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©2020 by Jonathon Reid

  • Jon Reid

Inverleith Park Fitness Course (Outdoor Fitness)

Rob and I (Jon) recently took on the Inverleith park fitness trail. The trail features a variety of fixed outdoor fitness equipment and obstacles scattered around Inverleith park that provides runners, cyclists and dog walkers with the chance to add some fun and strength training to their workout.


Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this particular course, and any outdoor training…


Kangaroo Hops

Kangaroo Kettle

These have the potential for an unfortunate injury so make sure you’ve get plenty of spring in your jump. The important parts of this task are the takeoffs and landings.


Landing

Avoid allowing your knees to collapse inwards by focussing on landing in a quarter squat position (hips back, knees out) and having your weight distributed from the middle of your foot to the front of your foot.


That doesn’t mean you land on your tip toes, it just means that you don’t send a shockwave all the way up your skeleton by landing on your heels.


Good landing

Bad landing

Takeoff

To set yourself up for your next hop, your heels should be very slightly raised upon landing; just enough to slip a £10 note underneath. I gave Rob a tenner to demo this, I turned around and he was gone; he claims I didn’t give him anything and I haven’t seen him since.


Quick Pointers

  • Two hands on the hopper and propel yourself high in to the sky.

  • Focus on the positions of your hips, knees and ankles when taking off and landing; don’t allow your ankles or knees to collapse inwards.

  • Land softly on your mid to front foot.

  • Jump high to avoid disaster.

Inverted Rows

Inverted rows are a fantastic upper body strength exercise and are particularly good for you if you spend lots of time hunched over a computer screen; they help pull your shoulders back and also strengthen the muscles of your upper back.

Inverted row with an overhand grip

Quick Pointers

  • Grip the bar with an over or underhand grip.

  • Have your body in as straight a line as possible.

  • Squeeze your glutes and abs.

  • Pull yourself up so the bar nearly touches your chest; if the bar is hitting your neck or belly button then you'll need to adjust your position.

  • If you struggle to complete one rep with your body in a straight line then bring your feet in towards the bar, this will make the exercise easier. Check out inverted rows for a demonstration.

Tyre Run

Rob Kettle: A tireless athlete

The tyre run is fairly straightforward. As Rob is expertly demonstrating, place one foot in each tyre and get to the other end as quickly as possible, without falling over.


Pull Ups/Chin-Ups

Pulls-ups and chin-ups are staples of bodyweight resistance training programs and are excellent upper body strength builders. They work the muscles of your back, as well as your biceps and forearms.

Pull ups

If you struggle to do a pull-up, then get used to hanging from the bar and ‘setting’ your shoulders by squeezing your shoulder blades together, then pull yourself up as high as you are able to. Simply hanging from the bar is an exercise in itself; it's a good way to stretch your body out and improve grip strength.

Left: Shoulders not set and in a 'shrugged' position. Right: Shoulders set and in a strong position

Quick Pointers

  • Jump up and grip the bar with either an overhand (pull-up) or underhand (chin-up) grip.

  • Set your shoulders by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

  • Squeeze your glutes and abs.

  • Pull yourself up until your chin reaches approximately the height of the bar.

  • Lower yourself down slowly.

  • Pull up again.

  • When letting go of the bar, be wary of your landing; apply the same landing technique as described in the kangaroo hops.

Don’t be despondent if you can’t do one pull-up; pull-ups are tough, especially when done with strict form. The best way to improve your pull/chin-ups is to book in for personal training in Edinburgh with Panthera Performance.


The Sit Ups Bench

Best to avoid this. I’m certain the intentions were good when this piece of kit was installed but I'd advise leaving this one alone.

Not a good position to be in

Quick Pointer

  • Run past and don’t look back.

The Balance Walk

This looks simple but is an ankle twist waiting to happen. Followers of the Panthera Performance blog (there are just over 14 of you now) will remember Rob’s swollen ankle from a year or so ago, so hats off to Rob for attempting this.

Speed and balance

Quick Pointers

  • Take it slow.

  • One foot in front of the other.

  • Avoid falling.

Monkey Bars

The goal is to get from one side to the other. I am no monkey bar specialist, but what I will say is approach these with caution and be confident of hanging and stabilising from a pull-up bar before attempting these as you’ll need the requisite strength.


Monkey bars

Quick Pointers

  • Approach with caution.

  • Avoid when raining.

  • Hang from the bar, reach for and grab the next bar with one hand and then bring your other hand forward to get back in to a hanging position... rinse and repeat.

Parallel Bars

A favourite of gymnasts, these can be used for a number of different exercises such as dips, L-sits, leg raises and simply parallel bar holds, all of which train your upper body and trunk.

Left: Hold. Right: L-Sit

Start with parallel bar holds and get used to keeping yourself in a strong and stable position. Avoid shrugging your shoulders up to your ears (same principle as mentioned previously in pull ups) and be sure to create stable shoulders by ‘ripping’ the bar (turning your palms out the way).


Quick Pointers

  • When gripping the parallel bars be sure to externally rotate your shoulders by attempting to turn the bars out the way; to do this turn your right hand clockwise and your left hand anti-clockwise (your hands will still remain where they are but the action/intention of turning them will help create tension and stabilise your shoulders).

  • Start by simply holding your bodyweight up and maintaining a good position, aim for 30-60 seconds.

  • Progress by raising your legs up and down (without swinging them) and then move on to more advanced gymnastic exercises such as dips, L-sits and cartwheels*

*Do not cartwheel on or off the parallel bars.


The Shaky Thing

This is one of the stranger pieces of equipment on the trail. It’s another balance walk type thing but with a twist: it shakes (slightly). After playing around with it...

Shaky

...We discovered it was in fact rather easy to simply walk across...

Not actually very shaky

Quick Pointers

  • Walk across.

  • Avoid shaking.

Multiple Hops

This station involves several quick jumps in a row and is a way of training your ability to produce power multiple times in quick succession. Similar to the kanagroo hops, the key is in the landing and takeoff.

Lots of quick jumps

For multiple jumps we want explosiveness off the ground; aim to minimise the time spent with your feet in contact with the ground. Basically, as soon as your feet touch the floor the aim is to jump again as quickly as possible. Rob's jumping was as explosive as his chat.


Quick Pointer

  • If you struggle with collapsing knees, try performing the multiple hops with your feet together; this is often an effective way of ‘blocking’ a person’s knees from collapsing. Rob is demonstrating this technique in the photo.

  • Because of the gap between the logs you may need a mini jump to set you up for jumping over the next log.


Summary

Combining strength training with your usual outdoor cardio session is a great way to up the intensity and get a little more out of your session. Outdoor fitness trails are a great way to train for fitness events such as Tough Mudder and provide the opportunity to add some variety to your training.


Paying attention to the basic technique tips in this article will go a long way towards maximising the effectiveness of the exercises and will also ensure you avoid injury whilst doing them. Give it a go and enjoy!


Rob sent me this photo yesterday...

Cheeky

Share the article with your pals that like doing obstacle course races, outdoor fitness and all your other fitness friends. Thanks!