The sport of strongman requires strength, power, and even conditioning. Training heavy events year round is a sure way to get really beat up, and sacrifice your recovery. After my last big show of the year I generally take 2 months off or so to let my body recover, and just get stronger on the barbell with basic lifts. When I first started taking these periodic breaks I was concerned that I would get weaker on the strongman events. However when I got back into training specifically for strongman I found my motivation was higher than ever and more importantly my body didn’t hurt! A great way to ease back into strongman events is to train with moderate weights, but combine them with bodybuilding movements, or other strongman events. The combinations will absolutely pack some muscle on your frame, but also build your work capacity for when you have to start moving the heavier weights.
Farmer walk to shrug
Farmer walks are a great way to build your traps, among many other things, so one of my favorite combinations is to perform a farmer walk for 50 feet, then go directly to barbells shrugs. Aside from building your traps, you are also working on your grip. Make sure you use straps on the shrugs, or your grip will surely give out on your next set of farmers. Choose a weight that is about 75% of your max farmer to begin with, and I prefer to do higher rep shrugs so choose a weight that will allow you to get 15-20 reps. Try this combo at the end of a deadlift day, 2 sets is all you need.
Overhead yoke carry to one motion log
Most of you are probably familiar with carrying the yoke on your back, or in front of you to simulate a conan’s wheel. This is something that you will rarely see in contest but is great to work on your lockout, and stability when pressing. Start by pressing the yoke overhead, either by strict pressing or doing a slight push press. Jumping the weight up will make it very difficult to get it under control as the yoke will swing more. Once overhead think about pressing the yoke up as high as possible, and do not let your elbows bend at all. With the yoke locked out overhead, carry it for 50 feet, and be very careful lowering the weight as it can drop the wrong way towards your face. For the one motion log you will need to go very light here around 60% of your 1 rep max. I perform this combo at the end of my overhead press day so I like to keep the lower body involvement to a minimum. After the first rep just lower the log to your lap and continue to drive it up over your head, using your hip drive to get it moving. You should be explosive on every rep here, and 2 sets with 10 reps will be good.
Yoke to Walking Lunges
A great exercise to build the yoke itself is walking lunges. You working on stability as well as your quads, two things you need for a big yoke. Again this is not about how much weight you are moving so work on your foot speed here. Around 60% of your max yoke is perfect, but carry it for 100 feet if you have the room for it. In the video you will see I carry it for 50 feet then turn around and bring it back. The lunges I prefer to do with chains over my neck, as I won’t have to worry about holding on to anything. Immediately after finishing the yoke throw a few chains on your neck, or if you don’t have them some light dumbbells will be fine, and lunge for 100 feet.
Hand over hand sled pull to sled curl
The hand over hand sled pull is an event I honestly don’t see enough in strongman. Whether it is in a competition coming up for you or not, this is a movement you want to work on. You will strengthen your back, lats, arms, and grip all in one. This can be done either in a seated or standing position, but I prefer to stand as I am working on this event for speed. Keep tension on the rope at all times, and do not let it loosen, or the rope will sway from side to side slowing you down. Once the sled is at your feet, have a pair of straps attached to the other side. Curl the sled with very strict form, and it’s important as you step back to keep tension on the sled at all times. Wear your Bicepticon shirt with pride after doing a few sets of these.
These are great finishers to any of your training sessions if are taking a break from heavy even training, and want to pack on some serious muscle. Start your training cycle with the weights moderately light, and as you progress slowly increase the weight each week. You will find when returning to heavy event training for an upcoming completion you will be faster and stronger than ever.