by Martyn Ford April 26, 2018

with Eddie Hall - 

To say I have been privileged is an understatement!  Having the hands on experience watching Eddie train is like a VIP card into the world of Strongman.  What I have learned from Eddie and put into play in my own training has seen my strength go through the roof. 

There are a number of KEY elements which I have definitely seen and felt the benefit of while training for strength.  First of all, it is very important to realise that strength and muscle hypertrophy are two very different disciplines.  The rest, the way you train and your mind set are all very different. 

When designing a plan, focus on a small amount of KEY lifts.  Wasting time on isolation movements is limited.  Big movements ONLY!  I have seen Eddie spend 2-3 hours doing just one exercise. Sounds impossible, I know, but when you see how, it makes more sense.  Rest for strength is vital not only between sessions but also between sets. It is vital that the muscle and mind is fully prepared, restored and ready. 

Rest between sets

I have seen Eddie take as long as 10 minutes between big lifts.  This seems pretty extreme, but you have to remember the level we are talking about here.  The weights he moves are insane.  

For the body to recover and replenish would be far greater than your average lifter. The lighter the weight, the shorter the rest needed.  If you are doing warm up sets, rests of 2-3 minutes is plenty.  However, once you start hitting your max weights and performing flat out anything, from 5-10 minutes is needed to be fully prepared for the next set. 

Continuous Nutrition

Drinking calories and eating between sets is vital.  The key to performing good lifts is having muscle bellies that are full of energy (glycogen).  When you are training for 2-3 hours, taking calories on is vital.  You can’t afford to miss out on food during sessions like this.

Personally, I would recommend a good carb loading drink.  Be careful of the type of carbs consumed.  I would also look at putting protein into the system as the duration of each session can be so long.

I would often see Eddie eat real food during sessions.  For me, I personally couldn’t perform and digest whole food like he does, but I know from experience that many of the world’s best do this. So who are we as mere mortals to argue?

Time of day to train

As lifting big weights requires energy and lots of it, it doesn’t make sense to do this on an empty stomach.  Eddie always suggested to me that 2pm was a prime time due to the fact you have consumed 3-4 good meals, and the day is still early enough that you are not too fatigued.  The key here is finding what works for you. I would suggest a good 2-3 meals before you try and lift big. 

Warming up through sets

This is something that is very important.  When lifting heavy you need to make sure your body is ready for the movement ahead, that you are focused, set for each and every lift and that you fully understand the purpose of each set.  When performing for strength not every lift will be done to max.  I know that Eddie likes to perform a good 4-5 warm up sets, progressing up through the weights gradually with a set number in mind. For instance, for set 1 he would use 50% of his maximum weight and perform just 8-10 reps, focusing on his breathing, speed of movement and feeling the muscle generate power.  Set 2 would be performed 3-4 minutes later, adding a bit more weight and again only hitting 8–10 reps.  He would continue this for 4-6 sets depending on how he is feeling.  The importance of this is to warm up the body but not to burn out the muscles so he can give 100% to his working sets.    

Using Resistance Bands

We often use resistance bands during pressing movements. This is great for explosive strength.  You really feel the extra resistance generated on the push of the movement. Training with bands will make a lift harder and reduce the total poundage in which you can use. 

Strength Training Plan

A solid strength training program is essential for progression. Below is a very good basic plan that is structured and suitable for all lifters looking to gain strength. 

Day 1

Deadlift

5 x 5 (Heavy Weight)

Reverse Hyper

4 x 10

Goblet Good Morning

3 x 12

Low Back Extension

3 x 12

Seated Leg Press

5 x 5 (Heavy Weight)

Strongman Circuit

Even minute : Farmers handle carry for 20 seconds

Odd minute: Duck walk for 20 seconds

Day 2

Slow Hanging Power Snatch

5 x 3 (Light)

Fat bar Z Press

3 x 10

A1) Dumbbell Bench Press

5 x 5 (Heavy Weight)

A2) Bent Over Barbell Row

5 x 10 (Medium Weight)

Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

3 x 12

Day 3

Deadlift

5 x 10 (light)

Pause Front Squat

3 x 8

Leg Curls

5 x 12

A1) Barbell Set Up

2 x 12

A2) Barbell Lateral Set Up

2 x 12

Core Circuit

4 Rounds:

Medicine Ball Toe Touches x 15

Sit Ups x 15

Medicine Ball Russian Twist x 15

Forearm Plank x 1:00

Bird Dogs x 10

Day 4

Dumbbell Overhead Press

5 x 10 (moderate)

Barbell Bench Press

5 x 5 (Heavy)

Clean and Press

5 x 10 (moderate)

 

 

Strongman Conditioning

6 Rounds

3 exercises : 30 on / 30 off, no overhead exercises

 

This is based over a week.  I would recommend no more than two days of training before you have a rest day.  Be sure to pay attention to adequate warm up sets and building in enough rest needed to fully recharge your system before each big lift.  Remember, the idea of strength training is to get stronger.  Tracking progress is key. Be sure that you are striving to add weight during the plan and making continuous progression.

To get strong you need to make sure you eat big. I would recommend an excess of at least 500k cals per day on top of your daily expenditure needs to be able to gain adequate strength and fuel the workouts. 

Meals pre and post sessions are going to be key in preparing the body for gains.  A nice high carb diet tends to suit strength training, keeping the carbs from clean food sources.  We want to utilise every last bit of energy we consume to ensure that when we grow, we are growing muscle and strength and not the mid-section. 

Meal 1
Oats, Whole Eggs, Whey Protein Powder, Fruit and Nuts

Meal 2
Sweet Potato, Chicken Breast, Salad, Avocado

Meal 3
Large fruit smoothie (5 pieces of fruit, vegetables and almonds)

Meal 4 – (pre training meal)
Large Bowl of Rice Krispies, 2 tablespoons of Peanut Butter, few pieces of fruit, Whey protein drink

Meal 5 (post training meal)
Steak, rice, vegetables

Meal 6
Chicken, wholemeal Pasta

Meal 7
Eggs, cottage cheese, nuts

Martyn Ford
Martyn Ford



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