Saturday, November 14, 2015

Strongman-Style Training With Conventional Equipment - Rob Orlando (2015)




Muscle & Performance is a monthly magazine aimed at active men and women who are highly motivated in the quest to improve their bodies and their health. It offers a wealth of workouts, diets, supplementation strategies and advice for gaining muscle mass, getting stronger, losing weight and enhancing sports performance.


Rob Orlando opened Hybrid Athletics in 2008 because he wanted to share his passion for exercise and strongman movements with the local population. Rob is a competitive strongman and Crossfit athlete. He's won 6 consecutive strongman contests while placing 22nd and 15th at the 2009 and 2010 CrossFit Games respectively. Rob's drive is to re-introduce natural movement patterns to the fitness community. Strongman implements represent the most basic, innate movements known to man including pushing, pulling, pressing, flipping, dragging, and carrying.





6-WEEK STRONGMAN CRUCIBLE
by 
Rob Orlando

If you've always wanted to try strongman training but don't have access to massive tractor tires, kegs, the log, and Atlas stones, you're in luck: This program may be the perfect introduction to building strength like a strongman inside your regular gym.



Strongman competition demands fringe, high-level strength like that of powerlifting, yet with a capacity that extends beyond the single, max-effort rep and into grueling efforts as long as 60 to 90 seconds of pure power output. But don't flip ahead to the next article yet; it just so happens that the gamesmanship and increased degree of variability make strongman a viable training approach for anyone.

For the next six weeks, this program will not only promote clear, measurable strength gains but also add intensity and variety to a humdrum routine. First, you'll set a baseline of performance with two events: an Upper-Body effort and a Lower-Body effort. Come Week Six, you'll set new personal bests in both.


Upper Baseline

In traditional strongman fashion, the upper-body baseline strength event is a 60-second, max-rep Alternating Circus Dumbbell Press. You'll need to shoulder and press a heavy dumbbell for max reps in 60 seconds, successfully securing those reps by alternating sides. Although the dumbbells in most conventional gyms aren't as large as a circus dumbbell and have smaller handles, they'll suffice to this baseline. Choose a weight you can press three or more times in 60 seconds. The heavier the dumbbell, the better it will be to test strength and performance improvements.

However, strength doesn't always mean conventional starts and finishes. It should be noted that the term "press" in strongman includes all methods of pressing, including the push press and jerk techniques. All methods of shoulder-to-overhead are acceptable here.


Lower Baseline

 The lower-body baseline strength event is a 60-second, max-rep 18-inch deadlift. To achieve that range of motion, you should pull from four-inch blocks. Using plates is a helpful modification as long as their height puts the bar roughly four inches off the floor and you use the same plates for your final effort. Choose a weight you can typically pull for five or more reps in 60 seconds.


Diversity and Acceptability

Our six-week training program will demand strength adaptation via some tried-and-true strongman elements without requiring all the specific strongman tools you won't find in most gyms. Expect to see a max-effort upper- and lower-body day each week, as well as a dynamic, or speed-focused upper and lower day each week. To get stronger you need to produce force faster, so let speed be your guide on dynamic effort days. The most common mistake on speed days is to choose a load that you can't move fast enough, which prevents the central nervous system from recruiting more motor units for these movements. Here, go a bit lighter to get more out of each exercise.

In addition to the primary move, each day will include assistance work. These mostly conventional movements can be loaded as heavy as possible as long as you can complete the prescribed number of reps with quality form. Lower-body days wil comprise familiar exercises to support lumbar strength, glutes and hamstrings. On upper-body days, the assistance work will build a support system for an incredible press by developing the upper back and triceps.

Each day will also include a short but intense conditioning session. Remember, the sport of strongman involves slightly more athleticism and strength endurance than say, powerlifting, which is more of a single-effort activity. For strongman-type strength and stamina, 60 seconds is the eternity you'll need to train for.

Each day will conclude with a high-rep finisher that often comes in sets of 100 reps. To improve your performance over these six weeks, recovery will be critical, and these finishers use lighter weight in order to flood the working area with blood and nutrients. Choose a weight with which you could do 100 unbroken reps. If you fail before 100, complete the remaining reps in as few sets as possible and with as little rest as possible in between. If you can hit 100 without resting, add weight next time.


