Big Strength For Men Or Women

Big strength doesn’t mean you have to be a monster able to carry handle implanted buckets of concrete in a strongman contest. It means developing the big strength you need to accomplish what you want to do. Whatever your fitness goals require as far as strength, you have to workout to accomplish it.

That means picking up and moving things that are heavy for you. Whether you are a man or woman the reality is you have to lift, pull and push against things that resist enough for you to develop deep muscular strength.

This type article gives most people a mental picture of power lifters.

Power lifting moves are especially important to develop leg, back and arm strength in a systematic way. What it doesn’t do is provide the dynamics of real life movements in many athletic activities.

The solution?

Use power lifts to develop strength.

Then be creative to develop that strength with moves that mimic what you will actually do in your competition, hobby, life pursuit or other fitness goal.

If your goal is to enter an IronMan/Woman contest a well rounded course of weight lifting, dynamic resistance training and endurance work is necessary. Being creative is necessary to keep progressing according to how far you want to take it.

An example of dynamic moves are these showing what Jacquilyn and I do in the woods and by the river. 

practical strength training Outdoor woman strength training Strength training in practical ways

Putting our strength to a test in environments that require balance adds dynamics that can’t be duplicated in the gym or at home.

For me it provides an overall test of real strength. For Jacquilyn it will do the same plus add the balance dynamics she needs to progress in martial arts.

strength training with rocks outdoor-strength-lift  martial arts fitness

So the question comes once again. What do you want to do?

How much and what type strength will it take? Adding basic strength exercises, squats, deadlifts, bench presses to your exercise will be beneficial at whatever level you use them.

But if you are going to enter a triathlon those exercises plus added ones that mimic every movement you will make are necessary in practice. That applies to any physical activity no matter how simple or complicated it may be.

While many athletic pursuits may be complicated, the solution to doing well is pretty simple to develop the big strength that both men and women need.

The simple solution for functional athletic strength:

1. Practice basic strength exercises with weights.
2. Practice creative strength exercises that mimic your athletic goals.
3. Practice interweaving endurance work with those strength exercises.
4. Practice eating what is needed to fuel whatever you do at whatever level you do it.

Those four factors are generally used to develop strength and endurance in every athlete that needs strength and/or endurance for their success.

While those fitness factors can become pretty involved based on what they are used for, they are at least easy to remember and stay focused on.

Big strength refers to much more than being able to lift something. It refers to your ability to both develop strength and put it to use in practical ways to achieve your fitness goals.


Doing An Upper Back Workout Outdoors With No Equipment

Doing a back workout is kinda like watching an off white wall for an hour. It’s a serious strain with exercises that are not exactly “satisfying” to perform. But that’s until you do your back workout outdoors with no equipment. Well ….. no equipment except trees and rocks.

Remember, these are for ideas, not for cut-in-stone workouts. Use what works for you and what you want from life.

When we work out outdoors we take advantage of the vast array of opportunities and generally use it as a compound workout. When we did the pulling and lifting here we had already run uphill and carried rocks for about a 2 mile course of trails and hills.

rock lift warmup

Lift rocks warming up fully and doing reps carefully from a safe position.

Use caution when lifting rocks or other items outdoors

Keep in mind that when you do any kind of rowing exercise for your back you are also working your lower back. This is where the prospect for injury is very prevalent.

When doing bent rowing exercises this way proceed slowly and carefully until you fully understand your body’s response and limitations. This is not like working out on a flat floor in an air conditioned gym or your home exercise room.

When doing this type back workout be sure your feet are squarely and solidly placed for stability. You should be able to pick up a rock, tree limb or whatever odd item you find in the woods without falling down. You can see that even though I’m standing on the side of a hill, my feet are squarely and solidly placed on the shale and rock surface.

We start by warming up with small rocks or tree limbs. We means my daughter, Jacquilyn and I. Watching her, women should get a clear understanding that resistance work, whether with chrome weights or rocks will not turn them into massive muscle bound female hulks.

Then the work proceeds with bent rows using single, heavy rocks.

  • Start by carefully bending and picking up the rock
  • It should be a rock that allows you to pick it up remaining bent over without injuring your lower back.
  • As with manufactured weights, simply lift the rock toward your chest while remaining bent over.
  • Lower it back to starting position to complete the repetition.

rock bent row start  Rock Bent Rowing  Bent row end

Bent rows with two rocks (like dumbbells)

  • Simply repeat the process above using two individual rocks – one in each hand.

