2. Training outside in Paris
I’ve been working as a personal trainer in Paris since 2010, training clients outside every winter. Apart from a few freak early mornings when it got down to minus 8 degrees, it rarely goes down below zero. And while yes, it does rain, it’s only been bad enough for me to have to cancel sessions a handful of times in 10 years.
The obvious advantage to gyms is having a large selection of variable weights that you can use to apply the necessary stress to your muscles and bones to make them stronger. However, you can still get a similar training effect using your body weight and minimal equipment, especially if you’re relatively new to strength training.
There are more places to train outside in Paris than you probably knew existed. While the main parks you’re familiar with are fine for running (which is why we’ve included all parks with a circumference of more than 1km on our map), they’re not always the best if you want to incorporate strength training into your program.
It’s common to be reprimanded by unsympathetic park wardens if they catch you hanging your TRX from a tree, which makes pulling exercises more problematic. So, what’s the big deal? Can’t you just skip those?
Not unless you want a weak back, poor posture and a handshake like a deadfish.
3. Why just jogging or pilates isn't enough
Yes, it’s true that nobody shakes hands any more but nevertheless, improving your grip strength could stop you from becoming a victim of the other, more silent epidemic going on right now.
Osteosarcopenia is the coexistence of osteoporosis (a condition of low bone mass and deterioration of bone) and sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass, strength and function). It’s a problem that is becoming ever more prevalent in our ageing population.
1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 years old will sustain an osteoporotic fracture at some point during their remaining lifetime. These are not good odds. However, the majority of these injuries are preventable.
While all forms of exercise will do something to strengthen your muscles and bones, some forms are more effective than others. Given that most of us only have a few hours a week to dedicate to exercising, it’s important that we choose how to spend this time wisely.
If jogging is all you do then this will, at least to some extent, help improve the density of the bones in your legs and hips. However, it will do virtually nothing to improve the density of the bones in your upper body because physical adaptations are very specific to the type of training you do.
The same goes for pilates. If your goal is to improve the muscular endurance (not strength) of the muscles in your torso, then floor-based pilates could be an option for you (unless you have lower back issues).
However, if you specifically want to strengthen your muscles and bones it’s a suboptimal choice. And it’s about as effective as jogging for improving your grip strength.
A strong grip is achieved by either picking up heavy things or pulling your bodyweight while gripping something. This in turn, allows you to apply the necessary force to your muscles and bones to strengthen them and stop them wasting away.
In effect, this stops you from ageing prematurely which is why grip strength is consistently associated with lower all-cause mortality. It’s even been shown to be a better predictor than blood pressure when estimating how long someone will live for.
While gyms are off limits you probably don’t have access to any heavy dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells. In which case you’ll need a pull-up bar (the minimum criteria for a training location to be included on our map), a TRX (or equivalent suspension trainer) and some bands (light, medium, heavy). Total cost (if you go for the cheaper options): 50€.
If you can’t do a pull-up, no problem, there are plenty of alternative exercises we show you in the program that will help get you closer to doing your first one.
And while you don’t have access to weights heavy enough to deadlift you can use bands instead. If you’ve never learnt how to deadlift with weights before then using bands is an easy way to get you started. It’s one of the most important movements you will ever learn.
Learning how to deadlift correctly by hinging at the hip will save your back from unnecessary stress and help you to develop all the muscles in your posterior chain (the ones you can’t see in the mirror but other people can!) which are too often neglected. This is especially important if you spend your days sitting hunched over a desk.
4. Paris outdoor workout parks on Google Maps
We’ve added all of the outdoor training venues shown on our illustrated map to this Google map below.
Click on each location to see photos of the equipment available.
5. Your free outdoor strength training program
We’ve made you this program because we understand that not everyone has the budget for a personal trainer at the moment and you may be struggling to find decent alternatives to the gym.
While we’ve provided you with alternative exercises for different levels of fitness (beginner / lower intermediate / upper intermediate / advanced), you will have to experiment a bit to find out which ones work best for you.
We’ve divided the exercises into the main movement patterns (push, pull, hip-dominant, quad-dominant) + core exercises and provided you with a structure to your program. This will give you the flexibility to choose the most appropriate exercises for your current fitness/strength level.
Whichever exercises you choose, you can be sure to hit all your major muscle groups in an efficient and effective manner each workout.
When you download the program below we’ll also give you access to videos of all the exercises.
If you’re injury-free, self-motivated and already have a decent awareness of your capabilities and limitations then this program is a good place for you to start.
However, if you have no experience strength training and/or you have preexisting injuries then it’s probably wise to hire an experienced personal trainer who can take you through a movement assessment, work round any restrictions you have and guide you through a progressive training program for at least a few months. The investment will be worth it in the long run.
That’s what we’re here for, so get in touch to arrange a free consultation if that applies to you. We have training packages to suit all budgets.
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