Zach Even-Esh

How To Use StrongMan Workouts For Mental Toughness, Strength & Power

Bill-Kazmaier-strongmanWhen utilizing strongman training for athletic performance there are various ways to implement the exercises and methods for different results.

Whether you need more muscle mass, more strength, more speed & power or perhaps greater mental toughness, you can tweak strongman workouts to achieve all of those goals.

Here are 7 tips to incorporate in your own training when utilizing the strongman lifts.

My Simple Suggestion: Test them, and like all things in training, absorb what is useful and discard what is not!

7 Tips For Using StrongMan Training

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1) Strength & Power Development: Choose one strongman exercises and perform it either first or last in your workout. First as a main lift for strength and power. Start lighter and be more explosive for lower reps and then progress to a heavier load for strength development.

2) Need to push your conditioning and mental toughness? Hit a strongman exercise last in your workout as a finisher. Adjust weights accordingly but push yourself to keep technique tight, speed should remain high and this is your time to be strong while others would normally be weak.

3) Mental Toughness blended with strength endurance and power endurance will come from 3 – 4 strongman exercises performed as a circuit as shown in the video above. The heat that day was low 90s and very high humidity. This change of weather and shock of performing a circuit vs do a set, rest 1-2 minutes, repeat, etc shocked the mind and body of these athletes BUT that is what they needed.

4) Need to pack on muscle? You need greater time under tension. Utilize lighter weights and perform more reps / more time during your strongman exercise. Bodybuilders tend to hover in the 8-12 rep range and in doing so develop more muscle mass. Up your reps each set or perform sets until you reach a total number of desired reps.

Photo from of Mariusz Pudzianowski Performing Axle Deadlifts

Photo from of Mariusz Pudzianowski Performing Axle Deadlifts

5) Muscle Building AND Mental Toughness? Pick one strongman exercise and push the envelope with a partner or small group. Elliott Hulse used to do this and he would flip a tire for the length of an entire street, carry kegs or load kegs on platforms for 20 minutes while taking turns with partners. Elliott was influenced by Florida Strongman, Tom Mitchell in these methods.

6) Strength, Power & Mental Toughness: Choose 3 different strongman exercises and hit one of them at the beginning of each of your 3 weekly workouts. Your body will develop a durability and muscle mass that isn’t developed through traditional lifting.

For example: use the tire flip, farmer walk and atlas stone or sandbag loading on a platform throughout the week. Hit each exercise for specific sets / reps or go against the clock for max reps.

7) Mental Toughness: I am finishing with the mental toughness aspect because this comes down to the FACT that your body can handle much more than you think it can. The key is to first change your thinking and then the body will follow.

I learned this over 20 years ago when watching and listening to Dan Gable, the famous Iowa Wrestling Coach and Olympic Gold Medalist.

He pushed his wrestlers to levels unknown to them but he FIRST turned them into believers.

So, want more mental toughness? Start off by doing an extra set, an extra rep, an extra ANYTHING. In turn, the added volume will also add greater muscle mass to your body. Push the envelope, break the rules and do more.

Live The Code


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6 Responses to How To Use StrongMan Workouts For Mental Toughness, Strength & Power

  1. Shane says:

    Love this article on how to put strongman training into any training. Great work.

  2. jonathan says:

    Great outline of strongman exercise structure thanks!

  3. Dustin Maynard says:


    Ahh, you better believe I’ve been incorporating strongman events. As some of you may know, I’ve quit squatting. :-) Yeah, I know…I have a smile on my face. It’s because I am happier than ever.

    Three days out of the week, I am either shouldering my heavy duty keg, really working the the clean and the snatch, the barbell Yoke carry, keg carries, farmer’s walks or deadlifts. :-) There goes another grin, I just can’t stop.

    I already feel like the man I should have been! As opposed to squatting for 2-3x a week, and personally gotten nowhere.

    The Olympic Lifts are tough! But better late than never!

  4. MishaD says:

    Awesome. These Strongman routines are just what is needed for people like me. Mental toughness comes before physical toughness

  5. Frank says:

    We’re on it, Z! Thanks!

  6. Dustin W says:

    Lighten the sled, grab the handles, and with a lighter tire (for starters) flip the tire.
    Get crazy with it and put a harness, or loop the handles through a belt and pull as you push with a sled. Pulling a sled while farmers is great fun too.

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Zach Even-Esh is an Author, Founder of The Underground Strength Gym & Creator of The Underground Strength Coach Certification.

Zach's inspiration in training comes from the Golden Era of Bodybuilding & Days of Old School Strength. His mission is to help You kick ass & take names in Life AND Lifting without the hype, fancy fads or gimmicks. Zach's Commitment To Your Success Is Unmatched. He Knows What It's Like To Go From A Weakling To An Unstoppable BEAST In Charge Of His Life, Business & Destiny. Zach Made It Happen Through The Iron and Now it's Your Turn!

Zach Even-Esh