There’s something in the air just now: something intangible, yet unignorable. You may associate it with sleek new pencil cases and fresh, unspoilt pads of paper — because the feeling we’re referring to is that ‘back to school’ sensation that, even well into adulthood, will never truly leave us.
Except now, of course, we call it ‘back to work’. Summer holiday season is over; those days of sipping cocktails by the pool, strolling along sandy waterfronts and smugly setting your Out of Office are, regrettably, done and dusted for another year.
But there’s no need to despair. Holidays might be a stellar way to get the endorphins flowing, but they’re not the only mood booster out there. Exercise will beat those post-holiday blues like nothing else, and an efficient workout will whip you back into shape for your triumphant return to the office. So we called on the expertise of Y-17 founder James Yates, to share his targeted post-holiday workout guide. We’ll see you in the gym.
Who doesn’t love a good deadlift? They’re simple, yet effective; and they’re not short of a challenge or two (depending on the size of your weight, of course), which leaves you feeling as though you’ve truly accomplished something mighty. Which is just how every gentleman should feel as he leaves the gym.
- Stand with your mid foot under the barbell
- Bend over and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip
- Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar
- Lift your chest up and straighten your lower back
- Take a big breath, hold it; and stand up with the weight
You may think you know how to squat; but trust us when we say that a squat can always be improved. You might need to move your hips further down, or shift your knees wider apart; either way, there’s always room to maximise a squat to its best potential, and Yates can unremittingly help with that.
- Stand with the bar on your upper back, and your feet shoulder-width apart
- Squat down by pushing your knees to the side while moving hips back
- Break parallel by squatting down until your hips are lower than your knees
- Squat back up while keeping your knees out and chest up
- Stand with your hips and knees locked at the top
If pull-ups are your exercise nemesis, you’re not alone. They’re tough; they’re painful; and they’re easy to get wrong. But when you get them right, they’re immensely effective (and hugely satisfying); so we’d recommend following Yates’ advice to the very last letter in order to maximise this tricky workout to the last, sweaty degree.
- Grab the pull-up bar with your palms down (shoulder-width grip)
- Hang on the pull-up bar with straight arms and your legs off the floor
- Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down to the floor
- Go all the way up until your chin passes the bar
- Lower yourself until your arms are straight
The marginally less painful cousin of pull-ups; but no less detailed, and certainly no less transformative when done right. Push-ups are a bit like meditation: you have to concentrate so hard on what every single part of your body is doing that you’ll have no time or space to think about anything else. Here’s hoping you leave your push-up session feeling refreshed in mind, and stronger in body.
- Begin with hands placed directly under shoulders and feet slightly wider than hip-width distance apart on the floor.
- Step legs behind with feet together and toes curled under, then lift hips up and keep chest in front of hands.
- Tense every muscle in the body to form a straight line from head through to heel, and maintain this line throughout.
- Lower chest to touch floor. Always aim to go as low as you can, in order to access your full range of motion.
- Push palms into the floor and extend arms to press the body back up to start position.
Always been meaning to perfect your dips? Well, now’s the time. It’s another tricky exercise, but one that’s well worth perfecting. Follow Yates’ advice to the letter, and you’ll be the envy of all those around you at the gym: we promise.
- Grab the parallel bars and jump up; straighten your arms
- Lower your body by bending your arms while leaning forward
- Dip down until your shoulders are below your elbows
- Lift your body up by straightening your arms
- Lock your elbows at the top
#6: Kettlebell Swings
The great thing about utilising kettlebells is that it’s a compound movement, which means you’re using your entire body (just as well, if it’s been a summer of decadent excess). You’ll work every muscle, and target every area; so you should leave feeling stronger, healthier and immensely productive.
- Stand with your legs a little wider than shoulder width apart, with a kettlebell between your feet.
- Hinge at the hips and a little at the knees, grasp the kettlebell with both hands, and lift it a little off the floor by extending your hips.
- Inhale as you slowly swing the kettlebell backward and up between your legs.
- As the kettlebell starts to swing forward, forcefully extend your hips and knees to swing the kettlebell up in front of you. At the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes.
- As the kettlebell swings back down, hinge at the hips and a little at the knees and guide the kettlebell between your legs.