The outdoor gym

Spring is officially here and, with brighter and warmer days, we feel the need to spend more time outside. This spring and summer you can make the most of your outdoor time by using your surroundings for training. I hope you can find the inspiration you need in this guide to  get ready for a beautiful summer looking and feeling great, fit and strong.

If you are in the habit of going for walks or runs, you can easily adapt your trips to include strength training. Just dress in clothes you can move around in and bring a bottle of water with you if you can. If you don’t go out, you can do most of these exercises at home. But I genuinely urge you to add walks, jogs or runs to your weekly routine. Being outside, closer to nature will lift your mood, strengthen your immune system and make you more aware of your environment.

Below you’ll find my suggestions to add strength work to your walk or run routine to help you build muscles and burn more calories.

Benches can be used for Dips: Sit on the bench and place your hands palms down on the bench, fingers gripping on the edge of the seat. Scoop your behind off the bench, lower yourself towards the ground, by bending your arms by the elbows, use your arms to press yourself up to bench level again.

A good beginner set would be 3 x 10.

Big tree trunks can be used for standing push ups: Stand an arm-length or a bit further (so you’re leaning towards the trunk) from the tree. Bend your arms by the elbows and lean your weight against the tree, push slowly back to your start position. 

Again do 3 x 10 repetitions if you have time for it (watch for splinters).

Sand dunes/small hills: Walk/run briskly up and walk down. This will strengthen your legs and feet: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and achilles and ankles. Walking/running uphill is a  replacement for weight exercises such as squats. Depending on the height of the dune/hill you could do anything from 3-10 repeats. 

Other environmental tools: Fallen tree trunks (narrow), stripes on the road, small puddles or smaller rocks can be used to jump across either with feet together or as a scotch hop. If you feel the trunk or rock is too high or too broad, then jump next to it and just use if for measure. This exercise will get your pulse up and strengthen your fast twitch leg muscles. A workout could be 3 x 10 with feet together or 3 x 10 on each side. 

If you are walking by the ocean side, on one of the rock beaches, you can skip stones off the water. Or practice throwing long or hard (provided nobody is in the water of course). Another exercise to include for upperbody is to find a solid branch (or a metal bar at a playground) and do pull ups/chin ups. 

A full body exercise which involves arms and back as well, is to roll /flip rocks. Simply squat down, grip the rock lift and flip or just lift, stand up and put back down. 

For rock throwing/skipping I’d suggest 3 x 10 turns each arm, or 3 x 12 with your weakest arm and 3 x 10 with the strongest.If you are new to pull ups/chin ups, I suggest you just hang and practice grip strength or work to failure (till you can’t do anymore). For the fullbody lift or flip, I’d suggest 3 x 5, depending on the size of the rock. If it’s light you can do more than five repetitions. 

I want to point out that the most important thing is to have fun with your activities. If you’re walking or running with someone, ask them to get in on the games with you. If you’re on your own, make it a game for yourself, become better at different exercises week to week. Enjoy being outside, enjoy being able to move and enjoy the thought that these games will help make you stronger and thus improve your life. 

Questions and comments are as usual welcome at
@trainwithadane on Instagram or

Tania Presutti

Tania Presutti is a Danish freelance journalist and fitness professional who now resides in Clonakilty.

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