This changes the dynamics and range of motion, working the muscle at slightly different angles.

picking up two rocks    jac-rowing    jac-rowing-end

The now famous tree lat pull back exercise

  • Find a tree with a low hanging {sturdy} branch
  • Jump up and grab the branch swinging the soles of your feet up to the tree trunk.
  • With your feet remaining in place pull your upper body up as far as possible
  • Lower your upper body back down to complete the repetition.

Tree lat pull start  tree lat pull up  Tree lat pull finish

All the bent rowing exercises with rocks have the compound effect of working your biceps and hands as well as lower back. The downside to that is the lower back work is mostly from strain, not intentional focused work.

Again, this is a page of ideas. These type exercises and overall workouts can add variety and effective supplements to your gym workouts. Or they can be stand alone workouts for outdoor competition, challenges and goals.

You can combine them with home or gym workouts or make the outdoors your full gym for every aspect of your fitness pursuits.


Learning To Love Exercise By Hiking With Ladies In Motion

As a child, teenager and young adult, I was never an athletic or outdoors type.  I loved being in the sunshine and water, but that was about it. Through the many years I struggled to incorporate exercise into my life. I would have viewed the talk here about “loving exercise” as ridiculous.

But the best advice I received was from a doctor who said, “Find some activity you enjoy and it won’t be exercise, but your choice of recreation.” 

It was late in coming, but I finally found an activity that I love – HIKING.  Because hiking is my choice of recreation, I mark it on the calendar and schedule around it.  Since I greatly  look forward to the activity, there is the added incentive of keeping it a priority.

Hiking – A Friendship Activity With Serious Goals

Hiking is not an activity that should be done alone because of safety concerns, so I invited a friend to come with me.  She got hooked as well…and so we were off.  We began with easy, short hikes and increased the length and difficulty as our fitness level increased.hiker group

The second year I began logging our hiking trips and after a few months decided to set a goal of hiking 100 miles by the end of the year.  It would require some focus and priority, but to hike 100 miles was very doable.  We would need to hike about 8 ½ miles per month.

Our goal could be accomplished with two hikes per month at a little over 4 miles for each hike.  At this writing, we’ve accomplished this 100 mile goal 2 years in a row and working on our 3rd year.

Our women hiking proves that fitness built around achievement and fun is contagious.

As we began talking with other women about our activity, word spread and we soon had ladies contacting us about joining one of our hikes.  It was then I decided to start a group and named it Ladies In Motion.

hikers stopping to lookOur approach to hiking was not just trekking the miles, but taking the time to appreciate the beauty, whether a grand waterfall or a simple wildflower.

While our hikes are challenging, they certainly are not considered extreme by most standards.  This makes it appealing to ladies, wives and mothers who do not have time to condition for extreme activity, but want to enjoy an active lifestyle.  Everyone in the group is over 40, with ages ranging from mid-40’s to mid-60’s.

Most of our hikes are 4-6 miles, with the trails rated moderate to strenuous.  Our longest hike has been 8 miles in a day.

We have taken a 2 day trip and hiked a total of 12 miles.  However, since we are not extreme, we did not camp overnight in the woods. Instead we stayed overnight in a beautiful cabin.

Motivation for fitness is training for a passion in life.

Hiking is a great motivator in staying focused on my regular exercise program.  I no longer approach exercise as routine or optional, but rather as “training” for my hikes.hikers taking the trail

On the days I don’t feel like walking, I remind myself I will not be able to trek up the side of a mountain if I don’t regularly walk hills. I won’t be able to last through difficult stretches of trail, hills and rocks without committing to weight workouts in between the hikes.

This change in attitude has kept my dedication to a regular workout consistent, enjoyable and rewarding.

Ladies In Motion tag line is: “Dedicated to an active lifestyle, so the body can keep up with the heart’s desires”.

Our heart’s desire can be as big as hiking 100 miles in a year or as small as energy to complete daily errands.  Certainly, a big part of our heart’s desire is to have energy to play with our children and grandchildren.

Leading an active lifestyle increases physical strength and endurance, so we can participate in the life activities we enjoy.