8-Week Beginner Post Quarantine Strongman Program

TAGS: post-quarantine, strongman program, matt mills, strongman

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When I first got into training, I wanted to try out everything.  I thought the harder and the more you train, the better.  Back then, all I had to go by were the muscle magazines I read diligently.  Twenty sets of biceps?  Bring it on!  I may have trained hard back then, but I didn’t train very smart.  The internet was just getting started (yes, I’m aware I’m getting old), so we didn’t have the information we have today at our fingertips.  To this day, I train a lot of beginners looking to get into the sport of strongman, and many I have to slow down.  I would rather work with someone that has the drive to work hard than someone who just wants to do a couple heavy sets and call it a day (an article for another time).  Advanced lifters can work up to serious volume in their training, as long as they can recover from it.  Mariusz Pudzianowski would train five days a week and anywhere from three to six hours a day.  However, you cannot just start training like Pudzianowski.  You need to look at what got them to that point in their training.  A common mistake new trainer’s make is that they might be in great shape, but they don’t know how to train someone new.  I was one of these trainers when I made people do walking lunges until they could barely walk.  People I trained were so sore they didn’t want to come back, and I can’t blame them looking back.  Point being, you can only recover from so much even when your nutrition and sleep are on point.


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With our current situation with gyms being closed, and hopefully where you are they are opening back up, you are going to have to take it SLOW getting back into things.  Going crazy off the chains, and being super sore will only be counterproductive.  The last thing you would want do right now is get injured when you haven’t been able to lift for a few months—exactly what so many beginners do.  They do every exercise they know, and are super sore for days, thinking that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Don’t get me wrong, soreness is completely normal when you are new to something, but there is a certain point where you are not going to make any progress from it.

This 8-week program is perfect for those who are just getting into strongman, or those who have been doing bodyweight and band workouts for the last few months.  We’re going to be using the RPE (rating of perceived exertion) system, so if you are unfamiliar with it, a 10 would be the max amount of reps you could do. By adding one more rep, you would fail.  RPE of 9 would mean you have one rep in the tank. An RPE of 8 is where you'd have two reps in the tank. An RPE 7 is where you'd have three reps left in the tank, and so on.  You must be honest about this. Don't turn each set into a 9 or 10.

Week 1

Keep everything an RPE of 7

Day 1

  1. Log clean and press 3 x 5 – clean each rep, use same weight for each set
  2. Incline bench  3 x 8
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed
  4. Push-ups  3 x 10 –feet elevated if possible
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 5
  2. Yoke walk  3 x 50ft  -RPE can be a little harder to gauge here, but it is based on speed.  Absolutely no drops here.  10 would be a death walk that you can barely finish, 5 would be speed work, I want you at a 7.
  3. Leg press  3 x 10
  4. GHR  3 x 10
  5. Plank  3 x 45s

Day 3

  1. Axle strict press  3 x 8
  2. Dumbbell lateral raises 3 x 12
  3. Rear delt flys  3 x 15
  4. Superset: EZ bar curls  3 x 10 with Incline Tate press  3 x 12

Day 4

  1. Deadlift 3 x 5
  2. Farmers walk  3 x 50ft
  3. Stone over bar or to podium  3 x 5
  4. Dumbbell row  4 x 8 each
  5. Bench leg lifts  3 x 12

Week 2

Keep everything an RPE of 8.

All we’re doing this week is making a small increase in weight, so keep in mind, two reps in the tank!

Day 1

  1. Log clean and press 3 x 5 – clean each rep, use same weight for each set
  2. Incline bench  3 x 8
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed
  4. Push-ups  3 x 12 –feet elevated if possible
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 5
  2. Yoke walk  3 x 50ft
  3. Leg press  3 x 10
  4. GHR  3 x 10
  5. Plank  3 x 45s

Day 3

  1. Axle strict press  3 x 8
  2. Dumbbell lateral raises 3 x 12
  3. Rear delt flys  3 x 15
  4. Superset: EZ bar curls  3 x 10 with Incline Tate press  3 x 12

Day 4

  1. Deadlift 3 x 5
  2. Farmers walk  3 x 50ft
  3. Stone over bar or to podium  3 x 5
  4. Dumbbell row  4 x 8 each
  5. Bench leg lifts  3 x 12

Week 3

Keep everything an RPE of 8 this week, even when increasing the weight.

