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Stay At Home Dad’s Bodyweight Playground Workout


Can you believe that March is almost over? That mean Q1 is almost done and it’s time to dust off the 2013 New Year’s resolutions and get a few things ticked off. One of my goals for 2013 is to come up with a sustainable exercise program and do it. I used to go to the company’s gym at lunch 4-5 times a week when I was working and it was great. Since I became a stay at home dad, I haven’t been able to exercise much, so here is my attempt to rectify that with a bodyweight playground workout.

The weather is finally getting nicer and we can go to the playground a bit more often now. It’s the perfect time to come up with a workout routine. I have been trying out various exercises at the playground and I think my program will help me get a big more fit. A few kids have told me “you’re weird”, but nobody has called a cop on me yet. Here is the routine I put together.

Warm up

  • Walk to the park. This could take 10 to 30 minutes depending on how much exploration the little guy decides to do.
  • Stretch – don’t want to risk any injury. 🙂

90 seconds each

  • Step ups – Find a bench and step up and down. 90 seconds for each side.
  • Jumping jacks – I hate Jacks. They are killers.
  • Ice skaters – side to side skating motion

Alright, this should take less than 10 minutes in a gym, but it’s anyone’s guess with a 2 year old in tow. Next up is the real work out.

Playground Bodyweight Workout

  • baby toss workout3 X 8 (24) pull ups anyway you can – I can do about 20 on the monkey bars for now.
  • 4 X 25 (100) push ups – I’m putting my hands on a bench so it’s not a full push up. I can do maybe 80 of these.
  • 3 X 10 (30) baby toss. Squat down and hold baby’s underarm, then stand up and toss him in the air. He couldn’t get enough of this. Don’t forget to catch the kid. This one is hard on the quads. Whew…
  • Alternate for baby toss – 4 x 25 (100) squats if no baby toss. Baby usually wants to run around the playground so maybe put off the baby toss for later at home.
  • 3 X 10 (30) park bench dips. I haven’t done this one yet, but it shouldn’t be too hard.
  • 4 x 60 seconds burpee or mountain climber. I have my hands on a bench or play equipment here too.

Overall, we have 3 or 4 sets of 5 exercises. I usually alternate between two or three exercises at a time.  I start with 8 pull ups following by 25 push ups, then repeat. I also get a lot of break time in between sets because I’m chasing the kid around the playground and helping him up the big play structure. It’s permissible to go back and forth on the monkey bars and slide down the slides if you think it can hold your weight. 😉

Cool down

Stroll home with the little guy.


Well, what do you think about my playground workout routine? It’s not cross fit or even Zoomba, but at least I’m trying to be a bit more active. I can probably do 60% of the workout right now and should be able to get close to 90% if I consistently do it a few times a week. There is not a lot of cardio in this program and I probably need to add something later.

Alternatively, I can just join the 24 Hours Fitness a few blocks away. They have a kid’s club room so I can just drop Baby RB40 off there. It will probably cost around $25/month (+$60 for childcare), but I’ll keep it in mind for next winter. I’d rather be outdoors when the weather is nice.

Do you have a fitness goal this year? How is it coming along?

Check out this stay at home dad’s workout. It’s quite hilarious.

*Update – Apparently, bodyweight training is one of the top 3 health trends in 2013. I’m way ahead of the curve here because I’ve been doing this since last year when I quit my job. 🙂

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Forest Parks April 7, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Been using bodyweight training as part of my routine for years much due to the fact that i travel a lot so can’t accumulate stuff! I keep in reasonable shape so have been happy with the general results.

    How is it going for you a few weeks on from this post?

    • retirebyforty April 7, 2013, 4:01 pm

      It’s up and down. When we go to the playground, I usually can do at least part of the workout. It’s been rainy again though so we haven’t been able to go out as much as I’d hope. What’s your routine like?

      • Forest Parks April 8, 2013, 3:46 am

        I shouldn’t have said ‘routine’ really! I’d say I exercise 5 out of 7 days between 25mins-1hr. I use the videos from Insanity and some from P90x but also run and have found some good videos recently online.

        I’m off to Liverpool to stay with my Mum in a few weeks and it’ll be boring no going out drinking, no spending or seeing friends etc etc. That will mean I can set a routine in solid stone and really stick to it.

        • retirebyforty April 8, 2013, 4:48 pm

          Have a good time! I really can’t do much right now, but that’s ok. The kid will be off to school soon enough.

  • Felix Lee March 24, 2013, 9:06 am

    Wonderful job for the first quarter. And doing workout is a lot more fun when doing it with the kids.

  • [email protected] March 19, 2013, 1:34 pm

    I think that’s awesome! Might as well stay in shape while watching your kiddo!!! =)

  • Financial Samurai March 19, 2013, 9:21 am

    Your muscles are gonna get HUGE in no time Joe!

    Looks like the baby is being trained for the great american rollercoaster quest!

    • retirebyforty March 19, 2013, 10:36 am

      Ha! We watched American Ninja Warrior before bed time a few days ago. That was a mistake. The little guy was bouncing all over the place and wouldn’t go to bed…

  • Mike March 19, 2013, 8:31 am

    I guess the closest I can get is the milk replacer formula that I use for some of the calves on my parent’s farm. It gets heavy but it works for at least toning the arms. You seem like you have the perfect routine for your situation, that’s more than most people!

  • [email protected] Guy,Skinny Wallet March 19, 2013, 5:33 am

    Love,Love,Love this! Awesome way to get a workout in,no excuses! I used to wear my baby when she was first born and I needed to get a walking dvd in. Now I just push them in a stroller or tag them on my bike trailer.

