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 Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer

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PostSubject: Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer   Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer EmptyThu Oct 25, 2012 9:31 pm

Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight?

by Matt Furey

One of the most often-missed but absolutely amazing truths about many of the old-time combat men is that their strength and development usually always came from methods other than weight training or weight lifting. Sure, there are George Hackenschmidt's strength feats (he lost to Frank Gotch, in 1908 and 1911, respectively), but contrary to what many people have been led to believe, Hack was more weight lifter than wrestler.

Make no mistake about this, the old-time combat men were first and foremost, physical culturists. They did gymnastics, wrestled, boxed, did deep breathing exercises and practiced muscle control. In addition to all of the above, many of them also worked long hours each day on farms, or in the steel mills and other manual labor establishments.

Many of the old-time weight lifters were cut from the same mold. The great John Grimek, for example, would not lift weights for long periods of time. Instead, he would do gymnastic type exercises or "bodyweight calisthenics." Did the bodyweight calisthenics make Grimek stronger? You bet they did?

Sig Klein was famous for doing a "military press" with 150 percent of his bodyweight. In those days, that meant a perfectly strict press, with the heels together, legs completely straight, back like a ramrod, starting slowly and and raising the bar in time with the rising finger of the judge, who was taking his sweet old time directing you. Talk about agonizing.

Now, think for a moment and guess what exercise Klein used to develop his tremendous pressing power. Would you believe me if I told you it was handstand pushups?

Back in my teenage years, my old friend Joe (the one I wrote about in my new book, Combat Conditioning: Functional Exercises for Fitness and Combat Sports), who used to do 1000 pushups a day, told me a little story about his friend Dave.

Dave was lousy at the overhead press and it occurred to him that he might be able to improve upon this lift by doing handstand pushups. Not knowing whether his hunch was correct or not, Dave began an experiment.

Each day, he would not only do regular pushups, but he made sure that he began his routine with three sets of handstand pushups, doing as many as he could in each set. At first, he couldn't do them at all, so he would bend his arms a bit and try to press back up. When this was hard, he'd hold the position until he couldn't do them anymore. After about a month Dave was able to do the handstand pushups pretty well. He then tested himself on the military press and his totals had greatly improved.

More excited than ever, Dave jumped in with both feet and began doing even more handstand pushups. This time he waited a couple months before testing himself on the weights. When he did, his totals were up once again. On his own, Dave had found a lost secret to the development of strength that Sig Klein and others knew about long ago.

Full Range of Motion
Now, just imagine how strong Dave could have gotten if he did handstand pushups through a full range of motion. When Dave did his pushups, he always jumped into a handstand and balanced himself with his feet against the wall. He lowered himself until his head touched the floor, then he pressed back up.

Seems like a complete movement, doesn't it? Well, I got news for you.

Imagine you have a barbell locked overhead. Now, instead of lowering it all the way to your shoulders and pressing it over head, you only lower it to your forehead. Is that a complete or a partial movement? It's only half a movement, right?

Partial movements can make you stronger, no doubt about that, but if you want to get the most out of your training, after you can do the partials fairly well, you're going to have to work on doing a complete handstand pushup.

Other than drilling a large hole in the floor the size of your head, how can this be accomplished?

Here's how:
Get a couple of sturdy wooden chairs or benches. Place the chairs close to the wall. Make sure you have one elbow length of room between the two chairs. Get a bunch of thick phone books or encyclopedias and stack them between the chairs. Arrange them until they come about an inch from the top of the seat (where you'll be placing your hands).

Have someone spot you and kick into a handstand with your arms locked. Bend your legs and place your feet on the wall. Now, once your position is steady, lower yourself until your forehead touches the top of the first book, then press back to the top position. At this point, you've discovered how much harder one more inch can be.

Now, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out why you have a stack of books between the chairs. They are your way of increasing the RESISTANCE.

Don't think another inch will make much difference? Okay, no problem. Remove the top book and begin again. And continue downward until there are no books remaining between the chairs. When you can go all the way down and touch the floor, then you really know what it's like to do a complete handstand pushup.

It'll take some time before you can achieve this worthy goal. It won't be easy. But then again, even doing a "partial" handstand pushup is mighty difficult for most people. Any progress you make along the way, from partials to the complete handstand pushup, is good news. You're doing what most people are unwilling to even try.

Most importantly, when you add handstand pushups and other bodyweight exercises like Hindu squats, Hindu pushups and bridging to your routine, you're following in the footsteps of the men who ruled the world decades ago. Are the old-timers worth imitating? You better believe it.

