The Outdoor Gym

Photographs by Bahaghari MFI; Shot on location at Camp John Hay, Baguio City

Cool weather, fresh air and natural obstacle courses. Do you really want to be among glaring fluorescent lights, sweaty treadmills and 100 other like-minded men? Why not take your exercise regimen into a park or nature reserve, or maybe where you and your friends had your first boyhood adventures? The difference this time is that you’re not playing hide and seek or trying to impress girls with BMX stunts—you’re there for an intense workout.

The next few pages feature an outdoor workout, designed to develop strength, coordination, and explosive power using everything that nature has to offer. Forget the hot, sticky gym and the queues for a stationary bike. Our power sessions will propel you towards peak performance, right down to the last muscle. The best bit? It’s free.

Outdoor Adventure

Leave the beaten track and head for the bush. Don’t plan your route. Instead, let your gut feeling lead you. Be spontaneous about your training intensity and simply integrate your natural surroundings into your muscle-building routine.

Hardcore exercisers will race from one challenge to the next: strong branches become chin-up stations; ditches can be cleared with explosive leaps. Use logs as bench-press weights and grueling uphill stretches will challenge your quads, calves and glutes. The effect is twofold: you’ll not only burn fat, but also bid farewell to your boring, old training regime.

20 Minutes is All it Takes

Peak performance needs more than strength alone. So we’ve compiled the following exercises to cover the four main elements of fitness and create a demanding muscle-building routine. Think of these as your workout base—the way you structure the rest of your routine is limited only by your imagination. You will see results with just 20 minutes of training, but go harder and your muscles will respond.

WARM-UP (COD) Warm-up with a 10-minute jog, then step up the tempo. It’s up to you how fast and for how long you run. If you’re new to running, sprint for at least 30 seconds, but for no longer than three minutes.

Strength (STR) Give it your all. At the end of each exercise, your muscles should be completely spent.

Explosive power (POW) The important thing here is execution: the shorter your contact with the ground the better.

Coordination (COD) To build strength, you must engage all the muscles involved in a movement, so spend at least 1-2 minutes on each exercise.

Relaxation (REL) For quick recovery, finish your training session with a relaxation exercise

A log is all you need for an effective chest workout. Makesure you have a good grip of the log before lowering it slowly towards the middle of your chest. Repeat until your muscles start to burn slightly.

This exercise will rapidly improve your acceleration. Place your legs hip-width apart with your knees slightly bent and your arms out to the side. Jump as high as you can, stretching out your arms and legs as far as they’ll go.
For a power chest, vary the distance at which your hands are placed. Elevate your legs (on a fallen log, for example) and lower your upper body as far as you can.

Grab hold of a tree with your right arm stretched in front of you and place your left foot at the base of the tree. Tuck your right leg behind your left. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then come back up again. Change sides after each set.

Place one foot on a log or bench, body upright and hands on hips. Jump as high as you can, swapping your feet quickly. Make each jump as powerful as possible.

Start with your feet about a meter apart. Place hands on hips and bend your knees until your back knee almost touches the ground.

Sit on an even surface and lean back at a 45-degree angle. Stretch your arms out to balance yourself. Lift your outstretched legs, then spread and cross them in a scissor-like motion for as long as you can.

From a running start, lift your leg up from the ball of your foot, raising the knee so your thigh is horizontal. Drive your arms in rhythm with your legs. Actively pushing off the ground is important to develop coordination. Start with 3-4 jumps.

From standing, jump up and down on the same leg, then change legs (both feet will come into contact with the ground briefly on the changeover). Make sure your hips are straight throughout the movement.

Starting in the push-up position, pull your legs into a crouch as quickly as you can. For added strength training, add a push-up after each repetition.

From a standing position, close your eyes and raise one leg, keeping the knee of the supporting leg slightly bent. Keeping your eyes closed, extend your raised leg out in front of you and draw a semi-circle in the air around your body with the tip of your foot.

To improve explosive power, jump from side-to-side over a log with your legs together. Try to hit the ground with both feet at the same time and cushion the impact by bending your knees slightly when you land.

Stand straddling a log with your upper body bent over so that you can just put your hands around it. Raise the log slowly upwards until it touches your chest, then lower.

Set up a sprint course of about 100meters (draw in the sand or find two trees that distance apart). Increase the speed as you train.

Sit with your hands just behind you to support your upper body and lean back slightly. Raise your legs and pull them in to your chest. Now straighten and bend your knees as often as possible. Make sure you keep your back straight throughout the movement.

Sit cross-legged and raise your arms upwards, stretching your upper body. Take deep breaths for 2-3 minutes.


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