Common Exercise Answers Every Woman Should Know

I’ll start by saying that the title of this is a little misleading as this blog applies to everyone, both male and female. I have titled it as such as these are the questions I get mainly from women.

Whilst the internet is a great way to connect with people, there is also a mass of mis-information out there, especially when it comes to health and fitness for females. So to help you out a bit, here are some answers to common questions I get asked.


Won’t I get bulky from lifting weights? This is one of the most common questions I hear when it comes to training women. They don’t want to get bulky so shy away from lifting weights.

Answer: I can assure you that lifting weights alone will not make you bulky. You will only gain bulk if you lift heavy weights and eat a calorie surplus (eat more than you burn off). In fact, lifting weights will actually help you to lose weight and look better. Whilst lifting weights will mean you will put on muscle, it will be lean muscle that will make you look slim and toned. Muscle also burns more calories, so the more lean muscle you have, the more efficient your body will be at burning fat. Which actually means you can eat more and not store fat. Sound good?


Can you reduce fat from certain areas of your body? There are a lot of promises out there on how to reduce fat only from a particular area of the body. However, you can’t just focus on one area of the body and reduce fat there. The stomach is the most common one you see, where people believe a million sit-ups will result in a six pack.

Answer: In order to reduce your body-fat you need to do the right exercise and eat a balanced healthy diet. If you want to see your abs, you need to burn fat from your entire body. Exercising a body part will help to build lean muscle in that area, you need to burn fat from your entire body to see the muscles underneath.


I only need to do cardio exercises to lose weight? This is another very common myth so many people fall into. They spend hours of running or doing spin classes in the hope of losing weight.

Answer: Cardio has been said to burn more calories in that moment of exercise, which is why people see it as an effective tool to use for weight loss. Whilst cardio is extremely good for you, for the best result you need to incorporate both weights and cardio together. That’s because in order to burn fat, you to have to build lean muscle, which means you need to incorporate resistance/strength training into your exercise routine. Remember, lifting weights is not going to get you bulky.


As long as I exercise it doesn’t matter what I eat? I see a lot of people take on the mentality of “well I did a hard workout, so I can eat whatever I want”. Whilst I promote having a balanced lifestyle and allowing for eating the foods you want in moderation, eating whatever you want all the time, just because you did some exercise, is not going to get you results.

Answer: The biggest component to losing weight is actually nutrition. As you may have heard before, ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. Whilst they aren’t solely made in the kitchen, what you eat has a major impact on the results you will get. Losing weight is a basic equation; burn more calories than you consume. If, including your exercise, you are using 2,500 calories a day but you are eating 3,000 calories you will gain weight. If you are using 2,500 calories a day but only eating 2,000 calories, you will lose weight. My recommendations are to exercise and eat a well-balanced, whole-food diet, that will give you energy to sustain you throughout your day.


Can I go on a diet to lose the weight I want to and get my dream body? The ‘diet’ world has been using the same message for years now and that is in order to lose weight you must severely restrict the foods you eat. We’ve all heard of the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’ and others that are similar. Well, yes, you will lose weight quickly but it will not be sustainable and is likely to result in further weight gain after you ditch the diet.

Answer: To get the body you want you need to eat healthy whole foods. Whilst it’s important to not overeat, obsessing about calorie control and majorly restricting them only leads to an unhealthy relationship with food. The best thing to do is aim to eat the majority of your daily foods that are not processed or packaged. Still have your favourite snacks in moderation, as by doing this you will not feel deprived and that way you are less likely to binge on foods that most ‘diets’ would ban.


Remember, we are trying to build a sustainable healthy lifestyle. A strong body, built with a varied exercise routine, coupled with good sustainable nutrition means that you will look and feel better than you ever have before.


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What is the Best Training Plan For You?

If you type ‘running training plans’ into a search engine, you will be greeted by pages of different plans. How do you choose which one to follow? Which one is going to be the best one for you? Are you going to choose a high-mileage plan, or one that gets you running less miles but at a more intense pace?


Most of the plans you will find in the search engines have been designed to get results from the majority of people that follow them. If you are able to pick the right plan for your ability and you can follow the plan, then you are more than likely to improve. However, what happens if the plan doesn’t fit in with your life?


