As soon as the Christmas indulgence is over and January 1st hits, hordes of fitness enthusiasts descend on their local gym with a clear objective in mind. Creating that perfect summer body. Whether you're looking to raise eyebrows in your swim shorts or dazzle in a bikini, the painstaking hours in the gym are worth every ounce of sweat when summer finally arrives and the clothes start to come off.
That said, when summer finally does arrive, it's easy to let all the hard work go to waste. No one wants to be locked away in a stuffy gym when the sun is shining outside, so before you know it, you begin to swap workouts for BBQs and find yourself back at square one.
Instead of falling into the same trap as everyone else, why not diversify your training and take it outdoors instead? This way, you get to enjoy the sunshine (whilst it lasts!) and get a solid workout in at the same time.
Here are 7 ways to take your training outdoors, starting today!
#1 - Go back to basics
The great outdoors is the perfect arena for the true test of strength - bodyweight training. Whilst your meathead training partner may be able to bench more than you, who can do the most press ups, pull ups and dips? Bodyweight exercises create a level playing field that test your strength in relation to your own bodyweight; and if you can thrust a heavy barbell above your head but struggle to dip your own bodyweight, there's something going wrong.
So take yourself over to your local park (or even your back garden) for a bodyweight circuit that is guaranteed to test your limits - as you soak up the sunshine at the same time.
Example bodyweight circuit:
1A) Press ups: 8-10 beginner, 10-15 intermediate, 15-25 advanced
1B) Bodyweight squats: 6-8 beginner, 8-12 intermediate, 12-15 advanced
2A) Pull ups (use a tree branch, climbing frame or pull up bar): 3-6 beginner, 7 - 10 intermediate, 10 - 15 advanced
2B) Power squats (squat down and explode up into a jump): 6-8 beginner, 8-12 intermediate, 12-15 advanced
3A) Dips (use a bench or parallel bars): 6-8 beginner, 8-12 intermediate, 12-15 advanced
3B) V-Sits: 20 beginner, 35 intermediate, 50 advanced.
Move from one exercise to the next without rest. You can take a one minute break in
between circuits. Repeat circuit five times.
#2 - Sprint
Train as much as you like in the weights room, but there is no full body exercise that competes with sprinting. Short bursts of exercise at maximum intensity have been shown to increase testosterone, human growth hormone, fat metabolism and resting metabolic rate - making sprints an incredibly important exercise for creating a lean, chiselled physique.
Take yourself down to your local park and mark out a 100 metre distance. Sprint at full capacity from one end to the other, then walk back slowly as you catch your breath. As soon as you return to the starting line, go again. Repeat 5 - 7 times.
Note - make sure you perform a proper warm up before you sprint to avoid injury.
#3 - Hit the rugby pitch
You knew it was coming, didn't you? Despite our obvious bias to the sport we love, there is no denying that rugby provides one of the best full body workouts you can get. Rugby tests your speed, stamina, endurance, power, strength, balance and co- ordination. Even better, it's great fun too!
Even if you don't want to join a club, get a few mates together and practice some rugby drills to get your workout in. You could practice passing drills, mini scrums, or even play a game of touch.
#4 - Get Functional
Functional movements such as tyre flips, kettlebell swings, battle ropes, sled drags, sledgehammers and prowlers are all the rage at fitness boot camps right now. They're an awesome way to combine both strength and conditioning training in one fun session, without having to set foot in a gym.
Look out for information on your nearest fitness boot camp - or, if you can find the equipment, set up your own circuit!
#5 - Make a splash
Not only is swimming great cardio and easy on your joints, you'll get a great tan at the same time! Head down to your local beach or pool, and combine high intensity swim sprints with steadier, lengthier swims to keep your body guessing.
#6 - Get on your bike
Cycling is great cardio, and excellent conditioning for your quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. If you don't fancy yourself as an endurance rider, why not hit the hills for some sprint training? It will deliver the same metabolism boosting benefits as running sprints, whilst you get the added enjoyment of freewheeling back down again!
#7 - Have fun with it!
Time outside is the perfect way to mix up your training and have a little fun. Practice your handstands to build great strength in your shoulders and triceps, or gather some friends for a game of ultimate frisbee for a serious blast of cardio. You could even hit the local playground to lark around on the monkey bars and swings. The most important thing is movement - and lots of it.
Remember, if you want long term success you have to enjoy your training. Taking yourself outdoors for one or two sessions each week is the perfect way to inject a little variety, whilst at the same time soaking up the sun's rays for a much needed Vitamin D fix.
How do you take your training outside?
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