Sunday, 28 June 2009

Getting better, not older.

I turned 30 this week - I'm officially in the Master's category! I panicked on turning 20, convinced that I was old and destined for the scrapheap. It surprised me slightly to find that I was looking forward to my 30th. Compared to being 20 I'm so much happier. Mentally, I feel together: I know what I am and who I am, I accept myself and feel comfortable in my own skin. Physically, I am stronger, fitter and leaner than I ever have been and I am enjoying training and competing in a sport I love.

For my birthday my boyfriend bought me this:

For those who don't know, it's a sandbag. Basically, it's a duffle bag filled with smaller bags of sand and it's used for various strength and conditioning exercises. Before everyone presumes my boyfriend is the most unromantic sod in the world, I have to stress that this is what I asked him for and I was very pleased to receive it.

Sandbags can be used for a variety of exercises, depending on how heavy the bag is. My sandbag is adjustable by removing and adding more bags of sand. I currently have 60kg of sand (roughly bodyweight) but the duffle bag is apparently loadable up to several hundred pounds. The big difference between a sandbag and a barbell is that the sand moves: it's not equally distributed and it's difficult to hold onto so it can challenge strength, grip and stability at the same time. A barbell is usually a nice, evenly-weighted equilibrium with a pleasant 1'' knurled handle and rotating ends. As well as challenging the phasic (moving) muscles of the body, a sandbag can also challenge the smaller, stabilising muscles as well as the core.

I will spend next week experimenting with the sandbag and working out how I can integrate it into my routine. Initially I will try shouldering it, squatting and lunging with it, Turkish get-ups and loading it onto a platform (like an atlas stone). I'm going to try to avoid gripping the fabric too much as my grip takes quite a beating from the combination of BJJ and work.