Strongman Tips for Big Gains
Looking for the very best tips for strength? If you’re seeking personal records, it’s time to check these eight off your strongman list.
By Jimmy Pena MS, CSCS
From techniques, tactics, plans and schemes, your treasure chest of personal records of strength and size is filled with triumph and failure. Some approaches worked; others didn’t. Well, if you incorporate any or all of the following eight tips, you’ll soon see a general upward shift in your strength. Some of the items might be easy adjustments, while others might require major shifts in technique. Since you’re a strongman, able and eager to do anything in your power to add plates to the end of the bar, we have no doubt you can handle them.
1 . Stagger Your Grip
You’re stronger when using an alternating or staggered grip. The reason is related to the transfer of the weight of the bar in your hands. When you use an overhand grip, it can roll out of your hands, creating a problem with heavier weight. The staggered grip can prevent this problem through the physics of reverse torsion. That means the overhand grip is twisting the bar in one direction while the underhand grip is twisting it in the opposite direction. As a result the bar doesn’t roll in your hands and you have a stronger grip.
2. Strongest Portion of Rep
From one week to the next make sure to exhaust the strongest portion of the rep, whether you’re doing squats, benches or deadlifts. During a bench press you seldom exhaust the upper portion of the movement simply because you failed to move the bar past the sticking point. However, the strongest portion of the press is the top half, as with the deadlift and squat. Once you’ve worked through the full range of motion, spend a set or two blasting the phase of the range of motion in which you’re the strongest. That means doing partial reps with heavier weights than what you use for full-range-of-motion training and using the safety bars in the power rack.
3. Stand for Something
When you have an option, do a given movement standing up. You’re much stronger standing than you are when seated because your legs, low back and core musculature as well as body english allow you to move more weight. So beyond your deads and squats try to work from a standing position. Other examples might be the overhead press and overhead triceps extensions. Whenever possible, work to engage your entire body. The strongest men on the planet will never be found sitting down during their workouts, and neither should you.
4. More Power to You
If you’re not training for power, you’re letting some of your best lifts pass you by. Training specifically for power helps you develop fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are the fibers most responsible for size and strength gains. One way is to use plyometrics. Similar to ballistic-type movements, plyometrics have no element of deceleration. Normally you slow down an exercise slightly so that the weight doesn’t leave your hands. With plyos, as in plyo push-ups, you don’t decelerate but rather you allow your hands to leave the floor, exploding as high as possible. You can also use barbell power throws with the Smith machine to help develop power. When you’re doing bench press throws, overhead throws and biceps curl throws, the Smith machine can be a vital tool for developing power.