Tag: lower body

Farmers Carry Workout

Here’s the Farmers Carry Workout I’ve developed over the last few weeks. It’s good for my trail running and hiking and I’m sure it would be worth your while to watch the short video for my own variation on a Farmers Carry Workout, posted to my youtube channel.

[youtube https://youtu.be/DqW57wYQNkI&w=640&h=360&rel=0]

With this Farmers Carry Workout I’m doing the following:

  1. 25 Trapbar Deadlifts at 65 lb.
  2. 100 steps with Trapbar
  3. 100 Kicks – running high knee, high heel drill
  4. Walking back to the Trapbar and picking it up

I did 12 repetitions of that sequence over a total of 1.5 miles. Over that distance I did 300 Trapbar Deadlifts. I did 1200 steps with the Trapbar. I did 1200 Kicks running drill steps. I walked some distance I didn’t count back to the bar. Since there were so many reps involved I used 65 pounds as my weight for this session. It was about 40 minutes long.

One of my favorite variations is to do RDL (Romanian Dead Lift) instead of the regular deadlifts. I am looking forward to doing Sprints intead of the Kicks. I’ll probably try some with Bounding. The farmers carry workout sequences could be really intense if you do them without much rest. You set the bar down and pause for a second before your Kicks. You walk back to the bar and pick it up. The walking could be the closest thing to a rest that you get if you do it this way.

You could do just about anything you want with yours, if you decide to create your own farmers carry workout. I especially like the way that it’s good for my shoulders, upper back and grip. These are important with ice climbing training. Did I mention that ice climbing starts up here at 10,000′ in Colorado in the next 8 or so weeks?

The Running Kicks Drill as done in my farmers carry workout
The Running Kicks Drill as done in my farmers carry workout

If you have a favorite farmers carry workout I’d love for you to share it with me. I’m open to all kinds of interesting suggestions. Just comment below or on my Facebook Page [CLICK HERE].

Farmers Carry Workout in my new book?

I’m just about done with the final edit of my upcoming Summit Success: Training for Hiking, Mountaineering, and Peak Bagging. CHECK IT OUT. I have to say though that as a beginner training manual there won’t be a farmers carry workout in it. Perhaps in my intermediate training manual. I’ll save that for next year.

Until then, I hope you enjoyed my farmers carry workout video and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Can you add this to your own workout mix? Let me know.

Deadlift at Breck Rec

I did a workout today at the Breckenridge Recreation Center CLICK HERE It’s just referred to as Breck Rec here. The main part of my workout was based around the deadlift today.

Deadlift Video

Here’s a video I managed to take of two sets in my deadlift workout today. I did them with my phone and you can see when I knocked my phone over after that first set. If you keep your eyes open you can see it happen.

That aside, I had a really good workout and I went on to do squats, shoulder presses, and chin-up and pull-up exercises. For the deadlift I did a brief warmup set of 25 @ 45 lb RDL. That’s Romanian Deadlift, otherwise called Reverse Deadlift. I’ll do another article on that soon, but it’s a deadlift in which you don’t break at the knees at the lower portion of the lift. You use your glutes and hamstrings with relatively straight legs. It looks a lot like the ending position in the video, just before I stand up. Again, look for an article with video soon.

Bar Loaded for Deadlift sets of 1 at 244 lb
Bar Loaded for Deadlift sets of 1 at 244 lb

I then did a warmup set of 10 @ 111 lb. These are metric Olympic Bumper Plates so they might not add up like you’re used to. Bumper plates work with a flexible resilient floor, or deck, to absorb the impact of dropped loaded bars. Then I did 8 x 3 @ 199 lb.That’s 8 sets of 3 reps at 199 pounds. Those were intended to be my working sets and then I was planning on being done. I had some fuel in the tank still, so to speak, so I loaded up some more weight and did some singles. That’s sets of 1 rep. I did 5 x 1 @ 244 lb. There’s a lot of reasons to do this. We discussed this at the Steve House seminar I attended. Powerlifters train like this in cycles. It’s recently been recommended that runners train like this. I’m experimenting right now to see how effective it can be for me in my activities.

Deadlift Technique

You’ll see in the video that I set up with my feet a little over shoulder width apart and toes pointed outward. That works for me. I have very long legs relative to my height. I can straddle a yardstick. Yep. It makes some leg training annoying, like squats, but I’ve become accustomed to it. So what I’m saying is that if you deadlift, don’t emulate my technique exactly. Find your own foot and let alignment.

