Today’s times are anything but conventional.  This week alone, 300 million Americans have been asked to stay home and self-quarantine in an attempt to slow the ever-spreading Coronavirus.  With no immediate end in sight, this may be our unfortunate norm for the foreseeable future. Gyms are closed, fitness equipment is on backorder, but the show must go on.  Now, more than ever, we have some free time on our hands in the comfort of our own home. It is essential, not just for our physical health, but our mental health as well, that we continue to demonstrate some sort of fitness routine.  This requires discipline and some outside-the-box thinking. Luckily for us, our creativity is our limiting factor. A few days ago, I walked into my garage and “randomized” my fitness. With a wheelbarrow, four bags of water softener salt, and an old log I completed one of my favorite workouts to date.  If you’re like me, this unconventional strength training model may take a bit to put together. I’ll give you a few ideas, and like me, you may produce some of your favorite workouts yet. 

Water Softener Salt and a Wheelbarrow 

Each bag of water softener salt weighs 40 pounds.  The bags have also been designed with a convenient handle for carrying them.  This is exactly what I did. With a bag in each hand, I walked a lap around my house.  After I completed two laps, I loaded all four bags into my wheelbarrow. I then took my wheel barrow for a lap around the wooded outskirts of my yard.  My lawn was a bit soggy and the homestretch of my lap was up hill. This made for an awesome natural resistance for my wheelbarrow. I repeated this process four times.  This portion of the workout took about 20 minutes. My grip was shot, my quads were burning, and my heart rate was through the roof. All in all, two unconventional pieces of equipment turned into a steller workout.  After my carries, I also experimented with some strength-building movements with the salt bags. I was able to perform stiff leg deadlifts, bench press, bent over rows, weighted push ups and over the shoulder lunges. When our gyms open up again, I probably won’t request that they order a set of salt bags, however, while home, these bags can produce a more-than-adequate workout. 

Farmer Carries don’t have to be with weights.. Farmer’s use ANYTHING!

An Old Log 

Last fall, we had a tree removal party at my house.  We had a tree fall on our roof and it required that we cut it down, cut it into segments, and store it in our woodshed.  We’ve slowly been burning our logs around the fire, but we have no shortage of segments remaining. This week I picked out a two foot, 70 pound piece of hardwood.  I carried it to the back yard and conducted a strongman-esque workout. I completed 50 ground-to-over-the-shoulder throws. I made sure to pick up the log with a nice flat back and alternate what shoulder I threw the log over.  I went as fast as I could using perfect form each lift. Again, my grip was fried, my lower back (in a good way) and biceps were pumped, and my heart rate was at 175 beats per minute. 50 alternating throws only took four minutes.  Rest a minute and repeat the process three more times. It was an unconventional exercise with an unconventional piece of equipment that produced a great workout.  


This next piece of equipment is something that many people have in their house – A set of stairs.  For this workout, I used my outdoor deck stairs. It was 55 degrees outside. If anyone has ever been to Wisconsin, you know when it’s 55 degrees outside in March, you enjoy that as much as possible.  My deck only has three stairs, but that was more than enough. I set a timer for 20 minutes and let my creativity take over. I started with some alternating step ups. I decided to use all three stairs for this.  This required me to take a long step. During this workout, I didn’t use any weights so I decided to complete high-volume sets. I completed 50 alternating step ups on each leg. Next, I moved to push-ups. I completed a push up ladder.  I completed 10 reps on the first step, second step, third step, second step, and finally, the first step again. Another 50 rep set. The increase in incline on the way up acted as a drop set. As I was getting tired, the resistance decreased.  However, the last two stairs on the way down the ladder were a doozy. After push ups, I mixed in some stair jumps and some heel raises. This super set was a nice way to increase the heart rate and get a great pump in the calves. I rotated through these exercises for remaining time.  In 20 minutes, I never stopped moving, worked on my upper body, lower body, an explosive movement, and was able to get a nice workout without any equipment.  

Closing Thoughts

Times may seem tough in this world.  There’s uncertainty everywhere we look.  This isn’t the time to be anxious and forget our healthy habits, but instead a time to get creative, get outdoors, and enjoy at-home workouts.  Today I outlined a few workouts I’ve been doing to utilize unconventional strength training equipment. These are nowhere near the only pieces of equipment you can use.  You can use sandbags (stay tuned for our sandbag article), five-gallon pails, heavy stones, bands, chains, and many others. The options are endless. Have a positive attitude and be creative.  You might find a workout that you enjoy doing for the rest of your life. What kind of unconventional workouts are you doing? We want to hear from you. Shoot us a comment below, and let’s get after it.  

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