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Strength training: Keep it simple

September 6, 2013
By MIKE HUGHES - The Scene , Times Leader

Physical fitness training, whether in the form of a cardiovascular workout or simple strength training, is an important element to a body's overall health.

Diet too is a key component, but the best diet in the world will be relegated to near ineffective status without a companion workout regiment.

But it doesn't always have to be a complex assortment of super sets and circuits.

It doesn't always have to require multiple hours in the gym, targeting every specific muscle group specifically in an unending string of lifts with slight variation.

And it certainly doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

The old K.I.S.S. adage can and does work keep it simple stupid.

That's part of the premise behind a workout program devised by Reinhard Engels.

He's developed a number of self improvement programs and philosophies that can be found on his website at

The main workout program is as simple as it is inexpensive. Dare I say, it's downright brilliant in its simplicity.

You only need two pieces of equipment, both of which you likely already have in your possession: A sledgehammer and a sweater.

With those two items, and a willingness to participate in outside-the-box fitness thinking, you are ready for the "Shovelglove" workout.

As Reinhardt describes it, takes a sledgehammer and place it on the floor. Wrap it up in an old sweater and you have it. It's that simple.

To start out, he tells of setting aside a whole 14 minutes each day for this workout, performing three basic movements, mimicking motions used in shoveling, churning butter and chopping wood.

He does varying reps of each exercise throughout the 14 minutes, paying close attention to form so as not to strain himself, nor destroy any furniture or other breakable items.

He's added a significant number of additional useful movements over the years, but the basis of the program stays the same.

Take 14 minutes each day, no more, no less. Perform the movements to the best of your ability and then continue on about your day.

It's just enough time to be effective and also habit-forming friendly.

And with anything else, the key is to stick with a program long enough to make it a habit.

Many fitness experts advocate functional movements in their training. They utilize the sledgehammer as well, but also incorporate the use of a large truck or tractor tie to bash the sledgehammer off of.

This affords the user the ability to increase the rate and power of their swings.

The tires are much easier to obtain than one might think and often can be had for little to no cost as businesses are often times more than happy to give away a few tires as it saves them the cost of properly disposing of them.

These are just a few examples of at-home training that doesn't require the purchase of hundreds of dollars of weight equipment.

There are always the old standbys like pushups, situps, pull-ups and dips. Using ones own body weight is a great way to get a workout. There is a reason pushups are one of the best and most popular exercises for working the upper body.

It's a movement that requires the use of the majority of muscles located in the upper torso. It's also a movement that can be done relatively anywhere.

The best part is your body is your gym. No purchases are required.

Another avenue to pursue is checking out some of the message boards for people who train for strongman competitions. No, not powerlifting, but strongman events. There is a difference.

Few fitness enthusiasts are as inventive as strongman participants in developing at home training methods that require little cost to produce.

An example is the farmer's walk event. Contestants are tasked with grasping to heavy objects, one in each hand, and walking a set distance. It's not nearly as easy as it looks, but it's a great workout.

To do it at home, simply get two 5-gallon buckets and fill them with cement. You can use either the handles that come with the bucket or construct your own for increased comfort and stability.

After it dries, simply pick it up and start walking.

A great website to pick up ideas from this area of strength training is

Sandbags, buckets filled with water or cement, and a hole host of other objects can be utilized in your workout.

If you have a decent plot of land, chances are you have access to larger stones that are of considerable size and/or weight.

If not, there are few better workouts than a session of chopping wood. Grab some logs, an ax and have at it.

When you're lifting heavy items that are in a specific shape, such as plates on the end of a barbell or dumbbell for example, it requires greater muscle control and pulls more muscle groups into play because of the added challenges.

There isn't a set spot to group, or hold the weight, so it's constantly being shifted, challenging different muscle fibers that may not normally get hit during your standard chest and triceps workout.

The variety will increase both the challenge of your workout and the overall enjoyment level, thus making it easier to stick with it.

Hughes may be reached at



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