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15 Exercises You Can Do at a Playground for a Full Body Workout

Sometimes exercising can be a chore. Even for those who love to exercise finding time to fit it in can be a challenge. We have just the answer for you. Check out 15 ways you can get a full body workout while hanging out with your kids at the playground.

A man doing core exercises on a horizontal bar outdoors.

It is often challenging to find time to exercise, especially when you have children. For me, I have a challenging time squeezing it in. I enjoy exercising and yet struggle to find the way to fit it into my every day life. Good news is when you take your kids to the park, you can use the equipment that is accessible at the park and use it for your exercises. Continue reading this article to find out all the ways you can exercise at the playground.

Rope Climb

A close look at a woman's hands as she hangs on a thick rope.

The rope climb is a great exercise if you can find a rope at the playground, you should use it. This exercise is great for your core, biceps, shoulders, and quads. Basically, this exercise works your entire body. You can use a rope or a climbing bar to do this exercise. There are two ways you can climb a rope. You can do legless rope climbs without using your arms. You can also use your legs and arms to pull you up the rope. You can climb up to the top of the rope, jump down, and then climb back up again.

Bench Dips

A woman doing bench dips at a public park.

This is a great exercise that you can do on a park bench. This is a classic movement that can be done on a regular park bench. This movement works your triceps and can be done just about anywhere.

The way to complete this exercise is to face out and away from the bench. You must put your knees at a 90-degree angle. You must keep your arms straight. Then you dip down until your arms become parallel to the ground. After that, you return to the start position. You must keep your back straight and tighten your core. You continue to repeat this movement for a certain amount of time.

A modification to this exercise to make it a little more challenging is to keep your legs straight. You still keep your arms straight and do the same dipping motion until your arms are parallel to the ground.

Crunches on Monkey Bars

A man doing crunches on the monkey bars.

This is a relatively simple exercise that can be down with monkey bars. Crunches isolate and work the abdominal muscles. This is the ideal exercise for someone wanting a six pack. They do more than that, though.

They also strengthen your low back and obliques muscles, as well as the rest of your core. Strengthening these muscles helps to improve your posture and your balance. This particular exercise adds an extra twist to the crunches. They also work your arm muscles since you are hanging for monkey bars.

The way this exercise is performed is you hang from the monkey bar and be careful not to swing. This should be a slow and controlled movement. If you are swinging all over the place, you are not working the intended muscles.

Once you are able to control yourself and not swing, then using your ab muscles, you pull your legs up and bring them as close to your chest as you can get them. Then you should lower your legs until the tips of your toes are touching the ground. You should control this movement the entire time. Then you continue to lift and lower your legs for a set period of time.

Slide Climb

A toddler climbing up the slide.

This exercise includes using a slide at the playground. You should consider doing this exercise early in the morning before there are many people and children at the park. This involves you using a piece of equipment that is heavily used by little ones at the park. This particular exercise works your biceps and shoulders, as well as your quads and hamstrings.

The way that you complete this exercise is to grab both side of the slide firmly. This is important because you do not want to slip and fall off the slide. Then you begin to walk step by step up the slide. In addition to this exercise strengthening shoulders and thighs, this is a great core workout. By strengthening these muscles, you are increasing your agility.

Bench Step Ups

A woman doing step ups on a park bench.

This exercise is a great cardio workout that also works your leg muscles. It can be an explosive workout that gives your quads a beating. You can use a park bench, or a high curb to do this exercise. There are multiple versions and modifications to this simple exercise. The first version is you stand facing the bench and you alternate the leg that is stepping up on the bench.

When you face the bench, you should put a light bend in your knees and lift one leg and put your foot down on the bench. The foot that is flat on the bench should press into the bench and you step up onto it. You should then step down from the bench with the same leg that you used to step up. Then alternate legs. Continue to do this for a certain period of time.

An alternative to this exercise and one that is more cardio intensive is instead of stepping up on to the bench, you jump on to the bench. You use the same equipment to do this exercise. You still stand in front of the bench with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Put a slight bend in your knees and your weight in your heels, prepare yourself to jump up on the bench. You then jump onto the bench while focusing on landing softly with your knees bent. You can either step or jump back down from the bench. If you choose to jump down, this will keep your heart rate up.

