Grappling With Your New Workout Routine?

Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. And if you are planning on participating in wrestling as your winter sport (or if you’re not in school anymore, perhaps you are an MMA enthusiast, or some other combat sport) then any homework you can do ahead of time will pay off later. Combative sports are some of the most demanding activities in your strength and conditioning levels. They are taxing on your full body, and across several different energy delivery systems over the course of your events. Your coach knows this, and likely has planned for you many sessions of pain and suffering to bring your body to where it needs to be to take on these challenges (or challengers). But you can make it a little less painful if you prepare now. Show up in shape, and let everyone else feel the pain while you breeze through conditioning work.

The key words of “full body” and “across many different energy delivery systems” would make it seem as if CrossFit would be an ideal approach. And I wouldn’t disagree, except for the fact that CrossFit is a concept and not inherently designed for any amount of specific training needs. CrossFit can be tailored a bit to meet sporting needs, and if you take the CrossFit approach I would suggest you talk with a coach to make sure you focus on your training needs. But don’t limit yourself. There’s always multiple answers to these questions, and a lot of them don’t require you to join a new and expensive gym.

Your daily food for thought:

Wrestling Strength Training (from kbandstraining)

Lehigh Wrestling Workout (from Zach Even – Esh)

Training With 4 Time NCAA Wrestling Champion – Kyle Dake (from functionalpatterns)

Jordan Burroughs Training for Freestyle Wrestling (from Muscle Madness)

Brock Lesnar Work Out (from sid’Ahmed lken)

Not So Strongman Gyms

Over the past 2 years, I devoted a lot of my efforts towards strongman training. To me, its the most mentally stimulating training environment. Such a variety of implements. Sure, it can actually be dumbed down to the basic human movement patterns, but a “vertical push” doesn’t just have to be a military press or push press anymore. Now it can be a log press, a circus dumbbell, or an axle bar. And not just that, the personal environment is one that really fosters excitement and motivation.

But the real reason I pursued this path was: it was available. I lived in a location that had an epic warehouse full of rust, chalk and suffering. And in the real world most of us live in, this isn’t a real thing. Most of us have nice globo-gyms, with polished equipment that matches, an awesome juice bar, and maybe some soccer moms on the elliptical. This is all well and good for the essentials of strength and conditioning, as in addition to soccer moms, most of these gyms have benches, racks and heavy dumbbells. But similar to my previous rant about crossfitters and the struggles they may have in finding an effective gym, strongman training faces a similar struggle. How to you prepare yourself for odd object strength, when all the objects around you are so ordinary?

The simple approach is to just think of the movement or work requirements you’ll face that your gym isn’t equipped for. To me, the most glaring failures would be loading movements, loaded carries and specific implements.

Quick fixes for loading would be:
– Does your gym have sandbags or heavy bags? A simple ground to shoulder movement. If your gym as boxes for box jumps, even better, now you have a platform to load.
– A landmine. No longer just for rows or core work, load it up with bumper plates and stand over it, bear hug and lift. A poor man’s variation for pulling an atlas stone.

Quick fixes for loaded carries would be:
– This should be the easiest fix. Your gym is full of heavy things. As long as you have room to walk.
– A simple barbell can be used for overhead carrying, or zercher type carries. Kettlebells for overhead carrying is a favorite of mine, as it adds more instability than a regular bar.

Quick fixes for specific implements:
– Fat Gripz on a dumbbell is a [very] poor man’s fix for circus dummbell. It won’t fix the awkward size and position of the circus dumbbell, but the grip and control of the motion can be worked.
– For farmers walk, the cheap way out is to just carry dumbbells. But they are fairly compact and the grips are friendly, not all farmers carries will be so forgiving. Sometimes I’ll wrap a towel around a weight and grip the towel for an added challenge.
– Landmine rows… but not like you think. This doesn’t address any real implement but I’m not sure where to add it. I’ll utilize the landmine, but I will grip at the very end of the barbell for 1) the fat grip 2) the bearings in that portion of the barbell reduce the amount of torque you can generate with skin-on-implement friction.

Here are some other work-arounds for a less than ideal gym.

Alternative Exercises For Getting Started in Strongman and how to get some implements! (from Brian Alsruhe)

Beginner Strongman Training [No Special Equipment Needed] (from Chandler Marchman)

Strongman Exercises – without strongman equipment (from THE BANGKOK BRO)

Poor Man Strongman Training (from John Clintron)

I wanna compete in a Strongman Competition – Where do I start? How To/Motivation (from Alan Thrall)

Tri Harder

Triathletes, like any endurance athlete, face the tricky balancing act of developing strength while maintaining a lower body mass. While larger muscles can always develop more force, larger muscles require more oxygen, and more blood, to maintain function over time. This would be a death sentence to any sport that is aerobic based. And while you may think that the training approach for an athlete that wants to stay light would be a complete opposite of a strength athlete where mass is of great benefit, both share a very common thread.

