Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: 6 Ideas to Take Your Workout Outside

Outdoor strength training equipment: Get your strength workout done while your kids play in the park...

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How amazing would it be if you could take your strength workouts outside?

Think about it.

Your kids are happily playing in the park.

But instead of spending an hour mindlessly scrolling through social media, you’re spending an hour working on yourself.

Working towards your goals.

I know what you’re going to say, you need dumbbells and barbells, heavy weights, lots of equipment to do a strength workout.

But that’s not strictly true.

Here are 6 ways you could have a great strength workout in a park. Or, any outdoor setting.

Outdoor Strength Training Workout: 6 Ways to Take Your Workout Outside

1. Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: Use Your Local Park.

Have you visited your local park lately?

What am I saying, of course you have mama.

But, what I mean is, have you visited your local park outside of the playground. You might want to have a look. Around the field, if there is one.

I say this because the edge of the field might be littered with outdoor gym equipment.

Outdoor gyms are becoming a really popular way of overcoming the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Cardio machines, resistance machines, possibly an obstacle course. Here in the UK, at least, most public parks have some kind of equipment. To get a strength workout, concentrate on the resistance machines, using a rep range and weight that would encourage strength gain.

By that I mean around 5 sets of 5 reps. Resting for a couple of minutes in between sets.

Work your way around the course. And you’ll have a great strength workout outdoors.

2. Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: Use the Playground.

An empty swing can be potentially be a piece of workout equipment

But what if your local area doesn’t have any outdoor fitness parks?

Don’t despair, you can still have a workout at the park. You can use the playground. Yeah, the playground your kids are playing on.

I’m not suggesting you should kick the kids off so mama can have her workout. But, there should be enough room for everybody.

I don’t know if you saw a few years ago there was a slew of videos of playground workouts. Men and women alike were trying to do burpees over swings.

Most of the time it didn’t end well.

Funny, if you’re watching on social media. But not so funny if you’re the one falling flat on you’re face.

Anyway, I wouldn’t suggest you do that.

But, there are ways you can use playground equipment, safely, to get in a great playground workout.

Firstly, you don’t have to jump over swings, you could use them as an unstable surface to do planks, push ups, knee tucks.

So either your hands or feet are on the swing, and the other is on the floor.

Monkey bars can be used for, well, monkey bars. Or pull up bars.

Or, how about piling all of the kids onto the roundabout and pushing it with one leg. Just make sure you turn around and do the opposite leg. We don’t want you to be lopsided now do we.

Another option...how about doing squats while pushing your kids on the swings.

Yeah, there are lots of options for using the playground.

3. Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: Don’t Use Any Equipment

A woman making a push up harder by raising her feet onto a park bench

If you haven’t got any strength based workout equipment and your park doesn’t have any outdoor exercise equipment, then don’t use any.

Because your own body weight is enough to give you a pretty solid, very challenging strength based workout.

Honestly, bodyweight exercises are enough, just by themselves. And what’s more you will have a full-body workout. How do you do a strength workout without weights?

Strength workouts are all about the rep range.

You need to be sufficiently challenged by the movement so you can only really manage 5 reps. 5 at the most.

I’m not saying the fifth should be a grind. It shouldn’t. It should still be doable, but the sixth would be a grind.

You might find bodyweight exercises sufficiently challenging.

I certainly do with push ups.

But, if you don’t, if you find any exercise easy. There are lots of ways to make them harder.

My favourite way is to slow the movement down.

Do each phase for a count of five or six.

So, if you’re doing squats, sink down to the bottom for a count of six, hold the squat at the bottom for a count of six and then return to the standing position for a count of six.

Do five of them.

And then rest. You will need the rest.

Other ways of making bodyweight exercises harder and more strength focused include:

Bullet point: how to make a bodyweight exercise harder, add half a rep

Add a ½ rep – taking squats as an example again, in a normal squat as you push back up to standing only go half way. Then back down to the bottom and all the way up.

Bullet Point: Add a dead stop

Add a dead stop – this is very similar to slowing the movement down, but instead of making every part of the movement slower, you just hang out in the bottom of the movement for a few seconds. This take all of the momentum out of the exercise and really challenges you in the final phase.

Bullet point: how to make a bodyweight exercise harder, change your position

Change your position – if you find the standard version of an exercise quite easy, think about changing your position. Maybe you could elevate your arms or your legs. If we go back to squats as an example, raise one foot off the floor for a split squat, or even a pistol squat.

