The All Day Homestead Workout (in the woods, no less)

With the Homestead Workout there’s no gym, and in this case I’m doing manual labor all day, interspersed with the exercises. Never fear, just do the “All Day Workout. (Approved by Moms everywhere!)

Homestead Workout

My Mother is kicking my butt.  This is not new.

She lives on an unruly, rural five acres near Olympia, Washington, and a few times a year her dutiful son (that would be me) jets here from California and is instantly transformed from a café bon vivant part-time blogger and business consultant to a dirt-and-grime laborer.

Soon after I settle in, I’m typically presented a long “to do” list. To be fair, Mom keeps me well fed, and sometimes works beside me during the hours of toil, despite her 81 years. (Update: now 90 and going strong!)

Nonetheless, it can be a grind.  But that’s not the problem.


The Problem

This time around, I’m here for two weeks.  Two weeks is ample time to dent my well-established diet and exercise routines. It’s always a challenge to keep up these when you’re not in your “crib”, as the hipsters say.

If past is prologue, I will not be able to “maintain” my diet and exercise routine. Trying to do that in an environment where I neither control the type of food available, nor my energy reserves necessary for workouts would be an exercise of futility and frustration.

(This I know from experience.  Last time here I gained five pounds.)

The aim, then, is to shape what’s here. What’s here is a combination of what I brought along with me, and what’s already here.

I brought along:

  • Exercise equipment,
  • Whey protein powder
  • Supplements

On the way here from the airport, I got some ingredients for my morning smoothie:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Ginger root
  • Cinnamon
  • Blueberries
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds

Ma already had the other ingredients:

… Not to mention one awesome VitaMix blender that could make a smoothie out of sandstone and water, or it seems.

So, at this point I have the basics for good nutrition (the morning smoothies and supplements) and exercise (the equipment I brought along).

The challenge is to find any spark of energy for exercise after a long, tough workday shoveling dirt, pushing heavy wheel barrels of dirt up a hill, prepping garden beds, planting seeds, pulling weeds, lifting and carrying large rocks, cleaning attics (we have two), etc.

Call me a wimp, but typically after a long day of hard labor, I’m unable (or unwilling) to cultivate another bout of energy to apply to exercise.

But I have a solution – The “All Day Homestead Workout”.


The Solution

My solution is to integrate the exercise into my day’s work; thus the name — “All Day Homestead Workout”.

By this I don’t mean, say, push the wheel barrel faster up the hill, making it some anaerobic/resistance training exercise (although I have done that, and it is effective).

Rather, what I mean is to intersperse some bona fide exercises into my day’s work.

I walk along a deck many times a day that takes me from the backyard to the front yard. On that deck, I set up a workout station, and at certain intervals when I walk along it, I stop to do an exercise circuit.  Over the course of the day, this will add up to some real exercise.

The deck at the homestead

The deck at the homestead

I first learned about this as a teenager who poured through every muscle magazine I could find. This was the 1970s and Arnold Schwarzenegger was often the muscle guy profiled.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Muscle Mag Cover

I remember reading that he said he’d sometimes devote an entire day to doing just one exercise. If memory serves, he used the squat as his example.

On the squat rack is some heavily weighted barbell.  Every hour, Arnold would bend under the bar, settle the load along his rear deltoid and trapezoid muscles, step back away from the rack and begin squatting.

One big, wipe out set.

Then Arnold would go about his business until the next hour when he’d do another set.  The next hour, another set. This he’d repeat eight to 12 times throughout the day.

Arnold said that this was a technique to build the size and strength of a muscle group that might need some extra stimulation.

My goal is to use this idea simply to get some resistance training and a bit of aerobics into my day, cause I’m too gassed to do a proper workout after toiling on the property all day.

Therefore, I set up the exercise equipment to accommodate a sequence of exercises that are done in a fast circuit during the workday; aka, the All Day Homestead Workout.

I asked ole Ma to snap some pics so you can get a sense of what I’m rambling about.

I mentioned that I brought along some exercise equipment. This is it:

Both easily fit into my carry-on luggage.

