Go Hug a Tree—Static Resistance Training for Awesome Strength
You want the strength of a god. You have hit the gym, taken the right supplements, done all the crazy workouts that it seems like are on every other website, and have dove into the “secrets” of strength training. And it’s either too slow, or not enough, or, or, or… Well guess what, sometimes simplicity is best! There are lots of ways to gain strength, but if you want true, amazing, beast strength- Go hug a tree!
Static Resistance Training
Static resistance training falls under the category of static strength training. In actuality, it is isometric training. Check out a detailed description here. To put it simply, isometric training is where the muscle and joint length do not change during contraction; there is no dynamic movement to the exercise. While this may seem pretty counter-intuitive to literally almost everything you have ever heard about in the gym, isometric exercise is, according to most testing methods, up to 35% more effective at building strength than the other four methods of resistance training.
Static Strength Training WORKS
One can’t really talk about static resistance training without referencing Alexander Zass, who lived from 1888 to 1962. He was a Russian strongman, and is credited with various feats such as carrying his injured horse during wartime, carrying a grand piano—complete with pianist and a dancer—on his shoulders, and bending a five-inch-long steel bar into a U shape with his bare hands. He was one of the first people in the modern era to promote static resistance training, and, obviously, it worked for him! If interested, check out Zass in this article by Breaking Muscle.
Make It Possible
You can get a great workout pretty much anywhere, though a good tree and a few straps or a rope is all you need. When looking for a place to work out, try to find a tree that is a bit isolated from spectators, as having people watching you isn’t the best way to have a distraction-free workout. Don’t pick a crazy-large tree, either. Trees and their roots are STRONG, so don’t worry too much about hurting it. You should try to find a nice, healthy tree no smaller than a CD, but less than 8 inches across. This means that the grand old oak you were thinking about trying to uproot with your bare hands probably isn’t going to work. Once you have your tree marked out, make sure you have some nice, rough and tough and good fitting gloves. Loose ones won’t do. Also, you actually can use work gloves if you want to. High level bodybuilders disdain the use of gloves in the gym, but in the environment you are going to be working out in, you can damage your hands pretty easily without some sort of protection.
Uproot That Tree!
Let’s be honest, you probably won’t uproot it. If you do, we need to call Guinness. Check out this article from Business Insider on former WWE star Chris Masters, who did exactly that. We don’t expect that right off, though.
Anyhow, get ready for your workout. With the piece of non-slip rope you have brought with you and knotted on both ends, you can do a heck of a lot of exercises. You can also use the tree itself. There are countless ways to do static strength exercises, so we won’t cover them here. Pick the areas you want to work out on that day, search around for some exercises, and treat it as if you are in a gym. Sets, reps, time, etc.
Chart Your Progress
Most heavy bodybuilders know that working out too much can actually hurt your muscle and strength growth. Working out just the right amount is where you need to be, but remember, you need to let your body heal up between sessions. Static training is different than dynamic, and the muscle soreness is different too. Most people say that they are much less sore after isometric exercises. This does not mean that you don’t need the rest!
You can chart your progress by getting into a real gym once a week. Make that workout a general workout, with a few exercises, such as bench press, cable triceps curls, squats, etc. These exercises are excellent for charting strength progress. We think you will be really surprised after a month, and stunned at the end of the second one.
Change Things Up
If you want to go at it really hardcore, for the first few weeks, go every third day. After your body is used to it and the soreness is getting shorter, go every other day. Make sure you continually change up your exercises though. For example, one of the simplest exercises is to have a loop of the rope around the tree, take your whole body, and pull on both ends. Do it at midriff level, and keep it up for 20-30 seconds, as long as you can take it.
Another exercise that will work the same muscle groups (not exactly, but close enough) is to get in close to the tree, hug it low, and don’t pull up but outwards at a 45 degree angle from the tree. While these work a lot of the same muscles, they don’t work them exactly the same, as the angles and muscle interplay will be different.
This means that your body won’t get used to things quite as fast. The body reacts to stress by trying to combat it. With static resistance training, it will try to get used to the stresses on it as fast as possible by giving you more strength, so it won’t be as hard to do what you are asking it to do. If you stick with the same things, though, you will get fewer gains, and that beast strength you are looking for will take longer. Good reason to switch your exercises up, yeah?
It’s All About What You Put Into It
The go hug a tree part of this actually works. Your gym bag can be as simple as a rope, some gloves, and a few straps, and you get an entire body workout. But you won’t maximize your isometric training unless you really put a lot of effort into it.
After a workout, especially an isometric one, you should be dripping with sweat and have a hard time using your muscles. This is because when you are actually hugging the tree and putting the pressure on, your muscles should be burning through their supplies of glycogen and triglycerides at a prodigious rate.
Make sure you get something to replace those. This is one time when it is absolutely cool to have a protein shake after your workout, or a nutrient replacement drink. Your muscles will need it! Going a bit further, also remember that your diet plays a huge role in your muscular and strength growth. Fueling the animal inside you doesn’t mean sitting down with a sack of junk food. Your diet is super important as well!
Good luck with your strength training. Go out there and hug a tree, and tell us how it goes.