I’ve never trained with a sledgehammer but this seems like the perfect complement to a kettlebell swing or snatch!

Alternating them would be a challenging but awesome workout!

Panaerobic too!



Check out these Indian Clubs at Amazon…


I’ve been gone for quite a while, but I ran across this book by Marty Gallagher and decided a review would be a good way to drop back in and say “Hello”!

The book for review is CrossCore® Hardcore: Revolutionary Resistance: How to Build Maximum Muscle and Extreme Strength Without Weights, Machines or Gyms Kindle Edition and published (on Kindle) May 3, 2016 so it’s “fresh”!

As you know, these limited run fitness books in paper cost alot more – the paper edition of this book is a whopping $30 – but the Kindle edition when I purchased it was just $10. At that price I decided to buy it. And if it were terrible I can always get a refund from Amazon.

First, there are some oddities about the book or at least it’s Amazon description. What they heck is it talking about for one thing? I wasn’t quite sure at first what a “CrossCore®” was or is. Fortunately someone decided to let the cat out of the bag and just call the thing what it is.. a SUSPENSION TRAINER. Once you realize that you can begin to appreciate the book a bit more.

Second, the pretext of the book is  a mystery to me.  The story goes that some “special op” guys really wondered if there were “anything” that they could carry with them short of a set of kettlebells that was “worth it” to stay in shape. That story is probably true but it soundss a bit odd since, supposedly, the TRX was developed by and for “specal op” guys right? But then kettlebells were all the rage for “special op” guys and then “tactical barbell” and then back to this.

In other words, given the origins of this book it’s good to know all the “special op” guys are about as clueless as the rest of us about what what works … the difference is their name get’s thrown around for street cred because it sounds better to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a special ops guy who wanted to know…” than to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a fat middle aged guy who dropped out of Planet Fitness and wanted to know…”

I’ll be reviewing this from the perspective of the fat middle aged guy in case you were afraid you weren’t “spec op” enough to benefit from it, ok?

Third you can go about half way through the book hearing about the “pin out” position and you hope they’re not talking about a grenade, but it’s not quite apparent. Actually they’re talking about the construction of the CrossCore® suspension trainer. As you know some suspension trainers are basically a strap attached to an anchor point (or two straps to two anchor points).

To add instability other suspension trainers are pulley based.

When a pulley is involved you have to maintain stability to keep the pulley from moving while performing the exercise and that adds a different layer of difficulty (and stabilizing work) to the exercise.

The CrossCore® has a “pin” that can be used to stop the action of the pulley and decrease the need for stabilization during exercise. If you’re a complete newbie starting out with the CrossCore® you can start “pin in” and, as you progress switch to exercises that are “pin out”.

Unless you count the latest edition of the IsoGym, which doesn’t really have a pulley but has instability because the strap can move around a carabiner, I’ve never used a pulley based trainer. But does stopping the pulley keep the rope or strap entirely free of movement? I really don’t know, but that’s the implication.

You can see the “pin” and some exercise progressions suggested by the CrossCore® though the book has variations beyond this video and even suggests a use of the device not suggested by the company – but I don’t think that will apply to most average users.

Once past the bravado and confusion, we get into the real content of the book and Gallagher doesn’t disappoint. His goal is to use the suspension trainer to create enough resistance that a very fit “special ops” guy can get a good upper body workout in 15 minutes or less.

As you’ll read, the way of doing this is to apply a variety of techniques to the actual exercises to boost the inefficiency of the exercise.

For example, each exercise is done at reduced “grind” speed… no explosive work. Progressions are accomplished by changing foot placement even during the exercise. Progression is also accomplished in the case mentioned by starting with one arm movements to near failure moving to two arm movements to near failure. These are like “drop sets” essentially in the 5 to 10 rep range.

The difficulty of these moves can be enhanced by pauses during the reps, relaxation at the point of greatest flexion, and full lockout at the point of greatest extension.

I have to admit I didn’t know you could do “one arm” work the described in the book and that was a valuable thing to learn and the “first thing” that jumped out.

