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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018

5 fitness bucket list goals to start training for this summer

Ireland hockey international and owner of SMART Training, Jonny Bruton, outlines five targets you can work towards over the next few months.

RUNNING BLINDLY ON a treadmill for 30 minutes or hitting the gym hard with no real focus or objective other than making gains or dropping inches can get tremendously monotonous.

We’ve put together a collection of physical feats that are incredibly tough yet totally doable with training and practice. See how many you can check off your list this summer.

1. Do a 10k Run

Competitors pictured today at Bullock Harbour during the Irish leg of the Wings for Life World Run Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Striving to run a marathon can be an overwhelming goal, especially for those who are new to running. A 10k (6.2 miles) run, however, is universally doable.

There is a plethora of 10k charity races organised over the summer so picking one that suits you should be a breeze. More information on organised races can be found here.

There is nothing like having a goal and competing in a race to focus your mind.

Depending on your current fitness levels, begin preparation between six and eight weeks before the race. We recommend, at minimum, running three times a week in preparation for the run.

Do two 30-minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday, for example, and a longer run (approximately an hour) over the weekend. Add an additional 20-minute easy run to your schedule to increase total running time.

2. Conquer the pull-up

The pull-up is a challenging upper-body exercise which involves pulling yourself up while suspended from a stationary bar.


Pull-ups are often confused with a chin-up. In a chin-up, your palms face towards you, while in a pull-up your palms face away from you as you grasp the bar. While pull-ups primarily work the muscles in the back and bicep, it really is an amazing exercise for total body strength.

It is also one of the best ways to increase size and strengthen the muscles in your back and core.

The first thing to do when learning how to do a pull up is to focus on your grip. Using the pull-up bar, develop a grip that feels comfortable to you and then begin by holding the hang for as long as you can. Then work on squeezing your shoulder blades together to pull yourself up.

Power bands can be really helpful when you’re starting off. Wrap the band around the bar and feed the band through itself, so it hangs securely to the bar. Then place your foot in the loop and practice your pull up technique with the support of the band.

When you feel comfortable with that exercise, progress to just one knee in the loop of the band.

Eventually you will be able to do the exercise unassisted. Women should strive for 4-8 repetitions while men for six to 12.

3. Perform a handstand

When you can hold a freestanding handstand you’ve achieved a pretty awesome skill.

shutterstock_278388500 Source: Shutterstock/Undrey

While this is something almost anyone can work up to with persistence and the right game plan, most people do not.

Children have an easy time of this exercise as they weigh far less and are not as tall so learning this skill as an adult is pretty amazing.

Handstands require a great deal of core and back strength to execute properly. Firstly start by doing a handstand ‘walking up the wall’.

With the wall behind you, come into the dog yoga position. Begin to walk your hands back as you walk your feet up the wall until your body is at a 90-degree angle.

Engage your core and try to avoid dumping all your weight on your shoulders. Hold the stand for one minute. When you feel comfortable, press one leg off the wall straight into the air as you flex the foot and press the heel of the lifted leg to the ceiling. Switch legs.

This is the best and safest way to learn how to do a free standing handstand.

When learning how to execute the handstand you should exercise caution and have a trainer or friend with you as there can be a risk of misalignment or injury.

4. Complete a strenuous hike

Hiking involves both physical strength as well as mental toughness, making it a great summer fitness bucket list item. Given the beautiful scenery and fantastic walking trails Ireland has to offer, a strenuous hike can be a really memorable day out.

shutterstock_160123214 Source: Shutterstock/baranq

The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Carrauntoohil Entire Mountain Range Walk from the Gap of Dunloe near to Lough Acoose is a rewarding but strenuous 10-12 hour or 21km hike.

This walking route is a tough full day hike but it has amazing views over the Reeks and Black Valley. The Coumshingaun Loop Walk in Waterford is a shorter alternative to MacGillycuddy Reeks at 7.5km.

This walking route wraps around an amphitheatre of splendour and silence, the Coumshingaun Corrie Lake and the surrounding mountains in Co Waterford.

Whatever hike you decide to undertake, know that hiking is a total body workout – heart, legs, arms and core, so training for it involves training all of those areas.

Try to do some basic cardio, such as walking on hills, running and stair climbing.

Also try to add squats, lunges, or step ups holding weights in your hands to your regular workout. Finally ensure that you are training your core with exercises like the plank, russian twists, sit-ups and v-ups.

5. Irish Defence Force push-up test

It is a requirement that each person who wishes to join the Defence Forces undergo a Physical Fitness test which includes push-ups under a timed test.

shutterstock_296586320 Source: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

Male and female inductees are required to do 20 push-ups within 1 minute; however female inductees can do modified push up if they wish.

Push-ups require good body strength and full body stability, meaning that they are the ideal fitness goal to add to your summer bucket list.

When performing a push-up correctly (with a straight line from head to heel, elbows bending to 90 degrees), engage the muscles in your core, glutes and chest as well as firing up the leg muscles to maintain the correct body position.

At SMART Training we define a perfect push-up as maintaining a plank as you lower yourself until your chest touches the ground, then pushing back up and locking out your arms to pause for one second at the top.

If you are not able to do full push-ups yet, start by doing the same push-up motion with both hands pressed against a wall.

The progression from this is to do a push-up with your knees on the ground. Work up to your goal of 20 push-ups in one minute by adding three reps of 30 seconds of push-ups with 15 seconds of rest every two to three days.

Check out more from SMART Training on their website or on Facebook and Twitter.

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About the author:

Jonny Bruton  / Personal trainer and owner of Smart Training.

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