As spring awakens, many of us are feeling the urge to get into strength training sessions outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. I know I am! As a former I.S.S.A. certified personal trainer, I am eager to offer up some ideas to help folks get out there and get active.
For those with some space out back, it’s the perfect time to set up your own backyard gym with all the permanent equipment you need for all the seasons you can work out in the open air. If you’re not quite sure what to install though, here are some great ideas, complete with some DIYs, to get your perfect outdoor gym set up in no time.
Battle Rope Patio Gym
A simple, high-intensity workout option is the battle rope station attached simply to your patio wall. There are a few options for ways to install this outdoor gym section. You can follow a simple DIY for using garden hoses, sand, and other inexpensive materials for building your station, or use your existing equipment and purchase a simple wall mount for permanently affixing that rope to the garage wall.
Tree TRX-Style Station
TRX-style workouts are a great way to work your various muscle groups with a more natural physical application. These workouts give an intense, fast, and effective total body workout.
TRX-style workouts help build a strong core and work for all fitness levels from beginners to professionals. Plus, they’re easy to set up just about anywhere, including a solid tree, attached to a swing set, or just about anywhere else.
DIY Rock Wall
One of the best workouts is climbing. It’s a fun activity too which certainly doesn’t hurt its effectiveness. Adding a climbing wall to your backyard fitness center can be a great way to add some great variety to your workouts.
There is a wide range of types, styles, and sizes to consider, depending on the space you’ve got and the ages of the climbers. Some of the best tutorials include:
- REI wooden climbing wall for kids
- Instructables bouldering wall for adults (and older kids)
- Garage Gym Reviews budget-friendly wall for all adults
Bodyweight Exercise Station
For those who are all about bodyweight and calisthenics workouts, building a wooden calisthenics station might be just the ticket. The station is perfect for pullups, chin-ups, inverted rowing, dips, and much more for an easy bodyweight workout with a little extra oomph.
Though this particular one is placed indoors, you can change out the wood for pressure-treated wood for outdoor use with no issues.
If you’re into climbing but want a different option than a whole rock climbing wall, consider the climbing pegboard as a more budget-friendly and less time-consuming option.
Garage Gym Reviews offers a DIY walk-through on YouTube (see above) with the plans on the website. You can find some other tutorials, as well, on sites like Instructables. If need be, you can also purchase pre-made pegboards on sites like Amazon and install them using the same principles as the tutorial offers.
Parallel bars are another great tool for a number of calisthenics workouts. They’re also a simple and inexpensive addition to your backyard workout space and pair nicely with a number of other equipment like a TRX tree and pull-up station.
If you like the idea but aren’t entirely sure how to use these for a solid workout, there are lots of exercise plans online to help you create a plan.
Weightlifting Platform and Rack
Ever wanted your own weight training station? This workout platform is perfect for your training. The Instructables tutorial shows how to simply create the platform, complete with weight plate storage, for an easier workout. Just add a bench and you’ve got the full setup required for a hardcore workout any day of the week.
DIY Parkour Gym
With the help of a few different tutorials, you’ll find a variety of equipment options to build for your own parkour gym at home. A plinth like this one from Instructables can start you going, or you can build a full-on setup like a tutorial from Simplified Building offers can get you there. Or study the various designs from Parkour Visions, a site dedicated to DIY builds and design for all things parkour.
Outdoor Crossfit Gym
For those looking to up their Crossfit game by building their own box at home, that’s an easy thing to do. There are lots of suggestions out there on exactly how to do that, including a tutorial for making a plyometric box, a DIY rowing machine, some make-it-yourself kettlebells, and a DIY medicine ball.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of dumbbell workouts. My time spent as a personal trainer helped me discover the extreme versatility and usefulness of free weight training, especially for women who are hesitant to try out strength training.
These DIY concrete dumbbells are a great way to create exactly the set you require for your own strength training station in the backyard. Concrete and galvanized steel are the primary materials for making them, meaning they’re great for keeping outdoors – so no need to bring them indoors in inclement weather of any kind.
Using Swing Sets for Your Fitness Station
As far as swing sets go, I’ve got two suggestions for you. You can either build (or buy) a solid swing set with pull-up bars and other elements to combine play and training in one family-friendly unit. You can find some tutorials or buy a pre-fab swing set for this use.
Or you can upcycle an old A-frame swing set into an actual outdoor “room” for your workouts. This tutorial from Instructables is a unique design for creating this outdoor space that gives some shelter for use on cooler days. It’s technically a “fort” tutorial, but as you look through the photos, you can see how this can easily be adjusted into the perfect outdoor gym space. Add some stall bars for your flexibility and strength training, a weightlifting bench, bars and posts, and a pull-up station for all-around training, or hang some bags for your boxing gym.
Creating the Best Outdoor Gym for You
My personal recommendation would be to combine three to five of the components listed above, keeping in mind your personal goals. If you’re looking to become a stronger climber, for example, build the climbing wall, add the TRX-style system, and the free weights setup. Or if you’re more interested in a team sport, build those muscles and amp up that cardio by combining the dumbbells station with the Crossfit gym, the weight lifting platform, and the battle ropes.
Whatever your fitness goals, you can meet them all in your backyard without the pricey gym membership and the commute. Just don’t forget your proper recovery plan afterward, like slipping into the hot tub, doing some self-massage with a roller, or some light yoga to stretch out those muscles.