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Login | July 14, 2024

Yard workouts

Pete’s World

Published: July 8, 2024

Over the years I’ve occasionally touched on the theme of treating your seasonal outdoor yard work (mowing, raking, shoveling, planting) as a form of exercise.
But lately I’ve taken this simple theme and melded it with some actual exercise science techniques such that I now have even more variety in my workout selections.
Indeed, these new hybrid workouts, which I refer to as yard workouts, combine yard work with calisthenics, and they’ve been a great way for me to add a little pizzazz to what are typically mundane yard chores.
But it wasn’t until this past weekend, when a client arrived early for our scheduled workout that I was able to test this concept on someone other than myself.
It went like this.
I was outside playing around with one of my yard workouts, this one I call “chop n’pulls,” where I chop firewood with a hand axe in conjunction with performing pull-ups on my outdoor pull-up bars.
Well, my client, who we’ll call John Smith, had arrived about 20 minutes early and gleefully asked if he could take a few whacks at the log as a warmup before going inside for his workout.
And that’s when the light bulb came on in my head, whereupon I offered him the option of doing the chop n’ pull workout with me instead of his prearranged indoor workout - and he was all smiles in accepting my “Paul Bunyan” option.
I subsequently had him spend three minutes splitting a larger log into smaller pieces and then move immediately to the pull-up bars for a strict set of full extension pull-ups to failure, which lasted under a minute.
And let me tell you, he was breathing as if he’d just completed a full-gas 400-meter running interval after finishing the pull-ups.
His recovery entailed four minutes of watching me complete the same four-minute round of chop n’ pulls. We proceeded with a second round, a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and an eighth and final round.
The workout took just over an hour to complete and both John Smith and I were absolutely exhausted.
Now the beauty of this workout was the fact that it worked so many different muscle groups - shoulders, lats, core, glutes, hips and legs - in addition to challenging our hearts and lungs with some pretty wicked cardiorespiratory intervals.
Those chopping and pulling motions at a vigorous intensity, coupled with the subsequent cardiorespiratory response made for a wonderful full body workout.
Another in my zany arsenal of yard workout routines is the push n’ pull, where I combine lawn mowing with pull-ups.
Now before you start laughing at me, think about it.
Pushing a lawn mover is pretty much like pushing a weighted sled, where you’re working the back, glutes, hips, core, hamstrings, triceps and shoulders; while the pull-ups are working the upper back, traps, biceps, forearms and spinal muscles.
Combine those two motions - the push and pull - against a resistance and it can make for an amazing full-body workout, which is far from a laughing matter.
Now at this point I’m hoping that you’re starting to see the method hidden amidst my fitness madness and by taking those simple pushing and pulling motions you can come up with some pretty cool workouts that combine yard work with calisthenic exercises.
For example, if you don’t have pull-up bars like I do, you can do something like raking leaves or hoeing and/or raking the garden as your pulling motion, and combine it with a calisthenic pushing motion exercise like push-ups.
And remember: You control the volume and intensity level, so you don’t have to go bizarro crazy like my client and I did with the chop n’ pulls.
In addition to pull-ups and push-ups, some other yard workout calisthenic variables can include body weight: lunges, squats and deadlifts, planks and burpees.
Combine any of the aforementioned calisthenic variables with an opposite pushing or pulling motion yard work activity and suddenly you have the makings for a really good workout.
Once you select your yard workout variables you merely need decide on the number of reps, sets and recovery time you’ll use in order to give it the feel of organization. It’s that easy.
And one last thing…don’t worry about what your neighbors might think. You know you’re at the forefront of a crazy new fitness trend...yard workouts.