The Best Outdoor Exercises For Summer

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See ya later grey skies and cold weather, the sun is out and here to stay! Gyms can be great, but nothing beats a breath of fresh air to boost your workout. With the weather changing and sun peaking out, why be caught up indoors? Ditch the treadmill and the fluorescent lights by using these outdoor exercises.

The great outdoors is a great place for a workout. From hills to sand to parks, going outside might just be what your workout needs. Below we have put together some of the best outdoor workouts to add to your routine.

Hill Sprints

Best Outdoor Exercises

Hills sprints are really easy to integrate into your regular routine. This is because you can do this outdoor exercise in your neighborhood, favorite hiking trail, or outdoor park.

Hill sprints provide a powerful metabolic workout that burns a significant number of calories in a relatively short amount of time. This type of exercise is also a great example of a HIIT workout. With the workout we’ve outlined below, you can get a great HIIT workout anywhere you can find a hill.

Also, hills can be considered functional strength training since your bodyweight battles gravity. With the resistance of gravity, you can strengthen your entire body in the process. Doing hill sprints also helps improve running technique, speed, and endurance.

The Workout

For this workout, you are going to want to aim to run up the hill twelve times. You can walk back down the hill as your active rest before completing the next run. Split the twelve runs into four different categories of increasing intensity. Below is an outline for increasing your intensity throughout the run.

        • Sprints 1-4: 50% effort
        • Sprints 9-12: 90-100% effort
        • Sprints 5-8: 75% effort

To finish up you can stretch out your lower body with downwards pikes and quad stretches. You can do this workout on its own for a good blast of cardio or add it in a light strength training routine.  However, you want to be careful to not over-exercise in the summer heat. Making sure not to train in the middle of the day and drinking plenty of water too.

How many calories does it burn?

Uphill running can burn 800 to 1,400 calories an hour, depending on the weight of the person. The heavier a person, the more calories he burns. A 150-lb person running uphill would burn 1,000 calories in an hour. While a 180-lb. person would burn 1,250, for example.

So the above-outlined workout would burn approximately 400 to 500 calories if completed in 20 to 30 minutes.

Outdoor Exercises for Sand Training

Best Outdoor Exercises

One of the best outdoor exercises (and the most enjoyable) is hitting the beach! Not only do you have a beautiful space to work out, but also the benefit of working out on the sand. Utilizing the sand during a run or a bodyweight workout is very beneficial because it uses sand plyometrics.

Sand plyometrics has been shown to increase performance linked to strength and lowering muscle soreness. These benefits are especially prominent when compared to hard surface training. A study was conducted on 14 healthy men comparing the effects of plyometric training on sand vs. land surfaces and muscular performance. Both groups showed significant improvements in the vertical jump test and standing long jump test.

Also because the sand shifts beneath you, when you run on the sand there is less impact than on a hard surface. This means that your body goes through less stress when you run or workout.

So if a low impact, resistance based outdoor exercise sounds good to you, we’ve outlined a quick work out you’ll like below.

The Workout 

Simply moving your run to the beach can reap the benefits of sand training. However, if you want to amp up your body weight exercises the sand is a great way to do it.

Below we’ve outlined a full body routine that is guaranteed to make you sweat. Do each drill for 10 yards, then turn around and go back another 10 yards. Try to do each exercise for about 2-4 time back and forth.

Butt Kicks

    1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be bent at your sides.
    2. Flex the right knee and kick your right heel up toward your glutes. Bring the right foot back down.
    3. As the right leg comes down, flex your left knee and kick your left foot up toward your glutes. Swing your arms as if you were jogging.

Backward Running

Backward running doesn’t load the knee as forward running does. In 2011, researchers from the University of Milan found that backward running causes reduced force on the knee joint. Especially when compared to forward running at the same speed. And, because it will strengthen the muscle groups we don’t normally use, moving backward will improve activation of posterior chain muscles, such as the glutes, calves, and hamstrings.

This exercise is pretty self-explanatory, but here is a quick video to help you prevent injury.

Side Shuffle

    1. Start standing with feet hip distance apart and sink into a deep knee bend. Bring both hands in front of the chest in a guard position.
    2. Start with right foot moving right and left foot following.  Shuffle right for four right-left steps, then move left for four left-right steps.  Continue shuffling right left for the desired amount of time.

Walking Lunges

    1. Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle.
    2. Press your right heel into the ground, and push off with your left foot to bring your left leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side.

Rest 15-30 seconds between sprints. Finish with static stretch to bring your heart rate down and prevent muscles from tightening.

How many calories does it burn?

