Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Taking Advantage of Your Location : At Last – Some Real Outdoor Space
Written By : Scott Bird
Filed In : Articles

In this series Blaine and I will be looking at just some of the ways to take advantage of your location when it comes to working out. No matter what your idea of ‘working out‘ is, there are several things you can do right where you are.
To kick things off, I’ll be taking a peek at something which many of us can put to good use – a bit of outdoor space.

In 2005 I moved from Glasgow, Scotland to Sydney, Australia. I’ve done a fair bit of travelling over the years, so the logistics of shifting from one place to another weren’t much of a problem (aside from the paperwork at customs, but that’s another story).
What did stand out, however, was the big difference in the way I worked out. This consisted of :

  • A tiny garage gym in Glasgow, without lights or heating – very much at the mercy of the elements
  • During the trip itself there was very little exercise – aside from the stretching on the plane, and the mad running between flights
  • In Sydney (before I set the main gym up) I used my father’s all-in-one home gym – a large machine that covered most of the basic exercises
  • Once the rack and free-weights were in place, it was back to business-as-usual (without the extreme cold, that is)
  • As the weather in Sydney grew warmer, I gradually added outdoor training elements such as kettlebells, sandbags, a sledgehammer and odd objects (I just happened to find an old anvil lying around)

Through this experience I noted many things (including the fact that it would’ve been cheaper, quicker and easier to sell everything first and buy it again in Sydney). Today, however, I’ll just be looking at one of them – the things you can do with a yard.

How big is the yard?

When I first arrived in Sydney, I stayed at my parents’ house whilst looking for something a little more permanent. The house sits on a 1/4 acre block, which was pretty typical here at the time it was built (early 1970s).
This is roughly broken up into thirds, with a third each for front, house and back yards. Easily enough for a bit of football, a game of cricket and a dip in the kidney-shaped swimming pool. It’s a great set-up.

Time for some serious outdoor workouts

This space immediately lends itself to outdoor training. This has included :
Plenty of kettlebell training : although there’s no real reason why kettlebell training can’t be performed indoors, the ceiling height here means it’s definitely an outdoor pursuit. Especially when it comes to kettlebell snatches.
Rob O'BrienNB : I haven’t yet tried this, but the idea of kettlebell training in the pool is definitely on the cards. Once summer really gets underway, of course.

Sandbag work : again, this could be done indoors. However, there’s always the feeling that one of these days a sandbag will burst, and, well, I’d rather be outside when it does.
Farmers’ walks : I usually perform these with heavily-laden dumbbells, although I’m tempted to construct something a little more like this. The hardest part? Carrying them back into the house following a dumbbell Inman Mile. Love it.

George F. JowettOdd objects : no matter how hard you try, there’s no way to drop something like an anvil without making a dent in the ground. I’d rather have a hole in the dirt than broken floorboards.
I also like lifting things that are already outside, such as the various stones, bags and machinery around the yard. Good fun.

What else can you do?

If you’ve got a yard and would love to use it more in your training regime, here are a few more things you can do.
Install playground equipment : Now, I’m not talking about swings and slides here (as much fun as they are). Take a look at this gear from Outdoor Fitness, the Traveling Rings at Muscle Beach and Kris’s very own forest gym. There are some superb ideas there.
Build a sandpit : There are many, many things you can do with a sandpit. Sand makes a great ‘drop zone’ for all manner of heavy stuff, as it’ll deaden the noise and prevent holes in the lawn. Also try throwing things – dumbbells or kettlebells – into it from a distance, shotput-style.
Build a pegboard or climbing wall : Climbing is one of my favourite ways to train – especially outdoors. If you’re DIY-inclined, build your own pegboard or climbing wall. Feeling courageous? Knock up a Campus board.
Try a little rope work : Got a long, thin yard? Drag the thick rope outside, and get it moving. If you’re not quite sure what I mean by ‘get it moving’, try the exercise in this video by Anthony DiLuglio.
Vertical space only? Loop the rope over a high tree branch and start climbing. Excellent exercise.
Push cars, tow sleds : If you have enough space, try pushing the car around the yard. Alternately, hook yourself up to a weighted sled and go for a brisk walk. Good stuff.
These are just some of the many things you can do when it comes to training in a decent-sized yard. Of course there are many, many more. Experiment.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via X (Formerly Twitter), Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
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