Primal Athleticism

Strongmen are pros at building heaps of well-conditioned muscle. Performing unconventional moves, training strength endurance and building freaky grip strength all contribute to the kind of primal athleticism that anyone can benefit from

If you've always wanted to try strongman training but don't have access to massive tractor tires, kegs, the log, and Atlas stones, you're in luck: This program may be the perfect introduction to building strength like a strongman inside your regular gym.


Workout Notes

1) For all assistance exercises, rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets. For all core exercises, limit rest to 60 seconds or less.

2) For all sets of 100 reps, if you fail before 100, rest 10 to 15 seconds before continuing the set. Repeat as necessary to reach 100 total reps.

3) If you can hold a plank for longer than the time prescribed, use a weighted vest/backpack or have your partner add plates to your back surgically.

4) To find your one-rep maxes (1RM) on certain exercises, after a warm-up, simply work up to the heaviest single rep that you can complete in good form. Take as many sets as necessary to find your 1RM and rest as long as 3 to 5 minutes between sets.

5) Each week features four workouts, designed to follow a Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday schedule. Feel free to adjust as necessary based on your own schedule and rate of recovery.


Week One

Day 1

Baseline Test  -
Circus Dumbbell Press, 1 set, 60 seconds.
 - Clean the dumbbell to shoulder level, press (see note above about 'pressing'), then return it to the floor and repeat on the other side. Alternate reps for 60 seconds and log your total.


Assistance Work -
Barbell Z-Press, 3 set of 8 reps.
 Set up the pins in a power rack anywhere from clavicle to chin height. Perform overhead presses while seated on the ground, legs out wide in front of you. The Z-Press addresses postural muscles in a more challenging (and likely unfamiliar) way. Start lighter on this move to get a feel for it. Focus on maintaining straight legs and a rigid core as you press forcefully overhead.

One-Arm Dumbbell row, 3 x 10 (each side)

Core Work
Barbell Rollout, 3 x 8
Plank, 3 x 60 seconds

Conditioning -
Every minute on the minute (EMOM) for 12 minutes:
Odd minutes - Plyometric Pushup x 6
The plyometric pushup activates the powerful fast-twitch muscle fibers in your chest, shoulders and triceps. This dynamic, max-effort activity holds tremendous carryover for those who are serious about building pressing strength. You can perform these on flat ground or alternating between higher and lower hand heights.  
Even minutes - Kettlebell Swing x 12
 - Use the heaviest kettlebell that you can handle effectively for 12-15 reps.

Finisher
Lying Triceps Extension, 1 x 100 (see note above on 100 rep sets)


Day 2

Baseline Test
18-inch Deadlift, 1 set, 60 seconds.
 - Set up the barbell so the plates rest on blocks that are four inches in height. Select a weight with which you can complete five or more reps in 60 seconds. Use straps if necessary to maintain your grip for the full minute.

Assistance Work -
Romanian Deadlift, 3 x 8 reps
Back Extension (hypers), 3 x 12

Core Work -
Dumbbell Windmill, 3 x 5 reps (each side)
 - Standing with your feet placed wider than your hips, raise the dumbbell overhead and lock your arm in this position. Bend over to touch the floor between your feet or your same-side foot with your opposite hand (the one without the dumbbell), then contract your glutes, hamstrings and lower back to return the dumbbell back to the start position. Complete all reps for one side before switching and keep your eye on the dumbbell overhead at all times.

Conditioning -
Work for 60 seconds, then rest three minutes. Do five rounds. 
 - Farmer's Walk (100 feet, 50 feet each way)
 - Barbell Front Squat, to failure
For this conditioning circuit, grab a set of heavy dumbbells and walk 50 feet out and 50 feet back, then perform max reps of the front squat with about 70% of your 1RM. Rest three minutes after the squats. Your score is your front squat total for all three rounds.


