For lots of us, months in lockdown during the pandemic have taken a toll on our workouts. The stress, work schedules, and kids at home left many of us more sedentary than usual.
One recent study revealed that in 2020, the average person spent an additional four hours a day sitting, while another paper published in Psychiatry, claims physical activity among those who’d regularly been getting their sweat on dropped by a third.
However, with the vaccine now available to everyone over 16 in all 50 states, many shelter-in-place restrictions have been lifted, and our time to move beyond our sofas and get our outdoor strength back has finally come.
Even if our levels of activity have dropped significantly since COVID-19 first reached our shores last spring, according to Spartan SGX Coach Joevan Derder, it won’t take us too long to ease back into regular exercise.
“Especially if, like many Spartans, we were already at an advanced fitness level,” Derder said.
Based in the city of Mandaluyong in the Philippines, Derder — or Coach Joevan, as he’s more popularly known — suggests taking things slowly, however.
“After a long quarantine, most people will be highly unconditioned, especially with regards to their strength and cardiovascular levels,” he said.
Essentially, that means that dashing back to your pre-pandemic 10K runs or cycles straight out of the lockdown traps will be more likely to land you in ER than at the finish line. Your overall muscle mass and strength will have declined from pre-pandemic levels, and building both back up is a must if you’re to avoid injury and train properly.
With that in mind, here are some exercises recommended by Coach Joevan to help you get your outdoor strength back ... before you actually head for the great outdoors.
Exercise #1: The Inchworm
Why do it: “The inchworm will help stabilize the core, stretch out your legs, and recondition the flexibility after long months of sitting,” Coach Joevan said.
A great dynamic exercise to warm up the entire muscular system, the inchworm exercise will also help stabilize the arms, upper back, and chest.
How to do it: Stand with your feet apart and hinge from the hips, touching your toes. Walk your hands out in front of you as much as you can, entering a plank-like position. Then step your feet forward toward your hands before returning to a standing position.
Start with two sets of 10-12 reps, and build up.
Exercise #2: Jump Squats
Why do it: “This exercises will help you recondition your leg strength and cardiovascular level,” Coach Joevan said. “Building up repetitions will also improve leg endurance."
A further benefit of jump squats is that it will increase flexibility in your ankles and hips. This in turn will help stave off injury if your aim is to hit the hills for a run or start training for an outdoor Spartan race. (Isn't that everyone's goal?)
How to do it: From a standing position, hinge at the hips to push your butt back and lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Allow your knees to bend 45 degrees when you land, and then immediately drop back down into a squat, and jump again. Try to land as quietly as possible, as this allows the hips, knees, and ankles to properly absorb the energy in your landing and prevent injury.
Start with three sets of 12-15 reps — or as much as you can do initially — and build up.
Exercise #3: Mountain Climbers
Why do it: “Mountain climbers are great for building cardio endurance, core strength, and agility,” Coach Joevan said. “You work several different muscle groups with these exercises, so it's almost like getting a total-body workout with just one exercise.”
How to do it: Get into a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your fingers facing forward and slightly outward. Ensure your core is engaged, and then pull your right knee into your chest as far as you can. Repeat the action with your other knee, pulling one knee out and the other in, and do it as fast as you can. Alternate inhaling and exhaling with each leg change.
Start with two or three sets of 10-15 mountain climbers — or as much as you can do initially — and build up.