Of course the premise is that elite athletes can get the strength building they need using this device in lieu of any other machine or weight. I’m a bit skeptical still though the workout described is amazingly challenging. What I mean is that I didn’t see how a deadlift, for example, could be replaced. Possibly I just read through the list of exercise progressions in the back of the book too quickly. One exercise was listed as the remedy for “glute stimulation” so perhaps that’s the cure all in this case?

As Gallagher notes in the book, real progress will involve real mental application in each exercise. The average guy or gal probably isn’t used to devoting that much attention to an exercise and so that’s why they have unspectacular results.

No matter what device or protocol you’re using – even body weight work – Gallagher’s section on mental involvement and hypertrophy should be helpful.

I certainly was inspired to “give it a go” “Gallagher Style” with my suspension training after reading the book so I’d have to say that alone was worth the $10 price tag. (That’s really what you wanted to know, right? “Was it worth it?”)

Of course I usually quote Gallagher her on the topic of “strength endurance” and THIS BOOK ISN’T THAT! This is about pure strength and hypertrophy with exercise done in the 5 to 10 rep range, not hundreds or thousands.

As the book progresses the user is shown Basic to Advanced routines – some using weihts in a backpack (hey what about “no other equipment”?) and a large variety of possible exercises to round out the information.

This is a strength book, but if you’re using a suspension trainer and know how to use it for ENDURANCE, you can always do what Dr. Schwartz said about IsoTonoMetrics… you can be cranking out reps for endurance and slow them down for strength as part of an overall workout.

In the world of modern fitness with “periodization” you could do strength one day and the next workout do more endurance work. Any knowledge of how to increase the usefulness of a suspension trainer should be useful.

This book will be great if you travel a lot and need to stay in shape with a suspension trainer… you can make sure your basic strength isn’t falling behind that way!  Why you or a special ops guy might not want to throw in a resistance band or two for variety or just extra resistance isn’t something the book discusses much because the goal is to find ONE TOOL that essentially can “Do it all”… fair enough.

I’m not sure I’d have wanted to invest in $30 version… you may. The Kindle book was sufficient for me and accomplished it’s goal.

I’d love to hear your comments! Thanks for reading!



Longstrength for Nordic Walking

Posted: 1st February 2016 by strongman in General
Tags: , ,

Nordic Walking by definition is “Panaerobic”…some estimate that 90% of one’s musculature is involved. Whatever the amount Dr. Schwartz defined it as basically any movement activating all 4 limbs and as much muscle as possible.

It’s a nice alternate day exercise for me – I find it works well doing HeavyHands one day and this the next. HeavyHands really works the shoulders and “lifting” muscles. As the arms go overhead they really get the heart pumping. 

Nordic walking works in a slightly  different way, moves the “lifting muscles” of the arm and shoulder with light resistance and gives more work to the muscles required to “push off” as the body is propelled forward.

What Nordic walking ISN’T is a Longstrength exercise. By Schwartz’ definition they were rhythmic calesthenics that involved all limbs and can be done for time, not just “reps”.

I also don’t like the lack of hip and quad action that upright walking alone gives. That’s where a Nordic Longstrength move comes in for me. 

Basically while standing with arms front, I keep my arms ahead (usually more straight than shown) and sink back into a hip hinge. The return to standing is by a movement that resembles a kettlebell swing, i.e. a hip thrust while – to one degree or another – using the lat muscles to pull upright as well.

It’s a great posterior chain exercise and lat exercise. I got the idea from “gruntbrain” and his poles with “T” handles and from kettlebell swinging. 

Though it can be done as a braced knee bend, in my opinion the hip hinge and lat action keep it quick paced and easier on the knees. 

Currently I use it to fill in gaps on the walk when I’d otherwise be inactive for some reason or if my path on a given day might not have much up hill work.

Now that I’ve found my “groove” in the exercise (doing it as a hip hinge instead of a squat made it faster and more enjoyable), it’s time to ramp up some reps and see how they go.

What other Longstrength exercises do you see as possible using Nordic Walking Poles?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


If you’re doing Nordic Walking here’s a Facebook group to post your workouts!

Nordic Walking Workouts

Join us!

Nordic Walking Roller Poles

Posted: 29th January 2016 by strongman in General

Just when you think you’ve seen everything in the Nordic Walking field – something new catches your attention. 

