T Nation

5x5 Starr for Strongman


I used the search and I didnt find much so here goes... I train for strongman as most know already and I am thinking of trying a Bill Starr 5x5 adapted for strongman focusing mainly on overheads, front squats, and deadlifts. Any advice for this type of routine.

My curent stats
404 deadlift
225 for 3 front squat
225 push press for 3


Instead of 5x5, I reccomend 3x4, 4x4, and 5x4. They are much more consistent with Prilepin's table.


What is Prilepin's table.


I'm hoping this is sarcasm, but I don't see anything that would indicate it to be so.

Prilepin's table was developed using olympic lifters, and has its most application WITH olympic lifters, with strength sports that require less speed and less form being less applicable.

5*5 is a great routine and a lot of people see really good results from it. Focus on the strongman 3 (push press, pull, front squat) to build your gym strength, but you're going to have to work events in as well. Perhaps you could base your accessory work around events, but as I recall 5*5 doesn't allow for a lot of accessory work.

The one thing that people seem to say is key to this program is to eat like a horse.


Even though Prilepin's table is created mainly for the olympic lifts, I still believe they are applicable with the slower lifts as well... It's just my opinion.


3whitelights: I am following Bill Starr's traditional 5x5 but switching the exercises from Back Squat, Power Cleans, and Bench Press to Front Squat, Deadlifts and Power Shrugs, and Seated Military Press. I am only doing very little assistance work mainly light biceps, rear delts, calves, and abs.

I have a few types of equipment at my home, such as a very large tire for flipping, a sled, wheel barrow I use for type of farmers walks, and few rocks of different sizes and shapes I have found. Do you have any advice on how to put event training in with a 5x5 program. Thank you.


Doesn't mean that other protocols aren't effective. The bulgarians used to train at a much higher percentage than Prilepin ever recommended, and dominated oly for years. Many strongman get great results from the 20 rep squat routine, and one of the most popular current powerlifting programs (5/3/1) involves reps as high as 10 for a single working set in some cases.

I like Prilepins research and use it in my own training when I'm focusing on the oly lifts.

However, if you take the 5*5 out of the program and modify that, then the entire program changes. The rest of the program is based on 5 sets of 5 lifts in the main lifts, which is why accessory work is low. If you cut the volume on the main lifts, than you have to add in more accessory work, specifically supplemental work that is closer to the main movements. This is basically taking a tried and true program and completely changing it.


So are you saying I should not change the main exercises


Solid, but I don't like strict pressing for strongman for a variety of reason. There are some people that can get away with it but most guys focus more on a push press and do strict pressing as supplement work, not as the main pressing movement. Strict pressing strength is important, but I think a push press has better carryover to strict strength than the opposite.

I would just seperate the strongman events and do them as supplements. For example, farmers as a deadlift supplement, sled work as a squat supplement, etc...


I would go one step further and suggest maybe using actual events as your 5x5 lifts. Maybe a log or axle press, stones and tire. Your push press will hit your pressing, Stones will hit a rowing and front squatting motion and tires (depending on your style and the weight of the tire) will be anything from a pull from the floor to a power clean. Throw in some light weight but long distance farmers or sled dragging on your off days as a recovery/GPP exercise (I would suggest even using straps on your farmers after maybe one set to grip failure just to prolong your walks, which will increase your core stability and conditioning).

Frankly, I have found that any work outside of pure event work (contest conditions or max efforts once a week) is all support work, and as such it doesn't REALLY matter what you do since it is all just general carry over stuff. Focus on your weaknesses during the week and drill the event technique work.

Just like a WSBB program, your supporting work should address YOUR weaknesses, and should not be some cookie cutter template. If you aren't sure where your weaknesses are, get someone in a training group to tell you where you could improve. Maybe you have a weak log clean, or maybe you are very wobbly after you lock out. You can address those things in gym training (pull troughs for log cleans can help get a feel for driving the hips to move the log, maybe just doing some timed handstands against a wall will help your shoulder girdle stability in a lockout). Addressing weaknesses is rarely about hitting lifts in a typical way.

Just something else to consider. At the end of the day you have to make progress, and how you go about that is irrelevant. You will find as many different training philosophies in strongman as you will find competitors. Even in my training group, with roughly 10 regulars, no two people do the same work through the week. We trade notes, talk about what has worked for us, etc. But the only common training we all have is the work we do on Saturday event days.

