The Park Bench Workout
So you want to take you workout outdoors, but where is all the fancy equipment and gear you are accustomed to? The weights? The wood way curve for your sprints? Your reformer, magic circle and soft ball for a Pilates session?
Well - believe it or not, you can still get a sweet sweat on with just your body weight and the one piece of equipment, generally, in every park across town - The Park Bench.
the park bench workout
Timing: 45 secs on, 15 secs off (Repeating on second side if a split body action)
Rest: 30-60 secs between circuits
Bulgarian Split Lunge
Facing away from the bench with the legs in parallel alignment, step one foot back up onto the bench behind you. Keep the majority of the weight in the front standing leg, lower into a deep lunge position - ensuring you track the knee over the toes, then press through the heel of the foot, squeezing the glute to return back up to the start. Focus on the back chain of the leg, working calf, hamstrings & booty!
Start sitting on the bench, hands on the front edge close to the sides of the body, all fingers facing forwards, shoulders broad + open and elbows tucked in close to the ribs. Legs can either be bent with the feet slightly forward of the knees, or fully extended long with the weight into the heels. Lift your butt up off the bench, and keeping a long proud posture in the spine, bend the elbows, keeping them close to your sides so that your backside grazes past the edge of the bench, then extend the arms to return to the start. Watch out for elevation of the shoulders, you want to make sure the action is coming from the bending and stretching of the elbows, not a hunching of the tips of the shoulders.
With one foot set on the bench, your pelvis needs to be balanced and level with a small amount of weight only in the leg still on the ground. You want to focus on pressing through the heel of the bench foot to raise the body up to standing, aiming to lift the free leg to a nice high tabletop position - testing your balance and pelvic control! When lowering down, keep the alignment through the knee and ankle, focusing on using the hamstring for control and support.
Starting in a squat position, jump off both feet to land in a soft squat on top of the bench with the whole foot on the bench. Step or jump back down to the start. Focus on keeping parallel alignment in the hips, knees and ankles to ensure you don't twist the knees and keep your core activated throughout.
Standing behind the bench, you want to place your hands shoulder width apart on the back rest and then extend the legs long so you are in an elevated plank position - core strong, glutes active and shoulders drawing down the back. From here, you will bend the elbows to lower the chest towards the back rest, aiming to stay in one long line, and then press back up to the long plank line. These can be performed for both chest or tricep positions, so either wide elbows (chest) as pictured below, or drawing the elbows close to the sides of the ribs (triceps) to hit your target regions.
Oblique Side Squeezes
Placing one forearm along the bench and extending the legs long into a side plank, the top arm will reach long overhead. You want to make sure you keep in a long dart line, ribs closed, booty squeezing and staying lifted up and out of the supporting armpit. The top leg will bend up towards the hip as you draw the top elbow down so the two points meet. You want to achieve this by squeezing the side waist, targeting obliques. Focus on stabilization of the pelvis & torso and isolating into your core!