Resurrecting the Wheelbarrow for GPP and Grip Work
The wheelbarrow, sorry, “Sir” Wheelbarrow.
The wheelbarrow needs the respect due to it and this mini article is devoted to how to get it in your program and keep it there. The “Sir” wheelbarrow is an integral tool in developing GPP (general physical preparedness). A simple way to describe GPP is getting into shape to train for your sport. “Sir” wheelbarrow is an awesome recovery tool and above all for any serious weight lifter, one of best ways to improve your grip and hand strength. Oh, it will also teach you patience AND perseverance.
This training tool is nothing new and obviously. Most people see a wheelbarrow and think, hell now I have yard work to do! At least that was my first thought back in 1998 when the old owner of our gym brought it in. Somehow, he found some huge freaking rocks to put in it so it ended up about 250 to 300 lbs. Of course, he got the idea off Louis Simmons after a pilgrimage to the Mecca of powerlifting (well it was not a Mecca yet but well on its way). I was fresh to everything at that point having tried a lot of the conventional training ideas I figured ok, I suck at deadlifting so sucking at the wheelbarrow was alright too. Sooner or later I had to get better.
The strange part was the guy who brought the wheelbarrow to the gym had terrific grip so why would he want it? Blind faith is the term here and since neither of us really knew, off we went around and around and around the building adding a lot of other “wheelbarrow-ies” along the way. We settled on 3 laps (1/3 MILE each lap) per session 3 times a week. Why I have no idea. But it ended up doing a lot of things for us and our training programs.
- We were in great shape and our RECOVERY was fast. That means it is great cardio. Anytime you train hard you build up trash in your system that takes time to get out. Light cardio helps to push blood and nutrients into the trained areas. This speeds up the recovery process and enables you to get back to training quicker and at a higher level.
- Our training capacity and volume went way up so we could do more sets and workload for a longer period of time and in higher intensity levels. With the added cardio and GPP benefits, the wheelbarrow added to our overall programs by adding to our sets and reps performed during training especially during high intensity sections of the programs.
- Grip was never an issue EVER again (even 12 years later). The wheelbarrow WILL change your grip forever. It is extremely high levels of time under tension if done long enough. This will transform your grip. I have missed a lot of deadlifts over the years, but after the wheelbarrow, I did not drop them ever again.
- Perseverance and patience to continue on in the midst of wanting to quit, is another extreme lesson the wheelbarrow will teach you. Under extreme amounts of pressure and tension, the will to hold on gets tough. One thing going around the building lap after lap even when my hands would not open due to the wheelbarrow handles, was that you have to learn how to control the anxiety and pressure. The wheelbarrow showed me how to relax and find better ways to deal with the situations. So definitely the long wheelbarrow trips taught me how to conserve energy and direct it to the task at hand: getting around the building and not quitting!
After hundreds of miles (really hundreds!) on the wheelbarrow with many wheel and bearing changes we came up with the idea of a plate loaded wheelbarrow with a 600 lb to 800 lb weight capacity and industrial bearings. This is the Spud Inc Industrial Wheelbarrow.
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