Muscle Building on the Playground?

Today’s workout comes courtesy of the local playground,  which is almost as much fun for the adults as it is for the kids.  Now if you don’t have kids, try to get their before anyone shows up, or after.  You don’t want to be that weird guy hanging around a playground full of kids, ewww.  Let’s move on from that visual and imagine for a moment an outdoor gym, gleaming with pull-up bars, horizontal ladders, and (at least in Arizona,) large sharp boulders that belong anywhere but a kids park.  No matter, my kids love to climb them, and it happens to be the only thing (until recently,) that they haven’t hurt themselves on. 

The boulders we’ll leave out for now, that’s another workout.  However the bike racks can function as dip bars, the walls for plyo jumps or step ups, decline push-ups and more.  I know!  Get excited!  Now you can play at the park too!

So let’s go into a little fun run I called the  “(insert name of park here) Sprint” that is a continuous alternating interval workout, if there is such a thing.  If not, then I just made it up, so there.  At the park this was designed for there was a considerable sidewalk space designed around the play area that could be used to jog/sprint/stumble through each lap.  This workout utilizes several of the tools available at the local play set, but feel free to make up your own version:

This workout will consist of 7 laps run non-stop until completion, with the first one a slow jog and easy 1 rep on each exercise to warm up.  The repetition structure is in the “Lucky Seven” format, (outlined in an article of the same name on this blog,) which is done by increasing by the set by one rep each lap. So without further ado:

Lap consists of:

Sprint/jog to first obstacle, bike rack dips:  1 (then 2 on second lap, and 3, etc.)
Short sprint/jog to second obstacle, low wall decline push-ups: 1 (then 2, 3, and so on.)
Sprint to the nearest version of a pull-up bar, playground pull-ups: same as above
Sprint to monkey bars, horizontal bar swinging (i.e. cross the monkey bars just like you see the kids do.)  Same rep structure.
Sprint to low wall or benches, standing jumps with both feet: same rep structure

At this point, jog back to the starting point, and when you reach it, turn around and go at full speed to the first obstacle again, repeat the lap, increasing the reps by one on each lap until you get to seven.

If there are no pull-up bars, or you feel that some medicine balls or sandbags would be more appropriate for a particular workout, go for it.  I’ve also seen  trainers using the TRX suspension trainer hooked up to a bar and a bench overhead shade before also.  Not surprising, since that’s exactly what it was designed for.  Using the TRX will allow you to do body weight rows or one arm ‘pull-to’s’ if there is no pull-up option, pull-ups are too difficult, or you just want to save your hands.

I just can’t give enough love to the designers of the TRX, I’m just partial to highly efficient things that take up so little space.  Now those TRX guys have done it again, coming out with an earthy military beige colored TRX system called the TRX Force.  This is the same super strong TRX, same variety of exercises, but with more anchoring options and additional cutting edge training videos.  This isn’t your health club’s TRX trainer anymore; go to  the link below to check it out:

Continue Reading >>>

Get Outdoors and Workout for Next to Nothing

Read about everything TRX

Simple and Brutal Strength Building TRX Workout

Suspension training using tools like the TRX professional trainer are intense sessions, if you work hard at it. The awkward nature of feeling your body unsupported and having to stabilize itself while performing suspension exercises will wake up muscles you may never knew you had. Plus its fun. Think gymnastics with the intent to do bodily harm, in order to get stronger, bigger, faster,…add your own adjective. Here’s a simple workout to incorporate into your training program using the TRX suspension trainer:

Adjust the TRX so that it sits 8-12 inches off the ground, grab both handles and assume a push-up position, with a steady motion, your arms straight, let your hands out to the sides and lower your body towards the ground. Keep your body stiff as a board throughout the exercise.

These are suspension flyes: 3-5 x 6-12 (higher for muscular endurance, lower for strength and building muscle.)

