How to Gym-it Like a Pro

With the fitness industry rising in popularity over the last few years, more and more people are heading their way down to the gym. It is no longer just a place for the veiny, ripped guys and girls built like steel. The average Joe Blogs can now be found in gyms near and far.

The problem is, for most Joe Blogs-a-likes, they may make it seem like they know what they are doing, to anyone else they look perfectly comfortable, but in reality, they are just winging it. If this is you, then here is the ultimate guide to working out for the average, casual, work-out participant.

Full Body vs. Body Part Focused Routine?

So, on one side you have the lean, mean CrossFit machine who can throw up 60k in the air, drop it back down, twist it round and round, and so on. We call these full body workouts. On the other side, you have your Arnold Schwarzenegger, shoulders like boulders, who can be found in front of the mirrors at the free-weights section- his routine looks although he is just working on one body specific part at a time.

Which should you do? Like anything, there are pros for both. It completely depends on your overall goal, as well as how much time you have to devote to training.

Full Body Workout Pro’s

This type of exercise routine is made up of compound exercises; these work multiple muscle groups simultaneously by requiring movement at two or more joints. These types of exercises make your heart rate jump up and you’ll burn more calories than part focused routines, making them ideal if you are trying to lose fat.

This type of workout is perfect for someone who is time limited in the gym. It means you can just spend 30 minutes in the gym and still have an efficient workout. It also makes it irrelevant if you miss a workout, opposed to body part focused exercises which split up muscle groups per day (miss one of these and you could potentially not be training a specific muscle group for 2 weeks in total!)

What Are Full Body Workout Moves?

Full body workouts can be made up of compound exercises, these exercises involve more than one muscle group. An example of a compound move is a deadlift because it uses hips and knees to perform the lift, working several different muscle groups including quads, hamstrings, lats, traps and core muscles.

Some more examples include squats, dumbbell lunges, barbell bench press, wide grip pull ups/pull downs and lunges. Many functional training rigs found in gyms can be used to perform these routines.

Body Part Focused Pro’s

Training muscles isolated is when you focus on one specific muscle using only one joint in the body to perform the lift. An example would be a bicep curl, the only joint in use is the elbow and it is specifically targeting the bicep. This type of training is usually split over days so one day dedicated to each of the following; biceps, triceps, chest, back, legs and shoulders.

Training body part specific is a great way to focus on targeted body parts. If your goal is to get broader shoulders, you can focus on this area of the body and build up mass here to achieve the results you envision. These kinds of workouts are also generally less exhausting and help you maintain a training regime for the long haul. It also allows you to lift greater loads and performance is heightened, which in turn will have a positive effect on building up strength and size.

What Are Body Part Focused Moves?

The majority of isolated lifts are performed on the weight machines you find in the gym. These are great for body part focused moves and they hold the rest of the body in place so that you can just solely target the specific muscle group. You can perform them with free weights, but you have to be careful not to bring other muscles into play. Your body will naturally do this to assist, so if you choose to perform isolated moves with free weights, really focus on only using the selected muscle.

Verdict

So the verdict, if you’re looking for overall fat burning, overall mass building and generally just getting stronger, full body routines made up of compound exercises are best for you. If you don’t have much fat to lose, but you are looking to sculpt certain areas of your body, isolation is the route to go down. If you’re looking to do both, incorporate both into your regime.

5 Tips For Teaching Your Kid to Look After a Pet

Sooner or later, the time will come when one of your kids asks for a pet. How you handle this request is up to you of course, but bringing a furry friend into your household can help to teach your child about empathy, responsibility and can even increase verbal and social skills, so it’s an idea that’s at least worth considering.

The therapeutic and developmental benefits of caring for pets from a young age are well documented. However, introducing an animal to the household is not without its challenges, so you need to know that the whole family is ready for the commitment. Here are five tips to help you teach your kid how to look after a pet.

