The Gr8 Outdoors: Eight Bodyweight Exercises
The summer months and our wonderful green spaces in the 815 area are powerful magnets for pulling you out of the longer-than-expected winter doldrums.
Combine the following exercises with a walk, jog, run, or bike-ride to the park and then head back to complete a nice outdoor workout!
The classic P.E. class go-to for getting your heart moving! Here’s a quick refresher: start by standing with your feet together and your hands at your sides. In one explosive motion, bring your hands up together over your head like you’re clapping them together while jumping and flexing your legs out at the hips to a comfortable distance; finish the movement by jumping again and bring your hands and feet back to the starting position. If you took a leisurely pace in making your way to the park, try doing some more of these to make sure that your muscles are warmed up for the rest of the workout!
Push-ups are a great way to work on upper body strength while also getting some work in for your core muscles. Start by getting into a plank position, i.e., lie flat on your stomach and then press your palms flat into the ground beneath your shoulders in order to lift your torso off the ground with your toes being your other touch point with the ground. In a controlled motion, lower your chest to just above the ground while making sure to keep your core muscles tight in order to maintain the plank position, then press through your palms to bring yourself back to the starting position. This exercise can be modified by using your knees instead of your toes for your touch point, or by using a park bench or some other sturdy raised surface off which to push yourself.
Burpees are a difficult exercise that practically no one enjoys. However, everyone who’s done them can attest to their effectiveness; they can burn a ton of calories! Start in a standing position, then squat down and bring your palms to the ground in front of you. Transfer your weight to your hands and kick your legs and feet back into a plank position, like you are ready to do a push-up. Immediately bring your feet back underneath you, and then return to the starting position by standing up. That’s one burpee!
The king of weight-training exercises, the squat is also a great way to burn calories with just the aid of your body weight and a lot of repetitions. Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart, or in a position from which you feel like you could jump your highest. Simultaneously bend your hips and knees and lower your buttocks (like you were going to carefully sit down onto a chair) until your thighs are just below parallel with the ground, then engage your glutes, hips, and thighs to return yourself to the starting position.
These are great if you really want to feel the burn in your legs! Begin like you would a normal squat, but instead of going to just below parallel, squat down about half the distance (position A) and then slowly lower yourself to parallel (position B) and then return to half the distance, in effect “pulsing” between positions A and B. Keep going until your quadriceps can’t take it anymore!
PLANK WITH HAND TAPS
Planking is a great core workout and adding some dynamic changes to it can be really great for developing functional strength and body control. Try this one on for size: get into a plank position, and then lift one hand off of the ground and tap your opposite shoulder. Then return your hand to the ground (being sure to maintain your balance) and lift the other off of the ground to tap the opposite shoulder. Be sure to keep your core tight and in good planking position (i.e., torso and legs forming a straight line with no butt sagging or raising) the entire time!
This explosive exercise is another great way to burn calories without any extra equipment. Get down into a plank position, but bring one leg underneath you; this is the starting position. In one explosive movement, kick the leg that was bent underneath you back and straighten it while you pull your previously straightened leg underneath you, in effect mirroring your starting position. Reverse the movement to bring yourself back into the starting position.
PULL-UPS OR INVERTED ROWS
This is the only exercise here you might not have the equipment to do. If you are at a park with a jungle gym or some sturdy bar that is parallel to the ground, then grasp the bar with your hands positioned just outside your shoulders and pull your body up to the bar. Try inverted rows if you don’t have a high bar. Grab the bar so you position your body below the bar, with your body as close to parallel with the ground as possible. Pull your chest up to the bar and slowly lower it back to starting position to complete one repetition.
Be sure to bring plenty of water with you for your workout, wear clothing that allows your skin to breath and lets you move around comfortably, and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Working out outdoors in the summer months in the 815 can be fun, but also potentially dangerous if you don’t prepare yourself!