There’s a lot of sizzle and no steak these days in fitness equipment, but I have seen the light!
It’s called…a 2×4. Yes, the best training tool of all time has been hiding in plain sight in the lumber section of your local hardware store.
Before you laugh and click out, listen to my rationale for BEST training tool ever. The trifecta of sweet, sweet training goodness…
3) Multi-Purpose (read on to learn my favorite movements)
Perhaps my favorite move. This is performed by grasping the outside edge of the board on top (like a pullup) and placing the other hand about shoulder width away with the palm facing up (like you would for a push-up). Then, while keeping the board parallel to the floor, press overhead.
This position will seriously challenge the lateral chain (side core) and the upper body pushing muscles simultaneously. This teaches you to safely and effectively brace for heavy loads. It will also laser in on any asymmetries you have between the left and right side. This move alone is worth at least 10x the cost of the tool–but wait, there’s more!
- Perform the movement from half kneeling for even more core engagement, as well as hip mobility and muscle balance.
- Add a plate to the top to show that you really have control over the movement.
- Perform the movement from a bridge position on the floor for a glute/oblique bench press hybrid.
BALANCE BEAM WALK
Simple, I know, but you’d be amazed how many people struggle with this. Add some lunges for greater effect.
Don’t breeze through this part. If you need a bigger challenge carry some weights in a variety of ways. One of the primary reasons people die in their elder years is through falls. Balance training is the easiest way to prevent falls. Play around on a balance beam and literally add years to your life.
Great for feet and ankle strength and health. You’ve seen those parkour guys? They all started somewhere, and this is where you’re going to start too. I want everyone to be able to interact with the world effortlessly, and strong, catlike ankles are the foundation! Jump onto the beam from a variety of positions, start small at first and land like a ninja!
HALF KNEELING CURL AND PRESS
This move may be THE big $$$ move you’re looking for. First off we continue the trend of muscle balance and hip mobility and we add a sprinkle of grip strength, wrist strength, and shoulder health.
Half of the magic of this exercise lies in building a healthier relationship between your hips and shoulders through your core. The ability to own a split stance is CRITICAL for being a healthy human being. When we walk, that’s a split stance. Sports? Split stances all day long. Tight hips from sitting all day? Own your split stance without compensation and it will make a huge difference.
Don’t be surprised if you can’t do it at all at first, looks can be deceiving!
CORE STRENGTH & BALANCE
The importance of lateral stability cannot be overstated enough. If you don’t have it, every time you are on one leg, the entire system will be compromised. If your stuff doesn’t work, the knee, and low back are going to get pissed off. By training lateral stability while marching or lunging, we can help lock in better movement patterns and switch on the good stuff. However, we don’t always want to have the arms be the limiting factor. Using a pseudo-zercher position allows you to use heavier loads more comfortably for these, as shown in the video.
PINCH LEVER CURL
The upper extremities (forearm, wrist, thumb, and fingers) rarely get enough love in normal strength and conditioning programs. The Pinch Lever Curl (and reverse version with palms down) will solve most of these problems–and help you work the guns.
At the end of the video, I put a little flow together to illustrate a point. The point is–EXPLORE THE SPACE. Training is supposed to be fun, and when you have a fundamental understanding of pushing/pulling, upper/lower, core, and twisting movements, you can learn how to put them together yourself into a well balanced training program.
Stop reading and head over to the hardware store. I recommend an 8′ board to start. If you’re a total beast work your way up to a 4″x4″ x 10′.
Now go have some fun and get strong and balanced!
Better Every Day,