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The Jet Lag Workout | How to beat the post-flight flop

Struggling with time-zone hopping? Ben Camara from No1 Fitness reveals the fitness secrets to being flight fit

If you’ve taken an international flight, especially passing through several time zones, you will probably have been victim to the dreaded feeling of jet lag. Symptoms can include fatigue, nauseousness, joint aching, insomnia, disorientation and just a general yucky feeling.

Science will tell us that we think jet lag originates in the region of our brain that regulates temperature, our circadian rhythms (body's inner clock), sleep and other functions the hypothalamus. The brain is having to battle between regulating all the new surroundings such as environment, daily sunlight and recovery – in essence it’s your body clock trying to match the outer timings.

Here at No1 Fitness we specialise in keeping the City slicker and high exec fit and healthy, which doesn’t just mean body! In this article you will find the key main exercises and movements needed to get your body and mind in gear to keep performance at work at it’s highest.

1) Warm Up – The Seated Crab

After a long flight your body will have had to adapt not only to the environment of being on a flight such as hydration, temperature and nutrition but also the change in time zone and environment in your new destination. The first thing I’d have a client do is slowly lower to the floor and switch on their sympathetic nervous system through breathing and moving – your 'fight or flight' response. Mentally you’ll be drained and the act of concentrating your breathing for just three minutes will get your mind clear and focused for not only the workout but the day of meetings ahead.

Breath normally for 20 seconds and start to raise your hips off the floor as you pant slightly quicker for 20 seconds. By doing this your oxygen blood profile will go up as we introduce more oxygen through breather slightly quicker.

2) Warm Up – High Plank

Next position is the high plank (arms straight). In this position we will be focusing on Isometric contractions for only 20 seconds at a time. Generally speaking your abdominals will switch off after holding a still plank for more than ten seconds as the body tries to conserve energy, so we will be drawing our heart towards us to really open up that posterior back line in a hollow position. By doing so our whole powerhouse of muscles than run down the back of the body will be switched on and fine tuned for the day. Relax back to the floor after 20 seconds of work.

3) Warm Up – Hip Stretch into Thoracic Rotation

We need to start moving now but we don't want to be jumping up and down after being sat down for a long time. This next position is a hip-opening movement that is a go-to in the majority of my workouts with clients. Healthy hips are key to good joint motion so making sure our hips are mobilised and ready for the day ahead is key.

Start in high plank position and step forward. In this position rotate and start to open up your upper back moving through the final part of the movement.

4) Exercise One – Bodyweight Squat, 12 reps

The classic bodyweight squat is and always will be a fantastic exercise for so many reasons.

We are using it as the first of three exercises before a cardio burst to ensure we hit the legs in the right way adding intensity.

5) Exercise Two – Hindu Push Up, 12 reps

Fantastic for opening up the chest and shoulders and getting all of the upper body working the Hindu Push up is next on the agenda. Being sat and slouched on a plane for hours is not a good thing for posture or then breathing. By opening up the shoulders and chest not only will you be standing up taller you will also be creating more space for the spine to move around your back.

6) Exercise Three – TRX Row or Chin Up, 12 reps

The chin up is a great testament to how strong relatively you are. What this means is can you move your body through space in a controlled and ‘strong’ manner. By engaging your large back muscles this is how we are going to engage and switch on that whole posterior chain after the flight.

7) 90 Seconds Cardio

Striding on a treadmill is always one I like to choose first. We have the self powering Skill mill’s here in the City so it’s a great way for clients to find a pace to get up to and then hold for the 90 seconds. Alternatively skipping is also great to get the full body going..

8) Warm Down: Downward Facing Dog & Kneeling Prisoner

This session is not meant to beast you until you’re face down and puking, it’s specifically designed to work you just enough to switch on your nerves, muscles, facial lines and joints while also ensuring your heart and blood flow have had a good pump. Recovering to get your mind right for the day is now the key before leaving the gym.

Stay in downward facing dog for a minute and concentrate on our breathing. Five seconds in and ten seconds out for 60 seconds will help to get the body calm again to start your meetings the right way. Repeat this for kneeling prisoner.

9) Post-session – Cold Shower

Ensure you change up the temperature of your shower from cold to hot when first stepping into the shower. Part of having jet leg is your bodies acclimatisation to the bodies core temperature and the outside environment. By adding in just for a few minutes some cold and hot you’re body will again start to regulate to keep you at the most comfortable temperature.

10) Post-session – Fuel Up

The final thing I ensure a client does after finishing the session is refuel the right way. We have protein machines in house as No1 Fitness so we can ensure the client is having a good amount of the right nutrients when finishing their ‘Jet Lag workout’. If you’re trying this for yourself ensure that you get a good meal in after finishing, however do try to stay as close to normal eating times as possible.

Ben Camara is a fully qualified personal trainer and co founder of No1 Fitness with studios in the City of London and Tower Bridge. For more information, see no1fitness.co.uk

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