Health & Fitness

Creating Substance Summer Fitness Series: Use the Summer Heat to Get Hot

New York Smash Magazine  

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By Jon Pearlman
Written for New York Smash Magazine and

We’re in the heart of summer now and there’s no better time to start sweating and start getting fitter.

The heat is a great tool for leaning down because you can shed excess fat by raising the body temperature to levels you’re not accustomed to. Using the summer heat to your advantage means bringing your daily workouts to the outdoors – and abandoning the confines of your local air-conditioned gym.

Creating Substance is all about building lean, functional muscle – the type of muscle that’s natural for the human body to maintain. You see this muscle on athletes – whether it’s a World Cup soccer player, an elite triathlete, or a top-ranked ATP tennis player. The muscles of these athletes are strong, fit, enduring and robust – and they were built through many years of training the body to function in the way it was meant to. It’s not just the muscles that are strong, it’s the entire organism – the heart, the lungs, the joints, the tendons, the bones. And when these athletes perform their craft, all of these different entities work together to function as a unit – producing the athletic performance we watch.

In order to attain a lean, functional physique, you need to train the body in a logical and methodical manner. With the summer heat at your disposal, it’s time to latch onto your inner athlete and start building the type of body that will serve you best in the long run. Opt for an arm that can maneuver a tennis racquet, instead of a lead anchor for a bicep. Opt for legs that can move you around a soccer field, not a pair whose sole functionality is squatting injury-inducing weight while dressed in a pair of colorful knee-highs.

The foundation of functional muscle is cardiovascular endurance, and anyone who tells you otherwise was never a high level athlete. Every sportsman knows the indispensable nature of elevating the heart rate – and keeping it elevated for as long as you damn-well can. And folks, you might not want to hear this, but there’s no better way to achieving this than through the run. Running (ideally done every morning before breakfast) should serve as the grounding of your training, and every day this summer should involve a run of at least twenty minutes. After you read this, put your computer down and locate a soft surface to train on – be it a field or a dirt path. Running on a forgiving surface is necessary for preserving the muscles, joints, and tendons in the long run (it’s a tragedy that the modern marathon is a road race – nothing worse for the body than running for prolonged periods on concrete).

Supplement your daily routine with plyometrics and body weight exercises, which can and should be done outside (while you’re at it, forget the sports drinks and start eating organic fruit when you need a sugar boost). For some lean muscle-building routines that can be done outside, click here, here, and here.

Choose a sport to invest in. If you were a high school or college athlete, resume your old training methods and then find a league or a pickup game. If you’ve never been an athlete, choose a sport that interests you and start learning how to play. It can be tennis, soccer, or even beach volleyball – it doesn’t matter, so long as you’re using your body in a functional manner (forget the golf, that’s not going to get you the physique we’re striving for). As a tennis player, I’m training outside every day and the functional physique I’ve developed will no doubt prove valuable throughout the course of my life.

A functional physique is truly a rarity in this day and age of the mainstream gym culture – but that doesn’t mean you can’t resist the current. You have the power to build a lean, fit, and functional body. Getting there doesn’t mean moving about from one gym machine to the next for two hours straight, isolating individual muscle groups on several dozen machines while a draft of chilled air strikes your neck (quick bit of insight: the colder the environment, the greater the chance of injury) . It’s all about running, sweating, and unifying the muscles, tendons, bones, joints, and organs under a common cause – to move the body in the way that nature intended it to. And if you can be outside at the same time, there’s not much more you could ask for.

Start heading outdoors this summer and reclaim your lean muscle.

Use the summer heat to get hot.

Start Creating Substance.