Whether you’re burned out on the grind of the gym or simply want to enjoy the fresh air and fine weather, heading outdoors to work up a sweat is as good for your mind as it is for your body. No matter how hard you push yourself, having a big blue sky overhead and the grass under your feet makes it feel more like play than a workout. Ready to get down and dirty—and have some fun? Throw on your workout gear, step outside and listen up for expert inspiration. Here, three super-fit trainers reveal their secrets for getting a great workout in the great outdoors.
Workout 1: The Science of Extreme Conditioning
Your Performance Coach: Kyle Morgan, M.S., New York City
Scientific method drives the workout strategies of performance coach Kyle Morgan. “Rather than running my athletes into the ground with arduous drills, I like to work their energy systems with an ESD workout—Energy Systems Development.” If the name sounds like a renewable energy business, well, in a sense it is—only you’re the one getting down to business with your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Using a boot camp-style workout, Kyle combines short bursts of movement, usually 10-12 seconds, with a resting time that mimics the rest period of a given sport. This conditions your body to be in sync with the energy demands of the game. The best part: this high-level training method is well suited for an outdoor workout. Plus, a soft, grassy field helps cushion the joints.
Get ready to turn up your training intensity with an ESD workout. Familiarize yourself with the moves first, then scroll down to see the work-to-rest ratios—they’re an essential part of this training system.
1. Lateral Shuffle, Wedge Step
Place two cones 6 yards apart. Side shuffle using quick steps from cone to cone. At each cone, quickly step and move in the opposite direction, being careful not to cross your feet over or click your heels on the shuffles. Continue doing as many shuffles as you can for the given period of time.
2. Medicine Ball Overhead Slams
Squat down with a 10-pound medicine ball in your hands so that the ball comes in close contact with the ground. Next, extend your entire body up, including the ball, towards the sky. Then slam the ball into the ground as hard as you can using both your upper and lower body. Quickly pick the ball back up and repeat as many repetitions as you can for the given period of time.
3. Forward Sprint, Backpedal
Place two cones 6 yards apart. Start in a 2-point stance (feet shoulder-width apart with toes pointing forward, knees bent in a quarter-squat, arms up with elbows at your sides), and quickly accelerate to the second cone. Decelerate by dropping your hips and come to a stop. When you drop your hips, this puts you in the best position to start the backpedal. Staying low, backpedal to the first cone. Repeat as many repetitions as you can for the given period of time.
4. Rope Quick Waves
Stand in a squat position with each hand grabbing the end of a thick rope that’s looped around a sturdy stationary object. Move your arms up and down, trying to make as many “waves” in the rope as possible for the given period of time.
5. Low Box Lateral Skiers
Standing beside a 4-inch plyometric box, place one foot in the center of the box and the other foot on the grass, just outside of the box. Quickly jump laterally to one side so the foot that was on the grass is now on the box, and vice versa. You should look like you are making a “skiing” maneuver. Repeat as many repetitions as you can for the given period of time.
6. 60-yard Shuttle Run
Use 4 cones, placing one at the starting position, one 5 yards from the start, one 10 yards from the start, and one 15 yards from the start. Sprint to the 5-yard cone and return to the start. Sprint to the 10-yard cone and return to the start. Sprint to the 15-yard cone and return to the start. Do the sprints in quick succession, without stopping. This shuttle run should take about 12 seconds.
7. Rocket Jumps
Stand in a squat position with your hips back, elbows at 90 degrees and chest up. Jump as high as you can by extending through your hips, knees and ankles, and by shooting your elbows forward. As you approach the ground, land softly in the original starting squat position. Do as many repetitions as you can for the given period of time.
For the best results, follow this format:
Lateral Shuffle, Wedge Step – 12 seconds
***REST – 45 seconds***
Medicine Ball Overhead Slams – 12 seconds
***REST – 45 seconds***
Forward Sprint, Backpedal – 12 seconds
***REST – 45 seconds***
Rope Quick Waves – 12 seconds
***REST – 45 seconds***
Low Box Lateral Skiers – 12 seconds
***REST – 45 seconds***
60-yard Shuttle Run – 12 seconds
***REST – 45 seconds***
Rocket Jumps – 12 seconds
***3 MINUTE BREAK***
REPEAT this round of exercises 4 times with a 3-minute rest between each round.
Workout 2: Back to Basics, Boot Camp-Style
Your Trainer: Jeremie Daniel, New York City
There’s nothing like classic moves to challenge your mind and body. For this boot camp-inspired sequence, all you need is your bodyweight and a jump rope—plus some focus and determination to dial up the intensity. Lacking motivation? “Think hard about why you work out,” says trainer Jeremie Daniel. “You may have initially started working out for your health and your appearance, but usually there’s a deeper reason that keeps you coming back. It’s often more about the way it makes you feel—and that’s a powerful motivator.” Goal setting is another way to light a fire under exercise complacency. Says Jeremie, “Whether you’re training to run a 10K or just want to do 10 pull-ups, having a goal gives your workouts focus, and seeing your progress will inspire you to stick with the program.”
