Great Exercise - No Gym

I'm going to give you some premium tips (for free) about how to get in great shape with no gym and just a small outlay of cash. This is kind of tongue-in-cheek but it is real and you can really do it. Always consult with your physician before starting any exercise regimen and use caution in lifting and any exercise. Start slow and work up to your fittest self.

At the time I am writing this in late April of 2020, the nation, as with many others, is in lockdown due to the Covid19 virus. Only time will tell the real story and efficacy of everything that has occurred. My wife and I are currently sequestered on our rural farm where we have built a cabin. It's a pretty nice cabin all in all but we are doing much of the work on it.

One of the tasks is to install a perimeter fence. Not for burglars, but for deer and other garden-eating creatures. Probably wherever you are, a garden is nothing more than an outdoor café for whatever critters happen to be in the area. Once you plant anything, it's like a neon sign, "COME AND GET IT - TIME TO EAT!" A fence may not keep them all out but it makes one feel better as if appropriate steps have been taken to protect what is ours.

Come to find out, it's a lot of work to put up a fence. We opted for a chain link and turns out to be about 800 feet of it. The fence is expensive, the labor is one of love or should be. The good thing that comes out of all this is... FITNESS.

The more post holes you dig, the more efficient you become. However efficient - it is not easy. We opted to purchase a gas-powered auger. It seemed large enough when we purchased it, but you quickly realize how small it is when you start drilling holes that take you to your knees, the auger is as deep as it will go, AND... you still have 12 inches to dig by hand. The other day I was passing a construction site and I saw a large backhoe with a long auger attached which looked like something I would like to have.

But, this is GREAT exercise, you will find, and below I provide the necessary steps to your punishment... no, no... I meant to say fitness. We started out with several post holes. By the end of the second hole, I was thinking I might want to pay someone to do this. By the third, I couldn't imagine how I would get through another seven, let alone the 50 or so we had left to do. At the end of five, I was a heap of jelly in the dirt and in tears. All necessary, of course, in the road to fitness.

As time progressed, we worked out a rhythm. It takes two people to run the auger lest it gets stuck, spins you around like a top, and severely injures your shoulder and other parts. Ask me how I know this. What I thought would take a few days stretched into weeks due to the physical recovery time. I'm older and wasn't up for finding out how far I can push my endurance. I opted for a slow build.

Our optimal process started out with a regular old garden spade. Dig out the top grass in a 6-inch circular pattern. Grab the auger and start it. It's a pull start and it expends lots of energy and pulls just to get the thing running. We are drilling in an old cow pasture. It's hard-packed mud and then sticky clay which is also hard. Drilling time? About 10 minutes per hole. After a couple of these, your hands will be vibrating very nicely. Muscles worked include forearms, biceps, back, stomach, thighs... just about everything. The auger is twisting and it's difficult to hold against that plus you are doing deep knee bends as it cuts into the earth lower and lower. Every so often you have to pull up on it to help it extract the dirt. I saw someone go by with a tractor and a big auger hanging off the back of it but I couldn't get out to the road fast enough to flag them down by waving a wad of money.

The most difficult thing, perhaps, about exercise is the mental attitude so we just have to hang in there and "GIT ER DONE!", as a drill sergeant I used to know would say. Once the auger reached its depth limit, I was disappointed to find it was about 12 inches short of the appropriate depth. It's time to break out the posthole digger. This tool doesn't run on gas, it runs on me. If you've never seen one, check it out at your local hardware store. You will need it for the ultimate experience.

The auger doesn't take out all of the dirt so we employ the post hole digger to clean out the loose parts and then begin the slow process of digging out another foot of dirt. At 33 inches I figured it was good enough for us but the post was still too high above the ground. What to do? At first, I stood on a small stepladder, put a piece of wood on top of the metal post to protect it, and smacked it down with a sledgehammer. However, this didn't really give me the full fitness experience I was seeking. Then I found this nifty thing called a Post Driver (with handles) and it really did the job. No ladder, no wood. Just slide it over the top of the post and slam it down over and over on the top of the post until it is the appropriate depth and height above the ground.

It takes about 25 to 30 repetitions with the Post Driver to get the post to its optimal depth/height. This works out the biceps, back, be sure to keep the stomach tight and breath in... out... in, you get the idea. The post is in the ground and you may think you can rest but no - we need to hike over to the gravel pile, fill a 5-gallon bucket, and put a few inches in the hole around the post. Not done yet.

Next, we grab a 60-pound bag of concrete out of the barn. I could have thrown it on the trailer but no cheating. Carry it the length of a football field and dump it in the plastic mixing tub. Now it is possible to just dump it in the hole dry and pour water over it but you'll miss out on some great exercise reps. For this part, you'll need a mixing hoe which is a hoe with a couple of holes in it. Who comes up with this kind of stuff? I couldn't carry the hoe and concrete so I told my wife I had to go back to the barn and get the hoe. She misinterpreted and chased me around the yard. After several sprints, I managed to get the hoe and then realized I forgot the water. After another trek, I had the concrete and water in the trough and started mixing it with the hoe. This is a push me, pull me exercise, and then tilt the trough into the hole and dump the now 80 or 90 pounds of mixed concrete and water. Hey - now all you have to do is make sure the post is level and... no, not rest. Do the next one.

You too can experience muscles of jelly with this great workout. Now, I understand you don't want to dig a bunch of holes in your yard but the good news is you only need one. Yes, One Hole to Great Fitness! How - here's the secret formula:

Hey, I’m getting LOTS of exercises and you don’t need a gym. This is Very good for abs, back, legs, great cardio. It’s real easy to get started (not to do it). Go to the hardware store and get the following:

  • Posthole digger (no power augers allowed)

  • Standard shovel

  • 8 foot 4x4 wood post – ground contact rated

  • Galvanized terminal fence post 8 foot

  • Post driver with handles

  • Bag of gravel

  • Bucket

  • 60-pound bag of concrete mix


  1. Lift the 8-foot wood post and jog around the yard with it until you can’t take another step.

  2. Use the post hole digger to dig a 24-inch deep hole.

  3. Put the galvanized post in the hole and use the post hole driver to pound it down another 12 inches. Should take about 25 to 30 repetitions.

  4. Lift the bag of gravel and fill the bucket. You can substitute water but increase the repetitions.

  5. Use arms to lift the bucket up and down 20 times with each arm.

  6. Lift the bag of concrete and carry it around the yard until exhausted.

  7. Pull the galvanized post out of the hole (good luck).

  8. Fill in the hole with the dirt and add gravel if necessary.

  9. Repeat the previous 8 steps 50 times.

This is all the exercise you need. You will have exercised every muscle group and burned a lot of calories. Low cost – no gym.


© copyright 2021 h mark taylor

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