Natural Movement Weightlifting: Five Alternative Lifting Objects to Find and Make

Using these five alternative lifting objects in your weights program will add a whole new dimension to your natural movement practice.

1. Rocks

Rocks are the most obvious alternative lifting objects for natural movement, the main reason being is that they are extremely heavy. Despite being relatively unsophisticated tools, there are some more subtle benefits to weight training with rocks:

  • Their size, shape, and weight combine to make them rather awkward, forcing your body to use different movements to cope.
  • Their asymmetry means you use them in different orientations for different effects.
  • Their rough texture trains your grip strength in unique ways.

There is also something really very empowering about picking up a rock. Try it.

You can either source rocks and bring them home or use rocks in situ. I recommend finding (or strategically placing) a few good-sized rocks in your favorite natural movement haunts. I can pretty much guarantee that no one will try and steal them (if they can even lift them!) so the rocks will always be there for you to go back to.

I have two pet lifting rocks (Big Bertha and Drogo) on my regular movement route in the woods near where I live. I would love to know what you end up naming yours.

2. Sand Bags

alternative objects for natural movement weightliftingThis is exactly what it sounds like. A bag. Full of sand.

It is a bit less primal than a rock, but it has a few advantages as far as alternative lifting objects go:

  • If you drop it indoors, it won’t put a hole in your landlord’s floor.
  • You can easily change the weight by (you guessed it) adding or removing sand.
  • It is a bit more comfortable to carry if you have bony shoulders.
  • The sand shifts around inside the bag, making the load more dynamic and forcing you to stabilise as you lift.

You can buy sandbags specifically designed for weight training, or you can make your own for not very much.

How to make your own weightlifiting sandbag:

  1. Fill several small rubble bags with a kilogram of sand or pea gravel in each.
  2. Duct tape the rubble bags closed (it’s worth doing this really well, or else the sand might leak!)
  3. Put as many of the 1kg rubble bags into a small duffel, back-pack or burlap sack as you would like to lift with.
  4. Voila – sandbag!

3. A log

If you train in the forest, it’s really easy to find a variety of logs for different exercises. Here is an example (from Movnat) of good log lifting technique:

Don’t worry, you don’t have to lift anything this big! Logs come in all sizes 🙂

4. An old rope

This is similar to a sandbag, in that it is floppy, but it doesn’t have the worry of the sand leaking out. It is fairly easy to find old rope on ebay or freecycle. Coil it up and it works really well as a medium sized weight, fitting nicely in a shoulder or cradle carry.

5. Digging

Not the most convenient of alternative lifting objects to having at home, but digging can be a serious workout.  My favourite has to be digging a hole in the beach with my hands. This is a great addition to a beach workout. Try this combination:

Repeat 3-5 times:

  • Sprint for 20 meters
  • Bear crawl for 10 meters
  • Dig as fast as you can for 1 minute

Happy lifting!


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