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In recent years events such as yoke or farmers for max weight have begun becoming more popular, but unfortunately these can lead to a contest running far slower so a lot of promoters still opt for the ‘race’ format for these events, which makes speed under load a crucial element to success in competition.

Just like max loads, speed is something that needs to be specifically trained for. It isn’t as simple as the weight being x% of your max strength so it’ll be easy and you’ll move fast with it.

The best approach for speed training is going to be with sub-maximal timed carries. What I mean by this is a weight far from your all out strength potential, but then also lower than weight at contest too. Many athletes get sucked into just training at contest weight and trying to get faster, but for many athletes contest weight isn’t going to be something we can work with for multiple sets to effectively train for speed.

For me personally, I always viewed things in terms of what do I want to achieve at competition and for this example we’re going to base things off of my training for the yoke at Britain’s Strongest Man 2018.

Going into this show we were told it was going to be a 1000# yoke and I wanted to hit around a 8.5-9 second run. My basis for this was hitting a 8.53 second run with 900 at the North American Giants Live in 2017.

Let’s talk mentality and confidence for a second as that is an area I see athletes falter in.

I knew I could run a 1000# yoke, that had been a number that I was capable of for a while before this show so I never felt the need to actually go up to contest weight. This is the part people falter, as the show gets closer they start doubting themselves and feel like the HAVE to hit contest weight a couple of weeks out otherwise they won’t be capable of it on the day. Not true, you were strong enough at the start of the training cycle and you’ll be strong enough on contest day.

Now for the programming, let’s base it upon a 8 week peak into the show.

A quick point to note as well is training environment. Prepping for this show I only had 45 feet of space available to run the yoke so I was aiming for sub 7 second runs, which I felt would correlated approximately to the 8.5-9 seconds for full contest distance given the acceleration I could reach. 

One rep is viewed as one run of the yoke for contest distance, or distance you have available to you.

Warm ups and jumps are based upon personal preference, but I would always suggest ensuring you feel warm and comfortable under load before progressing to the working sets.

Rest initially was around 90 seconds for the first few weeks, but then closing in on contest day I would rest until I felt appropriately recovered as to ensure high quality work.

 

Week

Sets

Reps

Percentage of Contest Weight

1

10

1

50%

2

8

1

60%

3

6

1

70%

4

4

1

75%

5

3

1

80%

6

2

1

85%

7

2

1

90%

8

3

1

50%

9

CONTEST DAY

 

As you can see this is a very basic plan, and it’s something I always found worked very well for speed training as it is different to peaking your body for an all out max lift. I feel too many people over complicate things where basic works very well, especially for a lifter not as advanced in training years.

Like I mentioned above I was always aiming for a sub 7 second run, up to about the 75-80% mark that number would actually drop to around 6.5 seconds as I knew when we started getting closer to that 100% mark my acceleration off the line drops slightly. I would try to counter this by focussing on increasing my acceleration throughout the run not just at the beginning to reach a ‘cruising speed’ so to speak.

These same principles can be applied to farmers walk, although obviously grip strength is the limiting factor there so I would always add in some static holds to the training cycle too. I typically added these to the last run of the day, say hit the run followed by a 10 second hold after coming to a standstill, and then additional sets of just picks and holds at that weeks prescribed weight.

For an event such as a loading medley, lighter weight suicides work very well in my opinion. For instance take a 220# sandbag, pick and carry 50 feet, walk 50 feet (25 away then back to the bag), carry another 50 feet. Keep doing this process until you hit 6 carries or you collapse from exhaustion, whatever occurs first!

So there you have it, my take on speed training and ways to implement it into strongman training and contest prep. As always, remember it doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective!


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