Here’s an idea you may not have thought about to keep your body fit. Rock Training! Just find yourself a variety of rocks in different shapes and sizes, and your are set to experience an amazing whole body workout…for free! And, it’s fun!
I’ve been working out since I was 12 years old along side my father, who was an avid fan of lifting weights in our basement along with using the outdoors and tending to our land to stay in tip top shape. My father purchased my first set of free weights on my 12th birthday. I remember they were red, white, and blue! Even though I enjoyed our time working out in the basement with the free weights, I loved our time outside as a family cutting down trees, splitting the logs, piling one cord after another; as we heated our home with two wood stoves. Spending time together talking, singing, and laughing while taking care of the ongoing need for wood and other outdoor projects was and still is some of my fondest memories of childhood.
Over 12 years ago my daughters and I moved to our current home to live within the beautiful village of Marcellus where I taught 4th grade. Being a single mother, I felt it was important to live close to where we went to school to free us from traveling on slippery roads in the winter, potential car problems, and allow us to get more exercise by walking to school, church, the store, and the post office. It was at this time that the home we moved into had some drainage problems in the backyard. I realized the solution to this problem would be to dig a creek bed that would collect the water from the springs that reside in the hill behind our house. After digging the creek bed, I had eight dump trucks of rocks in various sizes delivered to place along the creek bed to stabilize it from being washed away or crumbling in on each side. This was that “Ah ha” moment when I realized that what our family had done my entire youth by tending to our land, was truly one of the best forms of maintaining a strong lean youthful body.
I carried rocks day in and day out for ten weeks that summer to complete the creek bed. I witnessed my body take on incredible strength, flexibility, and muscle tone…I was working muscles I didn’t even know I had, even though I had been working out for over 25 years.
Exercise took on a new meaning to me! I loved the rustic primal side to hauling rocks. And, I certainly had plenty of rocks in my back yard to continue to move from place to place! I was having fun and continuing to strengthen those muscles that I didn’t know I had prior to lifting rocks. I realized that we were truly designed to exercise through tending to our land as our ancestors did. There was no turning back for me…carrying rocks and logs would become an important piece to maintaining a strong, lean, youthful body.
Reasons to implement lifting rocks into your lifestyle:
1. Lifting rocks will tell you immediately that working out in the gym is unnatural.
Our early ancestors had no need to use artificial weights as their daily physical activates included walking, jogging, sprinting, climbing, jumping, bending, digging, hunting, and carrying a variety of objects, from rocks and logs, to dead animal carcasses. Women were typically carrying their children until they were around four years old, and often for very long distances for most of the day. No strollers or carrying devices required…just physical strength and endurance. Obesity and living a sedentary life was nonexistent then.
2. Nature’s weights are uniquely shaped and can be difficult to maneuver.
You’ll notice right away that lifting and hauling rocks is totally different than using a dumbbell, which is nicely balanced and designed with easy to carry sculpted handles. When lifting, you’ll observe the awkward shapes and they can be difficult to grip. This will require more than just having strong muscles to lift the rocks. You’ll develop strong grips and build amazing core strength to be able to stabilize heavier rocks.
3. Carrying Rocks requires great strength. Unlike lifting weights, there is so much more involved when actually hauling rocks from place to place. When squatting to pick up each rock and then lunging to deposit the rocks across the creek bed, the results were: incredible grip, core, leg, and back strength from needing to keep large rocks stable while carrying and placing them down. This is something that cannot be achieved when using artificially made weights.
4. Lifting rocks is a full body workout at its best! When working out in a gym we have the luxury of using benches and racks to assist us. However, when carrying rocks, it’s squatting and lifting from the ground (not a rack), carrying, lifting over one’s head, and lunging over different terrain to place the stones. Just the lunging alone when hauling rocks has built strength and amazing flexibility in my legs and core. By lifting such variety in sizes, shapes, and weights of rocks, my core, back, and shoulder muscles feel much more engaged than I’ve ever experienced with free weights and machines. Basically, every muscle in my body seems to be involved. Even my feet! Throw off your shoes and go barefoot and you’ll notice great benefits to the musculoskeletal structure of your feet and ankles. The 19 muscles and tendons in each foot will be free to move and develop into what they were designed to be. My feet, ankles, and calf muscles have become so incredibly strong since becoming an avid believer in going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes.
5. Increase mobility and balance through carrying rocks. When hauling rocks, I need to be focused and watch where I walk, maintaining balance and stability with each barefoot step. When lifting weights, I’m not getting this added benefit from walking over uneven terrain, forcing my feet, ankles, legs, and core to stabilize me as I move about the yard, bending and stretching to place each rock securely in their resting place.
6. A few additional perks to carrying rocks. Spend more time in nature, grounding/earthing and taking in the electrons from the earth which promotes overall health and wellness, fresh air and taking in the phytoncides from plants that also enhance health and wellness, and sunshine! Our 21st century lifestyle has us working inside for longer hours more than ever before. Not only will you get a great workout, but you’ll also enjoy being outdoors and it really is fun! Invite family and friends to join you to add that important element of being with others and socializing. Think about getting back to a more primal workout, moving as God designed us to move, and enjoy the many benefits that accompany this way of staying fit. As we age, our ability to balance may decline, causing us to fall and experience potential serious injury. Going barefoot while hauling rocks on uneven terrain has improved my balance significantly over the years. I just can't say enough positive things about getting back to how our bodies were designed to move each and every day! I may be 55 years old, but I truly feel like I'm 16! I owe that to living as we were designed to live.
There are potential risks to lifting rocks as there is with any workout program. You may want to wear full finger gloves to assist with your grip and lessen your chance of getting cuts and scrapes from jagged edges. Be aware of your surroundings. Move at a pace that is comfortable for you. Bend and lift using your legs, not your back…which causes too much strain on the back. Take your time to ease into lifting rocks. Slow and steady...you'll be glad you added Rock Training to you fitness program!
Thank you for stopping by to read this blog! We are all a work in progress and learn from each other. We would love for you to share your wisdom about what keeps you fit. Let us know what you think!!