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The Investments VI: Injecting Purposeful Variety
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Ross Enamait enjoying a little heavy sandbag work.

In this installment of the investments, I want to cover several drills I enjoy using. These are purposeful variety drills. Many successful strength coaches today caution against trainees using random variety just for the sake of variety, and I very much agree with that mentality. I want to draw light on three drills that are easy to plug in to your program that will produce great results in both athletic development and overall body power.

Enter the Thick Handled Hammer Curl

Hammer curls are a popular drill for many people working to add more size to their arms. I would like to present a simple variation that makes the hammer curl a great drill for grip strength and wrist power. By using a 2″ to 2 and ½” handle, you will have to engage the grip and wrist for a superior total arm drill. This is very simple to use, and productive. I prefer to use the Strongergrip “Gripbell dumbbell” for this drill, the 3.5″ ball makes the drill very challenging even with light weights. I personally prefer using heavier weights for lower reps to tax the thumb, but this drill can be used with a variety of programs from low rep to high rep. Do not allow the plates to touch the hand or wrist, allowing the weight to “lean” on the hand will reduce the leverage effect upon the arm. Maximize the disadvantage of the thick handle for new strength gains. You can make a fat handled bell by simply wrapping duct tape around the handle of a standard DB until you reach the desired thickness.

Enter the pistol squat

I am sure you have seen videos of it on the web. Maybe you know someone who can do one or two. Maybe this drill just plain freaks you out. The pistol squat is the real deal in athletic leg power, coordination and grace. The people who have spent a lot of time with this have built outstanding strength in the legs and hips. I think the best pistol squatter in the world is Steve Cotter, who is able to pistol two 32kg bells, and most impressively leap from the floor at bottom position to a table top with ease (video). The drill is difficult to learn, but in the process of learning it you will gain much skill in the areas of tension and body control. There are two resources for the pistol squat which are invaluable if you want this strength. Pavel offers the “Naked Warrior” Book and DVD and Steve’s “Mastering the Pistol” DVD. I cannot think of one sport where mastery of the pistol would not help.

Enter the sand bag bear hug drill

This is a total body workout. I have been working with this for a long time, since I was a teenager when I got the excellent “Dinosaur Training” book. All you need is a heavy sandbag. I use a standard issue US Military sea bag loaded up with the top duct taped shut. Place the bag by your feet and stoop down to pick it up. I lift the bag the same as a stone lift, from the floor to my knees, then to my belly and get my arms around it. Now crush the bag in a bear hug and walk. You will get a massive back workout here, and your arms will be smoked. There are hundreds of variations to add to this basic drills. Have fun with it, and keep safe body mechanics in mind at all times. Heavy sand bags are inexpensive to make, and will not damage your property in the event you drop them. I think this drill is work class for wrestlers and grapplers, try it out.

Previously in this series :

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