Summer is upon us once again. School is out, the air is warm, stress is down, and everyone seems happier. It's time to change up your stale training routines and get into better shape with these ideas for great summer workouts!
Don't run in the heat when swimming is a great alternative. Swimming laps in a pool is great for your cardio-respiratory system, and it works your whole body better than running or biking.
There are four main strokes—backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle. The freestyle is a great choice for swimming for fitness, because the technique should be more natural and easier to pick up, and because your swim speed will be faster with this stroke.
Once you get comfortable using the stroke, swim for a set distance and record your time. One hundred meters (two lengths of a standard Olympic-sized pool) is a good distance. After three or four swims, don't be surprised if you are breathing hard. This is a tough workout.
Just like when you go running, you can increase the intensity and sprint for a shorter distance, or go slower for a longer distance. Feel free to mix in different strokes. Try getting best times for 50- and 100-meter distances in each of the four strokes during one session. By the end of the swim, you will be tired and ready for a rest!
2. Sand Work
Another summer staple is the beach. If you are lucky enough to live close, the sand makes for a great workout. Anyone who has ever tried to run or even walk through sand knows how it creates a huge burn in the legs. The instability makes any movement more difficult, requiring your body to work harder just to maintain stable forward motion. Sand is soft, making jumping exercises easier on the body and lowering the chance of injury. But this comes at a cost: less height to your jumps, because you lose some of your power overcoming the softness of the sand.
Pick a few exercises, say 5-10-5 Shuttle Runs, Bear Crawls, Squat Jumps and Cross-Body Knee Drives. Do 20 seconds of each, rest 10 seconds and repeat the sequence. After the second round, increase your rest time to 20 seconds for another two rounds, before finishing with two final rounds of 30 seconds of rest. Enjoy the burn.
3. Park Workouts
Not everyone can go down to the sand, but a workout in the park can be just as good. Here's a great outdoor park workout anyone can do:
- Start on the ground in a Plank for one minute.
- Roll over and knock out a set of 10 Single-Leg Bridges on each leg.
- Find a bench or step and do 15 Step-Ups, leading a set with each foot.
- Drop back to the ground and put your feet up on the bench for 15 Push-Ups.
- Do five Standing Long Jumps.
- Finish with a 20-Yard Sprint.
- Rest and repeat the circuit as many times as possible in 45 minutes.
For a bonus at the park, go to the playground. When was the last time you made it across monkey bars? Give it a try! Too easy? Hang from the first bar, do a Pull-Up, move to the next bar and do another Pull-Up. See if you can move across the monkey bars this way. Have fun with it and see what you can do!
4. Run a Hill
Find a hill with a good, steep slope. Many athletes who need anaerobic power have discovered the magic that results from hill sprints. The surface can be dirt, grass or even sand. It will get the job done. Do not pick a huge Everest-sized hill. Choose something you can comfortably run up in less than 10 seconds.
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- Stand at the base of the hill and sprint to the top.
- Turn around and walk back to the bottom.
- Rest for 20 seconds.
- Sprint up the hill again.
If you can get 10 sprints up the hill, congratulate yourself—you just completed a killer anaerobic sprint workout.
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