Overtraining Signs and Solutions

overtraining exerciseI’ve noticed with some guests who have done a week at FitFarms that there’s apprehension at the beginning around the amount of exercise that will be involved and whether they’ll be able to do it all and keep up (the average amount of exercise at FitFarms being 4-6 hours a day), conversely I’ve seen others who are regular intense exercisers who seem to feel they should be spending the week stepping up their usual routine.

ACSM guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, so my question here is this: if a regular exerciser does 1-2 hours of intensive exercise daily, what would be the benefit in increasing it 2, 3 times or more to 4-6 hours? You may be wondering where I’m going with this or if it’s a trick question but what I really wanted to bring up is the subject of overtraining.

Now it’s not something that often gets mentioned in the average fitness setting as it’s more commonly associated with athletes however that’s not to say it doesn’t happen with non athletes.

What are the Signs of Overtraining

Overtraining is pretty much exactly as it sounds -an accumulation of training load without adequate rest that will ultimately cause a decrease in performance, the thing is as an exerciser you may not be aware of a decrease in performance if performance is not something you monitor, so how can you tell if you’re overtraining?

As with any other stress there may be several physiological responses, these include:

  • Increased resting heart rate in the morning
  • Poor appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Severe muscle soreness and stiffness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Lack of concentration.


What are the Solutions to Overtraining

If overtraining has occurred the intensity and amount of exercise should be reduced and a plan put in place to prevent it happening in future by:

  • Ensuring good rest and recovery
  • Sufficient sleep
  • Rest between exercise bouts
  • Adequate hydration and nutrition for training
  • Abstaining from training through times of high stress

Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

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What is the Aerobic System?

The Aerobic SystemI thought I’d get down to basics and have an attempt at explaining one of those mystery words that crops up in fitness, if you haven’t guessed here we have the great unveiling of…aerobic! We’ve all heard it but what does it mean, what does it do? Well generally speaking it is a system so I’m going to attempt to answer: What is the aerobic system? The aerobic system is the bodies way of using oxygen to produce energy (Adenosine Triphosphate/ATP) for muscle contraction, it is responsible for long term production of energy, continuing to produce energy over a greater duration where there is a low work load such as when going for a walk.

The aerobic system also works to support the anaerobic system, this system also produces energy but does so much more rapidly though only over a short period as it does this without using oxygen, for example when sprinting; this system produces metabolic by products (they’re what slow us down) such as blood lactate which build up faster than the body can deal with at the time but which an effective aerobic system will readily remove after. Effectively the aerobic system is always governed by oxygen supply and demand -availability, uptake from blood and delivery to tissue.

Developing the aerobic system helps to speed up recovery, particularly between bursts of exercise such as with high intensity interval training, as well as helping to sustain longer periods of exercise bouts. Improving the aerobic system increases the anaerobic threshold -the point where metabolic by products are generated, thereby also allowing exercise to be performed at higher intensities.

There are several protocols suggested for developing the aerobic system including exercising over a long slow distance or duration (more than thirty minutes), performing high intensity intervals, threshold training (focusing on learning where an individuals anaerobic threshold is, exercising for 3-10 minutes at or just below the threshold before resting and repeating), and performing resistance training with high time under tension (increasing the length of time a muscle is under strain).

So there you have it, something to remember the next time you see an ‘aerobic’ class advertised!

Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

How to Start Running

run it never gets easier you just get strongerLots of us don’t enjoy the prospect of exercising indoors in a class or gym environment or even at home, least of all when the weathers nice. We want to do “outdoorsy” things and be active. Or we see regular joggers and runners heading off down the road and think that we would love to be able to run but it’s just too hard or we just aren’t fit enough or our joints can’t take it, truth be told you wouldn’t be running for your joints benefit so if you want to take care of them then eat right stretch and keep mobile maybe supplement if necessary but there’s no reason your joints should be an issue.

Before I go off point with this I’ll anticipate people may dispute my last statement and explain in advance people with underlying health or joint issues may be limited but it really depends on your expectations and requirements i.e someone with a form of arthritis in their knees and hips may be limited or may find it painful at times but that’s where the approach should be altered not the exercise excluded.. if you can walk you can run!

