Table 1 lists the most common training methods and concepts utilised by outdoor fitness providers.

Table 1: Training methods and concepts used by the various training providers

Method/Concept

Description/Explanation

Plyometrics

(also known as jump training)

  • Plyometric training is an intense, advanced form of exercise in which the muscles are first stretched, then contracted (the pre-stretching makes the muscle contract with greater force).
  • Plyometric movements are powerful and high-impact, although the impact should be controlled as much as possible.
  • Plyometric training requires both strength and endurance.
  • Common plyometric training exercises include various jumps and hops, sometimes using obstacles such as steps or cones.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Tabata Method (the ‘father’ of HIIT, of which HIIT is a toned-down version)

  • HIIT training is exercise comprised of alternating short periods of very vigorous activity and longer periods of active recovery time.
  •  The vigorous intervals are brief, but challenging.
  • For example, if you applied HIIT principles to running, you would (after a warm-up) sprint as hard as you could for two minutes, then jog for 5 minutes, then sprint again for 2 minutes, and so on.
  • This approach allows for maximum fitness gains and fat-burning in a workout of short duration.
  • High intensity interval training is not for new or beginning exercisers; you need to have a basic level of cardio-respiratory fitness first.

Incline Running (commonly known as Hills training)

  • Running inclines, either on a hill outdoors, is a form of resistance training that builds up the muscles in the calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • Hill running strengthens those areas more than running on flat ground.
  • It will also strengthen your hip flexors and Achilles tendons.
  • The muscles required to run up hills are the same ones used for sprinting, so the strength developed will improve your speed.

Retro Running

(is a lesser known term for the well-established athletic activity: running backward)

  • Retro running has a number of significant applications throughout sport, both as a training aid and as a rehabilitative tool in the management of various leg injuries.
  • Retro running is a powerful sport specific training tool.
  • Athletes such American football cornerbacks, basketball players, and tennis players must all be able to move powerfully and decisively through backward motion.
    Training programmes such as shuttle run drills, where the individual is required to move backward and forward at a high speed within a short period of time, are effective in developing retro running skills specific to the sport.
  • The incorporation of retro running into an interval running or intermittent exercise program places positive stresses on both the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. Additionally, retro running stimulates the fast-twitch fibres present in the muscles of quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf.
  • Sports science research confirms that the introduction of movements that represent a variation from regular training tend to reduce training injury rates.

Core strength

  • What experts refer to as the ‘core’ actually consists of many different muscles that stabilise the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso.
  • When these muscles contract, they stabilise the spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle and create a solid base of support. When this happens, we are able to generate powerful movements of the extremities.
  • A strong core distributes the stresses of weight-bearing and protects the back.
  • A strong core reduces back pain, improves athletic performance and improves postural imbalances.

Team competitions and games

Team competitions and games have a number of benefits:

  • They are great for developing teamwork and friendships in a group class.
  • They make workouts more fun and dynamic.
  • They aid communications skills.
  • They develop friendly competition.
  • They aid motivation.

Partner Exercises

Partner exercises have a number of benefits:

  • They are great for developing teamwork and friendships in a group class.
  • They make workouts more fun and dynamic.
  • They aid communications skills.
  • They develop friendly competition.
  • They aid motivation.
  • Your partner can act as resistance or balance.
  • Partners can challenge you and help you ensure that you are maintaining proper form and technique.

Obstacle and Assault Courses

  • An obstacle course is a series of challenging physical obstacles which an individual or team must navigate, usually whilst being timed.
  • Obstacle courses can include running, climbing, jumping, crawling, swimming, and balancing elements with the aim of testing speed and endurance.
  • Sometimes obstacle courses will also involve mental tests.
  • Obstacle courses are good for physical training, building teamwork and evaluating problem-solving skills.
  • Military obstacle courses are usually team-based and therefore teamwork is an important skill.

Loaded Marches

  • A loaded march is a rapid march over distance carrying weight.
  • The ability to complete loaded marches is a core military skill in many countries.
  • However, in certain climates loaded marches are not practiced since they would result in high casualties through heat exhaustion.
  • A loaded march is known as a ‘TAB’ (Tactical Advance to Battle) in the British Army and a ‘Yomp’ (Your Own Marching Pace) in the Royal Marines.

Stretcher Race

  • Members are split into teams equal to the number of stretchers.
  • Team members take turns carrying the stretcher, which can be loaded with various weights (such as a ‘casualty’, beer kegs etc).
  • Teams usually race against each other or the clock over a set course or distance.
  • It is designed to test strength and stamina.
  • It is also useful for developing teamwork and communication skills.

Supply Run

  • Can be conducted as one big team or split into two teams.
  • The teams are given a collection of equipment and they must move this equipment from point A to B, without placing any equipment on the ground.
  • Teams usually race against each other or the clock over a set course or distance
  • Good for developing teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.

TRX

(Suspension Training)

  • TRX is a form of resistance training that includes bodyweight exercises in which a variety of multi-planar, compound exercise movements can be performed.
  • These are done with the aim of developing strength, balance, flexibility, and joint stability simultaneously.
  • Proponents of suspension training argue that it develops core body strength, as well as joint and muscular stability, reducing the chance of injury.
  • Some sports scientists have expressed concern that weaker individuals may not have the core stability or joint integrity to use the system safely and effectively.

Kettlebells

  • Kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, shoulders and also increase grip strength.
  • The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shovelling or farm work.
  • Unlike exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettlebell exercises often involve large numbers of repetitions.
  • Kettlebell exercises work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks.
  • This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to HIIT training rather than to traditional weight lifting.
  • The movements used in kettlebell exercise can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems, or a weak core.
  • However, if done properly they can also be very beneficial to health as they improve mobility, range of motion and increase strength.

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