Get Out Of The Gym For New Strength
By: Josh Henkin
Strength is made in the gym right?
We have built some pretty impressive facilities to give that impression.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a gap. In sport we have this amazingly fluid, dynamic, unpredictable, often ever changing atmosphere. The gym, the weight room? Sterile, predictable, and often times everything that sport is not!
Being a former college athlete I can appreciate the amazing work and effort that goes into developing these impressive facilities, but the question must be asked if they are the BEST places to always train?
Now, I am not suggesting you abandon everything, but maybe be open minded about building great strength and fitness for sport outside of the weight room.
In the past, it seemed like when the weight room got too busy, when coaches didn’t have good facilities, or just wanted to “spice” things up, then leaving the weight room seemed like a good idea. The reality is that training out of the weight room may be far more powerful than we give it credit.
“I won’t have my barbells, my racks, my platforms, why the heck would I ever leave my awesome facility!”
Don’t worry, you won’t sacrifice your strength, you won’t dumb down your program, in fact, you probably will find the opposite!
Has there ever been any proof, anything to make us think that such training would have any wisdom?
For years coaches have known that kids that came from the farm were just different. They had a strength about them that would be hard to ever create in the gym. As someone who grew up in a farm in Wyoming, Strength Coach, Troy Anderson can relate some science to “farm strength”.
“On a farm you do a lot of moderate intensity work. You lift in many angles, positions, and implements. If you take into account the years of sub-maximal work done with this in mind, it isn’t really that hard to see how one gets strong coming from a farm.”
Now, I am not suggesting we start taking our athletes to farms for years, but getting out of the gym may be a good answer. Even the former Soviet sport coaches believed that the jump from the weight room to sport wasn’t always perfect. In fact, they had a term called “imperfection training” where they would try to introduce more unpredictable environments to their athletes.
Removing vision, poking the athlete during a lift, and more were all examples of “imperfection”. That means not training to maximal efforts isn’t always the best solution to building long-term, health, and strong athletes.
Teaching athletes not to be able to perform in the predictable environments of a gym and deal with surfaces and implements that are anything but perfect can provide HUGE value to both physical attributes like building proprioception to more hard to measure qualities like mental toughness.
By removing so many options of just loading from a coach, we also begin to explore the often neglected aspects of developing strength. Variables such as body position, holding position, speed of movement, planes of motion, stability of implements, and more. In other words, we make for smarter training programs that should also carry over to times when we are back in the weight room.
What does a workout look like? Well, I can tell you what they DON’T look like! Going outside doesn’t mean leaving smart training ideas and doing the equivalent of “rolling the ball out” in a P.E. class. Being focused, purposeful, and prepared will be just as important.
Once you do so, the different programs you can create are almost endless! Below are just a few examples just using kettlebells, bodyweight, and Ultimate Sandbags. The great thing with such a program is you can station athletes at different places. Using time as a standard (i.e. 30 seconds) with a partner allows you to avoid too much standing around and avoid pointless fatigue training. Variations of all drills are available both to regress and progress a movement with having to rely on changing loads.
Rotational Lunges Per Side (stepping pattern)
Pull-ups (upper body pull pattern)
Kettlebell Swings (hip hinge pattern)
Partner Wheel Barrow to Push-up (anti-flexion/extension with upper body pushing pattern)
Partner Agility Drills
Ultimate Sandbag Deceleration Deadlift to Row (stepping and upper body pulling patterns)
Staggered Kettlebell Squat to Overhead Press (squatting and upper body pushing pattern)
Side Planks with Reach (anti-rotation)
Kettlebell Rack Lunge to Half Knee Press (stepping and upper body pushing)
Ultimate Sandbag Lateral Clean (stepping and hip hinge)
Ultimate Sandbag Around the Worlds (rotational)
Kettlebell Rack Carries
About the Author
Josh Henkin, CSCS is creator of the Dynamic Variable Resistance Training (DVRT) system and Ultimate Sandbag. He has taught his DVRT system in over 12 countries worldwide and has appeared in some of the top publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Men's Health, and over 10 other media outlets. His DVRT program is currently being used by professional sports teams, military units, and top fitness facilities all over the world. You can check out his program at http://DVRTFitness.com