Last edited by beasty boy on Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer   Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer EmptyTue Oct 30, 2012 6:50 pm

I can't.
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PostSubject: Re: Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer   Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer EmptyThu Dec 06, 2012 9:59 pm

beasty boy wrote:
Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight?

i can but i want to improve my strenght and i am seeing very slow progress

i wanna go for 225lbs but no matter what i cant reach that goal

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PostSubject: Re: Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer   Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer EmptyTue Feb 19, 2013 3:14 pm

The early part of the twentieth century is considered the Golden Age of Wrestling.

During that time, wrestling was considered the most popular sport in the world.

Just how popular?

Well, believe it or not...wrestling, back then, was as popular as the Super Bowl of professional football is today!

And, remember, around 1900, there were far more wrestlers in Europe than in America.

The two most famous professional wrestlers of that time were the American Heavyweight Champion, Frank Gotch, and the World Heavyweight Champion, George Hackenschmidt, known as...

The Russian Lion.

Hackenschmidt hailed from Estonia and trained under Dr. Vladislav von Krajewski at the St. Petersburg Athletic and Cycling Club.

The great George Lurich helped him with wrestling and the use of weightlifting to develop his magnificent physique as well as his strength and stamina in the ring.

Therefore, he was not only a champion wrestler and cyclist, but, due to his methods of weightlifting, a strongman, as well...

He could lift 276 pounds overhead with one hand, lift a small horse off the ground, and, while in a wrestler's bridge, he could do a pullover and press with 335 pounds!

In 1902, he jumped over a table 100 times with his feet tied together!

And, in 1905, he became the FIRST Heavyweight Champion Wrestler of the World!

During his professional career, he wrestled 3,000 matches, losing only two.

He could wrestle in Free-Style, Greco-Roman, and Catch-As-Catch-Can, which he preferred.

He would take on as many as five opponents in one evening and beat them all with ease.

But, most importantly, he had a world wide reputation for always being a gentleman and ambassador of good sportsmanship.

His two matches with Frank Gotch helped launch the popularity of amateur wrestling in high schools colleges throughout America.

Hackenschmidt invented the wrestling hold referred to as the "bear hug".

It is a popular belief that he also invented the weightlifting exercise called the "hack squat", a version of the deadlift with the arms behind the body.

In addition, even though he was a champion in many forms of physical sport, he was not, by any means, all brawn and no brains...

He was intellectual, cultured, well educated, and could speak seven languages.

He was in big demand as a noted speaker, philosopher, and author who wrote several books, not only on physical training, but philosophy as well.

Here are a few of the mind-boggling examples:

"The Three Memories and Forgetfulness"

"The Dethronement of the Brain"

"Consciousness and Character"

However, his most famous book was on the subject of physical training:

"The Way to Live in Health and Physical Fitness"

To learn more about Hackenschmidt's life and his methods of training in this book, go here now:


The famous proponent of physical culture and exercise, President Theodore Roosevelt, once said...

"If I wasn't president of the United States, I would like to be George Hackenschmidt."

"The Russian Lion" died on this day in 1968.

Until the next time...

Yours for greater strength,

Bill Hinbern

P.S. Here is one of the most famous quotes by this extraordinary man:

"Throughout my whole career I have never bothered as to whether I was a Champion or not a Champion; The only title I have desired to be known by is simply my name - George Hackenschmidt"
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PostSubject: Re: Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer   Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer EmptyTue Feb 19, 2013 3:31 pm

Odd Object Training Primer
by A Manly Guest Contributor on March 18, 2010 · 35 comments

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joe Hashey.

ShareOdd object training is nothing new, but it has once again started to regain popularity. Odd object training was once done out of necessity. People did not have the means to procure state of the art training equipment, or it just wasn’t invented yet. Instead of having fancy gym machines, these people would find or make heavy objects and lift them! The result from this training was outstanding!

Over the years, the fitness industry has turned out a great deal of quality fitness equipment…and a lot of crap as well. It is time to take a look at some of the old school methods and see how we can blend them with some of the quality equipment that has been created. I prefer using odd objects in conjunction with my other strength equipment in order to compensate for one of the pitfalls of odd object training – muscular imbalances.

Odd objects can’t always be perfectly balanced. Take a log for instance. If one side is slightly larger in diameter, that end will be heavier. If you lift with that same log, in the same pattern, week after week, then some imbalances may occur. However, the benefits can be maximized if you intelligently use these objects.

