Workout? Play? You decide!
Being a parent with young kids is hard. Frequently, the daily schedule fills up so much that often your exercise time gets replaced. This has been one of my wife’s biggest complaints through the summer months – how can I fit a good work out in and still keep the kids happy and entertained? This question led me to design a routine that would serve this dual purpose – the kids would be entertained on the playground and my wife gets a killer, total body workout. I have adapted this routine to become relevant for all fitness levels- beginner to advanced. In fact, this has become one of my personal favorite Saturday morning routines… with or without the kids! I usually pass 2-3 parks during my jog route; now I stop for a quick strength circuit at each one. It’s become a wonderful way to supplement my regular cardio routine with some really great strength training. With children or without, it’s certainly priced right! With no further ado – I give you
I have three circuits here comprised of four exercises each. Each circuit should take ~10-15 minutes to complete (perform 1, 2, or all 3 circuits based on your time and/or your kids’ activity level!). Because these exercises are body-weight resistance most of them can be made harder or easier by following one of the two following principles:
Principle 1: The more parallel your body is to the ground, the more difficult the exercise becomes.
Principle 2: You can vary resistance by increasing or decreasing the percentage of body weight you are moving.
1. Push up (press) – Put your hands out in front of you, shoulder width apart, on whatever surface is appropriate (Principle 1, see picture/video). Feet are also on the ground (may be above your feet for a more advanced push up). Lower your chest until it touches the surface you are doing the press on, and push up to return to starting position. Perform 10 push ups and move on to the next exercise.
2. Rows – Place your hands on top of the appropriate-height surface and suspend yourself underneath it (Principle 1; see picture/video). Using the muscles in your back, pull your chest up against gravity towards the surface your hands are resting upon. Return to the starting position. Perform 10 rows and move on to the next exercise.
3. Squat jumps on a bench – start by standing in front of a bench facing the bench; the higher the surface the more difficult this exercise becomes. Squat slightly and then explode upwards to jump onto the bench. Jump backwards off of the bench to return to the starting position. Perform 10 squat jumps and move on to the next exercise.
4. Sprint – pick a spot approximately 50 yards (45 meters) away from the playground. Sprint – don’t jog, don’t run; I want you to sprint like someone’s chasing you down! Sprint to this point and back (100 yards / 90 meters) and then start the circuit over again with the push-up.
Perform this circuit two more times– three sets of each exercise total.
If you’re still hungry for a second helping, I challenge you to another circuit.
1. Lat pulldown (pull up) – grab a bar or other surface that is over your head (I have found that the monkey bars work excellent for this exercise). Use the muscles in your back and arms to pull your chin up to the bar and return to starting position. If a full pull up is too difficult, you can decrease the intensity by supporting your legs on a ladder or other platform (Principle 2; see picture/video). Perform 10 pull-ups and move on to the next exercise.
2. Dips – find two solid bars slightly wider than shoulder width. Put your hands on these bars and suspend yourself using your arms. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body down towards the ground to about a 90° elbow-bend and return to starting position. If a full dip it is too difficult, you can support your legs for decreased resistance (Principle 2; see picture/video). Perform 10 dips and move on to the next exercise.
3. Lunges: start with your left foot way out in front of you on the ground. Bend your left leg until your right knee just touches the ground. Be mindful to keep your left knee directly over your left foot and don’t allow your knee to progress in front of your toes (Trying to protect your knees with good form; it’s the physical therapist in me!). Return to starting position. Perform 10 lunges on each leg and move on to the next exercise.
1. Biceps Curls– find a bar of an appropriate height (Principle 1; see picture/video). Grab the bar in and underhand grip and use your biceps muscle in the front of your upper arm to pull your body up towards the bar. Really focus on feeling and resistance in your biceps. Return to the starting position. Perform 10 biceps curls and move on to the next exercise.
2. Lateral lunges – Find a platform of an appropriate height (the higher the surface the more difficult this exercise will be). Start by standing to the side of your platform. Step laterally with 1 foot onto the platform and pull yourself up on top of the surface. Return to starting position, or, step down to the other side of the platform (see picture/video). Perform 10 lateral lunges on each leg and move on to the next exercise.
3. Russian twists – Sit on the edge of a platform. Recline your trunk backwards and lift your feet up in front of you. Hold your legs statically in this position as you rotate your shoulders first all the way to the left and then all the way to the right. This is one repetition; perform 10 Russian twists and move on to the next exercise.
4. Sprint it out — pick a spot approximately 50 yards (45 meters) away and sprint to it as fast as you can. Try to get back to the playground even faster (100 yards / 90 meters total). Start over again with biceps curls.