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-   -   Lifts with Best Strongman Carryover? (http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4669)

Jacob Rowell 09-15-2009 10:37 AM

Lifts with Best Strongman Carryover?
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.


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.


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


Originally Posted by Gavin Harrison (Post 62835)
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


Originally Posted by Donald Lee (Post 62844)
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.

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