WSBB Blog: Max Effort Lower Training for Strongman
As the Conjugate Method continues to evolve, one of the strength sports outside of powerlifting that can greatly benefit from conjugate style training is strongman. Conjugate programming offers the strongman competitor the benefit of two weekly max effort training days. These days are high-intensity days designed to force the body to recruit the maximum number of motor units possible for a single lift, resulting in an increase in limit strength, which results in a higher level of strength performance across the board. It has been said for any other form of strength to be developed, limit strength must first be developed.
A strongman competitor needs to have the ability to not only be strong for one rep but multiple reps. Some believe to become good at deadlifting 700lbsfor high rep sets you must practice deadlifting 700lbs for high rep sets. We believe that it is much easier to deadlift 700lbs for reps when you can deadlift 900lbs for a single rep. Below, we will go over a few exercises for lower body max effort training days that can greatly benefit the strongman competitor.
The next exercise we recommend strongmen add to their training program is the box squat. There are many different variations of the box squat that can provide different training effects and results. A few basic box squat variations we recommend strongmen start with are low box squats against heavy bands, beltless cambered bar box squats, and safety squat bar box squats against chains. What makes the box squat especially beneficial for the strongman competitor is the fact that a box squat breaks the squat in half, calling for a start/stop/restart engagement pattern over the course of each rep. Without the rebounding effect of conventional squat, the lifter is forced to develop increased starting strength. This has great carryover considering most strongman competition squatting is done to pins, not a conventional powerlifting style squat.
The final exercise we will go over is deadlifts against heavy bands. When you are training to deadlift the heaviest weights and implements in the world, the training must be severe. Heavy banded deadlifts are just that, severe. However, when scheduled correctly and properly recovered from, this exercise can add major strength and speed to your deadlift. If you have never deadlifted against bands before, we always recommend starting with minibands or monster minibands to become acclimated to the effect bands have on the barbell, as well as the effect they have on recovery times. Often, athletes new to band use underestimate the recovery times needed when using heavy bands, leading to a decrease in performance. Once you have a feel for how to program banded deadlifts in you can begin using heavier bands. At Westside, we use green, purple, and blue bands to deadlift against, sometimes using combinations of the heavier bands. Like we said before, the training is severe, but when scheduled correctly you will gain massive amounts of deadlift strength. It is wise to limit this exercise to once per month if you are an intermediate lifter, or twice a month if you are an advanced lifter.
Strongman is yet another sport that can greatly benefit from the implementation of the Conjugate Method. By focusing on increasing your lower body limit strength, you will not only improve your sport performance, but you will also lower your chance of injury drastically.