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Unconventional Conditioning

Unconventional Conditioning

Disclaimer ..............................................2 Introduction ............................................3 The Beginning .........................................3 My Training History .....................................3 Unconventional Training .................................5 What is unconventional? ...............................5 Secret Exercises? .......................................7 Looking For it ........................................7 Kettlebell Training .....................................8 Basic Exercises .......................................9 Kettlebell Training for Grip Strength ................17 The Kettlebell Bottoms Up Press ........................18 BUP Tips .............................................20 Going for a new weight in the BUP ....................20 Hammer Training ........................................20 Sledgehammer Drills ..................................21 Sandbag Training .......................................22 DIY Sandbag ..........................................22 Mace/ Macebell Training ................................25 Odd Object Lifting .....................................26 Training with odd objects ............................27 Grip Training ..........................................29 Grippers .............................................29 Pinching .............................................29 Fat Handled Bars & Dumbbells .........................30 Simple Pinch Device (and lever) ......................31 Basic Grip Training Routine ..........................32 Hot Exercises If You Could Only Do 3 Exercises .......34 1. Heavy Kettlebell Snatch .........................34 2. The Bear Complex ................................34 3. Plate pinch and clean ...........................35 Putting Everything Together ............................35 Rough Cutting a Plan ...................................35 Sets and Reps ..........................................37 Wave Training ........................................38 Top Sets .............................................39 Specialisation Training ................................40 Thinking Unconventional ................................41 DIY Strength Gear ......................................42 Resources ..............................................43 My Records .............................................45


Unfortunately these things must be covered, but before we start please

note that many of the exercises and programs in this ebook can be and are inherently dangerous in nature and are for reference only. I take no responsibility whatsoever for any injury or physical problem that may arise from performing any of the exercises and programs in this ebook. If in doubt please consult a physician for a full medical check before commencing any physical training program.

Unconventional Conditioning

All rights reserved, no part of this ebook may be reproduced or published without consent from myself Robert Russell

Note: All the images of youtube videos in this ebook are linked to youtube, providing you are connected to the internet they will open in your chosen browser when clicked.

Hi, my name is Rob Russell, some of you may know me as EWANMETHANE on youtube! I have written this book to get down on paper so to speak some of the training methods and devices I use now and have used over the last 20 or so years I have been training, to build strength and fitness. I hope youll find this interesting, informative and will give you some ideas for your own training.

The Beginning
Physical strength and fitness have excited me since about as early as I can remember. My earliest memories of testing my strength, was lifting an old cart axle above my head when I was probably about 6 yrs old mimicking Olympic lifting I had probably seen on the TV. Another time was back when bags of cement weighed 50kg, I managed to get one to about knee height in an old shed at my Granddads yard when I was 8 or 9 and remember vividly what it felt like and how much I enjoyed the challenge. Still now Ive constantly got my eye out for unconventional objects that look like they may be a challenge to lift.

My Training History
At age 12 I got a York barbell set (the plastic coated type) and had many a weight lifting competition with friends in my bedroom. At age 14 I took up Track and Field (amongst other activities I did through school such as basketball, cricket and football) and felt totally at home with my chosen events Shot Putt and Discus. Much training took part at home in my parents garden, throwing the shot. I created many big holes and destroyed plenty of things in their garden (I even put a window through when I attempted rotational shot putt for the very first time).

Unconventional Conditioning

Age 15 I joined my first club Scarborough Harriers Athletics Club. I had some success in my first few comps and got the bug for athletics. I had one discus and spent hour upon hour throwing it in a field down the lane where I lived, during the summertime. Some great fitness was developed running after that discus along with a determination to succeed. Age 16 I took up more serious weightlifting and running to develop my throwing abilities when I went to Technical College in Scarborough to study Engineering. I also gave up my beloved football to prevent any niggling injuries from hampering my progression. Age 18 I went to Sheffield Hallam University and started training very seriously in shot putt and discus. My strength and fitness reached whole new levels following an Eastern Bloc Training Program. This saw me progress to #1 UK Under 20s discus thrower and get myself Ranked as #7 On the UK All-Time list with 52.14m (2kg), I also broke the 28 Yr old Yorkshire Discus Record with 55.00m (1.75kg) which still stands today (18 yrs on). Age 18-21 I had varying levels of success in Track and Field competing for Great Britain and gaining 7 Vests Age 22 I was at what was to be my peak in athletics when I had a car crash on 7/4/97 shattering my right femur into 3 pieces. I ended up on crutches for 7 months and my fitness was totally crushed. I did return to athletics the following year never to reach any of the distances I had previously thrown, however I came quite close on many occasions and still compete every summer for my local club Scarborough AC. My car crash brought to my attention many other forms of training that got me back to a good level of fitness, I took up Indoor Rowing and did huge amounts of running and later on was introduced to the kettlebell by Pat Hodgson who made me my first kettlebell like training device, I bought a real kettlebell shortly after(2004). It weighed in at around 17kg but was like nothing else Id ever used. I was hooked!!

Unconventional Conditioning

The Kettle Handle My First Taste of Unconventional

As well as discovering kettlebells, I also got a huge thirst for gaining knowledge online (I have always been a fanatic for training information, spending hours and hours reading books back in the olden days when they were like Rocking Horse Shit to get hold of, but you clung to and read a thousand times) and started my very first blog Kettlebell Training for Sport. I have used this blog for many purposes, one of them has been to record my training and evolve a growing repertoire of Feats of Strength of which I have done many. Ill leave it up to you to decide if you think they are impressive or not (there is a list at the end of this book) and Ill continue to challenge myself in as many ways as I possibly can.

Unconventional Training
What is unconventional?
Unconventional training to me is physical training that is out of the norm! I spent years barbell lifting, running and throwing implements to get fit and strong. This is standard training in my opinion. In my past Strength and fitness were just a by-product of my training to better my throwing personal bests. I trained to throw far and got strong on the way!

