No time to hit the gym with the kids out of school for the summer? No problem! We’ve got a full-body workout at the playground. From park-bench dips to swing planks, there’s nothing like working out at the playground with the kids right in your line of sight! All moves can be modified to fit your fitness level, mama, and best of all, it’s free! Read on for our expert tips.
Plan the Workout
Before lacing up and hitting the playground, it’s important to prep your workout. We asked Colby Lindeman, mom of two, physical trainer, and owner of Fit by Nature SLO, how long and how many circuits will do the trick. Check out her tips and a few favorite moves below.
Intervals are awesome because they work for any level of fitness—from beginners to pros. For beginners, opt for 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds rest, then either jump to the next exercise or repeat before moving on. If a challenge is needed, ramp it up to 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds rest. For a super-charged workout, try the Super Setting: alternate between two exercises, two times each for 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest. Complete the full circuit two or three times depending on fitness level.
One of the coolest things about a playground circuit is the ability to mix it up and change the sequence whenever you need a challenge. Feel like doing more sprints? Go for it! Too many kids on the slide? Focus on your upper body instead! The flexibility is perfect for parents. The moves below can be arranged in any way, on any day.
Rope Climb: Biceps, Shoulders, Quads, Core
Rope climbing is super popular in CrossFit; it really is a total body workout. If you see one, take the opportunity to climb up, jump down, climb up, and jump down for the interval time. This also works with a climbing bar, which you’ll find at most playgrounds.
Playground Kicks: Glutes Lift
Start on a tabletop position and then lift one leg up at a ninety-degree angle, kick it up 20 times, and then alternate the other leg. For extra added difficulty, extend the opposite arm and work that balance and core strength!
Park Bench Dips: Triceps
This move is a classic because it’s effective and can be done just about anywhere. Face outwards from the bench while keeping your knees at a 90-degree angle and arms straight; dip down until arms are parallel to the ground, then return to the starting position keeping your back straight and core tight; repeat for the allotted interval.
Bench Step-Ups: Cardio Blast
Alternate legs as you climb up and down a bench. Continue moving along the bench as you alternate the climbs, and when you reach the end move along the opposite way.
Monkey Bar Crunch: Abs and Arms
Not only will you be using major upper-body strength hanging on the monkey bars, but your midriff will get in on the action too. After pulling your legs up from the ground, use your abs to bring your knees as close to your chest as possible before lowering your legs to slightly touch the ground. Lift and lower for the entire workout interval.
Swing Planks (optional alternating legs): Core
There are several ways to do a swing plank. One option is to rest forearms on the swing with legs stretched out in a V, which provides more stability. Another option is to have legs in the swing seat, arms out on the ground in a pushup position, which allows for swing pikes and other core moves. A final, more challenging option is to keep arms in the swing seat and legs as straight as possible in the plank position for the entire interval. To add a little extra challenge, alternate legs as you keep the plank position and your core engaged.
Slide Climb: Biceps, Shoulders, Quads, Hamstrings
This move is best left for an early morning visit to the park when there aren’t a lot of little kids around! Firmly grab the side of the slide, then step by step, climb up to the top; this helps build agility as well as gives the shoulders, thighs, and core a great workout.
Playground Side Plank: Core, Glutes
Another super effective move to work your core muscles is the side plank. You can start with your right knee down, right forearm on the floor and left arm extended towards the sky and hold for 15-20 seconds (and then the opposite arm and leg). When you are ready to lift both legs, you can stack the ankles, or if it’s a little easier you can also try to move your top foot in front of the back like in the picture above.
Playground Push-Ups: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Start with arms out, keeping the body straight and weight on your toes, then bend elbows until your arms have hit a 90-degree angle, and then return to starting position. Repeat until the rest period.
Slide Lunges: Quads, Glutes
Start with one foot balanced at the bottom of the slide. Place hands on your hips and bend your front leg until your knee has reached a 90-degree angle (don’t let knee stick out past toes), then slowly straighten your leg and return to starting position; continue movement until rest period. This move is great for your backside and legs, but be sure to keep an eye out for kiddos wanting to take their turn on the equipment.
Playground Wide Lunges: Quads, Glutes & Abs
Wide lunges are great to build up core strength, and at the same time work out your quads and glutes. There are many variations like stepping on your tippy-toes as you move up and down or moving sideways to add some cardio and extra sweat to the routine (and make the most out of your time).
Park Perimeter Sprints: Cardio Burst
This move is an easy cardio burst that’ll boost calorie burn. Simply sprint around the perimeter of the playground or to a designated spot and back for the duration of the interval.
Monkey Bar Legs Up & Down: Core Super Burn
Grab onto the monkey bars and lift your legs to a 90-degree angle. Then move both legs at the same time down and back up again or alternate legs and even add a little twist to strengthen the side of your abs. It’s harder than it looks!
Swinging Criss Cross: Core
Sit on the swing, then lean back to a 45-degree angle. With your legs tight and toes pointed open legs to a V position, then criss-cross back and forth, calf over calf, while attempting to keep the swing as still as possible.
—Sonia Gandiaga & Gabby Cullen
Featured image: iStock