Exercise is more important than ever, but let’s face it, going for a run every day can get a bit monotonous.
Lapping the same streets, listening to the same running playlist – it can easily have a negative effect on your motivation. Sound familiar? Then it might be time for a change in your workout habits.
Mixing things up can help to revitalise your mind and body, and cross-training with other sports can build strength and keep you injury free.
Here, we’ve found some alternative outdoor exercises that are just as a effective as pounding the pavements, but way more enjoyable. No running required.
There’s a reason why bodybuilders and boxers start their workouts with a skipping session – it’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to get a high-intensity burn. According to the British Rope Skipping Association, you can burn up to 1600 calories in an hour jumping rope, and it’s a great way to build up your cardiovascular fitness too.
2. Star jumps
Star jumps are particularly effective as they’re plyometric exercises – explosive aerobic moves that challenge your muscles to their maximum potential in short periods of time. They also require your body to move out of its normal plane of motion, which can help to improve your mobility, as well as your speed, endurance and strength in one go.
Challenging yourself to keep a football in the air is a killer workout for your quads, hamstrings and calves. Kick-ups also challenge your co-ordination and your balance, and hopping from foot to foot helps to activate the fast-twitch muscle fibres which are associated with building muscle, strength and power.
4. Shadow boxing
You don’t need a bunch of expensive equipment to get a good workout from boxing. Shadow boxing, or the act of punching the air, can help you to work on your technique, all while fatiguing your chest, shoulder, arm and leg muscles in tandem. You’ll also be challenging your brain too, by working on your punch combinations alongside some technical footwork.
5. Plyo box jumps
Got a sturdy wooden box or a garden bench? Thanks to their plyometric nature, box jumps are explosive calorie-burners, and they also work on your endurance, strength and co-ordination too. Add in a burpee between each jump to feel the full-body burn.
If you’re able to get your hands on a TRX band, it’ll be your best friend for workouts. Even though you’re just using two basic suspension straps, there’s an infinite number of different moves you can do. If you’re looking to build lean muscle, it’s one of the best methods out there for full-body strength. Sling it over a sturdy tree branch and you’re good to go.
7. Bleep test
If you’re looking to track your fitness progress, there’s no better method than the old-school bleep test. The method requires you to do a series of 20 metre shuttle runs in time with a bleep system, until the bleeps get too quick for you (there are lots of bleep test timer apps you can download). It’s a simple but powerful way to measure your VO2 capacity, speed and endurance.
If you’re not the type of person that enjoys drilling through bootcamp exercises, dancing is a great way to stay trim and increase your aerobic fitness, without feeling like you’re doing a workout. There are loads of great follow-along tutorials on YouTube, so whether you fancy street dance or salsa, there’s guaranteed to be something online to keep you moving. And who says you can’t dance in a park or garden?
9. Wall tennis drill
A brick wall is an ideal tool to train with if you’re missing out on your usual tennis sessions with your friends. You’ll still be getting all the great health benefits of the sport – lower body fat, better metobolic function, increased reaction times – but all while staying safe.
10. Kettlebell swings
Free weights have been difficult to come by online thanks to a major increase in sales, but if you do happen to own a kettlebell, taking it out into the sunshine is a great way to keep active. Drilling through sets of kettlebell swings can help to increase your power, build better muscle endurance and get a full body burn.
If you don’t have a kettlebell to hand, you can still get many of the benefits by swinging a bag of soil, a dumbbell or even a backpack bag full of heavy items (carefully).