With summer right around the corner, exercising outdoors is not only rewarding, but also stress-reducing and empowering. Here are six great moves you can perform outdoors, either together as a sequence, individually, or in groups of two to help improve muscular strength and endurance, balance and cardiorespiratory fitness. The exercises also are performed in a variety of positions and different planes of movement to work the majority of muscle groups in a fun and time-efficient way.
Walking Twisting Lunges (1-2 minutes)
- Step your right foot in front of you and lower your body into a comfortable, but challenging lunge.
- Simultaneously fold the arms in front of the body (think of “I Dream of Jeannie”) and twist to the right as you lower into the lunge.
- Slowly untwist and rise up to your starting position, repeating on the left side as you move forward for a total of eight alternating lunges.
Progression: Try repeating the movement sequence backwards for eight lunges.
Twisting Pushups (1-2 minutes)
- Make your way to the ground and come to a modified high-plank position, keeping the left knee in contact with the ground with your right leg extended back behind you. Position your hands directly beneath the shoulders.
- Keeping the neck aligned with the spine, bend the elbows and lower the chest toward the ground for a push-up and then return to the starting position.
- Once back in a high-plank position, lift the right arm to the sky opening up to the right side of your mat, while keeping the knee in contact with the ground to assist with balance.
- Complete the sequence seven more times on the right before switching sides and repeating on the left.
Progression: Complete the entire sequence with both knees off of the mat.
Running High Knees (30 seconds to 1 minute)
- Using the stopwatch feature on your smartphone, try to lift your knees as high as you can, alternating sides for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Progression: Add impact to this move by running in place.
Standing Side Skis (30 seconds to 1 minute)
- Transfer your weight from left to right, adding a small hop from side to side for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Progression: Increase the space between your feet as you jump wider, adding more impact each time as you deepen the bend in your knees.
Warrior 3 (1 minute)
- Hinge forward at the hips and extend the left hip behind you, keeping the toes slightly touching the ground.
- With the supporting right knee soft, continue to shift the torso forward with a long, extended spine.
- You may opt to keep the arms at the sides or reach them overhead until they are parallel with the ground.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Progression: For a full-body balance challenge, lift the left leg parallel to the ground.
Cross-legged Bridge Pose (1 minute)
- Lie on your mat with arms by your sides and knees bent, feet flat on the ground.
- Cross the left ankle over the right knee, bringing the legs into a figure 4 position.
- Push into the ground with the right foot as you press the hips toward the sky. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Progression: For an added challenge, try crossing the left knee over the right knee, similar to the leg position in eagle pose in yoga.
Repeat this sequence of six moves one or two more times as time permits and your goals dictate.
By Lawrence Biscontini
Lawrence Biscontini, M.A.Lawrence Biscontini, M.A., creates award-winning group fitness and personal training programming at an international level for clubs and spas, including Equinox, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold's Gym International, Bally and Golden Door Spas. As Nutritional Counselor, Biscontini has created complete nutritional menus for spas from Manhattan to Mykonos. He regularly contributes to fitness industry publications, such as AFAA's American Fitness Magazine, IDEA Fitness Journal and Spa Asia. His books include, Cream Rises: Excellence in Private & Group Education, and he dedicates a percentage of his website sales to charity, as well as to inspire career wellness development. As a movement specialist, Biscontini trains celebrity clients, including cast members of ABC TV's soap opera "General Hospital," and has made appearances on CNN Headline News and LIVE! With Regis and Kelly.