6 Outdoor Strength Training Exercises

Long, sun-filled days mean saying so long to a stuffy gym and hello to biking, swimming, and outdoor exercise. That's great for cardiovascular fitness, but without resistance training, muscle tone can vanish like ice cubes in July. "People think they can build muscle only in a gym," says Tina Vindum of Outdoor Action Fitness in Mill Valley, CA. "But it's easy and more fun to do it outside." What's more, you may get faster results. Research shows that taking your workout outdoors can rev up the intensity without making it feel harder.

For even more oomph, grab a friend. The partner moves in this workout are more challenging, so you'll firm up in no time.

For a safe, effective buddy workout, talk a lot. Can't complete a full set? Say so. Too easy? Ask your partner to provide more resistance. Do two sets of 8 to 12 reps of each move, unless otherwise noted. Always warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of walking, and stretch afterward.

Wheelbarrow Push-Up (tones chest, shoulders, triceps, glutes, and abs)

This buddy push-up works more muscles than the solo kind. As a result, you have to really tighten your abs and buttocks muscles to keep your body straight.

Assume the push-up position with hands directly beneath shoulders and back straight. Have your partner squat down using good form (back straight, knees behind toes) and lift your legs as though holding a wheelbarrow. As she picks you up, tighten your glutes and abs to prevent your body from drooping. When you are steady, bend your elbows and lower your chest until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Hold for a second, then push back up.


Tree Limb Pull-Up (strengthens upper back, biceps, and shoulders)

Pull-ups are tough. But with a partner, even women with Olive Oyl arms can get the benefits of this great upper-body move.

Grasp a tree branch (or a monkey bar) with hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing you. Bend your knees and cross your ankles, so you're hanging. Have your buddy grasp your shins just below your knees. With your head back slightly, squeeze your shoulder blades down and back while bending your elbows to pull your chest toward the branch. As you pull, have your buddy lift as much as necessary for you to accomplish the move. Hold for a second, then slowly lower.

Dip and Curl (shapes triceps, thighs, and abs)

This challenging move feels easier with a friend doing it beside you.

Sit on the edge of a park bench. Grasp the bench at your sides. Inch yourself off the bench, keeping your behind as close to it as possible, and walk your feet out, so your knees are directly over your ankles. Extend your right leg, and rest your right heel on the ground, with foot flexed. Bend your elbows straight back and lower yourself while simultaneously contracting your abs and pulling your right knee toward your chest. Don't bend your elbows beyond 90 degrees. Hold for a second, then push back up and extend your right leg without touching the ground. Do four to six reps with each leg to complete a set.

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