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5 Ways MN Weight Lifting Is Different

It's been a while since I did an article on Methode Naturelle or, as it is officially called in France these days, Entrainment Naturelle "Natural Training".

(The Hebert family changed the name to better reflect what the art is about; that it's a training in nature. It's also good because if you search the term "methode naturelle" you get a lot of results in French for the method of natural contraception...it would be like if you had an exercise system called The Rhythm Method where people might get confused.)

All joking aside, if you haven't read any of my previous articles about the Natural Method, it is a system of physical culture that deals with 10 families of universal human motion and was created by Frenchman Georges Hebert in the early 20th century. You can find more history as well as pdfs of some of the books on the Alliance website's Methode Naturelle Resource Page.

(I was surprised the other day to see that a Google search for "Georges Hebert" puts Alliance right in the TOP of the results on page one! I didn't pay a penny for that ranking either, it's 100% organic.)

Today I want to explore with you some details on the Lifting & Carrying family of motion and how this is different from conventional weightlifting we are all used to.

In conventional lifting typically you stay in a static position and use barbells and dumbbells to move increasingly heavy loads of weight through a limited range of motion to cause hypertrophy in specific muscle groups. You work with defined sets and reps and rest periods while also following a split schedule of training throughout the week such as a 3-day Pushing / Pulling / Legs model.

While we also use tools like barbells and dumbbells at times in the Natural Method, there are many differences to the approach. Here are five, in no specific order:

Lifting AND Carrying

In MN quite often the weight is not just lifted, but it is also carried. Very seldom in life do we have to pick up a heavy object just to put it back down in the same place; typically we have to transport it somewhere else. A common image of MN is that of a person walking through the woods while carrying a tree trunk over their shoulder, which brings us to number two:

Lifting Practical Objects

As opposed to just using dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and other man-made equipment the focus in MN is on lifting things that exist in nature such as trees or rocks which we might need for shelter, to cross a stream, etc. It traditionally included heavy sacks (such as grain or coal sacks) and most importantly lifting people. The idea of knowing how to move the injured is core to MN philosophy of being strong to help others and was influenced by young Hebert's experience in 1902 when his naval ship responded to a massive volcanic eruption on the island of Martinique that killed 30,000 people. With just what they had on the ship and could salvage, Hebert and his men gallantly saved 700 people from this literally hellish chaos which is hard to even imagine. He saw both the physical and mental strength needed to survive under the harshest of conditions and did his best to instill this in his pupils throughout the rest of his life!

Unbalanced Lifting

In MN you lift a variety of heavy objects with both single and double handed methods and then carry them in various ways. You may carry an object under your one arm, at your waist or chest, over one shoulder, pressed directly overhead, balanced on the head, etc. Since most of the objects used don't have handles like conventional weights do you learn a lot about lifting *technique* that carries over into your day to day life. Extremely heavy weight is not required either, for example lifting 60 pounds in the gym is little more than the weight of the bar and an easy day but lifting and shouldering a 60 pound heavy bag then taking it for a walk is a whole different thing.

Lifting With A Partner

In MN we do partner lifts but not in the sense of having your partner spot you like in the gym. Here we work together to lift and carry very large or heavy objects such as tree trunks and most importantly carry other people who might be injured. Other times two partners will carry one or two poles while a third person hangs from them or does other kinds of exercises! There are also graceful lifts with a partner such as are seen in cheerleading where you balance on each other, create pyramids, and so on.

Adding In The Other Families Of Work

In addition to Lifting & Carrying, it is common in MN to add in work related to the other families of motion. SO, for example, you may carry a weight while also on a balance beam (Balance), you may have to crawl and drag a weight (Quadruped Motion), carry the weight up a hill (Climbing), carry the weight while running or jumping (Running or Jumping), wear a weight vest while boxing on the heavy bag (Defense), and so on. The only family of exercise that doesn't a mix well with Lifting & Carrying is that of Swimming...

Enjoy and all my best to you,

Pete Kautz

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