Odd Object Lifts

Ross tyre flipsFollowing on from last time, talking about backyard gyms, this article focuses on odd object lifting.

Combat athletes have used this type of non-balanced, “functional” training for years. Now however, the mainstream fitness industry has jumped on the bandwagon – the spandex-clad, wasp-waisted, pencil-necked trainers who balked at the idea of training in a manner that was not stable and did not use a machine, now advocate it to anyone who walks into a gym!
 The method of training is as sound today as it ever was, my problem is with how it is so commercialised now by the industry.  

Some examples of this type of training include sled-dragging, which I’ve covered in past writings and rants, also; sledgehammer work, sand bags, kegs, kettlebells, logs, tyres, water coolers etc. This list is by no means exhaustive however.  

To understand the nature of this method of training you only need look at the name, ODD OBJECT LIFTS. This method differs vastly from the usual barbell and fixed machine work that many fighters still perform. Odd objects tax the whole body, as they are unbalanced. The stabilising muscle groups need to work in order to perform the whole lift. Try getting a body builder using any of the above pieces of kit and I promise you, you’ll see the efficiency of this type of training. MMA is a dynamic sport with changes on many levels. Do you honestly think that leg extensions will prepare you for a single leg takedown attempt where your opponent sprawls on top of you and you try to continue the drive through? A routine incorporating the use of machines will not! Ever!

A great but corny example for you would be the training sequence from Rocky IV. We all love a Rocky movie you know!!

Sly goes old school where Dolph keeps it nice and health club-like. We all know how that turns out too don’t we? A little tongue-in –cheek but the principles are very sound if you look closely enough. Master the principles of training and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
How is it that some pugilists from the 19th century could go for round after round? Do you think they had plush “concept two rowers and elliptical trainers”? I would guess they sprinted, swung sledgehammers, chopped wood, sparred, lifted stones, bags, barrels or anything they could lay their hands on. Not to mention the fact that they had manual jobs in most cases and “worked” for a living too…

The implements mentioned above are easy enough to come by to. Sledgehammers are sold at any good hardware shop, sand bags can be old army duffel bags bought from an army surplus store, logs are available from timber yards or even by just looking around your nearest woodland area, and if you go to your nearest student union bar or off-licence you’ll be able to pick up a keg. Just make sure it has a top though so you can fill or part-fill it with whatever you like. That’s a new one for me, advocating people to go to a bar or off-licence!!

What follows is some sample workouts that can be used with sand bags and sledgehammers.
First we’ll start with a sand bag Time Under Tension (TUT) routine. TUT is a great way to train with any modality while making the most of your time. The workouts are very tough but at the same time fairly short. You don’t need stacks of time to train and get super fit it is the intensity that counts.
This misconception is rife in the fitness industry and lack of time is the most quoted excuse ever. I go to great lengths to try and disprove this excuse!!
With TUT drills it is imperative that the sand bag or implement does not touch the floor for the duration of the exercise. However much it hurts, keep that bag off the floor! I’m doing lots of these in preparation for my return to judo comps etc.


Perform each drill for 30 sec moving to the next exercise without rest, here goes:
Shoulder press
Sand bag Shouldering (left side)
Sand bag Shouldering (right side)
Burpee clean & press
Turkish Get up (left side)
Turkish Get up (right side)
Finish with Clinch isometric hold for two minutes.
That gives you 6 minutes of workout time. If you feel good, repeat for a couple of rounds!! No one can honestly say they don’t have 12 minutes spare for exercise!


With Sledgehammers it’s really easy to get going. Buy a sledgehammer, go to a tyre garage and ask to take some off their hands. One will do but if you have space take a couple. Ideally you want a big truck tyre or large 4x4 tyre but if you struggle a van tyre will suffice. The weight of the hammer depends on you. I own a 10lb, 14lb and a 38lb hammer. The latter was specially made but the other two were bought from normal DIY shops. Swing the hammer into the tyre as fast and hard as you can. Intensity is the key here. You can change the position of the tyre and work the angles and you must also ensure you work both sides of the body evenly. With this type of training you can count reps or set a timer for your desired round duration e.g. 3 or 5-minute rounds. There’s really no nuclear physics to it, just grab a sledgehammer, get a tyre and start swinging your way to fitness.

Add in a few plyo push-ups, and sprints and you’re hitting a really kick ass workout!!!

Any comments or questions let me know!