There’s nothing like a clear blue sky and warm sunny weather to convince you to get outside and try something new! So change up your training by trying some new and fun outdoor activities this summer. Not only will they give you an awesome workout, summer activities will take you out of a rut and add a new dimension of excitement to your workouts!
Hiking, biking, and swimming are just a few things you can enjoy this summer, either alone or with your family. And, so you can get the best out of your outdoor experiences, the following workouts will help you get in shape so your glutes can power through those steep hikes, your quads can cycle through the hills, and your arms can propel you through the water with ease and enjoyment.
Hiking requires strong and powerful legs and core, plus a good level of cardio conditioning. Walking lunges, deep squats, calf raises and one-legged calf raises will help develop leg and core muscles. Cross-training on a stair master, arc trainer or elliptical will work the same muscles and get your endurance and heart in shape for the challenge.
Biking, or cycling, requires a lot of endurance and powerful quads to push through tough hills. Build strength through leg presses, hack squats, leg extensions and hip abduction, and cross-train cardio through indoor cycling or a spinning class.
Swimming really taxes your cardio conditioning, and having strong arms, back and core will help you get the most out of this tough but rewarding exercise. Tricep extensions, lat pull-downs and T-bar rows will work your back and arms while core calisthenics will keep your midsection strong and assist with endurance.
Warm up on a treadmill, bike or elliptical machine for five minutes If you’re outside, go for a jog or a brisk walk for five minutes.
Walking Lunges: Stand with feet together, abs tight and shoulders back. Take a large step forward and simultaneously bend both knees until they form 90 degree angles and the rear knee is nearly touching the ground. Make sure front knee does not go past your toes. Pushing through your front foot, extend your knee and hip and bring rear leg forward to standing. Repeat the motion with opposite leg. Perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions per leg. Hold dumbbells in each hand for added resistance.
Deep Squats: To perform this movement begin standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward, abs tight and shoulders back. Bend knees and hips as you push your butt back as if you are sitting in a chair that is far behind you. Sink hips down until they are below parallel, making sure knees are behind toes, spine is neutral and you are not flexing forward at the trunk. Push through the heels and back to the standing position. Perform with a barbell on your back or a dumbbell at chest or between legs for added resistance. Note: While this exercise is safe for clients with proper flexibility and conditioning, it may be necessary to modify the squat to parallel or slightly above if significant movement compensation occurs. Repeat for 12-20 reps and perform 3-4 sets.
Standing One-Legged Calf Raise: This movement will help fully extend the legs by giving you strength to maintain a good stride length. Find a curb outside and stand on one leg (lean against a road sign or fence for balance). Begin by pressing your body weight through the ball of your foot until your ankle is fully extended at the top. Descend slowly until a large stretch is felt in the calf muscle. Repeat for 12-20 reps on each leg and perform 3-4 sets. Optional: Hold a dumbbell in non-balance hand for added resistance.
Stiff-Legged Dead Lifts: This movement will target the glutes and hamstrings. Begin standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward, abs tight, knees soft, and shoulders back. Bend over at the waist while shifting hips backward until a stretch is felt through the back of the legs. Be sure to keep head and shoulders up and look forward, and keep spine neutral (no rounding). Reverse the movement, squeezing through the glutes and hamstrings until you return to the starting position. Hold barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs for added resistance. Repeat for 12-20 reps and perform 3-4 sets.
Stretches: Follow this workout with a seated hamstring stretch, seated calf stretch and quadricep stretch.
Cardio: Perform 30-45 minutes of cardio on an elliptical, arc trainer or stair master, 3 times weekly.
Warm up on a treadmill, bike or elliptical machine for five minutes.
Leg Press: Once in the leg press machine, set feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, with shoulder blades touching the back pad and back slightly arched to maintain a neutral spine. Keep abs tight, and descend the weight by bending knees and hips until thighs are slightly above parallel. Pause briefly and press the weight back up to the starting position. Perform 4 sets of 12-20 reps.
