Skip the gym pass; you can work out anywhere if you know the right moves. Photo: Dan Holz/Tandem

Get Fit by Having More Fun

Turns out getting in shape doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s time to play hooky from the gym, ditch your rigid training plan, and get creative with your workouts and meals. We asked our favorite athletes, trainers, and nutritionists to build a wildly unconventional and incredibly effective guide to summertime fitness. Prepare to sweat—and to smile. 

Ditch Your Training Plan Once a Week

Mixing speed, strength, balance, endurance, and agility into one session better simulates exactly what happens in all kinds of sports. Photo: *Aenima*/Flickr

Ditch Your Training Plan Once a Week

To simulate the unpredictability of your sport, add elements of randomness—and downright chaos—to your exercise regimen

Ten years ago, I jumped into a sports conditioning class at my gym. If I remember right, some 40 people were in the class that night I went. At one point, the instructor, Andy Farina, had us all jog around the perimeter of the room follow-the-leader style, but there was a catch: we would run in a figure-8, jogging at the top part of the 8 and sprinting at where an 8 crosses. Only problem? As the line crisscrossed, so would we—at full speed. So we would have to use our peripheral vision, agility, deceleration, and acceleration to avoid a collision with someone else crossing the middle of an 8 at full speed. Turned out, it went off without a hitch—and the exercise served as a physical and mental test that challenged the class in ways that we may not do in a typical workout.        

There’s a lot of value to adding this kind of controlled chaos and unpredictability to your workout. By mixing in speed, strength, balance, endurance, and agility into one session, you’re better simulating exactly what happens in all kinds of sports. 

“When things are unpredictable, you’re more focused and that helps you develop your mind and body,” says Farina, a trainer who also teaches at the Edge Obstacle and Tactical Training course at Gainesville Health & Fitness in Florida. Plus, just mixing up your workout with a random approach adds variety—and the novelty can make the workout even more effective (and fun). To mix things up and keep your body guessing and your mind sharp, try this running-based routine from Farina:

Set-up: Ideally, you’ll start somewhere in a place where you know a bit about where you’re going. But it shouldn’t be your regular running route, and you shouldn’t plot your exact course. The ideal spot allows you to use some urban obstacles (like walls, benches, and sidewalks), as well as some natural ones (like trees, trails, and streams). Invite along a couple friends. Each week, a person can take a turn designing the workouts, while the others follow—creating even more of an element of randomness for those who don’t know what’s coming.

The Workout: Approximately a one-hour run. Every six minutes, you will stop to do a challenge. So the key is that when you reach the end of six minutes, you better have put yourself in a spot where you’ll have the necessary equipment to perform the challenge. This will take some plotting in your part as you start each six-minute set. You will also work all systems of your body, including strength, power, balance, and agility. Here’s an example of what one of these workouts looks like:

Run 6 minutes

25 push-ups

Run 6 minutes

Sprint up steep hill

Run 6 minutes

Lie on ground, 50 flutter kicks

Run 6 minutes

Sidewalk agility: Take 5 fast-foot steps all within one sidewalk slab. Then take single-legged leaps from one slab to one (four total). Repeat the sequence two more times.

Run 6 minutes

Pull-ups (find tree branch or playground monkey bars): 2 sets of your max number of reps

Run 6 minutes

Walking lunge: 20 on each leg

Run 6 minutes

Balance run: Pick a curb or even a painted line in the road, and run across it trying to stay on it for 30 seconds. Do twice.

Run 6 minutes

Obstacle broad jump: Find an object that you can jump on or over (a bench or small stream). Do 10 powerful jumps up or over that object.

Run 6 minutes

Head swivel: Balance on one leg. Swivel your head from as far left it can rotate to as far right it can rotate. Repeat for 30 second, then do the same standing on the other leg. This simulates the skill you need to see your surroundings while trying to stay balanced.

Run 6 minutes (the middle 2 minutes at finish-the-race pace, and the last 2 minutes as the beginning of your cooldown)


Embrace the Beach, Become an All-Terrain Athlete

Create a packed workout on the beach by mixing strength training on land with swimming. Photo: Ihar Ulashchyk/iStock

Embrace the Beach, Become an All-Terrain Athlete

The resistance—and softness—of the sand and water will make you more versatile

The combination of sand and water is the summer invitation to rest, recover, and recharge with the drink, book, and funky hat of your choice. But between the sand and the waves, it’s also an invitation to challenge your body in one of nature’s very best workout environments. 

“When you’re running in sand, you have to work a lot harder, but you’re not having the impact you have on the road. And it’s just freaking fun,” says Robyn Benincasa, adventure racer, 10-time Ironman and world-record paddler who does beach boot camps as part of her training. 

Whether you’re up earlier than the rest of your vacation crew, or just want to involve everyone in a sandy sweat session, you can use the randomness of the beach terrain to help develop leg strength and endurance, not to mention give your core and stabilizer muscles one heck of a challenge. This sandy cardio-based workout with 6 stations will prep you for challenges in any environment, be it by sea, dirt, mud, rock, or road.
Warm-up: 5 minute light run on sand and/or 5 minute swim

Station 1

Run: Hard-packed sand, 3 minutes
Four-count pushups: Take 2-counts to lower yourself, then 2 counts to push yourself up. Do 10.
Plank on shoreline in wet sand: 30 seconds on one foot, 30 seconds on both
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 2

Run: Deep sand, 5 minutes
Alternating lunges in ankle-deep water, 12 on each side
Bicycle kicks, 2 sets of 30 seconds (lay on your back with hands beneath the small of your back and do bicycle motion with your legs)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 3

Swim: 3 minutes
Army crawl, 2 sets of 30 seconds (crawl through sand using only your elbows)
Sideways lunge in deep sand, 12 each side (perform lunge but instead of stepping forward, step to the side)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 4

Run: Shallow water, 3 minutes
Bodyweight squats in knee-deep water, 20 total
Decline pushups, 14 (if there’s a natural incline at the shoreline, place feet away from the water, hands toward the water)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 5

