Do you remember the classic training montage in Rocky IV? Sylvester Stallone’s character is training in Russia for the fight of his life and has no training facility or equipment so he makes his own. He sprints through deep snow pulling sleds, he presses huge wooden carts, lifts boulders, saws wood, does pull-ups off of wooden beams, and climbs a mountain to name a few of his tactics. All this hardcore training gives him the strength and tougness to beat Ivan Drago and his high-tech training. You don’t need to be Sylvester Stallone or climb mountains to get a high quality workout, you just need some creativity and motivation.
As I’ve written before, you don’t always have access to a gym and that is no excuse for missing a workout if you are serious about getting results. Unconventional training methods allow you to get that training in but they might also be useful for other ways as well. Let’s look at the scientific basis for doing the occasional ridiculous makeshift workout. The human body inevitably adapts to the stresses placed on it and these stimuli have less and less of an effect. Your workout needs to be changed up to provide a new stimulus for increased muscle growth, improved cardiovascular function, and a higher metabolic rate. If you have been doing the same half hour on the elliptical every time you go to the gym then you are not getting all the benefits you did when you originally started. Try some stair runs in your house or apartment, sprint the hallways in between staircases, and throw in some jumping jacks or vertical jumps. It’s a pretty intense conditioning workout, trust me I did them in the hallways of my college during winter break haha.
Let’s say you want to get a lifting workout in. Instead of chest presses you can always do a dozen different variations of pushups including wide stance, close stance, knuckle pushups, clap pushups, uneven pushups, pushups with your feet on a raised surface, or even one-arm pushups if you really want to train like Rocky. Are you so Herculean that this does not provide enough resistance for you? Fill up your backpack with heavy books or water bottles and wear it on your back when you do your pushups. Get your girlfriend to sit on your back, whatever it takes. Take that same heavy backpack and use it for curls, squats, calf raises, overhead tricep extensions, and front shoulder raises. Shoulder Presses? Pick up your desk chair, common room coffee table, or your even your couch and get to work. If you aren’t quite at the level of lifting couches, you can always use water bottles (or beer bottles if you feel like being ironic, just don’t be curling the bottle to your mouth) as dumbbells for a light weight, high repetition workout.
Another scientific benefit of crazy training like this? Lifting irregularly shaped objects with uneven weight distribution makes your muscles work harder, especially your stabilizer muscles that have to balance the load. Your whole body is pushed harder since you are most likely used to nice uniform barbells, dumbbells, and machines. This equates to new muscle growth stimulation and more calories burned! Also, lifting free weights in general is much more functional and effective than using exercise machines with a fixed and sometimes unnatural range of motion. Free weight type exercises translate over into activities of daily living and sports much more effectively.
Sound crazy? Maybe a little bit. Innovative? I’d like to think so. Effective? You bet. Get off your lazy ass or break up your boring exercise routine with some homemade crazy workouts. I guarantee it’ll get the job done, I’m sore right now because I did one of these workouts last night…