Category Archives: Muscle Building

How Many Days A Week Should I Lift?

The number of days a week that you should train depends on a lot of different factors.  The most important being what your goals are and how seriously you take the strength game.

You can get some decent results from just training 3 days a week if you make each and every gym session really count.  Newbies could train even more.  Back when I first got involved in weight lifting, I trained a minimum of 5 days a week, and there were stretches where I’d be in the gym for all 7 days of the week.  Now, this shouldn’t be the norm because it simply isn’t sustainable.  My youth and relative inexperience allowed me to do this.  Eventually, lifting at that rate probably would have led me to injury and burnout.

So what is the proper balance?

To get the best results, I’d lift weights for a minimum of 4 days a week (no more than 5) using an Upper/Lower split.  Why this split?  I believe this is the best rubric for adding on muscle and gaining strength for most men and women out there.  Want the details?  Check them out here.

Your schedule should look something like this:

Monday, Thursday – Upper

Tuesday, Friday – Lower

Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday – Rest

This is one of my favorite templates to use and I rarely stray from it.  Over the summer, I’ll do one session over the weekend concentrating on strongman implements and building real world strength.  With this template, I get a full 48 hours rest in between upper and lower workouts and 2-3 rest days a week.

strength training lift weights

Now these schedules do not include cardio sessions, such as your hill sprints or sled work.  These could be done on any day you choose, but you really only need to do a couple of sessions a week to keep your body fat percentage down.  If you are currently trying to cut some fat, you may benefit from adding in an additional session or two (for a weekly total of 3-4), but do not overdo it.  Try and schedule these sessions around your rest days, so you are getting enough recovery time.

Quick Tip:  Two a days are awesome to fit your cardio in.  If you are doing it right, you only need about 20 minutes of high intensity cardio, so wake up earlier and get it done first thing in the morning and then hit the gym later in the day.  This has worked for me and is a great way to make sure my rest days are spent actually resting.

So let’s wrap this up and finish in simple terms.  Here is the bottom line.

Nobody ever got good at anything by just practicing a couple times a week.  The same principle goes for weight lifting and making a change in your body.  Want to make a transformation?  You need to train frequently enough to force your body to adapt.

If you want to really maximize your potential, 4 times a week with an Upper/Lower split is where you should live.  Four intense sessions with 3 days of rest is a killer rubric.

4 days, 4 hours a week.  No excuses.

Evolve!!

— Tank

What I Learned at the Arnold

Let me start off by saying that there is nothing more humbling than being around some of the biggest, baddest, fittest, and strongest people in the world for a few days.

It is easy to walk into the local gym and feel like you own the place.  You may even feel “elite” amongst the crowds there.  But come spend a few days at the biggest fitness convention in the world and you will probably feel like I did, small and self conscious.  Reality hits hard.

But being there taught me a very valuable lesson; one that I need to remember on a daily basis to let it fuel me to be the best.

So what is the lesson?  The lesson is that no matter how hard you think you are working, you could work harder, and in some cases, I bet the difference between what you are actually doing and what you are truly capable of is substantially far apart.

strength training

Seeing all these monsters and impressive people made me realize that they are working harder than me.  Plain and simple.  There isn’t any denying it.  They look like that for a reason.

And I’m not just talking about at the gym.  It is obvious they are kicking my ass in diet and nutrition, and the other important aspects of being a fitness pro.

Now granted, these guys are professionals and they are paid to work out in most cases, but they weren’t always that way.  They put in the work to get these jobs in the first place.  They overcame whatever circumstances and hardships they had when they were rookies and transformed themselves into remarkable looking individuals.

No matter what your circumstances are, I can almost guarantee there are things you can do to overcome, and it really all comes down to working harder.

Remember my post about “living in your vision”?  If not, check it out here.  Watch the video; it is big-time inspirational.

Figure out where you aren’t working hard enough and emphasize it.  Maybe you have a regimented diet but you don’t push yourself to bang out those extra reps in the gym.  Or maybe you are like me and kill it in the gym, but don’t eat properly to achieve the goals you want.

Whatever it comes down to, nobody is going to do the work for you.  Do you want to look like one of the best?  The secret is you have to work harder.  Harder than you are already working and much harder than your competition.

Evolve!!

— Tank

Crank Up the Intensity

If you ask 20 trainers about what exactly “intensity” is, you are almost guaranteed to get 20 different answers.  It is one of those contentious semantics discussions in the fitness field that people argue over all the time, and nobody ever seems to agree on.