Unconventional Conditioning

Many folks are not training to become better in a measureable way, they are training to get fitter, drop weight and look better. Some, even just for recreation. Now I train to push whatever it is I decide I want to do next, I may want to lift a fat handled dumbbell off the floor or shoulder a sandbag 100 times or snatch a kettlebell for 250 reps in 10 minutes. There is nothing like being diverse, it is Unconventional to be fit and strong at the same time, but this is what makes me tick! Variety is key in Unconventional Conditioning, so I plan to provide you with a wealth of exercises and some ideas for putting together your own training program to test yourself and improve whatever it is you decide to do challenge yourself with next. Although I have preferences over certain types of training, you must try them out for yourself and make up your own mind. Dont just follow the next trend, get into thinking about how certain types of training may affect you and how much value there is in them. I prefer full body movements rather than hitting a single muscle. Full body movements are called Compound Exercises (using more than one muscle group). An example of a compound movement would be the sandbag clean and press. An example of a movement that is not a compound exercise is the concentration curl. Think about it and every other movement you have done or do now. What muscles am I working? Is it getting my heart going? Am I training more than one muscle? Is there any worth in it? Is there any danger in this for me? What will it help me do? The message here is Dont just take someones elses word for it find out for yourself Whole industries have been built on myths because some folks are just too dumb to think!

Unconventional Conditioning

Secret Exercises?
How many times have you searched the internet for The Secret? Let me tell you that the secret is THERE IS NO SECRET its worth repeating. There is no secret! Only hard work and training specific to your goals will get you arriving at the destination you want to be at.

Looking For it
Ive done it and I bet you have too. Ive looked for ways to improve my kettlebell snatch test (as an example) only to deduce that actually doing kettlebell snatch will get me to where I want to be. Although some movements do carry over a certain extent to other movements and also if you have a low level of fitness, going running will possibly mean you get better at cycling. But as a general rule if you want to be better at something you must do it and do it regularly. As Dan John says If its worth doing, do it every day You wouldnt go and do loads of running if you wanted to be better at rowing, would you? If this seems like Im going back to primary school with you then I do apologise, but some folks still believe the moon is made of cream cheese! With that cleared up, lets get into some of the nitty gritty training exercises. Before we start though I will say that I am not a great technician or a scientist of training so will not delve too deep into intricacies of a movement (although I may attempt it on my favourite lift). I like to watch, then try and get in my mind how something will feel before I do it. I like to think I could probably do something pretty much straight away after seeing it first time, which is all about body awareness and power of the mind. This is why I tend to video myself a lot during training (not spending hours on analysis like I might have done with my throwing technique, but just to get a good idea of whats going

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on. This also serves as a good reference for logging your performance over a period of time) If you have no co-ordination whatsoever or any idea what a barbell or dumbbell is then youd better tootle off and go and try something like an audition for X-Factor. Still here then? A quick word on goal setting. If you are here to challenge yourself then keep it that way, your goals should be specific to yourself not someone elses! If youve thought things through and you have the belief that your goal is possible, then you need to build the steps to that goal, in manageable chunks. Write down what your goal is and all the steps you are going to take to get there and make sure the steps are small. If you want something tomorrow, then forget it! You are more likely to fail in your quest if you set your sights too high too soon. If your goal is unrealistic then forget it and set a target that is possible. Even if it takes a year to get there, just think of all the transitions and experiences youll go through before you arrive at your destination. Dont forget though that us humans have the ability to surprise ourselves and you may find yourself in a place that you never expected this time next year or in 6 months time etc. When I first set out kettlebell training and could do only 1 rep with a 24kg kettlebell on the bottoms up press, I would have laughed if you told me that some years later I would stack one 32kg kettlebell on top of another and press it! So just remember to be realistic but reach for the skies at the same time.

Kettlebell Training
As I have previously spoke about my unconventional training being initiated with kettlebells, it seems like it would be a good place to start. Here are the exercises, with some info along with each one. All images are linked to a youtube video (basically watch and try), no detailed explanations are needed. Try the exercises with whatever weight kettlebell you have to hand.

Unconventional Conditioning

Basic Exercises
Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is quite possibly the basis of all kettlebell training and the exercise most learn first. It easy to do wrong and its easy to do right, there are many variations of this exercise girevoy style, hardstyle, high, low, fast, slow. Check out this article about kettlebell swings the hardstyle way on my blog. I use swings to warm up with almost every session, I also like very heavy swings (80kg) to develop explosive power!

Kettlebell Clean

I prefer heavy kettlebell cleans to light cleans for reps, here I clean an 85kg kettlebell belonging to Laine Snook. I have used cleans for reps (100s) to train grip endurance. Usually the kettlebell clean is followed by a press, but theres no reason not to use it by itself.

Unconventional Conditioning

Kettlebell Snatch

In my opinion the snatch is the #1 Kettlebell Exercise! Going for reps or weight, both are good. I love repetition snatching and also put down my pressing power to heavy kettlebell snatches. Nothing seems to keep my shoulders healthy like a properly executed kettlebell snatch.

Kettlebell Clean and Push Press (+variants)

There are lots of versions of this exercise, such as clean and press, clean and jerk (using double kettlebells) the list is endless. The push press is my favourite and is a real power builder. You can make this easier or harder by using the same side for reps or alternating sides.


Unconventional Conditioning

Kettlebell BUP(Bottoms Up Press)

The BUP, what can I say, my favourite exercise! The BUP teaches all round control develops wrist strength, leverage and pressing power right through the back, shoulders and legs. For technique see the BUP Technique section.

Gorilla Cleans

This is a real killer exercise which takes some real intent to get going properly, you must start the pull with the lower bell just as the top one hits your shoulder. Would be great exercise for fighters and a proper fitness booster. 1 minute on any weight would be good.


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Kettlebell Clean to Open hand Catch and press

A great exercise for eye and hand co-ordination which also opens the hand up which will develop balance and hand strength.

Kettlebell Open Hand Snatch


Unconventional Conditioning

Kettlebell Bottoms up Snatch

This is a way of making the regular snatch more fun and challenging, you must really get in the groove on this movement. Too much rotation at the top will send the kettlebell flying backwards. Start light and work up through the weights.

Kettlebell Swing Catch & Press to Bottoms up and Tower of Terror

After I first discovered John Brookfields Tower of Terror and managed a single rep with the 48kg, I developed this method to make it more difficult. Catching an inverted kettlebell and flipping it is great for hand eye co-ordination.


