Strongman Bodybuilding Techniques


As we reached to an intermediate and advanced stage of our strongman journey, we want to improve our maximum speed, strength, and set volume. While proper form and recovery practices in doing exercises work in the beginning, intermediate and advanced athletes need to overcome the limitations of linear progress. With this in mind, they need to introduce certain variables into their programs. When hitting inevitable plateaus, it’s time to incorporate techniques that are usually limited to the bodybuilding world. If you want to kickstart some new growth, try the following set modifiers.


The technique for building mass and can be applied to lengthen the concentric portion of an exercise to help build endurance and stability on an event. It works very well on modified deadlifts and presses to enhance weak spots. On the log, I will have strongmen use 75% of a maximum, press the weight dynamically and then lower it back to the start slowly under complete control. It has an outstanding effect on power, size, and stability. Do sets of 5 to 8.

Remember the following:

  • Maintain control throughout
  • Have at least a 1 to 3 ratio of speed on the movement, then quickly explosive on the left, and then very slowly to the starting point.
  • They will consume much of your power, so do these last in your training session.

Strip sets

Perform a set or two where you drop the weight and do more reps to wring out a muscle group. It may consist of one or two drops to improve the muscular endurance fibers. Strip sets can also help an anaerobic capacity of a strongman because of the nature of the beast. Squeeze an extra rep or four in when you believe you’re entirely beat, especially when close to a contest. As an example, using a plate loaded car deadlift would do a work set at contest weight for the max reps they can get or until time runs out. Then the training partners would take off at least 10% of the weight, and the athlete would immediately go for more reps.

Remember the following:

  • Listen to your body before applying this technique to avoid easy injury
  • Don’t overuse this technique. It is best to use it sparingly before a contest to maximize your capacity for repetitions.

Forced Reps

These have been a staple of heavy or hardcore duty training styles. Have a partner help you get reps when your body is incapable of more. Use these on pull-ups and other basic exercises that improve your events. Have a partner help spot you in the back for a few more reps than your usual pull-ups. The extra two or three pull-ups can fire up the central nervous system and provide you some additional strength.

Remember the following:

  • Combine forced reps with negatives. Often, you can’t handle the eccentric alone but the other way around on the concentric in a slow controlled fashion.
  • Do not do forced reps on overhead movements, deadlifts, and squats.