Folks, there is nothing new under the sun. Check out this classic strongman feat of strength called, "The Yoke Walk". If you would like to see a modern Yoke Walk, try this link:
The Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainer division is one of the most intense group of guys you will ever find. When I met with them, for their equipment delivery and seminar on traditional strength
training, I had no idea what to expect. I knew they wanted old school and I knew what they had already purchased.
How intense are these guys? Well, they brought in their top guy, who summed up the Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainer Division goal and definition. Marine Martial Arts were defined to me as all the fighting done when the Marine runs out of bullets. His gun is still in his hands and that will be his first choice weapon. Their goal: do any training that will extend his life even one second. Each second added up for 100 men is 100 seconds. That single small time increment can easily turn the tide of a battle and a won battle can win a war.
So you ask, why did they choose Atomic Athletic? That is a fantastic question and one that I certainly considered. Their answer surprised me. It’s funny, but with their files, they knew more about me than I did!
My seminar was very strange. It was as much brainstorming as it was training. I have to compliment them. They were the fastest learners I have ever met. Not just mentally, but they physically caught on faster than anyone I have ever seen.
They wanted to see both the most advanced in free weight strength training and the most basic. They wanted different ideas on how to train individuals and how to train groups. They wanted fine details and basic concepts.
Several ideas absolutely floored them. These guys were doing R & D for training the elite forces of our military’s trained killers and the concepts I grew up with floored them. This was exactly what they wanted because they felt that for too long there had been too much reliance on a bodybuilding mentality built around strength machines. It was time to go old school and do training that could be done in the middle of nowhere without a gym full of machines.
Not the concepts.
The Marines have been polishing their martial arts for over 200 years. I was not going to surprise them with a new concept. Everything is there in the historical record.
It was the approach that floored the Marines.
I will get to that in later Bomb Proof Bulletins, but it is there in my Stone Lifting Wall Charts. Yes. The Marines are once again lifting stones.
If you want to get the feel for real stone lifting, then you just might be someone who would enjoy the Atomic Athletic “A Gathering of Stone Lifters”. It is a new thing for us and unlike anything you have probably been a part of. It will be smaller than than our strongman picnics and should have a completely different feel. Check out the details at this link:
All the best,
“Today is a good day to lift.”
PS. If you enjoyed this Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin, make sure to re-sign up for it, as we are in the process of upgrading it. In a short time, this version will completely disappear and you will no longer get a bulletin, if you do not re-sign up. Here is the link: http://eepurl.com/AjKQz
As those of you have read in the “Training Like A Strongman: Basic Course”, the real strongmen, of every culture, try to combine skills and training whenever possible. As such, I would like to point out the Shaolin Circles exercise. I will spare you the Chinese, especially since I also can’t pronounce their word for the exercise, but Shaolin Circles are one of the very best hand toughening exercises I have ever done.
The only superior exercise is the spinning ball move, but it does not translate well to still photos. I note this because those of you who have the Stone Sphere Wall Charts have a sequence photo series of the Shaolin Circles. As a little bit of added description, if you use a granite sphere for the move, instead of the medicine balls that many of the gym owners actually substitute, the twisting of the hands is like using a heavy grit sand paper on the entire palm.
Of course, the Shaolin Circle move will work the grip, all the muscles of the arm and upper back, as well as the crushing power of the chest. Amazingly, you do not need a super heavy stone to perform this exercise. Yet, it is a real shock to your system, as the only athletes I have met who are strong enough to immediately move beyond a 56 pound sphere are wrestlers. I believe the wrestlers have this odd sort of functional strength specifically because of the wrestling itself. Of course, that means a movement like this would be particularly helpful for the training of wrestlers. I learned the Shaolin Circle when I met the Shaolin Monks in New York City.
I hope this helps out with your hand toughening skills. Thanks to all of you who sent in messages asking for this related topic. If you want to see more on the stone balls and Wall Charts, then check out these links:
Of course, you can check out the various stone lifting DVD and courses at this link:
Thick bar training is really becoming popular. Check out the photo of the Bull Moose Thick Bar we are selling, then check out this great little workout.
Here is a very simple workout, but fantastic workout for your entire body, that will also fry your forearms and grip. All you need is a thick bar and plates, preferably they should be bumper plates.