This is where most of the online plans fall down; real life gets in the way of running. It always has done; it always will do. Family, friends, work; they all are higher up in the pecking order than running (and rightly so) meaning that if something comes up, your run will be changed or ditched. So what do you do next? Do you change the run, just forget it, or play catch up and run further or faster the following day?


The next big stumbling block with online training plans is what happens if you get ill or injured? The plans do not have any alternatives if the worst happens and you have to take time out due to illness or injury. Do you jump back in on the day you feel able to run again? Do you go back to the day you last ran and try to play catch up?


There are so many variables during the standard 12-16 weeks of a marathon training plan, and those variables still apply even if you are training to run a faster 10k or if you are just starting off and you want to run your first 5k. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to run every run on your training plan.


So this is where I can help you. I’m not going to beat around the bush, from now on this is me blatantly advertising my services. I have written my own training plans since 2011 and I’ve seen my marathon time reduce from 3:04 to 2:44 and my shorter race distances improve as well. I have also suffered fewer injuries, which mean I train more consistently, which in turns improves my fitness. It is a circle I am pleased I have got into.


Following an initial consultation meeting (either face to face, telephone or via email) I will write a training plan that is based around the days and times you are able to run and what you want to achieve (realistic goals only please; I cannot turn you into a 2:04 marathon runner). Depending on your budget, I can check in with you on a daily, weekly or monthly basis in order to make any changes necessary to your plan if your lifestyle has changed, or you have suffered illness or injury.

This means that you always know what runs you should be doing and when. Your plan will keep you working hard and improving, but will also keep you sensible when first starting, or if you are ill or injured. There are also options for me to keep you company on the runs that you dislike the most (if you are within the Leicestershire area).


All of the information on my personalised training plans can be found here and if you want anything that is not on my website then please let me know and I will work out how I can help you.


Remember, the best running plan for you is one that you will stick to. It is that simple; if it fits around your life and you can follow it consistently you will improve.


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How to Get and Stay Motivated

I’m sure you already have goals you want to achieve. I previously wrote about setting yourself goals being a key ingredient to success. However, just as goals are important, it’s also extremely important to stay motivated when working towards them. So many people start their journey with these great intentions to make some serious changes and then they hit some challenges, lose momentum and don’t reach to where they want to go. So to help you stay on track I thought I’d share a few things with you that help me stay motivated and working towards my goals.


Have a clear picture of what you want – Firstly, have a clear picture of your goal. It’s nearly impossible to achieve something if you don’t really know what it is you actually want. Write down the specifics of what you want and the more detailed you can be the better. Then plan what you’re going to do to reach your goal(s) and write it down. When you have a clear picture in your head of what you want and what you are going to do to get there, it will be easier to stay on track when things get difficult. And they will get difficult, so be prepared. I am used to writing plans for people to help make their goals achievable. Please contact me if you need help.


Write down your ‘why?’ – The best way to stay motivated is to remember your ‘why?’. Your goal may be to lose weight, get fitter or stronger, but ‘why?’ it is important to you is a key to success. If you explore deeper into that ‘why?‘ then you will probably find that whilst losing weight or getting fitter is the aim, you will actually have a deeper reasoning behind it. You may want to feel more confident or perhaps it’s so you can get your health back and have more energy to be around your family. Making sure you know your ‘why?’ is so important and is going to be the key to getting you through the tough times.


Get organised – If you want to stay on track towards your goals then you need to get good at being organised. Prepare your meals in advance so there’s no chance of slipping up. If you know you’re going somewhere where there’s no healthy food then prepare healthy food to take with you (work, etc). It might seem boring and like you’re “missing out” but people will be asking you what you eat soon. When eating in restaurants, go online and check the menu so that you can plan your choices in advance and don’t make snap decisions when you arrive. Work out what days and times you are going to exercise. Fit ‘healthy eating and exercise’ into your life; plan a way to make it work and stick to it.


