How to Turn Your Run or Walk Into a Full-Body Workout

Take Your Outdoor Routine from Ho-Hum to Heavy Hittin'

Outdoor Running Full Body Workout
Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

One of the least expensive, easiest and most effective ways to start a workout routine is to simply lace up your shoes, step outside and start walking or jogging. And while a basic, 30-minute outdoor cardio session is nothing to scoff at, it's lacking a few of the physical activity guidelines suggested by the American College of Sports Medicine. Namely, it doesn't incorporate strength training exercises for muscular health or neuromotor exercises that enhance balance and coordination.

The good news is, you don't have to ditch your walk or run to turn your workout into a total-body fat blaster. Rather, by extending your workout just 10 extra minutes, you can incorporate a little bit of everything into your routine - walking or jogging for cardiovascular health, bouts of strength training for muscular health and a few balance training exercises to enhance coordination and stability. All you have to do is try this workout on for size.

Using Rate of Perceived Exertion to Gauge Exercise Intensity

When doing this workout, you should use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to manage intensity. RPE is a self-reported 10-point scale based on how you feel during exercise. An RPE of 1 is the equivalent of sitting still - essentially no exertion, while an RPE of 10 is the equivalent of an all-out sprint - a level of exertion you couldn't possibly maintain for more than 10-15 seconds.

Therefore, most exercise activities should fall somewhere between a 5 and 9 for intensity.

The beauty of RPE is you can apply it to any activity you perform, so it applies regardless of whether you're walking, cycling, running or swimming. For the purpose of this plan, I'm providing RPE suggestions, but you can decide whether they're appropriate for walking, running or even cycling.

Your Full-Body Outdoor Workout Plan

While you can do this routine wherever you typically walk or run, if you have access to a fit trail or park, some of these exercises will be easier to perform.

  • 8 minute cardio warmup: Walk or jog for 8 minutes, starting at an RPE of 4 and gradually increasing intensity so you reach an RPE of 6 by the end of your warmup. 
  • 1 minute lunges: Stop and perform 60 seconds of alternating lunges
  • 3 minutes cardio: Walk or jog for 3 minutes at an RPE of 7
  • 1 minute wall pushups: Stop and perform 60 seconds of wall pushups using any surface available, whether a wall, a tree or a bench
  • 1 minute cardio: Walk or jog for 60 seconds at an RPE of 8
  • 1 minute squats: Stop and perform 60 seconds of staggered squats with one foot on a raised surface, like a curb or a step on a playscape - switch which leg is staggered halfway through
  • 1 minute cardio: Walk or jog for 60 seconds at an RPE of 8
  • 1 minute modified pullups: Stop when you reach a low bar (like a low monkey bar at a park) or a low-hanging branch on a tree. Use the bar or branch to perform 60 seconds of a modified pullup 
  • 1 minute cardio: Walk or jog for 60 seconds at an RPE of 8
  • 1 minute triceps dips: Stop and perform 60 seconds of chair dips using a bench, table or bar for support
  • 5 minutes cardio: Walk or jog for five minutes at an RPE of 6
  • 1 minute plank: Stop and perform a 60 second plank
  • 3 minutes cardio: Walk or jog for for three minutes at an RPE of 7
  • 1 minute lateral lunges: Stop and perform 60 seconds of lateral lunges, switching sides after 30 seconds
  • 1 minute cardio: Walk or jog for 60 seconds at an RPE of 8
  • 1 minute agility drill: Stop and perform 60 seconds of side-to-side skaters
  • 1 minute cardio: Walk or jog for 60 seconds at an RPE 8
  • 1 minute standing core: Perform 60 seconds of high-knee twisting marches, alternating from side-to-side
  • 1 minute cardio: Walk or jog for 60 seconds at an RPE of 7
  • 1 minute twisting side plank: Perform a standard plank, but shift your weight to one side to rotate into side plank, rotate back to center, then rotate to the opposite side - continue for 60 seconds
  • 5 minutes cardio: Cool down for five minutes, starting at an RPE of 6 and gradually decreasing intensity to an RPE of 4

Just like that, you've taken your standard walk and turned it into a full-body routine! Try entering the workout into a workout app with a timer to help you stay on track. 

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