MUSCLE-BUILDING OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

This section is devoted to those activities that are mostly devoted to actual building of muscle and require more strength than the ones previously listed. It’s fool-hearty to believe that none of these activities cross over, because they all do to some extent. However, there are some activities, such as rock climbing that, while the heights and danger might stimulate the heart more than actual repetitive muscle exhaustion, it’s a much more strength-based activity.

ROCK CLIMBING

A challenge to your senses, all manner of adventure sports are a fresh approach to fitness and an excellent way to cross-train your body into ultimate fitness. But don’t let the term "adventure" frighten you. Rock climbing may adventurous, but when calculatedly learned and practiced, it can be something that is far more beneficial to the whole musculoskeletal system than it is perilous. It’s greatest benefit is the strengthening and conditioning of the entire body, with an emphasis on upper body power.

Without a doubt, rock climbing emphasizes coordination and strength. The two, in fact, are highly interdependent. Upper body strength is key here, but having an overall balance of strength is a plus. Conditioning is something is that required in addition to performing and practicing movements on a regular basis. This, too, is interdependent for the actual ability to climb at all, let alone enjoy climbing or setting goals in the outdoors. So what does that mean? A rock climbing gym is really the only place to start in a sane and safe manner. This isn’t a sport to be undertaken lightly. Unlike hopping onto a mountain bike or donning a pair of running shoes and hitting the local track, rock climbing requires a ton of skill, and practice. It is a synergy of many different attributes and abilities put together to compile a total picture of capability, strength, balance and calculated mental and physical agility.

Have we scared you off yet? Don’t be scared. A rock climbing gym is a great place to enjoy the sport, and acquire skills that, even if you never venture out on to an actual rock, you’ll be able to benefit from. Though, why wouldn’t you want to test your skills under a blazing 80 degrees, and enjoy the elements and freedom of climbing against a backdrop of the great outdoors?

Rock climbing works just about every muscle in the upper body (pectorals, deltoids, forearms, biceps, triceps, rectus abdominus, serratus, intercostals, latissimus dorsi, spinal erectors and teres major) as well as a few in the lower body (hip flexors, trocanter, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves). It is probably the single most demanding total body engagement one can find in any strength-based activity.

Indoor climbing gyms have popped up all over the country—either as a part of a larger gym or as a separate entity that offers nothing but climbing to its members. Classes are necessary as it’s a skill that is impossible to pick up by osmosis!

Cost of classes and/or gym membership:

For a gym like Gold’s Gym in Portland,OR where rock climbing comes as part of a total body package, (CALL 503-222-1210) you can get in on one of their specials and pay as little as $299 a year at certain times. Rock climbing isn’t taken as seriously as in a ‘climbers-only’ gym, but it’s affordable and is a great way to get your feet wet in the sport to see if you like it. For a rock climbing only gym like Dyno-Rock Indoor Climbing Gym in Arlington, TX you pay a monthly fee ($45) and then pay a class fee for instruction ($10) and a rental fee for equipment ($6 for harness, carabener, shoes, and chalk bag).

Buying your own gear:

For a simple gym kit (harness, belay, carabener), without shoes, you can pay between $75-$120 for your own gear. Shoes are about $60-$120. If you’re going outside, expect to pay a lot more for all the gear you need because, let’s face it, it has to be good!

Advantages:

You can rock climb indoors and out. You have the ability to be completely safe indoors or take more chances outdoors, depending upon what you want. You’ll feel more free as a human being than you ever have. You can choose this over standard strength training any day you are working upper body if you join a combined gym.

Greatest peril:

Falling and overuse injuries to hands, fingers, wrists, shoulders and neck

Disadvantages:

It takes a long time to become proficient at this sport, and it isn’t cheap!

Benefits:

Build unbelievable strength in your upper body and have a sense of agility unmatched by any other sport. Your mental acuity will soar. Your concept of “fear” as you currently know it, will be short-listed.

Best places to Rock Climb:

Ready to grip it and rip it like the big boys? Of Gateway’s Top10 Best Places to Rock Climb, the top nine are located in South Africa. Number one? The steep sandstone faces on Table Mountain in the Peninsula Mountain Chain in South Africa. Here in the U.S.? California’s Yosemite National Park or Tuolumne Meadows in California’s High Sierras.

KAYAKING

This is one of those cross-over sports that requires both strength and endurance. However, we put it into our strength category because of the amount of upper body muscle it requires in order to engage in it.

Kayaking can be done on a lake, river, or in the ocean. If you don’t have access to one of these, it likely isn’t a good choice for you. However, with the diversity of land and many natural bodies of water found in the U.S., it would be hard to believe that there isn’t a body of water someplace near your home to provide you with recreational and fitness opportunities.

In fact, the sport of kayaking is growing in popularity so much that the price of kayaks have absolutely gone through the roof! An entry-level inflatable kayak starts in the neighborhood of about $250. You can find them at Costco in the late spring and early summer or at a sporting goods store. They only go up from there. $699-$999 buys you a single-man kayak built for recreational paddling of all skill levels, either an ocean or fresh water model. The greater the stability and lighter weight the materials, the more expensive it gets. $1000 and upward buys a serious kayak for higher ability level and more competitive conditions. When we say “upwards”, we were shocked to find that kayaks can actually sell for $10G’s! Yeah, the price of a pretty flashy speed boat, complete with motor and leather seats. (Drool)….

