Saturday, July 30, 2016

STRONGMAN MEDLEYS: THEORY AND APPLICATION


Since entering the sport of strongman, I’ve become a fan of medleys, and as such, I’ve become somewhat talented at developing some absolutely terrible ones that I wanted to share.  Now, I’ll clarify that I am of course not a fan of the medley itself, because anyone that has ever run a medley KNOWS that it’s essentially Hell on earth, but that I am a fan of how effective medleys are at making you awesome.  Medleys will of course tax you physically, but it is the mental strength they build that is truly amazing.  I know the rest of the internet has a raging hardon for “farmer’s walks” right now (performed with dumbbells of course), but a simple loaded carry is only the tip of the iceberg.  To really get some training effect, you need to step things up.



BACKGROUND

 Image result for Dragging a chain
I've been coming up with a ton of anchor puns, but really, Jesus Christ those are anchors

Let’s talk basics first.  What the hell is a medley?  When I use this term, it’s in the sense of a strongman medley, wherein one will move objects from one point to another, with the goal to be to complete the medley as quick as possible.  The key to a good medley is having at least 2 different implements to use.  You can do more than that of course, but having less than 2 is just 1, and that makes it simply a loaded carry, and as we’ve observed, spazzy geeks on fitness forums do loaded carries.


The benefits of multiple objects are as such; it requires different skills with different objects, you can scale the weight to meet the demands of where your fatigue will be during the medley, and it tests your mental fortitude to put down one heavy object just to go voluntarily pick up another.  If all you’re doing is one long ass walk with farmer’s, you can convince yourself to get in a few more steps here or there, but when you put down a heavy sandbag only to sprint back to a heavy keg and pick it back up and start over, you have to REALLY want to deal with how much it’s going to suck to go through with it.



CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON

 Image result for simpsons knifey spoony
Man, this show used to be great

There really are no limits when it comes to what you use for a medley; you just want it to be something heavy that makes you miserable to carry/drag/push it.  Leave the pink dumbbells at home for this one.


Some classic staples include
-Kegs
-Sandbags
-Fire hydrants (please use decommissioned ones)
-Big rocks/Atlas stones
-Stacks of bumper plates on a loading pin
-Yokes
-Farmer’s handles
-Sleds (backwards and forward drag)
-Prowlers (backwards, forwards, high handle, low handle)
-Trucks/cars to push
-100lb plates
-Manhole covers



You get the point.  The biggest takeaway is don’t be a martyr; ANYONE can do medleys, you have access to the equipment you need.  Yeah, it’d be cool if you had a Rogue yoke and Ironmind sandbags and all that stuff, but you’re bound to have SOMETHING heavy that you can carry.



PLAN FOR THE GUY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MEDLEY, NOT THE START

 Image result for Strongman puking
This looks REALLY bad when you realize he's only halfway through

You gotta keep in mind when setting up your medley that the point is to greatly fatigue you while still pushing you under this fatigued state to move quickly.  This means you need to drop your ego a touch when it comes to figuring out the weights for the later movements in your medley.  Yeah, you might be a beast with a 200lb sandbag when you’re fresh, but after dragging a prowler and carrying a keg, you might suddenly find yourself moving at the speed of smell.  That’s not bad when it comes to teaching you how to endure misery, but it’s not doing a whole lot for your footspeed, and your heart rate is going to slow down with your feet.  Better to have a lighter implement in the middle that FEELS heavy because of how exhausted you are but still allows you to get to the finishline.

DISTANCE

Image result for zeno of elea
Don't listen to this quack

There isn’t a real hardset rule on distance, but again, you want to consider overall training effect here.  If you decide to move for a mile, yeah, things are gonna suck, but you’re gonna be moving some light weight to do it.  That’s a whole different kind of suckage than what we’re going for here, equally valid, but different.  However, if you are only hitting 5’ out the gate, you’re gonna be tempted to turn this into something at the Arnold, and end up waddling a 1200lb yoke a few steps.  You’ll feel like you accomplished something, but your heart will give you the same look that your love interest does when you finish in 4 seconds.  I tend to use 50’ as my general distance, with 20 meters being a longer run.  This allows me to move some heavy weight, get my feet moving, get my heart racing, and still have the gas to go back and do it some more.



SAMPLE MEDLEYS


Alright alright, enough talk, let’s get down to action.  I’ll be listing some medleys I’ve run and the implements used.  You should of course scale/change based on your own availability of equipment and strength level.


