Improve Productivity By Changing Scenery

Outdoor Pull-ups

Winter is fast approaching in my part of the world. It won’t be long before the snow is falling. It’s usually around that time when people start calling me crazy for continuing to exercise outside. It happens each year. What on earth would cause a sane man to venture out into the woods in the middle of the winter to exercise?

Same Work, Different Place

Have I lost my mind, or is there something to be said for journeying outside?

Whenever I share footage of myself or others training outdoors, most observers never look beyond the exercises. They only see the physical display, so it is natural that they don’t think beyond it. As a result, it’s not unusual for me to see comments such as the following:

“Why not just do that indoors?”

My response to this type of question is always the same. You certainly can train indoors. I’m not suggesting that you need to venture off into the middle of a blizzard to get in shape. Realistically, you can train virtually anywhere with almost anything. That’s a message I’ve long preached throughout this site’s history.

Thus, while training in harsh weather can enhance mental toughness, the average person does not need to acclimate themselves to such environments. That doesn’t mean that the average person cannot benefit from occasionally heading outdoors however. I don’t just head outside to build mental toughness. More importantly, I head outside to prevent boredom, introduce variety, and enhance productivity.

Enhanced Productivity

Few people will argue against the idea that an occasional change in scenery can enhance workplace productivity. There is ample research the supports this notion. Encompassing yourself with new sites or sounds has always been one of the most powerful creative catalysts.

In other words, if you want to change the way you think, start by changing your surroundings. For example, suppose you are a writer who is struggling to come up with a new idea. Endlessly staring at a blank screen isn’t a solution. You have a much better chance at stimulating the brain by changing your scenery.

Fortunately, a change in scenery isn’t just a solution to writer’s block or workplace productivity issues. It’s also an ideal remedy to break up the monotony in your training. Speaking for myself, I’m easily bored if I’m stuck doing the same thing in the same place over and over again. And while I certainly can suck it up and work through the boredom, I won’t be as productive if my mind isn’t actively engaged and invigorated. I always accomplish more work when my brain is stimulated and my mind is fresh.

With that said, the pushups that I do outside are everything but the same as the pushups that I do inside. To a casual observer, they may look identical, but there’s much more to training than what can be seen with the eyes. It’s what goes on inside my head that ultimately decides how hard I’ll work and how much I’ll accomplish.

Final Thoughts

Experience has shown me that a regular change in scenery is beneficial to my training (physically and mentally). Ironically, I feel a greater need to venture outside in the winter than any other time in the year. Throughout the winter, the days are shorter and most of us spend more time indoors. That’s the time when I most need a break from being cooped up inside.

During the spring, summer, and fall, I spend almost every night outside coaching. I don’t need more outdoor time when I’m already outside for hours upon hours each week. Therefore, while some may call me crazy for training outside in the snow, the outdoor training is what helps to keep me sane. I never feel more alive than when I am outside in nature. Some of my best training takes place outside in the cold. There are never any distractions and down time is naturally limited. No one in their right mind will sit around idle when it is freezing outside. The temperature is all the motivation you need to stay busy and keep moving.

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“Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street.” – William Blake

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10 comments:

  1. I’ve been called crazy for training in the middle of winter as well. My retort is “Where the hell else am I gonna do my hill sprints?!”

  2. From an existential perspective, there is a kind of solitary man-of-the-woods madness about this; but, in consequentialist terms, I can’t thing of a damn thing wrong with it. However, in sociaconstructivist terms, there is a legitimacy in that you’re a family man with wife and kids, and it is your career. And you also use your website to motivate others. Take that away and the madness lingers. There is a sense of narcissism that envelops it, like it or not, a certain individualistic sense of self-absorption that could only develop in the good ‘ol USA. It’s still not wrong, that’s not the point, but it takes a lot of convincing for most people, in that humans, as a species, are gregarious by nature, and this, this isn’t quite the norm. And no kind of persuasion will make it so. It is a product of its environment.

  3. I was on holiday in the UK for Xmas, the highlight of my day was waking up at 630 am and going for my outdoor workout, hill sprints, running, calesthenics pullups etc etc. Love it

    1. If cramps are a problem, it often has nothing to do with lower body conditioning. It could be a breathing issue (ex. side stitch/cramp) or it could be related to dehydration.

      As for general strengthening, there are obviously many options, but I’ve always been a big fan of hill running to build leg power. I also do a lot of unilateral work with furniture sliders. I’ve always found that the strength endurance devised from the sliders (ex. reverse lunges) carry over positively to running.

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