It`s Not Always About Hi-tech Equipment

It`s Not Always About Hi-tech Equipment

It`s not always about hi-tech equipment and fancy gyms, sure they’re nice, but how many times do you go (when they’re open) and without thinking go from one machine to another? nothing wrong with that if you get a great workout in, but it kind of takes creativity away, as you don’t have to really think about it.

Life without gyms – get creative! So, as we all know, at present, all or most gyms are closed due to coronavirus. Now sure, it’s a big inconvenience not being able to get to your gym, but don’t let this stop you from getting your daily workout in. It`s time to get creative, and you`ll be very surprised just how creative you can get without a gym or even owning a set of weights.

Back in 1980, at the age of 16, there was a time where we had life without gyms, they simply didn’t exist, certainly no fancy gyms, certainly not where I lived anyway. So, this is my story of how I got into weight-training without a real weight set, and more to the point just how creative I became in order to get my workouts in.

A homemade lat pulldown contraption

Even before I knew what a lat-machine was, I came up with an idea of constructing something in my dads garage, which consisted of something that would resemble a pull up bar, that was already bolted to the wall that my dad used to hang various things off.

I looked around the garage and found a very strong looking metal bucket and an equally strong looking thick rope along with a 5-foot-long steel bar, which we combined together to resemble a lat machine.

So, the rope hung over the pull up looking bar that was already bolted to the garage wall, one end of the rope was the 5-foot-long steel bar, and the other end we had the metal bucket. You get the picture, right?

Now, everything was in place apart from one important item, no weights for the bucket.

So, time to get the wheelbarrow out for quick a trip down the back yard. I filled it up with large rocks and pushed it back up to the garage, a workout in itself let me tell you.

The next items I called upon was the use of a weighing scale and hammer and chisel, basic things you`d have in the house and garage or shed really. I set about making the rocks as close to 10 lb. each as I could get, I wasn’t exactly a sculpturer, but with a little careful chiseling it worked just fine. So now I had several 10 lb. weights to place in the bucket in the form of rocks.

Now let me tell you, trying to control that rope and bucket wasn’t easy, it would swing wildly, and after a few near misses, eventually I got it down and had some seriously tough workouts, and can honestly say my back muscles have never been that sore ever since! Of course, at the time I had no idea just how much I was using stabilizing muscles to perform this exercise.

All I can say is when I finally joined a gym years later, when one actually opened, this particular exercise was so easy for me on a nice smooth real lat-pulldown machine, I could comfortably use the entire stack much to the shock of many in the gym. Still to this day, this is my favorite exercise.

One armed rows with a coal scuttle

First of all, let me explain exactly what a coal scuttle is, in England back in the day most houses had a coal fire, and an outside coal shed, basically a very small brick building that coal was kept in. A coal scuttle was the utensil to carry the coal from there into the house to the fireplace.

The coal scuttle itself we had, was around 3 ft long and held a good amount of coal, at a guess I’d say 30 lb. or so. Never actually thought to weigh this, but this made an ideal tool to use for one arm rows, much the same as if you were using a dumbbell.

I would carefully bend over with one leg in front of the other with knees bent, and hand placed on knee for support. I’m sure you can picture this if you’ve done this on a bench. As the coalscuttle had a long handle it was perfect for this exercise.

I would perform 20 reps one side, then switch sides and pretty much do this for 30 minutes straight. Remember, I had no idea what I was doing, other than enjoying my homemade workouts.

working out in the kitchen with cans of baked beans

As England was quite cold at times, actually most of the time, I preferred to workout indoors in the kitchen. We had kitchen chairs that were comfortable with a straight padded back.

Ideal for shoulder presses, my choice of dumbbells this time was to be a couple of large cans of baked beans, no idea what they weighed, not much, but when you’re doing sets of 20 reps for 30 minutes they really do feel heavy very quickly.

In the same fashion I would perform bench presses by laying on the floor on a cushion pushing the cans of baked beans. I would alternate this with push-ups, a very effective combination.

For triceps I could do hammer curls with old plastic milk cartons full of water, combined with push-ups with hands spaced closer together.

Biceps, I would curl basically anything I could find, the heavier the better. My mindset was, If I could hold it, I could curl it! One day it would be something that resembled a bar, other days something that resembled dumbbells.

As for legs, I would squat for an hour at a time every other day, just free standing with no additional weights, combined with calves. When I stood up from my squat, I would then do my calf raise.

Abs I would do everyday as a cool down, on the kitchen floor for around 10 minutes after each workout.


Now, I’m not saying follow what I did, as I admit back then I had no idea what I was doing, but hopefully this will give you a few ideas to carry on working out at home until your gyms open up again.

All this might sound primitive, but when you have no gyms, it works! So, instead of worrying and complaining and being depressed about having no gyms to go to at present, get creative! You`ll be surprised at what you can come up with in your own home.

Remember, It`s not always about hi-tech equipment and fancy gyms. Life without gyms – get creative!

Stay safe!

Author: Nigel Taylor

I`m Nigel Taylor – originally from England – owner of The Backyard Gym in Round Rock Texas. We specialize in personal training, kickboxing cardio and self-defense. With over 25 years experience as a personal trainer, I know what works! From weight loss to bulking up to toning up, I can help you get your desired look and achieve your fitness goals. I can also offer you the privacy of a 100% private personal training studio in which to enjoy and get the most out of your workouts.