So how to go about it? Well you crawl before you walk as you must walk before you jog and jog before you run, don’t rush it, treat it as a hobby or discipline lean the basics before you master the art. The depth to this point is largely misunderstood as well when I say learn the basics we could be talking walking running in the pool we could be looking at correcting gait and lower limb function or developing a stronger core to support the joints involved instead of it being an over night thing it becomes a life long development or interest but that’s much better than just trying to do it to lose weight! So if you want start running and once started want to keep running I’ve listed a few pointers I would consider.

  1. Start by walking: it’s the best way to start using and building the muscles you will later rely on. It will help develop strength endurance of theses muscles as well as build your cardio vascular capability and it will help de-stress and find the right head space.
  2. Listen to your body: if it doesn’t like the way your doing it, it will tell you, don’t be afraid to turn it back a little if you move forward too quickly.
  3. Jog/run at a pace that is comfortable: kind of following on from number 2, the biggest hurdle I come across with beginners or returners is the need to adapt a pace to fast to be maintainable or controllable, so start real slow and let your cardio vascular system catch up.
  4. Get some support: it’s really difficult to actually know what’s happening with the body, it will give you lots of different signs to be interpreted in many possible ways.. my biggest regret is not relying on a physio more through my training, once a week/fortnight/month could make all the difference.
  5. Don’t just join a club: whilst the motivation and support will be great their is no guarantee that will be enough, or even the best approach for you, for many reasons running is good for you but it can also be bad so don’t just use one source of info or advice refer back to number 4 and number 2.
  6. Consider rest and recovery the most important part of development: exercise breaks the body! It doesn’t fix it, if you’ve been to FitFarms you will of heard me say that.. and it applies especially to runners. Something about the buzz they get when they find their stride next thing you know you can’t keep them out of their running shorts, every night and twice at weekends.. it’s great to see but for really sustainable development your rest and recovery is key without it. Your body will break.
  7. Don’t just run: it is a physically stressful exercise also one dimensional and as discussed in number 6 addictive, you need variety and broad development so consider other activities that will rest your muscles or at least use them in a different manner whilst still helping you improve, 2 prime examples are boxing and swimming two amazing cardio vascular exercises that do not use the body in the same way as running.
  8. Get the right shoes: I still can’t figure out what’s best for me.. less support or more, sometimes I feel better in my barefoots sometimes in my £20 amazon specials but that’s me and I have two guaranteed options there make sure you figure out what’s best before you start putting any real miles down.
  9. Choose different distances and tempos: so many clients I speak to always work on the same pace and trying to improve distance or time, I’m sure the pro’s probably do this already but I feel the info is not being carried as well to the amateurs and part timers, just because you can run 5k in this time doesn’t mean you have to, keep your body guessing and allow it to build in more dimensions. Sprint work, jog walk, run, intervals, hill climbs, treadmill, stride patterns and gait work, road or off.. just some of the variables..
  10. You don’t need carbs!: really I just threw this in to round it off to 10 but a lot of the full time runners will swear they need the sugar or they can eat processed carbs because they’ll burn it off when they run.. just because it doesn’t show on the outside doesn’t mean an over indulgence of crappy processed sugars won’t hurt you inside. The frightening thing is you probably won’t realise until it’s too late. By all means enjoy your food as I would say to anyone treat yourself and live 80/20 I’m not saying you shouldn’t touch these things just don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need them for exercise.. you body already has it covered!.. to follow this blog will be one with some possible exercise routines to play with in order to get you up and running.

Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

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FitFarms Legs, Bums & Tums Exercise

You earn your body












  • Perform exercise 1
  • Perform exercise 2 followed by 1
  • Perform exercise 3 followed by 2 & 1
  • Perform exercise 4 followed by 3, 2 & 1
  • Rest for 1 minute between blocks.

