Welcome to the ultimate outdoor boot camp workout ideas guide. In this article, we'll talk about how to plan your boot camp workout, what equipment to use, what a typical workout might look like (and how to improve it). We'll also look at how to start an outdoor boot camp from scratch.
What is a Typical Boot Camp Workout?
If you want to be the best, then you need to know what the rest are up to. This section will take a look at a typical boot camp workout so that you can see what works and why.
It will also help you to identify ways to make your boot camp stand out. If that’s what you want. Some readers may be happy to stick with what works, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
A typical boot camp workout is outdoors during the summer and may offer an indoor version during the coldest months. They tend to last for 45-60 minutes, but there are also 30 minute boot camps out there. The 30 minute boot camps tend to specialise in high intensity workouts.
The vast majority of boot camps have fewer than 20 members. This is partly due to successful boot camps desiring smaller groups, and partly due to the high turnover rate of unsuccessful boot camps! Follow this guide to ensure that your boot camp joins the successful minority.
A typical Bootcamp Workout Plan
When I create outdoor boot camp workout ideas, I categories them in folders (warm ups, circuits, partner, games, finishers etc) so I can plan my workouts much faster. For example, a typical workout will look like this.
- Warm up
- Bootcamp game
- Circuit training workout
- Finisher drill
- Cool down
However, there are lot's of different ways to structure a session. Thats why it's important to build up a large collection of outdoor boot camp workout ideas, so you have more variety to play with.
Let's go through the above bootcamp workout plan.
The warm up consists of low intensity jogging drills, mobility exercises, light stretching. Increasing blood flow to your muscles and raises your body temperature improves performance and decreases the risk of injury.
Next, I like to use a fun bootcamp game because it sets the tone for the rest of the session, and creates a fun team atmosphere from the get go.
Bootcamp games designed to continue the warm up, or to precede the cool down. They are there to add the fun factor, and to promote team cohesion within the group, an important part of client retention.
The circuit training section makes up the majority of the workout, and usually consists of a mixture of equipment-based exercises (kettlebells, battle ropes, medicine balls) and bodyweight exercises (lunges, mountain climbers, ab crunches etc).
The secret to a good finisher drill is to make it both very challenging, but also fun at the same time. You want your clients leaving your class feeling full-filled, satisfied and happy, so they say good things about you.
Stretching at the end of your class has many benefits. I.e.,
- Improve posture
- Improve range of motion
- Helps prevent injury
- Increases flexibility
- Enable your muscles to work most effectively
How Do You Plan A Boot Camp Workout?
The first thing you need to do when planning a boot camp workout is to decide what type of boot camp you want to run. Will it be an outdoor boot camp where you have lots of space but minimal equipment? Or will it be an indoor boot camp, where space may be limited but equipment is easier to introduce to your sessions.
Who are you targeting? Mums? Bodybuilders? Students? This is a crucial step that many boot camps fail to implement. Not only will it affect the type of workouts you do, but it will also affect your marketing, your music choices, how you interact with the group.
Once you have decided on outdoor vs indoor, and what group you want to train, you need to identify the space where you can run your boot camp. If it is indoors, then you will need to find a great location with reasonable rent and some flexibility when it comes to booking times.
If you want an outdoor boot camp, then you may need to contact the owners of parks and green spaces in your area. Most councils in the UK now charge fees for boot camps that run in their parks, and this is the same in most states of the US, and in Australia and New Zealand.
It may be tempting to set up your outdoor boot camp without notifying the authorities in a bid to save yourself some money. But this is quite a risky strategy. The authorities may catch you out and demand a lump sum payment, or they may shut your boot camp down completely.
Your best bet is to be honest and find a good value deal. This will ensure that the future of your boot camp is secure.
Once you have decided on your location and agreed upon the rental costs it is time to create a workout that matches your environment. This article is on outdoor boot camps so this is what we will be focusing on.
What Are The Benefits of Outdoor Boot Camps?
The most obvious benefit of an outdoor boot camp is the space you will have available to you. Even the largest indoor boot camp spaces can rarely compete with a large open field or park.
Having a lot of space means that you can perform more adventurous workouts, you can have much larger class sizes, and you can (usually) be louder than you would be allowed to be indoors.
Outdoor boot camps are usually much cheaper, in many places they can be free, or you may have to pay a token amount. They are usually easy to get to, and you can get quite a lot of fresh eyes on your boot camp from people walking past.
You also have the benefits of nature, if you happen to live in a temperate area then you can exercise in glorious sunshine. If you live in colder, wetter places, then you can work that into your marketing. Make your boot camp sound tougher and more hardcore because you will train in all weathers.
