There’s nothing quite like a sunny morning to put you in the mood to exercise. As the warmer months beckon, the promise of T-shirt temperatures means you can finally ditch the depths of the basement gym and make the local park your fitness playground instead.
Whether you’re trying to tone up, prepping for a half marathon, or simply aiming to hit the NHS’ recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, the UK’s green spaces offer the chance to mix up your training – and get that all-important hit of vitamin D during spring and summer months too.
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If you’re on a budget, there are tons of ways you can get fit for free outside – drill sprints, press-ups and crunches are a sure-fire way to get a sweat on – and we’ve found some handy pieces of extra kit that can amp up your workout and add extra burn to an outdoor session.
Here’s what to pack in your workout-picnic bag this spring…
1. Domyos Training 100 Cross-Training Suspension Strap, £14.99, Decathlon.co.uk
Suspension straps leverage gravity to add extra fire to exercises like push-ups, chest presses, rows and lunges. To use it, simply sling the strap over a sturdy climbing frame or a tree branch (always check it’s stable before applying any pressure) and slip your hands or feet through the buckles to create extra resistance to a workout.
With most TRX moves, part of your body will be suspended above the ground, so if you’re just starting out, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that can help you to get to grips with it while avoiding injury (it’s best to have a decent base level of strength and fitness before progressing to TRX). Once you’re done, the straps roll up into a neat ball and can easily be packed away into a rucksack afterwards.
2. Domyos Cross Training Battle Rope, £39.99, Decathlon.co.uk
If your arms and stomach are your target zones this spring, there’s no better workout companion than a pair of battle ropes. Not only are they super trendy right now (loads of boutique gyms use them), but they’re also a really easy way to take your workout into the garden.
Lay the weighted ropes out in two straight lines, grab one end in each hand, making alternate waves to build strength and power in your upper body. Adding in moves like double slams with jumping jacks is a great way to add some lower body work into the mix too.
3. Terrazzo Print Pink Yoga Mat, £30, Oliver Bonas
Light and durable, this yoga mat is an essential tool for keeping your knees, back and hands protected when you’re working out on the grass. Use it to add a layer of cushioning between you and the earth when you’re repping through roll-ups, pelvic curls or push-ups.
As well as being handy for post-workout stretches, it also handily doubles up as an alternative to a beach towel, so you can lie back and catch the rays with a book afterwards.
4. Women’s Health Resistance Loops – 4 Pack, £7.99, Argos
Easy to stash in your bag, looped resistance bands are an essential tool for activating your muscles ahead of a workout. They’re a great alternative to heavy weights, as they’re much easier to carry around and they don’t put the same amount of pressure on your joints either.
Slide one over your thighs to add an extra challenge to squats, dead bugs and lying leg lifts. This pack offers different levels of resistance, so you can play around with the intensity and work up to some of the harder bands as you progress.
5. Under Armour HOVR Infinite Running Shoes, £120, Underarmour.co.uk
Any seasoned runner knows a good pair of trainers can make or break your chip time. This pair from Under Armour has a springy foam sole that helps return the energy you put into it as you run, offering a smoother and more more comfortable ride.
Tech fans will also love that this pair has a tracker in the sole, so you don’t have to take your cumbersome smartphone on runs with you. Instead, the shoe clocks your speed, distance, cadence and stride length, and sends all your post-run data to the MapMyRun app, where you can also get coaching tips for improving your game.
6. Nike Speed Ladder, £32, jdsports.co.uk
Everyone from amateurs to athletes can benefit from agility drills using a speed ladder – a simple piece of kit that helps improve your pace. The purpose of the ladder is to develop coordination and balance by drilling through quick movements.
You simply lay it on the grass and then use it as a framework for different sets of exercises, like side jumps, fast feet and hopscotching. It sounds easy, but do enough reps and you can burn some serious calories.
7. Roller Derby Aerio Q-60 Inline Skates, £64.95, Skates.co.uk
You might not have roller-bladed since you were in high-school, but getting on eight wheels is amazing exercise for muscle endurance, challenging your upper leg muscles, glutes, hips and lower back as you move.
Skates are really easy to incorporate into your everyday routine too – you can strap them on to run errands during the daytime (once you get good enough!), or even invest in a pair for the whole family to make weekend park visits more active.
8. Body Power 9ft Nylon Skipping Rope, £3.99, Fitness-superstore.co.uk
If it’s good enough for Katy Perry (apparently she’s a huge fan of skipping workouts) then it’s good enough for us. It’s a high-intensity, celeb-approved workout that you don’t need tons of time or money to get on board with – and you can do it pretty much anywhere.
As well as testing your mental agility, skipping is a great way to tone up and torch fat. According to the British Rope Skipping Association, you can potentially burn as much as 1600 calories in just an hour.
Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, you can start bringing in more advanced moves, like cross-overs and side swipes, or timing yourself against the clock.