The first two weeks getting back into things your strength should be coming back.  Small jumps on everything, but nothing crazy.

Day 1

  1. Log clean and press 3 x 5 – clean each rep, use same weight for each set
  2. Incline bench  3 x 8
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed
  4. Push-ups  3 x 14 –feet elevated if possible
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 5
  2. Yoke walk  3 x 50ft
  3. Leg press  3 x 10
  4. GHR  3 x 10
  5. Plank  3 x 45s

Day 3

  1. Axle strict press  3 x 8
  2. Dumbbell lateral raises 3 x 12
  3. Rear delt flys  3 x 15
  4. Superset: EZ bar curls  3 x 10 with Incline Tate press  3 x 12

Day 4

  1. Deadlift 3 x 5
  2. Farmers walk  3 x 50ft
  3. Stone over bar or to podium  3 x 5
  4. Dumbbell row  4 x 8 each
  5. Bench leg lifts  3 x 12

Week 4

Keep events at RPE 8 or 8.5.

Again small jumps on compound (multi-joint) movements, and the events still being around an RPE 8 or maybe 8.5.  Accessory lifts you can push it harder to an RPE of a 9.

Day 1

  1. Log clean and press 3 x 5 – clean each rep, use same weight for each set
  2. Incline bench  3 x 8
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed
  4. Push-ups  3 x 10 –feet elevated if possible
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 5
  2. Yoke walk  2 x 50ft  -with the increase in weight, we are taking a set off so make them count!
  3. Leg press  3 x 10
  4. GHR  3 x 10
  5. Plank  3 x 45s

Day 3

  1. Axle strict press  3 x 8
  2. Dumbbell lateral raises 3 x 12
  3. Rear delt flys  3 x 15
  4. Superset: EZ bar curls  3 x 10 with Incline Tate press  3 x 12

Day 4

  1. Deadlift 3 x 5
  2. Farmers walk  2 x 50ft
  3. Stone over bar or to podium  3 x 5
  4. Dumbbell row  4 x 8 each
  5. Bench leg lifts  3 x 12

Week 5

Get more reps.

We’re going to be doing more reps this week as your work capacity should be building, along with speed work on the moving events.

Day 1

  1. Axle press  3 x 10 –clean once, we’re doing a lot of reps here.  Time to build some work capacity.  Get good leg drive on these.
  2. Swiss bar floor press  3 x 10
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed, work on not using a band, or if advanced to weighted
  4. Push-ups  3 x 10 –feet elevated if possible, become easy add a mini band
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 6 –same weight as last week, but we will be adding a rep each week
  2. Yoke walk  5 x 50ft let’s make this an rpe of 5, so these are for speed!  Keep the rest to 60s
  3. Split squat  3 x 10 –keep these on the lighter side with dumbbells if you can hold weight.  These will definitely make you sore
  4. GHR  3 x 10 if these become easy do them banded
  5. Jack knife sit up  3 x 15

Day 3

  1. Log Z press  3 x 8 work up to an rpe of 9
  2. Cable lateral raise  3 x 12 each
  3. Face Pulls  4 x 15
  4. Superset: Dumbbell hammer curls  3 x 10 with fat gripz (preferred) with JM press  3 x 12 SSB (preferred)

Day 4

  1. Deadlift 5 x 3 –we flipped the sets and volume this week so make a small jump from last.  Last set should be an rpe of 9
  2. Farmers walk  5 x 50ft  Same as the yoke need for speed this week!
  3. Stone over bar or to podium  3 x 5 Same set up this week OR if you can do a 5 stone series do that
  4. Wide grip seated cable row  4 x 10
  5. Ab wheel  3 x 15 –no ab wheel put two 10lb plates on a bar

Week 6

Now that we are back in the swing of things, let’s step it up.