Odd Objects & Where To Get Them
In this introduction to odd objects, I will focus primarily on the ones that are easy to get. No need to get fancy with this style of training. The simplicity of odd object training is what draws a lot of people to it.

I will cover a few of the odd objects that I have used with success. For each, I will give instructions on how to find the equipment as well as a few sample exercises. Again, these are just a few of the objects we use. The odd objects possible are only limited by your creativity!

1. Stones and Rocks. These objects are provided for you by good ol’ mother nature. Go out and find a few different sized stones. I have one for pinch-gripping and another few for heavier lifting. Atlas stones are a little more complicated. The easiest way is to buy a stone mold and use that.

2. Kegs. You can go to your local beer distributors and pick up a keg for the price of deposit. Perform a YouTube search for how to open the keg (it provides a better tutorial than I can type out). Once you open the keg, you can fill it with either water or another heavy object (sand, pea gravel, etc). Water provides instability and weight, while the others will provide just weight.

3. Sandbags. There are many places online to buy thick bags to use; however, I have found these expensive. I purchased three military duffle bags on ebay for around $15 and filled them with random objects – pea gravel, individual bags of sand, old clothes, and anything else I could get my hands on.

4. Rope. Thick rope is one of my favorite training tools. You can purchase either manila or nylon weave. Your local hardware store probably will not carry rope thick enough. I have purchased mine off of ebay, McMaster Carr, and from people selling used rope down by the waterfronts.

5. Tires. Tires are versatile and durable, which makes them great choices as odd objects. Additionally, they are often free! Large tires for flipping can be picked up at a tractor or truck tire shop. Small tires can be picked up used from any garage. These places have to pay to dispose of the tires, so they are usually willing to get rid of them for free as it actually saves them money.

Putting the Objects to Use
The only thing standing between you and some amazing training is a little creativity. Think of regular gym exercises that you can perform with these objects, but now with added grip, stability, and other benefits. I am a proponent of performing a regular primary lift (dead lift, squat, bench, overhead press, or variation thereof). With the exception of atlas stones and tire flipping, most odd object training should be reserved for supplemental exercises. The main reason is that gym weights are easily loaded, measured, and progressed.

The best thing I can do is display some pictures of how we have used odd objects. Your objects may very well be different from ours (larger, smaller, different shapes, etc), so these pictures and descriptions will give you an idea of some movement possibilities.


Pinch Gripping Pinch Swings

Pinch Grip Farmers Walk – Shown with Stone + 35 lb Hex Head DB
Obviously Atlas Stones can be used for loading or shouldering. However if you do not have an Atlas Stone, a keg can be a decent replacement. Smaller stones can also be used to add grips to things like curls, rows, presses, etc. Again, use your imagination with these objects. That’s half the fun!


Clean and Press Shoulder Loading
Setting Up a Keg “Atlas Stone” Style Lift Keg Throwing

Overhead Iso Lunges
Kegs and sandbags are incredibly versatile. I could list at least 100 exercises for each, but again, follow my above rule of first thinking of gym exercises, then applying the object. Remember Zoolander’s walk-off rules? Old school rules – duplicate then elaborate. Same concept applies here, but less pretty.


Sandbags, like kegs, can be used for a huge array of exercises. I prefer to “grab cloth” when sandbag training. This means, instead of using the handles for grip, I grab the cloth of the bag as if I was grabbing someone by the shirt. This makes it tougher on the grip. Here are some suggested exercises:

Sandbag Pull Through Setup Sandbag Pull Through Finish

Shouldered Sandbag Squat Front Hold Sandbag Step-up

Rope is a unique training tool. I like to use it for everything from rope battling to added grip on pull-ups. It is worth it to have a few different sizes and lengths in your repertoire. It is best to not get the rope wet, as it frays and not to leave it out in the sun.

Rope Mountain Climbers Rope Battling (other end attached to tree)

Thick Rope Supine Rows

Tires come in all shapes and sizes, so these exercises are just suggestions. They are unique since you can do everything from beat them with a sledgehammer to throw them for explosive training.

