This is where things can get really fun. Parks, especially ones with playgrounds make ideal workout environments offering virtually unlimited possibilities. However, before you dive into your workouts, take a walk around your park and note what you have to work with (playground set-up, benches, hills, trees, etc.) and any potential hazards such as holes, broken pavement, etc. Here is a template for outdoor workouts:
Warm-up: 5 to 10 minutes or so to get your heart rate going and increase your core temperature.
Dynamic preparation: Basic movement skills that will help improve your coordination.
Movement drills: Activities to work your metabolic system and improve overall athleticism.
Strength exercises: Core, center of gravity change (lower body), upper "push" and upper "pull" exercises.
Since there are so many possibilities with this template, here are a few workouts. You may have to modify things a bit depending on your park's set-up.
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Warm-up: 5 to 10 minutes jogging or walk/jog around the park.
Dynamic Preparation: Set up two cones five yards apart. Skip from one cone to the other, then jog back. Repeat five times.
Movement Drill: Square drill. With your cones, mark out a square (about five yards between cones). Starting at one corner, sprint to the cone in front of you, shuffle to the next cone, backpedal to the third cone and then shuffle back to the starting cone. Rest 1 minute and repeat two or three times.
- Core: Band rotations. Wrap a resistance band around a tree or playground apparatus. Perform three sets of eight rotations per side. Focus on rotating through your hips as opposed to rotating your spine.
- Center of gravity change: Bench step-ups. Three sets of 10 each leg.
- Upper push: Band presses. Three sets of 10 reps.
- Upper pull: Monkey bars. This is a bit tough to prescribe specific sets or reps. Depending on the length of the bars, try to do either one or two lengths. Rest and repeat two or three times.
Warm-up: 5 to 10 minutes jogging or walk/jog around the park
Dynamic Preparation: Set up two cones five yards apart. Jog with high knees from one cone to the other, then easily jog back. Repeat five times.
Movement Drill: Suicides. Arrange three cones five yards apart in a straight line. Sprint to the first cone and return to the start. Sprint to the second cone, return and finally sprint to the last cone and return. Rest 2 minutes and repeat two or three times.
- Core: Hanging knee raise. Hold on to a playground bar and perform a bent-leg knee raise. Three sets of 10 reps.
- Center of Gravity Change: Walking lunges. Three sets of 20 steps.
- Upper Push: Suspension trainer chest press. Three sets of 10 reps.
- Upper Pull: Suspension trainer pull-up. Three sets of 10 reps
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Warm-Up: 5 to 10 minutes jogging or walk/jog around the park.
Dynamic Preparation: Set up two cones five yards apart. Shuffle from the first cone to the second cone. Jog back and repeat, shuffling the opposite direction. Repeat three times each direction.
Movement Drill: T-drill. Arrange cones in the shape of a T. Starting at the base of the T, sprint to the top, shuffle across to the left, then across to the right, back to the center and then backpedal to the start. Rest 1 minute and repeat two or three times.
- Core: Bird dog. Three sets of five reps each side.
- Center of gravity change: Elevated spilt squat. These are similar to regular split squats except with these you place your trailing leg on a park bench. Three sets of 10 reps each leg.
- Upper push: Medicine ball chest throw. From a standing position with a medicine ball at chest level, throw the ball forward as far as you can. Sprint to the ball and repeat. Three sets of six reps.
- Upper pull: Resistance band pull-down. Anchor the resistance band on a tree branch or a part of the playground. Sit (or kneel depending on desired resistance) and perform a basic pull-down. Three sets of 10 reps.
Working out at home or at a park is a great alternative to gym workouts. Don't be afraid to experiment a bit to find what works best for you. Park workouts can be a lot more fun with a group of friends. In fact, many fitness centers and personal training studios offer outdoor "boot camp" style classes at local parks. You may want to consider taking a class or two to get some ideas to incorporate into your own workouts. Enjoy!
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