Save the gym for the dark, cold winter days, or go to the gym but also include outdoor workouts while the weather is good. Sarah Applegarth, owner and trainer at Active Life Conditioning in Collingwood, Ontario, might work mostly from a gym, but she has a few clients who prefer an outdoor atmosphere — and in Canada, when the weather is warm, you take advantage of it and do as much as possible outside. Trust her — you can get just as brutal a workout on the monkey bars as you can on the pullup bar.
Here are five moves that’ll tap into your inner child as well as whip you into shape:
PUSHUPS ON A PICNIC TABLE
For newer strength-training clients, Applegarth uses the table as an incline: the pushups are done by bracing against a table, bench or slide. For more advanced clients, she reverses it and has them use the bench as a decline: Prop your feet up and keep your hands on the ground as you do pushups.
PULLUPS AND CHINUPS ON MONKEY BARS
Pullups (palms facing forward) and chinups (palms facing you) are another of Applegarth’s staples for playground workouts, since they offer a shot of upper-body strength and quickly give you a serious workout. If the monkey bars are too low, simply bend your legs at the knee so you’re not touching the ground. (Bonus points if you can keep going and get across the monkey bars.)
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS ON A SLIDE
Use the slide or a bench to elevate your back leg, Applegarth suggests. Now, perform the split squat, bending the knee of the leg that’s still on the ground. It will challenge your balance and core in addition to strengthening your legs and glutes like a standard squat would.
REVERSE PUSHUPS ON PARALLEL BARS
Use those often-ignored-by-kids parallel bars to do some reverse pushups. Hang onto the bars in either a pullup or chinup hold, then walk your legs out straight. Now, pull yourself up toward the bar: It’s called a reverse pushup because you’re essentially doing an upside-down pushup. It’s also a great way to work toward improving your pushup form and being able to nail a pullup or chinup.
SIDE PLANK WITH HIP ABDUCTION
Use the slide or bench again for some side planking with your legs stacked on the bench or slide (the lower the prop, the more beginner-friendly the move will be). While holding your body in a straight, stacked line, slowly raise and lower the top leg.
GARHAMMERS ON BARS
For a full-body workout, the garhammer is hard to beat; even the name is terrifying … That might be why Applegarth loves it. Hang from the bar like you’re about to do a chinup, but instead of using your arms to pull up, stay hanging and use your lower core to pull your legs up to your chest (or as high as you can get them), bending at the hip and the knee. You can do this either as a dynamic movement quickly for a heart-rate raiser, or as a static movement for a slower burn. Either way, you’re getting a ton of upper-body work from hanging on the bar, while hitting those hard-to-target lower abs.