No Excuses – Hitting the Gym Country Style

In January I decided to travel home from Scotland to New Zealand for 6 weeks to see my family, catch up with my mates and catch some good old fashioned sun (if you have ever lived in Scotland you will know what I mean – there is NO sun!)
Off I went back to rural South Island NZ, to have a long holiday spending time with my family – in the middle of summer swimming in the river and relaxing. All good.

But NO GYM!  How could I survive not being able to train for 6 weeks?

I was definitely not prepared to give up my training to spend 6 weeks on the farm with Dad, my sister who is still at high school and my younger brother (who is about 8 inches taller then me :-D) who has recently moved back from the city.

Ever since I left home I’ve always lived in cities near the essentials like a gym, supplement stores and supermarkets.

Sure if it was 1,2 or even 3 weeks I could call it a good bit of active rest, but 6 weeks is a bit too long not to train (and just rely on the jobs the old man was bound to give me to do around the farm)

Solution was train like ROCKY!


I decided to build my own gym using axles and chains for my weights.
Being the middle of summer the hay loft above the stables was going to be empty for a while until hay cutting. Perfect!

Once I arrived I didn’t waste any time and immediately got looking around the yard and sheds for old iron implements such as wheels, sash window weights, chains and pipe.

The next step was to set it up. There is a half wall dividing the loft space into two which I used to build a frame against – using bits of old 4×2 from Dad’s timber stash.

This was bolted together to form a squat rack bench press and chin-up bar. BOOM!

Next on the list was a bench or two, a bar, some weight and even cables.

I already knew there was an old axle and wheels from a trailer floating around that would make a great bar bell. I also found a solid iron bar about 2 inchs thick and about 6 foot long weighing in at I reckon around 45 lbs. Perfect.
As for weights I found old cast iron wheels that had come off horse drawn farm implements such as ploughs. These would be the plates to load up the bar.

Now we’re getting carried away…..cables. A couple of old pullies strung up to the rafters some old rope, carabenas, various weight to hang on the end of the rope and some attachments like a rope pull down and two triangular handles. Sorted!

Oh and a dip frame which was an old school desk frame with a piece cut out and a couple bits of black water pipe slipped over the metal sides to make hand grips.

So there it was a full on Kiwi farmer spec gym in a hay barn and held together by bailing twyn. ‘She’ll be right mate’ 😀

Now it was time to train!


Although I had designed the gym with my training program in mind and had the basics set up it was still a little limited. But I just stuck as close to normal training as possible with only a couple of substitutions. For example, in the gym I would usually pre-exhaust my hamstrings with a leg curl before dead lifts but in the farm gym I lay face down on a flat bench with my legs hanging off the end from the knees down. Then I took one of the iron plough wheels weighing around 35 lbs and gripped it between my ankles, then curled. To increase the weight I hung a length of meaty chain from the wheel. Sweet as!

Now some of you might be thinking why did I try to replicate my normal workouts? Why not switch it up completely to shock the body?

We all know that changing your workout routine every 6 to 8 or so weeks is the thing to do to keep your workouts fresh and your body guessing.

Well, although there are a lot of theories out there, you don’t actually have to completely overhaul your workout just to freshen it up. Once you have a good solid program that is set up for your goals and works for you, there is no need to completely change every month – all you really need is a few tweaks to keep you progressing.
Something I’ve learnt recently is that if you change only one of the exercises in your routine or change the order of the exercises in your routine or even the volume of your workout then that is a new workout.

So with that said just the fact the I was training with less gear and having to improvise for some of my exercises then that was enough to be a completely different workout and shock my body.

The whole idea is that you don’t need the latest gear, or really any gear for that matter, to get a really good heavy workout, and if your more into circuit type training or aerobics then you need even less stuff and really can train anywhere. You just need to think it out and plan. Where there’s a will there’s a way – as they say.

In saying all that I will admit that even though I got some great workouts in the hill billy gym I did struggle to find enough weight to really punish my legs. All the other body parts were able to be destroyed but when I got back to civilization and into a gym it was my legs that got the biggest shock!

So there you have it, thats one of the ways I managed to go on holiday and keep pumping that iron :-)


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