Friday, December 11, 2015

High Rep Stone Workouts and El Nino - By Jim Duggan

The Northeast part of the country has been experiencing unusually high temperatures lately. While many meteorologists have attributed this to the powerful El Nino that is taking place in the Pacific Ocean, some weather experts are simply explaining the unexpected warm weather to the random nature of weather patterns. Whatever the reason, El Nino or just the fickle nature of Mother Nature, it has given many a strength athlete in the New York area reason to say "Thank You" for the opportunity to train outdoors well in the Christmas season. To anybody reading this in the Southwest, and who is bearing the brunt of El Nino, I am sorry if it seems like I am rejoicing at your bad fortune. I am not, of course. I am simply happy to be able to continue with some high-rep stone workouts withoutt having to bundle up in layers.

The last month or so, I have tried to take at least one stone workout a week. I would work out at the gym on my second training day. I would not usually lift more than twice per week if I am doing the stones. Lifting heavy stones taxes your entire body, and doing them for high reps leaves your sore for days. Of course, everybody is different, and one of the most important things that any trainee has to determine is the right amount of work that he/she is capable of doing without overtraining. Whether you train using free weights, machines, or a combination of modalities, the second-to-last thing you want to do is overtrain. The LAST thing you want to do is injure yourself. If you are a hard gainer, you might want to limit yourself to two full-body workouts per week. If you are able to handle more, than proceed cautiously and add a third workout to you weekly routine. You know yourself better than anybody else. Don't try to copy someone else's program. In lifting, or in life itself, if you try to imitate someone else you will be a poor imitation. Also, by all means, do NOT buy the latest muscle mags and attempt to follow one of the bogus routines offered by some steroid bloated so-called champion. Train hard, but intelligently.

Anyway, back to the stones. I have five spherical stones. Atlas, or McGlashen, type stones if you will. They are spherical. However, if you have access to natural stones, then by all means you can train with them using the same ideas in this article. My five stones range in weight from 145 Lbs. up to 300 Lbs.. I've used all five at various times, however, for the high-rep stuff, I usually stick to the 145, 180, and 220 pounders. When I say high reps, that can vary as well. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I took out my 145 Lb. stone and did a total of 100 reps. The actual workout consisted of lifting the stone and shouldering it for a number of reps ( usually 10-12) then going inside and doing 15 Hindu Push-ups. I would rest one minute then go outside and do another set of stones. I continued in this manner until I completed 100 reps of each movement.

My most recent workout took place on Tuesday, December 8. This time I decided to use the 180 Lb. stone. I wanted to do as many reps possible in an hour. I did not do any other exercise that day. I felt really good and was able to shoulder it 73 times. The actual time was slightly over an hour, but I felt strong during the set and was not getting overly fatigued. There was on drawback. Since it was warm, and I was not wearing a long-sleeve shirt, my forearms were taking a beating. The granite was tearing into my skin and by the end of the workout, my forearms were raw.

I would like to say a few words about torn skin and stone lifting. I do not wear sleeves, gauntlets, or tacky. I don't even like using chalk, and of course I do not wear a belt. I realize that this an individual choice, and there may be some people reading this who adamantly disagree with me. Again, you know yourself better than anybody. It is simply my choice to not wear any of those things. And while I would never criticize anybody wearing sleeves to protect their arms, I do have some questions about why anybody would opt to use tacky. Afterall, the whole idea behind tacky is to help your arms adhere to the stone. I realize that if you're competing in a strongman event, you would use whatever is available to assist in lifting the stone, but if you are using the stones to train, then it would be a smart idea to make the movement as difficult as possible. I have always felt the same way about powerlifting. If you are competing, then a supersuit, belt, and wraps are a must. But if you are training, you will build more strength by training without any of that stuff. Squatting and deadlifting without a belt will build tremendous strength, and will actually strengthen your back.

Hopefully, the warm weather will last a bit longer. I have always enjoyed lifting stones, and this favorable weather has only added to the enjoyment. And while a little cold weather will not deter me from attacking the stones, it is always more enjoyable to be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt. Forearms be damned. 
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