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For Your Next WorkOut, Think of the Park

With the heat and humidity gone and the cool fall air upon us, it’s the best time of the year for an outdoor workout. In fact, the next few months offer a great opportunity to step up your training before ice, snow and the cold change the dynamics of outdoor exercise. One of the best places for a fall workout is in your local park or green space.

Not only do you have some great props to work with, you’re also off the cement, away from traffic and surrounded by the sounds and smells of nature. If the closest park is a few kilometres from home, all the better. Walk, run or cycle there, using the travel time to warm up in preparation for the workout below.

Designed to boost upper and lower body strength and power, the featured exercises can also be used as part of a pre-season ski conditioning program.

Be Forewarned

This workout isn’t suitable for most beginners. The moves are challenging and the intensity is intended for someone who has a good aerobic base. If you’re fit enough to give it a try, head out to the nearest park once a week and see what the outdoors can offer. Hill repeats Find a moderately steep hill that takes 15 to 30 seconds to ascend. Run (or speed walk) up the hill at about 80 to 90 per cent of your maximum effort, leaning slightly from the ankles, not the hips. (Keep your upper body tall.) Walk back down the hill. Repeat four to six times.

Tips: Keep your shoulders down with your thumbs grazing your hip bones as you swing your arms during your uphill sprints.

Mountain Climbers

Start position: Place your hands on a bench and position them slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. Extend one leg out behind you and pull the other leg under your body (knee toward the chest), toes on the ground and heels lifted.

Action: Keeping your upper body strong, alternate leg positions quickly for 30 seconds. Rest for one minute and repeat four to six times.

Tips: Keep your head in line with the spine and your heels elevated (stay on your toes) throughout the exercise.

Bench Lunge

Start position: Place one foot on a bench and the other on the ground.

Action: Bring the foot off the ground and drive it toward your chest and back to the ground. Repeat for 30 seconds, then change legs.

Tips: Keep your upper body tall and use the arms to help you drive the leg forward and backward. Add speed for more intensity.

Twisting Bench Push-Ups

Start position: Place both hands on a bench and position them slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Extend the legs out and balance on the toes in the classic pushup position.

Action: Lower the upper body toward the bench while at the same time bringing your right knee toward the left shoulder. Push back up and return your right knee to the ground. Repeat, this time lifting your left knee toward your right shoulder. Repeat, alternating knee lifts, eight to 20 times.

Tips: Keep your shoulders square and rotate from the hips only as the knee moves toward the opposite shoulder. Bend your arms until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees, then push back up to the starting position.

Bench-Ups

Start position: Stand with feet hip distance apart facing the bench and bend slightly at the knees.

Action: Swing the arms and jump out of the crouch position onto the bench. Land softly on both feet and stand up tall. Step down off the bench and repeat four to six times.

Tips: Alternate lead legs every time you step off the bench.

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