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Building Rock Solid Muscles with Functional Training Gear

Updated on January 5, 2012

Want to chisel out a hard muscled, sculpted body? Then you need to think about strength and strength endurance. Strength and strength endurance are two components every functional workout should address. There are a variety of conditioning techniques and exercise tools for developing these attributes, from using nothing but your own bodyweight to picking up boulders in the backyard, and even suspension training. Before we list the fun stuff, let’s have a quick definition of strength and strength-endurance.

Strength: The amount of force one can generate against a resistance.

Strength-Endurance: The ability to exert against a force repeatedly.

While it can be useful in everyday life to be able to lift the back end of your car, or carry an eight foot solid oak table by yourself with one hand, more often than not, everyday life and the majority of athletic endeavors, demand a small to maximum exertion to be performed over and over again.

To work efficiently, training routines can be designed to incorporate multiple muscle groups through all three planes of motion, front-back/side-to-side/up and down. For grapplers, being able to exert force through these planes while the body is in compromised positions is essential.

Because core strength has such great transfer to other activities and sports, we'll focus on three excellent tools for increasing strength-endurance while constantly utilizing "core" muscles.

-Grappling dummies or grappling heavy bags. These heavy amorphously shaped bags, made in poundages from 50-130 lbs. simulate the action on the mat, and are second only to a real training partner.

Use lighter bags for high repetition technique practice. Keep a steady pace up long enough and you will increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance. There is no limit to the movements one can practice with a grappling bag, and a heavy bag can be used for high-intensity exertions or repeated repetitions to develop stamina.

-The TRX suspension trainer is the most versatile piece of exercise equipment (other than your body,) on the market. Once you have one, you will feel empty every time you forget to bring it on a trip, or to the gym.

Because the exercises on the TRX are done in suspension, the body is free to move through space, creating a wide range of movements unique to this product.

However, because the body is free to move, it is much harder to stabilize, and still must be supported by the muscles in contact with the floor; to do this, the midsection is constantly fighting to bring the body proper support. An excellent "core" workout to be sure.

Specific angles increase or decrease the resistance, and a workout can go from heavy resistance, low reps, to faster, high reps within seconds.

-Clubbells are a heavy traditional weight training tool. Originally referred to as Indian Clubs by the English, the modern version resembles a beefed up baseball bat.

To introduce the body to another set of exercises which are highly differentiated from common gym routines, the club is perfect. The displaced weight of the club as it swings challenges the body to hold itself steady as the weight pulls away from it.

As a core strengthening and conditioning tool, the Clubbell works very well. The entire midsection is utilized in nearly every movement with a club. As equipment for emphasizing sport specific strength-endurance, it is an excellent supplement or staple of any program.

When purchasing Clubbells, all weights are not equal. The off-center placement of weight means every additional pound adds to the resistance exponentially. By moving the hands farther up the handle, weight is decreased; by sliding them marginally down, it is increased.

Developing whole body strength is important for everyone. Even for the average person who has no plans of jumping into a cage match, or playing professional sports, muscles should be flexible and functional, whenever you need them.

If you would like to learn more about the equipment above, follow the links below.

Learn about making your own suspension trainer here, as well as my experiences using my own homemade version:

Adventures with Suspension Training in My Garage Gym

Learn about the TRX suspension trainer here:

Buy a TRX fitness system online

For people who travel frequently and need to take their workouts and their equipment with them, read these articles:

Traveling Workout and Portable Gym and Exercise Equipment

Kettlebells vs TRX-Which is a Better Value for the Money?

Want some great ideas for home workouts without any special equipment? Read this:

Home Gym Workout Routines with No Equipment

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