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Atomic Athletic Blog

  • Steel Fitness Clinic With Dr. Ken Leistner

    roger-lapointe-travel-map-logoI originally wrote this article for the Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin January 21, 2003. It's still good stuff today.
    Enjoy.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe

    Steel Fitness Clinic With Dr. Ken
    by Roger LaPointe
    With almost 100 strength training enthusiasts in attendance, Dr. Ken Leistner started off his strength training seminar at STEEL Fitness with some demonstrations. The January 11, 2003 clinic topic was “Functional Training For Athletes”, with an emphasis on football players. Before getting started, people were already asking what we were going to cover. They played right into Dr. Ken’s hands.

    Dr. Ken Leistner Pressing
    Dr. Ken Leistner pressing a custom Shot Loading Globe Barbell from Atomic Athletic.

     

    As I did a Steinborn Lift, Dr. Ken said, “Hey, Roger, that’s pretty cool. But I have never seen that move on the football field. I don’t think that’s functional.” Then he did some beautiful Atomic Ball lifts, and it was my turn. “Dr. Ken, that’s some nice stone lifting, but football players are not shaped like granite balls. I don’t really think that’s functional.” Admitting that I was also correct, Dr. Ken read several quotes from noted fitness experts, who strangely contradicted each other as to the definition of functional training. Doc delivered the final blow to the trendy buzzword when he concluded that he should probably have Atomic Athletic design a 15 pound tooth brush, so he could excel at one of his daily activities.

    “Exercises that help one excel at daily activities”, is the only definition of functional training with which all the experts could agree. Clearly, functional training is a meaningless concept. So how does one gain size, get stronger and play better? No matter how you train, and a variety of exercises is best, you must work hard. If you are doing leg presses or dragging an anchor chain, neither one will do anything unless you are pushing yourself hard today and even harder tomorrow. We showed several tapes, including some of Dr. Ken’s private collection with collegiate athletes training with competitive strongman tools, standard gym equipment and even professional Basque stone lifters. The one common element was the driven psyche of each athlete as they pushed the absolute limit.

    Dr. Ken drew on a vast array of knowledge, gained over 40 years in the iron game, as a coach and an athlete. His stories about past greats, and current stars, like New York Giant’s Frank Ferrara, really kept the crowd mesmerized. Dr. Ken even brought individuals out of the crowd for mini workout demonstrations. Throughout the clinic, the reporters from New York Newsday were writing furiously. Keep checking the fitness pages for the Newsday report.

    I would like to thank the staff of STEEL Fitness for inviting me to speak with Dr. Ken. They have a first class facility that would be my first training choice if I lived in the area. It was also an honor for me to be on the same stage with someone who has had such an impact on the sports I love. I highly recommend going to any clinic where Dr. Ken Leistner is involved, the four and one half hours at the clinic flew by.

  • Make Your Own Farmers Walk Units

    Make Your Own Farmers Walk Units

    by Roger LaPointe

    Make Farmers Walk Units out of your Kettlebell Handles!

    Check out our adjustable Kettlebell Handles. Just hit this link .

    You can make Farmers Walk Units with our Kettlebell Handles. Chris Bostick Illustration: "Make your own Farmers Walk Units with Kettlebell Handles"
    • Kettlebell handles are extremely versatile. 
    Kettlebell handles are one of the most efficient tools for your training. With the slip of a collar, you make your adjustable dumbbells into kettlebells. With a few more changes, you can change them into Farmers Walk Handles.Our hulking beast of a strongman at the left enjoys the thrill of his one hand snatches with an adjustable kettlebell. He then moves on to his farmers walk exercises. That is a powerful 1 - 2 combination for your entire body.• Just follow along in the drawing. Here is your parts list.
    Start off with our Kettlebell Handles. They are made to fit one inch diameter adjustable dumbbell handles. That means you can get any piece of one inch diameter steel or pipe for your Farmers Walk Handles. Make sure you have two pieces that are the same length. Then get yourself a pile of one inch (Standard) size collars. I recommend 6 collars per handle.Oh yeah. Don't forget the plates. You will need a bunch of Standard size plates. The Olympic size plates won't work on a Standard size bar.