Block 1:

  1. 3 step squat, x 6
  2. Single leg Romanian dead lift (alternating legs), x 6 each side
  3. Round the world lunges x 6
  4. Kneeling to standing (alternating legs) x 6

Block 2*:

  1. Kneeling bridge x 12
  2. Single leg kneeling bridge* x 12
  3. Supine glute bridge x 12
  4. Single leg glute bridge* x 8

Block 3: Repeat Block 2 with the opposite leg

Block 4:

  1. Side lying abduction x 12
  2. Side lying hip flexion x 12
  3. Side lying abduction x 12
  4. Side lying abduction (2/2: pausing 1/2 way up & 1/2 way down) x 6

Block 5: Repeat Block 4 with the opposite leg

Block 6*:

  1. Supine toe taps (alternating legs) x 12
  2. Supine leg extension* (alternating legs) x 12
  3. Flutter kicks x 12 (6 up & 6 down)
  4. Supine leg lower* x 6

Block 7:

  1. Quadruped in/out abs x 6 each side (change leg 1/2 way)
  2. Moving plank (or 30 second plank hold) x 3 squares: forward, side, backwards, side
  3. Breast stroke x 12
  4. Donkey kicks (double or single leg) x 6


*Block 2: The left leg in front for exercise 2) & raised for exercise 4) will work the right leg.
Alternate between the right & left legs if having difficulty performing exercises on the same leg.
If exercise 4) is difficult perform the standard glute bridge only lifting one leg once positioned at the top of the bridge.

Block 6*: Exercise 2) is a progression of exercise 1) if difficult perform by sliding legs away along the floor.
If exercise 4) is difficult perform single legged, bending up the opposite leg keeping the foot in contact with the floor


Check out FitFarms exercise courses for 2018:

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Why Do We Exercise?

Exercise daily and be healthyIn general it all boils down to three goals – lose weight, tone up and get fit. These aren’t our goals these are how we respond “typically” when asked. Even if people say it’s for health reasons they generally attach that to visual changes they see. For instance if they lose weight it must be working and they must be getting healthier.

So when the doctor says you have a high risk of CHD or diabetes you need to exercise and start a healthy diet. You think in order for this to be working I should see some change in my body shape I should see some weight loss on the scales (it doesn’t help that the doctor also associates these issues with being obese according to the BMI scale or your hip to waist ratio). Even if you have never had that conversation with the doctor but you just know you’ve gained weight or you feel less healthy or your not as active as you used to be … or your getting out of breath when walking a little or you feel stiff sore or weak all of the typical pre cursors to prompting a change in lifestyle or starting a diet and exercise program. These all lead to one thing a focused and planned out routine of structured and usually restricted eating and exercise to achieve visual result that will suggest you are achieving your goals. But think of it like this, exercise is not a natural or functional concept we do not need it to live or maintain quality of life, a structured or routine diet is not necessary for a healthy body.

I remember when I first started working in the industry the 6-8 meals a day idea was new and it was the definitive answer shortly after it got followed up with the theory of eating live a caveman (person!) and it all made sense. The problem is the cave people weren’t eating a diet or a structured routine, they also weren’t working a 9-5 job they didn’t have such a organised and developing society stress was much simpler back then and they lived more instinctively than habitually.. not to mention our bodies have evolved massively since then and so won’t they can and can’t tolerate is very different. If you consider all of this and then consider they weren’t trying to be fit or live up to a certain expectation they were just living then you can see how an understanding of their way of life can help us to find answers and solutions but it is neither the answer nor the solution in its entirety. What our body actually needs vs what our mind craves vs what is scientifically correct based on a perfect working model vs what is right for that person.

I read an article a while ago about a tribe in Tanzania and whilst there were many interesting points the main one was that the males of this tribe as hunter gathers would graze whilst out hunting and gathering on the food they would collect the females of the tribe were the farmers who would also graze throughout the day on the food they would harvest. In the main feeding times they would all sit together and eat a mix of the same food but the study found that their gut microbes were different due to the different grazing habits. The reason I think this is a good example as it goes some way to demonstrate how adaptive to change our bodies can be and how by the time we decide to make a change to our lifestyle we as individuals are unique and should approach it as such.


Editorial by the FitFarms Health and Fitness team. Check out all our fitness camp courses today.

