Park workout 5-26-18

The last time we tried to do a “track” oriented workout, we were shot down since the local high school locked up all access to the track.

Jerks.

So, we changed the venue for this workout. We found a high school track that actually allows its tax-paying constituents to access the facility.

Sweet.

As we’ve established in the past – I’ll never shy away from a good session outdoors. I love exercising outdoors. And, it’s good for you too.  The anticipated high temperature today is 95 degrees F, so it’s a good thing we did this at 7am before it got HOT.

For today’s workout, we used two pieces of equipment…

  1. Aylio 3 Loop Fitness Bands
  2. Running parachute (I think I got it from Dick’s Sporting Goods)

Here was today’s structure:

  • Warm up
    • 100 jump rope – any variety/skill
    • 2 minutes double under jump rope practice
      • Double unders are a really solid jump rope skill that get the heart rate racing. They take TIME to get good at. I remember when I couldn’t do one. Now, I can knock out over 20+ in a set before I trip on the rope.
    • 400m jog around the track
  • Agility work (w/bands around ankles for all exercises)
    • Left/Right 5 step side shuffle – 1 minute
    • rest 1 minute
    • Single leg lateral step out (right) – 1 minute
      • Best way to describe this move – stand with your feet just outside of hip distance apart, and in a quarter squat position. Proceed to move your right foot to the side about 6-12 inches, and tap a target. Return your foot to the starting position, and step your foot out again to the target. Repeat this as fast as you can and as many times as you can while staying in the quarter squat position, and not letting your foot go inside of the hip distance starting point
    • rest 1 minute
    • Single leg lateral step out (left) – 1 minute
      • See description above
    • rest 1 minute
    • Plank jacks – 1 minute
    • rest 1 minute
    • Zig zag step forward – 1 minute
      • Best way to describe this move – stand with your feet together. With your right foot, step diagonally 45 degrees to your right. Bring the other foot to the right foot’s new position. Step with your left foot diagonally 45 degrees. Bring your right foot to the left foot’s new position. Step again with the left foot 45 degrees to the left, and bring the right foot together with it. Now step with your right foot 45 degrees to the right, and bring your left foot with it. Repeat from the beginning of the sequence as many times as you can
    • rest 1 minute
    • Zig zag step backward – 1 minute
      • Execute the same movements you would forward, but moving backwards instead.
    • rest 1 minute
    • Power jumps (feet hip distance apart the whole time) – 30 seconds
    • rest 30 seconds
    • Power jacks (hold a band in your hands – optional) – 30 seconds

and then…

  • Hurricane sequence
    • 3 sets total
    • each set consists of 3, 20 second sprints paired with 20 seconds of “other” work
    • Rest for 2 minutes before starting your next set of hurricanes
      • Set 1 – sprint 20 seconds, push ups 20 seconds – repeat 3 times
      • Rest 2 minutes
      • Set 2 – sprint 20 seconds, bicycle crunches 20 seconds – repeat 3 times
      • Rest 2 minutes
      • Set 3 – sprint 20 seconds, plank 30 seconds – repeat 3 times
  • Parachute running
    • This was just a fun add on at the end – some of the participants had never run with a parachute on their hips before
      • 100 yard sprint with parachute
  • Cool down – 2 minutes

 

The group really liked the agility work with the bands. Your hip flexors start to burn pretty quickly when you wrap elastic around your ankles and start doing stuff. All of these movements involved hip abduction (moving the leg away from the centerline of the body). Most of us could probably spend a little more time training abductor movements.

The hurricanes probably whooped us all the most. It’s a protocol that is beneficial for training VO2 max. The trick is that you really need to sprint HARD (I’m talking like all-out intensity – run like you stole something) to get the VO2 training result.

The workout clocked in just under an hour, and ate up about 565 C. We were happy with that.

The heart rate chart wasn’t a surprise. I figured it would spike during the hurricanes, and it did.

track workout 5-26 hr chart.JPG

After all of that, one of our members invited us back to his home where he cooked one of the best victory omelets I’ve ever had. And, that dude can poach a wicked egg.

 

Do you have any favorite spots to exercise outside? Any favorite routines? If so, please let us know. If you liked this post, please be sure to “like” and “share.” Thank you.

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Benefits to Exercising Outside

I’ll take my exercise “to go” please!

I love exercising outside. Through the years, that has taken on a few different forms.

When I lived in New Jersey, there was a running trail pretty much adjacent to my apartment complex. Some mornings, I’d go on a 6 mile run (3 up, 3 back) either while it was still a little dark, or the sun was just starting to rise.

The best was when I lived in Brooklyn, NY. How’s this for a view when you are exercising…

bay ridge promenade.JPG

Something about the fresh air and sunlight elevated the experience. It is completely different than chugging along on a treadmill, or scampering back and forth on a hardwood floor. I really despise treadmill running if the outside environment is just begging for me to come and run all over it.

