Blog

11 Creative Outdoor Personal Training Ideas

11 creative outdoor personal training ideas banner image

Looking for some outdoor personal training ideas to liven up your clients’ workouts? Well, you’re in the right place!

We’ve put together a list of 11 easy to follow, highly versatile exercise ideas that you can programme to keep your clients motivated.

Before we start, one of the best way to enhance your personal training outside is by boosting your expertise with Level 4 personal trainer courses.

You can also download and browse our free course prospectus for more information on all of our personal trainer courses.

#1 Use a Bench to Perform Outdoor Personal Training Exercises

bench outdoor personal training ideas image

Outdoor benches are highly versatile tools, just as much as a bench in the gym can be!

This is because they can allow you to create a full-body workout, without having to pay for extra equipment.

Wherever you’re training, benches are easy to access and can be found in most outside areas.

That’s why we’d recommend incorporating a bench into your outside personal training sessions to work your clients’ coordination and improve their flexibility.

You can also work on any muscular imbalances that clients may have, by performing unilateral exercises, beginning with their weaker side.

Benches also work well as a tool for clients working to develop strength. For instance, if a client can’t yet perform a full push-up, a bench can be used to perform an elevated regression.

Some exercises that you could include in a client’s programme using a bench are:

If you’re stuck for outdoor PT session ideas, you could ask clients to perform 3 sets of step-ups, for 8 reps on each leg, before moving on to the next exercise.

Alternatively, you could create a circuit, using 5 exercises. These should be performed back-to-back, with a 30 second to 1 minute rest in between. Then, repeat this for 3 more rounds.

#2 Make Use of Equipment at Your Local Park for Personal Training Outside the Gym

monkey bars outdoor personal training ideas image

Another one of our outdoor personal training ideas is to use equipment already in the park like the monkey bars.

You may find them on a children’s playground, but monkey bars are a highly effective tool for use by adults too!

Like park benches, they are highly versatile, and many bodyweight exercises can be performed on them to help your clients:

For example, monkey bars are perfect for using as a pull-up bar. You can also use monkey bars to perform:

Another piece of equipment that you could use at your local park is a swing, which is great for your client’s core in order to maintain stability whilst they swing.

A swing is one of the best outdoor personal training session ideas for replacing exercises you would usually do in the gym, as this is a great outdoor alternative to a stability ball.

You may choose to programme some of the following exercises using a swing:

#3 Hill Sprints Are a Great Way to Take Personal Training Outside

run uphill outdoor personal training ideas

Most outdoor spaces have a hill or two nearby. Therefore, hill sprints are one of the best outdoor personal training ideas on our list!

Sprinting up a hill is an effective way of training, as not only are clients performing sprint intervals, but they must also battle against steep, unpredictable terrain.

So, as well as testing your client’s aerobic capacity and improving cardiovascular endurance, hill sprints can also be considered a form of functional strength training.

Hill sprints are ideal for clients who are trying to improve their running technique and building speed by forcing the body to adapt to the steep incline.

When the client returns to treadmill or road running, their technique will have improved significantly!

 

Develop Sports Nutritionist Skills with OriGym

Enhance your personal training and boost your client's performance with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition course

We’d also recommend including some form of outdoor running in your clients’ programmes, as being out amongst nature is calming, and can help to reduce levels of cortisol within the body.

In fact, a study found that people who ran outdoors reported increased energy, decreased feelings of depression, and were more likely to repeat their workouts!

To fit hill sprints into an outside personal training programme, we’d suggest easing your clients in with one to two sessions per week, as they can be pretty demanding on the nervous system.

When programming hill runs for beginners, you don’t need to use a steep hill to begin with, so choose one with an approximate 5 to 8% incline. Then:

  1. Begin with a 10-to-15-minute gentle warm-up run on a flat surface.
  2. Your client should then complete a 15-second, all out sprint up the hill at their maximum effort level, before walking back down.
  3. Ask them to complete 4 rounds of this, with as much rest as needed in-between for recovery.
  4. After such an intense workout, you should ensure that your client spends 5 to 10 minutes cooling down with a recovery run, before finishing with some static stretches.

