Is driving to the gym too much of a hassle? Do you hate braving the locker room, and spending upwards of $100 every month in membership dues?
Don’t sweat it. Instead, take your family to the park and work up a sweat. Using nothing but a park bench or a picnic table, you can do a full-body workout featuring cardio and strength-training moves. Jump start your routine by jogging around the park to warm up, then get to work performing the following 10 moves as a circuit routine. Just be certain that the surface and the soles of your shoes are completely dry.
Park Bench Exercises
1. Step Ups
Get your heart pumping and your legs warm by performing a step up.
- Stand directly behind the bench with your hands on your hips.
- Plant your right foot firmly on the bench.
- Press up and extend your right knee so you’re standing on your right foot, drawing your left leg up next to the right one.
- Reverse the movement and return your left foot to the ground, followed by your right foot.
- Continue on the right side for a minute before switching to the left side.
2. Sit to Stand
Strengthen your lower body and perfect your squat motion by performing a sit-to-stand exercise.
- Start by sitting on the edge of a park bench, your feet planted on the ground about hip-distance apart. Your torso should be straight, but slightly forward-leaning, your arms slightly extended in front of your chest with your elbows bent.
- Press through your heels and extend your knees and hips and push yourself to standing, swinging your arms backward.
- Reverse the movement and carefully lower yourself back to a seated position, swinging your arms forward as you sit. Tap your butt against the bench before you press yourself back to standing again.
- Continue for a minute.
3. Box Jumps
Improve lower body power and strength by performing a box jump. If you aren’t sure you can jump up onto the seat of a park bench, work on form by jumping up onto a curb instead.
- Stand behind a park bench, leaving about 8 to 10 inches between your toes and the bench seat. Bend your knees slightly and tip your hips backward as you lean your torso forward, and swing your arms behind you.
- Explode up off the ground as you extend your ankles, knees, and hips, swinging your arms forward as you jump up onto the bench. Aim to plant both feet firmly on the bench.
- Once on the bench, stand up completely and step backward, one foot at a time, down off the bench. Do not jump down off the bench.
- Continue the exercise for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on how you’re feeling.
4. Single Leg Plyometrics
Work on unilateral leg power and strength by performing the single-leg plyometric jump.
- Plant your left foot on the bench, your knee bent at a 90-degree angle, your right foot extended behind you, balanced on its toes. Bend your right elbow, bringing your hand toward your chest, and extend your left arm behind you, as if you were running.
- From this position, explode up off your left foot, bringing your right knee up toward your chest as you swing your right arm backward and your left arm forward.
- Land your left foot back on the bench, your knee slightly bent, as you reach your right foot back behind you, returning to the starting position. Immediately explode back up into the air, continuing the explosive hops on one leg for 20 to 30 seconds before you switch sides.
5. Single Leg Lunge
Work your quads unilaterally as you strengthen your lower body with single-leg lunges.
- Stand directly in front of a bench, your back to the seat. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, your hands on your hips.
- Reach one leg behind you, placing the top of your foot onto the bench’s seat. Your torso should remain upright, with a slight forward lean, both knees slightly bent.
- Bend both knees, lowering your torso toward the ground. When your back knee is almost to the ground and your front knee forms a 90-degree angle, reverse the movement and press yourself back to standing.
- Continue for 30 seconds before switching sides.
6. Plyometric Push-Ups
Increase your upper body strength and power by performing plyometric pushups on a park bench.
- Place your hands on a park bench or picnic table, just under your shoulders. Your arms should be fully extended.
- Step your legs behind you until you’re balanced on your toes and hands, your body forming a straight line.
- Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the bench or table. From this position, press powerfully through your palms, exploding backward as you extend your elbows, pushing yourself away from the platform.
- Land back on the platform with your elbows slightly bent, lowering your chest back toward the bench or table.
- Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.
Strengthen your triceps with this simple bench dip exercise.
- Sit on the edge of a bench, your hands gripping the bench directly outside your hips. Place your feet on the ground in front of you, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Shift your weight forward, sliding your butt off the bench so that you’re supported only by your hands and your feet, your arms fully extended.
- Bend your elbows backward, and lower your butt toward the ground.
- When your elbows form a 90-degree angle, reverse the movement and return to start, stopping just shy of locking out your elbows.
- Continue the exercise for 30 to 60 seconds.
Target your butt, hamstrings, and core with the bench bridge.
- Lie on the ground behind a bench so that your butt is approximately one foot away from the bench.
- Place your feet on top of the bench, your knees bent. Engage your core and lift your butt off the ground one to two inches.
- From this position, press your hips up into the air, extending your body to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Reverse the movement and lower your butt back toward the ground, stopping just shy of touching down.
- Continue for 60 seconds.
9. V-Sit Bicycles
Use the edge of a bench or picnic table to perform core-strengthening exercises like V-sit bicycles.
- Sit horizontally across a bench or picnic table so that your butt is about six inches from the edge of the platform. Place your palms on the bench behind your hips, your fingers pointing forward. Bend your elbows and lean back, so your torso is at an angle. Extend one leg completely, lifting it from the bench, and draw the other leg up toward your chest, the knee bent.
- Engage your abs and “pedal” your legs, bending the extended leg and extending the bent leg, alternating their positions continuously for 60 seconds.
10. Hanging Leg Reverse Curl
Work your abs at the park by working against gravity to perform the hanging leg reverse curl.
- Sit close to the edge of a picnic table or park bench, your body positioned horizontally along the platform, your legs hanging off the end. Reach your palms behind you and either grip the edges of the bench, or place your palms flat against the platform, your fingers facing forward. Bend your elbows slightly and lean your torso back.
- Engage your abs and lift your thighs slightly off the platform. From this position, your knees and ankles should be together, both bent at 90-degree angles.
- Keeping your legs together and your torso fixed in place, pull your knees all the way to your chest. Reverse the movement and slowly lower your legs back down, stopping just shy of your thighs touching the platform.
- Continue for 60 seconds.
Complete the circuit with little rest between exercises, then rest for two minutes and repeat one to two more times. While park workouts sound like child’s play, this routine will have you sweaty and sore in no time.
Have you tried a park workout? What additional exercises can you suggest?