Throughout your fitness journey, you’ve likely come up with numerous excuses to avoid exercising outdoors. It’s either excessively warm, excessively chilly, excessively humid, or excessively crowded to go for a run or attempt a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in the local park. However, it’s about time you put those excuses to rest because engaging in strength training or cardio outdoors offers a plethora of advantages, including a greater calorie burn and a significant improvement in mood.
The primary reason for the first benefit: Outdoor workouts challenge your muscles with inclines, declines, and obstacles, as explained by Tina Vindum, the founder of The Outdoor Fitness Institute. Research conducted by the University of Essex in England further suggests that performing outdoor exercises can also enhance your mood and boost self-esteem. Just make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and wear sweat-resistant leggings and performance fabrics to keep yourself cool.
Elevate your usual exercise routine by trying out this 30-minute outdoor workout circuit developed by Vindum. Give it a go in your own backyard or at a nearby park – with these outdoor exercises, you’ll burn approximately 250 calories while simultaneously building muscle. If you’re pressed for time, consider the quick cardio meltdown outdoor workout, which will elevate your heart rate and get your sweat flowing instead.
Of course, an outdoor workout doesn’t have to feel like a workout. So, if you’re in the mood for something enjoyable, refreshing, and gets you moving, continue reading for 10 more distinct outdoor workout activities that are ideal for solo or group participation.
Total-Body Outdoor Workout Circuit
How it works: Prior to starting, warm up with at least five minutes of power walking or light jogging. Then, perform each exercise for the designated time or number of repetitions.
What you’ll need: An open space and a park bench.
Targets inner thighs, quads, calves, glutes
A. Stand on a level surface with feet together.
B. Bend knees and jump sideways to the right, landing on the ball of your right foot.
C. Without putting your left foot down, bend your right knee and jump sideways to the left.
Do 20 jumps on each side.
Targets triceps, shoulders, core
A. Sit on a bench and place your hands on either side of your hips. Slide your buttocks forward off the bench, using your hands for support. Straighten your legs and firmly plant your heels on the ground.
B. Activate your triceps, bend your elbows, and lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
C. Push through the palms of your hands and return to the starting position. Keep your lower back close to the bench throughout the movement.
Do 15 repetitions.
Park-Bench Incline Push-Up
Targets chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, core
A. Stand facing a park bench and place your hands on the seat. Walk your feet out behind you until your legs are fully extended.
B. Bend your arms and lower your chest toward the bench, performing a push-up.
Do 12 repetitions; gradually increase to 20 repetitions.
Park Bench Decline Push-Up
Targets chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, core
A. Stand facing away from a park bench. Place your hands on the ground and your feet on the bench.
B. Walk your hands forward until they are aligned under your shoulders and your legs are fully extended.
C. Lower your chest to the ground and perform a push-up.
Do 8 repetitions; gradually increase to 20 repetitions.
Targets calves, quads, core
A. Find a curb or fallen tree with a smooth surface that is at least six feet long.
B. Raise your arms out to the sides and walk across the “tightrope” for at least six feet or until the end.
C. Pivot on the balls of your feet and walk in the opposite direction.
Repeat for 3 minutes.
Targets glutes, inner and outer thighs, quads
A. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your elbows bent, and your fists near your ribs.
B. Quickly take 3 large steps to the right by sliding your left foot to meet the right foot in between each step.
C. Bend your knees and jump up, turning to face the opposite direction.
D. Repeat, shuffling to the left.
Alternate sides for 1 minute.
Side Step with Crunch
A. Stand adjacent to a step, log, or level stone, with the right side facing inward.
B. Hold arms out to the sides at shoulder height and bend elbows 90 degrees. Palms should face forward.
C. Step up onto the selected surface with the right foot.
D. Engage the core and bring the left knee to the right elbow to perform a standing crunch. Prioritize lifting the knee up rather than lowering the elbow. Return to the starting position.
Complete 12 repetitions on each side.
Step-Up Kick Cycle
Targets quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes
A. Face a step, fallen log, or level stone. Step up with the left foot and raise the right leg directly behind you. Step down, switch sides, and repeat for 1 repetition.
B. Step up with the left foot and raise the right leg diagonally behind you. Step down, switch sides, and repeat for 1 repetition.
C. Step up with the left foot and kick the right foot out to the side. Step down, switch sides, and repeat for 1 repetition.
Perform the kick cycle (back, diagonal, side) 26 times.