Now if you ask me however, I will explain it to you in two different ways.

There is the Russian definition (which I tend to favor):

  • The percentage of weight you are using in relation to your 1 rep max.

And then there is the American definition:

  • The relationship between reps/sets and rest times.  (Don’t confuse this with volume, which is essentially the total amount of work done in a given time and doesn’t factor in rest periods).

While I favor the Russian definition, both are acceptable and adjusting them is key to making some serious strength and muscle gains.

intensity

So my challenge to you is to crank up the intensity of your workouts immediately!

But it will take a conscientious effort on your part and some planning to make it happen.

Let’s start with #1.

Max Percentages

Your goal for any workout should be to top your workout before it, either by reps or resistance.  To do this properly you have to know the intensity you are working with.

The best way to do this is to work from a 1 rep max percentage chart, and plan your workouts weeks in advance using a systematic and methodical approach.  Check out Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 method.  It is a perfect example of varying intensity in a way that will allow you to make long term gains in strength.

For example, say you do 3 working sets of squats at 65%, 75%, and 85% of your one rep max respectively.  The next time you squat, you should up those percentages to 70%, 80%, and 90%.  The next time, higher, etc.

Now this is a vague explanation, but you get the point.  Obviously reps will vary from week to week, but the point is you should constantly be pushing yourself to improve from the week before.  In order to get stronger, you have to keep increasing the intensity and working at higher resistance levels.

Let me warn you of one thing.  Training at 100% intensity (based on #1) is not sustainable and should not be done week in and week out.  Sure you may make some gains for a while, but you will eventually plateau and quite possibly fry your central nervous system.  That is the beauty of Wendler’s 5/3/1 is that you don’t ever “max” out.

Alright, now what about #2.

Rest Times

Decreasing rest times is not necessarily popular when training for maximum strength, but it is an integral part of mass building and bodybuilding.

Shorter rest times really challenge your muscles and allows you to cram a lot of volume into a single workout, leading ultimately to gains in muscle mass.  Resting for too long can hinder your growth, as your muscles are fully recuperated and are not challenged enough.

Experiment with shorter and longer rest periods, and keep varying your approach to keep your body continually guessing.  Not varying your rest times allows your muscles to adapt just like they would if you never varied the weight you were using, so you need to keep it interesting.

I’ve been tying a new approach for the last month.  It is too early to tell if I’m reaping any benefits, but the approach is well documented and widely used, and has yielded some great results for people.

Some of you may have heard of the Doggcrap method, a forum born program that started almost as a fluke but caught like wildfire.  The program itself is based around rest-pause, which is what I have been using for the past month and is a great way to expose you to higher intensities.

Basically, you take a weight you can handle for say 8-10 reps.  Pump em out, rest for 15 seconds, pump out as many as you can again (likely 3-5), rest for another 15 seconds, and then pump em out again (prob for another 2-3).  

This allows you to get a lot of work done in a hurry.  It’s been kicking my ass the past 4 weeks and has been a great experience.  If you try rest-pause, don’t do it with squats or deadlifts…

Decreasing your rest times also allows you to build up some serious work capacity.  If you aren’t sure what exactly that is, read this.  Work capacity is the most overlooked component of a strength training regimen but is of huge importance if you want to make continual long term gains.

Crank It Up

If you want to take your strength training to the next level, you have to crank up your intensity, ideally by the definitions I laid out above.

Vary your resistance and rest times, and keep challenging yourself.  Beat your records from week to week, either by heavier resistance, shorter breaks, or even just a few total reps.  The idea is to get better each and every time, plain and simple.  And its all based on intensity!

Evolve!!

— Tank

 

Do Work Son!

Anyone that has been following my training style knows that I preach training like an athlete.

But aside from rapid muscle building and raw strength gains, what does training like an athlete do you for that will carry over to any other kind of training regimen and into real world functionality?

Two words.

Work Capacity.

It is the most overlooked concept in strength training regimens, but it could be the one thing holding you back from making the gains you want.

So what do we mean by work capacity?

It can be defined as the ability to repeat high quality efforts and is directly tied to your preparedness level.  The higher your work capacity, the more prepared for training you are, the more prepared for training you are, the more work you can do, the more work you can do, the more muscle you can add, and so on and so on.

Now when you look at it, most people use strength training to A) get stronger and/or B) to get bigger.

Very few people work at the “conditioning” part of “strength and conditioning” with the same vigor and determination that they do with lifting weights.

