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Training is about pushing the boundaries of human performance. We all start somewhere, Little League turns into high school sports like football, we take on extramural sports like martial arts and some even choose to pursue their sport as their lifelong passion, some reaching the professional level and even achieving Olympic success.
Chances are, most of us will never get there but that does not mean that we don’t want to push our own boundaries and discover our own mettle. Training, when it becomes a lifelong endeavour, is deeply rooted in who we are as a person. When it comes to combat sports, it’s the same if you are an amateur footballer or an aspiring UFC fighter, training takes up a lot of time and doing it right takes a lot of discipline, effort and sometimes sacrifice to keep progressing and developing in your skillset and fitness.
A lot has been discussed on forums and chat boards about the merits of adding strength and conditioning wok into your training schedule. More than that, the results that athletes are achieving by using it are becoming ever clearer, ignoring the obvious benefits it provides of added cardio conditioning and explosive power alone that can be achieved with it make it a no-brainer to add to your training. Sick of gassing in fights? Tired of being tired near the end of games? Need to jump higher, kick harder and last longer?
Sometimes you have to use more than just your bodyweight to gain a strength advantage on the mat or on the field. Using added weight and specialist equipment to develop attributes to your physical strength, fitness and conditioning are worthwhile if you use the right ones and have the correct guidance. So let’s take a look at a few pieces of equipment that you can either, purchase very cheaply or perhaps have seen around your gym and the internet and not known what they are used for or why anyone would use them.
For a couple of bucks on Amazon, you can grab yourself a Training Mask. The training mask is such a genius idea, I can’t believe someone didn’t commercialise it earlier. He science behind the idea is really simple, it simply allows the user to manipulate the air flow through the masks vents to simulate the effect of altitude training. In short, it forces you to take longer, fuller breaths thereby forcing the lungs to become more efficient at distributing and using oxygen.
When you breathe against resistance produced by the training mask, the lining in your lungs stretches out and allows for the alveoli’s surface area to be stretched, in return allowing for more blood flow to the alveoli for greater oxygen delivery, this leads to an increase in red blood cell count that carries more oxygen to the extremities. Not the rocket science you expected? Well, even though the principle of using a training mask in sound in science, try adding it to your training for almost every activity, from running, sparring, drilling, HIIT, theres not a single thing we can think of that doesn’t benefit from using this piece of cheap, easily available equipment. What are you waiting for? Get one of those today.
Next on the list is another example of creative, inexpensive methods to create tools that assist and help progress your taining. Head on down to the local hardware store and ‘pick up’ some heavy link chain, 1 inch link or more is great if you can find it. Get the attendant to cut you off ten and twenty pound sections of it. This has almost unlimited uses as well. Just wrap the chains around you when doingany form of body weight exercises, they add extra weight to the exercise that adds to power. Using longer lengths and having them drape on the floor add more resistance to movement as you pick up more chain from the floor when rising in the movement. This helps develop speed and explosive power in just about every movement.
Bands are just quite simply the opposite of chains and provide a dual motion resistance. Amazon also has these and they cost next to nothing as well. Buy them in a variety of resistances, usually colour coded. They can also add resistance to all bodyweight movements and be used alongside other equipment like barbells and squat racks.
Then we have the bad-boy of the bunch, the Prowler. This beast of a piece of equipment revolutionised the strength and conditioning game, when it was made commercially available and promoted by Westside barbell and their legendary strength and conditioning coaches, Louie Simmonds and Jim Wendler, somewhere in the mid 2000’s. Since then it has been helping strength athletes, martial artists, pro athletes and anyone who wants to up their game, destroy their boundaries and lose their lunches to ‘Pukey’ the clown.
As anyone who has used a prowler and they will rate it as the piece of equipment that either love or hate the most. While it’s an expensive beast to purchase, a lot of gyms these days have them as standard equipment, along with the barbells you need to stack on them. Heavy drags, suicide sprints and power pushing will develop your speed and power like you never thought possible. A prowler will help you develop your power, speed, explosiveness and stamina like no-other piece of equipment out there. Sell you soul to the sled.
Found in the dark corners of hardcore gyms, or as the prize possession in any home gym, the power rack is a piece of equipment that’s top on the list of any serious strength athlete or home gym buff. A literal cage of iron, this beautiful piece of equipment is available from a vaiety of manufacturers and a variety of price levels. If you are using it at home, or adding it as the cown jewel of your home gym, the power rack gives you a huge diversity of exercises that you can push limits with. Squat heavy loads without worrying you are going to be crushed, deadlift of pins, benchpress from the rails at different isolated parts of the movement. There’s so much to do with a squat rack.
So there we have it, the tools of your destruction and of your progression, find them and use them and see the results come through whee you need them. So what are you waiting for? Slap on your training mask, wrap some chains up and load up the prowler for some suicides, let’s get this party started.
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