Exercise plays a huge role in our health and should be integrated into our daily routines wherever possible – whether that’s a session at the gym, a run around the park, a game of football or even a brisk walk – it all helps. We thought we’d cover the basics and talk about 3 basic training exercises to gear up for the summer games, to help you do it right and therefore effectively, for the best results every time you train.*
You may remember the trusty skipping rope from your days in the school playground, but trust us, jumping rope is definitely not just for girls with pigtails – the jump rope, or skipping rope is a serious piece of fitness equipment. It’s lightweight, versatile and can be carried around in your backpack to whip out at the gym, in the park, or when you travel so that you don’t miss out on your daily dose of exercise. Jumping rope is one of the easiest ways to build cardio fitness, agility and strength on the go.
Choose the right rope to get you started. Plastic ropes are more durable than the cotton variety because they tend to whip around faster – giving you more control over the speed.
Make sure that you measure the rope to fit your height; when you stand in the middle the handles should extend to your armpits.
Engage you core (abdominal muscles) to support your spine and ensure that your upper torso is stable with your chest out and your shoulders stabilised. The movement should be focused on your lower body as your legs will drive the movement and take the impact. Your arms will also move in a controlled manner.
Hold the rope with your hands at hip height and your elbows slightly bent – keeping your arms close to the sides of your body.
Your jumps should be precise and you should land on the balls of your feet for a quicker, lighter landing. Your eye gaze will remain forward-facing throughout.
The Box Jump exercise can be a great way to build strong athletic muscles, but if performed incorrectly this exercise can actually be quite dangerous. To get it right and reduce your risk of injury, be sure to do the following:
Start with a box no higher than knee height and ensure that you are positioned about two feet away from the front of the box. Without giving yourself enough clearance you could trip on the box – ouch.
Ensure that you don’t land too heavily on your feet when hitting the box – instead try to land as lightly as possible, so as to reduce the impact on your knees as this can cause problems with the connective tissue over time.
After completing each jump, exit by stepping off the box, or stepping down onto a lower platform before reaching the ground, rather than jumping off as the impact will be heavy on the knees.
Take rests between reps to aid recovery and only do 6 reps in row for every set that you complete. Remember, the more tired your body becomes, the more sloppy your technique – so it’s important to stay fresh and energetic, otherwise you will be doing more harm than good with this exercise, or any exercise for that matter.
The kettlebell: it provides the same benefits as your regular dumbbell training with that little bit extra. This is because the handle element will add the extra challenge of maintaining a sturdy grip with every rep. Kettlebells provide a dynamic form of weight-lifting and they’re also incredibly versatile because there are many different options of weight and size to choose from; these will suit many variations of exercises to target different muscle groups for a full-body workout. This is why kettlebell training can be used to build power and burn body fat simultaneously.
The extra muscle activity needed to control the weight of a kettlebell is what makes this weight more effective than using a dumbbell.
You will find that you have to engage your core to a larger degree in order to maintain a firm grip of the kettlebell. This extra muscle activity will essentially mean that you burn more calories overall.
The targeted muscles are: the chest, shoulders, grip, legs and core.
You can choose to focus on the triceps, biceps or shoulders, depending on the action that you choose and whether the movement comes from your elbow, or shoulder, not to mention the position of your grip either forward facing, backward or sideways.
You may add a lunge or squat into the mix to add a hamstring or quad element to your routine – also opening up the hip joints.
The beauty of the kettlebell is that it can be used to complement other exercises that you do, which is what makes it a dynamic exercise and can be mixed up to keep your workout nice and varied.
See the latest range of training gear to land at the Sun & Sand Sports online shop and get started on your summer games fitness schedule today. We’ve got all the gear you need to train smart and the tips to keep you on track, simply sign up to the Sun & Sand Sports newsletter below to keep updated on all the latest sports-related news.