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Top 10 Exercises for Outdoor Workouts

So with all of this wonderful summer weather, all I can think about is working out outside. And while I love hiking and biking and sprinting and stand up paddling as my outdoor “workouts,” I also do enjoy doing more “traditional” workouts outside.

And while basically any bodyweight move can be done outside, here are my 10 favorite moves to do because they are super challenging with only body weight. Some do require a bit of “equipment”…aka playgrounds or possibly stairs…or comfy grass…but all don’t require any additional weights.

Outdoor Workout Moves:

  1. Monkey Bars – So the monkey bars aren’t a move really, but they are a wonderful tool for any outdoor workout. I love to do pull ups off of them or even just swing across them. You can even do a pull up hold on them. (We have numerous different ways to use the Monkey Bars in the video below.)
    monkey bar

    Swinging on the monkey bars

  2. Knees to elbows or Skin the Cats – A great way to work your core, grip strength and upper body. You even work your quads and hips doing either knees to elbows or Skin the Cats. With these two moves, you hang from the monkey bars. With knees to elbows, you simply tuck your knees up to your elbows. You will need to pull up a bit with your arms and lean back to truly get your knees and elbows to connect. With Skin the Cats, you will actually bring your legs up and through your hands. You will then straighten your legs and reach your toes to the ground before coming back and up through your arms to return to the starting position.
  3. Crawling – So many people are embarrassed to crawl, but it truly is one of the freaking best moves out there for full body strength. Plus it is a great way to get in a bit of cardio. You can crawl forwards and backwards. Or side to side. Or even in circles. You can do bear crawls, table top crawls, crab crawls or even my new favorite…GORILLA crawls!
  4. Push ups – So outdoors you can do incline push ups off a bench (so hands on the bench) if you can’t do a full push up yet. Or you can do them from your knees. Or flat on the ground. Or you can even make them harder by elevating your feet to do a decline variation. Check out the video below with for some different push up variations!
  5. Stair sprints – Climbing stairs sucks in general. But if you want climbing stairs even harder, do it quickly. Sprint up the stairs or try even taking them to at a time. There is nothing worse/better than running stadiums! (And if you don’t have stairs but instead have a really big hill…Well that will do too! Hill sprints or even sprints in the sand are another way to up the intensity of your sprints. And each have different added benefits! Like extra glute work…)
  6. Bench jumps – So if you are a beginner, you may want to start with bodyweight squats or even jump squats. But if you done some jumping, you can make the move harder by jumping up onto a bench or piece of playground equipment. You can do forward jumps, lateral jumps or even rotational jumps up to the bench! To make them easier, step down after jumping up. To make them harder, perform them as quickly as possible!
  7. Bench step ups – Step ups are another great way to work the booty without any weight and without laying on the grass to perform glute bridges (I get a bit too itchy when I lay on the grass when I’m super sweaty so prefer to save my glute bridges for inside). You can use a bench or steps or anything that is a challenging height. The higher it is the more challenging it will be. Make sure though that you aren’t compensating as you step up by pressing down on your other leg with your hands or by pushing yourself up with the foot planted on the ground instead of just using the foot on top of the box. To make this move harder, you can also make it plyometric. So instead of just stepping up, powerfully step up so that you actually jump up a bit off of the box. You can either stay on one side with this move or alternate legs. You can also perform both variations of the step ups laterally!
  8. Swing/Bench balance lunge – So set up in a lunge position with your back foot up on a bench or a swing (the swing will be tougher). Lunge down toward the ground and return to the starting position. Make sure that as you lunge, your front knee is not going over your front toe and that your front foot stays firmly planted on the ground with the heel down. Keep your chest up tall and don’t lean forward. You actually almost want to “sit back” while performing this move. You should also feel a nice stretch in the hip and down the quad of the back leg
  9. Swing knee tucks – So set up in a push up position, with your feet up in the swing. You are then going to tuck your knees into your chest, controlling your legs in and out. This is a more advanced move. If you find it to challenging and feel it in your low back, start with mountain climbers on the ground. You can also progress this move by doing a pike tuck (bring your feet in toward your head keeping your legs straight) instead of bending your knees to bring them into your chest.
  10. Pole/Rope/Swing Climb – So this move can be made into either a vertical or horizontal pull. To do a horizontal pull, you can set up on the pole, rope or swing chain like you are planning to do an inverted row. You will then walk hand over hand to pull your chest up to the pole, swing or rope before lowering yourself back down. Or you can kneel at the bottom with your hands on the pole or rope or swing chain. You can then climb up to the top of the pole before sliding back down. Either way you do it, you are in for a challenge!
    inverted rows

    Rope inverted rows…not outside but you get the point.

Runners up: So while there are a ton of other bodyweight moves I love, like split squat jumps and sit thrus…the only other move I was tempted to put on here was jump rope…I love jumping rope. I feel like a little kid again when I do it!

Anyway, here are some other great moves that Ryan and I did a few summers ago on the playground to help get you motivated to workout outdoors this summer!

So I got some weird looks…

So currently I don’t have a gym to train at consistently.

But that is no excuse not to workout intensely!

