Park Life: The Ultimate Outdoor Workout

If the thought of pounding a treadmill at the gym gets you as excited as a grey sky of drizzly rain, panic not. We have an outdoor workout that you can do anywhere. It’s super-easy and guaranteed to make you feel good or your money back (umm… only joking about that last part).

Devised by: Nike Fitness Athlete Jane Wake
Photography by: Glen Burrows

Whatever your sport, it’s good to play. Not just to increase your strength and energy levels but because people who play sports have more confidence, lower stress levels and even better brain function. If your sport also has that edge to get your adrenaline and endorphins pumping, you can feel the buzz for days. By using the streets, parks and fields around you two to five times a week for just 30-45 minutes, depending on how lazy you are, you can stay strong in body and mind all year round. Plus you’ll improve your surfing, riding, skiing, mountain biking or whatever else you love to do.

Your activities have kindly been divided into three sections, and sections 1 (cardio) and 2 (strength) can be done together or on alternate days, but finish each session with section 3 (holistic).

Always start with a warm up. This basically means doing the activity at a low intensity where you start to feel your heart rate go up, muscles warmed and brain engaged. Always finish by warming down, lowering your intensity gradually – section 3 is designed as a cool down.

Cardiovascular (heart and lung) activities increase your energy levels so that the next time you’re on the snow or surf you’ll feel able to keep going for hours and hours.

Energy bursts
Increases your sprint ability, stamina, agility and co-ordination, plus burns loads of calories.

What you need: A skipping rope, stop watch.

How you do it
• Warm up slowly, jogging for 5-8 minutes
• Skip for 30 seconds
• Count and record the number of skips you do
• Rest for 30 seconds
• Repeat but this time for 45 seconds
• Rest for 45 seconds
• Repeat the 30 seconds as before
• Continue to repeat for at least 6 bursts
• Jog slowly for 3-5 minutes to warm down
• Finish with your holistic moves.

To progress: Increase the number and length of each burst.

Your alternative: Mark 20 metres (20 big steps) apart using the lines on a court or put out makeshift markers such as water bottles. Then run as fast as you can from marker to marker in 30 and 45 second bursts as above.

How often: 1-3 x a week.

Stamina Builder
Increases stamina, leg strength and burns loads of fat.

What you need: Open space with steps, low walls or benches, stop watch.

How you do it
• Warm up slowly, jogging for 5-8 minutes
• Now break into a run for 3 minutes
• Find the nearest step, 10-20 cm from the ground and run up and down, 30 seconds left foot first, then 30 seconds right foot first
• Jog for 3 minutes
• Slow to a walk, taking giant steps and bending at the knees, torso upright
• Start to lunge with each step, alternating right and left, 20 times
• Break into a run for 3 minutes
• Find the nearest low wall or bench 30-50cm high and take big steps up and down, 30 seconds left foot first, then 30 seconds right
• Jog for 3 minutes
• Warm down by walking for 3-5 minutes
• Finish with your holistic moves.

To progress: Treat as a circuit and repeat.

Your alternative: Instead of step ups use natural hills or run up flights of stairs, and instead of lunges do repeated jumps over low logs and benches, shrubs and plants.

How often: 1-3 x a week

Next: Strength

Strong, balanced muscles add power to your sport, prevent injury and make you look toned and lean. By staying strong all year round, come next birthday, you’ll look and feel at least a year younger.

Lion’s reach
Strengthens arms, back, abdominals and backside.

How you do it
• Warm up by doing your cardio first or circling your arms and shoulders for 2 minutes
• Start on your hands and knees
• Draw your shoulders away from your neck and tuck your elbows in, think of a lion’s front legs, slightly bent at the elbow, haunches drawn in close to the spine
• Look down at the ground, eye level in front of finger tips.
• Maintaining a strong back, bottom slightly out and stomach tight, rest on the balls of your feet and lift your knees slightly off the floor, as if about to pounce
• Reach with one leg, extending it back behind you, like a cat stretching out alternate legs
• Squeeze your bottom muscles, keeping your back still, and hold the leg out for a count of 10
• Change legs then rest and repeat 2-6 times
• Do holistic exercises to warm down.

To progress: Increase the length of time you hold out each leg.

Your alternative: Try climbing a wall, frame or a tree.

How often: 2-3 x a week.

The wire
Strengthens legs, backside and particularly good for your deep abdominals, ankle strength and balance.

How you do it
• Warm up by doing your cardio first or walking/jogging for 3-4 minutes
• Stand on your left foot only
• Keep your hips level – imagine you have a stake running through from one hip to the other
• Hold yourself up tall, body straight
• Focus on deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles – think of pulling up inside you, deep into your lower abdomen
• Reach up with your left hand to the sky
• Keeping your arm in line with your leg, hinge forward at your hip joint, extending your right leg behind you and left arm in front. Try to get into a near horizontal straight line.
• Hold for as long as you can balance and change legs.

To progress: Try doing it on a narrow surface such as the top of a low wall or balance beam on a park trail run.

Your alternative: Stand on any imbalance surface, such as a log or large wobbling rock, try to stay balanced.

How often: 2-3 x a week.

Next: Holistic
While it’s good to push your body, it’s important to give time to relax and lengthen out muscles that become tight and restricted. Add in some good breathing techniques and
you will also feel calm, energised and at peace with yourself.

Warrior stretch
This stretches the whole of the front of your body, promotes good posture and muscle balance.

How you do it
• Warm up by doing your cardio first or walking slowly for 3-4 minutes, taking deep, long and slow breaths
• Kneel with your left knee on a soft surface, right foot in front
• Reach up with your right hand to the sky, pulling in your stomach muscles and drawing your shoulders down away from your neck
• Reach around to your left foot and lift it off the floor towards your bottom
• Keep drawing your stomach in tight as you now also push your hips forward, ensuring that your lower back doesn’t over arch
• Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out aim to release tension away from the front of your thigh
• Take another 3-4 slow breaths before releasing and repeating on the other side.

To progress: Repeat the stretch a second time.

Your alternative: Stand and bend your knee behind, holding on to your foot to stretch your front thigh.

How often: 3-6 x a week.

Sleeping swan
This stretches the whole of the back of the body, relaxes the spine, releasing tension in the back, shoulders and neck.

How you do it
• Warm up by doing your cardio first or walking slowly for 3-4 minutes, taking deep, long, slow breaths
• Cross your left leg behind your right so that your left foot is resting on its outside edge
• Bend both knees and roll your spine forward until you can touch the ground with your fingers
• Keep your abdominal muscles drawn in tight and take 2 slow breaths, aiming to relax your upper body as you breathe out
• Take another breath and as you breathe out try to straighten your legs, feeling a deeper stretch down the side of your left leg and through the back of both legs
• Hold for 2-4 slow deep breaths and change sides.

To progress: Repeat the stretch a second time.

Your alternative: Place your right foot on a low wall, bench or step and lean forward, leg straight, bottom out.

How often: 3-6 x a week.

Credits: Styled by Camilla Pole; Model Georgina Porchetta @ FM Agency; Hair by Aimee Robinson; Make up by Abi Johnson; Photographer’s assistant Ed Luke; Assistant Eve Bracewell.

To download more workouts visit the Nike Women website.
To meet like minded fitness folk visit the online community at


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