T Nation

Backyard Gym


Let me first explain my situation. I am involved with a Christian Youth Group, Youth Impact*. The camp is on my church's Youth Minister's, also my pastor and ex-MMA fighter, property where he has a very large chunk of land for bonfires**, retreats***, and bible studies (inside the house or around the fire pit).

Today, I decided to talk to him about an idea I had in the back of my head. To start a gym, or an area to work out with implements not necessarily custom in gyms like sandbags, sleds, tires, kegs, etc. (eventually we will more customary stuff like a rack into the shed we will be using to hold this stuff, including the punching bag). This would be a place for anyone wanting to get stronger and have fun to come and work out.

I was wondering what your opinions on this would be and what we should get as starters (I have never started this kind of thing before)?

I brain stormed all what we would eventually get, but I also made a starter list as we don't have the money for everything at this time.

2 Sandbags - For cleans, snatches, farmer walks, etc. (thinking of 200 ult. sandbags)

1 Sled - For sprints and such.

Tires - Flips...

I also have some questions:

Is a 200 lb. Sandbag good as you can empty the bag if it needed to be a lighter weight, instead of having to buy a bigger bag down the road?

Any ideas on where to get sturdy sleds?

What size tires would you suggest?

How much do kegs cost, or do you guys just use the one's after the party?

  • Youth Impact - http://campimpact.org/
    ** The bonfires are for everyone, any age.
    *** The retreats have not started that I have found out but, will as soon as he sets up the activities for it.


I think it is an excelent idea and it sounds like you are doing some great things. Best of luck to you, I hope you have a blast and are able to give something to the kids.
I like the idea of alternative weights. It builds a mental toughness that you don't get in a commercial gym and provides a new challenge.
Honestly, a 200lb sandbag is going to be way to much weight for most people, not just youths. You would be much better with a 100lb and two fifties.
As far as tires, go with what you can find for cheap or free. Typical car tires are way to light for flipping, but provides a good surface to swing a sledge against. I couldn't tell you the weights of a truck or tractor tire, but if you can get some at low cost, work with it.


Get some sledgehammers so you can beat the Jesus out of those tires! And that's just a play with word btw!! :-)) I'm a big fan of His.


I think you mean the Devil.


Semi-truck tires are fine for youth. I started my son on them when he was 13. You can get a couple for free from any tire place that handles semi tires. They won't give you one that can be retreaded, but one with a busted sidewall will work just fine. There are multiple sizes so ask for more than one size if possible.

Also, might I suggest that your website make it's location easier to find. Although I might have missed it initially, I had to look on several pages to find out that you were in the phoenix area (found it on the vollyball entry form of all things). Sure the locals probably already know, but if someone stumbles across your website they will want to know where you are.

Good luck. I like the concept.



Good idea man.

Run a search on here to find a keg. There are a few threads concerning that.

Also don't forget to get some thick rope for climbing.

Good luck.


Yes! That is much better, hahah.


I think it would be a great idea, but I don't have any suggestions about equipment.

VERY nice avatar BTW!
I was hoping that was you, but at 6'1 215, I'm thinking that it isn't...


Where in Phoenix are you?



That sounds good, but I also am going to be training at this "facility." So, are some of my buddies, and well at least I plan on going hard at it, so some 200-300's are good for starting do you think?

I planned on getting smaller tires for the little one's as the love to join the "big kids" in activities.


When you say thick rope for climbing exactly what do you mean?


I beat the Devil out of lots of things. :wink:

SWR-1222D ,

Yeah, I wish I had those abs though, except when I remember that my gut helps a little out with carrying stuff. No, I'm not over weight but I'm not ripped either.


I can not reveal that information! Kidding, no we are located at South of Northern on 83rd. We are going to have our last bonfire for the season real soon.

If you need anymore information for the bonfire, just PM me and I'll get back to you soon.


I just meant to get some rope to climb up/do pullups from. It'll help your grip out a great deal. Plus you can have competitions with the kids to see who can get up the ropes the fastest.



The thick rope people are talking about for climbing could also be used for tug of wars.

You could also get a sled.


Thats ridiculously heavy for a beginner to this kind of training, especially kids. Go lighter and see how the kids handle that, and if its easy then add more weight.


I was talking for me, I will get the kids lighter weights for sure.


I doubt that your pastor and faith community would approve of your avatar!!

It's good you want to promote strength training within the youth ministry, but don't forget the moral side either.


Great idea!

As a recommendation, I think getting some small sandbags (like someone suggested) is really good. Personally, I like the way actual, military style, sandbags can be used. They can be put into a larger bag or used individually for grip training or by kids.

As a bonus, they are about 75 cents each at surplus stores. Get yourself several of these as well.


You might consider contacting Josh Henkin. He has written a few articles on sand bag training, including here at T-Nation. He is local so you might be able to save on shipping.

Check out: www.sandbagexercises.com



I don't forget the moral side, I just admire the picture of the girl. I think she is beautiful, anyway.


I was thinking about getting the ultimate sandbag, as I rip enough callisus off my hand. I need those as I throw and put on a Track and Field team.


I am planning on writing him a letter as soon as I get a minute to write him.


Kegs, can you just go to the liquor store, if they have kegs there, and pick empties up free or for a few bucks (how much is a few bucks for a keg)? I was thinking about writing Coors or some beer company and seeing if they'd drop some off at the house.

Sled, should I see if I can find someone to make a sled or is it worth it to buy one from Elitefts?

This week hasn't been very productive a week, but hopefully next week when I have more time I can get it done.


Find two, empty, 25 litre Jerry cans. Fill with water...voila, 2 x 25 kg implements for shrugs/farmers walks/general lugging around etc. Alternatively, fill with sand and you get 2 x 40+ kg implements (weight depends on the composition of the sand).