Day 3

Dynamic Work: Upper Body -
Speed Bench Press, 10 sets of 3 reps.
 - Sets begin every 60 seconds with maximum bar speed. Load the bar with approximately 55% of your 1RM and focus on moving the bar as quickly as possible, under control.

Assistance Work -
Pullup, 3 x 8
Barbell Row, 3 x 8
If you can do more than 8 reps in the pullup, add weight. No, not bodyweight, you inconsequential speck non-transcendent flesh.

Core Work -
Dumbbell Russian Twist, 3 x 20 each side.
 - Look this one up if unfamiliar.
Kneeling Cable Crunch, 3 x 12.

Conditioning -
EMOM for 12 minutes:
Odd Minutes - Plyometric Pushup x 6
Even Minutes - Kettlebell Swing x 12 (see above for notes on both)


Day 4

Dynamic Work: Lower Body -
Barbell Squat, 12 sets of 2
 - Sets begin every 45 seconds with maximum bar speed. Load the bar with approximately 65% or your 1RM.
Sumo Deadlift, 8 sets of 1 rep
 - Sets begin every 30 seconds with maximum bar speed. Load the bar with approximately 70% of your 1RM.

Assistance Work -
Pause Squat, 3 x 5 reps
 - Calling for a deliberate pause at the bottom of each squat rep, this lift forces you to generate as much force as possible on the positive portion of the rep. It eliminates the benefit of elasticity, which works in your favor as you work on gaining appreciable amounts of strength. You'll have to use less weight than you would on typical working sets of the back squat. This technique can be employed on any squat variation (front, sumo, etc.).

Core Work -
Weighted Situp, 3 x 10

Conditioning -
As many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutes:
 - Alternating Dumbbell Step-up, 10 (each side)
 - Plate Push (50 feet, 25 each way)
Who needs a sled? If you have a heavy weight plate (45 lbs. will suffice) and some flat terrain, you can reap many of the same strength and conditioning benefits. Press forward as quickly and aggressively as you can for the prescribed distance or time.

Finisher -
Glute Bridge, 1 x 100 (see note above on 100-rep sets).


Week Two


Day 1

Max Effort: Upper Body -
Find 1RM Floor Press
While there are multiple documented "expert" programs for finding your single-rep max, we believe it is a very personal process. While some guys can simply walk into the gym in street clothes and bang out a new max on their first rep of the day, we advise a more detailed methodology. Follow your 5 to 10 minute general warmup with some specific warmup sets of the exercise being tested to mentally and physically pattern the movement while also increasing blood flow to participating muscle groups. Adding weight each set and taking as much rest as you feel is necessary, work your way toward your 1RM in as few sets as possible to avoid spending precious energy ahead of the test. Repeat the single-rep attempt, if necessary. Log your highest successful attempt.

Assistance Work -
Chest Dip, 3 x 8 reps.
 - If you can do more than 8 reps, add weight.
Close-Grip Pushup, 3 x failure.

Core Work -
Barbell Rollout, 3 x 10.
Plank, 3 x 60 seconds (see note above on plank times).

Conditioning -
Dumbbell Push Press, 1 x 60 total reps.
Pullup x 5 reps.
 - Use a weight that you can handle for 10-12 reps on your first work segment. Perform five pullups every time you hit momentary muscular failure.

Finisher -
Barbell Row, 1 x 100 reps (see note above on 100-rep sets).


Day 2

Max Effort: Lower Body -
Find 1RM Barbell Squat (see note above on finding 1RM).

Assistance Work -
2-inch Deficit Deadlift, 3 x 10.
 - It can be argued that the only thing better for pure strength than a deadlift is a longer deadlift. This variation provides you with a stronger start on the standard or elevated deadlift because you're working the same muscles through a longer range of motion.
Back Extension (hyper), 3 x 12 reps.

Core Work -
Dumbbell Side Bend, 3 x 12 (each side).
Situp, 3 x 20.

Conditioning -
EMOM for 12 minutes -
Odd Minutes: Weight Plate Pinch, 20 seconds
Even Minutes: Barbell Walking Lunge: 4 (each side)

Finisher -
Barbell Good Morning, 1 x 100 total reps.


