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Get Outside!

As much as I love the gym, when the warmer weather and longer days arrive I sometimes find myself dreading the idea of hitting the iron paradise, craving instead to be outdoors enjoying the short sweet Vancouver summer. I want to run and jump, take in our clean air and stare out at the water, mountains and skyline.

So what’s a girl to do when she (or he) can’t bear the thought of being indoors? You improvise of course. This month I’m sharing a few tips to help you keep up your fitness WITHOUT hitting the gym.

I am a firm believer that your gym workouts are your bread and butter and the sports and other stuff the gravy on top. A well-designed program helps to keep us limber, strong and able to handle our day-to-day activities with ease, not to mention the esthetic benefits that accompany the lean tissue you work hard to achieve.That said, exercise is best done when you enjoy it and some days you just gotta change it up and get outside.  Hiking, biking, swimming, whatever calls to you. Be creative, playful and enjoy the time in the great outdoors.

Below you will find some essential tips for outside sessions as well as one of my warm weather go to workouts. It will help improve cardiovascular conditioning, agility/footwork and get a serious sweat going! (not to mention great for toning your legs and bum!)

3 Important Tips for Outside Training:

  • Know your heat threshold. Ideally workouts are done outside of peak sun times (early mornings/evenings) but if your schedule doesn’t always allow, make sure you’re able to take the heat. If you’re prone to heat stroke, midday workouts probably aren’t the best for you. I credit years of beach volleyball for my ability to train almost anytime of the day, but you may be different.
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE. Make sure you are well fueled and hydrated and pack water with you. Depending on your activity level and overall fluid consumption/loss – aka how much you sweat – you may want to use an electrolyte drink as well.
  • Be sun smart. Wear and pack sunscreen, hats, workout towel, etc as well as a heart rate monitor if you are at risk. Again, know and listen to your body.

Stair Sessions

This is one of my favorite workouts in the summer months (I know, I’m weird like that) possibly as my usual spot has one of the best views in the city, the efficiency of it, or both! Either way, It’s sure to be a sweaty one…

Find a set of not too busy stairs, preferably with around 20+ steps and a bit of open area to do your circuit. I’ve kept this pretty basic in order to be accessible to most fitness levels but it can easily be expanded and made more challenging by adding in more advanced exercises (improvisation encouraged) or by bringing additional equipment ( think medicine balls, tubing, TRX etc) If I have extra time I’ll pack a yoga mat and finish with some stretching. I recommend you do the same.

Cardio Interval day – 30 minutes or less

If I’m slotted for intervals that day, I’ll do a straight cardio session. Typically its 10 sets, 1 minute rest, 10 sets, repeated for a total of 30 minutes. Depending on how fresh my legs are that day it’s usually 50-60 sets total but your pace may vary. If I’m short on time, I’ll stop at 20 minutes. It’s quick and dirty, bangOstyle

If you’re doing more of a strength day, run through the circuit below 3-5 times with short rests as needed between the stairs and body-weight circuit. Depending on your pace you should be able to do 4 rounds of the circuit in 35-50 minutes. This is definitely an intermediate workout but modifications can be made for all fitness levels. If you’re in the more beginner level, start with 1-2 rounds and build yourself up.  They are general recommendations and I am assuming you all know how to do your basic movements (squat, lunge, push, pull, etc) If you have injuries or are unsure on form, I recommend a few visits with a trainer to review and ensure they are appropriate fo you.  Safety first, always.

If you’re competitive like me, time yourself so you can have something to measure against, try adding this to your workout plan once a week and see how you progress each week, you WILL get faster with consistency. I find that wanting to best my number each time is a good motivator to push my pace and get it done!

Bodyweight circuit

Warm up with dynamic warm up (if desired) and 10 sets of stairs then move through one round of the bodyweight circuit, water break/rest for 1 minute (longer if needed) Do 5 more stairs and circuit/rest and repeat for desired number of rounds finishing with 10 stairs before collapsing in a heap of sweat! Stretching is recommended.

Stairs x 10 (run or walk) alternate single, double, crossovers, skaters, hops if desired

  • Squats x 10 (can make 10 + 10 jump squats to progress)
  • Lunges x 10/side (again jump lunges if desired)
  • Push-ups x 10 (play with speed and hand position to progress, incline to regress)
  • Plank Hold (10 seconds) Downward Dog reset (full breathe in DD) repeat x 6
  • Side Plank (from elbow or hand, option to add hip drop and/or rotations) x 10/sd
  • V-Sits x 20  (add pause/hold in extension to progress)
  • Bicycle crunch x 20/side (make elbow to knee contact and pause)
  • Prone Swimmers (or 4 point kneel, pause on extension) x 10/side
  • Stairs x 5 (last round x 10)

I also love the playground and track sessions…Any favourite outdoor workouts you like to do? Please feel free to comment and share!