Five Man Maker Moves for Athletes

TAGS: Ryan Munsey, effective programming, Turkish get-up, increased strength, Joe Defranco, strongman

Five Man Maker Moves for Athletes

My job is to take slow, weak, and nonathletic boys and quickly turn them into powerful, explosive, brutally strong men who will tear through any obstacle or opponent like a savage beast. I have an awesome job, and I love every minute of it.

When my athletes get to me, they’re already sprinting, jumping, and possibly throwing in their specific sport practices. My job is to fill in the gaps and address any weaknesses in their movement patterns, prevent injuries, increase strength, and enhance speed, agility, and quickness. I even help them develop a warrior’s mindset.

At House of Strength, we aren’t dogmatic. We use what works for each individual, as should you. We hammer the basics and the big lifts—squats, deadlifts, pressing, rowing, chins, speed work, max effort work, suspension training, Strongman training, jumps, and all the effective programming one would expect. However, there are several moves that stand out, as I feel they provide something a little extra. Coaches love “indicator exercises.” Joe DeFranco has written about his, especially those that track relative strength like box jumps and chinning movements. Consider these my “athlete indicator” moves.

What follows isn't a workout or a training session. These are moves designed to be plugged into your current program to fill voids in your training.

Exercise: One-arm farmer’s walks (suitcase farmer’s walks)

Benefit: The one-arm variation trashes your grip, traps, lats, abs, obliques, and more. Farmer’s walks aren't anything new, but the unbalanced loading delivers a unique and amazing challenge that you have to experience to understand.

Execution: Load a farmer’s walk implement with some plates or grab a heavy dumbbell. The extra length of the farmer’s walk implements introduces a dimension that dumbbells simply can’t replicate. For this reason, I prefer to use loaded EZ bars or even regular barbells if you don’t have access to farmer’s walk handles.

Start as if you were about to perform a trap bar deadlift and stand, lifting the bar into place. Then proceed to walk briskly to the end of your course. When you turn around, switch hands. Because this move is loaded unilaterally, there is an extra emphasis on keeping the hips and shoulders square, further taking the athlete’s ability to stabilize the torso. Your lats will remind you of this in the days following your first heavy sets.

Sets/reps/goal weight: We use a course that is about thirty- to forty-yards long, changing hands on the return trip. Three times down and back is usually our goal. To really consider yourself a badass, aim to carry your body weight or more in one hand. A 185-pound high school athlete completing this task is going to be a stud on the field, court, or wrestling mat!

Exercise: Overhead toss

Benefit: This movement has all the benefits of the amazing snatch movement pattern without the technical complexities. Working with groups of young athletes with short attention spans requires a coach to understand that discretion is the better part of valor. As much as we would love to have every athlete performing technically flawless snatches, we must remember our purpose. Instead, we use these overhead throws and turn the movement into a competition, allowing the athletes to push each other to see who can throw each object the furthest. As with the snatch movement pattern, these build amazing power in the lower body through triple extension while strengthening the grip, core, shoulders, and upper back.

Execution: These can be performed with a variety of objects including empty kegs, sandbags, small tires, kettlebells, dumbbells, or medicine balls. Refrain from using kettlebells or dumbbells unless you're in a field where large divots aren't a health hazard. Explosive athletes with broken ankles are never a good thing. Simply place the object at your feet. Keeping the back flat, grab the object as if you were about to perform a deadlift or barbell snatch. Hand placement will vary, depending on the object used. Explosively rise, throwing the object as hard and high overhead (and behind) as possible.

Sets/reps/goal weight: As with any power move, keep the reps below five or six and add more sets if you desire more volume. We usually build these into a Strongman type day, performing three to five sets of three to five reps.

Exercise: Renegade rows

Benefit: Core strength, stability, lat strength, grip, and upper back strength are all challenged with this classic. It’s a rowing move and a plank variation—exercise efficiency at its finest.

Execution: Assume the lockout position of a push-up while holding moderately heavy dumbbells in each hand. Alternating arms, perform prone dumbbell rows while focusing on keeping the hips and shoulders square to the floor. For a more stable base, spread the feet further apart.

Sets/reps/goal weight: We use these for higher rep ranges, somewhere in the range of two to four sets for eight to twenty reps.

Exercise: Munsey jumps

(I don’t have a name for this move that I use to teach hip extension, so I named it after myself. We all want something cool named after ourselves like Meadow’s Rows! My apologies if these have a name and a creator.)

Benefit: Help athletes learn to hip hinge and explosively extend the hips. These also develop strength and speed from the hang position of the Olympic lifts if you’re using them.

Execution: Start from a tall kneeling position. Initiate the movement by breaking at the hips, almost taking the glutes back on to the heels. Explosively pop up on to your feet and land softly. A progression from this would be to add a box jump or other jump immediately after the landing. This second jump should only be added after the athlete is comfortable performing the initial “Munsey Jump.”

Sets/reps/goal weight: I like as few as possible. Sure, it’s a cool trick the athletes like to show their friends, but as with any other jumps or plyometrics, these should be limited to a teaching tool for single reps or low rep activation sets.

Exercise: Turkish get-ups

Benefit: These challenge core strength, shoulder strength, hip mobility, and lunge strength. They're a multiplanar move that teaches and reinforces shoulder packing, emphasizes hip mobility and glute activation, challenges the core, and taxes muscles all over the body. Win!

Execution: I teach these in segments. Ground zero is lying on your back with one arm raised, the shoulder packed, and the same knee bent with the foot flat on the ground and slightly outside hip width. The non-raised arm should be flat on the floor at a 45-degree angle from the torso. From there, the first move is an oblique crunch up on to the forearm of the unloaded arm. Move two is to extend that arm further elevating the torso. Move three is to press through the planted foot, raising the hips off the floor. Move four is to bring the extended leg under the body and back into a lunge position. Move five is to straighten, and move six is to stand. Don’t forget move seven—reversing the whole process back to the ground. Reverse lunge, spot the hand, bring the trail leg back to the front, sit, and finally lay back down gently.

Sets/reps/goal weight: I like to perform sets of three per side. Exact sets and reps will depend on the individual and the specific session, but a safe bet is three to six sets of three to five per side. Dumbbells and kettlebells are the logical place to start, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Some proclaim that loaded barbell Turkish get-ups are the epitome of 'badassery.' Other athletes have even performed this move with a human attached to the raised arm. Either way, start with a dumbbell or kettlebell and progress to whatever you can!

So there you have them—five of my favorite mush to man making moves. There isn't anything groundbreaking or cutting edge here, except maybe the jump I named after myself. But through all the athletes I’ve seen, anyone who can dominate each of those moves also dominates on the field or court. And that’s why they come to me—to dominate the competition.

If you’re looking to go from pine shining bench warmer to Captain, starter, and all-district, take these for a spin in the coming weeks and watch your athleticism explode. Or maybe you’re a wash-up meathead and just like to get after it. Whatever your reason for training, get stronger, more powerful, and more explosive. Be a badass alpha male! Isn’t that why we’re all here?

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