Rotational Tire Throws Tire Flips

And only if you are crazy….Tire Hercules Holds (two tires, same size)Conclusion
Odd object training will bring a boost to your supplemental exercises. They are creative, enjoyable and EFFECTIVE! I would recommend these for anyone from athletes (especially athletes) to people looking to spice up their programs. Tires, kegs, stones, ropes, and sandbags can all be successfully incorporated into your training protocols. Now get training

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PostSubject: Re: Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer   Can You Press Your Own Bodyweight? & Odd Object Training Primer EmptyTue Feb 19, 2013 3:31 pm

Odd Object Training

Odd object training has become popular in the last several years as a means for developing general strength qualities for fitness enthusiasts and athletes.
Definition on an Odd Object
An odd object can be defined as a non-rigid implement who’s center of mass is not fixed and is ever changing. It acts non-linear in a system and creates tension that does not act opposite or parallel to an anatomical movement pattern (horizontal push/pull, vertical push/pull, rotational, hip dominant, quad dominant), but rather chaotically in opposition to ANY fixed movement.
Adaptation to Odd Object Training
When engaging in conventional strength training means, such as a squat, deadlift or bench press, the movement pattern is fixed and the load acts in this plane. Odd objects provide a loading that causes shifts and adjustments throughout the movement pattern providing a more comprehensive adaptation.
For example, take a sandbag press. If the sandbag is 100 lbs and the lifter presses it overhead, each arm does not have to overcome 5o lbs each – (like a conventional barbell military press whose COM (or COG) is fixed). Instead, the sand in the sandbag shifts as it is pressed and at any point in time, each arm has varying loads to press. At point 1, the left arm might be pressing 30 lbs and the right arm could be pressing 70 lbs. At point 2, the left arm might be pressing 40 lbs and the right arm could be pressing 60 lbs. And so on…
Some term this “real world training”. I would lean toward this term as a more general description but it is not absolute. Others term this type of training as “functional”, but this is even further from the truth. When trainers talk of functional training, their application is always toward athletics. A means cannot be termed as “functional” unless you are actually playing the sport or have satisfied all of Verkhoshansky’s Principles of Dynamic Correspondence.
Benefits of Odd Object Training – (see the Chaos Manual)

rapid adaptation
increased work capacity (GPP)
bridging the gap from GPP to SPP
Odd Objects 101

What They and How are They Used:
Sandbags fit all the criteria of being an odd object. There are several ways to prepare a sandbag to use in a gym or for an outside training session.
For years we have used an army duffle bag that we purchased on ebay. It has held up very well. Now you don’t want to jump dump the sand into the bag directly. You need to put some kind of liner to put the sand in prior to putting it into the bag.
To line a sandbag you can use:

contractor bags (30 gallon, thick black plastic bags)
nylon woven bags (used to haul feed for animals on farms)
other nylon duffle bags
prefab liners made by sandbag manufacturers specifically to load sandbags
You can fill a sandbag with:

pea gravel
I prefer pea gravel because it is cleaner and can be easily used within a commercial gym setting.
Typically, the “liners” that you put into the sandbag are broken into smaller increments. For example, if you are making a 100 lb sandbag, you would fill it with 4 x 25 lb fillers.
What has worked for me is to take the 25lb bags of play sand from Walmart and keep them in their plastic bags. Take the duct tape and duct tape around the entire plastic bag. Now you have 4 x 25 lb duct tape packages that you can incrementally fill your sandbag with.
Now, when you use the liners above to contain the sand within the sandbag, they will spring “leaks”. So it is a good idea to use duct tape to seal these cracks.

Every exercise you can think of, you can do with a sandbag, so get creative. And because you will only be utilizing one implement, you can easily transition from one exercise to the other for a great strength training circuit.

6 Week Kettlebell / Sandbag Workout

Sandbag Press

Sandbag Zercher Lunge

Quick Sandbag Workout
1) Sandbag Clean and Press, 3×6
2) Sandbag Clean and Squat, 4×8
3) Sandbag Floor Press, 4×8
4) Sandbag Good Morning, 3×12

Water / Sand Kegs

What They and How are They Used:
Water filled odd objects are among the most unstable implements you can use. Because of the shifting of the water and ever changing redistribution of mass, the lifter must constantly and powerfully change their tension to overcome and impart movement into the object.
A typically half keg when filled with water will weigh any where from 145-155lbs. So you can interpolate then that the weight of a half filled keg would be around 75-85lbs.
There are two types of kegs:

old barrel style with no handles
sanke keg with handles
How to fill kegs:
Old Barrel Keg – drill out the old cork plug in the side of the barrel and fill accordingly. Then replace with a rubber stopper from McMaster-Carr.
Sanke Keg - can be disassembled by using this technique
Kegs can be filled with:

pea gravel
Most Popular Keg Exercises

shoulder lunges
zercher lunges
clean & press
bearhug good mornings
military press
pull throughs
shoulder squats
zercher squats
loading onto platform
Keg Clean & Press

