The Ultimate Playground Workout

by Shane Barnard, JD
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The Ultimate Playground Workout

Tired of “working out”? Try playing instead! Head to a playground with these simple moves, break a sweat, and have fun at the same time! The best part: you don’t have to bring any equipment with you.

The workout plan: After doing a dynamic warm-up, complete 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise in the main workout before moving on to the next. Want a bigger challenge? Increase the number of repetitions of each move, or up the total number of sets to increase the difficulty and calorie burn.

Dynamic Warm-up (4 to 6 repetitions of each move)

  • Squat and reach overhead
  • Knees ups
  • Bottom kickers
  • Arms criss-cross
  • Side reaches

THE MAIN EVENT (Repeat the entire set 2 to 3 times)

myfitnesspal pushups playground1. Push-ups Find a bench or fence. Start with your spine long and neutral, with legs about hip width. Drop your chest towards the bench or fence and fully press back up. (Do 8 to 12 reps.)

myfitnesspal tricep dips playground2. Tricep dips Sitting on a bench or platform, start with hands underneath your shoulders and just outside your hips. Scoot your hips off the bench or platform and keep your feet underneath your knees (knees at 90 degrees).  Flex your elbows to drop your hips without putting too much strain on your shoulders. Engage your triceps and press your hips back up, maintaining a neutral spine. (Do 8 to 12 reps.) To increase the difficulty, straighten your legs, requiring you to press up more of your body weight.

myfitnesspal rings playground3. Rings pull-ups (assisted or full pull) Find a set of rings.Using your feet on a bench or platform to support yourself, grab one or two rings with an underhand grip, and pull your body up for a pull-up, and then release slowly. (Do 8 to 12 reps.) To increase the difficulty use only one leg for support, or do a full pull-up from a hanging position.

myfitnesspal press ups playground4. Holding parallel bars (or hanging abs) A stiff-arm hold is challenging enough to keep arms straight and shoulders down while maintaining a long body. Don’t let your shoulders creep up to your ears! (Do 8 to 12 reps.) To increase the difficulty, add a knee tuck to work your abdominals.

myfitnesspal step ups playground5. Step-ups Find a bench or low platform and step up with your right leg to a full standing position and switch sides. Make sure your entire foot is on the platform or bench before you step. (Do 8 to 12 reps on each leg.)

6. Sand sprints Designate a short lane and do sprints at your best effort, or a 7 to 8 on the Rate of Perceived Effort (RPE) scale. Depending on how much space is available space, complete 8 to 12 sprints lasting 20 to 30 seconds each. [Not pictured.]

myfitnesspal frog jump playground7. Frog jumps in the sand In a sand box, jump in place or jump forward, depending on your space. Make sure your hips, knees, and ankles flex as you squat and use your arms to help balance and swing you forward. (Do 8 to 12 reps.)

Try the workout and let us know what you think in the comments below!








  • I have definitely found myself doing this while taking a friends little one out to play. I really like a makeshift back routine on their little bars. (Inverted Rows)

    Seems like there is always a place to knock out a bunch of pull-ups too, all while the kids get to have fun. WIN WIN

  • Viv

    This workout is great – but wouldn’t it be a double whammy to also do all the “kid stuff” too? Running around, sliding, climbing, swinging, monkey bars = great workout once you keep up the intensity! Playgrounds aren’t just for little kids! 🙂

  • nicole

    I just want to give everyone a heads up that in some cities it is illegal to be in a children’s play area without a child. This is to prevent kids from being victimized. Make sure you read signs before entering a kids play area otherwise you can be ticketed not to mention freak out the parents

    • Kamen

      What a shame that Americans can’t be free. Sign signs everywhere are signs. The laws are so weak they don’t detour crime. If I saw a creaper at a play ground you should beat his ass. And if he touches a kid no more life force

    • snoreasaurusrex

      That kills it for me. In NY City it’s like that. You should see how crazy they went when a group of us on bikes stopped at a playground bathroom for water. I thought the parks were for everyone?

  • sarah

    perfect timing- away on last week of the hols. Read the post- inspired me to go for a run and find a playground. Worked off the fish and chips from last night. Great fun.

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  • Gillian

    Wow, this workout is great! I love the fact that I can enjoy the park with my children and family. While my husband is getting a great workout keeping up with the kids, I am too with this thoughtful exercise routine.

  • DR

    Love this! Went to my local park. Has a three mile path with benches. I did the 3 miles and in between stopped at the benches for the dip and push ups. Ended at the empty playground to complete the routine. Thanks.