18 Playground Workouts For Full-Body Strength

Moms don’t have a lot of time to workout because they are tending to the care of their children. But playgrounds can make for challenging workouts. You can get a full-body workout using the equipment and space around you. Below are some playground workout ideas thanks to Elle at Memory of an Ellephant.

playground workout woman doing pull-ups on monkey bars

My kids are 9 and 7 and they still love going to this our community playground by the river. And I love it, too! Why? Because I can get a great workout on the outdoor fitness equipment. There are parallel bars for pull-ups, a place to do incline pushups, a bench for split squats, and grass to hold a plank position, among other different exercises.

I’m not the only one. I see lots of parents coming to this community playground to do bodyweight workouts while their kids play. You don’t look like a crazy person! You look like someone who wants to maintain their active lifestyle while also being a caring, engaged parent!

Related: 15 Tips to Motivate Your Kids to Run

playground workout pin
Pin this playground workout for busy moms for later!

Meet Elle

I got with Elle, blogger at Memory of An Ellephant, to devise a guide for a full-body playground workout for fellow moms and dads. As a mom to a lively toddler, she understands all too well the challenge of carving out time for her health and fitness amidst the whirlwind of parenting.

Elle and her baby, if Memory of an Ellephant blog
Elle and her baby, of Memory of an Ellephant blog

“Our days are often so consumed with tending to the needs of our little ones that finding a moment for ourselves feels like an impossible task. However, I’ve discovered a simple solution for those jam-packed days when a traditional workout seems impossible: transforming playground visits into a gym session—no gym membership required!”

While playgrounds may seem designed solely for the entertainment of our children, they also offer a variety of opportunities for parents to sneak in a quality full-body workout!

Related: Top Stroller Running Tips

Tips for a Playground Workout Routine 

Here’s is Elle’s playground workout routine featuring of her favorite exercises that nearly all parks and playgrounds can accommodate.

  • I recommend doing 3 sets of 12 (or whatever you can do, close to failure…or whatever your little one allows you to do. Remember we are practicing progress not perfection!).
  • You can also do an AMRAP in a minute (as many reps as possible).
  • I like to do a sequence of 3-4 bodyweight workouts, three sets each. If you have time, move onto another sequence.
  • Turn it into a cardio workout by stoking your inner child and chasing your little one/s, acting like a crazed Lava Monster around the playground in between sets!
  • Remember even just a quick workout is better than nothing and sets the expectation for the next time with your kiddo, so you can stay consistent!

Related: Expert Tips for Teaching Kids to Run Under Age 8

playground workout pin2
Pin these exercises you can do at the playground for later!

18 Playground Workouts For Full-Body Strength

Park Bench Exercises 

Using a bench for workouts is simple yet incredibly versatile. You’ll find multiple benches at almost every park (if not, use the side of the slide). Try these three effective bodyweight workouts:

inclined pushup on bench
inclined pushup on bench
  • Incline Pushups: For an incline pushup, place your hands on the edge of the bench so that you are facing the bench in push-up position. If you’re looking for an easier variation, use the taller back of the bench; for more of a challenge, use the seat or flip and put feet on bench and hands on the ground.
  • Tricep dips: Sit on the bench with you back facing the back of the bench. Place your hands next to your hips with your legs extended in front of you, and then lower and raise your body.
  • Step-ups: Use the bench to step up and lower down with control, alternating legs.
  • Mountain Climbers: For elevated mountain climbers, place your hands on the seat of the bench and alternate bringing each knee to your chest

Related: Strength Training for Runners Guide

Swing Exercises

The swings aren’t just for entertaining your little ones—the swing seats can also act as a suspension trainer for you! A simple swing set can add a challenging twist to your playground workout. Try  these exercises:

  • Split Squats: Stand with your feet hip width apart, step forward so you are in a split squat position. Place
swing set split squat
swing set split squat

the foot on your back leg on the swing’s seat for a dynamic split squat. Lunge forward with the front foot and leg. Lower so that you are in a squat position. Raise up. Repeat. Switch legs to ensure an even workout on both sides. This variation adds a bit of instability to make it a core workout, as well.

  • Ab Crunches: For a core strength exercise, sit on the swing and lean back slightly. Then, using your abdominal muscles, alternate bringing your knees up to your chest.

Related: Strength Training for the Marathon: A Periodized Approach

Monkey Bars

Even if you don’t have the upper body muscle strength of a monkey, the monkey bars are not just for kids; they’re a versatile piece of equipment that can help you get in a great upper-body playground workout in fun ways!

monkey bars pull-ups
monkey bars pull-ups
  • Leg Raises: Start by hanging from the bars with your arms fully extended. Alternate lifting each leg, either by drawing your knees to your chest or extending them straight out in front of you. For an added challenge, use a timer to see how long you can maintain the position with your legs extended.
  • Pull-ups/chin-ups: These are classic and fantastic for quickly sparking an upper body burn. Whether you’re aiming for pull-ups or chin-ups, both are a great way to feel and see strength gains over time. I (Whitney) love using monkey bars for pull-ups. You can see a reel of me doing that here.
  • Dead Hang: If you haven’t quite worked your way up to a pull-up, even dead hangs have tons of benefits from strengthening your grip to decompressing the spine, and it can even help relieve should pain!

Related: Kettle Bell Leg Workout for Runners

playground workout post
You can get a great workout using your bodyweight at any playground!

Open Space and Bodyweight Exercises

If you find yourself in an open park without much equipment or are there on a rather busy day, tons of exercises can be done equipment-free while you watch your little one:

  • Forward/Backward Lunges
  • Curtsey Lunges
  • Squats/Squat Jumps
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees 
  • Sprints
  • High Knees
  • Stretches 
  • Planks

Related: Plyometric Workout for Runners: 8 Key Moves

As always, you and your child’s safety comes first. Ensure that your child is safely playing at all times,and be sure to test the strength of any equipment before using it. Be mindful of others on the playground, especially children who may want to play on any equipment you might be using!

So, next time you find yourself pondering how to enhance your fitness routine, remember that your local park offers more than just scenic views and fun for your kids. It can become your own personal gym, regardless of your fitness level. So, lace up your sneakers, step into the fresh air, and start your next fitness adventure! 

Thanks, Elle!

Follow Elle on Instagram and her blog.

If you want guidance with your run and strength training, check out my running coach services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:



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