Following her 100 Sports in 100 Days challenge Expert Liu Batchelor has gained enormous insight into the benefits of overall balanced fitness. 

In the second part of this article Liu discusses her sporting background and her favorite exercises.

Missed Part One? Catch up here!

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4. Are you an action girl by nature? And what is your own sporting background?

Yeah I have always been quite sporty, and was lucky to get the opportunity to be active growing up – however I’ve certainly had my fair share of challenges when it comes to keeping active, and there have been many times when I’ve ‘fallen off the fitness wagon’ and had long periods of being inactive.

Growing up I did all the regular mainstream and school sports, as well as family ski holidays, and I played hockey for a local club as a teenager.

When I went to university I took up Wakeboarding and absolutely fell in love with it – and ended up competing for four years. However this took its toll as I had a number of major injuries, the worst one being breaking my kneecap and ending up in a leg brace for around 9 months.

However this cloud in my sporting history is what lead me into the fitness world! As a result of all the rehabilitation I had to do – I learnt an incredible amount about my body.

The rehab exercises naturally progressed into weight training to try and re-balance my legs, and before I knew it I’d set myself the challenge of competing in a figure competition as an added incentive to keep working hard!

Bodybuilding and fitness competitions are all about balance and symmetry – so what better motivation to correct all those old injuries and muscle imbalances!

5. What is your focus these days when it comes to fitness and training?

Although my old knee injury doesn’t really effect me much at the moment, its always something I will need to take care and be aware of – and so a key element to my fitness and training is focused around maintaining good joint health – particularly in my legs.

This involves lots of strength training, particularly of the glutes, as these are key to keeping good knee alignment. I also try to do lots of dynamic stretching and balance work – which means that if I do stumble or trip during a sport, then my body and joints are more likely to be able to react, correct and recover quickly.

Liu Batchelor Q&A_2

6. Your 100 sports experience must have given you great insight into the benefits of overall balanced fitness and conditioning rather than potentially limiting sport specific fitness.

Yes absolutely! I was very lucky in that I only had one minor ankle injury during the 100 sports (as a result of running on uneven ground – but which thankfully cleared up in a few days with lots of ice).

I really do put that down to the fact that I had a good all-round fitness level at the time, and I was not training intensely for any specific sports or fitness competitions.

Although I totally appreciate and think its important to train in a specific way to be the best you can for a certain sport, I think the problems can come when you try and transfer this, and are maybe over confident with your fitness level, without taking into account the unique requirements or different types of movement and power required for other sports.

During my wakeboarding years I was victim to the consequence of over-training in one specific way.

Wakeboarding requires lots of back strength – both static and then explosive – and so I would train my back a lot in the gym.

However in hindsight I focused too heavily on limited planes of movement – and as a result during a competition when doing a rotational trick/movement, when I moved my arm through a more 360 plane of movement I was not strong enough to hold the force and ended up tearing my latissimus muscle (that connects your back to your arm under your armpit) quite badly.

As a result, any strength training I now do will be complimented with multi-dimensional and balance/proprioception exercises as well.

 

7. If you were able to do just three exercises for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

That’s a great question! Ok, well these answers are very personal to me and my injuries (although I think would be relevant to anyone suffering any level of knee pain at any point) but I would have to say:

Clam Shells

Everytime I go to physio I get told to do these exercises.

They work the tiny muscles in your glutes, which are important to help keep your knee in good alignment.

When you see the exercise it doesn’t look like much, but when you do a good number of them you feel like you’ve been given a dead bum!

I really notice the different when I start a leg strength workout warming up with these, as I find when I then move on to Squats etc, I recruit more hamstring and glute strength than I would otherwise – so I know I’m much more balanced

Lunges

Such a dynamic exercise that works so many different parts of your legs – and it’s so easy to tweak the exercise to focus more on different muscles, more on strength vs flexibility, power vs endurance etc. It kills me but I love it!

Pistol Squats

This was always my party trick (on my good leg) when I had my injured leg in plaster! And then it became my goal/measure of whether my ‘bad’ knee was recovered and balanced or not.

I like it because, although people think it’s all about strength, you have to have good flexibility and balance too to be able to pull it off in a controlled manner.

When I’m feeling really good I like trying it on a Bosu ball too.

Part 3 of this exclusive Q&A will be available here at WatchFit next. Look out for it!

Connect with Expert Liu Batchelor.

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