Strongman Training for the Average Guy
This is a guest post by Chris Smith from Train Better Fitness. Chris is promoting the Cyberzone Strongman & Fitness Challenge on June 12 in Rockaway Beach, NY. If you want to try it out and you are in the NYC area, get in contact with Chris, TODAY, because like Chris says, you don’t have to be as big as Bill Kazmaier to enjoy the sport of Strongman! Go here for more info = > Train Better Fitness Strongman.
You’d have to be living under a rock to have never at least heard of Strongman. Every year men across the globe anxiously await the newest World’s Strongest Man series on ESPN and watch in awe at the insane strength and power that those athletes display. I would wager that a significant amount of them watch with a glimmer of envy and the desire to be able to perform those feats.
But how many actually will ever give strongman training a shot? Probably not too many.
When most people think of strongman training, they immediately tend to envision 400 pound Atlas stones, 800 pound tires or pulling a 747. Because of that, most people will never even attempt to introduce strongman training into their program.
But you don’t need to be a monster to incorporate strongman training effectively into your gym routine. Strongman training methods are just like any other training method. It’s all movement, and it can be fit in anywhere in a variety of ways. Here are a few strongman methods that the average guy can throw into their training with no problem. Hey, if I can effectively use them, anyone can.
I like to use Farmer’s Carries as a finisher on a lower body or full body training day. Ideally, you can take Farmer’s Walk handles for a stroll outside, but that’s not always an option. For those of you who training in a “normal” or commercial gym, the management might not appreciate you taking equipment outside. Instead, grab a pair of dumbbells and find an area in the gym where you can walk around without interruption. If you’re really pressed for space, find an area that you can walk back and forth, or even in circles if necessary. Try to use a weight that you can carry for around a minute and then experiment with different loads from there.
Fat bars, sometimes called axles, are excellent tools to work with. Since they are thicker than regular barbells, they place a very high demand on your grip strength, in particular the thumb.
Incorporating Axle work into your training is incredibly simple. You can basically use a fat bar for anything that you would use a regular barbell for: all types of pressing variations, cleans, deadlifts or rows just to name a few. You don’t necessarily need to set aside an exercise as a dedicated “axle movement.” Just substitute the axle for the barbell and get lifting.
Obviously you can also do movements just for the grip emphasis. For example, I will often do double overhand deadlifts as a grip exercise, not in place of deadlifting since I can’t handle anywhere near the same amount of weight.
Let’s face it, not everyone has access to atlas stones. The good news is that there are plenty of other odd lifts you can throw into your training. I like to use sandbags because they are convenient and versatile. If you don’t have sandbags, you can try to search around and find some big rocks to training with, or contact a local beer distributor and get your hands on an old keg. These types of odd objects are a lot of fun to train with and very effective at building real-world strength.
Some of my favorite sandbag exercises are cleans, presses, bear hug squats, and shouldering. You can do those for reps or use them for loaded carries (a personal favorite). To do a loaded carry, just grab the bag, rock or keg however you choose (shouldered, bearhug, across the shoulders) and take a walk just like you would do a farmer’s carry.
Putting strongman training into your routine doesn’t mean you have to abandon all other training methods. Throw in some strongman objects wherever they may fit. Some of the most popular ways of using strongman methods are as a finisher or substituted for your main movement (such as an axle clean and press instead of a barbell or a heavy tire flip instead of deadlifts), so experiment with different techniques and see what works best for you. But whatever you do, don’t think that if you’re not Bill Kazmaier you can’t do strongman.
- Video / Article: Beginner Training with Odd Objects
- Article: Improving Technique on the Log Press by Jedd Johnson
- Stone Lifting Fundamentals DVD
- Article: To Lift a Heavy Stone by Rick Walker
- Thick Rope Training