Why Your Next Workout Should Be an Outdoor Bootcamp

Get fit while having fun and challenging your brain and body with outdoor bootcamp workouts. (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/GettyImages)

When warm, sunny days head your way, it's the perfect opportunity to take in some vitamin D. Also on our essential nice-weather to-do list? Check out an outdoor bootcamp or design your own impromptu butt-kicking bootcamp for a group of friends.

Besides the obvious benefits of any bootcamp workout — increased strength, improved cardiovascular fitness and potentially even weight loss, if that's your goal — exercising outdoors can also improve your state of mind and overall wellbeing, according to a July 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Of course, that depends largely on the weather.)

Not sure how to DIY your own outdoor bootcamp workout? These tips and sample workouts from personal trainers and bootcamp instructors will help you take your fitness game to a whole new level.

Benefits of Outdoor Bootcamp Workouts

If you're like many people, you spend most of your day indoors — most likely at a desk. Then you go from office to gym, potentially getting only a glimpse of sky and sunlight.

"Some people feel like they don't want to work out because that means they have to go to a gym, but exercise can take place in a variety of settings. Participating in a bootcamp class can be a great alternative to core traditional styles of exercise," says Christopher Gagliardi, American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and weight management coach.

There's also a certain sense of freedom in exercising outside. You're no longer confined to the four walls of the gym. You can set up an outdoor bootcamp that includes sprint drills or alternate bouts of cross-country running with strength-training exercises.

You can also use varied terrain and features such as park benches or playground equipment to add fun and interesting new challenges that keep your workouts fresh and inventive.

Tips for You Best Bootcamp Workout Ever

Keep in mind that the biggest safety concern when exercising outdoors is being ready for the weather. If it's hot out, be sure you have access to water. In certain climates, muggy summer afternoons bring thunderstorms. If there's any sign of an impending storm, don't hesitate to call off the class and seek shelter.

Remember to include a cooldown at the end of each workout. Stretching and mobility work is a great idea, as is a short relaxing yoga sequence. Not only do you want to get a great workout, but you want to stay safe and injury-free, too.

A bootcamp should be about giving it your all, but more importantly, it should be about having fun outside with a group of like-minded people. Go at your own pace, take breaks if you need to and make sure to appreciate "nature's gym" — the great outdoors.

An Upper-Lower Body Bootcamp Workout

This workout is "set up to alternate upper- and lower-body moves and floor-based versus standing," says LA-based strength and conditioning coach and bootcamp instructor Andrew Heffernen. "Exercise order is important."

"Set up your stations in a circuit so you can just move easily from one to the next," says Heffernan. "Put weights in the middle of the circle so you can grab as needed." These moves can also easily be modified for any fitness level.

Warm-Up

Do: Four rounds of sun salutations, taking one to two breaths per move.

The Workout

Equipment: TRX; a medicine ball (6 to 10 pounds); and dumbbells, kettlebells or sandbags

Do: 30 seconds of each of the following exercises, doing as many good-form reps as possible, with a 15-second rest between exercises and a 90-second rest between rounds. Complete three or four total rounds.

Move 1: Reverse Lunge

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Take a big step back with your right foot and sink your back knee down, close to the ground. Both knees should be making about a 90-degree angle. Keep your torso as upright as possible.
  3. Press through the left heel to return back up to the top
  4. Repeat on opposite side.

Move 2: Push-Up

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. Keeping your elbows close to the rib cage, engage your core and lower your chest toward the floor.
  3. Push back up.

Move 3: 1.5 Rep Squat

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and arms by your sides.
  2. Sit your hips back and bend your knees to lower your butt toward the floor. With the weight in your heels, lower down until your thighs are at parallel to the ground or slightly below.
  3. Pulse back up about three inches, then return to the bottom phase of your squat.
  4. Press through heels to return to stand.

Move 4: TRX Row

  1. Adjust the straps to a short height and stand facing the anchor point. Lean back with your arms straight with palms facing each other.
  2. Pull your body toward the anchor point and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  3. Lower back down to the start, maintaining the slight reverse plank.

Move 5: Power Step-Up

  1. Stand behind a step with your feet together.
  2. Step your right foot onto the platform.
  3. Press through your right foot to launch up, driving your left knee toward your chest.
  4. Land with both feet together on the step.
  5. Step down and repeat on the opposite side.

Move 6: Medicine Ball Slam

  1. Stand with your feet planted firmly just outside of your shoulders, holding a medicine ball at chest height.
  2. Raise the medicine ball all the way over your head, then slam it into the ground as hard as you can.
  3. Squat down to pick it up — making sure to bend your knees — and repeat.

Move 7: Superman

  1. Lie on your stomach. Bring your legs together and extend your arms overhead so your biceps are alongside your ears.
  2. Using your back muscles and glutes, raise your legs and torso off the ground. Keep your legs straight and reach your fingertips away from you.
  3. Hold at the top of the exercise for five seconds.
  4. Lower back down to the ground with control and repeat.

Move 8: Side Shuffle

  1. Start in an athletic stance, with knees slightly bent in a quarter squat.
  2. Shuffle 10 steps to the right (as far as your space will allow).
  3. Shuffle back to the start.

Move 9: Marching Forearm Plank

  1. Start in a forearm plank with your shoulders directly over your elbows.
  2. Engage your core and lift your right foot up about three inches off of the floor.
  3. Lower back to start and repeat on the opposite side.
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