3 Intense 20-Minute Workouts You Can Do At the Park

When you can’t afford a pricey gym membership or regular fitness classes, you may find yourself stuck on your living room floor following a YouTube yoga class or suffering through unending push-ups. This doesn’t have to be the case. Nearly every town in America has a free public gym with built-in obstacles, equipment, and paths for running and biking. Not only will you get your daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D, but the park provides the open space needed to bust out a high intensity 20-minute workout. Whether you’re all about cardio, strength training, or want a full body workout, the following routines have got you covered — in 20 minutes or less.

1. Full body countdown

You don't need a gym to do these 20-minute workouts

You don’t need a gym to do these 20-minute workouts | Source: iStock

This 20-minute workout gives all your major muscles a workout and includes both strength training and cardio. All you’ll need to find are two visible markers (like neon tape, pine cones, two items of clothing — whatever you’ve got). Start by setting up the two markers 30 to 300 feet apart, keeping in mind that the further apart you set them, the harder the workout.

Start at the first marker and complete 10 push-ups, 10 burpees, and 10 sit-ups. Sprint to the second cone and do nine push-ups, burpees, and sit-ups before sprinting back to the second cone and doing eight of each exercise. Repeat until you get down to zero. If you need more of a rest between sets, try jogging or even walking between the cones.

2. Cardio blast

man sprinting up a grass-covered hill

Man sprinting uphill | Source: iStock

When you have 20-minutes and you want to burn some serious calories, get sweaty, and up your heart rate, try out this high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. Head to your local park and search out a decent sized hill. This hard-hitting cardio workout is all about hill sprints. They may be difficult, but they work. Hill sprints can improve your running technique, speed, and endurance. Plus, you can do anything for 20 minutes, right?

woman climbing mountain staris

Woman climbing mountain stairs | iStock.com/lzf

Warm up with a short jog to get your muscles ready. Then, come to the base of your hill and immediately sprint up the hill before turning around and slowly jogging back down. You’ll be completing a total of 12 hill sprints, starting at 50% effort for sprints 1 to 4, 75% effort for sprints 5 to 8, and at 90 to 100% effort for the final four sprints. Cool down with another short jog on flat ground.

3. One minute intervals

Push-ups at the park

Push-ups at the park | Source: iStock

At the park find a flat part of the trail that has two natural markers, like two trees or light posts. Bring your watch or phone, as you will need to do each exercise for one full minute. After repeating all six moves for one minute each, rest one full minute and repeat the entire circuit two more times.

  • Start at one end of your marked area and sprint as fast as you can to the other marker. Once you reach the second marker, shift into a lateral lunge as you change directions, tapping the ground with your leading hand. Carry that momentum forward as you rotate into your next sprint. Continue the back and forth for one minute.
  • Move directly into T-stabilization push-ups. Start in plank with your hands stacked under your shoulders. Engage your core as you lower down into a push-up. When you return to plank, shift your weight to the outside of your left foot and stack your right foot on top of your left. Reach your right arm up toward the sky and hold for a moment before returning to plank. Lower down into a push-up and then shift your weight to the other side. Repeat continually for one full minute.
  • Find a line, sidewalk crack, or marker as a placeholder and stand on one side of the line with both feet together preparing for lateral tuck jumps. Lower into a slight squat and push off the ground, tucking your knees into your chest as you jump over the line to the other side. Repeat the back and forth motion for one minute.

man performing push-ups on a dock outside

Man performing push-ups outside | iStock.com

  • Come back into plank position and lift your right foot off the ground reaching your knee toward your right elbow. Then, return your foot back to plank and lift your hips up and back into downward dog. Come back into plank and repeat on the other side. Alternate back and forth for one minute.
  • Return to the course you set up for sprints and stand at one end with your feet together. Take a step forward with the right foot and hinge at the hips as you lift your left leg behind you. Keep your back straight coming into a “T” position. Repeat on the left leg as you continue moving forward for one minute.
  • Finally, lie flat on your back. Reach your right arm toward the sky and use your core strength to simultaneously lift the left foot up. If you can, tap the two together before lowering back down. Repeat three reps with your right arm and left leg and then switch sides. Continue the back and forth for a full minute.
  • When you’re done, rest one full minute before repeating the entire cycle a second and third time.