But the bottom line is, if your work capacity is too low, you will not be able to incorporate new training volumes or crank up the intensity of your workouts while operating at the same strength levels.  This is a recipe for hitting a plateau.

Having a low work capacity plays hell with your recovery times too.  The longer you take to recover, the less you can train, limiting your opportunities to improve.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Cardio sucks, I get it.  But improving your work capacity has to become an integral part of your routine, and it doesn’t have to be spent on a treadmill or stair climber.

training like an athlete

Decrease Your Rest Times

I know there are prescribed rest times in between sets depending on your training goal, but throw all of that out the window.  They can be a good rule of thumb, but they can be a crutch as well.

Don’t be afraid to crank out a top end work set on 30 seconds rest.  Louie Simmons from Westside Barbell in his Book of Methods made a great point by saying that if you fully rest in between sets, your body will just keep using the same muscle fibers and no adaptations will take place and no new growth will occur.

Less rest = more work = higher work capacity.

Hill Sprints

These are ass kickers, no doubt about it.  Many of the greatest athletes of all time swear by them.  Who the hell wants to run on a treadmill for an hour anyway?

I have never met anyone trying to pack on serious muscle that likes epic cardio sessions.  Get outside, breathe some fresh air, sprint up a hill 6-10 times and be done with it, all in less than 20 minutes.  Do this a few times a week and not only will your work capacity improve, but you will burn some serious fat in the process.

training like an athlete

Plyometrics

For a while, box jumps were the only cardio I did.  I jumped for height, for distance, for speed, for everything.  Box jumps are great for conditioning, balance, explosive power, leg/core strength and stability, and overall athletic performance.

You can hit these during your workout or as a high intensity finisher.  Done properly, you can probably make some serious progress very quickly.

Broad jumps and various tumbling exercises are great alternatives as well.

Sled and Prowler Work

These are a must.  Pulling a sled and pushing a prowler will beef up work capacity in a hurry and are great for total body strength.  They offer a ton of variations to try, each with their own distinct benefits.  Sled work is a staple of Primal Strength Camp.

Vary your pushes/pulls between heavy weight and short distances and light weight and long distances.  At a minimum start with 100 feet.  Dragging a heavy sled for a few miles is not out of the ordinary for the elite.

For those of you training at home, I’d recommend getting one.  They are simply too good to pass up.  You can get one here.  Add a few 45lb plates to it and start walking.

Circuit Training

Just about any kind of quick hitting circuit with roughly 5 exercises can do the trick.  Try this one out:

  1. 10 Pushups
  2. 10 Squat Jumps
  3. Bear Crawl 25 feet
  4. 10 Bodyweight Lunges
  5. 10 Kettlebell Swings

Perform this for 3 rounds with no rest in between exercises, and only a minute rest in between rounds.

Wrap Up

training like an athleteBuilding work capacity is not the most glamorous work in the world, but if you want to get to that next level, you have got to improve it. Getting stronger is a grind, my friends, and you’ve got to put in the dirty work to achieve greatness.

In the words of Big Black, “Do work son!”

Evolve!!

— Tank

Train Like an Animal, Walk Like an Animal

Are you ready for a new challenge?  Tired of the same old bodyweight routine?  Time to unleash a whole new set of movements that will add a huge boost to your bodyweight training.

Animal Walks

My concept for Primal Strength Camp revolved around training primitively, getting back to the roots of man and moving our bodies like we were intended to.  If I’m truly Primal, I need to not only train like an animal, I need to walk like one too!  Primal man was a beast!

Animal walks are a great set of movements, not only for their simplicity, but their versatility as well.  You can do them anywhere and they are easy to modify for increased difficulty.  You can progress to going up stairs, using dumbbells, going longer distances, or even wearing a weighted vest.

They are a great total body movement, especially for your back, triceps, shoulders, and core, and they will also test your conditioning levels.  I like to incorporate them into a dynamic warmup or a high intensity finisher.

They are tough, don’t let them fool you!

Try this as a finisher to your workout:

  • Pushups x 20
  • Bear crawl 50 feet forwards
  • High Jumps
  • Bear Crawl 50 feet backwards

Do this for a couple of rounds.  You can substitute other walks as well (crab walks, hand walks, etc.)

Check out this example of a modified bear crawl using roughly 30 pounds of resistance per arm.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mas-jz4kK7U&feature=plcp[/tube]

Evolve!!

— Tank

The Four Pillars of Strength, by the Strongman Jack Niles

Whats up Primal Camp?