Run: Knee-deep water, 1 minute
Bear crawl, 2 sets of 30 seconds
12 Plyometric jumps in sand (jump as high as you can, taking off and landing on both feet)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 6

Swim: 3 minutes
Hopscotch, 2 sets of 30 seconds (in imaginary hopscotch course, alternate single-leg and two-leg hops in deep sand)
Pushups, max number you can eek out, in wet sand
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Learn How to Fight and You'll Know How to Sprint

Boxing is a total-body workout, though most of the power comes from the hips and core. Photo: Yuri Arcurs/iStock

Learn How to Fight and You'll Know How to Sprint

Simulating combat will whip your own butt into shape, while helping you build power and endurance

The first time I took a boxing lesson—with a real fighter, one who lost to a young Mike Tyson in the Olympic trials—he outfitted me in gloves and headgear, then gave me the first lesson: “Boxing is here,” he said, slapping the side of my glutes. If I wanted to generate power, most would come from the hips and core, not the arms and shoulders, he said. 

Very soon, I learned that not only does the power of the punch indeed come from that spot, but also that boxing is about as close to a true total-body workout that I have ever done. It works strength, cardio, core, agility, power, and nerve. In short, it works it all, making boxing an ideal workout for adventure athletes, because it helps prepare your body for those times when you need to crush a hill, leap an obstacle, or fire to the finish. “This will give you explosive power that will improve core strength and sprint ability,” says Martin Rooney, founder and CEO of boxing-based fitness program, Training for Warriors.

You don’t need to be holed in a garage gym with a heavy bag to see the benefits, because you can do the following workout with no equipment at all—just shadow-boxing will work. Or pick up a set of training gloves and some mitts to punch with a partner. Add in a few bodyweight exercises in the middle of your sets and you’ll have a session that’ll leave you feeling primal—and primed to go.
Warm-Up: 5 minutes of dynamic work (light run, lunges, bodyweight squats, arm circles)
Round 1:

  • 10 punches (alternate left-right)
  • 10 pushups
  • 10 punches (alternate left-right)
  • 10 of core movement of your choice (V-ups, bicycle kicks)
  • Repeat this round 3 times

Rest 1 minute (or switch gloves and mitts and have partner do the round)
Round 2: 

  • 20 punches (10 left, then 10 right)
  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • 20 punches (10 left, then 10 right)
  • 10 plyometric jumps in place
  • Repeat this round 3 times

Rest 1 minute
Round 3:

  • 1 minute punches (mixing left and right randomly)
  • Sprint (10 seconds)
  • 1 minute punches (mixing left and right randomly)
  • Sprint (10 seconds)
  • Repeat this round 3 times

Rest 1 minute
Round 4:

  • 3 punch combo x 6 (right-left-right; rest for a beat of 3; left-right-left; rest for a beat of 3, etc…)
  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • 3 punch combo x 6 (right-left-right; rest for a beat of 3; left-right-left; rest for a beat of 3, etc…)
  • 10 pushups
  • Repeat this round 3 times

How to Punch: Stand with your knees slightly bent, facing your target head-on. (In a fight, you’d be turned so your non-dominant shoulder was facing the target to protect your body from punches.) Keep both mitts at chin level. To punch, rotate your hips away from the target. As you rotate back, extend your arm and aim to punch through the mitt, generating force with the torque of your core.

The Ultimate Lung-Busting Stadium Workout

If you make the stadium your worst nightmare during training, it will be your best friend when competition time rolls around. Photo: Leonardo Patrizi/iStock

The Ultimate Lung-Busting Stadium Workout

When it comes to fitness, take the home-field advantage

When it comes to training, the stadium—no matter the sport, no matter the size—may also be the place to kick your own butt. 

“The one thing that the stadium will do is humble you. You think your legs are strong and you have a strong cardio foundation, and then you get to the middle of that climb, and then you think, ‘Wow,’” says Shannon Colavecchio, the CEO of Badass Fitness in Florida who runs groups through stadium workouts at Florida State University’s 84-step Doak Campbell Stadium

To change up your routine—and work on strength, endurance, and get real close to simulating the ups and downs of outdoor terrain—you can hit any public stadium and do the kind of workout that Colavecchio takes her groups through. (Warning: The following day, you’ll want to leave extra time to get up from your chair, couch, or toilet.)

Warm up: Jog around concourse or track for 5 to 10 minutes.

Pre-stairs drills: Bodyweight squats for 30 seconds (rest for 30 seconds); burpees for 30 seconds (rest for 30 seconds). Go three times through that cycle.

Interlude: If with a group, play 5-minute game of tag. Rest for 3-5 minutes.

Stairs (big stadium): Time yourself going up and down one time. Repeat two more times, trying to beat your time each set. Go down stairs slightly sideways to alleviate pressure on your shins, Colavecchio says. If you’re in a smaller stadium like a high school one, consider making each set two or three times up and down for each interval; just pick a number that gets you up and down in 2 to 3 minutes.

Strength: Do the following 5 exercises (2 sets of 12 reps each): 

  • Pushups (decline; feet on higher bleacher than hands)
  • Plyo jump (two-legged)
  • Triceps dips (hands on seat; legs stretched in front)
  • Sideways two-footed jumps (6 in one direction, 6 in the other)
  • Frog pushups (knees tucked toward chest so it’s more of a shoulder move than a chest move)

Ramps: Finish with 5 sprints up the ramps with 20 pushups at the top. Adjust number of sprints based on size; Colavecchio’s class does a ramp that’s lung-crushing five levels high.

Filed To: Workouts, Fitness
Convert Your Hardest Days into Recovery Sessions

Get in the pool about twice a week to complement your current fitness regimen. Photo: technotr/iStock

Convert Your Hardest Days into Recovery Sessions

Sure, you could swim laps. But you can also enhance your performance with this in-the-water workout that will burn calories—and rejuvenate your body.

