the joy of strength training


November 11th, 2009 at 1:25 am

Lifting and carrying – are you getting enough?

Gubernatrix sneaks a go with the 100kg sleeper

Gubernatrix sneaks a go with the 100kg sleeper

Hey, this functional training stuff really works! I’ve just spend the weekend moving house and apart from some help unloading  (including from my awesome 80-year-old aunty who is of a generation that could actually do stuff) I basically did it all myself.

I was expecting to feel very tired and achey afterwards but this didn’t happen. I put it down to the fact that as well as good ol’ powerlifting training I’ve been doing a lot more lifting and carrying recently. Inspired by the great DVDs from my main men Dan John and Chip Conrad and the world of strongman, I’ve been incorporating more overhead work, farmer’s walks, super heavy holds and the like into my workouts and it is definitely having an effect.

Of course the real test will come in the Crossfit Reading/FKUK strongman event that will see me strutting my heavy stuff on November 21st but in the meantime, I shall continue to shift things around as I try to fit my life into ever smaller spaces.

If you’re not incorporating the lifting and carrying of heavy objects into your training, I highly recommend it. It will make your life easier (believe me) and it’s a lot of fun.

Farmer’s walk

Here’s a tip if you are short of space in your gym for walking and carrying: use the stairs. Going up and down the stairs a few times carrying a set of heavy dumbbells will burn your legs and fry your grip. Not unlike my cooking.

Use farmer’s walks at the end of a workout as a bit of GPP and grip training combined.

One-handed deadlift

One-handed deadlift

One-handed deadlift

Have you ever tried a one-handed deadlift? This classic used to be a popular competition lift – and is still practised by fans of the old time or ‘odd’ lifts. Indeed a Left Handed Deadlift was the BWLA Lift of the Quarter last quarter.

It is possible to lift with one hand more than half of your regular two-handed deadlift and you might surprise yourself with what you can achieve. Standing astride the bar (below) is allowed, as well as the normal straight-on stance shown to the right.

Steve Angell with a 200kg+ one-handed deadlift

Steve Angell with a 200kg+ one-handed deadlift

Suitcase deadlift

A great idea for core training: get up off that mat and do a suitcase carry instead. Simply carry a heavy weight in one hand while keeping your body perfectly perpendicular to the ground and feel how much the muscles of your torso need to engage to keep you from collapsing sideways.

If 80-year-old Aunty Olga can pick up my 14kg kettlebell in one hand, you can too.

A shout out for The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban, whence I obtained the black and white one-handed deadlift picture above, a wonderful compendium of old time lifting and physical culture. And also to Steve Angell, many times champion in All Around lifting, who let me use his straddle one handed deadlift pic.

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  • 1

    Go Aunty Olga!

    I absolutely love the sleepers – where did you find them? I’m trying to get hold of a tractor tyre at the moment as a Christmas present for my partner and I for a bit of tyre flipping/sledge hammering, but a 100kg railway sleeper looks incredibly cool!

    Your comments on one-arm deadlifts took me back to when I first started training. I broke my elbow half a week into starting weight training (unrelated accident) but I was determined not to stop the new “hobby” (it wasn’t an addiction at that point) so I spent the first 2 months of my training life doing one-arm deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts and one-hand dumbbell front squats. It gave me a real appreciation for them and I always go back to one-arm/leg training when I’m struggling. It’s seriously underrated.

    Ammi on November 11th, 2009
  • 2

    Anatomy trivia: The muscle responsible for initiating arm abduction is the supraspinatous, nicknamed the “suitcase muscle.”

    And, yeah, go Granny Olga!

    Steven on November 11th, 2009
  • 3

    Mea culpa. I misspelled “supraspinatus.”

    Steven on November 12th, 2009
  • 4

    @ Ammi: The sleeper belongs to a guy who runs a strongman contest down in west Cornwall (Celtic Strongman). I would have made off with it if I could carry it far enough!

    gubernatrix on November 12th, 2009
  • 5

    @ Steven: Interesting nomenclature. I have a weak supraspinatus according to my physio, but I am dutifully doing my shoulder exercises to try to correct this.

    gubernatrix on November 12th, 2009
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