Do you ever look at people who are great at sport and wish that you were too?
Some people start a sport as a child and continue it right through to adulthood, practising regularly, mastering their craft and putting a great deal of time into their discipline week after week.
I recently watched a clip about Tony Hawke, a former pro skater, who at 48 years old, landed a ‘900’; a trick where the skateboarder makes two-and-a-half horizontal spins in the air before landing.
These people are so inspiring and started me wondering what could have happened if I’d continued with some sports I enjoyed at school.
I dabbled in sport as a child and teenager, but I never pursued any one of them long enough to consider myself really good at any of them. I was only really good at exercising in the gym and going for runs. I can catch a ball, run fast, fill in on a netball game and I can smack a tennis ball around. So I’m going to call myself an all-rounder.
I went on a big hike with a friend once and when we got to the end, neither of us had the car key. So we had to walk miles looking for the key on rather rugged, hilly terrain. It started getting dark and there were so many times that we nearly slipped. Both of us are into training and we commented on the fact that our single-leg work and stability training really came in handy as we managed to prevent ourselves from falling.
When you take your body through the same motions day after day, that's when injuries can happen. Mixing body movements up helps reduce that risk.
Being an all-rounder has its benefits and doesn’t mean a complete overhaul.
It may mean just a few small changes that can make a big difference. Try changing something small each week to keep things fresh and interesting.
If you’re a spontaneous person, it means you’re more ready to be ‘up for anything’ if the occasion calls for it.
If a friend asks you to go rock climbing, you don’t have to make an excuse to get out of it because you don’t feel strong enough.
If your family decides on a ball game at the beach, you can jump right in, knowing you’re fit enough to enjoy it.
If you are late for a bus, you know you can run and catch it.
Here are my top tips on how to be a good all-rounder:
1. Perform Unilaterals
If you work out with weights, incorporate some single arm and single leg work. This can help you with your co-ordination, balance, mobility and strengthening your stabilising muscles.
For example, do a single leg squat requires your body to turn on more muscles than doing a standard bi-lateral squat with both feet on the ground.
Your core muscles need to switch on to keep you balanced and the stabilising muscles around your ankle, knee and hip will need to switch on.
Instead of doing barbell shoulder presses, try one arm shoulder presses using a dumbbell and feel your abs kick into action.
2. Do some new group classes
Doing new group classes offer a range of different movement patterns that your body is probably not used to. One of the many advantages to doing classes, is all the different planes of movement that are used. This requires you to move in new and different ways, challenging your body and mind.
For example, instead of continuously running, which happens mainly in a forward motion, doing a class such as an aerobics could have you lifting your legs and arms, moving laterally, jumping, kicking and all sorts of other varied movements. Plus, it’s fun. This helps you be able to move in a range of ways, which is a key to being a good all-rounder.
3. Train a buddy’s way
Working out with a friend is a great way to get ideas from each other. Everyone tends to do things slightly differently and there are normally a few tips and tricks you can pick up by training with a friend. You can take turns planning the session.
For example, if you have some great HIIT exercises to do outside, you could take your friend through it with you. Maybe you have a friend who is great at yoga or Pilates and could take you through a session.
Sample All-rounder Weekly Plan
Monday – Resistance program 1 followed by skipping intervals
Tuesday – Boxing class + foam rolling + stretch session
Wednesday – am – Walk or rest; pm - Yoga
Thursday – Resistance program 2 followed by short cardio of your choice
Friday - Dance class
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Long walk outside or a bike ride
This plan gives you some ideas about how to mix and match your week.
Remember to work up slowly if you’re not used to exercising so often. And make sure to tweak it to suit your preferences and lifestyle.
This article was published in 'The Great Health Guide' magazine – August 2016
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