For quite some time, I worked out with a sports performance coach who loved to change up our workouts. Flip tires, push weights, one-legged moves that would have me teetering like a hurricane-blown telephone pole. One time, he took me into the physical therapy pool and put together a workout to give my joints a rest. As part of the routine, he told me to grab a 25-pound weight plate, hold it against my chest, and try to swim to the other side. As soon as I pushed off to the wall, I sank to the bottom. When I came up, he grinned. That move, he said, was just a joke.

The workouts, though, had a real purpose. “The misconception is that pool therapy is for old people. Some of the best athletes in the world—in every sport—train in the water as well as the land,” says Kahl Goldfarb, the CEO of Water and Sports Physical Therapy, which has eight locations in San Diego and treats top professional athletes in many sports. “The benefit of the pool is that it offsets all the damage you’ve done on other days. You’re actually going to take care of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and discs that get damaged from heavy training or exercise.”

Ideally, you’ll want to get into the pool a couple days a week. The workouts should be done in the same upright same position that you assume on land. This allows the buoyancy of the water to take pressure off your spine and joints, which allows them to rehydrate and lubricate, which leads to less inflammation and degeneration, Goldfarb says. Ideally, your aqua-based program should be sport-specific, but this basic program will allow you to see some benefits, especially if you do a lot of running.

Run in Place

This is harder than it looks because your tendency in the water will be to tilt your shoulders and pelvis forward and tilt your head back to keep yourself from sinking. Instead, you want to use your core to stabilize yourself as you move your legs and arms through the running motion. Concentrate on trying to stay vertical through your core. “The goal should be to start slow and then increase intensity,” Goldfarb says. Do it for 10 minutes. If you’re able to maintain correct position, you can try mixing in short bursts of higher intensity “runs.”

Frankenstein Walk

In the vertical position, raise your right leg up (keeping it straight, like full extension of a kick), while rotating your spine so that your left shoulder turns toward your right hip. Even while rotating, you want to engage your core so that you stay upright. Alternate opposite arm toward opposite leg that you kick. Aim for 10-15 reps on each side (you can challenge yourself by going backwards as well), and then return to running in place.

Jumping Jack

Keeping yourself vertical with your arms out to your sides (you should hold water dumbbells here), thrust your legs outward like a jumping jack. As your legs go apart, push down on the water with your arms so that they come straight down to your sides. As you “jack” back in with your legs, raise your arms out to the side. Again, the counter-force of the motions will help keep you afloat, but your core will also do much of the work, as will the gluteus medius muscle, which controls the pelvis and spine, and tends to fatigue in runners. Do 15-20 jacks, then return to running in place.


From the vertical position, thrust your right leg up and straight out in front of you. At the same time, kick back with your left leg, bending at the knee. (If you were to stop this motion in time, it would look like you were clearing a hurdle.) Try to hold that position for three to five seconds, using your core to hold you, then return to neutral position. Don’t let your face fall toward the water. Do the movement on the opposite side. Your arms should follow the normal running motion (right arm forward when left leg is forward). Do 15-20 hurdles, then return to jogging in place.

A New Sport's the Best Cross Training

Your workout doesn't have to be the same old routine. By mixing in some time playing other sports, such as basketball or soccer, you can get a good workout and have a little fun too. Photo: Kristof Magyar/Flickr

A New Sport's the Best Cross Training

You don’t always need a highly structured training plan to get into fighting shape

Does your training routine feel a little, well, routine? No doubt, logging mindless miles on the road or trail for your next race or adventure can quickly become an exercise in the mundane. 

So mix things up: “A training plan isn’t exactly a recipe,” says Peter Park, who trains various pro athletes, including Kelly Slater. “You don’t have to follow it exactly—throwing in a few fun sports every now and then keeps you sane and can actually help you get into better shape for competition.” 

Swap your next training sessions for the following five, ultra-effective pickup sports—and become fit for the podium. 

Standup Paddle Boarding 

  Photo: Michael Dawes/Flickr

Fighting against the waves and current is a great test of your balance, says Park. “It requires you to engage your entire core, including your lower back, and it also improves your posture.” That can help prevent and relieve low back pain, which is especially common in cyclists.  

What’s more, you’ll also strengthen your legs, upper back, and shoulders in a low impact way. “And once you become proficient at standup paddling,” says Park. “You can do intervals and high intensity work for more aerobic benefit.”


  Photo: Deanna Dikeman/Flickr

If you’re an endurance athlete, you probably only move in one direction: straight ahead. 

“Everyone should move in all directions,” says Park. “If you don’t, you’re at greater risk of injury when you eventually move in a direction you’re not used to.”

That’s why Park recommends that single-plane athletes, like road runners and cyclists, take up a racquet sport like tennis or squash. It only takes you and a friend, and you’ll move in 360-degrees, he says. “And it also builds your hand eye coordination.” 


SONY DSC   Photo: Gordon Dionne/Flickr

Like tennis, basketball requires that you cut side to side, and it improves your hand-eye coordination. That makes you a better athlete. 

“You’ll also become more explosive,” says Park. “All of that jumping improves your ability to explode in different planes of motion.” Legs that kick like pistons are a requirement if you want to be competitive at your next trail or road running race.   

Ultimate Frisbee

  Photo: Alpha Chen/Flickr

You might think ultimate Frisbee is a hobby reserved for those who went to small, liberal arts colleges, but the sport gives you great interval training, says Park, without even thinking about it; ultimate is essentially a series of sprints and rests. 

And science confirms that ultimate Frisbee can give you a killer workout: A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a during a match, players routinely max out their heart rate, complete more than 17 all-out sprints, and cover nearly three miles of ground. 


  Photo: Nathan Congleton/Flickr

Soccer players are some of the fittest guys in the world—and getting in on a pickup match is an ideal replacement for your marathon training run. That’s because, in a 90-minute match, you can easily run more than seven miles, says Park. 

And because you go from jogging, to sprinting, to jumping, to cutting, you train multiple skills in a single workout. That gives you huge bang for your buck, helping you become better at nearly every other sport.   

