If you’re looking for a brand new workout that will give you brand new results, it’s time to consider a strongman workout.
Beginners – don’t panic! You don’t need to have muscles that bulge like Eddie Hall’s or Donna Moore’s.
Strongman training is for everyone. After all, the primary movements of strongman: Pushing, pulling, and carrying are built into all of us! What’s more, performing these exercises in the gym can transfer over to when we use them in the real world.
Through strongman training we develop our functional strength, condition our cardiovascular system and increase our speed, all whilst getting stronger.
If those sound like the benefits you’re looking for in your workout regime, then step up to the plate and try this 6 exercise strongman workout.
1. Barbell Deadlift
The deadlift is a fantastic place to start in any strongman training workout because it targets and works all our muscle groups including the glutes, hamstrings and lower and upper back. It’s an all rounder made to build strength and stamina, which will help throughout the course of other strongman training exercises.
Perform 5 sets of 3-5x reps.
How to Perform the Barbell Deadlift:
- Place your feet shoulder width apart and let your shins touch the bar.
- Reach down and grasp the bar firmly with an overhand grip (also known as a pronated grip: When hold onto a bar with your palms facing down.)
- Engage your core – your abs should feel braced. Keep your head neutral by fixating on a spot two or three meters on the ground away from you.
- Now stand up tall, lifting the bar by keeping a flat back and really driving your hips forward once the bar has passed your knees.
- Have a good control over the bar as you lower it until the bar has passed your knees, then you can let go.
- Between sets, rest for two to three minutes.
If you’re having trouble with your grip whilst deadlifting, don’t worry! We covered how to aid that in our blog: My Grip Fails on Deadlifts
2. Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Down
Lat pull-downs target your latissimus dorsi (your lats), otherwise identified as the large flat muscles that are situated like wings either side of your middle back. It may seem an unusual move for strongman training, but a strong back is vital for strongman pulling events such as arm-over-arm, log or axle clean and all types of deadlift, as well as being an antagonist movement for bench press.
Involving an almost identical movement to the pull-up, the pull-down engages your mid- and upper-back muscles, whilst strengthening your arms and grip. A wider grip, which we’ve gone for in this variation, makes the lats work harder during the movement. A standard lat pull-down will use a wide grip, but in this variant you’ll be taking your hands to the furthest end of the bar.
Perform 4 sets of 6-8x reps.
How to Perform the Lat Pull-Down:
- With a wide grip, grasp the furthest ends of the bar. Remain looking forward with your torso upright.
- Pull your elbows back and down, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Pull the bar down in front of you toward your upper chest and squeeze your lats at the very bottom of the move.
- Try to remain sitting upright and actively resist the urge to lean back.
- Pause to feel the tension, then release slowly, without momentum.
3. Prowler Push
Pushing is a lower-body compound movement that we all use. Whether it’s pushing a trolley, a pram, or furniture, by the very nature of the move we’re working our legs, as well as core, shoulders and arms.
A prowler push takes this movement to a whole new level by introducing a sufficient amount of weight to push over a specified distance. Prowler pushes develop power, speed and force, so they’re the very epitome of strongman training.
Perform 4-6 sets of 20m pushes.
How to Perform the Prowler Push:
- Grip the prowler handles, keeping your arms fully locked out.
- Lean toward the prowler so that your torso results in being almost parallel to the ground.
- Keep your head up and begin pushing the prowler forward by actively driving through your feet, taking large, almost march-like steps.
Enjoying the workout? Read more: How to Start Strongman Training
4. Heavy Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell Swings condition the muscles of the hip and lower back to withstand strong hingeing forces (such as in the deadlift) and produce explosive hip power to drive weights up – for example, when loading a stone onto a high platform or tossing a keg over a high bar. It also conditions everyday movements such as running and jumping, due to the dynamic nature of the swing.
The kettlebell swing engages all the muscles in your upper back and core for stability, while using the muscles of the posterior hip (glutes and hamstrings) to drive the weight. It’s a fast, explosive exercise, so a great complement to the slower, more static lifts.
Perform 10 reps. For female beginners, start with an 8kg or 12kg kettlebell, and for male beginners, start with 16kg.
How to Perform the Heavy Kettlebell Swing:
- Grab the handle of a kettlebell with both hands in an overhand grip.
- Bend at your hips, pushing your glutes back until your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
- Swing the weight beneath you, squeeze your glutes and snap upright with force.
- Drive the kettlebell as high as eye level by using your hips to drive it upward.
5. Tyre Flip
Tyre Flips are perhaps one of the most commonly recognised elements of strongman training. Why? Because they look hardcore.
A tyre flip performed with the right form will actually target the same muscles as a deadlift: When you first perform the movement you work your glutes, hamstrings and back, and at the end of the movement once the tyre is ready to be pushed over, you’ll be engaging your biceps, chest and triceps.
Perform 4 sets of 6 reps and rest for a couple of minutes after each set.
How to Perform the Tyre Flip:
- Start strong. Start with your feet and hips shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back to get in the starting position, making sure to keep your back flat and your core engaged.
- Watch your hands. Make sure as you underhand grip the tire, you place your hands onto the treads. Putting them in the space between the treads could cause you to hyperextend your fingers or, even worse, tear your biceps.
- Power is key. Now you’re ready for take off. This is an explosive lift, so drive up by pushing your legs into the ground with force to get the tyre to chest level. . Once it’s there, switch to an overhand grip and push it so it topples over onto the floor.
6. Atlas Stone Load
Atlas Stones might look intimidating, but they are another crucial component of strongman training. It is worth noting that Atlas Stone lifts should be undertaken with professional coaching – just like you can receive at Strength Ambassadors.
Despite its Herculean appearance, regularly training with and lifting an Atlas stone will engage and strengthen your erectors, lats, pecs, rhomboids and shoulders, making it a complete body workout.
For beginners it’s advised that you perform 5-6 sets of 2-3x reps.
How to Perform the Atlas Stone Load:
- Take a wide stance and straddle the stone between your legs.
- Begin the lift by hinging at your hips and then cupping your hands under the stone. Firmly grip the stone by squeezing your arms into it. Drive your hips down and pull the atlas stone into your body, aiming toward your groin. Ensure you hunch your lower back as in this exercise a rounded back is crucial to be able to lift the stone properly.
- With the stone in your lap, keep a stable squat-like stance and adjust your grip so that the hands grip the stone over the top, not from underneath. This prevents the stone from tipping away from you in the next phase.
- Push your hips forward and upward and roll the stone up your body as you extend upwards.
- Hoist and load the stone onto your chosen platform. It’s advisable to work with a spotter to help steady the stone.
- Return the stone to the floor by rolling it onto thick matting.
Let us know how you found this workout. Strongman training provides many health and fitness benefits, so it’s definitely worth giving a go. For some exercises we do recommend professional guidance, so pop down to our London Strength Hub or sign up for our online classes.
Thanks for explaining how strongman training can help you to develop functional strength and can improve your cardiovascular system. I want to exercise this year so I can try and run a marathon at the end of the year. I’ll think about purchasing a strongman sandbag that I can use for my exercise routine.