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Bar workouts for outdoor gyms

A bar is a simple piece of workout equipment that has stood the test of time. It provides a number of exercise options for callisthenics style workouts that use your bodyweight as resistance.

There are several different types of bars you might find at your local outdoor gym. Here are a few of them, along with exercise ideas for each:

1. A single low bar that stands somewhere between your hip and chest height

  • Modified (easy level) pushups with your hands on the bar
  • Modified chin ups – place your feet on the ground under the bar and then walk them out further in front to start

2. A single high bar that you can only just reach with your arms above your head or that you have to jump up to reach

  • Assisted chin ups (with a spotter), or unassisted if you can do them
  • Knee tucks (or a straight leg L-hold if you’re advanced)
  • Toe taps up to the bar (advanced)
  • Scapular depression (drawing shoulders down while hanging)
  • Simple hanging to build hand and shoulder strength
  • Swinging once you’ve mastered the hang
  • Skin the cat

3. Parallel bars at your waist height or higher

  • Dips – using a spotter if required
  • Front support swings – with one hand on each bar supporting an upright body in between the bars (start with hanging before you try the swing)
  • Monkey walk – two hands on one bar, and knees over the other bar so that your body is hanging underneath. ‘Walk’ your hands and legs (sideways) along the bars and then back to the start
  • Bear walk – the opposite way to monkey walk. This time you’re on top of the parallel bars. Put both hands on one bar and both feet on the other (buttocks in the air). Then ‘walk’ (sideways) across the top of the bars on your hands and feet.
  • Also, try changing the orientation of your monkey walk and bear walk by placing one hand on each bar and one leg (or foot for bear walk) on each bar. Then walk yourself forward and backwards along the bars.


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