Unconventional Conditioning

Kettlebell Flips

Here I demonstrate a variety of kettlebell flips, forwards, backwards, lateral, vertical, all are good and help a great deal co-ordination and hand development.

Double Kettlebell Flip

The double kettlebell flip was probably the first kettlebell feat I ever did. I practiced for quite a few months before I got the double on the 40kg bells. Learning to twist the kettlebell handles between the legs on the swing phase takes some practice, but isnt half as difficult as the flip. This movement will teach great balance and control.


Unconventional Conditioning

Double Kettlebell Snatch

On this video I go from outside the legs which I find easier than the inside, practice both. You may need to practice a double swing first. This movement will develop some serious power especially in the hips and lower back.

Stacked Kettlebell BUP

The stacked BUP is a totally different beast to the BUP as you first must set the bells on top of each other (getting them there in the first place isnt too easy) and then fight with them falling off if you lean to much with them in the press phase. I recommend practicing the set up for a while before going into a full stacked BUP.


Unconventional Conditioning

Kettlebell Press Combo

The kettlebell press combo is something I use if Im on a BUP cycle. I like it because it effectively pre-loads the body before the BUP at the end make it harder (I tend to do this on a near max lift where I cant hit 3 single BUPs, but can get a BUP at the end of the combo). I also like to throw in a Hook Press before the BUP at the end to make it even more difficult.

Resistance Snatches

As with all new on a resistance kettlebell back leaning forward

movements make sure you go light at first snatch and ensure you keep the non-active slightly as a regular snatch has you more so.


Unconventional Conditioning

Kettlebell Training for Grip Strength

Heres a video I put together of some of the exercises I use for developing grip strength with kettlebells. Be very careful with these exercises, some are dangerous in that you can lose the kettlebell out of your hand at any time. Train somewhere where the ground is soft if possible or at least where there is no-one to injure. Some of the exercises are linked below and some are from other athletes videos. All are great for strengthening the hand and forearm area in some way or other.
Bottoms Up Snatch GS Kettlebell Snatch Kettlebell Flips Heavy Kettlebell Cleans Tower of Terror BUP (Bottoms Up Press) Stacked BUP Bigmac BUP Open handed Press Double Fingered Swings Single Fingered Swings 2 Kettlebells in one hand swings KB Pinch (small kettlebells) Double Kettlebell Farmers Walk KB Vertical Twists Reverse KB Curl KB Wrist Wiper Hammer Curl Finger Curls (Rolls) Towel Swings Towel Press Towel High Pulls Thick Handle Swings and Snatches (use carpet around handle - see video) Use oven gloves Use gloves to make handle slippery


Unconventional Conditioning

The Kettlebell Bottoms Up Press

I have been BUPing for quite a few years now and loved every session doing it, I love a challenge. Here are my thoughts on the BUP and the technique I use, described in as much details as possible. Set up: set the kettlebell about a foot in front of your toes with the handle striking a line directly through your body (you may need it a little further away if youre attempting a max lift). Place your hand towards the front end of the handle (I find this most comfortable). Create tension in your arm by pulling back slightly on the handle before you initiate the back swing. Keeping your glutes, hips and core tight, swing the kettlebell between your legs. Dont begin the upwards pull until the bell has swung back as far as it can and is beginning to return to its starting position (this is most relevant if you are going for a max single as it seems to make the lift flow more than fighting against the weight). When you feel the weight coming back up, pull upwards and begin turning the kettlebell over. Keep the bell as close as possible to your body to minimize energy wastage. Aim to pull the kettlebell to your shoulder and land with your lower arm completely vertical, with hardly any space between you thumb and shoulder. Any movement outside landing in this position will mean you somehow need to recover the lift. I see many people leaning back on a BUP and then trying to press it away from themselves (which also results from holding the kettlebell in the wrong position). The shortest movement possible will always be the best! A little note on gripping the kettlebell I like to loosely grip the kettlebell on the upswing as I find gripping it too tight means you have the bell in the wrong position when youve cleaned it. When you dont commit to gripping too hard you can get under the bell in a better position before going for the press.


Unconventional Conditioning

This way you get the option for your hand to be slightly tilted for the press rather than having the back of your hand in line with your vertical elbow (for me a much better position to press from), I find this way I can really grind the kettlebell and get maximum advantage from the lats rather than a straight hand to forearm which for me tends to mean more tricep involvement. The Press: once youve got the kettlebell landed in the right position, you need to get your feet sorted out into a place where you can gain most leverage. This will differ for everyone, but I like to take a short step backwards with the same hand that I am pressing with. Use your opposite side to brace against, I prefer my arm to be out wide to balance my body. Begin the press by pushing hard into the ground with your feet and engaging your lats, lean back on the press (only lean backwards slightly, this too may put unnecessary stress on your back). If youre on a max lift, my only advice is to keep pressing, but make sure its coming through your legs, back, shoulders, triceps and wrist (in that order). DONT GIVE UP! Even if the movement is only minimal just keep the pressure on, with some real guts the weight will go up!


Unconventional Conditioning

BUP Tips: To work up to a max BUP I use the following

format to get my body into the right gear using the actual weight Im going to attempt (assuming I am already warmed up) (2-5 reps on both sides) Swings Cleans Clean and Push Press Snatch Flips Bottoms Up Clean Bottoms Up Press (MAX)

Going for a new weight in the BUP

In training I will use bottoms up cleans for a while until I become accustomed to the weight and also use heavy kettlebell cleans to prime my body and nervous system. I have also used other methods to train the BUP and make it harder, such as double BUPs, double BUP Cleans, pronated and neutral grips, holding a kettlebell in the BUP position (non-pressing hand) whilst BUPing, stacked pressing, sloshpipe attached to the kettlebell, Hamburger Press (stacked bells with weight discs between), holds for time. The list is endless, your mind is your only obstacle!

Hammer Training
Sledgehammer training is a great compliment to the kettlebell. I have done 1000s upon 1000s of hammer strikes. There are many ways to train and swing a hammer. My favourite exercise is snatch style sledgehammer striking (the style I have used and will be using in my sledgehammer challenge). Check out the video for the technique, it is in effect just like a kettlebell snatch but rather than just letting the weight drop between your


Unconventional Conditioning

legs you drive the hammer down into the tyre (almost like double the amount of work than a snatch but with 2 hands).

