5 Exercises You Can Do at the Playground
Just when you thought your jungle gym days were over.
The one caveat (an understatement, we know) of working out is that it can be pretty damn boring. Not to mention, industry standards consistently suggest that we should dedicate at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week to moving our often lazy behinds. And with that level of time commitment, you better believe it’s a requirement that that sweat-inducing be fun and somewhat interesting. And friends, what is more fun than a jungle gym? It just screams fun!
So scare off all the little kiddies and hog those monkey bars. Here, Jenny McConnell, master trainer at Academy of Lions, shows us how we can all get toned with swings and bars.
“Dips are an amazing way to strengthen the shoulders and arms. When dips are added to a routine, the shoulder girdle becomes more stable right away. That strength gained translates to every sport and functional upper bodyweight movement under the sun, not to mention, helps you get incredible definition.
“Start in a support with elbows locked out, long neck and hollow body position. Initiate the dip by sending the shoulder forward. Always keeping the elbow directly over the wrist and forearms vertical. Reach the bottom of the dip with your shoulder below elbow. Press back up and finish in the same strong support you started.
“Complete 3 sets of 3-5 reps.”
Decline Sit-Up from Bars
“If you’re looking for a serious challenge for your abdominals, try decline sit-ups from a bar. This movement recruits abdominal muscles in two distinct ways: First, the range of motion is greater than with any other crunch or sit-up. Second, the abs contract isometrically through the movement.
“To perform the movement safely and effectively, it’s best if you are able to hook your feet underneath one bar and your knees overtop of the bar next to it. Using your abdominals, slowly and with control, lower yourself down from the bar. Once you are fully extended and with your abdominals still under tension, quickly contract yourself up to a crunch position. Since the range of motion is probably new to you, start with three sets of 5 sit-ups.”
“Knee tucks are an incredible movement for focusing on balance, strength and stability of the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and shoulder girdle.
“Position hands below the shoulders and press up into a plank position. Place your feet on the seat of the swing. Lift your knees from the floor and assume a push-up position. Push hard into the ground and contract your abdominals; the knees and hips are extended, and the spine is neutrally aligned. Pull your knees towards your chest. Return to the starting position by extending both legs out again.
“Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.”
“Modified from a Ring Row, this is a great movement for developing the strength required to do a pull-up. Its value also lends itself to correcting muscle imbalances, improving midline stabilization, and training muscles that you don’t (and of course, do) see in the mirror.
“Beginning with the contraction of the scapulae, draw the shoulder blades together and the shoulders back. Pull the elbows back past the rib cage continuing with the arms until the chest reaches the chains. The overall motion should be smooth. Return to full extension at the bottom position slowly and with control, maintaining a straight body.
“Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.”
Modified Windshield Wipers
“It’s extremely challenging, so take your time to master it properly. The windshield wiper works your core in every conceivable way. There’s a crunching motion to get your legs up, an isometric contraction to hold yourself up there, rotation when you twist your legs to each side, and resistance to rotation to keep your legs elevated after each rotation.
“Begin by hanging from a bar, pulling your shoulders away from your ears and engaging your lats. Raise your legs up, and bend your knees to 90 degrees. Brace your abs, and rotate your legs to one side as far as you can, then rotate to the other side; that’s one rep.
“Complete 3 sets of 3-5 reps.”