By Chris Harms
While we try to take advantage of the land as much as we can, not all our workouts take place outdoors. Blending the heavy barbell foundational movements with more “farm functional” ones (farmer walks, sled pushes and pulls, yoke carries, sandbags, and more) is one of the most potent ways of getting #farmstrong. Here’s a little taste of a Muscle Farm training session.
The first thing we’ll do is a basic, generalized warm up, intended to get your heart rate up and to “grease the grooves.” The continuum of a warmup usually goes from general to more specialized, but if there is any sprinting involved during the session, we’ll substitute in a more dynamic warm up in place of the generalized “Pre-Warm Up Warm Up.”
From there, our mind and body should be ready to go, but we just need some refinement. I believe that by attacking the trunk, or “core,” early on in a session is a good way to get the pelvis in neutral. This helps prevent any energy leaks during the work we are about to do, allowing us to maximize potential, but even more importantly it minimizes the chance of injury.
Being a strength and conditioning coach of high-level athletes, I always try to throw in some type of ballistic or explosive power component to the day with things like plyometrics, sprints, and medicine ball throws. Not only is it functional, but it “Fires Up” the nervous system, which is just what we need if we want to “Move the Dirt” with a shovel rather than a spoon during the session.
I love incorporating drop sets or “back-off sets” with the primary lifts. In the case of today’s strength session, we have you work up to a 5-rep max. (A lot of people freak out when they hear the words “rep max.” Don’t. This simply means we are going to load up the bar in a progressive and safe manner until your form breaks down. This isn’t based on what you did last week or what your training partner is doing. This is what you are capable of doing today.) We’ll do that on the back squat, then strip off 20% of that weight and go for as many reps as you can do. This is an easy way to auto-regulate your training based on how you are feeling today. The numbers you hit are based on nothing more than that.
While we may have just gone for broke on the back squat, we still have some work to do before we burn it down. The back squat is great, but it is a bilateral posterior loaded movement that, over time, can lead to imbalances. To “fill in the cracks” on today’s session, we are going to hug a sandbag to our chest and elevate our back foot on a block or a bench and perform our split squats. This challenges your unilateral stability quite a bit, so if you are not ready, simply keep both feet on the ground and split squat away.
Finally, we are ready to “Apply the Finish.” Today, like most days, is a fun one. In fact, you can watch one of our veteran Muscle Farmers, Alec Strain, perform the sandbag run portion on our YouTube channel. Incorporating some type of heavy, odd-object implement is a staple during our conditioning component of training. In this case, we play around with the sandbag. I love the sandbag. It is so versatile and easy for beginners. Technical cues are minimal with most exercises and it hits your whole body in a way you can’t imagine. An additional bonus, which is essential on the Farm, is the grip/forearm strength that it builds. Anyway, today’s is only 2 rounds, so go hard. Daylight’s fading.
Here’s how it all looks on paper.
Prime the Engine:
5 minutes of jumping rope, mixing it up (singles, alternating, doubles, twists, etc.)
3x10 Wide Grip Weighted Pull-Ups
Choke the Engine:
10 Dead Bug Single Leg Kickouts
20 Yard Bear Crawl, Forward and Backward
20-25 Reverse Hypers
Fire It Up:
2 sets of 50y Reverse Sled Drag Sprint
Reverse Sandbag (or Medicine Ball) Toss 3x3
Continuous Broad Jump 3x3
Move the Dirt:
10, 5, 5, 5, 5RM
then… max reps at 80% 5RM
Fill in the Cracks:
8/e Sandbag Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
10 Barbell RDL
Apply the Finish:
2 Rounds (for time)
10 Sandbag Clean
5/e DB Lateral Step Up
100y Sandbag Run (Over Shoulder)
Rest 60 seconds