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Default Strongman Training–The Iron Sport Method
by BendtheBar 01-19-2012, 07:00 PM

Strongman Training?The Iron Sport Method

A lot of internet trainers write a lot of articles about strength training, but really have no personal success in the strength world, or any athlete success stories to back-up the stuff they write. Iron Sport historically has churned out great strongmen and lifters for over 15 years now. Although I don’t consider myself a full-time coach, I do consider myself somewhat of a mentor to all these guys and women that train here. I think that it’s more important to guide athletes in the mental aspect of “getting strong” than it is at the “X’s and O’s” type-stuff. Most of the training these strongmen are all doing in here, is all stuff that was experimented and done by me years ago with my training partners. It was tweaked through the years into the program that you see here.
The Iron Sport Truth

Since the inception of Iron Sport Gym in the early 90’s, we had a great track record of serious strongman competitors. These are not guys that were good strongman before and then came here; they were home-grown out of the Iron Sport Gym training environment. Some of the strongmen that earned pro cards while training here include: Walt Gogola, Kirk Nowack, Kevin Nowack, Adam Keep, Cameron Gardner, Reggie Barton and I. There are also some great up-and-coming amateur strongmen that train here: Doug Kirby, Jim Dart, Craig Strohmeier, Dan Falcone, Maya Winters and quite a few more. It’s not uncommon for Team Iron Sport strongmen to go to a NASS contest and sweep all the weight classes.


A lot of “experts” will constantly warn you of the dangers of over-training, meanwhile, most of what I see is people trying to get strong by babying themselves and UNDER training. The sport of strongman is an extremely taxing sport. On the day of your contest, you will (hopefully), expend every ounce of strength and energy in your body trying to win. There are few sports that are as taxing on the muscles and central nervous system than a heavy strongman contest. Therefore, your training must mimic this taxing environment. This style of training is certainly not for a beginner, but then again, either are heavy strongman contests. So if you’re a total beginner, this may not be the style of training for you. It requires years of heavy lifting and adaptation before you can tackle a heavy routine with this much heavy volume. Yes, there are weeks when you feel beat down and don’t think you can push through, but that is when you dig deep and keep going. Your body will keep responding in a positive way if you force it to. Trust me, I’ve seen it done a lot, and yes, by drug-free lifters.
The Method

The basic function of this routine is two things: to make your muscles stronger, and to temper your body and mind to the stresses of competition. The Iron Sport Method rotates your main exercises every week in three-week intervals. Week one will be your heavy load week. You really want to stay at a high percentage weight this week and push your limits, between 92-97 percent works best, this is where the real tempering happens. If it sounds harsh, that’s because it really is. You should notice that by your fifth or sixth single, they’ll actually get easier to perform.

During week two, you’ll be just working up to a max single on your lifts and then doing one heavy assistance exercise.

However, week three will be your “easy,” or as close to a “deload,” as you’ll get from this routine. This week should be about lifting comfortably, getting a blood pump and not as much intensity. But, if you’re feeling strong and fresh, you could bump up the weight and go a little harder on your work sets. It wouldn’t kill you. The assistance work on this week is usually some bodybuilding movements.

Three-week Breakdown

Week 1

Monday: Power squat to high box or to parallel–95% 10 x 1
Wednesday: Bench press–95% 10 x 1
Thursday: Deadlift–90% 10 x 1
Satuday: Event training day

Week 2

Monday: High bar, deep back squat–work up to max single
Wednesday: Push-press–work up to max single
Thursday: 18” deadlift–work up to max single
Saturday: Event training day

Week 3

Monday: Front squat–70% 3 x 5
Wednesday: Strict military press–70% 3 x 5
Thursday: Power clean–70% 3 x 5
Saturday: Event training day

Assistance work: It is 100 percent an individual thing in this routine, so I’m not going to outline it. I do that for people that I help train, but have to see them lift and know a lot about their strengths and weaknesses.

Rest time: We’re big believers in training at a fast clip here. Even the heaviest training days are done at a good pace. The talking and bullsh*t cell phone usage is not happening and we don’t train in large groups that slow things down. The tempering effect, as well as conditioning, doesn’t take effect if you’re sitting or standing around for 10 minutes in between sets and focus is lost.

Progression: 105kg pro strongman legend Kirk Nowack and I talk about this quite a bit. We always feel that a beginner-level progression is very easy to program because it’s very easy to keep moving up and up and up at the beginner level. At a much higher strength level, progression is very tricky and almost can’t be predicted. That’s why we like this method, it keeps everyone training at a very high percentage but they progress by instinct and how strong they feel. Therefore, if they have a good day, they’ll be going heavier and heavier, but it’s a mental game. Strength doesn’t just happen and it can’t always be figured out on paper like a math problem, it’s something that has to be attacked every single session. Your training needs to be aggressive and without fear in order to gain a high level of strength.

If you’d like me to tailor this routine to your training and help you program assistance work, just e-mail me and we’ll work something out at a modest price. steve@ironsport.com
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Old 01-19-2012, 09:30 PM   #2
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This is an awesome article, and I really like the looks of that program. I think after my competition I will be working with something similar to this, but using some concepts from juggernaut.

I have a lot of ideas flowing and this helped them a lot
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Old 01-20-2012, 09:16 AM   #3
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2 on 1 off structure. Doing a lot of things I have played with during the last few months. As I mentioned to Fazc and a few others, the one max single days look hard on paper, but they are light years easier than the multiple single days - at least for me.

Looks HML...decreasing intensity.
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