Take Cardio Day Outside

Watching the calories melt away on the digital readout of your gym's high-tech treadmill certainly has its appeal. Your satisfaction deepens as that red glowing number adds another 70 calories burned per mile, just like clockwork, even though you strongly suspect the end result is wildly inaccurate. One of those online calorie calculators says a 200 pound person burns 130 calories for every mile, but your experience with resistance training tells you that everyone responds to exercise differently. Burning calories can't be a constant if building muscle isn't. Right?

Absolutely. Besides, running on a treadmill can get insanely boring after a while. So turn your back on the soaps flickering constantly on the static-plagued TV sets hanging from the cardio room ceiling and head to the great outdoors. With the weather warming and trees leafing out, summer's just around the corner. The choice to train outdoors gets easier every day. Then there's the multitude of fitness advantages to consider.

Okay, let's hit the ground running. If you're lucky enough to live near some nature trails, taking that route has a lot more going for it than scenery. There are no cars and trucks to dodge, or tailpipe fumes to inhale, and the soft uneven surface challenges lower body muscles while providing some cushioning for joints. You'll be working harder and adding an interval aspect to your workout too. On the other hand, elite road runners have higher aerobic capacities than any athlete on the planet. So there are some limitations to trail running. Of course, every form of exercise has upsides and downsides. Heck, you can reap fitness benefits from briskly walking the trails. Just be sure to take along a map so you don't get lost in the woods!

Whoa, back up a minute. What exactly was meant by 'interval' in the last paragraph? If you're used to grinding out mile after mile, where speed is relatively constant, interval training can provide you with a welcomed change of pace, much like the rolling terrain of trail running. This is a proven strategy for burning more fat in a quicker timeframe. That's because the intensity is dramatically ramped up, if for only relatively brief intervals of time.

A simple High Intensity Interval Training session can be planned using a basic 2:1 ratio of effort to duration. Jog for 60 seconds then sprint all out for 30 seconds. That's one set. Now you don't have to carry a stopwatch. Count out steps in your head, one for each second, or try a technique road runners employ using the predictable spacing of telephone poles. Sprint from one pole to the next, then jog twice that distance by adding another phone pole.

If you're more interested in clearing your head than counting steps or poles, here's an even easier way to appreciate the fast versus slow intensity of interval training. Head out to your town's high school and use the outdoor 400 meter track. All you have to do is sprint the 100-meter straights while jogging the 100-meter curves. This track workout presents a 1:1 ratio of effort to duration, but it's still a quick and effective way to elevate heart rate and melt off fat.

Now while you're at the high school track, cap off your interval run with some trips up and down the stadium stairs. Conquering this man-made mountain with intensity combines the benefits of cardio and resistance exercise. Go up and down one flight hitting every stair as fast as you can without losing your footing. For the next up/down flight, take two steps at a time, skipping every other. That'll hit your quads like you were doing deep lunges in the gym. If you're up for a real challenge, try skipping two steps on your last set. Bounding up (and down) every third step is pretty much going all out. You can take solace in the fact that you're still outside with plenty of fresh air and sunshine, unlike what you'd be experiencing cooped up in the gym.

What else can you do to take advantage of outdoor training on warm sunny days? You're limited only by your imagination. Basic calisthenics are always an option. Give yourself three sets each of push ups, sit ups, and squat thrusts (burpees). If you live near a park or playground with chin-up bars and a place to do dips, all the better. Bring along a jump rope or find an appropriately sized and placed rock to perform box jumps over. Want to add a constructive multitasking element to your outdoor exercise? Take a page from Mr. Miyagi's martial arts training system and get a clean, shiny vehicle in the bargain. Wax on…Wax off!
Leave a Comment
sri vikas
May 09, 2009
Oh! I loved this information.

But what if i live in a city where are there are no so called great outdoors? trees? hills and moutains but only parks and playgrounds? what then ? how do i train ?