Find other motivators – Find photos of a body that is similar to your shape and close to what you want for yourself (make it realistic). Every time you feel unmotivated look at the photos and remind yourself what you want and again ‘why?’. Remember that you’re not trying to look like the people in these pictures; you are using their success as motivation for you to become YOUR best self. Create yourself a little vision board (on paper or your phone) of something you can look at on a daily basis to remind yourself of those goals. Before reaching for that chocolate bar, or skipping out of your exercise session, go take a look at your board and you’ll be straight back on track.


It’s okay to treat yourself – Allow yourself some treats, plan for them and have them without any guilt or regrets. Throughout the week if there is something in particular that you keep craving then tell yourself that you can have it, in moderation. I have two squares of dark chocolate most evenings as I love chocolate and it is a way of me stopping the cravings that come from denying yourself food. By overly restricting yourself you are bound to binge at some point, which will lead to the negative thoughts of ‘failing’.


Motivation is a daily habit – Staying motivated is a day-to-day thing. You don’t just become motivated and then you are motivated forever. You have to work on it every day. It’s the same with everything in life. If you want to change something that you’re unhappy with, you have to make an effort every day. You’re re-programming yourself to think and act differently to how you were previously. It takes time and the beginning is always the hardest. If you keep at it, it will get easier every day and eventually it will become part of who you are.


Remember when you are aiming to make big changes in your life, things are going to get tough and you will hit bumps along the road to success. The important thing is not let those things deter you from the bigger picture. The good news is, if you are consistent (key word) you will never have to go back to your starting place ever again. Once you know what it feels like you won’t want to stop. Trust the process and stick at it. You can, and will, do this.


If you are making some changes in your life, whether big or small, then make sure you join me on Facebook (MH Health and Fitness) and Twitter (@MHHealthandFit) and let me know what they are.


Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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How to Get Fit and Healthy Without A Gym Membership

Let me tell you a little secret; if you want to get fit and healthy, or lose weight, you don’t actually need to go to the gym. So many people use the excuse of not wanting to sign up to a gym as a way of them not being able to do exercise. This then stops them getting fitter or losing the weight they want to.


Getting fit and healthy should be fun and something you want to do, especially if you want to make long lasting changes. So if you are one of those people who can’t stand the thought of stepping foot in a gym then here are some ideas to get in shape without a gym membership.


Get outdoors Exercising outdoors is fun and there are plenty of options to choose from. Running is great way to stay in shape, get the heart rate up and is a great stress relief. If you run then try and mix it up with interval training and hill sprints to burn more calories. If running isn’t your thing, then head into the garden and do some body weight outdoor workouts. My training sessions are great if you want to be given that extra push in your workouts, and I can tailor sessions from individuals, up to four people. Being outdoors when exercising really energises you, so that’s another bonus.


Do something at home Most of the workouts I get my clients to do can actually be replicated at home. Most use little or no equipment and can be completed with just your own bodyweight. That way you don’t need to be paying to see me every day of the week as by signing up to a block of sessions you will also get a programme of exercises to take away with you. This allows you to work out at home in front of the TV or while listening to your favourite music.


Make it social If you find you aren’t motivated exercising on your own, commit to something with a friend, or group of friends. If you have nobody who’s keen, let me know and I will fit you into a session with others, helping you to make new friends. You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is achieving fitness goals with other people similar to you, where you can get support and motivate each other. You may end up making lifelong friends out of it.


Get active daily Being active isn’t just about going out there and exercising. Look at ways you can incorporate more activity into your daily routine. Perhaps you could start walking to work, or get off a couple of stops earlier on your bus and walk the rest. Instead of driving to the local shops, walk. Rather than taking a lift or escalator use the stairs. Also try to get out of work at lunchtime for a quick walk; this also helps to clear your mind.

When you start making more activities like this a habit then you make being active part of your daily activity. This helps burn more calories during the day and keeps your fitness levels up.


Starting something new is always hard, but once you start feeling the benefits it becomes easy. It’s the snowball effect; the better you feel, the more active you will do and then you get even more fitter and healthier. So go out there, get out of your comfort zone, do something positive for yourself, find some fun and start getting active today.


Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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online personal trainer

How Can a Running Buddy Help You?

There are three ways a Running Buddy can help you; whether you are new to running, looking to improve your speed or endurance, or you just want to explore new routes.

