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The term “old-school” is thrown around quite haphazardly these days by just about anything that people assume someone over the age of 50 might do. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it does kind of diminish the meaning a bit as it’s just so, broad.
When we talk about “old school” on Skinny Yoked, especially in regards to bodybuilding, what we mean is not just something 50+ year olds do, but things that require you to put forth a little extra effort to achieve something that some technology has over simplified.
In essence, being “old-school” is more about discipline than it is actual age. Discipline is more than just determination or motivation, two often overused “drivers” in bodybuilding. Discipline is not just about being focused but is about manning up and doing things that need to be done, day in and day out, 100% performance, 100% of the time.
We’ve talked about the benefits of old-school exercises before. We talked about the long-forgotten but gem-of-an-exercise, the pec-stimulating plate press as well as Arnold classics such as the dumbbell pullover in our mass building workout guide.
Today we’re going to talk about exercises that on first look don’t actually look like exercises at all. That’s because the below exercises are usually just seen as “work” by the undisciplined.
This is why machines have replaced the original way these chores were carried out, however, if you’re looking to sculpt a badass old-school physique and put your self-discipline to the test, you’ll maybe try doing things “the old way” next time.
1. Cutting and Splitting Wood Without Machines
With the advent of the chainsaw and hydraulic wood splitter the process of piling up firewood for campfires or wood burners has ridiculously simple.
What used to take at least a day can now be done in just a few hours. While this is great if you need the wood to survive, it’s kind of cheating if you’re trying to live nostalgically up at the cabin for the weekend.
If you’re living the “up north” life in your cabin, might as well keep with the theme and fell your own trees and hand split your own wood. Felling a tree should be a right of passage for every teenager as it requires planning, precision and determination. Splitting wood is likewise an identify forming activity.
Furthermore, the muscles recruited in felling a tree, cutting it up with a saw and splitting it are all encompassing as fuck. Your entire back, shoulders, arms, forearms, core, and abs will all get a massive workout from manually prepping wood.
If you’re keen to give it a shot, check out “Axe and Answered“, where tools you’ll need for building a Paul Bunyan physique are broken down in detail.
2. Moving Snow Without a Snowblower/Plow
If you live up north or in the midwest you know you need a snowblower or plow to survive. With regular, sometimes almost constant snowfall in winter months and long driveways, being able to quickly move snow is important.
However there is something to be said for shoveling as well. Yes, our first instinct, EVERYBODY’s first instinct is to shudder when thinking about manually shoveling snow. Why do we shudder though? Because it’s hard? Because it makes us sore the next day and drains of us energy? Wow, sounds kind of like the gym doesn’t it?
This winter, try shoveling at least a part of your property manually. Whether it’s the patio or front walk or just a portion of your drive, embrace the struggle, this is the same struggle we seek moving around weights in the gym.
The shoveling motion is a very unique and beautiful motion, engaging the deltoids, biceps, triceps and a lot of lats.
Also, being winter, and being how shoveling burns TONS of calories, you can look forward to replenishing afterwards with some super heavy chili and a nice dark stout. Ain’t nobody got time for being in a catabolic state!
3. Mowing Without a Rider
Everyone uses riders now, and for good reason, you can drink a beer while you cut your grass. Isn’t that the reason we all got a rider to begin with?
However sitting all day at work, or on the couch and then sitting when your outside doing yard “work” isn’t going to get us the physiques we want.
Same as snow blowing, obviously if your lawn is massive then you probably need a rider. However, if you have a small to medium sized lawn, seriously consider borrowing a friends push mower for a weekend this summer.
Mowing with a push mower is a great way to get some cardio without staring at the wall in the gym for hours on end on the treadmill. Treadmills are boredom traps. Mowing the lawn under the sun, while not enthralling, is at least captivating.
People construct huge devices known as sleds to push anyways, so might as well push around something that’s also serving a purpose (cutting your grass).
Pushing and getting some solid cardio in at the same time is a win-win situation, not to mention getting a bit of a tan, which ALWAYS highlights the gains.
In summary, we’re not telling anyone to radically change their life, all we’re saying is sometimes getting the most out of a situation requires a simple shift in perspective.
Just like taking your reps slow and controlled, pausing at the bottom and powering through makes your exercises at the gym more effective, purposefully making daily around-the-home tasks more difficult can also benefit your physique goals.