Prepare for your first strongman competition or just get much stronger with our gym-friendly workout
Although the behemoths who take part in strongman contests are certainly terrifyingly bulky, there's more to these events than simply being able to power-clean a small motorboat. Strongman contests typically involve odd-shaped objects, a smattering of conditioning and some terrifying tests of grip. To help you out, we've put together this workout, which you should be able to do in most decent-sized gyms. Try it as a 'finisher' after a normal week of workouts.
Sets 1 Reps Max
After a few warm-up sets, use a weight that's anywhere between 60 and 80 per cent of your one-rep max and do as many reps as you can with it. Stick to one heavy set so that you don't completely fry your nervous system.
2 Clean and press
Sets 3 Reps 5
Power clean a barbell up to your chest, then military press or push press it overhead (if you've got the hang of it, the push press will let you shift more weight). In competition you'll typically have 60 seconds to get as many reps as possible, but stick to five here so you can maintain good form.
3 Plate carry
Sets 3 Time 30 seconds
Pick up the heaviest plate or kettlebell you can find - remembering to lift with your legs, not your back - and hold it to your chest as you cover as much distance as you can in 30 seconds. In a competition you might have to carry an Atlas stone or key, so experiment with different grips.
4 Rope pull
Sets 3 Reps 15 each side
Stand facing a cable stack with a rope attachment, with your head up and feet shoulder-width apart. Holding the rope in one hand, pull it towards your waist, twisting your hips into the move to get your whole body in the move. Pause at the top, lower the stack, then repeat on the other side.
5 Farmer's walk
Sets 3 Distance Max
If your grip isn't ruined from the rope pull, this classic test of balance and strength will finish it off, while also building up your core and helping you carry the shopping. Simply choose the heaviest pair of dumb-bells you can manage, deadlift them off the ground and walk as far as you can before dropping them – go back and forward if needed. Record what you've done and try to better it next time.
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From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.