Filed To: Workouts, Sports
5 Ways to Upgrade Your Squats

If you're tired of the classic squat, give these powerful variations a try. Photo: Scott Thompson/Flickr

5 Ways to Upgrade Your Squats

The classic strength and power move gets a makeover, giving you even better benefits

The squat might give you the most calorie-burning, performance-enhancing bang for your buck of any exercise, endowing you with coordination, strength, and power in your glutes and hamstrings that will come in handy in just about any sport. But you don’t need to do the classic dump-in-the-woods to realize the move’s powerful effects. We asked Ben Bruno, a trainer at Beverly Hills' Bunker gym (where Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis train, among other Hollywood stars) for five squat variations you can do anywhere to build legs that kick like pistons.

How to Squat
An old-school move holds the key to unlocking your power; if only you can do it right
see more

Goblet Squat

Blame tight muscles caused by sitting all day, or bad coordination, but most guys can’t do a regular squat. That’s why Bruno digs the goblet squat: “Holding a weight in front of you helps you get into good form,” he says, by forcing you to stay upright. Lean too far forward or backward, and the weight will tip you over.

It’s best done with a dumbbell or kettlebell, but if you don’t have either of those, you can hold anything that weighs over 10 pounds, like your kid, or a fat cat.

Form Tips: Hold the weight directly in front of you, keeping it close to your torso—that ensures you’re keeping your torso upright. This move is called the goblet because if you use a dumbbell, your hands should cup the top end, like you’re holding a goblet, with each end of the dumbbell touching your torso.

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

This might be Bruno’s favorite squat variation. (On YouTube you can watch him perform the movement while weighted down with more than 300 pounds.) 

“This exercise is great for a few reasons,” he says. “It’s more challenging than a regular squat, people tend to pick up the form easily, it’s safe, and it also stretches your hips, which is something anyone who works in an office job needs to do.”

Form Tips: Lower yourself until your front knee is bent 90-degrees, and your back leg is just above the ground. You should feel a stretch in your back hip. Want to weight it? Start by holding a dumbbell goblet style (or another weight), then progress to holding a weight in each hand. 

Lateral Split Squat

Most people only move front to back, which leads to imbalances. “The lateral split squat builds side-to-side strength,” says Bruno. That helps you perform better and may reduce your risk of injury.

This exercise also stretches the insides of your hips, an area that tends to be tight for most people. But fair warning, says Bruno. “Don’t weight this—it has a tendency to make you crazy sore.”

Form Tips: Stand with your feet wide enough that you can lower your torso until your hips are in line with your knee. You should feel a killer stretch on your non-working leg. Focus on going as low as possible while keeping your torso upright.

Reverse Lunge

OK, so this isn’t technically a squat, says Bruno. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a stellar lower body exercise, one that can help you perform better in your next road race.

“Lunges are great because they require that you step, but forward and walking lunges tend to put a lot of stress on your knees,” he says. “The reverse lunge delivers the same performance benefits but minimizes deceleration, so your knees feel better.”

Form tip: Step back to find the sweet spot where your forward knee is bent 90-degrees. Want to make it harder? Hold a dumbbell, goblet style, or another weight close to your torso

Skater Squat

Regular old bodyweight squats are great. “But they’re not very challenging unless you do a ton of them,” says Bruno. “That’s why I have people who are relatively strong do skater squats—they put all the load on just one of your legs.”

That makes it a true strength test, says Bruno. “But it also helps you build great balance.”

Form tips: Keep your hands in front of you and try to lower yourself until your knee is bent 90-degrees. Pause, then push yourself back up, exploding through your hips.

4 No-Equipment, Body-Blasting Moves

You already know about a lot of these workout moves, but doing them with the right pace, intensity, and sequencing can take your workout to another level. Photo: Forest Woodward/iStock

4 No-Equipment, Body-Blasting Moves

Dominate your favorite sports without any weight training

Credit CrossFit for the world’s obsession with “functional fitness.” The regimen will no doubt make you strong—with one caveat: Its set of training exercises don’t specifically prepare you for the sports you love. That’s where Rob Shaul comes in. In 2007, Shaul started Mountain Athlete in Jackson, Wyoming, and began devising sport-specific functional exercises. Last year, he also teamed with The North Face to help create the Mountain Athletics app, which offers exercises geared toward helping users become better (read: nimbler, stronger, and less prone to injury) at various outdoor endeavors, including skiing, climbing, and mountaineering. Here, Shaul shares some of his favorite exercises tailored to skiing, peak bagging, rock climbing, and mountain biking. The best part? None require any gym equipment. 

Alpine Skiing

Leg Blasters

How to do it: As fast as possible, do 20 air squats, immediately followed by 20 in-place lunges. Repeat the exercise five times, with 30 seconds of rest between each set. 

Why it works: “Eccentric-strength endurance is a major component of alpine skiing,” says Shaul. “Gravity bounces the skier down the hill, and with each turn, the skier has to absorb the impact from the drop and gravity’s effort.” Leg blasters don’t just mimic that movement; they also build the endurance needed to ski for several minutes without having to stop. 

Peak Bagging

Tabata Calf Raise

How to do it: Find a ledge, and place your forefeet on the ledge. Allow your heels to dip below the ledge, then press back up so you’re on the tips of your toes. Do this as fast as possible for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat four times.

Why it works: In a 1996 study, Izumi Tabata, a professor of physiology and biomechanics at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, found that max 20-second efforts followed by 10 seconds of rest on a stationary bike increased subjects’ anaerobic capacity by a whopping 28 percent and their VO2 max by 14 percent. Shaul and many others believe you can see greater gains by using the same philosophy with other exercises, particularly calf raises. “Calves are the first muscles to fatigue during steep uphill efforts,” he says. 

Rock Climbing

Density Pull-Ups

How to do it: Begin by doing as many pull-ups as possible in one minute. That’s your max rep. Do this four-week cycle on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 

Week 1: Six rounds, 30 percent max rep pull-ups every 60 seconds.

