Hi Everyone – and welcome to another week,
Thanks to everyone who got along to the gym and trained with us last week. Whether you were in Boxing, Body Working, pushing through your own workout, completing Beginners, Tanks, No-Rules or partaking in Week#3 of the SPARTAN sessions, we really appreciate it. I know I am a broken record on this stuff and people tell me all the time – “Why do you even CARE if people show up as long as they pay for their membership” I really don’t see it that way. We want everyone IN THE GYM. We want everyone ENJOYING their time in the gym. Of course, the training is going to be good for you physically and help you with your body composition, health and fitness goals…when things are going well though, it will also be a terrific MENTAL break and really help keep you in a positive headspace, looking forward to the rest of your day…
I have a bit of a training based blog today and it is all about something I am planning for myself in September. Next month, every day I train I am going to finish it with a Farmers Carry all the way down to the end of the street and back (aka ‘Bin Run’ distance). As a bit of an aside, the reason it is called a ‘Bin Run’ is because when we first started integrating some more running into our work-outs, Jason (legendary trainer from the early days) was telling people to ‘keep going until there are no more bins to run past’…eventually of course the ‘run to the bollard at the start of the footpath’ became the standard and the ‘run to the sign for number 16’ the standard for a ‘HALF Bin Run’…total distance for a bin run is 370m and a “Half” just a touch over 200m.
ANYWAY. Back to the Farmers Carry thing.
First off, I have found over the past 6-9 months or so – really, since the Feb Challenge this year – that my old brain these days seems to deal really well with short-term, small duration goals. I have done really well in the gym challenges this year (well, not necessarily in terms of results on the body scanner but certainly in terms of compliance and positive impact on my strength and fitness) – 28-days Later, Elevator, Pledge and Down-With-July were my 4x ‘best’ months of training during the year (and it hasn’t been close). I kind of wish there was a more ‘formal’ gym challenge for next month (September) but with work for the ‘SUMMER SLAM’ challenge in October already full-steam ahead (sorry, challenges like 28-days Later and Summer Slam are 100+ hours work to get them all ready and put together) there just isn’t time for both. ANYWAY. Back to the Farmers Carry thing – a Farmers Carry per day every day for a month fits the criteria of ‘short term, small duration’ (takes about 10 minutes, worst case) goals.
Secondly, I have gone back and re-read Ben Greenfield’s book ‘Beyond Training’ over the last couple of weeks. I know I have referenced this book before, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. There are some pretty cool ideas in there but one that is pervasive throughout is the idea of utilising general conditioning that incorporates slow, not-for-time, just ‘grind it out’ heavy sled pulls/pushes, farmers carries, sandbag carries in your training week…to be truthful, reading it again has had me thinking about a miserable weekend in my youth – I would have been about 11 or 12 I guess, when my Dad got me to push our little garden barrow (to call it a wheel barrow would be an insult to wheel barrows everywhere) up to the top of our street (we lived at the bottom of a hill on a street in Kardinya), “borrow” some yellow sand off the building site there, bring it back to our place and top dress the front and back lawns. It quite literally took me all of Saturday and half of Sunday to complete the job…and I still remember the grind of it all. Mostly though I remember the way – on the Sunday morning after a long day of work on Saturday – my Dad said to me “What happened to you…it looks like you grew some shoulders overnight! The work must be good for you!”.
(Of course, now I realise he was just buttering me up for the day ahead, however at the time it ‘felt’ meaningful and important and made me feel like it wasn’t just the lawn that was benefitting from my labour!). 🙂
These ‘slow grind’ tasks are great for mental strength – after all, you can always take one more step, carry ‘one more load’. It also allows you to do a lot more ‘WORK’. If you imagine doing a series of SPRINT efforts with the sled, you would very quickly ‘gas out’…if you imagine trying to do as many heavy barbell front squats as you can in a single minute, you would probably struggle to get to the end of the minute without taking a break…But doing things at a slower place enables your body to break down muscle waste at the same rate as you are expending it – which means you can keep going LONGER. So in my little world, doing a boxing/body work/no rules class and THEN following it with a ‘long slow effort’, well, I will (hopefully) give myself a good mix of the two styles – getting both short duration, high intensity AND longer duration slower movements – inside a single session!
I guess I could have picked any of a few things to do (sled push/pull, sandbag carry, long duration walking lunge, weighted barbell/kb front rack carry etc) but here’s why I chose to focus on the Farmers’ walks.
– Duration. Whilst I can (for sure) load up the sled and push it up and down the gym, there is always the danger that I will ‘STOP’ after 3-or-4. It is like swimming laps of a pool – every second lap you are back at the start and a planned 5km session can quickly become a 2km, 35 minute session! With a Farmers carry, once I am half-way down the street, there is only ONE WAY BACK. So there is no way of avoiding the grind.
– Grip. I seem to have been doing an excessive amount of “it’s my grip” complaining lately when training. Pull-ups, Deadlifts, KB Swings…so often it IS my grip that gives out first (though it is probably really my inability to get my brain to convince my hands just to ‘hold on’)…anyway, Farmers Carries are a great way to build grip strength.
– As I talked about last week, my back has been a bit troublesome lately. And whilst I did get back training this week, it is still sore and there is still some ‘spikey’ pains…anyway – when you carry heavy kettlebells, you have to completely BRACE your core – it really does help strengthen your core which, in turn, will help strengthen my back.
– Big activation for BIG muscles. To do a Farmers Walk, I have to activate my lats and my traps – two big muscles in my back. Building and strengthening these muscles can have a big impact – small % increases in BIG muscles are better than large % increases in small muscles (like, for example, biceps) in terms of total muscle change. And more muscle = higher metabolic rate = the legendary ‘faster metabolism’.
– It is the ‘anti-sitting down’ exercise. So many of us spend all day sitting at a desk with our butt muscles ‘inactive’. Which is bad – and, weak, inactive glutes are at the root of so many back problems experienced these days. To carry heavy kettlebells up and down the street, you will be moving your glutes whilst under load…which is pretty much the opposite of sitting down.
So what am I hoping to get out of these extras? Conditioning. Grip strength. Muscle development in my back. Able to do more pull-ups and heavier deadlifts. Improved core = fewer back issues. All from 10-minutes or so each day? Well…that all sounds good to me! Anyone want to join in? I’m starting TOMORROW (August 27th!).
Let me know if any of this sounds good (or not) with an email to Michael@round1fitness.com.au
See you in the gym,
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