My buddy and I used to hunt the area for the best playgrounds.
We looked for parallel bars and pull up bars specifically. These were gems. Some schools removed their entire playground if one child fell and got injured. So this was not as easy to find as it sounds.
The back of my truck usually had a sandbag, a few Kettlebells and maybe a sled or prowler.
Those training sessions were powerful and effective. They were TOUGH.
Now, being in my 40s, I find that more calisthenics and bodyweight bodybulding works great for the upper body. My lower body responds great to the big lifts that I pull from powerlifting, weightlifting and strongman exercises.
Here’s a favorite playground workout I’ve personally used on myself and with my athletes:
Bodyweight Playground Circuit aka The Bodyweight Playground Assault
Perform the bodyweight circuit for time (10-15 minutes x max work or longer if you want) or perform with descending rep ranges as outlined below:
A) parallel bar hand walking (walk from one end of bars to the other end)
B) dips x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps
C) leg raises on dip bar x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps
D) pull ups x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps
E) run x 200 meters
F) lunge jumps x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps
G) squat jumps x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps
H) recline row under parallel bars x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps
On your own, I recommend every weekend taking a trip and training outdoors, get outside of your gym setting and train with freedom.
Find a local elementary school as they tend to have the best playgrounds. Parallel bars are great if you can find them.
On your other training days, pick from the categories of:
– Strongman Training / Odd Objects: I love all types of carries and farmer walks. They are simple yet extremely effective.
– Weightlifting aka Olympic Lifting: Power Cleans or Overhead if your shoulders are healthy; clean and press, snatch, muscle snatch.
– Powerlifting: Squat variations and deadlift variations, including thick bar deadlifts or trap bar deadlifts.
I’ve learned to work with what I have. Injuries happen when you combine a history of aggressive sports training and decades of training in the gym. Some will disagree and yes, some can go without injuries. There is a genetic component to durability, I believe. I’ve seen some horrific training do no harm to some yet I see very dialed in training beat others up.
I do a lot of bodybuilding style work for my shoulders and upper back nowasdays and my shoulders feel 100 x better than they did in my mid and late 30s.
Here’s a sample of some of my favorite push up variations that can blast your upper body
At age 40 +, and I tell this to the few adults I train in their 40s and 50s, “STOP thinking you’re 15 or 16 years old again. You can’t train like a 15 year old.”
Once you stop comparing yourself to yester-year, you begin training smarter and getting results and feeling healthy. Is this the washed up meathead syndrome? Perhaps.
I just call it training. Some of us will always chase the challenge and chase the goal of being stronger. Others will cower and give in and lay on the couch.
STRONG Life is the BEST Life.
Live The Code 365.