The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia begin this week! I mentioned them a couple of weeks ago in my post about kicking the winter blues. I included it in my first piece of advice in which I encouraged you all to embrace the season. I love snowboarding, playing hockey and ice skating, but I don't always have the means to do so. These sports require equipment and can often only be participated in at a designated location. Don't let this stop you from getting into the Olympic spirit though! I have come up with some plyometric Winter Olympic-related exercises that you can do at home or at the gym to ignite your inner Olympian. :)
This first exercise is something I learned during my track career at Radford during our coach's annual "Fun Day" (which consisted of a long series of body-weight exercises that put our bodies to the test!) It is called Speed Skaters. I mention this bit about where I learned it from because it is helpful to have the lane lines on a track to gauge your jump. Because most tracks around here have been covered in snow and you may be doing this indoors anyway, just imagine that you are standing on a line that separates two lanes on a track (somewhere in the middle like between lane 4 & 5).
-Leap sideways to the right, landing on your right foot on the next lane line. As you land, your left foot will swing behind you and tap the lane line that's even further to the right (or as close as you can to it.)
-Shift your momentum by swinging your left foot back and leaping to the left. You will now land on your left foot on the original line you were standing on. Swing your right foot behind you now and tap the line to the far left.
-Your arms move forward as you leap, and they swing in front of you in the same direction that your tapping foot goes as you tap.
-This is mainly a side-to-side movement. If you actually do this exercise on a track, you would be utilizing four lane lines: the middle two would be used to step on and the outer two would be tapped.
-Focus on establishing the correct motions first, and once you have it down then pick up the pace. You should feel it strengthening your hips and core!
The second exercise is called Cross Country Skiers. It reminds me of the jump-squat, but instead of a squat, you do alternating lunges!
-Step out with your right leg, and drop into a lunge position with your left leg bent behind you and supported by your toes. (Left knee should be close to the ground, but not touching.) Arms are bent at the elbow about 90 degrees.
-Swing your elbows back slightly to gain a bit of momentum and swing them forward and upward (all done at the shoulder) as you leave the ground and jump up in the air.
-While in the air, switch feet. Land so your left leg is in front and your right leg is in back.
-Drop back down into a lunge--arms come down too.
-Repeat the motion, switching your lead leg in the air. Again, make sure your form is correct before going too fast.
This last one is the Jump Twist, but in honor of the Olympics, I am renaming it the Snowboarders Jump Twist. It helps with this one to envision a 180 degree compass. The jump isn't a complete 180, but from about 30 degrees to 150 degrees.
-Stand with your knees bent in a slight squat position with feet hip-width apart. (You can turn up the intensity by holding a medicine ball between your knees or go without.) Twist your upper body in the opposite direction that your knees are pointing. So if your knees are pointing off to the right, your shoulders should face off to the left.
-Jump and rotate (about 120 degrees or so) so that your knees are now pointing to the left. Your upper body will do the opposite and your shoulders will face off to the right.
-Repeat the motion so you are back to the starting position.
Plyometric movements are great two-for-one exercises to incorporate into your workouts because they combine strength and speed. As a former track athlete, I find them to be very fun!! But, if this is not your favorite kind of exercise, just close your eyes and pretend you are speed skating around the rink, cross country skiing down the slopes, and doing a half-cab on your snowboard! Try stringing the three exercises together--doing each for 30 seconds at a time, and a 30 second rest.
As promised last week, we have a couple winners from our headband giveaway. Thank you to all who commented on the blog and our instagram!
Our winners are Erica L. and Courtney W.! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and choice of print.