Take It Outside | Erin Stern

Posted on June 26, 2018 at 12:00 AM

It’s officially summer. This means it’s time for the beach, bikinis, and spending more time enjoying the outdoors. Why not take your workouts outside too? Changing your training environment is a great way to break through plateaus and to keep it exciting. Studies have shown that you actually burn more calories when training outdoors – especially when doing cardio. Your body has to propel itself, the terrain changes, and you have wind resistance. Outdoor workouts tend to be longer because the changing environment gets your mind off of exercising. This also equates to a greater calorie burn! Stuck for ideas on what to do when you lace up your sneakers and walk outside? Here are a few ideas:

Trail running or walking

This can be as easy as going to your local park, or visiting a state park for the day. If you don’t know of any places to run or walk, check out alltrails.com. They have a comprehensive database of trails. Once there, try fartleks, which is the Swedish word for “speed play”.  You’ll simply run, jog, and walk in intervals of your own choosing. I like to find a tree and run to it, walk until I have caught my breath, and run again. The workout becomes fun and time flies! 

Jump rope

Grab your jump rope and find a flat place to train. You can jump for 20 minutes at random, or try intervals to get your heart rate up. Some intervals to try are 30 seconds jump/30 seconds rest, 1 minute jump/1 minute rest, or try a Tabata for a really intense workout (20 seconds jump/10 seconds rest, done for 4 minutes total).

Body weight circuits

Combine body weight exercises into a circuit. Aim for 2 minutes of work and 2 minutes of rest. Go for 20-25 minutes total. Some exercises to use include mountain climbers, jumping jacks, burpees, step ups, pop squats, scissor jumps, pushups and lunges.

Resistance band circuits

If cardio isn’t up your alley, bring some resistance bands outside. It’s ideal if you have a park nearby. Attach a band overhead and work on lat pulldowns, face pulls, triceps pushdowns, and do some assisted pull-ups. Put a band at hip height to use for rows, flyes, and hip thrusts. A band attached near the ground is good for upright rows, biceps curls, shoulder and chest presses. Get creative and keep moving!

Sand sprints 

If you live near a beach or lake, sand sprints are a challenging HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. Find a sandy, flat beach. Mark off 50-80 meters or a distance you can sprint in 10 seconds. Before starting your sprints make sure to warm up well and then do 6-8 sprints. Rest 3-4 minutes in between sprints. The sand makes your body train harder, as stabilizers have to engage to keep your body tight and moving in the right direction. The central nervous system is also fired up. The brain is accustomed to the body being on a harder, more stable surface. It has to adjust to the unstable nature of the sand. This means that you’ll burn more calories and create some neural adaptations!


Dust off the beach cruiser or mountain bike and hit the road or trails. If you don’t have a bike, many cities now offer hourly rentals with the download of an app. Try fartleks on the bike, or try biking to work or for errands (if it’s safe and close enough). Biking is an awesome way to build quads, and it’s a fun way to get out and see your surroundings. 

Canoeing or kayaking

If you live near a body of water, canoeing or kayaking can be good for upper body conditioning. Many beaches offer kayak rentals, and you can get an effective workout in an hour. Intervals or steady paddling works well. The currents and the wind can increase the resistance. As with any repetitive movements, make sure you’re paddling evenly with your right and left side.  


Head to your local pool, hit the beach, the lake, or the springs for a refreshing workout. You can swim freely, or use a kickboard to hit the glutes and hamstrings. I like using the “aqua jogger” for sprints in the pool, and you can use any manner of timed interval to create a workout. It is harder to get your heart rate up in the pool, so I recommend lengthening your interval times by 30-40%! Swimming is no-impact on the joints, but water is 12x the resistance of air. You’re working harder to move, but not causing wear and tear. Pretty cool!

Any time I weight train or do interval training, I rely on PEAK ATP to help me get more quality volume in my training. I love how I can maintain my intensity for longer when I take it, too. Thank you for reading. Until next time, train hard, y’all!

  Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia

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