Cycling enthusiasts can train like members of the UAE Team Emirates and stay in shape during the coronavirus crisis, as per fitness advice from team trainer and sports director, John Wakefield. Image Credit: UAE Team Emirates

Dubai: Practicing sport during these tough times is one of the challenges before many - be it a professional athlete or a fitness enthusiast.

John Wakefield, UAE Team Emirates cycling team’s trainer and sports director – who is in charge of developing bespoke programmes for the UAE Team Emirates team to keep the riders fit and in optimum shape during this time – has come up with some basic training exercises for everyone to try and stay in shape.

“These tips will be beneficial for your flexibility, help you boost your strength and improve your overall fitness,” Wakefield said in his presentation.

“It can be difficult to stay motivated, but everyone is in the same lockdown situation, and hence it is everyone’s responsibility to stay in shape and adhere to a healthy lifestyle,” he added.

Wakefield starts off with a bit of stretching to warm up and follows this up with performing the standard plank, the side plank and finally the star plank. He completes the training routine with a second stint of stretching.

It can be difficult to stay motivated, but everyone is in the same lockdown situation, and hence it is everyone’s responsibility to stay in shape and adhere to a healthy lifestyle

- John Wakefield, Sporting Director of UAE Team Emirates

Here is a step-by-step routine laid down by Wakefield:

1.You must stretch: Weight trainers, exercisers and athletes have been told that increasing the flexibility of a muscle-tendon body part makes exercise more efficient and may help you to prevent injury or muscle soreness.

Warm up for at least 10 minutes before you start your proper exercise session. Start with a Cobra Stretch while lying prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders and stretch your lower back.

The second exercise is a Walk Out: From a standing position, put your hands on the ground in front of your toes. Then gradually walk your hands forward past the press-up position out as far as you can stretch. For an easier version of the walk out, you can rest on your knees and move your hands forward and back from that position.

For the Shoulder stretch, hold your affected elbow with the opposite hand in front of your body and slowly pull the elbow across your body until you feel a comfortable stretch.

One should begin the day with simple stretching exercises, says John Wakefield. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Knee-to-chest stretch: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Bring one knee into your hands and gently let your arms pull your knee toward your chest. Hold, then lower your bent leg. Relax, then repeat with the other leg.

Standard Plank: Place your towel or yoga mat in the garden or living room. Plant your elbows directly under your shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width) and ground your toes into the floor and squeeze glutes to stabilise your body. Your legs should be working, too. It’s very important to neutralise your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your back. Hold the position for 45 seconds and repeat three times with 30 seconds rest between sessions. For best results and when you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising your form or breath.

2. Side Plank: This variation engages the side muscles of your core better than a standard plank. Lie on your side with one leg stacked on top of the another, then prop your body up on your hand or elbow while keeping feet stacked. Hold this position for 45 seconds each side and repeat three times both sides.

Performing planks can be quite a demanding exercise. Image Credit: Supplied picture

3. Star Plank: You can make the plank more difficult by raising the opposing arm or leg — or both in the air. Star Plank is an isometric hold that builds strength in your shoulder girdle, arm, obliques, deep abdominals and hip. You can make it easier by crossing the upper leg in front of your body for additional support. Hold this position for 30 seconds each side and repeat three times both sides.

Conclusion: To complete your training, it’s important to stretch again. You can repeat your warming up stretch exercises or go for a short run but what’s very important is to stretch your glutes. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring it toward your chest and place your right foot outside of your left thigh.

For a deeper stretch, rotate your torso to the right, looking over your right shoulder. Hold for one to two minutes before repeating the movement on the other side.