ThreeWhiteLights: You post at Marunde Muscle at all?


Andrew makes a lot of good points. After my contest next weekend, I'm switching all my push pressing in the gym to axle work. If I had the log in the gym, I'd do that instead, but either way, going from an olympic bar with whip and rotation to an axle is a big transition, so from now on even my gym pressing will be axle or log for my main work.

Andrew, you know I post on marunde, just look a little closer at my picture and you'll recognize me.


I don't think it is about whether a lift is slow or fast, in my mind. This chart has been adapted to powerlifters as well.

The issue I find with it is that it addresses strength gains, or really it addresses training for power. Instantaneous production of force, rather than force over time. It talks about how reps above 6 is counter productive for strength gains... really? Strongman, as a sport, requires work until exhaustion on many occasions. So metabolic training HAS to be done. If you only ever work overhead presses for max singles, or even lower intensity sets of 6, you are not training how you play (which is, after all, the golden rule of training). Walks for distance, max reps lifts, and even last man standing events all require high reps and high intensity output lasting anywhere from 1 minute to well... whenever you quit.

This is not to say that Prilepin has no place in strongman training. Indeed, EVERYTHING has a place on the strongman training table. Why? Because EVERYTHING is expected of a strongman competitor. Speed, agility, strength, endurance... As such, getting too focused on one protocol probably isn't the best plan.


Steve Trippe?

I don't think it is the press work that is the big deal. Pressing a barbell or an axle or even a log is pretty similar, it is the "how do I get this thing to my shoulders" equation that changes. I can straight clean 240+ on a barbell, but there is no way I can do that on a 3" axle (probably not even a 2" axle, depends on the day), so the switch to a continental clean is necessary. Log cleans are altogether different again. So the act of just pressing is only about half the training, in my mind. But that seems to be where any gym training falls short when compared to actual event work. You have to put all these puzzle pieces to pull off an event and the gym work only allows you to address a little bit at a time. I've been beating my skull in to try and figure out how I can train for tire events without a tire... to date I've got nothing. Well, you know, other than just flipping a tire :wink:


Yea, I've been following your log and your set up seems decent, just got to apply this to your contests.

I think the difference between an oly bar and an axle on the press is different. I've been training on an elieko bar and the bar whip is great, gives me a great rebound. But, I can't get an axle in the same position and don't have any whip with an axle.


Stop. Posting.


Ah, well, I don't have an oly bar that whips much. I have the HD Economy Pendlay bar. It is pretty stiff, but light years beyond the junk bars I was cleaning and snatching with before.

I think that I typically take a slightly different stance when axle pressing, forearms much more under the bar than I am when I'm jerking. Still, my dip and catch look (and feel) almost the same no matter what I'm pressing. I'm not a strict presser, so the only real change in my press is my starting position, but the dip, drive and catch are the same no matter what. I guess that is what I meant by the presses all being "equal."

After this coming contest (the 2nd of May) I'm going to overhaul my training a bit. Not because of any deficiency in my current plan of attack, but more because I mentally need the change up.


That change for me makes a big difference. Since I don't get whip I occasionally end up having to press out to finish.

Good luck at Steve's show, I'll be competing in the battle of the bad ass that same day. I was thinking about doing that show, but BBA is closer to home...


I like Starr 5x5. BUT ... I would recommend Jim Wendlers' 5-3-1 and modify it, it is damned flexible, will give you a lot of good progress in overhead, bench, deadlift and squat, and has a lot of freedom to do accessory work specific to strongman.


Steve, are you in New York or TN?

We hit the WV Strongest man comp the weekend before last, so I'll have two in two weeks, basically. Not sure how that will work out, but I'll see. Wish I had more flexibility to travel to some different shows, but for now I am going to hit 1-2 out of state comps and then as many in Ohio as I can get to.


I'm working as an intern for a spinal company in TN right now, training with the M-Unit. But I'm originally from NY, and BBA is just a drive from where I used to live. I fly home tomorrow.

If you want to do another out of state show, I'm doing Georgia's Strongest Man. Atlanta is, at least everytime I've checked, a really cheap airport to fly into, and supposedly its a really good show put on by a great promoter.

June 13th: nastrongmaninc.com/pdf/entries/ga09.pdf