post 7 Strongman Back Workouts (Powerful Training Exercises)

7 Strongman Back Workouts (Powerful Training Exercises)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 26, 2024
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Strongman training allows you to build functional strength gains, cardiovascular endurance, and speed – all while achieving muscle mass gains.

Today, I will share the back workout routine of the infamous strongman Eddie Hall.

As a coach, I dove deep into Eddie's training tips and methods and discovered how he harnesses brute strength, core strength, balance, and impressive grip strength.

Don't be intimidated by lifting weights – beginners can quickly adapt and gradually increase their load for progressive overload.

Eddie Hall’s Stats

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 181 kg

Strongman Eddie Hall’s Back Workout Routine

strongman working his back in the gym

1. Zercher Carries

Zercher carries are one of the best strongman lifts to target muscles in your upper back.

In my coaching experience, Zercher Carries have proven highly effective for upper back strength, a favorite among my trainees for its real-world functional benefits.

To perform a Zercher carry:

  1. Set up the bar below elbow height in a rack.
  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend your knees to reach the bar with a flat back and place it in the crook of your elbows.
  4. Stand up tall and start walking. The key is to keep your core tight and your torso upright while you move, engaging your biceps and forearms to keep the weight steady.
  5. Continue walking until you reach the desired distance or time.

2. Thick Bar Lat Pull-Down

A person doing a thick bar lat pull down

This lat pulldown alternative can help you strengthen your back, improve grip strength, and help with back pain, according to the Indian Journal of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy [1].

From my own training sessions, I've found Thick Bar Lat Pull-Downs not only enhance back strength but also significantly improve grip, a key factor in strongman success.

To start:

  1. Sit facing the bar.
  2. With arms above your head, grab the bar with an overhand grip. Keep your chest up and engage your core.
  3. Pull the bar down towards the top of your chest.
  4. Pause briefly before slowly returning the bar to its starting position. Remember to control your movements and avoid using momentum to pull the bar down.
  5. Complete as many reps as possible.

3. Farmer’s Carry

This is one of the most widespread strongman lifts in average gyms.

During my years of coaching, Farmer’s Carry has emerged as a favorite for targeting both lower and upper back muscles.

The primary muscles worked in this exercise are your lower and upper back muscles, and studies showed that farmer’s carry could be an efficient alternative to deadlifts [2].

To do this exercise:

  1. Hold a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells at your sides in a neutral grip with your shoulders back.
  2. Walk forward, taking short and controlled steps while keeping your core tight. The goal is to maintain good posture and not let the weights sway too much.
  3. Continue walking until you reach the desired distance or time.

“While you shouldn’t be afraid to use a heavier weight, if your form is being compromised, that weight is too much. Keep the weight heavier when going shorter distances and lighter if you’re carrying for a longer distance, such as 40 to 60 meters.”

- Sara Lindberg, Health & Fitness Writer

4. Bent-Over Row

A strongman doing bent-over rows in the gym

Based on my coaching experiences, the Bent-Over Row is not just effective for the back but also crucial for developing arm and shoulder strength.

To start:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, your palms facing in.
  2. Bend over at the waist with your knees slightly bent, your back straight, and your core engaged.
  3. Lift the weights towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  4. Lower them back down, and repeat for a few sets of 8 to 12 reps. It's essential to maintain proper form to avoid injury.

5. Seated Cable Row

The seated row improves the strength of the back, posterior shoulder girdle, and elbow flexor muscles, according to the ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal [3].

You can do this exercise with a V-grip, a lat bar, a D handle, a straight bar attachment, or a rope attachment.

From my personal and coaching experiences, the Seated Cable Row is indispensable for enhancing back strength and also significantly benefits the posterior shoulder girdle and elbow flexors.

To start:

  1. Sit on the machine with your feet planted on the floor.
  2. Grab the handle with both hands and extend your arms forward. Keep your back straight and pull the handle towards your torso, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do so.
  3. Hold the position briefly before slowly returning the handle to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this motion for as many reps as possible.

6. Plate-Loaded Row

A graphic of a plate loaded row workout

This exercise targets your lats and biceps.

As a coach, I've seen how Plate-Loaded Rows effectively target the lats and biceps, making it a staple in our strongman training sessions.

To get started:

  1. Load the desired weight onto the machine and adjust the seat to your height.
  2. Sit with your chest against the pad and reach down to grip the handles with palms facing down.
  3. Pull the handles toward your chest while exhaling, keeping your back straight and your head in a neutral position.
  4. Hold the position for a few seconds before slowly lowering the weight while inhaling.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

7. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are one of the top compound exercises that target the lats, upper traps, rhomboids, and erectors.

