Outdoor Training: What You Don’t Know (But Should)
When most people talk about getting in shape and getting fit they talk about things like going to the gym and lifting weights. What they don’t talk about is getting outside. In fact, we’ve practically been trained to think that getting outside is just playing and going to the gym is the only way to get a real workout. But that’s absolutely not true. There’s a whole lot about heading outside for your training that you probably don’t know, but if you’re really interested in getting fit, you need to know it.
If you’ve spent your entire life (or at least the whole time that you’ve been working on getting in shape) thinking that you had to go to the gym and lift weights all the time then you’re definitely not doing yourself any favors. Isn’t it time that you actually enjoyed the workout that you were doing? Isn’t it time that you actually got to spend some time doing something new and different? That’s what you’re going to get with outdoor training and if you didn’t know it before, you’re going to know that and a whole lot more in no time at all.
The Myths About Outdoor Training
First, let’s take a look at a few of the myths that you’ve probably heard in regards to outdoor training. These are things that people who just haven’t tried it for themselves might try to convince you of, but you should know they’re absolutely not true. After all, you could find your new favorite workout once you expand your horizons.
It’s Harder to Run Outside than Inside
It’s actually no different for you to run outside or inside. You’re going to have the same form, you’re going to have the same impact on your joints depending what you run on and you’re going to have the same effort expenditure. All of that means that it’s really up to you what you feel most comfortable with and where you enjoy running. Of course, that’s assuming that you really want to run in the first place, because you can get that outdoor workout doing a number of different things.
You’ll Have More Motivation Indoors
There’s actually research that suggests that you’ll have more motivation if you exercise outdoors. According to studies, people who spend time outdoors will feel more energy, less tension, less depression and higher satisfaction. Part of the reason for that is that just getting 20 minutes of fresh air will give you the same amount of energy as you would get drinking a cup of coffee. That means you’re going to feel a whole lot better even just from going outside, never mind the actual effects of the exercise that you’re getting at the same time.
You Can’t Exercise in Cold Weather
This one is perpetrated because cold actually makes your muscles contract, which is true. The false part, however, is that this means you can’t work out outdoors when it’s cold. You absolutely can. You just need to make sure that you warm up a little bit beforehand. That means you need to do just a little bit of cardio that’s going to warm your body and help to get your heart rate up just a little bit. This kind of workout makes sure you’re ready when you head outside, but of course, you should still bundle up to keep your body heat in.
Walking isn’t Doing Anything For You
Actually, walking can do a lot for you and we’re not talking about when you up the speed so you’re technically jogging or even running. Just taking a walk, even a casual one, is actually proven to do some great things. For one, it can help improve your immune system, for another, it can help you experience less joint pain and even reduce your risk of breast cancer. What’s really great is that just 15 minutes of walking can help you crave less sugar and that’s definitely going to be a benefit, right? Who wouldn’t like to kick their sugar habit?
You Need Weight to Get a Workout
You don’t need to have weights, either free weights, bar weights or machines, in order to get a great workout in. Rather, you can get a great workout with just your body weight. That means if you want to get out there and do squats, planks or push-ups you can get an awesome workout. You can also get an awesome workout by running, walking, doing stairs or just about anything else that you do outside. Sure, weights can help you build up muscle, but they’re not a necessity in order to get anything at all out of your workout. In fact just by changing the tempo of your body weight workouts and the time under tension can really drive insane muscle building gains.
Working Out Outdoors Means Running
Working out outdoors can mean running, but it doesn’t have to always. There are a number of different things that you could choose to do outside. It’s extremely versatile and you’re going to have more than enough opportunities to switch things up. Even if the only thing you want to do outdoors is running, you’re going to have an endless supply of places that you can head out to in order to do it. Take a different road when you leave your house, drive to a park and then run, or do whatever you like. There’s no end to the ways you can change it up. When your outdoors you way have more space to explore different and new movements than just running.
The Truths About Outdoor Training
So, if those are the myths that you’re commonly hearing, what’s the actual truth? What should you know about working out or training outdoors that you don’t already? There are actually a number of things that you should know and once you’ve read through this list you’re going to be lacing up your sneakers to head outside.
Work Out Anywhere
This is the awesome part. If you’re the type of person who lifts weights or goes to the gym to get a workout you’re limited. You have to have those weights or a gym nearby in order to get a workout. So what do you do when you’re on vacation? Or when you go to visit family? Sure, if you’re going to be there a while you can get a temporary membership to a local gym or if you’re staying at a hotel they may have something to work with, but you’re going to be limited in what you can do. If you’re an outdoor trainer, you don’t have to worry, because all you need is some space outside and your own body. Same thing goes for any person who enjoys health and fitness.
