If I were to isolate three motor qualities that nearly everyone could use more of, they’d be:
A) Power (Speed-Strength)
B) Maximal Strength
The rationale for my short list is perhaps obvious- in addition to greater strength, power, and endurance, the pursuit of these qualities leads to greater body composition and real-world athletic functionality. I might also add (as I approach my 50th birthday) that these three qualities are the first to recede with age, particularly if you’re sedentary.
Conveniently, these three qualities correspond with the three competitive strength disciplines: Olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman. As it so happens, weightlifting drills are the most appropriate ways to express athletic power, while the three powerlifts lend themselves to the expression of maximal strength, and the various strongman events are great ways to train and test strength-endurance.
A simple way to implement all three of these qualities/disciplines is to initiate each workout with an Olympic lift (or variant), continue with a powerlift (or variant) and commence with a strongman event (or variant).
Further, in keeping with the “three” theme, I’ll suggest training three days a week, which, by the way, is how many of the most accomplished strength and power athletes have trained throughout history.
Tight Random Spray
Finally, in an attempt to strike an optimal balance between specificity and variety, we’ll employ a “randomized tight spray” in selecting our daily exercise menus: you’ll pre-identify 6 different exercises for each quality-discipline, and then roll a dye to select each day’s three exercises. Here are sample lists for each quality, but please make these lists your own by customizing them to your own requirements- for example, if you’re experienced in full cleans or snatches, by all means, use them. Or if you can’t/won’t shouldn’t back squat but can/should front squat, plus that in to the maximal strength exercise menu in place of the back squat
Sample Exercise Lists
1) Power Snatch
2) Power Clean
3) Power Clean & Jerk
4) Clean Pull
5) Snatch Pull
6) Power Clean & Press
1) Back Squat
3) Bench Press
4) Rack Pull
5) Floor Press
6) Box Squat
1) Tire Flip
2) Vehicle Pull
3) Farmer’s Walk
4) Log Clean & Press
5) Repetition Deadlift
6) Overhead Barbell Walk
Assigning Loading Parameters
Loading parameters will be determined at least in part by the exercises themselves: Olympic and powerlifting drills should be done in multiple (5-10) sets of low (1-3) reps. The strongman events are a different beast: typically, these are done for time and/or speed, attempting to complete as many reps (or as much distance) as possible within a pre-determined time frame. One way to address this variable is to use a rotating set/rep format, where each week within a four-week cycle calls for a different pattern. For example:
Week One: 5×2
Week Two: 10×1
Week Three: 3×3
Week Four: 6×4
Then for the strongman day, you can set up a similar scenario, where time-frames and/or distance vary week by week. Here’s an example using the farmer’s walk:
Week One: 3 walks, 60 seconds each walk
Week Two: 3 walks, 90 seconds each walk
Week Three: 4 walks, 30 seconds each walk
Week Four: Maximum distance at a given weight
Using a system such as the one I suggested above, I’d suggest that the first month be used to establish baseline performances for each drill. Then, in month two, seek to break your PR’s in each exercise/loading arrangement. After three months of this, change up your exercise lists and loading arrangements, and start fresh. Using this system, you’ll enjoy many months of specific, yet variable training that will make you bigger, faster, and stronger than you ever thought possible.