When the sun is shining, and there’s a brilliant blue sky, getting yourself to head inside to the gym after being in an office all day can be pretty tough. You know it’s important to work out, but who wants to miss out on fresh air and gorgeous weather?
Although there are plenty of benefits of working out indoors—whether in your own home workout space or at the gym—it’s also possible to embrace the outdoors by enjoying a great park workout.
With park workouts, you can make use of the equipment on hand at the park, or you can bring your own resistance bands to give you even more options.
In this park workout guide, we will share some of the best exercises you can do at the park. If you have a set of resistance bands, grab them and head on over. If you don’t, no worries—we have plenty of bodyweight exercises you can do in the park as well!
We will discuss:
- What Is a Park Workout?
- Do I Need Equipment for Park Workouts?
- 11 Cardio Exercises to Do In the Park
- 14 Strength Training Exercises to Do In the Park
- Resistance Band Exercises to Do In the Park
- Flexibility and Mobility Exercises to Do In the Park
Let’s get started!
What Is a Park Workout?
A park workout is as simple as it sounds—a workout you do in a park. The “park” can be any outdoor space, from an actual city park to a playground, to your own backyard.
Whatever outdoor space you use for your park workout will influence the best exercises for your park workout to some degree.
For example, if you decide to do a park workout at your child’s soccer field as he or she is at practice, you might have minimal equipment at your disposal.
On the other hand, if you decide to do a park workout while he or she plays on a playground, you can capitalize on some of the playground structures and equipment to add variety to your park workout.
For example, you can do pull-ups on the monkey bars or step-ups onto a bench.
If your “park” is your own backyard, you can bring out some exercise equipment you use in your home gym, such as adjustable dumbbells and a stability ball.
This probably won’t be feasible if you want to run or ride your bike to a local park, but it can be a great option for replicating nearly the same workout you’d do indoors while enjoying a gorgeous day outside.
Park workouts can be whatever you design them to be in terms of structure and focus.
Some people do park workouts with strength training exercises, while others focus on calisthenics and cardio. You can also do yoga in the park or other flexibility exercises or any combination therein.
Be as creative and varied as you want within the bounds of the space and equipment available to you in your outdoor space.
Do I Need Equipment for Park Workouts?
You don’t need any equipment for park workouts, but it’s often nice to have some because it opens up more options.
If you think you’d like to do exercises in the park somewhat frequently, it’s worth investing in a few pieces of portable exercise equipment like TRX suspension straps, a set of resistance bands (tubing with handles as well as small loops), and a jump rope.
You can also make use of the equipment already in the park.
Again, keep your mind open here—it doesn’t just have to be “exercise” equipment like parallel bars and chin-up bars in a park with dedicated circuit training stations.
While these are great, you can also use regular playground structures like monkey bars and swings or basic park benches and flag poles.
If you’re using resistance bands from home, there are all sorts of stable structures you can use to anchor your bands in most parks.
11 Cardio Exercises to Do In the Park
Here are a few ideas of cardio exercises to do in the park to get you started:
#1: Running and Sprinting
Unleash your inner child and run and sprint as if someone is chasing you.
You can do Tabata sprints, which involve doing eight continuous rounds of sprinting all out for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds.
Tabata sprints are a type of high-intensity interval training, and even though each set only lasts 4 minutes, you’ll get a fabulous metabolic workout.
Bounding is really just a fancy way of saying skipping.
The emphasis should be on achieving as much vertical height as possible, really springing upward with power and strength.
Bounding strengthens your calves and glutes and is a great cardio and metabolic booster.
Try bounding for sets of 30-45 seconds, focusing on power more than endurance.
#3: Running Drills
Running drills like high knees, butt kicks, carioca, and running backward are great for improving running form and increasing your heart rate.
Perform 4-5 sets of each drill from 50-75 meters.
#4: Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks also work well with the Tabata format: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 rounds.
#5: Jumping Rope
Jumping rope is one of the best exercises to do in the park because it’s efficient and requires a simple rope.
You’ll torch a ton of calories, strengthen your entire lower body and core, and increase your heart rate.
Find a paved part of the park, so your jump rope doesn’t get caught up in the grass.
If you don’t have a jump rope or want to “jump rope” on the grass, you can just simulate jumping rope with an imaginary rope.
Twirl your wrists and hop. Whether using a real rope or pretending to do so, keep your core tight and jump as fast and low to the ground as possible.
