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 at  

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Reproduction of this article, in whole or part, for any purposed other than personal use is prohibited without written consent. Copyright 1998 Chris Mavromatis.