Strongman Training in a Nutshell

Strongman Training in a Nut Shell

By Steven Halladay

.  There are many different ways to structure training for the sport of strongman and strongwoman and making it organized can be confusing especially if you are new to the sport.  The following is an example of what works for me.  Before I do that I will first outline some very important points that will help you lay the groundwork you will need to make progress.

 

  • When you first begin training for strongman or strongwoman, most of your energy should be put into developing a strong base. This means focusing on improving basic lifts such as your deadlift, squat and military press.  These three movements will always be of utmost importance.
  • Train the SHIT out of your upper back and grip! You are going to need it.
  • Don’t be afraid to jump into some event training right from the beginning. For this you will need the right equipment.  Find a gym that has what you need.  Unless you live near one of the awesome gyms that do have the right equipment you will have to consider building or buying at least a few things.  Scrap tires can be found at tire shops that deal with large earth moving equipment for free.  Get one! Tires specs can be found online.  Atlas stones are cheap and easy to make. There are great, easy tutorials on YouTube. Watch them, gather your materials, watch them again and then make one. Its surprisingly easy and many a meathead has done so.  Other items you should consider getting your hands on are farmers walk handles (preferably 8-10 inch in diameter cylinders), a 2-inch axle bar (buy one or have one made—call around to local welding shops), log, and eventually you will need a yoke, sandbags, etc.  If you have no other choice but to get your own equipment start with the cheaper items and slowly build from there.
  • Don’t be scared of getting hurt   Like many other sports, strongman and strongwoman athletes can be banged up at times. Muscle and tendon injuries are an unfortunate part of training and playing hard for some. If you don’t have the ability to work through discomfort, stop reading this piece now and don’t waste anymore of your time, this sport is not for you. Today, I am writing this article with one hand because I am recovering from surgery for a ruptured pec major. I do not tell you this to brag as I would rather not be injured, only that injuries will happen when you are trying to move the type of weights required for our sport. Your ability to be smart about recovery and bouncing back from adversity will set the mark for your continued progress.
  • Many people who want to get into this sport will do much better by getting a coach.  There are many very experienced strongmen and strongwomen out there who have coaches.  For the first time in my career I worked with a coach this last year and it dramatically improved my game. A lot of us in this game, even near the top will avoid some of the things we need to do versus what we like to do. Recognize this and get yourself a great coach or group of training partners that won’t lie to you about your effort level and needs.  It is VERY important that you pick a coach with real experience! The more the better.  It doesn’t matter how many books or internet articles someone has read; nor do I care how long someone has trained strongman or strongwoman events in the gym.  Unless they are willing to throw down in competitions don’t let them waste your time.  Real knowledge comes from competing and learning from those experiences.  Choose wisely because a great coach can help you become the champion you want to be.
  • Don’t eat like a bird! To be good at this sport you need muscle and to gain muscle you need calories.  For some athletes they will have the opportunity to do contests with weight classes but even then gaining size and strength should be of utmost importance.  Unless you fit into a weight class and have a legitimate shot at winning a national or international contest in the near future don’t waste your time cutting weight.  At the end on the day we all want to be the strongest versions of ourselves. I am willing to bet that nobody reading this article got into this game to be small and weak. Don’t let a spike in body weight scare you or hold you back and it bears repeating, unless you are going to win a national or international event, do not cut weight. If your performance at a contest is heavy or awesome enough, no one is going to talk about what weight class you are in.  If you are small woman (120-150 pounds) eat in the neighborhood of 2500 calories. If you are a woman who weighs  150-180 eat between 2500 to 3500 calories.  If you are a woman 180 pounds and up eat 3500-4000 calories.  For men 175-200 eat 3500-4000 calories a day.  If you are a man who weighs 200-240 pounds eat 4000-4500. If you are 240-280 pounds eat 4500-5500 calories.  For us heavier guys we will need to eat 5500 calories and in many cases much more.  When the season is in full swing I need to eat in excess of 6000 calories to keep my body weight at an optimal 290 pounds.  Everyone reading this must consider there are individual factors that will influence these numbers such as occupation and metabolism.  All of these numbers are based off the assumption that all athletes are training hard and do not carry too much extra body fat.  Also do not eat too much shitty food! Good, healthy, nutritious food is what you need.

 

 

 

Now that I have harped at you about how to lay the ground work for getting started in our wonderful sport let me show you an example of my program to give you an idea of what 2 weeks may look like for me.  Some guys and gals like to train three days a week and some train every day.  I will say rest is important and I personally have the best results training 3-4 days a week.  Off days are best spent doing recovery work (massage, sauna, stretching, etc.) and it is always good to throw in an extra conditioning day, especially if that is something you struggle with.

 

 

Week 1

Monday (overhead press night)

Log Clean and Press 4×2 (moderate-heavy)

Dumbell 3-4×3 (moderate weight)

Keg Press 2×5 (light)

Military Press 3×3 then follow by rep out set.  A weight good for 6-10 reps on that day

Triceps and little bicep work

grip exercises

Abs

 

Wednesday (Deadlift and Squat Day)

Deadlift 5×3 up to 85%

Deadlift 1×6-15 70 %

Box Squat with buffalo Bar 3×6

Pullups 3×6

Rows 3×15

Abs

 

Friday

Events:

 

Arm over arm Truck Pull 2 sets 60 ft (Sled or vehicle)

Farmers walk 2 sets at 150 ft. A weight that’s easy for 200ft

Yoke   2 sets.  50 ft.  7 out of 10 on difficulty scale

Stones to 56 inches 3×5

 

Week 2

Monday (overhead night)

Log Clean and Press 4×3 (easy to Moderate)

Dumbell 3-4×2 (moderate to Heavy)

Axle Clean and Press 3×3 (Light)

Military Press 3×3 then follow by rep out set.  A weight good for 6-10 reps on that day

Triceps and a little bicep work

grip excercises

Abs

 

Wednesday (Deadlift and Squat Day)

Deadlift 5×2 90%

Deadlift 1×6-15 (70%)

Box Squat with buffalo Bar 3×6

Pullups 3×6

Rows 3×15

Abs

 

Friday

Events:

Conans Wheel  3x 720 degrees

Farmers walk Holds for time:  3×30-45sec

Sandbag Medley 3 bags for 50ft over 56 inch bar.  2 sets

Stones 4×2  Work up to a heavy stone

The ADVANCED/PRO Group of competitors from the 2015 Test Your Mettle Strongman Competition.
The ADVANCED/PRO Group of competitors from the 2015 Test Your Mettle Strongman Competition.

 

I hope that what I have written here helps you on your journey. I know I have a long way to go yet on my journey and look forward to continuing to learn. Advice from experienced athletes and coaches is invaluable and has greatly increased my success and those around me. Good luck with your training and future competitions and if I/we can be of any help to you, don’t hesitate to get in contact!