Time: 45 minutes
Location: A 1-5 mile loop or path that contains hills
Props: Tree or wall
Purpose: Cardio. Muscular Strength and Endurance. Full Body and Core Strength. Balance and Agility. Multi-Directional Movement.
This is a wonderful traveling workout that can be adapted to any number of environments. The workout calls for a couple of stops at hillsides, but if your best location is a riverside path, or another location without inclines, just do these exercises on flat ground. The same thing goes for Tree Sits. If you’re in an open field, or another place without sturdy trees nearby, use a telephone pole or a wall.
When you’re planning a traveling workout, ideally you want to choose a path that has as much variety as possible, with different types of terrain and access to different prop structures. As you get familiar with the individual exercises and the sequence of the workouts, you’ll get even more adept at choosing locations that work best for you and your goals.
Stage 1: Warm Up – 5-10 minutes
Walk or lightly jog for 5-10 minutes.
Tip: Close your eyes and allow your olfactory sense to take the lead. What do you smell? Did it rain last night? Has the grass been cut recently?
Stage 2: Location exercises
1. Hill Squat – 1 minute
These are my favorite squats on the planet. A hillside can actually provide a stable and effective platform for working your glutes and hamstrings—especially the area where the two meet.
Tip: Face downhill with a wide stance against the hillside. The more firmly you press through your heels, the more you’ll work your glutes and hamstrings!
2. Cardio Travel – 3 minutes
During this quick walk or jog, feel the earth through your feet. Remember to breathe low and slow. Stay relaxed as your heart rate rises.
When you come to the 2.5-minute mark, scout around for a tree, post or wall for sits. As you near the spot, bring your run down to a walk for about 30 seconds.
Station 2 – Tree
3. Tree Sit – 1 minute
These sits work your quads—hard! They also engage your, deep core muscles, your hip flexors and your shoulders, as well as challenge your balance and mental focus.
Tip: Sit up against the tree and press your heels firmly into the ground and your back firmly against the tree.
“The redwoods got your back”
In my group of friends, we have this saying, “The redwoods have got your back.” When one of us is feeling stressed, working through a problem, or simply feeling out of sorts, we go into the forest for fresh air, exercise and the solitude that helps us to work through it. Sometimes when you’re “in it,” it’s tough to see the forest through the trees and remember the many gifts nature has to offer—clarity, serenity, peace and inspiration—so we’ll use this one phrase as a reminder—“Redwoods got your back.” That’s all it takes. We head for the forest.
4. Cardio Travel – 3 minutes
Walk for 30 seconds or so before you start jogging to your next station. You’re in the full flow of your workout now, so in this cardio session build to a level where you can talk—but just don’t feel like it. Go with the flow as you run. Feel gravity holding your body. Don’t fight anything, just flow.
At 2.5 minutes, look for a tree, a log or a bench or a low fence for your next two exercises. You need a tree with a strong base and a limb low enough to grasp. Slow to a walk.
Station 3 – Tree or Log
5. One-armed Press – 30-60 seconds per side
This is a powerful arm, chest and shoulder strengthener. When you are finished, take an “active recovery” break and walk it out for 30 seconds before moving on to the other arm.
6. Cardio Travel – 3 minutes
You’re deep into your workout, so bring your heart rate up a tad more for this next cardio block. Observe how much easier and more pleasurable it is to exercise when you are integrated with your environment. Take a moment to picture yourself moving with the power and grace of a gazelle—or some other sleek, graceful and dynamic animal.
At 2.5 minutes, be on the lookout for an incline or a hill for your next two exercises. Walk for 30 seconds.
Station 4 – Hillside
Remember to perform the next two exercises as you travel up the hill.
7. Diagonal Strides – 1-2 minutes
Facing up the hill, stride diagonally from side to side up the hill. As you lift, move more quickly, brushing the lifted knee and ankle past the support leg.
8. Lateral Strides – 1-2 minutes per side
This exercise is extremely effective for sculpting the inner and outer thighs as well as the hips and glutes. Stand laterally to the hillside. Take a long stride sideways up the hill for 1-2 minutes. Switch legs. Walk it out for 30 seconds before moving on to the next station.
9. Cardio Travel – 3 minutes
Use this cardio block to clear your mind and body of tension. Get your heart rate up to a comfortable level. Focus on maintaining strong posture: chest open, chin up, eyes forward. Use a nice even arm swing to maintain your tempo. Even breathing is critical in this stage of your workout, in order to wash your body with oxygen and clear out any lactic acid that has built up in your system. After 3 minutes, walk it out for 30 seconds.
Station 5 – Flat Ground
You’ve accomplished a lot in about 30 minutes, focusing on both your upper and lower body. Now it’s time to work on your core strength. Keeping with the theme of this workout, you’ll get a lot done in a little time. Working your midsection while standing up will help you use more muscle fiber in your deep abdominal muscles.
10. Standing “C” Crunch – 1 minute (30-60 seconds per side)
The standing curl targets not only the deep layers of the abdominal wall, it challenges your hip flexors, glutes, heart and lungs.
Tip: Lift your knee out and away from your body and then up to your chest so that you form the letter “C.” For support and stability, contract your glutes in the support leg. Repeat on the other side.
12. Standing Cross-over Crunch – 1 minute (30 seconds per side)
This crunch works your obliques, hips and shoulders. Stand tall and bring your right arm down toward your lifted left knee. Contract your abdominal wall. Repeat for 30 seconds, then, switch sides. After you’re through, walk it out for 30 seconds to catch your breath and clear your mind. Draw in a few deep breaths and exhale completely.
Stage 3: Cool Down – 5-20 minutes
Remember, your cool down is just as important as your warm up. You will gradually lower your heart rate, prevent venous pooling in your limbs, clear out lactic acid, prevent muscle cramping and stiffness, and regulate your cardiac rhythm.
1. Cardio walk or jog back to start – 5-10 minutes
Once you reach your starting point, walk until your heart rate is down before you begin a full body stretch
• Hip Flexors
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• Inner thighs (abductors)
• Chest, shoulders and biceps
• Upper back and rear shoulders