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Odd object training – generally – involves exercise using heavy ‘found objects’ or implements that you can modify for strength training. Many odd objects such as Atlas stones have been traditionally used as part of strongman training. This type of exercise is nothing new, but it has been coming back into favor recently. An odd object is a non-rigid implement with a center of mass that is not fixed. In conventional strength training, the pattern of movement is fixed, whereas the load given by odd objects will cause adjustments during the movement. Some label this style of training ‘real world training’, and odd objects certainly have benefits, including versatility, portability, and simplicity. The only limit is your own creativity, as well!

Odd object training used to be done because there were no other options – people either had no access to special equipment, or it simply had not been invented yet. Many old school strongmen also became very well known for using rather heavy odd or awkward objects. Such objects include kegs, anvils, Atlas stones, medicine balls, and sandbags. In this modern era, with all of the scientifically designed equipment and training routines that we can get access to, we can still benefit from odd object training. An increasingly popular philosophy of training – Dinosaur Training – promotes returning to the exercises and training of strongmen. I have personally found that working with odd objects and the exercises I have discovered for them have helped with coordination, wrist and forearm strength, and more.

Next, I recommend some odd objects and other implements that I prefer to use, as well as alternative methodologies. I realize that this is far from a comprehensive treatment on the subject.

Equipment List

Old car tires

Have a partner hold the tire so that you can practice body blows on it. Make sure to wear MMA or boxing gloves (or similar hand protection). You can also practice front kicks and roundhouse kicks. You can also modify a martial arts striking dummy or makiwara board by adding a car tire to it. ‘The Art of Hojo Undo’ illustrates a few ideas. Alternative idea – if you can acquire a used truck / tractor tire and a sledgehammer, there are many drills you can use.

Cinder blocks

Curls, presses, plank variations, wide squats, calf raises, lunges, shrugs, single arm rows, swings, farmer’s walk, step-ups, and more! For squats, you can also practice assisted one leg squats – step 9 in the squat progression of Convict Conditioning. Instead of using a basketball or similar object, you will use the cinder block for support as you squat down and ‘find’ the block with your hand. For calf raises, you can practice them standing on the cinder block. You will stand with on the balls of the feet on the edge of the block and lower your heels slowly, with control. Make sure you have a sturdy chair or other piece of furniture, a training partner, or a wall nearby to maintain a safe level of balance. Check out the second Convict Conditioning book for the calf raise progression.

Where to find used tires and cinder blocks?

Many times, auto repair shops will have plenty of old tires lying around they are happy to get rid of. If you’re looking for cinder blocks, try the Freecycle Network or ask friends or local businesses. Abandoned buildings will often have old materials lying around, but investigating such buildings can involve legal and safety issues, so exercise discretion.

Rice Bucket

There are wrist strengthening exercises that you can work using a bucket full of rice. Such exercises are common in baseball and physical therapy.

Heavy Bag

Any boxing, MMA, or similar heavy bag, or a heavy bag of your own construction. You can use different materials to both make the bag and fill it to your desired weight. Keep in mind that if you want your own constructed bag to be useful for martial arts practice, that the contents of the bag are not so hard that they do not allow any ‘give’ or cushion when you strike it. A heavy bag can be suspended by rope or chains. I would recommend visiting a sporting goods store or asking a local boxing, karate or similar instructor for advice on how to hang up bags. The book ‘The Art of Hojo Undo’ has a section titled ‘Other Tools and Methods’, which lists small heavy bag.

The use that the book lists is as follows –

‘Swinging a bag or ball filled with cement and allowing it to land on various parts of the body, conditions the mind and body to the effects of impact.’

There are many exercises you can practice with heavy bags. These include, but are not limited to, slams, squats, and fireman’s carry.

Rope Climbing and Towels for Hang Grip Work

These make great additions to any grip or pullup training. Rope climbing is common in military style workouts. Like many odd object training methods, rope climbing and towel hangs build strength in the hands, wrists, forearms, tendons, and ligaments. Overcoming Gravity, a book I recommended earlier, recommends the use of a towel in its one arm pullup training progression. Also, the second Convict Conditioning book has a progression for hang grip work that includes the use of towels. The two progressions supplement one another very well.

