Breaking out of the fitness box: Strength training outdoors

FEATURE —When people think of outdoor fitness, they usually envision running, biking and hiking as the go-to workouts of choice. While these are great cardiovascular options, strength training can be a great option as well.

Without advocating canceling your gym membership or putting your home equipment on eBay, here are some alternative exercises to break up the monotony of doing the same workouts, while getting some fresh air in the process.

The following is a sample total body dumbbell workout that does multiple things at once. First, it engages all major muscles groups and second, it incorporates all planes of motion and types of muscle contractions to improve everyday function and mobility.

If you do not have dumbbells, a gallon of water or other heavy object with a handle will work fine.

The workout is designed to follow a circuit format that you can follow 1-4 times depending on your current fitness level and time constraints. It is recommended you perform each exercise for either 10-15 repetitions or 30-60 seconds.

Disclaimer: If you have health/medical issues, be sure to consult your physician.

Kevin Weston performing the lateral squat push-ups move | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston
Kevin Weston performing the lateral squat push-ups move | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston, St. George News

Lateral Air Squats into Push-ups

  • Start: Place feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. While sitting back onto your heels and keeping your chest up, perform a basic squat like you’re sitting on a chair, keeping your knees above your ankles.
  • Movement: After completing the first squat, step laterally to the side and perform 2 more squats (3 in total) in the same fashion, moving laterally between each squat. Then drop down into a prone position and perform 1 standard pushup, aligning hips with shoulders as you lower down. Come back onto feet and perform 3 squats laterally in the other direction towards your starting point.
  • Too easy? Perform more squats and/or pushups. Hold dumbbells while squatting.
  • Too hard? Performing squats with less depth. Perform pushups on knees or on feet using an elevated surface. (Picnic table etc.)
Kevin Weston performing a forward lunge row | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston
Kevin Weston performing a forward lunge row | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston

Forward Lunge into Row

  • Start: Placing dumbbell on the ground in front of you, lunge forward with your left foot bent, keeping your right knee locked and your back straight.
  • Movement: Grabbing the dumbbell with your right hand, perform a row by driving your elbow high, bringing dumbbell to your arm pit, keeping your palm facing inward. Place dumbbell down and push off forward leg to the start position, alternating to the opposite side.
  • Too easy? Perform multiple repetitions between each lunge.
  • Too hard? Decrease the stride length of your lunge. Place dumbbell on elevated surface so you do not have to reach down as far.

Dumbbell Wood Chops

Kevin Weston performing the dumb bell wood chops move | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston
Kevin Weston performing the dumb bell wood chops move | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston, St. George News
  • Start: While in a 1/2 squat position, start with dumbbell just below one of your knees.
  • Movement: Keeping elbows locked, elevate dumbbell using abdominals, rotating torso to produce power. Twist opposite leg in the direction of the lift. Repeat exercise 10 -15 times in each direction.
  • Too easy? Drop weight lower to your ankles at the start. Remember to keep chest up.
Kevin Weston showing proper technique for the iso back extension | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston
Kevin Weston showing proper technique for the iso back extension | Image courtesy of Kevin Weston, St. George News

Iso Back Extensions

  • Start: Lay flat on your stomach on the ground.
  • Movement: While simultaneously contracting glutes and back muscles, hollow out your lower back by lifting head, arms and legs. Be sure to have palms facing up. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
  • Too hard? Elevate just your arms or just your legs.

Want more ideas? Visit the custom fit workouts website.

Kevin Weston
Kevin Weston

Written by Kevin Weston for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

As a graduate of BYU, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and NASM certified personal trainer, Kevin Weston understands and lives the science of exercise. His training company, Custom Fit Workouts is located inside Anytime Fitness in Santa Clara.

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