Non-Traditional Workout Routines

I like potatoes. Always have. I like them mashed, I like them baked, and I like them pan-fried. I like yellow skinned potatoes, I like red skinned potatoes and I like brown skinned potatoes. If someone brought me an orange skinned potato I’d probably like that one too. In fact, I’m willing to eat, and prepared to like, pretty much any variation of a potato that’s served to me. Sometimes though, I want a change. No, scratch that, I crave a change. I crave something to enliven my senses, to challenge the way I think about edible tubers, to make me feel truly alive. Something, in short, like the sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes do it for me. They’re risqué enough to satisfy my need to be a rebel at the dinner table and to give my taste buds a comestible boost, but not so risqué as to upset my need for comfort and tradition. They challenge me and take me to the next level gustatorially, all the while remaining a simple root vegetable. I like that dichotomy; it speaks to me on many levels.

Workout routines stir up the same emotions in me as tubers do. There are certain ones that I gravitate to naturally. They’re good, they’re comfortable and they more than get the job done. They may not be sexy, or the latest and greatest thing splashed through infomercials on early-morning Saturday TV, but they’re solid, day in and day out, and they get the job done. I depend on them for the bulk of my training. They carry the load.

Sometimes though, I feel the need to change directions, to break out of the norm and try something new, to eat the sweet potato, as it were. This is often as much to challenge my mental state as my physical one. There are dozens of ways to inject some life into your day-in and day-out workout routines, and that’s what we’ll look at next.


As you can probably imagine, non-traditional workouts require some non-traditional training equipment. Thankfully, changing it up doesn’t require a fistful of dollars as many things listed below can be had for very cheap (think military surplus) or for nothing at all (think local quarry). The list isn’t exhaustive, but it is extensive, and creativity is the key. See below:

Sandbags – Buy them at the local hardware store or buy a duffel bag at an army surplus store, fill it up to the desired weight in sand/gravel, wrap it up in electrical tape and you’re good to go.

Thick Rope – Again, your local hardware store. Attach it to a sled (filled with weight), lay the rope out in a straight line (about 30 feet), sit down on the ground and start pulling the sled towards you by pulling the rope.

Wheelbarrow – Fill it with sandbags, rocks, dirt, anything heavy really, and walk with it.

Stones – Your local quarry should have some to spare, or check out the ditches next to your local highway. They’re great for lifting and throwing; also good for some more traditional exercises like overhead lifts, squats and deadlifts.

Tractor Tires – You should be able to find one of these from a local junk yard or a heavy equipment repair shop. With this one you need the space to be able to store it, so a large backyard would definitely come in handy. Great for flipping.

Sledgehammer – Can be picked up for relatively cheap at your local hardware store. Come in different weights ranging from about six pounds all the way up to 20 pounds. They can be used simply to pound the ground or an old tire. It’s a great way of warming up or building muscular endurance.

Weighted Vest – These can be picked up at many fitness retailers and can various models can hold from 5 pounds all the way up to 100 or 150 pounds. Wear one while you perform your “normal” weight workouts or wear one while you perform bodyweight exercises. Either way, it makes whatever you’re doing ten times harder.

Canvas Backpack – This is the economical version of the weighted vest, but it often can be just as effective. You can pick up a used one at ay army surplus store and it will be durable to say the least. Drop in some sandbags and go for a long hike or perform some bodyweight exercises.

Sled – An old winter sled will do, but just make sure it’s strong enough to handle the loads you’ll give it. Load it up with rocks, sandbags, or whatever else you like and pull, drag, push it for distance or time.

Links of Chain – Large old chain links are great for carrying or dragging. You might be able to score some for free, or at least for pretty cheap, at your local ship yard.

Cars – You need a car, a parking lot and a driver. Have someone steer and ride the brake pedal a bit while you push the car around the parking lot. Quick tip, an early Sunday or Saturday morning is probably best to avoid traffic.

Workout Routines

When it comes to creating workout routines for these movements you can implement a few different methods. See below:

Time – For ay of the movements listed above you can challenge yourself by doing them for time. For example, you could drag a sled for a total of 20 minutes. Simply load the sled, start the stop watch and pull until the full 20 minutes are up. You’ll have to take short breathers during the workout, but by the time your stopwatch signals the end you’ll be toast. Alternatively, you could do several one minutes sets, dragging the sled around for predetermined amounts of time. Be creative and change it up, but no matter how you do it timed sets are a bear.

Distance – Try picking up a couple of cinder blocks, one in each hand, and walking a kilometre with them, stopping as necessary to rest your hands. I’ve done it, and believe me; I felt it all over the following day. Any one of the exercises above can be done the same way; going for a long walk or hike wearing a weighted vest or weighted backpack, flipping a tractor tire for half a kilometre, pulling a weighted sled for a couple of kilometres. It’s motivating to know where your finish line is and that with every step or every flip that you’re a little bit closer to the end.

Repetitions – Have you ever picked up a heavy barrel from the ground to one shoulder 50 times? It’s a killer. Now try doing that with both shoulders, and then try squatting with the barrel on both shoulders for 50 reps each side, and then finish off by deadlifting the barrel for 50 reps. If nothing else you’ll learn to hate the number “50”. Setting a high number of repetitions as a goal is a great way to supercharge your workout routine. Just pick a number, pick an exercise and work towards your set goal, slowly and methodically. It’s a great way to spend an hour early on a Saturday morning.

Regardless of the exercise you choose or the workout routine you prefer, using any one of these non-traditional workout methods will add some spice to workout schedule. They allow you to challenge yourself without necessarily needing to do them every day. They’re a way to break the routine, a kick in the pants as it were, a motivator to force you to go beyond your normal limits. So dig in, the sweet potato really is awesome.








Tagged with:

Filed under: personal trainer

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!