Written by Adam Whitlach
WRRFC Head Trainer
As the seasons slowly transition from spring to summer, people increasingly spend less time in the gym. It’s an easy trend to spot; the dominos that fall are quite plain. Blame the longer days and favorable weather, but each year, I see people using outdoor actives like doing yard work, golfing, kayaking, etc. in place of their usual exercises. While these trends are understandable (it’s summer—you should be outside!), there are a few things to consider when opting to skip workouts in favor of outdoor activity.
1) Time: Solid training programs should not require a large portion of your time. You should have goals in mind for each training session. Once those goals are achieved, you should have plenty of time left over to mow the lawn.
2) Variability: When using an outdoor activity like cycling for exercise, it becomes difficult to definitively track your progress. For instance, if you are used to burning 500 calories in 1 hour on an indoor bike, you might find it challenging to duplicate that same workout outside. Unless you are wearing a portable heart rate monitor like a MyZone, measuring how hard you worked becomes subjective when working outside of the gym. Even if you have a MyZone, things like extreme heat can elevate your heart rate, making you feel like you're working harder than you actually are. Like extreme heat, foul weather also elevates your heart rate with less work. The same is true with anxiety, but elevating your heart rate due to stress is not the same as elevating your heart rate through training.
3) Strength: After spending the fall and winter building a stronger version of yourself, do you really want to lose all that hard work by opting for hiking, yard work, or fishing instead of going to the gym? If you answered yes, then I would refer you back to Point 1. Personally, I love to hunt, fish, and hike, but none of that can be done until the real work is completed. This is not a situation where you decide between one or the other. Get them both in! Condense your workouts if you need to, but be sure you hit the major muscle groups. And of course, proper planning is key. If I’m planning to be outdoors on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then I make sure I get my training in on alternate days.=
4) Vanity: I don’t know many people who workout without aesthetic goals somewhere on their list of reasons why. No one has ever said, "I want to work out really hard but look the same afterwards." Especially this time of year, many of us are working toward the summer beach body. For most of us, the physique we spent so much time building can’t improve or be maintained without continued proper training. Sadly, laying down 100 yards of mulch won’t do the trick either. No one is saying that yard work isn't difficult; it's brutal! But refer back to Point 2; the variability is too difficult to quantify. If working outdoors was the solution to the perfect body, then landscapers would all be sculpted like Greek gods…
5) Traffic: Many people are often frustrated when they come to the gym with a goal in mind, only to have it derailed by 10 people already using the same piece of equipment. At the start of this article, I mentioned that gym attendance is down in the summer—this might be the perfect time to make some legitimate progress on your goals. Less people in the gym means free reign over your programming, allowing for even more efficiency to get your work done then get outside quickly.
But truthfully, it all boils down to you. If you want to make progress and see results, you’ll make time to go after it—what other options do you have?
We’ll see you at the club this summer!