Why not build an outdoor gym in your garden? Surya Iacono suggests

Exercising at home is a popular option for many people who don’t have the time, or don’t want to pay, for gym membership. And while lots of people create the perfect workout space inside, whether in their lounge, basement or garage, they could be missing out on a better idea – a garden gym. 

Exercising outside has positive effects on both physical and mental health. According to a 2013 study in Extreme Physiology and Medicine, working out in the fresh air has a host of benefits. These include people automatically pushing themselves harder, stress reduction, higher self-esteem and a faster recovery from fatigue. 

Creating a gym in your garden or yard is simpler and cheaper than you might think. Here are some tips for the perfect workout space: 

  1. Make sure it’s weatherproofed

Depending on where you live, you will probably have to deal with rain at least some of the time. The space you create should be partly undercover so that you can use it whatever the weather. If you don’t have access to a garage or shed, then even a piece of tarpaulin hung in a judicious place can give adequate shelter. It’s also important to shield you from too much sun in hot weather. 

  1. Make it as level as possible

For weight training, your home gym needs to as level as possible. If you don’t have a flat enough area in your garden, take the time to properly level a section off. The ideal space is an area that has pavement and grass next to each other, as this gives you more exercise options. 

  1. Ensure it’s big enough and high enough 

If you have covered your outdoor gym then ensure it’s high enough for you to do any exercise you choose, including overhead presses and star-jumps. There also needs to be enough space for cardio and HITT if you are planning to include these in your regime. Make sure there’s enough room to sprint, jog, run and do intervals to get your heart rate up. 

  1. Invest in equipment

While you definitely don’t need to pay out for top line equipment, it’s a good idea to get some in for strength training. Kettlebells, sandbags, tires to flip, dumbbells and ropes are good options. 

Most of these are usually relatively inexpensive and can be used for different kinds of exercises. If you don’t want to have too much equipment crowding your outside space, then stick to resistance bands, which work well for stretches, HITT and mobility exercises. 

The best equipment choices are: 

  • One piece of good quality equipment for conditioning, such as an exercise bike, treadmill or rowing machine. Select the one you like best and that you know you will use the most. 
  • The right kinds of barbells and plates for your needs. This will depend on whether you are performing powerlifting movements or other kinds of lifting. 
  • A squat rack can be useful if you will be doing a lot of lifting using a barbell. 
  • Floor padding, while not essential, can help people who may need to drop weights. This will mean plates, kettlebells and dumbbells will last longer and it also takes away some of the impact of working out on a hard surface. 

Ideal exercises for your outdoor gym

As long as you’ve set up your exercise space well, and you have the right kind of equipment, you can do the same exercises you would at a inside gym. Anything that includes free weights, bodyweight exercises or resistance bands can be performed easily. 

These could include squats, upright rowing, overhead presses with a resistance band, barbell deadlifts, lunges, butterfly presses and anything else you want to include. Finish with some outdoor yoga or Pilates to really take advantage of the fresh air and sunshine. And then just head inside to the comfort of your own shower to freshen up – much nicer than the gym!

About Surya Gabriel Iacono

Surya Iacono is a fitness and wellness expert and blogger based in London, UK. Surya's fitness blogs are aimed at keen gym-goers and exercise fans already well into their journey and looking for tips, tricks and ideas to take it to the next level.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.