Outdoor Fitness | The Complete Guide

Updated: Jan 8

Introduction | Getting started | The benefits of outdoor fitness | Exercise the military way

A man participating in outdoor fitness training. He is performing body weight exercise in a park.

Outdoor fitness training is a worthy, if not superior, substitute for the gym. As this article will show, outdoor fitness training offers an inexpensive and diverse way to maintain strength, muscular endurance, and cardio capacity. All without paying a yearly membership fee or bothering with the faff that gym training entails.


In addition, at a time when gym accessibility balances on a knife's edge (and there are those who no longer feel comfortable in confined spaces with crowds of people), outdoor fitness training is the only solution. That is, of course, if you want to keep fit and healthy.

Outdoor fitness training is the way forward

On the flip side, there have been scores of exercise enthusiasts who didn't use gym closures as an excuse not to exercise. Instead, they sought alternative methods of keeping fit and active. Some invested in exercise equipment, opting to bring the gym to their home. And many of them discovered that it doesn’t cost much to put together a decent home gym set-up.


Others opted to use whatever was freely available in their local environment. And what many of them no doubt discovered was that you can keep just as fit by engaging in simple outdoor exercises.


To maintain fitness requires very little equipment indeed. You can develop a high level of whole-body fitness with just a park to run around and a set of swings and a patch of Astroturf to complete a calisthenics AMRAP on.

Need some outdoor fitness ideas?

If you’ve struggled with training ideas since the gyms closed this article is for you. Below you’ll discover a veritable treasure trove of innovative outdoor fitness training ideas.


These training and exercise ideas will provide you with the inspiration and knowledge of how to keep in shape using nothing other than what can be freely found in your local environment.


Outdoor fitness exercises and workouts

In addition, following this comprehensive overview of outdoor fitness, you will discover links to two complimentary articles. The first of the two features tutorials of 5 functional body-weight exercises that you can incorporate into your outdoor fitness routine.


The second article brings you 4 outdoor fitness workouts to try. These workouts, which are comprised of calisthenics and cardiovascular exercises, will not only keep you fit and trim but will also help build physical robustness.


Be warned though, by the end of this article you just might realise that you no longer need a gym.

What is outdoor fitness?

In a tightly packed nutshell outdoor fitness is where we use our local environment as exercise equipment, as a place to keep fit and stay in shape. This might be a difficult concept to grasp for those who are gym domesticated, who can’t see past the polished mirrors or hear over the incessant hum of the ‘motivational’ music.


But believe me when I say the biggest gym is right outside your front door. It’s open 24 hours a day and admittance is free! And if this article does its job, whenever you leave your house, you’ll start seeing exercise equipment everywhere.


The great outdoors is a great big gym

Whenever I see a park with a perimeter path I think Running track! Whenever I see a jungle gym I think Pull-up into press-up pyramid, followed by burpees into plank, followed by . . .


Truly, training and fitness equipment can be found almost anywhere. And if you apply a bit of imagination and get creative with your workout design, you'll possess the tools to keep fit without ever setting foot in a gym again.

How do I start outdoor fitness training?

The beauty is you don’t have to sign up. As I’ve already said, there’s no monthly membership or hidden fees. Also – and I think you’ll love this one – you don’t have to endure one of those cringeworthy gym inductions where a super-enthusiastic PT teaches you how to use a running machine: That’s perfect heel to toe action. (Vomit!)


All you have to do to get going on your outdoor fitness training adventure is skim-read this article and put into practice the teachings it contains.


Below the section entitled The Benefits of Outdoor Fitness Training, you’ll receive a non-pretentious induction into the outdoor fitness training methodology. And as well as learning a comprehensive range of exercises, you’ll also discover a couple of training sessions that show you how to put it all together.

Benefits of outdoor fitness training

The single most obvious benefit of outdoor fitness training is its relative cheapness. A gym membership nowadays will set you back around £20 per month – some slightly more some slightly less.


This expense can swell if you start paying for exercise classes, post-session protein shakes or that ‘well earned’ snack from the vending machine. In addition, most people drive to the gym, and though the cost of each trip is negligible, if calculated over a year it certainly wouldn’t be.


Outdoor fitness training, by comparison, is much cheaper. Actually, if you already possess training attire – a tee, some slacks, and a pair of sneeks – keeping fit outdoors is completely free! And as well as saving money – or at least not spending it unnecessarily – you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint in the process.

Outdoor fitness training is available 24/7!

Another benefit of note is the unlimited accessibility of the outdoor gym. Typically, the trainer who gets their keep-fit fix in an enclosed gym can only gain access between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. Admittedly this is fine for the majority of trainers.


However, if like me, you start training before 5 am, you’re unlikely to find a gym open at this ungodly hour. But the beauty of paths, parks, and roads is that they’re always open – 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Get military fit with outdoor fitness training

The final benefit I’m going to mention is the similarity outdoor fitness training shares with military training methods. Few would quibble with the generalisation that people in the military possess an above-average level of fitness.


Military personal must maintain a high level of fitness for two reasons. Firstly, the job can be very physically demanding. Secondly, servicemen and women are required to complete and pass an annual fitness test.


However, it would probably come as a surprise to learn that military training is deceptively simple. The majority of mandatory fitness training sessions take place outdoors.


Usually, these outdoor fitness workouts consist of running, hill sprints, and bodyweight exercises. And sometimes, if the PTI is feeling particularly sadomasochistic, partner carrying exercises and the dreaded bear and leopard crawls.


But simple though this training is it sufficiently raises the soldier’s fitness levels so that they can meet the demands of the job. So, the sooner you start training in the great outdoors, the sooner you’ll possess the fitness of a professional soldier.

A soldier taking part in outdoor strength training. He is performing press ups which are great calisthenics outdoor exercises.

 

To conclude

Now that we’ve covered the benefits and methods of outdoor fitness training, it’s time to learn a range of exercises that you can do outdoors. The link below will whisk you away to the second instalment of this three-part journey into outdoor fitness training.


Once you’ve mastered 5 of the best outdoor exercises you will inevitably want to put them into practice. The third and final article brings you 4 of the best outdoor workouts to try.


As well as providing you with 4 comprehensive workout plans, this article also offers tips on how to design and organise your outdoor workouts. What are you waiting for, follow that link!

5 Outdoor Exercises


 

For more training ideas and session plans click on the image below and get your copy of the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Vol. 1.


Circuit training is one of the best forms of physical exercise for maintaining and increasing overall-fitness. A well designed circuit will provide a great cardiovascular workout, strengthening the heart and lungs in the process, whilst also improving muscle endurance and developing functional strength. This unique combination, of fat burning and muscle building, which singular exercises, such as running, cycling, swimming or weights cannot give, will help to sculpt a lean defined physique.


 

(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)


Blog Author

Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.

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