Saturday, November 21, 2015


As I recover from my ACL/meniscus reconstruction surgery, I find myself with an abundance of free time.  This is an ideal circumstance to take the time to write out how I was training strongman in detail, as prior to this point I would only summarize due to a lack of time.

This still won’t be all inclusive, as I would make adjustments as needed/desired, but it will serve as a very solid outline to base your training off of.  This will be based off a training cycle with no specific contest in mind, so something of an off season.


5-6 days of training a week

4 days of lifting

2 sessions of event practice
-Farmer’s or front carry

Other events included into lifting days

This will mean that 2 a days are occasionally necessary, or very long training sessions, depending on how you can structure your schedule



1: Matt Kroc’s 16 week bench program, or 5/3/1, or someone else’s bench program, or ROM progression
--(I’ll be honest, I have no idea how to program the bench, so I just use someone else’s program.)

1.b: Do sets of 3 of heavy DB rows in between your warm-ups on bench, and do sets of 20 of band pull aparts in between the work sets

2: 3 way seated DB shoulder circuit (press halfway overhead until the triceps want to take over, front raise, lateral raise)
--40-50 reps on the overhead, 10 for front raises, 10 for lateral, no rest between movements

2.b: Sets of 3 on heavy DB rows in between sets of the circuit

3: 1 set of max reps of DB rows with weight you’ve been using for 1.b/2.b (should be around 20+)
--Alternate straps 1 week, no straps the next. 


1: ROM progression suspended safety squat bar squats w/chains
-1 set of max reps touch and go (Should be around 4-7 reps)
-Strip a plate per side, 1 set of max reps deadstop (Aiming for 10 reps)
--This is a 7 week training cycle with a 1 week deload (8 weeks total).  You’ll suspend the SSB by chains in the rack and want it started high enough that, by week 7, you are squatting at powerlifting legal depth.  Keep the weight the same each week and just increase the ROM by 1 chain link.  The first set is going to take a lot of energy to break the bar off the chains, so settle in to grind, and then just tap the bar to the chains for the remainder of the set.  The next set, break the bar off the chains for every rep.  I would wear wraps for the first set and sleeves for the second.

2: Reverse hypers
-Alternate: 1 week do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, then 1 week do 3 minutes of reverse hypers. 

Superset with

2b: Glute ham raise sit-ups (hold a plate behind your head for more resistance)

3: Car deadlift simulator
-Work up to a max set of 6-8 reps.  Stick with this weight each week until you can hit 14 reps, then add a plate and start over.
--If you have the energy, after the first set, drop 2 plates per side and go for another max rep set OR go for a massive strip set, just taking off plates after each set


3: Axle cleans
-Work up to a max triple
--I was doing these for quite a while, but hung it up to focus on the car deadlift.  You could also try other implements, like the log, sandbag or keg.


1: 3 week wave rotation
-Week 1 (Skill day): Clean each rep (log, axle, keg or sandbag) work up to a top set of 10-12, then rest and do another set with the same weight for as many reps as possible
-Week 2 (Rep day): Clean once and press away (I always stuck with axle), work up to a top set of 8-12, then rest and do another set of the same weight for as many reps as possible|
-Week 3: (Heavy day) Either clean once and press away or press out of the rack, 4-6 reps with leg drive, then rest, strip some weight, and hit a set of 4-6 reps strict

1b: In between all sets, perform 20 reps of band pull aparts

2: Incline dumbbell bench
-Either keep the incline the same and hit 4-5 sets of 10, or go for the highest incline you can for a set of 10, then lower the incline a click each set and go for max reps until you’re flat benching (rest between sets, this isn’t a dropset)

Superset with

2b: Lat pulldown for sets of 10-12
-You can use chins instead if you want.  I had to switch them out because my elbows were killing me.

3: 100 reps of axle curls
-Either straight set it or do a drop set.  Just get the 100 reps as fast as possible

4: 3 sets of band pushdowns


I would train this as a 2 a day, doing one session very early in the morning and the next session a few hours later.

1: Carry medley
-There is no wrong way to do this, just make it suck.  I would use a distance of about 50’ and then carry kegs, sandbags and/or farmers.  If possible, vary the weights so that you have a chance to keep moving fast on these, and then start with the heaviest and work to the lightest.  I literally would come up with the workout while I was setting up the implements, and the goal honestly was to just suffer as much as I could.  I would normally only be able to do 2-3 runs before I was just totally gassed, so this is just something intense.

2: Yoke (3 week wave)
-Week 1: Light weight, 3-4 runs of 50’ down and 50’ back (100’ total per run)
-Week 2: Medium weight, 3-4 runs, first 2 50’ down and 50’ back, last 2 are just 50’ runs
-Week 3: Heavy-ish weight (don’t be stupid, stay fast), 2-3 runs of 50’
I honestly was enjoying my super heavy yoke runs of 30’ and 700+lbs, but considering I blew out my ACL and meniscus doing this in a contest, I probably shouldn’t recommend it for training.


1: ROM progression mat pulls
-I have written about this extensively, and nothing has changed.  Touch and go, 1 max set, 7 week waves with 1 week of deloads, use straps.

Read more here:

2: Strip some plates per side, perform a double overhand pull and hold for time.  Try to beat last week’s time until you hit 90 seconds, then go for more weight.

3: High rep squat challenge workout
-Once again, this is what I’ve written about in the past.  You can use what I’ve used, or come up with your own.  There is no method, only madness.  High reps, lots of volume, little rest.  I used a straight bar for this, but a safety squat bar wouldn’t be bad either.

Read more here:


-Why a bench day for strongman?  Because benching helps my overhead.  Whereas all of my overhead work was with leg drive, benching was about the only heavy strict pressing I was performing, and it would pay off.  Additionally, I have a powerlifting background, and can’t give up the bench.  If you don’t like it, consider making it an incline day, close grip, or whatever gets you going.

-The safety squat bar on the squat day is by design.  Squats are awesome, but the safety squat bar squat has a ton of carryover into strongman, especially if you round your upperback with it.  It builds the deadlift, uses a similar posture to a stone load, and in general builds up a ton of brute strength, ESPECIALLY when trained to break off the chains.  Additionally, you can fight for a rep with the SSB way harder/better than you can with a straight bar.

-You can’t do too many band pull aparts.  I have suggestions for how to train them in the program, but feel free to do even more.

-I honestly didn’t like how little backwork I was doing on this program, but it was working just fine.  Feel free to add in more if you can recover from it.

-For the press rotations, I would normally keep the axle as the rep day, and then rotate between the log and the axle on the heavy day.  The skill day had more wiggle room, and could be just about anything I felt needed work.

-I was using a deadlift bar on the deadlit days.  I liked it, and I think it made my recovery easier since it was easier on my lower back with the flex in it.  Deadlift bars are awesome anyway.

Feel free to ask any questions.

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