Keg Bearhug Good Morning

Water Filled Swiss Ball

What They and How are They Used:
A anti-burst swiss ball is filled with water and resealed. Similar to a water filled keg, water filled swiss balls have a more intense grip component to all their lifts. The lifter must aggressively grab the swiss ball to maintain control of the lift.
The swiss ball is typically filled between 50 and 75% capacity.
Typical movements executed with a water filled swiss ball:

bear hug squats
bear hug lunges
bear hug good mornings
curl to press
Photo courtesy of Ross Enamait:

Slosh Pipe

What They and How are They Used:
A sloshpipe is a device developed by Dan John. A 10′ length of 4″ PVC pipe is filled to approximately 50-75% capacity and capped on the ends with end caps. Glue or duct tape is added to ensure there is minimal leakage.
As the sloshpipe is lifted the water “sloshes” from side to side and the lifter will have to adjust and counteract these shifts.
Typical movements done with a slosh pipe:

overhead walks
overhead pressing
zercher squats
zercher walks
Elastic Bands

What They and How are They Used:
Heavy elastic bands can be used as an odd object. They can provide external resistance that is in opposite to or counteractive to the plane of movement – see Chaos Manual.
Elastic bands can be used:

to hang kettlebells from a barbell, this technique is called “crazy” or “chaos” bells. A lifter can do chaos curls, chaos bench or chaos shrugs.
to loop around a lifter to add a line of tension unrelated to their engaged exercise. For example, to increase the benefits of a simple push-up a partner can add a lateral force to the lifter with an elastic band causing a more intensive bracing (abdominals) component to the lift – see Chaos Manual.
Partner Assisted Bodyweight Training

What They and How are They Used:
Partner assisted bodyweight movement are where a lifter “picks up” a partner and uses their bodyweight as the resistance for the exercise.
Because the partner’s bodyweight is non-rigid and asymmetrical, we can classify it as a odd object. This type of training has become popular recently due to the rise in popularity of the UFC, but it has been used for decades as a means to develop wrestlers, old strongmen and combat athletes.

Typical movements done with a partner assisted bodyweight movements:

zercher carries
zercher triple extensions
shoulder carries
underarm (fireman) drags
Zercher Squats (see Blunt Force Trauma)

Bodyweight Good Mornings (see Blunt Force Trauma)


What They and How are They Used:
Chains are typically used by powerlifters to provide instability and accomodating resistance to their training. Overcoming the chains requires brute force. The chains are added to the bench press, squat and deadlift. The standard size chain used by powerlifters is typically 5/8 chain.
Chains with Squats – chains are added with a leader chain and hung so that in the bottom of the squat the chains gather on the ground (lightening the load) and come off the ground at lockout (increasing the load) – this is called accomodating resistance.
Chains with Bench Press – chains are added the same way as with the squat just with a shorter lead chain because the movement itself is shorter.
Chains with Deadlift – the chains can be added two ways. Either is the center of the bar where a carabeener is used to loop the chain completely around the bar. The chains are bunched up and placed between the lifter’s hands in the middle of the bar. This is the first setup. The second way chains are added is outside of the plates at the end of the bar. This setup sometimes has issues with the lifter setting the plates down onto the chains as they kick in during the lift.
But chains can also be used as an odd object.
We take the 5/8″ chains and attached them to a “D” handle with the carabeener. With this setup you can hit:

bench press
tricep extension
floor press
curl to military press
bent over rows
high pulls
farmers walks
and a variety of other movements
Because the chains are unstable and move throughout the movement, we can classify them as odd objects.
Chains can be added to:

barbells, as with conventional training (bench, squat, deadlift)
barbells, for other movements; military press, bent over rows, shrugs, etc.
various handles; “D” handle, “V” handle, thick grip handles
towels; wrap a towel through the chain and lift
kettlebells (as seen in the video below)
bodyweight movements like dips, pull-ups, inverted rows, step-ups, etc.
Dips with Chains

Step-ups with Chains

Here is a video example of how to use chains as odd objects.

