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4 Outdoor Exercises That'll Trump Your Gym Workout

Meet Mr. Sunshine

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It's easy to feel guilty walking into a gym on a gorgeous day. But after months of indoor training, it's surprisingly hard to swap the safe gym routine that guarantees sweat and soreness for a sunny one that seems more about fun and less about results. With bikini season around the corner, you can't take any chances, right? Wrong, according to fitness guru Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of books like The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek.

“Exercising outdoors is better for you for a number of reasons,” Ferriss says. “The varying terrain, for one, provides stimulus that you can't organically achieve indoors, and second, even brief exposure to natural surroundings can improve mental performance.” Furthermore, humans weren't designed to live confined within four walls 24/7, Ferris adds. “Studies show that spending a little time outside can boost happiness. How your body connects with the outside world has so many psychological, emotional, and physical benefits that transcend what I've been able to measure in a lab.”

You don't have to replace your current routine completely. “Just try to take at least one of your sessions outside every week,” Ferriss recommends, who says you can sneak in an incredible workout—what he calls “the minimal effective dose to see positive effects”—in just five to 15 minutes. Ferriss recently teamed up with outdoor footwear giant Merrell to devise these four fundamental movements that target almost every major muscle group without any equipment at all.

Now get outside and give it a go!

Trap Walk

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Reps: 5 per side

Step right leg forward into a lunge. Place both hands on the ground near the inside of right foot. Raise left shoulder up and back to "10 o'clock." Rotate towards the left as fully as possible, opening up chest while reaching left hand overhead. Return both hands to the ground and then stand up. Repeat on the other side. Do 5 reps per side.

Cat Crawl

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Drop onto all fours with hands directly below shoulders. Rise up onto feet, keeping hips in line with (or lower than) shoulders. Once you're in “cat” position, start to “crawl," or move forward, making sure that legs draft behind you within shoulder width (Don't widen your stance!). Practice this move both forward and backward for about 25 feet each way.

Pistol Squat

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Reps: 2 to 3 per side

Stand holding arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level. Raise left leg off the ground and flex left ankle so that toes point up. Left leg should be straight. Keeping core engaged, upper body upright, thighs close together, and right foot firmly planted, lower into a squat. Go as low as you can, and then press through your standing heel to return to standing. Do 2 to 3 reps on each leg.

Blurpee

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Reps: As many as possible in 5 minutes

Think of the traditional burpee with a slight twist. From standing, jump into pushup position with hands shoulder-width apart and feet spread wide, about a foot outside of shoulders. Do a proper pushup, meaning don't drop hips and try to maintain a straight line from head to tailbone.

Next, jump feet forward to meet hands and stand up. With legs still wide apart like a sumo wrestler, jump up (soft knees!) and reach hands up to the sky. Return to the ground for your next pushup. Continue to do as many reps as you can in 5 minutes.