With warm weather, comes warm weather activities and more chances to be outside exploring this world and rocking your body out on some exciting (mini) adventures.
Whether or not you’re a gym rat, there’s nothing like heading to the great outdoors to get some fresh air and fitness. From kayaking to biking, swimming upstream to urban hikes, there are tons of awesome ways to get out and get active no matter where you live.
In fact, I challenge you to get out and move your body in a different way than what you are used to- but making sure you are safe and your body is ready for the new challenge is paramount. Nothing is more of a bummer than being deep in the midst of fitness fun in the sun than a pulled muscle or an aching joint. BLAH! What do you do?
I totally get it. I am an fitness adventure junkie. But I also want to be a fitness adventure junkie for life and keep my body happy with my fitness madness!
Check out the 5 exercises below to help get you started in training your body with versatility for many activities or for getting strong in a specific fitness adventure. They are also great if you just want an awesome, butt-kicking workout!
The plank row helps to build your stroke power and gives you a super strong core. Make sure that you are hitting this right and paying attention to your form and body position. If you can only do two reps with perfect form, take a 20–30-second break, then try two more.
- The How: Grab a dumbbell in each hand in a plank position. Keep knees or feet hip-width apart for balance and stability. Lean body weight onto left arm and lift the right dumbbell off the floor. Use a “row” motion to pull dumbbell up to the side of your body. Do not rotate torso; keep chest facing the floor. Slowly lower dumbbell, transfer body weight, and repeat with the left arm.
- Beginner: Legs bent, balance on knees
- Advanced: Legs straight, balance on toes
- Reps: 10 rows each arm for 2-3 sets. Adjust weights as necessary to complete set with proper form
Training the back and the legs are key to powering through safely and with more ease while cycling. Regardless if you are cycling more competitively or out for a leisurely ride in the countryside, keeping your core and lower body functionally strong will keep you riding longer and with less pain.
- The How: Bend at your hips and knees and grab the bar or dumbbells using an overhand grip. Slightly arch your lower back while keeping your arms straight. Make sure that your abdominals and core muscles are tight throughout the entire movement. Without allowing your lower back to round, stand up very slowly with the weight. Hold for a second, then lower the weight, again slowly (using a controlled motion), to the floor.
- Reps: 20 times for 2-3 sets.
Weighted Glute Bridge
Bad ass hikers aren’t born, they do exercises to get that way! By focusing on exercises that strengthen the legs (especially the hamstrings and the glutes), core muscles, and balance, you will be able to push through some of the more challenging terrain and be able to have more energy and endurance to complete the hike. The weighted glute bridge strengthens your butt and hamstrings, the two big leg muscles that put power into a hiker’s stride.
- The How: Position yourself so that your shoulder blades and neck are supported on the bench and your feet are on the floor. Keep your feet flat on the floor at shoulder width and with knees in line with toes throughout this exercise. Place the weight onto your hip bones. Slowly lift your hips towards the ceiling. Squeeze your buttocks at the top of the motion, holding for a few seconds before you lower your hips between reps. Keep the weight light and focus on having an explosive hip thrust on the way up, the squeeze in the middle, and then an easy release.
- Modify: If you don’t have a barbell or dumbbells, you can get the same benefit using a medicine ball or a bag of flour as long as you hold them in the same position at the top of your legs
- Reps: 10-15 reps for 2-3 sets
Seated Weighted Paddle Figure 8’s
Kayaking is all about the core and the upper body, particularly the shoulders. Develop them and you will be a mean kayaking machine- or at least able to paddle up the creek without cramping up!
The core is the key link between the upper and lower body. When paddling it is critical for the transfer of power and stability. It is even more critical to strengthen and develop the deep abdominal muscles to develop strength and stability. Here is a perfect functional exercise that will strengthen the smaller muscles in the shoulders, your entire trunk, and your forearms.
- The How: Sit on a box or bench with legs together or extended out in front of you. Hold onto a Bodybar (5-10 pounds) or very light barbell for a little added resistance. Sit up tall, pull your belly button towards your spine, and lean back to approximately 45-60 degrees (without rounding the upper back and shoulders). Begin “rowing” or drawing a figure 8 pattern alternating from side to side. Keep core tight throughout the entire motion.
- Reps: Build up to being able to “air row” for 2-3 minutes per set
- Modify: Use a medicine ball or light dumbbell if you do not have a barbell or Bodybar.
Half-Scorpion With Leg Extensions
Runners need a different strength-training program than your standard gym rat. Any runner newbie who is already active can attest to that. Instead of pushing weight away from the body with bicep curls, leg extensions, and bench presses, runners should focus on targeting the muscles that will keep them balanced and their hips, core, and lower body strong. Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles all need some love when it comes to running.
- The How: Get into a pushup position, but with your feet on a bench. Raise your right knee toward your left shoulder as you rotate your hips up and to the left as far as you can. Then reverse directions, rotating your hips up and to the right, and doing a straight leg extension (a straight leg raise to the ceiling). That’s one repetition.
- Modifications: To make it easier, do step one of the exercise, twisting in just one direction. To make it harder, instead of putting your feet on a bench, do the exercise with your shins on a stability ball.
- Reps: As many as you can in 30 seconds. Then switch to the other leg. Do 2-3 sets on each leg.
Strength-train two or three times a week and stretch daily. Being active and committed to one activity for the majority of the year can create muscle imbalances or accentuate ones you already have. When you then attempt to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, your body may not know how to react or it may not be strong enough to. Weak calves, for example, can put too much stress on the Achilles and break down the fibers that make up the tendon. Unstable hip and core muscles hurt your biomechanics and overload your shins, which can lead to shin splints and stress fractures. Prepare ahead of time and your body will respond with the ability for more fun and fitness in the sun!
Take action now! Do you have a fitness adventure planned? Is there something that you wanted to try this year? Get started with the exercises above by planning out workout days in your schedule. They only take a few minutes, but will produce long-lasting results.
Do you just want to change up your gym program? Put all of these exercises together and use them for a challenging spin on your bland workout routine at the gym.
Go to the comment section. Make a comment and let me know what you have struggled with, what you have tried, and what your action plan is. The best discussions start between like-minded friends! Share this with your friends and get more people in on the action.
Do you want to learn more? This was a just a snippet into how you can apply this to your own life. If you are craving more and need to make a change in your life right now (or even if you are scared and don’t know what to do), I am here to guide you in the right direction. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what you can do to get you from where you are now to where you always dreamed you wanted to be.
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