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How to Train for Your Favourite Spring or Summer Sport

By on March 1, 2018
photo of Kathleen Trotter holding boo ball

The spring weather has arrived – yeah! Since sunshine makes everything seem more manageable – including being active – now is the perfect time to participate in your favorite sport and / or try something new!

Summer is the perfect time to find your fit! Meaning, when it comes to working out – whenever possible – do activities that you enjoy. It doesn’t matter what works for your dad, or your brother, or your favourite celebrity – you have to find the fitness regime that works for you! Experiment – boredom is the kiss of death. It is hard enough to make yourself train at the best of times –– and almost impossible when you feel like yawning! If you can do your routine in your sleep – it is time to get outside!

The caveat? You can’t just jump into a sport. Too often we dive in with inappropriate vigor and intensity; we dangerously base what we expect of our bodies on an outdated – or even superhuman – image of ourselves. If a sport’s required athleticism is greater than your body’s current capacity, playing it will make you feel at best demoralized and unfit, and at worst will result in injury.

The solution? Progress gradually and at the gym prioritize sport specific exercises. As I tell my clients, “Get in shape to play your sport; don’t play your sport to get in shape.”

1) To train for stand-up paddleboarding and / or surfing try exercises standing on an unstable surface.

All sports require a combination of two primary reflex categories: righting and equilibrium. Righting reflexes are used to balance on fixed surfaces. Equilibrium reactions are used primarily on moving surfaces. Most water sports – including board sports – require a dominance of equilibrium reflexes; the athlete has to not only stand on an unstable surface, but react almost instantaneously to varying stimuli. To prepare, try standing on the flat side of a bosu. Once you have mastered that, try squats on the flat side of the bosu.

Squats on Bosu: Stand on the flat side of the bosu – feet wide. Attempt to keep the bosu stable. Bend at your ankles, knees and hips to sit backwards into a squat. Engage your core and bum to stand back up. Repeat for five to ten reps.

2) To train for kayaking and canoeing try seated core exercises.

Kayaking and canoeing involve seated repetitive work on a moderately stable surface. To prepare try a V hold and rotation. Once this is easy try the exercise on a bosu.

V Hold: Sit. Back straight and chest out. Lean back slightly, core engaged and shoulders back. Rotate your torso side to side.

3) To prepare for running try standing hip extensions

Strengthen your entire lower body with exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bridges, and do running-specific hip extension exercises such as the standing hip extension.

Standing hip extensions:  Stand with your right leg attached to a cable machine. Don’t have a cable – attach a band to your foot. Aim to keep your hips level. Engage your right bum muscle — not your back — and bring the right leg slightly back in space. Make sure your left bum muscle is activated to stabilize you. Repeat 15 times. Switch sides.

4) To prepare for your favorite ball sport include exercises that improve proprioception.

Ball sports require a high level of agility, coordination and balance — all of which require proprioception. Proprioception is the neurological feedback loop between the body and brain. It allows your brain to know where you are in space and then react appropriately. To improve proprioception, prioritize exercises that challenge balance or that require reaction.

You can make any traditional strength exercise (eg, squat, lunge, V sit) a reaction drill by adding an auditory cue or a medicine ball pass.

Try reaction squats. When you hear an auditory cue drop down quickly — athletically — into a squat. Engage your bum and core to stand up and repeat. With a partner react to their voice. Solo, set your phone alarm to go off every few seconds and react to the beeps. If you have a training partner, add a ball toss.

5) To prepare to cycle train your posture, work to maintain your mobility, and prioritize multi-joint exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and bent-over rows and core exercises such as planks, bird dogs, and wood chops.

Cycling can wreak havoc on your posture and mobility. Why? Cycling involves sitting, and usually a fair amount of bending forward, which can create stiffness in the hips and back and promote bad posture. To counteract the strain of sitting on the bike (since sitting is something most of us do way too much of already), prioritize flexibility exercises that mobilize the hips (for example the lunge stretch) and chest, and strength exercises that strengthen the upper back and core. An excellent upper back exercise is the bent over row.

Bent Over Row: start standing holding a bar or dumbbells. Chest out and shoulders back. Hinge forward at your hips – don’t let your back round. Then, use your upper back to row your elbows backwards so that the bar or weights lift towards your chest. Imagine cracking a walnut between your shoulder blades. Slowly release and repeat.

Lunge hip flexor stretch: Step your left leg forward into a shallow lunge, both feet facing forward. Tuck your pelvis — your right hip bones should move toward your ribs. Feel the stretch up the front of your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds or more. Switch sides.

If you found these tips useful check out my upcoming book Finding Your Fit: A Compassionate Trainer’s Guide to Making Fitness a Lifelong Habit. 

For more information on how to put together your unique recipe for health success, check out my website kathleentrotter.com, or Follow me on Instagram, Facebook (www.facebook.com/KathleenTrotter), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/KTrotterFitness), or Twitter (@KTrotterFitness), or order Finding Your Fit here https://www.amazon.ca/Finding­Your­Fit­ Compassionate­ Trainer’s/dp/1459735196/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471442 503&sr=1­1


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