Part 3 - Click HERE for part one!
Hopefully some of you have tried to incorporate some of the General Physical Preparation (GPP) techniques that have been outlined in the first two sections. They not only provide a way of breaking body composition plateaus, but also add some much needed variety to training. This training might be seem as militant, however, after some time you should notice a whole new level of conditioning that can transfer to your workouts, sport, or ability to perform daily activities more efficiently.
Now we get into one of the more fun aspects of GPP. Previously we discussed unweighted GPP that resembled many classic callisthenic moves. For the average lifter this may be torture and only those with great determination can persist. Weighted GPP though allows those that enjoy lifting employ what they love most, lifting, with what they need, raising their work capacity. Weighted GPP offers the following benefits:
1. Improving static and dynamic strength-endurance.
2. Improving recovery.
3. Increasing work capacity.
So, if it is fun and will help in body composition and strength improvements, where do we start right? I usually recommend employing this form of training two different ways. You can use it at the end of the workout, or any time of day that you wish as long as it does not interfere with other training goals. Sometimes athletes will go out and perform weighted GPP in the evening of an off day just to increase recovery from the previous training session. I generally recommend starting with timed sessions, although one can use distance as a measure as well. Start on the lower end, approximately 5 minutes, and slowly build. Just like any other form of training, weighted GPP should be periodized. I have had athletes perform as much as 40 minutes of continuous weighted GPP. Ok, ok, here are some exercises you can use, the nice thing is that they are not complex to learn and you can make them competitive among friends.
How much you load depends on your current fitness level. I have had beginners use around 150 pounds while more advanced athletes will use up to 300 pounds. The idea is simply to push the wheelbarrow for time. This is great for grip strength, upper back, low back, abdominal, and even knee rehabilitation (especially if you use a slight incline). Here are some additional variations though:
1. Pulling the wheelbarrow from behind.
2. Using cones and weaving in and out of patterns.
3. Using slight incline and decline hills.
The sled is great in that it can be used for many different body parts or movements. With no eccentric loading it can be done often as well. The weight should be enough to finish the time limit set before the workout. Here are some movements involving the sled:
1. Walking with the strap around the waist.
2. Pushing the sled in a benching type motion.
3. Facing the sled pulling the attachments apart for upper back and rear delt.
4. Ankle dragging for more direct hamstring, glute, hip flexor, low back, and abdominal training.
5. Hand over hand pulling.
This tool is terrific because it is one of those nonconforming objects. This allows for the lifter to be challenged in new patterns, as they have to discover ways of efficiently lifting the sandbags. Anyone that has used sandbags will often tell you that 50 pounds of a sandbag feel very different than a 50-pound dumbbell. Here are some ways of using the sandbags.
1. Holding overhead and walking, this one is tough!!
2. Swinging the bags above the head and through the legs.
3. Sandbag carries, biceps will scream!
These are exercises that can be done when access to the above is impossible. One can perform the Farmer's Walk with just a pair of dumbbells. Holding the dumbbells by your sidewalk around the gym for the designated time frame, traps will love you.
This is an old time exercise that can be used either within the weight program or as a finisher. The question often comes up what muscles does this work, it would be easier to answer what muscles aren't worked. The shoulder girdle, legs, and abdominals are all heavily involved. Here is how you perform the movement. The only rule in this movement is that you don't let the arm fall down, it must stay above your head! So, there are endless variations possible. Depicted above is the use of a kettlebell. This is another example of a nonconforming object that can offer great new challenges. However, a dumbbell is more than acceptable.
These movements are great to do with friends, teams, or just by yourself. They offer an opportunity to bond and compete or just challenge yourself to new levels of fitness. Don't be shy though of looking different. Remember very few people in the gym experience great results with their training, so don't be surprise if your willingness to go "outside the box" creates great interest from strangers. There is only one really good way to see the results of these exercises.... GO DO THEM!!! and have fun!