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Martial Arts

  • Squishy?

    Sure, we sell a wide variety of Medicine Balls.  They are great, but they are not Tai Chi Balls.

    The hallmark of a Tai Chi Ball is that it is NOT squishy.  So a traditional Tai Chi Ball is made of wood or stone. Ours are handmade by expert woodworkers right here in America. Pennsylvania to be more precise.These have been difficult to find in the past, but Atomic Athletic has filled this niche with our usual flair. Unfortunately, stone is dense stuff that makes for a heavy ball. In fact, the stone is what we're world renown for.  Depending on the time spent training and the actual movements, the stone ones are just too heavy, but It is an option for some. The YMAA has recommended Atomic Athletic for these. You can see that here.

    Atomic Athletic now has THREE different sizes of Tai Chi Balls made of solid wood.  We have a Beginner, Intermediate and an Advanced size.

    tai-chi-ball-beginner

     

    This beginner ball weighs 3 pounds.

     

     

     

    tai-chi-ball-intermediate

     

     

    This is our intermediate Tai Chi Ball. You can see how beautiful this is. It has a durable wax finish.

     

     

    This advanced ball is one of our most popular. taichiball_brown_l_1

     

     

     

     

     

    We also have some expert books and DVDs to help in your training with the Tai Chi balls.

    Tai Chi ball bookThis book is one of the most popular and comprehensive books on Tai Chi Balls and Qigong.

     

     

     

    Tai Chi ball DVDThis DVD is a great companion to balls and book above.

  • Kettlebells: the Martial Artist’s Strength Tool of Choice by Steve Cotter

     Confusion often surrounds the topic of strength training for the martial arts. There are generally two schools of thought on the subject. One school states that weight training is detrimental to martial skill acquisition because the excessive tension held in the muscles will reduce the fluidity of movement, thus robbing one’s technique of speed and power. The other school says that strength training done correctly and as a compliment to the martial skill training will increase the contractile strength of the body without sacrificing flexibility, the end result being improved speed and power.

    Where do I weigh in on this long-standing debate? Some weight training practices will indeed create sluggishness and a loss of tensile strength but only if the martial artist uses a body-building or train-to-failure approach. Any weight training will also diminish martial skill if it becomes the primary focus rather than a supplement to the martial arts skill training. Strength training, when the appropriate method is selected, will compliment and contribute to enhanced martial art skill, in the form of greater speed, power, flexibility and endurance.

    So what is the right method of strength training for the martial artist? Why should a martial artist practice strength training, and how does one begin? While there are many training tools available, kettlebells are the tools that offer the most to the martial artist’s strength training curriculum.

    How To Strength Train With Kettlebells
    Kettlebell

     Of all the physical variables that the well-rounded martial artist must address when designing the right strength training program, there are 4 in particular that kettlebells address better than other training modes: strength/endurance, mental toughness/body hardening, martial specificity, and efficiency (economy of motion).

    In a martial arts or fighting context, strength/endurance, or “enduring strength”, is the ability to fight with intensity for extended engagements. This is even more crucial than maximal strength, or the ability to deliver one very powerful blow. Maximal or limit strength is very important as well, as in knockout power, or a quick submission, but the well-rounded fighter must be prepared to deliver multiple strikes in combinations. This requires tremendous strength/endurance. Kettlebell high repetition snatches, for example, develop a strong work capacity and anaerobic threshold. This means that you learn to continue to apply power even while aerobically taxed. For the martial artist this is a very important skill. Often times it is not how strong you are when you are fresh but how strong you remain once you become winded and have expended a lot of energy that determines the outcome. Because kettlebell lifts require full-body integration, it is a much better tool for the martial artist than doing high repetition isolation movements with a barbell or dumbbell.

    Mental toughness and body hardening are listed together because they cannot be separated in the application of martial arts. One who is “mentally tough” will fold under an effective thai kick to the lower leg, if his body is not sufficiently hardened for the impact. Likewise, the fighter with a ruggedly conditioned body will eventually waiver if he is kept in an uncompromising position, such as a lock, unless his focus is perfectly sharpened and mentally tough. Kettlebell training helps to develop the necessary psycho-physical balance that is crucial to effective martial arts. In exercises like the kettlebell clean and snatch, wherein the kettlebell flips around the hand, and rests on the forearm, there is body hardening occurring due to the impact of the bell on the arm. In the early stages, the bell tends to come crashing down on the forearm, even causing pain. The perseverance to proceed is an early test of one’s mental resolve. As the techniques become more refined, there is less impact on the forearm, as one learns to move the hand fluidly inside of the kettlebell handle. Even still, the bell rests on the forearm, exerting pressure and over time increasing the density and hardness of the area. Such training as the high-repetition snatch and jerk as seen in traditional Girevoy Sport of Russia is a real test of both one’s mental resolve to persevere and physical ability to accept pain. These attributes need to be embraced by the martial artist as well.

