Tires and sandbags and tubes, oh my! How odd object training could make you stronger, more balanced and fitter than ever.

With the popularity of events such as CrossFit and obstacle course racing comes a new kind of training protocol that looks, well, odd. It’s odd object training, to be precise, and it can use any non-barbell or -dumbbell piece of equipment from a water-filled tube or sandbag to a bucket of rocks or giant tractor tire. Awkward? Yes, but that’s the point: Your body is forced to deal with that awkwardness, recruiting muscles in new ways and forcing your body to work synergistically.

Force your muscles to work in new ways

“The brain thinks in terms of movement, not specific muscles, and odd object training can help us get strong in athletic ways that are more primal,” says Joe DiStefano, CSCS, director of training and fitness for the Spartan Race series. “Traditionally speaking, weight training is extremely controlled: The weights are premeditated, evenly loaded and perfectly balanced, and we move through a very thoughtful, strategic range of motion. However, the demands imposed during sports are totally unpredictable. By training with objects that are imbalanced, awkward or unstable, we can improve our ability to control the unpredictability stressors and demands we face in competition or in life.”

Odd object training works on several levels, building functional strength and improving neurological connections, ultimately making you stronger and more efficient. “Using a 50-pound slosh pipe full of water recruits a lot more muscles and develops a lot more neurological efficiency than does a 135-pound overhead barbell press,” says DiStefano. “This improved neurological efficiency increases the strength of the stabilizing muscles, bringing them up to match the strength of the prime movers. Suddenly the prime movers can push a lot more weight.”

And although it’s counterintuitive, training in an off-balance manner can actually bring you into balance: That same neurological conditioning that builds strength can help correct imbalances between your dominant and non-dominant sides, which ultimately helps prevent injury. “The athlete who spends a lot of time beating down his or her body with heavy loads is also a great candidate for odd object training,” adds DiStefano. “Working unilaterally, synergistically and athletically could be the very thing to help this athlete recover from overtraining and ultimately become more powerful.”

Get Odd

Blending odd object training into your traditional protocol is an easy way to jump in, adding four to six sets with a unique implement each workout. Try supersetting a conventional lift with an odd object exercise to train opposing movement patterns, DiStefano suggests. For example, pair a heavy, low-rep deadlift with a high-rep slosh tube overhead press, or a heavy bench press with a four- to six-minute bucket carry.

Sure, you could just use one dumbbell, kettlebell or weight plate in a unilateral manner to throw you off kilter, but why not get creative? Add a few of the fun toys below to your odd arsenal.

Cinder blocks: They’re awkward, bulky and frigging heavy; in other words, perfect. Do overhead squats, walking lunges with the block in one hand or maybe a Turkish get-up.

Sandbags: Go to your favorite home-improvement store, get a 25- or 50-pound bag of sand, sling it over one shoulder and do lunges, squats or step-ups.

Buckets: While you’re there, pick up a big, empty paint bucket. Add a few rocks, maybe some water, then carry it from point A to point B as best you can.

Beer Keg: Fill an empty keg with water to the desired weight and use it for bench pressing, carrying, squatting and rowing.

Slosh tube: Purchase one online or create your own with an 8- to 10-foot PVC pipe and end caps. Fill it with water to the desired weight, then use it for overhead work or front squats.

Oversized Tire: Go to a salvage yard and snag one for cheap (or free). Find a big empty space and flip that sucker for a total number of yards down and back.

Junk: Yep, you read that right: Look in your basement, backyard, shed or closet. Use that stump you never threw in the chipper like an Atlas stone, or fill that one-handled wheelbarrow with gravel and water and push it up and down a hill. Use your imagination, get odd and get to work.

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Research of the Week

Blue-blocking glasses improve mania patients’ sleep quality.

The human landscape of ancient Africa looked a lot different 3000 years ago.

Without changing caloric intake, time-restricted eating improves metabolic health.

Ramadan-style fasting (30 days of 14-hour fasts, from dawn to sunset) activates proteins related to cancer protection, glucose regulation, fat burning, cognitive function, and immune function.

In Danes, taking fish oil was associated with larger testicles and better sperm parameters.

Women who take the birth control pill tend to have smaller hypothalamuses.