Warm-up with a little jogging and/or Indian Club swinging
Thick Bar Hang Cleans 5 sets of 5
Thick Bar Power Clean & Press 5 sets of 5
Thick Bar High Pulls 3 sets of 3 (You should really be feel this in your forearms by now.)
Thick Bar Deadlifts 5 sets of 2
Thick Barbell Curls 3 sets of 10
Roman Chair Sit-ups 5 sets of 10
Stretch, especially the hands, wrists and forearms
This will be sound very strange, but start your first hang cleans with just the empty bar. Add weight with every set and don't remove any weight until you get to the curls. You will have to make small jumps in weight as you are doing 18 sets. When you get to the deadlifts, use a conventional grip and you will be maxing out on that last set. It will really help to have a thick bar that rotates when you are doing the Olympic type movements.
Here is the photo of our new Thick Grip Bar that will make you feel strong as a Bull Moose!
All the best,
"Today is a good day to lift."
Have you ever been given a tremendous gift by a dead person? I was 5 or 6 years old when my Great Grandpa C. O. Jackson died. I don't really remember ever meeting him, but I feel like I know him. I know him through the 1919 Milo Triplex Barbell Set that sits in my dad's basement.
THE MILO Barbell Tri-Plex
The Milo Triplex is a very unusual set, that included a long dumbbell handle, wooden shovel handle style kettlebell handles, a barbell bar and the weights. As a kid, I first thought of them as Dad's weights. As I grew older they became “The strongman barbell”, because of the cool circus strongman style globe heads. Then they became my secret weapon.
I used that secret weapon to become a good high school athlete, even though I was usually the shortest kid on the field. I wanted to do curls, but the first exercise my Dad taught me was the first one Grandpa Jackson taught him, squats. He also taught me the deadlift, upright row, press (and the power clean for getting it to the shoulder), and most importantly, the Jefferson Lift. I later learned some exercises with kettlebells: the crucifix hold and the kettlebell snatch. Eventually, he taught me swings with the kettlebells and a variety of dumbbell lifts.
Along the way I also learned about Grandpa Jackson. I learned about how he got his middle name, which is the same as mine. The details of his life were revealed to me like the fine carpentry that made up his profession. He became a colorful individual, instead of just a name listed on some genealogical chart.
Grandpa Jackson's barbell still works today, thirty years after I started lifting it. It was a top of the line piece of equipment and meant to last.I am sure Grandpa Jackson used some disposable things, but that is not the way I think of him. He was never wealthy, just a working class guy. Yet, exercise was important enough to him that he bought a quality barbell set. Here are some examples of quality pieces that should last for generations.
Some other classic pieces of equipment Grandpa Jackson might have used:
While the Kettlebell Handles that Alan Calvert designed for the Milo Triplex were really just for that specific MILO set, the handles had that spark of ingenuity which Bob Hoffman and Joe Weider would later seize. I have no idea who originally came up with the "current" design of plate loading kettlebell handles we sell, but I have seen ads for them going back into the 1940s. I suspect that it was the Good Barbell Company.
As for Iron Boots, the first instance of "iron boot type" training, that I have found, comes from an old photo of Sig Klein where he is holding a dumbbell with his feet. However, I know that Bob Hoffman owned the original patent in the 1930s. They were an immediate hit and every barbell company had their own design, as soon as the patent expired.
I could end this blog in a cheesy fashion by saying that we are remembered by the possessions we leave behind, but it is really much more than that. The import stuff is intangible.
Today, that circus strongman barbell and secret weapon is inspiration. If that 1919 Milo Triplex Barbell Set had not been sitting in our basement, you wouldn't be reading this blog right now.
All the best,
"Today is a good day to lift."
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).
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.
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
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.
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 .
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
Looking for other ways to develop grip strength?
Check out these products as well:
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,
"Today is a good day to lift."
500 Lehman Avenue, Suite 21
Bowling Green, OH 43402
I originally wrote this article for the Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin January 21, 2003. It's still good stuff today.
All the best,
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.
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
by Roger LaPointe
Make Farmers Walk Units out of your Kettlebell Handles!
Check out our adjustable Kettlebell Handles. Just hit this link .
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
PS Here is the link for our classic Kettlebell Handles:
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 .
• 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.
• 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.
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.
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.
• An Iron Boot only travel workout
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.
• 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.