Barbells, Babies, & Brain Fitness

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Babies, barbells, and brain fitness. 

What’s the difference between lifting a baby or a barbell?  One is squirmy and the other is firm-y.

Consider the familiar scene of someone lifting a child in the air overhead.  The human connection through physical touch and eye contact plus the sudden higher elevation and movement is very thrilling for kids. For adults, it is also a wondrous experience, but it is not passive.

The adult must lift the weight of the child overhead, sometimes while rotating, and must maintain balance.  Physically, it is a pretty big deal.  Thus, it requires a high degree of attention and engagement. 

We know that physical activity in the context of emotionally gratifying experiences that heighten focus are tremendously beneficial for short-term and long-term brain health.  And if we could make that physical activity more physically stimulating as well, we win the brain fitness triple crown where mental, emotional, and physical benefits are heightened.

In the previous post, I covered the emerging research showing the brain health benefits of strength training. Now, we are zeroing in on the potential for enhanced mental, emotional, and physical fitness experience through the choice of equipment used when performing it.

I pretty much love all strength training equipment. However, there is something I have always wanted to use but never have (until now) because of the mess and inconvenience: Sandbags.  

There are many reasons why I never owned them. There’s the mess, inconvenience in filling and difficulty in altering the weight in the bags, inevitable leaks, rips, and zippers that get sand in the teeth. Ugh. No thank you.

I’ve found the perfect solution: the Sandbag System from Hyperwear.  Individual sandbells are placed in the sandbag for an elegant solution to the problems of sandbag equipment. Further, this allows for easy alternation of the weight in the bag as well as the opportunity to use the individual sandbells on their own.

Now for the fun part. Using them.

You can call this an overhead press…or an overhead baby lift (with a 40-pound baby).  And there’s no concern about dropping the bag if you decide let that “baby” fly and miss the catch!

If you can lift a bag, you can lift a baby.

Interestingly, there’s some research that shows that using a sandbag versus an equally weighted barbell leads to higher activation in the muscles of the forearm and hand.  As mentioned, I am a fan of all strength training equipment. However, since 2019 I have been working out at home (and since 2020, a LOT of other people are too.)  I have neither the inclination nor the space for owning a traditional barbell set, but I do miss training with them. 

Enter the sandbag that allows me to perform at home the truly foundational movement we all should be doing: deadlift.

The load of a barbell minus the mess of traditional sandbags!

As I have written before, we don’t need to wait for all the research. If you’re training more components of fitness and training more muscles, you are (by default and by definition) using and working more of your brain.  

The weight inside 160-pound bag you see used here can – just like the 40-pound bag – be modified using various combinations of the individual sandbells that come with the system.  (There is also an 80-pound bag available now and a 25-pound coming soon – see the sandbag weights available.)  Extra good news is that they are on sale for about another week.

Fitness should prepare you physically for a life of enjoyment. You can now lift heavy things off the ground or get in shape to lift your grandchild…as this grandfather does in this incredibly moving short video below.  Fitness serves you best when you use it to lift your spirits, not just your weights.

If this doesn’t motivate you to perform overhead presses, nothing can.

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