Teach Non-Verbal Cues

Before you bring a pet into your household, consider whether your child is old enough to read and understand non-verbal cues. As much as we love animals, there’s no denying that they can be unpredictable; some pets (including certain dog breeds) can become aggressive if they feel scared or threatened, so teaching proper communication is vital for the safety of both the pet and your child.

Start by teaching your kid to leave dogs and cats alone while they’re eating or sleeping, and to understand your pet’s body language. Behaviour such as growling, lowering their tail, hunching down or hissing indicates that an animal is feeling frightened or upset, so children should know to leave pets well alone if they act this way.

Get Your Kid Involved

Teaching your child to look after a pet is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and getting him or her involved can help increase confidence, awareness and empathy. Let your child help you feed and groom your pet and come with you to vet appointments. Young children can also help clean out litter boxes or cages to understand the less-than-fun responsibilities that come with owning a pet.

Teach Pet Health

Studies indicate that when children become educated about pet health and wellbeing, they are more likely to treat them kindly. Find a good healthcare provider for your pet that will help put your kids at ease when your pet gets ill or has to have vaccinations; that way, your children will see that medical appointments are nothing to be afraid of. Visit thevet.co.uk for affordable, experienced pet care with no appointments necessary.

Teach Pet Safety

As well as keeping your kids safe, you also need to know that you can keep a pet safe before you bring one into your home. Make sure your kids abide by basic safety rules, such as not letting a dog out into the street and not feeding human food to pets: this is especially important, as some foods like grapes and chocolate can be poisonous to dogs.

It sounds obvious, but make sure your kids know that they should never yell at or hit a pet. It’s best to supervise smaller children interacting with dogs, cats and other household pets at all times.

Don’t Shirk Your Responsibilities

While it’s important to teach your kids to care for animals, you should keep in mind that the ultimate responsibility lies with you: the parent. Don’t assume that your child or teenager has fed or walked a pet, and always follow up to make sure. Having a pet is incredibly rewarding and can be beneficial for all areas of human health, but you need to know that the whole family (including you) are up to the task.

Settlement Agreements for Employees: What You Need to Know

At times, the legal world can seem daunting. There are many things to keep in mind, especially when the terms “settlement” and “litigation” are used. As an employee, a settlement agreement is also known as a compromise agreement. It is reached between a business and an employee. The employee agrees to settle, or resolve the issue, and the business offers payment, and on occasion, other benefits to end the dispute. As an employee who may encounter a settlement agreement at some point in your working career, here are some things you need to know about them.

Legally Binding

A settlement agreement is not just a piece of paper; it is a legal document that is signed by both you, a representative of your place of employment, and a solicitor. If the terms that are agreed upon in the agreement are not being met by either party, the others can enforce it. Sometimes, a settlement agreement is a way for an employee and the company to part ways in a clean break. Other times, a settlement agreement is a way to negotiate differences of opinion that you may have with your employer.

Must Be Written

In this legally binding document, everything must be written down. All the details of the agreement, any clauses or references must be included in the document. If things are not included in the written document itself, it is not part of the settlement agreement. Many companies have their own, unique, templates for the settlement agreements that they have. In these cases, it is more difficult to forget to include a portion of the settlement, both for the employee and the employer.

Right to Negotiate

Settlement agreements can seem intimidating, but it is important to remember that you have the right to negotiate your settlement agreement. Often, negotiating virtually can be very helpful, allowing you to spell out what you need, but there are also specialists trained to help you. Settlement agreement solicitors can help you identify the things that you want to negotiate your settlement agreement, and then assist you in working toward those goals. Some organisations require their employees to seek counsel from a solicitor when a settlement agreement is being drafted.

Confidential

A settlement agreement and any negotiations that occur are confidential. You cannot discuss the situation with anyone other than your legal counsel and your employer. Additionally, neither of you can use the same information in the event of an Employment Tribunal. If the agreement is signed, and ‘without prejudice’ is marked, the information cannot be used again. This protects you because your employer cannot use this event against you in the future, and it protects them for the same reason.  Typically, there is a clause in the settlement agreement that lays out the terms of the confidentiality arrangement.

