By: Andrew Vonehrenkrook
FARM INSPIRED TRAINING
(NOTE: This is a multi-page article. Read all 5 pages.)
Before I moved to the farm, I did not live what most consider the typical western sedentary suburban life. I’ve always been active: sports as a kid, NCAA soccer in college and functional fitness in the military. Before the farm I lived in a duplex exactly 2 miles from work and I thoroughly enjoyed mountain biking the gravel back road to the office. It was basically a really big ‘V’ - the first half was super-fast and the second half made you puff the whole way up. The point is, I’ve always enjoyed exercising and I believe that joy is a vital component of fitness.
If you think of exercise as a chore you’re missing the point. God made our bodies to do things and be in motion. So when I moved to the farm and saw my opportunities for ‘exercise’ dwindling under the ever increasing load of commuting, kids, and farm tasks I got a little concerned. I hadn’t realized how much I had come to rely on ‘workout time’ to center myself mentally and get that endorphin buzz. It wasn’t on purpose or for lack of trying, but ‘workouts’ kind of fell off the map. The absence was noticeable. It wasn’t that I begrudged the farm chores. I enjoyed them immensely. It’s just there are only so many hours in the day and on a farm, the farmer comes last.
Four months after moving out to the sticks (this is my first gravel driveway) I noticed that I was still fitting into my pants. Perhaps my fears of becoming a fat farmer were unfounded. A couple of months later, co-workers started to comment on my physique. They were right. I was getting stronger. Not the take-your-shirt-off-and-pose-for-a-magazine-cover strong. More like the feeling you get when you look at a still picture of a wolf or lion or bear. You don’t have to see them running to know that they are powerful. My body was becoming what it was made to be.
That being said, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I lost some definition and speed. Most of the exercising I did before farming could best be classified as high-intensity/moderate-duration, like kickboxing for an hour or running 5 miles. Farming takes a different tack. It’s long-duration with bursts of extreme-intensity. Like running a chainsaw for eight hours, punctuated by lifting and moving 200lb logs by hand. In the gym, no matter what the exercise, no matter how hard it is, mentally you can push through it because you know it is going to end. On the farm, work never ends. You are confronted by an endless stream of tasks, which not only demand your physical effort and attention but must be mentally sorted and juggled against each other.
It is after managing this wave of tasks for a couple of years that I noticed some crossovers to my previous workout regimens. And it is these crossovers that I’m going to share with you. What follows is an explanation and demonstration of a farm task and then its gym/home equivalent. These equivalents were designed so that you didn’t have to go out and purchase any new equipment. You will have to use a few props, but I’m almost certain you’ve got them lying around your house.
I’m a huge fan of plyometrics - explosive muscle strength from an extended muscle position. I’m also a huge fan of natural bodybuilding - exercising with just your body weight. Farming allows me to do both, at the same time for an extended duration with bursts of extreme intensity. That’s the recipe for physical fitness.
Advance to the next page for the FEED LIFT.