Curious looks for Adam

Take that! A heavy punch bag takes a beating by Adam in is sledgehammer training substitute.
Take that! A heavy punch bag takes a beating by Adam in is sledgehammer training substitute.

FROM athlete to building site worker.

Adam Meritt has done it all and is using the experience in his work at Springs.

Heavy ropes, sledgehammers, weighted sledges, kegs, free weights, even tractor tyres. They have all become training aids. 

And because of the simplicity of the equipment, the new type of fitness regime has been named Caveman training.

In a lot of ways, the wheel of exercise is turning full circle. Sledgehammer training, for example, has been around for decades.

Boxers have been chopping logs with axes for almost a century while kettle bells and Olympic-style weight exercises have both been popular for ages.

But giant leaps in sport and exercise science mean these old techniques are being regarded with fresh appreciation and understanding by trainers like me.

Part of the attraction and benefit of using such equipment is that all the exercises provide an intense workout for the whole body.

I have been using this type of training both for clients and myself for years. A recent objective of mine has been to adapt it so that it is safe and effective in an indoor group setting. This means that Springs members who take part in my classes can enjoy the benefits of it.

I have introduced a number of Caveman-style exercises into my Saturday morning boxing circuit.

The most recent uses a 45ft length of manila rope known as battling rope.

It is wrapped around an anchor point and, with one end held in each hand, the exerciser then uses his or her whole body to slam the rope to the ground. The idea is to do it hard enough to cause a wave to travel down to the anchor point.

Producing this level of force and maintaining the flow of waves for a given amount of time develops a good deal of power and endurance from the cardiovascular system and the muscles, particularly those in the shoulders, arms, hips, and core.

This is just one of many uses for heavy rope, making it a great exercise tool.

One of my favourite exercises for personal conditioning has always been sledgehammer training. Long before I knew a great deal about sports exercise and science, I spent many of my working days smashing up old pavements. It certainly made me appreciate what a good workout it can be.

Clearly, sledgehammer training indoors is not the safest thing to do either for the exerciser or for the gym’s floor. I have, however, come up with an excellent alternative.

By anchoring a heavy punch bag to a number of elevated benches and using a heavy medicine ball as a substitute for the hammer, I am able to essentially perform the same movement in a safe way.

Another favourite is Olympic lifts such as the clean and press and lifts like push presses and thrusters. Depending on the amount of weight and the amount of reps, it is great for muscle development, strength, stamina, and calorie burning.

This is because it utilises all of the body’s major muscle groups.

During some of my circuit classes I have used an old keg because it provides a convenient and manageable weight for a short and intense cardiovascular workout, but there is no reason why you cannot substitute with either a barbell or dumbbells.

There are a large number of caveman style exercises which can be incorporated into an exercise programme to perform safely in the gym. Ask your gym instructor about them. You may find yourself enjoying fresh and highly effective workouts.