Get fit and healthy in 10 minutes

Matt Roberts personal trainer


Web chats tv

It can be hell trying to stick to a diet and fitness regime in order to achieve a heavenly body, especially in today's time-starved society. Not everyone has a personal trainer or chef to help them stay on track, so good intentions often go to waste.

But fitness trainer to the stars, Matt Roberts, has devised Ten Minute Tasters - exercises and recipes that can be done in ten minutes ­ to make personal targets more achievable.

At just 30 years old, Matt Roberts has become one of the world's leading personal trainers and is responsible for creating some of the most famous bodies around including Naomi Campbell, Amanda Holden, Mel C and Tamsin Outhwaite.

Matt writes regular columns on fitness in the Sunday Times Style supplement, The Daily Express, Glamour and The Evening Standard. As well as this he has written several best-selling books including 'Fitness for Life' and 'The PHA Workout'.


We?re going to start off with questions about exercise as Damian wants to know:

    How much exercise do we need to do a week to keep toned and healthy I try and do half an hour at least 3 or 4 times week?

Matt said:


This is a commonly asked question, because there is a lot of confusion about the quantity of work that you need to do to maintain you shape, and improve your shape. Government recommendations currently say that you should be active 5 times per week for about 1/2hr each time. But these exercises include such activities as slow paced walking, ironing and gardening. The truth is you need to actually raise your heart rate significantly enough, that you feel out of breath, hot, sweaty about 4 times per week for between 30-40mins to make a significant difference to your fitness level, or to reduce body fat. This would cover your aerobic activities, however you will also need to do about 15-20 minutes of resistance exercise or weight training on 2 or 3 days per week to make a significant difference to your muscle tone and body shape. Therefore I would say at the moment you are doing enough to maintain your shape, but not enough to massively change the shape positively.



Paul said:


Is it ok to do exercise every day as long as you're using different muscles?


Matt said:


Exercising every day on the basis that you are rotating between different muscle groups is perfectly ok. Research has shown that even when you exert quite significant stress onto muscle fibres using weight training, they actually recover within about 12-24 hours. In theory this would mean that you can exercise the same muscle fibres every single day, however this would be unwise and by rotating between muscle groups and working the same muscles every 48hours you can guarantee that the muscles are fresher and fully recovered for their next exercise session.



Elizabeth McGregor said:


Do you have any keep fit tips for a sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis, with a permanently painful back which makes it difficult to bend from the knees downwards, and impossible to rise without holding on to something? Thank you.


Matt said:


This is a very common ailment and one that often puts people off doing any form of activity, due to the obvious and extreme pain it can cause. However, it is important that you maintain good mobility through all of your joints as any reduction in your flexibility will only cause further distortion to the joints and to your posture and would certainly cause more pain. One of the most successful ways of treating this sort of condition, has been to work in a swimming pool, this does not mean just purely swimming, it should include a wide variety of mobility exercises that you perform standing up, holding onto the edge of the pool. Exercises such as knee raises, side leg raises and a range of arm exercises in which your arms are immersed in the water will encourage greater use of the muscles, which will create strength, greater mobility of the joints, which will increase flexibility and a far greater general sense of 'wellness' from being active again.



Suzanne Hart said:


What type of exercise routines does Matt recommend for expectant mothers leading up to and after their pregnancy?


Matt said:


The important thing with exercise once you have discovered you are pregnant, is that you don't try new exercises because you are pregnant. For example a person who has not exercised before should not begin exercising because they believe it may do some good at this late stage. The important thing to consider when you are pregnant and exercising is the control of your heart rate and heat levels. As a rule of thumb, you should try to work to a maximum heart rate of approx 140 beats per minute when you are doing aerobic activities. I would strongly recommend that you do not do machines in the gym that specifically target your legs. These machines have a tendency to increase blood pressure and heat levels to a level that is potentially dangerous....



Matt said:


... You might find great benefit from working with muscles in the upper body, particularly in the upper back. This is an area which often comes under great strain, particularly toward the third trimester as the weight of the baby draws your back and shoulders forwards, creating aches in upper back and shoulder areas. Exercises such as seated row or single arm row, using repetitions of no less than 15 reps will cause increases in strength and positive maintenance of posture. When using weights in the gym you should now ensure that you do not choose a weight that will only allow you to do less than 15 reps on any exercise.



Kathryn said:


Got any top tips on shifting cellulite?


Matt said:


Cellulite is just another form of fat and it is something which over time and diligent exercising can be reduced and in many cases eradicated. Cellulite is formed through hereditary patterns and through high level of toxicity in the body, which can cause the fat and skin to separate underneath the skin surface, causing the orange peel effect. Whilst it is very difficult to spot burn the fat from one area there is some practical and anecdotal evidence they are using a combination of very high repetition exercise for one specific area with short bursts of high intensity aerobic activity can produce enough heat and increases in blood circulation to encourage the breakdown of fat cells in stubborn cellulite areas. This combined with a diet which aims to detoxify the body should produce significant responses.



