As I noted earlier this week, it was time to start looking for a new training plan. I’ve spent the weekend looking and plotting, and since tomorrow is the start of the week, it meant I needed to make a plan by the end of today.
However, truth be told, I already had a plan kind of in mind, and that meant anything new had to compete against that and beat it.
Well, nothing did.
So, without further ado–because I know you’ve all been on pins and needles all weekend on this, right? </sarc>–here’s my plan moving forward:
Basically, I’m going to use this template from Brian Alsruhe.
This is actually the video that first introduced me to Alsruhe as a YouTuber, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Yes, even though I didn’t really do much strongman stuff.
I could write a whole post about Alsruhe and why I enjoy his channel and respect his opinions on things, but that’s not really important here. I won’t say I’m a fanboy of Alsruhe’s because I think fanboyism is ridiculous, but I am a fan and I’m not ashamed of that.
Now, as I rewatched Alsruhe’s instructions, I transcribed his spreadsheet into Excel myself. Here’s a screenshot of what I did:
Yes, I even used his color-coding.
Now, let’s talk about why I like this template.
It builds off of what I’ve already been doing
As you can see, it basically takes the four main lifts that I’ve been doing through Starting Strength and my four-day split and builds upon that. Since I was stagnating anyway, this adds more accessory work which should help break through those plateaus.
It still, though, involves a pressing, squatting, deadlifting, and benching. That’s the start of the workout, after all.
It includes different lifts as well
But it doesn’t just include those lifts, and that’s been the bulk of my workout for almost five months now. I need a certain amount of variety or else I start losing motivation.
This template doesn’t expressly tell you what accessory lifts to do. I can play around and work on my weaknesses. I can do pin presses to help my overhead press lockout if I want. I can do whatever I need to do, and since weaknesses can become strengths, there will be a bit of variance built into the system from the start.
Further, there’s that whole “strongman” aspect…
It has strongman movement
As I noted yesterday, I like strongman movements due to how closely they replicate the ways we actually display strength. But I also noted that in order to do that well, it helps to actually practice those movements.
This program has that and lays out a template of how to train those movements.
Now, there are still some questions, but I’m confident I can get those answered with some experience.
But now I have a clue how to add some of these movements to my training rather than just tacking them on at the end.
There’s an element of conditioning to this
As noted in the video, some of these exercises are done for time, which creates a burst of conditioning.
Further, another trick I learned for Alsruhe–one not mentioned in the above video–is to use giant sets with the accessory work. This speeds up the lifts, which is good because I’m spending enough time with training as it is. It also adds another conditioning element.
Also, let’s take a look at strongman competitions. There’s conditioning involved. It’s not just picking up heavy stuff. You have to be able to do it for a prolonged period of time.
Yes, much of this is muscular endurance rather than cardiovascular endurance, but that’s where giant sets come in. They’re different exercises working muscles in different ways, but the cardiovascular system is being stressed.
As someone trying to lose weight, this is bound to be a good thing.
Now, is this a perfect template? Probably not. But it’s about incorporating strongman training into the lifting you’re already doing, which means it’s probably built around transitioning people toward strongman stuff.
Luckily, that’s where I’m at.
What it lacks is a significant conditioning component. Yes, I know, it includes conditioning, but that’s not exactly as much conditioning as some people may need. Especially if you’re preparing for bad, nasty things that require a lot of strength over a long time.
But, that’s OK. It’s a start.
Frankly, if I had a high-conditioning program, I’d probably die before completing the first day’s workout, so this isn’t something I need. I need to build on what I’ve spent the last five months doing and help move me in the direction of where I want to go.
As it’s a four-day program, I’m still free to add more conditioning if I so choose on a couple of those off days.
For now, though, I don’t think that’ll be necessary. I suspect going with giant sets and trying to reduce my rest time between sets will do plenty for my cardiovascular system.
In a few months, who knows?
The plan for this program is to run it for 12-weeks, then evaluate it and see if I want to run another 12-week block of it. For that to happen, it’s got to do three things.
- Increase strength
- Increase conditioning
- Remain interesting
That last one is a big problem for me, and I’d love to work past it in time, but I have to deal with who I am as a person right now. Who I want to be or would like to be somewhere down the road is a different battle.
The other two, however, are absolutely essential. If I’m going to embrace my warrior heritage, I have to understand that those warriors were both strong and had endurance.
Basically, I want to reach a standard that would impress my ancient ancestors, and that ain’t easy. Then again, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be a goal worth anything, now would it?
That said, I do think this program will help me toward that goal. It appears to have a nice blend of hypertrophy training, strength training, and conditioning work, all of which I need.
One thing I need to do is temper expectations. It looks like a program that works on everything at once. Because of that, it’s entirely possible that it won’t do anything particularly well except, maybe, introduce strongman movements.
Now, let’s address the one glaring difference between this and what I have been doing. Namely, the idea of doing each lift just once per week.
Once upon a time, I was a firm believer that you shouldn’t train a body part more than once per week. I was heavily influenced by bodybuilding magazines from back in the day.
Since then, I’ve come to understand that muscles can handle a good bit more stress than that, even with an intermediate lifter (by Starting Strength standards) like me.
And yes, this program only does these lifts once per week. That’s a problem, right?
You see, strongman movements are compound movements that tend to recruit a huge portion of the human body. Take the farmer’s walk. It looks simple, but think about what all’s working:
- Lower back
- Forearms/grip (assuming you’re not using straps)
Basically, the entire back of your body is working when you simply lift a heavy weight and walk with it. Further, some argue that the shoulders, biceps, and triceps are working isometrically to keep everything stable. I don’t know that they’re wrong.
So, with that in mind, let’s say I do a farmer’s walk on bench day. Now, benching works the pecs, triceps, and anterior deltoids primarily. Yet every muscle being worked here are muscles worked earlier in the week.
No, I’m not squatting twice per week or deadlifting twice per week, but are those muscles only being worked once per week? No. Not even close.
And I think that’s part of what’s appealing about this approach to me. I’ll work the muscles plenty, but it won’t always be the same kind of work.
Will it work? We’ll have to see, but I’m confident.
After all, Alsruhe’s channel has grown significantly since he made that video, and I can’t help but think that if his programs were bad, it would have been mentioned by now. 🙂