Then I set my hands outside my knees with about a thumb length between my first finger wrapping the bar and the edge of the knurling. Again, this is to clear my knees on the way up. Your position might be different. That being said, powerlifters like to pull the bar up as short a distance as possible, which means a narrower grip. I’m not training for powerlifting, I’m training for uphill travel, so I’m just getting a good workout in. I’m not going to stress over little details. If I ever work my way up to a 1000 lb pull it might make more sense to worry about it though.

I rock back and forth subtly, maybe you don’t even notice, to take up the slack in my hamstrings and glutes. I straighten my arms and lock my shoulder sockets, and pull. This is a lot of weight and I’m a bit tired now, having done my working sets already. I’m going a bit slower than I like, but near the top as I gain leverage over the bar I snap my glutes to pull my back straight and hold the bar for a second.

I resist the bar as I lower it, so that I lower it slowly. I’m training the negative or eccentric motion here. The concentric motion is the effort of pulling the bar off the floor. The eccentric motion is resisting gravity as you lower the bar. The eccentric motion is what you use hiking downhill. It’s hard to train for many people, and too much heavy eccentric training in the deadlift or any other exercise can lead to DOMS. That’s Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or the pain you feel the day after your workout. For that reason many coaches have their athletes drop the bar as they step away and let the special flooring take the blow. I lower mine to about an inch off the floor before I drop it. That’s the “clang” you hear at the end of each of the two sets in the video.

Sitting in front of the window taking a break between each set of my deadlift workout
Sitting in front of the window taking a break between each set of my deadlift workout

You might notice that I have a tendency to pull my knees out of the path of the bar a bit early. That’s because I have those long legs and when they’re bent it interrupts the path of the bar. Also since I do RDL training with weights in this range of heavy I have a pretty strong glute and lower back area to pull that bar up. Again, your technique might look completely different.

If you’re not sure how to do this, get some local coaching. Most fitness facilities will have someone who is qualified to teach this to you, or help you get good technique or form that works for you safely. Be sure to subscribe to this blog for more updates, or to get a FREE DOWNLOAD of my “Planning Your Home Cardio” ebook, CLICK HERE.

Trap Bar Deadlift Video

I’m a fan of the Trap Bar Deadlift. The Trap Bar is a hexagonal bar that surrounds your legs as you stand, with the handles on the side and set front-to-back. This allows for a different position for your arms and hands. If you have any kind of shoulder, elbow or wrist issues this might be the answer.

Trap Bar Deadlift from the top showing the bar
Trap Bar Deadlift from the top showing the bar

I’ve included a video to help show you how I do it. Note that my arms and legs are very long in proportion to my torso. That changes my alignment a bit, so that I’m starting with a more forward position with less bend in the legs. I’m also using the upper handle on the Trap Bar Deadlift so it might be viewed as a type of “pulling from pins” exercise. I train hard with the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) so my lower back can tolerate it better.

One thing to pay attention to is that I duck down a bit to relax and stretch my tendons and joints, then put tension back on them as I rise up and prepare for the lift. I’m doing sets of two singles. I do a heavy pull from the floor and set it down. Then I rest up for about 3-5 seconds and do another pull from the floor. Be careful in doing any type of lift, but especially the Trap Bar Deadlift, to keep that arch in your lower back. If you hunch it into a reverse arch you could risk some damage to your spine or pelvis.

A Trap Bar Deadlift is fine if you’re not training to compete as a Power Lifter. In my opinion it’s valid as a way to lift heavy weight and improve strength and fitness. I’m also doing the negative, or eccentric motion. That’s setting the bar down under control for most of the way down. Many Power Lifting training articles will recommend against it, since it can increase muscle soreness for some people as well as fatigue that might result in a shorter duration workout.

Since I’m not training for maximum load or, again, as a Power Lifter, I’m not sure if it’s so relevant. I also like to train for the purpose of fat loss, and heavy Trap Bar Deadlift training to fatigue, in my opinion, can help with that goal.

Trap Bar Deadlift Video Demonstration:

Speaking of fat loss, be sure to catch my new book “The 100 Calorie Diet Plan” available on Kindle, Nook, Google Play and a print edition on Amazon. I cover the basics of journaling and measuring improvements using simple basic math and SMART Goal Setting Principles. Check it out HERE for more information.

How to Log and Compare Workouts

In my most recent book The 100 Calorie Diet Plan (available in Print on Amazon andCreatespace, and for Kindle and for Nook ebooks) I explain briefly how to log your workouts and then make steady incremental progress from workout to workout. For a more complete explanation and a better example than in the book, here’s two of my recent training sessions compared side-by-side.

