I hope everyone had a safe New Year and is setting goals to make 2016 his best year yet! I’m getting back on track with healthy dinners while cutting back on alcohol. I’m 4 weeks into my Paris Marathon training and was starting to get some minimal left knee discomfort with my long runs so I got myself a foam roll and I’ve incorporated a strengthening component to my program with a hybrid mix of The Master’s Hammer and Chisel from Beachbody. But I’m more concerned about my aerobic condition and endurance for my snowboarding trip to Ellmau (pronounced Elmo), Austria next week. Insert happy dance because skiing the Alps is like nothing else! Plus, I just got all new attire and gear because I either sold or gave away all of mine before my move abroad. So I’m completely giddy!
For mountain enthusiasts, your body is either attached to one or two apparatuses on a slippery surface. If your core and legs are under-conditioned, with a higher center of gravity and aging joints, you can bet on an injury either from repetitive overuse or a fall. But I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve for you to try over the next month to make your February and beyond your best peak performance yet.
It takes muscles 4-6 weeks to develop and adjust to new workout regimes. For those new to these types of exercises, keep your weights low or even just start with your own body weight. Modify when needed, listening to your body, and don’t push through joint pain (guess what, your muscles should burn though – that’s the “good” pain). This routine is a circuit of supersets (2 exercises performed one after the other, first with high-load and second with low-load or bodyweight) to improve strength and cardiovascular conditioning. For each set (1A and 1B, 2A and 2B, etc), perform 2×15 reps of each exercise on each side. Try this routine 1-2x per week.
1A: Weighted Squat
Stand with feet hip-width apart, weight pressed into heels. Hold a weight at chest height. Maintaining straight back, drop buttocks into a seated position by bending knees until thighs are parallel with the floor or without pain. Stand back up squeezing glutes.
1B: Side plank with Hip Abduction
Lie on side on mat or floor. Stack legs and lift bottom hip up so hips are parallel with shoulders. Maintain this position while lifting top leg towards ceiling while keeping hips in neutral and foot parallel to the floor. Lower top leg and repeat. (Modify by bending the bottom knee and maintaining contact with the floor).
2A: Renegade Row with Opposite Leg Lift
In a plank position with dumbbells, row right arm up and simultaneously lift left leg straight up to hip height. Maintain a neutral pelvis. Lower and alternate sides. (Modify by doing bent over single arm row with opposite arm stabilized on a chair and lifting opposite leg from the floor).
2B: Single Leg Reverse Fly
Stand on one leg, bend at hips while maintaining flat back by engaging core. With weight in each hand, raise both arms up by squeezing shoulder blades together. Try to keep shoulders from shrugging. Alternate legs with each set.
3A: Reverse Lunge with Bicep Curl
Stand with legs together and weights in each hand. Take right leg back and bend both knees to 90 degrees while curling weights up to shoulders. Press back to standing position by squeezing left glutes. Repeat on each side.
3B: Pistol Squat into Single Leg Row
Stand on right leg with weights in both hands, bend knee maintaining weight in heel without letting knee translate over the big toe. Press back up by squeezing glute and bend at hips, maintaining flat back and row both elbows past back. Repeat on each leg.
4A: Single Arm Bench Press with Opposite Leg Lift
Lay with head and shoulders supported on sturdy chair or bench and lift both hips to parallel. With a weight in the right hand at shoulder level, perform a chest press while lifting the left leg into a march position. Repeat on both sides.
4B: Push Up with Plank Walk
Start in high plank position with hips parallel to shoulders and feet. Perform a push up by bending elbows to 90 degrees. Press back up and walk both right hand and right leg over to the right, repeat push up. Repeat back and forth the each side. (Modify by doing push up on knees).
Stand with weights in both hands. Bend at hips to lower weights toward floor while maintaining flat back by having core engaged. Stand back up by squeezing glutes, not rounding your back. It’s okay to have a slight bend in knees if flexibility is an issue. (This can be a difficult exercise for the low back so the form is incredibly important, modify without weights until the form is perfect).
5B: Single Leg Wood Chop
Stand on right leg with weight in the left hand. Bend at hips and bend the knee until the left weight touches the floor on the outside of the right foot. Press back to standing by squeezing right glute and raise left arm diagonally overhead, as if you were sheathing a sword. Repeat on each side. (Modify by not touching floor).