One of the best ways to blast fat is to train outdoors, where there’s plenty of room to sprint, throw, and explore your inner athlete. Training outside also provides a change of scenery from a sweaty, bustling gym to a technology-free zone; not to mention far more challenging terrain. Even the most enthusiastic runners lose motivation sometimes. The key to overcoming this is maintaining variety in your training routine. From swapping the time you head out to mixing up who you run with, there are plenty of simple strategies you can adopt to keep things fresh.
Hill sprints are an example of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), and provide a powerful metabolic workout that burns a significant number of calories in a relatively short amount of time. “Hills can also be considered functional strength training since your bodyweight battles gravity—strengthening your entire body in the process. Doing hill sprints also helps improve running technique, speed, and endurance.
For conditioning, lower-body strength and reduced muscle soreness, sand training can be highly effective. Because sand dissipates so much energy, there’s a higher metabolic cost to training on this type of surface, which means it’s easier to burn more calories and elevate one’s heart rate. This translates to improved conditioning and fat loss. The soft surface of the sand also requires that our muscles produce greater amounts of force to move around while absorbing most of the ground forces that are exerted, reducing the total amount of stress on our muscles, joints and ligaments. This makes sand training an effective lower-body workout during high volume training seasons because you can train lower-body strength without experiencing too much soreness.
Challenge yourself to a time trial
Get competitive, get fun, measure your performance… there’s no better way to inject a little oomph in your training than by setting yourself some personal challenges. Whether it’s using a smartphone app to track time and distance or seeing how far you get into your favourite running playlist, a little healthy competition (against yourself) is an age-old way to fire up your fitness routine.
Hit the steps
The well-trod neighbourhood run can get a little tedious after a long training period, so find a path that takes you to a decent staircase you can run up, before walking back down. Repeat a few times, using the walk down as an opportunity to catch your breath before firing up on the steps again. You’ll start to build up strength in your legs while getting a great cardio workout. If you don’t have any stairs in your neighbourhood, try doing some step ups on a park bench.
Entering an event
If you’re lacking motivation, having an event on the calendar should get your rear in gear. Plus, races (or untimed events like color or mud runs) are fun—the energy of fellow runners makes covering a distance more enjoyable than it would be solo. Check out a local running store or running club Web site to find an event in the next month that interests you, then sign up.