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The Playground Workout

By Sammy Cusimano

Life is busy! There is no doubt about that. One of the biggest challenges to most people is finding the time to work out. Students have to find time around their class schedules, professionals have to find time around their work schedules and parents have to find time around their family schedules.

It can be so difficult to get to the gym on a consistent basis. So what is your best weapon to combat the demands of daily life to allow for more time to exercise? The answer: CREATIVITY!

Take inspiration from the military in how creative they are in exercising in any environment under any conditions. The armed forces find ways to get great workouts simply using everyday things around them. Become adaptable and you will find new ways to workout that are much easier to fit into your regular schedule. The more consistent you are, the quicker the results will come.

One of the best places to exercise is the playground. There are a myriad of effective exercises waiting to be utilized right there in your own backyard or nearby park. The next 7 exercises comprise a full body workout that you can do almost every day. Give yourself at least one or two days of rest to allow time for your muscles and joints to recover.

  1. Step Lunges- Use a step to lunge with one leg forward, bending the leg 90 degrees while also bending the back leg 90 degrees simultaneously. Alternate legs with a total of 20 repetitions each set. Start with 2-3 sets.
  2. Calf Raises- Place the balls of the feet on the edge of a step and allow the heels to dip down as low as possible, then push up with the feet to bring the heels as high as possible. Repeat for 15-20 for 2-3 sets. The key to stimulating the calf muscles are full range of motion. Bouncing will not work the muscles. Contract the calves by pausing for a second at the height of the movement. Also remember to keep the legs straight the entire movement.
  3. Body Rows- Use either a low horizontal bar or something similar to grasp with the hands while leaning back with the heels firmly placed on the ground as a pivot point. Pull the body forward and then return to the starting position. Start with 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions. To increase resistance place the heels further forward thereby increasing the amount of gravity on the body.
  4. Slide Pushups- Facing the base of a slide place hands on the side rails of the slide and extend legs into a pushup position. Lower the body as deep as possible and then press up until returning to the original position. Because of the rails the body can reach a lower position to stretch and contract the pushing muscles more than traditional ground pushups. Start with 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
  5. Swing Knee Tucks- Place the shin of one leg onto the seat of a swing while facing down and supporting the body with the hands in a pushup position. Place the other leg into the swing. From this elevated pushup position pull the knees into the body then return to the starting position. Start with 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. Exhale every repetition.
  6. Swing Body Saws- From the same position of Swing Knee Tucks, place forearms on the ground in a traditional plank arm position and rock the body back and forth in a straight sawing motion as if the stiff body is a long saw blade. This will require shoulder and core strength. Start with 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
  7. Swing Planks- From the same position as Swing Body Saws simply hold the plank position for an isometric set of 10-15 seconds for 2-3 sets. Always remember not to hold the breath when doing any exercise, especially planks. Exhale regularly every few seconds.

Now you can get a great workout while in the park or your backyard while watching your children or spending time with family and friends. Each of these exercises will effectively work out the major muscle groups of the body in a very safe and convenient way. Results are achieved by proper technique and consistency. For many people consistency is the hardest part of an exercise routine. The playground workout will make it a lot easier for you to fit a great workout into your regular daily life.

Sammy Cusimano is the founder of Genesys Training based out of New Orleans, LA and has been a professional trainer since 2001. His experience with training clients ranges from competitive athletes to senior citizens. Cusimano’s goal as a trainer is to help clients safely reach their fitness potential and become the best version of themselves for overall health and wellness.

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