Toning Exercises for the Park
How It Works
Don't let the lack of heavy metal fool you. These equipment-free firmers sculpt killer curves. "Using gravity and your body weight as resistance can be just as effective as what you can do with any dumbbell, machine, or barbell," says workout designer Tom Vincent, a trainer at Juliet Kaska's Zen Fitness in West Hollywood who routinely puts his clients through their paces in the park. "You use multiple muscles in these moves, meaning a larger calorie burn in less time." Stick with this workout or pair it with pool sessions, taking a day off in between to allow muscles to recover. Do two sets of each move, leaving little rest between sets to boost your fat burn.
What You'll Need: A park bench and a tree
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, 3 to 4 feet behind a bench, and lean forward to place both hands on top of seat back slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping abs engaged and body in a straight line from head to heels, bend both elbows to lower chest toward bench.
- Press through palms to forcefully push up, and just before arms are fully extended, quickly lift right hand off bench and bring it across body to touch left shoulder.
- Immediately bring right hand back to start. Repeat, this time lifting left hand, to complete 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
Tip: To increase the chest-chiseling resistance, press up off the bench seat rather than the bench back.
Targets: Shoulders, chest, back, and abs
- With back to a tree, get on all fours so that heels are a few feet away from tree trunk. Place both forearms on ground, elbows underneath shoulders.
- Straighten legs behind you one at a time and walk feet up tree until body is parallel to ground. (Beginners can keep feet on ground for a traditional plank or rest feet on a low step instead.) Hold for 10 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. (As you improve, increase hold and rest by 10 seconds until you can hold for a full minute.) Do 2 reps.
Tip: To make it easier, walk your feet higher on the tree trunk while still keeping your abs engaged and back straight.
Rond de Jambe
Targets: Butt, hips, and legs
- Stand in front of bench with hands on hips.
- Step onto bench with right foot and stand on seat, simultaneously lifting extended left leg behind you, squeezing glutes.
- Standing steady on right leg, bring left leg around to left side, then in front of you, in a low semicircle.
- Reverse motion, bringing left leg behind you. Step down to ground. Do 12 reps. Switch sides, repeat.
Tip: Keep your hips as still and level as possible to really tone your butt.
Targets: Butt and legs
- With back to bench, stand a foot in front of bench seat and bend elbows to clasp hands in front of chest.
- Lift left leg straight in front of you a few inches off ground and bend right knee to sit down briefly on bench.
- Keeping left leg raised throughout, stand up immediately, pressing through right heel to straighten right leg. Do 12 reps. Switch legs, repeat.
Tip: Want to up the challenge? Try to just barely brush the seat with your behind, then stand up immediately.
Targets: Abs, obliques, and hip flexors
- Sit on edge of bench and place palms behind you on seat, fingers forward.
- Maintaining a neutral spine, lean back slightly and lift legs, knees bent 90 degrees, off ground.
- Keeping chest lifted, shoulders back and right knee still, touch ground with left toe, then raise left knee back to start position. Switch sides and repeat to complete 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
Tip: For extra ab firming between reps, quickly extend your legs forward so that they are parallel to the ground, then bend knees to return to start position.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2009.