In this case it occurred on interstate 10 on the road to El Paso at a rest stop!

I met the Tim Affield, inventor of Nordic Walking Roller Poles on his morning walk (pictures below from his website but you get the idea)!

I was fascinated to learn about his unique Nordic walking adaptation and thought you might be too!

My SWIX Nordic poles are fixed length with carbide tips covered by rubber tips.I use one of the other depending on where I’m walking. Mine  also have special “hand straps” so I never really have to grip the handles with my fingers. The instructions say to simply press back with  the heel of the hand. 

Here’s where the Roller Poles differ:

Instead of carbide tips or rubber “shoes” these devices have one way locking “ratchet” wheels. Press back on the poles and the wheels lock and dig in like the regular Nordic walking poles. 

These roller poles are adjustable in length the way medical devices like crutches or walker are. That’s different than adjustable Nordic or Trekking poles that have a twist lock. If I were using an adjustable pole, I’d definitely feel more secure with those used for medical devices!

My poles are designed to be used mostly with a straight arm movement that starts at about the height of a “handshake” and moves back. Tim’s poles were adjusted longer and his motion began from a bent arm staring with a “triceps extension” movement. 

Likewise the handgrips place the hand palm down for ergonomic reasons. I wasn’t familiar with the reasoning but have held my hands like that with my straps on my poles and it works very well and seemed to remove some strain I had in the heel of my palm during fast poling. With the hands in this position it’s almost like “crawling” without getting down on all fours!

I wondered how well the wheels work. Tim says they work on all terrain and haven’t worn out after 3000 miles! Anything has got to be better than the rubber tips – they can cost $10-$14 to replace (including mail) and don’t last long. Mine are worn out after less than a year and I do lots of other things besides Nordic Walk!

I didn’t get a chance to test them myself but I’d like to sometime – their price point is higher than my sticks so that probably won’t happen for a while!

It sure makes me wish I could replace my rubber rips with one way locking wheels though!

And I’d really like to test them compared to other Nordic Poles! I hope we see a lot more of them in use!


Pan-X ApparatusHere’s what this poll is asking about… Dr. Schwartz’ “Pan-X” or “Strength Endurance Exercise Device” as pictured on this page.

It’s use is described in this earlier post: “Jogging Longstrength Style”

Here’s a sample workout using a therapist’s walker as a substitute to give you some ideas. A real Pan-x machine would be more sturdy and not only allow dipping, but also have a higher cross bar for pulling up.

Your participation is very important. I for one would like to see this project go forward!

Hey, if there are FEATURES or PRICE RANGES that would affect your decision, PLEASE leave your thoughts in the comment section.

PS The blog owner has no plans to build or market these devices. Someone who might want to asked me to post this poll however.

[polldaddy poll=9285776]

Another Take on the Walk and Squat

Posted: 19th December 2015 by strongman in General
Tags: ,

This article at Men’s Fitness fit my topic earlier today about “Walking and Squatting“.

It fits the basic definition of walking and squatting, but it’s at a heavier weight than what I described earlier because I was referring to HeavyHands.

This involves a heavier but submaximal squatting weight. Shouldering the weight, the athlete walks 10 meters (or across the gym) and does a set of squats. After the last squat, another walk with the weights is done, then another set of squats, Etc.

The exercise involves a huge amount of muscle. Is it panaerobic?

I’ll leave that for you to decide… I’d assume it would be MORE likely “panaerobic” if some upper body work were done… Some overhead presses, some push presses, or jerks possibly. Of course it might be easier if these were front squats…or  done with Dumbbells or Kettlebells at shoulder height. 

However you do them, they could be another way of adding walking and squatting to your routine.
Note: Image courtesy Men’s Fitness article referenced…

More on the Walk and Squat

Posted: 19th December 2015 by strongman in General
Tags: , , ,

A while back I wrote about discovering that Dr. Schwartz would (when he chose) squat every 10 paces while walking and taking his handweights overhead (“Level 3” or “Level 3.5” in “HeavyHands speak).

Previously I’d done sets of 20 squats while walking with HeavyHands, but always wondered how effective it was. I became fascinated with the idea of squats every few paces because, that way, the longer the distance the more knee bends are done.

