WSBB Blog: Strongman Training for the Powerlifter
Time to read: 3,5 min
To the outsider, it is assumed that anyone involved in strength sports generally trains the same way. If you know anything about strongman and powerlifting training, you know that is definitely not the case. Many powerlifters choose training methods that focus mostly on static event lifting, focusing on getting as big and strong as possible, often sacrificing cardiovascular capacity and athletic ability. For the strongman competitor, cardiovascular capacity and athletic ability rival as a close second to strength.
It is our opinion that powerlifters can benefit massively by adding in cardiovascular training, along with exercises that aren’t commonly associated with powerlifting to maintain athletic capability and movement skills. Below, we will go over a few exercises commonly associated with strongman training that can have a great effect on cardiovascular capacity and strength potential for powerlifters.
Push Press versus Minibands
One of the more advanced ways to overhead press a barbell, the push press versus mini band is performed by anchoring minibands to kettlebells or dumbbells that won’t move, attaching them to the barbell, and performing a push press against them. This exercise forces the powerlifter to move explosively, using the entire body to generate as much force as possible to launch the barbell off of the chest. When the push press is done correctly, you will not only see improvements in your press strength but your lower body strength as well. This exercise will also have great carryover to the bench press by strengthening the triceps and shoulders.
One of the most important skills to learn as a strongman is the ability to lift stones. Stone lifting is an extremely physically demanding task that challenges both your strength and conditioning. Repetitive lifting of stones provides great posterior chain strength development, it improves the upper body’s ability to remain braced, it trains the forearms and arms, and you get a great cardiovascular workout when you lift them for multiple reps. For all of these reasons, stones can be one of the smartest additions a powerlifter can add to their arsenal. At Westside, we consider any exercise that can make you stronger while increasing conditioning is extremely valuable, stones fit that description.
Another overhead press variation that can have great carryover to powerlifters is log pressing. The log is a bit different than your traditional barbell overhead press, considering the hands are kept in a hammer-style grip position. This grip allows for maximum tricep and shoulder engagement, which are two areas you want strong if you plan on pressing heavyweight. The upper back is also used to elevate and roll the bar into the pressing position, allowing for some extra back training as well. A powerlifter will never go weak by pressing overhead, and the log press is a great variation that will carry over well to your powerlifting bench pressing.
The final exercise we recommend for powerlifters is the farmer’s walk. Not only is this exercise a great way to get some cardiovascular training in, but it is also an excellent option to build your trunk and grip strength rapidly. Having the ability to carry heavy farmer’s handles for long distances will help you have more endurance when bracing during a barbell lift, and the added grip training will have carryover to your deadlifts.
When it comes to strength sports, athletes often become complacent in their programming and fail to introduce new stimulus into their training program. If you want to get stronger, you must add new, unfamiliar stimuli to your programming on a regular basis. As a powerlifting competitor, one of the easiest ways to do that is to borrow a few ideas from strongman training. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, when you want to be the best you can leave no stone unturned.