Most athletes are familiar with common weight training equipment, such as dumbbells, barbells, benches and kettlebells. But although this equipment is effective, non-traditional equipment and methods offer a new twist on your workouts, which can be performed outside of the weight room.
Non-traditional exercises involve using things that were not necessarily designed for training, including carts, sleds, sledgehammers, ropes, sandbags—and even tree limbs. Basically you can choose any implement you would like, assuming that it’s safe.
Below are examples of exercises you can perform with each of these implements. The exercises hit all parts of the body and will keep your workouts fresh, helping you stay motivated to give your all during your training sessions.
Carts can be used to develop full-body strength and power. Pushing against a cart reinforces a strong drive off the line to improve acceleration, and simulates driving against an opponent as in boxing out or blocking. You can pull the cart facing toward or away from it to develop strength and power on the front and back of your body.
When performing cart exercises, start with a light weight and progress to a heavier weight. Placing too heavy a load against your body can break down your form and put you at risk for injury.
You might find sleds in the weight room, but you can perform many non-traditional exercises beyond the standard Resisted Sprints. For example, you can do Walking Presses, Rows, Curls and Tricep Extensions. What’s great about sled exercises is that they must be performed in an athletic position, making exercises like Curls more applicable to your sport.
Another cool thing about this is that, like working with the cart, you don't have to count reps. You can do time, distance or both.
When you swing a sledgehammer, your whole body is engaged, from your legs up to your arms, making it a great tool for working the core and conditioning. You can perform Sledgehammer Swings against a tire for fewer reps with a focus on power, or for time with a focus on speed for conditioning. Plus, you can swing the sledgehammer in several different planes of motion, offering a challenge to your body from a variety of angles.
Ropes are a terrific all-around training tool since you can swing them in a variety of patterns to strengthen your body from multiple directions. However, the true value of ropes is for conditioning. You can perform for time as a burnout set to completely fatigue your muscles and energy systems. Instead of starting or stopping when switching patterns, I recommend fluidly switching between two arms together, alternating arms, crossing arms, arm circles and single arm patterns. I typically suggest performing Rope Swings for one minute, two or three times during a workout.
Sandbags can be used as a substitute for barbells or dumbbells in exercises like Sandbag Squats, Sandbag Cleans and Sandbag Presses. A great thing about sandbags, unlike other weights, is that you can throw them. For example, you can slam the bag into the ground or throw it in front of you. Also, since it doesn’t have a solid shape, it forces you to engage your grip throughout the entire exercise.
Stay tuned to STACK.com for Part 2 of this series, which will present a full non-traditional workout.