Let's crush part II of our Most Effective Strength & Muscle Building Methods. Make sure you go back and review Part 1 Here, and better yet, print them out and put both of these articles in a 3 ring binder.
There is peace of mind when you can remove yourself from technology and read a book.
In addition, you will be less likely to be confused about how to train. Less confusion & more focus = Greater gains in size, more muscle gains & more strength gains.
Let's get after it.
4) StrongMan Training & Odd Object Lifting - My regular use of strongman lifts and odd object lifting was an accident for the most part.
With some serious debt on my hands coupled with my desire to help athletes kick ass and take names, I made sandbags in place of barbells. We used stones in the backyard and at the local playgrounds. We pushed my truck around empty parking lots instead of using sleds.
Back then, there was no place to pick up equipment for affordable prices like you find so easily today. In addition, strongman training & odd object lifting was considered to be very "Underground". The trainers who were talking about functional training laughed at people like me because they had expensive machines and cable units for doing one legged, kneeling lateral cable chops.
Once I saw the results, firsthand, watching our athletes dominate, I knew it didn't matter what the masses said. But, like most things, what's old is new again, as you see everyone flipping tires, maybe not correctly, but you see them being done by many.
The bottom line for using strongman training and odd object lifting: You can get strong as hell from implementing this method. The type of strength you develop is very unique, a type of strength that is different than using barbells.
Don't worry about what is a fad or not, focus only on that which gets you strong as hell and helps you pack on serious muscle that is both performance and appearance based.
5) Bodyweight Bodybuilding - Until I was up shits creek with some serious joint pain I didn't have the focus or desire to purely focus on bodyweight training. I had a love for so many variations of training that I did not want to stop lifting heavy. Heavy lifting was iron therapy for me, an addiction that kept me sane so to speak.
I did not want to stop squatting, deadlifting, flipping tires, throwing barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells overhead, etc. But, injuries have been my best teacher. Pain, in fact, as Tony Robbins says, is 1 of the BIG factors that drives you towards taking action. The other "thing" is pleasure. Pain and pleasure. Injuries have made me smarter in my training and smarter as a Coach.
When I decided to take a break from all the pain I was in, I gave myself a 30 day time frame for bodyweight workouts and nothing else. My fear was that I would lose strength and size. So I sat down and used the good ol' brain...
I broke down my Bodyweight workouts into a system where I would NOT lose size or strength. My initial goal of 30 days became 60 days which became 6 months. I felt so good using bodyweight only workouts that I just kept it going. Only rarely did I use some Kettlebell or Sandbag training and that was when I was jumping in on a workout with my crew at The Underground Strength Gym.
I believe in my 6 months of Bodyweight Bodybuilding, I might have touched free weights and sandbags / kettlebells 2 or 3 training sessions. I was simply listening to my body. I told myself that I will NOT begin free weight lifting until my body is craving, not just my mind.
I became inspired when I came across "Little BEAST", a 20 year old at the time, weighing 220 lbs. RIPPED. I also came across another BEAST, Lee Wade Turner, who looked like he was carved from stone. I saw how athletic, lean and powerful these 2 guys were and decided I had to give Bodyweight Training my full blown commitment.
If you're going to implement Bodyweight training into your overall system or even as a stand alone system, do not blindly mix together a hodge podge of bodyweight exercises. Instead, break down the exercises and use them as you would other exercises:
- Build Strength - Add resistance to your bodyweight exercises
- Build Speed & Power - Perform your bodyweight exercises with speed. This includes jump / plyometric training for upper and lower body.
- Build Muscle - Perform your bodyweight exercises slower, incorporate pause reps, increase time under tension, slow eccentrics, etc
- Increase Stamina, GPP & Toughness - Perform intense bodyweight circuits coupled with sprints.
- Burn Fat - Dial in your nutrition and perform all the bodyweight training variations listed above
6) Kettlebell Training - I was hesitant at first to include Kettlebell training on my top 6 list but something rang a bell in my head and it is this:
- I always tell people, your Health is # 1
- Whenever I feel that me or my athletes are getting too beat up or we've lost a slight focus on developing athleticism, I notice that in my programming I have laid low on the Kettlebell training.
If all you use Kettlebells for are snatches and the clean and press then you're missing out. Exercises like the windmill, turkish get ups, goblet squats, swings and more are some of my go to exercises for performing "strength stretching", where I can "open up" my body while also getting stronger.
The versatility of Kettlebells is something to take advantage of. Take them to the park and don't just perform the "normal" kettlebell exercises, but also throw them, juggle them and have some FUN with your training.
When you get too caught up in the big, heavy lifting you will feel your body getting tighter and less mobile. That is never a good sign.
Use these 6 strength & muscle building methods by following the training inside my Underground Strength & Sports Performance Manual.
Keep yourself healthy by avoiding extremes with any 1 method of training. Blend them together to meet YOUR goals. Train smart, Train hard. In addition, as you know, NONE of this stuff works to the max unless you LIVE the lifestyle - rest, nutrition, balance & overall lifestyle.
Drop a comment with your questions or feedback. Psyched to see your comments.
Live The Code 365,
Strong stuff, Zach!
I think its essential to mix things up. Especially if you’re in for the long haul – which this page is all about.
You need to implement different resistances to give that body a break. I had a very similar experience with bodyweight training like you did. Although I come from a calisthenics background I neglected it for quite some time. After I re-introduced it into my training I had similar experiences like you did. A great part of the pains just went away or significantly reduced themselves within 3 weeks. Since then BW training has become my numero uno and I build everything else around it.
Keep it up.
Always great training advice here!
We had our guys on thick bar deads, recline rope climbs, sandbab carries, & sled work.
Had one 75 year old Marine carrying a 70LB sandbag at a good pace this morning.
Mixed implement training rocks!
Awesome article Zach. I couldn’t agree more with the idea that you need to incorporate a variety of methods into your training. I also was introduced to bodyweight training because of an injury and even though I now am starting to get back into lifting heavy I still incorporate bodyweight and kettlebell training because I loved the results and I think it’s important to keep variety.