Leg Day Training - two side by side workouts
Leg Day Training – two side by side workouts

If you’re already training, I hope you’re keeping some type of training journal. If not, you have one now. Put your data in your nutrition and success tracking journal we started in the previous chapter. The plan now is to log everything, minutes, miles, feet, pounds, sets, reps. If you don’t know what you’re doing now, how can you know if you do more later? or worse, less? I like to have as much meaningful information as possible, with a focus on meaningful. — The 100 Calorie Diet Plan, Page 13

I use the Color Note App on my phone while training, just because it’s really handy and I can share it to my home PC or online document app whenever I want to compile stats. I have developed a shorthand over the years to make my logging easier, even though the auto-complete on the phone should make it simple to type. Here’s a quick guide to my shorthand, and some specific terms used on this example:

Log Workouts: glossary

Hyper: Back Hyperextension, laying forward in the machine bend toward to floor then up to a straight body
RC: Roman Chair (usually done on the Back Hyperextension bench) ab training motion
Gravitron: An assisted pullup/dip machine.
PU: Pullup
Cybex: Equipment Manufacturer, a style of strength training machine
RDL: Romanian Dead Lift – deadlift done from standing to the floor and return to standing, typically with straight legs
Leg Ext: Leg Extension, straightening the legs under load
Leg Curl: Retracting the legs to folded under load
Ab Curl: a type of situp in which the spine is flexed to a c-shape curve
Delt: short for deltoid, the shoulder muscles

First I get core out of the way with Back Hyperextension and Roman Chair Abs.

I begin the rest of the workout by warming up with the Gravitron pullup with a 130 pound assist. This gives me about 50 pounds of load. I do this about every other workout, if not more, since these are climbing-specific muscles and I need to do a light duty set frequently.

Cybex Fly Machine for Chest and Delts
Cybex Fly Machine for Chest and Delts

I then do the Chest and Rear Delt Fly. I did chest on my previous workout and this helps stretch out the muscles and flush blood and toxins through for faster recovery.

Romanian Dead Lifts are a great “Posterior Chain” workout, working the glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back of legs). These are important muscles for everything, but particularly upward travel at higher speed.

Romanian Dead Lifts from a stand on the platform
Romanian Dead Lifts from a stand on the platform

Then for squats. I am doing Power Lifter style squats, with the bar placed low on the back, centered over the upper notch in the scapulae and with the legs fairly wide, going as far down as flexibility allows. Some people only squat down about 4″ and this allows a lot of weight to be used, so if you try going all the way down, keep in mind that you might not be using as much weight as you would think.

The view from the row of Cybex Equipment at the Breckenridge Recreation Center
The view from the row of Cybex Equipment at the Breckenridge Recreation Center

I use the calf sled since there isn’t any other calf machine at this facility and I’m not really stable doing them without a power rack for safety. A calf sled is a seat on sliding rails with weight underneath. You lift the seat on the rails by pushing with your toes on a plate.

Finally I do a couple of finishing moves on the Leg Extension and Leg Curl machines with a lot of reps at a moderate weight. In between stuff and as it seems appropriate I also do a lot of stretching. This is controversial but I’ve done it for years and believe it helps me recover faster.

Leg Extension:

Leg Curl:

If you look at the side-by-side comparison you’ll see that I’ve made good progress between the two sessions, about a week apart. In another post we’ll look at the math, but I do cover that in the book, if you want to skip ahead and do it yourself. Remember to log workouts if you want to know for sure what you’re really doing.

Remember that by logging your training, you are making it measurable, and adding to your accountability. Measuring is the “M” in SMART – the classic goal setting strategy. Some people need professional help with this to ensure greater success faster. I know I could have halved the time I spent losing my 60 pounds and getting ready for my adventure goals had I gotten professional help early.

High Rep Calf Raises

I was talking to a friend a couple weeks ago. He was doing off-season training for ice climbing and mentioned how his calves would get tired while leading. In leading ice you normally stand on your front points and lower your heels to lock in your knees and keep your weight on your bones, or skeleton. This saves wear and tear on your muscles. Be that as it may though, it still takes quite a bit of flexibility and strength to do most efficiently. This made me think about my own training with high rep calf raises.