Also make sure to check temperatures and humidity levels before doing intense cardio outside!

#4 Try Beach Running as Part of Your Personal Training Outside the Gym

beach run outdoor personal training ideas image

Running on the beach is much harder than pounding the pavements, or treadmill running.

This is because the muscles in the legs have to work harder to overcome the resistance provided by the shifting surface of the sand. 

Beach running is therefore one of the best outdoor personal training ideas, as it helps to strengthen:

  • The arches
  • The ankles
  • Hips
  • The knees and other surrounding muscles

It also provides more maximal oxygen consumption than running on a stable surface, making it a great workout for increasing your clients’ cardiovascular endurance.

Instead of propelling the client forwards, sand absorbs some of the energy from the foot, which forces the muscles in the legs to become activated to help them stay balanced.

When writing a beach run into a client’s programme, be sure to check the tide schedule beforehand.

Ideally, you’ll want to be running at low tide, or within an hour or 2 of the lowest point. 

At this time, the sand will be harder packed, meaning that the surface will be gentler on your client’s stabilising muscles and joints. This means that there’s a lower risk of injury for your client.

Begin with walking, before incorporating slow 10-to-15-minute runs, and then begin to build on this time in intervals week on week.

For beginners, incorporate one session per week into their current routine, and add more as they begin to build their strength and endurance.

You should also ensure that your client changes direction, as running on a slant can put excessive pressure on the joints. They should therefore run in both directions to prevent any muscle imbalances.

#5 Use a Sport Court to Perform Some Outdoor Personal Training Exercises

basketball outdoor training ideas graphic

There’s plenty of outdoor courts you can use for outdoor personal training session ideas including:

  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball 

Not only is it free and highly accessible, but it gives you plenty of space to put together a workout of your choice.

Training on a court is a great choice for a HIIT class plan, to get your client’s cardiovascular system working and increase their aerobic capacity to improve endurance and running performance.

In terms of creative outdoor PT session ideas, you could ask clients to perform what’s known as the ‘suicide drill’, which was made famous by basketball:

  1. Begin at one end of the court. Firstly, the client sprints to the free-throw line, then back to the beginning.
  2. Next, they should sprint further, to the midpoint, and back.
  3. Keep going with this drill until they have sprinted to the end of the court and back, and ask them to repeat as many times as you like!

court outdoor personal training ideas image

You may also choose to programme this drill with other exercises in between, to create a HIIT-style circuit, and keep your client engaged with their workout.

This could include exercises such as:

  • Lateral hops
  • Side shuffles
  • Burpees 

#6 Skipping is Another of the Best Outdoor Personal Training Ideas

skipping outdoor personal training ideas graphic

Skipping is a highly efficient exercise that we’d recommend for outside personal training sessions, in terms of time, space, and cost.

The benefits of skipping are that several muscle groups are engaged as well as being great for cardiovascular health, so it’s a great all rounder for your clients!

It’s a great form of exercise to include if your client wants to gain strength, as it helps to engage muscles in the:

  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Core

It helps to strengthen shoulder and arm muscles when controlling the rotation of the rope. 

The core is engaged to keep the posture tall and the body stable, and the leg and glute muscles are engaged when jumping over the rope and landing.

We’d also recommend including skipping in a client’s programme if they’re looking to improve coordination and balance, which is great for everyday strength.

If your client is new to skipping when personal training outside the gym, use a weighted rope rather than a standard or speed rope.

Weighted ropes help to create resistance, so that the client can control the speed and regulate their jumps better.

Start by programming short skipping sessions 3 to 4 times a week, which are 5 to 10 minutes long. This will give the client’s feet and ankles enough time to adapt to the new stress.

If your client is more experienced, increase sessions to 15 to 30 minutes.

skipping 2 outdoor personal training ideas graphic

We’d advise you to begin with the basic movement, which is one rotation per jump. Once your client has nailed this form, you can then introduce variations, such as:

  • Double-unders
  • Single leg jumps
  • Alternate leg jumps
  • High knees
  • Criss-cross

You could then structure a coordination workout with each variation, at 30 second to 1-minute intervals.