Moving away from fitness programmes for the moment and on to diet related questions, which we've had loads submitted, Suzanne asks:


Hi Matt. How r u? I exercise everyday for one hour. Mid-afternoon regardless of what I have eaten at lunchtime, usually a mixture of carbs and protein, I get a massive dip in my blood sugar levels, what do you suggest I should eat to bring my blood sugar levels back up again?


Matt said:


Provided that you are having low or moderate GI foods over lunch, I am going to assume that this dip is due to your own personal metabolic response. I would suggest that you snack one or twice through the afternoon on a combination of carbohydrate snacks/foods. You may find low GI fruit such as apples or pears will maintain a higher blood sugar level and stop you being quite so tired. You may find that snacking on foods such as carrots or other vegetables will have the same sort of effect. Another alternative is to snack on nuts or seeds such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Sometimes however these foods are either unavailable or unappealing in which case you may need to be more creative and plan quite diligently what your snack will be.



Matt said:


One thing that you could try is to prepare a healthy wholesome salad, which you take to work or have at home, wherever is convenient. A good example of this is available within my '10 Minute Taster' Pack, which you can obtain free of charge by logging onto



That leads us nicely on to a question from Robin who wants to know:


Does canned food not have more additives and preservatives than fresh equivalents?


Matt said:


Canned food is something which should surprise most people. Your opinion is one that is probably shared by many people in this country. However, it is not entirely accurate - the process of canning vegetables and fruits is in itself a preserving process, there is no need to add preservatives to these products. In fact, it would be fair to say that canned vegetables are as nutritionally sound as frozen vegetable which are often seen as being the most effective way of storing this food type long-term...



Matt said:


In the UK we are extremely wasteful of fresh salads, fruits and vegetables and whilst these fresh foods are fantastic for us when they are fresh, they do lose nutritional goodness rapidly. I believe that canned food presents a good convenient, healthy alternative which can be available at any time on your larder shelf. It is true that certain fish and meat products that are canned do need to have some preservatives added as part of the process, however when compared to the additives in ready meals and other junk food these preservatives are mild by comparison.



And final question on this topic for now, Nigel asks:


Do canned vegetables count towards RDAs?


Matt said:


They certainly do. The nutritional content of food that is canned is excellent and it would be fair to assume that having an equal portion size of canned food would equate to the same size daily intake of vitamins and minerals from fresh food. The obvious benefit of canned food is that you can get it very easily, whereas having fresh products all of the time is not always possible.



I'm delighted to say that we've been joined online today by Ben Townley who is 'News and Features Editor' for a number of leading lifestyle websites and Ben's provided us with a few questions, the first of which is:


"Is 10 minutes really enough time to help you get fit?" 


Matt said:


10 minutes on it's own per day is not enough time to massively improve your fitness. You really need to be doing at least 30mins of work, 4 days per week. Within my '10 Minute Tasters' pack, there are 10minute exercise programmes, these are designed to target certain areas of the body and should be combined with each other or with other forms of exercise that you may currently do as part of your routine.



Ben said:


What are the best ways to boost energy?


Matt said:


Depending on the reason your energy is depleted, there are a number of ways you can boost levels. If your energy is depleted due to a lack of sleep - I would only prescribe an early night. If your lack of energy is due to a hangover - I would prescribe a day on the wagon! But if your energy is not explicable to a specific reason or event, it may be that you are suffering with widely fluctuating blood sugar. I would recommend that you look at your diet and eradicate high GI foods such as white pasta, white bread, white rice and potatoes and replace them with their brown counterparts. Or in the case of potatoes substitute them with new potatoes or sweet potatoes. When you snack, you should try to avoid snacking on foods that are obviously high in sugar such as biscuits or chocolate, and perhaps instead try making a fresh smoothie which should give you a boost of energy in the short and medium term.



Ben said:


"What's the best way to motivate yourself to get fit and healthy?" 


Matt said:


It is crucial that you have a very obvious goal that you need to attain, and a date on which you must meet that goal. One of the biggest differences between working with people who are celebrities and people who are not is that celebrities are highly motivated by the fact that they need to be in shape for a specific event, on a specific date. They also have the added motivation of being seen around the world out of condition, if they appear at such an event without being prepared. I would suggest that people should give themselves some form of reward for achieving the specific goal they have set, but they should also be prepared to accept some form of downside to not achieving their goal. This could even take the form of giving money to somebody, doing chores you dislike or performing some form of act that is highly embarrassing! Whichever of these things may give you motivation to ensure you do achieve your goal, will hopefully be enough to trigger you into action in your less motivated moments.



Talking of celebrities, Toby wants to know:


Who's the nicest celeb you've worked with? Why is that?


Matt said:


One of my closest friends and best clients is Mel C who as a client is a joy to work with. From a training perspective she is very rewarding in that she will do anything that you throw at her and give 100% effort in doing it every time. When planning Melanie's programmes I am completely sure that she will stick to the plan, whether she is with me or not as she understands that the benefit is entirely for her. On a personal level she is probably one of the most down to earth, honest and sincere people that I know.



