And while cooties are no longer a high-level threat, you can still use your childhood stomping ground as your own personal gym — no smelly BO, no creepy guys sizing you up and no more waiting for a machine behind some douchebag on his cell phone.
This playground workout routine rotates through upper and lower body exercises that will send your heart racing and your muscles burning. You’ll build strength, conditioning and coordination in no time if you do this 2-3 times a week in addition to your normal cardio workouts.
Always start any workout with a good warm-up to loosen your body and raise your heart rate gradually. In this case, start with a 10-minute easy jog or power walk around the park.
Next, rotate through this series of exercises. You’ll spend 60 seconds at each one, doing as many reps (slow and controlled is the name of the game) as possible. Then you will take a 60-second break and move to the next exercise:
1. Monkey Bars.
Climb across the bars or do pull-ups — your choice. You may want to wear workout gloves for this one since blisters can develop.
2. Jump Rope.
Perform double-leg jumps as smoothly as possible. Hello heart rate!
3. Upright Rows.
Find some lower climbing bars and position yourself underneath with your belly facing up and the soles of your feet on the ground (like a table top pose). Hold the bars with both hands and pull your chest up to the bars and then lower back down towards the earth. Works your chest and arms.
4. Tree Sit.
Find a large, sturdy tree and sit against it. Your spine and the back of your head should be flat against the tree trunk with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle (thighs parallel to the ground, girl). The soles of your feet are flat on the ground. Feel the burn in those quads!
Stand about three feet away from a picnic table with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your hands on the bench and perform push-ups. Your upper body and legs should remain straight as you lower your chest towards the table and back up again.
6. Tricep Dips.
Using the same picnic table, turn around so your back faces the table this time. Position the palms of both hands on the bench with your fingers facing towards you, and put your legs straight out in front of you with your heels on the ground. Bend your elbows to lower your hips towards the ground and then straighten your arms to rise up again. You will feel this in the backs of your arms (that pesky area that likes to keep waving even after we stop).
Find a step or use the picnic table again to do step-ups. Alternate one leg at a time like you are going up and down stairs. Keep your back straight and eyes forward.
8. Swing Set Pikes.
Put your toes on the swing and your hands on the ground with your entire body straight (you will be looking at the ground). Make sure your hands are directly beneath your shoulders. Using your toes, bring the swing towards your chest and back out again. Your arms will not move, just your legs. You will feel this in your abs, back and shoulders.
9. Hanging Ab Curls.
Go back to the monkey bars and hang. Make sure your feet are off the ground and your arms are straight. Keeping both legs together, bring your knees towards your chest and then lower them back down again. Another goodie for your abs!
10. Decline Push-Ups.
Put your toes on the bottom of the slide with your hands on the earth. You will be looking at the ground. Keep your back and legs straight and your abs engaged. Lower your chest towards the ground. Push back up and repeat for a round of challenging push-ups.
If you time it correctly, the entire workout should take you 20 minutes (not including the warm-up). Repeat if you dare and then finish off with a 10-minute cool-down jog or power walk.
See, who said playgrounds are just for kids?
Ever done a playground workout? Give us a shout in the comments section!
Deborah Dunham, Guest BloggerDeborah Dunham is a certified personal trainer and running coach, marathon runner, and all-around fitness nut. She desperately wanted to stick to a raw-food diet, but that just made her want to punch people in the face. Instead, she sticks to running. Deborah is also the editor of the inspired-news site, Chicks for Change.