This will be a 12 part look into the 12 basics of movement. To summarize the 12 movements are;
Walking – part I
Running – part II
Jumping – part III
Moving on all fours – part IV
Balancing – part V
Climbing – part VI
This week we will look into the seventh of the essential movements.
The Picture above illustrates everything I hate about lifting. People are too young (knowledge) and too stupid (too much weight) and end up hurting themselves and quitting. I have never been a proponent of lifting with a barbell and weights, or a dumbbell or any other weighted instrument. I can remember my high school days, having to be in the weight room for wrestling practice. Having the “opportunity” to get into the weight room for gym class. You go in and every male that could get in the room is in here grunting and puffing. Every form of “bad” form is be utilized. The prodding is everywhere; “come on my grandma can lift more than that!” the coaching though was non-existent. Besides the ever present all knowing gym teacher, who’s constant “use a spotter”, and that’s about it. Proper mechanics and form were just not a part of the curriculum. In fact we were damn lucky to have the thing in the first place.
Needless to say I was not a constant sight in the weight room. Now this doesn’t mean I was lean and gangly. Either through genes or genetic mutation, I was built with a large frame. My musculature came naturally. But, even in those early days, things were done naturally with me. I can remember a PBS show with a carpenter named Roy Underhill (the title sequence had him walking through town with an axe) who used all old fashioned equipment, there were no routers, band saws, table saws or anything else powered. It was all hand awls and sanding chucks and foot held clamps. All of the pieces came out looking like they were fit through CNC machined craftsmanship. The show was titles “The Woodwrights Shop”. I illustrate this because this is an approach that a lot of people forget about. Still to this day I have very little in the way of power tools. I still use an axe if a tree needs to come down.
Why do I use this as an illustration for “lifting?” this, like all of our 12 essentials to movement, has been dumbed down or mechanized in the subsequent years. Lifting in the old days was carrying home the kill, hefting the downed log out of the way. Carrying fire wood, etc… Lifting, walking, running and the like was done as a norm, as in if you didn’t do it, there was no logging company to call, there was no “two guys and a truck”. Everything involved lifting and carrying.
Now, like my previous posts, I am not going to go into the mechanics of the proper lift. I am going to illustrate a few of my lifts and some from around the interwebs that I enjoy.
As I said above, I am not a lifter of weights nor do I pretend to know how to lift weights. But, I can say there is definitely an advantage to lifting Olympic style. This style of lifting is used greatly in the Crossfit program. I like his style, and it has a proven record of benefits that I would really like to get into. The problem I have with this is that it is fairly expensive, not to mention the amount of room needed. The Olympic bar alone, being a specialized type of bar bell, is costly enough to prohibit it. The bounce weights would be nice for a weighted trailer or weighted sit-ups but are still costly and bulky. Think of the shipping if you don’t have access to a sporting goods store that supplies these? So, as much as I like this idea, it is costly and bulky for me to get behind. I will recommend it to the person who feels they need a gym membership; just watch the grunting and the dropping!
I like kettlebells, they are easy to get, use and store. I like even more, homemade kettlebells. There are numerous types of kettlebell programs out there. There is even a kettlebell certification. Now being a minimalist, I will say that the kettlebells, although they are small and convenient, they do take up a large amount of space if you get multiple sizes or weights. For me, I have only one, it is a tad small at 10lbs, but one handed carries make it worthwhile, especially after carrying my sand bag for a few laps.
I would recommend finding a site that gives good instructions on a kettlebell workout.
Minimal weights and body weight lifting
This is my personal favorite. It’s cheap and space conscious. I use the bare minimum when I lift. It is either my weight, a weight found in nature or a handmade weight. My personal weights are a handmade 66# sandbag, a log, a slosh pipe, tires, numerous rocks and my kids.
My sandbag – I have used this for everything from a bear hug walk to a “bring home your kill” 1 mile walk. I do dead lifts and clean and jerks. The sandbag has straps on the side so I can also do Bulgarian swings. In the future I will try to make multiple sized bags. I want to eventually get one that is roughly 150# or more to simulate real world dead lifts or carries. Might have to look for an old crash test dummy instead?
My log – Those with thoughts in the gutter can stop reading now. I use a log that is roughly eight feet long and probably several hundred pounds. It is the top half of a downed tree. I had several other logs that were smaller but I ended up burning them in a fire! I use the logs for dead lifts and clean and jerks. Eventually I want to find one log or branch that will work for shoulder carries. Otherwise it works great for the time being as a very heavy weight.
My slosh pipe – This is a 3” by 8’ PVC pipe capped on both ends filled half full of water. Like the log, I use this for a lot of dead lifts and clean and jerks. But, it is best used as a carrying tool. Either in a bear hug grip (my favorite) or on my shoulder.
My various rocks – I have a few rocks that I like to use for carrying and throwing. These work a lot better than a weight lifting bar or static weights. This is something that is difficult to grasp let alone carry.