The Playground Workout [VIDEO]

by Brett on May 24, 2013 · 37 comments

in Fitness, Health & Sports

Spring is in full swing and the weather is finally warming up nicely. So instead of going from one air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted box (work), to another (the gym), why not take your workout outside?

When you get creative, and, well, think outside the box, you can get a great, intense, completely free bout of exercise from your surroundings. If you head into the woods, tree branches and rocks can become your new equipment and weights. But even a more developed piece of landscape offers a whole host of opportunities: the playground.

Your probably haven’t been to a playground in years, unless it was to watch your tyke have a good time. But the great variety of equipment on a playground can also be of use to a grown man who’s looking for a free and fun workout.

Below I’ve put together a strength and conditioning workout where the only equipment you need can be found at your local playground. This workout isn’t for the beginner — it’s pretty intense. But if you want to get back the kind of energy you had as a kid, you’ve got to work out hard and get in shape!

The Playground Workout: Exercises

A couple notes before we begin:

  • It’s best to use a playground at times kids aren’t likely to be around — earlier in the morning and later in the evening. Sadly these days, the mere sight of a grown man on a playground automatically makes people suspicious. Having a mustache probably doesn’t help.
  • Before you begin these exercises, perform a 10 minute warm-up, such as jumping jacks, plyometrics, or jogging.

Bench Jumps (8-10 reps)


Pull-Ups (as many as you can do)


Pistol Squat w/ Swing (8-10 reps each leg)


A nice segue into unassisted pistol squats.

Incline Push-Ups (8-10 reps)


Lateral Leap (8-10 reps)


Inverted Row (8-10 reps)


Bulgarian Split-Squat (8-10 reps per leg)


Decline Push-Ups (8-10 reps)


Dips (8-10 reps)


Monkey Bars (once across)


Monkey bars are a lot harder than I remember them being as a kid.

Ab Roll-Out (as many as you can do)




Fully extend.

Sprints  (one set of 10 40-yard dashes at completion of workout)


The Playground Workout: Summary 

  • Bench Jumps (8-10 reps)
  • Pull-Ups (as many as you can do)
  • Pistol Squat (8-10 reps)
  • Push-Ups (8-10 reps)
  • Lateral Leap (8-10 reps)
  • Inverted Row (8-10 reps)
  • Bulgarian Split-Squat (8-10 reps per leg)
  • Decline Push-Ups (8-10 reps)
  • Dips (8-10 reps)
  • Monkey Bars (once across)
  • Ab Roll-Out (as many as you can do)

Complete this circuit of exercises 3X. No resting in between the exercises. Rest 60-90 seconds between each circuit. Once you have completed 3 circuits, finish the workout with:

  • Sprints (1 set of 10 40-yard dashes). Rest as you walk back to the starting line and then immediately take off on the next one.

This workout will take you 30-40 minutes to complete (including warm-up). Have fun!

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lord Highbrow May 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Wow, look at those guns. Lookin’ good, Brett! You look like a skinny version of the guy my mum used to be married to.

I have been looking for a good routine to get back into exercise and working out and this will do quite nicely.

Cheers bro!

2 Carlo d. May 24, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Brett, this was a very endearing video with your son! I love the shirt Brett. I want me one of those!

3 Niblett May 25, 2013 at 12:36 am

Be careful, guys.

I went to the local park to do some sprints in the grass and some woman called the cops on me. Not only did I have the displeasure of a cop patting down my crotch to check for weapons, but I got to listen to her screaming “Keep the children in the car!” while it was happening.

4 David May 25, 2013 at 6:33 am

You know, this is the type of article I have come to rely on AOM to provide. For over a year now I’ve come to the site about twice a week and every time I’ve found articles that we informative, straight forward, and fun to read.

This is a great workout. I’ve used playgrounds for workouts on days where I just felt like running and happen on a playground. I actually got the idea from watching a guy in DC do it about ten years ago. It is an awesome concept, and once again AOM is taking time to help fella’s get in shape and lead better lives. I can’t tell you how much I love this site.

On a side note, those are chin ups in the pictures , aren’t they?

