Odd Object Training – Intense & Fun Strength Training
Odd Object training, lifting things like atlas stones, kegs, and sandbags is a very rewarding form of training. You get strong in ways that barbells and dumbbells can not provide and it is fun to pick things up that 99% of the population will never do.
Recently, I wanted to start working some odd object training into the routine. Optimally, I would have wanted to lift some atlas stones. But since it had been over a year since I last trained them, I wanted to work Odd Object Training back in slowly.
Instead of jumping right into stones, I opted to do some sandbag lifting and keg lifting. Both of these implements are shaped very similar to stones, and allow you to get used to the body positions of stone lifting and to somewhat practice the stone lifting technique.
The day I did this was also my Overhead Pressing day so I still wanted to do some overhead work. Since I was working with 110-lb Sandbag and a 127-lb Keg, I was able to get plenty of overhead lifting volume in.
For the sandbag, I decided I would do full cleans and presses. This would allow my back to get accustomed once again to the round-back position of odd object training, without going as heavy as my lightest stone, 230-lbs.
To stay conservative, I started with just 3 repetitions in my first set, and then added 1 repetition each set. All the while, I was trying to move faster and faster with the clean and the press in order to get a bit of an increase cardiovascular demand.
In the video you will see that I put a Timer in, just to show how quickly or slowly I was moving through the repetitions. Since there was a clean to the shoulder on each repetition, much more muscle was involved than just performing one clean and going for repetitions afterwards.
Here’s the video so you can see how it went.
With the Keg I decided to move to just one clean and multiple presses during the set. The clean is much tougher with my Keg because it is only half full of scrap steel and it shifts around quite a bit. I didn’t want to push my luck on my wrist, so 1 clean per set was good enough.
I also tried to perform a Keg Snatch, lifting it from between the legs overhead in one movement. I didn’t quite get it but I did come close. I think next workout I will be able to perform the snatch.
Check out the video:
As you watch the videos, you will see that I definitely have gotten a bit rusty with my Odd Object training. When you don’t do it for a while, you forget the challenge of controlling these implements, especially during the flip-over/catching portion of the Keg and Sandbag clean. After a couple of sets, I was able to knock most of the rust off.
For those who are new to this kind of training, you will want to approach it somewhat how I did. Even after the ow volume of work that I did, I was still sore in the middle back the next day. This is most likely due to the fact that I have been using so many conventional training implements (barbells, dumbbells) that my back is not used to stabilizing against such a dynamic load.
But that is actually the whole idea with Odd Object Training. It makes your body work harder than with regular equipment, so it helps you develop even more as an athlete or strength enthusiast.
Naturally, when you first start out with Odd Object Training, you’ll want to start out light and gradually move up as you get used to the demands of the Odd Objects. A good starter weight for most gals is about 50-lbs and for guys, about 80-lbs. That kind of weight with these bulky implements with give you a good introduction.
If you are interested in learning more about Odd Object Training, make sure you sign up for my newsletter, because more information will be coming your way.
If you have any questions on Odd Object Training, be sure to leave them below.
Hello DIESELS! Today I have an interview for you with Chris Miller from Maximum Fitness. Chris and I met through Nick Tumminello, and as I found out more about him, I realized he was doing a lot of similar training in his gym that I do in mine, especially Strongman Training, only he has been doing it with athletes and personal training clients, turning them into brutally strong, DIESEL-powered monsters. So I wanted to get some thoughts from him to see how he has been able to work Strongman Training into the routines with his clientele. I hope you enjoy it and if you have any questions, please a comment below.
Jedd: Please tell us a little about yourself – your athletic and training background and how you got involved with training athletes.
Chris: My name is Chris Miller, and I’ve been a certified Personal Trainer, and Strength/Conditioning coach for over 10 years in Columbia, Maryland. My company is called Maximum Fitness; which is located in Columbia, Maryland. My athletic background consists of playing Pop Warner football as a child, High school football, as well as college football. My training background consists of clients that are; little league football players, high school football players, basketball, lacrosse players, college football and soccer players, as well as MMA fighters, and boxers. I also do personal training and boot camps for the novice clientele to experienced clients.
