A delicious vegetarian recipe from Anita Bean

Anita Bean is an award-winning registered nutritionist, health writer, author and champion athlete.

‘You can’t build muscle without meat!’ is the typical reaction I get when I tell people that I’m a vegetarian athlete and competed as a bodybuilder for 10 years – before winning the British Bodybuilding Championships in 1991. Most look at me in disbelief. ‘Surely you need meat to compete?’ No way. My trophy may have gathered a bit of dust over the years, but it is solid proof that you can make it to the top of your sport without it.

In my new book The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook, I explain how a vegetarian diet can help you succeed in your sport, which foods you need to focus on and how you can put a vegetarian diet into practice. I’ve devised more than 100 healthy and delicious recipes, each designed to meet the needs of active people and athletes. They are all packed with nutritious ingredients, and best of all, they are all incredibly easy to make!

Here’s a sneak preview. Bon appetit! 

Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine with Couscous (Serves 2)
Perfect for a mid-week refuelling supper, this mildly spiced Moroccan-inspired tagine is packed with protein, vitamins and fibre. The dried apricots soften as the dish cooks and impart the most wonderful flavour and texture contrast – not to mention lots of beta-carotene and iron. I recommend making it in advance – the flavours blend and improve. You can make a larger quantity and keep the remainder in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.

Ingredients
1 tbsp light olive or rapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½–1 small chilli (optional)
1 red pepper, diced
½ butternut squash, peeled and chopped
½ small aubergine, diced
1 courgette, sliced
½ a 400 g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
½ a 400 g (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150ml (5 fl oz) vegetable stock
75 g (3 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots
A small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
125 g (5 oz) couscous
125 ml (4 fl oz) vegetable stock
125 ml (4 fl oz) water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Method
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the onions and cook gently for 4–5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, spices and chilli and stir for a few moments. Add the vegetables and continue cooking for a few minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, vegetable stock and apricots. Stir and bring to the boil. Cover then simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the fresh coriander.

While the tagine is cooking, put the couscous, stock and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until the liquid has absorbed. Fluff with a fork, serve with the tagine.

Nutrition per serving

• 573 cals • 20 g protein • 11 g fat (1 g saturates)
• 87 g carbs (31 g total sugars) • 20 g fibre

Want to browse the full range of recipes from Anita? The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook is available to buy at discount from www.bloomsbury.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saturday 3pm Twitter Competition

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To celebrate the release of Saturday, 3pm: 50 Eternal Delights of Modern Football, we’re giving away five exclusive cover prints signed by author Daniel Gray.

To be in with a chance of winning one, simply retweet one of @BloomsburySport‘s giveaway tweets and tell us what you love about football – with hashtag #Saturday3pm.

The competition closes at 23:59 GMT on 7 December 2016. Bloomsbury Sport will choose three entries at random after the closing date and the winners will be announced on Friday  9 December 2016.