    In sports science, the term ‘specificity’ refers to the adaptations to the physiological systems that occur as a result of the training program design. For the martial artist, the strength that is developed through supplementary weight training must be able to transfer into improved striking, kicking, grappling, trapping, and throwing skills. If your fighting techniques increase in speed, power, and focus as a result of your strength training program, then your program has a high degree of specificity to your martial art skill. If you become more sluggish and start getting hit by people that couldn’t hit you before then the strength training regimen is ill-designed and non-specific.

    Like in martial art technique, in kettlebell lifting the grip, the hips (and core), and the stance are involved in every motion. The highly ballistic nature of such exercises as swings, cleans, snatches and jerks very closely mimic the type of explosive full-body integration involved in executing effective strikes, kicks, and throws.

    Specificity - How To Integrate Kettlebells Into A Martial Arts Program

    The concept of training specificity ties in very closely with the concept of training efficiency; you won’t have one without the other. With a strength training program that is specific to enhancing martial skills, we also develop efficiency. All martial art styles pursue an economy of motion. The prevailing quality in the movement of gifted martial artists is efficiency. This is irrespective of the style and is independent of the speed of execution. Efficient movement will remain efficient whether practiced at full speed or in slow motion. Efficiency relates to using only the energy necessary to achieve the result, nothing more. It also relates to spending only the time necessary to achieve the objective, no more. In a martial analogy, this means not using 1000 pounds of force, when 4 ounces will do. If you can unbalance the opponent with only slight movement, it is more efficient than using every last bit of energy to send him off balance. When cultivating martial skill, most of one’s time should be spent on mastering the particular techniques of one’s style, not on cross-training. The strength training protocol selected should be one that allows for specific strength gains without demanding too much time away from the martial skill practice. This means relatively short, intense workouts that allow the body to remain fresh for skill practice. The specific time guidelines are relative to the experience and physical attributes of the trainee, but as a rule of thumb, the strength training curriculum should not exceed 30% of the martial artist’s total training. In other words, to be efficient with his use of time, the martial artist should spend at least 70% of the total practice time on the martial art skill training and not on lifting weights.

    To develop an efficient strength training regime, kettlebells are the ideal choice because the types of movements are similar in nature to many of the basic martial art techniques. This contributes to the economy of motion—you are not being asked to learn radically different motor patterns. Take the 2 Kettlebell “rack position’, in which 2 kettlebells are resting on your arms and body. This position is attained by taking a kettlebell in each hand and cleaning them to the top position. The kettlebells stay in the top position for a period of time. This 2 kettlebell rack position is mechanically very similar to a basic guard position, as in boxing. In a fighting stance, there of course will not be kettlebells in your hands, and one or both hands may be extended slightly in front of the body, with one foot forward. The action of the body, however, is virtually identical: the lats are “full”, in a very strong compressed position, the shoulders are relaxed and sunken, the chest is hollow and the back is rounded, the knees have a gentle bend (springy), and the tailbone is tucked slightly under. Try this: take a fighting stance of your liking and bring the hands up in a guard position. Notice how it feels in the back/lat, abdominals and ribcage. It should feel very full, alive, and powerful, like a tiger ready to pounce. Now do the 2 kettlebell clean and hold them in the rack position. The same sensation of fullness in the torso should be present.

    The similarities in mechanics required for the martial technique and the kettlebell technique make the 2 kettlebell clean/rack a highly efficient choice of exercise, due to its specificity. Because you do not have to alter the body mechanics for the two movements, there is no wasted time in your strength practice. There are numerous other examples of kettlebell drills that have a high degree of specificity, and are mechanically efficient for martial artists.