I became involved with training athletes from the passion I had for sports growing up, and as an adult currently. I looked back on how I trained and viewed the workouts I used in order for me to prepare myself for football; and realized it was a totally different way of life training in the 1980’s. After I graduated from college, I started coaching little league football and high school football. I would see how uneducated these athletes were, and how wrong their workouts were in the weight room. This encouraged me to branch out, and develop ways in which I thought would be more effective in training these athletes. The fitness industry is ever changing; so I researched different training methods and products and created my own system in working with athletes; as well as used pieces of other systems I would see during my research.
Jedd: Many members of the Diesel Universe either compete in strongman training or do strongman training on a regular basis. Do you have any experience with Strongman Training?
Chris: Yes, I have trained with various strongman techniques; but have never competed. I’ve always wanted to compete, but never took the plunge to pursue it. Working at a landscaping company throughout college; me and a few other guys use to perform lifts of logs, trees, cement bags, and rocks all the time. We thought we were the famous guys that competed on ESPN. LOL…
Jedd: Have you included Strongman Training or Odd Object Training into your athletic training protocols?
Chris: Yes indeed! Strongman training is a great way to turn any athlete into a powerful force. I’ve used everything from Keg throws and lifts, heavy cement bags and tires, as well as tractor-trailer rims; before all the common day objects became available to purchase.
Jedd: Since incorporating Strongman Training into your routines, what benefits have you seen?
Chris: I’ve noticed an increase in power, strength, range of motion; as well as muscular endurance.
Jedd: Which athletes do you incorporate Strongman Training with? Football Players? Baseball? Etc.
Chris: I incorporate Strongman Training with all of my athletes; from high school age, college as well as my MMA/Boxing clients.
Jedd: What lifts do you find to have the best carry-over to athletic performance?
Chris: Tire flips, Sled pulls, Sled push, heavy med ball throws, sledgehammer slams on tires.
Jedd: How do you include Strongman Lifts into the routines? Primary movements? Explosive Movements?
Chris: With my offensive/defensive line clients, I like to use explosive movements, since the average play in football is 3-4 seconds; I like to work on explosive movements that simulate coming off the ball in a violent, but controlled manner. The MMA fighters I train explosive and some primary movements; due to the nature of simulating the actual combative movements during competition. I’d say I combine the two on occasion, but mostly using the explosive method for stimulating the fast twitch muscles which are used very much in these sports.
Jedd: How do you go about monitoring your athletes’ performance when using Strongman lifts? Do you ever “dial back” the intensity of the strongman lifts?
Chris: I monitor my athletes by measuring his/her threshold and tracking results through reps and time. Measuring how effective their body reacts pre- and post-lift is key for me. I try to “Dial back”, the intensity a few days before games or matches, because I don’t want to over work a particular muscle group; causing fatigue and muscle tear-down before they compete. I try to keep the intensity at 70-80% 2 days before games, and 60-70% a week before my MMA clients compete.
Jedd: What is the number one Strongman Lift you suggest other strength coaches put into their programs, out of all of the possible choices?
Chris: I’m glad you asked this question, because I personally say, don’t prescribe an exercise to a client, that you wouldn’t do yourself. I suggest all strength coaches incorporate the Deadlift into their programs. Every athlete needs a strong back and core in order to compete week in and week out. There are many variations of the Deadlift; therefore you can reap benefits from many variations, as long as safety and form is monitored.
Jedd: Have you had athletes push back on you when you introduced Strongman Training?
Chris: I train a college Division I Lacrosse player and Division III football player currently; and I’ve been training these kids since I coached them in high school. When I introduced the heavy chains and sled pulls 3 years ago; they looked at me and thought I was crazy. They refused at first, because their college strength coaches were stuck on the basic barbells and dumbbells exercises. After a few days of training, and 3 years later; they can’t get enough of the Strongman exercises.
