Goodbye, Winter. Hello, Spring!

My second winter in the Bay Area was spring-like again and by no means am I complaining.  Five winters in Chicago taught me a cruel lesson that from November to April, if temperatures rise above 35, consider it warm and balmy.  

So thank you, NorCal, for the gorgeous outdoor conditions!  And even though I know this is not normal, I will take it.

Clocks have sprung forward, the sun sets later, and great weather is upon us.  If you haven’t already done so, dust of your trail shoes, pump air in your bike tires, grab your softball glove, break out the soccer cleats, and restring that tennis racquet.  Spring is officially here and it’s time to go outside and play!

...just for kicks let's quickly compare and contrast Bay winter vs. Chicago winter.

 Family photo at Cataract Falls Trail - Winter 2015

Family photo at Cataract Falls Trail - Winter 2015

 Walking home from work, Chicago - Winter 2011

Walking home from work, Chicago - Winter 2011

Thoughts on Training

Whether you’re getting back into shape for seasonal sports, training for a new activity or race, or just adding a new class to your routine, make sure to spend some time on stabilization exercises as your fitness gets ramped up.

Stabilization exercises are part of the stabilization endurance phase of training, which is your foundation.  This phase is especially important as you get back into shape because it helps you do the following:

  • Improve muscle endurance, enhance joint stability
  • Increase flexibility, enhance control of posture
  • Improve neuromuscular efficiency, boost balance and stabilization

Training in this phase allows your body to build proper connective tissues while developing stability, strength, and endurance.

Many recreational athletes and weekend warriors are eager to jump straight into their activities, but it’s important to work on stabilization exercises several times during the week to avoid soreness, imbalances, and injuries.

Include these stabilization exercises to your workout routine 2 to 3 times per week as your season and training progresses. 

Do 1-3 sets, 12-20 repetitions, with 0-90 seconds of rest between sets.  Target roughly 60-70% of your maximum effort.

Happy Training!

 Glute Bridges

Glute Bridges

A.  Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat and shoulder-width apart. Engage ab muscles.

B.  Squeeze butt muscles and push through heels to lift pelvis off floor until knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Lower pelvis to floor.  Repeat for 12 reps.  Progress to a stability ball or one-leg bridge.

 Plank Holds

Plank Holds

A.  Lie on stomach with forearms on ground and elbows directly under shoulders. Keep feet shoulder-width apart with toes pointing into ground. Contract your ab and butt muscles.

B.  Press against forearms to lift body off floor, making a straight line from head to toe. Hold for 20 seconds, then return to starting position.  Repeat 3-5 times.

 Single Leg Side Balance Reach

Single Leg Side Balance Reach

A.  Stand with feet pointing straight ahead, hip-width apart. Lift chest and tuck chin so that head is in a neutral position. Tighten your abs and butt muscles.

B.  Balancing on right leg, bend left knee to lift leg until left foot is next to right calf. Straighten left leg, pointing it toward the ground on a diagonal to the left. Hold for two seconds and return to balanced position. Repeat 12 times on each leg.

 Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

A.  Stand with feet hip-width apart. Lift left foot a few inches off floor and put right hand on hip.

B.  Bend right knee slightly and hinge at hips, reaching left hand toward floor. Squeeze butt muscles as you come back up (tap left toes to floor if needed). Repeat 12 times on each leg.

 Squat Jump w/Hold

Squat Jump w/Hold

A.  Stand with feet straight and shoulder-width apart. Engage abs and butt muscles, and bend knees to squat, hinging at the hips as if you were sitting in a chair, keeping your knees over your 2nd and 3rd toes. Extend arms for balance.

B.  Jump up, swinging arms above head; land softly. Hold 3-5 seconds, then repeat 12 times.

 Front Lunge w/ Balance

Front Lunge w/ Balance

A.  Stand with feet straight and shoulder-width apart, chest lifted and hands on hips.

B.  Squeeze butt muscles and step forward with right foot, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Your right foot should be flat and your right knee should be over your 2nd and 3rd toes; your left heel is lifted off the ground. Pushing off your right foot, straighten your left leg to standing, with your right hip and knee bent to 90 degrees. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat on opposite leg.

 Floor Cobra

Floor Cobra

A.  Lie on your stomach with arms extended alongside your body, palms facing the floor. Draw in your navel, contract your glutes and pinch your shoulder blades together.

B.  Lift your chest and hands off the floor at the same time, keeping your arms straight. Hold for two seconds, then slowly lower to the start position.  Progress this exercise on a stability ball and add dumbbells.

 Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

A.  Hold two dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Tighten your core, maintain strong posture, and press the dumbbells straight overhead.

B.  Hold for 2 seconds at the top and slowly lower until your triceps are slightly below parallel. Hold 1 second at the bottom and repeat for 12 reps.  Progress this exercise with a single leg shoulder press.