Day 3

Dynamic Work: Upper Body -
Speed Bench Press, 10 x 3 reps.

Assistance Work -
Triceps Pressdown, 3 x 8 reps.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row, 3 x 10 (each side).

Core Work -
Dumbbell Windmill, 3 x 6 (each side)

Conditioning -
AMRAP in eight minutes, using a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 protocol:
Circus Dumbbell Press, first set 1 rep, then 2 reps, etc. to 7 reps (baseline weight each set)
Pullup, same protocol.

Finisher -
Face Pull, 1 x 100 total reps.


Day 4

Dynamic Work: Lower Body -
Barbell Squat, 12 x 2 reps.
Sumo Deadlift, 8 x 1 rep.
 - same method as Week One, Day 4.

Assistance Work -
Circus Dumbbell Press, 3 x 8 (each side).
Romanian Deadlift, 3 x 8 reps.

Core Work -
Barbell Rollout, 3 x 12 reps.

Conditioning -
Work for 30 seconds, then rest 90 seconds. Do five rounds:
Kettlebell Swing, 3 x 30 seconds.

Finisher -
Stiff-Legged Sumo Deadlift, 1 x 100 total reps.


Week Three

Day 1

Max Effort: Upper Body -
Find 1RM Barbell Push Press.

Assistance Work -
One-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Press, 3 x 8 (each side).
Lying Triceps Extension, 3 x 10.

Core Work -
Plank, 3 x 60 seconds.

Conditioning -
For time (use time as the measure), using a 10-8-6-4-2 protocol
Dumbbell Renegade Row
Plyometric Pushup
Pullup

Finisher -
Incline Bench T-Raise, 3 x 30
Incline Bench Y-Raise, 3 x 30


Day 2

Max Effort: Lower Body -

Find 1RM Deadlift

Assistance Work -
Pause Squat, 3 x 5
Back Extension, 3 x 12

Core Work -
Barbell Rollout

Conditioning -
Rest 30 seconds between exercises and 60 seconds between rounds. Do three rounds.
Max Distance Farmer's Walk, 30 seconds
Max Sumo Deadlift (~ 60% 1RM), 30 seconds

Finisher -
Barbell Good Morning, 1 x 100 total reps.


Day 3

Dynamic Work: Upper Body -
Speed Bench Press, 10 sets of 3

Assistance Work -
Barbell Push Press, 3 x 8 reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Row, 3 x 8 (each side)

Core Work -
Dumbbell Windmill, 3 x 8 (each side)

Conditioning -
AMRAP in six minutes:
Inverted Row, 9
Kettlebell Swing, 12
Dumbbell Russian Twist, 15 (each side)

Finisher -
Barbell Row, 1 x 100 total reps.


Day 4

Dynamic Work: Lower Body
Barbell Squat, 12 sets of 2
 - Sets begin every 45 seconds, with maximum bar speed. Use approximately 75% of 1RM
Sumo Deadlift, 8 sets of 1

Assistance Work -
Stiff-Legged Deadlift, 3 x 8 reps
Barbell Glute Bridge, 3 x 10 reps

Core Work -
Weighted Situp, 3 x 12

Conditioning -
Work for 60 seconds, then rest two minutes. Do four rounds:
Plate Push (30 feet, 15 each way)
Front Squat (~60% 1RM), Max Reps

Finisher -
Back Extension, 1 x 100 total reps


Week Four 

 Day 1

Max Effort: Upper Body -
Find 1RM Decline Bench Press

Assistance Work
Pullup, 3 x failure
Dumbbell Floor Press, 3 x 10

Core Work - 
Kneeling Cable Crunch, 3 x 10
Plank, 3 x 60 seconds

Conditioning
EMOM for 10 minutes:
Circus Dumbbell Press, 20 seconds

Finisher
Face Pull, 1 x 100 total reps


Day 2

Max Effort: Lower Body
Find 1 RM Sumo Deadlift from 4" Blocks

Assistance Work
One-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift, 3 x 8 (each side)
Alternating Dumbbell Step-Up, 3 x 10 (each side)

Core Work - 
Dumbbell Windmill, 3 x 8 (each side)

