Let’s face it. Spring and summer is all about being outside and hitting the trails – walking, biking, roller blading… and resistance training?! Why not? Have you ever considered skipping the crowded gym and doing your workout in an Edmonton park or along a trail? Recent NAIT Personal Fitness Training grads put together some functional no-equipment exercises that will help you get your daily dose of vitamin D while working on that beach summer body.
A good exercise session works multi-joint, larger muscle groups before smaller muscles, so do this workout in the order suggested. These new fitness professionals also remind you to always warm up before beginning your workout and to stretch after. A warm up can be a 5 – 10 minute brisk walk. Then when you come across a park bench, you’ve found your outdoor gym! Aim for 10 – 12 repetitions and 2 – 3 sets of each exercise.
This exercise is great for lower body strength and power. Using a bench or any elevated surface roughly knee height, place one foot on the higher surface and the other foot on the ground. Using the elevated foot and your arms for momentum, push off the platform hard enough to jump so both feet leave the ground. You can choose to alternate foot placement every time you jump or do a few repetitions on each leg and switch afterward.
Need to dial it back? Use a lower platform, or simply take the platform out and do jump lunges on the ground.
Single leg lunge
Here’s another exercise that targets your quads, glutes and hamstrings. While working these muscles, it will also challenge your balance. Find a surface that allows you to elevate your foot (bench, stairs, etc.). Place your back foot on top of the surface so your back knee is bent. Drop your butt toward the ground until your knee almost touches, then use your standing leg to push yourself back up. Protect your knee by making sure you’ve stepped forward enough so that your knee doesn’t pop forward over your toes.
Need to dial it back? Lunge with both feet on the same, flat surface.
Here’s your summer challenge! Start with a range of motion you can manage, then work up to a full squat. This movement is both for building leg strength and balance, as well as a great party trick to show your friends. Hold your leg straight out in front of you and squat down and back up. For balance, you can hold onto something as you lower. As you build leg strength, challenge yourself by holding your arms out to the side or straight out in front.
Need to dial it back? Do half the motion. Start in a one-legged squat on a curb or bench with your other leg extended and rise up using your supporting leg.
Lamp post snow angel squats
How about a summer/park version of snow angels? This functional exercise is typically done as a wall squat, but this is an outdoor workout. No walls around? How about a lamp post! This exercise is also great for your posture – and those forward-slouched shoulders. Stand against a wall (or lamp post) with your feet a foot or two away. Think about pulling your belly button to the back of your spine to support your back, and rest your head against the wall, creating a double chin. Place your bent arms against the wall with your hands pointing up to the sky. Squat down to a 90 degree angle then squeeze back up. As your legs reach full extension, extend your arms up over your head while keeping your elbows against the wall.
Need to dial it back? Break it up. Go straight to the wall angels or do a wall sit!
Bench squat side raise
Let’s not forget those outer thighs. Stand beside a bench or curb with one foot on the ground and the other elevated. Squat down as if sitting back in a chair then push up to standing. As you rise up, slowly lift outer leg to the side, without tilting your hips. Lower your leg and return to a squat. Repeat for all reps then change legs. Watch so that your knee doesn’t push out over your toes as you squat.
Need to dial it back? Use a lower surface or simply do standing leg raises.
Push-ups are a great way to build total and upper body strength. This exercise primarily works your chest (pecs), shoulders (deltoids) and triceps, with quite a bit of core muscle activation. For a park or trail version, place your hands up on a bench or any surface higher than the ground (you can experiment with the height), so that your upper body is elevated but in a straight line, resting against the bench. Push yourself up, making sure to squeeze your core and glute muscles in order to stabilize your whole body and prevent any sagging in your back or lower body. Lower down slowly and repeat.
Need more of a challenge? Place your feet instead of your hands on a raised platform and do decline pushups.
Side plank crunch
Combining a crunch with a side plank challenges your stabilizing core muscles and your obliques. Lie on your side resting on your elbow and your bent knee. Lift your hip so that your body is in a straight line from your knee to your head. Extend your upper arm overhead then crunch your abs, bringing your elbow and knee together. Repeat. Make sure your supporting shoulder is in a relaxed, stable position.
Need more of a challenge? Raise up to a full side plank – straight arm and resting on your foot.
This upper body movement works your triceps. Hold on to a bench or railing at about hip height or lower. Place both hands behind you on the object. With your legs straight out in front of you, lower your body. Bend your elbows as you lower and push through your palms on the way up. At the top extend your elbows as far as you can (without locking them) and focus on feeling your triceps (back of arm) contract.
Too challenging? Bend your knees and bring your feet closer to you.
Need more of a challenge? Place your feet on something of equal height and do the same movement.
By NAIT Personal Training Students: Adrian Sabo, Jillian Sanford, Mason Rabinovitch, Cindy Joly