Ditch the gym for the Park Bench Workout

Ditch the gym for the Park Bench Workout

Credit: KING / Caitlin Murphy

Place your hands on the bench a little wider than shoulder width apart. Contact your core to keep you back flat, look at a 45 degree angle in front of you as you lower down into a pushup, then exhale as your push back up. The bench changes the angle of the basic pushup making this an incline pushup, and working your chest and arms in a new way.

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by CAITLIN MURPHY / Special contributor to KING5.com

WCNC.com

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 29 at 11:43 AM

The park isn’t just for walking your dog or riding your bike. It’s also one of the best places to sculpt some serious (and summer weather worthy) muscles. Transform a simple park bench into a total body gym with the Park Bench Bootcamp. Add a few sprints to the strength training moves and you have a full body workout you can do anytime, anywhere.  After all, the sun around Seattle is finally out, and that means you should be too! 

SLIDE SHOW: Ditch the gym for the Park Bench Bootcamp workout

 
Below you’ll find descriptions for each of the exercises and a few suggested workout routines. Always start each workout with a warm-up of 5-10 minutes of easy walking or jogging and get ready to say hello to summer with this muscle sculpting sweat session.
 
Workout A: Bookend your strength workout with high intensity cardio interval sprints and hill repeats. Go through the workout one, two or three times total.
Sprint Drills: 5-10 repeats of 10,15 or 20 second sprints
Pushups: 10-15 reps
Step ups: 15 reps
Plank: 30-60 seconds
Plank Leg Lift: 15-30 seconds on each leg
Walking Lunges: 10-15 reps
V-Sit Crunch: 15-20 reps
Bench Dips: 10-15 reps 
Hill Repeats: 3-5 reps
 
Workout B: Alternate high intensity cardio interval sprints and hill repeats with your strength exercises. Go through the workout one, two or three times total.
Pushups: 10- 15 reps
Step ups: 15 reps
Sprint Drills: 3-5 repeats of 10,15 or 20 second sprints
Plank: 30-60 seconds
Plank Leg Lift: 15-30 seconds on each leg
Hill Repeats: 5 repeats
Walking Lunges: 10-15 reps
V-Sit Crunch: 15-20 reps
Bench Dips: 10-15 reps 
Sprints Drills or Hill Repeats: 3 repeats
 
Workout C: Take out the sprints and hill repeats to make this a straightforward total body strength training workout. Go through the workout one, two or three times total.
Pushups: 10- 15 reps
Step ups: 15 reps
Plank: 30-60 seconds
Plank Leg Lift: 15-30 seconds on each leg
Hill Repeats: 5 repeats
V-Sit Crunch: 15-20 reps
Bench Dips: 10-15 reps 
 
Pushups
 
Pushups are one of the best exercises for your entire upper body. Place your hands on the bench, a little wider than shoulder width apart and assume pushup position. Keep your back straight and core engaged as you press down and back up. Aim for 10-15 reps. Doing pushups on the bench changes the angle making these “incline pushups” and challenging your muscles in a new way.
 
Step Ups
 
Step ups work your lower body (thighs, glutes and calves) and to get the most out of the exercise make sure you really press through the heel as you step up.  Stand in front of the bench, then place your right foot up and onto the middle of the bench so your right leg makes a 90 degree angle. Press your weight through your right heel as you stand, then slowly lower your left leg back down to the ground, keeping your right foot on the bench. Complete 15 reps on the right leg then do 15 reps on the left leg.
 
Plank
 
Fire up the core and flatten the abs with plank position. Place your hands on the bench, underneath your shoulders, and extend up to pushup position. Draw your navel in, roll your shoulder back and engage your core in an isometric hold. Make sure you keep your back flat and keep breathing; you’d be surprised how easy it can be to forget to breathe. Hold plank for 30-60 seconds.
 
Leg Lift Plank
 
To add a little variety to your planks and engage your obliques (the muscles that wrap around your waist), bring one leg up at a time while in plank position. Keep your core engaged and hold each leg up for 15-30 seconds.
 
Walking Lunges
 
Nothing hits every inch of your lower body like walking lunges, and with its wide-open spaces, the park is the ideal place to do a series of uninterrupted lunges. Find a flat stretch of grass or trail and start in a standing position. Take a big step forward with your right leg, strike the ground with your right heel first as you sink into a lunge position. Make sure your knees stay behind your toes and aim to bring your thigh parallel to the ground. Press through your right heel as your stand back up and repeat with the left leg. Complete 10-15 walking lunges, but here is the catch: the right leg then the left leg counts as only one rep!  
 
V-Sit Crunch
 
Sitting on the edge of the park bench for V-Sit crunches utilizes gravity to add intensity to the exercise.  Place your hands on the bench on either side of you for balance, lean back a bit as you bend your knees and lift your legs up. Hold this position and contact your abs then slowly straighten your legs out in front of you as you lean back. Hold this position for a second then, while keeping your core engaged, bring your knees back into the starting position. Repeat this 15-20 times. 
 
Bench Dips
 
Stay on the seated edge of the bench to move into tricep dips to target the back of the arms and shoulders. Move your hips off the bench, keep your hands on the bench on either side of your hips and sink down until your elbow makes a 90-degree angle. You should feel the back of the arms engage as you press back up and straighten your arms. Repeat 10-15 reps. To make the exercise easier keep your knees bent, to make it harder to straighten the legs.
 
Sprints 
 
Find a stretch of trail or flat grass that is at least 100 yards long so you have enough room to run your sprints. These sprints are high intensity so you don’t need to do too many to get a big cardiovascular benefit. Start with a jog and then accelerate into a sprint for 10, 15 or 20 seconds. Walk back to the start and repeat for a total for 5-10 sprints depending on how much cardio you want to add to your workout.
 
Hill repeats
 
If your park has a short hill then you’re in luck, since running hills repeats is ideal for revving your heart rate and working your lower body. Find a short hill that is anywhere from 25-100 yards long and steep enough so that you are slightly out of breathe even walking up the hill. Start at the bottom and give yourself a running start as you power up the hill and over the top. Slowly jog back down and repeat 3-5 times depending on the length of the hill. Don’t worry if you don’t have a hill though, you can replace these hill repeats in the workout with sprint drills.
 
So next time you pass by a park bench, think about all the wonderful ways it can sculpt your legs and tone your triceps. And with the weather getting nicer, why not ditch the gym and head outside for your Park Bench Bootcamp workout instead. 

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