    • retirebyforty March 19, 2013, 10:30 am

      Our guy doesn’t like the stroller so we just walk everywhere. It’s great for him, but it can be frustrating for me. He gets distracted so easily. Thanks!

  • The Dividend Guy March 19, 2013, 2:39 am

    Nice routine 🙂

    I’ve set a personal goal of running 500 miles this year. This makes an average of 10 miles/week with 2 weeks for vacation (who runs when they are traveling??). After 11 weeks completed, I’m showing 111 miles ran! It was hard at first (I’ve started the year with 10 days at Disney World) but I’m getting back to a steady workout routine for the past 6 weeks.

    My next goal will be to cut on wine and great food over weekends…. but that’s another story!

    • retirebyforty March 19, 2013, 10:29 am

      That’s a great goal. I’m not much of a runner. Cutting back on good food and wine doesn’t sound like much fun.

  • Nick March 18, 2013, 3:56 pm

    Great job! I need to get a routine of my own like this.

  • krantcents March 18, 2013, 1:04 pm

    I will be happy to just maintain fitness. As I age, it seems to require much more effort to maintain my good health physically. Remember, you are a role model for Jr. you need to stay active and he along with you.

  • Gina March 18, 2013, 12:07 pm

    If this knucklehead would have used his tattoo money to buy a gym membership instead, I think his daughter Sophie would appreciate it!

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:17 pm

      I think Sophie is fine. She’s having fun with her dad. 🙂

  • Well Heeled Blog March 18, 2013, 12:01 pm

    Best fitness video I’ve seen in a long time!

  • [email protected] March 18, 2013, 10:30 am

    Great variety. Will try this asap. Thanks!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules March 18, 2013, 9:45 am

    Great ideas Joe! I love the baby toss as it’s a great way to get something in plus the kids love it. My issue is when the near six year old asks to be tossed in the air. 😉

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:17 pm

      Hahaha, I see your point. My kid keeps asking to be toss even after I’m all tired out.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor March 18, 2013, 9:16 am

    Very creative Joe, I love it! I think many of us with childcare responsibilities rationalize that that makes them too busy to stay in shape, but you’ve figured a way to merge the two. I think there’s an eBook in this concept somewhere!

  • SavvyFinancialLatina March 18, 2013, 8:55 am

    I work out 5x a week: bootcamp, yoga, pilates, cardio kickboxing.

    Some days all I want to do is go home and pass out but I’m making myself go workout.

    I don’t really like gyms. I don’t lift weights and I hate running on a treadmill. I prefer to take fitness classes.

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:15 pm

      That’s really great. I like taking classes too. It’s so much more interactive than the threadmill.

  • Kevin @ RewardBoost March 18, 2013, 8:51 am

    That video was pretty hilarious. I can’t wait to have kids and start using them as fitness equipment! I tried to use my puppy for that, but apparently puppies will bite you for that!

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:14 pm

      Kids will bite you too. 🙂

  • nicoleandmaggie March 18, 2013, 7:13 am

    The nice thing about baby-lifts for arm strength is that the baby grows as you get stronger.

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:14 pm

      I don’t know… I think as the baby grows, I probably can’t lift him as much and just give up that particular exercise. 🙂

      • nicoleandmaggie March 18, 2013, 6:20 pm

        toddler lifts are much harder than baby-lifts
        If I can do the baby range, so can you!

  • My Financial Independence Journey March 18, 2013, 6:55 am

    I don’t really know your starting fitness level, so it’s hard to say if it’s a great work out or not. But if you’re not feeling like you’re working enough, you can always up the intensity.

    I had to laugh at the baby toss as an exercise. This has been a running joke that I used with every new parent I knew. I can’t believe someone finally tried it. You can also use babies for bench press, pull ups (if you have one of those baby satchel things), and crunches.

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:12 pm

      I tried the baby press and baby curl. It’s fine at home, but I don’t think I want to do it at the park. He’s pretty squirmy.

      • Ron March 25, 2013, 6:22 pm

        This is so important. Please NEVER toss a young baby, or infant for any reason, including exercise. It is extremely dangerous. Even if you are perfect at this, and never drop the child, other things can happen. A young child’s brain is encased inside a protective skull and is not meant to be treated in a rough manner. It is far too similar to SBS (shaken baby syndrome), to take chances. I am sure that you would never want to harm your child, so please consider taking my advice.

  • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle March 18, 2013, 6:10 am

    One of my 2013 goals was to increase my fitness and decrease my body fat. I just did my first 30 minutes of exercise for 2013. At home, for free, using my body weight. I do have some foam floor squares to make it easier on my knees and back.

    One of my best friends, who is in a very different income bracket than I am, has a personal trainer come to her home 3 times per week. She was able to get in great shape over the winter and has treated her self to an entirely new wardrobe.

    My goal is to be able to fit in to my old clothes so I don’t have to buy anything.

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:11 pm

      I did about 20 minutes today at the park and it wasn’t fun at all. I wasn’t feeling it today so I was reluctantly going through the routine. There is no way I would pay for a personal trainer, that’s like paying for parking (like George would say.) 🙂

  • Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank March 18, 2013, 4:18 am

    Body weight training was all the rage when I was actively bulking up back in 2001-2002. I think it probably goes in cycles like most things.

    • retirebyforty March 18, 2013, 4:10 pm

      Really? I didn’t know that. You’re probably right about it being cyclical.

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