How you can get a strength workout in your own back yard

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You don’t need a gym membership to get the most effective strength and conditioning workout; in fact, a lot of professional athletes and fitness coaches get their most intensive sessions in at home. If you want to train like the pros but don’t have the money to spend, workout at home–all it takes is some elbow grease and a little ingenuity.


First, you have to decide what kind of workout equipment you need. This is based on your goals as an individual. Someone looking to tone, for example, isn’t going to need to find a way to make the full range of equipment a body-builder would require.


To get you started, however, here are some great basic ideas to incorporate into a home-based strength and conditioning routine:


  • Sand bags: Probably the most essential of all homemade exercise pieces, sandbags can be used in a number of ways. The best thing about sand bags is that you can make them whatever weight you want; if you’re really ambitious and have the time, you can make a full set of weights using sandbags alone. Best of all they aren’t difficult to make. Most experts recommend measuring out sand into zip-lock baggies in pre-set amounts (say 5 pounds each). You can then add or subtract bags from a larger container, like a duffel bag, depending on how much weight you are looking to work with.


  • Duffel bag/book bag: For strength training you will need something to lift or carry your weights in even if you don’t use sandbags and are just using books, rocks, or another heavy item for lifting. Thrift stores are a great place to find inexpensive backpacks or duffel bags. You can use them to weight lift or full them with weight and take them on a long hike for conditioning.


  • Nature: If you’re lucky enough to live near a wooded area it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a natural pull-up bar. Take  a walk in the woods (or a nice warm-up jog) and look for a sturdy branch that will do the trick. You’d be surprised all the strength and conditioning work you can do outside; throw some heavy rocks; drag some fallen trees; it all adds up in the end.


  • Homemade wheel: When talking about a homemade wheel, we of course mean an ab wheel, that wonderous piece of equipment that is designed to build core strength. There’s no need to buy one of these when you can make one at home, and professional trainer Ross Enamait indicates all you need is a quick trip to the local hardware store. For this project you will need an inexpensive set of 6-inch lawnmower tires, a 10-inch hex bolt (1/2 inch thick), duct tape, and a few hose clamps. Place the tires on each end of the bolt and secure in place with the hose clamps. Use the duct tape to wrap around the bolt for a cushioned place to grip. According to Enamait there are a few advantages to making this item at home as opposed to buying one. These benefits have to do with the fact this is a single-handle model that allows for more range of exercises and stability compared to the traditional store models that require two hands to use.


  • Tires: Like sandbags, tires offer an easy way to toss around some weight without spending a lot of money. The benefit to tires over sandbags, however, is their durability. Use sandbags for weight lifting; use tires for throwing, rolling, or sledgehammer exercises. (What’s a sledge hammer exercise? Build arm strength by burying a tire in the ground so just to top is visible. Hit with a sledgehammer to help build upper body strength.)


  • Chair: Don’t underestimate the power of a chair when it comes to strength and conditioning. The best exercise? It’s called a Captain’s Chair, and it requires two stable chairs with wide arms. Making sure your chairs are stable, position them next to one another with a body-sized gap between. Suspend yourself between the chairs using your forearms on the arm rests  so that you are dangling with your knees bent. The goal is to hold this position as long as you can. Good luck!


  • PVC pipe: If you’re feeling creative, PVC pipe can be the answer to your prayers when it comes to homemade equipment. You can use this pipe to build your own versions of hurdles, Captain Chairs, and so on, but just make sure you can’t hurt yourself if the integrity of the pipe fails. For example, don’t use PVC pipe to make your own pull-up bar; when these break it usually means you’re going to fall on the hard floor.


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