An Alternate Approach To Bodybuilding: Thinking Outside The Box.

Over this series of articles I will outline a template on how to use the olympic movements, powerlifting and strongman to enhance your bodybuilding.
Powerlifters, olympic lifters, strongman, and bodybuilders are all related by the use of iron to build themselves in their given endeavor. Most of the individuals in these given sports tend to think that what they do is the best. Having dabbled in them all I can honestly say that not one is the best, but they do all have a place in your training plan.

Over this series of articles I will outline a template on how to use the olympic movements, powerlifting and strongman to enhance your bodybuilding.

My Bodybuilding Background

Many of you are probably thinking who is this guy and what makes him an expert? Well I have been training for 24 years and have dedicated my life to finding the fastest way to gain muscle, strength and the kind of physique that Marvel Comics would desire for one of their hero's!

Along the way I graduated from Purdue University, in 1991, where I studied exercise physiology and nutrition. I was an undergraduate strength and conditioning coach at Purdue for 1 1/2 years and I also worked for a doctor who specialized in nutrition.

Athletically I started as a football player and then took a short stint in bodybuilding, getting 3rd and 4th respectively in the 2 shows I did. I again played ball from 91-98. I was a 3x All American Linebacker in the American Football Association and 1995 Defensive Player of the Year.

From 93-98 I competed in powerlifting during the football off season and I won 2 National Championships and 1 World Championship all without the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Powerlifting Preparation

Having always loved to watch strongman I got involved in the sport by promoting shows starting in 96. In 1998 I earned my pro card and focused my training efforts to making the World's Strongest Man. I have competed 52 times in the last 7 years and have enjoyed many victories.

In 2001 I was the 6th strongest man in America and served as the alternate to the 2001 World's Strongest Man. Over the last 7 years I have managed to maintain a top 10 performance. Professionally from the summer of 1992 until the summer of 2003 I worked in the nutrition industry in every position from sales, marketing, writing, and my true love: product research and development.

Strongman Event: Log Clean And Press

In 1995 not wanting to play out my work career as someone's employee, my wife and I decided to open Powerhouse Gym-Kokomo in Kokomo, Indiana. Currently I dedicate my time to managing my personal training staff and helping my clients in fulfilling their fitness goals. Enough drivel lets talk about training!

I have been influenced by many. Some of the main ones are Dr. Ken Leistner, Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, Mell Siff, Poliquin, King. Basically my philosophy has been to read and then put to work what I have read. I have a huge chest of valuable training methodologies to choose from and an equally huge pile of stuff that I tried but did not work!

Within this series I will show you what has worked time and time again for me and the thousands that I have trained or helped with their training. I will be writing from the premise that you are training for strongman, but minding the fact that many of you are training for different reasons.

Which One Of The Following Competitions Do You Like The Most?

Olympic Lifting.

The Importance Of A Plan

First off build a plan, and then write it down to constantly check your progression! Most people fail because they do not set goals and write out detailed plans on how they will attain the goals that they set for themselves. You can go to the bookstore or go on line and pick up numerous books on how to train and they all say something different. So which one is correct? They all are!

According to Louie Simmons "Everything works, just not forever". This is where planning comes in. You should break your training into blocks.

You should then further break the blocks down into mini blocks. Each mini block changes so that different types of training are incorporated and then you the trainee get exposed to the maximum amount of variation which will cause the most significant changes in your physique.

Within the training cycle you should be looking at bettering your own personal records for a given movement, tempo, rep range, etc. You could just plan for 12 weeks, or for 12 years if you really wanted to. The key is just to have a plan.

Dr. Ken Leistner said "The most important aspect of training is consistency. By having a plan and recording it in your journal you will be able to arrive at the gym totally focused upon what you need to accomplish. The consistency of eating your meals and following your written training goals will take you as far as you want to go."

Keeping A Training Journal.
Find out what the benefits of keeping a trainining journal are and why I decided to start keeping a journal...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

By keeping an accurate journal you will guarantee that you are making progress, and if you are not then the journal itself will have the answers to why you are not making progress. The journal is the "facts" of your training and it cannot lie to you. It is pretty simple if last session on a given exercise you did 100 lbs for 8 reps then the next session you either need to do 9 reps or up the weight by 1-5 pounds.

I know it sounds too simple, but if you do this long enough you will attain whatever goals you set for yourself. I have been writting down my workouts since 1981 and have grown from a scrawny 105 pound kid to a 270 pound man.

Making The Plan

So where do you start? Generally I start by looking at how much time you have to dedicate to your training and then work backwards from there in order to develop a plan. I will give two basic plans that I use with clients to aid them attaining their strongman/bodybuilding goals. These two plans still require dedication and focus.

The first plan is breaking your training up into body parts. I use this methodology when the client has excellent recoverability and ample time. When going this route I use the West Side approach of splitting the sessions into a dynamic effort (DE) session for both upper and lower body followed my a max effort (ME) day for both upper and lower body.

These sessions are done on the following days:

  • Sun - DE upperbody.
  • Mon - ME lowerbody.
  • Wed - ME upperbody.
  • Fri - DE lowerbody.

When training for strongman you would do some event training each session. Later I will go much more in-depth on these matters, but for now we will just layout the basic plan.

The sessions themselves should take between 60 and 90 minutes. The ME will take a bit longer than the DE. Those enhancing themselves with either prohormones or performance enhancing drugs will need to bump their volume. If you are enhanced then you will need to increase your volume by 50-100% in comparison to your non-enhanced training.

To keep training time down you may need to add an ancillary workout later on the same day. To follow this suggestion you would need to do your basic session in the morning and then do your secondary session in the evening.

The second plan is the one I currently follow. Like I said before, I have used many people's thoughts and programs to design what works best for me! I am the guy that has many irons in the fire... God, wife, 2 kids (soon to be 3), business, training, and whatever I can squeeze in. I have to be very precise with my time because I do not have much leftover and the biggest factor is that of recovery.

Training For Strongman Events.
Events change year to year and as you can see they often benefit athletes in different ways. Shorter athletes often do better at some while taller athlete may have an advantage...

I don't think 36 is old, but I have learned that all the other stresses of my life will run me down in a hurry if I let training volume and intensity go crazy! With all that in mind I train the full body 2 days per week and then events 1 day. I do this because it gives me 4 full days of recovery instead of 3 like the other plan.

Also since most contests test the whole body during a show, I have found that this helps me during the shows! My basic template is Tuesday DE , Friday ME, and either Events on Saturday (mostly done here to maximize family time) or sometimes Sunday. If I am training for a 2 day show I train ME on Friday and then Events on Saturday to help acclimatize myself to the stresses of 2 days of competition.


The next segment will discuss the DE training session complete with exercise descriptions and pictures. Until then train hard and God bless!