Playground Workout: Fun with Swings

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Somewhere along the line, we stopped playing.  Think about it.  As kids, we’d spend our summer days playing hide & seek or kick-the-can with all our friends, never thinking about exercise at all.  The idea of seeking out a “workout”… totally foreign.  Our play was the workout!  Now here we are, grown-ups, and instead of playing, we exercise.  The good old chore of exercise.  Some days it feels like so much work, I’d rather clean my toilets.  I never felt that way as a kid.  Clean toilets or play at the playground?  Duh!  So why should exercise, the adult substitute for play, make me feel like cleaning toilets?  Because it’s simply not fun like playing was.  Boy, we really screwed up when we stopped playing.

Let’s channel a little of our childhood spirit.  Who’s with me!?  Playgrounds are quite common at RV campgrounds…maybe there’s one where you are now!  Here are some exercises you can do that will get you back on the playground.  You only need a swing and a youthful sense of adventure.  Grandbaby Amelia is swinging next to me, and she was demanding pushes between photos.  Do you notice the strange looks she’s giving me?  The kids at the playground might give you strange looks too, but hey, maybe you’ll give them some new play ideas.

Swing Pull Squats

Muscles worked: legs, glutes, back, biceps, and core

 Playground Squat

Grab the chains of the swing. Keep the chains taut as you pull them down with you into a squat. Make sure your hips drive back, keeping your knees behind your toes.

Playground StepoverSeat Climbovers

Muscles worked: legs and glutes

This one’s an excellent coordination challenge. Grab the chains and face sideways to the swing as you lift your near leg and climb over the seat of the swing until both feet are on the other side of the swing.

Swing Saws

Muscles worked: core, calves, chest, shoulders, and triceps

Playground Body Saw

Place your forearms in the seat of the swing and get in plank position. Lift and lower your heels.

Swing Rows

Muscles worked: back, biceps, and core

Playground Row

Keep your body straight and your legs straight as you lean back with your arms extended, and then pull yourself up so that the swing comes to your chest.

Seated Knee-ups

Muscles worked: core, hips, and quads

Playground Knee Raise

Sit on the swing, hold the chain, and lean back. Alternate lifting right knee up and then left knee up as you tighten your core and bring your chest up simultaneously.

Swing Rollouts

Muscles worked: chest, triceps, shoulders, and upper core

Playground Rollout

Place your palms in the seat of the swing. Keep your arms straight and your body aligned as you use your bodyweight to let your arms raise.

Swing Hamstrings

Muscles worked: hamstrings, glutes, triceps, and core

Playground Hamstring Curls

Lie on your back with your arms down at your sides and your heels on the swing seat. Lift your hips as high as you can and keep them there, don’t drop them at all during the set. Press your heels into the seat as you bend your knees and draw the swing seat in towards your body.

Newbies, stop here! The next exercises are for advanced exercisers only.

Plank Curls

Muscles worked: core, arms, shoulders, legs… everything!

Playground Plank Curls

Shins are in the seat, hands are on the ground in push-up position. Draw your knees in and let your hips rise. So fun! I loved doing these.


Muscles worked: chest, core, and triceps

Playground Pushups

Place your hands on the ground and your shins in the seat. Perform pushups by bending your arms and bringing your head down towards the ground. Make sure you keep your body aligned and your hands under your shoulders.

And that’s it for playground fun!  Let me know if you have any questions, playground experiences, or other exercise suggestions!

After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

    2 thoughts on “Playground Workout: Fun with Swings

    1. Marty Clark

      Steph – took part in your exercise class at GNR 15 and your classes made my week. Sorry we got rained out on Friday. I work out 4 to 5 times a week and my major concern on taking a one month trip was my inability to exercise and the long days of just sitting so I was pleased to discover your website and your creative suggestions for staying fit on the road.

    2. James

      Hey Stef! This is cool, and some of these exercises are similar to things you can do with the TRX. So maybe this is an alternative for those who don’t have TRX available – just find the RV park playground. Sweet!


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