Training doesn’t have to be complicated and neither does life. Yet many people WANT to make it complicated. If you need complications in life, by all means feel free to do so. Personally, I like to keep things simple and that includes my training.
Look back at the guys from the 1950s through the 1970s. They never wore any gear, most were natural (until the 70s perhaps), and they all trained using the basics. Yet there were guys who weighed less than 200 lbs benching 500 lbs raw. Their bodies were built like fire hydrants, solid from every angle.
Dave Draper and Jerry Winick, strength demo (courtesy of www.davedraper.com)
What else could they do? They could move! Gymnastic type movements were part of their training. They lifted their partners, performed various jumps, and actually participated in contests that involved more than just lifting weights!
Through the years, I have found the basics to be great for improving performance and appearance. We may not all look as good as Jim Wendler, but hey, you can’t have it all!
Let’s take a look at some more “must have” movements that you can combine with the ones from part I of this article series. Put these movements together along with your own style of training and you’re going to be on the right track. Nothing complicated, and nothing that wastes time, only workouts that produce results.
Heavy bent over rowing: I prefer going with a heavy barbell or dumbbell, but you can also use kettlebells here. Seated cable rows are great too (if you have access to one).
Bands for upper back training: Pull-apart’s and face pulls are tremendous for adding muscle to the upper back and key for improving a young athlete’s weakest area—the posterior chain. Often times, you can’t perform deadlifts or bent over rowing movements until the upper back has developed appreciable strength to keep the shoulders slightly retracted during the movements.
Gymnastics-oriented movements: Moving through various jumps, hops, tumbling drills, and cartwheels are key for developing “smart” muscles. If you’re an athlete, gymnastics type movements will carry over to any sport as you improve your kinesthetic awareness.
Rotational movements: All athletes utilize the obliques, hips, low back, and many more muscles that help improve your rotational strength and power as well as your ability to resist rotational movements. Field athletes, combative athletes, track athletes, and others need to strengthen their bodies through all angles. Make sure you have movements that strengthen your rotational muscles in every workout. Some examples are Russian twists with a med ball or kettlebell, windmills with a kettlebell or dumbbell, side bends with any weight, suitcase deadlifts, zig zag farmer walks, sledge hammer work, sled rotations, rotational med ball throws, bus drivers, or combat twists with a barbell (use the grappler or landmine, or place the barbell in the corner of a wall).
Thick bar training: You must strengthen your hands and grip. Weak hands are going to transfer weakness through the rest of your body and to your athletic skills. When lifting heavy weights, you must slap on a crush grip or death grip. This helps move bigger weights. I primarily train football players and wrestlers, both of which are constantly using their hands and grip strength. Football players are always grabbing jerseys, flesh, or the football. It’s the difference between making a catch, blocking a tackle, or making a tackle for them. It can spell the win or loss for them as well.
Wrestlers need grip endurance. If they can’t hold their guy down or if a grappler can’t hold his or her opponent’s body, it can cost the match or fight.
Use thick bars in various manners—benching, overhead presses, rowing, deadlifts, shrugs, and cheat curls.
Snatches: I keep my reps low on this overhead movement, but they are fantastic for power development and teaching young athletes how to be aggressive with a load. You can replace this movement with a two-handed scoop toss using a med ball or kettlebell. In addition, the kettlebell or dumbbell snatches are great for adding muscle to the traps and upper back while heavily attacking the low back and hamstrings. Simply pull and punch and don’t be afraid to go heavy on these.
Strongman/underground training: If you’re not using odd objects or strongman training, you’re missing out on great ways to improve strength, power, conditioning, and mental toughness. The options are limitless here. You can use sandbags, tires, trucks, farmer’s walk implements, logs, and any other odd shaped tool. I’ve seen some crazy training done with the weirdest tools, things you’d never imagine to be used in a workout. But heck, if it’s heavy and awkward, you can probably find a way to train with it.
Now that you’ve read parts I and II of “Must Have Movements,” you should have noticed that there are no special movements and secret formulas. Hopefully you’re not disappointed, and hopefully you find your own way from here. You are your own coach, and you can always pick and choose from what works and what doesn’t. I’m always learning and always will be. I see no other way for any of us to get where we want unless we keep our mind open and stay humble.
Now get out there and train, HARD!
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