Targets abdominal muscles
A. Hang from a sturdy and low tree branch, monkey bars, or any other elevated handhold, with palms facing forward.
B. With arms fully extended, exhale, bend the knees, and bring them towards the abs.
C. Inhale and return to the starting position in one slow and controlled movement.
Complete 12 repetitions (or as many as possible without losing form).
Targets glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps
A. Arrange four to six small rocks in a zigzag pattern, with approximately 1 1/2 feet between each rock.
B. Keep the feet together and hop to the outside of each rock.
C. Turn around when you reach the end and repeat.
Feeling thoroughly perspired from that outdoor workout? Next time you venture outdoors, give this quick and efficient reps-based workout by Lindsay Ferrer, a personal trainer in New York City, a try.
10-15-20 Cardio Meltdown Outdoor Workout
How it operates: Perform each of the subsequent movements consecutively for the designated number of repetitions without any breaks in between. For an added challenge, time yourself completing the entire meltdown and strive to surpass your best time during your next outdoor workout, as suggested by Ferrer. You may find it beneficial to acquire a cooling towel to use after this high-intensity workout!
What is required: A mat or towel and a timer.
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong
A. Stand at the brief edge of your mat or towel. Bend knees, stabilize core, and jump as far as you can, landing gently.
B. Backward jog back to starting position and repeat.
Complete 10 repetitions.
A. Start in a elevated plank position with hands directly under shoulders.
B. Maintaining a straight back, bend elbows and gradually lower chest toward the ground.
C. Thrust through palms, extend elbows, and return to an elevated plank position. To modify, drop down to knees.
Complete 10 repetitions.
A. Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly angled out.
B. Bend at the knees and lower into a squat until thighs are parallel to the ground.
C. Thrust through heels, engage quadriceps and glutes, and return to starting position.
Complete 15 repetitions.
A. Stand at the end of your mat. Bend knees, stabilize core, and jump to the opposite side of your mat.
B. Bend down and place palms on the mat and jump legs back into a plank position.
C. Jump feet back towards hands and return to a standing position.
Complete 15 repetitions.
A. Lie on back with hands clasped behind head. Knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle in a tabletop position.
B. Lift chest so that shoulder blades are almost off the ground. Extend right leg and simultaneously draw right elbow to left knee.
C. Maintaining elevated chest, bring knees back to a tabletop position. Repeat on the other side with no pause in between.
Complete 20 repetitions; 10 repetitions per side.
A. Start in an elevated plank position with arms directly below shoulders and legs extending behind you. Body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
B. Maintain a flat back, stabilize core, and draw right knee towards chest.
C. Return to plank position and repeat with opposite leg, quickly alternating as if running.
Complete 20 repetitions.
Bonus Outdoor Workout Ideas
Yes, you can skip the gym and get an effective full-body workout. Here, top fitness professionals share some of their preferred outdoor exercises — besides typical activities such as cycling and rollerblading were not accepted
Start organizing your pleasant climate physical fitness wish list at this location.
Outdoor Fitness Activity: Stand-Up Paddleboard
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fantastic outdoor exercise that develops overall body strength without feeling like you’re engaging in physical activity (because it’s enjoyable, but it’s not so effortless). Standing on an oversized longboard, you utilize a paddle to navigate across flat, tranquil waters. However, do not be deceived by the seemingly peaceful nature of this outdoor workout. SUP necessitates the utilization of your whole body, with a significant focus on core stability and control. Former professional surfer Jodi Nelson characterizes this outdoor workout as “hiking on water,” making it an excellent option for individuals who desire to incorporate water into their exercise routine without needing to swim in it.
High-Intensity Interval Training on the Court
Do you have access to a basketball or volleyball court nearby? Transform it into your personal gym with this highly effective high-intensity interval training (HIIT) outdoor workout plan designed by renowned fitness trainer Andrea Metcalf.
“This workout torches substantial calories and is the regimen I followed when preparing to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro since it enhances [maximal aerobic capacity],” declares Metcalf.
How it operates: Employ the dimensions of a basketball court (or a court of comparable size) to execute the following three metabolism-boosting exercises below.
- Sprints (5): Dash from one court end to the other, running forward and then jogging backward. Repeat a total of 5 times.
- Lateral hops (30): Leap over and then back along the entire court line, facing forward throughout the entire duration. Complete a total of 30 hops (equivalent to 1 to 2 lengths of the court).
- Side shuffles (6): Perform side shuffles across the court’s entire length and back. Repeat a total of 6 times.
The entire outdoor workout session should last approximately 15 minutes.
