The only thing better than getting a great pump in the gym is tearing through an invigorating outdoor training session while the sun’s rays beam down on you, bronzing your skin, helping to release endorphins and delivering your daily dose of natural vitamin D! And we didn’t even mention the gasps and stares you’ll enjoy from shocked and impressed onlookers that work to fire up your intensity even more. Without further delay, here are the top five picks for our take on the best outdoor training workouts.
Here’s a gut-wrenching twist on high-intensity interval training. Using either a weighted vest with about
20 pounds or even just a loaded backpack with a couple of full water bottles and a heavy textbook, find a hilly terrain in your area with enough elevation to give you a challenging workout. After a 5-minute walking warm-up, start the fun by running up every hill that comes your way. The extra resistance in the vest or backpack will really help to give you a great cardiovascular workout as well as giving your legs a good, deep burn. Perform at least 10 high-intensity intervals followed by about a minute or two of moderate-pace walking for a total of 25-30 minutes. Once complete, take an additional 5 minutes to cool down with slow-pace walking to allow the heart rate and ventilation to return to normal levels. If you’re climbing a steadily increasing elevation, time yourself for about 30-45 seconds of high-intensity effort, followed by 1-2 minutes of moderate-pace walking, depending on your current level of conditioning.
Take a trip to your local college or high school and put yourself through a training session that even your most twisted, sadistic high school gym teacher would or wouldn’t approve of. Here’s a little something we came up with:
- Jog around the track for 5 minutes to warm-up.
- Climb up and down the stadium stairs for 10 minutes. Try skipping a stair to increase the intensity so you’re taking bigger steps.
- Using the stadium seats, perform 4 sets of 15 reps of dips. Elevate your feet onto the top of the seats to increase resistance.
- Superset the above with 4 sets of 15 reps of push-ups. Elevate your feet and push from the arm rests to increase resistance.
- Get back on the track for 7 rounds of 100m sprints combined with 2 minutes of light walking.
- Walk over to the grass and perform 3 sets of 20 reps of toe-touch crunches with your feet elevated.
- 5-minute cool-down stretch.
It might sound like a relaxing morning, but you’ll soon learn why the US military occasionally trains on the sand for an extremely demanding workout. The uneven terrain forces you to recruit all of your stabilizer muscles in your legs, as well as the core muscles. Not only that, but just try to generate some speed on a soft surface such as sand – not too easy, is it? We suggest bringing a simple stopwatch and timing yourself for 45-second sprint intervals followed by 90 seconds of “active rest,” which consists of very light jogging. Continue with this style of intervals for 20 minutes followed by a 5-minute walking cool-down. A high-intensity interval training workout like this will keep the calorie-burning furnace cranked for even hours after your workout. To increase intensity you can try doing your light jog in a few feet of water for extra resistance.
Bootcamps offer the unique, dual ability to give you a tremendous cardiovascular workout and a muscular workout. Don’t believe us? We invite you to try a class for yourself. Because you’re interested in training your muscles as well as your lungs, try to find a class that utilizes resistance-based equipment in addition to the standard high-intensity bodyweight drills. Ask for items such as heavy thick ropes, kettle bells, sandbags, sleds, resistance bands, medicine balls, sledgehammers and weight vests. Incorporating some of these pieces into an outdoor bootcamp will not only increase the intensity of the workout, but also help push your muscles to their limit with a scorching lactic acid burn that you’ll thank us for the next day.
Think Muscle Beach meets your local neighbourhood recreational park. These days, nearly every health-conscious city has at least a few fitness trails and parks with many objects you can make great use of as hardcore, resistance-based equipment. Using your body weight as the resistance, you can get an incredible pump if you train hard enough and utilize short rest intervals. We recommend the classic push-pull supersets taken from the Golden Years of bodybuilding. Here is a sample push-pull superset workout that works your back, chest, arms and abs (aka the beach muscles) that you can do in most parks or fitness trails:
- Wide-grip chin-ups on monkey bars superset with deep parallel bar dips, 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Bodyweight pull-up rows* on parallel bars superset with push-ups between posts, 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Close-grip chin-ups (biceps focus) superset with close-grip decline push-ups with feet raised on park bench (triceps focus), 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Hanging leg raises from monkey bars superset with bent-knee crunches on a park bench, 4 sets of 20 reps.
*Bodyweight Pull-Up Rows: Position yourself under parallel bars. Reach up and grasp the two bars with an overhand palms-in grip. Pull yourself up while trying to focus on squeezing your lats at the top of the movement. Advanced: Lift your feet off the ground and put them up on the parallel bars to increase the resistance.