Park benches make the perfect surface for strength training, helping you work into deep muscles while maintaining support and stability. They are about the same height as most steps or barres in studios, which means you can do many of the same moves and get the same results while breathing in some fresh air.
In this workout, you’ll use the park bench to help you go deeper into exercises that require some balance while toning your muscles. The best part of this workout: you’ll work deep muscles by only moving one inch. When you move small, it means you never quite release the muscle. You keep building the intensity, working on both the up and the down, as you press one inch for one minute.
The next time you are at the park, stop by the bench and give this strength-building routine a try!
1. Plie Squat
2. Chair Squat
Keep your hands at your chest as you rotate your feet forward, narrowing your hips. Sit back into your hips and heels as you tilt the chest forward. Keep the spine long and the core engaged. Lower down one more inch and squeeze the glutes. Push into your heels to lift up an inch. Repeat for one minute. If you feel out of balance, face the back of your bench and keep your hands on it for support.
3. Bench Plank
Stand in front of or behind a park bench. Place your hands on the seat or the back of the bench. Walk you feet back until you are at an inclined plank pose. Just like a plank on the ground, keep your core engaged and your heels pressing back, without letting them touch the ground. You can hold here for one minute, or bend your elbows one inch, without sinking into the chest, neck, or shoulders. Press back up an inch. Repeat for one minute.
4. Leg Lift
From your plank, push your heels to the ground and press your hips back until your spine is long and your body is in a “L” shape. Lift the right leg up, reaching it straight out of the hip. Flex your foot or point your toe, whichever helps you engage the leg to keep it lifted. Draw the belly into the spine to engage the core, and rock the shoulders away from your ears to lengthen your neck. Lift your leg up one inch by squeezing into your glutes. Keep the leg long as you lower it back down one inch. Repeat for one minute and switch sides.
5. Leg Kick
Lift the right leg back up, straight out of your hip, as you engage the core and lengthen the neck. This time, bend at the knee and flex your foot. Keep your thigh parallel to the ground. Press your foot up toward the sky one inch, then lower back down one inch. Repeat for one minute and switch sides.
After you finish your workout, use the bench for a stretch: stretch the arms and spine out long as you push your hips back. Keep your heels on the ground and your body in the shape of a “L.” Hold for 10 breaths and release.