Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies. It provides new life for my yard and a time of relaxation for me.

The growing season where I live in Minnesota is short. It seems like we go from winter to planting season in just a few short days. As I knock off the winter’s rust and get into my gardening routine, I often find myself physically ill-prepared and end up with sore muscles from my mad dash to get garden beds cleaned out and ready for the season.

Each year, I vow that I am going to be ready “this time.” I failed once again this year, but I have found a few exercises to help in the future. Like spring training for athletes, muscles and joints need to be prepared for the demands that will be placed on them.

Spring Training for Gardeners

Here are some of the strengthening exercises that I found helpful for getting me in gardening shape. Complete 12-15 repetitions, starting at a low intensity 2-3 times per week. If you have health concerns, I recommend checking in with your healthcare provider first.

Push-ups – for pushing wheelbarrow loads and mowers!

Squats – for crouching to get to those pesky weeds & planting colorful annuals.

Deadlift – because you know that you are going to be lifting dirt, mulch, etc.

Farmer’s carry – for carrying water buckets to plants beyond reach of the hose.

Lunges – for shoveling to loosen the ground and create space for new plants

Safety First

Just like prior to exercising,a good warm-up is an important part of the process, whether you are doing the strengthening exercises or getting out into the garden. Rest often to make sure that your breathing and joints are tolerating the activity. I may not have been physically ready for spring planting this year, but I will be ready for harvesting!