Kicking Your Outdoor Cardio Workouts Up A Notch!

With the nature of outdoor activities there are ways you can make changes to the cardio you do or increase the intensity of your workout. The following options can be used as outdoor substitutions to your cardio...

With summer right around the corner you are likely looking for ways to transport your workout outside so you can enjoy the fresh air and sun. Who can blame you! No one likes being cooped up in the gym all year round and a change of scenery might just be what you need in order to keep your motivational levels high so you can push yourself to meet your physique goals for the coming month.

With the nature of outdoor activities there are also a lot of ways you can either make small changes to the normal cardio you do or increase the intensity of the nature of your workout. That is one key element on any forward moving fitness program - change. You must always be changing things around if you hope to see lasting results and avoid a plateau.

So consider the following options as outdoor substitutions to your cardio program. They will challenge your body in new ways and hopefully bring back that spark for doing aerobic work.

Trail Running:

    If you're a fan of packing the miles away on the treadmill during the winter, you will likely relish the challenge that trail running brings. Because you are outside and the terrain is not going to be completely flat and even as it is on a treadmill, you will have these added twists and turns you need to work against.

    Click To Enlarge.
    Trail Running.

    Every time you change direction slightly, you are going to force your body to adjust itself slightly, causing more of your core abdominal muscles to contract to steady yourself. You will also work the lower leg muscles more as well as they try and keep your ankle steady on the uneven ground.

    One thing to note with this, however, is that it is very crucial that you get yourself a good pair of shoes before starting. Since treadmills typically have cushioning systems built right in, if you were running fine and pain-free on the treadmill, you might just find that upon embarking on an outdoor path you run into a whole host of issues. Prevent this before it starts by being fitted for a well-padded shoe before beginning.

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Inline Skating:

    If you are involved in the sport of hockey or just like to go for the odd recreational skate, this training will help step your conditioning up a notch as it can be even more demanding on the body. Inline skating has many of the same aerobic benefits as running however does not have the associated impact and is therefore a perfect option for those who suffer from knee or back pains due to this shock.

    When performing this activity, really focus on bending as low to the ground as possible and pushing more in the sideways outer direction than right behind you. Doing so will really target your glute and quad muscles giving you a very sexy lower body.

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    Uphill walking as a form of cardio is starting to catch on more and more in the health clubs as it doesn't have the impact of running, doesn't seem to cause as much upper body muscle mass loss and provides a great workout for the thighs and glutes all at the same time. Now you can simply transport all those benefits outside by hitting the trail and going for a hike.

Do You Prefer Indoor Or Outdoor Cardio?

I Don't Do Cardio.

    If you choose to carry hiking poles with you, you will up your calorie burn even more and make this more of a full body workout, similar to what an elliptical machine would give you. If you are just beginning then try and find an area that incorporates both hills and flat periods whereas if you are more advanced you can challenge yourself to going up a steep path (mountain hikes are great if you live in a region conducive to this).

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    Remember to try and keep your body as upright as possible while doing this. You will likely take on a slightly forward leaning when moving up steep inclines but for the rest of it focus on keeping your abs tight and standing tall. You will help prevent lower back pain by doing so.

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Mountain Biking:

    Finally you have the faithful gym bikers, those who turn up day after day, sit on the bike and give their hour's worth (unfortunately while sometimes being distracted with a magazine). If this is you, you are definitely in need of a challenge, something to get that stalled workout moving again.

    Mountain Biking
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Mountain Biking.

    Mountain biking could just be the solution. Since you are outside and moving along variable terrain you are really going to have to focus in on the workout and with this increase in concentration will also likely come an increase in effort levels.

    Mountain Biking:

    Generally speaking 'zoning out' during a workout session is not in your best interests as it likely means you are on autopilot, another word for automatic. Whenever something is automatic, it's not challenging you enough. Mountain biking will surely kick you out of that state.

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    When going uphill on your bike you will also be calling into play your shoulder and tricep muscles, which will be used to help keep the bike steady. Because of this, make sure you include upper body stretches after you are done this workout.


So don't let boredom stop you this summer. Make a change and take your workouts outside to not only improve your conditioning but to enjoy yourself more and give a new focus to your program.