10 Park Bench Exercises
Summer is almost here. The lighter evenings are back and the sun has finally made a return – just the motivation you need to start working out again. Why not make the most of it and try exercising outside instead of at the gym? Our video with Anthony Mayatt, personal trainer and founder of Breathe Fitness, demonstrates 10 exercises you can do using only a park bench...
1. Step Ups – Legs
This is a simple exercise, just like walking up a flight of stairs. Step up onto the bench using the heel of your foot, which will increase the contraction in your legs, then stand up straight and step down with the same leg, then swap.
2. Squat Jumps – Legs
Another great leg exercise that uses a plyometric element (also known as 'jump training' or 'plyos', where muscles exert maximum force in short intervals to increase power, speed and strength). Perform a squat, then use the heels to drive you into a jump and land on the bench in the same position. Pause, then step off and quickly perform the same exercise again.
3. Push-Ups (Hands on the Bench) – Chest and Arms
This is an easier version of the push up with hands on the bench, making it easier to perform due to the angle of the body. Keep the hands slightly wider than shoulder width and aim to lower the chest to the bench.
4. Push-Ups (Hands on Floor) – Chest and Arms
This is the same as the previous exercise but it's a bit tougher due to the angle of the body, so it's a good progression. Perform the exercise the same way with the same positioning.
5. Bench Hops – Cardio
Another plyometric move that gets the heart pumping by doing continuous jumping movements. Place hands on bench and with each jump try to stay on your toes so you can keep moving.
6. Bulgarian Split Squat – Legs and Glutes
This is a more advanced exercise as you are working the legs individually and need to keep good balance throughout by activating your core muscles. Again, each time you push, make sure it's through the heel of the foot, and keep the body upright throughout the whole movement.
7. Hip Thrusts – Glutes
This is a great exercise to isolate the glute muscles. Lay across the edge of a bench and have your feet shoulder width. Lower the hips as much as you can, then drive them up fast, squeezing the glutes at the same time.
8. Split Squat with Kick – Legs, Glutes and Hip
This is different to the other lower body moves due to the fact you push through the toes on this one. As you push into a standing position, kick the other leg directly out to the side to target the hips. Do this one at a constant speed and you will really feel the burn.
9. Triceps Dips – Arms
This exercise targets the backs of the arms. Sit on the edge of a bench and bend the arms, keeping the elbows locked to the side of the body. Go as low as you can, then drive the arms up to a point just before they go straight to keep the tension on the triceps.
10. Reverse Crunch – Abs
Lay on a bench and find something to hold on to. Curl the knee in towards the chest making sure the hips come off the bench to really target the lower abdominals.
Try doing each exercise for 30 seconds, then rest and repeat each one. To progress over time, do the exercise for longer or take fewer rest periods.
Have fun and remember to hydrate fully during the sessions too.
Anthony Mayatt has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years and runs a successful personal training business, Breathe Fitness. He trains clients from students to celebrities all over the world and regularly features in the media writing for various magazines and websites. Anthony has a degree in Sports Science as well as many other qualifications in his field and specialises in weight management.