When you are choosing a new program, what do you base your decision on? I’m going to bet your first answer to that will involve some variation of whether the program helps you to achieve your goals.
Now I’m not saying that’s a bad thing to base your decision on. Actually, it’s one of the most important factors. But it is just that – one of a number of factors you need to consider. Let’s take a look at some other aspects you’d be well advised to ponder and analyze why you might want to take on my newest Strongman Workout Cycle.
Strongman Workouts – Cycle 6
A little while back, I wrote an article about what to consider when starting a new training program. Today’s article takesthe principles in that earlier article and relates them to the new (free) strongman cycle I’ve written for Breaking Muscle, Cycle 6.
I believe this is the best Breaking Muscle strongman cycle yet. Does that mean I believe the others are bad? Not at all. Each cycle has been put together based on the factors we’re about to discuss, coupled with feedback from those who have completed previous cycles.
But don’t take my word for it. By the end of the article, you’ll be put the answers to all these questions together and objectively work out if this is the program for you.
How Much Time Do I Realistically Have?
This is one of the first questions I ask a client when putting together a private program. And I always dig deeper than the first answer I get back. Much of the time, the number of sessions a client can consistently stick to is a little less than the first answer they give me. Sadly, I can’t ask each of you, so I need to make an educated guess.
Our strongman cycles have always been three times a week. As with everything, this is a balance. It’s a balance between providing an effective program and catering it to how much time people have. It’s all well and good, me writing a four- or five-times-a-week program, but I’d much rather write a three-day program that the majority of dedicated people will consistently stick to and complete.
But then we face a new challenge. Look at many three-day-a-week programs on the Internet and you will see that they include a lot of work. Everything-and-the-kitchen-sink style programming. “If there are only three days, let’s fit as much as we can into them.” This is a recipe for disaster on all levels. But this is not how my program works.
My strongman workouts are structured with two gym-based days, and one strongman event-based day, each week. The gym-based days have one main lift, along with three assistance exercises to improve specific areas of strength. This allows you to get in and out of the gym fairly quickly on these days, without the need for any specialist strongman equipment. This also means you can train these two days at most respectable gyms, rather than be required to use your time to find either strongman equipment or a strongman gym for all your workouts.
Is the Program Sustainable for Me and My Body?
This is an incredibly important factor, and one that is often pushed to the side both by the athlete and the programmer. Out of all four of the factors I’m discussing today, this one is probably the most complex to discern. Bear in mind these three aspects of sustainability:
- The sustainability of the program – is it something you’ll be able to keep up, in terms of body, time, skills level, and ability?
- The sustainability of the gains – generally, a program that peaks you aggressively is designed to do just that. But is it helping you build up your strength in a way that will last?
- The sustainability of your body – will you finish up the program in good health and spirits? Or battered and tired?
Bear in mind that a programmer writing for a general population on the Internet may have little regard for anything beyond the effectiveness of his or her own program. Hell, even a programmer you know, writing for you specifically, may have little regard for this. It pays to be conscious of this. You know yourself and your body better than anyone.
Does the Program Actually Help Me Achieve My Goals?
I receive requests for help with programming on almost a daily basis. Many are sensible, pertinent questions, and I try and help people as best I can. Other questions are along the lines of “I want to be a powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman, SEAL-astronaut-ninja while improving my conditioning, gaining some muscle, and leaning out a little. Any advice?” These are, well, frustrating.
My point is, for a program to be in accordance with your goals, you need to have goals. And they need to be sensible, sustainable, and mutually agreeable. For strongman, we need to be able to lift heavy things in three manners:
- We need to be able to lift as heavy as possible for one rep.
- We need to be able to lift quickly.
- And we need to be able to lift for reps.
Whatever your other reasons for embarking on this program, these three goals are a given. To accomplish this in a mutually agreeable manner, we use a modified Westside approach. We are using the maximal effort method to help you to lift heavy. We are using the dynamic effort method to get you to lift and move quickly. And we are using a form of repetition method to get you used to lifting reps. The magic lies in how we have utilized these concepts across the barbell lifts and the strongman lifts and carries.
Will I Be Able to Access All the Gear I Need?
Considering that strongman is based around using odd objects, you’re going to need a few bits of equipment. Couple that with the fact that I have based this cycle on the conjugate method, which relies on performing regularly-interchanging variations of the lifts, and the equipment tally starts to mount up.
But it’s important to me that this program isn’t just some looks-good-on-the-Internet strongman program, but one that is appealing, accessible, and useful to you, the athlete.
We’ve already mentioned that the workouts are structured with two gym-based days and one strongman event-based day each week. Within the gym-based days, you’ll mostly interchange the type of lift you do, rather than the equipment you use. We’ve programmed this so that as you get closer to the end of the cycle, you are performing lifts that are increasingly relevant to those you will need in competition.
Overall, including the events days, I’ve kept the equipment requirements down to:
You will notice an absence of kegs, tires, and the like. This is the balance. The event-based lifts are pulls, squats, presses, and carries. I believe these are the fundamental movements in which to become well versed and the pieces of strongman equipment to learn about and get used to. These events, and the way they are programmed, will build up the strength, speed, and stamina to undertake most of the other events as and when they arise.
Covering all our goals, in a sustainable way, within accessible and achievable time and equipment parameters. Pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than that.
Photos courtesy of Strength Education.