If you’re reading My Mad Methods, you know how important out-of-the-box training is for total body strength. I want to share with you the five B’s that will help you become better at training with three different types of odd-objects: Brief History, Background, Benefits, Beginning, and just plain Badassness! With this expanded arsenal of training methods, we become closer to our ancestral lineage of moving odd-objects with ease.
Brief History Of Odd Object Training
What picture comes to your mind when your grandfather tells you stories of how he busted his butt working a manual labor job from dusk till dawn?
There’s no doubt that previous generations had to work hard just to survive. Envision him lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying every day and night, performing back breaking work to feed his family and provide a roof over their heads…
Manual labor jobs built this country. Masons, iron workers, and farmers are just a few of the day to day jobs that enlisted every muscle in the body to perform at its highest level on a daily basis.
Odd-Object Lifting was part of daily survival and a requirement as part of most job descriptions back in the day; now fast forward to 2012 which we now use old school methods in our new school training programs to create dominant athletes. We now realize that what worked for our ancestors is the best way to train today.
Background of Odd Object Training
Experience is gained through trial and error. I’ve been able to compete in a few Strongman competitions as well as train and learn from other athletes on how to properly prepare the body to move big weight. This gives me the ability to turn around and share the proper techniques on how to safely lift and put down uncommon implements.
Lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, and sprinting are the pillars of getting stronger. By focusing on the basics, we allow the body to gain flexibility and mobility to generate power in all planes of movement.
My experience of bullet proofing the body to handle a heavy external load helps the athletes I train become more efficient on the field of play. Isn’t this the goal for all of us? We all want to become more agile, mobile, and aggressive with the ability to perform our daily activities safely, right?
Benefits of Odd Object Training
There have been tons of great tips on how to gain mass on your biceps, build a better squat, or bench press more, but will all that help you be a healthier you? Not really, what we’re after are real world results that are more than just aesthetic muscle.
The biggest benefit of adding Odd-Object Training in your regimen is total body stability. I know by adding in this new resource to your program you will gain a new love for training. Moving heavy objects with great technique will re-invigorate your workouts.
The body is a fantastic machine that adapts to the loads that are placed upon it. By teaching it to overcome a load that is greater than itself, you will force your stabilizer muscles to work overtime. In turn, this will shock your central nervous system into stimulating new muscle growth (industrial-type muscle).
Basics of Odd Object Training
Although I love training with heavy loads for power, explosiveness, and strength, this type of training is not for the novice lifter. I hope that you take that last sentence very seriously! A building will not withstand the test of time if the foundation is not solid; neither will a human being. Focus on building up your core lifts such as Squats (front and back), Shoulder Pressing, Dead lifts, and a lot of abdominal and grip work.
If you train for fun, becoming injured will take away from you providing for your family. That is not a viable decision. Please error on the side of caution.
There must be a huge emphasis based around a basic strength and lifting foundation before attempting some of these methods. The proper way to pick up some of these objects from the floor will place a huge demand on the body from head to finger tip to toe. There is very minimal room for error, so please start slowly and always focus on technique over weight when using any tool.
Now, back to the meat of this article: Odd- Object Lifting! Let’s take a look at the three implements we will go over: the Tractor Tire, the Atlas Stone, and finally, the Heavy Sandbag. I chose these to start with because they are very inexpensive and available to the general public for the most part. We’ve all seen them being used if you’ve tuned into the World’s Strongest Man competition, plus, there are usually two or three smaller shows across the U.S. on any given weekend. By the end of this article you may find a new passion in this style of training and try to enter a show in the very near future? Hint, Hint.
Badassness of Odd Object Training
With the brief sections below, you’ll have a good foundation of Odd Object Training information for you to implement into your training program right away. Who wouldn’t look Bad Ass lifting up heavy stones, sandbags, and flipping big tractor tires? Again, build up to these types of lifts with general physical preparedness, then ease into them. Take your time to practice technique and have a great time!
This is my favorite event to compete in and to train for. Visually, flipping a tire is the coolest thing to do because it’s just leveraging it over with power and efficiency. You will see me reinforce technique over and over again; this is due to the safety factor.
Using proper technique will allow you to use mechanical advantage over the tire’s weight advantage. I have seen many bad technique videos/tutorials on how to flip a tire properly. Some guys will just plain ole’ try and muscle the thing over, while others use their backs to lift it. Do not deadlift the tire up; this will place a huge amount of stress on your lower back and biceps.
Remember, we are trying to leverage it over, not lift it. You will utilize the hips extensively throughout the movement, while keeping strict form. If you follow this advice, you will love flipping tires for years with no issues.
How To Flip A Tire
- Pick the right size tire for your height and strength
- Position yourself next to the tire, with your chest on it
- Place your hands in a comfortable position, but don’t lift with them
- Big inhale then set your back and shoulder blades
- Drive up with your chest and hips, keeping your hips below your shoulder height, start breathing out
- Once you get the tire to your hips, drive one leg up to bump the tire upright
- Transition your hands from an underhand grip to a press position
- Drive through the tire until it hits the ground
This is a simple yet extremely effective technique which will keep your back safe. Again, focus on starting light and working your way up. Utilize tire flips bi-weekly for training purposes. You can incorporate multiple flips and other training methods once your technique is refined.
Atlas Stone Lifting
These implements can be extremely fun and challenging at the same time. It is a very interesting position to be in to pick up a stone. This tool requires a strong posterior chain (spinal erectors, gluteus, and hamstrings). Also, a strong grip is a big plus.
How To Lift An Atlas Stone
- Straddle the Atlas Stone with your feet
- Bend at the hips to place your fingers underneath, as far as possible
- Lift the stone to your lap quickly
- Readjust your hand placement, once you are ready to bring it up, move explosively
- Pull the stone up as high as possible while extending your hips
- Try to shoulder if it is light enough, if not, just bring it down under control
This movement is very taxing on the body and should be done minimally unless preparing for a competition. Take turns with a training partner if possible to allow for proper recovery time between lifts.
Heavy Sandbag Lifting
This is probably the one people may not think is very hard due to the fact most My Mad Methods readers use sandbags in some form or another currently. Let me assure you that using a Heavy Sandbag will be a huge awakening.
They can be loaded in any type of canvas bag. We use a dualenclosing method to assure less breakage of the inner and outer bag. First, we wrap the a 50 lb bag of sand in a fair amount of duct tape, then we place it in a strong duffle/canvas bag. This keeps the bag more solid for picking up and makes us jump up 50 lbs as we progress.
Practice on getting the bag to shoulder height before utilizing any of the loading methods. The technique for this event is much like the stone, yet the weight is displaced differently.
How To Lift Heavy Sandbags
- Straddle the bag, place hands underneath
- Get a good grip on the canvas sides
- Lift to lap, then readjust your hand position
- Extend hips until they’re at the desired level
- Bring it back down to ground under control
- Repeat for up to 3-5 reps for power
This is a great way to work rotational movement and also is a great alternative if you don’t have an atlas stone to use. It helps build great hip extension and really taxes the grip. Use these every 2 weeks on a dynamic effort day, it will be a challenge for sure. Practice proper technique on each rep.