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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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…)
- 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!
- 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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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!
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!
What is it about sunshine and warm weather that just makes you feel so much better?
Studies will tell you it is probably the sunlight that enhances your mood. But whatever it is honestly warm weather and sun make me feel like a bear coming out of hibernation.
All winter, I just want to sit on my couch and be a lump, but suddenly the chill leaves the air and the sun is shining and I just want to be outside playing!
I enjoy being outside. I love walking, bike riding and paddle boarding! There are just so many great ways to
exercise play outside!
If you need some inspiration, check out a video that Ryan and I made called “Primal on the Playground!” It will give you some great outdoor workout ideas!
There is also one “inactive” thing that I love about warm weather – the fact that you can BBQ!!! And last night, Ryan and I had our first BBQ of the summer. Below is the recipe for some delicious Baby Back Ribs and yes I do consider ribs to be a HEALTHY meal.
HEALTHY Baby Back Ribs
1 Slab baby back ribs from The Meat House
Seasonings (onion salt, Adobo, pepper, smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, cumin)
1 can of beer
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp spicy mustard
1 tbsp cream
2 tsp molasses
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack of ribs in a baking dish. Rub with seasonings to taste. Place ribs meaty side up and pour in 1 can of beer around ribs. Cover the ribs with foil. Cook for around 2 hours checking tenderness after the first hour.
After baking the ribs, we threw them on the grill for a few minutes to get a nice char on each side.
In a saucepan, heat tomato sauce with mustard, cream and molasses. Bring to a boil then let simmer until it thickens a bit. If you like savory sauce, leave out the molasses. Depending on what I’m craving, sometimes I even make the sauce more mustard-y.
We served the ribs with a salad with a creamy mustard dressing (homemade!) and a Parmesan crisp! YUM!
P.S. I’m starting a lifting team training class at my gym in Boston. If you are interested in learning to lift heavy (or up your max) without spending a ton of dough, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
P.P.S. If anyone ever says they can’t get in a killer workout in 20 minutes, give them my email. This will probably be a rant tomorrow.