Train like a Strongman to build power and stability, as well as strength. S&C coach and director of PerformancePro Will McAulay explains how.
“If you’re interested in functional fitness, Strongman-style workouts should be central to your training,” says McAulay.
“It’s all well and good learning to squat, deadlift and overhead press, but that’s not how we move in real life. In the real world we yank, twist and jerk, all while thinking about something else, often off-balance. Strongman doesn’t just allow for these movements, it embraces them. Try this workout out for size…
1. Dumbbell Overhead Press
6 reps each side, 3-4 sets
- If you have a circus dumbbell, great; if not, just use a normal dumbbell.
- Rest the dumbbell on your shoulder and press it overhead.
- As you get more advanced and the weight gets heavier, don’t be afraid to use some leg drive to make it more like a push press or jerk, but that will require more stability and control from your entire body.
- Start with your weaker side first and just match the completed reps when you’re using your stronger side, to help balance out any asymmetries.
2. Trap Bar Deadlift
6-8 reps, 3-4 sets
- Intended to simulate a Car Deadlift, the Trap Bar Deadlift is an excellent exercise to develop total lower-body strength, explosiveness and endurance.
- Once you’ve built a base of strength using 6 to 8 reps, start doing 2 sets in the 3-5 rep range, and 2 sets in the 12-15 rep range to develop both your maximum strength and also your endurance.
- If you don’t have a trap bar – which most gyms should have – a conventional deadlift will do the job just fine.
3. Farmers Carry
30-40m, 3-4 sets
- This will develop your grip strength, stamina and stability.
- Grab two farmer’s handles or, if you don’t have those, two heavy dumbbells/kettlebells and walk for 30-40m, lifting as heavy as you can without your grip giving out before the end.
- If you don’t have a 30-40m track at your gym, walk back and forth over a shorter distance, drop the handles at one end, turn around and pick them straight back up until you’ve completed the requisite distance.
4. Plate Pinch Holds
30-60 secs, 3-4 sets
- We’ve worked your grip strength, but finger strength is a different beast.
- Grab a weight plate – ideally with little to no lip – at the edge with your fingers, stand up and hold it for as long as you can. Simple!
- Heavier weights also tend to be bigger in size, so going up in weight poses a double challenge.
5. Sled Push/Drag
30-40m, 3-4 sets
- This will really finish you off. Similar to a car/van/truck drag event in Strongman competition, you’re going to be pulling a heavy sled behind you.
- Grab the handles and pull it along behind you.
- If you don’t have handles, pushing a sled or prowler is a decent final option.
- Load up as heavy as you can manage to complete the full distance, but don’t take more than 30-45 seconds to finish each set.