A Strength Experiment
Jan 10, 2022
In 2015, I tried a strength experiment. Really, it was a step of faith. I decided to use walking as my main strength training regimen. The couple of years prior to that I had used crawling as my main strength training regimen with amazing results. I actually walked away from weight training, or I crawled away, to see what would happen if I crawled every day. The results? I became stronger and healthier than I’d ever been.
Anyway, in 2015, I took another step of faith. I reasoned if crawling was the foundation of the gait pattern, then walking must also be the movement that would make, or keep, my body strong. So, for a year, I actually completely stopped crawling and I focused on walking and breathing. Occasionally I did calisthenics (bodyweight squats, pushups, pull-ups, etc), but the meat and focus of my daily movement plan was walking.
I focused on two things when I walked: my breathing and my arm swing. I always walked with my lips shut, forcing every breath to be a nasal breath. I also focused on my arm swing, ensuring that the swing of my shoulders was matching the swing of my hips, as is the gait design. Most of the time, I did this with just my body. Sometimes I would walk with one-pound Indian Clubs in my hands to enhance the arm swing and other times I would wear a “light” ruck sack with about 25 pounds in it. This added load to my gait pattern and also forced my anterior chain to reflexively respond to the weight on my back, making my abdominals stronger. Even while wearing the pack though, I was nasal breathing and swinging my arms.
Again, I did this for about a year. Every day, I would walk for 40 to 60 minutes, sometimes all at once, sometimes I would break it up into two to four brisk walks. I did not train with weights and I did not crawl. The only other thing I did, and this may have been the golden ticket, was that I believed walking would keep me strong. In other words, I believed in what I was doing.
It worked. And this is how I know it worked…
One day I was in my training studio and for some reason I decided to try a barbell Turkish Getup. I put some weight on a 45-pound barbell, laid down on the floor, held the barbell up in my right arm, sat up with it over my head, and then I stood up with the bar held over my head. It was easy. I laid down with it, switched arms, and did it again. It probably wasn’t more than 80 pounds, but it felt so easy. Then I had this thought pop into my head, “I’ll bet you can do 135 pounds.”
I hadn’t been weight training and I certainly hadn’t been training with Turkish Getups for more than a year. I hadn’t even been crawling. I walked. Doing a Turkish Getup with 135-pound barbell seemed ludicrous. At the time I only weighed about 160 pounds. But, the thought excited me. What if I could do it?
The thought said I could.
So I tried it.
I made the bar weigh 135 pounds. I laid down on my back, hoisted it up over my head, sat up, got to my knee, then stood up with the bar over my head. Then I laid down with the bar and put it on the ground. Then I thought, “Wow! I wonder if I can do that with my left hand?”
So I did. I switched arms, hoisted the bar over my head, and stood up with it in my left hand.
Here’s a video of that moment. This really did happen: “135 Pound Get-up on Both Sides”
I breathed. I walked. I believed.
And I was strong in body, in mind, in spirit. The getup was just an expression of that strength.
For a year I truly lived as I was designed. What resulted was the strength I was designed to have.
To be honest, lately, I have forgotten this design. Maybe it’s Covid. Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it’s fear. Regardless, I have not fully engaged in my design. I still breathe. I still walk. But I’ve been having trouble believing. I’ve fallen short there. I’ve even been believing in reverse with worry and doubt. All of that changes today.
From now on, I’m going back to my design to get back to my strength: I will breathe. I will walk. I will believe.
This is the foundation of our strength. We are made to breathe and step out in faith.