#6: Mountain Climbers
Beginners can place their hands on a bench, and more advanced athletes can get into a push-up position with their hands on the grass.
Alternate bringing each knee up and under your chest, keeping your core tight, glutes engaged, and back flat.
You can also do cross-over mountain climbers, bringing your right knee towards your left shoulder and your left knee towards your right shoulder.
This variation works your obliques as well.
#7: Side-to-Side Hops
Find a crack in the pavement or a painted line on the grass or sand and do lateral hops (slalom jumps) as fast as possible, keeping your feet together and core engaged.
Go for 60 seconds, and then take a break and repeat.
Most people have a love-hate relationship with this killer move.
To do a burpee, combine a jump squat with a push-up.
#9: Bench Jumps
You can do box jumps in your park workout by using a park bench or playground step instead of a plyometric box.
#10: Jump Squats
Jump squats are a good exercise for the park because plyometrics on the grass are easier on your joints than tackling them on a hard gym floor.
#11: Jumping Lunges
Jumping lunges are like jump squats; only you’re in a split-squat or lunge position.
Alternate which leg is in front between each rep while you are up in the air.
14 Strength Training Exercises to Do In the Park
Here are some strength training exercises you can do in the park:
Get creative here. You can mix up the width of your hand placement (wide, narrow, diamond, normal), stagger one hand in front of the other, or do clapping push-ups.
Beginners can put their hands on a park bench, while advanced athletes can put their feet up on the bench and their hands on the ground.
There are lots of variations of squats you can do in your park workouts: regular bodyweight squats, squat holds, sumo squats, squats standing on a resistance band and pressing up overhead, etc.
Lunges are a great exercise to do in the park because you have tons of room to do walking lunges on the grass.
You can also do reverse lunges, lateral lunges, and lunge holds.
For more of a challenge, do rear-elevated split squats using a park bench. Simply face away from the bench with your back foot up on the bench. Lunge down as deep as possible.
If there are swings, you can also put your back foot up on the swing, which makes the exercise even harder because you have to use your core to stabilize your body.
Unless you have a pull-up bar, most people can’t do pull-ups in their home workouts, but it’s an easy exercise for park workouts as long as there are monkey bars, soccer goals, or some sort of overhead bar.
#5: Triceps Dips
Use a park bench for tricep dips (knees bent for beginners and legs straight to progress the move).
Advanced athletes can do dips on parallel bars if they are available.
Get down on the grass and hold your best plank. You can also bring a mat if you’d be more comfortable.
You can do lots of plank variations like side planks, up-down planks, plank jacks, planks with leg extensions, planks with forward reaches, etc.
If there are swings, you can also put your forearms on the swings, which requires a ton of core stability.
#7: Glute Bridges
Lie on your back and do single-leg glute bridges. Beginners can do both legs together.
#8: Bicycle Crunches
This exercise works your abs and obliques.
Lie on your back in the grass for this move. Remember to use your core, not momentum.
#10: Bird Dog
Get on all fours. You can use a rock or your water bottle to add extra weight.
#11: Donkey Kicks and Fire Hydrants
These two exercises use the same position as a bird dog, but they focus even more on the hips and glutes.
#12: Side-Lying Leg Raises
This exercise is great for the park because the grass is soft, and you can look at the clouds. You’ll also strengthen your gluteus medius muscle and hip rotators!
Park workouts almost always have some sort of step-up option, whether using a bench, curb, or playground structure.
Step-ups build strength in your glutes, calves, hamstrings, quads, and core. The higher the step, the harder it will be.
#14: Swing Tucks
This is a killer. Get in a push-up position with your feet up on a swing.
Bring your knees in towards your chest in a tuck. Then shoot them back out to the starting position.
This park workout exercise works your abs, glutes, hip flexors, and shoulders.
Resistance Band Exercises to Do In the Park
If you have a set of resistance bands, you can take your park workouts up a notch with many more options.
Examples of resistance band exercises to do in a park include bicep curls (stand on the band or anchor it low down), tricep extensions, side steps with a small loop band, overhead press (standing on the band), rows (attach the band to a pole), Pallof press, and clam shells.
Flexibility and Mobility Exercises to Do In the Park
You can do an entire yoga flow in the park, as well as mobility exercises like hip swings, arm circles, and donkey kicks.
Ultimately, anything goes when it comes to park workouts. You can do any exercises in the park that work with your fitness goals and available space.
For a complete resistance band workout, check out our resistance band workout here.