Get X-tremely fit
espnW's resident coach helps you reach your full fitness potential.
The Summer X Games kick off this week in Los Angeles -- an event that consistently reminds me I'm a mere mortal compared to these live-on-the-edge athletes. The most extreme thing I have ever done on wheels is Rollerblade along the beach between Santa Monica (my home turf) and Venice, Calif, dodging tourists and people watching along the way. Woo-hoo, extreme people watching!
Needless to say, seeing Andy Macdonald soar effortlessly on a skateboard or a BMX badass do a backflip makes me nervous, but also ridiculously impressed from a fitness POV. As someone who works with athletes of all levels, I know that beyond the laid-back X Gamer persona is someone who works insanely hard to stay in shape. These sports require incredible balance, stamina, flexibility, power and coordination. What the competitors have had to do to get to this point is as extreme as the high-flying tricks they perform.
Here are five moves that every X Gamer -- or even your average "extreme" beach Rollerblader -- should know. Do them in combination with flexibility work such as yoga for the best and safest results.
Why: Thoracic spine mobility is a crucial part of a skateboarder's ability to react to jumps and bumps with the upper body. This move also improves core strength for twisting motions.
Do it: Stand with your feet slightly wider that hip width, and hold a kettlebell with both hands in front of your thighs. Shift the kettlebell to the outside of your left hip as you lower into a squat. Explode upward and simultaneously use your core to swing the kettlebell up and across your body on a diagonal so it finishes above your right shoulder. Lower back into the squat as you return the kettlebell to your left side. That's one rep. Keep a consistent, controlled motion for 15 reps. Then repeat on the opposite side. That's one set. Rest for up to one minute, then repeat. Aim for a three sets.
Why: This move increases power and stability in the core and hips, as well as explosiveness (hello, big air) as you jump those feet up and back.
Do it: Place a Bosu on the floor, dome side up. Stand on the dome and crouch down into an athletic stance. Place your hands on top of the dome, outside your feet, then jump your feet back so you're in plank position with arms straight. Brace your core and do a push-up. Jump back to start with feet on BOSU. That's one rep. Continue repeating as quickly as possible without losing good form for 15 reps. Rest for up to one minute, then repeat. Aim for three sets.
Standing Tuck Jump
Why: Using lower-body strength and core stability to get your knees up into your chest helps prepare your body to, say, hop onto a rail when skateboarding.
Do it: Click here for a video demo-ing the move, and to learn three reasons why every woman should make tuck jumps part of her get-fit arsenal. Aim for 15 reps.
Plank Hop Turn
Why: Improves wrist and core strength, key for BMX athletes or any X Gamer who might fall hard (so, yeah, all of them).
Do it: Start in plank position, with your shoulders directly above your wrists. Brace your core, bend your knees and hop up, rotating your body to the right and readjusting your hands as necessary. Hop back to the left. That's one rep; do 15. That's one set. Rest for up to one minute, then repeat. Aim for three sets.
Duck Walk on Toes
Why: This is a great way to improve muscular endurance in your lower body by putting you in that low-to-the-ground athletic position you see so often during skateboarding events.
Do it: Get in a duck-footed position, then rise onto your toes and sink low to the ground. Start walking, trying to build up to a 30-to-60-second duck walk. Aim for three sets, resting 30 to 60 seconds in between.