Grass-fed beef is darker, firmer, and less acidic than grain-fed beef.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

primal blueprint podcast

Episode 400: Dr. Corey Riser: Host Elle Russ chats with Chiropractor and Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Dr. Corey Riser.

primal health coach institute podcast

Primal Health Coach Radio, Episode 44: Laura and Erin chat with Anya Perry and Deanna Wilcox, founders of Plan to Succeed.

Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.

Media, Schmedia

California may call Tylenol a carcinogen.

American Southerners in particular are inactive (but everyone’s pretty bad).

Interesting Blog Posts

Fat from your last meal sets the metabolic table.

Dr. Danenberg goes carnivore for his cancer.

The glucose-lowering effect of ketones.

Social Notes

Amy Remondi explains how she learned the science of Primal health and fitness while building her business.

Play a little. Or a lot.

Everything Else

What the smartphone has done to our concept of “space.”

Talk like an Egyptian.

More calls to look into the ethics of Harvard’s meat science research.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Interesting stat: When trying to lose weight, female doctors tend to personally use intermittent fasting, ketogenic diets, and low-carb diets.

Question I found interesting: What’s driving people to seek out and relish objectively painful and uncomfortable stimuli like cold water swimming?

I agree with this principle: Happiness (and love) is what matters.

Why not both?: Exercise as a caffeine alternative.

One of many: The forgotten art of squatting.

Question I’m Asking

Are you worried about the coronavirus?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Jan 18– Jan 24)

Comment of the Week

“Years ago my brother was placed on a drug for high blood pressure. Within two weeks he had a heated disagreement with his neighbor and code enforcement at his home that led to a SWAT team being called. Fortunately one of his neighbors was a cop in the same city; he was able to de-escalate the situation and no one was harmed. The next day my brother realized his outrage about many things had begun after taking the drug. He discontinued it. Three years later his wife was put on the same drug; due to constant arguing, they ended up divorced. They had been high school sweethearts.”

– That’s a sad, alarming story, Lisa.


The post Weekly Link Love – Edition 65 appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Shaquille O'Neal Named 2020 Honorary Olympia Ambassador
Andy Kropa/Invision/AP / Shutterstock

Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend has selected Shaquille O’Neal as its Honorary Ambassador for the 2020 event. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most recognizable athletes, the selection of the Hall of Famer and four-time NBA champion is part of the Olympia’s ongoing initiative to reach new audiences, while inspiring men and women across all sports to embrace the principles of fitness and bodybuilding.

Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon explains, “In recent years, Shaq has become an enthusiastic supporter of Olympia Weekend.  He follows the bodybuilding scene with the same authenticity and passion that has made him one of today’s most sought after product endorsers and a powerhouse in the world of business and entertainment. Shaq was in attendance at last year’s Olympia and his relationship with the fitness community continues to evolve.”

One of the most popular athletes of his generation, Shaq’s interest in bodybuilding and fitness will also be on full display the month before Olympia Weekend when he teams up with former IFBB Professional Bodybuilder Roc Shabazz for the inaugural ROC ATLANTA EXTRAVAGANZA presented by SHAQUILLE O’NEAL. Sanctioned by the NPC and the IFBB Professional League, the August 22nd event will be held in Atlanta.

Recently named Shaq’s Chief Fitness Officer, Shabazz adds, “When Shaq puts his name on something, you know it’s gonna be big. We are planning a great experience for the fans, athletes and sponsors.”

For 55 years, Olympia Weekend has been the signature event on the fitness industry’s annual calendar. Spearheaded by attendance and sponsorship increases at the 2019 event, plans are already underway for 2020 and organizers have begun laying the groundwork for a series of upgrades to its popular arena production and convention center tradeshow.

As part of his role as Honorary Olympia Ambassador, Shaq will be promoting Olympia Weekend throughout the world while also documenting his own fitness journey to his millions of fans via social media.

Join Shaq along with the best bodies on the planet in Las Vegas September 10-13 as Trifecta presents Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend brought to you by Wings of Strength. For more information visit


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Get the Jiu-Jitsu champ’s hardcore routine.

Train your delts with this quick shoulder workout routine from Monique Ricardo, who transitioned from being an IFBB Pro League bikini athlete to a four-time IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) world champ.

JW Player ID: 

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