Week 2: Do the same number of rounds, but increase the percentage to 35.

Week 3: Do the same number of rounds, but increase the percentage to 40.

Week 4: Reassess and start the cycle again.

Why it works: Quite simply, this systematic approach to pull-ups helps build pulling-strength endurance. Ask any serious climber, and they’ll tell you that density pull-ups help lessen fatigue at the crag. 

Mountain Biking

Bodyweight Thumpers

How to do it: One rep is four walking lunges (two per side), followed by two burpees (push-up, jump into squat position, jump vertically with your hands above your head). Do 50 total reps.

Why it works: “Mountain biking performance demands leg-strength endurance, aerobic capacity, and upper-body strength to maneuver the bike,” says Shaul. “Bodyweight thumpers combine two exercises—walking lunges and burpees—to train all three.” 

Stop Doing Standard Pushups!

There's a reason the pushup has survived the test of time. Try these variations to take the classic exercise to a whole new level. Photo: Kris Hanke/iStock

Stop Doing Standard Pushups!

The classic military move gets a makeover

Most outdoor athletes lack upper body pushing strength. That not only hinders performance, but can also lead to imbalances and injury. The simplest way to remedy the problem: pushups. 

Sure, you could do the classic military-style move. But you'll get a more bomb-proof physique faster by performing more effective variations. In fact, the following five alternatives—courtesy of Marco Sanchez, the assistant strength and conditioning coach of the San Jose Sharks—will not only help you build strength in areas where it counts out in the field, they’ll also improve your mobility. The result: You’ll perform better, no matter your sport. 

Lateral Crawl Pushup

This pushup tasks you with crawling side-to-side between reps. “To do that you have to use your core to fight rotation,” says Sanchez. “And you also have to stabilize your shoulders.” Locking down those two areas is key to avoiding injury while moving fast. 

The exercise also forces you to do a movement you probably haven’t done in years: crawling. It might feel awkward at first, but it gives you a new movement stimulus, which can improve your athleticism by forcing your brain to make new connections with your muscles. 

Form tips: Keeping your body perfectly straight, do a pushup. Then crawl two “steps” to the right, “stepping” with your opposite hand and leg. Do another pushup, then repeat, this time going left. 

Pushup with Hip Flexion

“Most people can’t dissociate flexing their hips and flexing their back,” says Sanchez. And bending at your back instead of your hips can set you up for low back injury in a ton of athletic movements, such as skiing, climbing, or even just picking up gear.  

This variation teaches you to extend your hips, while locking down and stabilizing your core and back, keeping you pain and injury free.

Form tips: Get into pushup position with your right foot on a Valslide or paper plate (do this exercise on carpet). Perform a pushup, keeping your body perfectly straight. Keep your back straight as you slide your right foot forward so your right knee is under your stomach. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do all your reps on your right, then repeat with your left leg. 

Spiderman Pushup

Blame sitting too much, but your hips are probably tight. And that can throw off nearly any lower body movement you do, whether you’re lifting or running. 

This pushup tasks you with moving your legs and pelvis in a way that improves your hip flexibility, says Sanchez. 

Form tips: Perform a pushup. Then step your right foot just outside your right arm. You should feel a stretch in your hips. Reverse and repeat, this time moving your left foot outside your left hand. 

Shoulder Tap Pushups

If you want to build balance and stability from the hips up, try this variation. It works because you have to pack your shoulder and lock down your core so you don’t twist, says Sanchez. That makes it especially great for climbers.

Form tips: Perform a pushup, your body perfectly straight throughout. At the top, lock down your core, and slowly touch your right shoulder with your left hand. Return to the pushup position and repeat, this time touching your left shoulder with your right hand. 

Renegade Row Pushup

One you’ve mastered the shoulder tap pushups, progress to this killer variation. It not only works your core and shoulders to a greater degree, says Sanchez. “But it also works the pulling muscles in your back.” 

That makes it more of a total body exercise—one that’s especially great for sports that require strong back muscles, such as climbing and paddling.   

Form tips: Do each rep deliberately. Perform the pushup, then lock down your core and slowly bring the dumbbell in your right hand up to your chest. Pause, then return the dumbbell to the ground and repeat, this time lifting the dumbbell in your left hand. 

Filed To: Exercises
5 Delicious DIY Sports Food Recipes

A carrot shake with turmeric provides protein and an antioxidant boost. Photo: Vega

5 Delicious DIY Sports Food Recipes

Keep it fresh—and save money—with homemade fuel

It’s easy to grow tired of eating packaged energy gels, blocks, chews, and bars. The good news: You can create your own delicious, all-natural versions—and still receive the same performance benefits. Presenting five easy recipes to make your workouts taste great.

Liège Waffles

allen lim
Feed Zone Portables by Chef Biju Thomas and Dr. Allen Lim   Photo: VeloPress

Makes 12 servings

  • ¾ cup milk, warmed
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp cane sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Small bowl of pearled (or course) sugar

Place milk, yeast, cane sugar, and 1 cup flour in a bowl, and mix into a soft dough using an electric mixer. Let dough rest for about 15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, maple syrup or honey, butter, and vanilla. Add egg mixture to dough, along with the remaining flour and salt. Mix well into a soft, sticky dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough into 12 portions, shape each into a small ball, and roll each ball in pearled sugar. 

Heat waffle iron. Press dough into the iron, and cook until color is golden and waffle feels crisp to the touch. Or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or Ziplock bag. You can freeze dough until ready to cook.

Benefits: Each waffle contains 228 calories, 10 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs and 6 grams protein, making them a great source of energy while you bike, hike, or climb. “These all-natural waffles can also be sandwiched with whatever flavor you’re craving the day of your workout—peanut butter, Nutella, jam, etc.,” notes Lim.

