Heavy hands- the best paleo exercise of all!
I was a heavy hands guy from the beginning, in 1982 I got Leonard Schwartz’s book “Heavy hands”, and it made real sense to me! I wanted to be aerobically fit, and I also wanted to be strong- before this I had jogged down our country roads for a few miles most days, and then lifted weights most other days...
It did work, quite well in most ways, but (this is my pre-paleo days!), my diet was sub-standard, and I started getting lots of aches and pains. My shoulders started aching from heavy bench presses (and other heavy lifts), and my knees and feet started hurting chronically as well from the running- remember, back then the running was “long and slow”- a perfect recipe for joint degeneration!
I also have a book by Steve Reeves, the classic era symmetrical bodybuilder, who came out with “Powerwalking” at about the same time! Steve had come up with a similar program, using small hand weights to up the ante and exertion from walking, and they were both right on target.
Steve’s book emphasized fast walking, while swinging hand weights as you go. Heavy Hands was more in depth, emphasizing the curling, and lifting of the weights more as you went, resulting in a real “Pan-Aerobic” exercise, as it was termed then.
Both are great concepts, but the Heavy Hands version wins out- you can mimic cross country skiing, arm and leg together walking exertion, and endless variations of multi-limbed exercise! I’ve always done it, periodically, since it is such a satisfying and result producing way of exercise, but now I am back in a big way!
I love to do my virtual resistance exercises, where the muscle provides its own resistance- (much better than weights, which injure your joints long term)! I do that each and every morning, along with stretching and calisthenics and then rebounding, right in front of my television... very relaxing and energizing!
My weights I have relegated to weighing down my tractor for increased traction, since I believe they create more harm than good in the long run. Besides, bodyweight training yields actually better results!
But, each afternoon, I look forward to getting out my old heavy hands weights and handles, and walk down my forest paths pumping the weights in curls, and mimicking cross country motions, punching, pressing, and other motions that add to my walking exertion and spread it over my whole musculature.
It is like running with my whole body!
I love to sprint barefoot, and do in the warmer months every week, usually on Sundays. (It brings me back to my childhood, and burns fat faster than anything else, while strengthening my feet, and grounding me to mother earth at the same time).
But when I pick up my little dumbells (8 lbs is about perfect for me) and walk down my forest trail, curling my arms alternately with each step, I realize that this is total body barefoot sprinting. Every part of my body is working at a high level of effort, but ironically- the perceived exertion level, i.e. the level of discomfort is markedly reduced!!
It is really hard exertion, but because it is spread across all the limbs (not just the legs) it seems much easier.
So, I can do it daily. I can do it barefoot. (Although, since it is getting colder here in Wisconsin I have started to wear my moccasins, which are really just like barefoot shoes, just not so obnoxious as those Vibrams with the toes...)
AND it exercises my entire body, as I move about and enjoy Nature and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, pollen and other aspects of “Forest Bathing”!
And so, my final point is this:
If you had to choose ONE single exercise to stay healthy and fit:
I would go along with Steve Reeves, and Leonard Schwartz. Mr. Universe, and the psychiatrist.
Get some small dumb bells, pump them as you walk, and reap the benefits of Pan-Aerobics!
Jog with your whole body.