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    Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith

The Fall Workout

Eric Minkwitz

Summer is over, and the warm days of volleyball and swimming seem like a faint memory. It's time to embrace the crisp fall season and transition your workouts from a warm-weather mindset to a new fall and winter paradigm.

Look at the change in season as a great opportunity to accomplish three main health and fitness objectives: First, you can address any injuries that may have arisen during your summer training; second, you can make a plan to drastically change your training regimen to keep your body fresh and ready for the shorter, colder days ahead; and finally, if you are an avid winter sportsmen, you can start conditioning for the rigors facing you in the upcoming season.

  1. Recover and Rebalance If you were very active in the summer months, and perhaps dabbled in a mini-triathlon or two, fall is the time to address any overuse injuries you may have sustained during warm-weather aerobic training. Of course those sessions are great for improving your cardiovascular system, enhancing fat burning, and helping lower cholesterol. But excessive miles on the road can put stress on your knees, tighten your quads and glutes, and compress your lower back. Try replacing your long road workout sessions with interval training on the grass or on the stair machine. For instance, after a warm-up, do 100% effort for 30 seconds, drop intensity down to 60% for 90 seconds, and then repeat the interval sprint five times. Also, try concentrating more on flexibility sessions, such as Yoga classes, and using the foam roller for on your quads and IT bands for myofascial release. These sessions will work in conjunction with your cross-training and help strengthen and lengthen connective tissue, balance achy joints, and improve blood flow.

  2. Plan to Change Fall can be a great time to get involved in alternative training styles. For example, rotational training can be integrated into your sessions to make up for your predisposition for linear training in the summer. Use the free motion machine (or rubber cable) and hold the cable grip in one hand, keeping a boxing stance with your hands ready. Perform a full boxing-style power strike by pivoting your feet, rotating your torso, and then driving your hand towards your imaginary target. One goal of your new training emphasis could be to engage in a solid 12-week strength and mass routine. Building extra lean mass now will help stoke your basal metabolic rate prior to the holiday party schedule. In these 12 weeks, be sure to cycle the reps and loads of your training. For instance, for weeks 1, 5, and 9, push lighter weights for 12 to 15 reps. For weeks 4, 8, and 12, increase intensity and push heavy weight in a controlled fashion for four sets of 3 to 5 reps.

  3. Winter Sports Prep Fall is also a perfect time to improve the skills and techniques that are required for winter sports. If you play basketball, you need lateral speed, agility, explosiveness, and the ability to change direction. So, transition to power cleans and jump squats in the gym and sprint the length of the basketball court, rapidly changing direction at every line (suicide drill). As a downhill skier, you need to develop your anaerobic capacity, total body power (force times velocity), a strong core, and stability. Explosive push presses, single-leg squats, lateral box jumps, broad jumps, stability ball crunches, med ball throws, and balance work will all improve your performance on the slopes.

  4. Fitness should always be fun and challenging, and this is especially true during the fall and winter months. This season, be sure to change the emphasis of your program, and add greater specificity to develop a new level of total body conditioning.