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Steve Smith
Steve Smith

Make a commercial gym your strongman training ground with this explosive eight-week workout.

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Once regulated to niche enthusiasts groups and late-night slots on ESPN2, the sport of Strongman now draws athletes and fans from all over the world—helped in part by visible competitors like Game of Thrones actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (who plays the Mountain) and America’s four-time World’s Strongest Man winner, Brian Shaw.

The goal of the sport is simple: Execute a series of functional lifts designed to test one’s strength and endurance. And while the contests feature iconic events like the Atlas Stones, Hercules Hold, and Keg Toss, you don’t have to be a competitor—or attempt any of the above—to benefit from Strongman-style training.

“The average person who wants to get bigger, stronger, or even leaner can benefit from Strongman training, because the exercises that build the most muscle also burn the most fat,” says Matt Mills, a strength and conditioning specialist, pro Strongman, and the owner of Lightning Fitness in South Windsor, CT. Fortunately, much of that training can take place in your local gym with free weights
and machines, which is great
for those who don’t have access to 350-pound stones—or don’t want to rig up a harness and pull a plane across the parking lot.

“The priority should be free weights, but I like to mix in machines, too,” Mills says. “Isolation work like hamstring curls and biceps curls is great for preventing injuries, especially if you’re newer to the sport.”

It’s not just about moving heavy objects, though—it’s about moving heavy objects repeatedly. That takes endurance.

“In powerlifting, you have to
be strong in three lifts for one rep, but in Strongman, you need to balance strength with a lot of conditioning to perform multiple dynamic, full-body lifts,” Mills says. That means your training must reflect the same, incorporating a mix of heavy-weight, low-rep lifts with lighter-weight, higher-rep exercises.

So if you want to get stronger and gain muscle, give this Matt Mills–approved eight-week program a try. It’s loaded with Strongman-style lifts you can perform in any gym and targets your entire body.

You don’t ever have to compete to enjoy the benefits, but after feeling the effects, you just might want to. 

Weeks 1-4

Weeks 5-8