Today in fitness doesn’t have to be expensive: a 10-minute workout at the park bench of your choice.
Park benches are possibly the most effective and versatile unintentional strength training equipment available to the public. They’re a good height, they’re sturdy, they don’t budge and they’re everywhere. If you’re having trouble finding one available in your closest park, then go ahead and walk, jog or cycle to one off the beaten path, for a bit of a warmup before your workout. Then start with this 10-minute routine:
A simple circuit
- 25 incline push-ups
- 25 tricep dips
- 50 step toe taps
Repeat that circuit four times, with about a minute and a half of rest in between. All told, the workout should land at right around 10 minutes.
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Why we like it
It’s extremely economical, and not just because it doesn’t require a ClassPass fee. This sort of park bench circuit is also a great use of your time. Completing 100 push-ups, 100 dips and 200 toe taps in less time than it takes to go to your local gym is no small thing. Doing so outside, while combining it with (at the least) a there-and-back walk, is pretty much wellness bingo.
We sometimes stigmatize any sort of assistance in bodyweight workouts, and sure, it’s true that doing push-ups against the floor is harder than doing so against a bench. But compressing this many reps is difficult, and if anything, starting from an approachable place will ensure your form comes correct. As for the dips, that’s one of the most timeless chest moves in the book. And the toe taps are a nice way to add some uptempo HIIT to the workout.
If the bench is a little high, and you don’t feel comfortable jumping back and forth, convert the quick-paced toe taps to deep, concerted step-throughs (one leg at a time) and whittle down the rep count in kind. It’s a different sort of engagement, but will get the job done.
Potential bonus moves
These may or may not play, depending on A) the exact sort of park bench you’re working with, B) your current physical fitness and C) your willingness to get your hands dirty.
But if push-ups, dips and toe taps seem a little elementary to you, consider tacking on decline push-ups, Bulgarian split squats or a reverse plank with a knee tuck (in which your butt is facing the bench, with your palms against it, and you alternate pulling either knee to your chest).
Notice that it’s easier to add leg and/or core work, but the upper body training is mainly going to include “push” movements. (It’s difficult to “pull” a park bench!) You could try getting under the bench, wrapping your hands around a bar and doing TRX-style pull-ups, but don’t count on the construction allowing for that.
One other move that’s architecturally-dependent: leg lowers. Benches on the flatter side, with an arm, will allow you to hold on to the bar, splay out, and raise your legs up and back down, nice and slow, for an end-of-workout core blaster. Regardless, though, our original 400-rep workout should serve you just fine.
Don’t get us wrong, we don’t mind a reasonably-priced gym. But it’s nice to take your fitness routine on a field trip once in a while, especially when the weather’s trending this nice. Find a park bench near you. You can sit on it when you’re done.