The Jungle Gym Workout

Quit playing, quit paying and use your local park to get jacked

Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photographs + Video: Greg Fraser

You may have noticed how crazy the gym is at this time of year, and if you’ve really been paying attention then you’ll also know that the gym is trash. There’s something much worse though – staying (or getting) out of shape as early as Jan.

Fortunately you can look and feel good by working out in the comfort of your local park, using simple bodyweight exercises that will improve your balance, flexibility and strength. No gym, no weights, no problem.

All you need is a jungle gym. Well that, and this all-body workout from boxer and personal trainer Clint Sylvester, who specialises in calisthenics (that’s bodyweight training). This is gym-free workout that will melt fat while building muscle – without breaking the bank. 

Not only do these five body weight exercises give you the freedom of working out anytime, anywhere, it’s also a lot more fun playing on the monkey bars than sweating it out in a crowd, indoors. 

The clincher? If you want to see results then one of the most important aspects of working out is to enjoy what you’re doing, and who doesn’t enjoy playing in the park?

Tricep dips

How: Work the triceps using your own body weight by engaging the elbows, crossing your ankles and then lifting your body up and down. 

Why: There’s more to big arms than bicep curls, and tricep dips not only work your arms' biggest muscle, but are a compound exercise that will benefit your shoulders, chest and back muscles, too.

What: Looking good in T-shirts.  

Inverted pull-ups

How: Keep your ankles crossed, core tight and then murder your lats as you pull your chin all the way up and eventually touch the bar with your chest. 

Why: Where a pushup only focuses on your chest and shoulders, this move targets your lats, rhomboids, mid and lower traps, posterior delts, biceps, forearms and core. Don’t know where half these muscles are? You will soon enough. 

What: Balance out the tight chest muscles formed from too much cell phone use, which pulls your shoulders forward and makes you hunched. 

Reverse skull crushers

How: Using gravity and your own body weight keep the core tight, straighten your body out, reverse your hands on the bar, lock your elbows in and proceed to work the biggest muscle group in your arm – the triceps. 

Why: This exercise mainly targets your triceps with some focus on the shoulders and traps as well.  Execute controlled movements and focus on breathing to make your abs do more work.

What: A real tough-guy exercise that will impress dog walkers and au pairs alike when they ask, "What are you doing?"  

Knee raises

How: Hang on the jungle gym with your back to the bars, then as you breathe out lift your legs up and keep them extended. There are many variations of this exercise that will make you all sorts of ripped.

Why: Unlike standard ab exercises this doesn't isolate abdominal muscles and instead works your upper abs and lower abs, hips, back and shoulders. 

What: Will the crop top be to 2017 what the longline T-shirt was last year? It’s best to get crop-top-ready just in case.  

Jumping lunges

How: Start by standing with one foot forward and the other foot back with your toe on the bar. Keep your hands alongside your body and then as you go down into a squat, explode back up again, ensuring you get both feet off the ground, switching in mid air, before landing in the reversed position. 

Why: Bump up your heart rate and build explosive power in the legs, while paying attention to your cardio health, fitness, balance, strength and stamina.

What: Don't ever skip leg-day and you can free your knees in the best shorts