One of my favorite, and most effective strength and conditioning programs has been a strongman program. I first used this program in 2010 while training at a very hardcore facility filled with strongman competitors, powerlifters, and Highland Games athletes. I was very pleased with the results as my strength increased, and my conditioning gas tank grew daily.
At times I would switch to other programs for something new, (usually DoggCrapp), or to get ready for an event. However, I found myself returning to this program as soon as possible because the results upon returning to this program were always the same; I’d get leaner, and stronger within weeks.
At this point you’re probably thinking, when does he hit us with the click this link to buy this program? Well… I’m not. Im going to post the template here for you just as it was given to me. I had some really cool athletes share this with me simply because I showed up with an open mind, and a solid work ethic. Also, I kept coming back so either they took pity on me or they respected my stubbornness. Either way, I’ll take it.
The basic template is a squat day, a bench day, a deadlift day, and an overhead press day. You can spread them out in any way that works for you. Some folks combined squat, and deadlifts on the same day or bench, and overhead press day. Some folks work a movement more than once a week, again whatever works. The numbers will be your guide. The program uses a linear progression so results are easy to track, the numbers are going up or they’re not.
Always start lighter than you think you should. Sustaining progress over a longer period of time is optimal, and easier to guarantee if your starting weights are a little lighter. For our template we want to start at 60% of our 5 rep max for each main lift. To keep it as manageable as possible we’re going to keep the progression as simple as possible; each week we’ll increase the poundage by 2.5%. We’re looking for slow, yet consistent progress. Let’s use 5 sets of 5 reps as our set/rep model. There are hundreds of set/rep variations yet for our purposes 5×5 gets the job done without needing a degree in nuclear science to calculate poundages.
We’re squared away on sets, reps, and percentages so let’s look at the next element; session structure. We’re going to work the exercises back to back in a series with no rest between. For example on squat day we will squat, broad jump, and push a car for one series with no rest between each movement. After we push the car, then we can rest for a minute before we head back to the squat rack. Every training session is structured this way, now the directive to start lighter than you think you should probably makes sense? It’s taxing.
Here is a template session to give you an example of how to structure your own sessions.
A1) back squat 5 reps
A2) broad jump 10 reps
A3) ab wheel rollout 10 reps
Repeat 5 times for 5 series. Then move on to the B series.
B1) zercher lift 5 reps
B2) bench or low box jumps 10 reps
B3) car/truck push (start with a shorter distance than you think you should so you can progress for a longer period of time).
Repeat 5 times for 5 series. Then move on to the C series.
C1) side to side squats 5 reps each leg
C2) jump squats 10 reps
C3) ladder drills working side to side movement.
Repeat 5 times for 5 series and you’re done for the day.
Rest for 1-2 minutes between series. Usually when I’m training alone I get a 5 minute break after my last set in say the A or B series because I have to setup equipment for the next series. Once I’m set up though, it’s back to work. This is the basic template for the program. Apply this to each movement session so on deadlift day we do our main deadlift movement in the first series followed by series using a variant. After the main move we do a plyometric or bodyweight movement followed by some form of agility or conditioning movement.
I would recommend starting with one series for your first training session. Get a feel for the training method, and how your body responds. Don’t over-reach, and damage yourself. Your hands, and joints take a beating when you train in this manner so give yourself time to adapt.
Again, start lighter and slower than you think you should. You want to keep adding weight to the bar for 8-16 weeks, not stall out in 4-5 weeks.
Try it out, and let me know what you think. If you have any question feel free to fire away, and I’ll do my best to answer.