5 Andy L. May 25, 2013 at 7:15 am

Sprints (1 set of 10 40-yard dashes). Rest as you walk back to the starting line and then immediately take off on the next one.

next what? aren’t the 1-set sprint the end of the workout?

6 Bud Swimmer May 25, 2013 at 7:29 am

This is excellent Bret. These are the type of workouts I love doing. You have a great variety planned out here, and highly recommend this as a starting point. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that those are chin-ups and not pull-ups. The hand position is key difference, and it works the muscles differently. 20 pull-up challenge used to have these amazing videos of inner-city workouts similar to the playground workout where the term “hardcore” is appropriately applied.

I had one of those Iron gym devices that hang in the doorway, but they are mediocre at best. For about the same price I was able to build an 8 foot backyard pull up bar. Then I built a 5 foot inverted row / inclined push-up bar next to it, which also provides a dip station between the two as there are holes drilled every 6 inches.

7 Jeremy Anderberg May 25, 2013 at 8:00 am

@Andy – Yes, it’s one set of sprints, but it’s a set of 10. So you sprint 40 yards, you walk back to your starting line, and do nine more. Make sense?


8 Francesco May 25, 2013 at 9:12 am

I love working out outdoors with free-body exercises like these. I was already doing most of these, but you gave me new ideas. Thank you.

9 Jeremy Sheffel May 25, 2013 at 10:09 am

@Niblett – Maybe next time you should buy the children some candy to help put their mothers at ease.

Just kidding. I know there are a lot of sick people out there but calling the cops on a guy who is trying to exercise is a little paranoid.

10 Justin May 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

I had to watch this video twice to get anything out of it! All I could do was stare at that manstache the first round. Which ‘stache, of course, can also arouse suspicion in a playground. Haha!

11 Phil May 25, 2013 at 11:44 am

There’s a fitness approach that most people call “street workout” that has to do with working out in public parks. It’s grown a lot recently, expecially with the help of Al Kavadlo and fitness organizations like Barstarzz, Bar Brothers and the Bar-Barians. | | | |

12 Rahul May 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Looking good, Brett and lovely to see your boy as well.


13 rick May 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I once played follow the leader with my 9 year old son on a playground. That’s one of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done, good time with the boy too.

14 Marv May 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm
15 Riley Padron May 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Very nice workout. I guess if you bring your own kid you won’t be immediately labeled as a pedophile.
Interestingly enough, I have that exact kind of train at the end of the video we got from a playground being torn down. I exercise with it by deadlifting it from the back.

16 Eric May 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Love the shirt!

17 Martin May 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm

This is my kind of work out. Forget the gym. Thank you for this.

18 Tony May 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Welp if you ever get bored while your kid is playing around just work out! Nevermind talking to the soccer moms, you have some guns you need to arm.

19 Lars May 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm
20 Kenny May 27, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Adult male with a mustache working out at a playground? Not creepy at all.

In all seriousness, before I got a chin-up bar, I’d walk to a local playground and do chin-ups there. Always felt a bit weird about it, but never had any issues because I always went late in the day.

21 Josue Molina May 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm

this is crazy but true. no excuses. work and be intentional! they just build a new playground outside my home. Now thats my new gym! watch out!

22 Brandon May 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I too have noticed how ridiculously hard monkey bars are now.

23 J May 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Great article. In January I cancelled my gym membership and now work out in local parks daily. Nearly everything I do requires only your own body weight, the only equipment I have is a speed rope, a kettlebell (homemade), and a 45 lb sandbag (homemade). Anyone interested in a daily outdoor workout routine should check out the Spartan WOD. Follow the daily WOD and you will get cut. Oh yeah, and it’s free: Enjoy!!

24 Jordan Crowder May 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm

This is a great workout. My favorite workouts have always been body-weight based. Before getting ready for my wedding I did P90X, and all these exercises are in the program too. Recently, I go into using the resistance cables. I’ve taken them to the park too because they’re so light, you can wrap them around poles. I like the Lifeline TNT cables, because you can stack the cables like weights on the same handles. With those, you can pretty much to everything you could want to do at the park.

