No gym? No problem.

If you are a powerlifter it is easy. Do squats one day, deadlift two days later, and bench press two days after that. Four sets of five. Aim to increase weight slowly. And then walk. But that is a little boring, Everything else requires some equipment. Particularly strong man as a sport, which makes Crossfit boxes look minimalist when it comes to gear: You need to train with the gear you are going to compete with.

The reason why you should train like a strongman is simple. Unlike powerlifting, which concentrates on three specific feats of strength, strongman is all about how much weight you can move in any scenario. This means that strongman encapsulates powerlifting. The best strongmen are also awesomely skilled powerlifters, because they incorporate powerlifting training into their routines. They have to, because squats and deadlifts are classic feats of strength.

The reverse, however, is not necessarily true. While many powerlifters can do well in strongman contests, the training requirements for the two sports are very different. Strongman emphasises a much broader range of strength feats and requires participants to move and carry weights. This is genuinely very hard to do. When you have to carry very heavy weights over a long distance, your overall strength is tested, not merely your static strength.

This means that you have to work on every aspect of your strength. You have to build up your cardio as well as your overall strength. (Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to do much running or rowing – you simply have to move weight over distances at a reasonably fast pace.)

Didact says you don’t Need equipment. Sort of true. I can organize a workout that will hammer me easily: I’m 60 with a ton of injuries. I can program something that will hammer anyone — fairly easily. Do a 4 x 800m run for time, with 20 pushups before each 800m. That should do it.

The trick is programming so you are not shattered, and scheduling in a manner that allows for progress and periodisation. Again, this has been sorted.

I found this on a google feed I have. Chris Gale (the Aussie) has books on upper body mobility and mastering the pushup, and then he’s done this. The guy has had surgery and lacks upper body strength. But note that for about 90 bucks you have enough conditioning workouts to keep you going for a long, long time.

However, Gale’s new book was born more out of necessity than passion. CrossFit Kenko was one of the many gyms forced to close due to COVID-19. Not one to roll over, Gale was determined to make rent. He took a course to teach him how to take his training offerings online. A friend in the same course suggested to Gale that he give away some of his workouts to try and draw in new clients. Gale compiled 300 of his WODs into a PDF and offered it up — free of charge — in a small Facebook group, “Australian CrossFitters.”

“I think I broke the internet that day,” Gale says. “I ended up direct messaging over 400 people that wanted the PDF. People loved it. That’s when I had the idea to get it published into a paperback book.”

All the WODs in the book are collated in chronological order from the first one he programmed back in 2013 to now. Due to the side effects of his surgery, Gale hasn’t completed all 1,659 WODs in the book, but he has come “bloody close.” However, if there is a WOD he hasn’t done, one of the CrossFit Kenko coaches probably has — Gale recruits them to test how long the workouts take to complete.

The WODs aren’t just a random smattering of high-volume exercise either. While Gale says that there’s nothing wrong with opening the book to any page and picking a random WOD, he suggests sticking with a section for five to six weeks to get the most out of a cycle.

“[The WODs] have a strength component followed by a metcon piece (conditioning),” Gale explains. “The strength component is programmed to progress the athlete. Picking random days is going to hinder the progressive overload.”

Do one WOD a day, with two weekly rest days, and Gale figures you can get about six years’ worth of training out of it. “This book is great for the at-home garage CrossFit enthusiast, to the next aspiring affiliate opener that is struggling with their own programming,” Gale adds.

So if you want to do crossfit (and it is better for your long term health than strongman: Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is no joke) then do that.

If you are an old bastard, crossfit needs to be scaled to work. Or do this.

  • One two hour walk on the weekend
  • Half hour walk every day
  • Lift something heavy (your choice) twice weekly. Body weight exercises (squats, pullups, pushups, burpees) count as this.
  • Use a bike or e bike to commute

One you are doing that pain free, turn the walks into slow jogs, if you can keep your heart rate at less than 180 minus age.

Then add in a sprint session every week or so: Tabata on the bike, barefoot sprints on sand, intervals in a swimming pool.

If I can get that done and sustained you are doing very well. And, as Didact noted about strongman, you won’t need that darn gym.

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