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No Gym Required: The Outdoor Circuit Workout

By Mike Clausen

Summer for many gay guys means vacation, and that means taking your workouts on the road. You may miss your gym, but don't worry—you can get a good workout outside while enjoying a break from the monotony of indoor training. To help keep you fit while you travel, I've put together an outdoor workout that focuses on muscle building and cardiovascular health. All you need is some good music, a couple of basic workout tools, and your imagination.

Setup
To get started, you need to acquire some basic knowledge and simple equipment. First, take a good look around your neighborhood. The best thing to look for is a park in your area (or near your hotel if you are traveling). Look for basketball courts or a jungle gym, and some benches or concrete blocks that you can use for steps. Also, check to see if the park is near any hills that you can jog or walk up. This is an excellent way to get your heart rate pumping—and all it takes is a little time spent getting the lay of the land.

Next, you should think about buying some portable resistance equipment. The best options are the TRX suspension system, or the more affordable JC travel resistance bands. Both of these are almost endlessly versatile pieces of fitness equipment—they can be used just about anywhere, and will pack up in the side pocket of your suitcase.

Get Moving
Now that you've surveyed the neighborhood, pick a spot for your workout—probably a park, baseball field, or playground. But, don't just drive there and get started. Instead, jog to your destination from a point 15 to 20 minutes away. This will help to get your body warmed up and get you amped about doing an outdoor workout. Once you arrive at the spot you've chosen, you will begin your workout—and you'll be mentally and physically ready to go. If you brought your resistance tubes or TRX, set them up. You'll need to get creative for this—you want to make sure you put your bands around a fixed point that won't move when you pull on them. You'll find some great options in many parks, such as the pole for a basketball hoop or the bars of a jungle gym. Either will let you easily adjust the height when you switch up the exercise.

Adjust Your Mentality
Take your mindset out of the gym. In the gym, we tend to think in terms of specific muscle groups. But for this kind of integrated outdoor workout, don't worry about which body parts to focus on. Think instead about committing to the workout as a whole, and you'll manage to hit many of the same goals anyway. Just because you're not inside pumping up your chest doesn't mean that you won't get a good workout, and you may even surprise yourself and get some muscle soreness.

Instead of thinking about muscles, think circuit. For outdoor workouts, your bodyweight will be the only factor of resistance, rather than weights and machines. This means all that set-up and adjustment time will be gone. You are going to be doing more repetitions, and alternating between exercises fairly quickly, with very little rest. It's going to be less about volume than your gym workouts, and more about overall exertion.

Get to Work
An outdoor workout is your opportunity to let loose. You're not locked into the gym, nor to your spreadsheet of weights and reps. Think of this as an opportunity to try new things and get creative about challenging your body. The sample outdoor circuit workout below should take about 50 minutes to complete—remember to get started with a 15- to 20-minute warm-up jog. Use this workout as a template that you can modify with other exercises and cardio types (such as biking) throughout your vacation.

THE OUTDOOR CIRCUIT WORKOUT
Exercise Muscles/Type Sets Reps/Time Details
WARM-UP: JOG TO STARTING POINT
Warm-up Jog Cardio 15 to 20 minutes Jog at a moderate pace
RESISTANCE WORK 1: SET UP TUBE OR TRX; DO CIRCUIT 4 TIMES IN A ROW
Push-ups Chest, Core 1 per circuit; 4 total 20
Tube Rows Back 1 per circuit; 4 total 20 Use tubes or TRX
Prisoner Squats Legs, Core 1 per circuit; 4 total 20 Keep your hands behind your head as you squat
CARDIO 1: 5 MINUTES OF RUNNING
Side Shuffle Runs Cardio 1 minute Run in a side shuffle so that you lead with the outside of your foot. Do 30 seconds each direction
Backwards Jog Cardio 1 minute Run backwards. Look over your shoulder!
Controlled Forward Jog Cardio 30 seconds Jog at a moderate pace
Sprint Cardio 30 seconds Run as fast as you can
Backwards Jog Cardio 1 minute
Side Shuffle Runs Cardio 1 minute Do 30 seconds each direction
RESISTANCE WORK 2: GO TO BENCH, STAIRS, OR LOW WALL; DO CIRCUIT 4 TIMES IN A ROW
Step-ups with Alternating Knees Legs 1 per circuit; 4 total 20 per leg Use the step, bench, or wall
Triceps Dips Triceps 1 per circuit; 4 total 20 Use the step, bench, or wall
Incline Push-ups Chest, Shoulders, Core 1 per circuit; 4 total 20 Put your feet up on the steps, bench, or wall
CARDIO 2: 5 MINUTES OF RUNNING
Repeat Running Circuit 1 Above Cardio 5 minutes total
RESISTANCE WORK 3: RETURN TO TUBE OR TRX; DO CIRCUIT 4 TIMES IN A ROW
Walking Lunges Legs 1 per circuit; 4 total 20 per leg Put your hands on your head for these.
Alternating T Push-ups Chest, Core 1 per circuit; 4 total 30 seconds
Speed Tube Curls Biceps 1 per circuit; 4 total 1 minute Use tubes or TRX
Tube Rows Back 1 per circuit; 4 total 1 minute Use tubes or TRX
COOLDOWN: JOG BACK TO STARTING POINT
About Mike Clausen: Clausen is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. He has been actively involved in sports and weightlifting since high school, and continues to use that knowledge when training his clients. Clausen is both A.C.E. and N.A.S.M. certified and has been training clients professionally for six years. He enjoys making his clients stronger, both physically and mentally, giving them the tools to create an efficient body and to do things they thought were not possible.