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Embracing Good Weather
Have you ever been torn between going to the gym or staying outdoors to enjoy a warm sunny day? Either decision typically leaves us upset about not choosing the other. The solution to the problem may not be a matter of choosing one over the other, but simply combining the two. Of course, plenty of active people partake in biking, hiking, jogging and running and swimming outdoors. But none of these activities are typically the focus of a muscle-building exercise plan. In order to obtain strength gains outdoors, creating a blue-collar esthetic workout plan will produce gains as well as fun.
Becoming Axe Man
Everyone remembers the funny cartoons with the burly lumberjacks chopping down trees at a rapid rate. It is not expected of the average human to chop down a tree in one swing, but one repetition does not a vehicle for strength building. Swinging of the axe is a great way to enhance strength (and produce firewood). Place a piece of wood onto a stump that is roughly knee high. Get into a stance similar to that of a squat position, with your knees and hips bent and a lordodic curve in the low back. Since the axe is sharp and can do bodily damage, take a few slow practice swings to allow the kinesthesia of the upper body adjust to the tool’s weight. When preparing to swing, do not start with the axe behind your head for safety precaution. The axe should not go further than the crown of the skull and should be within sight at all times. When the axe is brought down, engage in a core muscle contraction as well as the hips and thighs. This will allow the body to produce more power into each swing as well as work as a full body exercise. You can treat each swing as a repetition and complete sets of three to four with repetitions of eight to twelve for strength gains, five or six sets of four to six for power and two sets of fifteen or more for endurance. In addition, if there are trees needing cut down, side-to-side axe swinging is also a great way to work the core as well as the upper and lower body.
As axe swinging is a focus of upper body exercise while accessory movements and gains from the core and lower extremity, tire flipping is the opposite. Tire flipping provides an exercise that forces us into a deep squat position working every muscle in the lower extremity (hamstrings, quadriceps, etc.), the core and finishes with the upper extremities pressing the tire away from the chest. Ideally, the tire should be a large tractor rear tire, one that you can find in junkyards, farms or even at your local high school, as many sports teams use them. Take the tire to a large flatten area in grass or on a concrete surface as gravel may keep you from gaining traction and cause you to slip or fall. Discipline yourself from the start by going into a parallel squat and placing both arms in anatomical position (palms upward) and firmly grasp the tire. In one complete motion spring up with the power of your legs as you straighten the back by contracting your core. Once you’re in a locked position at the knees and hip, quickly thrust the tire forward, prospectively sending its sailing side downward to the ground. In order to avoid the tire rolling or wobbling, throwing your hands down onto the tire and guide it back to non-movement. This not only decreases the time in between repetitions, but will ensure safety as a bouncing or rolling tire can cause injury to yourself or others. Duplicate this process over and over until exhaustion, or in a similar fashion to the detailed sets and repetitions listed above.