Friday, April 3, 2009

Freestylin' Strength Training!

In the past few days of excessive internet use, I've come across two sides of a strength training mindsets. The first one was when Zach Evan Esch accepted my friend request on Facebook. I started reading some of his material and watching his video blogs and I we both have had the same issue with strength training: not having the typical strength training set-up to work out in. The other side came from a kid who questioned how to get some upper body pulling strength. Trouble was, he had nowhere to do pull-ups or chin-ups and was asking for alternatives. He said he would do them once he got himself a doorway chin-up bar.

That just struck me as so unlikely. I routinely go to places where I don't have the luxury of a straightforward chin-up bar. I don't let that stop me from doing my pulls and chins. There are dozens of ways to improvise one. Believe me, I know from experience. Lack of "proper" equipment never stopped Evan Esh either. When he was a kid and he couldn't afford a barbell set, he just built a sandbag, lifted stones in his parents back yard and trained BW.

The beauty of BW-based strength training is that you don't really need stuff to do it. The stuff you need can frequently be improvised. So, where ever you stand, you're always at a gym. It's up to you to figure out how to make your environment work for you. It's the freestyle rapping of the strength training world.

This is part of the reason why some of us so lovingly study "old school strength training". It was very much a lesson in improvisation. Up until the middle of the 20th century, barbells and dumbells were expensive and rare. So, they improvised. Do you really think that some Russian physcial culturist REALLY developed the kettlebell after doing serious and secret studies? Or, do you think that someone got the idea to put improvise handle on a cannon ball and exercise with it because that's all that they had? My uncle has a very old (like mid 1800's old) livestock scale at his farm. The counterbalancing weights are heavy iron plates. Gee, I wonder where the idea for plate-loaded barbells and dumbells came from?

It's problably not the foremost reason why people quit training but I suspect that the ability to improvise has been a contriubting factor. It's a shame because physical culture, like everything else, was build by imaginative, driven people with the gift of improvisation. Indeed, if you can learn to get workout with the most rudimentary stuff around you, then perhaps you won't slip off the wagon when you visit family, go on vacation, or get get to the gym before it closes. It's an attitude and a mindset that will serve you well. It goes back to something that I've said several times in the past couple of weeks: it's all about mindset.

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