In the midst of my experiments I re-read Schwartz’ “The HeavyHands Walking Book” his sidebar on page 13 “Preview of the Evolution of a Super Walk”.  He noted that after developing a respectable workload with 2 or 3lb HeavyHands (though he often used heavier ones) it came time to maximize the leg aspect:

Lastly, you add more leg [to attain a “Super Walk”] in the form of knee dips, 0r semi-duck walks….That last addition of leg strength endurance, by itself, can amount to as much work as conventional walking without weights and dips is!

That was an interesting observation. Adding “duck walks” or “knee dips” could add enough to the overall exercise to double the value of walking without weights alone! I suppose doing a squat every few paces is the “ultimate knee dip”.

In my “experiments” I tried various walking modes. One time I wanted to see the effect of squatting without the weights. I let my wife carry the HH weights that day and walked and squatted every 15 to 20 paces. I find when walking with someone else who is not doing the knee bends, I get woefully behind which is frustrating!

Wearing my Polar heart rate monitor, I noted that this level of walking and squatting – without weights – resulted in heart rates approximately equal to a brisk pace with my HeavyHands! Naturally I expect to find (when wearing a heart rate monitor which I rarely do!)  Of course adding the hand weight back and using Dr. Schwartz’ 10 paces should boost the training value even higher.

I don’t always know the distance I’ll be travelling so I’ve taken to counting the number of squats while trying to keep to the same number of paces between squats so I can better gauge progress. If I only have a short space to walk  with my HeavyHands (one day I was walking laps to the street and back from the back door) I found it more effective to do sets of 5 squats.

If you’re used to doing squats either continuously to high numbers or in sets for high numbers (100 to 500) you’ll notice you can use the walk and squat method to do lots of squats without the “burn” of continuous squats. By doing one good form squat periodically, it should improve the safety of the squatting… one is more rested and warmed up between repetitions. One never “squats to failure” this way.

On the other hand, I wonder if I’m missing something by not doing relatively higher numbers at a time? I’ll have to test the “walk and squat set” method some too. Either way, I’m bound to be getting better results than walking alone.

As I mentioned previously, I’m a bit worried about walking lunges and “duck walks” for my use because of a pre-existing knee issue. I’d rather plant my feet securely then squat instead of doing so “on the fly” especially on the uneven trails I often walk. On concrete walkways, though, I’ve done “duck walks” for stretches.  The “Walk and Squat” though is easier for me to keep track of because I can count squats every so many paces more easily than I can gauge the distance and form of my “duck walking”. (I’m not against it, I’m just not satisfied with how I’m doing it!)

Overall re-reading what Dr. Schwartz was thinking in terms of his goals for the “super walk”… one with maximum exercise value because it activated as much upper body muscle and leg muscle as possible… I’m more intrigued than ever with the “walk and squat”.  If I lived in a home with stairs or even could exercise somewhere conveniently with plenty of stairs, I might tend to focus on those more. Under the circumstances, the “walk and squat” is becoming my “Go To” exercise when I’m not doing Kettlebell Swings. (I find the two go well together but that’s for another post).

I was going to write more about my latest experiment “Ski Walking and Squats” but that will have to wait for a different post too…

Thanks for reading. Your comments are appreciated.


Nordic Walking Source: Wikimedia Commons

Nordic Walking Source: Wikimedia Commons

As big fans of HeavyHands know, one of Dr. Schwartz’ early inspirations (besides a torn hamstring from running) was CROSS COUNTRY SKIING.  The “Panaerobic” action of all limbs moving simultaneously against resistance gave cross country skiiers HUGE abilities to process oxygen … far more than other athletes.

Nordic Walking is the “cousin” of cross country skiing and uses similar poles to approximate the action of skiing when it’s not winter. It too is “Panaerobic”.

That raises the question… Wouldn’t then Nordic WALKING be as useful as HeavyHands?

Good question…

Here’s how I answered the question yesterday when it came to deciding… do I grab my Nordic Walking NSticks or take a pair of hand weights to workout?

First, it’s not necessarily an “either/or”, “all or nothing” decision. I use and like them both. But how to decide?

