How to Adapt an Outdoor Fitness Workout to the Gym

Chief logistics specialist Larry McIntosh, assigned to the supply department aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), prepares to execute an overhead press during a functional fitness class.
Chief logistics specialist Larry McIntosh, assigned to the supply department aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), prepares to execute an overhead press during a functional fitness class on April 17, 2013. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Shane A. Jackson/U.S. Navy photo)

Sometimes, the best plans get uprooted through no fault of your own. Today, it was the weather. On a planned outdoor run mixed with calisthenics (pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups/planks and dips), it started lightning, so we promptly got out of the elements and drove to the gym, where we changed it up a bit but created a comparable workout with weights, weight vests, calisthenics and cardio machines. Our original plan looked like this:

Repeat four times.

  • Run one mile.
  • Pull-ups 10-20
  • Push-ups 30-40
  • Sit-ups 20-25 (in a 30-second pace) or one-minute plank pose
  • Dips 10-20

With the outdoor pull-up, dip bars and running loop, this classic outdoor workout requires just the most basic equipment. It is also easy to shift to a gym setting. If the cardio equipment and the pull-up/dip bars are not too far away, this workout can be seamlessly transitioned. This flexibility is a testament to the adaptability of our fitness routine. With a gym, you can do different cardio events such as biking, rowing, the elliptical machine or stair stepper if you need a break from running miles on that day.

Many in our group used weights instead of all the repetitions of the calisthenics. Here is the weight and weight-vest option to reduce the repetitions on your joints and lift more weight.

Warm-up with a half pyramid to 10 with pull-ups and push-ups:

  • One pull-up, one push-up, stretch.
  • Two pull-ups, two push-ups, stretch.
  • Go up to 10 each for a total of 55 repetitions of both exercises.

Then run one mile to warm up.

Weighted sections: The bench, push-up and row section are a quick combination of building up to a body-weight bench press for maximum repetitions. Then after each set of bench presses, roll off the bench and do max push-ups (usually less than 10). This is a great way to improve your body-weight bench press and two-minute push-up tests. Both tests have been used in many military and tactical fitness tests.

Use the bench to do bent-over rows with moderately heavy dumbbells that you can barely get five reps per arm. This pulling exercise is a balance movement for the bench and will help you with your pull-up/grip muscles. Rest as needed before you start the next set.

Repeat four times.

  • Bench press max reps (body weight) + push-ups max immediately after bench.
  • Heavy dumbbell rows 5/arm
  • Rest with a two-minute walk or bike/jog.

Repeat four times.

  • Weight-vest pull-ups: max reps (weight vest of 20-25 pounds)
  • Pull-ups max (no rest)
  • Dips max
  • Dumbbell biceps curls 10
  • Dumbbell military press 10

Use the weight vest for the pull-up portion; however, you can also use it for dips. Then take the weight vest off and see how you do the exercises without the extra weight (with no rest). Top off the set with moderately tricky biceps curls and military (overhead) presses.

Your Choice of Cardio Cooldown

After the lift, take your pick and run for 20-30 minutes at a moderate pace in the Zone 2 aerobic range. You can also warm up your legs with a 10- to 15-minute bike run and then run for 10-15 minutes. Depending on your preferences, the gym equipment and time, mix in some non-impact cardio if you feel you have run enough this week and can use some non-impact cardio time to complete the workout.

The options above can be quick change programming you try when time or Mother Nature is forcing changes to your day. Try either or both of these workouts this next week and see which one might be a new favorite go-to plan when your plan changes.

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