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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Join me in the Lawnmower Challenge! - By Jeff Bankens ... (Try this out next summer!)


If you are like me, then you may find it challenging to get everything done around your house. During the spring and summer, that includes weightlifting, cardio/endurance training, and taking care of my lawn. One day, as I was getting ready to mow my lawn, it occurred to me that I could combine each of these tasks into one full body workout! I call it “The Lawnmower Challenge”. As you will soon find out, one of the great things about this challenge is that it can be changed / adapted to almost any season, climate, or landscape. To complete “The Lawnmower Challenge”, you will need the following pieces of equipment: 1) A walk-behind lawnmower ( “Self-Propelled” mode is Disengaged) 2) A lawn to mow 3) An O2 Trainer (I tend to use a lower setting on this exercise, going no higher than Level 6) 4) 5 – 10 Odd Objects (Rocks, boulders, Atlas Stones, Kegs, Sandbags, etc.) 5) A stopwatch (optional) 6) **Don’t forget your Water** I will now give an overview of the “challenge”, before explaining it in more detail: Step 1) I mow my lawn with a small push mower, while utilizing the O2 Trainer and nose clip. This usually takes me about an hour to complete (At this point I mow the entire yard, except for the small strip surrounding my odd objects). I recommend that you start with setting 1 on the O2 trainer, and gradually work your way up. This is especially important in the summer months, when heat and humidity are at peak levels. 
Step 2) I park the mower near the odd objects so that I can mow the grass under them, once they are moved out of the way.
Step 3) Begin timing yourself with the stopwatch. Next, move the odd objects from their resting place to a spot near the fence, using a combination of bear hugs, push jerks, and carries. This allows me to mow the grass that they rest on. I do this while still wearing the nose clip and O2 Trainer. I have intentionally stacked these objects in such a way that they must be moved in order for me to be able to mow the lawn.  
Step 4) I restart the mower and finish my lawn mowing task.
Step 5) I have finished mowing and each object is carried back to its original resting place, utilizing the same techniques described in Step 3. Stop the stopwatch. Keep a record of your times so that you can try to beat your personal best each time you take on the challenge.
Step 6) I remove the O2 Trainer and nose clip, and then store the lawn mower in my shed.
Step 7) I rest, rehydrate, and enjoy the rest of my day. There are several reasons why I like to do “The Lawnmower Challenge”. First, it is a great test of your fitness and strength level. After all, you’re following up an hour of fairly hard cardio with heavy lifting. I know that if I can get through the challenge on a hot, humid day, my strength will not fail me in real life situations. This also lets me know that I have still “got it”. Secondly, the challenge allows me to incorporate a great full body workout into my weekly yard work. This results in a huge time savings. With the schedule I have, it is important that I squeeze in a workout whenever I get the chance to do so. Lastly, taking on the challenge builds mental toughness. That is, if you allow it to. What I mean is that you are already tired from the heat, the mowing, and the use of the O2 Trainer. Now you are expected to do some heavy, awkward lifting without the benefit of a proper warm up. If you approach the challenge knowing that quitting is not an option and that you must complete it, you will strengthen your mind every time you take it on. Now that we have established how the challenge works and what it does for you, I will show you how to setup a challenge for yourself, using mine as an example. As you will see in the photos, I have my implements (odd objects) setup in an easily accessible area of my yard. This allows for consistency and ease of use. I have them set in a certain order that I do not change. The order is as follows: 2 stones (50 – 60lbs. (22.7 – 27.2kg) each) 1 Stone (127lbs. /57.6 kg) 1 Stone (149lbs. /67.6 kg) 1 Granite Ball (100lbs. /45.3 kg) 1 Keg (160lbs. /72.6 kg) *This Keg is filled with a combination of sand, water, and bent 60 Penny Nails* 1 Keg (132lbs. /59.9 kg) *This Keg is filled with a combination of sand and water * 1 Concrete Atlas Stone (240lbs. /108.9 kg) *O2 Trainer is set at level 5 for mowing and lifting. Do not be “too tough” to take breathing breaks and water breaks during the challenge. This is very taxing, even on the fittest bodies / minds* Once you establish the setup of your challenge, you must have a way to gauge progression in your performance. This can be done in several of ways: First, you can time yourself, trying to accomplish the same amount of work in a shorter period of time than the last session. Second, you can add implements into your challenge every so often. Lastly, you can do the same amount of work for each challenge, while slowly raising the level used on your O2 trainer. Using any of these methods (or a combination of all 3) will give your body a challenge for many weeks, months, and years to come. When you setup your own challenge, remember this: We do not all live in Louisiana, USA. We also do not all have the same type of yard or training implements. We all do have the opportunity to transform our daily or weekly outdoor chores into an amazing workout. Take this into consideration as you begin taking on the Lawnmower Challenge. Before I leave you to setup your own challenge, I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this article, and I pray God blesses your fitness endeavors.

Jeff's Website
BODY • MIND • SPIRIT