For new runners, the first few runs can be the hardest, both physically and mentally. Not knowing what is a sensible pace to run at, can often mean starting too fast and then having to stop quite quickly. This then affects your enjoyment and can often lead to people giving up within the first few runs as it is ‘too hard’.

Having me run with you, or run/walk for the first few sessions, I can keep you at a pace that means that you will be able to go further than you would if you were to go out alone. This will then build your knowledge and confidence so that you can get out alone and progress without the fear of going off too fast and having to stop at the end of the road.

Most people know how to get fitter and faster; it is just when it comes down to doing that interval session or hard tempo run, you just cannot muster the motivation to do it alone. Or, like a lot of runners that train alone, you will do the session but you know you are not quite pushing hard enough. Sound familiar? This is where I can help you with my Running Buddy sessions.

I will keep you company through those hard runs that you do not like doing alone, in order for you to hit your required paces, improving your speed and endurance. I will run alongside you at your required pace, providing the motivation and company for you to get the session done to its full potential.

Alternatively, now that summer is here, would you like to be able to run in areas where you would not feel safe running on your own? I can run with you on routes that you wouldn’t usually do alone due to safety concerns (canal towpaths, fields, evening runs, etc) or I can guide you on new routes or in areas you haven’t ran before.

Running Buddy sessions are available to runners of all abilities, whether it is for the first few runs you have ever done, or if you are a good club runner looking to improve.

With all block bookings of Running Buddy sessions, you will also get a personalised training plan (if you want one) so that you can continue to exercise and improve which I am not with you. You will also get a spreadsheet of exercises that benefit runners and help to reduce injury.

So, if you need that little bit of extra motivation or help with your running, please get in touch.


Do you want a personalised training plan or a Running Buddy?

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Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

Why Resistance Training is Good For Fat Loss

As a Personal Trainer, resistance training is the part of weight-loss that I have to explain to people the most. Many people believe that eating less and increasing cardio exercising is the only way to lose weight. This is only half right.

Eating less, or ‘improving your nutritional habits’ as I prefer to say, is certainly beneficial to losing weight. Burning calories doing cardio training is also very important and I’m not telling anyone to neglect this. In fact, anyone who knows me will know how much I love cardio exercising. However, this is only part of the weight-loss story (and more importantly fat loss).

Resistance training should always be an important part of your exercise programme but is the one that often gets overlooked. The reason for this? The benefits of eating healthily and burning calories through cardio training are often published in the media, but resistance training is not so readily understood or written about.

So, if you are new to the concept of resistance training, it is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against a resistance. This can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, or your own body weight as the resistance. It is also known as weight-training.

This, over time will increase the mass of any given muscle. This allows you to influence your metabolic rate. Many people are aware of metabolic rate and have some understanding of what it means, but may not truly understand what it refers to and how it is such a key factor in weight-loss training.

It’s a relatively easy concept to understand. Your metabolic rate is the level at which you burn calories. The good news, you can improve your metabolic rate so that you burn calories more efficiently. How? Resistance training, of course.

As previously mentioned, resistance training builds lean muscle mass, (importantly, we’re talking muscle mass, not muscle size), i.e. dense, lean muscle. Don’t panic, you are not going to bulk up as you need to eat more calories than you burn. So why build muscle mass? Simple, because muscle burns more calories than fat. Therefore, the more muscle we have the better our metabolic rate and thus the more calories we are burning.

The good news doesn’t end there. Muscles don’t just burn calories when you’re training; calories are being burnt 24 hours a day, seven days a week; so every bit of muscle gained increases the rate at which you’re burning calories around the clock!

Therefore, the conclusion is simple, if you want to lose weight, you need to improve your eating habits, do your cardio training, but also make yourself a more efficient calorie burning machine by incorporating resistance training into your training programme.

All of my Personal Training programmes include resistance training, as do all of my online training plans. My Running Buddy sessions and running training plans also include resistance exercises to make you stronger and leaner.

Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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Should I Do a Cool-Down After a Run & Why Do I Feel Dizzy After Racing?

