Easter buns all round!
Personal trainer (and former chef) Ian Eassom shares his tips on staying fit and healthy, with the occasional treat…
This month we are focusing on our buns (in every sense!) with exercises to make them our best ass-et. Don’t worry, I have a tasty vegan bun recipe to enjoy too, that’ll get you in the mood for Easter.
As well as making us feel and look good, strong glutes (your buttock muscles) are important for proper pelvic alignment during walking, running and standing, as well as supporting our backs and knees for tasks such as lifting. These exercises will help them become stronger and you are at less risk of injuries when your rear is in gear!
If you suffer from lower back, hip or knee pain, or poor posture in general, it could be a sign of weak glutes (although you should always get any ongoing problems checked out by a professional to rule out other issues).
Our old friends the kettlebell swing, lunge, burpee and mountain climber are just some of the exercises that can tone and strengthen our glutes, and you may remember them from my recent articles. Here are some new ideas to help strengthen your glutes, which you’ll find challenging – in a good way!
Step It Up
The step up is a nice simple one to start with, and is great for strengthening those glutes. The intensity can be increased according to how big or high a step you use and the speed you go. These can be achieved at home readily, so long as you find something secure and unlikely to slip to step onto. From a standing start, place one foot firmly on the step, then lift your whole body up, placing your other foot alongside it on the step and raising your arms in the air. Then reverse to step down. Swap feet on the step and repeat, which forms one set. Try to do 10 sets, which is 20 steps, with each leg leading 10 times.
Start in a seated squat position, with your feet on the floor, knees bent and your bum just above the back of your ankles. You should also try to have your hands on the floor, fingers forward facing. Allow yourself to roll backwards so that your back is on the floor and your hips are raised off it. Push your legs straight up into the air and as gravity starts to take hold, use the downward momentum to roll forward, placing your feet on the floor in front of you and moving over them ready to stand up. Once you have your balance, push upwards into a jump and raise your arms high above you as you leap. Don’t forget to bend your knees as you land.
Squat down as far as you can, so your upper legs are parallel with the ground if possible. Hold your hands together in front of you, interlocking your fingers. Resist the temptation to hunch forward – you need to keep your posture nice and straight, shoulders back and chest raised. Keeping an eye on your balance, take two confident steps sidewards, then return to your starting position, then two the other way. If you can repeat this five times, you’re doing really well!
Elevated Split Squat
Imagine a freeze-frame of you running to catch the bus; that’s what you should look like at the start of this exercise! Stand firmly on your left foot, knee slightly bent, with your right leg lifted behind you and right foot off the ground. Slowly lower yourself on your left leg, so your right knee gets as close to the ground as possible (but not touching). If it helps, use something to support you until you get used to it (a chair, tree or wall will do).
This final exercise is great for increasing your range of motion and improving your overall mobility. It will also help strengthen your knees. You can also use a dumbbell or kettlebell to make it more intense.
Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, and lower yourself onto your left leg, keeping your right leg straight. Try to keep the toes on your right foot pointing upwards if you can. Once you have lowered yourself as far as you can safely go (that is to say, the lowest from which you can still recover), lift your weight upwards and swap to the other leg. Repeat this 10 times and you’ll find it firms you up in no time!
Now we’ve got nice firm buns on the outside, let’s think about the sort we want on the inside! This month I’m making something tasty, zesty and completely vegan.
Easter Lemon and Ginger Oaty Buns
To start, heat the combined milk and lemon juice in the microwave for 40 seconds in a suitable container, then lightly whisk in a tablespoon of the honey and the yeast. Leave it for 10 minutes or until it develops a light froth.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, cinnamon, spice, ginger, fruit and the zest of one of the lemons and mix thoroughly. Hollow out the centre of the mix and stir in the yeast mixture until you get a wet dough.
Sprinkle some flour onto the worktop and knead the dough for five minutes or so. You don’t want it sticking, so add in some extra flour if you need to. Leave it to prove in a greased bowl for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Shape the dough into a dozen buns and place neatly onto a baking tray greased with the olive oil. Cover the tray and leave them to prove further in a warm place for a further half an hour, or until they have doubled again.
Mix the remaining flour, water and honey into a bowl and form a firm paste and use it to make the crosses on the buns. Bake at 180°C in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through.
Finally, heat the remaining honey and brush the tops of the buns once cooled slightly, sprinkling the zest of the second lemon on top.
One more thing!
It wouldn’t be Easter without a good old fashioned egg hunt, so if you can find all the Easter Eggs hidden in my pictures this month and correctly tell me how many there are, I’ll pop your name in a draw to win a free taster session (online or face-to-face). To enter, visit my website and drop me a message!
Have a lovely Easter and I hope you get to enjoy some sunny weather during the bank holiday weekend. Have a wonderful month and I’ll see you in May.
Ian Eassom is a Lincoln-based mobile personal trainer. Ian can offer private online one-to-one sessions, with bespoke exercise and diet plans to suit you. Ian can also offer individual training sessions in your own garden or public space, subject to and in adherence with the latest Covid guidance. Don’t forget there’s a special offer for Lincolnshire Life readers! For the latest information, visit