In the early AM, I’d do some running or running-type calisthenic exercises, and then I’d do my gym workout at night. Or, a few times, I just strapped on my inline skates. I lived in the mid-80’s off of 3rd avenue, so a favorite “path” was to run down to the Verrazano Bridge and back. Being underneath that bridge was something to behold. It was huge. Fun fact about that bridge – there once was a boxer named James J. Braddock. He is the inspiration behind the movie, “Cinderella Man.” Mr. Braddock’s story is very heartwarming and uplifting. When he eventually won the heavyweight title, he used those winnings (and subsequent winnings) to start a heavy-machinery company that played a role in building that bridge. I highly recommend this movie.

Sorry for the sidebar 🙂

I quickly found that outdoors training isn’t exactly season specific. You can train outdoors in the winter despite the lower temps. There have been great advances in clothing technology that allow you to layer certain performance fabrics. Between those layers, gloves, face masks, and the like, you can train in sub zero temps with minimal discomfort. I know – I did it. Many of my runs in Bay Ridge were in the winter, and the temp was below zero. Thanks to some wool socks, Under Armor, gloves, and a proper ski-mask, I never felt uncomfortable. And, there is something very invigorating about that ice-cold air hitting your lungs.

When I transitioned into bodyweight training, I started to see value in playground equipment that I never really noticed before. Since I wasn’t restricted to barbells or dumbbells to log a strength session, a whole new world opened up to me. The entire earth became my gym. I started eyeballing all of the different stuff that I saw…

“…hmmm, I can probably use that table for some box jumps…”

“…hmmm, I can probably use those monkey bars for a bunch of moving pull ups…”

“…hmmm, I can probably climb up and down that pole…”

“…hmmm, that tree branch looks like it can hold me…”

You get the idea. So now, many years later, I intentionally look for ways to integrate the outdoors into my overall exercise plan. It might be running (which I can only stand a little bit of, to be honest), or it might be longer HIIT sessions with some friends/co-workers. Something just FEELS better about exercising outside. As it turns out, it isn’t in my head. There are studies surfacing to support that outdoor exercise has benefits over its indoor counterpart.

Thanks to Primal Play for letting the world at large share this graphic…

5 Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Primal Play Infographic

 

Notice the first callout in the upper left corner – “You’ll boost your immune system.” This refers to the benefits of “green exercise.” Positive effects that have been correlated with green exercise include:

  • improved mental well-being
  • reduced stress
  • the ability to cope with existing stress
  • reduced mental fatigue
  • improved concentration and cognitive function

The next callout in the graphic (lower left) talks about the burst of Vitamin D you’ll get from being outside. This benefit can not be overstated. Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise in our population.  During my last physical, it was noted that I should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement. I asked my doctor why – did my blood panel show something? He said no, it’s just becoming a staple recommendation to patients due to the overwhelming deficiency for the population at large. Okay – that is probably questionable advice for a doctor to give a patient w/o some type of empirical data, but you get the point – the medical community is noticing, and making generic recommendations to get more vitamin D. The good news is you don’t have to pop a pill to get your fill (hey, that rhymes!).

nice try

According to an article in US News and World Report, as little as 10 minutes of exposure to your skin (the article says to wear shorts and tank top, so the conclusion is to get as much skin exposure as possible w/o sunscreen) can give you enough UV-B radiation to synthesise about 10,000 IU’s of the vitamin. To put that in perspective, the Vitamin D Council recommends that a person who gets NO SUN EXPOSURE supplement with about 2,000 IU a day. So, suffice it to say, if you get some sun exposure on a broad scale (even 10 little minutes), you are taking the best “vitamin” you can.

Note – don’t burn yourself. Sunburn is bad. Duh.

In terms of the actual activity, you should find that the overall level of exertion for outdoor training (compared to indoor training of a similar modality) is greater. When exercising outdoors, wind resistance and variability in the terrain add some extra difficulty to the session. Trail running is a good example of this in action. If you were to run at the same rate on a treadmill and compare that to running at the same rate on a trail, you’ll find that the uneven terrain, changes in elevation, and overall awareness you need to keep your feet under you makes the task much harder than its treadmill counterpart.

So, putting aside the actual biomechanical benefits of engaging in exercise, the simple act of moving the venue outside provides mental benefits as well as nutritional benefits (vitamin D production). Anecdotally, there might even be some social benefits (if you join a park workout group, running group, or choose to run/walk/jog outdoor with friends). It’s also worth mentioning that exposure to the outside (specifically dirt, bacteria, etc…) is very good for your gut biome. If you don’t believe me, check out Dr. Josh Axe’s book “Eat Dirt.” Going for a nice barefoot walk on the grass can have some pretty profound health benefits.

You are probably wondering, “…okay, what should I do outside…?

Simple.

Anything.

Something as basic as walking will put you in a position to reap the benefits of the outdoors. In my opinion, walking, running, yoga, and bodyweight calisthenics are probably the simplest and most portable exercise modalities. You can do that stuff almost anywhere. All you really need is the ground and a little space. There are apps you can download that tell you where trails and running paths are around you. There is even an app that can tell you where known calisthenics parks are located around you. I found 2 of them in Kansas City that I didn’t know existed. One of them is now the setting for my Saturday morning park workouts. There aren’t really many barriers to entry for this type of exercise experience. You really just need to do two things.