Settlement Agreements can be used for a variety of instances, whether payroll, holiday, or termination. In each case, it is important to remember that you, as the employee, have rights and are not under any obligations to sign it. You have the right to examine it, to negotiate, and to call a solicitor to get their opinion.

The 6 Perfect Items to Buy for a Passionate Foodie

Do you want to buy the perfect gift for a food lover? You might be wondering about the perfect item for their kitchen, and whether there’s any equipment that they’re missing. If so, you don’t need to look any further. Simply read on to find the six perfect items for a passionate foodie.

 

  • A Non-Stick Bakeware Set

 

Food enthusiasts will feel right at home inside their kitchen, as you can guarantee they’ll spend most of their time thinking up and creating delicious dishes. One item that will never disappoint is a non-stick bakeware set, which is ideal for cooking and baking delicious dishes and treats. It’s an essential set they’ll always turn to in the kitchen.

 

  • An Ice Cream Maker

 

Add a little fun and flavour into a foodie’s kitchen by treating them to a reliable ice-cream maker by VonShef, which will allow your loved one to experiment with different ingredients in the kitchen. Never again will they need to turn to branded ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt, as they’ll love to create and taste delicious homemade flavours. Also, as they will have complete control of the ingredients they add into their ice cream, they can enjoy healthier alternatives to supermarket-bought treats.

 

  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven

 

A cast iron Dutch oven is a versatile item of cookware that can be used in the oven or on the stove. It’s also a pretty dish that can be served straight from the oven and onto the table. What’s more, its heavy construction means it’s harder to burn a dish, which is a food lover’s worst nightmare. Whether they want to cook, braise, bake or fry, you can guarantee this useful item will never let them down.

 

  • A Carafe

 

Most people never choose to buy a carafe themselves, but it is one item a loved one will be most grateful to receive. It can beautifully present various drinks, such as water, orange juice, and cocktails – and it can even be a stunning focal point on a shelf, which will prove to guests they have a passion for both food and drink.

 

  • A Mandoline

 

The most passionate cooks will fall head over heels in love with a mandoline slicer (like this one from VonShef), which will improve the preparation process and the artistic presentation of their dishes. It’s also ideal for cooks who lack professional knife skills but still care about a meal’s aesthetics. Not only can a mandoline make straight slices, but many can also create waffle or wavy slices or julienne cuts. What’s more, it will feature a food holder for safety during use. It’s certainly one item they’ll pick up when cooking a feast in their kitchen.

 

  • A Steak Knife Set

 

Most foodies have an appreciation for a perfectly cooked steak – and the right utensils to cut and eat it properly. Therefore, investing in the perfect steak knife could be enough to satisfy their food cravings. A luxury item such as a steak knife will make eating such a culinary delight far easier and more satisfying.

5 Foods You Didn’t Know Needed to be Stored in the Fridge

Given how often we have to do a weekly food shop, and the frequency we prepare meals for ourselves, you’d think we’d all know which ingredients should and shouldn’t be stored in the fridge. But, there are actually a handful of foods that many of us are routinely storing incorrectly. So, if you want to be doubly sure that you’re storing food correctly, here are five you may not have realised should be kept in the fridge…

Pure maple syrup

If you’ve bought yourself some high quality pure maple syrup (the kinds that doesn’t contain preservatives and chemicals), you’ll need to store it in the fridge once it’s open. At room temperature, the lack of preservatives can cause it the syrup to spoil… a devastating occurrence if you’ve rustled up a stack of pancakes on a Sunday morning! So if you know it’s going to take you a little while to get through your maple syrup, pop it in the fridge.

Soy sauce

Soy sauce won’t do you any harm if you’ve opened it and returned it straight back to the cupboard, and that’s due to the fact it contains such high levels of sodium. But, there’s a good chance it will lose its freshness if you don’t refrigerate it, which will eventually change its flavour too. So, if you think it will take you longer than a month or two to finish off a bottle, put it in the fridge as soon as it’s opened.

