WSBB Blog: Conjugate Training for Strongman

WSBB Education
Wed Feb 03, 2021

Tags: Strength, ConjugateMax Effort

Time To Read: 5mins

It has been repeatedly established that the Conjugate Method can be adapted to any sport, and one sport that can greatly benefit by using the Conjugate Method is the sport of strongman.

Strongman is the most diverse strength sport in terms of events, so it is important that an athlete go into the competition as strong as possible in a variety of lifts and events. This is where the Conjugate Method proves to be one of the best methods for strongman competitors to use due to the ability to constantly implement and rotate sport specific exercises.

Below, we will go over how we would program for a strongman competitor training at Westside Barbell.

Max Effort Lower

When it comes to max effort lower, deadlift is generally the main focus. This obviously plays well into the hands of strongman competitors given their focus on deadlift training. For a strongman we would recommend deadlift twice per month as a main exercise, with the remaining two weeks being dedicated to a goodmorning and a squat.

Deadlift training would include deficit deadlifts, block deadlifts, deadlifts versus bands, and rack pulls. These exercises would be performed for a top set single or triple. Goodmorning training would include cambered bar goodmornings, SSB bar goodmornings, and seated SSB goodmornings.

Goodmornings would be done for a top set of three to five reps. Squat training for a strongman would include front squats, low box squats, cambered bar squats, SSB squats, and Hatfield squats. It is recommended to work up to a top set single or triple on those exercises.

Max Effort Upper

A few changes would be made to max effort upper for a strongman competitor. At Westside, our max effort upper days are typically dedicated to benching. However, strongman competitors training at Westside will use this day to perform an overhead press variation.

These variations include standing overhead barbell press, standing log press, standing axle press, and seated pin presses from various heights using different specialty bars. All of the press exercises should be performed for max effort single reps.

Dynamic Effort Lower

Unlike max effort lower and upper, dynamic effort lower does not change very much for the strongman competitor. Strongman competitors at Westside will train alongside our powerlifters during their usual dynamic effort lower squat day. This is a good way for strongman competitors to not only build strength and speed, but strength endurance as well.

At Westside, our Friday squats days are generally the most cardiovascular taxing day of the week, which provides benefit to the strongman given the role cardiovascular stamina and strength endurance plays in the sport.

Dynamic Effort Upper

Similar to max effort upper, dynamic effort upper will be adjusted to focus on the overhead press. At Westside, we will hook up minibands to the barbell to provide the same training stimulus that bench pressing against bands provides. The rep, set, and percentage waves are the same for overhead pressing as it would be for benching.

Accessory Exercises

Strongman competitors can generally benefit from the high volume accessory work we typically do at Westside Barbell. Just as our powerlifters do, our strongman competitors identify their muscle weaknesses and build their accessory plans accordingly. However, strongman includes event training, which can be done as accessory exercises.

For instance, max effort lower day could be followed up lifting stones as an accessory exercise. Max effort upper day would be a good day to practice Conan’s wheel or a shield carry. You can practice farmers carry, yoke walks, or frame carries on any of the training days. These exercises should normally be done with moderate weight for skill practice, only working up heavy once per month per exercise.

When it comes to designing a strongman program, few methodologies offer as much freedom and creativity as the Conjugate Method. We are of the belief that when it comes to producing maximum levels of strength, no other programming methodology comes close. Make the change to Conjugate programming, improve your strength, improve your athleticism, and reduce your risk of injury.