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5 Moves You Can Do With a Park Bench to Hit Your Legs, Butt, and Core

Whether you’re bored with your exercise routine or just want to maximize outdoor time this summer, we’ve got an awesome park workout that any exerciser can benefit from.

This lower-body circuit, which includes five moves all performed with a park bench, is a great choice if you want to shake up your usual gym routine. It delivers doses of cardio and core work while also challenging your lower half. The best part though? You get to soak in the great outdoors while you do so.

For a year of the pandemic, ACSM-certified personal trainer Asher Freeman, creator of the Nonnormative Body Club in Philadelphia, exclusively met with clients outdoors and still sometimes trains people al fresco. There’s a lot of benefit to taking your workout in the fresh air, they tell SELF.

For one, it can just be a fun way to switch up your normal exercise routine. After all, taking in the scenery at a local park is probably a lot more interesting than staring at the same four walls of your gym, studio, or living room. Additionally, outdoor workouts can be a boon for both your physical and mental health. Time in nature is associated with a ton of brain benefits, like increased happiness, positive social interactions, memory, and creativity. And people who spend time in green spaces have lower rates of depression and high blood pressure, according to research. Moreover, with COVID-19 not going anywhere, outdoor workouts can be a safer choice than indoor routines, since the former have better ventilation and less risk of viral transmission.

This particular workout, which Freeman created for SELF, is a well-rounded lower-body routine that will help build muscular endurance in your major muscles like your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and hips as well as your smaller core and stabilizing muscles. It also includes a hit of cardio thanks to the mountain climbers and elevated step-up as well as the high work-to-rest ratio that doesn’t give you a lot of downtime during the workout.

How often you should do this park workout depends on your goals. If your aim is to maintain your current level of strength, opt for a once a week cadence. And if you want to build muscular endurance, then shoot for twice a week, advises Freeman. Just make sure to take at least a 48 hour break between sessions so your muscles have the downtime they need to repair and build back stronger. And if you’re just looking for a shake-up to a stale routine? Slot it in whenever you find yourself getting bored!

Also important: Do a warm-up before starting this workout so you don’t jump in with cold, tight muscles. (Yes, this is still important even if you’re taking your workout into the warm weather!) Taking five minutes to turn on your core and move your lower-body joints in all different directions can do the trick—Freeman recommends walking, skipping, side shuffling, and hip circles.

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