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Strongman Cardio for the Win!

Strongman Cardio for the Win!

By Sarah Rippel

Author of “Home Program Design Mastery,” “The Ultimate Group Training System,” “Build ‘N Burn 2.0,” & “Build ‘N Burn


When you consider the fact that most of our clients are wanting to build strength and improve body composition, it makes sense to focus on the methods that support these goals in a safe and efficient manner.


Unless someone is wanting to compete in the functional fitness space, or simply wants to learn how to do certain exercises, there is no need to incorporate exercises such as double unders, rebound box jumps, and methods such as high rep barbell cycling. These types of exercises are technically demanding and may not be appropriate for the average client who is just wanting to get fit! 


I have talked about “strongman cardio” many times in my books and articles, and as time goes on, I appreciate this form of conditioning more and more! When people can simply get to work without having to expend excess brain power, it’s a win-win for not only them but for you as their coach!


Picking up, carrying, pushing, and pulling moderately heavy to heavy things is not only a straightforward method of conditioning…it’s fun! Sprinkle in some monostructural elements (such as running, rowing, skiErg, air bike, & jump rope), &/or high-intensity bursts (such as rope slams, med ball slams, sprints) and you can create virtually endless conditioning circuits that suit pretty much any client!


Here are a few workouts you can add to your arsenal now!


For Time: Sled Push Ascending/Descending Ladder

Start with unloaded sled push for 20yds, then perform a brisk recovery walk for 40yds.

Add weight and perform another 20yd push, then a 40yd recovery walk.

Add more weight and repeat!

Continue adding weight and performing the recovery walks between bouts until you do not wish to add any more load.

Take off some weight and perform a 20yd push, then a recovery walk.

Take off more weight and repeat!

Continue stripping off weight and performing the recovery walks between bouts until you’re pushing the unloaded sled to finish out the workout.

Sled Push: (https://youtu.be/jwPknsEwKb4)


30/30 Intervals: Jump Rope & Heavy Slam Ball

Perform jump rope single-unders for 30 seconds followed by a 30 second rest.

Perform heavy slam ball ground to shoulders for 30 seconds followed by a 30 second rest.

Continue alternating these two movements for a total of eight rounds (4 rounds each).

Take a 2-minute rest, then…

Perform jump rope single-unders for 30 seconds followed by a 30 second rest.

Perform a heavy slam ball bear hug carry for 30 seconds followed by a 30 second rest.

Continue alternating these two movements for a total of eight rounds (4 rounds each).

Single-Unders: (https://youtu.be/46kUGGPGgP0)

Ground to Shoulder (“lapping” the ball even though it’s not heavy) : (https://youtu.be/lxA7floY-fA)

Bear Hug Carry: (https://youtu.be/PAIoTbNFmrw)


Rounds for Time: Kettlebell Carry Medley

Perform a 20yd double rack carry with the heaviest pair of kettlebells you can muster!

Perform a 20yd farmer carry with that same pair.

Rest 30 seconds then repeat for a total of 3 rounds!

Drop to a lighter pair of kettlebells and perform the 20yd double rack carry, followed by the farmer carry with the original pair of kettlebells.

Rest 30 seconds then repeat for 3 more rounds!

You could continue with this pattern if you wish to extend the workout!

Double Rack Carry: (https://youtu.be/PYC_b1gvTnY)

Farmer Carry: (https://youtu.be/yoa4sJ9nL90)


Rounds for Time: Landmine Tire Flip & Ultimate Sandbag Fist Carry 

Perform 3-5 “tire flips” with the landmine followed immediately by a heavy 20yd fist carry.

After 3 rounds of each (roughly 3 minutes), rest for 2-3 minutes & repeat! 

Perform a total of 2-5 rounds.

Here’s a video of me demonstrating 3 rounds of each movement: (https://youtu.be/doXqm-7ZyEI)


In a group setting you may be limited by how many pieces of each piece of equipment you have BUT…you can create conditioning workouts that involve a partner or team approach. 


For example, you could have partners take turns as one performs five “stone loads” of a heavy slam ball to an elevated surface while the other holds a plank or wall sit. This could be continued for a set amount of time, say 10 minutes. If needed, a short rest break of 15-20 seconds could be plugged in after the completion of the stone load and plank by each person.


10 Minute AMRAP: Partner Slam Ball Over Bar & Plank 

Partner 1 performs 5 slam ball over bar reps while partner 2 holds a wall sit. 

When partner 1 unloads the 5th rep, they trade places and partner 2 performs 5 slam ball over bar reps while partner 1 holds a plank. 

When partner 2 finishes their 5th slam ball over bar, both partners take a 15 second rest and then repeat!

Use a moderately-heavy to heavy slam ball and set the height of the bar to 44-52”. Keep in mind that a lighter ball needs a higher bar height, and vice versa!

The wall sit can be loaded for more fun! ?

Slam Ball Over Bar (with a light slam ball): (https://youtu.be/mmO-4SmkhEQ)

Wall Sit: (https://youtu.be/aS50-8exyAA)


Another workout that is great for a group setting involves only one exercise – the farmer carry!


Rounds for Time: Farmer Carry Ascending Ladder

Set up 5 pairs of kettlebells or dumbbells at the starting line from lightest to heaviest. 

The first person grabs the lightest pair and performs an out & back farmer carry for a specified distance (20-30yds total). 

When they return to the starting line, they set their weights down and grab the next heaviest pair & continue. 

The next person in line grabs the lightest pair and begins their ladder. 

This continues so that each person begins with the lightest pair and works up the ladder for the desired number of rounds. 

If a person is unable to carry the heaviest pair, they simply skip it and start back at the lightest pair.

If you have several pairs of each load used, set them out in case two people are needing to use the same load.


Hope these workouts give you some fresh ideas for “get down to business” conditioning!




Sarah Rippel Done for You Ptoducts: 


Home Program Design Mastery for Fit Pros: Done for You Program,Templates and More!


The Ultimate Small Group Training System”  The most Comprehensive Guide to Semi-Private and Small Group Training for Fit Pros.

Build N’ Burn  – Done For YOU 16 Wk Metabolic Group Training Program for Fit Pros

AND The NEW Done-for-You Build N Burn 2.0 for Fit Pros



Other articles by Sarah Rippel:

Mechanical Drop Sets: Programming Ideas

KISS Principle for Group Training+(3x3x3 Circuit Workout)

Deceptively Devious Conditioning Circuit

The Smart Program Design Series: Incorporating Variety & Making Progression Seamless Part 5 – Selecting Exercises for Conditioning Work

SGT Workout Breakdown- Program 4  Part 1

The Conditioning Based Warm-Up: 10 Minute EMOM

SGT Workout Breakdown Program 4 – Part 2

Metabolic Circuit Revamp V1.0

Unconventional Cardio: Strongman Conditioning Circuits

Density Training for Metabolic Conditioning & Strength Work

Using Cluster Sets To Spice Up Strength Programming

4 Wall Ball Conditioning Workouts+4 Tips to Improve Wall Ball Technique(Videos)

Using a Tempo Focus with Build ‘N Burn Workouts

Speed Ladder + Static Core Continuous 30-Second Circuit Version 2.0

The Continuous 20-Second Interval Format (“BURN” Circuits w/ Videos ) 

Alternating EMOMs for Small Group Training

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