Saturday, May 31, 2008
Round-back deadlifting, in the form of lifting heavy, odd-shaped objects, has been a staple of grappling training since time immemorial. Ancient athletes would test themselves as a rite of passage and every village had a large stone sitting at its border, the ability to lift same signaled a lad's entry into adulthood. Often, at festivals and other celebrations, large, smooth stones were brought in as contests, along with all manner of athletic games and sports.
The ability to lift unwieldy objects to the waist, chest, or shoulder directly correlates to combat training. In hand-to-hand combat, you'll find yourself in any number of unanticipated positions wherein you need to exert strength. You must also train your back to be able to lift out of a set groove, without injury. Ancient wrestlers trained with large, round stones in order to develop this type of lower back and hip power.
Stone balls are extremely unwieldy and slippery, requiring total body strength, including grip and arms. Unlike a nice, grooved, deadlift, round-stone lifting requires you drape yourself over the ball with a rounded back, then stabilize the spine through tremendous abdominal contraction as you bring the stone into position, whereupon the spine may flex. The ability to create this inter-abdominal pressure--and to stabilize the spine in this awkward position--is crucial both to the success of the lift and preventing injury. This is the same skill needed in lifting and throwing an opponent.
People talk about this type of lift as being another kind of groove, but each time you lift objects like these, each lift is a little bit different. Because of the shifting nature of odd objects, like stones or sand bags, the stabilizer muscles of the spine constantly come into play. Unlike the deadlift, no two stone lifts are ever the same. While there is technique to it, and people do find their best "path", it's much more difficult than the standard barbell lifts.
There's something very primal and satisfying about wresting a large stone from the earth. Barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells were made to be lifted--stones were not. There's nothing I like more than stripping down to my shorts, with my woman behind the camera, tearing a slumbering stone from its terrestrial resting place, and, with all the fury of an ancient warrior testing himself with the village manhood stone, successfully hefting it aloft! The admiring glances of your woman, and the sudden surge in T-levels, can make for a hot, post-workout rendezvous. It's gratifying and I highly recommend it, even if you're not a combat athlete or wrestler.
There are many sources for these types of stones. These particular stones I'm lifting here were made by my friend, Joe Egan, out of concrete and are beautifully molded. They're much cheaper than granite and nice and smooth on the bare skin. You can buy granite stones, both rough and smooth, from various sources on the web, one is atomicathletic.com.
Q: I am a 41 year old man with mild cerebral palsy which often impedes my movement due to contraction of the muscles surrounding the joints in my legs, hips and lower body. Sometimes, I am fine and I can walk with just a very slight limp. Other times, I must walk with a cane. I have a very low fitness level and am too shy and self conscious to join a standard gym. I am extremely motivated to change as working out will directly enable me to avoid being in a wheelchair in middle and old age. Based on this, do you feel that your Joint Training DVD program would be of benefit to me ?
A: Any kind of mobility training, including The Encyclopedia of Joint Mobility, would be excellent for you, since mobility is the ability to move a joint through the range of motion--with control--and this is a skill critical to keeping you out of a wheelchair. You'll also need some strength training to keep ahead of degeneration.
You should get started on your program right away. You needn't be self-conscious in a gym, as you are there to work hard, like any serious trainee. You'd surely be an inspiration to people there, but truly, you don't need a gym at all to attain your fitness goals.
Yours in Strength & Health,
PS. Outdoor training event in the Poconos Saturday 5 July...Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
PSS. The odd-object lifting goes into play--in force!--Sat 12 July at the Gladiator Seminar, with Zach Even-Esh, in Edison NJ--only 20 people permitted and you definitely want to be one of them. Click here for the video! Watch Zach shaking down the ropes! Witness me crawling out from the primordial surf!