Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D.Swedish Symbol of Strongman
He alternates bench presses and incline-bench presses from week to week.
1) Pushdowns: 1 x 15, 1 x 10
2) Dumbbell overhead extensions: pyramiding up but always using very strict form and being particularly careful not to bounce at the bottom.
Day 2: Legs
Front squats: Magnus says, “This is the key for practical strength in strongman events—from Conan’s wheel to the truck pull; I do doubles or triples to failure and always squat down to the absolute bottom.”
Leg presses: either three sets of five to six reps or one set of about 10 to 12 reps that is absolutely all out (“I see stars”). Magnus prefers the latter, and he says he makes a contest out of it, trying to beat whatever he did in the previous workout.
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Shoulders and Biceps
Biceps: “Biceps have always been my strength,” Magnus says, and when you’re talking about 23-inch arms, you know that he isn’t kidding.
1) Straight-bar curls: 15 reps (60 kilos, or 132 pounds); 10 reps (100 kilos, or 220 pounds); 10 reps (100 kilos); 15 reps (80 kilos, or 176 pounds)—“just enough weight for the muscle to get the message,” says Magnus. In terms of style, he says he doesn’t do superstrict curls but isn’t really loose or cheating with them either.
2) Dumbbell curls: nothing unusual as far as style is concerned. He starts with his palms facing his sides and ends with them facing upward. Magnus starts at one end of the rack, going for eight to 10 reps, and if he hits eight reps, his reward is to move up to the next weight.
1) Power cleans and push presses/jerks: on alternate weeks he does push presses from the rack instead. For aspiring strongmen, Magnus advises doing “everything standing—you must be comfortable standing.”
Sometimes he does cleans from the hang (the bar isn’t lowered all the way to the ground); when it gets down to about knee height, Magnus starts the next rep of the power cleans.
None of the cleans are done with the polished technique of a competitive weightlifter: Magnus just rips the bar off the floor with a mighty one-pull effort!
2) Standing dumbbell presses: three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Day 5: Back
1) Deadlifts: the main exercise. Magnus alternates between a heavy week and a light week. Heavy deadlifts follow the workouts when he does push presses for shoulders, and lighter deadlifts follow the workouts when he does power cleans and push presses/jerks for shoulders.
2) Seated rows or chins.
3) Bent-over rows.
Magnus does it on leg and back days, and it consists of three movements:
1) Grippers: He warms up with the No. 2 Captains of Crush gripper and then moves to the No. 3. When he’s feeling strong, he goes on to the No. 4. Magnus is one of five men in the world who have officially closed the No. 4 Captains of Crush gripper and at this writing is thought to be the only man in the world capable of closing the gripper starting with the handles spread wide enough to let a credit card fit between them, rather than using “a deep set” to start.
2) Wrist roller: He uses the sleeve on an Olympic bar as a wrist roller and does three sets.
3) Finger curls with a straight bar: Standing with his arms hanging straight down, Magnus lets the bar roll down to the tips of his fingers. Then he curls it back up, using just his finger strength.
Magnus says he “used to train loads of grip” in his arm-wrestling days, and his hand strength is something that makes people gasp in amazement. At the 1998 World Strongman Team Event (in Hardenberg, Netherlands), Magnus said, “Hey, Randy, watch this.” Click, click—Magnus tapped the handles on a No. 3 Captains of Crush gripper, both right-handed and left-handed, as easily as if they were plastic castanets, and at the 2004 World’s Strongest Man contest, Magnus’ brother Torbjorn told me that closing the No. 4 Captains of Crush gripper has become a regular thing for Magnus—an amazing statement about his hand strength. Magnus is also a past world-record holder on the Rolling Thunder (a popular test of hand strength), and he seems capable of resetting the world record almost at will.