Screen Shot 2022-04-24 at 7.10.41 PM

Burn with Kearns: Recycled and ripped (video) – Kevin Kearns

by Kevin Kearns, contributing writer

One of the biggest things I coach my 40 and 50 plus clients in is odd object lifting. Why? Simple. You never know when your “beach muscles” are going to be called into duty. Life happens and like is unpredictable, especially when you are self-employed and work in the fitness world. For myself, I’m on the road in my car daily, traveling in planes, coaching kids, and holding focus mitts, lifting dumbbells and alike, every day. I’ve also had the pleasure of changing many a flat tire along the highway in the snow, going downhill, and trying to get to a meeting. Let me tell you, when that happens, you are going to wish that you were working with some odd objects that are closer to “real world” items.

Don’t miss the video demo, below!

So, let’s put the list together of what type of equipment you need or can think of. Here are some favorite pieces of equipment in my wheelhouse.

1.  5 gallon water jug – great for CNS demand and instability training. It will challenge your core like nobody’s business.

2.  Sledgehammers of all sizes – awesome for grip strength,  shoulder flexibility, core strength  and mental toughness

3.  Sandbags – better known as Dynamic, Variable , Resistance Training. Basically, the weight constantly shifts around, and you have to adapt constantly.

4.  Beer kegs – overall grip and power development as well and explosive power

5.  Tires of all sizes – mental toughness, grip strength, core and back work

7.  Bricks, especially cinder blocks – insane grip strength, shoulder stability, as well as mental toughness

8.  Old school ropes – manilla rope is just not right to work with. I have 50 feet in my house, and it must weigh close to 75 lbs. No wonder sailors were in such great shape. For enhanced full body power, insane cardio, full body workout and functional moves, it one of the best overall pieces.

9.  Manhole covers – this is really warped. I thank Big John for showing me this. These are a bear to wrestle with. They are heavy as hell, and you need an insane amount of full body strength.

10. Water filled stability balls – these you can make on your own and you need patience to fill the ball up with water. Once you have it all set it is one of one the unruliest pieces of equipment you’ll ever wrestle with. A 55 cm ball will top out at 100 lbs. of sloshing water. For overall strength, grip power, and traditional lifts its awesome.

11. Monkey bars – we should all use these, including me. Have you ever seen how easy it is for kids to do the bars? But as adults we lose that flexibility and shoulder strength. These are superior for lengthening and strengthening the shoulder girdle and grip strength.

Ok, now when you look at the list you are probably talking about maybe $100 of used crap that you can find at any junkyard. Here’s a hint. Get friendly with local junkyards and tractor tires places. They always want to get rid of junk and will dump it for zero. If you can move it, you can take it. There is even a company now that makes “fitness tires”! Seriously, where is the fun in that! To me, it’s better for it to be the real world items. Why? That is what you are going to come up against. Here’s some sample workouts that I use for my clients and myself. 1-3 sets, 3 to 4 x per week with little or no rest between the exercises.

