Looking to build functional strength for your strength for your upcoming summer adventures? Here are 6 great exercises to try from home!
Summer is always more fun when our bodies are strong–we're not as vulnerable to injury, it's easier to keep up with our friends, and time outside is pleasurable instead of full of worries or anxieties about injury and pushing too hard. If you're coming off a funky winter (aren't we all?) and hoping for a summer of fun and freedom in the mountains, I hope you take some time this spring to get your body ready, and if you like what you see here and want some more information about training with me, click here!
We have a special discount code for the SheJumps crew! Use the code SUMMERSTRONGJUMPS to get $20 off any of our Summer Strong programs at checkout. Make sure you use the coupon, because anyone that signs up with it will have 10% of their purchase cost donated right back to SheJumps.
Here are 6 beneficial exercises that you can do from your living room that are particularly good for summer recreationalists. To see them demoed you can click here.
Curtsy Lunges - For outer glute strength & knee alignment
Great for: Anyone wanting to recover from and/or prevent ACL injuries–they replicate the motion of skate skiing and strengthen the outer glute muscles which support proper knee alignment and stability.
Movement Cues: Start with your feet a little wider than your hips distance apart. Shift your weight over onto one foot and take the opposite foot behind you at about a 45° angle toward the back corner of your space. Bend both knees, keeping the front knee stacked over the front ankle and some weight on the inner edge of the front foot. Drive through the heel of the front foot to bring yourself back up to center. Repeat on the second side.
Stagger Squats - Building muscle memory for uneven surfaces like trails
Great for: Hikers –they replicate the off-centered weight balance we can experience when walking on uneven ground, or making our way across a steep slope.
Movement Cues: Start with your feet a little wider than hips distance apart and one foot elevated on either a yoga block or a small stack of books. Even out your weight between your two feet and then bend knees and hips down and back into a squat. Try one with most of your weight on your lower foot. Then try one with most of your weight on the elevated foot. Finally, try evening out the weight between both feet and see if you can sustain that for a series of reps. Repeat on the second side.
Hiker High Knees - Practicing using core to lift knees, use this when hiking uphill
Great for: Hikers - high knees help us activate our core so we can get a little more support for our legs. This move is great to practice for uphill hikes.
Movement Cues: Start with your feet under your hips and your back straight - similar to the form you would be in if you were on the ground doing a plank. Move into a steady march in place. Bring your knee up as high as you can, aiming to get them about hip height with each step. Activate your core to help with the lifting! A fun way to help with this engagement is to imagine that strings are attached to your knees – like a puppet – and they are being pulled up by a puppet master above you! This move can be done in three variations, regular marching style, with a twist, and to the side!
Paddler's V-Sit - Stabilize the core for powerful paddle strokes
Great for: rafters and kayakers - this move helps us build a stable core for more control over our strokes when we’re in the water. A must for any boater!
Movement Cues: Start sitting on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lean back a bit (to make the V!) and then tuck your hips forward to protect the low back. Start with your hands flat on the ground behind your back to help stabilize, and experiment with upleveling by
Lifting your hands off the floor
Reaching your arms out perpendicular to the ground in front of you
Lifting your feet off of the ground
Squat Pops - Build quad & glute strength & practice soft landings for knee longevity
Great for: hikers and bikers - this move helps build cardio endurance and those big powerful upper leg muscles.
Movement Cues: Start with your feet below you slightly wider than your shoulders. Squat down, sticking your butt out behind you and then in one quick movement launch up! Raise your arms above your head and come up on your toes. Repeat. If you really want to level up - focus on building speed and maybe integrating a small jump at the peak of your power up. If you do jump, remember to always prioritize a soft landing.
Pendulum - Balance practice for joint alignment with fatigued muscles
Great for: everyone! - This move helps us practice keeping our joints in alignment and the balance aspect can help us to learn to cool and calm down after an activating activity.
Movement Cues: Shift all of your weight to one side of your body, allowing the other foot to hoover slightly off of the ground, or lightly touch it. Keeping your foot perpendicular to the floor, lean onto your grounded foot and swing your other leg up - whether you’re getting that foot way off the ground to hip height, or just a few inches, it’s still beneficial. Remember that you can steady yourself by holding onto a chair or a wall. Repeat several times and the switch to the other side.
Looking for more? Try out Sarah’s Busy Day Workout to get a sense of her workout style, or take her ACL Injury Risk self-test to evaluate your knee health. Then consider joining Sarah’s upcoming online training program: Summer Strong: Online Training for Winter Sports. This online program begins April 11, 2022 and will help you build the kind of functional strength you need for outdoor adventures—from your living room! Join with discount code SUMMERSTRONGJUMPS for $20 off–and 10% of your purchase will go back to SheJumps!
Sarah Histand is a personal trainer, mental health counselor, and outdoor adventurer from Alaska. She uses these exercises to prepare herself and her clients for summer sports season, backcountry adventures, and seasonal mood and stress management.