Staying On During Your Off-Season
By: John D’Agostino
When I was training at Westside Barbell, there were two things that kept me going through the long winter months. One was my girlfriend, Kelly. She had always been supportive of my goals since day one when she first met me back in high school. And second, my love for lifting weights!
After all those years of training with no real goal other than “getting bigger,” I finally found something that made me happy.
As much as I loved working out, it wasn’t until last year that I really started to get into the groove of doing so again. That’s when Kelly suggested that we start taking our workouts outside of the gym. So, we did…and it worked like a charm!
I mean, what could be better?
You’re outdoors exercising with your significant other while eating delicious food and having fun!
Sounds pretty good right?
! Well, maybe not exactly.
So, I decided to take her up on her suggestion and do a little experiment. I wanted to see if it would actually be possible for us to have some fun during our off-season workouts.
What better way than by trying something new together?
We both knew that the best way to make sure we stuck with this plan was by being open minded and experimenting with different ways of getting stronger.
How to Have Your Off-Season Workouts and Eat Ice Cream Too
Everything you do during your off-season should be focused on getting stronger. The only way this is going to happen is by creating an exercise program that challenges you in new ways. This doesn’t always mean loading up the bar with heavier weight. It also means trying different exercises, working different angles, and exploring different options outside of the “norm.” With so many tools at your disposal, the possibilities are endless!
One activity that I really think you should try with your significant other is hiking.
Well, for several reasons actually. First and foremost, it gets you out in nature, which I feel is really good for your mind, body, and soul. The bond that you share while doing this activity together can be very strengthening to your relationship. Second of all, it gets you outside….and let’s face it, we all could use more sunlight.
The last reason that I really think hiking is an excellent off-season activity, is because it challenges you in ways that you may not be used to. (I’ll touch on this more later.)
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “John, how the heck am I supposed to lug around a bunch of weight while hiking/walking uphill?”
You don’t. What you can do instead is pack a weighted backpack—or even just carry a weight in your hand (like a dumbbell).
Basically, your upper body will slowly begin to feel the effects of weight training while you’re out and about. Just think of all those times when you wanted to kick back on the couch, but decided to go for a walk or jog instead. Well, this is kind of like that. Except now you’re getting stronger!
If you really want to kick things up a notch, you can always wear a weight vest while hiking. Not only will this make the activity more difficult, but it will also introduce a new range of motion to your arms (and upper body) that you may not get while training at the gym. This can help to increase upper body strength and endurance in a rather unexpected way.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, there are other benefits to taking hikes outside the gym. For one thing, it gets you and your significant other out in the open, in nature. This alone can be very beneficial for your relationship. I’m fairly certain that most of us can vouch for the fact that working out at the gym (alone) can get pretty darn boring .
This boredom can sometimes lead to short tempers and an excess of arguing. No one wants that! By getting out in nature and doing something active together, you and your partner can enjoy some quality time outside while strengthening your relationship.
Another major benefit to hiking is that it’s low impact. This makes it a much better exercise option for those of you that might be a little older and are approaching (or are currently in) your thirties.
Because it’s been scientifically proven that as you age, your recovery time from strenuous activities decreases. This means it’s going to take you longer to bounce back and feel “like yourself” after an intense workout.
Long story short, if you’re a bit older and you push yourself too hard during exercise, you’ll feel it later. If you’re in your thirties and you haven’t yet developed an interest in hiking, then now is the perfect time to start. It’ll be great for your relationship with your significant other and it won’t put as much stress on your body.
Now, I’m not saying that you should completely neglect heavy weight training. That kind of training is essential for building a strong foundation of muscle and bone. However, after you’ve had a good year or two of proper core training, you can ease up a bit. Once you’re in your thirties, it’s best to save the heavy stuff for special occasions and instead focus on activities that will keep you injury free and mobile.
I’m certainly not saying that you should turn into a lazy slob after you hit thirty, but I am saying that in order to stay injury free and mobile as you age you need to focus on activities that allow for natural movement and don’t put too much strain on your joints.
And hiking, in this case, is the perfect solution. It allows you to move freely (and naturally) without placing too much stress on your legs or knees. It’s also a rather low impact sport, so it won’t shake up your internal organs quite as much as, say, running might. In addition, hiking is a great way to get a little fresh air and sunlight.
Both of which are essential to hormonal health (among other things).
So if you’ve been neglecting your posture in favor of heavy lifting as of late, now is a perfect time to start making some changes. Take it from me, your body will thank you for it down the road.
Of course, if hiking isn’t quite your thing, there are plenty of other low impact sports and activities out there that you can try. Tennis and swimming are both good examples. As is going for long walks on the weekends. There are tons of ways to be physically active without beating up your body in the process.
Just find something that works for you.
In any case, I should probably let you get back to it. I’m sure you’ve still got a lot of hiking to do today. Don’t work too hard!
Always be willing to learn something new
Sources & references used in this article:
The use of imagery by collegiate athletes during their off-season by M Bochiaro – 2004 – rave.ohiolink.edu
Effects of an off-season conditioning program on the physical characteristics of adolescent rugby union players by DJ Smart, ND Gill – The Journal of Strength & Conditioning …, 2013 – journals.lww.com
Seasonal resorts: The off-season challenge by M Cahill – Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration …, 1987 – journals.sagepub.com