Sandbag Circuits For Combat Athletes

By Dustin Lebel
MMA is all the rage these days and its no surprise that more and more people want to train like their favorite fighters. The only problem is that most great fighters are great despite their strength and conditioning program…not all, but most. While putting together a great program for a combat athlete can be very complex as you have to take into account their technical practice schedules, past and current list of injuries, nutrition, their various coaches, recovery, and oh yeah – we need to get them stronger, more powerful, and in better condition while they concurrently improve their skills in their respective sport. Phew – training for combat sports is tough!

Well, the problem with most athletes is that they often sway too far towards one end of the spectrum or the other. Rarely ever are fighters just getting just enough strength work or just enough conditioning work (which is really what we’re aiming for – just enough). You either have guys running themselves into the ground with their skill practices and daily conditioning (most of it is bullsh#t), or you have guys who think that they are bodybuilders who also happen to box, wrestle, or what have you. The middle of the road is generally where you want to be, but to try and explain this to your typical “type A” combat athlete is near impossible. It has been instilled in our minds that the guy who simply does the most work, wins. While hard work is certainly the backbone for attaining success in anything, it’s important for combat athletes to understand their number one priority – to get better at their sport and compete at the highest possible level. If you are not getting better, then you are spinning your wheels. We’ve all heard the saying – more is not better, better is better. It sounds cliché but it’s true.

What I’m proposing for more fighters is to have more focused, disciplined sessions – not just their skill sessions, but also their strength and conditioning sessions. If more athletes just took what they are currently doing and cut everything in half and just started being more deliberate in their training, they would see twice the results. The fact is that the guys who say that they train 6-8 hours a day are either a) full of sh#t or b) farting around too much or not focusing on the things that deliver the biggest results. While this is tough to control with technical sessions because each coach has a different agenda and different training philosophy, the least you can do is have full control over your strength and conditioning sessions.
With all that said, lets take a look at how you can start to organize your training sessions and maximize your time in the weight room – leaving you plenty of time and energy to get better at breaking people’s arms or kicking them in the teeth.
I think that most fighters who are training for their sport 5-6 days per week need just two, or three days at the most, of strength work per week. Since you will be getting plenty of conditioning from your regular practices, any more than that is overkill. I know that a lot of guys get sensitive when it comes to their daily roadwork, but again, I urge you to drop it and spend that time getting in some soft tissue and mobility work instead. If you are doing the things that you should be in practice – hard, live drilling, lots of live wrestling/rolling, mitt work, bag work, partner drills, and sparring – then you should have very little energy left over for anything else and that energy should be spent in the most productive way possible.

Most of the time, I prefer to use total body workouts and I find that getting in a session in less than 45 minutes (and often even less) is feasible as long as you bust your a$$. The key is to use the best movements to get the biggest bang for your buck – that means plenty of pushes, pulls, squats, single leg and posterior chain work. Don’t get caught up in all the hype over “sport specific” training, but rather spend your time fixing your imbalances and getting stronger and in better “fight shape” through more general training.
One of my favorite ways to train is through strength based circuits using a heavy sandbag. This is a great way to maximize your time and get stronger while also improving your strength endurance specific to combat sports. While maximal strength and explosive strength are certainly desirable attributes, in most cases, fighters need to worry about improving their ability to be strong and explosive over many repeated efforts. Because of the awkward nature of sandbag training, every single movement requires tremendous core, upper back, posterior chain, and grip strength – areas that are usually lacking in most athletes – and causes your heart rate to go through the roof very quickly! Not to mention that most movements in the weight room only address the eccentric and concentric contractions, where as combat sports require a huge amount of isometric strength. Many of the movements performed with sandbags will force maximal isometric contractions, only bringing on fatigue that much faster. Sandbag training is not a fad nor gimmicky in anyway, just hard freakin’ work.
Here are 4 of my favorite circuits using a heavy sandbag for developing insane muscular endurance and that raw, rugged strength that will translate on the mat or in the ring. While most programs leave you bigger and stronger in the weight room, training with sandbags will have instant carry over to your sport.
For these circuits, you will want to make a sandbag roughly 60-70% of your bodyweight going towards the higher end if you’re an advanced trainee and the lower if you’re new to strength training. You can always make adjustments if needed, but you want to make a bag that will challenge you for months ahead. Rather than increasing the weight of the bag, you will make subtle adjustments to your sets, reps, total volume and rest periods over time.

