You are here

10 New Outdoor Workout Ideas

It happens every year: The weather gets warmer, the daylight lasts longer, and the stuffy gym sounds more and more unappealing. But since spring-like weather is also a sign that bikini season is right around the corner, skipping your gym session to sip cocktails at happy hour won't get you any closer to revealing those tight, toned abs (or to reaching any health or fitness goal).

The good news is you can still skip the gym and get an effective total-body workout. We asked top fitness pros to share some of their favorite ways to blast calories outside (typical answers like cycling and rollerblading were not accepted). Check out their awesome ideas below to get out of that turtleneck and into that bikini—pronto!

Outdoor Cardio Meltdown

Who needs the treadmill? Grab a mat (or towel) and a timer and torch fat with this 10-15-20 Cardio Meltdown routine created by Lindsay Ferrer, personal trainer at EQUINOX in New York City.

10 Long Jumps: Do a long jump the length of your mat or towel, and then shuffle backwards to your start position.

10 Pushups: Kneeling or full, depending on your fitness level.

15 Sumo Squats: Stand up with your feet wider than your hips and your toes slightly turned out as you sit back into a squat.

15 Burpees: Start with a jump, and then squat down, place your hands on your mat, and jump out into a plank position. Jump feet back towards your hands, pop up into standing position, and finish with a clap at the top.

20 Bicycle Crunches: Lie on your back and bend both knees into your chest, hands clasped behind your head. Find a focal point to the left and right of your body. Look at those two focal points as you twist and crunch to each side, reaching your right elbow to your left knee, and vice versa.

20 Mountain Climbers: Start in a plank position and alternate driving your knees into chest, keeping your hips flat and parallel to the ground.

Make sure you time yourself performing the full meltdown, and try to beat your best time with your next workout, Ferrer says.

Stand-Up Paddleboard

Stand-up paddleboardinging (SUP) is an amazing way to tone your whole body without feeling like you're exercising (Because it's fun, but it's not so easy.) Standing on a oversized long board, you use a paddle to navigate across flat, calm waters. Don't be fooled by how easy it looks. SUP requires the use of your entire body, with a major emphasis on core stability and control. Former pro surfer Jodi Nelson describes it as “hiking on water," making it a great choice for anyone who wants to add some water to their workout routine without having to swim in it.

HIIT the Court

Have a basketball or volleyball court nearby? Make it your personal gym with this super-effective high-intensity interval training (HIIT) plan from Andrea Metcalf, celebrity fitness trainer and host of Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

“This workout burns major calories and is what I did when I was training [to climb] Mount Kilimanjaro because it increases [maximal aerobic capacity],” Metcalf says.

How it works: Use the outline of a basketball court (or a similarly sized court) to perform the three fat-burning drills below.

Sprints (5): Sprint from one end of the court to the other, running forward and then jogging back backwards. Repeat 5 times total.

Lateral hops (30): Jump over and then back along the full court line, facing forward the whole time. Do 30 hops total (1-2 lengths of the court)

Side shuffles (6): Do side shuffles the full distance of the court and back,. Repeat 6 times total.

The entire workout should take about 15 minutes and will have you sweating buckets!

Fitness Scavenger Hunt

“Going for a fitness scavenger hunt is a great way to get outside and mix up your fitness routine,” says Tanner Martty, a certified personal trainer at LEAF Lifestyle in Santa Monica, Calif.

How it works: First, map out your route (it could be a path you typically use for jogging or walking), and then list 5-10 bodyweight exercises (pushups, burpees, squat jumps, etc). Next to each move, write down a landmark you'll see along your path (park bench, red light, dog on a leash, or even a black convertible).

To start your scavenger hunt, head out on your route and every time you see one of your landmarks, do 10 reps of the corresponding move. For example, if you listed "park bench" next to pushups, hit the bench for a set of 10 incline or decline pushups every time you see one. It’s a fun way to mix up your routine and add an element of play (and still keep plenty of sweat) to your typical route.

“In addition to being a great workout, this will also keep your mind in the present moment, which is something that a stressful schedule can prevent us from doing," Martty says. "If you're actively looking for your scavenger hunt items, you can't be worried about the presentation you have to give the next day at the office."

Play Ball!

Who needs a gym full of equipment when you can get a total-body strength and cardio workout just by using a variety of balls outside? Gather up a bunch of balls—basketballs, soccer balls, Swiss balls, whatever you've got—and then create drills using them as weights, cones, and/or to create instability, says Laura Williams, a certified personal trainer and founder of Girls Gone Sporty.

Try this drill: Set two balls next to each other on the ground, and then place a third ball about 10 feet away. Starting on the side with two balls, pick one up and run, slide, or even dribble it between your feet to the other side. Once you get there, switch balls, leaving the one you had and picking up the one that was already there. Continue moving the balls back and forth until you've moved each ball 10 times, Williams says.

Get creative and create a whole circuit in your backyard or the park using the balls to do unstable pushups, add weight to lunges, slam into the ground… the possibilities are endless! For more great exercises with balls, check out our workout builder tool.

CrossFit On-the-Road

Take your CrossFit workout outside with any of these CrossFit On-the-Road Workouts that use very little equipment, suggests Jason Benade, owner and head coach at CrossFit Elk Grove in California.

Here are two of Benade's favorites:

Workout 1 (5 Rounds)
5 Pushups
10 Sit ups
15 Squats

Workout 2 (5 Rounds)
10 Burpees
20 Bench jumps
30 Pushups
40 Squats
50 Lunges

Want more? Check out the full list at CrossFitOneWorld.com.

Sailing or Rowing Classes

“Sailing and rowing courses are affordable and an awesome change of pace, says Andia Winslow, a professional athlete, certified fitness professional, and ambassador for the Women’s Sports Foundation. Sailing is a total-body workout that helps build upper-body muscular endurance, agility, coordination, and flexibility and can burn around 200 calories, Winslow says.

And rowing? Forget the machines at the gym and get out on the water! This fantastic low-impact form of cardio works your legs and core in a major way and can have you burning up to 800 calories an hour, Winslow says.

Trapeze

Take your workout to new heights with trapeze workouts! Try a private lesson or enroll in a class to experience this total-body, endorphin-inducing workout that can have you burning up to 500 calories an hour, Winslow says. Not to mention, controlling your body while hanging off a bar in midair is also one serious abs workout!

Trail Running

Want to boost your calorie burn without having to run longer? Try trail running! Thanks to the textured, uneven terrain, your body has to work harder with every step, making trail running a more intense and effective workout than pounding pavement.

“Runners must be wholly engaged as they find footings, achieve balance, and adjust to incline changes," Winslow says. "Both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are being used during your run, as some trail positions require bursts of energy, unlike the steady-state fitness level of pavement (or the treadmill)."

 

Volunteering

The number of calories burned shouldn't always be the focus of your workout. You can get active outside and give back to your community at the same time.

“Walking dogs for a local shelter or cleaning up a nearby park in the neighborhood are all great calorie burners and a nice way to give back,” says Jaime Kenworthy, a certified personal trainer in Philadelphia and owner of J'aime Fitness, LLC. To find great opportunities to volunteer in your area, go to Volunteer Match.org.