Sledgehammer Drills

In this video I perform a version of the snatch style sledgehammer strike followed by a lighter full swing, with the hammer moving out and away from the body. Both styles provide a great workout by themselves. There are other good movements that can be done with the sledgehammer like half swings, golf swings, I also like to throw some swings in, where I do not strike a tyre but mimic the snatch movement (especially good when you dont have a tyre handy). Due to the weight of my heaviest hammer (25kg) I also use it to squat and press, sometimes for warming up and also for training with s an extension of my hammer workouts.


Unconventional Conditioning

Sandbag Training
Sandbag training is quite probably the cheapest (equipment training wise) yet most underrated form of exercise. Even if you dont have a kettlebell or dumbbell to hand, theres no excuse for not being able to train and put together a sandbag for a few quid. Over the years Ive done various forms of sandbag training and found many ways to train grip, endurance and strength. Ive used sandbags over 100kg to mimic atlas stones for strongman training, small bags under 10kg for training grip, bags around 50kg for shouldering for reps to train endurance and 20kg bags for swinging. With some thought and energy the sandbag can replace certain kettlebell exercises and can also be mashed up with kettlebell training to make awesome combos.

DIY Sandbag
Making your own sandbag is pretty simple stuff, you can do this by filling and old duffle bag, using and empty building sandbag, some tarp that is taped around to secure it or an old tyre inner tube sandbag is a good idea, follow this link to see one being made. My favourite sandbag type is that using an old punchbag (I found mine discarded in a skip). Ideally you should be able to adjust the weight, so some kind of opening in the bag that can be easily shut would be best. The following sandbag exercises are some of the best (in my opinion) thatll give you the most benefit and a great workout.

One hand Sandbag Swing


Unconventional Conditioning

Simply fill your bag to a manageable level and sub in for the kettlebell swing. If youre using a DIY sandbag, unless youve attached some kind of handle, the sandbag will train your grip extra hard and also depending on the weight used limit the amount of power you can apply. Sandbag Clean and Press

The sandbag clean and press can be a completely fry you after a couple of is loose in your bag youll find you stabilizing and core energy to fight and over your head. Sandbag Carry

real battle and reps. If the weight use much more to get the bag up

Theres nothing like carrying something for time or for that matter distance. Simply pick your desired weighted bag, give it a big bear hug love and set off on your quest for distance. Ideally it would be distance as its visible and if youre training alone checking your watch may be a little harder than you think, unless youre using some form of timer.

Sandbag Shouldering


Unconventional Conditioning

Sandbag shouldering is another gruesome exercise that will certainly build your stamina and posterior chain. Set the bag on the floor, grab with two hands and pull up with some serious intent onto your shoulder, throw back down to the floor and repeat until you cant go no more. You can also make this more difficult and challenging by only using one hand for the pick up.

Sandbag Squat Not much of an explanation required here, shoulder the sandbag and then squat. You could make this a great combo by performing a squat followed by shouldering the bag and also alternating sides.

Sandbag Grabbing for Grip


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You can use either sand or alternatively iron shot in a bag for this one. Use single hand high pulls to get the weight moving and then release the bag, lift your hand and quickly grab the bag with some serious force and repeat for reps. Its a great all-round hand strengthener. Beware though that there is a possibility of over stretching your thumb with this exercise.

Sandbag Turkish Get Up (TGU) The Turkish get up will teach all round body control and is very well suited to the sandbag (can also be done with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, small people and any other form of resistance for that matter if you can hold on to it you can do a TGU). Im not the best person to follow for TGU technique but there are different styles that you can use, here is a blog post where Dave Whitley covers the technique very well using kettlebells (same principles apply to sandbags). So that covers some basic exercises for sandbag training thatll get you on your way to new strength and fitness, I would recommend looking up Josh Henkin from Ultimate Sandbag training or his Sandbag Fitness Blog for more exercises. The sky really is the limit and there is no limit to the amount of exercises you can do with a sandbag.

Mace/ Macebell Training

Another favourite of mine for conditioning the upper body, in particular the trunk muscles, triceps and shoulders along with being a great conditioning tool is macebell swinging. The mace is easy to make if youve the right materials lying around. I made my first mace from some old tubing with weights attached using collars before I actually bought the real thing. Ive also made one using an old cut down barbell, check it out here Jedd Johnson covered the making of a mace in his excellent Homemade Strength DVD


Unconventional Conditioning

The mace itself looks like something so medieval its untrue. Check out the short video Ive put together with the basic exercises being covered.

Exercises on the video are: 360s 10 to 2s Hammer Swings Curl and Press Pendulum Swings Digging There are many others you could do if you put to use your imagination, just putting the exercises from the video together for a combo or doing 360s and 10 to 2s for time will provide an awesome unconventional workout. My exercises of preference are 360s and 10 to 2s, as I really love long sets and high reps.

Odd Object Lifting

This ebook wouldnt be complete without covering odd object lifting, the epitome of unconventional conditioning. Odd object lifting has been around for years, ever since people starting training. A fine example of an odd object is a stone, the stone could be small (ideal for training the grip) or quite large which would be ideal for loading, bear hugging and carrying or pressing. Ive done loads of odd object lifting in my time and in a round about way one of the reasons I got into training in the first place. I love eyeing up odd objects to try and challenge myself with.


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I still have quite a few in my gym that I use, such as atlas stones, small rocks, barrels, kegs and of course the previously discussed sand bag training.

