Memorial Day Playground Workout

If you’re on the up-and-up in the blog world, you read Nate Green’s work.  He writes for a number of different sites, and maintains an awesome blog.  Last week, he posted a post called The Playground Workout, where he uses a playground to get in a functional full body workout.  I used a playground this past Thanksgiving for an outdoor workout, and my gym closed at noon today in celebration of the holiday.  With some inspiration from Nate, I organized a group of 5 guys so we could get in our gym and tanning for the day.  Did laundry this morning, for the trifecta!

Fortunately, today’s workout was a lot smarter and more fun than anything that The Situation can dream up, and included soft tissue work, mobility, strength training, and some metabolic conditioning.  All we used was a playground, a TRX, two slosh pipes, some sandbags, a kettlebell, and The Stick.  It’s definitely more gear than Nate used in his workout (playground and a dumbbell), but it was a blast and a half.

I went in to the day wanting to experiment with variations of basic upper body exercises that I haven’t used before.  If I had spent today in a gym, my workout would have been an upper body workout with some heavy chin-ups.  With the gear that we have, it’s not that hard to achieve the same training effects, while having some fun outside.  The exercises that I wanted to mess around with can get pretty hectic, so I didn’t get to take too many videos, but I have a few.  I’ll explain the other exercises, and take videos of those over the course of the next week, so that everything, so you can see just about everything that we did.  You’ll see that it’s organized using that Stretch/Lift/Sprint format that you should be using, and that there mobility work proceeds the strength work, which is followed by some interesting conditioning.  Without further ado, let’s get to the workout:


TRX Facepull with Alternating Overhead Reach.  It sounds really confusing, but it’s not really that bad.  I’ve used this a few times in the gym before, and I like how it really forces your upper back to work to stabilize your shoulder blade.  Since that’s what your upper back is supposed to do, it was a good idea to use this as an ‘activation’ exercise to start things off.

Dive Bomber Push-Ups are awesome because they incorporate the whole body, allowing you to warm up the shoulders and thoracic spine while getting a greater stretch through your posterior chain.  Try holding that top position for a great stretch of the calves and hamstrings.


Dips.  Do these really need an explanation?  Probably not, but I’ll say it anyway.  Dips are one of the best exercises for your triceps, but are questionable if you have any shoulder issues.  I haven’t used them all that much in my training career, but have tried them out recently and am quickly becoming a fan.

Slosh Pipe Seesaw Press.  I’m not going to even explain this one, but it was paired with the dips so I’m including it.  I thought of this one on the way to the playground, and I think that everybody that tried it agreed that it sucked.  I’ll repeat it on Thursday, and get some videos up for you.

Mixed Grip Chin Ups are hard, and I’ve only done them once before.  I got the idea from progression guru Ben Bruno, and I like how they can make ‘just body weight’ seem that much more difficult.  I’ve experimented with switching hands in the middle of the set, as well as set to set, and think that it only matters based on what other exercise you’re pairing the chin-ups with.  If you’re new to the exercise, try switching in the middle of the set, say after 4 reps in a set of 8.  This might keep you from fatiguing too quickly, even though the total number of reps is the same after the workout.  I’ve used a video of Ben doing them, because I got the idea from him (and we didn’t get a clip of these today.)

Overhead Slosh Pipe Carry.  It’s pretty self explanatory, isn’t it?  You carry a slosh pipe over head, for a predetermined distance.  I made this pipe yesterday with another trainer at the JCC named Ben, and it weighs 34lbs total, with 18lbs of water.  We used it as part of a Prowler/Kettlebell/Slosh Pipe finisher, and it’s a complete kick in the ass.  Ben liked it so much that he made his own, so we had two of them to choose from today.  I’m going to write up a post about the pipe later in the week, and here’s a picture of Ben after Sunday’s workout.

To help demonstrate the difficulty of using the slosh pipe, here’s a video from CrossFit Athens experimenting with one that is approximately the same size as the one that we made.

Body Weight Rows.  Pretty much everyone and their mother needs to do more body weight rows; they’re one of the best bang for your buck exercises out there.  We tried to load these with a sandbag but it kept falling off, so we just went into a higher rep range (14-20).  From this video, you can tell that they were paired with….

KB Waiter Walk with Shouldered Sandbag.  Walking around with a weight over your head forces your shoulder, upper back, abdominals and hips to stabilize the load.  That’s what makes up the ‘core’, so I consider the waiters walk a great exercise to train the body in its natural function.  Adding a sandbag to the opposite shoulder means you need to work even harder to balance, and added weight forces you to brace your abs and stand tall.  This was a great core exercise.

We ended the ‘strength training’ portion of the lift with a slosh pipe isometric front squat, sandbag bear hug walk, and any TRX row variation you could think of.  I used a few interesting ones, but without videos, they’ve just got weird names, so I’m going to wait on them until I can take videos.  Hopefully this will be on Thursday, so stay tuned for that.

Sandbag Bear Hug Walk.  Remember when you were little, and you used to walk around with your favorite stuffed animal, holding on to it for dear life?  This is the same thing, but with a much heavier stuffed animal.  Sure, it’s a core exercise, and your biceps, chest, and shoulders are challenged too, but we weren’t thinking about that at all.  It was hard, it was fun, and those are two things that make for great workouts.


After we were finally done thinking of weird things to do with the slosh pipe, we couldn’t figure out a good ‘finisher’, so somebody threw in the brilliant idea of pushing the heaviest car we had.  Eric’s Toyota Highlander was easily the biggest, so we put her in neutral and took turns crossing the parking lot.  It sucked pretty bad, especially after pushing the Prowler yesterday, so I ended up adding a mini shoulder press into the movement.  The exercise gets way harder when your elbows are bent, and this applies to pushing any type of sled as well.  We’ll finish off today with a quick clip of Julian taking the first leg of the car push finisher.  Stay tuned for some more videos this week, and get excited for The Perform Better Functional Training Summit that’s coming up this weekend!

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