You can find creative ways to strength train in open air without regular weights at your disposal. Here are some innovative ways to build muscle and have fun under the sun.
If you are lucky, you live near a community park that features fitness equipment. If not, a tree branch is nature’s pull up bar. Find a sturdy branch that can hold your weight – your actual weight – not your Tinder profile weight- and have a friend spot you so you can pull yourself up. If you are gripping a tree that has particularly rough bark, you may want to invest in a pair of grip gloves. If you feel uncomfortable swinging from a tree, look for a children’s playground and utilize the monkey bars. By bending your knees under you, you can get a workout pulling up your bodyweight – and you will impress the rest of the kids who will clearly see that you are the king of the castle while they’re the dirty rascals.
A wise man once said, “bad medicine is what I need.” Truth. Medicine balls are one of the most versatile sources of weight training, and with a little gumption, can be transferred from the gym to the park or the beach. Whether you are on your own or with a work out buddy, there are plenty of routines you can do with the ball. For beginners, hold the ball close and squat. Or extend your legs, jump and toss the ball, slamming it to the ground. The best part? The medicine ball won’t flake on you all those times you say you’ll meet up at 6 am at the park for a pre-work fitness session. The medicine ball has your back, Man.
Wheelbarrow Park Bench Push-Ups
If you see a park bench you have the perfect opportunity to drop and do twenty – wheelbarrow push-ups, that is. A wheelbarrow push-up is an inverted push-up and a bench is the perfect height for the necessary inclined plank position. Place both feet on the bench and your hands on the ground. Bend your elbows to lower yourself almost all the way to the ground and then straighten back up to the starting position. Get in a good number of reps and you will be toning your chest, shoulders, triceps, glutes, and abs, as well as perfecting that form for the wheelbarrow race at the corporate picnic.
Not so fast. You’re not quite done with that bench yet. You can use it to work on your triceps, thighs and your abs. Sit on the bench and grasp the edge with your hands. Put your legs out in front of you. Slide off keeping your glutes close to the bench. Lower your body down until your elbows are at a ninety-degree angle. Hold for thirty seconds and then push up to straight. Repeat until you resemble The Rock, or until someone else wants to sit down.
Bench Step-Ups and Split Lunges
Benches aren’t just for biceps. If you want to give your legs and glutes a workout, stand up and step up to work on your balance and create muscular definition. Plant one foot onto the bench and step up, straightening your leg, while bringing the other foot up to a right degree angle. Then lower that foot back down to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
Keep building muscle and work those quads and hamstrings with some bench split lunges. Face away from the bench and rest the ball of your foot put behind you on the bench. With the other foot, make sure you have stepped out into a ninety-degree angle and your knee does not extend past your toe as you lower down. Remain straight with core engaged as you lunge up and down.
Continue and then repeat the action on the other side for the kind of legs that ZZ Top will sing about.
You can rock the ‘bells just as you would a medicine ball and take them with you on your outdoor adventures. Mirror the routines you would do at the gym and don’t forget to breathe in some of that natural oxygen and be a small cog in the photosynthesis wheel.
Life’s a beach and so is your workout if you bring along some sandbags. Sure, it isn’t for the faint of heart, but when did that ever stop you from a challenge? You can order the bags online premade at your preferred weight, or make your own. Lugging around these bags as part of your workout is a great way to build muscle and tone and define, and even drop those saddlebags you might be carrying around, too.
Resistance and Cardio
Here’s a way you can pull the ripcord without having to jump out of a plane. If you have ever thought about what it would be like to be a kite, you are in luck. Combine two forms of fitness in one with a resistance parachute. Worn around the waist, this parachute opens behind you when you run, adding resistance to your cardio routine and may be the only time you are grateful for something being such a drag.
DIY HIIT Circuit
Many think you have to be inside on the mat to get your muscles burning and that outside is only for runners. Blow their minds by achieving a total body workout while exposed to God’s green earth. Try creating your own set of reps to complete in the sunshine. Add burpees, mountain climbers, crunches, split jump lunges, skaters, and other butt-kicking calisthenics to torch some calories and get ripped right out in the open. You can even bring a boom box and move to your favorite music. Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution, no matter what anybody says.
Suspension training is a great way to get out of the gym and workout in fresh air. In addition to improving your balance and coordination, this plyometric exercise uses your own body weight with straps to develop your core instead of bulky free weights, which, frankly, are hard to pack in a carry-on. You can take this total body gym wherever you go and strap in. Get your circuit reps in with single leg rows, single leg lunges, squats, pikes, side planks, bridge presses, tap outs, and pushup rockets.
It may not seem like an Ironman workout, but chores like raking and shoveling snow, for those north of the Mason Dixon line, can really burn some serious calories and get your sweat on. For those of you who have put in an afternoon of yard work and woke up the next day with aching arms and hamstrings you know you are using muscles. Remember to lift using your legs (not your back) when carrying heavy bags and boxes. You don’t want a lawn bag injury to sideline you for your fitness regimen.