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5 Outdoor Workouts That Make For The Perfect Gym

sandbag exercise equipment

I loved the gyms I owned for over a decade. It as both the culmination of a huge professional goal and the place I spent the most amount of time. On most days I would get there before the sun came out and would go home after the sun went home. So, even as much as I loved my gym there were times where being away from the gym was so good for me mentally. The idea of doing outdoor workouts wasn’t just something I was a big fan of and enjoyed.

It wasn’t just me either, every once in awhile I would have clients meet me at a local park. They actually loved the idea and going outside refreshed them mentally as well. Of course, going outside we didn’t want the outdoor workouts become a “dumb down” fitness program. My clients were paying hard earned money and I still needed to make the outdoor workouts just as awesome as anything we would do indoors.

Using outdoor workouts actually made me a better coach because I had to figure out how I was going to deliver the same great fitness training even though I wouldn’t have the luxury of all my training tools. This was actually a big inspiration to what would become our Loaded Integrated Functional Training certification (or L.I.F.T.). That is what I want to show you guys today. Whether because you can’t go to the gym safely right now, you are tired of going to the gym, the gym wasn’t ever for you, or you want to have that mental break a well, how do you make outdoor workouts great?

outdoor workouts

Selecting The Right Tools

I can always chuckle about many things I see fitness professionals do on social media because they were the same mistakes I made when I was a young coach. Let me tell you, you can offer advice to some, but I have found unsolicited advice never to work that well;) One of those great mistakes was not appreciating the strength training tools I had and realizing which one allowed me to maximize my time, space, and ability to adapt to a wide array of clients.

hiit workouts

How much we can achieve with just a few tools like these becomes almost endless if we follow some of these functional training ideas for our outdoor workouts.

Far too often I see fitness pros bringing barbells and plates to their outdoor workouts. The barbell is probably the WORST tool to try to make a part of your outdoor workouts for these reasons…

-You not only have to bring the barbell, but a wide array of plates then.

-The barbell is limited in types of movements you can perform (it only really moves up and down).

-It takes up A LOT of space.

-Modifying the barbell is a pain for the most part as adjust weights is time consuming and not really even needed.

While I made a similar mistake at first, over time I started seeing the immense value that kettlebells, bands, and Ultimate Sandbags (what about suspension trainers? Sure, but it can be challenging to find where to anchor them during outdoor workouts) offered in creating really effective and fun outdoor workouts.

DVRT Master, James Newman shows some great ways to make those outdoor workouts super effective. 

Learning how to maximize your tools allows you to see the greater value in certain tools so your training is more focused and purposeful. Plus, we know which tools are actually giving us the best return on investment in all aspects of our fitness training.

Focus On Movement Patterns

I keep writing about it, but most make their training less productive because they ignore this simple, yet, so effective concept. Focus on training the 7 movement patterns (squat, hip hinge, lunge, push, pull, rotation, and locomotion). When you do, your outdoor workouts all of a sudden become smarter than what 99% of people actually do in the gym!

You see coach Robin Paget use these concepts to make a 20 minute HIIT workout with 4 exercises extremely effective and challenging. We have a lunge, a push, a hip hinge, a pull, resisting rotation/push, and squat. In 4 exercises she has 6 different movement patterns (we might even be able to make an argument for 7 but none the less). That is an extremely efficient as well as thoughtful workout that will challenge all sorts of functional fitness goals.

Coach Cari Satre has been showing some awesome outdoor workouts that also give us so much variety but in a very purposeful way in following movement patterns.

In this workout we have a hip hinge, squat, pull, lunge, resisting rotation, and locomotive drills. Again, 6 patterns covered (no real push here) but great balance to the the training. You don’t have to get every movement pattern in your workout, but whatever you don’t get in, you do the next time!

Different Planes Of Motion

Of all concepts that get looked over and are so incredible in delivering results is optimizing the different planes of motion. We use all 3 planes of motion in everything we do in life and sport, but for some reason never talk about these concepts in our training (mostly because the strength training most are familiar with ONLY moves in one plane).


I love the above diagram to illustrate the 3 planes of motion because it is how I would explain it to my parents. The progression is also on point as we want to learn to move in the sagittal plane pretty much by itself, learn how to resist the other planes, and then start moving through them. This is actually the type of stability training that science backs up and most miss completely in their training. Using this strategy is SO effective for any fitness goal and our outdoor workouts because it allows us to use the same weighted tool in a variety of ways to fit any fitness level, we can maximize our space, and we train more muscles than if we moved JUST up and down.

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe shows how we can do this in incremental ways by using our Sprinter Stance for this DVRT complex. Series like these are perfect for outdoor workouts because they are maximizing time, space, and equipment while training all the components of functional fitness that we want to see.

You can see that it doesn’t have to be rocket science either. Below I break down how to use all these ideas into very practical and fun ways. The result is that anywhere can be your gym. You SHOULD be having a similar philosophy in your gym as well because our concepts and methods shouldn’t change just because our environment did. Outdoor workouts can be so effective for so many reasons I hope you will really think about how you can use them to keep you going strong!

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