How To Get The Most Out Of Your Park Workout

You'll never look at a park bench in the same way


This content has been created in collaboration with Ambre Solaire by Garnier.

Studies have shown that working out in the great outdoors (read: your local park) burns more calories than spending hours squatting in a sweaty gym.

This is because wind resistance and uneven surfaces make your muscles work harder, rather than getting complacent to the monotony of the treadmill or a stationary bike.

Now that summer's here, the mornings are brighter and the evenings are longer, it's even easier to take your workout outdoors. Before long you'll see every bench as an opportunity for a push up and every monkey bar as a chance to fire up your abs. Just don't forget to bring water and apply a sweat-resistant sunscreen before you leave the house. You want a post-exercise glow, not a hot and red face.


Know Where You're Going

You can maximise your park workout before even leaving the house by spending five minutes planning your route.

The clearer you are about where you're going, the more focused your workout will be and the less time you'll spend chasing yourself on Google maps.

Personal Trainer Adrienne Herbert recommends Endomondo – 'The Personal Trainer in Your Pocket' - which will find your location, help you map out a route and track your distance.


Benches Aren't For Sitting On

You may not realise it yet but parks are full of exercise equipment that is crying out to be used.

Even steps down into the park are great for getting your heart rate up (sprint up and down a few times) or stretching out calf muscles at the end of a workout (stand with both feet on a step, one in front of the other, and drop one heel down at a time).

Without causing chaos in the playground, monkey bars are excellent for toning and building strength, from a dead hang (try aiming for one-hand) to knee-to-chest ab crunches.

And the humble park bench? It's the perfect starting point according to Fitness instructor Sophie Everard, who uses it for everything, 'from incline press-ups, to explosive, fat- melting bench jumps (taking off and landing on both feet on the bench), tricep dips and, if it's a bench without a back, bunny hops.'

Mix It Up

If you're going to the same park the key to keeping motivated is mixing up your work out as much as possible.

Former Royal Marines Commando turned Personal Trainer, Phil McDougall recommends trying 'running jazz': 'Go for a mid-distance park run, but set an interval timer to bleep every three minutes.

Every time it bleeps do something different, and hard, then carry on running.'

Phil suggests filling the intervals with step-ups on a bench, leopard crawls or supported pistol squats (a full-squat, with one leg stretched out in front of you) holding onto a handrail. 'The regular intervals of intensity followed by running to recover are great for fat burning.'

Make It A Date

You're more likely to be motivated if you know you're meeting someone at the park gates.

And once you've both shown up, you're also more likely to work out harder with someone else.

Make sure you choose a friend who has a similar level of fitness as you, so there's a realistic level of competitiveness.

If you can't find a workout mate, use other people as pacers. Spot someone running slightly faster than you and try and keep up with them for as long as possible.

They'll never know, but it's a great way to increase your speed and push yourself that little bit further.

Protect Your Skin

Once you've mastered a new route, the varied pace and some park-bench tricep dips, it remains to ensure that while your muscles benefit, your skin doesn't suffer. 

There are rumours, of course, that running makes your skin sag or wilderness workouts are bad for your pores. Most of it is poppycock, but what's incontrovertible, is that you should keep your skin protected, soothed and hydrated with Ambre Solaire UV Sport Sun Protection Mist's sun protection range, sold exclusively at Boots.

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