Terms and Conditions:
1. By entering this competition you agree to these Terms and Conditions. There is no purchase necessary to enter.
2. The prize (five winners) is a Saturday, 3pm cover print signed by author Daniel Gray.
3. The competition opens at 09:00 GMT on Wednesday 20 November 2016 and closes at 23:59 GMT on 7 December 2016. No entries will be accepted after this closing date.
4. Only one entry per person, and the prize winner will be picked at random by Bloomsbury after the closing date. Unsuccessful entrants will not be notified. The prize winner must claim their prize within 14 working days of Bloomsbury sending notification. If the prize is unclaimed after this time, it will lapse and Bloomsbury reserves the right to offer the unclaimed prize to a substitute winner selected in accordance with these rules.
5. The competition is open to people who are UK residents, over the age of 18, but is not open to employees of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, their families, agents or anyone else professionally associated with the draw.
6. Bloomsbury’s decision on all matters is final. No correspondence will be entered into. Entries that do not comply in full with these terms and conditions will be disqualified. Late, illegible, incomplete, defaced or corrupt entries, or entries sent through agencies and third parties, will not be accepted.
7. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is available.
8. By entering this competition you agree that Bloomsbury have the right to feature details of the winning entrants in subsequent press and PR activity. Please see Bloomsbury’s privacy policy for how we use your information.
9. Bloomsbury may disqualify entries from winning if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that they are in breach of these terms and conditions or your participation is fraudulent, unfair or unlawful.
10. Bloomsbury may cancel the competition for reasons outside of its reasonable control.
11. Bloomsbury may amend these terms and conditions without notice, by posting changes to them on this website.
12. Bloomsbury does not accept any responsibility for any network congestion, technical failure or other problem in any telephone line, network, system, provider or otherwise which results in any communication not being properly recorded or received.
13. Bloomsbury (and its associated companies) excludes responsibility and all liabilities arising from any changes to the prize details which are beyond its control and for any act of default of any other third party supplier. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, Bloomsbury reserves the right (a) to substitute an alternative prize of equivalent or greater value and (b) in exceptional circumstances to amend or foreclose the promotion without notice. No correspondence will be entered into.
14. Entrants’ details will be held by Bloomsbury but will not be passed on. Bloomsbury adheres to the data protection legislation surrounding the use and storage of your personal information.
15. To the extent permitted by law, Bloomsbury exclude all warranties and representations (whether express or implied), and all its liability (including without limitation for negligence) regarding this competition or the prizes (other than for death or personal injury resulting from its negligence) including without limitation all indirect or consequential loss or damages, loss of profit, or loss or damage to data.
16. These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales.
17. This competition is promoted by: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP.

 

 

 

Posted in Competitions, Football | Tagged ,

Bloomsbury Christmas Gift Guide

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Need a gift for the cyclist in your life? From stocking fillers to beautiful photographic guides, we’ve got Christmas covered. Take a look at just a few of our Christmas picks, then head to the sale where all our books are 45% off!*

* Sale ends Sunday 11 December 2016

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9781472912855P is for Peloton: The A-Z of Cycling
£12.99 £7.14

A perfect gift book for all cycling fans – the A-Z of cycling from Arrivée to Zoetemelk. Beautifully illustrated by renowned cycling artist Mark Fairhurst, P is for Peloton is packed with fun facts from the amazing to the bizarre.

Shop now >>


9781408881705The Rider
£18.99 £10.44

A modern-day classic that is recognised as one of the best books ever written about the sport. Brilliantly conceived and best read at a break-neck pace, it is a loving, imaginative and passionate tribute to the art of cycle racing.

“Its 148 pages will flash by in a blur of reckless, high-speed pleasure” Independent

Shop now >>


9781472910547Infographic Guide to Cycling
£12.99 £7.14

A fun illustrated guide to the world of cycling and all things bike-related. This beautifully designed book presents cycling in a way you’ve never seen before.

Shop now >>


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9781472943552-2Greg LeMond: Yellow Jersey Racer
£36.00 £19.80

Written in conjunction with the man himself, this fascinating book documents LeMond’s career year by year – with unique and exclusive photography depicting the racing times of this exceptional bike rider.

Shop now >>


9781472912961Hinault
£35.00 £19.25

The life of Bernard Hinault – the French former cyclist who won the Tour de France five times – is recounted through stories, quotes and photographs in a beautifully packaged celebration of this great cyclist’s career.

Shop now >>


9781472913029The End of the Road: The Festina Affair and the Tour that Almost Wrecked Cycling
£18.99 £10.44

The first detailed account of the Festina affair, which ripped apart the 1998 Tour de France. Alasdair Fotheringham uncovers, step by step, how the world’s biggest bike race sank into a nightmarish series of scandals that left the sport on its knees. He explores its long-term consequences – and what, if any, lessons were learned.

Shop now >>


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ride-strongRide Strong: Essential Conditioning for Cyclists
£18.99 £10.44

Taking their lead from the professionals, keen cyclists are looking to add off-the-bike exercise to their weekly training programme. Informative and accessible, this is a comprehensive guide to essential strength, stretching and core work.

Shop now >>


9781408190302Bike Fit: Optimise Your Bike Position for High Performance and Injury Avoidance
£18.99 £10.44

This bestselling guide takes you through the bike-fit process so you can maximise your cycling potential. Lower back pain after a long weekend ride? Shoes worn out on one side? A numbness in your hands? Phil Burt has worked with hundreds of cyclists to help them solve these and many other classic cycling niggles.