Power generation.

As mentioned in a previous piece, power is force moved in a shorter span of time (or at a faster rate). And this correlates roughly with efficiency of strength. A large person with brute strength is the person the triathlete wants to avoid. But a smaller frame might be able to generate the same amount of POWER as that large frame, but faster. And as mentioned, smaller muscles aren’t going to sap the aerobic capacity at such an immense rate.

“But if I’m worried about carrying around too much oxygen and blood loving muscle mass, why even do strength training? Isn’t the resistance associated with the movements enough?”

That answer could very well be a “yes,” if you are just a casual practitioner. But if you get that itch to do better (and its not just the itch of chaffing nipples under your shirt) then you want to enable your body to generate more power. Because with more power, comes more speed. Just tread lightly. Not everyone can catch lightning in a bottle like hybrid athlete Alex Viada. What should you focus on? As you are doing your sport, you are going to do a range of full body movements. So make sure your program encompasses at LEAST the basic functional motor patterns. Make sure you are doing these compound movement patterns in a fashion that is going to develop power, that is: lighter, but faster. Like any question of fitness, there’s never one true answer, there will always be multiple approaches to meet the needs of different body types and different composition, different training ages, etc.

Here’s your starting line:

How To Lift Weights For Triathlon (from Ben Greenfield Fitness)

Triathlete Strength Training with Helen Jenkins (from Science in Sport)

Strength & Conditioning for triathletes – What should you be doing? (from TheTriathlonCoach)

Advice: Strength Training For Triathletes (from EnduranceHour)

Triathlon Strength Training (from Jayson Westley)

No Dropping the Weights

A lot of us are members of gyms that are not equipped for some of the demands a Crossfit program would ask of us. Many times, gyms are not friendly to certain concepts like dropping weights. Perhaps they are simply not equipped for it, lacking platforms and bumper plates, or perhaps you go to a gym full of delicate and emotional folk who feel that its intimidating if you make noise when you work out. And other folks might be road warriors, spending much of the year trying to make it work with a mix of hotel gyms or gym passes at a strange new gym.

The variation in movements and methods is something that sets Crossfit apart. And while I don’t subscribe that it is a school of thought that is inherently more effective than other programs, there is no doubt that the variation does allow for a little more mental stimulation. So that makes it even more frustrating to find effective workouts with limited resources. Some of you may be very creative, and able to adapt your workouts to these limited settings. You’ll find methods to check the box on every aspect of functionality even if all you have is a 10 lb purple plastic rubber dumbbell and a broken cable machine in a broken down hotel. But for others, why hurt your head trying to think of these things? Let someone else do the hard thinking work for you, save your efforts for the hard physical work.

Olympic Lifting Without The Barbell – Dumbbell Clean Variations (from Train Aggressive)

Why I DO NOT Use Olympic Lifts With Athletes (from overtimeathletes)

Does CrossFit need to have barbell in it? (from Benjamin Krymis)

Strength vs. Speed

The name of the sport “powerlifting” should give away more information than it should. But alas, to some folks just getting interest in the sport, the focus becomes honed in on developing strength, versus developing power. And why not? Throwing the big wheels on the bar and heaving up a big weight is good for the feelz. And it is easy to get lost in the chase of bigger weights. For many basic bros, its very hard to dial it back.

Applying speed to the bar is how you generate the power. Power itself is actually force divided by time. So it stands if you can move a weight in shorter time (faster) you are beginning to focus on your capacity to generate power. If you are in Bro Science 101 and you are peeking into Powerlifting 101 to mix things up, dialing back the weight and working on bar speed is actually where you are going to make the big changes in your ability to move weights. Chad Wesley Smith from Juggernaut Training Systems put it well: “Treat 135 like your max, and treat your max like 135.” Your approach to a lift, your set up, the method by which you apply force on to the bar, should be  the same. Heavy weights should not be the point where you slow down and grind out reps.

The popular method for developing speed is a Conjugate Method, similar to (but not necessarily the same as) the Westside Method. But its not the only way.

Speed Work @ Untamed Strength (from Alan Thrall)

The Benefits of Speed Work (from Brandon Campbell Diamond)

Powerlifting SPEED Training: All The Methods! (from Clint Darden)

Dynamic Effort (DE)/Speed Work, Powerlifting and Bodybuilding (from Team3DMJ)

IMPORTANCE OF SPEED (from Barbell Brigade)