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Backyard Workouts The Whole Family Will Love!

Holly Smith

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

backyard workouts

Want to get in shape and spend time with your family outdoors? Backyard workouts are the perfect way to combine family and fitness!

The weather is heating up and the kids are at home, which means it is the perfect time to enjoy some backyard workouts with the family.

Working out with your kids is a great way to introduce them to exercise and fitness.

Teaching healthy habits at a young age will motivate your children to want to maintain an active lifestyle on their own as well.

Plus, you get the benefit of getting in an awesome workout without having to spend time away from your family!


Start Fitness at a Young Age with Backyard Workouts

A study done in Illinois in 2014 enrolled 8- to 9-year-old children to participate in a nine-month physical activity program called FITKids. The children were then compared to a control group that did not participate in this program.

The physical activity intervention improved cardiorespiratory fitness and reduced fat mass percentage in these children, providing support for daily physical activity in children.

Exercise is not just important for physical health — it can also improve cognitive function.

The FITKids study also found that children engaged in daily aerobic activities had enhanced cognitive performance and brain function during tasks requiring greater executive control.

It is much easier to convince your kids to exercise if the activities are fun. And what better way to do this than with backyard workouts!


Backyard Relay Race Workout

You can set up cones, or really any objects you have laying around the garage, to make up your own relay race course.

By changing the movements, such as going from running to shuffling, you will be working different muscles and challenging your core.

This relay race workout is a fun and effective way to get your family moving.


A warm-up is important any time you are exercising, and that includes backyard workouts.

To start this workout, set up cones or sticks about 50 feet apart. You can adjust this based on how much space you have or the fitness level of your family.

For the warm-up, jog to the far cone and back, followed by 30 seconds of jumping jacks. Repeat this warm-up twice.

Main Workout

If your family is big enough you can split up into teams. For example, if you have two people on each team, the first person will complete leg #1 and tag the second person. Then this family member will complete leg #1 themselves.

Once they tag their teammate again, the first person will then move on to leg #2. This will be repeated until the end of the race.

So basically every person on each team will complete each leg of the race.

  1. Run to cone and back
  2. Run to the cone, then run back, backward
  3. Run to the cone, do five burpees, then run back
  4. Run to the cone, then shuffle sideways back
  5. Run to the cone, then high knees run back

This is a great cardio and strength workout. And you can even turn it into a fun competition!

You can repeat this workout as many times as you want to challenge yourself and your family.

Cool Down

Add a short cool down after this backyard workout. This will encourage your family to include cool downs in their other workouts as well.

Just do a slow jog to the cone and back a few times and follow this with some light stretching to end the workout.


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Backyard Circuit Course

You can use the space outdoors to make a fun circuit training course for the family.

This will not only give you and your family a great cardio workout but will also build strength and endurance.

You can make this a high-intensity interval backyard workout.

You can set up stations in the backyard to perform these exercises and rotate through, or everyone can do the same exercise together.


Do a short 3-5 minute jog around the backyard. Or you could do 3-5 minutes of jumping jacks or jump rope to get your family warmed up.

Main Workout

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, then take a 30-second rest.

Body Weight Squats

  • Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Drive through your heels, and don’t let your knees track over your toes.
  • You can clasp your hands in front of you or hand them at your sides.


  • Start on your hands and knees, with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
  • Extend the legs straight, resting on your toes.
  • Make sure your hands are directly under the shoulders.
  • Contract your abs and keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest is near the floor, then extend the arms again to drive back up to the top.

Make sure your kids maintain good form. Don’t let their hips sag or backs bow. They can start on their knees until they gain enough strength to do a full push up on their toes.


  • Step your right foot forward and keep your left foot back behind you.
  • Bend your right knee to lower the body towards the grass.
  • Keep your right knee behind your toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward.
  • Engage your abs as you push through the front heel and back to starting position.
  • Then alternate with the left leg.

Do these in place or do walking lunges across the backyard.


