It has long been a familiar philosophy in fitness that you have to make big changes to see big changes. We all know that we can’t expect amazing progressive results from doing the same thing over and over again. What if we make small changes that offer big results? What if those small changes are the exercise tools we use in and out of the gym for our workouts?
For most people who exercise, their “go-to” pieces of equipment are dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and weight machines. But there are many different objects and items that we can use to get a challenging and effective workout. Let’s try a few things that aren’t already in our tool box to construct the strong and healthy body we want!
Exercising with unconventional equipment isn’t a new idea, but don’t count it out as a very useful option for creating a newer, potentially better path to your goal. Unconventional objects like stones, ropes, gallon water jugs, duffel bags full of rocks or mulch, sledge hammers, and wheel barrows will get you sweating and build serious strength and stamina.
This type of “G.P.P.”, or general physical preparedness, doesn’t need to make up the bulk of your training, so don’t ditch the dumbbells yet. As a supplement to any program, it will help every kind of body torch fat, get stronger, and improve your cardiovascular health. Our bodies are accustomed to everyday activities that move our bodies forward and backward (walking, pushing, and pulling) and up and down (sitting to standing, pulling, and pushing). Even in the gym we are already moving in these same directions – think squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, bicep curls, walking lunges, and push-ups. When we use unconventional equipment, it makes our bodies move in patterns they aren’t used to. Think of a sledgehammer – when you swing it, you’re not just lifting it straight up or straight behind you. It is moving around your entire body that you’re using to generate force to complete the swing. With unconventional equipment, we get to utilize our core and explore planes of motion that are different from the daily norm, which helps improve our overall fitness and makes us more well-rounded exercisers and athletes.
This type of unconventional training can also prepare you for general life fitness as well. It’s likely at some point in real life you’ll need to pick up a couch or move a refrigerator, and training in a wide variety of ways will help our bodies prepare for that. As an added bonus, the possibilities are endless when anything can be used as training device, making it difficult for the body to adapt quickly which can help prevent you from hitting frequent plateaus in your training progress.
Here are a few examples of some small workouts that could supplement your regular exercise routine:
- Load up a wheelbarrow with rocks, or a friend, and push it across your yard 20 times. After every lap, drop and do 2 push-ups.
- Fill 2-gallon jugs with water and use them for single arm kettle bell swings and a farmer’s carry. Perform 10 swings with each arm and then carry both for a 30-second walk.
- Grab an old duffel bag or back pack and fil it with mulch, sand, or dirt. Do 10 clean to squats and 10 jumping jacks for 5 rounds.
You don’t always need a barbell, dumbbells, or treadmill to design a great workout. Think outside the box and have some fun while making big changes. Even one workout a week using unconventional equipment could clear the way for a whole new you a whole lot sooner.