25 Walt the Wicked May 29, 2013 at 8:41 am

Playground workouts are all good, except when there are a bunch of Junior High School girls hanging out there. Come back later….

During the Decline Push Ups, the kid was just about to climb on dad’s back. I know, my kid does exactly the same. Having an extra 30 pound lump on your back is hardcore.

26 Josh Miller May 29, 2013 at 10:40 am

Glad to know I’m not the only dad who uses the playground for a workout while the kids are playing. Great place to hang up your homemade TRX straps as well.

Also, it is less creepy if you actually have your own children that are there playing while you’re working out.

27 Jeff May 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Hey Brett,

Did this work out the other day with a 30 min. run prior to it. Felt great! Thanks, man.

28 Ryan May 31, 2013 at 6:33 am

Yeah don’t try this if you don’t have kids or a younger sibling, won’t work out too well for you in this modern paranoid climate, I’m not saying people shouldn’t be vigilant and cautious about certain people hanging around the park but some people take it to the extreme and try to call the cops for every little thing, reminds me of those stories you used to hear about old ladies calling the cops because they say a young girl walking with an older man without first thinking its most likely their father or grandfather.

29 Bruce May 31, 2013 at 6:54 am

I think the Stache could have done the workout on it’s own, superb my friend, superb.


30 craig June 2, 2013 at 9:19 am

This is a great video. I am glad other dads think about this stuff while they are at the park with their little ones.

When my daughter goes to play with other children I usually do some kind of workout close to where she is playing. Not only can I supervise her but, I can also get a great workout in.

There were a lot of excersizes I had not thought of in this video.

31 Cody June 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Awesome article. Up until recently I’ve always had a gym membership somewhere but decided to give some urban workouts a shot over the duration of the summer instead as a little experiment. Combining aerobic activities with calisthenics, isometrics and a little bit of HIIT have proven to be as gruelling, if not more so, than anything I used to put myself through in the gym on a regular basis. And the lack of actual weights have caused my body to start adapting and recovering in ways it’s never had to. The results (coupled with a sound diet) have been phenomenal already.

Some great exercise ideas in this video and I noticed some other comments referring to other websites/video links that include some incredibly athletic spectacles. Glad this is becoming a more popular alternative to old, tired and outdated box gyms!

32 Steve June 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm


To address your side note, they are chin ups; which, are also known as underhand pull ups. So depending on the how literally you want to use the word “pull up,” as there are both Underhand and Overhand pull ups, you could have an argument.

33 Timothy July 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm

“Be careful, guys.

I went to the local park to do some sprints in the grass and some woman called the cops on me. Not only did I have the displeasure of a cop patting down my crotch to check for weapons, but I got to listen to her screaming “Keep the children in the car!” while it was happening.”

This is just awful. I have been seriously enjoying playground workouts, and have been a bit wary of something like this happening to me. I avoid going when kids are around (during school hours, or early/late in the day) but if there are some around I just mind my own business, don’t make eye contact with anyone, and politely move to a different part of the playground if they want the piece of equipment I’m using.
But someone called the cops on you for simply doing sprints?? How truly disturbing. Still, this aspect of culture is one that I aspire to fight. It may land me in trouble sooner or later, but I won’t so easily be put away in my house, quiet and neutral, just because others are wish me to be so. I hope that you can overcome the persecution that this woman and the cops put on you and continue to be outside and using the park for your enjoyment again.

34 NG1000 July 18, 2013 at 11:06 pm

No muscle-ups?

35 Marc Gervais October 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I used to work out like this all the time when my girls were little and I would take them to the playground. It was a blast and I exercised. We all had fun and got lots of exercise and fresh air, spent quality time together…what more could you want!

36 Brian - All Day Ruckoff November 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm

There’s a playground about a block from me that I regularly work out at because of their equipment. There are some great exercises in here that I didn’t know about… looks like I’ll be doing more than just pull ups next time I go. Great post!

37 Steve December 27, 2013 at 8:55 am

Love this because I have been training for more and more obstacle races like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race. I have been looking for ways to add ‘obstacles’ or training along my running routes. My local bike path has playgrounds along the way and this gives me some ideas on how to use them above and beyond just the typical pull-ups.

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