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Exercise, Physical Activity and its impact to Longevity of Life

Exercise and LongevityExercise and physical activity are well understood to pose health benefits such as helping to control weight, prevent or manage health conditions, improve mood, increase energy levels and encourage quality sleep.

I found myself reading an article about another potential benefit which I will share: the article was about whether exercise or increased activity impacts longevity of life, in short as with many studies the evidence so far appears to be conflicted; without going into too much detail (yawn) observational studies are suggested to have consistently shown a connection between increased activity levels and longevity across varying populations, epidemiological estimates suggest solving the problem of inactivity may produce an effect similar to eradication of smoking or obesity, with an increased life expectancy of 0.68 years, while randomised control trials have not demonstrated a causal relationship between level of activity and mortality. The problem appears to be due to evidence being open to misinterpretation and study limitations, selection bias and a reverse causation were put forward: we know exercise reduces risk of obesity but what if obesity restricts potential to participate in activity.

There are clearly a lot of varying factors that relate to activity and longevity which all need to be taken into account when studied. All the time while reading I kept thinking even if it does increase longevity it’s only 0.68 years -just over six months is the estimated measurable gain of mortality from exercise or activity and it seemed like such a small amount. But then I reflected on the reverse causation: what if obesity restricts potential to participate in activity, 0.68 years may not seem like a lot quantitatively but it’s not just the extra six months that’s important but what can be gained qualitatively in all the other years that precede -and that goes beyond measure.


Editorial by FitFarms Health Team

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FitFarms Weight Loss Retreat at Norfolk

Imagine 6 Months from NowWe are here at our new weight loss retreat in Norfolk this week. It’s a place called piggy bank barns near Fakenham and it’s a part of a working farm set back off a quiet country lane with a church at the end of the road, as you approach on private driveway there is a lovely little duck pond between the farm house and the barn conversions that we are calling home for the week. The weight loss retreat accommodation is rustic and homely. There is a function room we will be using for the exercise studio this week that is spacious with some beautiful views of the surrounding farm land and the whole site is so peaceful and relaxing all around us is calm and perfect for the course.

We are really looking forward to our weight loss retreat week at this venue and since arriving here we have only become more excited. It’s fantastic, lovely spacious rooms, secluded, picturesque views a large studio area. It really is an amazing place.

During the week we hope to deliver a course that ticks all the boxes but our main focus is on helping people understand the differences between a healthy lifestyle balance and decide for themselves what is the right amount of healthy.

We want it to be fun but informative life changing but manageable and we want the end of the week to feel like they could do it all over again.


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Benefits of Sports Massage Therapy

Sports Massage TherapistAs a practitioner of sports massage therapy I thought it may be beneficial to explain a little about sports massage, partly because it’s a frequently used and often very beneficial treatment; and largely, as I’ve come to discover via the Fitfarms weight loss boot camp, it’s not a well understood one! Often people are not quite sure what its purpose is or what makes it different to other types of massage, so here goes my explanation of it.

Sports massage therapy is a treatment aimed at relieving stress and tension in soft tissues that may occur as a result of physical activity. It is a treatment that can benefit everyone not just people participating in sport, as often everyday physical demands can place stresses on the body that may not always be recognised until injury or ailment results. Sports massage incorporates techniques from Swedish massage, though is often deeper and more intense -however it is not necessarily painful as is sometimes presumed! Other techniques may also be included such as those to treat trigger points (aka ‘knots’) similar to acupressure, and muscle energy techniques and soft tissue release which aim to improve tissue extensibility and improve range of movement.

When used at sporting events treatment may be beneficial both pre and post event. Pre event massage is normally performed 20 minutes to an hour before the event with a shorter duration than other massages (usually 5-15 minutes), it is a more superficial massage which utilises techniques to invigorate and prepare tissues for optimal performance. Post event massage is usually performed 30 minutes to two hours after the event (following a cool down), it is a deeper massage intended to relax tissues and allow for identification of any muscle spasm and minor injury, it is often used to reduce the severity of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which may occur following strenuous exercise.

