little boy crawling across playground steppers

The 5 Best Playground Equipment Pieces for Building Upper-Body Strength

You might not look at a playground and think of it as a place where you can build muscle, but sometimes, that’s exactly the case. Children and adults can use different pieces of equipment to work out and improve their physical fitness and overall health. The Centers for Disease Control cites physical inactivity as a cause for energy imbalances and increasing the risk for a variety of health problems, like cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cancers, low bone density, and insulin resistance. Cardio is great, but whole-body fitness is essential to staying healthy.

Whether you want to help children learn the joys of exercise or are looking to explore fitness options without a gym membership, we can help. Let’s take a look at upper body strength, and how you can use outdoor fitness equipment to pump some metaphorical iron.

You can sometimes find adult exercise areas that are offset from children’s playgrounds, but many strength-training pieces of equipment are present for the kids as well. Typically, you’ll see them at lower heights to accommodate little ones, but the equipment is still very similar. People of all ages can improve their strength with fitness equipment — just make sure it’s built for your age group to avoid injury. Here are some of our favorite playground components for building upper-body strength.

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Monkey bar benefits

1. Monkey Bars

Monkey bars are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on a playground. You might remember this common piece of equipment from your childhood, with elevated bars spaced equally apart for you to grab and swing across. These days, there are also wider adult versions as well. Monkey bars let you use your own weight in many ways and target different muscle groups.

Monkey bars test your grip strength, but you can also use them to work on flexibility by utilizing the space in between them. They offer many exercises similar to a push-up bar or parallel bars.

2. Bench

Okay, so it’s not exactly a piece of playground equipment, but you’re sure to find one in the area. Many park benches offer a tall enough structure to help with different workouts to gain muscle and tone up. Find a bench with some room in front of it and you can do exercises like push-ups and tricep dips.

3. Parallel Bars

Parallel bars are powerhouses when it comes to fueling upper-body workouts. As the name would imply, these are a set of bars that run alongside each other, roughly shoulder-width apart, and reach about waist height. They’re excellent for strength training and available at different heights as playground pieces for children and fitness equipment for adults. Kids can push themselves with their own body weight and swing across, and adults can use them to support a wide variety of workouts.

Parallel bars may be simple, but they provide a space for a wide array of exercises. Using their body weight, adults can do exercises like parallel bar dips and L-sit pendulums.

Rock wall benefits

4. Rock Walls

Rock walls are, arguably, one of the more fun approaches to upper-body workouts. While not as common as some of the other pieces of equipment, you can still find simple rock walls on playgrounds. Our child-sized versions are shorter than typical rock walls and have extra padding underneath, focusing on horizontal movement.

On the wall, you’ll see plastic perches for your hands and feet to help you move across the surface. Rock walls offer an exceptional full-body workout but are especially good for arm strength. Best of all? Kids are often too busy having fun to realize how much work they’re putting into it.

5. Vertical Ladders

Vertical ladders are just what they sound like — a wide ladder that you can use for climbing and other exercises, like L-sits. Climbing the ladder in repetitions is an excellent way to work your upper body and core. As for L-sits, you simply need to stand with your back to the ladder, grip a rung above you with your palms facing out and lift yourself up, sticking your legs straight out in front of you. This is good for your arms and core.

Upper-Body Exercises for Kids Powered by Playgrounds

Whether you’re trying to reach a lifting goal, maintain physical fitness, or get your child more active, look no further than the playground. With everything from the monkey bars to park benches serving as useful pieces of fitness equipment, you can work plenty of different muscle groups and target your goals without heading to an expensive, crowded gym. Enjoy the great outdoors while toning muscles and staying in shape.

Here at Little Tikes Commercial, we recognize the importance of physical fitness at all ages, which is why we’ve created several pieces of equipment specifically for kids and adults to exercise with. If you see one on a playground, give it a go or encourage your children to try! But remember, before engaging in exercises or beginning any exercise program, it is important to consult a physician about your current state of health and any problems that could arise during your selected form of exercise.

If you develop playgrounds, take a look at our catalog to learn more about building an exercise area for adult workouts at your playgrounds.