Transforming Your Training Using Strongman Techniques
I'm flipping back and forth on the TV between an old football game on ESPN Classics and the World's Strongest Man contest on ESPN. It's interesting to look at the similarities between the strongmen competitors and football players.
They're both big, strong, fast, explosive and in excellent condition.
When WSM blew up in America, some people really jumped on the bandwagon, dismissing weight training for Strongman only training. This was a huge mistake. First of all, even the WSM guys don't train on odd-objects alone; they also hit the weights hard.
So, then the debate became what's the best type of strength training for football players? Powerlifting? Olympic Lifting? Strongman?
It's a rather stupid debate because the answer is yes ... to all three! Plus some bodybuilding and various other styles. How can that be?
As a football player, you know that the game moves in all directions, at high speeds, and is incredibly explosive. A player needs to be strong, fast, explosive, flexible, big and powerful. Hmm ... sounds like each of the types of weight lifting I just listed.
But, how do you add Strongman type training to your football strength training program without compromising any of the other elements of training? Is it actually possible to simply "mix-in" Strongman movements into your football strength training program?
Mixing Strongman And Football
Well, Strongman is extremely useful, and, if added carefully, can be of great value to your program. But, you must choose your exercises wisely and make sure you're just not doing movements for the sake of doing them.
Strongman is excellent for conditioning. Currently, I'm watching a Medley event. It consists of lifting and carrying a large round stone, running back, picking up a few 231lb kegs, carrying them, running back and picking up a 275lb sandbag and carrying it. That's a TON of work. Would that kind of work be useful to a football player? Of course, ya big dummy! A medley like that will condition you in a way that "jogging" never could.
Jogging should be dropped from the vocabulary of any football player anyway. The old aerobic base argument is complete garbage. You don't jog on the field (if I see you jogging, I'll personally find you and hurt you), so don't jog during training!
Something like the Medley is such a great conditioning exercises for football because it will force you to work your ass off; constantly moving, lifting, dragging, and sprinting with heavy weights. No jogging program can ever match this.
Click To Enlarge.
Strongman Is Extremely Useful, And, If Added Carefully,
Can Be Of Great Value To Your Program.
Next up ...
The Truck Pull
While you may not have access to an 18-Wheeler to pull, you can pull a sled, a weighted tire, or better yet, the Prowler.
Pulling tires is a cheap alternative to a Prowler. Ideally, you'd use both because they are actually different because of the friction created when pulling.
Pulling sleds, cars, tires, or whatever you can move is excellent for football, especially when you do the backward pull. While the hamstrings, glutes and calves get the bulk of the attention in football training, we can't neglect the quads. A lot of the start-stop action and cutting done in football is powered by the quadriceps. Pulling the sled backward will work the quads in a unique, sport efficient way.
The Prowler has a huge advantage over tires and sleds because it can be pushed as well as pulled. Think of the unlimited applications the Prowler has for anyone who has to block or drive an opponent out of their way! It's the perfect exercise for lineman - both offensive and defensive.
Use these on conditioning day or as a quad exercise in the weight room. If you have a Prowler, try doing High-Low relay Sprints. Start with a moderate weight, start pushing the Prowler on the high bars.
Then, when your reach your desired distance, stop and get over to the front of the sled and push it back using the low bars (sometimes called the Bucket Push). A few of these will bring even the most out of shape slob into football shape with insane speed.
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Pulling Tires Is A Cheap Alternative To A Prowler. Ideally, You'd Use Both Because They Are Actually Quite Different Because Of The Friction Created When Pulling.
The Log Clean And Press
This is an excellent strength builder for football.
Clean and Jerks/Presses are a great football exercise, but doing them with a large "log" (usually made of steel) really forces your body to work. Not only do you have to deal with the weight, but now you have to fight the girth of the log. It will make you work in odd positions and use strength from angles that are not ideal ... just like football.
Since Steel Logs can be expensive, especially if you need to buy them for a whole team, you can go with the more cost-effective option of using Sandbags.
I like the ones from Sandbagexercises.com because they are pretty much indestructible. Simply load the bag, clean it and press that sucker up. This works well as both a high-rep conditioning exercise and also as a moderate rep muscle builder.
And of course...
In strongman contests it typically is a partial deadlift. Honestly, do I have to again talk about how important deadlifts are in your football training program? They may be the most important exercise of all!
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Barbell Deadlift.
Begin by adding one of these movements (except deadlifts) to the end of one of your training sessions as a "finisher." Or, you can devote your conditioning day to these moves. The session doesn't need to be long, 30-45 minutes should be enough. It's very concentrated work, so go with caution. Once you get comfortable, you can begin experimenting with subbing them in for regular barbell exercises.
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