Shannon Green of Warrior Performance in Australia has a thick accent. My mate Tom says, “I live here and sometimes I don’t know what he’s saying.” But the words that come out of his mouth are top notch, and he can make you a strongman. His favorite hobby is competing in strongman competitions (he also makes good coffee, but that’s neither here nor there). We did a post on how to train for strongman as a beginner, and today’s post is a sequel in that it discusses programming for someone that has transitioned into primarily training for an event.
Shannon is quick to point out that there’s no best way to train for strongman and that most guys will figure out their own unique template that they’ve adapted to. They know their body and figure out what works for them, and that’s why Shannon considers establishing “table tennis strength” important before doing heavy event training. By getting strong, the trainee will have a good understanding of how their body adapts to stress as well as experience with lifting and training. Heavy events are progressions or variants of different strength lifts, but their dynamic nature demands experience, balance, and connective tissue strength.
After transitioning into event training (as discussed in the first post), Shannon suggests develop a base with the event activities. As with any new activity, take it easy with the events at first and develop the technique first while progressing them slowly. Meanwhile, continue getting stronger in the gym. Below are two programming template examples.
This first program template is Shannon’s program he personally uses. Training the events can be very taxing, so Shannon prefers more recovery days (although they have guys who train 4 to 5 days a week). It’s three training days a week with two in the weight room, and it’s six days that rotate every six weeks. As far as loading, Shannon says, “You can use 5/3/1, Texas Method, Westside, or whatever tickles your pickle. They all work. I use a bastardized Westside/531. I do speed work 60-70%, reps with 80 to 85% (sometimes around comp weight, sometimes to improve my max reps in a time limit), and I go for 1-3RMs to get new PB’s.” Lifts that are separated by a slash indicates he does the first one in the first week and the second in the second week.
Back Squat/Front Squat
Power Clean/Power Snatch
Front Squat/Back Squat
Maybe some curls if I could be bothered
Day 3 – Event Training
Back Squat/Front Squat
Walking Event – Farmers/Yoke
Pressing Event – Log/Axle/Monster DB
Hip Extension & Loading – Stones/Tyre flip/Strongman Deadlift (Bar, axle, car, generally from 18-19” height)
Accessory – Reverse hyper/45* Back extension
“Every 4-5 weeks we will drag or push something – sled/truck. Event training is rotated all the time, I do take time off from event training and just do barbell work as well.” Note that Shannon’s Day 2 is kind of like a light day after his heavier day on Day 1. Then he seems to have more rest after the event training day because he says it’s pretty taxing.
“Another way to do it is to train the events as max effort spread across the week and just use barbell work as accessory.” Note: ME = Max effort, DE = Dynamic effort
ME Upper (Log, axle, DB, Viking press)
Accessory: Bench, lats, tris
DE Lower (Box squats, speed pulls, or speed stones without tacky)
Accessory: Reverse hyper, GHR
DE Upper (Dynamic log press with bands)
Accessory: Lats, tris, rotator cuff
ME Lower (Yoke, farmer’s, deads, dragging, stones with tacky)
Accessory: Reverse hyper
This particular template has a good distribution throughout the week and includes more event training. It would probably suit a guy who has built up significant strength in the conventional lifts (e.g. a guy like Chris) and needs to apply it to the specificity of strongman events. It’s almost like a skill or conditioning phase where the strength is used for a specific grouping of events.
Above are just two types of options for a programming template. Remember that it will always vary on the individual, their strength adaptation, what equipment they have available, how experienced they are in the events, and how close they are to an actual competition. I asked Shannon what events he considers the most physically stressful and whether he would put them at the beginning or end of the training session:
This will be individual. For me, the yoke is most stressful, but a lot of guys find stones really hard at first. Stones require tacky if you want to go heavy, so they are generally at the end of a workout, but they generally come last in a comp. But strongman doesn’t have a fixed structure, so I think it’s good to mix it up occasionally since on the day thing may change. Use an Army or Marine mentality and be prepared for the worst-case scenario, oorah!