It’s full on spring! A very welcome season to all of us and a special gift for outdoor lovers. A season in which Mother Nature treats us to a few minutes of extra sunlight every day and fuels us with vitamin D. A season that brings an end to those grey days and longs nights and turns the outdoors into a green stadium. A season that no longer provides you with excuses not to go outside. In other words: a perfect season for outdoor activities. But what does the outdoors have to offer when it comes to your personal goals and fit journey? And how can you use the outdoors in a functional way without bringing half of the gym-equipment with you? Well, the possibilities are really endless. In our first article, we already gave you some insights, but here are a couple of practical tips that you can easily apply when training outdoors.
First of all, running is a good way to improve athletic performances, overall fitness and even strength. Depending on your pace, you can work on your endurance, condition and speed. By making use of interval principles and higher intensity runs, i.e. running uphill or shorter distances in a faster pace, your oxygen uptake can be improved. When you hit the trails and run in a natural environment with different types of surfaces, you integrate diversity into the way you burden different muscles. Because of the uneven and loose surface, your body needs to adapt and work harder to keep the pace and stabilise the upper part of body, thereby improving leg strength and core stability. In other words: you will benefit from avoiding the concrete and running trails or different types of surfaces. But keep in mind to take your time to build this up.
By lifting, carrying and moving natural objects you can improve full body strength, core stability, coordination and prepare yourself for everyday movements. Lifting rocks from the ground, flipping over logs, carrying heavy stones from one side of a field to another, lifting a piece of wood above your head, or anything else you find during your workout. Lots of challenges are out there, just be creative. The advantage of training with natural objects is that the different shapes and forms pose continuously changing challenges and difficulties, thereby preparing your body and muscles in different ways and guaranteeing variety in load.
Another simple and functional way of exploiting the outdoors is by making use of trees for training purposes and integrating climbing in your workout. It offers lots of different possibilities and challenges, such as: vertical pull movements, climbing over trees and natural objects, doing vertical handstands against a tree, climbing from tree branch to tree branch, moving around a tree in a horizontal plank position while keeping your hands on the ground and your feet against the tree. The possibilities are endless. In general, these movements improve coordination, provide strength in different muscles as well as muscular endurance.
Furthermore, there is a wide variety of solo bodyweight movements for which equipment isn’t necessary at all to dig deep. You can think of frog jumps, bear walk, duck walk, jumping over objects, box jumps, moving over a natural balance beam such as a fallen tree, leopard crawl, lunges, traveling burpees, caterpillars, and so on. And of course all these movements can be executed backwards! Besides the functionality and practicality, the advantages of these multi joint movements are that they don’t isolate muscles and thereby develop and improve your complete locomotor system and body as an integrated whole.
And last but not least you can exploit the opportunities that hills and dikes provide. All of the above can be practiced in a hilly environment, whereby hills can easily crank up the intensity of your workout and, if it fits your goals, also the production of lactic acid.
As we described here, the possibilities that the outdoors provide for your fit journey are very diverse, and couldn’t be easier! Get outside, start your workout with a run to the nearest forest or park, and combine these possibilities in order to improve all-round athletic performances. And to keep it fresh you can always take a swim!
Enjoy your spring!
Nick & Teun