    • Arranging your pile of equipment. 
    Look further on down in this article and you will see the Atomic Athletic Farmers Walk Units . The dimensions of those pieces are so good that the Detroit Highland Games uses our Farmers Walk Units and they still have the World Record for 200 pounders.

    Of course, those are welded units that have been nicely ground down to become the ideal in competition equipment. Given that fact, there is nothing you can do about the collars and other parts that will brush against your thighs as you walk. These will still be pretty darn good.Make sure your bars, pipes or whatever you will be loading the plates on are long enough to give you some stride length between the plates. I like about 18-20 inches. Measure off the center of your bars and slide on your kettlebell handles . Anchor the handles down with a pair of collars on each side. Next, you will measure off about 6 inches and place your next collars. These will be the inside collars for your plates. Finally, you load on the plates and secure them with your last pair ofcollars .You could just use your standard dumbbell bars and do away with the extra four collars, but that will not allow you to have any stride length.
    Kettlebell Handles were made by many of the old barbell companies, but most people associate them with the York Barbell Company. Actor John Saxon loves his kettlebell handles. He picked up his first set after filming "Enter the Dragon" with Bruce Lee. Bruce kept a set with him while filming movies.

    Vic Boff's Bodybuilders Bible shows how to use adjustable Kettlebell Handles. 
    Vic's book is really all about functional training. It is almost entirely free weight based. The giant corporate fitness machine manufacturers have really messed up the strength training world. Vic used the term "bodybuilder" in such a broad sense that he even included full Olympic weightlifting in the book.

    The top photo in this sequence shows Brian Duncan, the World Record holder in the Farmers Walk.  The bottom photo shows Steve Weiner performing at the Association of Olde Time Barbell & Strongmen Dinner. • Grip training or full body training?
    There is a lot of argument out there about how to best do your grip training. Should you focus on your grip, or work your grip training into your full body routine? You really need to do both. The Farmers Walk is one of the best exercises you can do to incorporate the entire body in your grip work.• What's up with the BBs?
    By now, everyone should know the benefit of training with shot loaded equipment. Atomic Athletic has been selling shot loaded equipment for years. If you have never used shot loaded equipment, but would like a real in depth discussion on the subject, I highly recommend the Atomic Athletic Train Like A Strongman Volume 2 DVD .BBs in a Farmers Walk handle are a training tool which comes from a little different perspective than most strength athletes think about. Remember, this is functional training. You can add plates to these units, so the BBs are not really for the extra weight. They are there to teach your body technique. Neuromuscular reaction training is one of the great benefits of using any shot loaded tool. We have barbells,dumbbells and kettlebells that are also shot loading. Click on each of the green words to see the link.There really is a technique to getting the most distance out of your farmers walk. You want to walk evenly without any bouncing. Bouncing, or any other up and down movement while you are walking, will be hard on your joints and tire your grip super fast. If you are going for maximum distance, then you need to have your grip last until the last second, or until some other bodypart fails.• Dead Lifts with a Farmers Walk Handle are a great exercise.
    Similar to a trap bar deadlift, the Farmers Walk Handle deadlift gives you that biomechanically fantastic hand position that you have probably felt when deadlifting dumbbells. The difference is that you don't have dumbbell heads smashing into your legs. Unlike the trap bar deadlift, your body has to make all the small muscle corrections like with a dumbbell. It really is the best of both worlds.In the photo to the left, Steve Weiner uses the Atomic Athletic Farmers Walk Handles as part of his performance at the Association of Olde Time Barbell & Strongman Dinner of 2004. He did an insane version of a farmers walk with 250 pounds in each hand and 200 pounds hanging from his head. He walked about 15 feet.

    • If I want some Chris Bostick artwork, that I could frame, how would I get it?
    Chris is doing more and more illustration work for us at Atomic Athletic, so there is a good deal of it in existence. The diagram of the "Kettlebell Handle made into a Farmers Walk Unit" is just one example. Those are now available on some real retro looking comic book type paper (although actually a heavier weight paper). We also have the "Globe Dumbbell Press and Iron Boot Girl" Chris Bostick comic available. Each of them are FREE, as part of your related poster/wall chart order.

    • REMEMBER: A classic strongman needed to be good a lot of different strength feats. Your training tools need to be a versitile as possible. Farmers Walk Units are just one more thing you can do with your Kettlebell Handles. 

