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View Full Version : Lifts with Best Strongman Carryover?


Jacob Rowell
09-15-2009, 10:37 AM
I've been competing in NAS contests for about a year and a half now. Most of my training has involved rotating cycles of basic strength training with big lifts (Back/Front Squat, Presses, Deadlifts, Oly), followed by fairly sport specific training (just log presses, axle deadlifts, farmers, etc.., maybe a little maintenance work on the squat). As I'm progressing, I feel that each time I switch from strength training to SM, or vice versa, I'm having to regain a little ground. Also, as I'm looking to compete more frequently, I don't have time between contests to complete 2 separate cycles.

What I need is a more sustainable training method. I'd like to make gains over long periods of time on the major barbell lifts, but I know that the majority of my efforts need to be directed towards getting stronger at the SM implements if I want to compete regularly.

So, which lifts would you guys suggest training frequently to get the most transfer to SM? How often do you guys still do full squats, strict presses, etc.. How relevant are these lifts compared to say, push presses, zercher squats, box squats with chains, and the like when it comes to SM? How often do you train events?

Any general thoughts from guys experienced in strength sports on balancing absolute strength and sport specific skills, and maximizing the carryover between the two would be appreciated.

Dave Van Skike
09-15-2009, 08:26 PM
gret thread jacob .

struggling with the same thing myself, adding in highland games is only going to make it worse.

some random thoughts

i know that marunde is a bit of a BB.com black hole, but there are several people over there who are worth following. Tom Mutaffis and Craig Pfisterer have real rational plans. Muttaffis is a total mutant but Craig seems to be an stronger than average guy who simply busts ass.

another thing i've gleened from older SM guys is the need to hit the one top effort on each day and then call it, no extra bs. squats and cleans are accessories to the events, not vice versa.

also, it seems like a split that is one day heavy pressing, one day squatting or pulling and then one day of nothing but events seems to consistently deliver for LW and HW guys. two days a week with barbells following a 531 type progression and ZERO accessoriers is the best i can come up with at this point.

Jacob Rowell
09-16-2009, 04:31 AM
Thanks Dave. I've been looking around the training logs at Marunde-Muscle, which got me thinking that I need to get a better plan. I've seen both of those guys logs, and they're quite impressive.

Maybe I'll throw out some ideas. I will recognize first, that a lot of this will dependent on my strengths, weakness, what I respond to, and necessary level of training complexity. I don't want to get anything close to one of those "If you could only do THREE lifts.." kind of threads....

I respond well to back squatting once a week, if it's at a high enough volume/intensity. I'm doing 10 sets of 3 right now, putting on 10# each week. The only times I've put pounds on my press is through high volume, frequently. And If I'm not going to kill myself, I use a few different pressing movements (bench/press/push press), and lately I've been doing log PJ and axle PP, as well as barbell shoulder presses.

I'll have to look into the 531 stuff some, I heard it's all the rage.

Any thoughts on particular lifts to throw into heavy rotation? I know you're a fan of Zerchers. Box Squats? Rack or Axle Deads? I'm torn betweenmoving towards movements that more closely resemble strongman events, and sticking with the classic lifts.

Patrick Donnelly
09-16-2009, 07:29 AM
I have no SM competition history, so I can't comment what lifts are best, but I would like to second checking out Craig Pfisterer's log.

justgetstrong.blogspot.com

He's also got a longer history of his workouts logged on the Power & Bulk forums.

Gavin Harrison
09-16-2009, 10:37 AM
I don't do SM anything, so I just figured I'd throw in a quote from a Q&A w/ Louie Simmons found here. (http://www.wannabebig.com/training/powerlifting-and-functional-strength-for-athletics/q-a-with-westside-barbells-louie-simmons/)

Strongman Training
Q: Coach Simmons, how do you recommend one train for strongman? Thanks so very much for your time and consideration.

Louie SImmons: We had a strongman visit us not too long ago. He trained the same as our powerlifters with respect to the core exercises. We had him do considerably more GPP work and varied his accessory training using some strongman specific movements (ex. Overhead presses after his main bench exercise).

With weights, the bulk of his training was with low box squats, good mornings, deficit deadlifts, and band pulls. We took him from barely pulling 500 lbs to 800 lbs! We did not train deadlifts for reps with our view being that absolute strength will provide the strength endurance needed for his meets. In other words, if you can pull 800 lbs for a single, you can pull 700 lbs for reps. Conditioning should come from GPP, not the weights. This is ALWAYS true and I cannot emphasize it enough. Weights are for absolute strength and GPP for more generalized endurance.