Outdoor boot camps can easily be scaled as your success grows. This can be a big issue for indoor boot camps, where maximum occupancy can affect growth. If you can attract 200 people to your outdoor boot camp then you can train them with no problems (provided you aren’t using equipment). If you can attract 200 people to your indoor boot camp but the room only holds 15 then you have a problem.
Now that we know what the benefits of running an outdoor boot camp are, let’s take a look at some good outdoor exercises.
What Are Some Good Outdoor Exercises?
The most well-known, and possibly controversial, boot camp exercise is the burpee. We’ve already talked about just how good the burpee can be and why it does not deserve the hate it gets. Check out our article on 9 burpee variations you can add to your outdoor boot camp.
Another good form of outdoor exercise, when performed correctly, is plyometrics. This involves jumping, running, agility drills, leaping, skipping, all the movements that you see children doing in the playground.
While these exercises may seem easy, they are actually incredibly challenging. Keep this in mind if your boot camp members are older or have injuries. But if you are coaching athletic members, then adding plyometrics to your outdoor boot camp is a really smart move.
Different forms of running, sprinting, and jogging can be a good way to burn calories but be careful with this form of training. It needs a purpose or some competitive aspect, or it can become boring quite quickly.
One of the best ways to create varied workouts is to start off with the basic foundational exercises and then find variations of them. For example:
- Push Ups – These can be performed normally, can be made easier by dropping to your knees, or can be made more difficult by turning them into plyometric push ups. You can also do collaborative push ups where two people perform them together (fist bumping between each rep). Get a bench and you can perform incline or decline push ups.
- Squats – Another exercise which has hundreds of variations. Box squats are great for beginners, squat jumps for advanced boot campers. You can do ski squats for competitions, or single-leg squats for anyone who finds squats “too easy”.
- Lunges – As with squats and push ups, lunges are a great foundation exercise with many variations. Walking lunges are great for competition, split squats are good for advanced members. Lunge jumps are amazing for circuits. You also have lateral lunges for beginners.
- Planks are great ab exercises as they can be used for competitions, can be made easier by swapping to push up position planks, can be combined with burpees or push ups, and can be performed collaboratively.
These four foundational exercises can make up a surprisingly large part of your boot camp, and your members will still have a lot of fun! Of course, turning your workouts into games, competitions, or musical workouts will be a lot more enjoyable.
You also have the many hundreds of cardio exercises that you can add in to circuits, warm ups, or group activities:
- Mountain climbers
- Running on the spot
- Burpees (see above)
- Bear crawls
- Star jumps
So far, all of the exercises we have mentioned require no equipment. In the next section we are going to take a look at what sort of equipment you might want to consider to help you take your boot camp to another level.
Outdoor Boot Camp Equipment Guide
For an in-depth look at what equipment to use in your boot camp, check out our ultimate boot camp equipment list. But here is a quick summary.
The important thing to consider before deciding on equipment is what your budget is and whether purchasing the equipment will improve your boot camp enough to justify the cost. If you are just starting out then you may be better off saving your money and investing your time in creative bodyweight workouts.
The options for equipment are:
- Medicine balls
- Battle ropes
- Suspension trainers
- Tyres and Sledgehammers
- Barbells and Dumbbells
- Prowlers and Sleds
There are of course many other pieces of equipment that you can buy, this is just a list of some of the most common (and effective).
A set of kettlebells can open up a huge variety of exercises. They are also pretty much indestructible (provided you buy cast iron). One of the benefits of kettlebells is that they can make upper back and lower back exercises easier, as well as shoulder and arm. These are muscles that many boot camp owners struggle to target with bodyweight exercises.
Another great benefit of kettlebells is that they can be used for complex movements. Squat into hammer curl into shoulder press is a great exercise for fat burning.
The downside of kettlebells is that they are difficult to transport in large numbers, they can cost a lot, and they require you to coach their use properly.
Medicine balls are great value for money and are a lot of fun to use. You can easily utilise them for group exercises and they are perfect for circuits. They can be a little difficult to transport and store, but no more so than most of the equipment on this list.
A great metabolic workout, perfect for circuits, for groups, and they can also be used for exercises such as tug of war. They are easy to store and transport, making them great for outdoor boot camps. All you need is access to a pole to wrap it round, and you have a huge range of new possibilities.
These are great for smaller groups (unless you are prepared to buy a lot). Suspension trainers are great if you have access to something that you can affix them to. Once you can perform hundreds of exercises without taking up any space. They are ideal for circuits.
Tyres and Sledgehammers
They are a lot of fun, and quite versatile. But perhaps they are a little overhyped? They are hard to transport and store, they take up quite a bit of space, and there is a lot of health and safety to consider! On the other hand, they offer that “wow” factor, that can really help with marketing. They are also great for circuits and can offer some excellent finishers.
