Indoor Vs. Outdoor Training: Which Is Better?

Indoor Training vs Outdoor Training

If you’re training for a competition or are simply looking to incorporate some new workouts into your fitness regimen, you’ve probably faced the age-old question at some point or another: should I do my training inside or outside? 

Whether you decide to take your workout to the great outdoors like nature intended or take advantage of modern-day equipment and facilities, both kinds of training can help further your performance and make you a better athlete. So the short answer: you can get the best of both worlds by mixing up your training and doing a little bit of each! Read on to learn the many merits of both indoor and outdoor training, and how to choose which kind of workout is right for your goals. 

Benefits of indoor training

Even though you might be practicing similar movements on an indoor machine versus going outside and doing it in a natural environment, these two different forms of exercise can actually challenge your body in very different ways. And because indoor training generally allows for a little more control over your workout environment, this means that this may be to your benefit if you do your workout in a gym or indoor training facility. 

Take cycling, for example. If you’ve trained on both an indoor stationary bike and a normal cycle outside, you might have noticed that indoor cycling generally tends to feel more strenuous. This is due to a couple of reasons: 

  • When you’re cycling on a stationary bike indoors, you don’t have moments of “coasting” like you generally would while cycling outdoors. So your muscles have to stay engaged the entire time, which ultimately means that you’re training them harder throughout the entirety of your workout. 
  • Training indoors on a stationary bike gives you more control over the intensity of your workout than you would have while training outside on a traditional bike. By allowing you to change the resistance levels of the pedals, you can push your muscles as hard as you’d like, versus an outdoor bike ride in which the intensity purely relies on your speed and the natural terrain. 
  • Since you don’t have to work on keeping your cycle balanced and navigating around the various obstacles, you can focus more of your workout on building muscle strength and endurance. This could also generate better physique results (if that’s something that you’re training for). 

You also get similar benefits if you do your running on a treadmill versus an outdoor track or trail since it also offers you more manipulation over your training environment. Setting a specific running speed on your treadmill can force you to stay at a higher workout intensity than running outside, where you have much more freedom to slow down when you’re starting to feel tired. 

In addition, indoor training for endurance events also tends to be safer than training out in the real world, especially if you’re newer to the sport. For example, if you’re starting out your running career on a treadmill, you don’t have to worry so much about navigating through rocky terrains and twisting your ankle on an unseen obstacle. Or if you’re swimming in an indoor pool versus the open ocean, you don’t have to worry about swift currents or unpredictable riptides. 

Benefits of outdoor training 

But even though indoor training definitely has its merits, that’s not to say that outdoor training should be overlooked. In fact, outdoor training has many of its own benefits for making you a better athlete! 

For example, training outside is just downright more fun and enjoyable, at least according to some researchers. Studies have found that people who took their workout outside tended to continue their exercise for longer periods of time, and scientists have chalked this down to a reduced perception of exertion while working out in the great outdoors versus the inside of a gym. In other words, you might enjoy your training outdoors so much that it reduces how tired you feel during it, which is always good news if you’re trying to increase your endurance and stamina!

Depending on the kind of environment that you’re training in, working out outdoors can also offer its own unique share of challenges that can further your training more than a stationary bike or treadmill would. For example, running or cycling in a hilly area with tons of incline and decline will naturally challenge muscles in your entire body, including your legs and your core as your body has to stay balanced and upright throughout the movement, which can lend itself to a great workout. Meanwhile, using a treadmill or a stationary bike will generally keep you in the same position throughout the entire workout, limiting your ability to strengthen muscles throughout your body in different ways. 

It’s also worth considering training outdoors if you’re specifically training to compete in long-distance running or cycling competitions like marathons or triathlons. After all, these races are generally done in outdoor spaces, so doing your training outside can get your body more accustomed to navigating real-life obstacles, terrains, and temperatures that you would generally experience when competition time comes around. Let’s look at the example of swimming in open water again while doing your swimming training in an indoor pool can certainly help you increase your strength and endurance and make you an overall stronger swimmer, you’ll definitely want to get comfortable swimming in natural waterways if you’re planning on competing in a triathlon that requires an open-water swim. 

How to make the most out of your training

Because both indoor and outdoor workouts have their merits, it’s worth incorporating a little bit of both into your training regimen! Here’s how to get the most out of your conditioning: 

  • Mix up your training and do both indoor and outdoor workouts throughout the week. 
  • Focus on your weak spots. Are you feeling like your muscle endurance is pretty good but your trail running skills could use some work? Take a trip to a challenging outdoor trail. But on the other hand, if you’re used to running outside but want to work on challenging your muscles for longer periods of time, consider incorporating a treadmill into your training. 

One last tip - don’t let muscle cramps or soreness limit training

Whether training indoors or out, don’t let muscle cramps or soreness hold you back. Incorporate HOTSHOT for Muscle Soreness into your training routine to help reduce the soreness you feel the day after an intense workout or new routine. It can help you get back at it the next day so you don’t fall behind in your training regimen. If you are prone to cramps, take HOTSHOT for Muscle Cramps before an intense workout or when you think it will be particularly hot and humid. Or keep one in your bag for when that dreaded cramp hits and it will stop it in its tracks within a few minutes. 

Final verdict

Both indoor and outdoor training have their own unique merits. If you’re focused purely on increasing your strength, form, and endurance, you might benefit from doing your training indoors. If you want real-world experience in a variety of locales, outdoor training might be better for your performance. But in reality, incorporating both kinds of training techniques can help you become an overall more well-rounded athlete! 

If you’re really looking to take your workout to the next level, HOTSHOT for Muscle Cramps and HOTSHOT for Muscle Soreness are both uniquely designed to prevent and treat muscle cramps and reduce next-day soreness even after your most intense workouts.

Featured image credit: Photo by Pavel Danilyuk