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Body Conquest Articles | Summer Cardio

on Tuesday, 16 April 2013. Posted in Training

Fun Summer Cardio Activties

Looking to take your training outdoors this summer? If so, then your options for cardio activities can become considerably more creative and adventurous. If you are sick of the lack of thrills that the treadmill, rower and stepper offer, then read on, and take up one or more of these more unusual and heart starting, fat burning cardio alternatives. With only four months or so of truly fabulous weather you may as well get out of the gym and into the outdoors for a totally new stimulus. There is nothing like a complete change to your routine to totally recharge your spirits and energies.

SAND SPRINTS:

Your first option is to uncover some courage for a bit of hard work and take your sprints off the treadmill and onto the beach. Set aside no more than twenty minutes and mark off a 100metre distance with your sweater and sports bag. Then, simply run flat out the 100metres and walk briskly back to your starting point. If you can last longer than twenty minutes you know you aren't working to optimum levels and you need to up the ante. If you want to increase the intensity, you can either jog back instead of walk, or you can do your sprints further up the beach in the soft sand instead of the firm sand. Just think, at the end of all that hard work you can jump straight into the ocean for a dip to cool off and the water will never look so inviting as after a fatiguing sprint session!

The advantage of sand sprint training is that it will allow you to maintain your muscle instead of breaking it down, as well as being short, intense, sharp, hard and a catalyst for some fantastic fat blasting, burning a heap of calories if you push yourself really hard. It is also cheap and no equipment is required except for a suitable pair of runners.

KAYAKING:

Sticking with the beach environment, another excellent alternative to get your heart racing is to spend an hour or two in the surf on a kayak. This you can do by yourself, or with a partner, the choice is yours. If you wish to train in a more aerobic/endurance style, take the kayak out beyond the breakwater, into the flat sea and travel up/down along the land coastline.

If you decide on this option, make sure someone knows where you are headed and what you are doing. Also, make sure that you are aware of the weather conditions, because when it comes to the sea, patterns can change very quickly and the tides, rips and wind conditions need to be considered with caution. Kayaking out beyond the break is a little easier to get into a steady stroke pattern and you can go the distance that you feel best suits your fitness level. It is also an excellent way to enjoy the sun and work on your tan, just make sure you use some sun block. Because kayaking mimics a rowing action, your back, arms and abdominals will obtain great benefits from this particular cardio activity.

Alternatively, if short bursts of speed are more your style then catching waves with your kayak is the way to go. Surf kayaking is a terrific adrenaline rush too. Often the hard work is getting out to where the water is calm as you need to kayak through the incoming waves, which requires both strength and balance. Then, once you see the wave that you wish to catch, you need to row, and row in a hurry or you won't catch the ride! As well as a great heart work out the stabiliser muscles will work overtime trying to keep you balanced and upright when the waves are doing their utmost to spill you over.

WATER RUNNING:

Keeping with the water theme, water running is another excellent way to improve your fitness. You can choose to do this in either the ocean or your local swimming pool. Because this type of running does not load the bones, water running is probably best used as an adjunct to a well rounded fitness program, however can be great for a change.

It is also an excellent choice of cardio from the preventative aspect in that it helps to ensure that those who are susceptible to injury from high land runs for example, are kept fit, healthy and injury free. This will not jeopardise your physiological fitness. Water running may be just the thing to keep you training smart.

Probably the best way to ascertain your intensity if you decide to run in water is to monitor your heart rate. If you aim to get within about 8-12 beats to what you would do on a treadmill you will be will within the ball park of achieving a similar physiological benefit.

GRAB THAT FRISBEE:

Frisbee throwing is a way to burn some calories whilst you think of it as "play" instead of "cardio". You will be having so much fun you won't even notice the energy expenditure. You can grab a mate and jog off to the nearest local park. Throwing the Frisbee will seem like an amusement, not a chore and the time will fly without you even realising. If you have a partner with an unlucky aim, you will be doing a bit more running than anticipated! Your upper body will get a workout due to the throwing action and the legs will also keep moving. The bonus with this activity is that if you can't rope in a mate, it is a canine friendly activity and your dog will probably love to help you play "fetch".

PLYOMETRICS/ CIRCUIT PLAYGROUND:

If you are prepared to work really hard and fast, then you can organise your own outside "fitness circuit", that predominately uses plyometric movements which offers functional benefits and a great way to get you outside and shaking up a stale routine. This example routine will help you to improve balance, posture, flexibility and response time. All you need for this is a park, a skipping rope, and some tape.

Make a circuit for yourself that includes push-ups with a handclap, tuck jumps, a vertical jump and some bounding. Do three sets of ten, followed by 2 minutes of skipping. Then, finish off with a suicide drill. Do this circuit three times and you will have earned the rest of the day off.

To perform the push-up and handclap, start in your normal push-up position with your hands placed shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest is about three inches off the floor and then explode upwards, clapping your hands in the air before landing with your hands at shoulder-width on the floor. Immediately descend into the next push-up. To complete a tuck-jump, start from standing position and jump as high as you can, bringing both knees as high as possible to your chest. As you land, go right into the next jump. Bounding is a more aggressive type of skipping where you bring your body as high and as far forward as possible, leading with your forward knee. Your aim here is to minimise ground contact time. To skip, get up on your toes and make your calve muscles go for the burn! Then, for the suicide drills, place three parallel pieces of tape about eight feet apart. Start at the first piece of tape and run to the second tape mark. Run back to the first. Now run to the third tape mark and then back to the first. Repeat from the beginning.

All of this can be done outside in a parking lot, an oval, or if you are really suicidal, on the sand at the beach. Remember, the idea here is to get you doing something completely different and in the outdoors for a different type of body blast.

HORSERIDING:

Ok, so horseriding might not be the most efficient method of raising your heart rate, but one of the themes of this article is to encourage you to try something different. Weekend days are a great day to grab a group of friends and go off to one of the local trail riding establishments in your area. As a group activity it is enjoyable, distinct, social and you can learn a new skill if you haven't tried to ride a horse before. Fortunately most trail horses are well educated in what is expected of them and they aren't likely to give the inexperienced rider any undue grief.

What horseriding will do is ensure that you use muscles that you don't directly train when you are in the gym. When communicating with your horse you largely do so through the use of your 'seat'. Or to put it another way, your butt. This is coalighned with the use of your legs to "talk to the horse", particularly your lower legs, so your calves get worked in a squeezing action instead of the usual lifting action.

As well, your adductors will be engaged because they are used to keep you on the saddle. Finally, your abdominal muscles, including your transverse abdominals will be activated because you will be upright in the saddle, keeping your shoulders back, to keep you from slouching. By the time you get home, you will be in want of a nice hot shower or bath because you will have worked muscles that you never knew you had. This will give your whole neurological system a spark to make some adaptations, simply by trying something different that you normally wouldn't do. The added bonus is, you might make a furry friend along the way!

A WORD OF CAUTION:

Training outdoors in the heat during the summer months can be extra strenuous and may lead to heat exhaustion. The symptoms to look out for are things like excessive thirst, feeling extra fatigued, dry tongue and mouth, increased body temperature and lack of co-ordination. Make sure that you counteract and prevent these conditions by being well hydrated, drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. Avoid exercising right in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest, wear protective and light clothing and monitor your energy levels. Most importantly though, soak up the summer fun and sun and enjoy the experience of exercising outdoors.