Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Tools are in Your Toolbox?

There is a saying, "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." In other words, if we are not careful, we can find ourselves inside of a self-constructed box of our own creation. We can get into a rut of allowing our enviroment to limit our training. While there are certainly more machines, gadgets, and devices available than ever before, in many ways these become limitations. We tend to think, "If only we had.......(some piece of equipment), then I could really make progress." To me, the great challenge and satisfaction of life is not so much what I can accumulate, as it is what I can do without. Having had the privilege of living on the Navajo Nation since 1976, I have been able to experience that attitude personified. The tenacity and creativity that allowed the Navajo people to survive and prosper in this harsh enviroment is still very much evident today. It is often manifested in how everyday mundane problems are solved. I love the story of how a family was traveling to town from a remote area of the reservation when a tire on their truck went flat. With no spare, they removed the valve stem and patiently sifted sand through the hole until it was full enough to drive on. This story was related to me by the suprised mechanic who removed the tire to repair it in Farmington, NM.He also told me about the truck that he worked on that was driven in with horse tail hair woven into the universal joint to keep it from vibrating while they drove into town for the parts. I remember my wife and sister-in-law getting stuck in the mud while delivering food for a funeral and digging themselves out with serving spoons. I could tell hundreds of more stories of finding a way to get the job done. Many of my former students choose military service as a post high school option that allows them to get out from between the Four Sacred Mountains and see the world while earning some money and benefits. Many of them have been decorated during the Gulf wars because they knew how to solve problems. Especially in the desert.
What does all this have to do with training? No "Land Mine" unit? Tilt a bar up in the corner. No back raise or glute-ham? Mount an old car seat on a saw horse or duct tape pillows or other foam padding. No reverse hyper unit? Use the same sawhorse and hold onto a loaded barbell for balance. Manual resitance or rubber bands or tubing can be used to work any plane of motion and are especially useful to improvise workouts when traveling.No barbells? I've had alot of fun lifting, carrying, and throwing big rocks in various ways.Try pushing a truck for some leg and lung work. We have a nice well equipped weightroom now, as illustrated in the last post. But I can honestly say, we are not doing anything now, that we did not find a way to do before. It is just more convenient now. We never quit looking for better ways to do things and never let our resources dictate our program.
Improvisation is not limited to the weightroom. Can't afford a Denfi trainer? Attach a 2&1/2 or 5 lb. plate to an old hammer handle with heavy gauge wire or even rope. Awhile ago I had a discus thrower who couldn't get a good trajectory. No matter how we drilled from stands, to right leg pivots,...etc. when we put it all togather out of the back we got line drives. Finally I got two bungy cords and a tarp. Using the cords we suspended the tarp across the front of the cage. Now the discus had to clear the tarp or the tarp would catch it and drop in front of the thrower. (Don't attach the bottom corners or it will throw it back) A few sessions with the tarp fixed the problem.Don't let your current toolbox limit your approach to finding solutions.

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