Becoming a world champion takes extreme discipline and a fitness routine that will keep you fit and in shape to compete against the world’s best.
We had a chat with rowing world champion and two time Olympian Kirsten McCann (who just got back from the World Rowing Championships in Austria) to find out what her ultimate workouts are for strength.
“In terms of strength, I try to push myself out of my comfort zones and mix the exercise up,” McCann says. “I feel that if I get too comfortable doing an exercise, then my body starts adapting to the exercise and I reap fewer benefits.”
McCann’s advice for when it feels like you just can’t continue with the workout because it’s too difficult is to focus on your motivation!
“When I do a workout, I sometimes think of how I’m burning fat so that I can have a treat (Nutella flapjacks) or I imagine my body transforming right at that moment,” McCann says.
“Sometimes I also just push through looking forward to that feeling of accomplishment I’m going to have after the workout – this is always the best feeling in the world and never gets old!”
McCann shares her top five core strength workouts.
1/ Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell swings are an underrated total body exercise that mainly target your core, hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders.
HOW TO DO IT: Kettlebell swings
With your kettlebell on the floor in front of you, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend down (with a slight bend in your knee and keeping your back straight) and grab the kettlebell with both of your hands. Proceed to hike the kettlebell back and up between your legs and quickly stand up straight while swinging the kettlebell forward.
Swing it up to eye level and bring the kettlebell back down and up and repeat the movement. As soon as you’ve finished a set, drop the kettlebell back on the ground in front of you. Rest. Repeat.
2/ Box jumps
Box jumps are great for burning calories and building lower body strength. You can adjust the intensity of the workout by changing the height of your box. You don’t always have to have a box to do this workout – you can do it on any raised surface.
HOW TO DO IT: Box jumps
Stand in front of a solid box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hinging your hips back with a straight back and engaged core, swing your arms forward and jump up onto the box and land softly with both your feet. Stand up on the box and carefully step back to the ground. Repeat.
The pull-up is an upper body strength exercise that works your biceps, upper back and forearms. If you want strong arms and a toned back – pull-ups are a must!
HOW TO DO IT: Pull-ups
In a standing position, grab the pull-up bar (handgrip shoulder-width apart) with your palms facing downward. With your legs of the floor and straight arms – hang on to the pull-up bar. Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows towards the ground and go all the way up until your chin goes above the bar. Lower yourself until your arms are straight again and repeat.
4/ Split squats
A regular squat works your quads, glutes and hamstrings – and these are the same muscles that a split squat works. The defining difference is the single-leg foundation of the split squat that places more tension on the core and boosts your overall functional strength.
HOW TO DI IT: Split squat
Start in a standing position and proceed to take a long step forward (as though you are doing a lunge) and raise the heel of your back foot. Then lower your back leg slowly until your back knee is almost touching the floor. Make sure to keep your upper body in an upright position and your back straight. Push back up and alternate legs.
Kirsten’s Latest Fitness Adventure?
Kirsten will be taking part in the upcoming Toyota Fortuner 4×4 Challenge 2019 alongside Takkies.
You reckon you can keep up with Kirsten? She needs a partner to take on the Toyota Fortuner Challenge… and it could be you! There are some serious prizes up for grabs (the four finalists each win a Specialized Epic Comp mountain bike valued at R49 000, a Garmin Fenix 5 Multisport GPS watch worth over R14 000, plus Salomon active gear). Go on, enter here. We dare you!