Training with odd objects

Without going into too much depth here I would like to give you some ideas for what odd objects are and what the basic exercises would be with them to help broaden your mind (if you need it), so you can go off on your own and get odd object lifting. Odd Objects: Stones and Rocks Sandbags Kegs and barrels Tyres Buckets (filled with rocks or sand the big gorilla type) Logs Engine blocks or pieces of broken machinery Bales of straw Wooden beams Builders bags Rope The list is endless, but I hope this has given you an idea of a few of the things that could be used for odd object lifting. Almost anything has the potential to be an object that could be trained with. To open your mind, before doing any odd object training have a think about the following exercises and how (and if) you could apply them. Exercises: Over head lifting Dragging Pulling Swinging Gripping Throwing Running Squatting Shouldering This isnt rocket science, there are only a certain amount of exercises you could possibly do, however there is no limit to how many different combos you could put 27

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together with all the odd objects there are and the types of exercises you could do. Go and try some out. Odd Object Lifting Videos Dishwasher press a fine example of odd object lifting

Sandbag Loading

Barrel Training


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Barrels and kegs are true odd objects, the large barrel in this video is part filled with water and something I enjoy bear hugging and walking with. You can fill kegs with sand which make them excellent for loading and clean and press. Empty kegs are also a great training object and perfect for high repetition swings.

Grip Training
Over the last few years, grip strength has become a big part of my training, I have also competed in my first competitions this year (2011). There are many elements to grip strength and there is not just one exercise that will train them all. Here I will cover a few of the basics that can be done without too much equipment.

Firstly when many folks think of grip training they automatically think of torsion grippers. The gripper trains your crushing strength and basic hand strength. There are loads of different brands on the market most of which are not adjustable, I will recommend to you the best gripper out on the market which is adjustable and will suit your gripper needs forever David Hornes Vulcan Gripper. There is nothing better, period!

Pinch gripping is one of my favourite grip exercises and is easy to perform with limited equipment. Pinching


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trains the thumb primarily along with the fingers and can be done at varying different widths depending on what you are training for. I train wide, medium and narrow for all-round strength. The quickest way to get pinching is to put some metal weight plates together with the smooth side facing out, a good target to aim for is 2x20kg plates pinch gripped together.

Other objects that are good for pinching are metal blocks, stone slabs and blobs. Blobs are the ends that have been cut off York dumbbells, they can turn out to be quite expensive but if you manage to get hold of them they are awesome for training with. On the cheaper side, a smooth well picked stone that has been in a river could be a good alternative at zero cost. I have various pieces of metal that I have collected which I use for pinching so keep your eye out for such objects. One thing to be very careful of when pinching is going too wide too soon. If you damage your thumb it will be the end of pinch gripping for quite some time, an injury caused by pinching could take months to heal properly so really take your time to work up to wider and heavier weights (I learnt this from experience, thumb injuries are not nice).

Fat Handled Bars & Dumbbells

Fat grip bars and dumbbells are another of my favourites and are great for all round hand strengthening. I would consider anything 2 inches in diameter and above to be FAT, I have dumbbells sleeves upto nearly 4 inches thick. As with all grip training, setting off slowly and finding your strengths and weaknesses is key. Same goes


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for fat handled bars, as it can be a strain on your thumbs. For training there are endless exercises you can use, cleans, snatches, farmers walk, static holds, curls, thumbless grip, deadlifts.. use your head and work some thick grip work in. If you dont have access to any thick grip bars then you can always put plastic sleeves over the end of your barbell for performing deadlifts (or just use the end of an Olympic barbell, a sleeve will make it like a Rolling Thunder handle) or wind rope and tape around a dumbbell to make it as thick as you want. I commonly wrap strips of carpet around my kettlebell handles to work the grip hard when doing swings and snatches, you can do the same with dumbbells and barbells too. Another fine way to train wide is to make a hole through a nice solid piece of plastic drainage pipe (just make sure the wall thickness is enough to take some weight) and then attach a hook or chain so it can be loaded.

Simple Pinch Device (and lever)

Here is a simple pinch lever that I made from a few blocks of wood, this is great for practicing single hand pinching and also great for training the forearms (as are plate curls using a weight disc)

Gripping, pinching and fat dumbbells are only a few exercises that a great for grip strength, if you havent done so already check out the kettlebell training for grip strength video earlier in this book, there are some great ideas for training the hands there which can also be applied to dumbbells and other training implements.


Unconventional Conditioning

Basic Grip Training Routine

Although grip strength gets training indirectly by Unconventional Conditioning I believe it should be trained separately also as a weak grip is commonly the missing link in an athletes all round strength. When training for general strength and fitness I finish off almost every session with some grip work. Ideally, the grip should be trained 2-3 times per week. For someone with limited or hardly any training gear at all I would recommend 2-3 sets of 10 reps on 2-3 of the following exercises: Sandbag grabs (see previous video) Plate Curl (great for strengthening the fingers as well as the forearms) Stone Pinches (you can also use a paving slab or similar for this) Reverse Curls (using a dumbbell or barbell) Finger Curls or Wrist Curls (using an Olympic bar wedged into the corner of the floor) Heavy Dumbbell Holds for time My grip training is usually split into 2 areas, training for a single feat of strength or event and general grip training. If I am training for a grip event I will practice the lifts alongside any strength and fitness training I am doing at the time and sometimes do specific sessions on just grip (usually close to the competition). My general grip training will often involve a medley of grip movements, I like to keep things simple yet fun and interesting. As an example I would complete my main workout and then work on the Baby Inch Dumbbell for reps (deadlift), followed by Baby Inch Dumbbell Cleans, followed by trying to deadlift 2 fat dumbbells together or a blob and a dumbbell together. I also like to work light for high reps right at the end of a workout, this often takes the form of Vulcan Gripper set high for as many reps as possible, then knocked down a notch alternating between hands until Im on the lowest level going for as many reps as possible which usually results in a great pump and my hands and forearms full of lactic acid. I will also use my Titans Telegraph Key for high reps to train the thumbs very last thing on my workout. 32

