If you're training for a half-marathon, Cycletta ride or you're just trying to get fit, you know that it's not exactly easy. Between sore muscles, motivation issues and the constant washing of gym kit, training and working out on a regular basis is hard work - but the pay off is priceless.
There are a lot of supplements, gadgets and accessories out there that can help make your training easier, no matter which form of exercise you're participating in. Here are a few of my favourite products and fitness helpers that I have purchased and personally use on a regular basis!
1. Garmin Edge 500 & Connect
I use a Garmin Edge 500 when I cycle, and the Garmin Fit App to track the rest of my activities, like running, walking or even indoor cycling. All of my actives are then sent to the Garmin Connect website where I can see all of the information from my ride, including a map of where I cycled.
Even better, because I also use the Edge 500's heart rate monitor and added the speed/cadence sensors to my bike, I can then see on Garmin Connect what my speed and heart rate were like on different parts of my ride.
There's also the Garmin ANT+ adapter for your iPhone which I highly recommend. This allows you to use your heart rate monitor, foot pod and speed/cadence sensor with the Garmin Fit app if you're not using a device like the Edge 500.
2. Deep Heat
If you've ever done a hardcore personal training session or have strained your muscles during a training run, you know how much it can hurt! Rather than popping pills and hobbling around the house, I've found that using Deep Heat, Deep Freeze and Deep Relief cream and gels can really help. (Especially if you're having a hard time even sitting down on the toilet. Just me?)
Deep Heat Rub is a topical rub that helps to stimulate circulation, oxygenate muscles, relax stiffness and help relieve pain. I've found this is best for general soreness after working out.
Deep Freeze uses cold analgesia to take advantage of the "gateway" or "gate control" pain relief principle where cold signals can block out or reduce pain signals along the nervous system. In my experience this is best if you have proper muscle strain or have an injury that would normally hold an ice-pack on.
Deep Relief is a topical pain relief gel that uses ibuprofen and levomenthol. Deep Relief acts on both inflammation and interrupts pain signals, giving you a pain relieving cold sensation. I used this while training when the pain was beyond the usual muscle stiffness and needed some serious attention.
While it looks a bit confusing, this piece of fitness equipment is kind of amazing. Created by Joanna Kabanni, the AB-MXR is a weighted device that helps work your abdominal muscles whilst supporting the head, neck and top of the spine. It can also be used for hundreds of other exercises including triceps pushes, two hand curls and lift and twists.
I tried an AB-MXR class, and I can tell you it definitely helps give you a total-core work-out. (I may or may not have been able to move for a few days afterwards...) This is a great way to increase your work-outs at home and help add to your stretches on rest days. No gym required!
4. Nike's C72 Legend Bag
It might seem a bit frivolous to claim that a gym bag can really help with your work-outs, but having a quality gym bag has seriously helped me. I bought the Nike C72 Legend gym bag and it's made organising my training and balancing all of my personal items so much easier.
On the outside, it's made from water resistant polyester so I don't need to worry about it getting rained on, and has an adjustable and detachable shoulder strap. Inside it has a dual-zippered main compartment, an interior mesh pocket, a separate shoe compartment, and a small valuables pocket. But, even better, it has a laptop compartment. I know, right?
This means I can bring my laptop, make-up and gym kit with me without having to balance three different bags at the same time. This is the best gym bag I've ever owned!
5. For Goodness Shakes
Protein shakes and powders are usually something associated with overly muscly men or teenage boys trying to make the football team. I was always dubious about them as I didn't quite understand why they helped your body recover, but I am in love with For Goodness Shakes.
They're fantastic because they really are procovery, and are packed full of supplements and nutrition you need to recover from a hardcore workout. I use them after spin class and after I go for a cycle outdoors and trust me, you can really tell the difference if you don't take one. These are amazing. The fresh, milk-based shakes you can buy at Tesco or Sainsburys are great to keep at home, but I purchased a couple boxes of the powder sachets from Wiggle.co.uk and always keep at least three packets in my gym bag. Just don't forget to wash out your water bottle when you get home or things will get a little wiffy.