Shop now>>


9781408190470Yoga for Cyclists
£16.99 £9.34

Yoga for Cycling uses yoga postures to both stretch and lengthen those short, tight cycling hotspots in a way that is time-efficient and highly targeted.

“A genuinely useful guide that will soon have tattered edges through use” Road.cc

Shop now >>


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9781472921703The Science of the Tour de France:
Training Secrets of the World’s Best Cyclists
£16.99 £9.34

James Witts takes us into the world of marginal gains to find out how today’s elite cyclists gain the advantage – physically, mentally and mechanically.

Shop now >>


9781408846834-1The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling’s Greatest One-day Races
£9.99 £5.49

The Tour de France may provide the most obvious fame and glory, but it is cycling’s one-day tests that professional riders really prize. Toughest, longest and dirtiest of all are the so-called ‘Monuments’. This awe-inspiring book tells the tumultuous history of these extraordinary races.

Shop now >>


9781472912916Ride the Revolution: The Inside Stories from Women in Cycling
£16.99 £9.34

Ride the Revolution brings together the best cycling writing from women involved in the sport at all levels. It celebrates the glorious, sometimes murky, often bizarre and frequently hilarious world of cycling in all its soapy operatic glory – from the professional sport to the club run, on the roadside and in the saddle, behind the scenes and on the massage table.

Shop now >>


Feeling inspired? Head over to www.bloomsbury.com to browse all our cycling books & save a festive 45%!


Posted in Cycling, Special Offers | Tagged , , , ,

Christmas Gifts for Sports Fans

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Searching for that perfect sporty gift this year? Whether you’re buying for football fans, cyclists, cricketers or armchair athletes, we’ve got Christmas covered. Shop now to get a festive 45% off!*

* Sale ends Sunday 11 December 2016

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9781472933874The Wenger Revolution: Twenty Years of Arsenal
£20.00 £11.00

The Wenger Revolution chronicles a fascinating era of football, with a foreword and commentary from Arsène Wenger himself, stunning images by official club photographer Stuart MacFarlane, and additional insights from journalist Amy Lawrence.

Shop now >>


9781472925114Saturday, 3pm: 50 Eternal Delights of Modern Football
£9.99 £5.49

Football’s menu of ills is long. Overpaid players. Sunday lunchtime kick-offs. Absurd ticket prices. Non-black boots. Where has the joy gone? Saturday, 3pm offers a glorious antidote. It is here to remind you that football can still sing to your heart.

Shop now >>


9781472925565Hope: My Life in Football
£16.99 £9.34

Hope Powell always wanted to play football as a child but she was told it’s not a suitable game for little girls. The original ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ tale, this is the inspiring story of how a kid from a south London housing estate became one of the most influential women in football.

Shop now >>


Head over to www.bloomsbury.com for a full list of football books.


cycling-banner

9781472943552-2Greg LeMond: Yellow Jersey Racer
£36.00 £19.80

Written in conjunction with the man himself, this fascinating book documents LeMond’s career year by year – with unique and exclusive photography depicting the racing times of this exceptional bike rider.

Shop now >>


9781472921703The Science of the Tour de France:
Training Secrets of the World’s Best Cyclists
£16.99 £9.34

James Witts takes us into the world of marginal gains to find out how today’s elite cyclists gain the advantage – physically, mentally and mechanically.

Shop now >>


ride-strongRide Strong: Essential Conditioning for Cyclists
£18.99 £10.44

Taking their lead from the professionals, keen cyclists are looking to add off-the-bike exercise to their weekly training programme. Informative and accessible, this is a comprehensive guide to essential strength, stretching and core work.

Shop now >>


Click here to see our Cycling Gift Guide.


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9781472927491-1Sports Geek: A Visual Tour of Sporting Myths, Debate and Data £12.99 £7.14

Sports Geek brings Rob Minto’s encyclopedic knowledge of sport together with analysis of statistics and beautiful charts. Find out why Usain Bolt’s 200m world record is really a big disappointment, learn what the best sport to make a film about is, and much much more.