Unconventional Conditioning

If you have no access to such a piece of equipment I would recommend getting yourself a Pony Clamp or something similar. I bought one for 1 at a hardware shop, which comes a very close second to the TTK and is a lot easier to transport. Remember, you dont need expensive dumbbells and the like to do this type of training, homemade equipment does the job and introduces you to the style of training before you commit and go buy the real thing. I have only covered a minute amount of what can be done with grip training. If you are interested (and I think you should be) in finding out more then I would recommend the following websites to extend your knowledge base and learn from the best: David Horne David has been training for years and has developed his own grip strength products (the best in fact, he has a superb range of top products I would recommend all of them to you), hes set world records in many events and has a wealth of knowledge in the World of Grip. Not only that, David is willing to help all who are interested, he is a great ambassador for this up and coming sport and has brought the world together with his annual Worlds Strongest Hands Competition! I believe this 3 leg Worldwide competition will grow and grow, year on year, snowballing and gathering many more like minded people to think and train in this excellent sport! Adam T Glass Adam has released some great instructional DVDs alongside running a superb blog that you will find not only inspirational but also packed with excellent information that many other folks would be trying to charge you for. On top of this Adam is becoming one of the top grip strength athletes in the world, he has performed some amazing feats of strength and his passion for life and grip sport is very addictive. You will learn a lot from this guy so listen up! Jedd Johnson Jedd has done it all, hes done almost everything from Strongman to Speedball and everything in between. Again Jedd has released some top notch DVDs from Atlas Stone Training to Forearm training for Baseball, Sled Dragging and numerous grip products. Jedd runs quite a few sites and has also created the superb Homemade Strength DVDs 1 and 2(DIY Grip Strength Equipment).


Unconventional Conditioning

Ive been following Jedd for years now and started to really take notice of Jedd when I got his Card Tearing Ebook, I learnt the basics from Adam and took it a step further when I read Jedds ebook. Initially, I couldnt even tear 20 cards nevermind a full deck. But with some coaching and a lot of perseverance (v.important) I went from taking over 1 min to tear a full deck to somewhere around 10 secs, I think Ive gone well below 10 secs on some occasions, thanks to Jedd. So there you have it, the truth about the guys who have inspired me in the World of Grip Strength. What excites me about grip strength competition is that right now there appears to be no limits to the direction it is taking! By discovering and trying new things you enter a new era of self discovery and challenge. I hope some of this has inspired you to develop yourself and take your grip strength to another dimension!

Hot Exercises If You Could Only Do 3 Exercises

To finish off this section, I will present to you my favourite Hot Exercises, exercises I believe give me the most benefit. 1. Heavy Kettlebell Snatch I have found great benefit with this exercise and found a big correlation between it and pressing power, all-round explosive power, fitness, core strength and shoulder health. Its no magic exercise but is one I have had lots of fun with and a hell of a lot of benefit from and needs to be given respect. Heavy snatch to me is something you can do around 10-20 reps with. 2. The Bear Complex this is a bit of a cheat exercise as its 5 exercises in 1 and something Ive been playing around with of late. If you dont know already the Bear Complex involves cleaning a barbell to your chest, front squatting it, push pressing it overhead, dropping the bar on your shoulders, back squatting it, push press behind neck and then return the bar to your chest and then the floor and thats 1 rep. You can imagine how much youll be blowing after a set of 10 even with a light weight. My long term goal is 10 reps @ 100kg


Unconventional Conditioning

3. Plate pinch and clean to finish of my ultimate exercises (these are mine) for good hand strength and power I would work on the plate pinch and clean. As I previously spoke about plate pinching, this is just an extension of that involving explosive power to clean the plates up to your chest. Although there is a large amount of stress placed on the thumbs and wrist, for me this exercise would cover quite a few bases in the hand strength department. Check out an example of it here

Putting Everything Together

Personally, nowadays I am not one for following detailed training programs (I did that for years and find the rigidity to stick to rep for rep programs quite boring). I am however up for setting clear goals and having a good idea how I will get from A to B, how many times per week I need to train and have a baseline set for weights I need to be lifting etc. A rough cut program is probably what you would call it! Firstly, dont set your aims so high that theyre unachievable, if your aims and expectations are big ones, make sure you have lots of time to achieve it with plenty of mini-goals on the way. At the time of writing this I am training for a sledgehammer challenge with a 25kg Hammer aiming to break 1000 tyre strikes in 1 hour.

Rough Cutting a Plan

As an example how I created a basic plan for the event I am doing: I am doing the hammer event in October 2011, I started out training in May 2011 (So I knew how many weeks I would be training) I did an initial workout hitting the tyre for 10 reps per min for 10 min. The first session was tough as I hadnt done much aerobic activity for quite a while, so this was to be my base level. On completion of this session I decided I would do 3 sessions per week on the hammer and my goal rep rate would be 17-18 strikes/min for the challenge (to achieve 1000 reps in 1 hr).


Unconventional Conditioning

I had roughly 5 months to train (give or take a few weeks for holidays etc), I decided to do 10 min training sessions initially and increase my rep rate by 1 rep per min per week and work over my target range to 20 reps per min, once I got to 20 rep/min I would start lengthening my training sessions and do each session twice so I would do 11 min @ 20/min for 2 sessions and so on. Once I was over rep rate, I felt adding heavier hammers on some sessions and doing tests for longer periods of time would be beneficial too. Below is an example of how I set up my training sessions using a spreadsheet, In my actual sheet I have done totals and left extra columns to add comments etc This isnt rocket science, but it is a really good way to monitor your training which you can also use to keep an actual record of the dates you trained and exactly what you did.

Sledgehammer WK1 WK 2 WK3 WK4 WK5 WK6 WK7 WK8 WK9 WK10 WK11 WK12 WK13 And so on.

Rate/reps Session 1 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 20 20

Duration Mins 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 11 12

Rate/reps Session 2 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 20 20

Duration Mins 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 11 13

Rate/reps Session 3 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 20 20

Duration Mins 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 12 13

You must be careful with linear training programs like this, I could apply this method to my hammer training challenge at the start because I set off at quite a low level of fitness (for me), so I found that this program worked well, until things started to slow down with my progression which is when I needed to change things up (adding different sessions etc).


Unconventional Conditioning

Dont get stuck in the add one kilogram on a day style program until you can lift 300, you have limits and the great fun about training is finding ways to get around them and push through plateaus. The lifting an Ox every day from being a calf plan doesnt work, it looks good written down but has some serious problems relating to it when the Ox gets to be about 3 months old or there abouts when its bodyweight has surpassed the human ability to gain strength quickly enough .

