Sam Wood's tips for nailing your lockdown exercise

personal trainer sam wood training client on pick sofa

Cathy Anderson

Posted September 07, 2020

Personal trainer Sam Wood’s tips for making the most of your outdoor exercise.

For those living under stage-four restrictions and limited to one hour of exercise outside the home a day – to be increased to two hours from 14 September – it pays to make the time count.   

Celebrity personal trainer Sam Wood is in lockdown with his family in Melbourne and understands first-hand how vital it is to get up off the couch and out the door. 

“There has never been a more important time to keep our immune system up, to keep our physical and mental health strong and get some fresh air, some vitamin D to boost our mood,” says Sam, founder of the 28 by Sam Wood online fitness program. “Of course we need to do it within the rules, but it is absolutely invaluable.”

Whatever exercise you do outside, remember to wear a mask or face covering at all times – unless you are physically exerting and it’s not practical or safe to wear one – although you do need to carry one with you. Here, Sam offers expert advice for all ages and fitness levels to get maximum benefit from their ‘hour (or two) of power’.

Six ways to make the most of your permitted outdoor exercise


How do I make a new exercise routine?

What worked for us in the past won’t work right now. Gyms, pools and outdoor fitness equipment are closed and the five-kilometre zone means a beach swim may be off limits. 

Sam says many Melburnians have shifted their attitudes since the first lockdown and understand that, along with working from home and home-schooling kids, their exercise patterns also need to change.

“People have accepted that this is here for longer than we hoped, and they need to create a new routine that works for this new normal,” he says. 

Sam suggests alternating cardio and weights-based training each day and doing a few different activities each week to stave off boredom, work off the snacks and smash your fitness or weight-loss goals. 

“Using that hour productively and efficiently is really important, particularly if you are sitting at your kitchen bench working from home and your ergonomic setup is not that great,“ he says. 

(More: 27 ways to exercise indoors.)

What are the best low-intensity exercises? 

For those who are older or have an injury, low-impact exercise is ideal. This can be a simple walk around the block, to a local park where you can cut some laps, do some yoga or perhaps even add in some low-intensity weight training along the way.  

“You might stop every 10 minutes and do a little squat, sit-up and push-up routine and then off you go, depending on your fitness level and capability,” he says. “Squats, hip-raisers, plank, step-ups and push-ups are all fantastic body-weight exercises that you can do just about anywhere.” 

A gentle swim if you are close to the water or bike ride is also great, but just getting out in the fresh air and moving your body will boost your mood and prevent muscle stiffness. To gradually build up your fitness, increase the pace of your walk, ride or swim to elevate your heart rate a little more each time. Do extra rounds of your weight training, too. 

Everyone’s heart rates will differ, but a heart rate monitor or smart watch is helpful as these can be tailored to your age, weight and fitness levels and alert you to when your body is in resting, fat-burning or cardio modes.


woman holding out face mask on fingers

Distance running gets the heart rate up, and morning exercise is a good start to the day for kids and parents.


How do parents get exercise? 

Life is tough for parents right now with most trying to juggle remote working and home schooling. Sam is father to three girls, so he totally gets it.  

Morning exercise allows a good start to the day, he says, and having a park nearby is a huge bonus. By making exercise a game, you only need simple props to compensate for closed playgrounds.   

“The girls love it when we go to the park near our house and take a kite and one of those aerobie things and it only touches the grass, not anyone or anything else,” he says. “We take the dog and the kids run around playing hide and seek – it is simple, back-to-basics things. They sleep better, they eat better, they are calmer.” 

He also advises parents to find their own time to exercise. “It is more important than ever that you are there for each other and support each other,” he says. “You have to say ‘what time tomorrow do you think I can get my run in and are you okay to look after the kids?’ and then return the favour.” 

How do I get my heart rate up? 

There’s no question that cardio can be ‘hard-io’, but getting your heart pumping is a great way to burn off kilojoules and boost good-mood endorphins. Sam says there are two choices – interval training with high-intensity bursts followed by a recovery, or a distance-type run – and both are beneficial.

“I think variety is really good, whether it is running, swimming, riding, stepping, stairs, hills, skipping or boxing – the more you mix it up, the better your results will be,” he says. 

Use the hour outside to really work up a sweat. If you want to try distance running, start with a two-kilometre run and work your way up from there over the coming days and weeks. Five-minute bursts of activity followed by a 30-second to one-minute rest will get your heart rate soaring.  

Sam has some good advice about how to gauge your heart rate for challenging workouts. 

“A good guide is your maximum heart rate will be approximately 220 minus your age,” he says. “Once you’ve worked this out, high intensity would be considered 85 to 90 per cent of that number.”  

He suggests changing things up by choosing a few different locations during the week for high-intensity exercise (within five kilometres of your home of course). And take time to stretch and cool down once you get home. 


woman doing yoga at sunrise near water

Low intensity exercises like yoga are great for clearing your mind in the morning.


What’s the best way to maximise cycling as exercise?

Stage-four restrictions are particularly challenging for cyclists who might clock up scores of kilometres and ride for several hours. Sam suggests planning a route to stick to the five-kilometre limit and setting a competitive goal for yourself. 

“If time has to come down, intensity has to come up,” he says. “So rather than doing 18kmh on a nice long, flat stretch of road, ask yourself, how do I find the hill, how do I work out what is the perfect little five-kilometre loop from my house around the neighbourhood back to beat my time?  

“And whenever I get back to my house after that loop I do some squats or lunges to work the legs.“ 

How do I combine indoor and outdoor exercise? 

Sam’s 28 by Sam Wood fitness program is based on varied 28-minute workout regimes you can do in your loungeroom, including weight training and cardio. He suggests mixing it up by working out at home and then using your outside hour as a low-impact, family-oriented time. 

“I typically will do my 28-minute strength routine at home, and I will utilise that hour taking the dog for a walk and getting some fresh air or I have one of those Dutch cargo bikes where I pop my little two-year-old in the front and we go for adventures,” he says. 

“It would easily be the most enjoyable hour of my day, but you have to find what works for you in your current situation.”