This article is a bit of a 'shout out' to my dad for making me do hard manual labor when I was a kid. I’m not sure how many of you guys or girls out there grew up like I did with your dad waking you up early on Saturday or Sunday mornings to either cut the grass or go move something for the elderly lady down the street. If your dad didn’t, you missed out on some of the best forms of strength and conditioning around. If he did, you need to thank him immediately.
I know my father did this on a regular basis during the summer, spring, and winter. It didn’t matter. When I was a kid, I hated it because I thought he was ruining my weekends or my summer vacation. However, now that I'm older, I know differently. This was some of the best strength and conditioning ever. Think about it—in the morning, you're loading logs on the back of a trailer, and then in the evening, you're cutting your grass or someone else’s with a push lawnmower (my dad didn’t trust me on the riding one). If you haven’t figured it out yet, I believe that doing this kind of thing in a progressed fashion is a good thing. My dad did this in a progressive fashion and, as I got strongerand more coordinated, the intensity and loading was increased as well as the responsibility. This type of “work” had a direct impact on how I learned to deadlift, squat, drag, and pull.
You see, when you have to load a log from the ground to the bed of a pick-up, you have to squat and deadlift it. Any other way and your back is toast. Another example is having to carry shingles up to the roof while climbing a ladder. Can anybody say core strength?! These are just some of the things I had to do as a pre-teen and teenager. One day while lifting, I realized that all the things my dad had me do as a kid have had a direct impact on my deadlifting and squatting technique. The only thing it didn't have a direct impact on was my bench press simply because I never laid down underneath anything and pressed it up.
So for all you fathers out there who want your sons or daughters to be strong, have them do manual labor. One other thing that I learned from doing manual labor on the weekend with my dad was that hard work is a valuable and honorable thing to do. I think today’s kids would be better off if they did more manual labor rather than play video games and eat pizza all the time.
Please feel free to leave comments as I would love to hear what shaped your lifting foundations.