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9 Great Benefits of Extreme Sports

9 Great Benefits of Extreme Sports

Extreme sports are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, activities such as mountain biking, snowboarding and skateboarding continue to attract larger numbers every year. At the same time, a decline has been noted in other outside activities that are considered to be more traditional, including basketball. This is most likely linked to several factors, ranging from the increased adrenaline rush all the way to the positive mental and physical health aspects of participating in an extreme sport.

1. Gain the Ability to Stay Centered

Extreme sports can push you to your physical and mental limits. When this happens, it’s easy to lose your cool, but that can lead to potentially dangerous mistakes. Individuals who regularly perform feats such as jumping out of an airplane actually change the chemical makeup of their mind. When this happens, you become more capable of staying calm and centered during stressful situations. In other words, extreme sports can make the rest of your life easy to manage.

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2. Learn the Importance of Stretching

As with every other form of physical exercise, it is imperative to utilize proper stretching techniques to keep your muscles in good shape. Stretches do vary based on the type of exercise that you’re doing, which makes it wise to take a close look at the techniques that are used by the pros. For example, fitness and stretching routines of pro surfers incorporate dynamic stretches and place an emphasis on relaxing the upper body and tight muscles. Doing these stretches on a regular basis makes it easier to surf without suffering from an injury.

3. Enhance Your Fear Management Skills

Do you find yourself becoming practically debilitated by fear? This is something that everyone struggles with from time to time, but those who participate in extreme sports are able to turn their fear into a positive experience. There probably aren’t too many people in the world who won’t feel fearful the first time they jump out of an airplane or go bungee jumping. But doing these things and seeing that you safely make it to the other side will help you reduce your fear response. You will also learn how to use coping mechanisms such as meditation to your advantage.

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4. Work Different Muscles

We all do certain movements during the day, and this gives the applicable muscles a workout. However, you’ve probably noticed feeling sore after doing something that isn’t on your typical daily schedule. This is because you are working out a different set of muscles or have asked your muscles to move in an unusual way. Although this can cause soreness, it can also be good for your overall physical fitness. When you embrace an extreme sport, you will begin working different muscles, and this will be a positive thing for your health.

5. Gain a Sense of Humility

Getting ahead in the business world, and life, in general, may seem like a ruthless proposition. The truth, though, is that having a sense of humility is actually extremely important. This makes us feel more relatable to others, and it can help avoid the development of a negative reputation. With extreme sports, you have to embrace the fact that you are not perfect or immortal. Instead, to survive the experience, you must look at your own mortality, learn how to use safety equipment properly and be willing to listen to your instructor’s directions. This was all linked to increased humility in a 2009 study.

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6. Boost Your Self-Confidence

Extreme sports task you with overcoming difficult physical challenges. After all, it’s not easy to climb a mountain. But if you can complete these challenges, your rewards will be much more than merely physical. Studies have found a strong link between extreme sports and a higher level of self-confidence. This makes sense when you consider the fact that accomplishing a task so physically daunting is something that you should feel proud of. The self-confidence boost can have a positive impact on every aspect of your life, which makes extreme sports a good idea for everyone who is physically capable of meeting the applicable challenges.

7. High Caloric Burn

If you want to get in the best possible physical shape, extreme sports are often the wisest choice. As an added bonus, they can also be a lot more fun than a standard exercise routine. Skateboarding offers a prime example because the average person burns as much as 500 calories per hour while riding their board. Of course, you will get the best results if you work on complicated surfaces and do skateboarding tricks during this time period instead of merely riding on flat land.

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8. Increased Balance

Even individuals who have a good sense of balance can benefit from improving it, and this is exactly what most extreme sports will help you do. Keep in mind that if you are naturally clumsy or have any medical conditions that inhibit your sense of balance, it may not be wise to start with one of the more dangerous extreme sports. However, something as simple as riding a skateboard on flat land will force your body to become more balanced. Otherwise, you will remain wobbly the entire time and may have several accidents. This process will be similar to learning to ride a bike in that you may fall off a few times, but your body should eventually adjust to the new balance requirements.