Citrus fruit

Lemons, limes and oranges can be kept in the fridge if you want to preserve their shelf-life a little longer. But if you’re going to do this, consider investing in a fridge that has a fruit & veg drawer that separates into two. A single fruit and vegetable drawer can result in your ingredients contaminating one another, causing both to spoil much quicker than they otherwise would in their own compartments. Retailers such as Fisher & Paykel sell fridges with separate drawers – and it’s especially worth investing in one if you’re a keen cook or someone who’s passionate about good quality food.

Ripe avocados

You probably already know not to store avocados in the fridge, especially if you’ve bought the ‘ripen at home’ ones. But, you should be refrigerating them once they’ve ripened to the level that you think is tastiest. Moving them into the fridge will halt the ripening process, and the same is true for bananas too. Just note that refrigerating bananas will turn their skins brown.  

Butter

If you live alone, you probably won’t consume an entire pack of butter quickly enough before bacteria has started to grow. So, don’t leave your butter on the worktop – particularly if your kitchen is lovely and warm. Instead, take out a small quantity from the pack at a time, keeping it in a butter dish with a well-fitting lid. Leave the remainder of the pack in the fridge and take out a little more as and when you need it.

Have you been storing any of these foods incorrectly? And is there anything in particular that you think should be kept out of the fridge, rather than inside it?

Challenging the Theory – Jack or Jill the Ripper?

Living in London, there are many remnants of bygone eras – most notably the Tower of London, which saw a total of 133 confirmed executions within its grounds. Possibly a close second in terms of its gory history is the London borough of Whitechapel, which was the playing ground for one of the most notorious serial killers in British history, Jack the Ripper.

It is generally accepted that there are at least five victims who were killed at the hands of the killer, although some experts claim that the number is higher. Aside from the killer’s weapon of choice, a surgical knife, there is one other aspect that experts and theorists almost certainly agree on, which is that Jack the Ripper was a man.

Why Jack the Ripper is thought to be Male

One of the main suspects thought to be one of the most infamous Victorian killers is Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant who came to work in the capital city at the time of the killings. Other suspects include Montage John Druitt, Carl Feigenbaum and even Prince Albert Victor amongst countless others.

Due to the nature of the fatal injuries, it is generally accepted to be the work of a man, although that is not to say that a woman could not carry out such dastardly deeds. The intimate nature of the killings is what points to a male killer, with female serial killer more closely associated with more withdrawn methods such as poisoning or gunshots.

Aside from this, the seemingly disorganised path of the killings also suggests that the killer is male. Other than working as prostitutes in the Whitechapel area, the women are not believed to have known each other socially. The Ripper’s killings clearly outline a hatred of women.

Jack the Ripper’s Name

Those that may not be as familiar with the Jack the Ripper case may point to the simple fact that the killer’s name is masculine. The name is an alias that was used to sign off letters written to the police and media, many of which the authenticity is disputed.

If the letters are indeed the work of one of history’s most revered serial killers, the handwriting does indeed suggest being that of a male, according to many handwriting experts. Several suspects have been named purely in the style of handwriting itself, including Francis Tumblety, an Irish-born American medical professional.

DNA Evidence “Could be Female”

In 2006, new DNA evidence came to light that suggested that the killer that operated in Whitechapel could have been female. Ian Findlay, an Australian scientist, claimed to have developed a method of profiling that could extract DNA from a cell or strand of hair as much as 160 years old.

Findlay took swabs from the back of the gum used to enclose the ‘Openshaw Letter’, which is widely believed to be the most genuine of the Ripper’s letters. While the results were inconclusive, Findlay’s method was able to construct a partial profile which did not completely rule out the possibility of the killer to be a woman.

If so, it could be that the DNA could be that of Mary Pearcey, one of the very few female Jack the Ripper suspects. Pearcey was hanged in 1890 for the murder of her lover’s wife, using a similar technique to that of the Whitechapel killings.

