"Anything can change on the day. I don’t let this phase me. If I am well prepared then I can adapt to anything the organisers throw at me." - Jack Lovett
So in part 1 we covered our bases on what you need to know when entering your first strongman competition. In part 2 I gave you a novice strongman training template for a 3 day split.
Now in part 3 I will give you a novice strongman training template based on a 4 day split. But before I do that, I want to share some top notch strategies for giving you that mental edge in Strongman competition.
I decided to pick the brain of 2 x Britain's Natural Strongest Man, and World Class Strongman Competitor Jack Lovett. And Jack didn't disappoint.
Cj: Jack, what kind of mindset strategies do you use when training?
Jack: Training is calm and focused. I look at the big picture. Where I want to be by the end of my training cycle/next comp. I am a lot more mature about this now. I used to be hyped up and all over the place when I first won my British title.
Now, not so much. I am able to listen to my body more and trust in my programming. I accept some days will be stellar and some days won’t. I also train alone most of the time now. Business dictates my training times are varied each day, but I never miss my session. I used to rely on a strong partner to push me through. Now, not so much.
That being said I like to train at least 1 x week with guys better than me. I want to be an underdog that is chasing and constantly improving.
Cj: How does this differ from when you are preparing for a competition?
Jack: Competition prep is very similar. Well structured and programmed out. My aim is to peak on the contest day and not before.
I use my past performances (both success and failures) to focus my mind and drive. I am also relaxed. Especially when competing at international level, very little goes to plan. Flights change last minute, get delayed or even cancelled. Events change on the day of the contest, there is even a language barrier. If my training is solid then I can handle the contest better.
Cj: And how do you handle the pressures of strongman competition on the actual day?
Jack: Anything can change on the day. I don’t let this phase me. If I am well prepared then I can adapt to anything the organisers throw at me.
At international level I have often traveled alone, but there is great camaraderie between athletes on contest day. I find the atmosphere positive. Personally I focus on each event at a time. Never the contest as a whole.
An event can go wrong but if I stay focused I can still regain lost points on the next. No point letting a mistake carry over into the next event. Competition day is by far my favourite time. I love the situation which dictates I have to perform right this second if I want any rewards from my training/prep. It is why I still push myself in training. To challenge myself on contest day.
Cj: Thanks Jack
Jack: No problem!
Solid advice right? I've seen a lot of great athletes deliver mediocre performances because their mental game wasn't up to par. From lack of concentration, to becoming overwhelmed emotionally and being unable to focus on the task at hand.
The converse is also true, I've seen mediocre athletes pull out stellar performances because their mental game was on point. Take the mental game lightly at your peril.
If you are looking for some good resources, a good place to start is The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters he has worked with world class olympic athletes, and top level corporations. It's an easy read, cuts out the fluff, and gives real world solutions. This we like.
So what about the training?
Don't say I'm not a man of my word. Below is an example of a four day split. For those with more time on their hands and unlimited access to Strongman kit.
This Strongman program is structured around 2 standard barbell days which are designed to strengthen your weaknesses. These sessions will also include your accessory work. The other 2 days are Strongman event specific.
Now remember this program is based on the notion that you have given yourself adequate time to prepare, and not just commited literal suicide by entering a comp with only 3 weeks to go and little or no prior training. Don't do it to yourself.
Ok, rant over. Have a butchers at the weekly structure below.
Starting Strongman Training Option C
Weekly Training Structure
Here's how it works. The training is structured around 3 - 4 week blocks with a deload week at the end. You will work from high to low volume on the gym days, and adjust Strongman event days according to the specifics of your competition. Got it? Ok, just in case you didn't I've outlined an overview for you (you're welcome).
Block 1: Four weeks of one working set of 8RM and strongman event work (plus deload week)
Block 2: Four weeks of one working set of 5RM and strongman event work (plus delaod week)
Block 3: Four weeks competition sepcifics. COMPETITION.
Below is an example of what that could look like.
Monday : Gym Session 1
Warm up (you know the drill)
Cool down and stretch
Tuesday: Gym Session 2
Warm up (really? Do I have to tell you?)
Cool down and stretch
Thursday: Strongman Event Day
Cool down and Stretch
Saturday: Strongman Event Day
Cool down and stretch.
As a rough guideline in week 1 start off with between 65 - 75% of the competition weight. So by week 4 you are hitting 80 - 85% of the competition weight then deload in week 5. In this week you can reduce to 3 sessions that week and drop back down to 50 - 60%.
In the 2nd block start working on heavier doubles for sets of 5.
Remember to substitute the events specific to your competition. These will usually include some form of
For most people overhead pressing is their weak point, so it's always worth while including that extra day to help improve your overhead pressing power.
In the final block, make your training specific to your comp. Perhaps reduce training to 1 gym (focus on compound lifts) and two event days. Again as with Strongman Templates A and B in part 1, stick to no more than 3 - 4 events per session. This is to avoid you burning out like black dwarf star.
If these articles have been of use to you, or you've got any questions, I want to hear about it. Leave a comment in the section below or get in touch >>here<< .
And I want you to consider that these are just training templates. Pretty good ones. But still, they are generic, and if you are going to enter a strongman competition and dedicate the time to become a strength athlete, it's worth getting some good coaching and a program that's tailored to meet your needs (and attending a workshop or two). Read articles, browse strength training books. Talk to athletes who have competed. Don't go at it blind. Be the best you can be.
Yours in strength
At Villain Barbell Club in North London we run Strongman Classes every saturday. For details click >>here<<
Plus if you want something more in depth check out our Starting Strongman Level 1 Workshop >>here<<
Jack Lovett is 2 X Britains Natural Strongest Man, And World Class Strongman Competitor. He is the owner of Spartan Performance based in the UK.