For this program, you will pick one circuit per training day and after a warm up, and you will have several options.
Option 1 is to go through each circuit for 3-5 sets; resting 60-120 seconds between each circuit (and 30 seconds or less between each movement). Your goal here is to slowly increase your volume by adding a rep to each movement here and there and to increase your sets only when all the reps can completed with good form with the minimum requirement for rest periods.
Option 2 is to set a time limit of 15 or 20 minutes and try to blast through as many sets as possible in that time frame. This form of density training will be a good indicator of the progress you’re making – you either get more work done or you don’t.
I recommend the density option every other time you perform a particular circuit. So if weeks 1 and 2 you performed circuits A-D (assuming 2 sessions/week), getting in just the minimum of 3 sets with the prescribed reps, then on weeks 3 and 4 you would set your standard for a 15 or 20 minute density round and continue to repeat this process.
But remember, the goal of extra strength training is to enhance your performance in your chosen sport, not fatigue yourself to the point where you are getting stale, or worse, regressing and getting worse. Slowly make adjustments to total volume over time and don’t set out to crush your records every single time out – know when good enough is good enough.

So here they are, 4 bad a$$ circuits that will leave you in a pool of sweat and cramping from your fingers down to your calves…
Circuit A:

1. Sandbag Clean and Press x 6

2. Sandbag Shoulder + Squat x 6

3. Sandbag Rotations x 6

4. Sandbag Bent Over Rows x 6

Circuit B:

1. Sandbag Shouldering x 6

2. Sandbag Power Clean + Zercher Squat x 6

3. Sandbag Zercher Goodmornings x 6

4. Sandbag Bent Over Rows x 6

Circuit C:

1. Sandbag Shouldering x 6

2. Sandbag Zercher Reverse Lunges x 6 (3 each side)

3. Sandbag Power Cleans x 6

4. Sandbag Bent Over Rows x 6

Circuit D:

1. Sandbag Clean and Press x 6

2. Sandbag Zercher Squats x 6

3. Sandbag Pull Throughs x 6

4. Sandbag Bent Over Rows x 6

You will notice that included rowing in every single circuit, and that’s for the simple fact that you can never get enough rowing! Besides the benefit of strengthening your lats and upper back, the sandbag bent over row will challenge your grip and posterior chain in much different manner than any barbell or cable row ever could.
If you’re like most fighters and you’re short on time and energy reserves, then these circuits can make up your complete training program. However, there’s nothing wrong with adding in some sled dragging, weighted and un weighted bodyweight calisthenics, sledgehammer swinging and anything else you had in mind. Work your a$$ off, but keep your recovery in mind and do what’s best so that you can become a stronger, faster, more conditioned fighter.
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3 Feats of Strength: An Introduction to Strongman Exercises
by Brett & Kate McKay on December 16, 2009 · 20 comments

in Health & Sports

George Hackenschmidt – Legendary Oldtime Wrestler and Strongman

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jedd Johnson, CSCS from DieselCrew.com.

In the past, the pioneers of strength, like George Hackenschmidt, and other classic strongmen and wrestlers, were built like machines and were able to move serious weight and do feats of strength that left you thinking, “WOW.”

The primary focus on the part of these performers was strength, while the appearance of their body came secondary.

They foucused on strengthening their legs, back, and grip first and by using complex, ground based movements, the size of their shoulders, arms, and chest followed right along.

George Hackenschmidt didn’t try to build a V-shape torso with flared lats and a wasp-like waist. He built a thick back, a thick core, and could support tremendous amounts of weight in movements like the squat and deadlift.


These days, it’s different. Most of the weight training that goes on in the gym today is not nearly as focused on the development of strength. Now, the focus is mostly on aesthetics – perfectly proportioned biceps and calves, a broad chest, and big biceps.

You can bet the Sandows of the day didn’t care about the peak on their biceps. The Hackenschmidts of the era weren’t worried about a big pump in their chest.

Somewhere along the lines, there was a shift from being strong to looking good. Much of this shift can be blamed on the overwhelming presence of bodybuilding literature at the newsstand.

For me, however, when it comes to a rewarding experience in the gym, bodybuilding falls short. I am more interested in building strength. In fact, much of my training revolves around doing what the oldtime strongmen considered “feats of strength.”

I want to share with you all what I feel are the best feats of strength to perform in order to build a strong back, powerful body, and an impressive grip.

Overhead Lifts
Without a doubt, one the best pure feats of strength is lifting something from the floor and up overhead. I don’t care if it’s a barbell, a dumbbell, a stone, or a beer keg filled with sand and water, there is just something about getting the object to arm’s length overhead that means you are truly strong. To do this requires practically all the musculature in the body from the ground to the hands. If your back is weak, the object won’t make it off the ground. If your legs are weak, they will crumble beneath the load as you try to push it up overhead. And if your mind is weak, you can get halted at any point along the way.

