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Old Time Strongman Dumbbell Workout?


I am more interested in the old time strongman “fullbody” workout routine with “dumbbells only”.

Not like the strongman contest you see today. I want to build the physique with solid muscle not puffy muslces.

Example see attached pic.

I would like to know how many times of week to do this workout. How many reps and sets…percent of max to start with and how often should I try to increase the weight and by how much…thanks in advance.

Also here is a video I found on YouTube but its more for the strong man contest workout but not sure if this will work as well…


It should be noted that old timey strongmen were also genetic anomalies and did their thing ALL DAY. I want to chime in, but I feel as though your expectations are unreasonable.


I very much disagree with that coach. It’s a variation of a conditioning complex, so it would be more for fat loss. It’s definitely not a “workout for mass”.

Why are you training with dumbbells only? If that’s all you have available, how heavy can you go? Going heavy in a variety of lifts was a big part of how they trained, so unless you have close-to-bodyweight dumbbells, you’re gonna have a rough time.

They also regularly used a variety of equipment - barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight - so you’re really limiting yourself by only using DBs.

Also, and this is a key point, today’s competitors in the World’s Strongest Man contest are literally twice the size of Sandow. Like, they’re nearly double his bodyweight, if not more. So you’re really comparing apples to oranges.

For context, these three guys are all competitive strongmen basically the same height/weight as Sandow, give or take a bit, and they train like modern day strongmen.


Puffy muscles, lol…


I only have access to dumbbells up to 100lbs.


Super Puffy muscles


you do get that it has to do with BF%


Had to do a double take, I almost called the Ghostbuster to take care of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, again.


Do you also have barbells and machines in the same facility?


Yes…can your help me put together a good routine?


Here’s a really good site where you can find one: https://www.t-nation.com/


So what everyone is basically saying is that if you get strong and put on quality mass, you will get big, strong muscles. The idea that bodybuilders have huge but very weak and puffy/fluffy/pumped up muscles is very much a misconception.

There are many good programs that you can use to get this way and it is a good mindset to have to use dumbbells and barbells (free weights) to build your physique.

Free weights + compound exercises + good diet = bigger, stronger you. How fluffy your muscles get will mostly be time and genetics.


Actually I think he was talking about guys whom do strongman.


Oh… Well… I have nothing to say. Those dudes are strong by today or yesteryears standard. I dunno what the OP is going on about than :man_shrugging:


They’re too god damn puffy.

Look at Derek Poundstone:


It’s like someone drew abs on a rice krispie.


I wonder if he always looked puffy or that just how his muscles always looked. As muscles become more developed do they just get more swole? Maybe it’s roids? Old natty strongmen simply weren’t developed enough due to being natty that they looked lean and solid rather than big puffy…? Dunno man, I just don’t know.

I do know that I wouldn’t mind being a rice crispy with drawn on abs!


I think this entire thread was posted due to lack of knowledge.

Dude came into this thread knocking elite athletes and asking for free program design. However, if he spent 10 minutes on the front page, he would have stumbled upon perfectly good programs for his experience level, and if he spent 15 minutes and used to search function under “articles”, he would have found exactly what he was looking for.

@androidx , I hope this post finds you well. You are in the right place to find the workout you want, but I suggest you look for “Starting Strength” , “Fierce 5”, “Stronglifts”, “Texas Method”, Or “5/3/1” (what I originally started with) on the front page, in the forums, or anywhere on the internet. As a beginner, everything will work for you and these especially are time-tested novice programs.

Don’t worry about “solid” or “puffy” muscles, because you wont end up puffy overnight unless you’re already obese. Build a good strength base, get your numbers up, and then see what you need to do to improve your body the way you like it.


Let me be clear…I am new to this page…I asked someone a question on Facebook from T Nation a question…

They told me to ask my question here…so I created a quick account and asked my question…

Next… I am not calling the guys that compete in strongman…puffy muscle guys…

I was just stating I dont want to create that look but a more lean solid muscle look…

I brought up “strongmen” guys becuz I wanted to make the distinction between them and the “old time strongman men” becuz the term “strongmen” is used for both…

Sorry for the confusion on my end…and thanks to everyone that gave advice…


@androidx there is a long, long distance between where you are and where your undesirable look is. You can stop anytime along the way, once you’re satisfied with strength levels and/or appearance.


In all honesty, I think what you really mean is ‘I want to build muscle, just not as much muscle as the guys in the magazines. And I want to stay very lean.’ Those things are very do-able. And they will have very little to do with the particular routine you follow.

Your body will develop, for the most part, in ways you’re genetically inclined to develop. Some people develop a big back easily, or big legs. Some people have a very hard time developing their chest, or their shoulders. Since we have no idea what you look like now, it’s impossible to guess how you’d look doing any kind of weight training. Maybe you’d look like Sandow, maybe not.

So, the video you posted is pretty silly. That’s not a ‘kick ass routine’, as this guy calls it. It’s just a complex, much like any complex, that could be incorporated into, or at the end of, any given workout. It’s not the meat of a program though.

I would suggest finding a very basic dumbbell-only program on this website, and doing that, without the idea of ‘old time strongman’ in your head. You’re not going to become the thing you’re worried about. You won’t get puffy muscles. As long as you eat appropriately for your goals and stay lean, and lift heavy and often, you’ll be able to get what you want out of the gym.