We skipped powerlifting gear with the exception of briefs. He would not be competing in a suit so we felt that training with one would serve no purpose.

Dave Van Skike
09-16-2009, 10:58 AM
Jacob, I had a long reply sorted out but I nuked it...too many words anyway.

on lifts, zerchers, band pulls, box squats with chains etc...are all great but honestly, I like them becuase i'm good at them. If I really wanted to drive my zercher, i'd do front squats and if i really want to drive my DL, I do rdl's, if I want my log or axle press to go up I do push presses and incline bench. I think for me, simple is better.

doing SM, Highland games and PL etc looks like it's getting really complicated, I think maybe the right appraoch is whatever volume and instensity can be managed so that the barbell totally supports the event work....for me, sadly, that means taking weight off the bar and hitting reps.

Dave Van Skike
09-16-2009, 11:21 AM
an idea i'm working with is how to mix ME work and volume work.

The big takeaway for me in reading all that westside crap is the real value of ME work is learning to push yourself really hard against a daily (not psyched up)maximum "single" effort. the "training max" . Remeber that early westside had no equipment on ME , not even a belt.

the theory being that if you rotate your ME work, you can train at a consistently high %. The problem for a lot of us is that it doesn't work in practice unless we drop everyhting else (SM events) and also, for less experienced guys, we're not getting enough practice with the movement...Further, for SM, you need to be able to hit a "max effort" that could be for reps, for time or for a triple or single.


Chad Coy wrote this article that lays the idea of ME work out for SM.


My basic max effort workout will generally have a squat, dead, and an overhead press. The order depends on what needs the most work and whether I have a show coming up. For the last year, I have started with my press then hit the dead and finished with the squat. We modified the original ME to one that works for strongman. Keeping this in mind we may do a max single, a 5RM, a time limit set (60-90 seconds of work). Whatever we choose we always try for a new PR. Sometimes we may drop a lift (never longer than 1 session) depending on recovery. Since strongman requires more pulling prowess if anything is dropped it is the squat.


Along the lines of what I wrote earlier about learning to hit that one really good effort I've tried to work out a way to cycle up to hit that sort of effort in a movement and then drop down and work soem manageable volume. in my mind, the real benefit of volume work is learning the movement and getting efficient. The idea I'm working with is that even the warm ups are building up to little targeted efforts that might be heavyish but nowhere near maximum efforts..the idea is that the whole sequence has me sneaking up onto one really good effort and then going to work .I'll let you know if it happens for me.


an example session looked like this. the warmup is the same sequence regardless of pressing day, squat/pulling day or events day. I've been adding 5 pounds to the press each week, so all the warmup numbers are being pushed up.




warm up:

clean and press, 5,4,3,2,1 (135x5,145x4,155x3,165x2,175x1 )

(using the same bar move to fsq)

front squat, 5,4,3,2,1 (185x5,215x4,245x3,275x2,305x1)

then ME movement, alternate between log and axle, becuase that's pretty much what you press.

work up to comfortable daily max log in less than 5 sets. then,

timed sets 10x3, 3 reps on the minute for 10 minutes. Using 70% of the daily number.

or, ladders, (1,2,3)x3 with 80%

Donald Lee
09-16-2009, 01:35 PM
In other words, if you can pull 800 lbs for a single, you can pull 700 lbs for reps. Conditioning should come from GPP, not the weights. This is ALWAYS true and I cannot emphasize it enough. Weights are for absolute strength and GPP for more generalized endurance.

That's not quite accurate. I wouldn't look to Louie for much outside of Powerlifting, and even then, you have to modify his stuff if you're not on drugs.

Dave Van Skike
09-16-2009, 02:24 PM
That's not quite accurate. I wouldn't look to Louie for much outside of Powerlifting, and even then, you have to modify his stuff if you're not on drugs.

whether the one rep stregth carries over or not is debatable.

The assertion that Westside methods require you to use PED's is a load of BS. Everybody has to modify everything to make consistent progress.

Donald Lee
09-16-2009, 03:25 PM
I wrote out a long argument, but on second thought, Louie's plan doesn't sound too bad for Strongman. Since Strongman is highly lactic, it's more limited by strength than anything else. I'm sure the GPP and Strongman accessories is where a lot of conditioning comes into play.

