Nov 19, 2012

Strongman training has become all the rage in recent years. You have everyone from high school athletes to weekend warriors implementing all kinds of carries, drags, tire flips, and truck pulls/pushes, into their programs. Periodization and program design with these odd lifts are for another article. For now I will discuss my favorite strongman exercises for building strength, work capacity, and mental toughness.

Farmer’s Carry

The farmer’s carry is one of the best exercises for adding mass to your traps and upper back as well as building some serious grip, core, and leg strength. Plus, they’re super easy and you can use just about any implement to perform them. There are designated farmer’s handles that you can buy from Rogue or Elite FTS or you can go the inexpensive route and just grab a pair of heavy dumbbells. Be sure to keep your core tight, shoulder blades pulled back, and try not to let your head lean forward. I like to do these for time, distance, or for as long as you can keep the weight in your hands.


Sled Drag

Sled drags give you the versatility to hit every single part of your body. All you need is an old tire, some chain, a tow strap, and wallah … instant sled. Sleds are great for recovery workouts, strength building, speed, and work capacity. There’s not much you can’t do with a sled, some weight, and a little space. My preferred methods of dragging are forwards, backwards, laterally, chest presses, explosive high pulls, rows, pull-throughs, and power rotations. Do them for time, reps, or distance, just make sure you do them.

Sandbag Carry

Sandbag carries certainly separate the boys from the men. Try bear hugging a 200 lb sandbag and carrying it for 50 feet. You tell me what muscles it works. These bad boys will hit everything from your FINGERS to your TOES. I like to make carrying medleys with 3 or 4 sandbags of different weights for time or distance. You can also change up the carrying method including bear hugs, zercher carries, shoulder carries, overhead, headlock, or double sandbag variations. If you’re not comfortable going the DIY route you can pick up some high-quality sandbags here.

Hand-Over-Hand Sled Pull

These possibly could have gone under sled drags but they are truly a different animal all together. Similar to the tractor trailer or plane pull you might see on the World’s Strongest Man, you load up the sled with weight, attach a rope, and pull that sucker in. Your first hand-over-hand pull will leave your forearms, upper back, lats, and biceps SCREAMING. Thank me later.

Truck Push

The truck push is a fantastic alternative to the prowler and just as effective. It’s performed exactly how it sounds so no explanations here. My one recommendation to make it completely dummy proof is make sure the truck is turned off. The last thing you want to do is inhale exhaust fumes when you’re gasping for air. Truck pushes follow the same parameters as the others with respect to time and distance. Don’t over think things, just go do work.


Have you tried any of these exercises? Plug some into your program and tell me what you think.

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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