Since the beginning, barbells and dumbbells have been the staple of bodybuilding and strength training. Every so often, new trends come along, but it’s rare that they pass the test of time. Since the advent of CrossFit and strongman training, and their unconventional styles, weightlifting has taken a new turn and intensity has been redefined.

Let’s take CrossFit for example. CrossFitters are strong and have great endurance—two things that usually don’t go side-by-side. The same could be said for the strongman training style. As opposed to CrossFit, most strongman events are less than a minute long, but require greater functional strength qualities.

We can use information from these principles and apply them to our workouts to boost gains in strength, hypertrophy, and fat loss.

For Strength

Strongman training—as its name implies—can improve your strength immensely. Some of my favorite strongman training tools are the farmer’s walk, the big tractor tire, the prowler/sled, and the log. The farmer’s walk is a great way to work grip strength, and the stronger your grip, the more weight you can handle. The tractor tire and prowler are great for improving your posterior chain explosiveness and power. Using a log instead of a barbell, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. Those with a history of lower back pain might have a hard time with it since it requires you to lean backwards to avoid hitting your chin.

Here are a few examples of how to include these special lifts into your strength training programs:

A1) 25 meter farmer’s walk, rest 60 seconds
A2) 25 meters low handles prowler forward pulls, rest 120 seconds
Repeat for a total of 5 sets (use as much weight as possible for the given distance)

B1) Tire flips for 30 seconds, rest 60 seconds*
B2) Log hang clean and press, 5 reps, rest 90 seconds
Repeat for a total of 5 sets
*Heavier tires are best but hard to find and handle so less reps in the end. For lighter tires, speed and explosiveness are key.

For Hypertrophy

Although there are many factors to building lean muscle, one stands out: volume. CrossFit is one good example of high-volume training. Sprints, a huge aspect of many CrossFit WODs, aren’t what you normally think of for building new strength gains, but the sheer amount of power they require plus the amount of fat interval-style training burns is an ideal combo.

For example: 10 sets of 20 meters sprinting starts OR 3/4 sets of 100-meter sprints to complement your leg workout.

It’s also possible to mix up concentric power moves such as the prowler or heavy sled pulls to a leg workout. Here, two examples following the pre-fatigue principle.

A1) Heavy Sled Backward Pulls for 50 meters, no rest
A2) Barbell Front Squats x 8 reps, no rest
A3) Barbell Back Squat (same weight as front squat), max out
Rest 3 minutes and repeat for a total of 5 sets. Your quads should be swollen by now.

A1) Barbell Walking Lunges x 10 (each leg), no rest
A2) Prowler Sprints (light but as fast as possible), 50 meters
Rest 2 minutes and repeat for a total of 4 sets. Walking should be funny by now.

For Fat Loss

Although fat loss happens mostly with nutrition, incorporating these types of lifts into your program can boost your results. The more muscles you use in a given exercise, the higher the metabolic costs. This is why exercises like back squats, deadlifts, and pullups are more bang for your buck moves than leg extensions and pec deck flyes.

Time under tension, or time of work, is the key. You want the time of work equal or greater than the time of rest. Here are some great finishers for your workouts to try out.

Prowler Death Match

With a partner or two and a prowler, pick a distance and use the “I go, you go” style—whatever distance your partner covers, you match, and vice versa. Add 25 pounds at every turn. Last person standing wins.


Using the “20 work/10 rest” style, grab a piece of equipment (ropes, kettlebell, prowler, log) and work for 20 seconds, rest for 10.
8 sets of 20/10, rest 2 minutes and repeat 2 more times.

All-Out War 30 (4) Challenge

4 stations of 30 seconds each, as many sets as possible of A1 to A4 in 15 minutes.
A1) Prowler (as heavy as possible, as long as it doesn’t stop moving)
A2) Rope Slams
A3) Kettlebell Pod (53 lbs. for him, 35 lbs. for her)
A4) 20-lb. Ball Slam