If you don't feel like heading into the gym when the weather is nice, own it.
Doctors have prescribed spending time outside for a long time, and recent research agrees: Spending just two hours in nature a week can help boost your health and well-being, according to a June 2019 article published in Scientific Reports. It doesn't matter how you slice up that time — it can be a half hour or even 15 minutes at a time — the health benefits are the same.
Why You Should Do a HIIT Workout Outside
HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training, involves short workouts, about 15 to 30 minutes long, and relies on short bursts of work combined with brief recovery periods. You can do HIIT just about anywhere, anytime and without equipment, which makes it a natural choice for outdoor workouts.
Selena Samuela, a runner and tread instructor for Peloton, is a big fan of HIIT and loves the creativity that comes with using the landscape around you to add resistance to your sweat session. "When designing a HIIT workout of your own outside, take into consideration your surroundings," she says. "Body weight is definitely the easiest and most user-friendly way to work out outside, but I love using nature as props."
Be creative: Use a rock as medicine ball to slam on a sandy beach or a tree in place of a wall for wall sits.
An Outdoor HIIT Workout for Beginners
This 15- to 20-minute HIIT routine, designed by Samuela, will get your heart pumping and create a "just right" cycle of energy bursts and brief rests so you can make the most of your workout. The best place for this circuit is a flat, open area with room for sprints and a tree or wall you can use as a prop. After completing the warm-up, do each circuit twice.
Do: Three rounds of 30 seconds of each exercise
- Jab-cross punch
- Star jump
- Stand with feet staggered and shoulder-width apart, left in front of right. Bend your knees slightly and turn your right foot out to the right. Keep your hands in fists next to your chin.
- Keep your right fist by your chin and throw a left jab. Drive through your legs and hips as you punch forward with your left arm with your palm facing the ground, then bring your first back to your chin.
- Follow this with a right cross. Keeping your left fist by your chin, punch your right arm across and left. Simultaneously pivot on the ball of your right foot and turn your torso slightly toward the front.
- Return to start.
- Squat slightly, bringing your arms together and down in front of you, near your knees.
- Explode into a jump, spreading your feet out to the sides and extending your arms up and away from each other, as if each limb were the point of a star.
- Land softly and return to the starting position.
Do: Three rounds of 30 seconds of each exercise, resting 15 seconds between exercises
- Bear plank
- Wall sit (on a tree trunk)
- Start in a tabletop position with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
- Engage your core and lift your knees a few inches off the ground. Keep your back flat.
- Keep your hips steady as you tap your right hand to your left knee, moving from the shoulders.
- Tap your left hand to your right knee and continue alternating.
- Stand with your back against a tree or wall, placing your feet two to three feet out in front of the wall and slightly bend your knees.
- Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the ground and your legs create 90-degree angles with your knees over your ankles (or as low as you can go while maintaining good form). Rest your arms at your sides or place them on your hips.
- Hold this position.
Do: Three rounds, resting 60 seconds between each
- 50-yard sprint
- Plank tap
Find two trees or end points that are roughly 50 yards apart. Sprint from one to the other as fast as possible.
- Lie on a level surface, belly down. Position your feet so that your toes touch the floor. Bring your hands forward, near the sides of your shoulders, palms down.
- Press up into a high position, engaging your core. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists, and you can trace a straight line from head to heel.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- From the plank position described above, lift your right hand to touch your left shoulder.
- Set your right hand back down and repeat with your left hand to your right shoulder.
- Continue alternating for 30 seconds, ensuring that your hips stay level.
If plank taps feel too challenging, especially after holding a static plank, elevate your arms on a rock, bench or tree stump.
Do: Three to five minutes of light walking followed by this three-minute stretching routine