Do you remember the joy you felt as a kid when you were playing at the playground? My favorite spot to play when I was a kid was the playground at the park on Hilton Head Island where my grandparents lived . I remember running around for hours at the ocean side park, loving every minute and fully exhausting myself. Somewhere along the way, we (adults) started to equate physical activity as a chore instead of fun, but playing isn’t just for kids and neither are playgrounds.
Playgrounds are the perfect free fitness facility for anyone and all you need is a plan. In an approximately one mile radius of my house I can count at least three public parks/playgrounds. (That’s just off the top of my head) Playgrounds provide solid, standing structures perfect for strength training with potentially large amounts of open space or hills that are great for cardio drills. Most playgrounds are accompanied by some sort of basketball/tennis court that create endless possibilities for workouts.
For this workout, I chose five basic exercises that would include equipment at most playgrounds. All you need is a slide, stairs of some kind, and a bench. (Who says you have to go to the park? Maybe you have this equipment in your back yard!)
In choosing only five exercises I had to eliminate some spectacular options including:
- Pull-ups on the monkey bars
- Bench jumps
- Push-ups with your feet on the swing
- Push-ups with your hands on separate swings
- Lunges with one leg propped on a swing
- Chest flys using a swing
- Decline push-ups with your feet on a slide
- Leg lifts while holding onto the monkey bars
- Doing the monkey bars
- Rows using a swing
- Atomic planks with feet on a swing
- Slide sit-ups
So many awesome choices! I could do a whole series devoted to workouts at a playground, but let’s get this one done first. Below are your workout and exercise descriptions.
Each person is different and should consult their doctor before making any major lifestyle or activity level changes. While I am a personal trainer, the information I am sharing is all generic and not intended for one specific person. Consult a professional before starting anything new.
Place one foot behind you at the base of the slide. Make sure your front foot is far enough away from the slide to allow for comfortable range of motion. Lunge the legs while making sure the front knee does not pass the toe line. Intensity is controlled by depth of the lunge.
Slide Tricep Dips:
Start by sitting at the base of the slide and placing your hands just outside of your hips or directly behind you. Lift your hips off the slide and bend the elbows to a 90 degree angle. Keep your core braced and straighten the elbows.
Bench Step Ups:
Find a park bench or set of stairs on the playground that will be sturdy enough to hold your body weight. Step firmly onto the bench with one leg while lifting the other in front of you. Return back to your starting position or add a lunge in between step ups for more intensity.
Find a solid slide base that can hold your body weight. Place hands wider than the shoulders and lower your chest to elbow height. Return to starting position and repeat. Keep the hips in line with the shoulders and squeeze your glutes.
Find a set of stairs, a bench, or a little ladder that will allow you to hold on if you need help keeping your balance. Stand only on the balls of your feet and lift your heels upwards. Slowly lower back to your starting position while keeping the glutes engaged. Do your best not to rock forward and back but move vertically.
What is your favorite childhood playground memory?