In my years of training and coaching, Deadlifts have always been the cornerstone exercise for targeting not just the back but also the thighs, glutes, and abs.

To start:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab the bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Next, hinge at the hips as you lift the bar, keeping your back straight and your shoulders down.
  3. Once you've lifted the bar to hip height, slowly lower it back to the ground. Remember to keep your form in check throughout the entire exercise.

Workout Principles

A strongman pushing a big tire

Eddie Hall’s workout routine features intense strongman training and bodybuilding. From my coaching perspective, Eddie Hall's combination of strongman training and bodybuilding mirrors the comprehensive routines I design for advanced athletes.

Eddie Hall, known as 'The Beast', trains rigorously five times a week, concentrating on foundational lifts like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, and integrates specific strongman and cardio exercises in each session.

Beyond strongman competitions, he also made a notable appearance in the boxing ring, drawing significant viewership in a high-profile fight against Thor.

“The transformation into boxing has seen me shift to a relentless training regime that makes my strongman preparation seem like a stroll in the park. Running in weights, gym work, sparring sessions, to name just a few, come thick and fast, day in day out – and I have never enjoyed training more.”

- Edie Hall, Former Strongman

Eddie Hall, a versatile athlete and former national champion swimmer, has now ventured into bodybuilding.

He is openly sharing his journey, embracing the challenge despite being new to the bodybuilding scene.

His current training strategy involves high-rep workouts and a bulking phase of seven to nine months, followed by a cutting phase of two to three months.

Even if you're not training for a strongman competition, incorporating elements of strongman workouts, such as tire flips or farmer's carries, into your regular fitness routine can significantly enhance strength and endurance.

Diet Plan

  • Breakfast: Banana protein shake, eggs, bacon, toast, and beans.
  • Lunch: 400g of rib-eye steak, 400g of rice, 200g of vegetables, one egg, and a cheesecake.
  • Dinner: Chicken wraps and a cheesecake.

Nutrition Principles

A close up image of a meal for a strongman

Eddie Hall's diet is as intense as his workouts, with six meals a day totaling between 6000-15000 calories, primarily from high-protein sources like meat and chicken, alongside healthy carbs and fats.

Drawing from my experience with athletes like Eddie Hall, I emphasize a high-calorie diet with a focus on proteins, carbs, and fats, tailored to the intensity of their training regimen.

While training for boxing, he reduced his calorie intake for weight management.

Currently, as he transitions to bodybuilding, he plans to increase his calorie intake for the next seven to nine months before shifting to a lower calorie diet for two to three months.

Complement your back workouts with targeted nutritional strategies, focusing on the importance of protein for muscle repair, strategic carbohydrate intake for energy, and meal timing to optimize your training results.

Which Supplements Does Eddie Hall Use?

Eddie Hall uses quality hydrolyzed whey protein, Cannabidiol (CBD) gummies, vitamins, and protein powders from Myprotein.

In my coaching practice, similar to Eddie Hall's use of hydrolyzed whey protein, CBD gummies, and various vitamins, I recommend tailored supplements to support the specific needs and training goals of my clients.

As he is not a fasted cardio fan, he starts his day by taking a protein shake in the morning.

He also takes: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3
  • Iodine
  • Glucosamine
  • Omega-3s
  • Selenium
  • Turmeric
  • CBD oil

FAQs

What Are the Best Back Exercises Strongmen Do?

The best back exercises strongmen do are the bench press, farmer’s carry, Zercher squats, thick bar lat-pulldowns, cable rows, plate-loaded rows, deadlifts, and hammer curls.

How Many Times per Week Do Strongmen Train Their Back?

Strongmen train their back once per week, sometimes more, depending on their individual training routines and competition schedules. These workouts typically involve a mix of heavy weightlifting, such as rows and deadlifts.

Get the Most Out of Your Strongman Back Workout

It all comes down to weightlifting, grip strength, cardiovascular capacity, and body conditioning for strongman workouts.

With the proper nutrition, these workouts will help you reach even higher levels of achievement. I also advise my clients to incorporate one of the pre-workouts below:

Drawing from our experience, these pre-workouts can help you increase your energy levels, focus, and overall athletic performance.


References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258030442
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1260/1747-9541.9.5.1127
  3. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2019/07000/do_it_right__the_seated_cable_row_exercise.9.aspx
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