The Summer Fitness Paradox

Don't lose fitness when you most need it

June 7, 2021

- 3 minute read -

It's ok to let your fitness decrease at times during the year. Our body and brain need a break sometimes so allowing some periods of what we call detraining is important to allow us to build to new levels in the future. The most common time of year for this to happen for endurance athletes and the general population is the fall but too often I see athletes fitness drop in the summer just when we need it most.

Whether we are involved in ice and snow sport in the winter or not, the winter tends to be a time with fewer distractions, a time that we can focus on consistent exercise to raise our fitness. While many do ski and skate, most also do some indoor fitness training. When you find the right community of people and the right leadership, a consistent winter and spring of exercise leaves you ready to make the very most as we move outdoors in April and May to enjoy Canada's brief window of warmth. From biking and swimming to canoeing and tennis, the list of activities is a long one.

Here's the problem. From my experience, consistent physical activity in the summer can be challenging as there are more demands on our time, variable personal schedules, and, yes, good ole laziness! It is not unusual for me to see athletes who are in much better shape on May 30 than they are on July 30. If we are hoping to continue to get the most out of our bodies, the most out of summer, and avoid injuries we need to strike a balance but continuing to do the activities that empower and prepare us for that long list of outdoor adventures we love.

When it comes to strength, summer is less a time to build and more a period of maintenance. We need to continue to train a wide variety of movement patterns to maintain our balance and function. This means keeping the tissues loose through rolling and mobility exercise, plus targeted strength training that activates a wide range of kinetic chains to ensure those nerves and muscles are kept fresh and alive.

The timing for such sessions is important too. The weekend is typically a busy, active time. On Monday your body is best served with an easy workout that enhances recovery, increasing blood flow and generally loosening up. The same goes with the end of the week when we are looking forward and want to prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead. Mid-week then is often the best time to focus on any possible strength training that might tax the body.

Everyone's personal schedule is different but the outline above is what I've seen to be the most common. Whether you fit into that model or not, just remember to continue to maintain your strength and mobility so you can make the most of summer adventures.

Posted by Geordie McConnell, Head Coach