I am psyched to bring you a guest post by my friend Jack Niles from jacknilesstrongman.com.  I met Jack a while back at a strongman competition in Richmond, VA.  He was there selling some of his awesome homemade strongman equipment, some of which I bought and still use on a weekly basis.  Check out his store.  He is offering free shipping from now until Christmas, so time to get yourself some early presents!

Jack also just won his age division at the Virginia state powerlifting meet, so he knows about true strength and how to kick some serious ass.  You should add his blog as a must read to your strength training library.  Here is a taste of how he approaches strength and overall physical fitness.  Enjoy!

strongman

JN — A well rounded program to increase strength has a minimum of four components. Organizing a program around these four tenents should allow you to increase your overall fitness a great deal if applied consistently for atleast 8 to 12 weeks. I will be glad to post specifics on each area individually later.

1. Periodization: A strength program needs to be periodized. It is not possible to always lift heavy and make gains. The body needs to recover. A three week period is good: One light week of each exercise. One week using medium weights for each lift, one heavy week of each exercise. Then start over adding but 5 lbs to each of your lifts.

2. Flexibility. Lifting heavy tightens your muscles. Stretching reduces injuries. A quick simple stretch routine is the ancient yoga “sunrise salutation.” Google it is quick to learn and a good total body stretch.

3. Cardio: The heart is the most important muscle. You need three sessions minimum a week. 1 session of 20 minutes of high speed exercise, 1 session of 30 minutes of medium speed exercise and 1 session of 40 minutes of slow speed exercise.

4. Plyometrics: Power is the ability to move a mass quickly. Plyometrics are used by strength athletes to develop explosive strength. One way to do plyometrics is to do exactly the same lifts as you normally do with half the weight. Do three quick lifts with an emphasis on speed. Rest a minute or less then repeat this. 24 reps or 8 sets of 3 reps is a good plyometric routine. Heavy lifts can be done during the first part of the week and plyometric lifts of the same exercise can be done later in the week.

— Jack Niles

 

Ditch the Body Part Split!

I’d venture to guess that most of you landing here at Primal Strength Camp for the first time train using some kind of body part split.

Does your routine look like one of these?

Chest                                               Chest and Tri’s
Arms                                                Back and Bi’s
Legs                                                Legs and Shoulders
Back and Shoulders                        More Legs

I bet it is fairly similar.  What I’ll also bet is that you are not a professional or aspiring bodybuilder.

So let me break the bad news to you; unless you plan on getting on that stage any time soon to compete, you are sabotaging yourself.

Body part splits are “gain killers”.  Stop doing them.  You can’t keep working out the way these awful muscle magazines or the meatheads at your local gym tell you.

Recruit More Muscle to Build More Muscle

Seems like a straightforward concept right?  The more muscle you can stimulate in a given period of time, the more growth you can trigger.

The key to accomplishing this is through total body workouts, or for the intermediate and advanced lifter, an upper/lower split.  Instead of just training your chest and triceps in a given workout, using your entire body recruits far more muscle resulting in much bigger gains.

body workouts

Want a real world example?  Think about male gymnasts.  Ask any dude out there if he would want to look like a gymnast and I bet he can’t tell you no with a straight face.  Those dudes are jacked!

Think they look like that because they focus half their gym time in a given day on their biceps?  No!  They train total body each and every day.

By recruiting more muscle, you will make far bigger strength gains than you would training with isolated body parts as well.

Eliminate the Garbage 

Workouts consisting of squats, clean and presses, pull-ups, and pushups are going to recruit far more muscle than one consisting of lat pulldowns, bent over rows, preacher curls, and concentration curls.

Cramming a total body workout into a single training session forces you to eliminate the crap and choose your exercises carefully.  Ditch the isolation movements and feed yourself a steady diet of compound exercises and plyometrics.

Most of us aren’t bodybuilders so there is no sense in training like one.  You will get far better results training like an athlete.

Frequency

Looking at the split routines I laid out in the beginning of this post, you will see it takes 4 days of work to fully train the entire body.  Add in a prescribed two days of rest, and your week of training is over.

Now let me ask you, who ever got good at anything by practicing once a week?  Because that is exactly what you are doing if you are following a body part split; the way the spit works out, you hit your chest once a week, your back once a week, etc.

With total body workouts, or upper/lower splits, you are hitting your muscle groups with at least twice as much frequency meaning you are triggering twice as many growth phases. In any given year, if you are only training each body part once a week, that is 52 growth phases.  Lose the body part split and you are already up over 100 growth phases. That should blow your mind!