Bitter Chocolate and Sea Salt Sticky Bites

allen lim
  Photo: VeloPress

(Makes 12 servings)

  • 1 cup uncooked sticky rice
  • ½ cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate (chips or shaved)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of sea salt


  • 2 Tbsp shaved bittersweet chocolate
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Combine oats, rice, and water with a dash of salt in a rice cooker and cook. Let cool to the touch.

In a medium bowl, combine the cooked rice and oats with the remaining ingredients. Stir to incorporate the flavor throughout the sticky mixture.

Press into an airtight storage container or shape as individual bites. Sprinkle lightly with chocolate and salt.

Benefits: “These delicious bites are energy dense to help replace calories when you’re on the move,” says Allen Lim, co-author of Feed Zone Portables and founder of performance nutrition company, Skratch Labs. “They contain 2 grams of protein and 197 milligrams of sodium per serving, but the key ingredient is actually white rice, a rich source of quick-absorbing carbs (20 grams) that’s also known for being easy on the digestive system.”

Mint Mocha Energy Gel

(Makes 2 servings)

Base Gel

  • 8 dates (pitted), soaked in warm water for at least 4 hours
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (unrefined)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (unrefined), or raw honey
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Mint Mocha

  • ½ tsp ground coffee
  • 1 tsp cacao/cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp finely diced fresh mint leaves 

Combine Mint Mocha ingredients with the maple syrup from the Base Gel recipe in a food processor, and pulse until the mint leaves are well blended. Add remaining Base Gel ingredients, and pulse again until smooth.

Pomegranate Lime Gel

  • 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
  • 2 Tbsp pure pomegranate juice
  • 2 tsp lime juice

Blend above ingredients with the Base Gel ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Benefits: “These gels are made from whole food, plant-based sources, so not only do they give you easy-to-digest energy during tough workouts, but they also naturally contain vitamins, minerals and electrolytes,” says Emma Andrews, a registered holistic nutritionist and the national educator for vegan supplement and nutrition company, Vega. Pack in a sturdy plastic bag or hydration flask, and consume one serving (45 grams) every 45 to 60 minutes for activities lasting over an hour. 

Lemon-Lime Quencher

Makes 2 servings

  • 3 cups water (or maple water)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp sea salt 

Place all ingredients in a 24-ounce bottle, and shake vigorously (or mix everything together in a blender).

Benefits: “The vitamin C in citrus fruit may help reduce inflammation from the chronic stress of exercise. Citrus zest is also rich in fiber and flavonoids that protect your heart by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol,” says dietitian Tara Mardigan, co-author of Real Fit Kitchen. Drink this beverage before, during and/or after your workouts.


Turmeric Carrot Protein Shake

Makes 1 serving

  • ¼ to ½ tsp turmeric powder (or ½-inch fresh turmeric root)
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • ½ cup mango
  • ½ cup ice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Benefits: “This vibrant post-workout protein recovery shake gives you an antioxidant boost with turmeric, and a sweet taste of the tropics with mango and grated carrot,” notes Morgan Shupe, head chef at Vega. For best muscle-rebuilding results, try to drink within 45 to 90 minutes of finishing your workout.

Filed To: Recipes, Recovery
The 5 Ingredients that Belong in Your Fridge

Never underestimate the power of a ripe avocado and a well-cooked egg. Photo: VankaD/iStock

The 5 Ingredients that Belong in Your Fridge

Simple meals to fuel all of your athletic endeavors

Sometimes going back to basics is not a bad thing. Rather than stocking up on a million different things at the grocery store, for example, you could focus on a few high-quality items, save a little money, and still enjoy healthy, satisfying, delicious, power-boosting meals every week. We asked nutrition coach Georgie Fear, RD, author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss, what she thinks should be on your short list, plus what to do with those ingredients once you get them. Shop for these five staples, and you'll be ready to make the most of ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.

The Ingredients

1. Oatmeal
Athletes need plenty of complex carbohydrates to help fuel their activities. Unprocessed whole grains like oatmeal are a great source. Oatmeal is also high in iron, vitamin B6, and soluble fiber. Plus, it’s simple to cook and can be dressed up in lots of different ways, so it never has to get old or boring.

2. Avocado
Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat that’s also found in olive oil and is shown to help lower cholesterol. Avocado is also very high in fiber and potassium, an important electrolyte that athletes lose in sweat.

3. Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts and nut butters are an athlete’s best friend. They travel well and pack a ton of nutrition into a small package, which helps keep hikers, cyclists, runners, and others supplied with much-needed energy while they’re being active outdoors. Different nuts carry different nutrient profiles, but they’re all great sources of unsaturated fatty acids and dietary fiber, and most are high in minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.

4. Chickpeas
These versatile legumes provide athletes with both carbohydrates and protein, along with a hefty dose of belly-filling fiber and a vegetarian source of iron.

5. Eggs
One of the highest-quality sources of protein available, eggs are easy to cook and provide lasting appetite satisfaction. They also offer more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, E, and B12.

The Recipes​

Skillet Eggs with Peppers and Gr​een Onions
Makes two servings.

  Photo: Sarah Braun/Flickr

  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced (green and white parts)
  • 4 omega-3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley


1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil spray, add peppers and onions, and cook over medium heat until soft.
2. Using a spatula, make four wells in the vegetables. Crack an egg into each well.
3. Cook until the egg whites are almost completely set. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low.
4. Let simmer for three minutes. Poke one of the yolks to see if they’re set. Cook an additional one to two minutes if necessary. 
5. When ready, sprinkle with herbs and divide between two plates.

Per serving: 165 calories, 10 grams fat, 143 grams sodium, 6 grams carbs, 13 grams protein

Chunky Avocado and Chickpea Salad
Makes two servings.

  Photo: Niklas Pivic/Flickr

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Preparation

1. Mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork.
2. Add chickpeas and mash everything together.
3. Stir in parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
4. Serve with crackers, pita, bell peppers, or your favorite chopped veggies.

Per serving: 380 calories, 19 grams fat, 280 milligrams sodium, 44 grams carbs, 15 grams protein

​Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas​
Makes three servings.