Sandbag training

Sandbags can normally be purchased at a hardware store for a few dollars each, and commonly weight 40 to 45 pounds – making them very cheap lifting implements! You can do almost any type of lift with them, and the fact that the sand shifts around forces you to stabilize the bags, giving you a harder workout. Sandbag training is very useful for firefighters and combat athletes, such as cage fighters and wrestlers. I have personally put sandbags into a duffel bag, which you can normally pick up for $15 or so at an army surplus.

Some other ideas for strength training without special equipment

Car pushing, chopping wood, using monkey bars or rafters for pullups and various gymnastics exercises, using chairs or picnic tables for ‘chair dips’ and decline pushups.

The staples that frequently appear at strongman competitions include the following, a number of which use odd objects –

  • Atlas Stones
  • Axle Press
  • Car Flip
  • Deadlift
  • Dumbbell Press
  • Fingal’s Finger
  • Frame Carry
  • Keg Toss
  • The clock
  • Deadlift hold
  • Hercules hold
  • Vehicle pull
  • Log Clean and Press
  • Squat
  • Tire Flip
  • Yoke
  • Log press
  • Farmers Carry
  • Husafell Stone
  • Sand Bag Carry
  • Power stairs

(Source – Wikipedia entry for Strongman (strength athlete)

  • Hojo Undo / martial arts tools
  • This is hardly a comprehensive list of implements that martial artists use.
  • Lifting Tools of Hojo Undo that I personally use.
  • Chi ishi – weighted levers or ‘strength stones’. A ‘chi ishi’ is basically a wooden pole with a concrete weights attached.
  • Makiage kigu – wrist roller. Traditionally, a wooden handle is used, with a weight hanging from it via a length of rope. I personally purchased a modern wrist roller, but the use is the same.
  • Tan – it is like a modern barbell, and made from a wood post that has concrete weights on each end. I use a steel barbell for the exercises recommended in ‘The Art of Hojo Undo.’ It is also a good idea to train bojutsu (staff technique) movements with a barbell that is light enough for you to use.
  • Impact Tools of Hojo Undo that I personally use.
    Jari Bako – A bowl or bucket filled with sand, smooth stones, marbles, or even rice or beans. It is used by striking your fingers into it, in order to condition your fingers and fingertips.
  • Makiwara – a padded striking post traditionally used in some karate styles.

‘Tapping sticks’ – almost any piece of wood can be held and used to tap various parts of your body to build a familiarity with getting hit. The point is not to hit yourself as hard as possible, but to slowly build up a tolerance to light striking. I personally use a shinai – a bamboo practice sword used for kendo practice. This kind of tool can be safely used to strike yourself or your training partner moderately hard to the muscles of the legs, arms, and core, but proper cautions must be used.

Alternatives – there are striking bags available for sale that can be filled with dried beans or shot, which can help condition your striking tools. Wall punch pads can also be made or purchased. You can also use thick phone books wrapped up with duct tape as an alternative to makiwara boards. Also, there are plenty of ‘ude tanren’, or methods of forearm conditioning. This generally consists of partner blocking drills that can be used to toughen up the arms as well as help with reflexes.

The author is a certified calisthenics instructor and personal trainer with over 10 years of teaching experience. For more about different kinds of training, visit the author’s blog – Odd Object Training

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Owen_Johnston

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Food

How to get the ball rolling on eating healthier

You may want to start eating healthier, but getting the ball rolling can be an uphill endeavor.

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Make a List

Make a list

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When you get hungry, the last thing you feel like doing is running down a mental list of available healthy foods to eat. That’s why you probably end up grabbing whatever is closest to you and chowing down, vowing to start eating healthy tomorrow.

Instead, sit down and make a list of foods that you determine to be healthiest for you and your goals. Don’t just write a shopping list. Make a list of actual meals that you can prepare and eat. Include what day you’re going to have them, and what time. The more prepared you are when hunger strikes, the more likely you will be to have something ready without having to think too hard about it.