Jedd: What is one piece of advice you would give to other Strength Coaches about instituting Strongman Training into their routines?
Chris: Great question! I first would advise the coaches to research the routines and experiment amongst the staff, then introduce the routine to their athletes. I would also remind them of the safety issues concerning these routines.
Jedd: Thanks so much for your interview. Please feel free to tell us where we can learn more about your training.
Chris: Thank you sir; it was a pleasure having the privilege to participate in this awesome interview! The Diesel Crew is doing big things, and I appreciate the education, and information that is being delivered daily by you all!
My company is called Maximum Fitness, and we are located in Columbia, Maryland. Website and contact information is below.
Chris thanks so much for the interview. DIESELS, Strongman Training is an excellent way to take your athletic training to the next level of Strength and Power. If you want to include this type of training in your programs in order to start reaping the benefits that Chris Miller is seeing with his athletes, pick up our Intro to Strongman DVD, so you can see how to perform the lifts properly and keep your athletes injury free while also becoming brutally strong!
All the best in your training,
Pick up Introduction to Strongman Training TODAY by clicking the image below.
For more information on Strongman Training, sign up for the Strongman Training Newsletter:
Odd Objects are implements used for strength training that are different from normal strength training tools like dumbbells and barbells.
The size, shape, and weight of Odd Objects make them more challenging to grip, hold, and control, and their bulk makes their center of gravity hard to predict.
Examples of Odd Objects include kegs, sandbags, atlas stones, natural stones, fire hydrants, wheel barrels, logs, tires, block weights, kettlebells, and more.
In recent years, Odd Object training has become more popular and they are being used at all levels of strength training and conditioning, including the High School, Collegiate, and Professional levels.
Odd Objects are also often used in the sport of Strongman and Grip contests. The competitors in these sports spend hours training with the sport-specific implements in order to master them and be ready to lift them when they get to their competitions.
Because of the popularity of odd objects, strength enthusiasts and those interested in building muscle may also want to add them into their routine for an additional challenge and variety. However, it is important to understand that Odd Object training can entail more risk, especially for those not used to dealing with their dynamic and unpredictable nature.
It is important to start out slow with Odd Object training. Just like any new activity, there has to be a conditioning, or ramp-up period instituted in order to do it safely.
Just like you can’t go from having a sedentary lifestyle to running a marathon, you can’t expect to go from working out on machines and doing very basic lifting to doing heavy Odd Object training without getting sore or even having an injury.
If your normal training routine involves primarily barbell and dumbbell work while seated or laying on a bench, cable work, or lifts done in machines, then you have work to do before getting involved in Odd Object training. These types of lifts are mostly isolation movements, meaning they target primarily one joint during the movement. While this type of training can be used for getting a huge pump and building muscle, they do little to prepare you for awkward weight bearing lifts involved in Odd Object training.
Prior to getting involved with things like heavy sandbags, logs, and other bigger and heavier objects, it is important to move away from only doing isolation movements and move toward including multi-joint and closed chain movements in your program.
Multi-joint movements are easy to spot, as they include movement over more than just one joint. For an example, tricep pushdowns done on a cable machine are an isolation movement – they target the triceps and involve movement mainly at the elbow only. Close-Grip bench press targets the triceps, but incorporates movement both at the elbow and the shoulder. This in turn brings more muscle into play and increases the demand on the trainee, moving them closer toward being prepared for Odd Object strength training.
Closed kinetic chain movements (CKCM) are also important in conditioning a trainee to Odd Object training. Closed Chain movements are done without sitting on a machine but rather while standing or exerting force directly into the ground. They are also often weight bearing in nature and require more energy to stabilize the joints of the body while the movement of each repetition takes place.
Thus, instead of stopping at Close-grip bench press, an even better option for getting ready for Odd Object training is some form of standing overhead press. This still works the triceps, but you also get the benefit of more shoulder work, core stimulation and full body coordination and stability. Other examples of movements with a closed kinetic chain are the Squat, Cleans, Deadlift Variations, and Lunges.