  Photo: William Jones/Flickr

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Drain chickpeas and rinse well with water. Blot with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.
3. Transfer chickpeas to a bowl. Add oil and spices, stirring to coat.
4. Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Stir, then bake for another five to ten minutes or until they’re crisp but not burnt.

Per serving: 180 calories, 3 grams fat, 32 grams carbs, 7 grams protein

​​Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes six servings.

  Photo: LexnGer/Flickr

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ​1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine broth, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper.
2. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. 
3. Serve sauce hot with grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp.

Per serving: 83 calories, 5 grams fat, 285 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbs, 3 grams protein

Banana Walnut Oatmeal
Makes one serving.

  Photo: Pamela Barclay/Flickr

  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1 cup skim, 1%, or nondairy milk
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 90 seconds. Stir and microwave for an additional 90 seconds.

Per serving: 335 calories, 7 grams fat, 121 milligrams sodium, 54 grams carbs, 15 grams protein

Filed To: Recipes, Nutrition
The 4 Paleo Commandments All Athletes Should Follow

Paleo may not be for you. That doesn't mean you can't still reap the benefits of sticking to some of its guidelines. Photo: muratemre/iStock

The 4 Paleo Commandments All Athletes Should Follow

You don’t need to go all in to reap health and performance benefits from the famous diet

Eating like a caveman is tough. Without going into the Paleo Diet’s debatable historical accuracy, the movement’s emphasis on whole foods, meat-heavy meals, and rejection of grains can make dining out or grabbing a meal on the go an ordeal. But commitment-averse athletes can still learn important fueling points from the diet. Presenting four tips worth stealing:

Eat Your Vegetables

Most non-Paleo eaters think of the diet as a gussied-up version of Atkins, with heaping plates of meat and little in the way of carbohydrates. That’s not entirely inaccurate: most Paleo menus call for animal protein at just about every meal. But unlike other meat-forward regimes, founder Loren Cordain understood the importance of eating his greens.

“Fruits and vegetables—with their antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber—are some of our most powerful allies in the war against heart disease, cancer, and osteoperosis,” Cordain wrote in The Paleo Diet. “Yet just one papaya...would blow the daily limit for two of the most popular low-carbohydrate diets.” Paleo emphasizes filling up on whole fruits and veggies while shunning processed juices, which concentrate plants’ sugars and strip out much of their filling fiber. That’s an idea that even nutritionists skeptical of the diet, like New York University’s Marion Nestle, can get behind. 

“Most people could improve their diets by taking in fewer calories and eating more vegetables,” she says. “To the extent that the Paleo diet does that, it’s useful.”

Timing Is Key

For athletes, food isn’t just fuel, it’s a tool—and picking the right one for the job can make the difference between a medal and a DNF. High-fiber, low-fat foods like brown rice and broccoli may be good for your health over the long term, but eat them at the wrong time — just before a race, for example — and you could find yourself in a world of gastric distress. 

When it comes to timing their fueling stops, Paleo dieters are experts. The Paleo Diet for Athletes, the endurance-focused follow-up that Cordain and TrainingPeaks founder Joe Friel penned in 2005, breaks down exercise into five stages corresponding to the time periods before, during, and at various times after a workout. Most of the time, typical Paleo fare like whole fruits and vegetables and animal protein form the backbone of the program. Immediately before, during, and after activity, however, it allows athletes to take in very non-caveman refined carbs, like sports gels and drinks. 

The idea is that during exercise, the muscles become more sensitive to insulin, so that the body doesn’t need to produce as much of the hormone to help you absorb the sugars you’re taking in. That means that foods with a high glycemic index, like sports bars or gels, provide a quick energy boost without causing insulin levels to spike and then crash. 

Cheat on Your Diet

Sticking to any dietary regimen is a psychological challenge — and how well you rise to it in the short term could have repercussions for your fitness down the road. In a 2012 study, researchers from the University of Alabama tracked 116 women to see how closely they followed a prescribed low-calorie diet, then followed up with them two years later; the subjects who had stuck to the program had gained back approximately half the weight of those who played it loose. And sticking to the famously restrictive Paleo diet can be just as tough: when Outside’s John Bradley tried it for eight weeks in 2009, he had a breakfast-burrito-fueled breakdown halfway through.

Luckily, the authors of the Paleo diet knew that, and built in some leeway. In The Paleo Diet for Athletes, Cordain and Friel promote what they call the “85:15 Rule.” As long as 85 percent of adherents’ diet follows their recommendations, diners can fill in the other 15 with whatever they want. That’s a trick that anyone can use: two to three “open meals” a week won’t sabotage your performance, but they may just keep you from going off the rails.

Rethink Your Meat

It’s safe to say that cattle, domesticated from the wild auroch just 10,000 years ago, weren’t part of early hominids’ diets. Many Paleo proponents emphasize game meats like elk and antelope; early editions of The Paleo Diet even listed a half-dozen mail-order suppliers of exotic fare. Much like grass-fed beef, meat from these free-ranging animals is lower in fat and has a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids than that of feedlot cattle. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find, and costs several times what you would pay for a standard cut from the butcher.

The solution: Ditch the hamburgers for offal. Organ meats like heart and tongue have a fraction of the fat content of the leanest cuts of beef, and are full of essential nutrients like B vitamins, folate and zinc. They’re packed with protein, too: sweetbreads, the pancreas and thymus glands of pigs or calves, are about 77 percent protein, more than a similarly-sized cut of sirloin. And because American diners today won’t touch the stuff, offal is often some of the cheapest red meat around.

Filed To: Recipes, Nutrition
Build the Ultimate Garage Gym from Gear You Already Own

Even if you have a normal-size garage, you can still turn it into a great home gym. Photo: kjekol/iStock

Build the Ultimate Garage Gym from Gear You Already Own

It just takes a little creativity to challenge your muscles—and mind—in new ways. Allow us to enlighten you.

