Summer is around the corner and as the weather gets better, the call of the gym is no longer as loud. You can get distracted and push the gym to the back of your mind. Why not take advantage of the great weather and do your workout outside?
For strength and size, there’s no getting away from it, it’s all about hitting the compound muscle groups and hitting them hard. There are things you can do that are more athletic in nature that can help enhance your gains, improve your conditioning, shed some body fat and take advantage of the great outdoors in the process.
For maximum gains you’re going to need to be in the gym at least some of the time, but fitness and workouts are all about the long term. This is a choice to be better, fitter and healthier. For this to happen, you’re going to need to be in it for the long term, so getting some sessions in outside is a great way to avoid the stagnation and the chances of dropping out.
So take your sessions outside and enjoy some fresh air with these exercise suggestions.
The ‘Get Big’ Mindset
When training for muscle size, you need to focus on keeping the quality of training high and limiting the onset of fatigue during your workout. This means you need to be focused on relatively short bursts of exercise and taking rest periods between sets. This allows your body to restore its fast-twitch muscle fibres and get the central nervous system fortified for another onslaught.
To make improvements to your power, hence build muscle, it is vital that you work as close to your 100% capacity as possible. That means resting between sets.
Your work:rest ratio means that for every ten seconds of exercise you do, you need to be resting for about around 60 seconds.
Sprint It Out
Sprinting is great exercise for you if you want to get strong. It’s an explosive exercise that blasts your fast-twitch muscle fibres into growth. It focuses on your calves, hamstrings, glutes and spinal erectors (the muscles that straighten and rotate the back). It also works your abs, obliques and shoulder muscles.
Run 7x 50m sprints with 1 minute rest between each set
Jumping Jack Press Up / Bench Dip Combo
Here you’re using supersetting techniques to exhaust the muscles faster.
Start with a set of jumping jack press ups.
The jumping jack push up works your whole body and takes the press up to a whole new level. As well as working your chest and triceps, this move also improves your core strength.
Begin in a push up position and as you lower your body, simultaneously jump your feet outwards so that they are slightly wider than hip distance. Then, jump your feet back towards each other as you push back up into the high position.
Keep your body in a strong and straight plank position throughout the move and maintain a solid core.
Then move straight into a bench dip.
You’re going to need to use a bench, seat or wall. Start sitting on the edge with your feet slightly apart and legs bent, or straight in front of you if you’re an advanced trainer.
Hold onto the edge of the bench and slowly lower your body, bending through your elbows to a little less than 90 degrees.
Make sure you focus the tension in your triceps to push your body back up to the starting position, keeping your elbows close to your body throughout the movement.
Do as many reps as you can manage of each, then rest for 2 minutes. Repeat for 5 sets.
There’s also an advanced version of this you can do, replacing the jumping jack press up with a decline push up, where you rest your toes on a surface that’s higher than your hands. Look for a picnic table or a park bench to use.
This advanced version of the press up seriously increases the difficulty and significantly upgrades the amount of muscle that you can pack on with a body weight exercise.
Additionally, adjusting the height of the bench allows you to modify the intensity of your workout.
As well as targeting the muscles of the chest, the shoulders, and triceps, having to maintain the correct body position stimulates muscle growth throughout the entire core, legs and back.
Although you need basic equipment for this exercise, if you’re strong enough you can actually press your feet up against a wall instead. Try it!
And always keep it fresh and change out the exercise before boredom kicks in. Fora range of push ups to choose from, check out my article called 10 Ways To Power Up Your Push Up: Build Your Chest With Bodyweight Exercises.
This one is dependent on you getting your hands on anything that is heavy enough to make this work. Unless you can take your own workout equipment outdoors it can be a bit tricky to find things heavy enough and easy enough to hold.
The key difference between loaded carries and sprinting comes in the amount of time your muscles are spending under tension. Walking 50 metres while holding heavy dumbbells seems like it could be easy, but you’re going to be working hard.
Depending on the nature of the weight you’re using, you could be holding dumbbells in both hands or carrying a sack overhead. Whatever you can get your hands on.
7x load carries for 50m each, with 2 mins rest in between.
Wide Grip Pull Ups
A tried and trusted bodyweight exercise for building muscle is the wide grip pull up. This is a great exercise to gain that v-taper on your torso by involving the lats, but also uses the biceps and chest. You’ll need to find a bar and hang with a wide overhand grip, your palms facing away from you shoulder width apart, and your feet off the ground.
A true pullup begins in a dead hang with your arms fully extended. If this is a bit tricky at first or after a few reps, cheat it a bit by starting with your arms bent a little. Keep pulling until your chin is level to the bar. Don’t stretch your neck to get the height, do it cleanly.
Once you’ve exhausted your muscles, switch to some close grip pull ups with your palms facing you.
Do 5 sets of these, as many reps as you can manage.
Step Up Into Reverse Lunge
Another great exercise to build the legs up, which in turn will provide a basis for muscle growth throughout your body. Stick with the big compound exercises.
For this exercise, find a bench, box or wall and step up onto it, pushing through with the leading foot and activating the glutes, but keeping your trailing foot from touching down on the bench.
Then step back down to the ground with your trailing foot and immediately step back into a reverse lunge with your leading foot. Now swap feet and do the same again. That’s 1 rep.
Perform 5x sets of 20, with 90 seconds rest in between
If you can find weights to use, then do so.
Muscle Building Workouts Outside: The Verdict
It’s tricky to work on your muscle building while training outside, but the above examples are a great starting point and will stop you stagnating in the gym. You are going to have to hit that gym at some point though, whether it’s your home gym or a health club. It’s inevitable that muscle building is going to involve working out with weights as part of a structured gym schedule.