Get out more, says calisthenics king Chaka Clarke.
Training al fresco has proven benefits for mind and physique, so follow Clarke’s tips and make the park your playground.
TRAIN FOR PERFORMANCE
“Make your goal something you can do – 10 chin-ups, for example, or one muscle-up – not what you can see.
“By the time you reach it, you’ll look like someone who can achieve their goal, anyway.
“Concentrating on aesthetics can become counterproductive, because as your perception of your body changes, the goalposts move.”
“Get your ass off the grass and head to the bar.
“Whether it’s from a climbing frame or a swing set, hanging movements work your abs through every plane of movement.
“Perform hanging leg raises and window wipers to hit the core muscles that crunches will never reach.”
FORGET THE BENCH
“Yummy-mummy triceps dips on park benches aren’t just ineffective – they also put you at risk of shoulder injury.
“Head to the parallel bars instead. Lower until your elbows are at 90° to work through a full range of motion and boost triceps, chest and shoulder growth.”
THROW IN THE TOWEL
“Something to wipe down slippery-when-wet bars is always handy. But a towel can also supercharge your grip strength.
“Loop it over, take an end in each hand and do five chin-ups.
“This upgrade will boost your bench press if you ever head back to the gym.”
HAVE LESS IMPACT
“Your joints aren’t made to withstand concrete, which means power-boosting plyometrics could wear them down.
“Perform your squat jumps and bounds on the rubber matting around park equipment to burn fat without feeling the fire in your knees.”
STICK IT IN NEUTRAL
“Swap your standard pull-ups and chin-ups for a “neutral-grip lift” – just as effective, but kinder on your wrists and shoulders.
“Hang sideways on the monkey bars, palms facing each other, and pull until your shoulders graze the bars to hit your back and biceps in one rep.”
CALL FOR AID
“If you’re a recent initiate to body-weight training, don’t jump straight into muscle-ups or you risk injury.
“Break up complex moves into stages and practise each in isolation. A resistance band turns any horizontal bar into an assisted pull-up machine.
“It’s a whole lot less embarrassing than dislocating your shoulder.”
DON’T GRIP, GRASP
“Maintaining a hold with your thumb sitting on top of your fingers – not curled next to your palms – increases the strength and muscular endurance of your forearms.
“And because your forearms are usually first to fatigue, this new power lets you work harder on filling out your T-shirt.”