Next, place your feet in the TRX using the stirrups on the handles, walk out to a push-up position, and perform the push-up pike by doing a push-up and alternately bringing both knees up to the middle, right and left as you come up. Try to get your knees to touch your body each time.

Suspended Push-up Pikes: 3 x 15-20. If you can do more, go for it. Or, add a weighted vest or a push-up clap for more difficulty.

Try these two exercises for a quick workout or as an add-on before or after a heavier workout, it’s a great way to increase balance, work on upper body strength, and stabilize the abdominals and obliques.

For more information on the TRX and what you can do with it, this is a must see:

For more reading on the TRX, visit my hubs at:

Lucky Seven -A Strength and Muscular Endurance Workout

This workout will exercise most major muscle groups, and is great for fight sport conditioning.

One of my friends volunteered to do this workout with me to test it out, way before he was in any shape to do it. But he deserves a lot of credit for the mental strength he mustered to get through it. I pretended like it wasn’t that hard, you be the judge. This is a continuous movement workout, the only rest you get is when you finish, or can’t get back up from the “cousin sit-ups.”

Are you ready? Don’t bother warming up, we’ll get there along the way.

You’re going to set up four stations, with one choice from each of the following exercises, in numbered order given:

1. Deadlift: Dumbbells or Barbells (moderate weight, about 70-75% or 1RM)
2. Cousin sit-up squat jumps: (Squat down, roll back, sit-up and pop to squat and jump)
3. Pullups or Bodyweight Rows: Bodyweight rows can be done with the TRX trainer
shown below, rings, or a bar laid on blocks, sawhorses, etc. Keep body straight and tight on both.
4. Decline divebomber push-ups or dips.

1st round is 1 rep each, 1,1,1,1. Round 2 is 2,2,2,2, etc. all the way up to 7 reps on each exercise, done continuously without stopping.

Go for time and push through to the end. Good Luck!

Interval Training Workout for Strenght and Endurance

A muscle building endurance workout

Get out of the gym!  Unless you’ve got a big open warehouse with wall to wall mats and no rules, there is nothing like getting out of the building to work out!  Here is a great workout to get your heart rate elevated and challenge your slow & fast twitch muscle fibers. 

You will need:
Kettlebells; dumbbells; rocks; or any combination of these.  You will need enough to complete 3 or 4 rounds.

Each round consists of 3 laps, minimum 3 rounds.  You will start with the lightest weight, and get heavier each lap.

Place all the dumbbells, kettlebells, or rocks at one end of a field or one end of your backyard.  You will want about 30 yards to work with to perform the laps.  Laps consist of moving to the end of the distance with the weight, dropping it, and sprinting back.

*Each lap should have at least three progressively heavier sets of dumbbells, kettlebells, or both.  Add extra weights if your conditioning is up to it.

Round 1: 
Pick up dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand, and clean to shoulders, walk quickly to the end of the lap, dump and sprint back.  Keep going until all the weight is moved to the other end.  Round 1 done.  30 seconds rest. ***If you are using the lighter rounds to warm up, add an extra lap at the beginning.

Round 2:
Pick up weight in each hand and lock your arms overhead, keeping shoulder muscles active.  Walk quickly to the end, set the weights down, and sprint back.  Round 2 is finished when all the weight is moved to the opposite end (where round 1 started.)

Round 3:
Lock weight out overhead in both hands again.  Keep a tight groin and midsection, and active shoulder muscles.  Perform arms overhead lunges to the end of the course.  Sprint back after leaving weights. 
When all the weight is moved, it’s time to take it back. 
Clean weights overhead if you can, or rack on shoulders, and walk with strong, quick steps to the beginning of the course.  Start with heaviest weight and move down.

Make sure that the third lap of each exercise round has a weight that is challenging to keep up.  If nothing that heavy is available, add extra laps or rounds.  Rest as little as possible between rounds, about 30 seconds, and try to get the best time.  Challenge each other if you’re doing this workout with a partner.