This mini boot camp will put your strength and stamina to the test.
1. Jumping Jacks
Go easy, keeping your knees, hips and shoulders loose throughout the range of motion. Do 4 sets of 25 repetitions.
2. Skip Rope
Skipping rope is head-to-toe exercise—you work on aerobic conditioning as you tone nearly every muscle in your body. If you’re new at it, work on avoiding the double jump between loops. You want a nice, rhythmic skipping motion. Start with 2-minute intervals, resting 1 minute in between. Do 5-6 rounds.
3. Walking Lunges
Standing with your feet together, take a big step forward and drop your hips and your back knee toward the ground. Push off your back leg to step the feet together again, then lunge forward with the other foot. Pick a tree or another landmark in the distance and do walking lunges to that point, rest for 2 minutes, then return. Repeat the full round 3 times.
4. Bodyweight Squats
With your feet hip-distance apart, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keeping your weight primarily in your heels, drive back up to stand. Do 15-20 repetitions. Want to make them more challenging? Locate that same point in the distance you used for walking lunges. Take a big step sideways, bend both knees to squat, then step the feet back together. Squat laterally one way to that point in the distance, then come back leading with the other foot. Do 3 full rounds, there and back.
5. Split Jumps
Starting in a shallow lunge position, bend your knees and explode up, switching your legs in the air so that you land in a lunge with the other foot forward. Immediately explode and switch again. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise and work on landing softly, with control. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions. Do 3 sets.
Find the monkey bars in the park (some parks have exercise bars set up for adults) and do 3-4 sets of pull-ups, as many repetitions as you can for each set. Bring a friend to spot you if you need an extra lift. If you can pull yourself up for at least 6-8 reps, start to vary your hand positions—overhand grip, underhand grip, wide grip, narrow grip. Another variation: instead of facing the bar, stand under it so it’s running front to back instead of side to side. Reach up with both hands to grip the bar. Now, pull your right shoulder up to the bar and lower, then pull your left shoulder up and lower. Go back and forth until you complete your set.
Do 4 sets, varying your hand position with each set: wide, medium, and then forefingers and thumbs touching in a diamond shape (this variation has a strong triceps focus). To make them more challenging, put your feet on a bench, or do plyometric pushups on the grass: start by doing a classic pushup, then push off the ground hard so that you catch some air, landing softly again in a pushup position.
8. Triceps Dips
Sit on a park bench or picnic bench, holding the edge of the bench on either side of your hips. Extend your legs long in front of you. Keep your chest lifted as you slide your hips off the bench and bend your elbows so that your hips dip down close to the ground. Push yourself back up until your arms are straight again. Do 10-15 repetitions.
9. Core Work
Workout 3: Tire Training: Where the Rubber Meets the Fitness Road
Your Trainer: Tarik Tyler, Los Angeles
Celebrity trainer Tarik Tyler never settles when it comes to pushing his fitness boundaries. “I don’t waste my time with watered-down fitness trends. I look at what athletes I admire are doing to keep their bodies in top working condition at that elite level.” His latest passion: tire training. “All you need is a truck tire or an SUV tire. I’ve been doing these exercises with some of my clients and they love it. You’re outdoors, you’re engaging your whole body in these dynamic moves, you’re getting your heart pumping, and you get to take out your aggressions on a big rubber tire, increasing your brute strength in the process. What could be more fun than that?” Here’s how to get rolling—and tread new training territory.
Use a spare truck tire or an SUV tire for these exercises.
Tire weights vary—they can be 30, 40, 50 or 75 pounds. Choose one that’s challenging without being so heavy that it limits your range of motion.
1. Tire Rolls
Pick a long stretch on a field or a private road (there should be no traffic). Squat down with proper alignment (weight primarily in your heels, core tight, back straight and strong) to pick up one side of the tire and flip it over. Keep flipping it over and over, moving it down the field as rapidly as you can. Rest for 2 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times.
2. Tire Slams
Pick up the tire, lift it over your head and throw it forcefully to slam it into a concrete wall. Repeat for repetitions (8-10) or for time (30 seconds or a minute).
3. Shoulder Press
Pick up the tire and lift it over your head with bent elbows. Straighten your arms to lift the tire higher, then bend your elbows again. Repeat for 8-10 reps. Do 3 sets.
4. Tire “Discus” Throws
With feet shoulderwidth apart, pick up the tire, holding it with both hands. Bend your knees and twist your torso to the left, taking the tire past your left hip. Explode as you toss the tire to the right as hard as you can. Repeat the throws as you move to a point about 50 yards away, then switch the side of your throws as you come back.
5. Tire Squat-Presses
Place the tire on the ground in front of you. Squat down to pick it up, then stand up and press it over your head. Finish by throwing it forcefully to the ground. Walk or sprint to where the tire lands and do it again. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.
6. Reverse Tire Drag
Tie a rope around a tire, leaving both ends long. Face the tire, holding the ends of the rope in each hand. Lean back and drag the tire with you as you shuffle backwards. You’ll need a partner for this one to make sure the area behind you is clear. Do 2-3 times.
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