Summer’s over, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up your training and take it back inside just yet. In fact, fall is a great season for outdoor martial arts workouts and cross-training exercises.
Fall’s cooler weather comes with its own logistical challenges, but it offers new opportunities, too. Sure, you have to start thinking about layering and longer warmups. But lower temperatures means fewer heat-related health concerns. Which makes fall the perfect time to kick your outdoor martial arts training into a whole new gear.
So what kind exercises and drills work best outside in the fall? What should you wear? And is there anything else you’ll need to know? These tips will help you plan the best, safest, and most fun outdoor martial arts workouts for this time of year.
1. Pick up the pace.
In our outdoor summer workout primer, we recommended focusing on endurance and technique training on hot days. These are great forms of exercise for maximizing your gains while minimizing your risk of overheating and all of tje serious health issues that can result from it. That doesn’t mean that you can or should go totally wild now that fall is here. Overtraining is a serious issue for athletes at any temperature. It’s still important to train responsibly and listen to your body. But it does mean that you can start to add some intensity to the foundation that you built with your outdoor summer training.
2. Make a plan.
Decide on what kind of fall outdoor workout works best for your martial art, goals and fitness level. Here are some general ideas:
Outdoor Grappling Workouts: Now is a great time to put down some mats in an outdoor space like a park and host an open mat! For martial artists who participate in grappling-based martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, and Judo, fall weather is almost ideal for higher intensity rolling and partner drills. You can take all of the slow rolling and technical training you did over the summer and see how it applies when you add more strength and speed into the mix.
Outdoor Striking Workouts: The same goes for martial artists training in striking-based disciplines like Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kickboxing. Now is a great time to take the skills you picked up during technique training—and honed during shadowboxing workouts—and start adding some more oomph to them. Grab a partner, pack your gloves, and focus training gear like mitts, pads, or a strike shield. Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes rounds and work on your combos. Or pack protective gear and try some semi-contact sparring. (Keep the really serious sparring to the ring, though. It’s important to have the right setting and supervision for that.)
Cross-Training Exercises: If you focussed on walking this summer, you can add some intervals to your cardio. If you spent your summer doing gentle flexibility work, you can also add to intensity to that as well! That could look like a more challenging yoga, Pilates, or animal workout. But it could be applying the flexibility and mobility that you gained through those outdoor workouts into other types of training. The combination of mobility and stability that you gain through mind/body workouts provides a solid base for beginning plyometric training, for example.
3. Dress appropriately.
Dressing for outdoor workouts gets a little trickier in the fall. It’s all about finding the right balance between dressing for how you’ll feel when you first step outside and how you’ll feel when you start moving your body. In running circles, the conventional wisdom is that you should dress like it’s 10 degrees Celsius hotter than it is. This can also apply to any workouts you’re doing where you’ll be in a relatively steady state of motion.
If your training involves any breaks or wavering levels of activity, you’ll probably want to consider layering so that you can adjust your workout gear to keep yourself comfortable and your core warm. If you’re training in a martial arts uniform, now is a good time to switch to a heavier weight. A long sleeve rashguard makes an excellent extra layer, too.
4. Warm up.
Warm ups are important in all seasons. But making sure that your body and mind are in the right place to begin your outdoor workout does get a little more challenging at this time of year. In the summer, the hotter air can give your warmups a little boost. When you step outside, your core is already a little warmer and your muscles are a little looser and more ready to go.
When you step outside now, you might actually get more tense in response to the cold. It’ll take a bit longer to get things flowing. A longer, more gradual warmup is a great idea for outdoor workouts in the fall. Start with gentle mobility exercises, slowly increase your range of motion, and then start to build some cardio to get your heart rate up.
Unlike seasons, this tip never changes. If you’re exercising, you need to make sure that you’re properly hydrating. This will keep keep you healthier, and make your workouts safe and more effective. All of which will make you a better martial artist.