Taking your Workouts Outdoors
Fresh air, open space and (if you’re lucky) sunshine! What’s not to love about outdoor training during the Summer season!
As the weather warms up, if you’ve been training indoors throughout the winter months, the Outdoors provides the welcome change of new surroundings, new visual stimulation and adds a fresh new approach to your training sessions.
You’ve certainly got a few different challenges training outdoors – ever changing weather, variable ground conditions, avoiding dogs running around the park! but you’ve also got the opportunity to get creative with your sessions and add in different elements that are much more suited for the outdoors – even walking and running are far more interesting and challenging outside than on a treadmill.
Many of my clients welcome the change to training outside as a new challenge to their usual indoor sessions and they appreciate the change of scenery too – training in the park rather than inside at home or in the same 4 walls of the gym. I personally benefit from it too. Being someone who loves the sunshine, it’s a lot nicer way to train clients being outdoors than it is being stuck in a gym all day!
However, taking your workouts outdoors, you’ve got to consider:
Weather – If wet or recently raining, the ground and park equipment may be slippery. Stick to exercising on areas you know are pretty much slip proof and avoid the grass. Also, direct sunlight can make it too hot for training so try to find a tree covered space.
Hydration – Especially important when the temperatures rise, carry an extra water bottle, as its easy to underestimate how much you’ll need.
Depending on where you’re training outdoors, many parks now have Outdoor gym areas – some equipment is great, some not so great, but nearly all have benches and playground equipment that can be utilised without having to lug around your weights.
Benches – Great for Step ups, Press ups, Dips, Single Leg Squats and Lunges, Mountain Climbers, Seated abdominals etc.
Trees – Great to use as marker points and for use with TRX and Resistance bands.
Playground Equipment – Climbing bars for pull ups, rows, hanging knee raises or just climbing up.
Swings – Great for challenging balance on otherwise static exercises such as single leg squats, Press-ups and Planks.
Make use of the differing ground conditions too – steps, hills, bridges, grass and pathways all provide new training challenges.
Or just take your usual workout session outdoors and enjoy the change of scenery!
Excuses not to Exercise
When it comes to exercise, if just the thought if it has you thinking of any excuse to get out of it, you’re not alone. Many reasons for putting off exercise are completely legitimate, however finding ways to overcome these barriers is a starting point.
#1 You’re too busy at work
These days, everyone seems to have a hectic lifestyle. The solution to this is PLANNING. If an hour at the gym is out of the question you might still find that a 20-minute brisk walk to or from work or on your lunch break is do-able. It doesn’t have to be all in one go – break it up during the day
#2 You have family responsibilities
When family takes priority, try to build exercise into your everyday parenting duties or weekend family time (e.g. walking with the pram, playing in the park, swimming or going for a family bike ride).
If you really can’t fit in a workout around the kids, re-assess your daily routine. Could you get up half an hour to fit in a workout? Or take some me-time when your partner gets in from work? Or when the kids are in bed? A 15-minute workout is just 1% of your day!
#3 You’re confused about what you should be doing
You might not have a clue where to start or what’s the best exercise for your goals. Look online, read up, ask a professional or hire a Personal Trainer – even just a couple of sessions can educate you, motivate you and put you on the right track with a suitable programme of exercise.
#4 You don’t like the Gym
It’s a common problem (which is why many of my clients hire me as they can train at home) But it’s worth trying a few out, or going to a few different non-gym-based classes as there may be one you feel comfortable attending. Failing that, you really don’t need to go to a gym or class to exercise – you can do it at home!
#5 It’s too expensive
Activities such as walking or running outdoors, or doing a home workout are all free!
#6 The Weather
You can’t control the weather, but you can keep an eye on the forecast and plan accordingly. You may need to reschedule your workout (e.g. an early-morning run to beat the heat) or even change the outdoor workout you’d planned for an indoor activity.
And there’s more…….
I’m too tired Workout early, get better sleep.
It’s too hard If it was easy everyone would be doing it! Build it up gradually.
I’m too old Being fit and healthy is beneficial whatever age you are.
I’m too unfit Everybody has to start somewhere – do what you can and gradually progress from there.
It’s boring Keep trying out different activities until you find something you enjoy.
I’ve just done my Nails Now this is the worse excuse EVER!
Remember, you can either have EXCUSES or RESULTS, unfortunately not both!
But if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way……
Rest and Recovery
No matter how extensive your fitness program may be, the time you spend working out is only a part of the process necessary to achieve your fitness goals. If you’re planning your training but not your recovery, you’re not going to fully reap the rewards from your Workouts.
One thing that is often misunderstood is the fact that your body becomes stronger AFTER you exercise and NOT during the actual workout itself. The real secret to getting results depends on what happens during the recovery period following the workout. This is why the correct recovery and rest is so important.
There are different types of recovery – Short-term (which happens immediately after a workout set) and Long-term (the period of time between workout sessions).
