For a Western, 1971's 'Hannie Caulder' had a much-done premise (you killed my fam, burned my place, beat me like I stole something, now I'm gonna kill youse all) but with a female protagonist, perhaps you've heard of her, Raquel Welch.
As an aside, Raquel Welch was doing Christina Hendricks before Christina Hendricks, with some people going 'Well, she's a little...big, y'know,' and guys going 'Mm-hmm, too fine, maybe, but not too big.' Raquel could've had a face like Dr. Doom, and dudes would be saying, naw, girl, on YOU, it looks good..It makes you wonder who these people calling them trend-setters saw as male-interest models before.
Anyway, HC also had Robert Culp in the popular role of 'old gunslick who's seen and done it all, now just wants to pickle in peace at the saloon.' Raquel hires Rob to teach her to be a one-woman killin' machine, they go off and she learns via montage, and did we ever get one of those with Sharon Stone for 'Quick and the Dead?'
Man, Sam Raimi has a lot to answer for, besides that third Spiderman movie.
What makes Rocky's montage different, unique in Western cinema. and actually pretty smart, is that Culp trains her pistol-holding muscles via wrist roller (1:00 in the video below.) A wrist roller, in its most basic form, is just a stick with a rope attached to it, with a weight on the end. You hold it out with straight arms at shoulder height, and raise the weight by rolling the rope around the stick, then you let it down, and raise the weight by rolling it the other way around the stick, thus working both sides of the forearms. Thus, both the strength to hold the pistol up, and also to pull the trigger without jerking like you're starting a lawn mower. Well, mostly...because the fingers /= the wrists, except sometimes. Read on.
Hands, like necks, are one of those bodyparts we don't think of, much, 'till they're in pain and they're not working on spec. Like necks, they also won't get strong all on their own if we just exercise the main muscle groups (the way, say, arms will if you really hit those presses and rows.) So, it's all well and good to hit the gym and be getting your strong and sessy thing on, but don't assume that your hands are coming along for the ride with you.
Hands are thing on their own, the way we introduce ourselves to the world, and to others. Among guys, there's a subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle private war that goes on when two dudes introduce themselves with the handshake. I've always considered it a douche move to give someone the Power Shake, over-squeezing on that hand, but then I don't want to get caught short if the other guy over-squeezes, a la the second Karate Kid movie when the Bad Guy met Ralph Macchio (may his career rest in peace) and crunched down on Ralphie's mitt to show who the Big Dog was. So I'm resigned to putting it out there at about 50%, and yes, sometimes I get crunched, but I always feel like a big meanie if I over-squeeze.
I'm coming from a background of Chinese martial arts as far as fitness goes, and there, hands get a lot of attention; how to strengthen them, how to care for them post-strengthening, how to apply them...dragon, tiger, eagle, leopard, snake, crane, and a whole lotta other, non-animal styles, all with their own traditions, training secrets, and usages, and all with finger and hand exercises.
In a previous post, I mentioned the echoes between Chinese and Japanese martial arts and training practices, well, there are some strong similarities between the strongmen/'physical culturists' of the early 20th century, those guys you see in old black-and-white lithographs wearing leopard-skin singlets, and the martial artists and doctors (often one and the same) of 19th century China. They shared many views not only on how to train for long, pain-free life (subject of a future post), but on the importance of grip strength. The old-timers over here in the early 20th century would use thick barbells, lift sandbags, anvils, kegs and other 'odd objects, along with shot-filled kettlebells, and over in Asia the strong lads were doing much the same.
For instance, if you've ever played with a kettlebell, especially one with a thicker-than-normal handle, you can appreciate the demands it puts on your grip. The Chinese have been using 'stone locks' (a rectangular stone weight with an offset handle) literally, for centuries, and reaping the same benefits (see the video below.)
I've had a lot of bad things to say about my first martial arts school, and I expect I'm gonna have a lot more, but one good thing they introduced me to was exercises with the staff. Just the basic spins blow your forearms up like balloons, and I found a piece of plumbing pipe in our old basement, weighed about ten pounds, spun that thing...in college (we won't even mention high school) I was...kind of undersized. As in, lawd hammery, 125/130 pounds, if I was soaking wet, and holding a brick. But people would still say, damn, you got some big forearms.
So, what's all this got to do with you, if you have no plans to develop your Crane Beak to lethal levels and go fight evil? Well, what do you like to do for fun and personal improvement?
My clients are mostly women, mostly 35 or older, and their interests and hobbies tend to be pretty hand-tastic, stuff like
Needlepoint or knitting
Writing and Cooking
Yes, you could make an argument that almost anything requires use of hands, and you'd be right. Which is kind of my point. But first, let's talk injury.
As you (damn well) should know, if you hurt a joint, the stronger you were there before the injury, the less damage is done, and the faster you'll come back, and vice versa. Wrists? It's the cold season, you slip on some ice, unless you've trained yourself to do otherwise * you throw out a hand to catch yourself and break the fall, bang, that wrist is ALL messed up.
Wrists are funny, there are at least six (count 'em!) motions for them to be strong in, one doesn't necessarily carry over to any other. They get strong, if you train them, real fast compared to other parts of the body, but most people, even if they're gym rats, don't bother doing even the most basic exercises for them. Like ankles, there's a lot of people who injured them once, and 'they were never quite the same after that, it's a shame, guess I'm getting old...' This is the guy who sprains his ankle first every couple years, then once a year, then every 6 months...
Your wrists have to be strong both pull the the palm (wrist flexion) and the knuckles (wrist extension) towards the elbow. I've had clients where just doing these movements, and the attendant stretching, has been enough to disappear nagging wrist pain that they've had for years. We also use adjustable clubs for the rotational movements the wrists have to be able to do, based on my martial arts instructor's observation that 'I've never seen a stick fighter, even in his 80's, with a bad wrist.'
The hands have to be strong in both gripping movements, and pinching/bringing the fingertips and thumb together, and no, those two moves are not the same. Here at BA, we have different devices for both. Our 'Gripinator' machine can be adjusted for any hand size, and we can put as little as half a pound on there as resistance. I've had older clients, In three to five weeks, go from lifting half a pound, to six pounds in this exercise; if that sounds 'meh' to you, imagine not being able to open jars in your own kitchen, or even to use a can opener, and then being able to. This is real, quality of life stuff, not losing vanity inches or something.
We also have a 'Titan's Telegraph Key' for that pinching strength, and progressive rubber bands for the muscles that expand the fingertips away from each other (balance in all things.)
I should be jaded by now, but it still blows my mind that people, mostly women over 50, are regularly told by their MD's/PT's that of course their hands hurt, they're getting old, whaddya want? The hands are no different than any other body part, don't take active care of them, which means strengthening and stretching them, along with some soft tissue work (Three S's!) they'll start to go downhill after about 35. Do you not put oil in your car, watch the oil light come on, and go, yeah, gonna crack the block soon, shame, but that's life? Or do you use your damn dipstick, and replace oil as you should?
Hand and wrist strengthening is the essence of Body Architect's philosophy of 'large and small,' you have to be strong, tension-free, and stretched in those big muscles, but also in those smaller ones. Your hands hurt and don't work, how will you carry on with both the necessary and the fun parts of life? Time to grab hold of your future.