This total-body workout, called circuit training, mimics the quick bursts of running from activity to activity at a playground but can be done in your backyard or on the sidewalk without monkey bars or traditional workout equipment.
So even if you only fit this into your schedule a few times a week, the shorter bursts of a circuit workout like this one will still have a positive impact on your body.
By taking minimal rest time in between exercises, you’re accomplishing a cardiovascular workout even while doing strength-training exercises. Wherever and however you decide to incorporate the family, you’ll speed up your heart rate and firm up your muscles.
Put yourself through the paces of this routine the next time you’re watching your kids play outside. Or have them join in on the fun so that while one person does one exercise, another person does the next exercise, and so on. After completing your exercise, you move on to the next one.
Monkey bar moves
Tricep dips: This move works the muscles in the shoulders, arms, back and core, just as swinging from monkey bars would. You can perform these tricep dips and modified push-ups on a curb, step or bench.
To start, find a step or curb and sit down on it. Place your hands on the step behind you and bend your knees. Walk your feet forward so that your legs are straight out in front of you and the heels are on the ground. Keep your back straight up and down.
Bend the elbows to lower yourself down toward the ground and then press down through your hands to come up. This works the backs of your arms (the triceps). Repeat 10 times.
Push-ups: Then, stand up and face the step. Place your hands on the step as wide as your shoulders and walk your feet out away from the step into a push-up position.
Pull the naval in toward the spine and bend the elbows out to the sides to lower your chest toward the ground.
Then press down through the hands to come up to the starting position. Repeat this 10 times.
Climbing up the slide
Mountain climbers: Kids love climbing up slides — which is a similar body movement to mountain climbers on the grass, sidewalk or driveway.
Place your hands on the ground with your shoulders over your wrists. Next place your feet on the ground with your butt up in the air. Step your right foot forward in between your hands, and then step it back. Step your left foot forward in between your hands, and then step it back.
Repeat this quickly 20 times so that it almost becomes as fast as a run.
Let’s swing without the set
Swinging double-toe taps: At the playground, swings are a favorite activity. But if you don’t have a swing set, you can still do swinging double-toe taps as an ab exercise while sitting on a step or curb.
Sit down and bend your knees. Squeeze your legs and inner thighs together. Lift your feet up off of the ground and pull your naval in toward your spine. You may lean back slightly.
Bring your knees up as high as you can, and then slowly lower them down to tap your toes on the ground. Repeat 20 times.
Jump up on the slide
Modified box jumps: Out on the playground, children may jump up onto a slide or park bench. Similarly, at a gym, you’d likely see a box that’s a few feet high and you’d work to jump up onto the box. If you’re in your front yard, you can jump up onto the curb.
To jump, bend your knees and your arms. Press down through the heels as you jump forward and swing your arms back, landing with a soft bend in your knees and both feet on the curb at the same time.
Then, jump backward and land softly again with your knees bent. Repeat this for 20 box jumps.
Wind sprint: Act as if you’re sprinting to the next playground game or activity. Run as fast as you can, in a sprint, for 10 seconds. Pump your arms and look straight forward as you run.
Take a quick rest (about five seconds) and then repeat. Repeat this five times.
Go through this cycle of exercises a total of three times to get in a full-body workout that’ll get your heart pumping and leave you feeling energized.
Do this playground circuit every other day to allow your body to recover and rebuild on the off days. If you’d like to keep moving on the off days, focus on exercises like yoga, Pilates or pure cardio workouts.