Think playgrounds are just for kids? Think again! Believe it or not, play structures and parks provide an excellent environment for a total body workout and are the perfect way to get creative and take your workouts outdoors. Parents especially may find these tips useful, as they are a great way to maximize family time outdoors.
Benefits of playground workouts:
• Completely FREE!
• Enjoy sunshine and boost the body’s vitamin D supply
• Increase cardiovascular and muscle endurance
• Sunlight increases Melatonin production to improve sleep cycle
• Higher Serotonin levels promotes positive mood
Make the most of your time at the park! Start with a light warm up, work total body, squeeze in some cardio, and be sure to cool down afterwards. Most exercises should be performed in 2-4 sets, 10-20 repetitions each. They can be performed one after the other, or incorporated into a circuit style workout.
Warm up 5-10 min:
- Walk, jog, or bike to and from the park for a light cardio warm up and cool down!
- Bench step ups: Using a bench or elevated platform, step up onto bench and step back down, alternating legs. Use a moderate to fast speed for a light cardio warm up.
- Dynamic Stretches: bodyweight squats, push ups
- Pull ups (Equipment needed: monkey bars or parallel bar)
Experiment with the grip, try palms facing toward you or away,
For a simpler modification, place hands on bench so body is at an upright angle and perform push ups. For a more challenging version, place hands on ground and mount feet on a bench or curb so body is at a downward angle and perform push ups.
Starting in a seated position on a bench or elevated platform, place hands at your sides, keeping your backside as close to the bench as possible and elbows in tight to your sides, slowly bend elbows to lower yourself close to the ground and push up strong through the palms of your hands. Be sure to avoid any shrugging in the shoulders; keep them down, back and away from your ears.
- Elevated lunges (Equipment needed: bench or curb)
This variation of a lunge is performed by placing the back foot on a curb, bench, or any other slightly elevated platform and slowly performing the lunge, keeping back foot elevated, focusing on pushing up through the front heel to target the glutes. Be sure to keep a 90 degree angle in both legs as you lower.
- Single Leg Squat (Equipment needed: pole or bar)
Using a pole or bar for balance, start in a lunge stance. Place front foot close to the pole/bar. Float back leg behind you as you lower front leg to 90 degrees and slowly push up to starting position.
- Bench Step Ups (Equipment needed: bench or elevated platform) – PICTURED
Using a bench or elevated platform, step up onto bench one leg at a time, pushing up through the planted heel. To mix it up, try these from the side; instead of facing the bench, turn 45 degrees so that you are to the side of the bench. These can be done at a slow to moderate pace, or fast to get the heart rate up if you’re trying to squeeze in some cardio!
- Lying leg lifts (Equipment needed: bench or ground)
Lying on the ground or a bench, place hands at your sides or underneath your bottom for more support. Keep pelvis tilted up, lower back pushed strong against the ground, and core fired up by pulling the belly button toward the spine. Starting with legs outstretched in front of you, slowly lift legs up as high as you can while maintaining control through your core and pelvis; slowly lower and repeat.
Starting face down on the ground, place elbows directly below shoulders. Push body up onto elbows and toes. Hug the inner thighs together and lift kneecaps up to activate lower body. Pull belly button toward your spine to activate the core and push the ground away with your elbows, keeping shoulders pushed down and away from ears. Make sure you keep your gaze slightly ahead of you so that the neck is in a comfortable neutral position. Hold for 30-60 sec.
- Hanging leg lifts (Equipment needed: monkey bars or parallel bars)
Using monkey bars or parallel bar, start from a hanging position. Using your core, lift your knees toward your chest and slowly lower back to starting position. Try to keep the body from swinging in any direction by performing these slowly and in control. For an added challenge, pull knees to waist level and hold.
- Squat jumps (Equipment needed: none)
Starting with feet hip distance apart or slightly wider, lower into a squat, keeping core contracted and strong. Jump up with power and land back in starting position, keeping your knees bent to cushion your bodyweight as you land.
Stand in front of an elevated platform no higher than shin, knee, or thigh height. Starting in a squat position, slowly lower and jump up with power, contracting your abs to help bring the knees up as you land with both feet on the bench/platform. Land with knees bent slightly to cushion the landing. Step back down and repeat.
- Burpees (Equipment needed: none) –
Starting in normal standing position, lower down through a squat, and plant hands on ground. Jump or step back to an extended plank position. Lower down and back up through a push up back into extended plank position. Jump or step feet to meet hands, and come up through squat position. Repeat. For an added challenge, perform a squat jump as you come up.
- Bench Toe Touches (Equipment needed: bench, curb, or elevated platform)
Stand in front of a bench, curb, or elevated platform. As if you were slowly jogging in place, tap alternating feet on top of bench. Start slowly and increase speed for a more challenging cardio exercise. Keep core strong and contracted.
Jump roping in place (Equipment needed: jump rope or none)
Take it back to elementary school for a simple but efficient cardio burst! This can be done with or without a rope. If you don’t have a jump rope, perform the same movement jumping in place with wrists slowly pumping at your sides as if you were using a rope.