Why You Should be Doing Outdoor Workouts
Outdoor workouts create beneficial opportunities and challenges that are difficult to re-create indoors in a gym or indoor training facility.
Living in the Midwest does not allow for year round outdoor training. Therefore when spring hits, it’s time to start taking advantage of Mother Nature’s gym.
It has always been fascinating to me to see the changes I achieve from frequently training outside—changes to my body, energy, mental focus, functional strength, power and stamina. Being forced inside from December to April every year has allowed me to discover this outdoor transformation for the past 2 decades.
Having experienced this over and over again, it is obviously not a coincidence. There are significant factors that are created by outdoor workouts that we all need to take advantage of.
Factors Created by Outdoor Workouts
1. Better oxygen consumption
Stuffy gyms don’t provide you with the O2 that is abundantly available outdoors. Greater levels of O2 means there is more available for working muscles which can only improve work output and energy levels. More work potential means there is a higher likelihood that building a leaner and stronger body is going to occur as outdoor workouts continue.
2. Vitamin D is readily available
We all know what Vitamin D does to our energy levels and outdoor workouts allow your body to get a substantial dose of Vitamin D every time you move outdoors. As a result, your energy levels will sky-rocket which means work output increases, endurance is better and your ability to push harder only goes up.
3. Grass surfaces won’t beat up your joints
If you do a lot of ground reaction training like running, jumping or multi-directional running, grass is a great relief to your joints. If you don’t train like that, grass surfaces may allow you to do so now—thus providing your body with an awesome change of pace workout option that was not available indoors.
4. Work effort will be greater
The power of the unknown will challenge you to go further than you typically do in a more predictable indoor location. With there being so much space, you will naturally do more because you have more space to do it in. This is specifically apparent when it comes to running, active recovery and doing other forms of locomotion.
Running on a treadmill, or training on an elliptical simply cannot match the effect you get from outdoor cardio training. As soon as you step outside for that first locomotion workout, you will instantly feel like you are working harder.
5. Builds athleticism
Outdoor training is going to require having to train on surfaces that may be uneven or less predictable. Granted I am not talking about putting yourself in danger of injury; however, less predictable surfaces make you slow down and challenge your balance, coordination and agility. These are things an athlete needs to improve for his or her sport.
6. Improves your mental focus
There is typically no one around to interrupt you and break your mental focus which means you get in a much higher quality workout. The great thing is—even when there is a group—with all the additional space available it still allows you to stay dialed in on the goal.
7. Training is simple
Training outdoors doesn’t have to require a whole lot of equipment, especially if you have a hill, a band or two, a playground, a picnic table or a simple park bench. As long as gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum are available, you have more than enough to challenge the body to get better. Your imagination and training knowledge will be your only limiting factor.
8. Greater space to challenge
Indoor training is going to be limited by walls. However, with no walls comes the opportunity to run that extra quarter mile, doing bear crawls that extra 20 yards, adding in a run immediately after doing an attachment free band circuit or doing a jogging active recovery between rounds. The fact is, greater space opens up options to push that little extra that walls don’t allow for.
9. Fosters multiple angles and forces vectors
Multi-plane and multi-vector training becomes much more common when single plane machines or free-weights are no longer available. When training outside there is a higher level of interest in doing more body weight or band related exercises because of their portability.
This, in turn, allows for non-traditional planes of movement to be incorporated. By the way, did you know that frontal and transverse plane movements are more effective at developing the abs??
10. Shocks your body
Every time I start training outside for the first time in the spring, I see results instantly get better. Cardiovascular endurance gets better, strength improves and my body leans out within 2 or 3 weeks. Why?? A change of scenery causes the body to be shocked which forces it to adapt. With all the reasons discussed above, it is going to lead to some really exciting changes quickly.
So what’s stopping you from doing a few outdoor workouts every week?? Whatever it is, I suspect in most cases it comes down to taking yourself out of your comfort zone.