Ten Warm Weather Workout Tips

June 26, 2006
Even though the summer has arrived and we will be outside enjoying the weather, it does not mean we can let our workout routines slip.

From firehouse barbecues to long days at the beach, there's no shortage of activities during the precious summer months.

Miss a few workouts and your buff body will start to slip away faster than the outgoing tide. So when it's finally time to bare all, how can you maintain your fitness or weight loss gains if there's so much else to do besides workout?

Here's my top ten list on how to stay fit for summer without giving up anything you love.

  1. Drink as much water as possible: Don't get caught in the soda, juice or flavored coffee trap. During warm weather your body needs additional hydration. As firefighters, this fact should be already ingrained. Water is also a natural appetite suppressant, and most times your hunger is your body asking for water - not food.
  2. Eat light: Hot temps can significantly reduce your appetite. Be sure to eat light, but well-rounded and nutritious meals, throughout the day and don't make a habit of chowing down on heavy, high-fat foods, nutritionally bare foods. When the consensus is burgers and fries for lunch, opt for light open sandwiches and salad.
  3. Play for exercise: My first firehouse was famous for making the most out of the warm weather. We had just a narrow side yard, but come spring we'd be out there for all we were worth, playing volleyball on our modest 20 by 20 court. It kept us up and active, without the necessity of training to exhaustion.
  4. Walk, don't ride: As long as the mercury hasn't climbed to dangerous levels (above 90 degrees), make a habit of leaving the car at home whenever possible. If you're consistent, the extra caloric output will be much more than you can generate artificially (exercising).
  5. Fire the lawn guy: Don't underestimate the amount of physical exertion it takes to landscape. Mowing the lawn, raking the leaves and planting flowers are great exercise if approached with the right mindset. Keep your pace brisk while working and you'll be sure to generate a good sweat.
  6. Workout early morning: Take advantage of the cool morning air if you like to walk or run outdoors. Get outside before the heat of the day has a chance to fry you and the surface you'll be running on. You could do this alone, or better yet, in a group after a night tour. You could also try and organize a morning run for all off-duty members.
  7. Play it cool in the gym: If you have control of the thermostat in your gym (either home or firehouse), keep the workout area as cool as possible. Contrary to popular belief, hot temps do not enhance a workout, but rather hinder performance and ultimate physical adaptations (results). Besides, we deal with enough heat during regular working hours.
  8. Day at the beach: Get up and move around when at the beach or picnicking. A long walk in the sand or game of touch football will provide plenty of stimulation to your leg muscles and give you an extra caloric burn.
  9. Become a maller: Across the country, early morning mall walking groups are becoming increasingly popular in both the hot and cold weather. Today's expansive shopping centers provide ample walking surface without the sensation of moving in a monotonous circle. You can also drag the kids along for full family workout experience.
  10. 2-Move Summer Slim Down: Develop a short, but effective mini-program that can be done in 20 minutes or less. A program such as this will be enough to hold you over for a week or two, or even the entire summer (if approached intelligently). Beginners should find the program very challenging, and I recommend it as a practical way to introduce exercise into your life.

Always check with your doctor before engaging in a new exercise program.

Exercise 1: The Box Squat

8 to 15 reps recommended

The Box Squat is a simple way to safely open up squats to just about any fitness level. By adjusting the height of the box (or bench) or adding weight (weight vest or dumbbells), you can work through a wide range of intensity levels. The movement can also be performed with one leg, immediately doubling intensity levels. Be sure you master the two-legged version before advancing to box squats with one leg.

Intensity Variations

  1. Reduce or increase height of box (bench, sturdy chair, or athletic step)
  2. Hold dumbbells of varying poundage
  3. Wear a weighted vest of varying poundage
  4. Perform with one leg to double intensity levels
  • Stand with your back to sturdy chair, box, bench or step that can support your weight, and is of the correct height. You should be able to squat down and stand back up again without pain or discomfort in the lower back or knees. Everybody has a different safe range of motion, and it's up to you to determine your optimum box height. The lower the box, the more intense the set (without the necessity of increasing resistance).
  • Your heels should be about six or eight inches out. Shins are kept as vertical as possible throughout. Your back is tight and arched; your butt is way out behind you. Eyes look up. Keep your body strong and tight. Especially tighten your abs and glutes. Repeat: shins are vertical!
  • Inhale, as you lower your body by thrusting your butt out behind you and hands out in front (if holding DB's, your arms will not swing nearly as high as illustration) as your body weight shifts to your heals (versus balls of your feet). Shins remain vertical, back straight, NEVER rounded. Try and get the feeling that you're wearing bunker-boots, which are nailed to the floor.
  • Tap your butt on the bench or step, exhale and stand up in exactly the reverse order, returning to the starting position. Repeat to muscle fatigue. Ideally, select a resistance level (lower box height or hold DB's) that allows you to hit muscle fatigue within 8 to 15 slow, controlled repetitions. The more slowly you perform this exercise and the lower the box is set, the greater the intensity level.
  • Be mindful of form and any discomfort in your lower back or knees (a sure sign you're not following perfect form and may need to lower intensity). If any discomfort or pain persists, discontinue exercise completely and consult with your doctor.

Exercise 2: The Push Up

The Push Up

10 to 20 reps recommended

Assume the classic push up position with hands on the floor at shoulder width or wider. Hand placement should be wherever you feel strongest and least likely to experience shoulder or elbow discomfort. There are multiple ways to increase or decrease intensity from the classic push up (hands and feet on the floor, with body perfectly straight).

Intensity Variations

  1. Classic Push Up: Hands and feet on the floor, body straight
  2. Modified Push Up: Hands on floor, knees on the floor and bent at 90 degrees
  3. Elevated Hands Push Up: Hands up on a platform or bench (or even a vertical wall), feet on floor
  4. Elevated Feet Push Up: Feet up on a step (or staircase) or bench (or chair) and hands on floor

The 2-Move Routine

Always warm up with 3 minutes of low intensity aerobic activity (ie: stepping in place)

  • Perform two to four sets of each exercise, alternating exercises from set to set, providing an active rest of working muscles (Squat - Push Up - Squat - Push Up)
  • Rest about a minute or two between sets (less for more strength gains, more for more endurance gains)
  • One you can complete the max reps listed for each exercise, jump up to the next intensity variation (progressive overload principle in action)
  • Vary the total number of sets you perform from workout to workout (IE: anywhere from 4 to 8 sets) to offset boredom adaptation
  • Never break form. When perfect form ends, the set is over

Good luck and enjoy your summer,

The above article suggests ways to stay fit this summer. For more firefighter-specific exercise programs, visit Captain Mike's website at: www.firefightersworkout.com

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