8 Easy Exercises Dads and Moms Can Do at the Playground
As busy dads and moms, we often don't have a second to spare for ourselves or our workouts. That's why doing double duty on our errands and exercise is the best gift we can give ourselves.
That's where the playground comes in. It turns out you can get one of the best workouts of your life using only what you find at the playground. Swings, slides, monkey bars, ladders -- all of it can become your own personal ninja warrior circuit!
To make it even more like a game, rest while your child plays -- so in other words, you do an exercise on the slide while your child climbs the ladder, then you rest while your child slides down. They'll love it, too!
1. Swing Push Ups
First up: The Swings. Target your abs, shoulders and arms with this amped-up push up! Rest the top of your feet on the seat, with hands at chest level for push ups. You can do these with your elbows in close to your body, or with a wider hand stance and elbows out wide. Tip: Keep your plank form throughout the whole exercise to ensure your abs are engaged.
Targets: Pecs, Delts, Triceps, Abs
Move over, TRX! Swings are perfect for the pike exercise. With the balls of your feet on the seat, and hands on the ground in front of the swing, pull your knees in towards your chest, then push back until you return to a plank position. Focus on contracting your abs as your knees come in.
Targets: Abs, quads
3. Bulgarian Squat
Little known fact: Your abs are already working when you're doing squats or lunges. Adding the balancing factor of the wobbly swing to Bulgarian squats makes this even more effective as a core exercise. Stand about three or four feet in front of the swing with your back to it, then reach one foot back to rest on the seat. Keeping a straight, neutral spine, lower down into the squat. Don't forget to switch sides when you're done with your reps!
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs
There are so many spots in the playground you can get in a quick set of triceps dips. Ladders, low handrails, or park benches can all be a good place for this exercise. Facing away from the bar, keep your elbows in close as you lower your hips, then return to straight arms. Tip: You can try this exercise with low parallel bars if you need more of a guide for your elbow placement.
Targets: Triceps, delts, pecs.
Use the low height of the bottom of a slide for a great core exercise called Spiderman! Get into a hand plank on the slide. Step one foot out to the side and swing it around until you step parallel to your hands. Step it back around to the plank, then do the other side. The trick is to keep the plank position throughout this move, so your abs are really getting a workout.
Targets: Abs, hip flexors, abductors (outer thigh)
6. Plank Twists
You already know you can do a plank anywhere, so to make it a more challenging abdominal workout, use the elevated surface of the bottom of the slide for a plank twist. Start in a hand plank, hands on the sides of the slide. Keeping the straight line of the plank, take one hand off and slowly rotate to the side, until your hand is up in the air, and you are in a side plank. Return slowly to start, then do the same thing twisting to the other side.
Targets: Abs, obliques
7. Inverted Row
Inverted rows -- where you are using gravity and your body weight to 'row' yourself up -- are a great way to build up strength if you're not able to do unassisted pull-ups. Hold onto the underneath of an angled ladder, or underneath a handrail, then row your chest up to the bar, keeping your body in a straight line. Tip: The more horizontal your body is in the start position, the harder this exercise becomes.
Targets: Lats, traps, rear delts (back), and biceps
8. Leg lifts
While you can use and high bar to hang from and do leg lifts for an awesome abdominal exercise, using the hanging monkey bar handles ups the intensity that much more. Your abs will definitely be firing, not only from the leg lifts, but from having to stabilize the swinging motion created by the wobbly handles. The easier variation is pictured here, using a bent knee leg raise. If this is easy for you, progress to straight leg raises.
Targets: Abs, hip flexors.