How to Make the Outdoors Your Gym

How to make the outdoors your gym

As you can probably tell from all the outdoor workouts I post online, I’m a big fan of making the outdoors my gym.

But it wasn’t always this way. Back when I first started working out consistently, I didn’t have a clue what to do when I didn’t have access to my regular gym.

But that’s one reason why bodyweight training is so awesome—you can do it wherever you are, even if you don’t have any regular workout equipment around.

Here’s how to make the outdoors your gym:

Get Creative

One of my favorite things to do when I’m at a new outdoor park is to do a quick survey of what’s around.

If there’s an outdoor fitness park, there will often be pull up bars and parallel bars—my absolutely favorite outdoor workout tools. There are so many exercises you can do with both, including pull ups, triceps dips, and l-sit variations.

But if it’s just a regular park or playground, you’ll need to get a little more creative. Here’s what I typically look for:

A bench or stairs. These can be used for all sorts of plyometric exercises, including box jumps, step ups, push ups, and more.

A big grassy area. This is perfect for exercises requiring a bit more space like sprints, long jumps, walking lunges, and others.

Any type of bars. Even if you don’t have an actual fitness park, a playground will often have bars that will work for pull ups, bodyweight rows, and even dips. And if there’s a vertical bar you can work human flags!

A level concrete area. This is perfect for jump roping, one of the best outdoor and minimal equipment workouts you can do.

If you’re traveling and are wondering where to find outdoor fitness parks, Calisthenics-Parks.com is a great place to start.

Try Out Workout Bands

If you’re looking to add some variety to your outdoor workouts, one of the very best ways to do so is to add in workout bands to various exercises.

Bands can make exercises either more or less difficult, depending on what kind of challenge you’re looking for. And they’re an awesome way to work on cool calisthenics and bodyweight skills.

Here are some full body exercise ideas using bands:

  • Squat + band press
  • Side lunges w/ band shoulder press
  • Bodyweight rows using bands
  • Squat jumps using bands for extra resistance

And if you’re into calisthenics, here are some exercises you can make either more or less difficult using bands:

  • Push ups
  • Triceps dips
  • Pull ups
  • Muscle ups
  • Handstand push ups
  • Dragon flags

Our favorite bands are made with love by Rubberbanditz. Check out our Bodyweight Strength + Power program for more ways to utilize bands in your workouts.

Bring a Jump Rope

Even if you haven’t picked up a jump rope since you were in elementary school, it’s never too late to start. There is no more effective, more portable workout tool than a simple jump rope.

Jumping rope outdoors will get your heart rate up, boost your athletic conditioning, help with coordination, and get you sweaty and breathless in a short amount of time.

I bring a jump rope absolutely everywhere I go—it’s the one workout tool I never go without, since all you need is a flat surface and a little bit of space for an awesome workout.

Here are some ideas of jump rope exercises you can try:

  • Basic single unders
  • High knees using a jump rope
  • Double unders
  • Criss cross arms or feet

If you’re looking for a sturdy jump rope that doesn’t break immediately, we absolutely love Crossrope Jump Ropes.

Use Gymnastics Rings

If you’re looking for even more ways to mix up your outdoor workouts, gymnastics rings are an amazing way to do it. All you need is something sturdy like a tree branch, pull up bar, swing set, or even a basketball hoop.

If you’ve never used rings before, you need to make sure to take the time to allow your muscles and joints to adapt to the extra instability. The very best way to do this is to do support holds for time—essentially, you’ll grip the rings with both hands, and keeping your arms straight, slightly rotate your arms outwards so that your elbow pits are facing in front of you. Keep your core tight and push up through your shoulders as you hold this position for time. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s tougher than it looks!

Here are some other great exercises to work on with gymnastics rings:

  • Triceps dips
  • Bodyweight rows
  • Push ups
  • L-sit holds
  • Muscle ups

If you’re really interested in leveling up your workouts with gymnastics rings, check out this fantastic ring program by our friends at GMB.

Have Fun With It!

Using the outdoors as your gym forces you to get more creative and mix up your workouts even more than usual.

If you’re used to working out at a gym or at home, this can be a little disconcerting at first—but the more you try it, the more fun you’ll have with it.

Work hard, and have fun! Make sure to tag your outdoor workouts on social media #getoutside and #12minuteathlete.

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