We Will Never Know

Unfortunately, too much time has passed for anyone to ever definitely uncover the identity of Jack the Ripper, if there is just one single killer responsible. Theorists will draw their own conclusions for years to come, leaving us all in the dark on one of Britain’s darkest chapters.

The futures so bright, I gotta wear cords

When I was a nipper trouser wear was different to what it is today. It wasn’t so much focused on denim, and there were plenty of other options out there. My mum always used to put me and my little brother in corduroy. I liked wearing cords myself, because they were lighter than denim, and cooler in the summer, and you could get them in great different colours. None the less my lasting memory of wearing cords in the 1980’s ended up with me getting a telling off that in proper Beano style, saw me putting my bottom in a sink of ice cold water.

My brother and I were a right pair of little outdoors boys in the 80’s. This meant climbing trees, crawling through gaps in fences, down storm drains, building dens, damming rivers and everything that we probably shouldn’t have been doing. So when I got home from school one nice spring day my mind was solely dedicated to going out and playing. I was still at primary school, so I would have been 9 or ten at the time and I was unimpressed to find a pair of new trousers set out on my bed for me to change in to. Yes, I was that child that had my outfits selected for me on a daily basis. And I’m not ashamed. So being nine, and essentially one of the Goonies (in my own mind at least), I wasn’t going to let a brand new pair of trousers get in the way of having fun.

Wish I had let a brand new pair of trousers get in the way of having fun but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

My brother and I hadn’t been out more than half an hour, and there wasn’t too much mud on my new trousers when I managed to rip them over a pocket squirming through a hole in a wire mesh fence. I immediately felt the hot rush of panic and we both pegged it back home. Mum did that trick of thinning her lips until they disappeared and told me rather ominously to wait until my father got home. I railed against the injustice of it all, it was surely my mums’ fault for making me wear new trousers on such a fine sunny day. New trousers should be held in reserve for the sort of day wherein one visits elderly relatives, not a day when the world needs exploring and taming.

Right now I own a couple of items of corduroy, because denim isn’t suitable for all occasions is it? I’ve been know to wear a cord jacket and corduroy trousers but not together, that’s a bad a crime as decking yourself head to foot in denim isn’t it?

Chums are one of the online retailers driving the reintroduction of corduroy into the mainstream but for some of us, it never really went away and I see this as a vindication of my denim aversion that’s been going on ever since I was a student.

As you can see, for reasons unknown I don’t feature in the above infographic on the history of corduroy. I should but I’ll let them off this once as I frolic through the park on my way home to change out of my suit into some soft soft cord trousers.

Hori ONYX Bluetooth Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4

I love my PS4. I also love my Xbox One. I don’t really love the Dual Shock 4 controller though, the thumb sticks are in the wrong place for me and the overall ergonomics of the pad sometimes suggest to me I’m not doing as well as I might. I have no such issue with the Xbox One controller (any iteration of it), so when I saw that Hori had an officially licensed controller due out with what they helpfully refer to as “Offset Analogue Stick Layout”, I was excited.

Offset Analogue Stick Layout is another way of saying, hey! We’ve copied the thing that makes the Xbox One controller better!

I have several cross platform games on both the Xbox One and the PS4 (I have the X version of the Xbox One and the Pro version of the PS4 if you’re interested), and in some games, Star Wars Battlefront, Geometry Wars Evolved and Ultratron being the three that spring immediately to mind, I find them much easier to play on the Xbox One as the left analogue stick, usually the one used for movement, is situated slightly higher on the controller. View Full Post

Review: Spendor the board game

We had busy Christmas with a bumper delivery from the Board Game Club comprising of Splendor and Catan. We had fun with both over Christmas but today I’m going to run you through Splendor because who doesn’t love a bit of the Renaissance (even if the spelling is lacking in a “u”)!

Splendor is a card/token/resource building game played without a board (don’t know why I referred to it as a board game in the title, perhaps I didn’t want people to confuse it with an artificial sweetener) for two to four players. The instructions are almost entirely written for blokes like me in so far as they only take up about two and a half pages of paper. This is my cup of tea because I get very confused by instructions (just ask my wife).