But the truth is, while kayaking can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Nor does it have to happen in Class IV rapids to be beneficial to your strength and endurance levels. It’s a great upper body workout for anyone. For fitness purposes, kayaking is actually better suited to still water, such as is found on lakes. Rivers provide their own challenges, and certainly, it requires strength, endurance and calculated choices in order to navigate successfully and safely. However, if you’re purely into the enjoyment of being out on the water and getting your strength needs met, kayaking is a great way to do it!

Equipment needed:

A kayak of some kind, a cart with wheels to get it from car to water, plus an oar, swim gear and a change of clothes, as well as a floatation device/ life preserver

Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, lower pecs, deltoids, serratus, intercostals, obliques, biceps and triceps

Advantages:

Can be a great way to get out of the gym and burn calories along with building upper body strength. Calms the mind, and is a great way to fish and view wildlife.

Disadvantages:

Kayaks are bulky and require roof racks. They can be quite heavy, depending upon the model, and require two people to lift and carry them. You can only kayak year ‘round if you live in a place where the water doesn’t freeze over in winter.

Benefits:

A great fitness tool, they can develop the back and shoulders like nothing else. There are no limitations to when you can kayak—it’s a great summer activity in the early morning, heat of the day or at twilight

Best places to see the world from a Kayak:

Alaska, Hawaii and the South Pacific. <---****HYPERLINK****--->“http://www.alaskaseakayakers.com/”>http://www.alaskaseakayakers.com/, OR http://www.kayakkauai.com/

EXTREME OUTDOOR WORKOUTS

Obstacle Course Racing & Fitness Boot Camps

If you live near an army base, you may have seen the obstacle courses that armed forces must train on to prove that they can sufficiently persevere in combat out in the field. Cargo nets, body hurdles, tire tracks, rope grids, walls, beams and bars, etc. are all a part of these courses. In fact, if you follow women’s fitness, you probably know that competitions such as the Galaxy or Tri-Fitness competitions, require that a woman compete on a course just like that in order to test her physical fitness in addition to her aesthetic appeal. Trust us, these aren’t your average T&A shows! While these girls may look like cute little “Hooters” honeys, they’re actually fitness gorillas capable of serious ass-kicking.

This interest in military type training emerged several years ago and it’s become a full-blown industry unto itself. The only problem is, there aren’t a lot of obstacle courses available and open to the civilian public. So serious course runners have begun to build their own courses in their own back yards. Let’s face it, climbing a wall with just your own two feet and a hemp rope isn’t exactly for the mild mannered.

To quench the appetites of those interested in learning how to pursue this kind of ‘serious fitness’, many camps have sprung up to give weekend warriors their fix on hardcore fitness. These camps include work on an actual obstacle course, along with personalized “You’re scum soldier” kind of ear-barking that would leave even the most Semper-Fi’ed individual shaking in his mother’s army boots.

The great thing that comes out of this is a kind of physical culture and training regime is a work ethic that most people can take back into the gym with them, and get much better results. At these camps, such as outdoor fitness boot camp “Camp Technique” in Los Angeles, weekend inductees (maggots?) engage in everything from super circuit training, to advanced stretching techniques, to weighted ball training, to <shudder> “weak point training”… in order to realize that what they originally thought was a hard training session was more like wetting the bed in their sleep!

Obstacle Coursing can compliment any training routine and satisfy a number of training goals, if not compliment what you’re currently doing. It’s an excellent all around type of strength, endurance and agility training tool. It also has the power to transform the body into a sleek, fit machine in under 6 months, provided you follow a good diet in addition. But it’s not for the weak of heart. It’s best that you use obstacle course work, or super-circuit type training for a compliment to an already strong physical fitness program.

Attending a camp is just a great way to get started.

Cost of camp:

$150 per person/ per day or packages of $500 for a week

Cost of Use of Course:

If you’re lucky enough to have one in the area that you can run. Use of it can be as cheap as $5 a time. (Kissimmee, FL, Orlando, FL, Venice, CA, and locations in Ohio and Texas, as well as several others springing up in a town near you).

Cost of Building own course:

$500 for a simple set of old tires, a cargo net and a few over-under hurdles, to $5000 for a complete course on acreage, complete with wall, bars sunk into a permanent foundation and rope grids.

Muscles worked:

ALL!

Equipment needed:

Clothing you can move in, water, gloves with tacky grip, good athletic shoes with cushion for concussion, ball cap, visor or sunglasses

Advantages:

Can get you into shape like nothing else. A true combination of strength and cardio in one. Can really cut down time in the gym once you’re fit enough to go

Disadvantages:

Not a lot of obstacle courses are available to civilians; you’ll have to build your own unless you live in a few select places where obstacle courses and civilian fitness go hand in hand.

Benefits:

You can transform your body in a short time, your strength will increase by 20%, on average, within the first 1-2 months. You can count it as a full body workout, or upper body workout, and skip the gym that day. It will push you past any result you could get in the gym within the same time frame.

Best Fitness Camp:

Platoon Fitness (<---****HYPERLINK****--->“http://www.platoonfitness.com/”>www.platoonfitness.com) with classes and camps in Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, Jersey, and now in Europe, in the U.K.

Can’t Attend a Camp?:

Pick up Andrew Flech’s book “The Official Five Star Fitness Boot Camp Workout”