The best thing about overhead lifting is that you are getting up out of a seated position and performing the lift on your feet. This type of lifting requires more talent and athleticism than the seated variations which in turn makes you more of an athlete and more of a man.

The Log Overhead Lift

The majority of my overhead lifting is done with a log. I have competed in many Strongman competitions and the Log was always one of my favorite events, whether it was for max weight or for repetitions. Not only does it build your overhead strength, but also makes your lower back stable, as well as the grip.

The Keg Overhead Lift

I love Keg Lifting also, because kegs are so unstable. While you can hold a barbell or dumbbell pretty easily, the keg has a dynamic center of gravity that you have to compete with along with the fact it is so heavy and bulky.

Odd Object Lifting and Carrying
It is one thing to lift something heavy off the ground. It’s another thing altogether to pick it up and then carry it.

This is the primary difference between the sport of powerlifting and the sport of strongman. In the sport of powerlifting, the lifts that are executed are the bench press, the deadlift, and the squat. While tremendous weights are lifted in these three disciplines, all that takes place is the lifting and lowering of the weights. In many strongman competitions, however, the objective is to lift and then move heavy and bulky items such as stones, farmer’s walk implements, yokes, and sandbags. This is often done at high rates of speed as well. The athletes in strongman competitions have to be extremely strong, and be able to move nimbly over the course to be successful.

Carrying heavy objects, just like overhead lifting, requires the recruitment of every muscle in the body. With each step, tremors course through the body, requiring you to re-adjust and stay on track. The joints have to be strong and stable in order to keep from buckling with each stride, all while keeping your breathing under load. Carrying objects is a great way to train, and it can be done in the gym or in a parking lot or field. The most important thing is not where it is done, but that it actually gets done.

Homemade Farmers Implements

The Farmer’s Walk is a basic strongman event. You just pick up the farmers and take off. My farmers were made by a friend from scrap industrial pieces. He made the handles extra thick so it is more taxing on the grip and the handles are extra high, which causes swing. You have to be ready to stroll with these things.

Keg Carrying – The Toughest Walk in the Park You’ll Ever Have

Carrying the keg is a challenge not only because you have to pick it up but because you then have to move with it. Also, because it sits on your belly, it can be very hard to breath.

Bending Steel
There are few things in strength training that feel as good as bending steel. Strength feat enthusiasts have enjoyed bending nails, bolts, stock, wrenches, hammers, horse shoes and more for years. Training for this type of feat is becoming more common all the time as resources become more available to the public.

Generally when bending steel, there is some form of protective covering placed on the ends of the item being bent to avoid puncturing the skin. Usually this is a towel or thin piece of suede leather. This is extremely important because the hands have to press on the ends of the object with a great deal of pressure. If there is no protection, there is a much higher risk of injury, especially punctures and lacerations. Also, with no protection, the pain factor is escalated and when that happens it is much harder to apply full strength into the object, and the feat might not be completed.

Obviously, there has to be some limitation to how much protective gear is used because eventually it becomes padding. A balance needs to be maintained between protecting yourself and making the feat too easy.

There are two main types of bending – braced bending and unbraced bending. Braced bending is done by pushing the object against your thigh, knee, or other part of the body to get the bend started. When bending very long objects, like steel bars, very thick objects, like wrenches and hammers, or very resilient items, such as frying pans, bracing is needed. Unbraced bending is done by keeping the object free of the body for the most part and relying more on hand and wrist strength to start and complete the feat.

In order to bend something, you have to go about it with intensity. When going for a top-level bend, if you are not 100% focused on the bend at hand, you will not be successful.

Short unbraced bending, such as nail, bolt, and stock bending is featured in many grip strength competitions each year. Unbraced bending is chosen because it is a better means for testing hand, wrist and grip strength.

Double Overhand Bending

Double Underhand Bending

Reverse Bending

As you can see, there are many ways to bend steel. However, short bending should not be considered a grip strength feat only. There is a great deal of engagement of the core and torso to create radiant tension that travels down through the arms and into the hands to strengthen the grip on the object being bent. This increase in tension increases your bending ability while at the same time making it a safer practice as it keeps your hands from slipping off the object and causing injury. If you are interested in learning how to bend nails, bolts and other items, there is no better resource than the Nail Bending eBook. It is the definitive resource on short, unbraced bending.
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