The instructions say the game plays best with three players but we spent an evening playing it quite happily with two players. It takes a bit of time to get going but once you’re into the swing of the game, it speeds by- games last on average about half an hour.

The aim of the game is to collect 15 prestige points to impress the nobles. You do this by collecting tokens, trading them for development cards, which you can use to subsidise the purchase of further development cards. There are 6 different sort of tokens, and each development card has a different purchase price on it. To further add to the decision making process, some development cards don’t have prestige points on them. The strategy comes from deciding whether to forgo purchasing a card with prestige points on it for something cheaper that might aid you getting something better the next turn. There may very well be cards out to buy that will cost you more than the total number of coloured tokens available- this is where purchasing a cheaper level one development card with the right colour will help.

That might all sound complicated but it really isn’t, and it only took us a single solitary run through to get the hang of it.

The 30 minute game time means you can fit a game of Splendor into the smallest nook of spare time imaginable. Since it’s card based it doesn’t take much setting up and out of all the games we’ve had from the Board Game Club so far this is probably the one we’ve returned to the most.

Although the game is themed around the Renaissance, the mechanics of the game would work pretty well with anything right up to space trading. Now there’s an idea!

Splendor retails for £24.99, and is available from all good retailers, Amazon included.

MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: COMPROMISING WITH THE KIDS

Since the beginning of time, a few topics – such as bedtime, diet and the appropriate footwear for school – have been a constant source of disagreement between children and their parents. In amongst this inability to see eye-to-eye, tantrums can ensue… and that’s just the adults!

All jokes aside, as caregivers, we’re duty-bound to remember the old saying: “Mum (and Dad) knows best” when it comes to bringing up baby. So why don’t our kids always see things our way? For the sake of family harmony, I wanted to know if there were a few places where a little compromise could be sought on some of the biggest parent/child conflicts.

Gaming and Online Safety

Kids of all ages absolutely love gaming (particularly in our household)! Scientifically speaking, there are actually a number of reasons why gaming can actually be beneficial to your child’s development. As well as encouraging problem-solving and nurturing their creative capabilities, video games can help kids bond with their peers while giving them a healthy interest in friendly competition.

This being said, kids have a natural tendency to want to be part of the big, wide world while parents have a natural instinct to protect them from it. If your kids are into ‘Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games’ (MMORPGs), you might be concerned about the possibility of them talking to strangers online. One solution is to invest in a dedicated game server from a known provider that allows them to play online with friends. The server will only allow known acquaintances to join (as players need to be invited and accepted to take part) so that your child can have the fun of an online multiplayer function, with peace of mind for mums and dads.

Bedtime

Every child-rearing book has a different opinion on whether bedtime should be strictly enforced, but taking a middle ground stance is the easiest way to ensure that older kids have an opportunity to get enough sleep without feeling “forced” to live by a strict timetable. Older children are especially aggrieved by having a bedtime hour, so instead of insisting that they be asleep by a certain time, why not compromise that as long as they are in bed and not using their electronic devices or watching TV, they can stay up an hour or two past regulation. This gives them some freedom, a sense of responsibility and an opportunity to pursue ‘quiet activities’ such as reading, writing or drawing until they naturally feel ready to drift off.

Mealtimes

If you have fussy kids (particularly the young ones) you’ll know mealtimes can be a battleground. It’s no easy task to cater for everyone’s individual tastes while also ensuring your kids are getting the right nutrition in them, to boot. Rather than make mealtimes a dictatorship, a little listening goes a long way. As opposed to the expansive list of things your kids won’t eat, one idea is to sit them down to discuss what healthy veggies and fruits they actually will enjoy. You might be surprised how varied their palettes are, so combine their newly agreed healthy food preferences with some active participation (children are generally more enthusiastic to eat meals they’ve helped to prepare) and you’ve got yourself a recipe for mealtime harmony. Bon appetite!