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Fitness / Summer Tutorial: How To Exercise With A Playground Workout Routine

Jun 08, 2015 • Brittney Stracener

Do you want to get in shape without going to the gym? This summer is the perfect time to start on your fitness journey. All you need is a basic playground with monkey bars, swings, a slide, and a park bench. Make sure to wear cool clothes, sneakers and take a cold bottle of water. Check out the circuit below!

First things first…Warming up! A proper warm-up is always a must before exercising. I always say, “If you don’t have time to warm-up, you don't have time to exercise.” That’s how important it is! These movements will get your body warmed up for the circuit and help prevent injury. Start with a jog around the park for 5-10 minutes. If there is no path, create your own spot for laps or jog in place. This jog should be slow and relaxed. Following the jog, let’s start with 3-5 minutes of dynamic movements! Knee hugs, butt kicks, walking lunges and high knees are all great examples. You should be feeling nice and warm after that – now it’s time to get started on our circuit.

The goal is to complete this circuit 3 times. If you can complete the prescribed reps and exercises with perfect form, it’s time to level up to a more difficult exercise or add resistance.

Exercise #1:Bench Push-Ups |20 reps|

Targets: Chest, back, arms and core.

Push-ups are a compound movement, meaning they work multiple muscles at one time! Talk about a great exercise! Keep your abs tight, elbows out to your sides, and try to take your chest as close to the bench as possible.

If regular elevated push-ups are too easy, try to perform these at a decline. Prop up feet on the bench and perform push-ups on ground. If you are able to perform more than 20 reps, add a backpack or weighted vest.

Exercise #2: Slide or Bench Step-Ups |20 reps, each leg|

Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, core and heart rate.

Benches are typically a bit higher than the slide, so choose the bench if you want a more challenging workout. The slide is a great alternative for people who are just getting started with working out, have knee problems or struggle with balance. With this exercise, you will perform 20 step-ups on each leg. Start with one foot planted on the bench or slide and explode off the ground with the other leg, pushing your knee towards the sky. To really target the glutes (bum), push all your weight through the heel of the foot. Return back to starting position and repeat 20 times on the first leg, then switch for 20 on the other leg.

Exercise #3: Leg raises on monkey bars |20 reps| Targets: Lower abs and arms.

This exercise is great for targeting the lower abdominals, which are notoriously hard to target. Start by holding the monkey bars shoulder width apart, using your core to balance your body and keep from swinging. Once you get your balance, lift knees in a crunch position as high as you can. To increase difficulty, lift legs up in front of you, keeping knees straight. While you are in the crunch position squeeze your core as tight as possible and repeat or 20 reps.

Exercise #4: Bulgarian Split Squat/ Lunge |15 reps each leg|

Targets: Bum, Thighs and Core.

This squat is one of the most effective exercises when it comes to shaping your rear and toning your thighs. Start with one leg behind you elevated on a bench or slide, you want your elevated foot to be shoe laces down. From there take a big step out with opposite leg and place hands behind your head. This movement requires strong balance; finding an object to focus on always helps. Lower your body down into a single legged squat, keeping your rear foot on the slide or bench, and take your chest slightly over your leading leg. Repeat 15 times on the first leg, then switch to complete 15 reps on the other leg.

Repeat the entire circuit of 4 exercises 3 times through. How do you feel? If it felt hard, great – keep working! If it felt very easy, you can add weight next time by bringing a backpack with water bottles in it or wearing a weighted vest. Find the right level of weight for your fitness level.

This playground workout routine is great to incorporate once or twice a week this summer – plus it’s a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather! Afterwards, be sure to rehydrate. Another post-workout recovery best practice is to be sure you’re getting enough protein for your muscles to rebuild. An easy way to do that is through a high protein smoothie! My favorite is Smoothie King’s Almond Mocha High Protein Smoothie. I like to swap the fat-free milk for almond milk, and I ask to hold the natural sweetener, Turbinado, when I order it.

Brittney Stracener is a master trainer and nutrition advisor who specializes in custom training programs and flexible dieting plans. She is a fitness model who overcame her own metabolic damage to discover how to make meal plans and workout plans to fit her goals without depriving her body.


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