Save Your Money
Going to a gym or buying fancy equipment can be expensive at times. Not everyone has that kind of money just laying around or even if you do, you may not really want to spend it on a gym membership and get stuck with a contract commitment. When you workout outdoors you don’t need that kind of financial commitment of any kind. You just need your own two feet (okay, and maybe some running shoes). From there, you’re going to be good to go and ready to sweat.
Anything is Training
You don’t actually even have to be ‘working out’ all the time to get the benefits of training outdoors. Think about the things that you do outdoors. You might be swimming, playing basketball, paddle boarding, playing with the kids or grandkids, intense yard work, or different things. All of those things are part of getting a good workout in but you don’t even realize it because you’re just having fun. What could be better than that? When you walk into a gym you definitely know you’re working out. There’s no mistaking it. When you head outside? You could be having fun and never even realize that you’re doing anything else.
Try Something New
Think about your absolute favorite movie. Now imagine if you watched it twice in a row. You would probably still like it quite a bit, right? Maybe even for the third time or the fourth. But as you just keep watching the same show over and over again? You’re going to get a little tired of it, right? That’s the same thing when you’re working out. You’re going to get bored doing the same routine over and over again at the gym. When you’re training outdoors you have so many options for where to go, what to do and how to do it. There’s definitely no way to get bored.
Get Some Fresh Air
Research shows that fresh air and sunshine are extremely important to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. If you spend all of your time cooped up inside you’re going to start experiencing symptoms of depression. Getting some of the vitamins and nutrients that come from being outside is going to make you feel great. Plus, you’re going to have the opportunity to stop and smell the roses (literally, if you want) be with nature and to make some new friends as well. Training outdoors is going to open up numerous different opportunities for you.
Improve Your Thoughts
Just like doing the same thing over and over again becomes just plain boring, it’s actually affecting your mind. That boredom is going to cause your mind to slow down and it’s going to affect the way that you think and achieve things even after you’ve left that situation. By going outside you’re actually stretching your mind and you’re forcing your brain to pay attention to what’s going on. Outdoors can throw unexpected challenges to you as well causing you to focus. After all, training outdoors causes you to be more aware of your surroundings and react faster to anything.
Get Everyone Involved
When was the last time you went to the gym and saw people that weren’t just like you? Maybe a few of them were a little heavier than others. A few maybe were a little less toned up than others, but for the most part they’re all the same type of people doing the same type of workouts. But what about everyone else who doesn’t fit those standards? When you workout or train outdoors, you’re opening it up to absolutely anyone. Whether you’re smaller or larger than the traditional gym person or whether you have a disability that keeps you from doing certain types of workouts or you just plain don’t like certain types of workouts, you can still get in a great training session outdoors.
You’re actually going to get more of a workout in most cases with an outdoor workout than an indoor one. Even if you’re pushing yourself really hard at the gym there are some definite benefits when it comes to outdoor training. The main thing is that being outdoors means that nothing is for certain. When you round that next corner you might come up to a hill or a gravel path or a park. Your body never knows what’s going to come up next and you’re going to have to accommodate that. That means your body can’t get complacent and your workout is always pushing you to the limit.
Today, outdoor training is really somewhat of a trend. More and more people are dropping the gym memberships and starting to venture outside to get their exercise and they’re starting to feel even better about it. After all, there’s something about getting outside, in the fresh air, that helps your workout not feel quite so much like a workout. So take some time to figure out what’s going to work best for you and just what outdoor training and activities you want to try out.
You might be surprised at how much fun you’re having and if you decide that you want to go back to working out at a gym a few times a week and working out outdoors a few times that’s great too. Just know that you’re definitely not going to be slacking off or missing out when you skip the gym for the outdoors. Whether you want to grab a friend to join you for a walk, get your yard ready for the summer, play some sports, or hit the trails, you’re definitely going to have some great results from your outdoor training.
By: Anthony Mendez
Mendez is a fitness professional with 9+ years of experience, an athlete for Puma & Onnit. Mendez specializes in loaded & unloaded movement training. This unique style consists of: unconventional tools, bodyweight, flows, & correctives. He’s all about nourishing the MIND, BODY, & SOUL. Mendez [...]