While I have some downtime during the week of my comp and recovering from a slight touch of the stomach bug (zero concerns about making weight now) I thought I would take some time to go over some lessons learned from this training cycle and chart the future of my training.
These past 2 months have been pretty intense. On 10 Jan, I competed in “A Very Heavy New Year” in Sacramento, and on 15 Feb I will be competing in the RAB Fitness Strongman Competition in Kennewick WA. Originally, I had signed up for the Kennewick comp back in Dec thinking I would have 8ish weeks to prep specifically for it, but found out about the 10 Jan comp soon afterwards, noticed that the events had a lot of overlap, and decided to use that comp as something of a tune-up for Feb.
As a result, I’ve been pushing events very hard for 8 weeks while letting my strength building fall of my priority list. This works pretty well for me, as strength has always been my strong point (pun unintended) in my weight class while technique/events are a weakness. Been spending a lot of time working on my clean for the press medleys, reducing time between the clean and the press, leg drive, and footspeed for carry medleys.
Some things I have noticed is that I started out really terrible at these things but picked them up quickly by dedicating just a LITTLE bit of time and energy toward them. What I want to avoid is my natural tendency to gravitate toward what I am good at and not train what I am bad at. Before, I could justify this by saying I wasn’t fully committed to strongman, and was going to return to powerlifting, but I am going to be honest an say that I love this sport and getting better at it will still make me a better powerlifter, while becoming a better powerlifter isn’t going to make me a much better strongman.
With no contests on the horizon (though I am keeping my eyes peeled), it’s time to find some balance again. Goal here is to still get faster/better with events while being able to push the max strength up.
-It IS possible for me to overhead press too much. Prior to the competition training, I was pressing overhead twice a week for assistance, with 1 day focused on strict work and 1 day focused on leg drive, along with employing the Cube Method for Strongman 1 day a week for press. I ended up getting a shoulder impingement. I went about a month without any sort of overhead pressing, focusing on just getting a pump with some raises and pull aparts. Once I returned to overhead pressing, I noticed no drop in pressing strength (I imagine the horizontal pressing helped here) while also having some meat on my shoulders from all the pump work. Going to cut down on overhead pressing volume while focusing a lot more on keeping the shoulders healthy with more raises/pull aparts/etc.
-Best time for me to focus on cleans is my squat day. Make it a part of my warm-up and just keep hitting it in between sets of everything else. The axle is my weakpoint, so going to focus on that a lot, but will also work in log, keg and sandbag.
-I can run Matt Kroczaleski’s bench press workout while training like a strongman, so that’s what I’ll do. It worked well enough, and takes away the thinking for me. Bench has been good to me, but I may consider someday running the program with incline/incline with axle.
-The safety squat bar squat is way too valuable for me to ever switch out in my training. I noticed my deadlift strength dropping pretty quick as soon as I switched this out. It pretty much is the best movement ever, so I’m going to make it my primary squat movement from now on, while rotating in front/barbell squats at different intervals.
-Farmer’s walks are amazing and I always should have been doing them. Foot speed has always been my issue, and carrying stuff is dandy, but I really want to start loading this heavy and getting good at it. Putting this on my deadlift days seems logical enough.
-When I start pushing the conditioning/intensity up, my bodyweight climbs. Having a contest looming in the future made this a tough battle, but with this off season I’m going to eat and grow as much as my body wants. Not going to force anything, but will let the chips fall where they may.
-Warm-up: Weighted chins (rest pausing as needed, starting with 45lbs, if I hit 50 reps, I’ll up the weight)
-Matt Kroczaleski’s 16 week bench workout
-Grenade ball lat pulldowns
-20 band pull aparts in between sets of everything
Notes: Was cutting out a lot of back work due to heavy focus on events, so trying to bring that back. Used to do a lot of chins on these days, but noticed that my elbows seemed to be getting pretty pissed off from that. Depending on how they feel though, may swap those and the lat pulldowns every week.
-Warm-up: Cleans with axle, keg or log (if adjustable, working up to a heavy single, double or triple. If keg, whatever feels good) performed in between sets of everything
-ROM progression Safety Squat Bar squat with chains
-GHR sit ups
Notes: Ideally, I’d thrown in a back-off squat here, but I train before work on this day and I’m just worthless of I attempt that. Need to be able to workout, take a shower and get ready for the day without sucking wind and passing out.
-Warm-up: NG chins
-Press: Rotating 3 separate days here. One will be focused on rep work (most likely start at 200lbs, use a log or axle, and clean each rep, since I suck at cleaning so much). Second day focused on max strength (will avoid singles and go more for triples, since I experience less terrible form here), still ideally want to clean the rep. Third day will be more skill based, most likely running some sort of medley or just pick a stupid implement and press it a whole bunch (keg, sandbag, FG DB, etc).
4-5x8-10 (dumbbells, incline log, whatever needs doing)
-Rows with whatever the implement of the day is
-Curls of some variety
-Band tricep pushdowns
Notes: I see vertical pulling lacking a bit here. Depending on how long the training day runs, may throw in some chins between sets, just for volume.
-ROM progression mat pulls
-Farmer’s walk or carry medley
-Squats (rotating between barbell, ssb, and possibly front squats)
Notes: Squat training is going to follow my previous mentioned protocol (Heavy set for AMRAP, same weight next set for half as many reps, strip a plate AMRAP, same weight next set half as many reps). Deadlift training may radically change in near future. Have an idea of alternating between mat pulls and top down deadlifts. For now though, sticking with what works.