OK, as we move into the last 15 minutes, we're going to try and answer some of your more specific questions, starting with one from Dionne who wants to know:


I'm diabetic, have high cholesterol, am overweight, and don't like spicy foods, (even black pepper is too spicy), what can you suggest for quick meals on a very busy schedule?


Matt said:


Given that we need to maintain low cholesterol and control your intake of sugar, I have several recipes that will suit you perfectly as they are also able to be prepared within just 10 minutes. One recipe I would recommend highly for an evening meal is my vegetable bake. This dish uses a combination of beans, pulses and potato to form a meal which per portion is approximately just 400 calories, less than 10% fat and is very low in bad cholesterols. This recipe is available within the Matt Roberts '10 Minute Taster' pack, along with other suitable recipes for you, available on the Canned Food UK site.



Helen wants to know:


"Hi Matt, I've been dieting since mid February and I have lost 12lb so far. I am having an allowance of 1100 calories per day. I am now exercising around 2 hours per day, this ranges from aqua fit, body combat, body pump and pilates and cross trainer. My weight loss is slowing, can you suggest anything to speed it up a little." 


Matt said:


It sounds as though you have done very well with your weight loss so far. Don't be disheartened by the fact it is now slowing slightly, this is relatively normal after the first 5-6 weeks. At the moment your 2hrs of exercise per day should be burning between 600-1000 calories per day. You intake of food is just 1100 calories; this therefore leaves only approx 100cals for your body to function for the rest of the day. There is a severe risk that what you are doing is forcing your body to potentially slow its metabolic rate down as it becomes increasingly concerned about the available energy levels. You need to increase your calorie intake in order to lose more weight which I know will sound quite persevere to your normal diet and weight loss thinking...



Matt said:


In essence we have to encourage your body to be a very efficient energy burning system, and like a fire that isn't fed enough fuel without energy it goes out. We have to give your body the appropriate forms of fuel to make it burn more calories, and these foods should include a combination of low to moderate GI food and protein. If your current intake of 1100 calories per day has a nutritional breakdown of 55% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fat you simply have to increase your calorie intake by approx 400-600 calories per day, using the same quality of food and I would feel quite confident that this would make the effects of your workout and diet programme far better again.



Claire Bingham wants to know:


I'm a mum of three and want an easy way to diet and get back into shape. Is there any such way or could you help me please, I don?t want to be a fat mum I'm in a size 12 -14 and want to get down to a size 10.  


Matt said:


It is very difficult as a mother of one child, let alone three to maintain a constantly good diet or exercise regime. I would also say that as a size 12 you are less than the national average and are probably in fairly good shape. Of course if you have been a size 10 before it is naturally your goal to get back to that size again. One of the important things with children is that you don't start snacking on the food that you are preparing for them. It is quite common for young mums to do this and then also eat with their partner later in the evening. You need to ensure that you decide when it is that you will eat, whether that will be with your children or with your partner, but not both. You should be trying to consume a daily intake of approximately 1400-1600 calories and you should try to ensure that you start the day with a good-sized breakfast. I would certainly point you towards my '10 Minute Taster' pack for ideas on lunches on dinners and I would also recommend that you start the day with either a bowl of porridge or a bowl of homemade muesli. These forms of food will provide you with a good combination of carbohydrates and protein that will kick start your metabolism before your busy day with the children and should help you to burn more calories. For further diet plans you could look at one of my books the Matt Roberts 'Fat Loss Plan' which contains an eight-week diet programme.



Patricia van Os wants to know:


I need to begin exercise again after damaging the cartilage in my knee. I am awaiting surgery, but in the meantime I am gaining weight as my normal form of exercise i.e. walking is now painful. What can I do? I am 56 yrs old 5ft 6ins and weigh approx 12 stone.


Matt said:


This is a very common injury and one that can be extremely uncomfortable in the period before it is operated on. I would recommend two forms of exercise that will maintain a healthy body weight and continue to work your cardiovascular system very effectively. The first one I want you to attempt however if any pain is caused, you should avoid it. This first exercise type is cycling, which dependent upon the type of cartilage damage you have should be fine. You should try to cycle at a moderate pace on flat ground with a low gear setting and high leg speed for up to an hour, two or three days per week...



Matt said:


If this proves to be painful, the second form of activity you could try is swimming. If during swimming you find that the knee is uncomfortable you could try using a flotation board, between your legs, which will allow you to purely use your upper body and put no strain at all to your knee. Upper body swimming will maintain exceptionally good use of your heart and lungs and circulatory system. Until your surgery has been carried out, either one or both of these exercises will help you to maintain your fitness.



And the last question, which finishes us off nicely on our leading topic of the day, Margaret Wilde wants to know:


I need to have a low salt intake which means that I am advised to cook fresh food from scratch, but my hands are delicate and painful and it is difficult for me to peel and cut up vegetables. I wonder if you would put together some suggestions for low salt meals using canned foods for people like me.


Matt said:


The beauty of working with canned food is that it has been pre prepared and cooked for you. The salt level of canned foods, particularly vegetables is very low. Typically a can of any vegetables beans or pulses will contain trace levels of salt or even in the case of cans that state they have salt added less than 1 gram per can.


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