Health and fitness: Working out on a budget |

Health and fitness: Working out on a budget

Kyler Crouse
Special to the Tribune

So you spent all your money on a pass and new gear, which means that the gym membership isn’t going to happen. Don’t let that be a reason to not stay healthy. With no money, you can still get in shape either for the mountain or for the beach this summer with stuff you already have around the house. Here are three exercises to get you going.

Pushing your car

Why it works: A study from New Mexico State University, “Metabolic Demands of ‘Junkyard’ Training: Pushing and Pulling a Motor Vehicle” had six males with a least five years of strength training experience push and pull a truck 400 meters across a parking lot. This was very challenging, the authors noted, “On completion of each event, all subjects rated themselves as ‘exhausted,’ and all experienced dizziness and nausea (without vomiting).” However they also thought that, “Athletes likely will enjoy the change in training protocol and may be intrigued with an event that allows them to compete with each other and themselves in awkward, real-world tasks. … In turn, this offers the potential for improvements in overall athletic performance — the ultimate goal of training.” So grab a buddy and get going.

How to do it: Find a nice open dry parking lot. Start by taking an athletic posture leaning into the car with your arms fully extended. Start by driving your legs and avoid bending your back, focusing on extending your hips and knees to strengthen your quads hamstrings and glutes. Start in the 50-100 meter range and increase distance and/or decrease rest time between sets to make it harder over time.

Carrying heavy stuff in one hand

How to do it: Usually people think of this as only a strongman-contest exercise to test the grip, but this exercise is a walking side plank. Anytime you hold a heavy load on one side of the body and not the other it requires the core muscles to offset the unbalanced load. This workout is a fat-loss and core-conditioning exercise all rolled into one.

How to: To do this exercise correctly, maintain good posture with a straight back and chest up. You’ll want to use relatively light objects when starting, until you’re confident that your body positioning is correct. Then grab a heavy bucket or bag and walk forward at a moderate pace, keeping your core braced and head high the entire time. Start with three sets of 15 to 20 steps (about 30 to 45 feet), resting 60 seconds between sets. Increase the distance or use a heavier weight to progress.

Sandbag Complex

Why it works: A “complex” involves a circuit using one piece of equipment, with the same weight, and staying in the same place. Common equipment choices are kettlebells, sandbags, dumbbells and the barbell. By alternating exercises it increases demand on the cardiovascular system. Blood carrying oxygen and nutrients is rushed to the working muscles, in a deadlift to the lower body. Then by alternating to an overhead press, the heart has to work overtime to rush blood back and to the upper body. This can create a cardiovascular effect similar to running. Expect to finish the same amount of sets in your standard workout in half the time.

As far as the sandbag goes, I would encourage you to spend some money and buy a nice one with handles, there are worth it, but if you had a lager duffel bag or even a big bag of dog food that can work.

How to do it: An example of a complex set would start with 10 sandbag deadlifts, then without letting the sandbag go, perform 10 front squats, then 10 overhead presses, 10 bear hug squats. This is one set. Repeat 3 to 5 times and increase sets over time. However this is very important, before you combo everything together, get really good at each exercise separately first.

If you are unfamiliar with any exercise, seek the advice of fitness professional and as always consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program.

— Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in performance enhancement and injury prevention. Visit for more information.

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