Now ask yourself, who is going to be bigger and stronger at the end of the year?  The person growing 52 times a year or 100?

And since you are not spending inordinate amounts of time on any one body part, your recovery times for muscle groups are cut in half, leading to more growth time and avoiding a possible onset of overtraining.

strength training body workouts

So what is the best training split?

I’d start with none!  If you are experienced, switch to an upper/lower.

If you need a jumpstart, check out this post on a full body or upper lower split.

Implementing a Full Body or Upper Lower Split

If you want an entire 8 week program based on using an upper lower split, then join the thousands of others in Primal Nation and download Uncaging Your Primal Strength from the right hand side of this page.

Have questions, feel free to email me via the contact form or drop a comment here on this post and I’ll be glad to help!

Evolve!!

— Tank

5 Tips To Improve Your Bench

What’s the most common question people ask to test your strength?

It’s “how much do you bench?”

Like it or not, it is the most asked question among the millions of meatheads out there.  Now, you don’t want to go embarrassing yourself so what can you do to boost your numbers? Start with these 5 strategies.

bench press

Remember, veteran lifters may take months just to add a few pounds to their personal bests, so be persistent, meticulous, and whatever you do, don’t give up.

#1 Tweak Your Technique

This seems like a no brainer answer, but the truth is, when you are attempting a record lift for the first time, some of your technique may fly out the window and you just try to muscle up the weight with sheer Primal instincts.  You may be doing mostly everything picture perfect, but one subtle aspect may be out of place that is causing you to fail the lift.  Small arch in your lower back, shoulder blades retracted, expanded chest, and tight torso are all postural things to look for.  Don’t fight the bar on the way down.  Pull it into your chest and explosively press it back up.  Slow grinding reps will kill your one rep maxes.  These are just a few things to keep in mind.

#2 Death Grip the Bar

This is a subtle adjustment that can deliver huger results.  Gripping the sh*t out of the bar (and I mean really white knuckling it with everything you got) puts a huge amount of tension on your upper body, especially your arms and stabilizers.  This radiant tension allows you to recruit more muscle fibers for the lift, thus you are able to move more weight.  This technique goes with any lift by the way, not just bench press and you should be utilizing radiant tension for all of your training.

#3 Build Stronger Triceps

A lot of guys underestimate the role triceps have in your bench press.  If you’ve hit a wall, try making your triceps stronger first.  Close grip bench press, tricep extensions, heavy overhead dumbbell presses, weighted dips.  Stay away from the cable machines.  Crank up the weight and hit these early in your workout.  Don’t wait to the very end after you are already crushed; you won’t make the kind of gains you need by saving it until the end.  Make them a priority.

#4 Master Your Warmup

If you are going to hit a record lift, you have to be warm and your muscles have to be prepared to do the work.  But there is a fine line between being warm and being gassed.  I usually hit about 4-5 warmup sets before I get into “working” mode.  My sets consist of moderate weight, progressively getting heavier, with no more than 5 reps per set.  A few of those I may do 3 or less, depending on how I feel.  You do not need to crank out sets of 12+ reps; all you are doing is wasting energy and killing your potential for a record lift.  Don’t under-do it either.  You can’t press heavy weight cold turkey, so take the warmup seriously and prepare yourself for the big weight.

#5 Gain Some Weight

This might seem extreme, but “eat past your sticking points” is a common motto.  If you are already putting up decent numbers, you may simply need to gain weight for your body to be physically capable of setting new records.  I may very well be at this stage.  Currently I weigh in at 175lbs, and have been stuck at a 300lb bench for a few months now.  My goal is to jack myself up to 185 and see what I can bench then.

Now this list isn’t exhaustive, but it is meant to open your mind to some things you may not be doing and get you on track to break through your plateaus.

Give these a shot, and I’d bet that doing a few of these together will help you set a new personal best.  But remember, success doesn’t happen overnight.  You need to be methodical and persistent and put in the work to make it happen.  This could take weeks, if not months, but keep on grinding.

— Tank

Hybrid Primal Training

Anyone who has been around the weight lifting game for a while knows that you work with different rep ranges depending on what your training goal is at the time.

  • 6-12 reps for muscle mass gain (hypertrophy)
  • 2-5 reps for strength
  • 12-20 for endurance

When you train with me, you can bet that we will live in that 3-5 rep range.  But who’s to say we can’t train for multiple benefits at once?  As long as you follow the rules of the road and don’t add too much volume for hypertrophy during the same session that you are trying to train for strength, or try to do so much in a workout that it lasts for over an hour, we can mix and match strategies to achieve a variety of benefits.

