7 Low-Tech Tools

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While you don’t need stuff to live a successful Primal lifestyle (well, besides bacon), we humans belong to a gadget-fetishizing brand of ape that has had great success over the years crafting and using various tools to make life easier. A couple weeks ago, I highlighted seven high-tech tools that were designed to improve Primal living; today, I’m focusing on the low-tech stuff. These tools aren’t quite as flashy, and they’re not quite as sexy, but they are just as useful. They are tools in the classic sense — physical objects that enable or enhance our ability to manipulate the environment to our advantage. So, while the high-tech tools offered helpful information and guidance about recipes, calorie counts, and toxin levels to improve our knowledge base, these low-tech tools offer direct, hands-on experience.

Enough blabbering. On to the tools!

(Make Your Own) Bulgarian Training Bag

A Bulgarian training bag is, basically, half an inner tube filled with sand with the ends twisted into handles to contain the sand. It’s highly versatile, able to be used kind of like a mace, a sandbag, and a kettlebell all rolled into one. The bag is very good for wrestlers and grapplers (and anyone else) interested in developing rotational strength; in fact, a Bulgarian wrestling coach invented the Bulgarian training bag to improve the training of U.S. wrestlers, inspired by the feats of strength involving goats and sheep slung across the shoulders of Bulgarian shepherd/strongmen from his childhood. They’re quite easy to make, which is what I suggest you do. I never said everything on the list could be purchased. Actually, Bulgarian training bags are available for purchase, but at rather high rates. I think it’s more satisfying — and more affordable — to simply make your own. Here’s a good guide to doing so.

Once you’ve got bag in hand, check this link for forty Bulgarian bag exercise ideas. Any training implement inspired by a crazy Bulgarian shepherd swinging a lamb around by its legs gets the Primal stamp of approval.

Training Log

If you’re serious about progressing as you exercise, you need a training log. While I’ll admit that I don’t keep one myself anymore, when I was really serious about training — either endurance or strength — I maintained a training log to track my progress, and I maintain that without the logs I would have had a more difficult time making real progress. See, training logs aren’t just about noting what you’ve done; they’re about tracking what you’ve done right, what you’ve done wrong, how you felt on a particularly good training day, how you felt on a bad training day, and they’re about using this data to enable steady progression. Even if you’re doing a wide range of fractal movements and exercises, keep a log. Randomization isn’t mindlessness.

Hemingway stood to write and used Moleskin notebooks. I trust his judgment.

Dip Belt

After I messed up my rotator cuff on the bench press, I discovered a deep love for the dip. More conducive to shoulder health (in my experience, at least) than the bench press, the dip offers excellent stimulus to both the shoulder girdle, tricep, and chest — and if it gets too easy, you can easily add more weight with the help of a dip belt. Using dip belts satisfied my desire to lift heavy things with my chest and triceps without subjecting my rotator cuff to pain and suffering. The dip is a truly functional movement (think getting up and over a barrier or fence, climbing up into a tree) and being able to add even more weight than just that of your bodily mass will help you function even more effectively.

You could use a rope, chains, or even a well-constructed dog leash looped around your waist and attached to heavy objects, but it’s far easier (and not much more expensive) to get a dedicated dip belt. Here’s one and here’s another that should both suit you well.

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