8 fitness tools to improve and intensify your outdoor workouts this summer
Take your next sweat sesh outside and bring these handy tools along
This article was originally published May 14, 2021 and was updated May 11, 2022 to reflect current product pricing.
By now you've probably mastered (and perhaps exhausted) the at-home workout, right? Luckily, the snow has melted, the sun is shining and you can finally spring your outdoor routine into high gear. Being outside means getting to enjoy the weather and having more space to do what you love — and it doesn't have to mean sacrificing intensity, even if you're going without some of the heavier equipment you may have at home. Whether you're heading to the park for some HIIT circuits, sweating it up on your lawn or patio, or going for a dip, one or more of these tools on the list will help you take your outdoor workout to the next level.
If you've had a bad day, allow me to introduce you to your new favourite fitness tool: the slam ball. It's essentially a medicine ball made with a softer material that is optimal for shock absorption — so you can raise it over your head and throw it straight down as hard as possible. Amazing right? But that's not all this tool is good for. Slam balls can be easily incorporated into cardio and strength training workouts, helping you target the arms, back, abdominals, and legs, while building explosiveness, speed, and stamina. If you live in an apartment or condo, your neighbours won't thank you for your 20-minute slam ball workout, so have fun with it outside.
Soft Flex Slam Ball, $39.99, Everlast
A good workout doesn't just push your body to the max, it challenges your brain too — and nothing does this better than agility training with a ladder. This one folds up easily and is super light, so you can take it with you anywhere you want to work out. Ladder drills improve coordination, speed, acceleration, and balance, keeping your mind sharp by making you multitask. The drills incorporate numerous movements, such as running forward, backwards, and sideways while you bounce within the ladder's lines, to target specific parts of the body. Here's a tip, start slow and as you get better, go for speed.
Quick Ladder Pro, $72.99, SKLZ
Aquatic foam dumbbells
If you're lucky enough to be staying by a pool, or any flat, shallow body of water, next time you go for a dip grab these water aerobics dumbbells for a new kind of strength training that's challenging and fun. These dumbbells use the natural resistance of the water for upper-body muscle toning and they come in pairs with two intensity options — regular or advanced. They can also be used for physical therapy or water Zumba. Dancing in water? Where do I sign up!
Aquafit Foam Dumbbells, $52.99, All Tides
Turn any ordinary task into a sweat-breaking workout with a weighted vest. This one adds 10 extra pounds to your body weight to make any activity — from walking to pushups or lunges — a lot harder. It is the perfect addition to virtually any outdoor workout, helping you increase the intensity and burn more calories in less time.
GoZone Weighted Vest, $34.98, Walmart
If you've ever jumped on a regular trampoline, you know that it only takes seconds to be out of breath! A workout on a mini-trampoline is high-intensity but low-impact, meaning you can get your heart rate up and strengthen your lower body while being easy on your joints. The elasticity of the trampoline allows the body to move without the additional stress of ground reaction force, so is a great cardio alternative if you loathe running. This workout is bound to make you feel like a kid again bouncing around in the yard.
Upperbounce Trampoline, $179.99, The Bay
If you haven't been able to get your hands on a pair of dumbbells during lockdown, don't worry — get resistance bands instead. These inexpensive and super-portable little bands have the ability to help you achieve major gains while preventing injury, which is perfect for anyone just starting out in strength training. Unlike machines at the gym that typically only move your body in one set plane of motion, resistance bands can be pulled in any direction. They can be used to train every body part, providing external resistance that forces your muscles to engage in order to fight the tension. With these bands in your pocket (they can literally fit in your pocket!) get ready to sweat virtually anywhere!
PTP Resistance Bands Set, $34.99, SportChek
Foldable yoga mat
One of the best things about mat-based workouts like pilates and yoga is the ability to take them anywhere — mountaintops, beaches, parks, you name it. This ultra-lightweight mat makes that even easier by folding flat to fit right in your backpack or tote. If yoga isn't your thing, the mat will come in handy for those supine core exercises in the backyard, especially thanks to its sticky texture.
Gaiam 2mm Foldable Yoga Mat, $29.99, SportChek
Rotating pushup handles
There's a reason pushups are a staple in various exercise styles from HIIT to yoga: they work! The bodyweight move activates your abs and glutes, building muscle and strength in your chest, triceps, and shoulders. But if you're not finding regular pushups challenging enough or find them hard on your wrists, it's time for a pair of pushup handles. They'll help you stack your joints better, engage even more muscles and let your hands rotate as you're doing a rep. Best part is, as you head outdoors, you don't have to worry about getting your hands dirty, no matter the terrain you're training on.
Perfect Fitness Perfect Pushup, $29.99, Amazon