Fitness Scavenger Hunt
“Engaging in a fitness scavenger hunt serves as a phenomenal approach to venture outdoors and infuse novelty into your fitness regimen,” expresses Tanner Martty, a certified personal trainer and founder of 34° North, a fitness studio in Marina Del Ray, California.
How it operates: Firstly, chart your course (which could be a route you regularly utilize for jogging or walking) and afterward compile a list of five to ten bodyweight exercises (e.g., push-ups, burpees, squat jumps, etc.). Next to each exercise, jot down a landmark you will encounter along your path (e.g., park bench, red light, dog on a leash, or even a black convertible).
To commence your scavenger hunt, venture out on your designated route and whenever you spot one of your outdoor workout landmarks, perform 10 repetitions of the corresponding exercise. For instance, if you specified “park bench” alongside push-ups, utilize the bench for a set of 10 incline or decline push-ups every time you encounter one.
It’s a pleasurable method to vary your outdoor exercise regimen and incorporate a component of amusement (and still maintain an ample amount of perspiration) to your usual path. (You’ll require both for all those push-ups, but what’s the authentic contrast between muscular strength and endurance?)”
Engage in Scavenger Hunting
In addition to being an excellent outdoor exercise, this will also keep your mind in the present moment, which is something that a demanding schedule can hinder us from doing,” says Martty. “If you’re actively searching for your scavenger hunt items, you can’t be concerned about the presentation you have to deliver the next day at the office.”
Get Active with Balls
Who needs a gym full of equipment when you can have a complete strength and cardio workout simply by using a variety of balls during an outdoor exercise? Collect a variety — basketballs, soccer balls, Swiss balls, whatever you have — and create drills using them as weights, cones, and/or to create instability, says Laura Williams, a certified personal trainer in the U.K.
How it works: Place two balls side by side on the ground, and then position a third ball about 10 feet away. Starting from the side with two balls, pick one up and run, glide, or even dribble it between your feet to the other side. Once you reach there, switch balls, leaving the one you had and picking up the one that was already there. Keep moving the balls back and forth until you have moved each ball 10 times to complete the outdoor exercise.
Turn CrossFit into an outdoor workout, says Jason Benade, a CrossFit coach in Elk Grove, California, with either of these workouts of the day (WODs) that use very little equipment or portable equipment, such as a cordless jump rope.
Workout 1 (5 Rounds)
- 5 Push-ups
- 10 Sit-ups
- 15 Squats
Workout 2 (5 Rounds)
- 10 Burpees
- 20 Bench jumps or jump rope
- 30 Push-ups
- 40 Squats
- 50 Lunges
Take Sailing or Rowing Lessons
“Sailing and rowing courses are affordable and a fantastic change of pace, says Andia Winslow, a professional athlete, certified fitness professional, and ambassador for the Women’s Sports Foundation. Sailing is a total-body outdoor exercise that helps build upper-body muscular endurance, agility, coordination, and flexibility and can burn approximately 200 calories, says Winslow.
And rowing? Forget the machines at the gym and head out onto the water. This low-impact cardio outdoor workout challenges your legs, abs, and back significantly and can burn up to 800 calories per hour, says Winslow. (When you are in the gym, try this 20-minute rowing workout.)
Elevate your outdoor workouts to new heights and tap into your inner circus performer. Give a shot at a private trapeze lesson (solo, with a buddy, or with your significant other — the choice is yours!) or enroll in a class to partake in this invigorating outdoor exercise that engages your entire body and releases endorphins. According to Winslow, you can burn up to 500 calories per hour. Moreover, maneuvering your body while suspended in midair off a bar provides an intense workout for your core muscles.
Looking to maximize your calorie burn during your outdoor workout without having to extend your running time? Try trail running. The varied and uneven terrain requires your body to exert more effort with each step, making trail running a more challenging and effective outdoor exercise compared to running on flat pavement.
“Runners must remain completely focused as they search for footing, maintain balance, and adapt to changes in incline,” says Winslow. “During your run, both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are utilized, as certain positions on the trail demand sudden bursts of energy, unlike the consistent intensity of running on pavement or a treadmill.”
The primary focus of your workout shouldn’t always revolve around the muscles trained or the number of calories burned. You can engage in outdoor activities and contribute to your community simultaneously.
“Taking dogs for walks at a local shelter or participating in neighborhood park clean-ups are fantastic ways to burn calories and give back,” says Jaime Sutton, a certified personal trainer and the proprietor of J’aime Fitness, LLC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To discover excellent opportunities in your vicinity, browse through Volunteer Match.