Now is about the time that you start to see all the “Start Your Summer” and “Build Your Beach Body” programs flooding the interwebs. The reason why these programs exist is that two things are (usually) simultaneously true about the summer:
- People that haven’t been training consistently remember that our society tells them they need to look a certain way to enjoy the summer.
- People that have been training consistently are getting a bit bored and ready to jump on the new shiny thing that comes their way.
All of us as roller derby athletes fall into the second category. We’ve been consistently showing up at practices (and in the gym) for the better part of 6 months and we’re starting to feel a bit MEH.
IT’S THE SUMMER SLUMP.
Or the Winter Wilt if you’re experiencing this in the Southern Hemisphere.
Or perhaps you’re just dragging ass through a regular old Thursday.
Sometimes you need a workout you can do outside because the weather is so beautiful. Sometimes you need one that takes less than 20 minutes because you’re over it today. Sometimes you need some quick and shiny and new to counteract the boring you’re feeling. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to shake things up in the gym but also probably (definitely) don’t want to lose any of the gains that you’ve made along the way.
DISCLAIMER: It is 100% okay to rest and recover, miss training days to take care of yourself, or decide that you’re going to go for a hike or a round of beach volleyball rather than go to the gym. These tips are for folks that deep down WANT to go to the gym, but just don’t want to slog through the same training day right this second.
Before we get into HOW to craft a quick, effective, DIFFERENT training day for yourself, it’s important to understand what types of exercises and movements you might want to include.
The 4-7 Foundational Movement Patterns
There’s a lot of lists out there in the fitness industry (“10 Ways to Get Jacked Using Only an Aloe Vera Plant!”) so hopefully, you understand why there’s a “range” of the number foundational movement patterns that might exist. There’s an argument that some of these movement patterns fit together and whether or not some should be added or removed.
So I compromised and am going to introduce to 5. Even if you have no interest in throwing up big ol’ lift numbers, if you can manage to perfect your form in each one of these movements, all of the rest of your movement will fall into line. And learning new movements and new variations will be much, much easier.
The movements that you need to master so that you can build a solid and safe cross training program are:
Despite what it might feel like, you are not automatically proficient at squatting just because you play roller derby. Along those same lines, you do not automatically have “strong” legs just because you play roller derby, but that’s a separate issue.
The squat is known as the “queen of all exercises” because it engages a surprisingly large number of muscles, connective tissues, and joints along with requiring a basic level of core stability. All of these pieces have to be functioning optimally — or close to optimally — in order for a solid squat to occur. Lunges or single leg squats have similar technique and can fall into this category as well.
2. HIP HINGE
The hip hinge is hamstring and glute dominant where squats are more quad dominant. This is an incredibly important movement for roller derby where strong glutes (and hammies!) can give you an insane amount of pushing power. Hip hinges often get executed with the lower back musculature rather than the glutes and hamstring — the next section talks a bit about why — so this is another move that needs to be mastered fully before it gets loaded heavily.
Think pressing movements. These are the big rocks of any serious bro’s lifting routine. “It’s chest day, bro.” Push movements, done incorrectly, can put a heavy toll on your rotator cuff and shoulder stability. Case in point, raise your hand if you do push-ups with your arms winged all the way out at a 90-degree angle from your body like a startled ostrich. (Can you raise your hand? Or does your shoulder hurt too much?)
Rows, really. Anything that is activating your back musculature (lats, traps, rhomboids, serratus) and helping your shoulder blades retain their optimal movement. Our back muscles often get neglected in today’s society and the pulling movement often gets taken over by secondary muscles instead of the ones that are being targeted. There’s a quick test! If you look at your profile in the mirror and your shoulders droop or round forward, get to pulling.
5. LOADED CARRY
Loaded carries are a huge foundational movement pattern because they work your entire body (like so many of these) and have a pretty low bar of entry. Most importantly, loaded carries help you train your core while standing and walking. Something that athletes need to make use of lot. It also helps strengthen and stabilize your hips which is where most of your power and speed comes from on skates.
Almost every other movement out there can be performed,
with minimal instruction, if you can perfect these five.
It’s important to understand the basic movement patterns so that you can include them in your quick and dirty training days. That might mean including a lift or exercise from each category, choosing to focus on 1 or 2 body parts, or really hammering one movement throughout the whole training day.
an incomplete list
TRAINING IDEA #1: AMRAP
AMRAP stands for “as many rounds as possible.” It’s a training method wherein you decide HOW LONG you’re going to train and then try to cram as many good reps of a handful of exercise into that time as you can. It’s a good way to get a workout in both your muscles AND your lungs.
My favorite AMRAPs contain 1 exercise from each movement pattern on the list that I can fly through pretty easily without rest. It also helps me to keep going if I alternate lower body exercises with upper body exercises, but that’s my preference and not a rule.
Full Body AMRAP (20 minutes)
- Curtsy Lunge x 10 per side
- Push-up x 8-10
- Single Leg Glute Bridge x 10 per side
- Resistance Band Pull Apart x 20
- Steering Wheel Carry x 30-50 steps total
Set a timer. Complete each set of exercises one right after the other. Once you’ve completed all the exercises on the list you’ve completed one round. Count how many rounds you can do in 20 minutes.
Glutes and Hammies AMRAP (15 minutes)
- B-Stance Romanian Deadlift x 15 per side
- Superperson x 10
- Contralateral Superperson x 10 per side
- Ipsilateral Superperson x 10 per side
- Feet Elevated Glute Bridge x 10
- Side Plank Reach Throughs x 8-10
Set a timer. Complete each set of exercises one right after the other. Once you’ve completed all the exercises on the list you’ve completed one round. Count how many rounds you can do in 15 minutes.
Stay tuned for part 2 for more training ideas to help you beat your slump!
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