…Things aren’t the way they were before. You wouldn’t even recognize me anymore…”
– Linkin Park, “In The End
I have gone through quite an evolution in regards to my training techniques. Starting in a traditional, bodybuilding/weightlifting type of training as a professional wrestler, all I did and know how to do was traditional strength training with weights. As time went on, I discovered many other types of training that have been extremely influential on my fitness career. I have learned that there is a lot more to fitness, health and wellness than lifting weights.
Some may find it hard to believe that nowadays I very rarely use any type of machines with my clients or myself. In today’s society, it is commonplace to say that we are not mobile enough throughout the day, sit for too long and remain glued to electronics for way too long. So if you are going to the gym and plan to exercise, this is the one hour out of your day (give or take) where you don’t have to sit down. So why would I sit you down on a bunch of machines that only isolate specific body parts? Our bodies need to get up and move. And not only move but do so in an integrated fashion, not in isolation.
• When you want to go down on the floor to play with your kids or grandkids, your entire body requires you to do so.
• Taking the freshly cut Christmas tree off the roof of your car, into your house and setting it up in the living room require a lot of whole-body functional strength and flexibility.
• Next time you get on a flight and need to put some luggage up in the overhead compartment, think about how your entire body needs to lift it off the floor, shift it to your torso and lift it over your head into a space.
These are examples of what the fitness industry often phrases as “functional strength.” We want to feel strong not only when we exercise but when we go about our day.
When I’m training a client, or even myself, bystanders often ask a number of questions:
“What type of training is that?”
“What do you call that type of exercise?”
“Does that help with flexibility?”
“Does that get your heart rate up?”
So what do I use? Below are some of my favorite types of “unconventional” tools that are a daily staple with my clients and my own regimen:
This piece of equipment may have been the most influential tool for me. ViPR, now the newly updated ViPR PRO, was created in Canada over a decade ago by biomechanist Michol Dalcourt and strength coach Simon Bennett. After visiting several high-level hockey camps, they looked at how certain teams were much stronger than others. They noticed a theme that the athletes who grew up and worked on farms were much stronger on the ice than the teams of kids who grew up and lived in a suburban city.
They created an amazing product that uses the whole body as a unit and comes in sizes ranging from 4 kilograms (about 9 pounds) to 32 kilograms (about 70 pounds). Many traditional types of strength training keep the weight on the midline. ViPR PRO promotes moving mass away from the midline and center of gravity. You can push, pull, drag, twist, tilt, flip, shift and carry ViPR PRO, which makes using it task-specific (dragging the ViPR PRO across the floor) versus muscle-specific (isolating your biceps with a bicep curl).
The kettlebell has been around for centuries and is thus one of the oldest forms of strength training. Exercises such as the Kettlebell Swing and Turkish Get Up have gotten popular in fitness circles. I do want to make a point that there are a lot of sloppy, dangerous exercises done with kettlebells, so please make sure you learn how to use them from an experienced kettlebell instructor.
TRX Suspension Training units are just as common in gyms now as dumbbells and medicine balls. They were created by Navy Seal Randy Hetrick, who wanted to create a piece of equipment that would keep him and his fellow Seals in shape no matter where they were in the world. One of their taglines, “Make Your Body Your Machine.” sums up why I’m such a big fan of this equipment. Training with TRX, you can use leverage in a variety of ways to make exercises more or less challenging based on the individual.
Time To Get Moving
If you have heard of these pieces of equipment, great. I hope you are using them on a regular basis. If not, start to explore where you would have access to them, (Hint, hint: Most good fitness facilities will have them.)
Another bonus? These are all portable so they make for a great home gym as well. Remember: Things in motion stay in motion and things at rest stay at rest. So keep yourself in motion.
Reach Giovanni on Twitter @GiovanniRoselli and at his website, GiovanniRoselli.com.