The Jungle Gym XT is one of the most versatile pieces of transportable exercise equipment imaginable.  From the Lifeline website:

“Suitable for everyone-from beginners to professional athletes-Jungle Gym allows you to use your own body weight for an amazing set of exercises that work you from head to toe. Challenge your upper body with push-ups, tricep layouts, chest flys, dips and chin-ups. Push the limits of your lower body with hip extensions, leg curls, squats and lunges. And get a rock hard core with incline planes, knees-to-elbows and roll-outs.” (Source)

I agree.

Above the outside deck there’s a beam. Around the beam, I encircled my Jungle Gym XT:

Jungle Gym XT affixed to beam

Jungle Gym XT affixed to beam


Jungle Gym XT

Jungle Gym XT set up on the deck beam and ready to go.

Now, all I need do is place the jump rope at one end of the wood deck next to a cement patio suitable for jumping, and figure out a circuit consisting of various upper and lower body exercises to be done at irregular intervals when walking from the back of the house to the front along the deck.


The All Day Workout

I’ve chosen to combine some resistance training along with aerobic conditioning, about 6 minutes per circuit, one circuit done when I pass along the deck, but not more than once per half-hour.

I tried this out yesterday and wound up doing the circuit 10 times.

Here’s the routine, moving from one exercise immediately to the other:

  • One leg stair lift – 10 per side, 4-second eccentric (lowering down), explosive concentric.
  • Dips – As many as possible, 2-second concentric/eccentric (pressing up/lowering down).
  • Pull ups — As many as possible, 2-second concentric/eccentric.
  • Push ups – As many as possible, 4-second eccentric, explosive concentric.
  • Jump rope – One minute.
Workout Details

One leg stair lift.  This is about control. You lower your body down slowly and then explode up once your down foot touches the ground.  Try to use a step that’s high enough to make your thigh perpendicular to the ground when one foot is on the ground and the other on the step.  If you find yourself dropping too quickly, then use a lower step or simply abandon the 4-second eccentric cadence (the time it takes to lower yourself) until you get stronger; meaning, just do it faster.

Four seconds down, explode up

Four seconds down, explode up

Dips.  Do this before the push-ups because it’s harder and you need to be fresh to get out the reps. Dips on the Jungle Gym XT are harder than on a ridged, stable dip platform because here you must exert force to maintain stability, which is also true for the Jungle Gym push-up.  I’m not strong enough to do 4-second eccentric cadence if I want to do more than a few dips, so I keep it at 2 seconds each way up and down.

Doing dips during the Homestead Workout

Dip away

Pull-ups.  Reach up and grab whatever can serve as a pull up bar, in this case a wooden beam.  I insert this pulling movement in between the two pushing movements of the dips and pull-ups so I can give the pushing muscles (chest, front delts and triceps) some rest.

Homestead Workout pull-ups

A handy beam for pull ups

Push-ups.  Drop down, readjust the Jungle Gym strap length (lower them) to push-up position and go to it. Unlike with dips and pull-ups, I have enough strength to do more than 10 reps while also maintaining a 4-second eccentric cadence.

Homestead Workout push-ups deploying the Jungle Gym XT

Grunting through some Jungle Gym XT push ups

Jump Rope.  I begin at one side of the deck with the one leg stair lift, moved to the center to do the Jungle Gym exercises, and then quickly move to the other end of the deck and onto a cement patio to jump rope for one minute.  After that, breathless, I move on to continue my chores before returning to this circuit anywhere from ½ to one hour later.

The blur of a Lifeline Power Jump Rope

The blur of a Lifeline Power Jump Rope

Note: Naturally, if you have the time, inclination and energy to put aside a half-hour or more, this routine can be done with whatever number of circuits you can muster, with between two to five minutes of rest in between.


Your Takeaway

It would be great if this post on the All Day Homestead Workout inspires some ideas about how you might create innovative workout routines when not at home, or the gym, or wherever you typically do them.

With just a bit of planning, you can make sure you keep up your nutrition and fitness when on the road, or at Mom’s house, even if she gives you one long, butt-kicking list.



P.S.  Watch more workouts, get some ideas, pile on the motivation… right… here!

Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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