How to Turn Yard Work into Your Weekend Workout
Your weekend projects can do more than make your house look better, they can provide the perfect weekend workout. Use these tips to get a pump while also avoiding injury.
If you’re the yardman of the house, chances are that you are not looking forward to this weekend. Combine the hot sun with dirt and pollen, and you have a recipe for a sweaty, unpleasant afternoon. Why not get your weekend workout as you do your outdoor chores? Here are a few ways to turn your yard work into a workout.
While you may have seen a variety of manual laborers who look pretty strong and cut, you have also probably seen just as many who are fat, out of shape, and look generally unhealthy. The reason is because being fit and healthy requires more than just moving your body all day long. Fitness is about balance and progression, not just sweat.
With that in mind, here are some key tips to turn a day working in the yard into a fat-blasting, muscle-building weekend workout that will also help you avoid the injuries and soreness that usually come along with a busy Saturday.
#1: Balance Your Workload
The body is an amazing thing. It quickly adapts to repetitive motions like digging, lifting, throwing, and twisting. While this can be helpful at making the movements more efficient, it can also lead to overuse injuries if you’re overworking one side of your body without balancing the load on the other side.
The fix is pretty simple, and while it may be awkward as you get started, it will be well worth it in the long run. Simply count out the movement on each side and switch it when you reach 5, 10, or 20 reps. If you’re shoveling dirt, don’t just use your dominant side; switch every so often. While it may slow down the task at first, you’ll quickly adapt and your body will thank you in the long and short run.
#2: Warm Up Before You Work
Most people would not simply jump into a heavy workout involving odd movements without first preparing their bodies, but that is exactly what you do when you jump into working in the yard. Next time you get ready to demo some old hardscape in your backyard, take 5 to 10 minutes and warm up your body with some stretches or basic bodyweight exercises prior to jumping in. If nothing else, give this short routine a shot and see how it effects both your productivity and soreness after the day is done:
#3: Add Some Intensity!
If you want to turn your yard work into a workout, you need to treat it like a workout. If you usually do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), you can apply the same workout routine structure to your yard work. Everyone knows that sprint training followed by rest periods is an effective way to train, but how often do you trudge through your yard work at a slow pace? Next time you go to dig a hole or demo some stone, try going as hard and fast as you can for 15 to 30 seconds, then rest for 15 to 30 seconds. You’ll find that the work is still getting done, but you’ll be generating the same sweat and workload that your standard Tabata workout usually provides!
#4: Don’t Forget Your Lifting Techniques
Real lifters know that technique matters. It impacts the amount of weight you can lift, how many times you can lift it, and whether or not you’ll be nursing injuries afterwards. Even so, how often do you forget all of those principles when you go outside to apply all of that strength training to ACTUAL work? You wouldn’t do a Barbell Deadlift with unstable footing and a bent back, would you? So why do you lift cinderblocks like you never picked up a weight in your life? The point is, remember how to lift, and make sure you apply the same techniques to your actual work.
#5: Fuel & Hydrate Properly
Most guys have some kind of supplement stack that they use before and after workouts, but they rarely take it when they’re planning to lift heavy things and move constantly for 6 hours or more of outdoor work. Does that make sense to you? You are taking supplements to improve your performance, enhance your strength, and aid in muscle growth and general health.
If ever all of that applies, it’s when you’re putting hours and hours into a physical task. Make sure you take your pre- and post-workout supplements and hydrate as much as possible while you work. Since you’ll be sweating a lot, you may need to drink at least double what you usually should be drinking. Plan on drinking at least your bodyweight in ounces (180lb man should drink 180oz of water).
A lot of these tips might seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how people can disconnect their fitness regimen from actual physical labor. Use them to make your hardest and best workout of the week be the weekend workout that’s not in the gym.