Summer is officially here for those of us north of the equator. One of the things I like best about this time of the year is that the warm weather makes it possible lift weights outside, just like the cavemen used to train. I don’t know why, but I always make the most progress when I train outside.
Benefits Of Training Outside
Lifting weights in the great outdoors offers many benefits over the gym. Below are the most significant:
- The sun exposure you get can help you get your daily dose of all important vitamin D.
- Studies show exercising outside helps improve your mood and increases the odds you’ll stick to your program.
- You can do exercises that aren’t as easy to perform in the gym like carries and throws.
- It’s more fun and social. Instead of simply getting in and out of the gym as quickly as possible you can easily make an even of your workout where you train hard with a couple of friends and then have a barbecue after.
- The fresh air is much more refreshing than the stale air of your gym.
How It’s Done
1. Find A Space – All you need to perform your workout is some open space. I prefer grass or sand. Working out on either surface allows you to train barefoot which makes the workout even more fun, and challenging. Try to find a location where you have enough room to perform walks and throws for at least 40 yards. This distance gives you enough space to perform dozens of exercises that cannot be done indoors.
2. Equip Your ‘Gym’ – I like to keep it simple and take 3-4 kettlebells of varying weights. Other equipment that works great are gymnastic style rings and a sandbag. You can also take dumbbells and barbells with you. Even buckets or a duffel bag filled with sand will enable you to get in a great workout.
3. Build Your Summer Workout – Working out outdoors really lends itself to total body workouts. I like to make each workout focus on either building muscle, increasing power, or improving my overall strength. In addition to that I make sure the workout helps improve my overall fitness levels too.
You can do pretty much any exercise outside that you can in the gym. While this is great, I recommend performing movements that aren’t so easy to do indoors. This includes carries, throws, and sprints. One of my favorite things to do is combine a traditional gym exercise like lunges with something like Farmer’s Walks which aren’t so easily to do inside.
Below are a couple of workouts that you can use to get started. The first emphasizes muscle building and power. The second workout is designed to help you lose fat and improve your overall conditioning levels. You can perform these workouts 3-4 times a week. I like to alternate them with a days rest between each.
Adjust each to meet your fitness levels and goals. If you have been training for a year or so, feel free to add a few sets and rest less between each exercise. Those of you who are just getting into working out should perform them as written or rest longer between movements if necessary.
Workout 1 – Muscle & Power
- Overhead Kettlebell Throws – Throw the kettlebell overhead as far as possible 10 times. Rest 60 sec between throws.
- Push Ups (add a clap between each if you’re advanced) – 5 sets of 5 reps
- Squat -& Shoulder Press Combination – 5 sets of 5 reps
- Farmer’s Walks – 5 walks, carry the heaviest object possible for 25 yards per walk.
Workout 2 – Burn Fat Fast
- Kettlebell Throws – Throw the kettlebell forward as far as possible for 30-40 yards. Rest and repeat 2-3 times with 60 seconds between sets.
- Walking Lunges – Shoulder Press Combination. Perform lunges by walking forward and holding a dumbbell or kettlebell for 25-40 yards. Perform a shoulder press between each lunge.
- Waiter Walks – Perform 3-4 walks for 2-3 minutes each while holding a dumbbell or kettlebell overhead in each hand.
Some other great exercises and drills to do outside include:
- Drag weights attached to a rope for 20-40 yards for 3-5 sets.
- Pull ups or inverted rows on a tree branch.
- Alternate a strength exercise with sprints. This is a favorite of many Olympic sprinters. An example is to perform a set of squats or push ups for 5-8 reps and then immediately sprint for 20-40 yards. Repeat for 5 sets. Rest 2-3 minutes between each.
Now you have several great ways to not only build muscle and burn fat but get a tan at the same time too. Put your gym membership on hold this summer and give these workouts a try. I guarantee you’ll have more fun than you do in the gym and find that your overall fitness levels soar to new heights.
(Photo credit: Shot of an Athlete via Shutterstock)