Sets and Reps

There are an unlimited amount of set and rep structures available to you, all of them completely useless unless you train with passion and commitment. Two people could do the exact same program and come out with two completely different results! The one who is most passionate and clever will come out on top! There are times when you may feel like you are going through the motions because you are tired or having a bad day. On these days I believe that it is probably better to do something rather than nothing, after all when the day has passed you cannot get it back! I work many different rep and set structures into my training and have probably done just about all of them and will explain a few of them in just a moment. My favourite for kettlebell training is the ladder! Set off at one rep each side (when using single arms) followed by two each side followed by three etc etc. I sometimes even go up and down a ladder or even start at 10 and go to 15 or 20 and back down to 10. 1-10 = 55 reps (each side = 110 reps) 1-10-1 = 100 reps (you can easily rack up some volume doing ladders!) I love to use ladders when I set off doing a session and Im feeling quite tired. If my mind is wavering over whether I should actually train or not I try to force myself to do the first few sets of a ladder. Its more daunting to be faced with sets of 10 of something rather than a set of 1 followed by a set of 2 and so on!


Unconventional Conditioning

I wont bang on about amazing set and rep combos that will blow your training out of the water, as many things will work depending on where you are in your training. But nothing works better than intelligent training. Training can be increased through intensity, volume and frequency. You dont have to train all of them at once, but remember you need to be smart with your training because just doing more and more everyday will get you no where fast apart from injured and disillusioned

There is so much to read up on sets and reps, go and find out what works best for you! You can also train for time, many kettlebell athletes do this and there is no reason not to, it works especially well with high rep training (such as kettlebell snatch) One of the most interesting training methods of recent times is the Gym Movement protocol brought to mine and a lot of other folks attention by Adam Glass. This method of physical training lets your body decide when and what you will do in any given training session (providing you have an idea what you are trying to achieve). By performing some simple self testing and listening to how your body responds, your training session will be lead by you and you only! Read up some more about it here.

Wave Training
There are many ways to train to get stronger, your body will always adapt to the training methods you throw at yourself so it is sensible to always be changing your program style. Another format for rep schemes worth looking at is the Wave Loading Principle. This can be applied over an exercise in 1 training session or could be over several training sessions:

Using Barbell Clean as an example Wave 1 Set 1 = 8 reps @ 70kg 38

Unconventional Conditioning

Set 2 = 6 reps @ 80kg Set 3 = 4 reps @ 90kg Wave 2 Set 1 = 8 reps @ 75kg Set 2 = 6 reps @ 85kg Set 3 = 4 reps @ 95kg Wave Training Applied to Training Sessions over a period of time Week 1 Session 1: 50% of Max Target Session 2: 55% of Max Target Session 3: 60% of Max Target Week 2 Session 1: 55% of Max Target Session 2: 60% of Max Target Session 3: 65% of Max Target Week 3 Session 1: 60% of Max Target Session 2: 65% of Max Target Session 3: 70% of Max Target Test max and repeat same protocol for another Wave Starting at Week 2 percentages. This is just an example to give you an idea what wave training can look like, obviously there are endless ways to train.

Top Sets
Years ago I got some really good gains in the weights room training Top Sets and had a lot of fun doing it too. Over the length of 6 sets (as an example) build up to a maximum effort lift on the last set (this could be at whatever percentage of your max you happen to be training at the time)


Unconventional Conditioning

Example: Bench Press Set Set Set Set Set Set 1 2 3 4 5 6 10 reps @ 90kg 8 reps @ 100kg 6 reps @ 105kg 5 reps @ 110kg 5 reps @ 112.5kg 5 reps @ 117.5 kg (All out last set)

As you can see, the first few sets acted as a warm up, followed by the reps becoming more intense building up to a max effort final set. At the time when I was using this method, I packed on a lot of meat! You could apply it to all forms of training in some way or other (if you have a fixed weight i.e. a kettlebell, the build up in weight could be swapped for a build up in reps per set)

Specialisation Training
If I am training for something very specific I will try to train it every day or as many days per week that I can (when training something every day you must make sure the volume is not totally mental it must set off low) . When I have been chasing new Kettlebell BUP personal bests I would spend at least 20 mins per day (working days) practicing cleans and partials just to get used to the weight. I am also a big fan of training twice per day when closing in on a target, I feel that this gives great physical benefit but also, the mental benefits of knowing how hard youve worked really helps too. When Im talking of twice per day training I dont mean to be lifting maximal weights or training flat out, which would just burn you out completely after a while, Im interested in bringing up my base level which gives you a better, bigger platform to progress from. I used this type of training when I was training to lift the Dinnie Stones. I set up a trap bar in my cellar and every time I went through I would get stood in it and do a rep (I had somewhere around 175kg on it which wasnt


Unconventional Conditioning

too heavy for me), its amazing how much volume you can build up by doing this type of training. The key is to not over train! If youve spent enough time training and reading your body, you should know when enough is enough and when youre ready for a break. Ive learnt through years of training to know when things hurt or I get tweaks its either time for a lay off or at least time to give a specific muscle group a rest and move onto something different. If you dont listen to your body at all (there are times when competition schedules etc mean you have to override this), then you can be sure youll end up exhausted or injured, although it is amazing how much the human body can take. Specialisation training is also a great one for learning new techniques, Ive used this a lot in training for new grip events where its not just about brute force but where there is a lot of skill involved.

Thinking Unconventional
To finish off training types and formats I want to cover a method for opening up your mind to thinking up different ways to train. There are only so many ways to do something, but how often do you ever think about new ways of lifting to add variety. Have a think about all the training implements you have in your possession and the exercises that you do. Now think about the following things: Can you hold the implement in a different way? On the end, in a way that will challenge your grip, upside down.. Can your implement be used in a different plane, can it be moved laterally, vertically can it be swung Can you attach bands, extra plates, bands or other resistance to it to make it more difficult. Can the exercise or implement be done as a combo?