9. Offers Social Interaction

Humans are social creatures by nature. Even those of us who are introverted still need some level of socialization to remain well-adjusted emotionally. Studies have even discovered that socialization is critical for cognitive functionality. This is another area where extreme sports receive high marks because most of these activities are done with other people. For example, you’re more likely to go skateboarding or jump out of a plane with a friend. This will help increase the bond between the two of you, and it will also give you the many benefits of socialization.

Before you begin any extreme sport, make sure that you are physically and mentally capable of performing the necessary tasks. Once you are ready to begin, you will be able to choose from a long list of adventurous sports that are certain to get your adrenaline flowing!

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Published on August 16, 2019

15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

When you choose the right exercises, and make strength training a priority, it will have a great payoff to improve your running. Studies have shown incorporating a strength training program to your running routine improves running economy.[1]

Here are 15 strength training exercises specifically for runners.

1. Planks

The plank is a very important core exercise that will help give you more control and balance while running. Having a strong core will also keep you more stable and in control if you have to navigate uneven surfaces.

The plank is a simple exercise and involved balancing on your forearms and the tips of your toes, so that your back is “straight as a plank”. You want to focus on keeping your abs tight and imagine sucking your belly button up into your spine to have them properly engaged.

Aim for 30 to 45 seconds for a few rounds. Ultimately, you want to hold them as long as you can with proper form – so every time you perform a plank you want to go a little longer than previous ones.

2. Side Planks

The same concept is applied but you are now engaging your core in a different manner and engaging your oblique muscles too. This time, you are going to lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other.

You will lean on your right forearm and lift your hips off the ground keeping your head lined up with your torso and ankles. Keep your other hand on your hip to help ,and control balance, and focus on not moving or swaying. Keep your abs tight to engage them and hold for 30-45 seconds, or longer if you can.

3. Clamshells

For this exercise, you are going to need a simple resistance band. Start with the band wrapped around both legs just below the knee. Your starting position will be on the ground lying on your side with your top hip and shoulder pointing towards the ceiling. Your hips will be on the ground, keep your back straight and your feet together, and lift up with your top knee as far as you can with the resistance.

Pause for a second at the top and lower back down under control. You can do 10 reps on this side before switching over and doing another 10 reps and aim for 2 to 3 sets.

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Clamshells are going to help strengthen your abductor muscles giving you stronger hips and more stability while running.

4. Single-Leg Bridge

You will start lying on your back with your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart with knees bent. You will straighten out one leg so it’s out in front of you in the air and lift your body up by pushing with the leg on the ground.

You want to flex your abs and glutes while pushing upward and try to keep your hips level throughout the motion before returning to the ground. You can also hold your body in the upright position for 5-10 seconds before returning to the ground to get more engagement before switching over to the other leg.

The single-leg bridge will help strengthen your glutes which are crucial for running power and stride strength.

5. Standing Calf Raises

This is a simple exercise but one that is very important for strengthening the calves. The stronger they are, the less fatigue you will experience during running. You will need to find an elevated step or platform for this exercise.

Stand on the platform with your heels hanging off the edge. Find something stable to hold on to for balance and start by lower your heels down until you feel a stretch in the back of your calves. Then, stand upwards like you are trying to see over a fence. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

6. Arch Lifting

You will start out standing with your feet directly under your hips, and this is best done without shoes. You will rotate the arch of your foot upward while keeping your toes and heels in contact with the ground.

Don’t let your toes tighten and you want to hold for a few seconds at the top before returning to the ground. You can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions and this is going to help strengthen the arches of your feet.

The stronger your arches are the better it is to keep your running stride strong and prevent less fatigue in the feet.

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7. Half-Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch

Strong hips are paramount for running and the hip flexors can easily become strained and overused. This exercise will help to strengthen them and provide more power and stability while running. You will start kneeling with one foot forward and the other knee bent underneath the hip.

Keep your abs tight, your back straight, and shift your body weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds before switching over to the other leg.

8. Alternating Lunges

These are going to develop power and strength in your quads and glutes to help give you a more powerful stride. You will start standing with your hands on your hips looking straight out in front of you.