The short answer to both of these questions is yes, you should do a cool-down. Cooling down after a hard session, race or realistically, any exercise, helps with the recovery process. It allows your body to get back to, or certainly closer to, it’s normal resting state more gradually instead of finishing quickly and then suddenly stopping. This will keep the blood circulating with the lower intensity finish and help to clear the metabolic waste products of exercise (lactic acid, etc). It also prevents the pooling of blood in the legs because your blood pressure is allowed to return back to normal and your veins can constrict.

Have you ever finished a race really fast, stopped after the finish line and suddenly felt dizzy? This is due to the sudden lack of muscle action when you stop suddenly. This is why keeping walking, or a slow jog is more beneficial and will help the blood return to the heart.

Here’s the science:

As you run, blood vessels dilate, muscles contract and the heart pumps faster in order to meet the energy demand of running. In addition to providing movement, these muscle contractions also serve to pump blood back to the heart, assisting with the venous return of blood flow. This pumping cycle helps meet the increased oxygen demand running requires. 

 When you cross the finish line and stop, the heart loses the pumping assistance of these muscles. With blood vessels dilated and no return pumping action, blood quickly pools in your extremities, causing your blood pressure to drop.

 Also, your race effort typically means a faster run pace than a training run, and this increased intensity means a higher heart rate and an increase in sweating. Race effort also may mean a lower fluid intake during the race as you speed through water stations, pushing for a PB. This minimal fluid intake combined with heavy sweating results in lower blood volume, which means lower blood pressure.

 It’s best to keep moving after crossing the finish line. Keep walking if possible, and, if not, pick up your legs like you are marching on the spot for several minutes. You can also contract your upper-body muscles by clenching your fists, or pressing the palms of your hands together.

Pick up water and a sports drink if possible at the finish and start drinking immediately to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Also, wearing compression socks can assist with venous return to the heart, so you may want to consider giving them a try, even if you put them on after you finish.

 If you do feel faint or dizzy, lie down immediately and elevate your legs. This helps the blood flow back towards your heart.


In my running training plans I always advocate at least half a mile (usually a mile or more) of easier intensity running to finish a session. In my one-to-one or group training sessions I will always incorporate a cooldown to ensure everyone leaves the session feeling great. All sessions also finish with some stretching.

Not only will this stave off blood-pooling, it will also make you feel better immediately (you don’t want to be hobbling around all day) but it will also help to stave off the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). You know; the stiffness that appears the next morning and lasts for the following two to three days.

Remember, finish a training session with the next one in mind. Preparation for the next session always begins towards the end of the current one. Keep this in mind and you will be able to train more consistently, meaning you will get fitter, faster and healthier quicker than if you have to stop exercising while you recover from your last workout.



Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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How to Start Running

Running; almost anyone can do it and at this time of year is the perfect time to start.

The weather is getting better (in general), it is free once you have the right pair of trainers and you can do it virtually anywhere. What could be better? Running is excellent for improving your mental wellbeing and is great for your physical health.

While experienced runners are happy to go out and run, people new to running can find their first few runs quite intimidating and stressful. It doesn’t need to be that way. Follow my tips to help you get out there for the first few times, make it a habit and soon running will feel like second nature.


Slow Down

One of the main reasons people give up within the first couple of weeks of running is that they start too fast. Whatever running ability you have, if you start too fast you will not be able to sustain it, it starts to hurt and you have to slow down or stop. This doesn’t mean you are a bad runner; it just means you need to slow down.

Start with walking as a warm-up, then progress to a pace that is too fast to walk but where you can still hold a conversation, or, if you are alone sing to yourself.


Walk before you have to

If you start too quickly you will have to stop and walk. You may then find it a struggle to get going again. The best way to do it is to have a plan in mind before you start ( is a good plan for beginners to follow). Aim to run for 60 seconds and then walk for 60-90 seconds to recover during the first week. Think of it as an interval session, much like the sessions the Olympic athletes do in training, just at a slower pace.


Be Patient

Everyone wants to be able to do things straight away. With running, unless you are a freak of nature, you have to start small and build up. Starting off running too fast or going too far can lead to injury, which will then force you to stop. Slowly increase the time you spend running and reduce the time you spend walking and in a few weeks you will be running for the whole duration.