  1. Roof blocks with sledgehammers – Take 2 small 2-4lb hammers; stand with your knees slightly bent. Now take your opposite arm and fold the hammer down as you swing it around the opposite side of your head.
  2. Lunge and iron T –  with the small sledgehammers still in your hand, place them behind your head with your elbows bent. Now lunge forward and extend the hammers with your arms to your sides.
  3. Thor’s hammers – sitting on the floor with your legs elevated and knees bent with your belly button pulled in to protect your back. Join the hammers together as you roof block them around your head, then repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Jug swings – just the same as a kettlebell swing except the fact that it’s unbalanced and moving. Stand with your knees bent, leaning forward with your back flat and the jug between your legs.  Now with one explosive motion snap your hips and swing the jug until it’s shoulder height. Then return the jug to its original position.
  5. Jug snatch – in the same position as previous, the jug between your legs with one motion pull the jug up top in the extended arm position by exploding through the feet and pulling from your traps. The return to start position.
  6. Jug bent over rows – with one hand on your hip, and a split leg position let the jug extend from the shoulder and then pull it up towards your rib cage. Repeat the motion on the other side.
  7. Long sledgehammer sword squats – what’s great about sledgehammers is you can get them and all sizes similar to DB’s. I personally have from 12 to 35 lb. sledgehammers in my gym.  With your knees bent and your arms extended hold the sledgehammer like a broad sword fully extended. Now squat down to parallel and then return to start position.
  8. Iron V – lie on the floor with the long sledgehammer over your head one hand up and one hand down. Your legs will be fully extended, and your arms will also be. Now with one motion try to V sit up and touch the sledgehammer to your toes. Return to fully extended position on the floor.
  9. Heavy Tire carries – now this is a try test of full body strength, grip and mental toughness. My personal best is 250 lb. tire 105 yards in under a minute. (I have the video to prove it ) Stand with the tire with your hands in a reverse grip. Now squat down and then lift the tire up with your legs and upper body. Either try walking with the tire or return to the floor and continue to rep out .
  10. The famous tire flips – everyone sees these being done. They are fun and will kick your ass like no tomorrow. Squat down on one side of the tire. Get low and fit your hands in under the tire. Now head up back flat and use your  legs and upper body to lift the tire up until you can it to and up position to tip it over. Then repeat again on until you throw up.
  11. Beer keg slams – this is just some old school fun, power development and full body workout. Take the empty keg lift it over the head and then smash it on the soft floor. Take care not to hit your knees on this. It’s always fun to do this.
  12. Cinder block farmer carries – this has to be one of the most awful drills ever invented. Grab 2 cinder blocks in your hands. Now walk a designated amount of feet and walk back. This is a real grind.
  13. Water filled stability ball – if you want to feel what a real old school dead lift to press is, then try this out. Grab the stability ball if you can. Now squat down and pull the ball to the chest then press it over head. This is as unruly as it gets.
  14. Rope jumping jacks – this might sound easy but with a 75 to 100 lb. rope even loose it’s just awful. Hold the rope loosely in your hands and then perform a jumping jack. It sounds easy until you try it.
  15. Rope side to side slams – with the rope in your hands and perform a motion like a “judo” throw, taking the rope over your head from a hip position to swinging it to the opposite side of your body and slamming the rope down.
  16. Manhole cover pickups – now this is just pure evil. Grab the manhole cover where you can and try and squat down as you hold the manhole cover. This is completely awkward and brutal in your entire body.
  17. Monkey bar swings – as previously stated we all should be doing this drill. Most of us do not have the shoulder flexibility and rotator cuff strength for these anymore. I would start with a hand over hand walk that you can touch the floor and then progress from there.
  18. Sandbag rotational side to side toss – with a sandbag in your arms. Squat down and as you rotate throw it to the other side and catch on the opposite side. Now go back and forth.

Now why would you want to try this if you are a 40 plus guy? Simple.

  1. Break up the boredom with some new “firsts’” that you  have never done. That not only challenges the body but the mind and well. You constantly have to adjust on the fly.
  2. Kick your ass into high gear and burn more calories since “awkward lifts” force you to adjust and use muscles you did not know you had.
  3. Mental toughness and grit training that can apply to anything in your life. In other words, “Hey I carried a 250 lb. tire 100 yards I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Here’s a sample workout. Try doing each exercise for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat for 3 to 5 rounds.

  1. Stability ball squat to press
  2. Jug swings
  3. Thor’s hammer
  4. Sword squats
  5. Rope jumping jacks
  6. Beer keg slams
  7. Rope side to side slams
  8. Grit challenge 50 yard tire walk

Now when you think about this type of workout a 40-plus guy might say, “What about my bench? Well, let me explain something – bench pressing is great when you have a fridge parked on your chest. These drills can turn into skills when it’s needed most for the 40-plus guy. Our bodies are changing and if we stick to “uniplanar “ activities we are more likely to get injured. Most injuries happen in the rotational and lateral planes of motion and unsupported unlike most gym exercises. Activating the 3 planes of human motion ensures our bodies will be ready for any activities – such as a pickup basketball or softball game. By using more muscles, we did not we had we actually burn more calories and waste less time in the gym. 

Enjoy! Coach Kearns!

Kearns is hosting a fundraiser to help remove the stigma of mental illness. More information can be found by visiting

Both of Coach Kearns’ books may be purchased on For more information about Coach Kevin Kearns, including scheduling speaking engagements and classes (both online and in person), please contact him at 508-404-8503 or

Coach Kevin Kearns has been coaching in the world of fitness, nutrition, and tactical self defense for over 3 decades. As the former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pro Fighters, and ranked in the Top 5 in the UFC , he is no stranger to the the importance of proper nutrition and proper mindset programming. He has long advocated to all his clients – athletes or the general population – about the importance of programming mind, body and spirit. 

Coach Kevin Kearns BS FMS CPT – Former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pros Ranked in Top 5 by the UFC Personal Fitness Coach, Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Wellness Consultant, Youth Wellness Program Provider, Certification Specialist, Personal Self Defense, and Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics Specialist

Posted in ,

Leave a Comment