Buy a Cookbook

 

Cookbook

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Flipping through a cookbook with enticing photographs of healthy food will get you inspired to start eating healthy. Buy a cookbook or two that has nothing but healthy food recipes. Make sure it has a photo for every recipe, so you can visualize yourself dining on the healthy options. Put bookmarks on pages that really make you want to get up and start cooking. These are the dishes that will offer you the best motivation to start your new healthy eating plan. Alternatively, you can create your own cookbook by searching around the internet for healthy recipes and saving them to your phone or computer.

Buy Some New Clothes

Clothing store

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Wearing the same clothes every day when you already feel unattractive can keep you in a negative rut that’s hard to get out of. Put on your favorite pair of jeans, jacket, whatever, and go shopping for some new clothes. Buy a few that fit you now, and something special that you can work toward fitting into after you’ve achieved your weight goal. The change will help you to see yourself as someone new and fresh who is capable of switching eating habits for the better.

Stop Looking in the Mirror

Girl looking in mirror

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If your appearance really gets you down, stop obsessing over your flaws in the mirror. Seriously, you don’t need a visual examination over every wrinkle or bulge. Just stop looking in the mirror, get dressed, and be on your merry way. Wait at least a month before you give yourself a once over again. This time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, instead of walking away thinking how bad you look.

Buy a Cool Scale

Smart scale with tape measure

mojzagrebinfo / Pixabay

If you’re trying to lose weight (or even gain weight), having a cool scale will make the process easier to measure progress. Get yourself a digital scale that measures ounces as well as pounds. They even have scales that speak your weight, if that’s what you need to keep motivated to eat healthier. Just don’t weigh yourself every day, because daily fluctuations in weight are normal, and have little to do with your eating habits. If you gain a couple ounces after eating healthy all day, you could lose motivation to continue to eat healthy. Every three days or so is sufficient to track your progress and measure your results.

Choose Restaurants With Healthy Food

Healthy food on restaurant table

StockSnap / Pixabay

If cooking isn’t your thing, choose some local restaurants that serve healthy foods with wholesome ingredients. Keep a list of these restaurants at hand so that when you come home late from work and don’t feel like cooking, you’ll have a backup plan that doesn’t involve Domino’s Pizza.

Invest in Partitioned Storage Containers

Plastic food storage container

MMT / Pixabay

If you’re short on time like most of us, you need some quick options for meals every now and then. Invest in some portioned storage containers so you can make your own version of TV dinners. Instead of pudding and mashed potatoes, fill them with things like brown rice, steamed broccoli, and turkey breast. Prepare them ahead of time and stack in your refrigerator or freezer. Just pop one in the microwave when all you can think about is flopping on the couch in front of the television.

The key to getting the ball rolling to start eating healthier is to be prepared. When you stock up on the tools that will help you reach your goals, get ready for instances when there’s no time to cook, and be kind to yourself by not obsessing over your image, you stand a pretty good chance of improving your eating habits for good.

 

WATCH: Tips for Getting Your Significant-Other to Eat Healthier

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Health

Is Coffee Good or Bad for You? Myth vs. Fact

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coffee in white mug with smiley face
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

If you Google “coffee+health” and click on a random result, there’s about an equal chance you’ll be told it’s either bad for your health or that it significantly reduces your risk of some disease or other. So it’s understandable that there’s a lot of confusion about whether you should or shouldn’t be having your beloved morning cup of Joe.

The trouble is, both sides of the argument have the backing of scientific research. So what’s the truth—is coffee good or bad for us? Let’s find out by taking a look at some of the big claims:

Coffee Is Addictive

This is true to some extent, but not to the point where it would cause you the same problems as, say, alcohol or heroin. It all hinges on whether there’s some form of chemical dependence there, or whether people just drink coffee out of habit. In some cases, long-term users who attempt to give up coffee may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache and lethargy, which might compel them to keep drinking the stuff. But the research says that coffee simply doesn’t fit the criteria to be labelled an addictive substance.

Coffee Can Help With Weight Loss

Yep, this one is true. There is plenty of evidence that caffeine consumption temporarily boosts thermogenesis (metabolism), and studies like this one show that it can increase fat burning by as much as 10-29 percent. Plus, the nervous energy you get from coffee means you’ll be more likely to drag your ass off the couch and get some exercise. With that said, don’t be fooled into thinking that more is better. Too much caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiety, adrenal fatigue and a range of other nasty side-effects.

