Make the Outdoors Your Gym

Many of us will tell ourselves that we cannot get fit or achieve our goals because we cannot afford it. Gym memberships can be expensive and the gym can be really boring! Many people think of exercise as something they have to do, not want to do. So what if we could make it fun?

Remember when you were young and played games like cops and robbers? It was great fun, I remember looking forward to lunch breaks at school just to run around and enjoy being outside.

As children, we made the most of the outdoors and got our exercise through playing and having fun. So why, when we become adults do we feel that going to the gym and trudging through a 30 minute run and 100 crunches is necessary to stay fit?

As a personal trainer Glasgow in the UK, I’m fascinated to always learn how I can use my surroundings to stay fit. It’s a great alternative for me after being stuck in the gym all day.

Here is a quick guide of how you can turn the outdoors in your very own gym and love exercising once again.

Hill Sprints

Hill sprints are a fantastic form of cardio, as they will burn a high number of calories in a short period of time. If you’re a busy person, this type of workout is perfect for you, as you can get your exercise completed within 10-20 minutes (depending on what you are doing) and burn the same (ish) amount of calories as if you were to do long periods of steady state cardio.

After doing hill sprints your metabolic rate is elevated for hours, even days after you do this workout, which is called ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’ or ‘after-burn’. Meaning you will burn more calories sitting on the sofa watching TV!

Workout:

Jog for 10 mins to make sure your body is ready to work hard.

Sprint for 20-30 seconds, walk for 40-60 seconds. This is one example of how you could structure hill sprints, where you have a structured time you sprint for and time you rest for.

Another option is called fartlek training. It is similar to interval training in that it is high intensity, however it is less structured. When doing fartlek training you could choose to sprint to a certain lamp post or object then walk to the next one.  

It is unstructured periods of high intensity and periods of rest, meaning each interval would be different. This is great to shock the body and keep it working hard, as it cannot adapt to working to a specific time period.

The Park

Believe it or not the park is the perfect place to get in an outdoor workout: monkey bars, benches, loads of space. It is the perfect place to train your full body with some tough bodyweight exercises.

The most important part of training is having a variety of training styles, to keep your body guessing and adapting.

Workout:

Jog to the park (5-10 mins, as a warm up)

8 x pull ups on the monkey bars (if you can!) or do two rounds of monkey bars

10 x press ups

10 x lunges

10 x tricep dips on bench

10 x step up onto a bench (per leg)

(Repeat this 2-3 times)

Jog or walk home!

The Beach

One of the most difficult places to exercise is on the beach. Running on the sand stops you from getting the force you normally would get from pushing off the ground when you run, as the sand absorbs the impact.

This means that you have to exert a lot more force to produce the same result as you would when running on the concrete or grass, meaning more calories burned.

So if you were to do an active workout on the sand, you would actually burn more calories than if you were to do the same workout on normal ground.

Workout:

(Make sure you are fully warmed up- do a little run and some arm swings and leg swings to ensure your body is ready to workout)

20 seconds of high knees

10 jumping jacks

20 seconds bum kicks

10 burpees

20 seconds jumping lunges

10 mountain climbers

Repeat this circuit 2-3 times to get maximal burn and results. If you find this easy, bump up the numbers!

Stretch off your body after the workout to aid with your recovery.


Written by Iona Paterson who is a personal trainer in the UK.