Triceps Dips

  • Sit on the grass with your knees bent and feet in front of you.
  • Place your palms on the ground behind you.
  • Your hands should be underneath your shoulders, with your fingers facing toward your body.
  • Extend your arms to lift your butt, then bend your elbows to lower yourself back down without bringing your butt completely to the ground.
  • That's one rep.

If you have a gardening bench or stairs you can also do tricep dips on these surfaces as well to increase your range of motion.

Burpees with Push-Up

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Squat down and place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick your legs straight out behind you into a high plank with your hands underneath your shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then straighten them to do a push-up.
  • At the top of the push up jump your feet toward your hands into a squat.
  • Jump straight up into the air, reaching your arms overhead.

Squats with Front Kick

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Clasp your hands in front of you.
  • Squat down with your weight on your heels.
  • Push up from your heels and shift your weight onto your left leg while you perform a front kick with your right leg.
  • To kick, lift your right left knee up first then extend the knee to kick out.
  • Then bend your knee and return your foot to the floor and squat down again.
  • Repeat the squat and then kick with the left leg.
  • Keep alternating sides during the 30-second interval.


Plank Jacks

  • Start in a high plank, or push up position, with your wrists directly below your shoulders.
  • While engaging your core, jump your feet out and in, like jumping jacks.
  • Try to keep your back straight and hips in line without too much bouncing.

Side to Side Ski Jumps

  • Stand with your feet positioned close together.
  • Squat slightly, about a quarter squat, as though you were skiing.
  • Push up through your heels and jump up and to the right.
  • Land softly while sinking back into the ski squat position.
  • Repeat the movement, this time jumping towards the left.
  • Without pausing, continue to jump right and left.

Plank Ski Hops

  • Start in a high plank position with your wrists below your shoulders.
  • Keep your feet together and jump them up and to the outside of your right hand.
  • Then, extend your legs and jump back to the original plank position.
  • Next, jump the feet up and to the outside of your left hand and back to plank again.
  • Continue alternating sides for the entire 30 seconds as quickly as you can.


Don’t Forget the Yard Work!

Since you’re getting your kids motivated to exercise, you can also sneak in some backyard chores that are just as good as a real workout.


Raking up grass clippings and leaves is an excellent way to keep your yard looking pristine and get in some exercise at the same time.

The pulling motion will work your upper body, especially your lats, arms, and shoulders.

As you twist to the left and right to rake the leaves you will also be exercising your core by strengthening your abs and lower back muscles.

Mowing the Lawn

If you have a push mower, cutting your grass can burn some serious calories.

This is a total body workout that will target your legs, arms, and core. Plus, the constant walking and turning is great cardio.

You can switch off with your kids to give each other breaks especially if it is warm outside.

You can even make it more of a leg workout by adding lunges as you push the mower across the lawn. This will take mowing the lawn to the next level!

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Gardening involves so many different movements that will help build strength along with improving balance.

Digging, pulling weeds, bending, and squatting will give you a total body workout.

Plus, it has a number of other health benefits.

A 2017 study found that gardening indeed does have a significant positive impact on health.

This was observed for a wide range of health outcomes, such as reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, stress, mood disturbance, and BMI, as well as increases in quality of life, sense of community, physical activity levels, and cognitive function.

When you add in lifting heavy bags of topsoil or pushing a loaded wheelbarrow across the yard, gardening can turn into a true resistance training workout in the backyard.

Stay in Shape with Backyard Workouts

Even without a gym, you can get in shape just by working out in your backyard!

Backyard workouts are great because you have the benefit of not only exercising outside but also working out and spending time with your family.

Structured backyard workouts are an excellent way to fit in a workout while you’re at home.

But don’t forget, even everyday yard work will give you great cardiovascular and strength-building benefits.

Plus, you can keep the yard looking pristine in the process! Two for one!

So get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and stay fit and healthy at the same time with some of these backyard workouts!

Holly Smith
Holly Smith

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on backyard workouts.

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