    Some of the most significant characteristics of a well-rounded martial artist are strength/endurance, mental toughness/body hardening, martial specificity, and efficiency. These 4 attributes need to be addressed when supplementing martial arts practice with weight training. Kettlebells are the tool of choice for accomplishing these objectives, and when properly integrated will increase the speed, power, endurance and movement skill of the martial artist.

    Since this article was written several years ago, Atomic Athletic has greatly expanded its offerings of strength training equipment for martial artists. Check out the following products:

     

    Tai Chi Ball Tai Chi balls have quickly become an Atomic Athletic best seller for martial artists

    Tai Chi Balls - this has rocketed to the top of the Atomic Athletic top sellers list. These are handcrafted by master woodworkers and made in the USA.

    Stone Balls are perinial favorite among martial artists.

    The Tendon and Ligament DVD is our most popular instructional video.

     Iron boots are much like the Tetsu Geta

    Kettlebell Handles are a great way to get a work out in a small space because they are so versitile.

  • East Meets West in Strength Training

    Shaolin Monks
    Roger and Shi Guolin discuss stone padlock training during a recent visit.

    I have been lifting weights for over 20 years and have been involved in one way or another with a number of sports: Olympic weighttlifting, Powerlifting, All-Round Weightlifting, Highland Games, Strongman and a variety of other sports, and I am still finding more new and exciting training methods each time I work out.

    My recent meeting with the Shaolin Monks really got me fired up for stone padlock training. The Monks showed me complex methods of strength training that blew my mind. They even showed me basic, foundation exercises that were super cool. Since then, I have been getting outstanding results in my training with stone locks. Most notably, my upper body and shoulders have never felt stronger and my forearms are reaching new levels of strength and definition with each new workout.

    After working on several of the movements the Monks showed me, suddenly I had an epiphany; something I had always wanted to try but could not previously understand. Several years ago, I read about a special training method of German Strongman Herman Goerner called “Die Kette” (the chain).

    goerner Meet Goerner

    Before I get into exactly what "The Chain" is, here is some background information on Herman Goerner for those of you who may not be familiar with him.

    He was born in Haenichen, Germany and lived from 1891-1956. He stood around 6’ tall and his weight varied from 220 in 1920 all the way up to 260 lbs during the 1930's. Goerner was one of the last great professional strongmen of the 20th century. He was particularly well known for his phenomenal hand strength and his deadlifting ability. Goerner could do a one-arm barbell clean with 297.62 lbs, a strict barbell curl with 220.46 pounds, a one hand snatch with 264.55 lbs. and a two-arm snatch with his arms crossed with 231 lbs. Also among his many outstanding lifts was a one arm deadlift of 727 ½ pounds.

    Goerner was a true physical culturalist and he employed many different training techniques to build and maintain his tremendous power. His gym in South Africa was stocked with all types of weights including globe barbells, block weights, dumbbells and kettlebells. He also had an area to practice boxing, wrestling and gymnastics.

    In his biography “Goerner the Mighty” by Edgar Mueller there was a section on how he trained.

    As I mentioned earlier, one of Goerner's favorite techniques was called “Die Kette”(the chain) and he loved to do it using kettlebells. He could do this since his gym had many different sizes of each. He began with lighter kettlebells. and did a variety of movements then moved onto the next size and performed many of the same movements. As he moved down the rack the exercises changed and adapted as the weights got heavier. Sometimes he only did one circuit, sometimes he did several.

    I thought since I have three different sizes of stone locks to use, that this would be a perfect opportunity to give “Die Kette” a try, but I would modify it with complexes, in the manner of the Shaolin Monks.

    I began with the 10 pound stone padlocks. First, I started out with some callisthenic exercises to warm up a bit. I held the locks and did some arm circles and various types of swings. I varied the speed of these movements and my shoulders were already fried. Then I did a variety of lateral raises. My shoulders were screaming by this time as were my forearms. I finished up with some wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.

    justin10pl_d See a real Kung Fu master at work

    Then I immediately grabbed the pair of the 25 lb. stone locks and began overhead pressing. First as strictly as possible then as many push presses as I could. Keep in mind that I had to “stay tight” and grip the padlock tightly the whole time to be able to complete the presses. I then started what you might call curling. Due to the unique shape and leverages of the stone padlocks, all the
    stress was on my fingers and wrists and forearms. I did horizontal curls and then hammer curls and my forearms felt like they were about to explode, since
    they were so gorged with blood.

