Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness

If you hike, bike, climb, or paddle -- or engage in any other outdoor sport -- it’s time to leave the gym behind and get out into the fresh air. When training outdoors, “there’s a lot of room for creativity,” says Peter Shmock, C.S.C.S., and contributor to Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, 2nd Ed. “It’s best to scout around for locations that provide many different options, such as schools, parks, or a diverse area of land.” Here are some things Shmock suggests to look for when picking a location for training outdoors:

  • Stadium steps, bleachers, stairs, park benches, and tables for step-up exercises
  • Trees on which to anchor tubing
  • Hills with varying degrees of incline to practice lunges, jumps, interval training, and agility drills for skiers, climbers, and mountain bikers
  • Snowfields for simulation of balance challenges
  • Sand (a beach or a long-jump sand pit) to practice jumps
  • Playgrounds with objects to balance on
  • Logs, low fences, and rocks for balance drills
  • Boulders for variable-level push-ups or dips with one or two hands while standing and for climbing practice

In addition, simple, transportable, and affordable training tools are easy to take outdoors. They include:

  • Weight balls for throwing; large physio-balls (approximately three feet in diameter, available from physical therapy departments) for sit-ups
  • Free weights for resistance exercises
  • Traffic cones, ski poles, garden poles, and other markets for agility drills
  • Rope placed on the ground or from tree to tree to step over and under
  • Tubing or webbing for resistance in row and balance exercises
  • Ankle weights to use in step-ups or hill lunges to simulate the weight of snowshoes or telemark skis and boots


--Adapted from Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, 2nd ed edited by David Musnick, M.D., and Mark Pierce, A.T.C. (The Mountaineers Books, $21.95 paperback).

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