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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Our favorite workouts of 2024, so far



Playing pickleball at a park in Arlington, Va., June 28, 2023. (Alyssa Schukar/The New York Times)

By Erik Vance


The sun is out, the days are long and it feels like everyone is outside exercising. Building a fitness habit requires commitment and creativity, and summer is the perfect time to start.


Being disciplined about movement doesn’t mean you have to be a gym rat or marathon runner; part of developing a routine that sticks is finding a way to move that makes you happy.


The first step, of course, happens before you even lace up your shoes. We all have our favorite excuses for why we don’t work out enough, and some of them can be paralyzing. The way through starts with setting comfortable expectations and just creating some accountability. You might have to hack your brain now and then to get started, but the most important thing is to be persistent and forgiving of yourself when you backslide.


Here are a few of our favorite workouts so far this year — whether your goal is to bench 230 pounds, up your pickleball game or just squeeze in a high-intensity routine when you barely have time to exercise.


BUILDING STRENGTH


Power hungry


We’ve written a lot about the importance of building and maintaining strength, especially as one gets older. But you don’t just need strength, you also need power, or the ability to deploy strength quickly. Strength helps you dig a shovelful of snow, power helps you dump it. Strength lowers you into a chair, but power gets you out again.


Building power doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require concerted effort.


Break your strength rut


Even for those who strength train twice a week, every week, it’s easy to fall into a routine and plateau. And while any form of strength training is good, it’s important to know how to build on it too.


If you want to break through to the next level, the key is what experts call “progressive overload.” It’s a simple concept — just consistently increase the weight or intensity of your exercise each week — but it can be hard to actually pull off.


Exercise like an animal


Over the past decade, there has been a quiet revolution in exercise circles. Maybe your trainer suggested an exercise where you crawl around like a bear, or your favorite HIIT workout now includes a crab walk.


These animal-inspired exercises go by many names, but they can be an excellent way to build functional strength that can help you during everyday activities. They may look a little silly at first, but they generally don’t require any equipment and can be done just about anywhere.


GETTING BETTER AT


… Biking


A lazy summer bike ride down to your favorite picnic spot is one of the great joys of summer. But, if you’re honest, it’s not strenuous exercise, is it?


If you enjoy riding but have never tried any kind of serious bike training, consider upping your a game a bit. Any bike will do; with the right strategy, even that dusty old cruiser in your garage can become an effective fitness tool.


… Sex


Sex isn’t something you can (or should) do at the gym, but it’s still exercise. It requires stamina, strength and the ability to perform brief bursts of intensity.


And, as such, you can train to get better at it. Yes, increasing your cardio is important, but how strong are your pelvic floor muscles? What about your hips and core?



WORKING OUT QUICKLY


Pilates on the go


Pilates is generally associated with fancy studios and spring-loaded devices — but you can get in a quick session without leaving the house or buying any specialized equipment.


HIIT that doesn’t hurt


Looking for something a little tougher? High-intensity interval training might be the most efficient, exhausting workout available. But not everybody is up for the jumping and other high-impact moves that make up most HIIT routines.


High intensity, low impact interval training, or HILIT, can be an effective alternative.


A sprint, not a marathon


One of the most effective workouts is also the simplest: Just run as fast as you can. For some of us, jogging just doesn’t cut it. We want to feel the wind in our hair as we sprint, all-out.


If you crave speed in your workout, you can do it safely if you train your body properly. Like any intense exercise, sprinting requires planning and careful attention to your body’s signals. And stay off the local track — at least at first.

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