Barbells and Dumbbells
As CrossFit has shown us, barbells can work in a boot camp setting, but they bring a lot of challenges. Storage, transport, coaching, safety. If you find a way to introduce them then your boot camp is going to have hundreds of exercises at your disposal.
Prowlers and Sleds
Amazing for outdoor boot camps provided the ground is firm! Not only do they provide a lot of fun workouts, but they can also help you to transport your equipment from your car to the park.
7 Outdoor Boot Camp Workout Ideas
In this section, we will identify seven outdoor boot camp workout ideas that you can implement in your own camps today. Each idea has a link to the full workout description, so find one that works for you and check it out.
Idea #1 Song Workout
Song workouts can be a lot of fun and is really good for getting some conversations going. Great if you are trying to build some atmosphere and want people to get smiles on their faces.
Check out our article that names 12 song workouts, all of them guaranteed to get your members training harder than ever before. There’s a bit of Dolly Parton, some Madness, Roxanne by the Police, and of course Jump by House of Pain!
Idea #2 Boxing Circuit
Boxing requires a lot of planning, and you really need to know what you are doing, but if you do then your boot camp will run rings round the opposition. We have an entire article filled with boxing boot camp ideas for you to try out. You can either have the entire session to be boxing themed, or you can just add some boxing drills into your circuits.
Idea #3 Tic Tac Toe
A great combination of a classic playground game and some agility drills. This is perfect as a warm up or it can be a decent finisher if you increase the distance to run. Check out a great video of it being performed here.
Idea #4 Kettlebell Boot Camp Circuit
Creating an entire kettlebell themed boot camp could be a really good idea to stand out from the competition in your area. Obviously, you need to plan this out carefully … Luckily we’ve got the perfect guide to creating your own kettlebell circuit workout here.
Idea #5 Marvel Endurance
A really decent 28 minute interval workout that utilises isometric exercises and endurance. Check out the Marvel Endurance workout alongside several other great workout ideas here.
Idea #6 Burpees EMOM Intervals
EMOM is another interval training workout, where you complete one exercise for a set number of reps each minute. Start high with 16 reps in one minute, then 15 in the next, all the way down to 7 reps in the 10th minute. This can be performed with hundreds of exercises, but we think that burpees is a great exercise to use. Check it out here.
Idea #7 Shuttle Sprints
Anyone who has played for a sports team probably has some relationship with shuttle sprints, most would describe that relationship as “abusive”! 15 metre shuttle sprints for 10 seconds followed by 5 seconds rest, then 20 seconds and 10 seconds rest, 30 seconds sprinting and 15 seconds rest. Going up and up until you are running as fast as you can for 80 seconds. Full shuttle sprint workout available here.
How Do I Start An Outdoor Boot Camp?
Now you have everything you need to run a successful outdoor boot camp, you have no excuse not to get it up and running immediately. But what is the best way to do this?
Here is a quick step by step guide, for a full guide check out this article.
- Find your ideal location and scout it out – Don’t pay for it yet, just get all the details. Once you know how much it will cost you can then decide whether it is worth pursuing, and how many members you will need to break even, and eventually turn a profit.
- Plan out ten workouts with no equipment – Make sure that you have practiced these routines yourself and rehearse them like you would rehearse a speech or acting role. This will massively improve your confidence on day one.
- Contact all your friends and family – offer them ten free sessions. These initial ten sessions will be used to improve your skills, and hopefully to convince people to pay for more sessions at the end. Failing that you can ask them for referrals for new members.
- Have your pricing structure in place – research what your competitors are charging, then find out what numbers you need to be a success. This needs to be done before you start your first session.
- Start your first session – make it as fun as possible, lots of energy, over-deliver. Get everyone to leave with a smile on their faces, and start talking about them bringing friends etc.
- Complete your ten sessions – Use this time to get lots of photos and videos, some testimonials, and as many referrals as possible. Any marketing can take place now. Fliers, door to door, local businesses, and social media.
- Your first paid sessions should now begin.
Whether this works or not is all down to you, put everything into that. Never stop marketing and asking for referrals, you need a constant stream of new members if you want to grow in the long term.
Bootcamp Marketing Ideas
There are lot's of ways you can market your bootcamp.
- Lead generating website (SEO, Facebook/Google ads)
- Newspaper ads
- Gift cards
- Local radio
- Lead box
And arguably the most important bootcamp marketing strategy of all, the good old word of mouth that was responsible for the vast majority of my client base.
When you plan workouts that are fun, entertaining and result focused, your clients will only have great things to say about your business, and it will grow through word of mouth. Like most businesses do.
Over in the Workout Design Club, we create fun and result focused outdoor boot camp workout ideas for group trainers. This will save you as lot of time, and help you to stand out in your town.
Confidence, competence, and consistency are three Cs for success in outdoor boot camps. You have all the tools to succeed, it’s up to you now. Good luck!