Basics of Training for Strongman
If you are familiar with strongmantechnique.com, you will recognize that I like to cut up strongman into several movement categories. A good all-around training regimen for strongman will touch on each of these types of movements; pressing, loading, carrying and moving, static, grip, medley, and a few miscellaneous events for good measure!
Programming a successful training regimen is always a balancing act of doing just enough to get better at the things that need work, allowing enough time to recover between training sessions, and all while maintaining skill and proficiency in events that are not being focused on (example: it does not help to increase your pressing power by 10 pounds if you lose 100 pounds of deadlift ability in the process). In strongman, this manifests itself in the form of several typical styles of programming, often governed by the availability of equipment; I will discuss two of the more common splits below.
- Saturday Strongman Split (SSS)
This split has the athlete training in the gym during the weekdays without strongman equipment and hitting all events hard in one day on the weekend, most often on Saturdays.
Pros of SSS
-Allows full development of gym lifts like the squat, bench, and deadlift.
-Only requires strongman equipment one day a week which is very convenient for individuals who have to travel for 30+ minutes to get to a gym with equipment.
-Can often be less strenuous on the athlete
-Simulates a one day contest more effectively
Cons of SSS
-Athlete may not be fresh for events they are weak at.
-Less time for event technique development
-Saturday sessions often last 4+hrs
- Everyday Strongman Split (ESS)
This split has the athlete integrating strongman movements into the weekdays and weekend with two or more days containing event movements.
Pros of ESS
-Allows for increased time spent on implements which leads to greater exposure and comfort with event technique.
-Allows athlete to be able to train certain events on different days allowing more rest between sessions.
-Allows better development of events through increased intensity of training.
Cons of ESS
-Can be more strenuous on the athlete, increased workload comes with increased chance of injury (arguably).
-Requires more overall time in the gym, average session can expect to be 2-3 hrs.
-Requires easy access to equipment, so for many people this style is not an option.
-Gives a false sense of strength and endurance that will NOT carry 100% to the contest field. This is a more complicated idea that I could write an entire article on in the future, but for now I will simply say that training every event while you are fresh does not simulate the contest day accurately. It simply allows you to deal with heavier weights for more volume in hopes that it will train your body to become more proficient at completing these events more quickly and effectively.
So which style is better?
ANSWER: There is no all-encompassing answer, the factors that lead to an answer are far too variable to give one answer for all people. I personally choose ESS in my own programming but I did SSS for many years, and even won at least one national title while training under the SSS style, so success can be had under either style of training. My advice to you is to try both if you can, and see which one works best for you!
If you like this article check out our last article on the scoring system in the sport of strongman!