Swing Planks

This exercise requires the use of a swing. There are several different ways that this exercise can be modified. This exercise works your core muscles, which include all muscles from your chest to your quads. Strengthening these muscles help in many ways. It can improve your posture and strengthen your back, which helps to prevent injuries. It is important to ensure that you keep the swing steady during this exercise. You do not want the swing to move all over the place during this movement.

The first way to do this exercise is to put your forearms on the swing with your legs stretched out behind you in a V formation. When you put your feet in this position and rest on your forearms, it provides you stability during the exercise. You would hold this position for a set amount of time, such as 30 seconds, and then rest.

Another option, which is slightly more challenging is to lift your forearms off the swing and have them locked out as straight as possible. You should make sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders. Leaving your legs in a V formation is easier, but you can bring your legs together while keeping them straight to make it a little more challenging. If this exercise begins to feel a little easy to you, you can lift one leg for 30 seconds.

Then you lower that leg and lift the other leg and hold it for 30 seconds. When you do this movement, you want to make sure that you do not flex or arch your back to lift your foot off the ground. If you begin to do this with your back, you should lower your leg until you are no longer flexing or arching your back.

Another option to this plank is to put your hands on the ground and your feet on the swing. This allows you to do the plank exercise, as well as pike exercise. You want to make sure that your hands are flat on the ground and you are in a push up position. You can add a challenge to this work out by lifting up one leg at a time. You can alternate the leg that you lift.

Another challenge to this workout is while you are in the push up position with your hands flat on the ground and keeping your feet on the swing, you lift up your hips toward the sky and pull the swing towards you with your feet. This will allow you to get into a pike position. You can hold this position for a certain amount of time. You can also continue the series of pulling the swing towards you and lowering yourself back into the push up position.

Push Ups

A woman doing push ups on the playground bars.

Push ups have always been considered a great upper body workout. They work your chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles. If you use proper form when doing push ups, you can also strengthen your back and core muscles. You must ensure to engage your ab muscles while doing push ups to get the most out of the movement. Push ups can be done anywhere and you can use playground equipment to modify them to make them harder or easier.

The basic push up without any type of modification or changes starts on the ground. Start in a kneeling position with your feet together and on the floor. Then put yourself into a high plank position with your hands just above your shoulders and slightly outside of them. You want to make sure that your fingers are facing forward. You can also turn your hand in slightly, if that is more comfortable.

You want to make sure your back is flat and abs are tight. Make sure to keep your body straight and tight. You should keep your weight on your toes. Then you slowly lower your body to the floor and bending your elbows at a 90 degree angle. Be sure that you do not let your hips dip down or move them forward. You also want to make sure that you keep your elbows by your side. You do not want them to fan out. Keep going down to the ground until your chest or chin touches the ground. After that, push back up into the starting position.

One of the modifications you can make to a push up to make it a bit easier is to put your knees on the ground. You do the exact same thing with your arms. You should keep your thighs off the ground. The only parts of your body that should touch the ground are your hands and knees.

Another way to help make this movement easier and get you off the ground is to use a piece of playground equipment. You can use a park bench, or lean on some other piece of equipment. You hold on to the back of the bench, or put your hands flat on the equipment. Walk your feet out behind you. Keep in mind that the further you walk your feet out behind you, the harder the movement will be.

Monkey Bar Work

A woman doing ab exercises on the monkey bar.

This type of exercise does need monkey bars. This can be referred to as leg lifts, hanging leg raise, or leg up and downs. This is considered to be a more advanced exercise, so you may want to consider working up to it. This exercise isolates your hip flexors and abdominal muscles. This is a different from the way crunches and sit ups isolate the abdominal muscles.

The way you do this exercise is to grab on to the monkey bars and hang from them. You then lift both legs up to a 90 degree angle. You move both legs up and then put them back down. To make this exercise much harder, lift only one leg at a time. When you put the one leg down, then you lift the other leg. Lifting one leg at a time is incredibly challenging and it is much harder than it looks. Keep in mind, you are not bending your legs and brining your knees into your arm pits.

Swing Row

This exercise uses a swing to work your arms, shoulders, and chest. You can either hold on to the swing seat, if it is flat, or hold on to the chains of the swing. Once you grab a tight hold of the swing, you should extend your arms so that you are leaning back. When you lean back, you should be at a 45 degree angle from the ground. You want to make sure you keep your shoulders back. You do not want want pull your ears up to your shoulders while you are rowing.

