An idea for general fitness.

Posted: September 5, 2010 in Posts

As I walked through the local Home Despot today, scouting for parts for the Redneck Suspension Trainer and purchasing a new kitchen faucet, I was struck by an idea. Sports like Highland Games, Track and Field, Football, well pretty much most sports, benefit greatly from barbell training like Power lifting and O lifting. But if you’re not involved in a sport, do you really need to shell out the bucks for an Olympic bar, plates and the various racks and benches needed?

Certianly there’s no problem with barbell training in that situation, but is it really necessary?The short answer is no. The long answer is that it would depend on your goals.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a fitness expert. I have no formal education in this. I’m an ordinary guy who’s been training for about a year and a half and reads a whole lot on the subject of fitness. Mostly I’m just cranky about being asked the same question over and over again. This may or may not constitute good advice. But doing pretty much anything is better than nothing.

So excluding barbell training, what would be the best tools for general fitness?

First and foremost I’d suggest a pair of adjustable dumbbells. You can get all fancy with the plastic ones with the dials, but I like regular old spinlock dumbbells like these. You can pick up sets for around $40 or $50.  Yes, the locks can loosen up a little as you work out, but never enough to be dangerous. For the most part they’re heavy, cheap and you can stack much more weight on them than the fancy adjustables, what else do you need? A bench is optional, but if you got one all you’d need is a plain flat bench. You could lay a pad on a basic outdoor bench and get the same effect. You can do any barbell movement with dumbbells and a few that are more often associated with kettlebells like Swings, Turkish get ups and Deadbugs.

A 1/4 mile running track. There’s probably one somewhere near your house or work. All of your equipment is going to be fairly portable, there’s no reason why you couldn’t take some of it to the track a couple of days a week. At the least you can probably find a set of landmarks in your neighborhood that make a 1/4 mile loop.

With just those two, you could have a basic and effective fitness program. Especially if you mix in some things like complexes, Tabata exercises and sprints. But lets takes things up to a slightly higher level.

A pull up bar. Do I need to explain this?

Next on my list would be a sled. Harness, rope, weight and hardware included my tire sled cost me $25. The tire was free at a tire shop. You could minimize cost by loading it with the plates from the dumbbells but a 50 pound sack of sand and ziplock baggies are pretty cheap.

Add a couple of Farmer’s walk buckets next. Take two five gallon buckets and lids, fill them with fifty pounds of sand each, remove the wire handles and drill out two larger holes to pass a rope handle through. A piece of PVC on the handle is optional. Buckets cost about $3. Fifty pounds of playground sand runs about the same. The rope you might have left over from the sled. It’s usually pennies a foot.

A Slosh tube would be last on the list. If you have to buy glue it’ll run you $20. Your neighbor or uncle probably has the glue already, so you’re looking at $12 -$15.

You now have $100 to $250 invested depending on complexity and source of your equipment. What do you do with all this stuff to get healthy? For brevity’s sake, I’m not going to describe the exercises here. Google is your friend. However, a typical workout program might look like this :

Day 1 –

Warm up by stretching with a broom stick.

Farmers walk –  as far as you can go in two minutes, repeat three times.

Push ups – three sets of 10

Crunches –  three sets of 20

Dumbbell shoulder press – three sets of 10

Bench rows –  three sets of 10 each side

Goblet squats – three sets of 10

Dumbbell bench press – three sets of 10

Dead bugs – one set of 25

Pull ups – Three sets to failure

Batwings or Bent over Rows – three sets of 10

Dumbell snatches (one or two handed) – three sets of 10.

Sled pulls – five 40 yard sprints with medium weight

Reverse sled pulls – five short pulls with a heavy weight.

Replace any of these with a slosh tube movement or iso hold to keep it fresh.

Day 2 –

Warm up

Dumbbell swings – Three sets of 20 with each hand

200 meter sprints – however many feel good, but at least two (run 1/8 of a mile then walk back to the start, immediately run again)

Three sets of a five movement complex (Google barbell complexes for ideas)

100 meter slosh tube carries – three or four

If you don’t feel like you’ve worked hard enough, throw in one session of Tabata thrusters or some fast farmer’s walks.

Once or twice a week run 1.5 to two miles followed by light calisthenics or drag a medium to light sled for a half mile.

Say you set it up like this,  every week you have two Day 1 type workouts in a week, two Day 2s, two run /drag days and a day of complete rest. Give this six weeks and you should see a marked improvement in general fitness.


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