Exercising Outdoors


My question is about exercise outdoors. What do you think about it vs. training in a gym? For a hardcore lifter, I’d imagine it wouldn’t be that good but how about for someone who just wants to lose a little weight?


When the gyms closed during COVID, it made me think of the great Russian weightlifter Vassily Alexeev, who did much of his training outdoors. In a river, to be specific. He would high step walking against the water, and even performed various barbell lifts using the water for resistance.

Outside on terra firma, he would perform barbell tosses overhead, which is something you really have to experience – at least once.

My Experience

I found it to be a fantastic experience. It was fun, the fresh air and sunshine were great and it really stimulates your creativity.

I was fairly well equipped for it though, something most gym members might not be. In other words I had a dragging sled, free weights, a trap bar, barbells and other stuff that lent itself well to outdoor training.

Anyway, here’s what we (son and I, plus his friend) did: We went to a school playground, and right off the bat I had them perform standing overhead presses with the trap bar or barbell, their choice. Dropping the bar wasn’t a problem, given most playgrounds now have what amounts to a rubberized floor. It looks like cement or rock, but in fact it’s made from old tires.

Next, I wanted them to do pullups. I’m not sure if this is unique to the schools around here, but it was almost impossible to find a bar or support small enough to grasp with your hands. They were all too thick, too smooth or both.

So I came up with something just as challenging, if not moreso: Had them chalk their hands and climb the support beams for the swingset, touching the top bar to complete 1 rep. Since these supports extend in a “V” shape from the ground up to the top bar, it was even more difficult than traditional pullups.

Then I had them perform alligator crawl outs, with their feet in a swing. That worked out great, since they had swings with seats of 3 different heights and they swayed to and fro, forcing their abs, pecs arms, abs and shoulders to work harder. Try it sometime – you’ll see!


For leg work we did weighted lunges, 1 legged squats, trap bar deadlifts and heavy sled drags.

To finish, we either did sprints with light sled resistance OR Farmers walks, with the trap bar OR carrying 45lb plates. I have powerblocks too, but didn’t want to bring them outside.

One other note: My conditioning work this weekend was a hike in the woods – with 45lbs of survival gear in my backpack.

This was fantastic and a lot of work, especially if you’re hiking up any kind of incline. It starts out pretty easy, but depending upon how long you hike (I went for 30min) and the terrain, it can be a real bear.

Bottom Line

Training outdoors has many advantages. From the sunshine to the fresh air to the creativity it’ll spark – you should absolutely do so, even if it’s only once in awhile.

Hope that helps.

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to Superhumanradio.net for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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