When setting out to get into shape, a good starting point is to find role models. Who are your fitness heroes? Whose physique would you like to emulate? Whose training philosophy most closely resembles your own?
Get this right, and you can find yourself with a blueprint to follow and ample amounts of inspiration and motivation. Get it wrong, and you’re asking for disappointment and frustration.
An example of a ‘wrong’ fitness role model might often be found on YouTube. While there are some great personalities on YouTube in the fitness community, there are also some destructive forces that you must contend with. In particular, are those who spout unhelpful training advice and use steroid-driven physiques to sell us on its merits.
They tell us we can look like them by training like them. They leave out the chemical assistance that helped them get there or the crippling back pain that is the cost of developing all those ‘mirror muscles’ and approximately zero ‘functional strength.’
Why Old-Time Strongmen Are Great Fitness Heroes
So who might we choose to look up to instead? A good alternative might be one of the legendary ‘old-time strongmen.’ These individuals trained long before we had protein shakes – let alone steroids, and yet they achieved physiques that are well beyond many of our modern YouTube stars!
What’s more, they could use that strength and would be able to do incredible things like bending iron bars and lifting massive amounts of weight. These strongmen trained using different tools and methods, and the results more than speak for themselves.
So if you want muscle that’s not just for show and has an amazing historical heritage, that is a much better way to train.
How to Train Like an Old-Time Strongman
So with all that said, how do you go about training in such a manner? What tools and techniques did they use that you could replicate?
The first trick is to use functional tools that train your body from multiple angles and require you to use supportive muscles and balance in conjunction with brute strength. These force us to use our bodies as intended: as a single unit, working in unison. This is how we can generate the most strength and use it in useful ways.
Some tools that you can use to train this way include kettlebells, Indian clubs, ropes, and barbells with thick bars. Training with one-handed movements is also beneficial, using more unconventional lifts, like the Turkish get-up and ‘anyhow lift.’
Another tip is to make sure that you are training your grip. This is the secret weapon of any old-time strongman. Anyone interested in building functional strength needs to give it serious consideration to ensure no energy is wasted and that all of it is directed at moving the weights.
Finally, combine this with a protein-rich diet, and if you want to go truly old-time: lots of raw eggs!