One of the oddest items I ever used as a piece of exercise equipment: a pillowcase. My trainer put three 35-pound weight plates inside their own pillowcases, and I had to slide them across the floor in a low mountain-climber-type move. The set fried my glutes and scorched my lungs, but it also showed me that if you’re inventive enough, you can use just about any old thing to work your body—and your brain.

Even if you’re not a ball-game sort of athlete, thinking about coordination and balance will sharpen your focus, which will translate to better performance in your main athletic endeavors, says Joel Harper, a New York City celebrity trainer who uses sports equipment with his clients. For a change-up from your usual routine and to work your core, balance, coordination, and various other muscles, try the following moves from Harper:

Tennis Ball Quad Pull

While standing, grab your left foot with your left hand and gently pull your foot toward your left glute to stretch your left quadricep. At the same time, toss a tennis ball with your right hand into the air above your head (like a serve) and catch with your right hand. Do 10 times in a row on each side.

Tennis Ball Catch

Face a partner from about eight feet away. With your feet together, stand on your toes. Each person holds a tennis ball in their right hand. Simultaneously toss the ball so you each have to catch with your left hand. “This really centers your brain, works coordination and balance as you have to think through going right to left,” Harper says. Do it until you can do it 25 times in a row without either of you dropping a ball. Don’t have a partner? Stand (on your toes, or on one leg) facing a wall with a ball in each hand and toss both against the wall—then catch them both—at the same time.

Basketball Clock Plank

Get in a pushup position with toes on the ground and both hands on the ball. Walk around the ball clockwise for one rotation, then counterclockwise for one rotation. When that gets too easy, try doing it with one hand. This really works your wrists, shoulders, core, and balance. 

Volleyball Side Plank

Get into a side plank with your left elbow and forearm on the ground, keeping your body straight and your hips elevated. Hold a volleyball in your right hand, with your arm straight above you (so it’s perpendicular to the ground). Rotate your shoulder to lower the ball to the back of your left hand on the ground in front of you, then bring it back up, while continually holding the plank. Do 25 reps on each side.

Self Frisbee Toss

Balance on your left foot, and throw and catch a Frisbee to yourself with your left hand, tossing the frisbee five feet above your head. Make sure to lift the opposite hand of the leg you’re standing on. “If you use the same side, you’ll have a tendency to lean to balance; this throws your hips out of alignment,” Harper says. Do 10 on each side.

Baseball Hula Hoop

While using a hoop, balance on your toes, and simultaneously toss a baseball back and forth to yourself from hand to hand. “It’s a very efficient workout. It really gets your heart rate pumping and coordination going,” Harper says. Do 50 tosses.

Basketball Core Buster

Sit on a basketball with your hands to your side on the ground. Using your core, gently lean back (about a foot) and lift your feet off the ground and try to keep yourself balanced. When you master that, try taking your hands off the ground, too. Hold for a count of 10 (or more if you can).

Filed To: Gear
You Already Own the World's Best Workout Gear. Here's Where to Look.

Lots of good kayaks are very affordable. Once you decide the sport is really for you, then go ahead and spend the big bucks. Photo: Zachary Collier/Flickr

You Already Own the World's Best Workout Gear. Here's Where to Look.

Picking up a new sport? Repurposing these five items will save you some dough.

Learning a new sport isn’t cheap. (The least expensive mountain bike reviewed in our Summer Buyer’s Guide costs $3,400. The cheapest SUPs: $1,200.) And you aren’t done after the big purchase—accessories often stealthily add to the bill. The solution? Borrow, buy used, and look for good deals. Also recognize that the cheapest piece of gear is the one you’ve already bought. These five pieces might already be sitting in your garage waiting for a new life in your new sport.

Trekking Poles as Ski Poles

After breaking my first set of old borrowed backcountry ski poles, a buddy loaned me his Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles, which I happily used for the second half of my first season of backcountry skiing. If you already have trekking poles, repurpose them. And go ahead and swap out the baskets for ones that will work in the snow for under ten dollars.

Ski Buff as Lake Buff

The same Buff you use to keep comfortable in extreme cold can also work remarkably well in extreme heat. While Buffs are available specifically for cold and warm weather, a simple synthetic one will serve you well on the lake or river by keeping bugs and sun off your face while wicking away moisture. It’ll also keep the frost off your nose when you ski.

Rain Jacket + PFD as Kayaking Dry Top

There’s no replacement for a well-built dry top. The gaskets and waterproofing are safer for expert touring kayakers. But if you’re more worried about protection from splashing water and the elements than you are about rolling, a lightweight rain jacket will swap in for a kayak-specific splash jacket. I have found that a tightly cinched PFD keeps ocean or lake water from splashing up underneath my rain jacket.

MTB Elbow Pads as Kayaking Pads

Hardcore whitewater kayakers have been using elbow pads for years as an extra layer of defense while running steep creeks; repurposing your mountain bike elbow pads makes sense if you’re a beginning kayaker. Plenty of novice boaters have experienced swellbows—baseball-sized elbows resulting from impact—that could easily have been avoided had they donned elbow pads on the river. Wearing elbow pads also allows a paddler to use more of their arms aggressively when encountering rocks, which will likely save an aspirational kayaker a number of swims.

Voile Ski Strap as Pretty Much Anything

A Voile Ski Strap is arguably the most multiuse piece of sport-specific gear you can buy. On top of strapping a pair of skis together on a pack or for storage, these simple stretchy plastic straps with a metal clip can be used to secure gear to any pack, vehicle, bike, touring kayak, or raft. They can be used to rig up nearly any backpack malfunction, and I have even used them to hold up a pair of pants that lost a button. Their dynamic nature lies in the fact that they are as durable as they are simple—two invaluable traits when you need to fix a problem in the backcountry.

Want more ideas for repurposing your gear? Check out these bonus ideas:

  • Vaseline as antichafing cream and fire starter.
  • Lacrosse ball as massage ball.
  • Dynafit TLT boots make the best split boarding boots.
  • Leather utility gloves make some of the best ski gloves.