Unconventional Conditioning

DIY Strength Gear

Not everyone has spare cash to spend on training gear, so a few years ago I started a blog called DIY Strength Gear so I could post all the tutorials, videos and articles related to making homemade strength gear I could find, all in one place. So far I have racked up quite a selection of great posts. As a brief introduction to making your own equipment I have listed some links to what I think make an essential DIY Gym. Im sure youll find something here that will be useful for your training, enjoy! DIY Kettlebell DIY Farmers Walk Bars DIY Bulgarian Bag DIY Grip Equipment DIY Sandbag DIY Squat Rack DIY Macebell DIY TRX (suspension trainer) DIY Prowler Sled DIY Throwing Weight DIY Powerwheel DIY Equipment Resource List


Unconventional Conditioning

Here is a selection of websites that I use for information which you may find interesting, among them many tutorials and articles and lots of inspiration to give you new training ideas. Homemade Gym Stuff HMGS is run by my brother in law Pat Hodgson, Pat has had some great ideas for DIY training equipment and really thinks outside the box with a lot of the things he does and manages to get you stretching your mind too! Garage Gym Online Chris Beardsley runs the Garage Gym online and regularly updates this superb blog with his own training exploits and constantly provides a wealth of worth reading training information that will extend your knowledge of Strength and Fitness. Chris also does many top book reviews and a weekly Link Post, which is most interesting. I believe Josh Hanagarne said he preferred it to the links hed collected in his Google Reader, nice compliment! David Horne runs the World of Grip Shop and The World of Grip forum, both of which can be found using the link provided. David has a grand range of superb grip equipment (be careful when entering his shop, it seems to have the ability to make you want to spend lots of money) and has created a brilliant online community where like minded people gather to swap information and discuss grip sport. Diesel Crew Jedd Johnson and Smitty run the Diesel Crew website. Jedd constantly updates with his grip exploits and posts many excellent tutorials on Strongman, grip and general strength and fitness training along with many weekly challenges to keep you motivated. Adam T Glass the Road Less Traveled website is run by Adam T Glass. Adam trains primarily as grip athlete but is very strong in many other unconventional training disciplines, kettlebells being one of them. A very motivational guy! Legendary Strength this top website is run by Logan Christopher. There arent many things that Logan cant do and hasnt written a book about. Hes well known for kettlebell juggling, old time feats of strength, hand balancing and legendary fitness. Logans Kettlebell Snatch Domination DVD is superb.


Unconventional Conditioning

Worlds Strongest Librarian Josh Hanagarne moved quickly up the ranks of Awesome websites a couple of years ago and has a wealth of knowledge of unconventional training methods as well as an extremely entertaining funny side which gets passed through his blog posts very well! Josh also runs StrengthRules another great website with all sorts of strength training goodness with something for every one. Straight To The Bar STTB is run by Scott Bird and has been around quite a bit longer than most sites and also has a real depth of information from Powerlifting to Grip Training. Scots STTB archives are a real wealth of knowledge not to be missed. Strongerman Bud Jeffries is at the heart of I have followed Bud for quite some years and read quite a few of his books and found them very interesting (Twisted Conditioning and how to Squat 900lbs are brilliant books packed with info). More recently Bud has lost over 100 lb of fat using huge sets of kettlebell swings and other brutal methods. Strength Basics Peter DellOrto runs the superb Strength-Basics blog. It is what is says on the can! A great place, that strips strength and fitness training back to the basics. There are many great book reviews and instructional articles on his blog well worth reading! Chaos and Pain Not one for the faint hearted! There are many awesome no BS articles on here, but some people may be offended by the language and some of the images used in them! Personally I love the wit and no-nonsense style. Shoggoth Basement Shoggoth basement is updated by Jason Steeves from Canada with his training information, Jason is a seasoned grip athlete and also is very much into fabricating his own training gear. Very interesting! Dogman Kettlebell - Stepf Dogman runs this blog and keeps it updated with sledgehammer and kettlebell training exploits. Stepf has also done many Marathon Kettlebell competitions, crazy stuff! Goal Orientated Training Blog - Ben Edwards is an Elite Steel Bender and grip fanatic, Ben has closed over 100 different COC#3s and performed many World Class grip feats, he uses this blog to publish his strength training shenanigans.


Unconventional Conditioning

Marks Daily Apple is run by Mark Sisson a fifty something Primal Blogger. Hes also the author of the Primal Blueprint and is a great source for health and fitness related information and a great provider of fat loss information. If you can be this fit and look this good in your 50s your on the right track! Also, if you are not involved in Facebook and Twitter there are big Strength and Fitness communities developing online, which are always a great source of motivation. Follow me on Facebook or DIYstrengthgear on Facebook and Twitter

My Records
I have trained in many ways over the years, hopefully this will give you a good idea of some of the things Ive done. I love to mix and mash things up - endurance, explosive power and strength you name it its all good stuff. Discus 53.76m Shot Putt 16.77m Hammer 47.50m Javelin 44m

56lb WOB 13 feet 56lb WFD 37 feet 28lb WFD 70 feet Braemar Stone 33 feet 22lb Hammer 115 feet High Jump 1.70m Standing Long Jump 3.03m 30m Sprint from Standing 3.68 secs 10k road race 45min 38 secs Concept2 Indoor Rowing 2000m - 6 min 7.5 secs 10000m 34 min 20 secs 100,000m 7 hr 1 min 3 secs (that hurt!) Bench Press 190kg Deadlift 290kg Squat 250kg


Unconventional Conditioning

Front Squat 210kg Power Clean 150kg Hang Power Snatch 105kg x 6 reps Continental Clean and Push Press 155kg 8 reps clean and press in 1 min with 69kg Inch Dumbbell (2 hands clean) 190kg One arm deadlift (hook grip) Loaded 160kg Atlas Stone on to keg 80kg Kettlebell Flip 80kg Kettlebell Clean and Push Press 64kg Kettlebell BUP 64kg Stacked BUP 90kg Kettlebell Clean Secret Service Snatch Test - 252 reps (10 min/24kg kettlebell) 105 kg 2 Hands Pinch 46.75 kg Single hand Pinch Vulcan V2 (dipped black spring L15, left and right hands) Griptopz Stub 19.64kg Griptopz Half Penny 17.47kg Griptopz Hub 24.49kg Wide Pinched 5 25.4 kg (56lb weight) Deadlifted Dinnie Stones Continental Clean and Push Press 67kg Inch Dumbbell Baby Inch (53kg) dumbbell Snatch Baby Inch (53kg) dumbbell hold for time 43 secs 6.7 kg Rear Weaver stick lift I personally hope that you have enjoyed this short ebook and it has given you some motivation in one way or another GOOD LUCK with your training! And dont forget