Hack Squats: Once in the hack squat machine, set feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, with shoulders and hips touching the back pad and back slightly arched to maintain a neutral spine. Keep abs tight, and descend the weight by bending knees and hips until thighs are slightly above parallel. Pause briefly and press the weight back up to the starting position. Perform 4 sets of 12-20 reps. Substitute: Front Squat
Leg Extensions: Set the machine so your knees are extended just slightly past the seat but hips and back are touching the back pad. Leg pad should fall slightly above your shoes, on your lower shins. Keep shoulders back and abs tight. Extend knees upward until a squeeze is felt in the front thighs and lower legs are parallel to the ground. Slowly lower the weight to the return position without allowing the weight stack to hit. Repeat for 12-15 repetitions and perform 4 sets.
Hip Abductor (Outer Thigh Machine): Get set in this machine and, in order to get the most out of this exercise, engage in a full range of motion, extending hips outward as far as comfortably possible without compromising form or rep speed. Perform 3-4 sets of 15-25 repetitions. Stretches Follow this workout with a quadricep stretch and a kneeling hip flexor stretch.
Cardio: Perform 30-45 minutes of cardio on a recumbent or upright bike, or take a spinning class, 3 times weekly.
Warm up on an elliptical or arc trainer for five minutes.
Triceps Extensions: Using an EZ bar, lay on a flat bench and set weight directly over shoulders. Maintain a neutral spine and tight abs. Bend elbows and lower weight several inches, then shift weight backwards by extending shoulders behind your head. Continue lowering weight as if performing a pullover motion, until a deep stretch is felt in the triceps and lats. Be sure not to compromise form by relaxing or extending shoulder blades; they should remain tight and pressed into the bench. Reverse movement through the shoulders and then through the elbows to return to start position. Perform 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
Lat Pull-Down: Keep chest out, back arched and abs tight, and pull weight down in front of you until bar is 1-2 inches over your chest. As you are performing this motion, pull elbows down and in, pinching shoulder blades behind you. Pause, and extend through the arms to the start position. Perform 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
T-Bar Row: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and bend at the waist so that back is in neutral spine and slightly above parallel, keeping head forward. Pull bar up and into your stomach, leading with elbows and pinching shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Reverse by extending arms to return to start. Perform 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
Push-ups, One-Leg Plank Hold and Side Plank Hold: These are great exercises for core strength and stabilizer muscles. Perform 3 sets of each, to failure (or until form is broken). For plank holds, perform 10-12 repetitions, holding each repetition for 5-10 seconds before releasing and resuming position for the next rep.
Stretches: Follow this workout with a tricep stretch, side lat stretch, chest stretch and standing ab stretch.
Cardio: Perform 30-45 minutes of cardio on a treadmill or elliptical machine, 3 times weekly.
SUMMER FUN NUTRITION IS KEY
As with any sport or exercise program, proper nutritional support is essential. Your normal healthy diet of lean protein, whole grains, fibrous vegetables and healthy fats will fuel your workouts and recovery from the gym. However, when you’re actually out enjoying your new activity, fuel needs to be more sustaining and substantial. Fuel up one to two hours beforehand with a generous portion of whole grains, protein, and healthy fats.
A few great options include a cup of granola with a banana and cottage cheese, or a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and a Max Muscle protein shake on the side. If you plan on staying active longer than two hours, which is very possible on a long bike ride or hike, it’s smart to bring along bottled water and some snacks to keep you going. An apple, granola bar, trail mix, or even a serving of Max Muscle’s Carbo Max are great options. It’s always a good idea to bring more than you think you need, because extra is obviously better than not enough.
Supplements will also support your out-of-the gym adventures. Maintaining a healthy heart and joints are important for an active lifestyle. Try Max EFAs to get the healthy fats you need to support heart and joint health. And, for sustained energy without the crash, try Emerge.
By Alissa Carpio, NASM-CPT