outdoor workout

Virgin Active trainer Emily Cole shares her ultimate outdoor workout using three key pieces of kit that will transform your session.

With temperatures soaring, there’s still time to head outside and do your workout in the great outdoors – whether it’s your local park, common or in the garden. If you want to give your exercise session the edge, personal trainer Emily Cole recommends three easy-to-use pieces of equipment that are lightweight, portable and inexpensive. Follow her workouts below to challenge your whole body…

You will need…

  1. A resistance band

Resistance bands are elastic bands that can be used for strength training. The bands allow you to adjust the intensity and resistance according to your fitness/strength level, so they’re suitable for everyone. Not only do they offer a strength workout, include them in a circuit and they’ll also help to get your heart pumping.

  1. TRX straps

TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise; a form of suspension training that was developed by a Navy Seal who wanted to keep himself and his team in peak physical condition wherever they were in the world. The adjustable straps with handles and foot cradles can be attached to a hook on a wall, a tree or a fence. They’re great for improving strength, balance and core stability.

  1. Skipping rope

The skipping rope is one of the longest standing pieces of gym equipment and as the saying goes – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s a great calorie-burning exercise and gives the body a tough cardio workout.

The workouts:

Circuit 1: 3 rounds, no rest between exercises. Rest for 60 seconds between sets

12 x resistance band rows

20 x double-unders

30 seconds TRX squat jumps

12 x TRX press ups

45 seconds rope jumping jacks

12 x TRX crunches

 

Circuit 2: 3 rounds, no rest between exercises. Rest for 60 seconds between sets

Plank walks – 3 x in and out each side

12 x TRX press-ups

45 seconds skipping rope high knees

12 x squat – overhead presses

20 x double-unders

12 x TRX crunches

 

The moves:

Resistance band rows

This will strengthen all your major back muscles, crucial for good posture and core stability.

  1. Attach the band to an anchor, ideally at shoulder height.
  2. Step away from the anchor point until the resistance band is taut when your arms are straight.
  3. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, draw the navel towards the spine and engage the glutes.
  4. Taking a neutral grip, pull the band in towards the rib cage, keeping the elbows close to the body.
  5. Squeeze the shoulder blades together before extending the arms away. Repeat.
  6. Step further away from the anchor point to increase intensity.

 

Plank walks with resistance

Adding a resistance band here will challenge your core muscles even more.

  1. Attach the band to an anchor point just below knee height.
  2. Step into the band and place around your waist.
  3. Adopt the plank position, side on to the anchor point.
  4. Plank position – place your wrists under your shoulders, keep your shoulder blades retracted back and down, your hips in line with your shoulders, abs and glutes engaged to keep your hips from sagging.
  5. Holding that plank position, take a few sideways steps away from the anchor point and create tension on the resistance band.
  6. Maintain control as you plank-walk back in towards the anchor point. Repeat.

 

Squat to overhead presses (aka the thruster)

This is a big compound movement, working your upper and lower body muscle groups as well as the core.

  1. Stand onto the resistance band, feet hip width apart.
  2. Lift the band in front of your body to shoulder-height, palms facing forward. Keep soft knees and engage your core.
  3. Keeping your hands by your shoulders, sit your hips back into a squat (weight into the heels, knees out, chest lifted).
  4. Push through the ground to come up to standing and push the band directly overhead, keeping your biceps in line with your ears and your ribcage down.
  5. Lower your arms back to the start position and repeat the movement.

 

TRX press-ups

The TRX will add an element of balance and stability to this movement, revving up your pectoral muscles too.

  1. Set up the TRX with the loops at knee height (lower if you’re more advanced).
  2. Face away from the anchor point and hold a handle in each hand with your wrists under your shoulders.
  3. Extend your legs behind you to form a straight line from ankle to hip to shoulder – the more vertical your body, the easier the movement.
  4. Bend at your elbow and lower your chest between your hands, maintaining the body’s straight line by tightening the abdominals and squeezing your glutes.
  5. Extend your arms and push back up to the start position.

 

TRX crunches

Holding a plank with your feet suspended by TRX straps is a challenge in itself! Add a crunch or knee tuck and the core is going to get a serious workout.

  1. Set up the TRX with the loops a little foot off the ground.
  2. Find your plank position (wrists under the shoulders, body in a taut, straight line), then hook the top of your feet into the straps, so they’re elevated off the ground.
  3. As you exhale, curve your spine and draw your knees in towards the chest.
  4. Straighten your legs and return to the start position.

 

TRX squat jumps

Squat jumps are the perfect exercise to improve cardio fitness. Using the TRX will encourage good form and allow the body a full range of motion.

  1. Set the TRX to waist height.
  2. Hold the handles with your palms facing in and take a couple of steps back until the TRX straps are taut.
  3. Lean away from the cables slightly as you sit your hips back and bend your knees into a deep squat (weight into the heels, long spine, chest open, knees out).
  4. Drive your feet into the ground as you jump in the air.
  5. Land straight into a squat and repeat.

 

Skipping rope double-unders

A double-under means letting the rope swing twice under your feet, increasing your heart rate and testing your coordination.

  1. Hold hands slightly in front of the body with the upper arm squeezed into the sides of the ribcage, feet together.
  2. The movement of the rope comes from the wrist, not an arm swing.
  3. Whip the rope overhead and prepare to jump as the rope is about to hit the ground.
  4. Keep the legs under the body in the air so that they are prepared to quickly rebound off the ground.
  5. Upon landing, slightly bend the knees to absorb the impact.

 

Skipping rope high knees

Think high-knee runs-on-the-spot with a skipping rope thrown in! This will really work your abdominal muscles.

  1. Hold your hands slightly in front of your body with your upper arms squeezed into the sides of your ribcage, feet together.
  2. The movement of the rope comes from your wrist, not an arm swing.
  3. As you whip the rope, run on the spot bringing your knees up in front of your body to waist-height. Switch legs in the air.

 

Skipping rope jumping jacks

Mimicking the lower body movement of a jumping jack, this skipping variation will challenge the big calorie-burning muscles in your legs and glutes.

  1. Hold your hands slightly in front of your body with your upper arms squeezed into the sides of your ribcage, feet together.
  2. Between each whip of the rope, jump your feet out – slightly wider than hip-width apart – and back together.

 

Need some help fitting the exercise in? Check out these five ways to get moving on the go


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