Proper Lifting Form Cues – Mental Checklist
For those new to this type of training, it is important to set-up correctly prior to doing any lifts. Following is a Mental Checklist to go over when working with closed kinetic chain, multi-joint movements.
Head in Line with Spine: The neck should not be flexed or extended while lifting. It should remain in neutral alignment with the spine to prevent injury. The neck can also be stabilized further by pressing the tongue into the roof of the mouth.
Shoulders Back: Posture is important the entire way down the torso. The shoulders should not slouch forward or there is an increase risk of injury. The shoulders should be pulled back during most of these movements.
Proud Chest: This cue works in tandem with the shoulders. By maintaining a proud chest the thoracic area remains rigid and the spine stays in proper alignment.
Push Belly Out: Take a deep breath and push the belly out. This creates intra-abdominal pressure and helps brace the core and stabilize the torso. This can increase the blood pressure for a short time, so any trainees with health concerns in this neighborhood should exercise caution.
Hips Back: The first movement in most closed-chain, multi-joint movements, should involve pushing the hips back. This helps maintain a safe lordotic curve of the lumbar spine, where it arches inward toward the stomach, rather than rounding away.
Again, the value of this type of training is bridging the gap from isolation movements that are very predictable in nature and moving toward the unpredictable nature of Odd Object training. Training like this helps with coordination, stability, core strength, joint stability, and the ability to react to and counteract outside forces.
Training with Odd Objects
After several workouts performing these free-standing, multi-joint movements, now it is time to move into using Odd Objects. For Beginner Odd Object Training, I like the use of something like a stiff heavy bag. Heavy bags are large and bulky, but their filling is dense and does not shift like that of a slosh pipe or a loosely packed sandbag. This way, the trainee is able to work with the increased size of the implement but not such a dynamic center of gravity.
Heavy bags come in many lengths and weights. The one I use is about 40-lbs. This is a good starting point for the new Odd Object trainee and it will help build confidence with a non-conventional implement.
Now, the same closed-chain, multi-joint movements that are done with a barbell can be done with the heavy bag: Squat, Deadlift, Clean, Press, Clean and Press, etc.
Other movements that can also be done with the heavy bag include Shouldering the Bag, Shoulder Squats, Waiter’s Bows, etc.
Also, because the Heavy Bag does not have to be loaded with plates or any other means, transitions from one movement to another can be quick, increasing conditioning and allowing you to get more work completed in a shorter time.
Sometimes, the best way to put new types of training into action is to see them being done by someone else. In the video below, I go over many of the above mentioned movements, plus other ones. So grab your heavy bag and go along with this video.
Incidentally, if you do not have access to a heavy bag, a sandbag or a loaded duffel bag will work well. They can be a bit more advanced though, because the load inside them may move, causing the sandbag or duffel to flex during the movement, so be prepared if you go that route.
In closing, Odd Object training can be used for a welcomed change of pace from your normal training routine. However, depending on the current ability and training status of the trainee, there may be some transitional work that must be done for a short time beforehand in order to assure safety. With proper caution and consistent training, Odd Object lifting can be a safe and rewarding activity that will help you build muscle, improve your conditioning, and increase your athleticism.
If you have any questions about how to get started with odd Object training, please do not hesitate to ask. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email through the RESOURCES button above.
All the best in your training,
Other Odd Object Info at Diesel
We’ve got tons of information here for you on Odd Object Training. Here’s just a sampling…
Keg Lifting is a very fun and rewarding form of training. Like Sandbags, Atlas Stones, and Logs, Kegs are considered odd objects.
What are Odd Objects
Odd objects are training tools whose center of gravity is unpredictable, often lying out away from the athlete. Odd objects often have considerable bulk and gripping and controlling them is one of the primary challenges of lifting them. While bars and dumbbells have a concise and predictable shape and center of gravity, odd objects force the athlete to react to the dynamic and unpredictable size, shape, and center of gravity of the object.
CHECK OUT THE REST OF THIS KILLER POST AFTER THE JUMP (more…)