Outdoor fitness training can challenge your body in the same way that many of the gym's equipment can, but at a much lower cost. You may have to be a bit more creative in how you do your workouts in the great outdoors, but you can still tone muscles, increase speed and build endurance without hitting a single button. Outside workouts can keep you motivated by providing fresh air and a fun change of scenery.
1. Use All the Elements
The outdoors hold plenty of opportunity for a total body workout, so take advantage of all that is around you. Get your cardio exercise fill with outdoor runs, bike rides and rollerblading routes. Focus on the upper body and strength training by rock climbing. Interact with H2O by swimming, rowing or sailing. Exercises that put you in water are known for building arms and shoulders while still keeping your heart rate up. If the season and weather permit, try to get in at least one land and one sea (or pool or river) workout in each week.
2. Take on Different Terrains
Similar to upping the weight levels in strength training routines, hitting tougher terrains will give your body the extra resistance needed to increase muscle tone and your overall fitness level. If you're running or biking, work hilly courses into your routes. Switching up surfaces will also give you the same effect. If you're used to running on pavement, challenge yourself by running on hard-packed sand or beach sand for the ultimate obstacle.
3. Give Yourself a Change of Pace
Outdoor fitness training will make your workouts inherently more varied, as the different seasons will cause you to adjust the specific types of exercise you do. If you're into winter, look to skiing or even ice skating as fun but beneficial activities. Swim and sail in the summer. Even if you're stuck on one type of outdoor exercise, mix it up by constantly changing the course you take. If you live in an urban setting, map out routes that will allow you to see different parts of the city. As you're in the middle of a bike ride or run, incorporate interval technique by alternating speedy, intense bouts with one-minute recovery periods.
4. Make a Rainy Day Plan
One problem with exercising outdoors is that it's easier to find an excuse out of exercising when the weather is bad. To keep yourself from falling into this bad habit, be sure to have backup plans in the case of torrential rains or sub-zero temperatures. Keep a workout video on hand at home, or if you live in a tall building, take your running routine up and down flights of stairs. Be willing to exercise in different temperatures outside, as long as it's dry out. During the cold months, use spandex layers to stay warm and if you can, work out while the sun is in the sky. In the humid summer months, save your exercise slots for the early morning or after dark, to avoid the adverse effects of heat.