  1. Go outside
  2. MOVE

 

Do you enjoy exercising outdoors? If so, what types of training do you do? Please share your experiences below. If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share.”

Park workout 4-28-18

The original plan was to use the high school’s track to execute the workout.

But…

locked fence.JPG

Quick two second rant that is WAY outside of my expertise. Its total BS that a public high school track would be padlocked on a weekend. The tax paying citizens should be allowed to use this facility. Hashtag MY TAX DOLLARS NOT AT WORK!!!! A brief cursory search on the internet shows that I’m not the only person that thinks this. AND, a good majority of school districts think so as well. It looks like the usual protocol is to have it unlocked/accessible during non-school hours. In addition, I know I’ve seen another group use that track when we were doing stuff on the bars. So, North KC School district – BITE ME! Unlock that track!!!!

Oh well – we found a way to adapt and still have one hell of a workout. We moved the program over to the parking lot and ran back and forth like a group of cheetahs. The basic structure of the workout was focused around doing sprint-type running in the 100m stretches, and then doing some type of calisthenic or weighted move in the curved areas of the track.

The exercises to supplement the running were:

  • Farmer’s walk with 60 lb dumbbell
  • Jog with weighted bar overhead
  • High knees jump rope
  • Broad jump burpee

The parking lot area was pretty big. The stretch of lot that we used was pretty close to 100m (if you compare it to the track right across the street). To get our heart rate up, and maximize the amount of running/sprinting we’d do, we employed what I’ll call a “rabbit” approach. Basically, the rabbit would be doing the primary move, and the other two (there were three of us) would run/sprint back and forth until the rabbit was done.

Set 1: Farmer’s walk with 60 lb dumbbell

Subject A walked 100m with the dumbbell in his right hand, and then turned around and walked back the 100m with the dumbbell in his left hand. While Subject A did that, Subjects B and C were tasked with sprinting up and back (100m each direction) a total of 3 times. The “game” was to try and get your 3 runs in before Subject A finished is up/back farmer’s walk. This was meant to encourage you to SPRINT as much as you could. After a brief respite (waited for HR to go down a little bit), Subject B would do the farmer’s walk while Subject A and C sprinted. Finally, Subject C would do the farmer’s walk, and Subject A and B would sprint. The running load at the end of the first session looked like this:

  • Subject A: 1200m running, 200m farmer’s walk
  • Subject B: 1200m running, 200m farmer’s walk
  • Subject C: 1200m running, 200m farmer’s walk

Everyone said the same thing, “…man, my grip is toast…”

The farmer’s walk is a very sneaky-good exercise to send a shockwave through your body. Do yourself a favor and go as heavy as you can.

Set 2: Jog with weighted bar overhead

During my baseball years, coach would make us run from foul pole to foul pole holding our bat over our head if we did something wrong. I remember that sucking. I’ve seen this called a “waiter’s walk” on strength training websites. You can vary the ballast from light to heavy based on what you want to accomplish. 

For this, I filled a PVC tube with sand, put end caps on it, and duct taped the end caps. It’s a nice little weighted bar (less than 5 lbs) for mobility work. This structure is just like the farmer’s walk – except, the subjects run 2 times (up/back) instead of 3. Running load for this set was…

  • Subject A: 800m running, 200m weighted overhead jog
  • Subject B: 800m running, 200m weighted overhead jog
  • Subject C: 800m running, 200m weighted overhead jog

To get the most out of this movement, focus on locking out your arms, and keeping your chest/torso as upright as possible. You’ll really get in some good thoracic spine work that way.

Cumulative load so far: 2000m running, 400m weighted walking/jogging

Set 3: High knees jump rope

Somewhat different structure this time. The rabbit sprints up and back (200m total), and the other two subjects perform high knees jump rope until the rabbit gets back. That makes the rabbit “incentivized” to run faster because he doesn’t want to be a jerk and make people high knees jump rope for too long. Running load for this set was…

  • Subject A: 200m running, LOTS OF HIGH KNEES JUMP ROPE
  • Subject B: 200m running, LOTS OF HIGH KNEES JUMP ROPE
  • Subject C: 200m running, LOTS OF HIGH KNEES JUMP ROPE

Cumulative load so far: 2200m running, 400m weight walking/jogging, LOTS OF HIGH KNEES JUMP ROPE

Set 4: Broad jump burpees

Same structure as set 3. The rabbit runs up/back (200m), and the other two subjects do broad jump burpees until the rabbit returns. And yes, after all of that running, your legs do feel like jelly when doing broad jumps. Running load for this set was…

  • Subject A: 200m running, some broad jump burpees
  • Subject B: 200m running, some broad jump burpees
  • Subject C: 200m running, some broad jump burpees

Total workout load: 2400m running, 400m weighted walking/jogging, LOTS OF HIGH KNEES JUMP ROPE, some broad jump burpees.

Total workout time (including jump rope warmup – 44 minutes).

I can tell you – we ran hard for those 2400M. The heart rate chart was pretty good. Once of the subjects had his HR hit around 190 bpm!

4-28 park hr chart.JPG

As usual, a very well deserved victory omelet followed!