When we think of strength training or strongman, we tend to conjure up thoughts of extremes. 6ft 9″ Icelandic giants lifting ungodly amounts of weight, Eddie Hall deadlifting 500kg, or Žydrūnas Savickas clean and pressing a 228kg log overhead (Click this LINK if you want to see for yourself!)
Whilst these are awe inspiring feats of strength, it can be hard to see how this style of training can apply to yourself; and this is where modified strength and strongman training comes in.
Exercise in the gym is often very focused on muscles, however having muscles as our focal point can lead to us missing the wood for the trees. Whilst we at The Cut always aim to help our clients gain muscle, whether it be to increase tone, or build up certain muscles we are also mindful of the other areas strength training benefits.
We always want our clients to gain the maximum benefit from their training, which extends far beyond muscles and aesthetics. Wanting to be able to play games and sports with children is important to our clients, so it is also important to us. Stiff joints and back pain are two things almost synonymous with busy professionals who are often pouring over a laptop screen at a desk for long hours, or sat for hours at a time in meetings.
Issues such as these are one of the main reasons strength training is so important. Whilst we are improving the strength of our muscles, we are also stretching our joints, ligaments and tendons – the parts of our body working hard behind the scenes. And anyone who has had the misfortune of damaging a ligament, tendon or dislocating a joint can attest to how vital these are to our ability to function and move well.
When we say strength training, we are looking to strengthen as much of the body as a whole as we can and not just improve musculature, which comes as part of strength training itself.
Another little known, but hugely beneficial effect of strength training with full range of motion is improvements in both mobility (movement of our joints) and flexibility (movement of our muscles). So those who are avoiding strength training due to concerns about back pain and sore joints may even find that this method of training will help alleviate discomfort.
So if strength training helps us with all these areas, why the need for modified strongman training (MST) as well? Think of MST as the perfect accessory to strength training, the cherry on top of a very strong cake.
Strongman training generally has trainees performing an exercise in one of the following areas: as many as possible, as fast as possible, as much as possible, or as far as possible. As you can imagine, lifting heavy weights in this manner requires some serious effort and a powerful set of lungs, so what better way to build an engine than Modified strongman training?
Modified Strongman Training (MST)
As many of our clients are pushed for time even on a quiet day, we as coaches need to investigate and design programmes that will give clients the most bang for their buck all within the space of an hour’s session. However this cannot come at the expense of technique and form, or be so complex that hours and hours of practice have to put in beforehand so a level of competency can be achieved before any meaningful workout is accomplished.
Modified strongman training works on a fantastic concept – low skill, high yield. The exercises in strongman are often incredibly simple, but are made harder through the incredible weights lifted. By modifying this weight to suit the individual, even a beginner can enjoy a fun, effective and challenging MST workout.
Modified strongman training also helps to fill in gaps we find clients have as weak points in their strength. These weak areas are perfectly targeted in strongman exercises. Muscle groups such as the hamstrings, glutes, back and core can be quickly brought up to decent levels of strength via MST, and in far more effective fashion than many other training methodologies.
These incredibly important muscles, when trained sufficiently and correctly form a ‘foundation’ of strength that will help in all other areas of exercise and movement. Whether it’s running, rowing, cycling, or even chasing your kids around, all athletic qualities have strength at their core and are improved by simply being stronger.
As you can probably tell, we’re big fans of strength training and MST at The Cut. Not just because it’s both fun and brutally effective as a form of training, but because it gets our clients results. If you’re tired of tedious training and being put through boring bodybuilding routines, then strength training might be right for you. And as the saying goes “you can’t go wrong with strong”
Article written by Richard Cross