If you want to gain speed and endurance while remaining injury-free, strength training is non-negotiable. But, that doesn’t mean you have to clock endless hours in the gym. For the athlete who’d rather brave the elements than sling weights, a full-body park workout offers a change of scenery while introducing beneficial variety into your training program.
“Runners don’t always need to lift the heaviest weights or PR their best deadlift during a training cycle,” Amber Rees, co-founder of The Brave Body Project and senior instructor at Barry’s in New York City tells Runner’s World. Bodyweight workouts, she explains, build strength, core stability, and power by working within your natural range of motion. That translates to improved performance and fewer injuries. “Plus, you can take it outside for a little extra vitamin D,” Rees says. And who doesn’t want to get outside when the temperature is warm and the sun is shining?
Designed by Rees, the following workout hits every major muscle group with zero equipment. Just find yourself a park bench (or a stable structure of similar height). And, as with any outdoor workout, be mindful of slippery ground conditions.
How to use this list: Perform each exercise below for 50 seconds, resting for 10 seconds between exercises. Repeat the full circuit for 3 sets. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.
Each move is demonstrated by Rees in the video above so you can master the proper form. You will need a park bench or similar structure.
1. Squat Jump to Bench
Start facing away from the bench, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keep chest lifted as you bend knees and send butt down and back to sit on the bench. Rock back slightly and lift feet, then immediately rock forward. Drive feet into the ground and, as you rise from the squat, explode up so feet leave the ground. Land softly with knees slightly bent, and lower right back into a squat. Repeat.
2. Single-Leg Deadlift to Pistol Squat
Stand with arms at sides and back to the bench. Shift weight to right leg and place left foot on bench. With a soft bend in right knee, hinge at the hips by sending butt back. Keep back flat, shoulders down, and core engaged as torso reaches toward the floor. Allow arms to hang straight down. (Only lower until you feel a slight pull in right hamstrings.) Drive right foot into ground to stand back up. Then, bring left leg forward, lifting it in front of you. Extend both arms straight out in front of you and, with control, send hips back and down and bend right leg to lower down and sit on bench. Keep left foot lifted and upper body tall. Press through right foot to stand back up. Repeat sequence for time, then switch legs.
3. Incline Push-Up With Shoulder Tap
Place hands on the bench slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with arms straight, core engaged so body forms a straight line from head to heels. Bend elbows to lower chest to the bench, then press back up to plank position. From the top of the push-up, tap left shoulder with right hand, then tap right shoulder with left hand. Repeat from the push-up.
4. Triceps Dip With Toe Tap
Sit on the edge of the bench. Place hands shoulder-width apart on sides of hips. Slide hips off the bench, knees bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you, feet planted on the ground. Straighten arms, but maintain a microbend in elbows—don’t lock them out. This is the starting position. Bend elbows and lower hips toward the floor until arms bend 90 degrees. Press through palms to straighten arms and return to starting position. Extend right knee to lift foot off the ground as you reach across body with left hand and tap right toes. Return to starting position. Bend elbows to perform another dip, then tap left toes with right hand. Repeat, alternating sides with each rep.
5. Russian Twist
Sit on the edge of the bench with legs together and knees bent. Lean back and lift feet so that you’re balancing in a seated position. Clasp hands in front of chest. Keep chest lifted and twist torso to draw hands to right hip, engaging core to maintain balance on your tailbone. Return to center and repeat on left side. Continue alternating.