Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Backyard Strongman Training 101

When it comes to building raw strength and a rugged physique, there are many training methods and tools to get the job done. Whether its powerlifting, old school bodybuilding, hardcore calisthenics, kettlebells - there are many ways to skin the cat - and once you "break the chains" of the regular gym routine, you'll be pleasantly surprised with how much FASTER you achieve results (and how much more FUN training can be!). However, an often overlooked form of training, a kind of training that builds super human strength, conditioning and mental toughness, is old school strongman / odd object training. Using just bare bone basic equipment, and a hell of alot of attitude, you can be well on your way to unleashing the beast and building a tough, rugged physique that is stronger than it looks!

The fact of the matter is, that if you're stuck in the cozy confines of your local or home gym - you've become comfortable, you've become complacent. Barbells and dumbbells are excellent training tools, no doubt, but there's just something about getting outside with some heavy, awkward implements and carrying them, dragging them, loading them, throwing them overhead, etc. Your body's stabilizers will go into overload... your grip, upperback, core, and the muscles of the posterior chain will be challenged far beyond that of a regular squat or deadlift.

The best part is that most of this basic equipment can be either found for free or purchased for very cheap. With just a few various odd objects, you have yourself a complete outdoor gym, with only your imagination limiting the possibilities. Here are some of the bare bone basics for your new "backyard strogman" training course:

- Sandbags. You can start out with one medium sized bag (~50-70% of your bodyweight), or maybe make several different sized bags. A lighter one for various rotational and throwing movements, a medium sized one for clean and presses, shouldering, loading, etc and a heavier one for carries and low rep loading drills.

- Kegs. Similar to a sandbag, but just a different feel overall. The water sloshing around inside makes a 100lb keg will rock your "core" in ways you've never felt before! Like sandbags, you can start out with one medium sized keg, but eventually try to acquire (ahem!) several different sizes.

- Dragging Sled or Tire. You can purchase a sled from company's such as EliteFTS, or simply go to your local tire yard and find a tire in the 100-200lb range, attach an eye hook to it, and get 2 10' tow straps and you'll have your own homemade sled. Sled dragging for the lower and upperbody is an awesome way to jack up your conditioning, muscular endurance, or even hypertrophy for lagging bodyparts.

- Sledgehammer. Using a 12-20lb sledgehammer for various swings and chops is an oldschool to jack up your grip, upperbody, core, and is a super hard conditioning workout.

So now what do you do? I'm glad you asked, here's a sample training day using some of this basic equipment.

- General Warm Up X 5-10 Minutes (jumping jacks, squats, push ups, chin ups, mountain climbers, walking lunges, etc)...get a sweat going!

First we'll get in one of my favorite total body strength & power movements - sandbag shouldering.

a) sandbag shouldering x 20 total reps (10 each side). Break as long as needed in between each rep or break the sets of up into 4's or 5's.

Next we'll hit up an energy system circuit for 3-4 rounds. Try to move through this circuit quickly and only rest once all 3 movements have been completed.

b1) keg clean and press x 10
b2) backward sled drag x 100'
b3) sledgehammer swings into large tire x 15 left & right

Finally, you're going to finish the workout with a heavy sandbag carry

c) sandbag carry 2x200'. This will have your heart beating out of your chest and will fry your grip, upperback and core! A great way to finish a workout and develop some old school rugged strength!

So there you have it - 5 pieces of equipment that are virtually free (or very cheap) and a sample training day that will send your body into shock and have you wondering why you've spent all that time in a regular gym!


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