working out in the park

working-out-in-the-park

Photo credit: http://www.alkavadlo.com

This is a guest post by Parth Shah, the owner ofShahTraining.com, a health and fitness website devoted to helping people exercise with minimal time and equipment. Here he talks about working out in the park – enjoy, and head to the bottom for some video examples.


I train people, from time to time. I love their reactions when I ask them to meet me at the playground. They usually look at me confused. “I thought you were going to take me to the gym, or your garage?” (I have some nifty training equipment in my garage). 

The reason I like to take them to the playground is because I like to show people what is possible just by using your surroundings. This helps them understand that it is because of their own excuse mindset that they look the way they look.

This method works. In fact, it works so great that after taking one of my friends through just ONE bodyweight workout at the playground, he began doing basic bodyweight circuits at home and ended up losing 30lbs in 6 months.

It’s that powerful.

So without further ado, lets get out to the playground and see what can be done.

#1 Rule you MUST follow at the playground 

From my experience, there is one key rule you MUST follow at the playground: watch out for the kids.

Little kids, when they see you doing pull ups on their monkey bars, will try to emulate you. They’ll think you’re playing at the park, and will want to play with you. I personally am not very good with kids. I just look at their parents, and that usually takes care of the situation.

In addition, with any sort of fitness equipment you bring – be it kettlebells, dumbbells, or a stability ball – little children will try to lift them. Don’t let them. If you have a partner, make sure he or she stands guard to make sure no one comes too close.

Survey your equipment

Each park is different. Some parks are specifically built to have fitness equipment. Generally, you will find the following pieces of equipment that you can train with in almost all parks:

  • Pull-up bar
  • Pole
  • Sit-up station
  • Push-up bar (or balance beam)
  • Low bench (typically a bench, attached low to the ground)
  • Park bench (the one used for sitting)
  • Spring-up bar (looks like a pull-up bar, but is lower, usually around 3-4 feet from the ground)
  • Parallel bars
  • Horizontal Ladder (a.k.a monkey bars)
  • Mat (all that padded surface)
  • Swing

Here are the kinds of movements you can do with each piece of equipment:

Pull-up Bar

  • Various hanging abdominal exercises
  • Pull-up/ chin-up variations
  • Muscle ups

Pole

  • Hands-only climb (do not use feet)

Sit-up station

  • Various abdominal exercises
    • with feet tucked into support (ex. incline crunches)
    • with hands holding support (ex. incline leg raises)

Push-up Bar

  • Various push-up variations
  • Can also be used as a balance beamVarious plank movements
    • Pistol squats
    • Single-leg Deadlifts
  • Mountain climbers & variations

Low Bench

  • Various dumbbell/kettlebell movements such as chest press, pullovers, triceps extensions, etc.
  • Various lying abdominal exercises (ex. lying leg raises)

Park Bench

  • Chair squats
  • Step-ups
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Depth jumps
  • Various other lower-body movements

Spring-up Bar

  • Underhand/Overhand grip inverted rows
  • Incline pushups

Parallel Bars

  • Dips
  • L-sits
  • Body Shrugs
  • Bent-knee/Straight-leg Raises
  • Traveling variations
  • Underhand/Overhand grip inverted rows
  • Incline Pushups
  • Deep Pushups

Horizontal Bar

  • Traveling back and forth
  • Various hanging abdominal exercises
  • Pull-up/ chin-up variations
  • L-sit Travelling
  • Muscle-ups

Mat

  • Pretty much anything you can do on the floor 
    • Pushups variations
    • Squats variations
    • Mountain climbers variations
    • Plank variations

Swings

  • Bulgarian split squat (place rear foot on swing)
  • Swing pushups (place feet on swing)
  • Swing pike pushups (place feet on swing)
  • Any movement you can think of where you place one foot or both feet on the swing.

I hope by now you can see just how MUCH you can do at the playground.

On Program Design

First and foremost, create a list of exercises. Use the guide above to determine what training equipment is available at your park, then do some research on figuring out 10-20 movements that you can do (without having to bring any additional equipment).

Organize these movements into upper body push, upper body pull, lower body, and abdominal exercises. We will be using supersets to design our routine. Supersets are where you perform two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between each exercise.

Use the following training template to help you build your own playground workouts. Try to select difficult movements, and work your way up to increasing your numbers on them. Once you are able to do 12-15 repetitions on movement, it is time to attempt more challenging exercises.

Superset #1

  • Upper Body Push Exercise
  • Upper Body Pull Exercise
  • Rest 30-60 seconds before returning back to the first movement
  • Repeat 2-3 times before moving to the next superset

Superset #2

  • Upper Body Push Exercise
  • Upper Body Pull Exercise
  • Rest 30-60 seconds before returning back to the first movement
  • Repeat 2-3 times before moving to the next superset

Superset #3

  • Lower Body Exercise
  • Abdominal Exercise
  • Rest 30-60 seconds before returning back to the first movement
  • Repeat 2-3 times before completing the workout

There are many different ways to design an outdoor workout, but the key is to understand what it is possible. Once you graduate from this basic superset program, you can begin experimenting with outdoor circuits, interval training, and more.

Get it done!

For more training advice on a budget, visit ShahTraining.com, a health and fitness website devoted to helping people exercise with minimal time and equipment. Shah has also published numerous free workouts, including The Playground Workout, which you can download here.

Working out in the park – video motivation

The bar brothers is a pretty cool YouTube group who have some inspiring videos about working out in the park. They have some perfect examples of some great moves you can do to achieve peak performance for free.

From the editor:

I love that Shah came to us with this post idea. I think that working out int he park is just as effective, if not more, than having a gym membership. Yes you can’t bench, or squat heavy weight. But this is not all of our goals.

Some more benefits of working out in the park:

1) You will save $20-$100 a month.

2) You will get your natural daily dose of sun and vitamin D.

3) You can use the park as an opportunity to meet women. Picking up girls at the gym is often frowned upon. But picking up girls while getting a swell on at the park is fair game.

4) You can incorporate body weight movements with running.

There is nothing better than doing a superset, then doing a sprint. Doing another, the doing a jog in between your rest. This is not possible at the gym without looking like an asshole. So take advantage of it.

5) Nature is beautiful.

Some negatives of working out in the park:

1) Not accessible in winter or cold weather.

Even though Rocky did it just fine in Rocky IV, working out in the cold is not fun.

2) No powerlifting

This is up to the lifter. For me, I love to look toned and lean, the park has everything I need.

Some useful links:

1) Alkavadlo.com

2) ShahTraining.com

I hope you guys enjoyed this guide to working out in the park and don’t use financial or logistic excuses to put off your fitness and health another day.

Enjoy.

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