As I approach the North American Strongman National Championships in Reno, Nevada, I will be writing a series of training logs explaining my training methodology and vision. This will give you a taste of what it’s like to train hard and smart on a day to day basis. The first block lasted four weeks and was divided into two mini blocks; aerobic capacity and aerobic strength.
Through the first 12 weeks of the program I will utilize a four day split, alternating between dead-lift and strict press and front squat and floor press. All of trainees under this program have added their own Strongman events because they’re specific to the individual, however they always reflect the current goals of the program.
I anticipated this block to be grueling, and I was right. This was one of the most difficult four week I’ve ever completed. It may have been the most sore I have ever been, but the adaptations from the first training block were impressive. Just three weeks into the program I found myself hitting personal records (PR’s) as my work capacity went through the roof.
Personal Records from Week 3:
– 500 pound deadlift (tied lifetime PR)
– 205 pound strict press (tied lifetime PR)
– 265 pounds Floor press (40 pound increase).
– 335 pound front squat (as a daily max three weeks in a row)
My event times also improved:
– 140 pound circus dumbbell press for 4 easy reps,
– 330 and 275 pound stone for 6 reps over a 52” bar.
One of the most welcomed training adaptations was my recovery. Not only did I recover from training sessions better, my heart rate recovery improved drastically (from 185 to 112 post dead-lift set in about 60 seconds). It made a day off feel like I took a week off. My gross movement patterns were noticeably smoother and I could see positive changes in my body composition.
The template was business as usual: movement prep, resistance training and assistance work. The movement prep was divided into two days. Day one was aerobic prowler/sled drags, which eventually progressed to anterior loaded carry’s and light keg medley work (just being a strongman). The second day was focused on global movement patterns partnered with extensive mobility and alignment work. For this I chose Turkish get ups, Kettle-bell farmer lunges, and a push-up/pull-up protocol. This was paired with Postural Restoration (PRI) based corrective exercises and squat-based movement prep.
The resistance training was something else. The program was comprised of high volume (7×7 progressing to 10×4) main lifts partnered with aerobic-based synergist work (which progressed from 20 to 12 reps). The aerobic work was done at approximately 50% of my 1RM and was progressed in a linear fashion each week.
The assistance work included two circuits per day. These were structured within the energy system specific goals of the block and of course, provided a solid pump. Considering how many different options there are to increase aerobic capacity, I wanted to stick with exercises I enjoy. I stuck with strongman type training because it made it fun and less grueling. On one day I did a set of axle clean and presses for time (15 reps of165 pounds in 65s). On another and I did an arm over arm sled drag which transitioned to a heavy prowler push. The typical training day went something like this;
A Deadlifting Session:.
5 sets of PRI Serratus Squat
5 x1/side 26kg Turkish get ups
15 x 8: feet elevated stability-ball pushups
15 x 4: fat grip neutral pullups
7 x 7 straight bar deadlift at 345 pounds.
7 x 20 26kg kettlebell goblet squats
(I was short on time)
1×15 Axle power clean and press at 165 pounds in 65seconds
As brutal and humbling as this 4 week block was, it was absolutely necessary. The value of establishing some sort of work capacity before entering a competition, event, or season is grossly underutilized.. Work capacity keeps you pain free, develops your motor patterns and allows you to get stronger each session. Another concept to understand is the transfer of aerobic adaptations into heavy, high volume training.. When you establish a large work capacity, the amount of volume you can handle increases. Thus allowing me to train with weights that were 70-80% of my 1RM, helping me get jacked and strong. Every day is a beach day.
Deviate more, reap more
Thanks to Punch Kettlebell Gym of Norwalk, Connecticut for allowing me to intern and learn from one of the best in the field, Mike Mastell. It is a top notch facility with a top notch coaching staff.