Without going into too much detail about muscles, the calf is built with two different ways of moving. Basically, the calf lifts your heel, or pushes with the toes. It’s the same thing really. One set of calf muscles does this while the knee is straight. Another set does it while the knee is bent. In the High Rep Calf Raises we’re going to see here, your knees are straight. The calf muscles are pretty small overall, and for many of us don’t respond well to hypertrophy. That means they won’t get very big. You use your calf muscles all day long. Every step you take. So they’re pretty well tuned to high volume work. Lots of repetitions. I like 25 for the weights I use for my high rep calf raises.

High Rep Calf Raises Progression

One thing about any type of training, including maybe especially high rep calf raises, is that when you first begin, you might not be very strong. Many people will start with only their own bodyweight, possibly even supported. Let’s begin with a stretch. In the photo below I’m stretching one leg at a time, and I’m fairly flexible there. At first you can use two legs. I’m standing on a 6″ stepping box, but anything sturdy will work like stairs or a deck. Use your hands for balance. Let your heel drop below your toes as far as you can with just a mild burn in your calf. Hold that position for about 20 seconds. That’s it. You’re done. Do it before and after your calf exercise.

Stretch your calf muscles before high rep calf raises
Stretch your calf muscles before high rep calf raises

If you’ve never done high rep calf raises before, use that same step to lift your body up, keeping your knees straight, with both legs. Just your body weight is good for now.

Bodyweight 2-leg high rep calf raises
Bodyweight 2-leg high rep calf raises

When you can do 4 sets of 25 at bodyweight with two legs, then you can begin to add weight. Barbells can be tough to balance on your shoulders while doing calf raises, so I like to use the Safety Squat Bar. But you can just use anything that has weight. In the photo below I’m using a 25 lb olympic size weight plate.

Weighted high rep calf raises
Weighted high rep calf raises

If you’re feeling pretty strong and want to give it a go, you can do your weighted high rep calf raises on only one leg. Keep in mind though that for many people balance can really be an issue. Don’t hurt yourself.

Weighted Single Leg High Rep Calf Raises
Weighted Single Leg High Rep Calf Raises

High Rep Calf Raises Video

In this video I’m doing a set of high rep calf raises. 25 reps at 245 lb. (4 x 45) + 65 (for the bar) = 245 lb. This is a Safety Squat Bar and I’m glad it is. Notice how it swings when I step up onto the riser at the beginning and how it leans when I set it into the hooks at the end? If it were a straight bar I wouldn’t be able to use my hands to help with balance. But that’s just me. You might not have any issues at all. I love how my calf muscles shake the last few sets in the inset lower right. I did this after my squat training session for the day. I did that after my elliptical warmup. My legs were pretty warm by then. I recommend you warm up too. Calf muscles are pretty small and can be pretty tight, so make sure you properly warm up before you train them hard.

For myself that weight and volume works for me. You can experiment with other sets and reps to see what works for you.

Bodyweight Exercise One Legged Band Sissy Squat

I like to do some type of bodyweight exercise for warming up. It’s also great for working the smaller stabilizing muscles that I think shouldn’t be trained under heavy load. Unilateral bodyweight exercise is particularly good for the stabilizers and core.

bodyweight exercise is one tool in quad development
Quad definition is a combination of nutrition and training

In this example, the one legged band sissy squat, it takes a lot of effort to stay level. It’s definitely not for beginners. You should get in a few hundred reps on the two leg version of this bodyweight exercise before trying the single leg version. Try it with your feet and knees together to work your way into it. This simulates the balance of doing it with one leg.

If you’ve done the band version of the sissy squat all you need to do to convert it to the single leg bodyweight exercise is to lift one leg and place the ankle over your knee. Lower slowly the first time or two and don’t try the full range of motion until you get a feel for it. It’s quite different.

Bodyweight Exercise Video for One Legged Band Sissy Squat

[youtube https://youtu.be/VS3_5lYN4ac&w=640&h=360&rel=0]

The blue band I am using is the Jumpstretch Strong Band #6 but similar products from EliteFTS will work as well.

Setting up the bodyweight exercise for legs

I’m looping mine over the pullup bar on my power rack. You can use just about anything that will hold your body weight and is a little over head high. Like the top of a door. Think simple. You could loop a piece of webbing with a knot in it and slam it in a solid door. Be careful though to make it strong enough. This is a bodyweight exercise. Test your system with full body weight before you drop backward into the squat.

If you feel any level of pain or major instability stop immediately. You might have to work your way into this gently with something like one legged chair sitting or partial squats with one leg. I’m including the video for this easier bodyweight exercise below:

[youtube https://youtu.be/HgeAHa9UuB4&w=640&h=360&rel=0]