Day 1

  1. Axle press  3 x 8, 8, max reps –small jump from last week’s weight, last set should be a 10, but no misses
  2. Swiss bar floor press  3 x 10
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed, work on not using a band, or if advanced to weighted
  4. Push-ups  3 x 12 –feet elevated if possible, become easy add a mini band
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 7 –same weight as last week, but we will be adding a rep each week
  2. Yoke walk  2 x 50ft work up to 2 heavy sets here of the same weight, but no drops rpe 9
  3. Split squat  3 x 10 –keep these on the lighter side with dumbbells if you can hold weight.  These will definitely make you sore
  4. GHR  3 x 10 if these become easy do them banded
  5. Jack knife sit up  3 x 15

Day 3

  1. Log Z press  3 x 8
  2. Cable lateral raise  3 x 12 each
  3. Face Pulls  4 x 15
  4. Superset: Dumbbell hammer curls  3 x 10 with fat gripz (preferred) with JM press  3 x 12 SSB (preferred)

Day 4

  1. Deadlift 5 x 3 –increase in weight, but still should be a 9 this week
  2. Farmers walk  2 x 50ft same as yoke again
  3. Stone over bar or to podium  3 x 5 Same set up this week OR if you can do a 5 stone series do that.  Here either work on completing the reps faster, or move to a bigger stone if you have them
  4. Wide grip seated cable row  4 x 10
  5. Ab wheel  3 x 15 –no ab wheel put two 10lb plates on a bar

Week 7

Day 1

  1. Axle press  3 x 8, 8, max reps –Make a small jump again, but try to do just as many reps on the max rep set
  2. Swiss bar floor press  3 x 10
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed, work on not using a band, or if advanced to weighted
  4. Push-ups  3 x 14 –feet elevated if possible, become easy add a mini band
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 8 –same weight as last week, but we will be adding a rep each week
  2. Yoke walk  3 x 50ft moderate weight here, a little lower than what you did last week, RPE 8
  3. Split squat  3 x 10 –keep these on the lighter side with dumbbells if you can hold weight.  These will definitely make you sore
  4. GHR  3 x 10 if these become easy do them banded
  5. Jack knife sit up  3 x 15

Day 3

  1. Log Z press  3 x 8
  2. Cable lateral raise  3 x 12 each
  3. Face Pulls  4 x 15
  4. Superset: Dumbbell hammer curls  3 x 10 with fat grips (preferred) with JM press  3 x 12 SSB preferred

Day 4

  1. Deadlift 5 x 3 –increase in weight, but still should be a 9 this week
  2. Farmers walk  3 x 50ft same as yoke
  3. Stone over bar or to podium  3 x 5 Same set up this week OR if you can do a 5 stone series do that.  Here either work on completing the reps faster, or move to a bigger stone if you have them
  4. Wide grip seated cable row  4 x 10
  5. Ab wheel  3 x 15 –no ab wheel put two 10lb plates on a bar

Week 8

Last week: Make it count!

Day 1

  1. Axle press  3 x 6, 6, max reps –Make a bigger jump this week, just make sure you get at least 6 on the max rep set
  2. Swiss bar floor press  3 x 10
  3. Neutral grip pull-ups  3 x 10 –use band if needed, work on not using a band, or if advanced to weighted
  4. Push-ups  3 x 16 –feet elevated if possible, become easy add a mini band
  5. Rope pressdowns  3 x 12

Day 2

  1. Front squats  3 x 9 – same weight as last week, but we will be adding a rep each week
  2. Yoke walk,  work up to a heavy 50ft, Just one set not counting warm-ups.  More than what you did on week 6
  3. Split squat  3 x 10 –keep these on the lighter side with dumbbells if you can hold weight.  These will definitely make you sore
  4. GHR  3 x 10 if these become easy do them banded
  5. Jack knife sit up  3 x 15

Day 3

  1. Log Z press  3 x 8
  2. Cable lateral raise  3 x 12 each
  3. Face Pulls  4 x 15
  4. Superset: Dumbbell hammer curls  3 x 10 with fat grips (preferred) with JM press  3 x 12 SSB (preferred)

Day 4

  1. Deadlift,  work up to a heavy triple today, keep the form solid and end on a high note
  2. Farmers walk,  work up to a heavy 50ft. -Just one set not counting warm-ups.  More than what you did on week 6
  3. Stone over bar or to podium-  This week we are going to do stone one motions, so drop the weight down for a 3 x 6 preferably to a higher podium.  What a higher podium is will depend on height and gender
  4. Wide grip seated cable row  4 x 10
  5. Ab wheel  3 x 15 –no ab wheel put two 10lb plates on a bar

At this point, you should definitely need a deload, as well as putting on some quality size and strength!

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