    Buy your Kettlebell Handles through this link.

    Live strong,
    Roger LaPointe

    PS Here is the link for our classic Kettlebell Handles:
    http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=KBC1

  • Iron Boots: Dumbbells for Your Feet

    Iron Boots: Dumbbells For Your Feet!

    by Roger LaPointe

    Iron Boots are one of the oldest tools for leg development in the world of real strength training. At Atomic Athletic I have loved Iron Boot work since the first time I used my original set of
    York Health Shoes. If you want to get yourself a set right away, just hit this link .

    Iron Boots, one of the best leg developing tools of all time. • Functional Training For Your Feet 
    The days of pure isolation of single muscle groups are over. Unless you are a bodybuilder, then you need to work multiple muscles in conjunction with each other. This is what an athlete does while playing a sport. Training your legs is no different than training any other part of your body in that respect.• Iron Boots are more than just for the feet 
    Think about where you place the Iron Boot. It goes on the bottom of the foot. That means you can work the ankle, calf, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, low back, stomach and all those small muscles that tie into those groups. If you get creative with a dip station or chinning bar, you really have a great tool in the Iron Boot.

    • Are antique Iron Boots still OK? 
    They can be. There were a lot of different designs out there, and some were better than others.

    • If I found an old pair, what would be the first thing to check out? 
    Make sure the straps are still good. Historyically, most companies sold really second rate straps. Additionally, if it is old, you could be dealing with wear and tear that came from use, and things like dry rot.

    You certainly don't want to have a weight come crashing down because your 60 year old straps did not hold. You should check your straps every time you use them. Just like you were out shoe laces, you can wear out Iron Boot straps. Atomic Athletic has great heavy duty replacement straps that are 30 inches long and use a spring loaded steel presure buckle derived from military aircraft tiedowns. Good stuff.

    • The secret to using Iron Boots is efficient exercise choices. 
    "I have been doing research on Iron Boot training since 1997, when I had to rehab a torn meniscus in my right knee. While, at one time, every American barbell company had their own version of the iron boot, or health shoe, there was suprisingly little information on how to use them. That is, until I really got into my research." Roger LaPointe. Because they were so common, eveyone from physical therapists and athletic trainers to competitive bodybuilders had their own pet exercise with the Iron Boots.
    "It was up to me to put it all together, and find the best of the best," said Roger. "I don't believe in doing a million little exercises that will take up your entire day, which you could easily do with the Iron Boots. I believe in efficience and intensity. For example, if you are training for soccer as a goalie, and you can do a lying leg curl with a machine or a hanging leg curl with the Iron Boots, it's a pretty easy decision for me. You do the Hanging Leg Curl that will work your grip, hamstrings, and ankles. Additionally, you get the glute and low back work combined with stretching and decompressing the spine. You would get very similar tendon, ligament and muscle control out of a lying leg curl with the Iron Boots, putting it in a better category than the machine, but you would get none of those extra benefits. Work them all together and then get back out on the field!"

    • Iron Boot training has a long history for both men AND women. 
    Lisa has been working with the Iron Boots for general fitness work . You can see in the following two photos, which were taken in sequence, that the Crunch & Thrusthas been working for her. She is actually using an antique pair that was made by Weider specifically for women. Based on the old advertisements we have seen, we estimate that these are from the late 1950's. An exercise like this would be fantastic for swimmers, divers, gymnasts and martial artists. Of course, it would be great for anyone interested in working the abdominal muscles, quads, hip flexors and ankles.• What are some of those old advertisements? 
    Further on in this article, you will see a variety of Iron Boot and/or Health Shoe advertisements. The oldest I have found came from Strength & Health magazine, which was published by the York Barbell Company.
    Lisa works out with Antique Weider Iron Boots.

    • What publications are available for learning how to use Iron Boots? 
    The oldest book that I know of, which is still availble, was written by Vic Boff. He was a real advocate of Iron Boot training, and included it in his Vic Boff's Bodybuilder's Bible for Men & Women. If you don't know about Vic, he founded the Association of Oldetime Barbell and Strongmen.

    • More Iron Boot exercises are available exclusively from Atomic Athletic.

