Routines can be just that routine. Our bodies are way too smart for us to settle into any one routine for more than a month or two. By that point, even if we are increasing weight regularly, the body has figured out the most efficient way to complete the exercises and has plateaued out substantially. It’s time to shake things up besides, with such pretty weather stepping outside may be a fresh new environment you will enjoy.
Circuit training is ideal for outdoor formats and I personally love them. Using our own body weight for resistance has gotten a bit of a bad rep lately, as though lifting heavy weight is the only way to go. I don’t think so. Adding multiple sets using your own body weight WILL get the results you are looking for and keep you in excellent shape physically prepared for all those summer sports and activities. Most people get a little hung up on the concept of 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, done, move on to the next exercise. An excellent option while training outside is to focus on complex movements done in between 2-3 minute segments of sprinting or very brisk walking.
A sample circuit may go something like this. Begin with a 5 minute warm-up of your choice, brisk walking, jumping jacks, jogging, walking up multiple sets of stairs or whatever. Then stop along your route and do a set of burpees. This is a wonderful full body exercise that requires almost every muscle in the body to be involved. A burpee is performed by starting in a standing position with arms at your sides and legs together. Bend over to place your hands on the ground next to your feet, you then jump both feet back into a plank or push up position. From here you can either drop to the front of the thighs (not your knees that will cause your body to come out of spinal alignment) or remain on your toes and do a push up. Next you jump your feet back to your hands and stand back up as you began. You have completed one rep. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times before adding another sprint/walk/cardio segment. Another example of a great multi-muscle exercise is the lunge. Granted it focuses on the lower body and core but is excellent for targeting the hamstrings and gluteals and working on balance. Preform 30-40 alternating lunges. This will bring a nice fatigue. Throw in another cardio segment and then stop at a park bench or concrete wall and do a set of dips. Begin by literally sitting down with your hands placed under your bottom. Now walk your feet out in front of you until you are balanced on your heels, legs are straight. Drop the body downward by bending at the elbows. Come back to plank and repeat. If is position is too difficult, move your feet toward you and bend the knees slightly however, continue to focus on the arms, specifically the triceps to lower and lift you. Repeat 15-20 times. Pop in another cardio segment and then do a set of 20-30 deep squats. Sending the hips way back while counter balancing with the arms reaching forward is the best way to protect knees. Head up. Spinal alignment as best you can. If your knees are not an issue by all means take your buttocks down to touch your calves each time. Repeat the entire circuit 2-3 more times and I promise you will have had a wonderful workout and in the fresh outdoors…what a treat.
Of course, there are endless circuits you can create, as long or short as your schedule dictates. Just give yourself permission to use your imagination and be creative. This is also great for our brains not only to use our bodies in ways we haven’t for a while but also to see how many different, fun and demanding routines you can come up with. It is quite easy to play outside all summer long without ever lifting a weight. Then when the weather turns your body will have to figure out weight training all over again. And that’s a really good thing. Wishing you a fabulous summer filled with lots of adventures, laughter and great health. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all!