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MASTER CLASS: Rock Squat Half-Rep perfect outdoor exercise

by Matt Parrott | November 16, 2020 at 1:58 a.m.
Emmanuel Eyiuche does the Rock Squat Half-Rep at River Mountain Park for Matt Parrott's Master Class. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

There is something so primitive and workmanlike about exercising in the outdoors, and I have learned to appreciate this experience even more over the last eight months. When you strip away the comfort and convenience provided in a fitness center, the workout experience has more focus. You are focused on the activity at hand.

This week, I am sharing some keys for adapting one's workout to the great outdoors and introduce a movement that demonstrates how easy this transition can be.

Over the years, my workouts have become more and more reliant upon modern exercise equipment. Today's cardiovascular and weight machines are so smooth and comfortable, it's a pleasure to use them. I can pull up my favorite movies and television shows through the cardiovascular machine console. Life is pretty good.

The restrictions on gym use over the past months have ... let's say "created an opportunity" to experience my workouts without the creature comforts I was accustomed to. I have performed workouts in my driveway, around the neighborhood, in my basement and all over town. Not having access to a fitness center initially presented a challenge from a workout quality standpoint, but I have learned to embrace it.

Most of my workouts now involve mobile equipment such as jump ropes, medicine balls and TRX straps. I have been forced to use more creativity to produce the kind of results I expect. Some of my other adaptations include wearing different clothing, footwear, gloves, hats and mobile hydration systems.

No matter how comfortable my clothing is, I have learned that it's tough to make my resistance training an outdoor routine. It's not feasible to carry heavy weights all over town, so it is important to have a backup plan. Believe it or not, I sometimes use rocks -- which is the case in this week's exercise.

The Rock Squat Half-Rep is appropriate for all fitness levels. The key is finding a rock that matches your desired weight, which can be tricky because some small rocks are heavier than they appear. I usually roll them once to get a feel for the weight before picking them up. This strategy also gives one an opportunity to check underneath the rock for critters.

1. Find a medium-size rock and hold it with both hands at your chest. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.

2. Squat down by bending the hips and knees.

3. As you reach the lowest point in your squat, slowly reverse direction until you are halfway back up. Pause here, then lower back down.

4. As you reach the lowest point, reverse direction and stand all the way back up.

5. Continue this pattern with a half rep and full rep for a total of 12.

The Rock Squat Half-Rep isn't the most glamorous of strength training exercises, but it gets the job done.

For me, the key to enjoying the outdoor workout experience is to become aware of my senses. Outdoor environments offer views, smells, sounds and textures that are easy to appreciate. A bird chirping, the breeze and an early morning sunrise are just a few examples.

Now, let's get to work and crush the next outdoor workout. Enjoy!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.


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