’ll do my programme,’ says Svava. Leave your emotions behind and concentrate fully on what your muscles are doing as you tackle the following moves – ditching those negative thoughts is a must (Vikings can’t doubt themselves, after all). ‘I made one of my clients sing a song every time she said something negative about herself, until she got so sick of the song, she stopped the self criticism,’ says Svava. And remember, if the last three reps of an exercise aren’t a great struggle, you need to make it harder. ‘Be on the verge of failing and push through. Or fail. Then, one day, if you keep trying, you won’t fail,’ she adds. Fired up with enthusiasm and ready to take control of your pre-summer prep? Decide on a period when you will be able to train and eat sensibly for four weeks. Stick to the plan – talking yourself out of this is not allowed, warriors! ‘Nothing great is ever achieved with partial effort.
1 WIDE SQUAT TO STRAIGHT SQUAT JUMP WITH BICEPS CURL
Time: 30 seconds Start in a sumo squat, a dumbbell in each hand between your legs, palms facing. Keep your torso straight and chest up (A). Jump up and bend your elbows without swinging your arms, so the weights are in a biceps curl, palms facing (B). Lower into a normal squat (C), then jump back into the wide squat. Check that your back stays straight throughout, and that your heels are rooted into the floor every time you land. Repeat for 30 seconds.
2 KNEELING TO KNEE-UP
Time: 45 seconds on each leg Step into a lunge, left leg forwards, right lower leg touching the floor and both knees bent at right angles, torso straight. This is the starting position (A). Press into your left heel to come up to standing (B), bringing your right knee high up in front of you (C). Slowly bring your right leg back down to the starting position. Use your core to give you better stability, and keep your shoulders back and back straight. Repeat for 45 seconds, then change legs.
3 TRICEPS DIPS
Time: 30 seconds Sit on the edge of a chair and place your hands either side of you on the front edge. Bent your knees almost to a right angle and rest your heels on the floor with your toes raised. Straighten your arms and keep your back straight (A). Slowly lower your bottom towards the floor, keeping your back as close to the chair as possible. Your elbows should be pointing back and bent further than 90o (B). Push yourself up using only your triceps. Repeat for 30 seconds.
After doing the five-minute burpee challenge (don’t forget to warm up first!) and noting down your result, you’re ready to embark on the following exercise plan. Do the moves four times a week, plus the Viking Madness exercises on a fifth day (see page 87 for more details).
4 ENE FORWARD KICK
Time: 45 seconds on each leg Start in an energy squat (A). Then, push through your feet to come back up to standing, raising your right knee as you do so (B), and kick your leg forwards as high and with as much power as you can (C). Lower back into the squat, making sure your knees don’t bend inwards. Every time you kick, lean your torso backwards slightly. Start with your arms by your face and, as you kick, bring one arm diagonally down on the same side as the kicking leg. Repeat for 45 seconds, then change legs.
Time: 30 seconds From a high plank position (A), begin to crawl forwards by moving your right hand and left leg forwards (B), then move your right leg and left arm forwards (C). Slightly bend your arms and knees as you crawl (not too much) and keep your ‘steps’ short in order to keep that plank-straight line of the body. Keep moving forwards in short fast steps, making sure your bottom doesn’t lift upwards. Take six steps forwards, then reverse, taking six steps backwards, and repeat for 30 seconds.
6 PLANK FORWARD REACHES
Time: 30 seconds Start in a forearm plank with your elbows beneath your shoulders, legs hip-width apart, core engaged (A). Slowly reach your right arm forwards, without shifting your body weight, keeping your hips level and still (B). Bring your arm back to the starting position and reach your left arm forwards (C). This is a slow exercise – take your time and maintain control. This will make your core more powerful.
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