Coffee Causes Cancer and Other Diseases

This is almost certainly myth. In fact, our most up-to-date research shows that coffee can actually help improve or protect against conditions like type 2 diabetes, liver cancer and Parkinson’s disease. The misconception about coffee and disease probably comes from the fact that previous research neglected to take associated high-risk behaviours like smoking and lack of physical activity into account, but we know better now. Too much coffee will certainly lead to negative side effects, but life-threatening diseases? Nope.

So what’s the verdict then—is coffee good or bad for you? First of all, I don’t agree with the belief held by some that drinking coffee is not a health decision; disregarding the impact it has on your physiology is simply not wise. However, unless you’re drinking silly amounts of it every day or you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, the effect coffee has on your longevity is probably going to be quite marginal.

If you’re not a coffee drinker but you’re considering getting into it for the health benefits, I’d say don’t bother. There are far more meaningful changes you could make, such as cleaning up your diet, upping your exercise, or even substituting green tea instead. If you are a coffee drinker, just make sure you’re not using it as an energy crutch—stick to 1-2 cups max early in the day, and go decaf after that.

Q: What’s your take on the whole coffee and health argument? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

David CarrollDavid Carroll is a freelance writer, self-published author, and chief health-nut at thepaleotoolkit.com. Outside of work, he loves hurling (an amazing Irish sport), playing video games and hanging out with his dogs. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidAshCarroll) and Google+.

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Scientists Develop New Type of Cell That Could Revolutionize the Treatment of Heart Disease

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THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Heart disease has consistently been one of the biggest killers of both men and women, with hundreds of thousands of families losing loved ones to the condition every year. But now a new study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell has identified a possible breakthrough in the treatment of heart disease, offering hope to anyone suffering from a dodgy ticker. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Gladstones Institutes, who have discovered a way to make a remarkable new type of cell that could help damaged hearts repair themselves.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is overworked or the supply of oxygen is too low. A sudden attack can cause the loss of huge amounts of important muscle cells known as cardiomyocytes (CMs). These CMs cannot regenerate by themselves, nor can they be replaced because transplanted heart cells tend not to survive in the patient’s body. As you can imagine, this makes the treatment of heart disease quite tricky; since heart cells can’t regenerate or be replaced, the damage is usually irreversible. “Scientists have tried for decades to treat heart failure by transplanting adult heart cells, but these cells cannot reproduce themselves, and so they do not survive in the damaged heart,” said Yu Zhang, MD, PhD, one of the lead authors of the study.

To overcome this dilemma, the team investigated the possibility of regenerating the heart using progenitors—stem cells that have already been programmed to develop into a specific type of cell. In this case, they targeted cardiovascular progenitor cells (CPCs), which are produced as the heart begins to form within the embryo. Using a revolutionary technique, the team were able to produce CPCs in the lab and halt their development so the cells remained effectively “frozen” until use. They called these lab-grown cells “induced expandable CPCs,” or ieCPCs.

Unlike adult heart cells, ieCPCs have the ability to replicate. If transplanted successfully, they could replace a patient’s damaged heart cells and possibly continue to self-repair. “Our generated ieCPCs can prolifically replicate and reliably mature into the three types of cells in the heart, which makes them a very promising potential treatment for heart failure,” said Zhang. To test this theory, the team injected some of the cells into a mouse that had suffered a heart attack. Remarkably, most of the cells transformed into functioning heart cells, generating new muscle tissue and blood vessels and improving the mouse’s overall heart function.

So what does all this mean for the treatment of heart disease? Well, it’s definitely big news. The cells used to treat the mouse were derived from skin cells, which means a patient’s own cells could potentially be used to treat their heart disease. The next step is to try and form human ieCPCs in the lab, and then follow up with human trials to see if the method is as effective. All going well, this could be a viable treatment for heart disease patients within the next few years.

Q: Is this the most important breakthrough yet in the field of heart disease research? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Copyright 2016 David Carroll

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