Get kitted out

Unlike most sports, you don’t need loads of expensive kit to go for a run. However, the one piece of kit you do need is a pair of running trainers. It is worth visiting a local running or sports shop that have an expert who will be able to guide you in the right direction. Don’t feel intimidated, with the current boom in people taking up running they are more than used to having new runners asking questions. The rest of your kit is whatever you feel comfortable running in.


Running buddy

As a new runner, those first steps out of the door can feel like a challenge. Try to get a friend to join you for moral support and use it as a good time to have a gossip. Remember that if you can talk while running you are going at a sensible pace.

If you haven’t got a friend that can help you, please get in touch. This is the reason I started my Running Buddy service, to help people who need some moral support, guidance and advice to help them get out running and improve.

Once you are confident in running, think about taking the plunge and joining a local running club. Most clubs have a beginners section and then groups of all abilities. Most clubs have a great social side and everyone is really friendly. We all remember that we were once new to running so people are always happy to provide help, advice and support.

Running with another person, or group, means that you are less likely to quit as you then become accountable (in a good way) to the arrangements you have made. It also helps when there is more than one person wearing lycra!


Social media

The internet is also a great place to find like-minded runners in your area. On Twitter there is an online group called UkRunChat (@ukrunchat or use the hashtag #ukrunchat). There are runners of all abilities happy to provide answers to any questions you have and also to find runners in your area.


Have a goal

Once you are happy that you can now a runner (in my mind there are no joggers – if you are not walking you are running) you can look at setting yourself a goal. One that I would recommend is doing a local parkrun ( These are free timed events taking place every Saturday morning in local parks around the country (and in many other countries around the world). There is no commitment to run; you just print out a barcode, turn up and get your time in an email later that morning. It is not a race; new runners are welcomed each week and there are always people who will run round with you for a chat. You are also guaranteed never to be last as they always have a tail-runner.


So after reading this I hope running now seems less daunting. If you have any ideas yourself that would help, please drop me a comment on Facebook or Twitter (icons at the bottom of the page). If you need any advice, or a plan, tailored to yourself, please drop me a message on Facebook or by email.

Finally, if you see another runner out on the streets, please be sure to smile and say hello; trust me it will brighten their, and your, day.

Happy running!


Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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Can You Tell Lies by Only Using the Truth?

If you thought Coca Cola was bad, wait until you hear about the stuff I saw being sold in bottles in our local shop today:


– It’s one of the primary ingredients in pesticides

– Over consumption can cause excessive sweating and frequent urination

– 100% of people who drink it will die

– It can be chemically synthesised by burning rocket fuel

– All convicted serial killers have admitted to drinking it

– It is also proven to be the leading cause of drowning100% of people who drink it will die

– It can be chemically synthesised by burning rocket fuel

– All convicted serial killers have admitted to drinking it

– It is also proven to be the leading cause of drowning

– It is the major component of acid rain.

– It contributes to the “greenhouse effect”.

– It contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.

– It accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.


Despite the danger, it is often used:

– As an industrial solvent and coolant.

– In nuclear power plants.

– As a fire retardant.

– In the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.

– As an additive in certain “junk-foods” and other food products.


The name of this evil product? Dihydrogen Monoxide or as we know it; Water.

*Thanks to Scott Baptie for posting parts of this on Facebook this morning.

This hoax shot to prominence in 1997 when a 14 year old American student gathered petitions to ban ‘DHMO’ as the basis of his science project, entitled ‘How Gullible Are We?’


The point of this post is don’t always take everything you read, especially in the media where they can only report snippets so skew the information to make it more appealing, and sensationalist, to their readers.

Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

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Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at


Will hill runs make me faster in flat races?

Definitely. Running up, and down, hills is a great way of building leg strength in a dynamic way, meaning less time in the gym not running.

The stronger your legs are the more force you can generate with each stride. Speed requires a fast cadence, which can be improved by running downhill and also requires a good technique, which by be developed by running both uphill and downhill, as you must use your muscles in a more co-ordinated way.

Increased dynamic leg strength will help to make your muscles more resistant to fatigue, and as a result more resistant to injuries.

So there you go, find a hill, run up it, run down it, repeat. Easy!