What does it take to be an Adrenalist? Passion? Focus? Fearlessness? An Adrenalist seems to ooze all of these qualities, but at a very base level, it takes an extraordinary degree of fine-tuned physicality and sports specific training. Intense development of muscle groups that are trained to meet the demands of a sport specific requirement are a must. It should go without saying that any top-tier extreme athlete must maintain a high level of general physical fitness, and mechanical and strategic training, but we’ve compiled a sports-specific training run down of popular muscle groups worked in six high-octane pastimes.
Crucial muscle group: Calves
Much of what makes a skateboarder talented is his ability to keep his body stable while situated atop and tricking on a fast-moving plank. The calves are essential in ensuring the board is an extension of the boarder – an appendage that moves as fluidly as those naturally attached to him.
A tip for development for calves is practicing the toe press. No one said building up supreme calf strength would be easy, a truth you’ll soon realize after taking your first turn on the toe press (actually just a re-adjusted leg press machine). To start the toe press workout, slide the press sled into a position where your legs are fully extended and place the balls of your feet on the edge of the press so your heels are hanging off. Now push down on the balls of your feet, moving the press away from you. Do three sets of 5-10 reps, with a challenging weight and watch your muscles bulge. You’ll be ollying like a pro in no time.
Free Solo Climbing
Crucial muscle group: Hands/Fingers/Upper Body
In the anchorless world of free soloing where the strength of your grip is the only insurance against falling to your death, it should come as no surprise that the successful free solo climber is the free solo climber with near superhuman might in his hands, fingers, and upper body.
Tips for developing for hands/fingers and upper body are practicing pull-ups and dead hangs. Prepping for extreme climbing is a low-fi equipment endeavor but don’t let that fool you. Despite the fact that you’ll only need a pull-up bar for each of these exercises, you’ll soon find that working through their ferocity is anything but easy. For pull-ups, orient your hands with palms facing toward you, grip and pull up on the bar. On the way down, you should allow your arms to extend fully for maximum conditioning. Start with three sets of as many reps as you can do. Once you’re up in the 12, 10, 8 range, you may be ready to try a low risk free solo climb. Dead hangs focus less on shoulder and chest strength, and more on forearm and grip. To successfully complete these, find a bar high enough above ground that your feet dangle when grabbing on. Then, hold on for as long as you can before dropping from exhaustion. Brutal, but effective.
Crucial muscle group: Core
One look at the maneuvers pulled by trials specialist Danny MacAskill will show you how crucial it is for riders to have explosive speed, jumping ability, and balance. While upper and lower body strength is, of course, important, each of these qualities is immeasurably aided by that elusive space in the middle; all trial riders need a rock-solid core.
Tips for abdominal core development are hip lift, sit-ups and plank on a balance ball. There are scores of core exercises that one may do to develop more conditioned ab and back muscles, but these three are fantastic places to start. Hip-lifts involve lying with your back flat against the floor, placing your legs together, and raising them up in the air without bending your knees such that your below-the-waist body is in the air for each rep. Sit-ups, of course, involve lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the ground while bringing the upper half of your body up to meet your knees with each rep. Planks require a balance ball and involve your resting your core on the ball (back or stomach side down) and staying in a prostrate position, holding legs and arms in the air for as long as possible.
Crucial muscle group: Legs
It’s not that leg strength isn’t important in trials riding, it’s just preeminently important in mountain biking, where an athlete’s ability to speed over rugged terrain is directly linked to his lower-half endurance.
Key exercises for leg training are box jumps and uni stiff-leg deadlifts. Just like core exercises, leg workouts can be achieved by performing a wide variety of plyometric and weighted maneuvers. For Adrenalists interested in beefing up their mountain biking prowess, box jumps and uni-stiff leg deadlifts are excellent options. Box jumps require an athlete to hop up and down off of a raised box, landing on the balls of their feet whether on the box or on the ground. The higher the box, the more difficult the workout. Uni-stiff leg deadlifts require an athlete to put all his weight on one leg while leaning forward and extending his free leg straight out behind him in an exercise that works core as well as hamstrings, calves, and quads. Three sets of 10 reps should do the trick to start. When ready, start doing these with weights in your hands.
Crucial muscle group: Full Body
Because Parkour is a sport with unusual physical demands, it merits a special muscle group classification. Though the previous four sections have highlighted singular anatomical regions, a sport this holistically intense requires special full body workout prep.
Tips for full body development are plyometric push-ups and one-legged reach jumps. Watching Parkour videos can be daunting because it’s easy to wonder how one would ever accomplish some of the things pulled off by pros if one was not born on Krypton, but these feats have a recipe just like any 360 or trials hop. Doing Plyometic push-ups is a good way to develop upper body strength while building reflexes. To do plyo push-ups get into standard push-up position, lower your body to the floor, and then push up hard, propelling your body up into the air. One set of 10 will be painstakingly difficult. You’ll see. Next, you’ll want to try one-legged reach jumps. We’ve all seen traceurs bound up a vertical wall like Spider-Man and this is how they train to do it. Start by standing about three feet away from a wall. Then, take a step or two toward the wall and use one leg to rebound as high as you can, reaching your arm as far up the all as you can. Start with three sets of 10 and keep note of your reach progress.
Let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen on Twitter if you have any other crucial extreme sports exercise suggestions.