Shop now >>


9781472920232Endurance:  The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek £16.99 £9.34

Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book Award, Endurance is the first biography to document the remarkable rise, fall and rehabilitation of a man voted the ‘greatest runner of all time’ by Runner’s World.

Shop now >>


9781472937049Golden Kicks: The Shoes that Changed Sport
£16.99 £9.34

Golden Kicks reveals the fascinating histories behind the most significant sports shoes ever made and the role they played in some of sport’s greatest moments.

Shop now >>


9781472909947The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport’s Great Leadership Delusion £16.99 £9.34

‘Brilliant’ and ‘fascinating’, The Captain Myth by Richard Gillis takes a fresh look at one of international sport’s highest profile tournaments – and what role the captains really play in Ryder Cup success.

Shop now >>


For all our sporty titles, head over to www.bloomsbury.com.


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9781472924544Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2016
£50.00 £27.50

A perennial bestseller in the UK, Wisden is a must-have for every cricket fan. It contains some of the finest sports writing of the year and covers every first-class game in every cricket nation, making it the cricketers’ bible worldwide.

Shop now >>


9781472927354Tendulkar in Wisden: An Anthology
£20.00 £11.00

Sachin Tendulkar, who retired from playing in 2014, is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. This is the definitive record of his career, including content from 25 years of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

Shop now >>


9781408843970The Strangers Who Came Home:
The First Australian Cricket Tour of England
£12.99 £7.14

The Strangers Who Came Home is a compelling and beautifully drawn social history of the first Australian cricket tour of England.

“Fascinating” Choice Magazine

Shop now >>


For all the best sports-writing the world of cricket has to offer, visit www.wisden.com/xmas

Posted in Special Offers | Tagged , , , , , ,

TWITTER COMPETITION: Win a copy of ‘Golden Kicks’ signed by Stan Smith

9781472937049To celebrate the release of Golden Kicks: The Shoes that Changed Sport, we’re giving away three copies of  this fabulous book, signed by trainer icon Stan Smith!

To be in with a chance of winning a copy, tell @BloomsburySport what your all-time favourite sports shoes are – with hashtag #GoldenKicks.

The competition closes at 23:59 GMT on 22 November 2016. Bloomsbury Sport will choose three entries at random after the closing date and the winners will be announced on Monday 28 November 2016.

Terms and Conditions:

1. By entering this competition you agree to these Terms and Conditions. There is no purchase necessary to enter.

2. The prize (three winners) is a copy of ‘Golden Kicks’ signed by Stan Smith.

3. The competition opens at 09:00 GMT on Tuesday 15 November 2016 and closes at 23:59 GMT on 22 November 2016. No entries will be accepted after this closing date.

4. Only one entry per person, and the prize winner will be picked at random by Bloomsbury after the closing date. Unsuccessful entrants will not be notified. The prize winner must claim their prize within 14 working days of Bloomsbury sending notification. If the prize is unclaimed after this time, it will lapse and Bloomsbury reserves the right to offer the unclaimed prize to a substitute winner selected in accordance with these rules.

5. The competition is open to people who are UK residents, over the age of 18, but is not open to employees of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, their families, agents or anyone else professionally associated with the draw.

6. Bloomsbury’s decision on all matters is final. No correspondence will be entered into. Entries that do not comply in full with these terms and conditions will be disqualified. Late, illegible, incomplete, defaced or corrupt entries, or entries sent through agencies and third parties, will not be accepted.

7. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is available.

8. By entering this competition you agree that Bloomsbury have the right to feature details of the winning entrants in subsequent press and PR activity. Please see Bloomsbury’s privacy policy for how we use your information.

9. Bloomsbury may disqualify entries from winning if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that they are in breach of these terms and conditions or your participation is fraudulent, unfair or unlawful.

10. Bloomsbury may cancel the competition for reasons outside of its reasonable control.

11. Bloomsbury may amend these terms and conditions without notice, by posting changes to them on this website.

12. Bloomsbury does not accept any responsibility for any network congestion, technical failure or other problem in any telephone line, network, system, provider or otherwise which results in any communication not being properly recorded or received.

