Getting Ready for Trail Time

The springtime weather has us ready to enjoy outdoor recreation activities. Many look forward to walking, hiking, horseback riding and biking on the bountiful trails Draper has to offer.  However you choose to enjoy the trails, consider doing a little preparation before you head out.

Here are two key exercises that will benefit you by keeping you safer, stronger and more balanced.

Core training is a perfect place to start. The beauty and risk of nature is that it is ever changing.  This environment can put unexpected roots, rocks, people or animals our path. A strong core is our first line of defense in preventing injury. Mastering a plank will provide protection for your spine and aide in proper alignment. Begin in a prone position on the floor with hands placed close to your chest. Pull your shoulders away from your ears, (visualize sliding your scapulas into your back pockets). Press your toes into the floor and engage your calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads. Draw in your belly. Exhale as your push away from the floor. Keep the entire body engaged as you hold the plank with your eyes gazing slightly out over your fingertips. When a plank is done correctly, you will feel your entire body working in unison. Set a timer and see how long you can hold a proper plank. If you are new to planks, begin with your knees on the ground.  Do three sets of plank holds. When you are up to one minute and it becomes easy, progress to side planks or plank holds with three points touching, then two.

Once we have addressed the core, we can hit the power muscles of riding, hiking and running: THE LEGS!  Bulgarian split squats are a fantastic way to prepare the legs for the trails. In a Bulgarian split squat, you place once foot on a bench behind you. Your front foot is placed out far enough that you can see the tip of your shoe. Keep your shoulders square as you lower down into a lunge. Both legs should be engaged throughout the lowering and lifting part of this exercise. Try not to let your chest fall forward as this will put the load into your low back and front knee. When done correctly, this exercise will help stretch the hip flexor (which can become very tight when you spend a lot of time in the saddle, sitting at a computer or driving), improve balance and develop equal strength in both legs. Begin with two to three sets of 10 repetitions on each leg. You can progress to higher reps and even add a set of dumbbells to continue to build strength and power.

Start the season off on the right foot.  Spending a little time preparing will allow a lot of time on the trails!

Kat works at Treehouse Athletic Club and is a Certified Personal trainer (ASCM), Certified Group Instructor (ACE) and Certified Nutrition Specialist (ACE).