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Does Yardwork Count as Training?

by | May 20, 2021 | Cross-Training, Training

I recently had a coaching client ask if yardwork counts as training, or should be noted in his training log. This is a great question! This idea of ‘what counts’ is very much one of philosophy with a hint of accounting—are we swapping training for yardwork, are we considering yardwork cross-training, are we counting steps? There are a lot of ways to look at something like yardwork, especially if we don’t do it often.

Short answer: Most housework/yard work is ‘normal person activity’ that you should do as humans living and working. It should just be noted in comments vs. recorded as time/load (which would add to TSS).  A good strategy for days where you’re doing yardwork is to do your quality workout (intervals/strength) early and then get into the yard work as ‘endurance.’

READ MORE: What are the Fatigue, Fitness, Form Numbers in Training Peaks?

When we record things in a training log, it is accounting for loads (intensity x time/volume).

A quick rule is that if you are counting something as endurance/cross-training, then the heart rate should be reflective of this (e.g. steady HR under 80% for most of time). We would expect that this type of training improves our cardiovascular fitness, so if you count something like golf or housework you may be mistaken about what type of fitness is developed. (Someone who logs four hours of golf versus a four hour steady endurance or even recovery-pace ride would have very different heart rate files!)

If  you’re thinking about counting yardwork as strength training, then again it should be similar to what you would do in a strength training session (e.g. moving bricks or firewood with lots of up and down movements perhaps could count as a strength workout). Whether outside labor is same as strength training is hard to say, but it is a common substitute that cyclists make!

READ MORE: 10 Reasons to Cross-Train

A lot of this type of activity, I call ‘normal person activity.’ You should do it, of course, but whether it needs to be accounted in Training Peaks, I am not sure. It can get messy and also has the potential to be misleading about how much you have trained (e.g. 5 hours of yardwork or housecleaning on Friday makes your week jump from 7 to 12 hours, which is a huge jump).

(Note: If you have an active job like landscaping or housecleaning, make sure your coach is aware of this when he builds your schedule, since that may change your plan slightly.)

For a one-off housework/spring cleaning/chopping wood, some clients will count that as their cross-training, endurance or strength workout. That is likely a good compromise for one-off event, but if it is long-term, then I think we want to reflect on if it needs to be tracked and if it is moving things in the right direction.

Stretching/yoga/walking can also bring up similar questions, and again become a matter of philosophy. I tend to encourage the logging of yoga or stretching to encourage it actually getting done. The same would be true if someone was really reluctant about walking unless there was a “box to check off” for doing it, but personally, we don’t log our walks, we just do them.

READ MORE: A Quick Way to Make Habits Stick This Year

If logging helps you make more movement into daily habits, then go for it!

Just remember: While it feels good to log everything and see your hours go up, the hours going up in Training Peaks doesn’t automatically translate to fitness on the bike, so stay as honest as possible.

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