Cruel and Unusual Exercises

TAGS: unusual exercises, hanley, cruel, exercises, weight belt, medicine ball, coach, band, training

Did you ever wonder how song writers or comedians come up with their lyrics or material? As a person who loves music as well as a good comedy, I always wondered that very question. When I started my career coaching and training athletes, I researched other coaches to come up with new ideas for old exercises. Then it clicked. The more a person surrounds himself with the subject at hand, the more thoughts come to mind about that subject.

As I listened to more music, I realized that some musicians would steal some of their material from other musicians. Comedians did the same thing. So as a strength coach, when I see exercises from other reputable coaches, I follow suit, especially if I think it can benefit my athletes.

The exercises here are a combination of ones from other coaches mixed with my own ideas. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and correspond with some of the best coaches in the industry, and I’ve been able to come up with some pretty neat exercises of my own. The ones here are a mixture of old school movements that everyone knows with a tweak or two thrown in. There are also some exercises that you probably haven’t seen before.

In the fitness industry, things seem to change like the weather so we have to continue to educate ourselves and find new ways to train our athletes. This doesn’t mean that we should change everything that we’ve learned that works. We just simply need to implement new and unusual exercises to keep our athletes interested.

Jump stretch band triple extension

This exercise is a great tool for teaching an athlete how to obtain triple extension (extension of the ankle, knees, and hip joints) for the Olympic lifts. It’s also excellent for developing power, explosiveness, and speed-strength. This movement can be used with mixed martial artists or wrestlers or with any other sport that involves throwing an opponent. It works wonders for your posterior chain, which is extremely valuable to any athlete.

Coaching tips:

  • Choke a jump stretch band around something stable and wrap your arms through the band.
  • Your hands should grip the opposite forearm securely.
  • Back up so that the band doesn’t have any slack in it, and sit back into a squat position.
  • From the squat position, explode from the hips while throwing your hands with the band over your head. This will look similar to a back extension. Continue exploding the hips, knees, and toes until you reach triple extension.
  • As the band starts to pull you forward, quickly sit back onto your heels in the squat position.
  • This is a fast movement and should be performed with caution.

The jump stretch band triple extension can be performed a number of different ways. Normally, I don’t suggest that athletes perform an Olympic movement for more than six reps per set because their form breaks down and the risk of injury increases. However, this exercise can be done for more than six reps. I have my athletes perform this for sets of three reps as fast as possible for up to 12 sets.

You can use this movement as a dynamic effort movement like Louie Simmons does with the dynamic effort speed squat or speed bench. You can also use this exercise as a conditioning tool. However, I only do this with advanced athletes because it’s difficult to get used to the band tension. You can perform this movement for timed sets using 30-, 45-, or 60-second intervals. It can be included in a circuit of exercises or performed by itself like the Tabata method (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 10 rounds). This is very taxing on the body so work up to this amount of volume.

Push-up hand walks with a band

The push-up hand walks with a band are a favorite of mine. They work many muscles, which is particularly important for field athletes because they use their body as a unit. They can also be made into a fun and competitive game just as long as they’re done correctly, but they’re quite difficult to perform.

This exercise is a version of a movement I learned from the man himself, Mr. Thibaudeau. I believe he used this exercise in his article on T-Nation years ago. It’s great for the abdominals and the entire upper body, and it has a great conditioning aspect to it.

Coaching tips:

  • Wrap a resistance band around both wrists. Place both feet on an Airex mat and go into a push-up position.
  • With the glutes and abdominals contracted and braced, pull your body forward with your lat muscles by walking on your hands.
  • Don’t let the hip area sway side to side. Keep the hip region stationary.
  • You can go backward working the shoulder region by pushing yourself backward. Always keep the torso tight and motionless.

This is a great tool for strengthening the shoulder girdle as well as for building some upper body size. You can use this exercise for GPP, pre-habilitation, or warm ups and perform it for sets of a prescribed distance or for time. Use it as part of a GPP circuit or as a warm up or finisher to an upper body session. Another option is to perform the movement without the band. This is great for beginners because it makes the movement less challenging.

Cable crunch with medicine ball crush grip

This exercise is a hybrid exercise that kills two birds with one stone. It’s an old school, abdominal movement with a grip strengthening component to it. It’s an excellent way to work the abs while simultaneously developing grip strength.

Coaching tips:

  • Take a medicine ball and a weight belt. Wrap the weight belt securely around the medicine ball as shown in the picture.
  • Attach the buckle of the belt to the cable attachment, as shown.
  • Kneeling down in front of the cable column, grip the medicine ball with your hands on each side of the ball.
  • Your hips should be above your knees and your hands above the head.
  • In a curling motion, crunch the elbows into the knees, using the abs to do so.

This exercise can be done with any workout whether it’s upper body, lower body, or full body. I’d suggest doing this at the end of your workout because you’ll need your forearm strength for more compound movements that require heavier weights. This will definitely tax your forearms.

You can do these for sets of higher reps or using heavier weight. However, don’t let the weight become so heavy that you can’t perform the exercise correctly and effectively. I suggest doing sets of five reps and going as high as 25 reps. However, that’s only if your grip can hold on that long.

This movement is a great tool for any athlete who is required to use grip against opponents such as in football, mixed martial arts, and wrestling. It’s also excellent for athletes who use a bat, stick, or ball such as in basketball, hockey, lacrosse, or baseball.

These three exercises can be added to any training program for a little twist to a mundane routine. Try them out, and let me know what you think.

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