Sunday I went and ran Stadiums, or as Ryan calls them “Serpentines.”

On Monday, Ryan and I borrowed any random workout equipment we could and did a workout in the backyard.

And then yesterday, I went to the park and busted out a very nice workout.

Yep….the park…er…playground

So what if a couple of people gave me a very strange look?! So what if I was crawling through the grass?!

Monkey bars are a great place to do pull ups and knees to elbows. Heck if you even just go back and forth across the monkey bars it is a great workout.

Ok so this wasn’t from yesterday…it was from Boston when I spent the afternoon playing with preschoolers!

A park bench or picnic table is perfect for box jumps.

There is just so many great exercises that you can do on a playground!

And hey, at least a kid said, “Mommy, I want to do what she is doing on the monkey bars!” (At this point I was doing knees to elbows.)

Who cares if you look “weird” bear-crawling on the ground?!?!

You are running and “playing” just like a kid! Shoot! Get your kids to do the workout with you on the playground! They will think it is so much fun!

It’s better than being one of those people just sitting around WATCHING their kids play, right!?! 🙂

So no excuses! Go out and play in the sun (and get in a great workout while you are at it!)

You can even try this workout!

Workout of the Week:

Bear crawls (forward then back) 25 steps forward and 25 steps back
Pull ups 25
Picnic bench jumps 50
Leg lowers 50
“Walking” Lunges (jumping up and slightly forward each time switching legs) 25 each side
Knees to elbows 50
1 leg skater squats 25 each side
Monkey bars 50 (go back and forth across the monkey bars until you hit 50 reps)
Mountain climbers 50 each side
Pull ups 25
Bear crawls (forward then back) 25 steps forward and 25 steps back

The good, the bad and the simply stupid

So I’m not trying to brag, but I feel better after 16 hours of spin than I do after one of my own tough 30 minute lifts.

My taking-on-16-hours-of-spin face!

Honestly, no muscles are sore or even really tight. The ONLY pain I have besides a slightly bruised crouch is one knee that doesn’t like going up and down stairs too much.

Be it the ice bath, my diet with no gluten or my workouts (or all three combined), I feel perfectly normal today…just like I do after any other week of working out.

Anyway, all I can say is you definitely don’t need to carb load with crap gels and gluten to survive endurance cardio!

The Good

  • Ice baths are amazing! They really do aid in muscle recovery. AND Tim Ferriss has done the research, and found the science to prove that ice baths may also help you lose fat!
  • Get a healthy dose of Vitamin D! This just shows how important going out in the sun is! We all fear skin cancer, but some sun is good! And of course if you can’t get sun, you can always take a supplement! BUT anyone else seem to feel WAY BETTER when they’ve gotten some sun? I definitely do!
  • Cool?!? Good news for me I guess! What do you think?
  • I’m glad the FDA didn’t let them call high fructose corn syrup “corn sugar!”
  • Thank you Therese for taking up the challenge of trying something new! Great job with the monkey bars!
  • These are not easy and Therese is killing it!

  • Our Jump Rope Slide is done!

The Bad

  • Caffeine is not an alternative to sleep people! I’ve seen too many people over the last couple of days guzzle down espresso shots and Red Bull rather than sleeping enough. I know it is hard to get enough sleep sometimes, but seriously nothing is more important! Your body recovers and rebuilds when you sleep!!! So stop drinking your Starbucks bazillion shot coffees and Red Bulls and instead go to bed!

The Simply Stupid

  • Is this really an article on WebMD?
  • There is this girl on Fiverr.com saying she can give you flat abs in 3 days. How are people this stupid!?!
  • This honestly sounds like something a client has said to me at some point…

And lastly, Happy Father’s Day people! All you Dad’s out there who are reading this…you better be supporting your women and making sure they lift heavy!!!

Workout Challenge of the Week – TRY SOMETHING NEW

So I like Crossfit style workouts for numerous reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the fact that you are constantly challenged to do new and different things.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

Well I think variety is also key to ultimate fitness.

And adding variety to your workouts doesn’t have to mean lifting heavier weights or doing a new exercise in the gym. Any sort of physical activity counts!

Playing on the monkey bars counts. Trying handstands and cartwheels count. Going ice skating, roller skating or rock climbing count.

Adding variety to your workouts can even be as simple as going for a hike if you never do!

So this week there is no workout of the week. Instead, I challenge you all to try a new physical activity this weekend. (And if you want to send me a photo of you doing this new activity…well that would be just dandy!)

A great way to relax after a hard week

I find that there is no better way to relax (or get in a workout for that matter) than to chase after 4 and 5 year olds. To them, exercise is merely playing on the monkey bars. (Which actually is not as easy as it was when I was little!)

Not everyone wanted to participate but they were ready to be chased by the tickle monster afterwards….

Happy Friday Man Bicepers!!! Have a great weekend!

Push Up Craze Continued – Primal on the Playground

So Ryan and I had some fun today and went around to parks to see what kinds of exercises we could do just using our own bodies and playground equipment. Here is what we came up with!

Plus, more crazy push ups! Don’t forget to send us your pictures!

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