We all hate that dreaded “C” word. It strikes fear in the hearts of the strongest of us. It makes the rugged bearded ones wince in pain. I doubt many, if any, of us in this sport enjoy cardio, but it’s a necessary evil. As we all know, to be competitive in strongman, athletes need to not only be strong, but also have at least a base level of cardio. Most events in strongman competitions will demand that the athletes display a certain level of endurance. Overhead medleys, carries for distance or truck pulls, for example, all demand endurance. Competitions will likely only have one event that is a max effort single lift event like a max effort deadlift or log clean and press. It would be easy for me to tell you that all you need to do is go for a run, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t stick with running. I can really only speak for myself, but I’ve never experienced a runner’s high, and I get very bored very quickly. Lucky for us, no strongman show is going to demand that we run a marathon. So, I’m going to offer some ideas that will help improve your cardio, keep you engaged and have a carry over to strongman.
Lightweight Strongman Exercises
Something that I find gets the heart rate up is to do strongman exercises for time. For example, a lightweight keg over bar. I put the bar at an easy height and use a very light keg. I’ll set a timer for sixty seconds, then put the keg over the bar as many times as possible. I’ll generally do five rounds. The keg over bar is a pretty common movement across strongman competitions. It carries over well, and if you try to do it with speed, it will elevate the heart rate. To progress, just add more time as it gets easier. Keep the keg light, and I mean light. The point of this is to work on conditioning. Once fatigue sets in, form and technique become compromised. Don’t hurt yourself using a 200 pound keg. If you train alone and don’t have someone to roll the keg back, use a tire and small rubber horse stall mat to make a quick makeshift ramp to have the keg roll back to you. Just watch your toes. Another strongman exercise that can be used to aid in conditioning are carries. Farmer carries, sandbag carries, frame carries and even yolk walks can be good cardio training. Again, keep the weight light to minimize the risk of injury. You can either push for a max distance or progress using a set time. Either way, move quickly and push hard. You can also use an axle bar and do clean and presses for time as well. Again, keep the weights light and bang out as many as you can. You’ll be nice and tired.
Training with a prowler is arguably one of the easiest ways to increase your conditioning/cardio while building strength simultaneously. It’s a very simple implement to use. Add weight to the prowler and push. You can either keep the prowler light to be able to move quickly, or you can load it down and turn the exercise into a real grinder. Either way, you’ll be able to improve your conditioning in no time. The good thing about the prowler is that it is difficult to mess it up. There is very little risk to using a prowler, and it requires very little thought. You can also tie a rope around it and perform sled drags. The only thing you may want to be mindful of is that the prowler is very good at fatiguing the legs. So, be mindful when you use the prowler. For example, don’t use the prowler intensely the day before a max effort squat day.
Walking and Playing Sports
You might be shocked at how well going for a walk will improve your conditioning. It’s also great for recovery. Whether early in the morning or after work, put on a podcast or your favorite playlist and go for a walk at a nice, brisk pace. A solid hour is all you need to reap the benefits. If you want to get even more out of your walks, throw on a weighted vest or walk with some kettlebells. If walking is a little too boring for you, go play a pick up game of basketball, tennis, golf, disc golf or softball. Being active and playing sports is a very fun way to keep yourself moving while having a good time. Playing a sport a few times a month won’t hinder your strongman training. If anything, it’ll help it. Movement is the key to staying in shape, and sports will definitely help you move while having fun and being competitive.
If you’re looking for a place to prepare for your next strongman competition or you’re just someone looking to get into shape, check out the Atlas Strength Shop.Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for your next visit. We also have a new website with our own apparel line and information about our programming and coaching services. Vist atlasstrengthshop.com to check them out. Be sure to like our Facebook page, here, and follow us on Instagram, here. Do you need a high quality energy supplement that won’t leave with that crashing feeling? Check out veteran owned strikeforceenergy.com and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH at checkout to get 20% off of your order.
On April 23, 2022, the Atlas Strength Shop will be hosting the first ever Louisiana’s Strongest Man/Woman. If you want to test your mettle, claim Louisiana’s Strongest title and help push the strongman movement in Louisiana, checkout ironpodium.com for all registration information. Don’t forget to take advantage of the early bird pricing.
“Normality is a paved road; it’s comfortable to walk but no flowers grow.” -Vincent Van Gogh