Rapid Fire : Installment 2

The leaves on the trees have begun to change from green to red, orange and yellow. The mornings are dark again and days shorter again. It’s been brisk, cold and windy the last few weeks forcing some of us to bring out the hoodies, fleeces and coats.

Fall season is upon us once again. I personally love this time of the year with Spring season being my favorite. Most runners consider this to be the ideal time to run because it’s neither too cold nor too hot. In my experience over the years working at health clubs and working with many clients, the cold weather can be discouraging for people who go to the gym regularly. People typically rather stay in the warmth of their apartments or go to the gym less frequently.

Some avid fitness enthusiasts like to take advantage of the fall weather and participate in outdoor recreational activities. I personally think this is a brilliant thing to do because it’s another way to challenge yourself physically, athletically and mentally without doing traditional exercises in the gym.

Fall season training, outdoor fall exercises and much more are explored in ‘Rapid Fire: Installment 2’.

1. Morning Workouts Are Ideal In The Fall: For many of us that juggle working out with work and other family commitments, waking up early can be a dreadful process. However as challenging as it may be, an early morning workout before work in the Fall could make life much easier for you. As the weather transitions from summer into fall, many exercisers tend to get lazy and try to avoid the cold as much as possible. It becomes more of a challenge trying to get psyched for a workout after working a long day. Although a morning workout requires waking up much earlier for a sufficient workout, the thought that home is where you’re headed after work is refreshing, relieving and euphoric. As winter approaches, working out can become more difficult because the weather gets colder in the evening in certain parts of the country. If you live in a warmer climate, you may not have this problem in which case it wouldn’t matter what time of the day you trained. But for the majority of those in northeastern and mid-western states, a morning workout may very well be what keeps you focused and on track during the fall and winter seasons.

2. Drink A Cup Of Coffee As A Pre-Workout Booster: Over the last few years, several studies, including this ACSM study, have shown caffeine as being a great energy enhancer prior to a workout. It actually makes sense because all pre-workout creatine powder drinks have moderate to high doses of caffeine in them. Just look at the label of these products next time you’re at your local GNC or Vitamin Shoppe and you’ll see it written on there. A cup of coffee in the morning prior to a workout will actually wake you up faster, keep you alert for a while and activate the central nervous system. Even if you don’t workout in the morning, a cup of coffee will come in handy as you make your way form work to the gym or if you’re pressed for time. If you have a low caffeine tolerance, start with any basic tea and gradually asses your tolerance. However in both cases, be careful not to drown your caffeinated beverage with milk and sugar as too much of both can devalue the effectiveness of the caffeine. Anaerobic activities seem to thrive the best with pre-workout coffee consumption but there’s also evidence suggesting that coffee consumption prior to endurance activities like swimming and distance running can enhance performance.

3. Participate In Obstacle Course Challenges:  Fall season is a great time to participate in outdoor activities because of the uniqueness of the weather (warm, breezy, windy and brisk). Several obstacle course challenges have taken the fitness industry by storm over the last 10 years. These are events, usually lasting anywhere from less than an hour to several hours a day, that measure a person’s aerobic and anaerobic endurance. Besides being a great way to embrace new challenges other than traditional gym exercises, it’s a fitting way to transition from the summer into fall by enjoying the last of good outdoor weather before the cold comes in. Some of the popular obstacle course events making waves around the country are Metro Dash, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder and Men’s Health Urbanathlon. These events will also test your willpower, mental fortitude and fatigue threshold. I competed in the Metro Dash in 2011 and walked into it with little preparation thinking it would be a piece of cake. After all, I’ve been lifting weights my whole life so how hard could it be. Nothing could be further from the truth! I realized my aerobic and muscular endurance weren’t where they needed to be. It served as a wake-up call to incorporate more conditioning drills into my workout programs. While the summer will always be perfect for most outdoor activities, it can often be too hot and humid and thereby uncomfortable for exercisers to work under. The spring and fall seasons are considered by many as the best season for obstacle course events.

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