Saturday, June 27, 2009

Nessie Spotted!!

Dinnae feel bad, Nessie.... Coach has bin wrestlin' monsters since ya wer sucklin' at yer mothers teat!--
Stefan "Angus Beef" Milne

I recently enjoyed a wonderful stay in Austria with my friend Dominik Feischl. It was such a great time, my assistant and I didn't want to ever leave! Aside from the fantastic workouts I shared with Dominik and Karl Humer, we also hiked some of the local mountains and swam in picturesque lakes. In my mind, there was simply no way to top it.

Well, I've been wrong before (and I might even be wrong again!) Scotland turned out to be absolutely beautiful! I've been told I lead a charmed life, and apparently some of that charm rubbed off on the Scottish weather because it was sunny, clear and balmy my entire stay. After a body weight and kettlebell seminar at a Dundee fitness club, (enjoy the slideshow on the right) my host (and UK distributor)
Stefan Milne of TOPP1 of took us off on a road trip up to the highlands. First stop: Loch Ness, which I've always wished to see. After a lengthy drive, we were feeling antsy and decided to visit the Loch Ness gym, brought to you by...Mother Nature.

After working up a good sweat hefting and hoisting the shoreline real estate, I indulged in my other favorite pastime, cold water dousing. I've long advocated cold water tempering, especially after hard workouts. Cold water facilitates recovery, skin health and tightness, via improved circulation plus improved muscle tonus and nervous system conditioning. It's also said to improve immunity and, in general, inure you to the elements.

Loch Ness is one of the world's deepest lakes and is incredibly cold. Its temperature varying only a few degrees from winter to summer, incredibly--indeed, it felt colder than the waters off Iceland. Breathtaking. Living in Southern California has softened me up!

Further, wading in the loch is treacherous footing, due to the slippery stones down under. Enjoy the warned I use some strong language on a couple occasions...

Here's a fantastic routine to try next time you're on an outdoor holiday and chance upon a supply of large, smooth stones.

Pick three stones: one as large and heavy as you can lift; one medium-sized; and one smaller stone that you can overhead press.

After a gentle warm-up, start with your largest rock:

1) Perform a series of single-rep Deadlifts. Do 10-20 single reps.
This should be a big, heavy rock that you must struggle with to break free from gravity's grasp.

Rest 10-sec between each rep. Each rep should feel like a near-maximal effort.
You'll notice immediately that deadlifting a heavy rock is waaaaaay different from a heavy barbell!
In fact, a stone only half the load of your best BB deadlift may defy your initial attempts at wresting it from the earth.
You must also crouch down much further in order to get your hands beneath it and have to utilize a round-back deadlift style in order to succeed.

Another surprise is how much bicep is involved in heavy stone-lifting, and even though they're only being used indirectly, you'll get a massive pump in the arms and forearms from grabbing onto a stone. Competitive strongmen find heavy barbell curls are a good auxiliary lift to prepare the arms for the rigors of stone lifting.

2) The second exercise, with the medium stone, involves lifting it from the ground, similar to the deadlift, but now you'll roll the stone up the waist and continue to the shoulder. This movement is called shouldering the stone. You want a heavy enough stone that you'll struggle with in lifting it from waist to shoulder. Make sure to do equal reps left and right and don't be surprised if one side is more difficult than the other. I like to do 5-10 lifts per side, depending on my energy.

3) Next on the list, Clean & Press the stone--without letting it touch the body--using only the power of the arms and shoulders. You might do a series of presses by themselves, then add second set of Continuous Clean & Press, one of my favorite exercises. This can be quite taxing cardio-wise, bringing every muscle of the body
into play.

Other options for a great stone lifting workout:

  • Heft a heavy stone, bear-hugging it to the chest, then take it for a walk.
  • Clean, then hurl the stone as far as you can, using both arms and legs in a giant Push-Press. Jog to the rock, rinse and repeat, going for either time or distance.

These last two exercises add a distance factor, as opposed to simply weight and reps.

I have "pet" rocks all over the world that I hope to re-encounter in my travels. There are great slabs of broken concrete on one of Philadelphia's running trails; a granite boulder on a beach in Rio; a rock along a Baja California beach at kilometer 58 and countless others, steadfastly awaiting my return.

After our workout and the ensuing dousing, the three of us proceeded to Fort William, a picture-book town in the shadow of Ben Nevis.

Next came the William Wallace monument and then Arbroath, on the North Sea.

In Austria, I enjoyed raw milk mixed with raw honey. In Scotland, post-workout fuel takes a slightly different bent, and I fell in love with a new Gaelic mistress: blood pudding (basically blood mixed with oatmeal.)

And while I never did roust Nessie, I did pick up the little monster pictured above and she's proven quite a handful.

So that's the wrap-up. Enjoy the workouts and let me know how it goes!

In Strength & Health,


Ross Bull said...

Just wanted to say a big thank you Steve for your visit to Scotland. The seminars were excellent! Working in media production I often have to operate cameras in confined spaces, lift heavy and awkward shaped objects, crawl around on the floor laying cables etc. and I can say that all those joint mobilty and body weight excercises have been working wonders for me.

Looking forward to seeing you back in Scotland again someday. I hear Nessie's been training with your pet rocks...


Steve Maxwell said...

Great to hear from you, Ross! I'm glad you enjoyed the seminar and I'm definitely coming back! It was a real pleasure working with you--good luck in your continued training and let me know if I can be of any service! - Steve