8 Exercises You Can Perform Using A Playground Swing Set

A former trainer of the year explains how to turn the playground apparatuses into your very own training system.

Recommended Video
Loading Video Content
ADVERTISEMENT

The playground is home to one of the best make-shift workout apparatuses around: the swing set. With a little imagination, you can use the seat on which you push your kid “higher, daddy, higher!” into a makeshift suspension trainer. A set of standard half-moon swings bears striking resemblance to the beloved training method, an enables you to perform similar core-building, calorie-burning bodyweight exercises.

We spoke to TRX-certified CPT and 2014 Anytime Fitness Trainer of the Year Luke Andrus for a workout that makes use of a couple unoccupied swings. The routine he crafted consists of three rounds of eight exercises, with a one-minute break following every four exercises. Try to perform the movements at max effort for 50 seconds before moving on to the next exercise, taking at most 10 seconds to rest and transition.

“These are full-body exercises that help to burn fat and build muscle at the same time,” Andrus says. “They involve push movements, pull movements, knee hinge movements, and hip hinge movements. These four elements are going to yield a great workout every single time.”

Use a swing or pair of swings as you would a TRX: for standing exercises, either grasp a swing chain in each hand or hold both chains of each swing together; for other exercises, position your calves across a single seat or one in each to keep your legs in place. And, of course, make sure the swing set is secure before you begin.

Pistol Squats

Why: These work the quads of both the standing leg and the straight leg. “If you need additional support, hold on to the side of the swing set,” Andrus says.

  1. Holding the swing or swings with your arms extended, stand on one foot and raise the other foot off the ground in front of you.
  2. Squat down on the standing leg, lowering your body towards the ground with your raised leg out in front and keeping your back flat.
  3. Push through the heel of your standing foot to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat continuously for 25 seconds, then switch legs and repeat for another 25 seconds.

Avoid: Going too low; letting the knee on your standing leg cave in or bend out. “Keep your knee over your ankle,” Andrus says.

Modified Rows

Why: Rows work your back and biceps. “This is a pull movement,” Andrus says. “It gets a little bit of your glutes since your legs are bent and you need to keep your hips in line with your spine.”

  1. Holding the swing or swings with your arms extended, lie back so your upper body is off the ground with your feet flat and knee bent.
  2. Pull your chest up to your hands, twisting at the wrists and keeping your feet flat and knees bent.
  3. Lower yourself back to the starting position by extending your arms.
  4. Repeat continuously for 50 seconds.

Avoid: Using your arms too much. “Don’t cave in your chest,” Andrus says. “Press your chest to the sky while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Let your hips drop and make sure your hips and knees are perfectly aligned with one another.”

Hamstring Curls

Why: “These work your hips and knees as well as your quads and glutes,” Andrus says.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and your calves in the swing or swings. Position your arms by your sides.
  2. Raise your back and hips up off the ground, bringing your body into a straight line from your feet to your shoulders.
  3. Bend at the knees and bring your heels towards your butt, keeping your hips and back off the ground.
  4. Return to the starting position by extending your legs straight.
  5. Repeat continuously for 50 seconds.

Avoid: Rushing; not bridging as you curl the leg back; dropping your hips to the ground between reps.

Alternating Tucks

Why: These work your abs and hip flexors. “They’re an awesome cardio workout,” Andrus says.

  1. Place your hands on the ground with a shin in each swing.
  2. Pull one knee towards your chest, keeping the other leg extended straight behind you.
  3. Extend the bent leg and pull the other knee towards your chest.
  4. Alternate sides with each rep. Repeat continuously for 50 seconds.

Avoid: Slumping; rounding your back. “Keep your butt in line with your shoulders,” Andrus says.

Overhead Squats

Why: These work your legs, back, and core muscles. “This is a great knee movement, but it’s also a full-body exercise,” Andrus says.

  1. Holding a swing or swings with both hands overhead and your arms extended, stand up straight and lean back slightly.
  2. Squat down, lowering your body towards the ground, keeping your arms overhead and your back neutral.
  3. Push down through your heels to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat continuously for 50 seconds.

Avoid: Bringing your arms too far in front of your knees; bending over too far. “When doing this movement, you want your back to be parallel with your shin bones,” Andrus says. “Your butt should go slightly below your knees at the bottom.”

Bench Dip

Why: These work out your triceps and shoulders. “It’s a push movement,” Andrus says. “If this is too difficult, bend your knees, plant your feet, and push through your heels for assistance. That takes weight off the triceps.”

Note: If the swing set has a flat board as a seat, place your hands on the seat to perform these. Otherwise, find a bench.

  1. Place your palms on a bench behind you and your heels on the ground with your legs and arms straight.
  2. Lower your body to the ground, bending at the elbows.
  3. Push up through your palms to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 50 seconds.

Common mistakes to avoid: Using a swing or bench that’s too high. “You should be going down to where your shoulders are parallel with your elbows when you drop down,” Andrus says.

Glute Bridges

Why: This is a great hip hinge movement that will work your hamstrings, glutes, and core.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on top of the swing seat, placing your hands at your sides. Keep your heels planted throughout the exercise.
  2. Raise your hips off the ground, trying to make a straight line from your hips to your shoulders.
  3. Lower yourself back to the ground.
  4. Repeat continuously for 50 seconds.

Common mistakes to avoid: Not lifting your hips high enough. “Try to lift them up high enough to be in line with your back and knees,” Andrus says.

Front Bridge to Ts

Why: These work out your abs and obliques. “You’ll even feel a burn in your shoulders,” Andrus says. “If this is too difficult, hold the starting position (plank) for 50 seconds.”

  1. Lie face down on the ground with your legs straight, calves in a swing, and arms tucked in by your sides.
  2. Raise your body off the ground, resting on your palms and forearms, maintaining your body in a straight line and keeping your back neutral.
  3. Raise one hand up towards the sky while rotating your upper body.
  4. Lower your hand down, returning your forearm to the ground.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.
  6. Repeat continuously for 50 seconds, alternating sides.

Avoid: Lifting your butt; arching your back. “Keep your core nice and tight,” Andrus says.

Get Fatherly In Your Inbox


Survey Callout Image