In general though, maximal strength doesn't exactly carry over to endurance. You may be able to do 20 pullups or so from having a lot of pulling maximal strength, but you won't have the aerobic capacity or power to buffer lactate accumulation. With the same maximal strength, if you did some endurance training, you'd be able to do 30+ pullups. That's not taking into account increased recovery ability after one set.

Plus, looking at it from the size principle, with ME method, only the highest threshold fibers are fatigued. With the Repeated Effort or just higher reps in general, more fibers are fatigued. The ME method just doesn't fatigue enough fibers to help much with endurance. However, it depends on the weight, whether it's more beneficial working on strength endurance or maximal strength. If you're deadlifting 400 lbs for reps, and your max deadlift is 750 or so, then it may be more beneficial to work on strength endurance. For Louie's example of deadlifting 700 lbs for reps with a max of 800, that's 87.5% of your 1-RM. No need for strength endurance there.

For most other sports outside of Strongman, however, getting stronger to have more endurance is usually not the smartest approach, unless you're thinking long term. Conditioning for a more general fitness sport requires cardiac, vascular, and muscular adaptations that aren't really addressed by maximal strength work.

Allen Yeh
09-17-2009, 06:07 AM
Donald,

How much strongman have you done?

Jacob Rowell
09-17-2009, 07:59 AM
I found the Chad Coy article, a good read. I've used ME work for my strongman with success before (log, axle DL), but modifying the reps, not the movement each week.

I've never done rep work after ME-type lifting, but I can see the benefits, especially with strongman where as has been said, ME may mean weight, distance, or reps. I may consider trying something along the lines of cycling through varying deadlift movements each week, but keeping the volume work after as bar deadlifts off the floor, making sure I'm keeping progress with the deadlift. Could even try the 5/3/1 format as Dave suggested.

Something like:

Week 1: 18" Deadlift w/ straps to 3RM, then bar DL from floor for volume
Week 2: 15" Axle for Reps , """
Week 3: 1Rm Axle from Floor, """


I'm a weak presser, I don't know if I could get enough volume into one workout to make progress. Right now, I'm Benching 5x5, Strict 5x3, Axle Push Press 5x5, and Log Push Jerk 3x2, every week on different days. Writing it down, sounds ridiculous, but I'm making progress... I could knock it down to 2 days, bench/floor/strict press one day, Log or axle the other, combining ME + volume work.

Dave Van Skike
09-17-2009, 09:53 AM
was just talking about this last night. a couple of us are training for a contest that has an 18" DL max reps in 60 sec event in October. by way of background, the weights at this event are really light, 550 for HW, 500 for MW and 425# for me. so it's critical to stay on a nice even pace and move methodically for the whole 60 seconds and don't give away reps by failing to wait for the down command.


what we decided on is over the next three weeks we'll work up to a heavy but not gut buster single and then hit max reps in 30 seconds, 45 seconds and then 60 seconds Since i get a lot out of going over contest weight, I'm training the HW #'s

it went like this.
315x5 overhand grip no belt
405x3 overhand grip no belt
500x2 mixed grip no belt
585x1 mixed grip belt
635x1, mixed grip belt

then straps 550 x 8 in 30 seconds.

this was exactly enough work it seemed like. we had done a little stone and front squats before so we hit some safety squats to a low box and called it good. perfect volume for me.

Donald Lee
09-17-2009, 01:47 PM
Donald,

How much strongman have you done?

None :D

But I did get trained a bit by LW Strongman Scott Brengel back around April.

Dave Van Skike
09-18-2009, 09:56 AM
None :D

But I did get trained a bit by LW Strongman Scott Brengel back around April.

Bringin up the base is in reality way more important that strenght endurance. you can develop endurance while doing spefic contest prep, it takes average guys many months and often year to work from a 500 DL to a 600 DL, much longer for even talented guys to develop a 700 DL which is the bottom end of what it takes to be truly competitive at a national level.

If you quickly survey the top weights in a number of LW and MW contest medleys, the idea of training for strength endurance quickly fades. ferexample..

C&P Medley Log 250, Axle 240, Keg 230, Atlas stone 220.

Yes these are light but if you can't totally manhandle all the implements including the 200 pound stone and the 220 keg, forget finishing the medley. the log and axle are easy warm up weights in this context.

