Creating Your Own Outdoor Workout
Now that the weather is warmer, you should be excited to get outside as often as possible. While you work on your tan and vitamin D levels, consider strengthening your body in the sun, too. The nicer weather is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of what's around you. Much of the natural environment mimics equipment at the gym, and it definitely beats being stuck inside again after a long winter. Here are a few ideas for you to incorporate into your own workout.
Find A Hill
A hill is one way to amp up the difficulty of your workout. The natural incline will work all the muscles of your legs and quickly raise your heart beat. Although you can’t adjust the incline, you can adjust the speed at which you tackle it. Assess your progress by how fast you can reach the top, and compare that from workout to workout. Look for steeper grassy hills at your local park or for an inclined gravel street. Hills can:
- Replace the treadmill incline. Whether you are walking, jogging or sprinting up, your quads, hamstrings, calves, abs and heart are all used.
- Add to bodyweight exercises. Walking lunges, squat jumps, even spider crawls all become significantly harder on the incline.
Find A Set Of Stairs
If hills are hard to come by in your area, a set of stairs is just as useful. Use the flight in your park or local stadium. Whether you climb the steps one or a few at a time, track your progress by tracking your time.
- Use a flight of stairs to replace the stair-master at the gym. Adjust your own speed instead of the machine’s speed. In addition to a leg workout, make sure to tense your abs and swing your arms when going up to help keep balance and burn some extra calories.
- Perform bodyweight exercises like lunges up the stairs (two at a time) to increase difficulty.
Find A Bench or Rock
A bench is probably the most useful piece of outdoor equipment and you can actually design a full body workout around a single bench.
- Replace a box with a bench for box jumps. Stand in front of it and use your body to jump up, placing both your feet entirely on the bench and standing up straight. Jump back down and repeat.
- If jumps are a bit difficult, try bench step-ups. Step up onto the bench using one foot, then bring the other to join it. Step back down and repeat.
- Continuous step-ups are a killer move for your butt and hamstrings. Place one leg up on the bench and lean forward to grip the back of the bench with your hands. Step up the other foot to meet the first and then bring back down, repeating this movement continuously.
- Bench push-ups are an upper body move that can be adjusted to your fitness level. The closer you are to the ground, the more difficult it is. For the advanced version, place your hands on the seat of the bench and perform the push-ups. For an easier version, place your hands on the top of the back of the bench.
- For a tricep workout try a bench dip. Place your hands on the edge of the seat and move your butt forward, supporting your weight with your arms. Dip down, moving your butt closer to the ground and then use your arms to push yourself back up to starting position.
- Benches are meant for sitting, but when you’re using one for a workout the rules can change. Lie down on the bench and swing your legs over the back so that your head is hanging off the seat. Place your hands behind your head and crunch up to work your abs.
- For another ab move, place your hands on the ground and your toes up on the bench, like you would if you were performing a plank. From here, you can perform mountain climbers, bringing your knee into your chest and back onto the bench one at a time to work your abs, or you can bring your knee to the side towards your elbow to get more of an oblique workout. Make sure to keep your shoulders over your wrists and your back and butt in a straight line!
Outdoor Workout Tips
Just like any workout, make sure to do a warm up of 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching before starting and 5-10 minutes of static stretching after. Dynamic stretches can include 30-45 seconds each leg raises, arm crosses, shoulder rolls, and side twists. More commonly known static stretches include 30 seconds each of outstretched legs, reaching for your toes, butterfly stretching, standing quadriceps stretches, and arm crosses across your chest. Both pre-and post stretching is just as important as what you eat for energy before and for recovery after.
An outdoor workout may not be as clean as you’d like it to be. Consider buying a pair of work out gloves to wear, especially to protect your palms when performing moves like bench mountain climbers, push ups, or hill spider crawls.
In addition to protecting your hands, protect your lungs and body in the summer heat with these tips as well! Make sure to avoid areas with high air pollution, keep hydrated, dress light and wear plenty of sunscreen. If it’s just too hot for these moves, try a workout to beat the heat instead.
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Do you prefer to work out in the gym or outside? What tips and recommendations do you have for working out outside?