Getting started with Strongman!
Strongman training has become increasingly popular over the last couple of decades. There are many reasons for this such as it provides a full body workout, it improves functional strength, builds muscle, and offers variety in your training program. The difficulty in setting up a Strongman training session is that very few commercial gyms have the right equipment. This does not prevent you from setting up a basic Strongman training day at nearly any gym. In this article you will learn how to set up a Strongman style workout at any gym. All you must remember are 3 words: Press, carry, and drag!
Strong Man Press Variations:
There is no bench pressing in Strongman. Therefore, when we refer to pressing, we mean overhead pressing. In a regular gym setting one will probably not find logs, axles, or circus Dumbbells. The best option for pressing exercises in a regular gym would be the barbell clean and press. The Olympic weightlifting movements: the snatch and clean and jerk have very high relevance to Strongman athletes and would make a great choice for a first exercise. Most people, however, have not had the time or coaching to master the Olympic lifts, therefore I recommend starting with a barbell power clean combined with a push press. These basic movements mimic the movements seen in many Strongman pressing events and are great full body strengthening exercises. Another option is a Dumbbell or kettlebell clean and press. In both cases the implement is clean from the floor to the shoulder and a push press technique is used to get the implement from the shoulder to lock out at arm’s length overhead. Try doing 3 or four sets of 4-6 reps on one or two pressing exercises to start your Strongman day.
Strong Man Carry:
The next category of exercises is the carry. Examples of this seen in Strongman competition are the farmers walk, yoke, Husafell stone carry, keg carries, sandbag carries, or odd objects carries. In a commercial gym we probably won’t have access to this equipment, but there are other options. Zercher carries can be performed with a barbell by carrying it in the crook of the arms with hands clasped. This can be done by setting up a barbell and roughly elbow height, picking it up and carrying it a prescribed distance. This can also be done with the bar in the back squat position to train the same muscles we would with the yoke. Another easy to replicate exercise is the farmers walk. This can be accomplished with heavy dumbbells and walking a prescribed distance down and back or you can add extra turns for added difficulty and increased core activation. It really comes down to getting extra weight on the body and moving, traditional weight training has always neglected moving one’s feet while carrying a heavy load. For your workout try 4 runs of 50 to 100 feet with 2-minute breaks between sets.
Strongman Drag Events:
Pushing and dragging sleds in one of the best full body workouts. The truck pull event in Strongman creates more lactic acid production in the muscles than any other exercise tested. This makes it great for improving strength, muscular endurance, as well as burning a lot of calories. There are many varieties of sleds available at commercial gyms. A typical sled push or drag workout would be 3 to 4 sets of 60 to 100 feet with a 2- or 3-minute breaks between sets. You can increase the load as your capacity improves.
A workout like this has many benefits for the average gym goer. Overhead lifting is often neglected in today’s gym setting with only 1% of the population being able to lift their bodyweight over their head. Carrying or dragging heavy objects has many functional benefits in life as well. With these 3 movements we can build muscle, burn fat, and improve our overall body strength. Just remember you can make up a Strongman training session almost anywhere if you just remember to press, carry, and drag!
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Written by Elite Strongman Coach & Athlete Joe Sheffield