Strongman Training for Athletes
Please tell us a little about yourself – your athletic and training background and how you got involved with training athletes.
My name is Chris Miller, and I’ve been a certified Personal Trainer, and Strength/Conditioning coach for over 10 years in Columbia, Maryland. My company is called Maximum Fitness; which is located in Columbia, Maryland. My athletic background consists of playing Pop Warner football as a child, High school football, as well as college football. My training background consists of clients that are; little league football players, high school football players, basketball, lacrosse players, college football and soccer players, as well as MMA fighters, and boxers. I also do personal training and boot camps for the novice clientele to experienced clients.
I became involved with training athletes from the passion I had for sports growing up, and as an adult currently. I looked back on how I trained and viewed the workouts I used in order for me to prepare myself for football; and realized it was a totally different way of life training in the 1980’s. After I graduated from college, I started coaching little league football and high school football. I would see how uneducated these athletes were, and how wrong their workouts were in the weight room. This encouraged me to branch out, and develop ways in which I thought would be more effective in training these athletes. The fitness industry is ever changing; so I researched different training methods and products and created my own system in working with athletes; as well as used pieces of other systems I would see during my research.
Many members of the Diesel Universe either compete in strongman training or do strongman training on a regular basis. Do you have any experience with Strongman Training?
Yes, I have trained with various strongman techniques; but have never competed. I’ve always wanted to compete, but never took the plunge to pursue it. Working at a landscaping company throughout college; me and a few other guys use to perform lifts of logs, trees, cement bags, and rocks all the time. We thought we were the famous guys that competing on ESPN. LOL…
Have you included Strongman Training or Odd Object Training into your athletic training protocols?
Yes indeed! Strongman training is a great way to turn any athlete into a powerful force. I’ve used everything from Keg throws, and lifts, heavy cement bags, and tires, as well as tractor-trailer rims; before all the common day objects became available to purchase.
Since incorporating Strongman Training into your routines, what benefits have you seen?
I’ve noticed an increase in power, strength, rang of motion; as well as muscular endurance.
Which athletes do you incorporate Strongman Training with? Football Players? Baseball? Etc.
I incorporate Strongman Training with all of my athletes; from high school age, college as well as my MMA/Boxing clients.
What lifts do you find to have the best carry-over to athletic performance?
Tire flips, Sled pulls, Sled push, heavy med ball throws, sledgehammer slams on tires
How do you include Strongman Lifts into the routines? Primary movements? Explosive Movements?
With my offensive/defensive line clients, I like to use explosive movements, since the average play in football is 3-4 seconds; I like to work on explosive movements that simulate coming off the ball in a violent, but controlled manner. The MMA fighters I train explosive and some primary movements; due to the nature of simulating the actual combative movements during competition. I’d say I combine the two on occasion, but mostly using the explosive method for stimulating the fast twitch muscles which are used very much in these sports.
How do you go about monitoring your athletes’ performance when using Strongman lifts? Do you ever “dial back” the intensity of the strongman lifts?
I monitor my athletes by measuring his/her threshold and tracking results through reps and time. Measuring how effective their body reacts pre and post lift is key for me. I try to “Dial back”, the intensity a few days before games or matches, because I don’t want to over work a particular muscle group; causing fatigue and muscle tear-down before they compete. I try to keep the intensity at 70-80% 2 days before games, and 60-70% a week before my MMA clients compete.
What is the number one Strongman Lift you suggest other strength coaches put into their programs, out of all of the possible choices?
I’m glad you asked this question, because I personally say, don’t prescribe an exercise to a client, that you wouldn’t do yourself. I suggest all strength coaches incorporate the Deadlift into their programs. Every athlete needs a strong back and core in order to compete week in and week out. There are many variations of the Deadlift; therefore you can reap benefits from many variations, as long as safety and form is monitored.
Have you had athletes push back on you when you introduced Strongman Training?
I train a college Division I Lacrosse player and Division III football player currently; and I’ve been training these kids since I coached them in high school. When I introduced the heavy chains and sled pulls 3 years ago; they looked at me and thought I was crazy and insane. They refused at first, because their strength college coaches were stuck on the basic barbells and dumbbells exercises. After a few days of training, and 3 years later; they can’t get enough of the Strongman exercises.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other Strength Coaches about instituting Strongman Training into their routines?
Great question! I first would advise the coaches to research the routines and experiment amongst the staff, then introduce the routine to their athletes. I would also remind them of the safety issues concerning these routines.
Thanks so much for your interview. Please feel free to tell us where we can learn more about your training.
Thank you sir; it was a pleasure having the privilege to participate in this awesome interview! The Diesel Crew is doing big things, and I appreciate the education, and information that is being delivered daily by you all!