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4 Extreme Sports That Will Get You In Shape and Expand Your Comfort Zone

4 Extreme Sports That Will Get You In Shape and Expand Your Comfort Zone

Have you ever been flipping through the channels and landed on one of those X Games competitions on ESPN?

You might have thought to yourself something along the lines of “Wow, I wish I could do that” or “Oh my gosh, I could never do that!”

Well, chances are, you’re probably at least halfway right: You could never do what these professionals do in your current state. The people you see laughing in the face of danger while performing death-defying stunts have dedicated their entire lives to doing what they do, so there’s no shame in not being on their level.

But that doesn’t mean participating in extreme sports is completely out of the question for you.

By nature, extreme sports are those in which the risk of injury is high if you don’t know what you’re doing. Because of this, they require participants to be in top physical condition in a variety of specific areas.

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If simply going to the gym seems like a boring way to get in shape, maybe you should check out some of the following activities to not only get you up off the couch, but also help expand your horizons.

Mountain Biking

It’s one thing to hop on a stationary bike at your local gym for an hour and pedal up and down virtual hills while watching the news. Taking your mountain bike out into the real world requires a lot more than just leg strength.

Biking through forests and over rocky terrain requires you to have complete control over your body and bike. You need to be able to counteract any bumps in the road through balanced actions while not overcorrecting too much and ending up on the ground.

You’ll also need to utilize your upper body strength to keep your wheels pointed in the direction of your path. As previously mentioned, this isn’t something you need to worry about when taking a virtual tour on a stationary bike from the comfort of your gym.

Getting in shape isn’t all about physicality – it has a lot to do with mental toughness as well. You need to maintain focus during your bike ride, and be prepared for any danger that comes across your path. Letting your guard down for even a second could lead to disaster, so keep your eyes on the road.

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Mountain Climbing

For those of you not absolutely terrified of heights, mountain climbing is a great way to work your core, build up stamina, and do something most people would never dream of doing.

Mountain climbing requires you to not just haul yourself up the side of a mountain, but your backpack full of equipment, as well. Because of this, you’ll need to do some basic strength training exercises from the safety of your home or gym. Once you’re strong enough to support the extra weight on your back, you’ll be a little more prepared to do so while scaling up a mountain.

You’ll also need to build up your stamina before your first climb. Natural mountains don’t exactly have rest points built into them, so once you get started you won’t be able to stop if you start to feel tired. Make sure you have the endurance to make it to a safe spot at all times.

You’ll also need to take into consideration the fact that the higher you go, the harder you’ll have to work. There really isn’t any way to prepare for the different feeling of climbing at higher altitudes other than to just do it, so it’s best to over-prepare yourself, knowing you’ll naturally be weaker the higher you go.

Surfing/Waterskiing

If you’ve ever seen professionals surf, or even watched seemingly everyday people waterski, you might have thought it looks pretty easy. You simply stand up on the board or skis and let the waves push you or the boat pull you, right?

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Obviously, it’s not that simple. Both require a lot of physical and mental prowess throughout the entire process.

First of all, you need to be patient. Rushing into either activity will lead to immediate failure. Whether waiting for the perfect wave or waiting for the exact right time to stand, you have to understand that the water is an outside factor which you cannot control. Wait for conditions to be optimal before you dive in.

Speaking of diving in, you’ll obviously need to be a great swimmer before you participate in either of these activities. You’ll need to be able to get to shore if things go wrong, which usually means battling undertow or unexpected circumstances. Large bodies of water are completely unpredictable, so make sure you can counteract nature with your physical abilities before trying these extreme sports.

As previously mentioned, waterskiing and surfing aren’t just about standing up and going along for the ride. You need to be in complete control of your body at all times. This includes maintaining balance, shifting your weight, and leaning in to counteract natural bumps along the way. As with all extreme sports, you’re not a passive observer when engaged in waterskiing or surfing; you’re an active participant who needs to know what their doing at all times in order to stay afloat.

Skiing

Though we can all agree that the dangers of skiing are fairly obvious, many of us probably think it’s pretty simple. Not that it’s easy by any means; it just seems pretty straightforward: Get dropped off at the top of a hill, stand up, and don’t hit any trees on the way down.

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If only it were that easy.

Skiing requires you to utilize a variety of strengths and skills in conjunction with one another at all times.

First of all, you need to remember the ground under you isn’t solid; it’s, ideally, the most powdery snow imaginable. Of course, this means the ground underneath your skis will constantly shift with your weight as you race down the hill. If you don’t distribute your weight correctly, you’ll end up quickly going off course – and likely right into danger.

You’ll also need to be able to shift your footing (called edging) in order to turn when necessary. Subtle shifts in your ankles and feet determine the angle at which your ski hits the snow, and determine how smooth your run will be. Edging requires a combination of balance and leg strength to be able to pull off correctly.

Finally, skiing utilizes the ball-and-socket joints in your hips in a technique called rotary movement. Used in conjunction with edging, rotary movements are the best way in which to steer your skis. It requires you to not only have control of your legs, but also your hips and torso as you race downhill.

Featured photo credit: Surf / Eduardo Avalith / Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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