10 Outdoor Strength-building Exercises

Written on January 7, 2011. Written by .

Learn these exercises so you will always be able to stay fit without depending on a gym membership or bulky equipment, which is great when you are traveling. Even if you do have a gym membership, you might be able to save some time by using this simple exercise plan at home every once in a while. This list also emphasizes compound exercises, which help boost testosterone, a necessary ingredient for muscle growth.

  1. Running/swimming – These are great cardio workouts that require very little equipment, just shoes and a bathing suit. Swimming is preferable because it distributes the workload move evenly over the body and has lower impact on joints, but you might not always have access to a pool or body of water.
  2. Squat-press – The squat press is a combination of a squat and a military press. While rising from squatting position, raise a weight from shoulder level directly upwards above your head. For weight, you can use a tire swing at the playground, a rock, or a couple gallon-sized gallon-sized jugs of water. If your legs are strong enough, try doing a Pistol in which one legs is extended straight out. This is a highly compound exercise that works the quadriceps, calves, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, deltoid, trapezius, and triceps. It may seem odd that one exercise works both the quadriceps and hamstrings considering that these muscle groups are antagonistic (ie. work in opposite directions). This is known as Lombard’s Paradox, but basically that’s just the way the muscles work.
  3. Pull-ups and Chin-ups – Pull-ups are done with arms spread and palms facing away, whereas chin-ups are done with arms closer together and palms facing towards your body. These are great compound exercises which work the lats, teres major, lower trapezius, rhomboids, and biceps. Compared with pull-ups, chin-ups work the biceps harder and the back less. All you need is a bar or tree branch, which can often be found in a park or playground.
  4. Push-ups – Push-ups can be done anywhere with no equipment. They work your pectorals, triceps, and anterior deltoids. You can place your hands close together making a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers to put more emphasis on the triceps.
  5. Dips – Dips are usually performed on parallel bars which can be found at the playground or park, but yon can also do them on a bench/chair by extending your legs with feet on the ground and back to the bench with your hands on the seat. This form is easier because some of your weight is support by your feet. Dips primarily work the triceps, but are still a powerful compound exercise because they work the pectorals, especially if you lean forward a bit.
  6. Body rows – The body row is a row exercise that uses your body weight. Monkey bars are great for body rows. From a hanging position, swing your legs up and rest your feet on one of the bars so that you are in an upside-down push-up position. Then just use your arums to pull yourself closer to the monkey bars. This works your lats, posterior deltoids, and biceps.
  7. Crunches – Crunches can be done anywhere with no equipment.  They primarily work the abs, but you can also work the obliques if you twist your torso to one side when rising from crunches.
  8. Leg Raises – Leg  raises can either be done while laying on your back or while hanging from a chin-up bar or tree branch. If you are doing them on your back, it may help to hang on to a tree or bench behind your head to keep your body from rocking. Like crunches, they work the abdominals, but leg raises focus more on the lower abdominals, whereas crunches focus more on the upper abdominals.
  9. Lunges – Lunges are performed by taking a big step in which the knee of your rear leg almost touches the ground and your front leg makes a 90 degree angle. Then repeat by alternative legs. Like squats, lunges work the quadriceps, calves, glutes, and hamstrings. Deeper lunges affect the glutes and hamstrings more.
  10. Step-ups – Step-ups require a bench or rock to step onto.  Step one leg up, then the other leg up, then one leg down, then the other leg down. Just like the square and lunges, step-ups work the quadriceps, calves, glutes, and hamstrings.

There is some redundancy in these exercises, so you don’t have to do all of them in each session.

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2 Comments so far
  1. mspice January 8, 2011 9:05 pm

    Good workout tips! In my experience with some outdoor and body weight style exercises, it is easy to plateau and the exercises start to become boring and feel less effective. Any ideas on how to combat this?

  2. cspice January 9, 2011 8:44 pm

    If your main goal is muscle growth, I wouldn’t suggest completely abandoning the gym. Perhaps one workout per week could be an outdoor workout to save time and diversify your program. But if you just want to train your muscles without being a serious body-builder, then you don’t have to worry much about plateauing. And I also think you can always do more repetitions and eventually move into one arm chinups and inverted pushups if you get strong enough. As for getting tired of the routine, I see things from the opposite point of view. I think it would be easier to get tired of gym workouts because being outdoors in the sunshine feels so good.

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