When it comes time for strength training, you probably plan to do your workout in one of two places: a gym or at home. But there are some serious benefits to heading outside and switching up your normal sweat session in favor of fresh air.
Lindsey Clayton, principal instructor at Barry’s in New York City and cofounder of the Brave Body Project, agrees.
“I love an outdoor workout because you don’t need any equipment to get in a good workout,” she tells Runner’s World. This workout could be done right after you finish your ride, so you get your cardio and strength done back-to-back. Also, getting outside and experiencing nature and fresh air will boost your mood and shake up your routine.
The benefits of this routine, in particular? It’s a full-body workout that focuses on lower body unilateral strength—a.k.a. strength on one side of the body. After all, Clayton says, cycling involves pushing power through one leg, then the other, so incorporating exercises that focus on one leg at a time will build strength evenly. Also, with a single-sided movement, you don’t have the opportunity to favor your stronger leg.
How to do it: Perform all the moves one time through, focusing on the right side of the lower body. Then do the whole sequence again focusing on the left side of the lower body. Do each move for 50 seconds, resting for 10 seconds in between each exercise. This is a 12- minute sequence. Do the circuit two times through for a longer 24-minute workout.
Each move is demonstrated by Clayton in the video above so you can master the proper form. You will need access to a bench or other elevated surface.
1. Squat to Step-Up
Stand facing the side of the bench with right foot resting on top of the bench, hands clasped in front of chest. Send hips down and back, bending both knees, to lower into a squat position. Then, push through right foot, straightening both legs as you step up onto the bench. At the same time, lower both arms to sides. Left foot will naturally lift straight up off the ground. Lower back down, bending right knee and tapping the left foot to the ground, then lowering back into a squat. Repeat. Switch sides on the next round.
2. Bulgarian Split Squat
Stand with back to the bench. Reach left foot back and place the top of the foot on the edge of the bench. Bend right knee to lower left knee down toward the ground. Right knee should form a 90-degree angle (make sure you’re far enough away from the bench for that to happen). When the right thigh is parallel to the floor, push through right foot to stand back up. Repeat. Switch sides on the next round.
3. Triceps Dip
Sit on the edge of the bench. Place hands shoulder-width apart on either side of hips. Slide hips off the bench, knees bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you, feet planted on the ground. Straighten arms, but maintain a microbend in elbows—don’t lock them out. This is your starting position. Bend elbows and lower hips toward the floor until arms bend 90 degrees. Press through palms to straighten arms and return to starting position. Repeat.
4. Incline Push-Up
Place hands on a bench with arms straight, shoulders directly over wrists, core engaged so body forms a straight line. Bend elbows to lower chest to the bench, elbows forming a 45-degree angle from body. (While this is the standard recommendation, every one will be slightly different based on shoulder mobility and strength so adjust to what feels most comfortable to you.) Press back up to plank. Repeat.
5. In-and-Out Crunch
Sit on the edge of the bench. Place hands shoulder-width apart on either side of hips. Engage core to draw knees in toward chest. Then extend them straight out in front of you, about parallel to the ground (feet off the ground) and lean torso back slightly. Sit up straight, knees coming back in toward chest. Repeat.
6. Seated Jump Squat
Sit on the edge of the bench, knees bent 90 degrees and feet planted on the ground. Clasp hands in front of chest. Swing arms back behind you as you drive through feet, quickly exploding upward to jump off the ground a few inches. Land softly with knees bent, lowering butt back down to the bench and bringing hands back together in front of chest. Repeat.