“Unconventional” Training

I’m a huge believer in building practical, real-world strength, which is why I love the recent spike in what’s called “unconventional training”. It’s not anywhere near as complicated or hyper-intensive as it might sound – it basically means any exercise that’s different from standard methods. Putting a more exact definition on it is a little tougher, because of the huge variety of training techniques and exercises that have cropped up under this umbrella.

Here’s a quick list at some unconventional techniques you may have seen or heard of:

  • Kettlebells
  • Sandbags
  • Battling Ropes
  • Free Running
  • Suspension Cables
  • Medicine Balls
  • Tractor Tires

All these exercises have one thing in common: they focus on building muscles not just to look pretty, but to be fully functional. Now, you don’t have to go out and start doing all of these exercises (I’ve yet to try most of them myself), but they’re the main players in a fitness revolution that’s been going on over the last few years. More and more, people are setting aside dumbells and picking up kettlebells, and leaving the relative safety of the gym to exercise outside.

Unconventional training methods were what inspired me to start The Level Grind. They build muscles that can help you scale walls, lift heavy objects, throw punches, and defeat giant saurian turtles (theoretically). They make you feel like a badass.

If you’re strapped for cash at the moment, and you’re thinking “that all sounds great, but I’ll never afford all of that stuff”, then I’ve got some advice: if you only get one thing on this list, buy yourself a kettlebell. Kettlebells have been on the rise more than any other unconventional training method, can be found just about anywhere, and work out virtually every part of your body. These are my absolute favorite training tools, and I’ll be integrating them into a lot of The Level Grind’s workouts pretty soon. I got my 25 lb. kettlebell for about $40, and I’d say it’s more than paid for itself since then.

You don’t have to completely rebuild the way you exercise to benefit from unconventional training. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises that don’t require equipment, but tone your body in useful ways. I’ll be integrating quite a few unconventional methods into the workouts here on The Level Grind in the future (don’t worry, you don’t have to buy battling ropes), and you can also expect plenty more posts on how to gradually overhaul your workouts.

For now, if you want more information on how to add unconventional methods to your own workout, check out this article from Onnit.



  • I love love all of these! I have collected all of them except for the ropes and tires… unfortunately not enough room in my studio or Jetta ;(. My new fav suspension training system in Primal 7! Have you heard of it?

    • I’m not familiar with that one, but I’ll have to check it out! I’ve been looking at TRX myself, but I haven’t committed to one particular suspension trainer just yet.

      • I have had a TRX for years and it has been great for both me and my private clients. This year I was introduced and ended up working with Primal 7. What I love about Primal 7 is that it allows you to use it just like TRX but it also has the ability to give you assistance in certain exercises and resistance in others which I love for both me and my clients.

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