Easy ways to enjoy a total-body workout outside

Here comes the sun (and sweat)

If it’s a warm, sunny day and you don’t want to waste it in the gym, Amy Eversley (Personal Fitness Trainer ’10) is here for you.

“In Edmonton you have just a few months of nice weather,” says the NAIT health and wellness coordinator. “Might as well make the most of it.”

That’s why she has moved exercising outside – and not just for a jog. Eversley has developed a total-body workout you can do in an hour or less, and that can be tailored to your level of fitness. It’s like a bootcamp, but free, and without anyone yelling “encouragement” at you.

Here is Eversley’s workout. To do it, all you need is running shoes, water, a hat, sunscreen and “mosquito spray,” she adds, “for your own sanity.” Print it and pocket it, then find your nearest set of stairs, a sturdy bench, and get ready to make the most of the great outdoors.

The workout

✅ Drink water before, during and after your workout.

✅ Warm up, perhaps with a light five-minute jog.

✅ Stretch after a cooling down with a short jog.

✅ Watch the weather. Don’t try to stick out a lightning storm.

✅ Don’t overdo it – listen to your body. Rest and observe a safe pace.

Follow one round of the exercises below (see how they’re done in this video) with one set of stairs – walking, sprinting, jogging, lunging or however you choose. Try for two to three sets. If possible, rest only after the stairs.

Warm up

Amy Pysar running

Start with a light jog or walk, two to three minutes. Follow with 30 high knee lifts (15 per leg), 30 butt kicks (15 per leg), 10 walking lunges (five per leg), 10 squats and 10 arm swings, crossing over your chest in a hug and back out, then over your head and down to your waist, like waving.

20 bench squats

Amy Pysar demonstrates bench squats

Target: quads, glutes, hamstrings and claves

Squat and tap your butt on the edge of the bench without sitting.

  • Easier – squat to the armrest, or only as low as you can go
  • Advanced – face the bench and, from a squat, jump up onto it

10 push-ups

Amy Pysar push-ups

Target: Chest and core

Place your hands on the edge of the bench. Alternatively, put your hands on the ground and your feet on the bench.

  • Easier – do them from your knees
  • Advanced – tap each shoulder between push-ups with the opposite hand

20 walking lunges

Amy Pysar doing lunges in the park

Target: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and core

Long strides, lunging as low as possible then up again, 10 per leg.

  • Easier – take a step between each lunge
  • Advanced – bring your knee up to a balance position between each lunge

10 tricep dips

Amy Pysar doing tricep dips

Target: Triceps and shoulders

Stretch your legs out in front of you, heels down, with your hands on the edge of a bench. Lower yourself until your elbows are 90 degrees.

  • Easier – bend your knees
  • Advanced – lift a foot off the ground (alternate each round)

5 lateral shuffles

Amy Pysar demonstrates laterals

Target: Glutes, thigh and hip muscles

Place two markers 10 large steps apart. Starting at one, squat and shuffle sideways to the other then return the same way. Repeat this five times.

  • Easier – don’t go quite as low or fast
  • Advanced – pick up the speed and bend down and touch each cone

Plank hold 

Amy Pysar plank hold

Target: Core, shoulders and back

Support yourself on your forearms from your toes or knees and hold for one minute. If you need to pause for a five-second rest, pick up where you left off.

  • Easier – go from your knees
  • Advanced – from your toes, drop your knees towards the ground, alternating as fast as you can

Cool down and stretching

stretching outside

Finish with a light jog or walk for two to three minutes, then stretch.

Quads. Standing, grab one foot (laces of your shoes in your hand). Knee should point at the ground as you bring your heel toward your butt.

Hamstrings. Seated, stretch out one leg straight at a 45-degree angle to your pelvis. Bring the opposite foot to the inside of the straight leg just above the knee. Reach for your outstretched toe by hinging at your hips.

Calves. Standing, angle one foot so your toes are on a tree trunk and your heel is on the ground. Keeping your leg straight, lean your body towards the tree until you feel your calf stretch.

Back. Standing behind a bench, place both hands on its back and step back far enough that you must bend to keep your hands on the bench. With your legs straight, hinge at the hips and lean forward to face the ground. Keep your hands on the bench.

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