Jacob Rowell
09-18-2009, 10:28 AM
I was going to get into that earlier, but well, didn't.

Last contest, I tripled my performance on a rep event in 6 weeks. Deadlifted 400# axle for 5 reps at 6 weeks, and 15 in contest (though I missed 2 reps because of the down signal, like a chump). I think it's just a matter of time it takes to improve absolute strength in an advanced lifter vs strength endurance.

Big number you're throwing around Dave. Hell, I'm shooting for 600 DL and 500 BS @ 200 bodyweight as lifetime goals at the moment. Then again, these kind of numbers do seem to be common over at Marunde Muscle and p&b. Something to be motivated by.

Dave Van Skike
09-18-2009, 10:45 AM
I was going to get into that earlier, but well, didn't.

Last contest, I tripled my performance on a rep event in 6 weeks. Deadlifted 400# axle for 5 reps at 6 weeks, and 15 in contest (though I missed 2 reps because of the down signal, like a chump). I think it's just a matter of time it takes to improve absolute strength in an advanced lifter vs strength endurance.

Big number you're throwing around Dave. Hell, I'm shooting for 600 DL and 500 BS @ 200 bodyweight as lifetime goals at the moment. Then again, these kind of numbers do seem to be common over at Marunde Muscle and p&b. Something to be motivated by.

The numbers in my example are aspirational for me as well. I can pull ok but the press medley above is a crusher for little lightweights like me...the guys cutting from 240-250 with 400 pound raw benches are finishing those.

That's nice work on the axle! at my first contest I think I hit maybe 11 reps with 365 in training, in the event I hit 17 easy, if I could have used straps I think I would have simply run out of time hitting one every 2 seconds it was crazy. game day changes a lot of things, good and bad.

Hey, do you ever try any throwing events like highland games? a tall guy like yourself might do well in Highlander. I'm terrible at it but the contests are really fun, very laid back and civilized...they even break for lunch. the weights tend to be kind of light though.

http://www.nahighlander.com/

Jacob Rowell
09-20-2009, 10:23 AM
Thanks Dave. The same contest I tried/fell hard during a keg medley. Good and bad things, hah!

Never tried any HG stuff. Sadly, I didn't see any contest in my area through the site (East Coast). I bet it would be fun.

One of the guys (Gene Flynn) who runs CrossFit Outer Banks competes in Masters HG, and is apparently quite good. I should make it down there sometime and see it in action.

Arden Cogar Jr.
09-28-2009, 06:12 PM
I have had the luxury of having trained with and around Phil Pfister and Brian Siders for the past six or seven years.

Brian is not from this planet. When he's getting ready for a strongman event, He does "gym workouts" four days a week and "strongman workouts" two days a week. Those gym workouts are squats, benches, overhead work, and deads. In those 4 days he'll bench twice, squat twice and pull once. On the "strongman days" it's whatever he wants to do - axle, farmers, stones, etc. The volume on all and the weights moved are just unreal. I once watched him do 455 for 10 sets of 3 on his "light becn day." When I remarked he stated, "it's only 55 or 60%." He was right and how he stays injury free and completely life time drug free is unreal. Granted he's only competed in the Arnold STrongman the past five years and the WSM last year, but still, it's amaxing. Oh, and on his "regular powerlifting training" he'll train six days a week. The volume and weight moved, again, is unreal.

Phil is lot more human or rationale in his training. He does two days a week of gym work on average - normally Tuesday and Wednesday - or Tuesday and Thursday. Squats, pulls, and overheads. Or, as he likes to call it, "knee bendin', bar liftin', and bar pressin'" Then on the weekends, he and a bunch of other guys do two days of event work - normally the same format as a contest - 3 events one day, 4 events the next, or whatever. The last four weeks before the contests, he ditches the days of gym work for two more additional days of event work with one dead or one squat workout mixed in before the event training session. Nick Osbourne has had Phill's gym work very unusual the past few years. But I loved doing it with him because it had a lot of carryover for my silly lumberjack stuff.

All the best,
Arden

Dave Van Skike
09-29-2009, 02:32 PM
woof. tell me Siders is hitting those monster volumes with lower percentages weight, which may be huge for the rest of us but easy for him?

Arden Cogar Jr.
09-29-2009, 05:07 PM
woof. tell me Siders is hitting those monster volumes with lower percentages weight, which may be huge for the rest of us but easy for him?

