5 Popular Outdoor Workout Classes

We love indoor workouts (especially when it’s cold and rainy) but when it’s fall in Chicago, you may want to break a sweat outside instead. After all, what’s better than some fresh air and fall views while you’re exercising? At CrossTown Fitness, we offer various outdoor classes throughout the summer, ranging from high-intensity interval classes to paddleboarding.

Aside from soaking up the sun and breathing some fresh air, there are numerous mental and physical health benefits to outdoor exercise. For example:

  • It’s challenging: Yes, indoor workouts are tough. But the natural terrain of the outdoors can be more challenging than working out on a flat surface inside. These changes in elevation and terrain can push your cardiovascular system beyond what an indoor workout might. In fact, WebMD reports that you could burn 10% more calories when running or walking outside.
  • Get a vitamin D boost: Heading outside for your workout exposes your body to more vitamin D, which has been linked to improved immune system health, reduced inflammation, improved mood, and more, according to U.S. News & World Report.
  • Enjoy mental health benefits: The pandemic has taken a toll on many people’s mental health, and outdoor exercise may help improve your overall mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that being in nature actually boosts self-esteem, reduces stress, and enhances relaxation. And if there’s water present (looking at you, Lake Michigan), these health benefits could be even greater.
  • Ease of access: No matter the time of day, you can always head outside for a workout, whether it’s in your backyard, on the Chicago Lakefront Trail, or at a local park.
  • Allows you to get creative: If you don’t have dumbbells, bands, or kettlebells to bring outside with you, you can get creative with what the outdoors provides, whether that’s a park bench for some tricep dips, a tree for wall sits, or an inclined walking path for jogging or sprinting.
  • You may exercise longer: When on the treadmill, it can sometimes feel like time is standing still. When exercising outside, your surroundings may provide a distraction and take your mind off of your workout, helping you exercise longer than you may have inside.

Ready to enjoy the benefits of an outdoor workout? Cue up your favorite Spotify playlist, slather on some sunscreen, and give any of these five workouts a try, which can be done from anywhere and without any equipment:

Outdoor Cardio Interval Workout

In the mood for a run? This interval running workout will focus on strengthening your cardiovascular system.

Start with a 5-10 minute warm-up, whether that’s a fast-paced walk or a light jog. Then, for one full minute, run at a speed that’s challenging for you, like a power walk or a full-on sprint. Once that minute is up, walk or jog to bring your heart rate down. Repeat this for five intervals, or 10 minutes.

Finish up your workout the same way you started it – with a 5-10 minute cooldown of a light jog or a walk.

Tip: Create a Spotify playlist that has faster-paced songs playing during the 60 seconds of intense sprinting or running to help keep you motivated until the interval of rest.

Outdoor Strength Training Workout

Build muscle using just your body weight with this 20-minute workout. For 45 seconds, complete each of the following exercises followed by 15 seconds of rest for five complete rounds:

  • :45 squats
  • :15 rest
  • :45 plank
  • :15 rest
  • :45 push-ups
  • :15 rest
  • :45 leg raises
  • :15 rest

Outdoor HIIT Workout: Partner Edition

Combine cardio and strength for a high-intensity interval training workout, otherwise known as HIIT. With HIIT, you can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time, and your metabolic rate will be higher, helping you continue to burn calories even after you’re done exercising.

For this workout, grab a partner, find a spot in the grass and complete the following chipper, working one partner at a time until all of the reps are complete. You can choose to break up the reps however you choose!

  • 100 forward lunges
  • 80 push-ups
  • 80 v-ups or knee tucks
  • 100 bodyweight squats
  • 80 dips
  • 100 lateral step-ups with a knee drive
  • 80 burpees

For example, maybe you each complete 20 reps of the forward lunges at a time until you hit 100. If you’re trying to complete the reps in fewer rounds, aim for 50 reps each without resting.

Outdoor HIIT Workout: AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible)

Here’s another variation of a HIIT workout to try for your next outdoor sweat sesh, which takes only 18 minutes:

For six minutes, complete the following:

  • 30 lunges (bonus points if you do walking lunges up an incline)
  • 20 hollow scissor kicks
  • 10 push-ups (modification: if there’s a park bench nearby, try elevated push-ups)

Repeat those three exercises until the six minutes are up.

For six minutes, complete the following:

  • 30 Russian twists
  • 20 squats
  • 10 elevators (or plank up-downs)

Repeat those three exercises until the six minutes are up.

For the final six minutes, complete the following:

  • 30 bear crawl shoulder taps
  • 20 alternating v-ups (or star reaches)
  • 10 burpees

Repeat those exercises until the six minutes are up.

Outdoor HIIT Workout: For Time

Work against the clock to complete the following exercises as fast as you can, and with as little rest as possible (with proper form, of course):

  • 15 burpees
  • 50 squats
  • 10 v-ups or knee tucks
  • :60 plank
  • 15 burpees
  • 40 forward lunges
  • 10 v-ups or knee tucks
  • :60 plank
  • 15 burpees
  • 30 squats
  • 10 v-ups or knee tucks
  • :60 plank
  • 15 burpees

With whatever outdoor workout you choose to do, don’t neglect your stretching, which can help improve range of motion, reduce chances for injury and boost your overall performance in future workouts.

Interested in more workouts to do at home or at the gym? Get in touch with one of our personal trainers to meet your fitness goals, whatever they may be.


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