A great way to mix up your fitness routine is to skip the gym for a day and head down to your local park, where there is a wide range of great opportunities to exercise.
There are a growing number of parks that are now home to several pieces of fitness equipment, or you may even find a purpose-built outdoor gym that aims to replicate what you can do indoors.
If you’re thinking about adding some variety to your fitness regime, here are 15 FUN and FREE exercise you can complete at your local park:
1. Bodyweight Press
At parks or outdoor gyms where there is specific equipment, you can complete presses such as Chest and Overhead. The way these machines are typically built is based on using your body weight rather than adding plates or selecting your desired weight. Depending on how you’ve typically used similar machines in the past, you may find it harder or easier than before. Regardless, it’s a great exercise to include in your park workout.
2. Monkey Bars
This one brings out the little kid in all of us, only we find it much harder to do than we did when we were pre-teen age. Use the bars for your stock-standard chin-ups or pull-ups, or alternatively, you can go back to your roots and complete the hand walk across as many bars as you can. You’ll be surprised how well this works your core and upper body.
3. Bench Dips
Benches are quite versatile and one of its great uses can be for dips. Place your hands on the seat and your legs slightly bent, outstretched in front of you, then lower yourself down and up as many times as you can. When done properly, you should feel it burn in your triceps and pectorals.
4. Bench Push-Ups
Whilst on the bench, you can also complete a push-up. Turn yourself over, again placing your hands on the seat and legs outstretched and lower yourself down and up in a controlled motion. You can make it more difficult or easier by changing the angle of your body, or doing it on your knees instead. You may also want to put your hands on the back of the bench to attain a higher and easier angle.
5. Swing Plank
Turn your attention to the swing set and start with a plank position, a gruelling yet efficient core exercise. Start with your back to the seat and place both legs onto the swing, whilst holding yourself upright on your palms outstretched directly below your shoulder-line. Hold the plank position for as long as you can, trying to remain as still as possible. A modification to this exercise to make it harder is to bring your body towards the swing and extend back out. Alternatively, to make it easier, rest your mid-rift on the swing seat instead, placing your hands and feet on the ground in the same position.
6. Swing Split Squats
Staying on the swing set, this exercise will work your legs instead. Remain standing up straight with your back to the swing and place your back foot onto the seat. Then, lower your front leg into a bent position to complete the squat. The lower (deeper) you go, the more you’ll feel it in your hamstring, glutes and quadriceps.
7. Walking Lunges
A similar exercise to the split squat, walking lunges will require you to step forward with a bent front leg and to drop your back knee towards the ground. You can make it more difficult by taking longer strides and ensuring you drop your back knee right to the ground. You can also add weights if you have them to make it even harder.
Add some high-intensity to your workout with a range of jumping exercises. The different variations could include the classic Star Jumps, where your arms and legs spread as you leap into the air; Standing Jumps which require you to jump and bring your knees as high/close to your chest as possible; and potentially Box Jumps, where you leap onto an object (typically a box or raised seat).
This exercise is quite similar to the Box Jumps, where you step up onto a bench or raised platform and step back down. Be sure to lift your entire body off the ground as you step up and then lower yourself in a controlled manner. You could step up on each alternative leg throughout the set or remain on one leg for the entire set and then swap to the other.
Although it’s a more monotonous and mundane exercise, running/jogging has always been an incredibly effective cardio exercise. Whether you run on a path, track or the grass, tick over the legs and clock up the KMs. Make sure to add variation to your running by changing intensity/pace, distances and goals. Perhaps start with slower/shorter and then build up to faster/longer.
If you’re lucky enough, some parks are also equipped with communal static bikes that allow you to complete cycling exercises. Similar to running, you should alter the speed and distance of your rides to gain different benefits from your workout. The faster and longer you pedal, the more you will get out of the exercise.
12. Rock Climbing
Again, if you’re fortunate to have a Rock Climbing wall at your local park, then it’s a wonderful exercise to add into your routine. It literally works every muscle in your body as you climb up the carefully designed wall. For more experienced climbers, you may want to just use your arms to ascend for a more advanced workout. Just remember to be careful and know your limits when climbing the wall!
13. Crab Crawl
This unique exercise is quite enjoyable as it differs to most others, but don’t underestimate the difficulty. Place your legs in front of you and your arms behind you and shuffle yourself forward, backwards and sideways. You’ll feel the burn in your arms and legs in no time, so try and push yourself as far as you can go.
We’ve left this one towards the end because we know that it’s not the most popular, but it sure is effective. Start the burpee with a standing jump as high as you can with your arms in the air, and then transition down to a push up with your chest touching the ground. Replicate the movements until you’ve got nothing left in the tank, which really won’t take that long! It should be quite comfortable to do on grass because of the soft ground.
It’s critical that you stretch before and after your workout to ensure your muscles have been warmed up and cooled down, otherwise you’re potentially risking an injury. Stretching is a great thing to do at the park, whether you are doing a workout or not. You could also complete a yoga session at the park with a serene environment around you.
Now that you’ve got a 15-step workout, you’re ready to head down to your local park and have a great sweat session, all fun and free of charge!