Alternatively, you could incorporate skipping as a form of cross-training into your client’s programme. 

For example, you could add it into a finisher at the end of a strength session, or mix it in as a high-intensity interval.

Another one of our outdoor personal training ideas for skipping is with an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout.

Have your client complete as many rounds of the following exercises as they can in 20 minutes:

  • 50 single rotations
  • 50 high knees
  • 50 alternate leg jumps 

They can then try and improve on the number of rounds during each session!

#7 Include a Sandbag Workout in Your Outside Personal Training Sessions

sandbag outdoor personal training ideas image

Many clients are under the impression that sandbags are just for athletes, military personnel, or strongmen but there are several advantages for anybody’s exercise programme.

Sandbags are a much more unstable weight when compared to a barbell or dumbbell, with a shifting centre of mass due to the sand inside. 

Clients may find this difficult to control at first, but forcing the load further away from their body’s centre of gravity improves the body’s ability to stabilise itself.

This will benefit clients in the long term by helping to improve their balance and coordination skills.

Using an unstable weight also forces the body to engage more muscles to complete a lift, helping to increase all round full-body strength too.

A 2018 study found that just 7 minutes of sandbag training benefits the cardiovascular system in a similar way to a much longer, more intense kettlebell workout

The study also found that it offers a ‘superior metabolic stimulus’ for at least 30 minutes after a workout, improving post-exercise oxygen consumption.

As the perceived weight of a sandbag is much heavier than a barbell or dumbbell, you should reduce the weight by 50% in comparison to what the client would usually lift.

For a client who is a beginner with sandbag training, you could include exercises in their programme such as front squats, lunges, and burpees.

To increase the difficulty for a more advanced client, you could move on to exercises such as:

  • Bent over rows
  • Deadlifts
  • Overhead press
  • Bear hug squats
  • Strongman carries

When programming these outdoor personal training exercises you could also put them into a circuit for your client to perform.

If your client’s focus is on strength training, you could programme the exercises to increase the load, reps, or volume week on week.

#8 Incorporate Trail Running When Personal Training Outside the Gym

trail run outdoor personal training ideas image

Trail running will allow your client to enjoy a calmer and more scenic run as a break from a busier environment such as parks, roads, or the gym.

However, they shouldn’t mistake this for being easier! The textured, uneven terrain means more resistance and, ultimately, a harder workout.

The bursts of energy required to navigate the uneven terrain mean that this is punctuated with anaerobic exercise as well as aerobic.

When clients are used to running on a treadmill or pavement, the body is likely to adapt.

Trail running is therefore one of the best outdoor personal training ideas for providing clients with a more challenging run and helping to increase their cardiovascular endurance levels.

 

Develop Sports Nutritionist Skills with OriGym

Enhance your personal training and boost your client's performance with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition course

It’s also a great way to challenge their strength, particularly if the trail involves inclines. This can work on the following muscles:

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • The core

When programming trail running for clients, be sure to test out trails on your own before asking a client to run one with you.

This is to allow you to time and memorise the course and to come up with some coaching cues.

Once you know that the trail is safe you can programme the same area and route for your clients. 

Consistently running the same trail allows clients to acclimatise to the environment and helps them to grow in confidence.

If they are a beginner, start them off slowly with just one to two runs per week, to avoid putting too much strain on joints and tendons that aren’t yet adapted to running trails.

You could also use trail running as a form of cross-training to avoid this, by pairing it with one of the other outdoor PT session ideas in this article!

#9 Suspension Training is a Great Way of Taking Your Personal Training Outside

suspension outdoor personal training ideas graphic

Because suspension trainers are lightweight they’re great for outdoor personal training ideas.

The original design was invented by a Navy SEAL looking for ways to maintain peak physical condition whilst on deployment within a limited space.

They are therefore purpose designed for workouts on the go!

To incorporate suspension training into a workout, firstly ensure that the workout takes place on a flat, non-slip surface.