You hit the nail on the head Dave. The dude ain't form this planet. Watched him do 545 for 5 sets 5 close grip bench one day. It looked so easy that he didn't even strain. I'm surprised that he only got 640 or 650 at that Raw bench meet last year in New England.

All the best,
Arden

Patrick Donnelly
09-30-2009, 07:49 AM
You hit the nail on the head Dave. The dude ain't form this planet. Watched him do 545 for 5 sets 5 close grip bench one day. It looked so easy that he didn't even strain. I'm surprised that he only got 640 or 650 at that Raw bench meet last year in New England.

All the best,
Arden
What the...?

If I wasn't hearing it from you, there's no way in hell I'd believe it.

Dave Van Skike
09-30-2009, 08:42 AM
What the...?

If I wasn't hearing it from you, there's no way in hell I'd believe it.

Siders and Gillingham may be the two of the all around strongest drug tested strength athletes in human history.

but...there's a lesson in there for mortals. about how you can get hella strong using a mix of rep work, volume work , max effort work and most important. how you can get really strong using submaximal weights.

Arden Cogar Jr.
09-30-2009, 11:37 AM
Siders and Gillingham may be the two of the all around strongest drug tested strength athletes in human history.

but...there's a lesson in there for mortals. about how you can get hella strong using a mix of rep work, volume work , max effort work and most important. how you can get really strong using submaximal weights.


Dave,
Again, you hit the nail on the head. Brad and Brian are two beasts of the same feather. Brad is what? 42 or 43 and he's deadlifting 860something - more than he did when he was in his 30s and wayyyy more than he did in his 20s. But their training is just as you put it - thought out.

Brian started high volume, high frequency training right off the bat. He's a genetic freak because, from memory, he benched 500 when he was 16. He also never went for anything close to his max in training. He only went there the last two weeks before a meet and at the meet. But everything was waved and percentaged out to a point where he slowly and continually improved.

To watch him train is awe inspiring. Just what he moves makes you shake your head.

All the best,
Arden

Michael McKenna
10-05-2009, 06:14 AM
Volume, Volume, Volume. (Smart volume, actually).

cameron patterson
06-10-2010, 03:34 PM
Front squats really helped me break through some plateaus. '
Close grip bench and rack lockouts have helped me on overhead events.
Obviously Deadlifts and Overhead pressing have great carryover.

John Alston
07-21-2010, 10:32 AM
I am not experienced in the specifics here nor super strong, but felt like sharing this
Derek Poundstone interview, a few years old, thought it had an slightly different take. It was a lot of "get strong in gym, then learn implements"
http://www.marunde-muscle.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8459

What is your current training split like?

Monday is shoulders, traps and abs, Tuesday is arms and cardio, Wednesday is usually off, Thursday is lower body (squats and deadlift), Friday is chest and back every other week and Saturday is Event training with CT Strength.

Dave Van Skike
07-21-2010, 10:45 AM
there was a good thread over at PB where Nick McKinless piped in and said, if you want to be a LW Strongman, get a 1500 raw total in PL and then start playing with implements. I think this is very very true.

once you're in contest prep, the barbell need to be secondary but the more time i spend getting injured by pushing the implement work, the more i think barbell and log only until 8-12 weeks out.

Jacob Rowell
07-27-2010, 06:42 PM
I love it when threads span internet-ages.

My raw total would be around 1200 if I had to guess. 1500 is much more like a lifetime goal.

This thread prompted me to get assistance from an experienced SM guy, and he's been doing my programming for around 9 months. From my last contest, it apparently paid off. Got 2nd out of a decently competitive field. I'm a poor presser, but I tied 2nd in the 200's on the press event, and even outdid a few 231s.

My training for the press has been frequent and volume oriented. I'd frequently hit a big overhead lift (once or twice a week) up to a heavy set, followed by several sets at 80-90% of that daily max, followed by assistance (bench, floor press, incline DB, etc...)

Pulling was infrequent, but usually reverse band, switching between pulling from a deficit and the floor. Usually worked up to a heavy single, or several singles at a heavy weight. A couple times a month here. Did a few heavy farmers deadlifts also.

Squatting was primarily off a box, with chains. The accommodating resistance was waved some over time.

A few oly complexes, and of course, event work. Medleys, and more keg relays than I care to remember.