13. Bloomsbury (and its associated companies) excludes responsibility and all liabilities arising from any changes to the prize details which are beyond its control and for any act of default of any other third party supplier. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, Bloomsbury reserves the right (a) to substitute an alternative prize of equivalent or greater value and (b) in exceptional circumstances to amend or foreclose the promotion without notice. No correspondence will be entered into.

14. Entrants’ details will be held by Bloomsbury but will not be passed on. Bloomsbury adheres to the data protection legislation surrounding the use and storage of your personal information.

15. To the extent permitted by law, Bloomsbury exclude all warranties and representations (whether express or implied), and all its liability (including without limitation for negligence) regarding this competition or the prizes (other than for death or personal injury resulting from its negligence) including without limitation all indirect or consequential loss or damages, loss of profit, or loss or damage to data.

16. These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales.

17. This competition is promoted by: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP.

Posted in Competitions

The Shoes that Changed Sport

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Guest post by Jason Coles, author of Golden Kicks (@goldenkicksbook)

Since writing Golden Kicks one of the questions I get asked frequently is ‘what are the top five most significant shoes in sporting history?’ It’s actually a really tough question to answer because there are so many worthy shoes (there are over 50 in Golden Kicks!) that are important not just because they were worn to win gold medals and trophies, but because they had an impact on culture, fashion or the sports business. But having thought long and hard, here are my top five. I’ve specifically chosen shoes that are not only significant in the history of sport, but are also shoes that you can find in a good sneaker store and wear yourself.

1. Nike Air Jordan 1

1

When the Nike Air Jordan 1 was launched in 1985 it marked the beginning of a whole new era in the sports business. The shoe itself wasn’t really all that special. Its design wasn’t particularly innovative and borrowed heavily from its predecessors, but what made it a game changer was that it marked the beginning of the partnership between Nike and Michael Jordan. At the time, few thought that Jordan was anything special but Nike’s Head of Basketball Sonny Vaccaro saw potential greatness in him and persuaded Nike that they needed to sign him. The problem was that Jordan was an adidas fan and so it would take something special to sign him. What Nike offered wasn’t just a sponsorship, it was a marriage based on giving him his own Jordan branded line and $7m over five years, an unheard of amount at the time. When adidas passed the chance to match the offer, Jordan signed with Nike. Together they went on to revolutionise not just basketball, but Nike itself and the way that brands and athletes would work together.

2. adidas Stan Smith

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adidas AG / Studio Waldeck

Continuing to grace the feet of tens of millions over 40 years after its debut, the Stan Smith is far more than just a shoe, it’s an icon. Its amazing journey has seen it transform from a cutting edge tennis shoe in the late 60s into a globally adored fashion item and the muse for a multitude of couture collaborations and celebrity endorsements. When British designer Phoebe Philo took her bow at the end of her label’s spring 2011 show wearing a pair of Stan Smiths, they became an overnight sensation. Bizarrely, adidas began withdrawing it from sale, however, leading many to lament the death of their favourite shoe. But unknown to the world, adidas were in reality planning a major re-launch that would become a lesson in modern marketing and when it re-emerged in 2014 the Stan Smith became the shoe to be seen in. Since it’s rebirth three years ago, adidas have sold more pairs than during its entire history, making it the best selling tennis shoe ever and most popular adidas sneaker of all time.

3. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star

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Converse Inc

As much a symbol of America as Old Glory, it’s staggering to think that the All Star celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017. What is also amazing is that during all that time it hasn’t really changed at all. The ‘grandfather’ of all sneakers, the All Star has been the canvas for countless different styles and colourways and has been copied by pretty much every other shoe maker in existence, from Nike (who now own Converse) to Marks & Spencer. Worn by the US Olympic Basketball team to win seven consecutive gold medals it monopolised basketball courts for decades, despite having made it’s last competitive appearance back in 1979. And it shows no sign of losing it’s enormous popularity; people aged 8 to 80 still enjoy wearing it today.

