Work Out Rocky Style for Animal Strength
I don’t know about you, but for many of us, we have had enough of the gym craze. While there are many ways to stay fit, if you want to be naturally strong, it seems like your only option is to go to a gym and lift weights. There are constant ads everywhere to join this gym or that club or that class and “get in shape.”
NONE of that is necessary. Natural strength is what many men crave, and hardcore training in a gym, while it can give you strength, doesn’t hold a candle to the Rocky style workout you can get on your own.
Why Is It Better?
Yes, if you are super focused in a gym, and really know what you are doing, you can get a great workout, don’t get us wrong. You can get a super-lean body with great musculature. But what a gym doesn’t provide very often are compound exercises. In case you don’t know, compound exercises are exercises that use a lot of different muscle groups. Squats, for example, are one. They use a lot of different muscle groups, but even then, they are still more focused and in line.
Let’s look at an example. Think back to that fourth Rocky movie (you have seen it, right?), where he was training to fight against the Russian, Drago. While Drago has all of the best equipment and trainers money can buy, Rocky is slogging through the snow, carrying small boulders and looking grubby. AWESOME! Every exercise he did used nearly his whole body.
Ever notice that the strongest guys are not the biggest ones? Sure, they are huge and have great muscles, but we are going for strength here, not the Mr. Universe contest. It’s guaranteed that if you head into a gym and pick a huge guy there and put him up against, say, a carpenter who has been working for 30 years but never goes to the gym, the carpenter would stand a fair chance at coming out stronger.
That’s because those guys are hauling materials, hammering, using sledgehammers, whatever it takes to get the job done, and they are using their whole bodies to do it. They are doing organic workouts every day. The difference is, they are trying to economize their energy so that they can last for 8 or 10 hours. You, on the other hand will want to go all out to maximize your output and have a hardcore training session.
The Importance of It All
Most people think that muscles are the end all of strength. Not true. Nearly as important to your strength are ligaments and tendons. Training these tissues is consistently downplayed, or overlooked completely, especially in a gym situation. This is why some people have such a hard time making great strength gains.
Think about it this way—your muscles are like the engine in a car with which you will pull a large weight. The weight keeps increasing, but the engine gets better too. No one thinks about upgrading the tires or tow cable for a better connection and grip, though! Full body training, on the other hand, naturally works these connective tissues at the same time as your muscles, allowing them to reach their full potential.
Beginning the Workout
Ever notice that Rocky always stretched before everything he did? There is a good reason for that. He was getting the blood flowing through his musculature, and stretching out his ligaments and tendons. While you can get hurt in the gym if you are not careful, outside is a completely different ballgame, and depending on where you are and what you are doing, you have to stay razor sharp at all times and minimize the potential for damage to your body. Stretching also helps to focus your mind on the task at hand, so there is every reason to do it.
Once you have done your stretch, go jogging a bit. This will loosen up the body and stretch all the areas that you didn’t get to in your warmup. Then, it’s time for the animal to come out.
It can be much harder to get a Rocky-style workout in the city, but there are ways to pull it off if you want it bad enough. There may be a local park near you that has rocks, wilderness, etc. If so, then you are set.
Use your warmup jog to get to the park. You will have to get creative with your exercises. Get some rocks and run around. Climb a tree, and climb back down (within reason, of course!). Use park benches as hurdles and jump over them. Use them as large step-ups, eventually adding natural weight, such as rocks, to your step-ups. Do deadlifts using fallen trees or large tree branches. Create static resistance by trying to uproot a tree.
One good tip: take a small backpack with you, which you can keep a camelback in (always stay hydrated), and a few lengths of rope. Make sure you take some real work gloves that are grippy as heck with you. The rope can be used to tie off to things such as rocks, branches, etc. and give you a new exercise.
Just make sure that if you are going to be doing such a workout in your local park, that you take the time to meet the people who patrol it and inform them about your intentions. Natural strength is awesome, but people in authority might not get what you are up to.
The Country (Or Your Own Backyard)
If you happen to live in a place with your own backyard or countryside around you, the world is your oyster. Everything around you is a potential workout device, and you can stock your area. Think bricks, cinder blocks, a large tire and a sledgehammer (which is an awesome addition to any workout), pull up bars and wood splitting.
Ever chop down a tree or split wood? It will exhaust you in no time, at first, but before too long, your back, arms, glutes, legs, and grip will be so strong you might just be able to crush those bricks with your bare hands! All kidding aside, scout your area to see what all you can do. Have a place where you can flip that tire? Do it. Take a rope, tie it to a cinder block and haul it up to the limb of the tree the rope is over? Yup. If that isn’t hard enough, add a block.
Make It and Break It
We have mentioned cinder blocks a couple of times, and these are great for natural strength. You can grab a few and run with them, or carry just one if it’s a long run. You can use them directly and build, and then tear down, small structures, moving them from one area to another. They are cheap and an awesome addition to a workout. You can even do that in the city if you have rooftop access. Get 10 or 12 of them and you will be set.
Punch It Up
Rocky was a boxer. Have you ever seen an out of shape professional boxer? Well, yeah, but they probably weren’t very good. Boxing takes a LOT of effort and calories, and it uses a lot of the body systems to do it. Getting access to a heavy bag and a speedbag can make a lot of difference. The gains day by day are small, but in the long run this also trains those ligaments and tendons we talked about, giving you power beyond what most people would expect.
If you have use of a speedbag, or can hang one in a doorway in your house, it will do wonders for you. We liked a couple of Everlast’s options (check out the freestanding heavybag/speedbag combo stand, it’s killer!) and ReaShape’s EZSpeedbag. In the long run, it’s much cheaper than a gym membership, faster than having to go someplace, and allows you to get a quick workout literally any time you want.
Throw Out Your Expectations
Your expectations are what will bring you down. Just as you don’t see a difference in how you look, day to day, you will probably not notice a difference in your strength. Of course, over the first few weeks you will make great gains, as with any type of exercise, then it will begin to level off. The best part about the Rocky-style workout, though, is that you can switch it up any time you want. There are literally hundreds of natural strength workouts on the net. Scour around, pick out a few exercises that fit your environment, and you will be amazed at your results in three to six months’ time. Try to gauge yourself in month-long increments. Can you pick up more cinder blocks at one time than you could a month ago? A good test of this is to do some pull-ups. But only every once in a while. Can you do five more than you could when you started? We bet you can.
Get to It
The best thing you can do, is do it. There are no shortcuts, you have to work your body and work against resistance to get results. If you aren’t dragging your knuckles with sweat dripping off you, and I’m-ready-to-sleep-a-week destroyed after the first few workouts, you aren’t trying hard enough. The more you put in, the more you will get out of it. It doesn’t take much out of your day, and especially since it’s around your home (or should be!) you cut out all the travel time and posing that goes along with working out someplace else. Go to it, and next time someone challenges you to a contest of strength, you just might earn the nickname “Rocky.”