For the most effective workout, use an overhead anchor point which is 7 to 9 feet off the ground, ensuring that it’s strong enough to support your client’s bodyweight.

If you have access to a well-fixed horizontal bar or beam outside, such as a pull-up bar, attach the suspension trainer here.

You could also use:

  • Goal posts
  • Trees
  • Poles
  • Posts
  • Chain link fences

When programming outdoor personal training exercises using a suspension trainer, you can include a huge variety of exercises including:

  • Inverted rows
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Knee tucks
  • Assisted pull ups

You can also enhance these skills with specialised courses such as a CPD in suspension training!

#10 Agility Ladders are a Fun Piece of Equipment for Personal Training Outside the Gym

ladder outdoor personal training ideas image

An agility ladder is another piece of equipment that is ideal for personal training outside, as they are:

  • Easy to transport
  • Very compact
  • Versatile 

They’re perfect for clients looking to improve sports performance, because they are great for SARQ workouts. 

This involves:

  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Reactivity
  • Quickness

Using an agility ladder for a SARQ workout helps your client to improve their body awareness, balance, and coordination skills.

This is especially good for when you’re training older clients who are at a higher risk of falling and injuring themselves.

hop ladder outdoor personal training ideas image

Studies have shown that SARQ workouts also encourage greater adherence to an exercise programme, meaning greater client engagement!

If your client is a beginner, ask them to start with a single-foot drill so that they have a chance to get used to the ladder.

They should do this by stepping into the first square with their right foot, then into the second with their left foot, and keep alternating until they reach the end.

With each drill, encourage them to increase their speed as they go.

Your client can then move on to a two-foot drill before adding variations in. This could include:

  • Lateral movements
  • Ladder jumps
  • Single-foot hops for a real challenge!

#11 Bootcamps Are One of the Best Outdoor Personal Training Ideas

bootcamp outdoor personal training ideas image

Last on our list of outdoor personal training ideas is combining all of our other ideas into one workout as part of a bootcamp!

Bootcamps can be a great way to change up your clients’ usual workouts keeping clients interested, engaged, and motivated to keep working and trying new things.

Bootcamps are also a great way to train more than one client, creating a sense of camaraderie amongst participants, perhaps even helping you to gain some new clients!

They usually consist of circuits or a HIIT-style workout meaning that you could substitute one of your client’s cardio sessions a week with a bootcamp session to mix it up.

You could also use a bootcamp style workout as a finisher at the end of a strength session to really push your client to the max!

 

Develop Sports Nutritionist Skills with OriGym

Enhance your personal training and boost your client's performance with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition course

Depending on your client’s goal, you can include a range of different outdoor personal training exercises that work on strength, speed, power, amongst other elements of fitness.

In terms of ideas for your bootcamp, we’d recommend setting up several different stations including equipment, if you have access, or just bodyweight exercises!

As well as the other exercises we’ve suggested in this article, some others you could include in your bootcamp style circuit include:

  • Sprinting on the spot
  • Reverse lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Burpees
  • Medicine ball slams
  • Cone drills
  • Mountain climbers

Before You Go!

So, that concludes our list of the 11 most creative outdoor personal training ideas that you could use to spice up your sessions.

Don’t forget, one of the best ways to branch out and get creative with your personal training is to complete some additional CPD fitness courses.

You can download our full free course prospectus to find out more about these and our other personal trainer courses!

Sources

  • J. Thompson Coon et.al., ‘Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing Than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review’, in Environmental Science & Technology, (March 2011, Vol.45, No.5), pp. 1761-1772
  • Nicholas A. Ratamess, ‘Acute Cardiorespiratory and Metabolic Effects of a Sandbag Resistance Exercise Protocol’, in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, (June 2018, Vol.32, Issue 6), pp. 1491-1502

Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

Recommended Posts

Download Your FREE Course Prospectus & claim 15% OFF on Prompt Payment

free prospectus

Download Your FREE Course Prospectus & claim 15% OFF on Prompt Payment

free prospectus