The Woodsman Workout
by Brett McKay
Art of Manliness
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my family and I went on a much needed vacation to our adopted home
of Montpelier, Vermont. Kate and I have been going there about once
a year since we’ve been married, and we even lived there for
six months after I graduated law school. Vermont’s
natural beauty really renews my man spirit. I try to get out
and enjoy the Green Mountains as much as I can during my short visits.
One of my favorite places in Montpelier is Hubbard
Park — it’s 134 acres of nothing but beautiful Vermont
woods and perfect little trails for rambling.
has a small, not-so-great gym, most Vermonters stay in shape like
Kate’s uncle, the
famous Uncle Buzz, does — by doing household chores and
walking their ubiquitous canine companions. While I don’t
own a VT homestead that needs tending, I was able to stay in shape
using only things I found in the woods of Hubbard Park (and a trusty
maul). Exercising outside with simply the equipment found in Mother
Nature’s Gym pushes your body, boosts your manly vigor, and,
as you can clearly see in the pictures below, aids you in growing
a really sweet mustache.
Below I share
my Vermont exercise routine. So wolf down your flapjacks, put on
your flannel shirt and boots, grab your axe, and head outside. It’s
time to do the Woodsman Workout.
Woodsman Workout with some deep breathing exercises to clear the
mind and oxygenate your blood for the vigorous activity you’re
about to take part in. A proper breath originates in the diaphragm.
Slowly breathe in the fresh forest air through your nose. As you
inhale, imagine your lungs filling up from the bottom to the top.
Exhale through your mouth. Imagine the air in your lungs emptying
from the top to the bottom. You’ll know if you’re breathing
correctly if your belly moves in and out and your chest and shoulders
Take 20 deep
breaths. Focus on the sound of your breath and the bubbling brook
as the foundation of the Woodsman Workout. In between the various
exercises, we’re constantly moving because we’re constantly
hiking. During my stay in Vermont, I tried to hike about 5K every
morning in Hubbard Park. Keep a brisk pace while you hike, but make
sure to take some breaks to really soak in the scenery. Perform
each of the exercises below whenever nature moves you to do so,
and as soon as you finish an exercise, start hiking again immediately.
Squat With a Log
hiking and taking in the view, be on the lookout for logs for hefting
and hoisting. I found a fantastic log from a white birch tree on
the side of one of the trails in Hubbard Park that was perfect for
lifting. It weighed a good 75 pounds. If you can’t find a
proper lifting log, earn extra woodsman points by felling a tree
and bucking a log.
a great way to develop the lower body strength needed for powering
through long hikes and putting unruly moose in leglocks. While the
back squat (with the weight on the back of your shoulders) is the
best squat exercise to activate all the muscles in your lower body,
I opted for a front squat in my Woodsman Workout because 1) I didn’t
have a squat rack and 2) I wanted to focus on my core and quads,
which the front squat does.
your log from the ground and into your arms. The log should be resting
as high up on your arms as it can.
squat until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Because
your hamstrings are less taut during the front squat, you’re
actually able to get a deeper squat with less strain, so feel
free to “break parallel” if you want. While you’re
squatting, focus on keeping your torso straight. Do 3 sets of
8 reps, resting a minute between each set.
Press With a Log
press is one of my favorite exercises; it’s even awesomer
when performed with a giant birch tree log. The overhead press works
your entire body: shoulders, upper-chest, core, and legs. The log’s
girth makes the lift a bit more difficult because you have to activate
different muscles to maintain hold of the log during the lift.
your log to the top of your chest. Grip the log about an inch or
two outside shoulder-width. Feet should be about shoulder-width
apart. Look straight ahead.
the log over your head. As you lift, exhale. When the log passes
your forehead, shift your torso forward and continue lifting the
log. Lock your elbows when you reach the end of the lift and hold
for a second. Slowly lower the log back to the starting position,
inhaling as you do so. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 8 reps,
resting one minute between each set.
harnessed the power of my animal spirit guide, the noble bear,
by performing bear crawls through the woods. There’s nothing
much to them. Just get down on all fours and crawl like a bear,
making sure your knees don’t touch the ground. Perform
the bear crawl in one minute spurts whenever you feel like it
during your hike. Shoot for 5 crawls during your hike.
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