DIY boot camp
These tough outdoor workouts will make you fierce, fit and fabulous
Does the idea of running on a treadmill at the dreary gym seem ridiculous when it's warm and sunny outside? Try these trainer-recommended basic exercises: They can be done outside, and they target specific problem areas—from butt to biceps. Do them separately for spot checks, or put them all together for a full workout. And since you're going solo, make sure you first consult a doc if you have any injuries.
Get a core
The trainer: Bill Leach has been a university and performance-enhancement coach for 37 years, and regularly conducts running programs with the Chicago Area Runners Association (773-793-3917, www.coachleach.com).
The target: Abdominals and butt
The commitment: Five minutes, three times a week. You'll see some improvement after a couple of weeks.
The gear: A gym mat or towel and a resistance band.
Front bridge Begin face down, supporting your body weight with forearms, palms and toes, and form a plank with your body without collapsing your torso or legs. Tighten the lower abdominals and sustain the position for 30 seconds to two minutes. Repeat one to two times. Tip: Remember to maintain a straight line from heels to shoulders.
Clams Lie on your right side in a fetal position. Wrap an eight-inch resistance band around your legs about four inches above the knees. Tighten the lower abdominals while lifting the top knee six to 12 inches so that legs resemble an opening clam shell and making sure the feet remain in contact. Hold for one to two seconds. Repeat ten times on each side. Tip: Make sure not to lift the top leg too high, or you'll lose the benefit.
Side bridge Lie on your side and lift up by supporting your body weight with your forearm and the outside of your bottom foot. The legs should be stacked and the body rigid, with the torso, hips, thighs and lower leg forming a straight line. The top shoulder should be directly over the bottom shoulder, and the free hand is placed on the top hip. Hold for 15 seconds to a minute. Repeat one to two times on each side. Tip: Don't let the hips drop down, and keep shoulders aligned.
Get leggy and heart-strong
The trainer: Greg Major heads up Bulldog Bootcamp Co. He's a certified personal trainer who specializes in outdoor workouts (866-966-3966, www.bulldogbootcamp.com).
The target: Cardio and lower-body resistance training.
The commitment: About 30 minutes. Do the series once a week and stick to the program for two to four weeks.
The gear: A park bench and an open field or a hill.
Warm-up Run around the field or up and down the hill for five to eight minutes.
Squats Hold arms straight out in front of you. Keeping your weight on your heels, bend the knees no more than 90 degrees. You should be able to see your toes. Drop your arms to the side as you return to a standing position. Repeat for 90 seconds. Tip: You should be able to lift your toes off the ground.
Lunges Begin at a neutral standing position with hands on the hips. Step your right leg forward far enough that your knee bends at 90 degrees. The other knee will naturally bend also at 90 degrees. Push off with the heel of your front foot to return to neutral. Alternate legs. Repeat for 90 seconds. Tip: Keep your shoulders back and chest out, and don't lean forward.
Run For five to eight minutes. Rest for one minute.
Step ups Stand facing the bench. Step your right leg up onto the bench. Let your left leg follow without letting your left foot make contact with the bench. Step down onto left leg first and let the right leg follow. Repeat sequence using alternating starting legs for two minutes. Tip: Stand up straight, making sure your body is aligned from head to toe at all times.
Squat jumps Start from a squat position with arms straight down and slightly behind your body. Let your arms swing up and jump up as high as you can. Repeat 20 times. Tip: These are individual jumps, not a continual motion, so make sure to reset your body before each jump.
Donkey kicks Make a bridge with your body, with both hands and knees on the ground, stomach facing the ground. Imagine you're trying to hit an object as your right leg shoots out from bent to straight position behind you. Bring it back to starting position and switch legs. Repeat for 90 seconds. Tip:Keep your head up, back straight and trunk as stable as possible.
Flutter kicks Lie on your back. Imagine you're swimming as you quickly lift alternating feet six inches off the ground. Keep your legs straight, and don't bend your knees. Feet can be either flexed or pointed. Do this for 60 seconds. Tip: If this exercise hurts your lower back, lift your shoulders slightly off the ground and look at your feet as you kick.
Run For five to eight minutes.
The trainer: Tonya Dugger is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor who specializes in sports agility and functional training. Contact her at Equinox Fitness, Lincoln Park (312-254-4000) and 900 N Michigan Ave (312-254-2500); or Lakeshore Athletic Club, Lincoln Park (773-477-9888).
The target: Upper body
The commitment: 30 minutes three times a week. Stick to the program for two weeks and then increase resistance by stepping farther away from the band.
The gear: A resistance band and a park bench.
Chest fly Loop the band around the back of the bench. Grab the band handles with equal resistance. Face away from the bench with arms at your sides. Palms should face your thighs and elbows should be slightly bent. Raise your arms to chest level with hands shoulder-distance apart. Using the shoulders, open and close the arms as though hugging a tree. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Tip: Don't collapse your chest, and maintain shoulder-elbow-wrist alignment.
Standing tricep press With band still wrapped around the back of the bench, hold it as you face the park bench with arms at your side and thumbs touching the thighs. Keep your back straight and your legs slightly bent at the knee. Bend at the waist to make a 90-degree angle with the body, including the head, so you're looking at the ground but head and neck are still aligned with the torso. Bend your arms down to 90 degrees and straighten. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Tip: Keep elbows stabilized and directly under shoulders.
Upright row Stand on the band with both feet, shoulder-width apart. Holding the handles, place hands on thighs, palms down, making sure they stay to the front of the body without dropping to the sides. Pull band up three inches below chin level, keeping your elbows pointing out to the sides and aligned with the shoulders. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Tip: Keep chest up and maintain proper alignment.
Bicep curls Stand on the band with arms at your sides and palms facing forward. Keep your elbows either at your side or slightly in front of the body. Curl forearms up to the chest and then return arms to start. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Tip: Wherever you place your elbows, make sure they stay there.