Strongman competitions are the ultimate test of all-round strength. Challenges such as Atlas stone lifts require short bursts of intense power, while yoke walks, for example, demand longer periods of endurance. Despite this variety, Ben Simpson, Australia’s premier strongman, insists that classic gym lifts remain the best preparation for building inhuman strength. These two workouts, designed by Simpson, aim to do just that.
Do these two workouts on back-to-back days (Monday and Tuesday), have a rest day (Wednesday), and then repeat the workouts on consecutive days (Thursday and Friday).
Workout 1: deadlift/squat day
Deadlift (3 sets x 5 reps, 1 set x 8 reps, 1 set x 10 reps)
Stand behind a barbell, your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back to lower into a squat. Grab the bar with a mixed grip. Keep your back straight and pull your shoulders back. With your arms locked, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward to drive back to a standing position. Slowly reverse to lower the barbell.
Front Squat (5 sets x 5 reps)
With your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a barbell across the front of your chest. Keep your elbows forward and cradle the bar in your fingers. Keeping your head up and your back straight, push your hips back to lower into a squat. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then drive back up to the start position.
Pronated-Grip Barbell Row (3 sets x 8 reps)
Stand behind a barbell, your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent, bend forward from the waist and grip the bar with your palms facing in. Holding this position, row the bar up to your stomach.
Supinated-Grip Chin-ups (5 sets x 5 reps)
Grab a chin-up bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, your palms facing in. From a “dead hang”, squeeze your shoulderblades together and hoist yourself up until your chin passes the level of the bar. Add weight if five reps is too easy.
Farmer’s Walk (25m x 5 reps)
Holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand, stand tall, your shoulders back and chest up. Ensure your core and glutes are switched on. Start walking, taking small, fast steps. The weights should remain still at your sides.
Workout 2: Press Day
Strict Barbell Press (3 sets x 3 reps, 1 set x 6 reps, 1 set x 10 reps)
Place a barbell at chest height on a squat rack and grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, your palms facing out. Step out from the rack and rest the weight on your collarbone. Drive the bar above your head, dipping your head under the bar to maintain balance.
Incline Bench Press (3 sets x 6 reps)
Set an incline bench at 45°. Lying on your back, hold a barbell above your eyes with your elbows locked. Slowly lower the weight to your chest, and then drive the weight back to the start position, ensuring your back is not arched.
Dips (5 sets x 8-10 reps)
Grab some dips bars with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Bending forward slightly, slowly lower your body until your arms form right angles. Keeping your elbows in, drive back to the start position. Add weight if 8-10 reps is too easy.
Triceps Pushdown (3 sets x 15-20 reps)
Attach an angled bar to a high pulley and grab it with your hands at shoulder width, your palms facing down. Your arms should form right angles. Keeping your elbows tucked in, push the bar down until your arms are locked out.