Short-term recovery can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and it’s important to replace energy stores within this period. But the longer recovery period between workouts is the one to focus on, because it’s the time after the workout when the body adapts to the training session. The correct care of your muscles and connective tissue, eating the right type of post workout nutrition, the quality and quantity of sleep and, even the types of clothes you wear, can all promote the post-workout recovery that’s necessary to help you maximise the results from your time spent exercising.
During exercise, your muscles expend energy and experience stress. After exercise, the body needs to replenish energy with carbohydrates and repair tissue with protein so having a post-workout snack with the correct ratio of carbohydrate and protein can help massively. The correct nutrition also assists the release of the muscle-building hormones to repair and build new muscle tissue.
Stretching and Myofascial Release
Stretching, Massage, Foam rollers, Compression balls and Rolling sticks can all help to reduce muscle tightness. If a muscle doesn’t cool-down properly, the collagen fibres (which are part of the connective tissue surrounding each muscle) can create knots. Massage works by manipulating muscle tissue to break up knots and can help reduce muscle tightness and improve joint movement.
Sleep is probably one of the most important factors that can help improve your overall health and fitness. Your body produces most of the hormones needed for tissue repair during sleep so it’s vital to get enough to assist in the recovery process.
Ice, Cold Baths and Cryotherapy
Cold treatments are extremely effective for recovery as they can help cool down the body’s core temperature, reduce inflammation and promote healing in tissue that was used during the workout. The cold temperature brings increased blood to the area, which brings nutrients and oxygen to help promote healing.
Sauna or Hot Tub
The heat from a sauna or hot tub increases the body’s circulation, which removes metabolic waste products while also carrying oxygen and other nutrients necessary to help repair tissue used during the workout.
Alternating between high and low intensity workouts (muscle confusion) either daily, weekly or monthly and taking a few days off every few weeks to allow the body to rest and recover fully.
Wearing Compression clothing before and after a workout is a relatively new form of recovery treatment that may also be effective. The pressure from the tight clothing can improve circulation which will help remove metabolic waste and promote blood flow to help the tissue repair and rebuild.
Too much exercise without enough rest and recovery can lead to injury or illness, both of which could prevent your regular workouts. There are dangers to overtraining without the correct recovery periods between and If you don’t take enough R&R for your muscles to adapt this will certainly affect your ability to achieve your fitness goals.
NEVER forget to include RECOVERY into your Fitness programme!
What is the best Exercise for me?
Finding the ‘best’ Exercise for you can be very confusing. You hear it all the time “The Perfect Workout Plan”, “The one secret workout you need to lose weight”, “Guaranteed to give you a six pack” and for most people who start a fitness plan they’ll eventually stop either through boredom, exhaustion, or because it just isn’t sustainable long term. There really isn’t the ‘best’ workout! The best workout for you is the one that works towards your personal goals, gets results, fits in with your lifestyle and most importantly that you enjoy doing – because if you really don’t enjoy exercising, you’re not going to stick to it!
To find the right Exercise for you ask yourself:
What are your goals?
Are you exercising to lose weight? to sculpt your body? to gain strength? to increase flexibility? to run a marathon? or just to increase your fitness levels? The type of training you choose should be specific to your goals.
Are you seeing results?
Seeing results is a sure indicator that you’re doing the right type of exercise for your goals and generally getting results from your training will motivate you to keep at it. If nothing seems to be changing how you’d like it to be, you’re probably not doing the right exercise for your goals.
Does your training fit into your lifestyle?
You need to determine realistically, what time you have available for training, can you get to the gym or get out for a run? Does a Wednesday evening class cause childcare issues? etc. There’s no point in a 2-hour training session being part of your plan if you don’t have the time to spare. If you’re short of time, planning in a 20-minute home workout will be far more sustainable.
Do you enjoy it?
Probably the most important factor of all! If you look forward to your sessions rather than dread the thought of them, then you’re more likely to keep at it and it’s the consistency of your workouts that will get you to your goal. So, as soon as you feel boredom setting in and your workout starts becomes a chore, change it around!
So, if you’ve been doing the same workout for months and have stopped seeing results – try something new today!
How much do you Sweat ???
When your body temperature rises your glands secrete sweat and the evaporation of moisture from your skin helps you cool off. How much you sweat during exercise is due to a number of factors, including gender, age, genetics, temperature and humidity and it isn’t necessarily always an indication of how hard you’re working or how many calories you’re burning.
Weight plays a role as well. Larger people tend to sweat more, because their bodies generate more heat.
Another contributor is fitness level – Fit people tend to sweat more and sooner during exercise as research suggests that as your fitness level improves, your body’s heat-regulating system becomes more efficient, cooling you down faster and allowing you to work harder.
However, on the flip side, don’t assume that if you’re not sweating you’re not working hard – it could be that your sweat evaporates quickly because you’re exercising in cooler conditions or you just simply may not sweat much!