In an everyday setting sports massage may be beneficial for either maintenance or rehabilitation. Maintenance massage is beneficial as a regular treatment where therapists aim to prevent injury by addressing areas that may be likely to cause problems based on knowledge and understanding of anatomy, the clients sporting background, and/or occupation and the physical demands involved, it usually has a duration of 30-60 minutes.

Massage for rehabilitation purposes may be beneficial for both acute and chronic injuries, aiding to reduce any pain or discomfort, encourage the healing process and lower the risk of further injury to other tissues which may be compensating. Massage for rehabilitation involves undertaking an injury assessment, the results of which guide the treatment plan. Initial treatment may be a shorter duration than a maintenance massage (allowing for assessment) though specific to the injury and tissues involved.

Editorial by FitFarms Health and Fitness Team
FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Learn more.
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Tabata Workout in 25

Fitness Class







A nice all round tabata working upper and lower body and core (remember to brace!)

Use A) as a warm up, or add one if you’ve more time to spare.


  1. Bounce (side to side, stay on the balls of feet)
  2. Plie* (jump legs out, jump to turn feet out, jump to turn feet in, jump to bring legs together)


  1. Squat punch
  2. Tricep dip (use a chair/step if preferred to floor)


  1. Glute push
  2. Fire hydrant


  1. In – out abs (C sit position bring the knees towards the chest then push legs out or down)
  2. Plank + toe taps

Starting from A) perform 20 seconds of exercise 1) followed by 10 seconds rest, then 20 seconds of exercise; 2) followed by 10 seconds rest (1 minute in total), repeat x 3 for remaining tabata timer (4 minutes in total). Take 1 minutes rest.

Move on to B) alternating exercises 1) & 2); repeat for C) TWICE -right & left side! & finally D). Enjoy!!

*For a low impact variation alternate between the right & left legs so the movement resembles an alternating side lunge.

Weight loss exercise tip by FitFarms Team.

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Cardio-vascular Exercise and What is it?

Iheart would say that what makes an exercise cardio-vascular is that it gets you out of breath and allows you to keep that breathless state going for a prolonged period of time. For example any exercise or activity will cause you to get more breathless or for your heart rate to increase as your body is requiring more oxygen for a number of different reasons but if we asked you to do an exercise at the FitFarms weight loss boot camp that was too hard for you at this time then your body wouldn’t be able to cope with the oxygen requirement and you would fatigue too quickly so it’s not necessarily a specific exercise more like a level of output.

Basically you want to be able to elevate your heart rate and breathing as much as you can maintain for as long as you can. Take walking as an example, setting out at a constant pace will gradually increase your heart rate and oxygen saturation in your blood as long as you maintain a similar standard or effort that same pace will become more challenging as your body tires but is able to cope with the energy requirement if we then add a hill you may need to slow the pace to maintain a similar effort because you now have a greater resistance to work against. So your effort will be the same but your pace slower.

This example also carries over to your level of fitness as it improves your pace will increase but the effort level will feel similar to before. So then, how can we use cardio-vascular exercise? Well we could use it to improve our basic level of fitness which means to be able to do normal things better and to be able to recover from simple activities a little swifter, so something like going for a short walk 3 times a week could be enough to see improvement to this degree.

You could also use it to help with your higher level of fitness pushing your limits and challenging yourself more regularly, long undulating walks/jogs/runs swimming, cycling, CV equipment in a gym etc could all be used for this but exercises involving too much muscle focus like muscle specific weights/body weight exercises like squats or press ups etc will fatigue the muscles too quickly to be able to properly benefit the CV system. Also you can really effectively use these kind of exercises for recovery from more intensive sessions, the CV system is designed to work continuously and to recover whilst it works Muscles need a more thorough recovery so after a hard session that leaves your body aching your thinking you should avoid exercise until your ready to go at it again, but it’s actually much more beneficial to do something albeit less intensive to allow the increased blood flow to aid the muscle recovery by delivering much needed nutrients during the recovery process. So if you are looking to improve your heart health or want to improve your muscle recovery from more intensive exercise or would or would just like to be able to do the normal day to day activities better then the best exercises are the lower intensity movement based activities.

Editorial by Andy, FitFarms Health Manager


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