Workout Routines

The Strongman Total-Body, Circuit Workout

Try these four strength moves to improve conditioning, burn fat and build lean muscle.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES
The Strongman Circuit Workout
Duration 30 Min
Exercises 4
Equipment Yes

Anyone familiar with strength sports can attest to the fact that professional strongmen are light years ahead of heavyweight powerlifters when it comes to body composition. Do a quick Google search of Mariusz Pudzianowski or Derek Poundstone and you will see body composition that would make an off-season IFBB Pro proud, but with a helluva lot more muscle. Why is this? It's the way they train!

Strongman drills and strength-based circuits are one of the fastest ways to help you build real-world functional strength and boost your stock for a shredded summer physique. Let's take a look at four conditioning-based strength movements that are going to take your physique and conditioning to the next level.

No. 1: Kettlebell Swings

The Russian influence in strength training goes far beyond celebratory vodka after a great workout. One of the greatest influences is kettlebell training. While I am not downplaying the effectiveness of complex cleaning and snatching exercises, let’s go with the “keep it simple, stupid” (KISS) philosophy, by sticking to the swing. From a strength-training standpoint, it is tough to beat the swing for working the posterior chain and hip extension. From a learning standpoint—the learning curve is virtually nonexistent.

No. 2: Farmer’s Walk

Besides being an awesome grip workout, the farmer’s walk hammers the posterior chain and builds traps that make Silverbacks envious. Let’s not forget about the core stability being worked and the functionality of picking something up heavy and hauling ass.

No farmer’s walk implements—no problem! You can use dumbbells or short barbells. If your grip gives out, throw on straps and keep on trucking!

No. 3: Heavy Bag Training

Hitting the heavy bag is not traditionally thought of as strength training. However, if you are repeatedly hitting a heavy bag with all the force you can muster, it is a form of strength training.

Instead of pacing and throwing punches at fifty percent, we are going to go all out. Throw as many punches (and kicks if you know how) in 20 seconds as possible. No arm punches either. Get your entire body behind each blow.

While this may not be the way to train for a USA Boxing sanctioned points match, it will have you ready to defend yourself at the gas station at 3 AM. We like to call it #gasstationready.

No. 4: Battle Ropes

Battle ropes have been popping up at gyms like big hair and spandex did in the 1980’s, fortunately, battle ropes can help you contrary to the 80’s fads.

Battle rope training is a low-impact, metabolically taxing modality that works the grip, shoulders, arm, upper body and the core. What makes this more interesting is a few methods of performing primarily upper body cardiovascular training outside of arm cycle ergometers exist. For battle ropes, perform undulating waves with arms as vigorously as possible. 

Final Thoughts

Each of these aforementioned workouts are great “finishers” to a taxing workout. Complete one workout per day and no more than three days per week. Instead of interminable days of long, slow cardio that makes you weaker, slower, and eats away at muscle, you now have a better option. 

In the latest edition to the Amazon bestselling Jailhouse Strong series, Jailhouse Strong: Interval Training offers effective methods and periodized programs to get you ready for the neighborhood pool party.

Enough talk, let’s see what this looks like in action!

The Workout

Exercise 1A

Kettlebell Swing You'll need: Kettlebells How to
Kettlebell Swing thumbnail
8 sets
AMRAP reps
30 sec rest
Do as many reps as possible in 20 seconds. That's one set.

Exercise 1B

Farmer's Walk You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Farmer's Walk thumbnail
8 sets
-- reps
45 sec rest
Walk 100 feet as fast possible, rest 45 seconds and repeat sequence until 8 sets have been completed.

Exercise 1C

Heavy Bag
exercise image placeholder
10 sets
-- reps
20 sec rest
Hit the heavy bag as hard as possible for 20 seconds and then rest 20 seconds for 10 total rounds (sets).

Exercise 1D

Battling Ropes
exercise image placeholder
5 sets
-- reps
10 sec rest
Use the Tabata protocol of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off to complete one set.
Comments