Our extended family put on an ‘Original Thanksgiving’ last week, which we do every five or so years. We dressed up like pilgrims and Indians and cooked a feast with only ingredients, implements and cooking methods from the 1600's. My New England Indian, Freddie, kept sneaking inside to watch the Patriots game, but this was his second time participating in the ‘OG TG’ and he is an incredibly good sport about my family’s shenanigans.
I can’t help but get caught up in Cleveland sports each time I am here and this week has been no different. I went downtown with my dad to see the Cavs-Celtics game on Tuesday, and with my mom to the local bar to see the Cavs battle Cleveland's most recent heart breaker, Lebron James, and the Heat on Thursday. What would we do without the villains and heroes of pro sports?
Lucky for me a gym ($5 per drop-in visit!) and a yoga studio popped up across the street from my mom’s house in the past year, as did a protected park with a 3-mile loop trail through woods and fields.
I have never in my life been on a regular gym workout program, nor do I claim to be at a level of fitness that would make it acceptable for me to tell others how to work out. But I thought I would share a few exercises I’ve been using to target areas in which I am typically weak at the start of the winter season.
My current workout recipe is to start with 45-60 minutes of cardio, and then cycle through moderate reps of 10 or so different exercises focusing on pulling, pushing, abs and legs for 30-45 minutes. I am still dealing with elbow tendonitis, so I work in a lot of arm stretching too.
A few exercises I’ve found for winter-specific strength building:
- Abs (with footwork and figure-fouring in mind): Leg raises on the pull up bar. I try to bring my feet as least 12 inches above my head, which requires curling the whole back instead of just the lower abs. I can only do about 10 of these at a time. Too easy? Go slower!
- Pulling (with lateral mixed climbing moves in mind): On a pull up assist machine, set up 80%+ of body weight assistance. Start with arms at the widest possible stance and alternate pulling up and lowering with one arm only (leaving the other hand in place but just loosening grip so it is not engaged). I always feel like I am going to pull my shoulder out of socket at the beginning of winter when making lateral dry tooling moves, so this feels like it is helping to strengthen that wide pulling action.
- Legs: Jumping telemark turns, jump roping and box jumps. All pretty self explanatory, I do 20-30 reps of each between the upper body exercises to build strength and keep the heart rate up.
- Stretches: The best stretch I have found for medial elbow tendonitis was suggested by my friend Jay Conway. Stretch the arm straight out to a wall, hand flat, thumb up and turn away until feeling a stretch. To intensify it, move your ear towards the opposite shoulder. When I first started to do this I could barely move my head. It feels incredible. Another stretch: Hold a resistance band straight in front of the shoulders, standing up. Move arms all the way outward at shoulder height, keeping them straight. I feel a sort of stretch/strengthening in the sub-scapular muscles with this one, an area I have trouble targeting. I know a few friends who keep a band in their climbing packs and do this exercise before and after climbing, always. I am trying to be like them, if only I didn’t get too excited about about climbing and forget every time I go out.
OK, enough working out, we are ready for that baby anytime, Bobbi!
(Images from the uber classic Red Pillar of Mermoz, Argentine Patagonia, with Kirsten Kremer in 2008)