When training Primal, the name of the game is getting strong.  We will always emphasize that.  But damn, we all want to look good too.  Why not throw some bodybuilding in there?  And if you can’t move, what’s the point of being strong?  You have to train like an athlete.train like an athlete

Check out this sample workout to see what I mean.  Start with your big, compound strength lift.  Add in a few supplemental exercises that will either help you in your strength lifts, or help pack on the size.  And I’m a big fan of finishers to increase work capacity and cardiovascular strength and endurance.

* the rubric below does not count warmup sets.  Set x Rep numbers are representative of high-end working sets only.  During the initial strength exercise, you will rest up to 5 mins between sets, and for all other exercises, no more than 90 seconds *

  • Dynamic Warmup (pushups, bodyweight squats, lunges, animal walks, band pull aparts, etc.)
  • Bench Press: 5 x 5
  • Pullups: 4 x AMRAP
  • High Pull: 4 x 8
  • Sled Drags
  • Battle Rope

Boom!  Total body workout, multiple rep ranges, great conditioning finisher.  We’ve covered all of our bases.

Now, this template isn’t for everybody, and looking at it, it’s a big workout.  Something like this is geared towards a more experienced lifter, or someone who is in a maintenance stage or transitioning to some other period of a specific goal.  Beginners could steal from this workout by taking 3 of the exercises plus the warmup and probably get damn good results.

Want more workouts like these?  Follow our daily workouts on the homepage.  Come to Strength Camp Saturdays if you are in the Charlottesville area!

The best and only way to reach new levels in your training is to get stronger!

Evolve!!

— Tank

Strongman Training Can Boost Your Gains in the Gym

Anyone that knows my training philosophy knows that I always preach about sticking to the basics.  Plain, vanilla, old school strength training.

Bench Press.  Deadlift.  Military Press.  Squat.  Build your training around those 4 lifts and stay away from the gimmicks and trendy sh*t.

But the beauty of running your own training business is that you are the boss; you can break your own rules!  Using strongman training strongman trainingis a great way to do that.

Strength Camp Saturday is how Primal Strength Camp was born.  These are the days when strongman training and odd objects come into play; a true test to see how our gym training is transitioning to an uncontrolled, outside environment.

At Primal Strength Camp, we use kegs, sleds, ropes, chains, and other unique tools to challenge our abilities to the extreme.  Odd objects don’t have handles, or uniform shapes and sizes.

It is one thing to grab a bar and lift it over your head with weight firmly attached.  It is entirely different to lift a keg filled with water, where the resistance is dynamic and fluid, forcing your body to not only lift the weight, but use an enormous amount of strength just to stabilize it.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNa-tqC153w[/tube]

It is one thing to carry 45lb plates around your gym, but it is not the same as loading up a pair of farmers carry handles with 125lbs in each hand and struggling with each step.

Pulling in a sled hand over hand with rugged rope across uneven ground is a far cry from your seated row on an amazingly smooth cable machine.

Strongman training is brutal.  It truly tests your ability to harness brute strength and pick up heavy sh*t.  You use your entire body throughout the course of a workout and muscles and movements that you don’t normally utilize in a controlled gym routine.

Its simplicity is eye opening.  Carry something heavy.  Flip something heavy.  Pick up something heavy off the ground, and move it somewhere else.  The movements are not earth shattering, yet the benefits can be staggering!

Perhaps the most important benefit of strongman training is its ability to forge unbreakable mental toughness.  It forces you out of your comfort zone and presents new challenges that you will not get by training in a “box”.  Odd objects will humble you.  Mentally, after one of these sessions, I’m totally wiped out.

I’m reminded of the training montage from Rocky IV.  The big bad Russian with all of his fancy equipment got whooped by mentally invincible Rocky, after he trained in the cold and snow, with heavy logs and a buggy.

After a day of training outside in the elements, shouldering sandbags and battling with heavy chains, I feel like a monster.  Strongman training, and the anguish and mental stress it brings, only makes me more prepared to dominate my next gym workout.

You think your strong?  Think your tough?  Want a challenge?

If you are ready to be humbled, incorporate some strongman training into your regimen.  Once a week is fine.  Any more on top of your normal gym routine is a recipe for central nervous system fatigue and injury.

But using it responsibly and strategically will help you in the long run, both physically and mentally.  Besides, aren’t you tired of doing the same ol’ sh*t all the time anyway?

Evolve!!

— Tank