From the moment you walk into the gym you become an athlete, and you must learn to compete whether it be against yourself or versus a 250lb tower of mass. From this point, you decide; “Will I simply show up or am I ready to endure?” You may have heard that at the end of the day an athlete is only as good as the work they put in. But here’s the reality... right now that shouldn’t be your focus. Putting in work is expected.
If you feel that working hard on the same things consistently is going to make you better, it’s time to take the blinders off. For example, professional Crossfitters don’t do more Crossfit to increase their 1 rep maxes, bodybuilders won’t simply rely only on hypertrophic work to build their physique, and strongmen definitely do not, without thought, jump into their back yard to pick up stones for an hour. The goal of any athlete in a given sport should be as well rounded as appropriately possible for their specific specialization.
For example, strength athletes specialize in strength, but that shouldn’t negate conditioning practice. This doesn’t entail prepping oneself for a marathon or a “Tough Mudder”, but it does highlight the importance of having a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. This will result in better circulation to nourish the tissues being used and flushing lactic acid during higher volume work.
To look at a specific sport and fall into the stigma that “powerlifters don't do cardio” or that “bodybuilders should not lift super heavy” will lead to stagnant points in your development, thereby preventing you from reaching your overall potential. It may also result in substantial injury down the road from imbalance or neglect.
The key to this development is to periodize and set goals. Periodization refers to a set of weeks or months where an athlete focuses on a specific goal to develop. This doesn’t entirely mean their sport-specific training takes a side seat, but it allows utilization of time to develop better form or more consistent movement when building stronger baseline strength or conditioning. While developing these baselines, there should always be an underlying method of recovery focusing on mobilization, and tendon and joint health.
The sport of strongman is, in my opinion, the most cut and dry example of strength and conditioning principals. The demands of a strongman are consistent and unrelenting, so balance is key. If you are lacking in anything such as mobility, strength, speed, endurance, etc., the rest will fall short. If you can move a 400lb stone once, but not have the motor or skill to manage 300 pounds over a threshold for reps and time, you will most likely struggle competitively or end up with an injury. The same can be said for a bodybuilder who refuses to utilize strength as a stimulus for size in his legs, especially when hypertrophic principle states that muscular size is a result of necessity from force application.
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The following is a simple periodized 24 week program for Strongman Meet Preparation:
Weeks 1-8: Baseline Strength and Weakness Work and Assistance + Event Skill Work
Weeks 8-16: Baseline Strength + Baseline Conditioning + Event Specific Specializing
Weeks 16-20: Minimized Baseline Strength + Baseline Conditioning + Event Specialized Skill, Conditioning and Speed Work
Week 20-24: Minimal Baseline Strength + Event Specific Specialized Work Geared to the Meet
Week 1-24: Mobilization, Core Foundation, Principle Joint and Tendon Protocol, General Conditioning (controlled rest periods, warm ups, cool downs, active recovery and breathing protocol)
At first sight, this looks like a ton, but remember; this routine is based off of a very simple 4 day/week program specifying all levels of athletic potential throughout the 24 week period. Some programs periodize longer, some shorter, while others imply other more complex principles.
Balance is key to overcoming and developing your athletic potential. It’s time to take off the blinders, build your performance and #BeUltimate!
Written by Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning
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