Once you have extended your arms, you pull your body into your hands while bending your arms. You do not want to pull the swing to you. You want to make sure that you move slowly and stay in control. Once you have pulled your body into your hands, you can lower yourself back into the start position.

If you want to make this exercise a bit more challenging, then you can lean back even further. The further you lean back, the harder this becomes. Just keep in mind, when you make the exercise harder, you still need to control the motion.

Lateral Step Up

You need a bench to be able to do this exercise. This exercise is great for your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core. You should stand next to the bench or high curb at the playground. Place the foot that is closest to the bench on top of the bench. You want to make sure that you foot is pressed firmly on the bench before you take the next step.

You want to push up from your foot that is on the bench. The foot that is on the ground should not do any work. The leg of the foot that is on the bench is doing all the work. You should push up on the foot until the leg on the bench is straight.

The leg that is not on the bench, so it is hanging to the side, is going to work next. You should extend this leg to the side using your hip to lift that leg. Make sure your foot is flexed the entire time. This is called hip adduction. Once you have extended the leg all the way, then you can put that leg down and then slowly lower your leg that is on the bench until it is bent and your other foot is on the ground.

Elevated Back Lunge

This exercise requires a bench at the playground. The elevated back lunge is a low impact exercise that focuses its attention on your hamstrings, quads, calves, and glute muscles. This exercise helps to really sculpt and shape your thighs.

The way you do this exercise is to stand in front of the bench and face away from it. Then you want to pick up your left foot and rest the top of your foot (the laces of your sneakers) on the top of the bench. Make sure you are standing securely and do not feel off balance. Once you feel comfortable, you then place your hands on your hips.

Your right leg is still on the ground and your left leg is at an angle. Bend the knee of your right leg, which is the one still on the ground, until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Pause here for a moment or two and then press your right heel into the ground to rise back up into the start position. You can do about 10 reps of this before switching legs and doing the same motion on the other leg.

Knee Tuck

You will need a swing to complete this exercise. A knee tuck on a swing is a whole body workout. It works your arms, shoulders, chest, abs, back, and quads. You want to make sure you feel comfortable doing this movement before you attempt a large number of them. You start kneeling on the ground in front of the swing. You want to be about one to two feet away from it. You also want to make sure you are facing away from the swing.

Then put one foot at a time on the swing until you are in a high plank position. You engage your core by pulling your knees into your chest. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders. You want to be slow and controlled with this movement. Once your knees are to your chest, you slowly straighten your legs back to the start position. You can do several reps of this movement, or you can choose to hold the plank for 30 seconds.

Calf Raises

A close look at a woman's legs as she does calf raises.

You need some type of step or curb to do this calf exercise. Calf raises work your calf and shin muscles. This is another simple movement to perform. Stand on the step, bench, or curb with your toes. The balls of your feet should be on the edge and the back of your foot should not be on a surface, but suspended in air.

You want your feet to be hip length apart. Your knees should be straight and toes forward. The start position is to have your heels down as far as they will go. Then you want to rise up on the balls of your feet only moving your ankle. Then you want to go back down to the start position. That is one rep. To make this more challenging, you want to do the calf raise on only one leg at a time.

Monkey Bar Climb

A man climbing through the monkey bars.

If you ever watched kids on a monkey bar, they make it look so easy, but it really is not. For an adult, it becomes a little more difficult. It takes a lot of grip strength and core strength to move across the monkey bars. You have to do it without using any momentum for it to really be effective.

While you are learning how to go across monkey bars again, you may need some momentum, but you want to work towards not using it and having better control. You must grab the monkey bars with both hands and hang from the first one. Then you reach out for the next one and continue to reach hand over hand until you get to the end.

See Saw Balance

A girl balancing in the middle of the seesaw.

This exercise can use a see saw or anything else that is slightly off balance. The key is to work on your balance and your core. If you feel that you can stand on the object with two feet and remain balanced, then try standing on it with only one foot. Stand on one foot for 30 seconds and switch feet. You will most likely find that you are better able to balance on or the other foot. Most of us have a side that is stronger and better able to balance.

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