4. Puma Suede

3To many African Americans the Puma Suede is much more than just a shoe. Due to the small part it played in one of the most important moments of the civil rights movement it’s a symbol of defiance. Unwilling to compete for a nation that they felt treated them as second class citizens, many black American athletes considered boycotting the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. Realising that they offered an opportunity to make a stand however, most decided to use the Games to highlight the injustices they faced. When black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos came 1st and 3rd in the 200m, they seized upon the opportunity that their success presented them and headed to the medal ceremony.

Receiving their medals shoeless, they wore black socks as a symbol of black poverty, a single black glove and both placed a single black Puma shoe beside them. When The Star-Spangled Banner rang out, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised their gloved fists to the sky in a defiant silent protest that became known as ‘The Black Power Salute’. It was met with complete shock. Booed as they left the podium, they were treated as pariahs for decades. Today their protest is hailed as a landmark in sporting and civil rights history and despite only playing a minor role in their protest, the Suede became a symbol of their defiance. Speaking about them Smith said ‘I wore them when I won the gold medal, and they were sitting on the victory stand that night… it was important that I have them on the stand, because they helped me get there, during the race and long before. They were as important as the black glove and the black socks.’ 30 years later the Suede still serves as reminder to the many who wear it of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ courage.

5. Reebok Freestyle

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Reebok Archive

A giant of the sportswear industry, even diehard Reebok fans don’t realize that the shoe that got them there was one of the unlikeliest in sporting history; an aerobics shoe made for women called the Freestyle. Aware of the growing popularity of aerobics during the early 80s, Reebok CEO Paul Fireman decided that the company should make an aerobics shoe for the women who were taking up the exercise in their millions. While competitors followed a ‘pink ‘em & shrink ‘em’ approach, the Freestyle was designed specifically with women in mind and it had a simple, elegant design and was made of very soft leather that bizarrely had only been chosen due to a prototype manufacturing error. Instead of shoe leather, by mistake glove leather had been used to make the prototype but Reebok were so delighted with it’s softness they instructed the factory to keep using it. Being light, needing no breaking in and coming in simple colours, the shoe was an immediate hit and from sales of $300,000 in 1980, by 1985 the Freestyle almost singlehandedly powered Reebok’s sales to $307,000, knocking Nike off the No.1 spot in the US and crowning Reebok as America’s biggest sportswear brand.

9781472937049Read many more stories like these in Golden Kicks: The Shoes That Changed Sport which is available now in all good book stores or online at www.bloomsbury.com.

And head over to @BloomsburySport for your chance to WIN a copy of Golden Kicks – signed by trainer icon Stan Smith! 

 

To stay up-to-date with all our sporty news and offers, sign up to our e-newsletter today.

Posted in Sports shoes | Tagged , , , , ,

Essential exercises to keep you on the bike

Adapted from Ride Strong: Essential Conditioning for Cyclists by Jo McRae

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Jo McRae, corrective exercise specialist, personal trainer, bike fitter and lifelong cyclist.

One of the best things about riding a bike is that it reminds us what it feels like to be a kid. It gives us back the sense of pleasure and play that can be lost because of the pressures of modern life and being a grown-up. A bicycle can take us to amazing places, both physically and metaphorically. And often a reintroduction to the bike can kick-start a love affair with health and fitness too.

But I have some bad news that I want to get up front straight away. In many ways the human body is not designed to ride a bike.

The good news is that Ride Strong will give you the understanding and know-how to keep you riding your bike happily and healthily long into the future. Here’s a few key exercises to get you started…

Supine knee extension – strap assisted

Of all the muscle groups that a cyclist ought to learn how to stretch properly, for me the hamstrings come top of the list. Running along the back of the thigh from your pelvis (sitting bones) and down behind the knee, they are a muscle group that can become chronically short and tight in response to sitting for longer than is natural.

Preparation
h1Hook a strap around the instep of your foot. The strap needs to be solid (not elastic) and long enough to work with comfortably. In these pictures Paul is using a martial arts belt.

 

 

h2Lie flat on your back and raise one leg directly above your hip, holding the belt at the knee with both hands (shown). Your lower leg should be relaxed. Relax the straight leg down at the back of the knee.

