December Programming Prep
There won’t be much you need to focus on in December since there will be little carryover week-to-week other than the following three movements from the family of Strongman training. Before you freak out and assume you’ll be lifting four hundred pound logs, give this a read and see why Strongman principles are some of the most sensible concepts we can follow when it comes to building the total body and preventing injury.
At the end of the month, we are confident that what you’ll find is a stronger, more fit version of yourself that’s better prepared to tackle your barbell progress.
Candidly, these have been missing for far too long. We were pumped to introduce rope pulls a few months ago, and we’re even more excited to refine them and more specifically target them in December.
- Muscular “Balance” — Rope pulls are very effective at reaching muscles that are not often accessed in our usual functional fitness barbell-based program: The Pec Major, the Teres Major, the inside Short Head of the Biceps. Many shoulder issues are a result of something in that complex area yanking on another area, creating “imbalance” and a change in the structure. By working these smaller muscles, engaging the aforementioned muscles and pulling through internal torque, we are able to balance out that imbalance, and create healthier, stronger shoulders for movements we love to overhead.
- No Soreness – You can go very heavy with very little soreness. Why? There is no eccentric component to rope pulls. It is purely a concentric action. Think about a squat where you lower heavy weight to the floor before standing it up. The soreness is created in that lowering phase (eccentric). With rope pulls, that doesn’t exist. It’s just concentric.
- Holistic Benefits for both Genders – Don’t let his very poor choice in attire spook you. Strongman training is most certainly not just for men (if you watch the above video, at around the 3:00 mark, he mentions the need specifically for women, in fact) and it’s not even about strength as we think of it. It’s about injury prevention and creating a stronger body from the inside out.
How to Perform:
- In your set-up, assume a high hips position with your torso parallel to the floor.
- Wide stance, big toe firmly connected to the ground to engage the inner hamstrings.
- With an underhand grip, pull the rope hand-under-hand as fast as possible.
- Think about trying to elbow yourself in the crotch. The elbows should end up INSIDE the thighs after each pull.
- Stay parallel! When your chest elevates we end up engaging the lats more than we want on this one.
- Look at the ground directly in front of you the entire time. Do NOT look at the bell.
- Look up! When you look up, you lose. Why? Because you’ve just engaged the upper traps, one of the single biggest culprit in shoulder issues. Not because the muscle is “bad”, but because through many barbell movements we engage it too often and it becomes overactive.
- Over Reach! Simply grap the rope in front, don’t over reach and over extend for it for the same reason as above. The traps turn on and the benefit is totally lost.
- Have Happy Hips! The hips should not move. Resist the urge to rotate and flow with pulls. Use your strong connection to the ground with your feet
Performing heavy, correct rope pulls teaching our body to transfer force from the glutes, through the external obliques, into the teres major, and into the short head of the biceps. This is the yin to the barbell movement yang, and the yield is healthier, stronger shoulders.
Sandbag Squats & Carries
This video will be a precursor to the sandbag squat, and also the sandbag carry (below).
Strength, Deep Stabilizing Musculature
- No Rep is the Same – Because the sand is shifting, changing, and a royal pain in the ass to harness while you squat, you are constantly engaging dormant muscles that have never been called into duty on a typical easy loaded back or front squat. The barbell is amazing, but we get so good and comfortable with it, that it can often turn into the machine we are tying to avoid.
- Strength – You will get crazy strong by squatting heavy sandbags. You’ll see after a month of ’em.
- Off the Floor – The benefit of lapping the sandbag for the first rep shouldn’t be lost. It takes a lot of strength in the anterior chain to do so.
How to Perform:
- Straddle the sandbag, with feet relatively close together and toes forward.
- With straight arms and high hips, pick the sandbag off the floor.
- Follow the video above to learn how to “lap” the sandbag (starting at 1:00)
- Once lapped, keep the sandbag as close to the body as possible at all times.
- Squat to depth.
- Bend the elbows on the pick-up! This will overstress the biceps loading and cause irritation.
- Squat the pick-up! Think hips back and a high hinge.
Enjoy, guys! We’re very excited for everyone to reap the HUGE benefits these will have on your injury prevention, strength, and fitness resiliency.
-The P360 Team