2 Very Alternative Exercises, No Gym Required!

Update on:

The gym is not for everyone, so here are some very alternative exercises you may not have thought of. I’ve built this list from some of the things I’ve been doing of late, like renovating a house and working the grape harvest here in France. Don’t worry there’s some science gone into this list also, I’ve timed and tracked my alternative exercises to give you an idea of their efficiency.

Don’t expect the usual, dog walking or random yoga session here. We’re talking about labour, pulling, pushing for prolonged periods of time. Still interested, read on…

Skip to Fitness: How Loading a Skip Can Be Your Unconventional Workout

Loading a skip is a total body workout. It combines cardiovascular and resistance training, all while you clear out your space. In my case, it was loading a truckload of branches into a massive 40m3 container! This ‘workout’ is huge, and it took me about a weekend to do.

Not my actual logs but you get the idea.

It’s a Total Body Workout

Loading a skip requires you to engage multiple muscle groups. From lifting, tossing, and carrying various items. You are essentially doing deadlifts, squats, lunges, twists and overhead presses. This makes for a comprehensive full-body workout.

Cardiovascular and Resistance Training

It gets your heart pumping. Continuously moving to load the skip keeps your cardiovascular system engaged. I dragged, pushed and pulled logs of all sizes across my garden. At the same time, the weight of the objects offers resistance, akin to weight lifting. It’s almost, like a strongman event, offering a test of your overall fitness capacity. Except the weights aren’t exactly the same as in WSM :).

Calories and Steps

In a semi-scientific way, I used my fitness tracker to see what I was actually achieving fitness-wise. In 8 hours-ish I burned roughly 2000 calories. That was around 25,000 steps, close to 10 miles. Turning skip loading into a fitness triumph and making a big enough calorie deficit for a burger and a beer afterwards.

The Take Home

You may not have a giant skip to fill with branches. If you do great, treat it as a workout. Activities similar to this offer the same benefits. Removals, re-arranging your garage and/or garden. Working as a labourer, landscape gardener… Some of these will even pay you. Just watch what you eat and it’ll work out a treat.

Vineyard Vigor: Turning Wine Cuve Clearance into a Workout

The next exercise is even more random than the last. But nonetheless effective. Emptying a wine cuve during the grape harvest (or vendange) is essentially a boatload of deadlifts.

That’s me in the cuve with my shovel.

Yep, Total Body Workout

The act of clearing a wine cuve is a comprehensive workout. The shovelling motion engages your core, back, shoulders, arms, and legs. As you squat to collect the raisins and stand to dispose of them, you’re employing a full range of motion, similar to the deadlift.

Cardiovascular and Resistance Training

The continuous nature of the task serves as a cardiovascular workout. Your heart rate increases as you move back and forth, shovelling and forking, which boosts your aerobic fitness. Resistance comes into play through the weight of the wet raisins against the shovel. It’s also challenging your core strength in particular as the weight is on one side. When shovelling anything for a prolonged period of time, be sure to switch sides to split the reps equally. You don’t want to develop wonky!

Shovelling as Deadlifts

Indeed, shovelling can be likened to performing hundreds of deadlifts, a staple exercise in strength training. Each scoop of raisins requires you to hinge at the hips, maintain a strong core, and lift with your legs, mimicking the deadlift movement. This repetition builds not only strength, but also contributes to muscular definition and endurance. So that’s cool.

Looks heavy

The Take Home

It’s a unique way to challenge your body, improve physical health, and perhaps enjoy a greater appreciation for the hard work that goes into winemaking. So if you’re faced with this task, remember that with every shovel and fork, you’re not just working towards the next batch of wine, but also towards a fitter, stronger you.

But also, any shovelling task should be treated as a workout. Embrace the challenge, sweat and tears. But be careful as we don’t want blood, sweat and tears.

Like the idea of alternative workout stuff, you should check out my article of building your own Kettlebell & Strongman Barrell. This will not break the bank and fit easily into your home gym arsenal. Enjoy!


What makes these exercises effective compared to traditional gym workouts?

These unconventional exercises are effective because they recruit multiple training modes in one big session. You could compare them to a long and slow tempo CrossFit WOD. Mostly, these exercises, or similar workouts, are effective because it might be something that you will do, rather than not going to the gym.

How can I track my progress during these workouts?

To track you progress during any specific workout. You can use the following metrics:

1) Duration of workout.
2) Calories burned (via smart tracker).
3) Steps or Distance (again via a smart tracker).
4) Number of reps, for example number of logs loaded into the skip, or number of shovels loaded.

For ease of use, I would stick to the fits three. It’ll give you a reasonable gage of your cardio work. The likelihood is you are not going to be doing these once a week for 8-12 weeks. So tracking is not highly recommended as you will not have anything to compare it too to track improvements over time.

Are these workouts suitable for everyone?

These workouts, or similar, are suitable for everyone. However, you will need to keep in mind your fitness level before staring. Use common sense here, if something is too heavy don’t try and lift it. If you are fatigued, take a pause, these are all-dayer events remember.

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Andy is the founder of Garage Gym Greatness. He’s a NASM certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist and has worked with clients of all ages, from young professionals to those in their twilight years. Reviewing everything home fitness related is a pleasure, never a chore. His favourite cheese if comté.