Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Death Walk

Is it called a duck walk or an elephant walk? Since I'm out here in the world, strength training usually not in a gym and almost always alone, I don't know what some people may have dubbed certain exercise moves. I figured someone must have grabbed onto the ends of a sandbag, picked it up, and walked with the bag at knee-level before I thought of it. I just had never heard of anyone doing it, or what they might call it. So, I figured that the elephant walk would be as good of a name as any. David Lemanczyk informed me that, in Strongman, it's referred to as the duck walk. He did agree with my thought that "elephant," sounded much more cool and tough tough than, "duck."

Dave's one of those guys you just don't want to believe when he shows up on a forum board. 6'3", 200-whatever pound guy who works out with a 170 lbs sandbag, can partially squat 1,000 lbs, and can do a one mile, 100 lbs sandbag carry in about 15 minutes? Yeah, WHATEVER... JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER, LYING, FUCKING GEEK 17 YEAR OLD WUSSY ON THE FORUMS! A closer review of his web site and his youtube page reveals...

Dave lemanczyk is a 6'3" 200-whatever-lbs guy who works out with a 170 lbs sand bag, can partially squat 1,000 lbs, and can carry a 100 lbs sandbag one mile in about 15 minutes. No keyboard-warrior here!

Anyway, Dave reported doing this on Rosstraining about a week ago and it really inspired me. As you've probably noticed, I've really gotten into working out with sandbags lately. I've done a lot of carry work with them but usually preceded by some sort of squat work, usually a Zercher squat to zercher carry. By the time I'm getting to walking with the sandbag, my upper back and arms are half-gone from holding the bag, cutting back on how far I can carry the sandbag. I usually only go 50-60 paces.

Dave put the idea in my head to do some sort of longer-distance carry work-only. If you haven't figured it out, I'm kind of opinionated and I'm a strong individualist who likes to do things my way. Besides, I couldn't decide HOW I wanted to do a long-distance sandbag, farmer's walk. There are a lot of ways to hold a sandbag. I have the problem with choosing ice cream flavors too. I decided to take the same route that I do with ice cream: all of them.

That's how I came up with this workout that decided to give an even-cooler appellation: the death walk. I do this workout on weekends when I'm killing time at work. The job site that I'm working on has a circular driveway that measures in at 210 paces, one time around. So, every time I went around, I did a different walk with the sandbag, alternating between the easier ones and the harder ones. This isn't too hard to determine: farmer's walks that place the weight over the spine, closer to the body, and don't use the arms and grip as much are easier. Here's the batting order:

Across the Shoulders
left shoulder
Elephant Walk
Right shoulder
Across the Shoulders
Bear Hug

Obviously, the three easier carries are pretty self-explanatory. In the event that I'm double-labeling some of these, I'll explain further...

This is probably the hardest of the bunch. Carrying a bag overhead really does a number on probably every muscle originating or inserting into the scapula. What's less obvious is the the incredible need for wrist and forearms stability while doing this. Plus, you can't get this one over with fast. Walk too fast and that bag gets harder to hold steady! No, you have to suck up the pain on this one and walk more deliberately.

Elephant Walk
While the Overhead might be the hardest, the Elephant is the most annoying. Trying to hold that bag at, or slightly above, the knee fries the biceps and the grip. Letting it fall below the knee dramatically shortens the length of your stride. Either way, the constant slam of your legs into the bag makes the bag move a lot, making your core work over-time. Did I say it was annoying? Too gentle of a description...IT'S FLAT-OUT MISERABLE!

I'm going to keep up the tradition of calling any exercise with this arm positioning the Zercher. That way, I'm pretty certain everyone will know what I'm talking about. Either way, this is a good one for the biceps and the Traps, UPPER, MID, AND LOWER!

Regardless of the way that the sandbag is carried, I find that I get the most out of any of them by trying my damnest to maintain proper posture as much as possible. This detail makes every sandbag walk, no matter how "easy"... hard work! No sagging shoulders, bent wrists, or slouching under the weight! It's also probably a good idea for your overall health. If posture can't be maintained, then a lightened sandbag might be in the order. In my not-humble, not-professional opinion, You should use a sandbag that's borderline-really-fucking-difficult to carry for two minutes.

This is the kind of conditioning work that I like doing the most. Carrying a heavy, awkward object has got to be the epitome of the often abused-misused term, "real world functional strength." I have to take my hat of to Dave-L for giving me the kick in the ass to realize that carry work with the sandbag can be an awesome workout, all on it's own.


Jim Arkus said...

Nice! Mark Sisson posted a WOW a few weeks back where you take a quarter of your bodyweight and carry it for a mile. So I threw five 10 lb weight plates into a bag and went for a walk - it's a lot harder than it sounds! Looks like now I have a whole new level of brutality to shoot for once that gets too easy. Thanks!

John Cintron said...


Great Post.It seems that all that sandbag work has made you much thicker. I noticed this in your pictures of the previous post on the zercher rope pulling workout. So you may not be bigger but your muscles have gotten thick from all the odd object lifting which iIthink is pretty cool way to change your body without adding unwanted mass.

John Cintron

Bunsofsteel said...

1 mile body weight sandbag carry coming up. Shouldered

Bunsofsteel said...

1.2km sandbag carry @bodyweight +5kgs(80kg) 21.26 mins. 5 drops