||By: Chris Mavromatis
If you have been
following my earlier writings on what are the important attributes for
the aspiring strongman and good ways to develop those attributes, the next
question should be: How do I fit the information into a workable weekly/monthly
schedule? Well one could look at how the Pros schedule their training.
Wayne Price works shoulders and chest on Monday, deadlifts on Tuesday,
rests on Wednesday, does snatches on Thursday, squats on Fridays and biceps
and triceps on Saturday with consistent aerobic training thrown in throughout
the week. Riku Kiri hits chest and biceps on Monday, legs on Tuesday,
event training on Wednesday, shoulders and triceps on Thursday, and back
on Friday. Magnus Samulson hits chest and triceps on Monday, legs and deadlifts
on Tuesday, rests on Wednesday, shoulders and biceps on Thursday, rests
on Friday, and upper back on Saturday with some aerobic and event training
interspersed. Jamie Reeves does legs on Monday, rests on Tuesday, chest
and triceps on Wednesday, running and throwing on Thursday, deadlifts on
Friday, running and throwing on Saturday, and shoulders on Sunday.
What do all of the above training schedules
have in common? An overwhelming emphasis on gym work for strength development.
The emphasis on event training is minor through out the week. I am not
going to say that when they do train the events they do not go at it full
force and with tremendous intensity, but percentage of training time devoted
to event training is minor. I am not about to say that their training methods
are flawed, they have all proven themselves to be World Champions in one
discipline or another. What I am going to say is that I believe (and have
seen in many athletes training for my contest) that when one emphasizes
specific event training more one tends to have better event performances.
How many powerlifters do every exercise
for their legs, back, chest, shoulders and arms without performing the
squat, deadlift and bench regularly? All powerlifters regularly perform
(most weekly or biweekly) the 3 power lifts just as all Olympic lifters
consistently perform the Olympic lifts and all tennis players consistently
get out on the court and practice their backhand approach or serve and
volley. What I am saying is that to be a champion strongman, one must consistently
practice strongman events. It is that simple. Who can convince me that
it is not true that the more one practices the events, the better one will
get at them. Does this mean that one should not work in the gym?
Absolutely not, I have already detailed in previous articles very beneficial
gym exercises. What it does mean is that event training should become an
equal with gym work. To use another example, professional skiers do a good
amount of strength training, stretching, and so on but they also SKI a
very large amount. I want this point to be very clear because this type
of strongman training is foreign to most strength athletes reading this.
So are there any examples of strongman pros
that utilize a training schedule similar to the type I am espousing? Jouko
Ahola does and I don't bring him up as an example because he has done quite
well in the sport the last year. I bring him up as an example because he
trains in a way that I think is the most efficient and result producing
for Strongman. Jouko has a two week cycle. Week 1 Monday he trains back,
on Tuesday he trains chest, Wednesday he trains biceps, Thursday he trains
shoulders, and Friday he trains legs. Week 2 is devoted entirely to event
training. He does rock lifting, Mavrock-type lifting, power stairs, barrel
loading, and other events. He has many of the strongman implements at his
gym. This type of general schedule is what I recommend. I am not saying
to do each body part exactly as he has it scheduled on the first week.
This is a personal choice although I do believe that all major body parts
should be hit once that week. What I like about the schedule is devoting
half of training time to event training. BUT CHRIS, won't this make you
weaker as you are only lifting rocks and playing on the stairs whereas
you get really strong in the gym? Absolutely not, if you believe anything
I have said in the past articles you must know that odd lifts and event
training hit fibers and utilize full body conditioning and leverage in
a way impossible to get from barbells and lat machines. You will not lose
strength, you will gain strength in ways you couldn't before.
There is one caveat to this. There is a
group of contestants who train at a gym near where I live that have been
training regularly during the week and event training for my contest on
Saturdays. Since they were hitting all body parts and major lifts (they
were powerlifters as well) during the week, and really terrorizing their
bodies on Saturdays with the events; they found that over the months they
were too tired to workout as hard during the week. They also thought to
stop benching as they were inclining for reps (one of my events)
on Saturday. So they found that while their strength in some areas significantly
improved (grip, abdominal stabilizers, calf) their major lifts suffered.
The reason for this occurrence is that it is very difficult to incorporate
both types of training (gym work and event training) into the same week
and be able to hit both just as hard. One is better able to do hit gym
work very hard one week and event training the next. What it does is allow
you to stay fresh and not over train and consistently get better at both
lifts in the gym and your events. BUT CHRIS, won't my major lifts suffer
from only training them once every two weeks? Only if you don't hit them
hard the week that you are training them. To use Jouko as an example again,
while I do believe that no matter what he did he would never have a world
record in the bench; he has posted an 890 deadlift! Your muscles only recover
and grow stronger when you are not training them and to have such a variety
of muscle and strength stimulating movements over a two week period disallows
the muscles to adapt easily.
This is a very focused way to train. It
is, in my opinion the best way to train for Strongman. Is it the best way
to train to post the highest total at a powerlifting meet? Probably not,
but these articles are designed to help you become a better strongman and
that is all. Is this a cheap way to train? No, you have to figure out (and
in future articles I will discuss ways that to lessen the cost) ways to
manufacture close facsimiles to implements in events that are in most contests
or that are in the next contest that you are competing in. This does require
a reasonable amount of ingenuity and money, make no mistake but how many
of world class athletes in other sports have gotten to their status without
a tremendous amount of dedication (which could include sacrificing some
things in your life to pay for some strongman implements). I am not writing
to relate to you the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to become reasonably
proficient at Strongman, I am writing to relate to you my opinion on the
best way to become the best you can be at Strongman. You must practice
the events to become better at them, there is no other way. There are those
who because of their strength start out good at an event, but no one breaks
a world record the first time they try an event.
In addition to the stated gym work week
1 followed by event training week 2 schedule, I would definitely include
two to three times both weeks aerobic conditioning. This aerobic conditioning
should once again be relatively short and intense in nature, like the farmers
walk or weighted stair climbing or wind sprints; and to improve fat utilization
(which will occur in a 6 to 8 hour Strongman contest) I recommend the aerobics
take place in the morning when your glycogen levels are at their lowest.
So now that I have an idea of how to set
up a general schedule for training, what are the actual exercises that
I should be using? Next month, I will detail my training schedule and progress
that I am getting since I have gotten back into training. Until then, best
of luck in your training!
Chris Mavromatis has a double B.S. in Neuropsychology and
International Economics from Indiana University-Bloomington. He lived and
Sweden and Belgium for 2 years and attended and learned from many strongman
championships all over Europe. He has competed in Regional Strongman competitions
in Belgium and Denmark. He has contacts and knowledge from numerous strongmen
over Europe and North America. He is currently producing the premier strongman
competition "The Strongest Man Alive Contest" in St. Louis, MO on November 7th and 8th
, 1998 and this contest can be viewed with frequent updates
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Copyright 1998 Chris Mavromatis.