SANDBAG AND KEG 1


-Run 200lb sandbag 50’
-Run back to starting line
-Run 100lb keg 50’

Real simple stuff.  Scale weight as needed.  Sandbag needs to be heavy, keg is about half as heavy.  Move as fast as you can with each implement.  It’ll be over quick, but when the keg goes down you’ll know you had a workout.  Do this 4-5 times, rest as little as possible to recover.  Stop when you have to walk the keg from the start to the finishline.  At that point, you’re done.




SANDBAG AND KEG 2

-Run 200lb sandbag 50’
-Run back to starting line
-Run 100lb keg 50’
-Run 200lb sandbag back to start
-Rub back to finish line
-Run 100lb keg back to start


Almost a double of the first medley.  It’s a pretty obvious change.  You’ll burn out much faster on this one, so try 2-3 to start with.



SANDBAG AND KEG LEAPFROG


-Run 200lb sandbag 25’
-Run back to start
-Run 100lb keg 50’
-Run back to sandbag
-Run sandbag to Keg
-Run keg 25’ back toward starting line
-Run back to sandbag
-Run sandbag back to starting line
-Run back to keg
-Run keg back to starting line


Ok, so that looks a lot more complicated than it actually is.  It’s basically trying to combine a suicide sprint with a medley.  I suggest drawing it out on a piece of paper first just to get your head straight, and make sure to mark off where 25’ and 50’ are so that you know where to drop stuff off.  The first time you drop off at 25’, you’ll think that there’s no way that distance can be challenging, but about halfway through this you’ll realize you bit off more than  you can chew.  Again, maybe 2-3 runs of this before you’re just totally fried.


2 KEGS AND A SANDBAG


-Run 200lb sandbag 50’
-Back to start
-Run 180lb keg 50’
-Back to start
-Run 100lb keg 50’


Again, pretty obvious.  That 180lb keg will pretty much take all the wind out of your sails, and then you’re just holding on when you get to the 100lb keg.  I like how challenging this is, but because the middle implements sucks so much, you aren’t able to run it as long/fast.  Try for 2-3 runs.



PROWLER, KEG AND BUMPERS: SPECIAL DELIVERY


-Backwards drag unloaded prowler 25’
-Run back to start
-Run 100lb keg and load it onto prowler
-Backwards drag prowler 25’
-Run back to start
-Run 100lb stack of bumper plates and load onto prowler
-High handle push prowler 25’
-Unload bumpers
-High handle push prowler 25’
-Unload keg



So this one is a medley with a mini loading even thrown in.  It’s important to start with the backwards drag and end with the high handle push, because you’ll simply be stronger with high handles than you will backwards dragging.  This one is good for 2-3 runs.


PROWLER AND KEG


-High handle push prowler loaded w/100lb keg 50’
-Run Keg back to starting line
-Run back to prowler
-Backwards drag prowler 50’


Whereas before I mentioned to start with the backward drag, here we finish with it because the prowler’s weight matches our fatigue level.  The backwards drag will be murder towards the end as your legs will simply not have any gas left, but just keep walking until it’s over.  This one is pretty light on recovery, so try 4-6 rounds.




YOKE AND SANDBAG


-500lb-600lb yoke run 50’
-Run back to start
-Run 200lb sandbag to yoke
-Load sandbag over the yoke crossbar



So again, combining some events on this one.  By making this a bag over yoke event, you have to be strategic with the yoke height.  Too high and it’s impossible to get the sandbag over the crossbar, too low and you gotta pick the yoke up real far.  Definitely start with the yoke first; you don’t want to rush the set-up on the yoke to make up for speed.  Take it from someone that blew out their ACL on a rushed yoke set-up.


OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

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This is a big one

-Focus on moving quickly BETWEEN implements along with moving WITH the implements.  A lot of folks lose time because they just casually jog between implements.  What they’re really doing is trying to recover between implements by taking a long time from one to the other, which is nice on your heart and lungs, but sucks on your time and is really just making you less awesome.  Sprint as fast as you can between implements, and if you can’t, it means you need to get in better shape.


-The pick up is part of the medley!  You want to train yourself to be able to quickly pick up the implements and go.  Sandbags are especially notorious for being difficult to pick up quickly, and this is where a lot of competitors lose time.  Do a few rounds of your medley where the implements are set up poorly and you have to compensate.  Put the sandbag on its side, have the handles of the keg facing the wrong way, make the farmer’s handles uneven, have the bumpers on the loading pin be a little loose, etc.  You get better by training when things are worse.


-Try to have your medley end in the same configuration as it started.  You don’t want to have to reset everything before you begin each round.  Alternatively, you can just run different medleys each round based off the starting position of your equipment.


-Be a good neighbor; if you’re doing this at home, try not to do it at the crack of dawn or when people are trying to sleep.  Be an ambassador for your sport.

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