Your goal is to maintain a slight curve in your lower back in order that you target the stretch most effectively to the lower hamstrings behind the knee. Don’t allow your back to flatten completely or your hips to lift as you go into the stretch or the effective position will be lost.

Movement
h3From this start position, slowly extend your leg directly upwards, keeping your foot relaxed and maintaining a curve in the small of your back. As you move into the stretch, feel for the point where if you go any higher you will be unable to maintain this curve, at which point pull firmly on the strap to increase the stretch sensation, and hold for 1–2 seconds. Using your knuckles against your knee as a solid anchor point can help you find and hold the effective position repeatedly. Then, release your lower leg back down to the start position, relaxing the hamstrings but maintaining the knee-over-hip position.

If you are performing the stretch well, you will feel the focal point at the back of the knee. It can take some time to learn to maintain a curve in your lower back while at the same time extending your leg, but if you persist your control in this exercise will improve, as will its effectiveness. It’s important that you focus on the ‘feel’ of the stretch rather than trying to get your leg higher than is optimal for you at any time.

Dumbbell dead lift

The dead lift is the most important conditioning exercise for cyclists to strengthen their back and hips. Learning correct movement technique in lifting and bending movements, and strengthening the muscles involved is vital if you want to prevent back problems getting in the way of your cycling. Strengthening your back and glutes by dead lifting will also provide more power to each pedal stroke when you ask for it, particularly when climbing, accelerating, or pushing hard while seated in the saddle.

Preparation
p3Place the dumbbell between your feet and adopt a shoulder-width stance either side of the weight. If you have a dumbbell with a flat end it might be easiest to rest it on that end, but if you are working with a spinlock dumbbell you will have to lay it on its side.

Tip forwards towards the weight using the ‘short stop’ technique. Keeping the dumbbell close to your body is good practice, and if you are presented with an object that you need to lift, keeping it as close as possible will help you lift and move it more effectively.

Movement
p4In order to reach the dumbbell and lift it off the floor, first arch your lower back as much as you can, as you tip forwards from the hips. Then bend your knees in a squatting action to reach the weight. As you bend towards the floor, keep your knees in line with your feet, and look down at the dumbbell.

Using your legs and back together, and engaging your abdominals by drawing your navel in, push with your feet and stand up tall with the dumbbell, keeping your back neutral. If you struggle to keep your back neutral to pick up the dumbbell from the floor, throughout the set work only within the range through which you can maintain an natural curve in the lower back, and then use your legs in a squatting action to place the dumbbell back on the floor at the end. With practice, and together with some stretching, you will find that you are able to increase your range of movement with good form.

Repeat this movement, tipping forwards from the hips towards the floor as far as you can maintain a neutral spine, and then pushing through your legs to stand up tall and straight. Your knees should always bend slightly to support your back throughout the movement, but not so much that the exercise becomes more of a squat than a bend.

The prone cobra

The prone cobra works all the muscles along the back of the body, but notably isolates the upper-back muscles. The way the exercise is performed here, with the thumbs turned backwards, also works the external rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder, which can become weak through hours spent holding the bars.

Preparation
c1Start by lying flat on your front, head turned to one side, and your arms at the sides of your body, with your little fingers close to your sides and thumbs pointing away from you.

 

Movement
c2Lift your upper back off the floor, turning your thumbs backwards as you move, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. The goal is to turn the arms backwards as much as possible, keeping them close to your sides and stretching the front of your chest. Leave your legs on the floor if you can, and keep your neck long at the back so that your chin is tucked in and you look down towards the floor. Focus in extending the most through your upper back, by arching through the upper back and opening your chest forwards.

These three exercises combined can help cyclists target the poor posture associated with spending a lot of time seated on a bike or at a desk. ‘Pre-stretching’ the hamstrings allows the cyclists (who tends to have shortened hamstrings) to get into a good deadlift position to strengthen the back and the hips. The Prone Cobra exercise targets the postural muscle of the back and shoulders to correct for the ‘slumped’ posture that can be common.

ride-strongWant to hear more from Jo?  Ride Strong: Essential Conditioning for Cyclists is available to buy at discount from www.bloomsbury.com

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