With the hot summer sun hanging high in the sky, warmer weather and longer light may have you itching to take your workout outdoors. Go ahead and pry yourself away from the gym—you have our permission! Instead of leaning out by spending countless hours on the treadmill, hit the pavement, hills, or park!
Heading outside for a sweat session is the perfect way to train while soaking up some vitamin D and working on your summer tan. Breathe in some fresh air while you crush your goals with these challenging outdoor workouts from ultra-fit Cellucor athletes.
Intervals on the Beach: Calum von Moger
When it comes to outdoor workouts, bodybuilder Calum von Moger is all about cardio. While it would be an understatement to say that the current Mr. Universe is a fan of the weight room, he prefers to get his heart-pumping cardio in the great outdoors. "I don't like doing cardio in the gym, so I use it as an opportunity to get outside," he explains. "I don't have a set workout, but I like doing activities that get my heart rate up and put me in fat-burning mode."
When the weather warms up, von Moger ranks hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and runs on the beach among his favorite activities. "It's a more relaxed and fun way to squeeze in fitness while getting some fresh air," he says. "Plus you get the sunlight as well."
Von Moger is a fan of intervals. For a relatively intense workout, he might warm up with a brisk walk along the beach before jogging for two minutes, sprinting for one, and then alternating that for 30 or more minutes. He recommends at least one outdoor sweat session a week.
Looking to take fat burning to the next level? Von Moger suggests fasted cardio if you're really looking to shed fat. Wake up early and get in a run before breakfast. It's an old-school approach, sure, but it does the trick!
Hill Sprints: Karina Baymiller
For outdoor workouts, powerlifter Karina Baymiller dominates an uphill battle—literally. Hill sprints are her fat-slashing method of choice. "I prefer hill sprints to flat-ground sprints on the track or treadmill because of the extra muscle-fiber recruitment in the glutes and hamstrings," she says. She's also quick to note that there's less pressure on the joints, tendons, and ligaments when going uphill, making the added elevation perfect for those with achy knees.
"Hill sprints are a combination training method that requires strength, power, and a high degree of aerobic capacity," she says. This makes them the ultimate fat-burning and conditioning combo.
Looking to train cardio like Baymiller? First, find a moderately large hill, ideally about 40 yards long with a 6-8 percent grade. Then, begin with a good, dynamic warm-up consisting of a short jog, high knees, and squat jumps to get your body mobile and ready for the task ahead. By the time you really tie down your sneakers to start, expect to go full force.
"Take an all-out-effort approach to hill sprints as you would with any other high-intensity workout," Baymiller recommends. "Sprint the length of the hill. Time will vary depending on the hill grade and size, as well as external factors such as wind resistance, but it should take you about 10 seconds." Recover on your walk down, then repeat.
"Aim to sprint 5-20 times depending on your current level of conditioning," Baymiller says. "You'll have the best workout of your life."
Park-Bench Blast: Jen Jewell
Fitness pro Jen Jewell loves outdoor workouts. For her, they're a fun, fresh way to bust out of a gym rut. "If I feel as though I've been living in the gym, I'll take a break and skip it," she says. But bypassing the brick-and-mortar facility doesn't mean skipping a workout. Instead, Jewell hits the beach or opts to stay in her neighborhood for an effective training session close to home.
"One of my favorite ways to combine strength training and outdoor cardio is to go to a local park or beach," says Jewell. Park benches make for great training tools and can be used to create a killer workout. "I'll look at those benches as a marker and will run to each one," she says. "Then I'll stop and perform an assortment of bodyweight exercises on the bench."
Here's one of Jewell's favorite circuits to perform. After she completes it, she runs to the next bench and repeats the circuit again.
Jen Jewell's Park Workout
- Sprint to bench
- Push-ups onto bench - 15 reps
- Step-ups off bench - 15 reps
- Triceps dips off bench - 15 reps
- Split squats using bench - 15 reps
- Elevated push-ups (feet on bench, hands on ground) - 15 reps
- Box jumps on bench - 15 reps
- Sprint to next bench and repeat!
If she's looking for an added challenge, Jewell integrates walking lunges—alternating between them and jogging between each bench. Benches play an integral part in added motivation as markers that help you push a bit harder when running or lunging, because you always have a goal in clear sight.
"You're not just running aimlessly," Jewell explains. "You know you have to just get to that next bench." She typically makes her park-training sessions 30-40 minutes long, aiming to hit as many benches as possible in that time period.
Morning Track and Bleacher Run: Craig Capurso
IFBB pro Craig Capurso has recently taken up early-morning outdoor cardio, since it works best with his schedule and allows him to stay consistent. "I already get up early for work, but lately I've been tacking on an hour to do cardio as well," he explains. "I've been in prep mode, and it's the only time I'm able to fit it in."
For Capurso, getting bored with the usual steady-state cardio was more than enough reason to head outside, run on the track, and do some bleacher work. After warming up, he hits the track and performs one lap around—400 meters—at a slightly-faster-than-jogging pace. Once finished, he sprints up the bleacher stairs as fast as possible. After he's reached the top, he returns down at half the speed.
Capurso then jogs to the next set of stairs and repeats the process. This continues until he reaches the starting point of the track again. He completes four 400-meter laps and four stair runs.
If he has time, Capurso torches any final calories with Tabata work, which is a high-intensity form of interval training that calls for 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated eight times in a row for a total of four minutes. For this final burner, Capurso recommends choosing between pop squats, push-ups, V-ups, planks, Russian twists, burpees, speed lunges, and jumping jacks.
Lifting is a wonderful thing, yes, but don't ignore the call of the outdoors when it comes time for cardio. Just grab the sunscreen and go!