    I was huffing like a boiler at this point, but now it was time for the big
    boys. The 45 lb. padlocks were up next. I did cheat hammer curls until I
    couldn’t feel my arms. I ended the workout with a farmers walk with these up
    and down a hill near my house.

    The whole workout took maybe 30 minutes and my body was utterly destroyed. The
    next day I was so sore that I could hardly move but I was happy knowing that my
    training was working.

    Atomic Athletic will be coming out with more detailed stone lock training
    programs in the future, including traditional movements as well as many we have
    come up with on our own. Check back often and don’t miss our workout reports
    and periodic updates in the Bomb Proof Bulletin.

    Here are some other tools to help in getting strong from the East and the West:
    Shaolin Muscle Tendon Change Classic DVD

    The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training

    Stone Padlock Training DVD - the tools aren't any good if you don't know how to use 'em. This is an Atomic Athletic Exclusive

    30 Pound Stone Ball - East collides with West in this Atomic Athletic exclusive granite ball. Use for strongman training or kung fu... the choice is yours. We include the instructional wall charts for FREE.

    Live Strong!

  • Full Range of Motion Hand Strength and Grip Strength

    Full Range of Motion Hand Strength

    by Roger LaPointe

    Get the most out of your grip training by hitting the FULL RANGE of MOTION with your hands! Just hit this link .

    The Aftermath Sniper Grip Machine
    Develop Functional Hand Strength with Atomic Athletic Exclusive
    • Full Range of Motion Training for the Hands 
    Finger and thumb strength training has got to be part of your grip strength work if you want an unfailing grip. Well, one of our customers, Alan, is looking to step up to the next level.  Alan already has an assortment of the more standard grip tools.  Now, he  is specifically looking at finger and thumb strength.

    • Limited range of motion with nut cracker type grippers.
    It’s interesting, as you get into grip strength training, when working with all the various grippers and grip training devices, when you realize that there is very little out there for getting a full range of motion in each of the digits. Alan asked me what the effect of training with the nut cracker type grippers would be on range of motion in the hands, then someone at his office needed him ASAP, so he asked if I could do a bulletin on the subject.

    • The Aftermath Sniper Gripper will increase strength thoughout the range of motion. 
    In the years I have been professionally involved in the fitness industry, no one had asked me that question, but it is a darn good one. As Alan suspected, the Aftermath Sniper Gripper will let one train the full range of motion in each of the fingers and the thumb. While many of the Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin readers know, I am a big fan of isometric training and limited range of motion strength training. On the flip side, I am also a fan of training the full range of motion in the muscles, ligaments and tendons.

    As a serious well read lifter, Alan understands the power of expanding the tool box of knowledge he is bringing into the gym. When working with the hands you have a lot to think about. The number of individual bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles in the hand are almost mind boggling when thinking like a trainer, lifter or physical therapist. What makes things even more difficult is the size of each one.

    • Our unique Atomic Athletic Smooth Action Pivot Points are ESSENTIAL! 
    When looking at all the grip trainers on the market, it seemed like most companies wanted to make large machines. I think this is so they can sell you a lot of steel and freight costs. That is unnecessary. You can use commercial grade, heavy duty, smooth working parts in a small unit as well as a large one. We are talking about small weights being lifted when discussing finger tips, single finger or even single joint isolation movements. Even if you are not going through the full range of motion or just doing negatives, it is ESSENTIAL that you have a really smooth action. The amount of weight needed is simply not going to be great. You can't just jam a screw through a hole drilled in a steel arm to make a safe pivot point. These are not big weights, but you are exercising very small muscles. I am frequently chided by strength coaches for bringing only a 5 kg (11.2 pound) plate with me during demonstrations. After all, they have future NFL football players, or NHL hockey players, etc... you get the idea. After a trial, they all agree that 11 pounds is enough for almost anyone to train with. The smoothness is essential for the complete feel and ability to push the individual digits through the entire range of motion without cheating.
    The Archer's Ring Position allows you to target each joint in the hand as if you were using a bow for strength training.

    Train Like A Strongman DVD Volume 2 shows how to use each position. 
    The Train Like A Strongman DVD Volume 2 has a short section on using the Aftermath Sniper Gripper in the thick bar, grip & forearm section, if you want to see a demonstration. Click the green link for that DVD's full description.

