Park bench lunge

The park bench workout

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Exercising at your local park is a great way to add variety to your training routine and enjoy the great outdoors. Exercise physiologist Andrew Cate shows how to turn the local park into your local gym.

What does your local park have to offer?

Most suburbs have some kind of park, green space or open area which provides a great excuse for you to exercise outdoors.

The beauty of these parks is that they are all different and may provide a treasure trove of opportunities to exercise, including outdoor tables and benches, playground equipment, stairs, walking tracks or just open spaces.

Here we’ve got a great outdoor circuit that allows you to use any park or outdoor space – including your own backyard, to boost your strength and stamina

The park bench workout

Warm up by walking fast or jogging to your local park and find a bench and some open space. If you are doing this workout at home, you can jog around the block to warm up.

The bench could be the seat of an outdoor table, or part of some outdoor playground equipment. At home look for something that is the same height as a park bench and sturdy enough that it won’t move around.

Perform each exercise 10 – 25 times depending on your level of strength, except the planks, which you hold until fatigued.

Then do 4 x 30 second sprints in between each strength training exercise.

Repeat the circuit 2-3 times.

Slow jog or walk home to cool down. 

Download the park bench workout

1. Park bench push ups

  • Place your hands on a park bench or outdoor table just wider than shoulder width
  • Keep your legs straight, your toes tucked under your feet and your abdominal muscles contracted
  • Bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the bench or table
  • Press back up powerfully through your hands for one repetition

Trainer's tip – The lower the bench, the harder this is. If you are feeling super strong, place your feet on the bench and your hands on the ground.

2. Park bench step ups

  • Place your right foot on a sturdy park bench
  • Keeping your back straight, step up on the bench, driving up and straightening your right knee
  • Reverse the movement by lowering yourself down with control, keeping your right foot on the bench
  • Complete all reps on the right side before swapping to the left leg
Park bench step ups
Trainer's tip – Try to push up through your buttocks to take stress off the knee joint.

3. Park bench dips

  • Place your hands on the edge of a bench, chair or coffee table, fingers facing down
  • Rest on your heels with your legs out in front. The straighter your legs, the harder this exercise becomes
  • Lower your body by bending the elbows, which should be pointing backwards. Lower yourself straight down, and not forwards, keeping your body close to the bench
  • Push back up to the initial position for one repetition
Park bench dips

Trainer's tip – Don’t go too low on these, as it can stress your shoulder.

4. Feet elevated planks

  • Lie face down on a towel or on the grass, resting on your forearms
  • Place your feet with toes curled up on a park bench
  • Raise your hips and stomach off the ground into a plank so you're balancing on your toes and forearms
  • Suck your belly bellybutton in towards the spine, and hold until fatigued
Park bench plank

Trainer's tip – Make sure not to dip your hips, keeping a straight line between your neck and feet.

5. Back foot elevated lunges

  • Stand facing away from a bench, and reach your right foot back so your toes are on a seat or park bench
  • Your left foot should be around one meter forward of the bench
  • Lower your back knee down towards the ground (not forwards)
  • Push up and back to the starting position for one rep
  • Complete all reps on one side before swapping to the other leg
Park bench lunge

Trainer's tip – Make sure your front knee doesn’t go over the line of your toes.

Download the park bench workout