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Over the past few years, heat waves have become increasingly common to our Canadian summers. As a native Montrealer, I can attest to the fact that it can be difficult to reconcile our desire to train outdoors with the intensity of the seasonal heat. After many months of braving the cold, the warm weather triggers a new sense of urgency within us and any excuse is valid to spend time outdoors. That said, it’s easy to see how staggering humidity levels or new heat records can stop our motivation in regard to exercising outdoors in its tracks.

The truth is that, much like winter, training outdoors in the summer requires some adjustments and preparations.

While I can empathize with the fact that no one wants to look dishevelled in public, we need to accept that sweating is a necessary and inevitable part of exercising outdoors. Sweat is a key part of the body’s response to heat and represents its attempt at regulating our temperature. With this in mind, breathable and sweat-wicking fabric can help us avoid painful chafing and minimize any discomfort that we experience while exercising. It can also be helpful to wear a light hat during your training sessions, ideally one that can be wet at a local water fountain for additional freshness.

There is also a common misconception that exercising outdoors regularly means having to “go hard” and achieve a certain level of intensity. As an athlete, I don’t train the same way every day. I strength train, I go for runs, I stretch and meditate for 30 minutes – my movement practice varies. I’ll adjust it regularly and, in the summer, the weather has a great role to play in that. The heat compounds the effort required to achieve a certain result. And, while spending time in the sun is beneficial when it comes to our Vitamin D intake, that doesn’t necessarily mean that exercising in the sun is always the right choice. Both activities exist in their own silos.

Aside from the obvious reminder to hydrate, there are also micro changes that influence our overall training experience. We can adjust our training schedule to avoid peak periods of direct sunlight. Similarly, we can also tweak the way we fuel our bodies prior to a training session. Digestion acts as a stressor for the body and, combined with the additional work that is being done to regulate your temperature, it can leave you feeling lethargic. Some may find that consuming simple carbohydrates and healthy sugars (such as fruits and all-natural juices) within two hours of exercising can help fuel the body with the energy it needs to sustain a heated movement practice.

Bring your workout outdoors

The following full body workout is a series of six low-impact, low-intensity movements. We chose these exercises because they require little or no equipment, making them easy to do outdoors, and because they’re low-impact, which minimizes cardio exertion in the heat. We recommend that you adapt it based on your goals and preferred level of intensity. Each exercise should be done for 20, 40, or 60 seconds and you should repeat the sequence for one to three rounds.

Val Desjardins

High Plank Climber (variation: knees on the ground)

  • From a kneeling position, place your hands on the ground and position them directly below your shoulders.
  • Extend one of your legs directly behind you, placing the toes on the floor. Proceed to do the same with your other leg.
  • Ensure that your body is parallel to the ground and that your eyes are always facing down.
  • From this position, bend one leg and bring the knee forward. The bent knee should be aligned with your belly button. Pause for 2 seconds and then extend that leg back to its original position. Repeat the movement on the other side.

Val Desjardins

Split Squat with Arms Extended (variation: bilateral squat)

  • Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, take a generous step backwards with one leg. Make sure to place your toes on the ground.
  • Keeping your torso upright, bend your front knee and lower yourself towards the ground, bringing both legs to a 90-degree angle.
  • As you descend towards the ground, simultaneously extend your arms forward.
  • Be mindful of your position: your knees and shoulders should always face forward.

Val Desjardins

Unilateral Bridge (variation: bilateral bridge)

  • Begin by lying flat on your back, with your knees bent. The sole of your feet should be on the floor.
  • Extend one leg towards the sky while simultaneously lifting the hips off the ground, creating the bridge position.
  • Hold for two seconds at the top and then come back down.

Val Desjardins

Kneeling Alternating Donkey Kicks

  • Start from a tabletop position, ensuring that both your hands and knees are shoulder width apart.
  • While keeping the leg bent at 90 degrees, extend one leg up towards the sky.
  • The thigh of your kicking leg should be parallel to the ground once you’ve reached the top of the movement, as though trying to imprint your foot on the sky.

Val Desjardins

Side Plank Bridge

  • Begin by lying on the side of your body with your knees stacked together and bent at 45 degrees (in a V shape) and place your elbow directly under your shoulder.
  • From there, lift your hip off the ground while simultaneously extending your top leg. Ensure that it is parallel to the ground.

Val Desjardins

Kneeling Hip Stretch

  • Begin from a kneeling position, with legs shoulder width apart.
  • From there, bring one leg forward to create the long lunge.
  • All the while keeping your knee on the ground, tuck the hip forward and lean your chest forward, lifting your arms up in the air.

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