A lot of guys who train for Strongman don’t put much thought into assistance work, if at all.  Assistance exercises can improve specific attributes and get you through your sticking points in many cases.

For the sake of discussion, we’ll call attributes specific abilities we need to improve on such as starting strength, strength endurance and so on.  Sticking points should be fairly obvious – they are points where you get stuck in certain lifts or events such as locking a heavy log overhead.

I’m going to give you a few of our favorite exercises for some events.

Jump Stretch Band Squat Thrusts (Event: Tire Flip)

This is an excellent exercise to improve starting strength in the tire flip and also a great football exercise for linemen.  Many athletes have trouble starting a heavy tire off of the ground and this will help you fix that problem.

Though this exercise is well illustrated in Dick Hartzell’s Jump Stretch video, available at EFS, we have modified it a bit to fit our needs.  You can see a movie clip of how we use this exercise at our facility by going to our Strength and Conditioning page or click on the link: #

To perform this exercise, you need at least 3 Jump Stretch bands.  What bands you use is up to you – it depends upon you strength level.  We usually start with 3 green bands (average bands).

Attach one band to a fixed object such as a power rack (bolted down) and loop the other two through it.  Put one band around each shoulder and get in a 4-point stance.

Your training partner will have a stability ball positioned about 5-10 feet directly in front of you and they will be bracing it for you as well.  When you are ready, EXPLODE out of your stance and drive forward as you reach for the ball.  Try to achieve a good triple extension of the ankle/knee/hip as you drive your hands into the ball.  Return to the start position and repeat.

We like the stability ball because you can apply force all of the way through the exercise and push into the ball without fear of injury.  Sets and reps are up to you.  Try 3 sets of 6 reps to start.  This is also a good substitute for the tire flip if it is raining or icy outside and you can’t get outside.

Plate Hugs (Event: Stones)

The Plate Hug is great to help you in stone lifting.  This exercise builds great strength across the chest and will help you move into heavier stones.  A T-bar row is best used for this exercise.

Load a T-bar up with some 45’s and straddle the plates as if you were lifting a stone.  Hug the plates as hard as you can and stand up as much as you can with them.

Suspended Log Lockouts (Event: Overhead Log Press, Viking Press)

A lot of people take our advice on this one and then forget what we said and miss the boat!

Suspended Log Lockouts are a tool to help you learn to do several things: (1) Lock a weight out overhead by using your triceps, (2) If allowed in your event, drop under the weight as it is locked out (3) build strength and confidence with heavy weights in the finish position.

Suspended Log Lockouts are very similar to Chain Suspended Lockouts in the bench press.  Chains can be used but we prefer nylon rigging straps or jump stretch bands.  Bands are the number one choice for a few reasons which I’ll explain in a moment.  First let’s discuss how people miss the boat.

A lot of guys get hung up on the amount of weight that can be handled (I’ve personally done 420 from chest level and I’m as weak as a kitten).  I’ve seen people suspend the log 1-2” from lockout and pile on 500 or more.  This is pretty useless as it is too small of a range of motion to derive any benefit.  It is best to suspend the log and have it hang (in the rack with pins set under it a few inches in case a band snaps) about chest level.

This is ideal for several reasons.  First, it forces you to pull the log into your chest as you dip down to begin the Push-Press or Jerk.  By pulling the log into your chest as you do this, it keeps the log in contact with your body and ensures that 100% of the force you generate with your leg/hip drive will transfer into the log.  This is important because a common mistake we see is the log drifting upwards off of the chest as an athlete dips down for the Push-Press.  When this happens and the log looses contact with the body, its force can be absorbed with your arms and not used for the weight.

The second is that the more the bands stretch, the more energy returns to the press.  This helps you get through the sticking point which is usually 1-2” off the chest to about half-way up.  Finally, it teaches you to finish with the triceps and then stabilize the weight overhead.

Execution of this exercise is pretty straight forward.  Grip the log at chest level and pull it into your chest, dip down and explode back up as hard as you can.  Once the weight is overhead, hold it for a second, lower it, and repeat for the desired reps.  Keep the reps and volume low as these can be very tough on the elbows.  Try to focus on speed as you do these and keep your form strict.

Well, there you go - 3 more specialized exercises for your toolbox.  I hope they work for you!

Train Hard and Get Strong!