Outdoor Circuit Training

In an age when people run on a moving carpet in an air-conditioned room without ever actually going anywhere; or who sit on a chair and lift a bar, weighed down by metal tiles, up and down until they sweat; or who sit on a girder and slide back and forth while heaving a pulley, apparently and ostentatiously reproducing a physical exertion that takes place on water; it could be easy to forget that exercise originally took place outdoors. That’s right, you didn’t need a towel to wipe down the seat after you’d used it, you didn’t need to wait your turn to use a machine and riding a bicycle would involve wind rushing through your hair.

Many people feel that if they’re not using equipment then they aren’t exercising and yet you don’t need anything to go for a run. On Fat Buddha Fitness we concentrate on bodyweight workouts although occasionally using some things you would easily find around the house. We do these workouts indoors because we’re targeting busy working people who don’t have much free time and need to be as efficient as possible with what they do have. However, there is a lot to be said for going outside, getting some fresh air (unless you live in a big city of course) and exercising there. On FBF we often try to leave the flat and film workouts outdoors, not least because it makes for better backdrops, more attractive scenery and better lighting.

But why specifically do oudoor circuit training? Well circuit training is a very effective way of exercising as it allows you to combine aerobic with anaerobic movements whilst also providing you with a raft of options. If you’re stuck indoors you are in many ways constricted by your environment and at the very least restricted in your available space. Yes you may have different pieces of equipment but the possibilities are limitless outdoors. For one, you can include sprints and very few gyms in the world have a clear, straight area of space in which you could run more than about 5 yards. What’s more there is the possibility of doing hills and inclines. In a park you often have a slope or even steps you could run up.

Other things you find in a park such as benches or walls can be used for step-ups, dips, jumps, inclined press-ups and other exercises. A fence can be jumped over, a sturdy tree branch can be used for pull-ups, a lawn-mower can be hurdled, even childrens’ play equipment can be incorporated into a workout. Plants in pots can turn into weights, as can garden gnomes, statues and plastic garden furniture.  I used to fill up two potato sacks (or even empty bags of dog food) with flint stones dug out from my mother’s flower beds, grab one in each hand and walk up and down the garden until my grip went. That was great strength training for my forearms in particular but also shoulders, back and legs. I did it because I wanted to strengthen my grip for judo.

You don’t have to make outdoor circuit training your only activity but if you can, try to include it into your training regimen. Similarly to interval training you can give yourself a handful of different exercises and either do each one for a set time period or do a set number of repetitions of each one. That makes one circuit. Then you just go round and around for as long as you like. Like interval training, circuit training usually includes a rest gap in between the workout periods.


For today’s exercise challenge I want you to go outside, pick 5 exercises, set your own workout and rest periods and keep going for 20 minutes. For those lacking inspiration try this: 5×20-yard sprints, 20xpress-ups, 20xstep-ups on each leg, 30xsit-ups, 50xside-to-side jumps over a 50-cm high barrier. Rest for 30-seconds in between each exercise and just keep going around the circuit until the 20-minutes is up.



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