Are you sick of the cardio machines at your gym? Are you bored with walking or pedaling for what seems like hours on that treadmill or stationary bike?
Taking your cardio session outside may be the solution you need to refresh your motivation and challenge yourself to achieve a higher level of conditioning. There are endless possibilities for cardiovascular training sessions when you go outside for your workout, and when you take your cardiovascular training session outside, it means that each workout becomes an adventure, a chance to observe nature, and an opportunity to rejuvenate your spirit.
Outdoor workouts bring you back to basics in the natural environment, and is a time to challenge your body and mind and discover a sense of well-being. Exercising outside will provide you a refreshing break from loud music, artificial lighting, and flashing televisions.
Here is a list of exciting summer cardio training ideas to change up your cardio routine and take advantage of the weather! Make sure you warm-up and stretch before you begin your workout, and remember to cool-down and stretch when you are finished!
Walking & Running:
The easiest form of outdoor exercise is simple: WALK! There are trails and sidewalks and I am willing to bet that your dog is in need of a walk and would enjoy some exercise with his owner! You can walk at many different paces. If you have kids you can take them along with you instead of paying for childcare while you are at the gym. Walking outside instead of on the treadmill is the first and easiest way to change up your cardio training routines.
- Warm-up jog for 10 minutes
- 1 minute faster pace followed by 30 seconds walk or slow jog recovery (complete 6 intervals)
- Cool-down for 10 minutes and stretch
Another obvious way to utilize the summer weather is to RUN outside! Not everyone is able to run for a long distance but try to incorporate a little running into your walk. Running regularly can help with weight loss, fight aging, and promote better health. In fact, running burns more calories per minute than any other form of exercise!
There are also ways to liven up everyday walking and running sessions:
Run or walk trails - Trails are groomed throughout the spring and summer months, and you should take full advantage of nature's beauty and enjoy walking and running outdoors.
A variation for your normal running routine is an interval workout. Interval training will add a little spice to your workout by adding segments of a faster pace to your workout. During your normal jogging routine, speed it up for 30 seconds or 1 minute or even more. Then, follow the interval with a period of recovery.
It is recommended to either walk or slowly jog as a recovery method. The interval of rest depends on your fitness level. Walk to rest if you are a beginner or average runner and jog to catch your breath if you are more advanced. Your recovery should be about have the distance (or time) of your interval.
You can make these intervals as difficult as you want. You will burn a lot more calories because of the increased intensity, plus it will burn more calories for your body to recover.
Here is an example of an interval training workout:
Hill training will increase muscle power and strength. Be cautious because at first, hill training is very demanding because you will be working muscles that aren't often used when running on flat ground.
However, the more you hill train, the easier it will become. It is also effective at building aerobic power and strength. It is a great form of resistance training for runners because as you run up a hill, you are fighting the resistance of the slope. There are many benefits of hill training including strengthening of hamstrings, calves, glutes, hip flexors and Achilles tendons. Further, hill running uses more upper-body muscles than flat running.
Set up a few pieces of basic workout equipment in your backyard for a circuit-like training workout. Circuit training allows one to achieve the benefits of both aerobic & anaerobic exercise in the same exercise session. Because of the constant variation, circuit training is much more interesting than most forms of training.
Do one exercise for 30 seconds or one minute, then move onto the next. Here is an example of a basic at-home circuit:
You can also increase difficulty of the push-ups by using push-up blocks, putting your feet up on some stairs, or making yourself perform the push-ups with your hands on a basketball instead of the ground. Circuit training will constantly keep you stimulated so you do not become bored with exercise and decrease chance of plateau.
Bike (Trails Or Road):
Whether you enjoy riding the trails and off-road biking, or getting into your groove on the road, biking is a great way to get into great cardiovascular conditioning and tone your lower body. Bicycling can improve fitness and enhance energy levels.
Most communities offer group bike rides throughout the spring and summer months. Sign up with some friends to enjoy the weather and exercise together. Get your entire family together and go for a family bike ride!
You should also think about riding your bike to work while the weather is conducive. It will save you so much money on gas and parking, and help you burn extra calories! You probably have a bike or even 2 bikes out in your garage or in your storage that have been gathering dust all winter and are just waiting to be used.
Swimming is an effective way to get into spectacular cardiovascular conditioning along with a total-body workout. It is great for strengthening the heart muscle and helps improve oxygen flow in the muscles. Swimming can also be done in a variety of strokes and with or without swim aids such as kickboards.
Cardio Series: Swimming - The Strokes:
Not only is swimming great for cardiovascular health, it is also good for the body because it strengthens the abdomen, shoulders, back, and tones the entire body. Check out your local area's pools and get into a water-polo group or just go in for lap-swimming or family swim. To really mix up your cardio workout while swimming, get out of the pool and do some crunches, push-ups, squats, or lunges every three to four laps.
Jumping rope is an excellent exercise for cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and coordination. Jump ropes are very cheap and you don't need much space to rope outside. You can go at many different speeds and cadences, and rest when necessary. Did you know that you can burn up to 3 times as many calories in 10 minutes jump-roping than you can by walking on the treadmill.
Studies have found roller blading an excellent cardiovascular, or endurance conditioner similar to cycling, but not quite as good as running.
Roller-blades are similar to roller-skates, but the wheels are in a line, which is why they are called "in-line skates." These skates aren't too expensive unless you buy a high-end pair. For convenience, in many areas, you are able to rent roller-blades for hourly or daily use.
Be careful when skating because falling down will cause injury! Make sure to wear protective equipment including helmets, knee and wrist pads, and reflective gear when skating at night. Also, make sure to use maintained courses, sidewalks, and roads to minimize injury risk.
You can also play sports outside. Beach volleyball, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, soccer, frisbee-golf and football are only a few of your options! Most communities organize recreational teams for the summer for all age groups and genders.
Utilize the lakes in your area and go water-skiing or jet-skiing. Even tubing provides an intense workout if you have the right driver! Kayaking and canoeing are other water sports which provide great workout.
As you paddle, you use most muscles in your arms and shoulders - and depending on how choppy the water is, there's nearly always quite a bit of resistance, providing a good work-out for these muscles. Not only that but the action of dipping your blade in the water from side to side will work your abdominal muscles.
These are just a few ideas of how to mix up your cardio sessions this summer. Including new methods of cardiovascular training will take your conditioning to an entirely different level. You will develop new muscles along with secondary muscles. Remember, if you constantly do the same workouts your body will adapt and you will quit seeing results.
Always remember to warm-up before, and to cool-down after your workout and to stretch. Make sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water too, because it is warmer outside than it is indoors at the gym.
Next time you are dreading the treadmill because you already read every magazine in your gym, take advantage of the summer weather and get outside for some fun and exciting cardiovascular training! You will be pleased with the positive change in your physique after breaking up the monotonous same cardio routine.
Rebecca Lynn Slatt placed 2nd at the
2006 IFBB North American Championships.