Step forward with your right leg and lower down just before your opposite knee touches the ground. Then, push through your heel to return to the standing position before performing the lunge with your left leg. Alternate between the right and left leg so that each one has done 10 reps and you can perform 3 sets of this.

9. Jump Squats

These can be done just with your bodyweight and help to develop explosive power in the lower body. The jump squat is handy for when you have to run hills and need more power for harder stretches of your run.

The best way is to start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. You will drive through the heels of your feet and explode upwards. As your bodyweight brings you back to the ground, control your weight as you go back into the squat position to fully engage the muscles.

Make sure not to let your knees move inwards and keep your abs tight, your head up, and your chest out. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.

10. Skater Hops

This will help to build leg and core strength, along with improving balance. You will start standing upright but then bending the knees slight like you’re about to sit down. You will then drive off your right foot, jumping a few feet out to the left.

You will land on your left foot while your right foot swings behind your left leg. Then, drive off the left foot using the momentum of your right foot swinging back to land back on it. You will keep doing these side hops for ten times each leg and the motion should look like a speed skater shifting side to side.

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11. Bulgarian Split Squat

This will be similar to the lunges but, will really ramp up the resistance for the quads and is a great strength training exercise for runners. You are going to need an elevated surface or bench to stand in front of. The starting position will be standing upright with your head up and hands on your hips.

Start with your right foot behind you supported by the bench. You will start by lowering your hips to drops your left leg down to around a 90-degree angle, stopping just before your right knee hits the ground.

Next, push up through the heel until you are back at the starting position and perform ten reps, under control, before you switch over to the right leg. Perform 3 sets of this.

To make this even tougher, you can hold dumbbells in your hands hanging at your sides.

12. Arabesque

These will help in activating and controlling your hips. You will start off by standing on one leg, hands on your hips, and making sure your hips are level and balanced. You can then put your arms out to the side to give you more balance.

Start by tipping your torso forward as your non-weight-bearing leg extends out behind you. You can slightly bend your knee to help with control and you want to have your back and extended leg as level as possible. You should end up basically parallel to the floor with your shoulder, hip, and ankle should be in a straight line.

When you’ve gone as far forward as you can, return to the starting position and perform 8 repetitions before switching to the other leg.

Perform 2 to 3 sets. These are all about quality over quantity so if you can only do 4 or 5, that’s fine.

13. Hip Bridge

This is another great exercise to target the glutes which are the source of your running power. Start by lying on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Squeeze your glutes and then lift your hips up towards the ceiling.

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Your hips, knees, and shoulders should be in a straight line. Hold at the top for a second and then lower back down under control. Perform this 12 times and then, you can do 3 sets. If these get easier, you can hold a weight across your stomach for more resistance.

14. Push-Ups

A classic exercise, and for good reason. As much as you want to focus your strength training on the lower body, you can’t neglect your upper body. Your arms are helping drive and propel you while running and a strong upper body helps with your overall balance and stability.

You can start laying facedown on the ground with your palms facing downwards and elbows tucked into your sides. Focus on pushing through the heel of your palms upward, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Lower back down under control and stop just before your chest touches the ground.

Focus on keeping the elbows tucked into your side and avoid having them flail outwards. You can perform 10 reps for 3 sets of these.

15. Squat to Overhead Press

This is a full-body motion that works a majority of muscles, builds power, explosiveness, and coordination. You will need two dumbbells and you will start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, with the dumbbells, held up by your shoulders – palms facing forward.

Send your hips back and lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead and return them to the starting position. Go for 10 reps and three sets.

The Bottom Line

As much as you’d like to, you can’t be running all the time. It can lead to overuse, injuries and burnout. The perfect way to offset this is with strength training, making sure you perform your training with proper form and technique, avoiding mistakes which can lead to injury.

There are many other strength exercises such as the deadlift, which works the back and leg muscles which are vital for running economy improvement and injury prevention.[2] These exercises will make you a more efficient and resilient runner allowing you to improve your distances and times.

Even if you’ve been against strength training for runners, you can see now how it’s necessary in order to improve your overall running ability and performance.

Featured photo credit: Stage 7 Photography via unsplash.com

Reference

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