Celebrate spring with an efficient yet effective workout you can perform outside! This 15-minute park bench workout will tighten and tone all those new mom trouble spots. All you need is a park bench, a resistance band, and a bottle of water.
Perform each of the following exercises for one full minute, transitioning directly from one exercise to the next without a break. Complete the full circuit of five exercises three times. Between each circuit, pause briefly to sip water
1. Core Compressions to flatten and firm post-baby abs
Sit upright near the front of the bench with your feet flat on the ground. Keep the spine lengthened and perfectly still.
Exhale as you tighten your abdominal muscles toward the spine. Repeatedly pulse the abdominal muscles tight to tighter, flat to flatter, exhaling with each slow and controlled squeeze. Close your eyes, and envision your belly button touching the spine with each exhalation. This is a deep, subtle movement – yet powerfully effective. For best results, place your hands on your abs throughout the set and perform a Kegel with each core compression.
2. Sit Down – Stand Up to lift the butt and tone the thighs
Begin in a seated position with your feet planted securely on the ground about hip-width apart, toes and knees pointing straight ahead. Your toes should be directly under the knees. Take a breath to prepare, then exhale and draw your abs toward the spine (perform a core compression) as you stand up. Inhale as you sit back down with control (never plop onto the bench!). Exhale and tighten your abs as you stand up. Repeat for one full minute. Listen to your body and adjust your feet as needed. If you feel like you’re reaching for the bench as you sit down, shift your feet a little closer to the bench. If you feel a strain in your knees, inch the feet forward. Finish the set in a seated position to transition efficiently into bench dips.
3. Bench Dips to tone and define the upper arms
Remain seated on the bench. Scoot all the way to the front, and place the heels of your hands on the bench just outside of your hips. Fingers point toward the ground. Walk your feet away from the bench, keeping a slight bend in the knees. Lift your butt off the bench, hovering just in front of it. Take a breath as you bend your elbows to 90 degrees, lowering your body beneath the seat. Then exhale and draw your abs toward the spine as you extend the arms to lift your body up to the starting position. Keep a very slight bend in the elbows at the top of the movement to avoid locking the elbows. Throughout the set, your back should remain very close to the bench – a loose shirt will brush against the edge of the bench if you’re in proper position. Continue the bench dips for one full minute – inhale as you lower your body and ‘exhale, belly back’ as you extend the arms to lift the body up. For greater challenge, walk your feet further away from the bench. To make it easier, bring your feet closer to the bench.
4. Incline Plank with Core Compressions to strengthen the core
Stand up and turn around to face the front of the bench. Begin by placing your palms shoulder-width apart on the back of the bench (the highest part of the bench). Walk your feet behind you to assume a plank position: flat back, spine in a straight line (no butt sticking out!), and shoulders anchored down, away from the ears. It’s similar to a push-up position, but you will keep your arms straight throughout the exercise. Hold this position for one full minute as you pulse the abs tight to tighter with each exhalation. You are maintaining an incline plank to fire up the core as you pulse your deep abdominal muscles tight to tighter, flat to flatter. Never let your abs fall forward in a plank position.
For greater challenge, continue facing the front of the bench and lower your hands to the bench seat (closer to the ground than the back of the bench). Then walk your feet further behind you to resume a plank position. This brings your body into a more horizontal plank and increases the workload. NOTE: if you try the plank with your hands on the seat and feel you cannot keep your abs tight to the spine for a full minute, return to the steeper incline with your hands on the back of the bench.
5. Standing Row to sculpt a sexy upper back, rear shoulders and biceps, to lift and open the chest, and to build beautiful posture
Stand in front of the bench and securely anchor the center of your resistance band around a support beam near the top of it. Hold one handle in each hand, adjusting to ensure the length on each side of the anchor is equal. Carefully step back from the bench until you feel tension on the band with your arms lengthened. Place your feet securely on the ground, hip distance apart, and bend your knees slightly to lower your center of gravity. Keep the spine vertical or very slightly leaning forward as your hips drop behind you. Grasping the band, your palms should face each other, thumbs up.
With the arms still in a lengthened position, prepare by taking a breath. Exhale and draw your abs to the spine as you pull the band towards you, brushing your elbows alongside the body and squeezing your shoulder blades toward the spine. Keep your spine still, shoulders low and your ribs together throughout the movement. Note: never arch the back or splay the ribs apart as you row. Your body is the still point – always draw the band to you; avoid pulling your body to the band. Continue to row in a slow, controlled manner for one full minute. Think ‘exhale, belly back’ each time you draw the band toward your body.
Three days a week, perform this entire circuit a total of three times back-to-back for a targeted, 15-minute workout that gets results. You might even squeeze it all in while your baby coos happily in the stroller!