Sara Picken-Brown, ‘THE FIGURE GENIE’ is a U.K based Nutrition & Fitness expert. A former classically trained professional ballerina her career has twisted and turned from dance to a professional Figure Athlete career spanning a decade. Her online nutrition programs, 1-on-1 bespoke Coaching and Rejuvenation Retreats have helped thousands of women love their bodies and live inspired healthy lives.

Top 20 Fitness Tips For a Better Body in 2018

Tired of doing the same old routine at the gym? Getting nowhere fast with your current plan and need a bit of inspiration? Here are my twenty fitness tips honed over 20 years of coaching and competing to inspire your next session and go from marginal to magnificent?

Include some or all  in your planning to accelerate results and give you a more effective overall workout, increase your strength and fitness gains.

Ready to get fired up for the year ahead?

Remember, training smarter not harder is the key, maximise your output, keep workouts short, sharp and intense and you will stay injury free as well as have the time and energy to live a fuller life away from the gym.

  1. Try to mix weights and cardio work in 1 workout. I really like the combination of a weights set (squats with overhead press for example with intervals of skipping, rower or sprints). Your workouts become more effective, you manage time better, work varied energy systems to get faster and stronger results. This is really training smarter not just harder.
  2. Ditch machine weights in favour of free weights. This will activate your stabilisers and core more, you will build greater strength and the muscle fibre activation will be greater.
  3. Do ‘unilateral’ exercises; 1 side of the body at a time for core activation and improving balance, posture and muscle fibre recruitment. Plus any imbalances between left and right side f the body can be identified and improved.
  4. Always ensure you ‘warmup’ before workouts and ‘stretch’ after to avoid injury. Getting your core temperature up and blood flowing to working muscles is important to do before adding load. Matching your movement patterns in the warmup, to the work capacity of the workout is a great way to maximise lifting outputs. Remember: Never stretch before your workouts as this can promote injury and promote tissue strains and tearing.
  5. Invest in a good myotherapist and commit to seeing them about once a month. What is a myotherapy you ask? It is a form of body care that focuses on soft tissue rehabilitation and management. Modalities used in treatments range from dry needling, deep tissue, PNF stretching to align skeletal structures, prevent injury and correcting any postural issues that are pre-existing or may creep in over time. Dry needling is also very effective in pain management.
  6. Always eat a little something before a workout. This will spark plug the muscle to fire more effectively and also accelerate metabolic rate in the cells i.e.: burn more fat during and post exercise.
  7. Work more functionally for injury prevention, increased strength and cardio gains and better overall mobility. That means stop doing ineffective bodybuilding style 1 joint movement exercises. Stick to multi-joint movements and make sure you include twists, grounding and overhead load baring work.
  8. Increase overall body awareness; don’t just train what you can see in the mirror, remember your ‘posterior chain’ all the muscles and movement from the base of your head, along your spine, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, calves and into your feet. Your posterior chain is critical to not only looking good but also having a healthy and pain free body.
  9. Don’t neglect your feet. Correct footwear is vitally important to results and injury prevention. Wear the best option for the discipline you are undertaking; trail running, gym, hiking, cycling all have their specific footwear requirements and for good reason. Pay attention to your feet, your results will improve considerably.
  10. Hip and Shoulder mobility is critical. These are the 2 main areas that cause the biggest issues as we age and as we move less. Range of motion and flexibility will keep these areas strong and supple and improve your system overall. If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day then stretching the chest and shoulder girdle and doing some squats will keep these important joints healthy and counteract the negative effects of being desk bound.
  11. Train your nervous system not just the muscles. Your body is a labyrinth of super highways sending and receiving critical information about the internal and external worlds you move in. Your muscles only respond to the messages received along these superhighways, so it makes sense to focus on the health of the nervous system to get best results in the muscle tissue, greater fat burning and stronger movement performance. By training for maximal muscle fibre recruitment and stretching the fascia (connective tissue throughout the body) you promote efficient signalling and an overall healthier system.
  12. Have fun with creating your own Routine within Routines. Being consistent and having a training and nutrition routine is vial to your overall fitness success. It is also important to mix things up within your routines. This will keep your head engaged and you motivated over time, as well as keeping your body fresh for the workloads you perform. Plus its fun to mix things up. Don’t get bored, boredom kills your mojo.
  13. Cycle macros (carbs, fats, proteins) and calories for best fat loss results. Personally I am not one for the ‘cheat meal’ concept, I have been eating to the SPBFitness Method for 20 years with consistent and excellent results and advise my clients to do the same Method. Cycle higher calorie and lower calorie days, and cycle carbs through the week, keeping nutrient intake and choices consistently whole food and unprocessed so the liver gets the best chance to burn fat efficiently.
  14. Suffer in Silence– a mantra used in the special forces and for good reason. You get what you focus on, so if you only focus on the pain, workouts become torturous and devastatingly long. Instead, focus on what the pain means- getting stronger, getting leaner, getting fitter, getting closer to your goal rep by rep. You build a stronger neurological pattern for physical strength and build resilience emotionally too.
  15. Keep movement dynamic and rhythmical. Slow and controlled on the ‘eccentric phase’ and explosive on the ‘concentric phase’. What does that actually mean? Basically, all push movements should be explosive and all return movements should be controlled. A pushup is controlled on the way down and then explosive on the pushup.
  16. Breath more and burn more fat. Oxygen is a critical requirement to the fat burning process, so deep strong breaths help to keep your system calm when training under effort and will accelerate your fat burning during and post exercise also.
  17. Lift consistently heavier to get stronger. By writing down your workouts and loads you will always stay accountable and striving for that little bit more.
  18. Lift weights to get ‘cardio fit’. You will burn more fat and improve your cardiovascular fitness by lifting weights functionally and with minimal rest between sets. Wear a heart rate monitor (#wahoofitness is my personal favourite in HR monitors)  to keep your zones on target and in check.
  19. Ditch the treadmill and get outside for your runs. Difficult in the depths of winter,yes , but for anyone that has suffered knee pain from running, this issue can be made worse by treadmills. Treadmill runs can cause tightness through the ITB and patella tracking issues as well as increasing shock loading through the spine. So avoid these issue by getting outside and getting that fresh crisp air into you.
  20. Include plyometric exercises (box jumps, pop squats, burpees) into workouts to increase strength, cardio output and core workload.

Try all or just a few of these tips and see how your enjoyment and results improve. Sign up to receive your FREE sample workout program now.


*Sara Picken-Brown offers online training, nutrition programs. SKYPE consultations and training sessions. Corporate fitness programs and 1-on-1 Personal Training are also available in London (Old Street and also Fulham/Parsons Green).

For more information on how you can get better results from your 2018 fitness focus with your enquiry.

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