Strongman Training: Cycle 5 – Max Lifts Focus

Follow this cycle of Strongman workouts to improve explosive strength and increase your max lifts.

Welcome to the fifth cycle of Strongman workouts. Before we get started, let me answer some basic questions.

Who is this program intended for?

This strongman program is intended for:

  • Those who want to get stronger
  • Those who want to get ready for a strongman competition
  • Those who want a general strength training program which includes strongman

Why should I train strongman?

Whether you are looking for explosive strength, the ability to lift heavy for multiple reps, or to increase your max lifts, strongman is a fun and effective way to do so. If you are looking for improvements across all three, there is no better alternative. Here are 33 more reasons to train strongman, and what strongman training can teach us about getting strong.

When are the workouts?

The workouts are meant to be done on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. However, that doesn’t mean you have to do them on those exact days. My only recommendation is that whenever you start this program, you start from week one, as opposed to jumping in mid-way through the cycle. The programming is progressive and starting from the beginning will ensure the safest and most effective advancement.

What equipment do I need?

The Tuesday and Thursday sessions are purposefully constructed so that you can do them in any respectable gym. No strongman equipment is required on these days.

On the Saturday, you will be doing event training. Ideally, you will have access to some basic strongman equipment for this. The more relevant equipment you have access to, the more you will get out of the program. Otherwise, take a look at these gym-based alternatives.

Where can I find more information and ask questions?

Each day will include notes along with the exercises. These should provide you with all the information you need to get going with this program. Also take a look at my strongman series, for an explanation of strongman events split down by equipment.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Back squat: Work up to 3RM for 1 set. Then drop 10% weight and perform 2 more sets.
  • Strict press from rack: Work up to 3RM for 6 sets across.
  • Lever rows: Work up to 5RM for 3 sets across.
  • Ab work of choice: 10 minutes.

Notes:

Back squat should be taken up to a technical max for one set before dropping down as prescribed.

Strict press should be taken up to a weight you know you will be able to perform with near perfect form for all three sets.

Lever rows are to be performed with a one second pause at the top of the rep.

Day 2

  • Deadlift: Work up to 4RM for 4 sets across. Then perform one set of 10 at this weight.
  • Bench press: Work up to 6RM for 3 sets across.
  • Pause squats: Work up to 5RM for 3 sets across.
  • Ab work of choice: 10 minutes.

Notes:

Deadlift should be touch and go for the sets of four. Then dropped and reset for the set of ten.

Bench and pause squats should be taken up to a weight you know you will be able to perform with near perfect form for all three sets.

Ab work should be broken down into suitable sets and performed as continuously as possible for ten minutes.

Day 3

  • Axle or log: Work up to 3RM clean.
  • Farmers walk: Light walk for 40m, 3 walks total.
  • Heavy tire: 6 flips, rest 60 seconds, repeat 3 times.

Notes:

Axle or log cleans are cleans only, no press.

Farmers walk is to be performed at same weight across all three walks.

Tire flips should take less than 60 seconds to complete each set. Work with the heaviest tire possible.

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you’re in.

Week 2

Day 1

  • Back squat, work up to a 12RM max for 1 set.
  • Push press: Work up to 3RM for 6 sets across.
  • Snatch grip pulls from floor (1 second hold at the top): Work up to 3RM for 3 sets across.
  • Ab work of choice: 10 minutes.

Notes:

Back squat should be taken up to a technical max for one set. 

Push press should be taken up to a weight you know you will be able to perform with near perfect form for all six sets.

Snatch grips pulls should be taken up to a weight you know you will be able to perform with good form for all five sets. Be smooth and controlled off the floor and explosive through the traps at the top. Hold the top position for one second, with the hips, knees, and ankles fully extended, and traps engaged.

Ab work should be broken down into suitable sets and performed as continuously as possible for ten minutes.

Day 2

  • Power cleans: Work up to 3RM for 3 sets across
  • Incline bench press: Work up to 6RM for 3 sets across.
  • Pin squats: Work up to 3RM for 5 sets across
  • Grip work of choice: 10 minutes

Notes:

Power cleans should be taken up to a weight you know you will be able to perform with good form for all five sets. Be smooth and controlled off the floor and explosive at the top.

Incline bench should be taken up to a weight you know you will be able to perform with near perfect form for all three sets.

The pin for the squats should be set in a position that allows you to sit well past parallel in the bottom of the squat. They should be taken up to a weight you know you will be able to perform with near perfect form for all five sets.

Grip work should be broken down into suitable sets and performed as continuously as possible for ten minutes.

Day 3

  • Yoke: Light walk for 40m, 3 walk total
  • Loading: Mid-weight object, as many reps as possible in 75 seconds
  • Sled pulls (harness): Heavy pulls for 15m, 2 pulls total.

Notes:

Yoke should increase slightly each time. Make sure speed is maintained for each walk.

Loading should be a mid-range weight. Aim is to complete as many loads as possible with same object in the given time. You may find it useful to have someone put object back into position each time for you.

Sled pulls should be at a weight so that the whole distance is difficult to complete in one go. Stick to the same weight each time and allow full recovery in between pulls.