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Outdoor Exercises: No Equipment Necessary
Work out in the fresh air with nothing but your bod.
There’s something so freeing about exercise you can do anytime, anywhere. While we love summer sports like tennis, basketball and swimming, they can be limiting because they require rackets, basketballs and pools. When you want to get in an outdoor workout but don’t have equipment available, there are plenty of exercises that can help you meet your fitness goals.
Studies have shown that outdoor workouts (spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature) are associated with better health and wellbeing. “Being outside supplies a unique experience that being inside a gym cannot provide,” says personal trainer and owner of Back Bay Fit Johnny Loreti. “The sun on your skin, the fresh air and all the endorphins these provide make for an ideal environment for getting in a great workout.”
Which specific exercises will give you the best outdoor workout? Read on to find out.
Depending on where you live, finding a place to do outdoor workouts without equipment may be challenging. Loreti loves the beach or a park with bars or fixtures that enable you to do pull-ups, push-ups and core work.
For personal trainer and founder of Lionstrong Fitness Obi Owoh, location is more closely tied to consistency. “The best place to do your outdoor workout is the place where you’ll get the job done,” he says. “Time and current location should never an obstacle. Outdoor training without equipment has many advantages over training at a conventional gym. You get tremendous versatility and creativity.”
Similar to place, the best time to do an equipment-free outdoor workout is the time you’ll actually do it. Beyond that, however, many trainers feel that doing an outdoor summer workout first thing in the morning is best because it will be before the summer day starts getting hot. “There’s something about the sun coming up and you can feel it’s going to be a hot day ahead that makes for all the more accomplished feeling when you’re done,” says Loreti. “You started off the day with a win.”
Owoh agrees that the best time to do an outdoor workout is when the weather isn’t too hot. “You don’t want to run the risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and muscle cramping in really hot temperatures,” he says. “Be sure to properly hydrate and take the extra time to properly warm up prior to each training session.”
When warming up, make sure you’re wearing proper training shoes with a lightweight feel and responsive ride. Bonus points for raised lugs that provide better traction on any surface.
So let’s get into specific exercises for outdoor workout without equipment. Strength coach Adam Rees recommends the below to get you started.
“Pushups are a moving plank with tons of variations that can be modified to the point that almost any moderately healthy individual can do them,” he says. “There are many upper back-specific drills to do like laying face down on the floor with your forehead on the ground, and your arms overhead in a ‘Y’ from the body. Lift both hands off the ground at the same time to work on the very underrated mid/low trap and rhomboids area that carries its weight in gold for shoulder health and injury prevention.”
“Lateral lunges and squats are exercises most moderately healthy individuals can perform,” he says. “We do notice that people commonly go far too low on lateral lunges—the depth you want is similar to a half squat. Another way to make these exercises harder is to increase the height of your center of gravity, as well as removing a point of support like using one leg instead of two.”
“Lateral planks and inch worms are core-centric exercises that can be made challenging without equipment,” he says. “Much of exercise is not in what we can add but what we can remove. If you want to up your game considerably, Turkish get-ups don't require a kettlebell and encompass almost all of the movement in one exercise.”
Ready to get moving outdoors?