Running 6 mph, which is a 10-minute mile, burns between 300 and 400 calories per 30 minutes of activity, depending on your weight. So roughly you will be hitting those same caloric benchmarks if you keep a pretty good, consistent pace throughout the above workout.

Outdoor Jump Rope Training

Best Outdoor Exercises

Jumping rope is one of the most underrated workouts for coordination and athleticism. It’s also the perfect warmup for any workout.

One misconception about jumping rope for weight loss is that you jump rope, only, for a solid block of time. The key to jumping rope as aerobic exercise lies in its capabilities for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). That means you work out at a high-intensity level for short bursts, followed by rest periods.

The workout we have outlined below makes for a perfect outdoor exercises and the only thing you need is a jump rope! Whether you are looking to lose weight or build endurance, these can definitely help. So better jump to it!

The Weight Loss Jump Rope Workout

This one is good for maximizing speed and explosiveness. Also, with the intervals of this workout, it makes for a great fat burning HIIT routine. Plus, if you want to amp up the circuit try to do “double unders” for at least part of the 30-second sprint portion. (Meaning that you trying to have the rope go underneath twice, while you jump once.)

  • 30 seconds fast jump
  • 1-minute slow jumping warm-up
  • 1.5 minute of rest

Alternate 30 seconds of fast jumping with 1.5 minutes of rest for a total of 7 times (14 minutes).

The Endurance Building Jump Rope Workout 

This workout builds a bit more endurance. It is also good if you aren’t able to do “double unders” well. It’s still intense and burns a good amount of calories. However, you are jumping for longer periods of time to build endurance.

  • 1-minute slow jumping warm-up
  • 1 minute of rest
  • 1 minute of fast alternating foot jump

Alternate 1 minute of alternating foot jump with 1 minute of rest for a total of 7 times (14 minutes).

How many calories does it burn?

Jumping rope is a full-body workout, so it burns a good amount of calories in a short time. For an average-sized person, jumping rope might even burn more than 10 calories a minute.

Park or Playground Outdoor Exercises 

Best Outdoor Exercises

Who says playgrounds are just for kiddos? Well, it turns out some of your favorite childhood jungle gyms are the perfect outdoor gyms too! Using equipment like the monkey bars, play structures or surrounding benches you can get in a killer workout.

Tandem Grip Pull-Up

Equipment: Any type of monkey bar or overhead bar

With the overhead bar perpendicular to your body, grip the bar with your left hand in front of your right, so that your left forefinger is nearly touching your right pinky finger. Pull up, shifting your body to the right to get around the bar. Slowly lower back to hanging and then repeat the pull-up, this time shifting to the left to get around the bar. That’s one rep.

Complete 5 to 6 reps, then switch your grip (right hand in front, left closer to your body) and repeat.

Bicep Bar Dip

Equipment: Any type of monkey bar or overhead bar.

Suspend yourself over parallel bars and then lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.

Perform 10 to 12 reps.

Pull Up & Knee Raise

Equipment: Any type of monkey bar or overhead bar.

Perform a pull-up and then raise your knees up as high as you can. Make sure to activate your core when pulling yourself up. Meanwhile, when you raise your knees make sure to not twist or move your low back.

Perform 10-12 reps. 

Park Bench Push-Up

Equipment: A bench (preferably with a back).

Hold the back of the bench with hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Walk feet back a few steps so your body forms a diagonal line. (The farther away you walk, the harder the move will be). With elbows tucked at your side, lower torso to the bench, performing a push-up. Keeping your core engaged and hips lifted, push up to return to the starting position.

Perform 10-12 reps. 

Triceps Dip

Equipment: A bench.

Sit on the edge of a bench and place hands by your hips, fingers forward so that you can hold the edge. Lift your butt off the seat and walk feet a few steps away from the bench. Bending at elbows, lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the seat of the bench. Push back up to complete one rep.

Perform 5-6 reps. 

Elevated Back Lunge

Equipment: A bench.

Stand facing away from the bench (about one foot away) and rest the top of your left foot on the seat. Place hands on hips. Bend your right (standing) knee until thigh is parallel to the ground. Pause, then press through your right heel to rise back up. That’s one rep.

Complete 10 to 12 reps, then switch legs.

How many calories does it burn?

Doing resistance exercises for 30 minutes will burn 112 to 223 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. These are just average estimates, and many more factors come into play when figuring calorie burn.

Based on those estimates you can expect to burn 200 to 300 calories from these outdoor exercises. 

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Spartan Race Training Plan
Our comprehensive training plan provides you with 30-days of exercises right up to race day!
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Lesley George

Lesley is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
Download Our FREE
Spartan Race Training Plan
Our comprehensive training plan provides you with 30-days of exercises right up to race day!
Download e-Book