by Dr. David Minkoff February 15, 2017 3 min read
When the public gym gets boring I train like William Wallace in my backyard.
I swing medieval weapons, hurl large stones and increase my savage points by 1000. It's a fun change of pace and nice to train at home, in the sun and fresh air.
This training builds Dad strength in a way the gym can't. It's unconventional, dynamic and functional. This type of training translates well to real life.
I love powerlifting-the deadlift, squat and bench press. In fact, the deadlift is my favorite strength movement. Powerlifting will make you crazy strong. It's a legit sport...but it doesn't always translate well to everyday life.
You ever squat anything heavy in real life starting with it on your back? Probably not. You probably bear hug the hell out of it in front of you and drive upward (like the stone front squat above).
Bodybuilding is cool too. What guy doesn't like being jacked? But bodybuilding movements like biceps curls don't translate well to everyday life either. Unless everyday life is the bars in downtown HB. #Context
Having big arms is not the same as being Dad strong.
The barbell back squat makes you better at the barbell back squat and biceps curls make you better at...biceps curls.
You ever spring into action to lift something heavy from a perfectly comfortable seated position? No...so stop using exercise machines.
I don't want to be the guy that throws his back out lifting a nephew onto my shoulders, or tossing luggage into a trunk. Thats weak.
Most of my young life I was either wrestling or street fighting. Bodybuilders are the easiest tuff guys to manhandle. They look strong, but they have no real leverage. The really big and strong guys are too slow and gassed out before I even broke a sweat.
The scary guys are the lean dudes with thick necks...them dudes can scrap. Strong, fast, excellent leverages and move well from any position.
I dont fight anymore, nor do I compete in any form of grappling. I'm past my tough guy years. I'm a much nicer, happier person. Now I need functional strength in different ways. Helping my uncle lift a tablesaw or snaking my cleanout drain with a 200 ft steel cable. Yesterday I held my massive 15 month old son in one arm, while bent over, loading a full cart of groceries onto the checkout register. Thats Dad strength, bitches.
These movements are unconventional, dynamic and functional. They demand I generate power from awkward positions, safely.
They are coordinated movement patterns that require an array of joints in non-linear ways.
Have you ever seen a powerlifter bend over to tie his shoes? It's like watching an 18 wheeler perform a u-turn.
I get it, the curls are for the girls. You dont have to give them up. You don't need to swing a mace, throw stones or do backflips. But, you might benefit from working in some awkward and unbalanced training. Think of real life movements...then find ways to make them difficult AF. Then do them fast, with caffeine and amino acids.
Anyway, here are some fun and simple ways to develop usable Dad strength.
Onnit Steel Mace - The black thing I'm swinging is a 25 pound steel mace. The movement is the "360". It's excellent for shoulder strength and mobility, balance, coordination, grip and core strength. And it's fun. I imagine crushing Edward the Longshanks face in while I swing it.
Stone training - Big Red is a 75'ish pound river rock. No home gym is complete without one. The stone is effective in building raw man strength. The "strong from any position" type of strength. The "move this shit now" type of strength. Unlike a perfectly balanced dumbell, or a comfy exercise machine, Big Red has no handles and she's lopsided. Stone training loads the entire skeleton. My toes dig into the ground like an eagle claw and my fingers clench into any crevice they can.
Back Tucks - These develop explosiveness and coordination. They require a massive amount of muscle fiber recruitment in an instant...thats power. Slow strength is fun...fast strength is superhero fun. Plus they look really cool.
Do you have a backyard routine? Share it with us. Thanks for reading.
by Dr. David Minkoff
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