The most popular outdoor summer sports in the US are hiking, running, jogging and trail running. Summer outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy mountain biking, climbing, swimming, tennis, volleyball, cycling, basketball, and golf – among many other sports.
Richard Cunningham, MD, a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist provides expert medical care for outdoor sports enthusiasts. He wants each patient to be well prepared and safe during an active, summer sports season. See Dr. Cunningham’s best exercise strategies to prepare for summer sports.
Stamina Training for Summer
Longer days and more time to play require physical stamina. Dr. Cunningham recommends this 5 step exercise plan to boost stamina.
Flip the Numbers
Stamina is super-charged when both resistance and recovery time is decreased. What does this look like? Instead of a typical higher resistance movement set, followed by a comfortable recovery count, target a lower resistance weight with more repetitions, and shorten the recovery count. At 30 seconds or less for recovery, combined with more repetitions, stamina increases.
Embrace the Pace
Building stamina requires a steady pace. Pushing too hard too fast can result in the opposite outcome, hitting a plateau. The demand from increased repetitions with lower recovery time is designed to tire the body, with the ultimate goal of having a quicker, more efficient recovery. As such, intentional pacing is good. An alternate-day rotation is recommended. Switch a stamina building workout day with an easy trail run or mountain bike ride. The alternate day activity will reset the body before you take on another stamina training regimen.
Add in Anaerobics
Increase intensity to increase stamina. The steady pace of aerobic activity, which requires a mild increase in oxygen, should be combined with anaerobic intervals. Anaerobic exercise is high intensity in short intervals that results in the conversion of glucose stored in the muscles to energy. Typically, intense intervals fatigue muscle quickly and breathing is intensified. Anaerobic demand on muscles benefits the heart muscle, improving cardiovascular endurance. Add intense, short anaerobic intervals to any cardio activity, and build stamina.
A stamina development program requires durability. Sustained effort equals results. A stamina building program should occur consistently. Target most days of the week for the alternate day rotation plan. Allow for a minimum of at least 20 minutes per session. If one must do fewer days, be certain to design a program with optimal resistance, cardiovascular training and duration those days. Remain active on the off days with physical activities of choice.
What Comfort Zone?
The pleasure of greater endurance, stamina and more time enjoying a favorite summer sport is the reward for pushing outside of the comfort zone. It is tiring to face another fast, multi-rep set of resistance moves, knowing the recovery will soon be over and the next set begins. It can feel overwhelming facing another sprint to the finish line when your breathing has just calmed. Stamina training is all about vacating the current comfort zone and developing new capacity. A growth mindset and mental commitment to the task can be the most powerful component of stamina training.
Strength Training for Summer
Summer sports enthusiasts excel when strength is maximized. Include a strength training strategy that builds general and specific strength for summer activities, be it lower extremities for hiking, or upper body strength for climbing.
Include weight lifting moves that engage multiple joints and muscle groups. A compound lift will have a higher return on effort. The more muscles being trained, the greater the increase in heart rate and cardiovascular efficiency. The ensuing micro-tearing of muscle fiber triggers the repair process, resulting in greater muscle mass and strength. Compound lifts benefit coordination and balance. Examples include the walking lunge, lat pulldown, dumbbell squat and kettlebell swing.
Strong to the Core
The core is the center of strength and movement. Develop strength with a rotation of core exercises. Core exercises improves spine stability. Some options:
- Planks, the many variations
- Crunches, sit-ups, V-up and variations
- Back lifts (from hyperextension bench)
- Flutter kicks and leg raises
- Push up
- Glute bridge
Engagement of the trunk, abdominal muscles, glutes, hips and lower and upper back results in increased core and overall strength.
Critique Your Technique
With the focus on stamina and strength, along with the challenges of meeting goals, it is important to continuously track technique. Repetition can promote a rote mindset such that positioning, muscle contraction, timing, range of motion and safety become lax. Benefit decreases, injury risk increases. Commit to a consistent awareness of proper technique.
Think Push and Pull
Include push and pull training 2x per week for increased strength. Push moves use triceps, shoulders and the chest. Exercises include dumbbell presses and bodyweight triceps dips among others. Pull moves use forearms, biceps and the back. Some exercises are biceps curls and lat pulls. This added work builds strength, helps with recovery and limits the risk of overuse.
Flexibility and Balance Training for Summer
Summer sports are safe with flexibility and balance. Benefits include:
- Decrease injury risk
- Pain relief
- Optimized posture
- Improved outlook
- Greater movement
Commit to the warm-up and cool down at every training session. Rotate dynamic and static stretches. Practice Tai-Chi. Use a series of yoga moves for whole body agility. Downward dog, puppy pose, triangle pose and sun salutation, among others, will provide flexibility and balance, head to toe.
Summer Sports Training Tips
Complement the training program with these quick tips:
- Tap fresh seasonal produce for a nutrition boost.
- Hit the workout early, making time for more physical activity later
- See a sports medicine specialist to refine mechanics and improve form
- Increase hydration
- Sun protection for eyes, skin and head
- Wear wicking clothing layers to regulate body temperature
- Play hard, rest hard
Richard Cunningham, MD wishes you a great summer full of fun physical activities. If you are injured, he and his exceptional medical care team are there for you. If required, you can contact Dr. Cunningham at his Vail and Edwards location at (970) 476-7220, or at his Frisco location at (970) 569-3240.