Workout Objectives

Nordic walking sticks are light… much lighter than even one “heavyhand” weight usually. Mine had a TOTAL SHIPPING WEIGHT of 1.7 pounds including the packaging! That’s lighter than two of the lightest hand weights! Lifting the sticks between steps may tire you out after hundreds or thousands of steps, that’s not where the aerobic benefit of Nordic Walking comes from.

The ability of Nordic Walking to increase aerobic workloads by 20 to 40% or more while activating so much upper and lower body muscle comes from the downward/backward stroke that – with the legs – thrusts the body forward. Though the poles are very light, the energy used to push the body forward can be quite extensive.

While the trapezius, pectorals, biceps, and frontal deltoids work to pull the pole into proper position for the next step, the real muscle exertion in the upper body comes from the backward/downward push. In that case the triceps, rear deltoids and upper back and latissimus muscle groups get the bulk of the work.

With the basic HeavyHands “Walk and Pump” movement, the exertion pattern is almost exactly OPPOSITE… the muscles lifting the weight forward get most of the exercise, though a strong backswing emphasis of the HeavyHands can indeed work the upper back and triceps quite well.

Part of the “Panaerobic Equation” that determines the effectiveness of the HeavyHands movement is the RANGE OF MOTION. Raising the arms and weights above the shoulder to overhead  (“Level III”) significantly enhances the workload during exercise.

When it comes to Nordic Walking there are limitations in the range of motion because the sticks are fitted to one’s height and their benefit is derived from gripping the ground and pushing off, not being raised over head.  While experienced walkers will learn ways to adjust the range of motion slightly as walking speed is increased or decreased, users may not be able to get as much aerobic benefit as  they might from Level III work. Trying to artificially lift the sticks higher to mimic it or go too fast can cause the user to trip themselves over the sticks with disastrous consequences!

One of Dr. Schwartz’ interests as a psychiatrist was exercise variety. He himself wanted exercise to be constantly challenging, new and sustainable. As any reader of the HeavyHands books will notice his curiosity prompted him to invent and promote numerous variations in exercise movement to not only work as much muscle as possible, but to avoid boredom!

As the body and mind tire from the basic “pump and walk movement”, the weights, for example, can be used in some completely different way like swings across the chest to work “fresh” muscle groups while continuing to walk.

Nordic Walking definitely DOES NOT offer this variety of exercise. The same predominant exercise pathway is used throughout the effort without variation for the most part. Boredom may be avoided by the scenic nature of the walking path, but not by exercise variation for the most part!

With both Nordic Walking and HeavyHands, some “quadriceps” and “lower back” activation can be done by walking in a “duck walk “or “Groucho Marx walk” though more variety may be obtained with HeavyHands probably. It’s worth testing, but this author hasn’t done much.

Practical Issues

There are  VERY REAL practical issues related to one’s choice of sticks or weights. Yesterday we were going to a state park we’d never visited before…

Would the trail be hilly? Would the path be flat? In other words, would I benefit from ADDITIONAL SUPPORT to keep my balance on a rough trail?

In the case of unknown terrain, it’s best to use Nordic walking sticks if there’s any concern about unsure footing.

As it turned out the trails were hardly flat except for brief stretches. The trails were up and down and twisting… at times the Nordic Sticks seemed a bit more like “Trekking Poles” but they did their job of not only providing upper body exercise, but also making the hike safer.  In the event of a poisonous snake nearby, I’d rather have a Nordic stick handy if needed than a hand weight! Sorry Dr. Schwartz!

Try Both

That’s what I ended up doing….

Not sure about the terrain, both sticks and weights went in the car. The ranger said one trail was “level” and the other was “rugged”.

We took the “rugged” trail first using Nordic Walking sticks.

Later we took the “level” trail using HeavyHands.

(We found out they were both equally rugged and probably would have done best with the Nordic sticks on both of them, but “oh well”! )

For the ULTIMATE VARIETY, one can’t go wrong doing BOTH Nordic Walking and HeavyHands…

For maximum potential strength and activating as much muscle as possible while operating on safe terrain, HeavyHands with increasing weights and a variety of movements activating as many muscles as possible will likely be superior.

As always the exercise you will actually do provides the best results!