Heading out for a quick three-mile run of your favorite loop through town is always a solid workout, but LBH: After a while, it starts to become more than a bit mundane. And guess what? It’s not the only way to burn a hefty amount of calories while enjoying the great outdoors. Sure, running for that long can easily sizzle about 315 calories for the average woman, according to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. But Erin Oprea and Shawn Booth (yes, that Shawn Booth from The Bachelorette), certified personal trainers and founders of the CitySTRONG pop-up fitness events, say there are plenty of options for those who don’t feel like putting one foot in front of the other.
“Head to your favorite city park and, instead of running, try out alternative workouts to blast you out of a plateau,” says Oprea. “You can still get the ‘running calorie burn,’ and you may find a new routine to fall in love with.” (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)
Not sure what exactly to do though? Oprea and Booth regularly rotate these workouts into their outdoor routines. Try each one to see which will earn a permanent spot in your repertoire.
“By now everyone better know about high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and the benefits you can get from it,” says Oprea. (If you don’t, you’re seriously missing out.) “I absolutely love Tabatas, and in this five-Tabata routine you can burn 250 to 350 calories depending on how hard you push yourself.” Not to mention the after-burn—a.k.a. the number of calories you continue to burn up to 24 hours after you finish working out—is pretty high, she adds.
Need a refresher on what the heck a Tabata actually is? Follow the format below—you’ll do a 20-second burst of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeat for eight rounds. Here we go!
Tabata #1: 8 rounds of jumping lunges
Tabata #2: Alternate between 1 round of pushups and 1 round of planks, for a total of 4 rounds of each exercise. (Translation: Round 1 = pushups, Round 2 = plank, Round 3 = pushups, etc)
Tabata #3: Alternate between 1 round of jumping jacks and 1 round of mountain climbers
Tabata #4: Alternate between 1 round of squat jumps and 1 round of sumo squats
Tabata #5: Alternate between 1 round of high-knees and 1 round of skater hops
“You know what will make you run faster and have more fun while doing it? Chasing a ball,” says Oprea. “Playing 30 minutes of soccer will burn roughly 260 to 310 calories, and sprints and direction changes really help sculpt your calves.” Plus, soccer lends itself to more of an interval workout, which also helps skyrocket that after-burn. So even though you may burn about the same number of calories as you would in a regular three-mile run, your body will continue to torch fat long after you’re done.
Check your local adult sports leagues and park websites to see where you can join a weekly get-together or hop into a random pickup game. Still no options? Try this routine that helps you tone up using nothing but a soccer ball, and learn how to juggle a ball so you can show off your new skills at the next summer barbecue.
“I love taking this ultra-portable piece of equipment with me when I travel, and I even bring it to my kids’ soccer games,” says Oprea. “You can burn 250 calories in just 20 minutes! Aim for 20 to 30 minutes, or if you’re already a pro, see if you can bump it up to 45 minutes.”
Find yourself mentally bored of straight-up jumping? Oprea suggests this routine to keep things interesting. It should take about 30 minutes to complete:
- 2 minutes both feet jumping, stay low to ground
- 30 seconds jump on one foot
- 30 seconds jump on other foot
- 30 seconds jumping with high knees
- 30 seconds jumping with butt kicks
- 1 minute both feet jumping, stay low to ground
- Rest for 1 minute
- Repeat for a total of 5 rounds
“Boxing is one of the best sweat sessions there is and it doubles as a stress-reliever,” says Oprea. “There are great boxing classes to try so you can get a beginner idea of proper form, but once you’re ready, you can take it outdoors.” If you’re sweating solo, shadow boxing can burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes, she says, but having a friend hold pads for you to punch will bump up the burn. Take turns tackling this routine.
“This is a great way to mix up your routine and get a killer cardio and shoulder workout,” says Oprea. “Anything sturdy will hold the ropes—most of the time I just use my car tire—and using them for just 10 minutes can burn up to 112 calories.” Set your timer and work your way through these Tabata rounds to really feel the burn:
Tabata #1: Alternate between one round of battle rope slams and one round of battle rope Russian twists, for a total of four rounds of each exercise. For rope slams, hold the ends of the ropes in each hand, thumbs on top, palms facing each other. Lift the ropes up to shoulder height and use your whole body to create power and slam them back to the ground. For Russian twists, lie on the ground and lift your head, neck, and shoulders, and engage your core by lifting your feet off the ground with knees bent. Hold the ends of the ropes in each hand on the left side of your body, then turn your torso to the right while quickly lifting the ropes over to the right. Repeat. Round 1 = slams, Round 2 = Russian twists, Round 3 = slams, etc. Rest one minute. Finish with one minute jumping lunges.
Tabata #2: Alternate between one round of wave battle ropes and one round of jumping jacks with battle ropes. To wave the ropes, do the same as you did with rope slams but alternate which arm goes up to shoulder height instead of lifting both arms at the same time. Hold the ends of the ropes in each hand, thumbs on top, palms facing each other. Lift the the right arm and rope up to shoulder height and use your whole body to create power and slam it back to the ground while you simultaneously lift the left arm and rope up to shoulder height. Continue alternating arms as you wave the ropes. Rest one minute. Finish with one minute jumping lunges.
Tabata #3: Alternate between one round of battle rope arm rotations moving clockwise, and one round of battle rope arm rotations moving counter-clockwise. To do these, set up like you’re doing battle rope slams, but instead of slamming the ropes directly up and down, use your arms to slam the ropes in a circle outwards (clockwise) and then inwards (counter-clockwise). Rest one minute. Finish with one minute jumping lunges.