Take it outside

The big benefits of occasionally skipping the gym.

With AC and all the right gear, gyms are hard to beat. But the mental benefits of exercising outdoors are great. A review of studies found that working out in a natural environment makes you feel more energized, revitalized, and engaged than an indoor session while decreasing tension and depression.

For a high-intensity option, try this 20-minute plan designed by former Equinox Tier 3 trainer Rafael Cruz. It uses high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to blast calories, boost cardiovascular capacity, strengthen muscles, and challenge coordination.

Do each move in order, then repeat the entire circuit once more. Perform the moves at 70 percent of your maximum effort (you shouldn’t be able to speak more than a few words at a time), with a 15- to 45-second rest between each exercise and a 1-minute recovery between each set. Do this workout two or three times per week.

1. 2-Minute Run

Start off slowly and gradually increase your pace until breathing becomes difficult and you are only able to speak a few words at a time (working at approximately 70 percent of your max effort).

2. Burpee

Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms at sides. Squat, placing hands flat on floor under shoulders, and then jump or step feet back into plankposition. Immediately jump (or step) feet back up to hands, and jump straight up from squat position, extending arms overhead. Do 10 to 15 reps.

3. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms at sides. Lift right foot a few inches off floor, balancing on your left leg. Keeping back flat and abs engaged, hinge forward from your hips, sending right leg (and hips) behind you, reaching hands toward floor. Lower as far as possible while maintaining a flat back, and then squeeze glutes as you return to standing. Do 10 to 15 reps; switch sides and repeat.

4. Squat Chop

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended overhead, palms facing each other, keeping shoulders down. Squat as you rotate torso to left and diagonally lower hands to beside left knee. As you return to standing, rotate torso, lifting hands diagonally over right shoulder. Do 10 reps; switch sides and repeat.

5. Windmill

Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, with right foot facing forward and left foot facing left. Keeping a slight bend in left knee, back flat and abs engaged, hinge over to left from hips, pushing hips to right, sliding left hand toward left foot, extending right arm overhead. Lower as far as possible (while maintaining a flat back), and then reverse movement to return to start. Do 10 reps; switch sides and repeat

20-minute workout: Firestarter

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