    Atomic Athletic's Lisa working her abs with some classic Iron Boots. In addition to the written Leg Development Course , which comes with the Iron Boots, we have the Leg Development DVD & Written Course Combo. Of course, that set contains more than just Iron Boot exercises, but it is all classic lower body work. Really, it is all just training with a barbell and the iron boots. Very basic stuff that can be done with basic equipment or expanded on with a power rack and basic bench.• Have you included Iron Boot work in some of the more comprehensive courses?

    Certainly. The concept that I keep adding onto is my Train Like A Strongman series. It is really an attempt at bringing all these seemingly disparate concepts into one coherant whole.

    • What is the most recent addition to the Train Like A Strongman series, and does it also use the Iron Boot training?

    That would be the Train Like A Strongman DVD Volume 2. I do touch on a little bit of ankle work in that DVD. However, we also have the Ankle Stability Kit. As the name implies, it gets into a lot more than just Iron Boot work, but that is certainly part of it.

    • What is your favorite old time course for Iron Boot work?
    That would have to be the York Leg Development Course that featured John Grimek. However, Kim Wood gave me a wall chart course of Seig Klein that uses "Klein Bells". They were some modified dumbbells, and certainly not actual iron boots, but he does do some exercises with the bells held onto his feet. You can see where things were going with that course.• Traveling strength tools.

    The traveling strongman is a subject I have studied since I first got into the fitness industry with the York Barbell Company. I did a variety of shows to help promote York products. Some people have called it a strongman act, which, I guess it was, in the broad sense of the word. Each one was different, and I did more weightlifting than feats, like bending and that sort of thing.

    Original York Barbell Advertisement from the 1930's, on Iron Boots for Women or girls.

    I have also had to travel quite a bit for sales purposes. I have traveled by car, truck and plane. Each one has had its positive and negative points. The iron boots are a great training tool if you are traveling by car or truck. You can do an entire lower body workout with them.

    This York ad with Iron Boots was on many back covers of Strength & Health in the 1930's. • An Iron Boot only travel workout
    Stretch
    Seated Leg Extension 2 Sets of 20 Reps
    Standing Leg Curl 2 Sets of 20 Reps
    Free Hand Squats 3 Sets of 50 Reps
    Bicycles 1 Set of 10 Slow Reps
    Fold Over Extensions 1 Set of 5 Slow Reps
    Push Ups 3 Sets of 30 Reps
    Seated Cruch & Thrust 2 Sets of 10 RepsThis group of exercises is heavy on the low back work and stomach work. When traveling, we all get tight low backs. You must combat this with stretching and weighted stretches are a really fantastic way to work some often neglected areas.

    • Old advertisements and sets
    These old advertisements are great. You can see that things really have not changed much. What has changed is that you can hardly find Iron Boots any place except Atomic Athletic. The big corporations would really rather sell you 10 machines at $2000 each. Well, those machines are great for a gym. They are not really practical for the individual at home. It is also necessary in a set to have all the parts interchangable. With our new Iron Boots, the Dumbbell Bars work with the new Kettlebell handles, and, amazingly, function as dumbbell bars by themselves.

    • Illustrations and photos, we try to keep things retro cool for your education too!So much of the history of strength training is in the old magazines and books, and it is part of the real iron game culture. If we can keep the old methods of training alive along with the culture, so much the better. My buddy Bill Hinbern and I have had a long running discussion about the direction of the physical culture world. We have seen too much of the big business world getting into it and not enough real lifting. It is amazing that there are more people with gym memberships today than at any point in history. At the same time there are more overweight people than ever before. With a tool like the iron boot, if you miss your trip to the gym, you can still get a complete full body workout at home. You don't even need a basement or garage gym. I have done it in hotel rooms, and even the tailgate of my truck while camping. That is versatility. A fantastic illustration of leg curls with Iron Boots, from a support.

    • Dumbbells for your feet.
    Iron Boots really are dumbbells for your feet. Besides being used independently, they are even plate loadable! This means you can adjust the weight to some quite high levels. Ironically, the fact that they are independent of each other makes them so you don't need nearly so much weight as you would with most machines, like a leg extension unit, for example.

    Click this Link to get your Iron Boots!

  • Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin

    AARadioactive

    !!!COMING SOON!!!

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