The other day I had a profound conversation with my neighbor about his grandson who is rapidly gaining weight. He told me that his grandson plays his Xbox on a daily basis. He continued to tell me that one day he asked his grandson to go find some kids in the neighborhood to play with. He suggested to go and knock on their doors to play outside. The grandson replied that he was currently playing with the kids in the neighborhood. They were all online using their Xboxes and playing the same video game with each other.
I came to understand from this conversation that in the grandson’s current state of awareness, he is playing with his friends. Even though they are not in the same room with no face to face or physical interaction, he’s learned that this form of activity IS play time. I recognize that as a result, he’s not getting fresh air or exercise and is living a sedentary lifestyle at 11 years old. This explains why he is gaining weight and, according to his grandfather, can no longer perform lay-ups with ease even though just last year he could.
I walked away feeling very sad for his grandson and his friends, scared for my own kids and myself as a father facing these types of challenges. I thought back to my days of being 12-years old. I remember getting pummeled by my three older brothers and their friends for hours on a daily basis. We wrestled, built things, explored nature, rode our bikes, went swimming and if we tried to go in the house, we got in trouble. We stayed outside from near sunrise to definitely past sunset. We simply did NOT have the option to check a cell phone or play indoors with a friend. We HAD to stay outside or else we would be under the ever watchful eye of mom or dad.
The thought of going inside was daunting. Inside there are walls and ceilings. Walls and ceilings have the ability to herd us into one spot therefore making it too easy to get caught causing mischief. The great outdoors for us had no boundaries. We could get away with almost anything for good or for bad. We played our own games, made our own rules and created fun things to do with our imagination. Gaining weight wasn’t possible with this much physical and mental activity.
As a human, we have certain basics that require constant stimulation. I question if I’m stimulating these basics when there is the constant temptation to BE entertained rather than creating my own entertainment. As a kid pre-internet and cellphone era, I was BEING the entertainment. Today, I see not only kids, but adults too, looking to BE entertained. I’m not a doctor but was raised by a very good one. I know he agrees with me that the want to BE entertained has made us lazy as a species. I could walk into my house and ask a hidden box in the room to turn on some music or buy me dinner to be delivered to my house if I wanted to. I wouldn’t have to go outside and catch and harvest my dinner, carry it home, prepare it and then sit down and eat it. I could literally just ask a mini robot to have someone else do everything for me.
Enter - Weighted Carries.
I believe the farmer carry will help bring world peace. I believe farmer carries awaken something special in us that our ancestors felt on a daily basis. The only difference is I have the option to do them for fun and so do you!
Picking up 2 of the largest size kettlebells or anything with somewhat of a handle that’s heavy, walk slowly and stay upright. For extra points, I recommend going outside. And for bonus points, invite some friends to join in on the fun!! I can offer some suggestions to make a game out of farmer carries. Here are a few options to choose from:
* Who can walk the furthest without setting them down?
* Who can walk the furthest without making a face?
* Who can take the smallest steps?
* Who can walk the straightest line with their eyes closed?
* Who can survive the longest?
* Who can hang on to the bells the longest?
To further enhance the farmer carry experience, I like to add some push up variations before and/or after picking up the bells and carrying them. This is good for a couple of reasons:
* Wrists will receive a nice stretch.
* Performing a pushing motion before & after the vigors of farmer carries to counter the effects of a pulling exercise.
* It’s harder.
* Michelle Obama arms.
I would like to close out this article by saying this: Doing some farmer carries in addition to gaming will help increase overall grip strength. So when the competition starts dropping out from finger and hand cramps, you’re going to be able to keep on playing.