Gyms may be irreplaceable for things like heavy weight training, but assuming you’re not a professional weightlifter, the great outdoors has everything you need. And if you are, just add deadlifting a car or pulling a semi trailer to the list.
For the average outdoorsmen, there are two essential fitness categories: strength and cardio. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to really understand the difference if you want to optimize your workout.
In essence, you’re targeting two different muscle groups. Strength training obviously works consciously actionable muscles like biceps and quadriceps, also called skeletal muscles (muscles that control the bones). Cardio targets the heart and circulatory system, otherwise known as the cardiovascular system, and to a lesser extent the lungs.
The other important distinction may not be quite as self-explanatory. Strength training increases muscle strength via resistance. When pushing against the gravitational force of a mass, whether artificial weights or bodyweight, our muscles contract. As they are pushed beyond their current limits, the muscle actually experiences tiny tears, which are repaired by forming new protein strands. These new strands build up and over time you achieve muscle growth.
Cardio, on the other hand, is meant to increase the body’s ability to use oxygen more efficiently. While the mechanism is ultimately the same (increasing the heart’s strength so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body) it is achieved not through resistance but by added stress — increasing the rhythmic rate of exercise.