After being in lockdown for so long, it still feels great to exercise outdoors in the fresh air, especially if you take the opportunity to run or cycle to an idyllic spot and turn a bit of nature into your gym.
Exercising outdoors can make it a bit trickier to perform more complex workouts, where you either need the memory of an elephant or to keep referring to your phone for the next exercise, rep count or rest period. Instead try one of these straightforward but challenging bodyweight workout routines London-based trainer Jay Bolton shared with us.
“Exercising doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be boring or complex,” says Bolton. “We have been given these amazing bodies to work with and I’ve come up with a few challenges that you can do almost anywhere using just your own bodyweight.”
And of course, the usual advice applies. “As with every exercise or workout, ensure you warm up and warm down properly, and remain hydrated,” says Bolton. “Make sure you get advice when needed. Check with your GP if you are unsure about anything, especially if you're just starting to exercise, – but most important of all, have fun.”
And if these workouts hit the spot, try these park workouts next.
1. Squat And Don’t Stop
This is a series of squats. First complete ten regular squats, followed by ten jump squats, ten knees to chest jumps and finally ten squats on tiptoes. Then repeat the circuit but with nine reps, then eight, seven and so on until you get to one. For an extra challenge, go from ten to one and then from one to ten.
The key to squatting is to keep a straight back and not to press up on your legs with your hands. Keep your hands on your collarbones, by your temples or out in front. Your legs will thank you.
2. Pyramid Of 15
Complete one press-up, then walk forwards approximately five metres. Do two press-ups, then walk back to your original spot and do three press-ups, and so on. The aim is to reach 15 reps but do a trial run, see how you get on and set that as your benchmark.
This workout is even better with a partner. Start with your partner facing you, both complete one press-up, then swap positions and do two press-ups, continuing in the same vein. For an extra challenge, the first to finish their reps should stay in the top press-up position until the second completes their reps.
3. Cardio Blitz
A little something to take your breath away. Start with mountain climbers for one minute. When the minute is up, run to a point approximately 20 metres away and perform ten burpees. Run back to your starting point and go straight into another minute of mountain climbers. When the minute is up, run to your position and complete nine burpees. Repeat this until you get down to one burpee. Time how long it takes you to complete and see if you can cut that time down over time.
You will, of course, have to wait until the outdoor exercise area near you reopens to gain access to a pull-up bar, but when it does: Hang on a pull-up bar in the chin-up position (palms facing you) and complete three chin-ups. Remaining on the bar, release your left hand and change the grip so your palm is facing away from you, then complete another three reps. Change the grip on the right hand so both palms are facing away so you are now in the pull-up grip and complete three reps. Change the grip of your left hand back to palm facing you, complete three reps, then change your right hand’s grip so you’re in the starting chin-up position and do three final pulls.
If you are new to the bars and don’t feel confident changing your grip, bend your knees while hanging from the bar and have a partner support your shins. You can also start by doing two reps and building up to three.
5. Music Medley Mayhem
Play your favourite song and commence squatting. Once the chorus comes in, hold the bottom of the squat position until the chorus has finished. When the verse starts again, continue with your squats. We’d advise bringing along a Bluetooth speaker or sports headphones for this one, if only because the tinny sound from your smartphone is more likely to irritate, rather than motivate, you through the squat hold.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.