At Ultimate Advantage Training Center, we do lots of training that many would call “outside the box.” This is because we feel there are many things that are outside the box that work really well. Now, a lot of people go outside the box by overcomplicating things and trying to design training that will get a lot of likes on social media. But we go outside the box by being brutally simple and effective.
When you are developing an athlete, part of what I feel needs to be addressed is “making them thicker.” Now, I’ve talked about the importance of adding strength and muscle in previous articles, but in this case, I’m not using thick solely in a literal sense. I mean making them a little tougher—making their skin a little thicker. We like to call these drills or exercises that make athletes both physically and mentally stronger our “Bull Work.”
Bull work is not overly complex or technical. It’s often some of the simplest work we do, but what it develops in our athletes cannot be overlooked. Some of our absolute favorite bull work exercises are loaded carries.
Loaded carries come in many forms—Farmer’s Walks, Overhead Carries, Suitcase Carries, etc. We like to carry heavy weight because it works just about every muscle in the body and also tests your will and mindset. You can really carry just about anything that’s heavy—plates, rocks, barbells, sandbags, etc. As long as it’s heavy and difficult, it’s fair game.
Try loading a barbell to let’s say 135 pounds. Just pick it up off the floor and start walking with it. Walk anywhere from 50-100 feet. Make sure you keep your back straight, your core rigid, and your head looking forward. This will work your core, legs, posterior chain, upper back, grip strength—and oh yeah, your mental toughness. We usually walk around 100 feet for four or five trips, each time using a heavier load to carry. Just how heavy do we go? Form dictates that, but I’ve had high school guys capable of carrying over 400 pounds with solid form for 50 feet.
Again, there’s nothing fancy about this. It doesn’t require some new, expensive machine. It’s just a good, old-fashioned tough movement, and that’s the way we like it. Those of you familiar with UA and myself know we believe in training hard—smart and careful—but hard. I don’t go for cutesy, frilly exercises. I believe if you don’t get strong, fast and nasty, then you don’t make it with us—which is the reason I believe we turn out so many superstar athletes. There are plenty of cushy little boutique studios you can go too, but we believe in working hard!
Another one of our favorites is Wheelbarrow Walks. Once again, it’s so simple. You just load up a wheelbarrow and walk 100 feet or so. You can use rocks, weights—heck, we even have some fun and put our training partner in there. As long as it’s heavy, it’s good. This is another one that will hit your whole body, especially the hips and glutes.
Wheelbarrow walks would qualify as a push, but my last example is the opposite of that—a drag. Yup, dragging heavy stuff is another simple yet very effective method of getting strong and fast. You can drag a weight sled, you can drag old tires, you can even drag fallen trees. Again, it’s not fancy—just drag something heavy! When doing drags, keep in mind that how your body is orientated in position to the load changes what muscle groups are being targeted. If you’re facing the object and walking backwards, you’re hitting more the front of your body—particularly the quads. If you’re facing away from the object, you’re hitting the hamstrings and posterior chain. If you’re standing lateral or sideways to the object, the hips are more heavily targeted.
This is the type of work a kid growing up on a farm would do all the time. You’re familiar with the term “country strong”? Well, this is how you get country strong. It does not have to be expensive to get strong. All it takes is the right state of mind. You have to be willing to push your mind and your body. You must push your limits. Anyone who says you can get strong by doing candy-pants soft drills are wrong. You have to move heavy stuff to get strong!
You know why everyone isn’t “bull” strong? Because it takes years of very hard work. So if you want to get strong, get to work, little man! There’s nothing fancy about bull work, but it flat-out works. This video is my son, Nick Scarpulla, doing a harness carry (which is more of a strongman move) with 675 pounds for 85 feet. Yeah, he’s strong, he’s thick, and he’s a beast. But it didn’t happen overnight. He worked his way up to that over years and years of hard work. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.
Coach Rick Scarpulla is the owner of the Ultimate Advantage Training Center. You can reach him at 914-433-1110 as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo Credit: Pekic/iStock
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