Whether you’re into cycling, running, skiing or surfing, outdoor sports can take a toll on your body. There’s nothing to fear though, as there’s plenty you can do to prepare yourself in advance by incorporating the right type of exercises into your regular workouts and building your strength and stability. Francesco Contiero from physiotherapy and sports medicine clinic True Motion, is an expert in the field, so here are his top tips on how to best train your body for outdoor sports.
Increase hip and lower back mobility
Bearing in mind that we spend most of our days tied to a desk, it’s very common to have a lack of mobility and flexibility in the lower back and hip complex, especially men. Activities that involve stretching this area, such as Yoga or Pilates, can go a long way.
At home, go for dynamic movements rather than static ones. This means adding movement to the stretch, rather than holding a static position for a long time. For example, try getting into a common hamstring stretch (raise your leg on a chair and keep your knee straight) and once you feel the pull on the muscles, start twisting your back, reaching right and left with your arms to add a dynamic component. Give this a go a few times a week and you’ll see improvements in no time.
Focus on leg strength
A lot of men think that weight training is enough to improve functional strength, but we’re made of more than just muscle force! For top performance, muscular strengthening needs to be adapted to the particular activity you’re training for. So whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner, or you’re slowly getting into outdoor sports, you should incorporate standing exercises with a fair amount of impact and allowing for instability. Squats and lunges are excellent exercises to try, but don’t just do them using heavy weights. Try using lighter ones instead, but increase the number of reps whilst changing the angle of your toes frequently, as this will target every muscle in your leg.
Work on your balance
A key skill to master for overall wellbeing is balance. Not only will it improve your coordination and movement control, but it will also help prevent ankle and knee injuries that can be attributed to a loss in balance. Your body needs to be able to adapt to new and unstable situations, so you need to force it into movements it’s not used to. Spruce up your workout by adding walking lunges in different directions while holding weights on one arm only. Try raising your back foot off the ground at every lunge. If you want to go the extra mile, go for TRX exercises where you need to master your balance before diving into even the most basic plank.