T Nation

Program Advice for First Competition?


Hello all,

Have a question was looking to get some advice on. I am doing my fist competition in July of this year. Its booked and paid for so I am on the hook, no backing out. :smile:
I only started my fitness journey about 12 weeks ago but have gotten in much better shape and stronger as well. Currently I am doing Stronglifts 5x5 3 times a week. I have never really done a max effort or tested my max since my football days about 18 yrs ago. I plan on busting my @ss to get as strong as possible for this contest, but I am not sure if 5x5 would be the way to go to prepare. I am considering 5/3/1 since it builds up to a max on your lifts each.

Was thinking of splitting my workout into 5 days as opposed to 3 days per week. My plan would be each day to do the main lift (Squat/Deadlift/Bench/OHP) with 2 or 3 assistance lifts and finish the day with some strongman conditioning. On the 5th day I would train the specific events I will be competing in.

Would this be a good route to go?

Also if 5/3/1 is the way to go any advise on testing my Max Lifts should I do that all in 1 day or split it throughout the week. Read somewhere that your 5x5 lifts on average should calculate to about 80% of your 5 rep max which can than be calculated to a 1 rep max. Was thinking of using the formula as a baseline to start 5/3/1 rather than just testing my max right now.

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

Sorry for such a long post :grin:


That sounds good, but your squat deadlift and bench will become periphery at best as the contest looms closer. Try to understand that as you get closer, you need to sacrifice some barbell strength for your ability to be proficient with technique on lifts. Also WORK HARD at conditioning. Don’t be afraid to work yourself to tired before beginning an event training session.

This is very brief, I know, but you weren’t getting a hasty reply so I wanted to chip in. It’s pretty simple. Also, @Alpha/Brian Alsruhe has a great youtube channel and you need to check it out asap.


You didn’t mention training with strongman implements anywhere in this post. That’s a good way to not succeed. And this is coming from experience. I’d been training as a powerlifter for years before I entered my first strongman show. I thought ‘I know I’m strong for my bodyweight, I should be able to kick some ass at this!’

I was humbled. I did not have any success in strongman until I started dedicating a significant amount of time (for me it was once every week) to working with contest-implements. You cannot learn to log press without training on a log. You can’t learn carries without carrying things. You can’t learn to load stones without loading stones.


I agree with you, guess I didn’t mention it lol. I do plan on having a strongman day each week. The plan is to work the specific lifts of the event on Saturdays. Already contacted a strongman gym about 30 min from my home. They do open gym strongman Saturdays . The plan is to hit the gym hard during the week amd work event lifts on saturdays. Also incorporating some heavy dumbell clean and presses, farmers walks with Trap bar, and kettle bell swings (one event is a keg toss) during the week as well.


kettle bell swings are fine, but you DEFINITELY need to actually practice the throw itself if you can. Grooving the release point is essential. My first contest had a keg toss, and I couldn’t get the direction of the throw correct because i hadn’t practiced it. I could throw the keg high enough, but it wasn’t traveling backward over the bar. Hopefully your strongman gym has this available, a lot don’t have the space for it.

If it were me, I’d leave the farmers carries to one day a week. I wouldn’t do farmers walks with the trap bar during the week and then also do them on your strongman day. Pick one or the other. Heavy carries are just to hard on the body to be doing them more than once in a week. Particularly the grip. If you’ve also got heavy rows and/or deadlifting in your programming, your hands are forearms will consistently feel like death, and grip will become a limiting factor.