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Self Sufficient Training

Posted Jan 02 2012 7:42am

It’s a new year and that means changes. More and more people are dropping their gym memberships and opting to workout either at home or outdoors. Using a mix of bodyweight and minimal equipment. Now whilst this isn’t ideal for people in pursuit of bulging muscles it is more than enough for an athletic physique and a healthy body.

Doing your workouts in the open is ideal, unless you live somewhere with extreme weather most people can do some kind of workout outdoors year round. I for one use outdoor workouts most of the time now (occasionally I will workout at home when time is limited) using minimal or no equipment – just a selection of bodyweight exercises and running implemented in a short and fun workout whilst making use of the surroundings for props while working out (Branches for pull-ups, benches for step ups and dips etc…)

When doing outdoor workouts you have a few options:

- Bodyweight Workouts (lunges, squats, push-ups, pull-ups etc) all done in quick succession with little rest.
- Sprint Workouts
- Hybrid workouts which mix bodyweight exercise with running (i.e. run 200m then do 25 bodyweight squats x 5)

Of course there are many more but those are the three main options when going outdoors. The beauty is the amount of variation you can implement depending on how you feel on the day.

For me though the real benefit of outdoor training comes from making the most of the environment and having it all at our disposal for free. Gym’s these days have become like industrial zoo’s for humans with people (usually) working out mindlessly either on a cardio machine or spending hours lifting weights. It is rare to see someone be creative with their workout and do something which coincides with the bodies natural movements. Plus gyms are expensive and encourage people to rely on them.

When you workout outdoors you get fresh air pumping through your lungs and get to take in the environment. Most importantly you learn to be self-sufficient with exercise giving you the ability to workout anywhere at anytime. This is invaluable – it also forces you to learn a variety of bodyweight exercises and creative ideas for working out. For me this is the key, just as it is important to cook & eat healthy food for ourselves, knowing how to safely and effectively mobilise, stretch and train our bodies without equipment is something that every person should have a basic knowledge in.

You needn’t learn anything advanced or complicated – simply knowing how to do certain bodyweight exercises with good form and how to properly warm up before exercising is enough to give you the tools to workout. Here is an essential checklist:

- Learn a basic Warmup that lasts around 5 minutes including some running and mobility exercises
- Perfect the Pushup, Lunge, Bodyweight Squat and Pullup
- Figure out 2-3 basic routines (which you can use as a blueprint and build on in the future)
- Always train in flexible/comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes (barefoot if you can)
- Take a cooldown walk after training
- Make sure workouts stay <30 minutes

Props like  Kettle-bells  and TRX’s are great but they are tools used around normal exercise. I use them and love them but they would be nothing without a good core knowledge of bodyweight movements and basic joint mobility.

Once you learn this for yourself you can help others, show them how to safely and quickly train their bodies. And whilst everyone’s take on it will be different, essentially the message is the same. Encouraging people to workout outdoors with simple exercise learning how to use their bodies effectively.

There are a variety of guides to bodyweight exercise and simple workouts on this site – check the archives. Or for a full guide checkout All About Fitness.

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