Simple Innnovations to make you Stronger
It seems that nearly every week a new training tool hits the market with promises of revolutionizing the strength and conditioning world. However, most equipment comes at a significant cost and just doesn’t seem feasible for the average gym-goer. Try these simple, low-cost alternatives to the latest strength training trends to take your training to the next level this year.
Towel or Baseball Bar Grip
Just take a gym towel, fold it so that it’s slightly wider than your hand, and wrap it around a lifting bar, dumbbells, or chin-up bar. The softness of the towel adds a very different challenge to regular thick grip training. If you do not like the feeling of the towel or the ergonomics of a cylindrical grip, try taking a baseball or softball, core out a hole with a 1 1/2 inch drill bit, and make a cut with a saw from one side through to the centre. Slide the baseball over the bar just as you would with Fat Gripz™.
Weighted sleds are very popular options for conditioning work these days. However, many gyms do not have this piece available for use and they can be pretty expensive for an individual to invest in alone- not to mention a pain in the butt to drag back and forth to the gym! One simple solution is to flip over an aerobic step and toss on a few 25, 35, or 45 pound plates. The low pushing position and added friction make for a terribly challenging, but doable, sled workout.
Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk
The farmer’s walk is another popular conditioning exercise that began in strongman competitions using a loaded specialty piece. Unless you are exceptionally strong, most commercial gyms will have dumbbells as heavy as you will ever need. If you want an extra challenge, just add in one of the grip options from above. Another great farmer’s walk option for stronger lifters who require more weight is to use two EZ curl bars. You can easily load well over 200 lbs. to each bar for an extra challenge.
Dumbbells for Kettlebell Work
Kettlebells are the go-to tools for many fitness enthusiasts, though many commercial gyms do not have them. Swings, Turkish get-ups, one arm cleans, and snatches can all be done effectively with a dumbbell. The movements may not look as cool as they do with a designer kettlebell, but a dumbbell still gets the job done.
If you don’t have a trap bar to perform variations of the deadlift, fear not! Two loaded EZ curl bars can give the same effect of being more centered in your lift and the added challenge of hoisting two independent weights.
With these simple training tweaks, you’ll see improvements in your strength without getting too fancy with your training or equipment- a little innovation can go a long way!
Mike Samson, M.Sc.