Conditioning
AMRAP in nine minutes:
Alternating Barbell Lunge, 6 (each side)
Dumbbell Overhead Press, 9

Finisher
Barbell Good Morning, 1 x 100 total reps 


Day 3

Dynamic Work: Upper Body
Speed Bench Press, 10 sets of 3

Assistance Work
Chest Dip, 3 x 8
Inverted Row, 3 x 12

Core Work
Dumbbell Side Bend, 3 x 12 (each side)

Conditioning
Work for 60 seconds, then rest three minutes. Do four rounds:
Barbell Overhead Press, 60 seconds

Finisher
Incline Bench Rear Lateral Raise, 1 x 100 total reps 


Day 4

Dynamic Work: Lower Body
Barbell Front Squat, 12 sets of 2 reps
Sumo Deadlift, 8 sets of 1 rep

Assistance Work - 
Stiff-Legged Sumo Deadlift, 3 x 8
Back Extension, 3 x 12

Core Work - 
Plate Russian Twist, 4 x 20 (each side)

Conditioning
EMOM for 15 minutes:
Minute 1: Plate Push (30 feet, 15 feet each way)
Minute 2: Kettlebell Swing, 12
Minute 3: Barbell Jump Squat

Finisher
Barbell Glute Bridge, 1 x 100 total reps


Week Five

Day 1

Max Effort: Upper Body
Find 1RM Pause Bench Press

Assistance Work
Barbell Row, 3 x 10
Triceps Pressdown, 3 x 12

Core Work
Weighted Situp, 3 x 12
Plate Russian Twist, 3 x 30 (each side) 

Conditioning
AMRAP in nine minutes, using a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 protocol:
Bench Press (~ 60% 1RM)
Pullup

Finisher
Face Pull, 1 x 100 total reps


Day 2   

Max Effort: Lower Body
Find 1RM Zercher Squat
Even those who are impressed with their current squat would be humbled by this exercise. To perform the Zercher correctly, hold the barbell in the crook of your elbows, maintain a rigid upper body and squat as normal, resisting the inevitable forward that the barbell placement involves.

Assistance Work
4" Deficit Deadlift, 3 x 8 reps
Back Extension, 3 x 12

Core Work
Kneeling Cable Crunch, 3 x 10 reps 
Plank, 3 x 75 seconds

Conditioning
Do each exercise, then rest two minutes. Do six rounds:
Farmer's Walk (100 feet, 50 feet each way)
Kettlebell Swing, to failure

Finisher -
Barbell Glute Bridge, 1 x 100 total reps


Day 3

Dynamic Work
Speed Bench Press, 10 sets of 3 reps

Assistance Work
Lying Triceps Extension, 3 x 10
Close-Grip Pushup, 3 x failure

Core Work -  
Barbell Rollout, 3 x 12

Conditioning -
Rest 30 seconds between exercises and 60 seconds between rounds. Do three rounds.
Renegade Row, 30 seconds
Plate Russian Twist, 30 seconds

Finisher -
One-Arm Dumbbell Row, 2 x 50 total reps (each arm)


Day 4

Dynamic Work: Lower Body
Barbell Front Squat, 12 sets of 2 reps
 - Sets begin every 45 seconds with maximum bar speed. Load the bar with approximately 70% of 1RM
Sumo Deadlift, 8 sets of 1

Assistance Work -
Barbell Glute Bridge, 3 x 8 reps
Kettlebell Swing, 3 x 20 reps

Core Work -
Plate Russian Twist , 4 x 20 reps (each side)

Conditioning -
Do eight rounds for time, resting one minute between rounds. Strive to complete each round in the same time as your first round:
Plate Push, 30 feet, 15 feet each way
Plyometric Pushup, 5
Deadlift (~75% 1RM), 3

Finisher -
Barbell Good Morning, 1 x 100 total reps


Week Six

Day 1

Baseline Test -
Circus Dumbbell Press, 1 x 60 seconds.
18" Deadlift, 1 x 60 seconds.
 - See Week One, Day 1 and Day 2 and check your progress. 




 


 



































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