    Roger Demonstrates the Use of the Sniper Grip Machine, an Atomic Athletic Exclusive
    • The big grip training mistake.
    I love grippers. I have a whole pile of different nut cracker type grippers. They are fun. However, an interesting thing happened about a year and a half ago. I realized that I was not training with them for strength.• Why train, if not for strength?
    Wait a minute. How could someone be training with grippers and not be doing it for strength?The answer to that one is pretty easy. I am a real goal oriented individual, as are many of the Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin readers. There is nothing wrong with being goal oriented. In fact, I believe that you never really get anywhere in life without goals. However, you have to make sure your goal is the right one.

    • Changing the rules.
    I had a goal of “closing” a particular strength of gripper. The goal was there, and I wanted to become part of the “club”. Well, on my way to achieving my goal, the rules changed. Literally, the rules changed. They were probably sensible changes, but I realized that I had a real handicap with the NEW rules. This set back my training so far that the goal is now probably unattainable. I say this in the real sense of the word, dedicated as I am. For example, I am a pretty good Olympic style weightlifter and squatter, but stand little chance of playing in the NBA. This is just reality. It was at that point that I realized I was doing my gripper training for the wrong reason.

    Of course, I was pissed off at first. As I have said many times before, there really is a silver lining behind every cloud. I started doing grip training in a much better way.

    • Training specifically to close a nut cracker type gripper DECREASED my grip strength!
    Here is the primary way my grip training changed. I went back to doing heavy lifting, stretching and full range of movement . motions. Amazingly, as I was training my “gripper” strength, my actual grip strength had decreased!• Go back to the source that works.
    While I love doing negatives, partial range motions and isometrics, that is almost the only grip training I was doing. I was not developing my whole grip. I was only doing the limited type of movements that would help me close “grippers”. As you probably know, grippers do not work the entire grip, instead hitting a partial range of motion. Fun and lofty a goal as closing the gripper is, I had missed the forest for the trees. I was no better than the guys who train for the giant trophy. You know the guys I am talking about. They are the trophy hounds.• Keep using your nut cracker grippers.
    So today, I still use my grippers. They are fun little toys. I also use thick handled equipment, do heavy pulling, do finger tip push-ups , hit the Aftermath Sniper Gripper, wrist rollers, and stretch my hands, wrists and forearms, and work my grip in many other ways. I am not closing my grippers any better... or any worse. Amazingly, my grip strength and forearm size has improved in a number of different ways. That is really cool.
    Thick bar training is another classic way of working the grip.
    Holy Cow! Look how the Old Time Strongmen looked.

    • Astounding revelations through analysis.
    Larger, more well defined forearms are one goal. It was an unintentional goal, but I achieved it. Increasing my grip strength for deadlifting, cleans and snatches was the real goal. I have also achieved that goal, but only after expanding my focus beyond merely "closing" a gripper. The only new training I had added was a greater volume of thick handled, fixed head, globe type dumbbells and using the Aftermath Sniper Gripper.

    The Sniper Grip Machine is versatile and works each finger separately.
    • Complete training concepts.
    The concept that I keep coming back to is my Train Like A Strongman concept. It is really an attempt at bringing all these seemingly disparate concepts into one coherent whole. You can't just train for "partial" strength, full "muscle bellies" like the bodybuilders, or just sport specific skills like the Olympic style weightlifters. The old time strongman type trainer will outperform all of those other guys.• Sum it up.
    Just like anything else, when training the grip you need:
    partial movements (which are commonly achieved with grippers);
    static positions (which are commonly achieved with thick bars);
    full range motions (which are the most easily achieved with the Aftermath Sniper Grip Machine).

    • REMEMBER: Grippers are one measure of grip strength and CAN be used as a training tool. You are doing yourself a real disservice if you are making them an end in themselves.

    Buy your Aftermath Sniper Grip Machine through this link.

    Looking for other ways to develop grip strength?
    Check out these products as well:

    The York Barbell Bumper Grip Plates

    10 Pound Granite Padlock, another Atomic Athletic Exclusive!

    Do it Old School with a 3 Pound Sledge Hammer.

    Oh, yeah this is possible: Fingertip Handstands DVD. If you master this, we want pictures!

    And if you want to scare your friends and neighbors, check out the Frightening Forearms and Grip DVD. 

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

    Atomic Athletic
    500 Lehman Avenue, Suite 21
    Bowling Green, OH 43402
    www.atomicathletic.com
    419.352.5100

  • 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!

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