Trying to schedule weight room workouts during the preseason and in-season is not easy. And when student-athletes do find time for a training session, having to wait for available squat racks, benches and machines not only interrupts their workouts, it also wastes precious training time. Avoid this dilemma with time-efficient and muscle-building exercises performed outdoors!
Training outdoors offers great advantages: no resistance equipment needed for the recommended bodyweight exercises—which means faster, non-stop workouts; and working out in the sunshine means you get vitamin D, which creates more muscle-building (and bone-building) testosterone. So, round up your teammates and head to the great outdoors for a short, intense and totally different strength and conditioning workout. With warm spring temperatures, now is an ideal time of year to exercise outside. Just make sure to have a water bottle nearby, because these outdoor workouts will require serious hydration.
To get your upper and lower body warmed up, perform Arm Circles (backward and forward) for 30 seconds each way, followed by Walking Lunges for 40 yards.
Ascending/Descending Bleacher Push-Ups
Head to the bleachers, and start at the first bench in a Push-Up position with your feet on the ground and hands on the bench. Do one Push-Up. Continue your ascent by doing one Push-Up per bench (feet on previous bench, hands on bench above). Once you reach the top, rest 30 seconds and then reverse the process by doing a Push-Up on each bench on the way down.
Elevated Push-Ups (the ascending phase) build upper and middle chest muscles. Decline Push-Ups (descending phase) build lower chest muscles. Push-Ups also build up the deltoids and triceps.
Bulgarian Split-Squat Holds
Place left foot (toes) on either the edge of a bleacher bench or an aisle step, and place right foot about two to three feet away. Bend right knee to a 90-degree angle and bend left knee until it’s about six inches from the floor. Raise arms to side and do Forward Arm Circles while holding the Split-Squat position for 60 seconds. Repeat with other leg; then take a 30-second water break.
Re-assume Split-Squat position, but Squat up and down for 15 reps while holding arms overhead. Then place right foot on bench and do 15 reps with the left leg.
Bulgarian Split-Squat Holds build quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles, while the arm work strengthens shoulder muscles.
Bleacher Bench Dips Superset With Hand Rail Pull-Ups
Face the upper bleacher benches and place your hands on the edge of a bench. Place your feet on the next bleacher bench (one closer to the top). Do 12 Dips; immediately go under a hand rail bar (taking an overhand grip with legs extended under the bar) and do 12 Pull-Ups. Rest 10 seconds and do another superset of Dips/Pull-Ups.
Bench Dips build triceps, back and shoulder muscles, while the Pull-Ups build biceps and back muscles.
Starting at the bottom row of bleachers, place your right foot on a bleacher bench with your left foot on the ground. Do 20 Step-Ups (right foot remains on the bench). Then do 20 Step-Ups with your left foot on the bench. Without taking a break, sprint up the aisle steps to the top bleacher row. To return to the bottom, do Walking Lunges down the stairs. Take a 30-second water break.
Step-Ups, Walking Lunges and Sprints strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles.
Elevated Prone and Side Planks
Place feet (toes) atop a bleacher bench and hands on ground with arms slightly bent. Keeping back straight, contract your abdominal muscles. Hold position for 30 seconds. Without resting, turn to the right side with both feet side by side on the bench, right hand on the ground and left hand overhead; hold position for 30 seconds. Immediately rotate to left side with left hand on the ground, right hand overhead and feet on bench; hold position for 30 seconds.
Elevated Prone and Side Planks strengthen abdominal, shoulder and back muscles.
Perform the following standing upper- and lower-body stretches for 10 to 15 seconds each. Stretch your chest by standing sideways, about a foot from the hand rails. Place one hand on the rail and turn torso away from the rail; hold stretch. Repeat with other arm. Stretch your quads by holding the rail with your left hand and using your right hand to pull your right ankle toward your hip. Repeat with other leg. With your left hand on the rail, lower into a quarter-squat. With your right hand, pull your left ankle up in front of your body, above the right knee. Repeat with other leg. Then place both hands on the rail. With your left foot close to the rail and your left knee bent toward the rail, straighten your right leg back and press your right heel as close to the ground as possible. Repeat with the other leg.
Learn more about the benefits of stretching.
Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness director at the Greater Morristown YMCA in Cedar Knolls, N.J.