Training for Strongman in a Commercial Gym

TAGS: strongman gym, strongman implements, 5thSet, matt mills, programming, commercial gym, program, strongman, training

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Training for strongman can be very difficult when you don’t have access to the implements at your local gym. If you have a gym with all the strongman implements, consider yourself very lucky. I work with many competitors online who, unfortunately, do not. If a competitor has all the needed implements, then I like to space out the events through the week with accessory lifts working on weak points. However, many competitors only have access to a commercial gym that’s close by, then they’ll make a far drive on a weekend to the nearest strongman gym.

I have to say that you really cannot prepare for a strongman competition only at a commercial gym. You can be great at the barbell clean and press, but a heavy log will crush you if you don’t have any experience with it. When I first started strongman, I could deadlift 700 pounds but could barely lift a 225-pound stone my first time trying it. You need to train on the implements weekly to do well in this sport, and more importantly, to avoid injury.


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The nice thing about going to a commercial gym is that you will have access to all the basic barbell movements, as well as machines. Machines are something I have grown to really like as accessory work over the years. I know of many great competitors who’ve trained this way for years, even going on to win their pro cards, so don’t think you are at a disadvantage.

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One thing we are going to do is only train four events on the event day. Do not try to be a superhero and train all five events on one day. Your body will not be able to recover leaving you beaten up and soon to be injured.

As you can see in the four-week program, we are rotating the events between moderate, heavy, and speed. Again, doing a heavy yoke week after week is going to leave you tired and slow.

For the deadlifts and the log press, I like to follow the 5thSet protocol. You will be ready for a max event or a rep event. It’s simple to follow and effective.

Two things we need to focus on during the week at the commercial gym are weak points for the press, and building up your back. Every strongman show has a press, sometimes two, so it can’t be a weak point for you in this sport. Day 2 of the program is just accessory lifts for the press.

We have back work spaced out on two days of the program for good reason. If you have a weak back it’s just a matter of time before you get injured in the sport of strongman. Every lift requires either your upper or lower back, so it needs to be strong.

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One thing I have to add is on the event day you should be packing food with you. Hitting four events is going to take a few hours, and sometimes just the setup and then putting back the equipment can add over an hour to your training time.

Here is an example four-week program you can use to structure your own. I stuck with the basic events, but you can easily swap in the ones you have for a possible upcoming competition.

Week 1

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4: Event day at strongman gym

Week 2

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4: Event day at strongman gym

Week 3

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4: Event day at strongman gym

Week 4

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4: Event day at strongman gym

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