Bullet Point: how to make a bodyweight exercise harder, Add a dead stop

Use an unstable base – I’ve covered this slightly with using a swing for a plank or a push up. Having an unstable base to do your exercise ups the challenge factor considerably. It also makes your stabiliser muscles in your core work overtime. A great way to build full-body strength.

Bullet point: how to make a bodyweight exercise harder, use similar muscles

Use similar muscles for your sets – typically a strength session would be super set. This means you work one set of muscles and then you work another set of muscles before having a rest, think bicep curl and triceps extension. But, if you change that slightly to use the same muscles, well, you’ll certainly be putting your muscles under pressure. Think squat and then lunge.

4. Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: Get a Portable Piece of Equipment.

A women using a resistance band to do a strength workout outside.

Not all strength training equipment is bulky and heavy.

There are pieces of equipment that can be used very effectively but would easily fit in a back pack, nappy bag or bottom of a pram.

Resistance bands have to be my favourite.

They are essentially large elastic bands that come in different tension strengths.

They’re not that big, or heavy. You can easily transport them to the park, however you get there.

Suspension training is another great way of taking your strength training into an outdoor space. Just hook your suspension trainer over a tree branch and away you go.

You might think suspension trainers are for upper body exercises, but actually they work really well for lower body and your core. They really do give a whole body workout.

When it comes to choosing a suspension trainer you will notice that TRX are the most well known, but also the most expensive.

Are they worth it?

To be honest I can’t comment on that personally as I don’t have a suspension trainer, TRX or otherwise.

But, quite a few colleagues and clients of mine who have opted for a cheaper version have ended up upgrading later. That being said, if you’re not sure if it’s for you, opting for a cheaper version in the first instance might be the way to go.

5. Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: Get Functional Equipment

A kettlebell, a functional piece of fitness equipment set in a wood. It's easier to take just one piece of equipment outside.

There’s that word again, functional.

So, by functional fitness equipment I mean pieces of equipment that will work more a few muscle groups at a time and that can be used for lots of different exercises and styles of training.

Kettlebells are the ones that immediately spring to mind. Dumbbells are another, maybe a slam ball, or even some battle ropes.

The can all be used to work every muscle in your body, but can also be used for cardio, strength, mobility work.

If you were choosing between kettlebells and dumbbells, personally I would opt for the kettlebell.

I just find them more versatile and easier to use.

Exercises like deadlifts are easier as you don’t have to bend down as far to pick it up. That just means you can keep better form. But also, swings, snatches, elephant walks. They are all much easier with a kettlebell.

Either way, you want to go for an adjustable one. Whether that’s kettlebell or dumbbell.

That way you only have to carry one wherever it is you’re going.

On the note of having to carry you’re weights...why not use it as a warm up. Whether you’re walking to the park, or you’ve driven and your equipment is in the car. Grabbing your equipment is a great way to get both your muscles and your heart rate working.

6. Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: Yoga Mat

Yoga mats set outside

A yoga mat is by no means an essential piece of kit when you’re working out. Whether that’s indoors or outdoors.

I was certainly never given such luxuries when I trained outdoors.

But, there are benefits to it.

If it’s muddy or if you’re working out on concrete, a decent yoga mat will make it more comfortable and easier for you do do certain exercises.

By the way, I have nothing against getting muddy. I think it’s important for adults and kids alike. But, when you’ve got loads of washing to do already, or maybe you know you won’t be able to have a shower straight after your workout, you might want to skip the mud.

And god sometimes it’s just too much isn’t it?

If you are going to take a yoga mat with you, have a look for a waterproof one. I’m not sure you can get mud proof or even self cleaning, but a waterproof one will make all of the difference.

Outdoor Strength Training Equipment: Which One Will You Choose?

Whatever piece, or pieces of equipment you decide to go for, please make sure they are made with quality materials and are suitable for outdoor use.

You’re going to be outside, so the likelihood is you’ll be putting it under more pressure.

The quality of material will determine whether you’ll be using it for years to come, or it’s a one and done job.

But, whatever you choose, have a great time being in the great outdoors.

There is something about outdoor training. Yes it’s great for your physical health. It’s great for your mental health. But all that fresh air and sunshine, hopefully, just puts you in a better mood.

So go, have fun. Find an outdoor area and have a workout.

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What Are Ideas for Outdoor Strength Training Equipment?

  • Outdoor fitness equipment in a local park
  • Use a playground
  • Use bodyweight exercises
  • Use portable equipment like a suspension trainer or resistance band.
  • Use Functional fitness equipment like a kettlebell.
  • Don't forget about a yoga mat. 

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