With this park workout, you won't need a home gym or fitness center membership to stay active, just some outdoor space. Over the past few years, many of us turned to at-home exercise to keep fit. And while gyms worldwide have reopened, this eight-move routine is ideal whether you enjoy exercising outside or want to save some money.
It's an equipment-free workout, so all you need is a set of the best cross training shoes for added support during the exercises. These protect your ankles during fast movements, making them well-suited to this park workout, HIIT routines, and even weight lifting. Other than that, it's worth choosing a park with some benches, steps, and maybe an incline or two.
This workout comes from Sarah Overall, a qualified personal trainer who specializes in high-intensity exercise. Sarah's graded plan with several intensity levels, so you choose a level that works for you. You'll warm up by walking or jogging to the park and do most moves for up to a minute, followed by a short rest.
You might have read that it's best to exercise at certain times of day, but the key is to find a time you can do regularly and form a long-lasting habit. If you want a bit of motivation or like to track your exercise, consider wearing one of the best fitness trackers to record your park workout, monitor your sleep, and keep tabs on your heart rate.
Park workout: step-ups
Stand directly in front of the bench seat with your hands on your hips and plant your right foot firmly on the bench. Pull in your abdominals then bring your left foot up to join the right and then step down. Do 30 seconds with the right leg leading, then change and do 30 seconds leading with the left leg.
- Level 1: 15-second break between the leg change.
- Level 2: No break between legs.
- Level 3: Pick up the pace and see how many you can do in a minute.
Park workout: Step-ups with knee raise
Stand in front of the bench with hands on your hips. Plant your right foot on the bench and then drive your left knee up towards your chest. Lower your left foot to the floor, then repeat by placing your left foot on the bench and driving your right knee up. Keep alternating your lead leg.
- Level 1: 30 seconds of exercise and a 15-second break between leg changes.
- Level 2: One minute straight through.
- Level 3: Add a jump. When your right knee is a high as you can raise it, jump from your left foot then alternate.
Park workout: bench push-ups
Place your hands on the bench just under your shoulders and fully extend your arms. Step your legs behind you until you are balanced on your toes. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the bench, then extend the arms to your original position. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Level 1: Use the highest part of the back of the bench.
- Level 2: Use the seat of the bench.
- Level 3: Place your feet on the seat of the bench and hands on the ground.
Park workout: Squats
Stand in front of the edge of the bench with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your back to the seat. With your weight in your heels and keeping your chest high, bend your knees and sit backwards.
Aim for your bottom to get as close to the bench as possible without actually sitting down. Drive through the heels back to standing position. Perform for 30 seconds or more, then hold the squat hovering over the bench for at least 10 seconds.
- Level 1: 30 secs moving squats, 10-second hold.
- Level 2: 40 secs moving squats, 20-second hold.
- Level 3: 60 secs moving squats, 30-second hold.
Park workout: single leg lunge
Stand in front of the bench with your back to the seat and feet shoulder-width apart. Reach one foot behind you placing the top of the foot on the seat.
Keep your torso upright, hands on hips, and bend your knees. Lower your back knee almost to the ground and aiming to bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle. Reverse the movement and repeat on the other side.
- Level 1: 5 lunges on each leg.
- Level 2: 10 lunges on each leg.
- Level 3: 15 lunges on each leg.
Park workout: bench burpees
Place your hands on the seat of the bench underneath your shoulders. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hip-width apart and as close to the bench as possible.
Jump backwards, extending the legs to form a straight line with the body, then jump the feet back into the bench. Come to standing position then step up, bringing both feet to the seat then down to the floor (as in the first exercise). Perform for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Level 1: Leave out the step-up, just jump backwards and return to standing.
- Level 2: Burpee with the step-up.
- Level 3: Replace the step-up with a box jump onto the seat (i.e. both feet land at the same time).
Park workout: tricep dips
Sit on the edge of the bench with your hands gripping the edge, either side of your hips with fingers facing forwards. Place your feet on the ground with knees at a 90-degree angle.
Slide your bottom in front of the bench and bend your elbows backwards, lowering your bottom towards the floor. When your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, reverse the movement back to the start and repeat. Do two or three sets of 10 repetitions.
- Level 1: Knees bent
- Level 2: Extend your legs keeping a bend in your knees and balance on your heels
- Level 3: Straighten your legs in front of you
Park workout: finisher
This will top-off your workout with a burst of intense effort. Depending on what you have available:
- Level 1 (flat path): Sprint all-out for 30 seconds or the length of the path, jog slowly or walk back. Repeat three to five times.
- Level 2 (steps): Run up a set of steps (with at least 10 steps) and walk back down. Repeat three to five times.
- Level 3 (steep hill): Run up with as much speed as you can muster, jog or walk down. Repeat three to five times.
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James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.
In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.
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