Even though school has started, having a quick and simple total body, body weight workout that can be done at the park while the kiddos are playing is always handy to have in your back pocket. Having recently moved to San Diego, iGnite Founder Neissa Springmann, shows us just how simple that circuit can be in beautiful Mission Bay Park. All you need is a bench and some playground bars…and a bay breeze doesn’t hurt either!
Following a 3-5 minute warm-up (brisk power walk or jogging, jumping jacks, jump rope — anything to get your heart rate up and body warm), perform a set of 10-20 reps per exercise and repeat the circuit 2-3 times.
1) Squats / Squat Jumps
Complete 10- 20 reps
Benefits: Strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. When adding a jump, the core and calves are strengthened.
- Either place your hands behind your head with your arms at a 90 degree angle by your waist, or with gently place your hands on the back of a chair
- Stand with feet hip-width distance apart (6-12 inches)
- Squat, while keeping weight in the heels, eyes forward and chest open. Lift your toes while squatting to keep your weight in your heels. I like to have a bench under me, as I try to tap my glutes on it. This way I know I’m not cheating my glutes and hamstrings!
- Stand and firm your glutes.
- * Bonus Upgrade* iGnite Your Exercise: Add a jump at the top of your squat for a squat jump to add more of a cardiovascular and explosive component.
- Important note on form: To protect your knees, keep your weight in your heels. While squatting, avoid allowing your knees to come together and keep them at a hip-width distance apart.
2) Push Ups
Complete 10 – 20 reps
Benefits: Strengthens chest, arms and core
- Position arms wide at a 90 degree angle
- With control, lower your chest between your ams, tightening your core and firming your glutes to protect your lower back, and look 6 inches in front of you to keep the neck in neutral alignment (do not allow your head to droop).
- To decrease difficulty, drop to knees.
3) Split Squats
Complete 10 – 20 reps per leg
Benefits: Improves core strength and balance, as well as agility because it isolating legs; strengthens the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings; Reduces risk of injury by minimizing strength and muscular differences between your left and right side
- Elevate one foot on a step or bench behind you.
- As you lunge and bend your front leg to a 90 degree angle, focus on moving your torso up and down, not pushing it forward. Keep your weight balanced evenly through your front foot and press into the floor with your front heel to come back up to the start position, which works and tones more lower-body muscle
- Do not lean forward or let your front knee extend past your front toe.
4). Assisted Pull-Ups
Complete 10-20 reps
Benefits: Strengthens all of the back: latisimus dorsi, rhomboids; Strengthens all upper body and core: chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders
- Find a low bar and walk your body carefully underneath it.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip, keeping your core tight and your body straight (no sagging).
- Draw your shoulders away from your ears, engage your glutes and core, and slowly pull your chest up to the bar, engaging your back muscles.
- Slow and with control, lower down. Going slow is more difficult, but it’s more effective and safe!
5). Step Ups
Complete 10-20 reps per leg
Benefits: Strengthens glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and core
- Place one foot entirely on a bench (letting your heel hang off de-emphasizes the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings and can cause injury to your knee!)
- With athletic arms, a tall and upright posture, abs engaged and eyes forward, press through the whole foot of the standing leg. With power, lift the opposite leg to a 90 degree angle.
- With steady ease and control, lower the lifted leg to softly touch the ground.
- Important note: If you have weak quads, hamstrings, glutes or knees, find a shorter bench. Your leg length will determine how tall the bench should be. Ideally, you want the leg that is on the bench to be at or below a 90 degree angle. An angle more than 90 degrees can lead to knee injury and does not benefit the hamstrings, glutes or quads.
6) Tricep Dips
Complete 10- 20 reps
Benefit: Strengthens triceps
- Place your palms, fingers facing forward, on the edge of a bench or chair
- Sit up tall with straight arms, eyes forward, shoulders down and back, chest out, elbows squeezed in tightly and glutes off of the chair (glutes ≤3 inches from the edge at all times)
- Slowly bend your arms (no more than 90 degrees)
- Slowly press up to straight arm position and repeat
- *Bonus Upgrade* For a more advanced dip, position your legs straight or keep one leg lifted and straight while the other leg remains bent.
- Avoid tricep dips if you have a shoulder injury
- Never dip beyond a 90 degree angle. This places negative strain on the shoulder, increasing risk of injury.
- Be cautious if dipping on rolling or swivel chairs. An ideal dip setting is on a secure and non-mobile bench or chair. If dipping on a rolling chair, place the chair on carpet and in a secure location, preventing chair movement while dipping.
7). Superman Low Back Extensions
Complete 10-20 reps
Benefits: Primarily strengthens the lower back, increases back flexility and stretches the hip flexors. Indirectly strengthens the glutes.
- Lying on your stomach, bring your arms to a 90 degree angle
- Draw shoulders down the back, firm glutes and lengthen legs
- With your gaze at the ground and never up, slowly lift and lower the upper body and lower body
- Important note: Avoid a jerking or balistic movement as this is counterproductive and can cause injury to your lower back and neck.