Strong Man lifts are a very popular alternative method for building strength with your athletes. As coaches, we always talk about loving the guys who have “farm boy strength.” Many coaches and programs have started to incorporate these types of lifts for variety and to help develop a different type of strength with their athletes. We started to incorporate exercises such as farmer walks, sled pulls, and sledge hammer slams with our young athletes in our “Wildcat Block” to give them something safe and challenging. We found that our kids loved the challenge and variety of these lifts.
These lifts also complement the body weight objectives we have for our athletes very well. We want our young athletes to develop great relative body strength as well as great technique and speed of the bar at a young age. Alternative strong man lifts became a great complement to what we were already trying to do with our program. The popularity of these lifts with our athletes has led me to add a couple of these types of activities each workout day that complement what we are trying to accomplish in each workout. Our kids love them, and they look forward to that portion of the workout each day even though it is one of toughest portions of the workout. I feel these lifts are a great way to develop a baseline of strength as well as add variety to your routine. The key is to not to do too much too soon, and make sure that these lifts fit into your base work out and are implemented in a progressive manner. I am going to post a few examples of how we progress these lifts with our athletes at Battle Ground Academy:
* These assistance exercises are completed at the end of their workout that consists of core lifts. These are a couple of examples of assistance exercises that incorporate some of the strong man exercises. These are done at the end of each workout. The overhead squat is mainly used with a bar and helps promote core strength, balance, and flexibility in the squat with our young athletes in this context.
Here are a couple of examples of advanced routines of within our strong man program with our Gold and Blue level athletes who have a much higher work capacity than our beginner level Wildcat, White, and Gray programs. We alternate these exercises on four week cycles to keep things fresh and to promote variety. I feel it is important to stick to your program at the high school level, but it is also very important to have variety and keep very busy high school kids excited about the work you are doing.