Written by Kalle Beck
“I’d love to do some strongman stuff but I’m a powerlifter. How could I incorporate some strongman lifts into my training, I don’t plan on competing in strongman competitions”
That is a question I recently got and is a question I get asked a lot. If you are looking to add some variety to your training and don’t want to train specifically for strongman there is a lot of benefits to strongman training that will make you a better lifter whether you are a powerlifter, weightlifter, bodybuilder or crossfitter.
There is such a variety of different lifts and events in strongman that I narrowed it down to what I feel are the 3 that will have the most carry over to make you a better lifter overall, That will help you be 365 strong as Brandon Lilly would say. There are a few factors that went into this process.
- Risk/Reward: Some strongman movements have a high injury rate and are taxing on the body and take some time to recover from. Unless you intend to compete in strongman or have good coaching around you the risk is not worth the reward. #1 I would include in the too much risk category is Atlas Stones. If the movement doesn’t carry over to achieving your goal as a lifter it is a waste of time. Unless you just want a new profile pic…
- How technical the lift is: This goes into time management. If you are a powerlifter you already spend so much time perfecting the technique on the big 3 the last thing you need to do is spend time learning how to run with a yoke. That is time that could be spent pursuing your number 1 goal. This is the exact reason I don’t snatch. If I wanted to I could learn to snatch with some efficiency but it is such a technical lift it would take time and time is so limited for most of us these days invest your training time wisely.
- Access to equipment: More and more gyms have strongman equipment in them these days but most people are still limited by access. These are the most common pieces of equipment you will find and also the cheapest to build/buy.
Keeping all that in my mind here are my top 3 strongman lifts you should implement in your training
This is hands down the best. If you don’t have actual farmers handles pick up some heavy dumbbells and is a fairly cheap piece of equipment to buy if you want the real deal. Nothing is going to build up your grip/forearms/traps like some heavy farmers. Add them into your training and you will add slabs of muscle to your upper back and forearms and never worry about missing a deadlift at lockout again. Add them in with your deadlift training and do 3 runs of 50-100ft. If space is limited you can do timed holds of 30 seconds to a minute.
If you have an old keg lying around, fill it with sand! You can buy some duffel bags as well and fill them with sand but I highly suggest you buy the real deal from www.ironmind.com it costs a bit more but lasts so much longer at only about 60 dollars is cheap investment and will last for damn near ever. Running a keg or sandbag for 25ft dropping it and picking it up doing it again for a few rounds is some great conditioning and GPP it will also work your hamstrings and upper back. You can also load them over a bar or onto a platform which will build up your erectors and make you explosive. If you want to experience some real pain bear hug carry them for as far as you can to really fry your hamstrings.
Backwards Sled Drags
Most gyms have some type of sled/prowler these days or you can get creative. Get a rope a handle and drag something. A cool piece of a kit is the magic carpet sled made by Spud Inc. http://www.roguefitness.com/magic-carpet-sleds.php. Talk about a quad burner! Got small/weak quads? Get to dragging! It’s grueling and you will want to quit but keep pumping your legs and reap the rewards. Do some lighter sets to aid in recovery and every now and then pull a heavy sled to really test yourself.
Honorable Mention: Log Press
I didn’t include this because most people don’t have access to one and it is fairly expensive to buy but everyone needs more overhead pressing in their life. Overhead pressing is avoided many times due to shoulder issues. In a lot of cases with a log there won’t be any such issues due to the neutral grip. So give it a try, maybe it will get you overhead pressing again and building up those shoulders!
Kalle Beck has been competing in strongman competitions for 6 years. A veteran in the sport with dozens of competitions under his belt he has gained a vast amount of knowledge on strongman training. 2012 was his break out year where he lost 35 pounds transforming his body to compete in the new 175 pound strongman class. With highlights including 2012 California’s Strongest Man, 2012 Washington’s Strongest Apple, top 10 at America’s Strongest Man and qualifying for the 2013 Arnold World Championships. Best lifts include a 600lb deadlift, 505lb back squat and a 290lb log press. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter