Before you go lifting massive tires and Atlas stones, consider training like a strongman competitor in the gym, with regular weights. The barbell row requires maximum effort from the largest muscles of your upper body, making it a great test of strength, says C.J. Murphy, a strongman competitor and gym owner. Murphy sets the bar high: A strong guy, he says, should be able to row six to 10 times the equivalent of his body weight, using the technique below.
He should know: He flips 380-kg tires for fun. Instructions: Perform each workout once a week, resting at least two days after a session. Rest two minutes between sets for the first move in each workout, and no more than 60 seconds between sets for the remaining exercises.
BARBELL 45-DEGREE ROW
Stand with your knees slightly bent, holding a barbell overhand against your thighs. Squeeze your shoulder blades and push your hips back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle. Pull the bar up your thighs, driving your elbows back and down and lifting your chest. Lower the bar. Do five sets of six reps.
Stand holding a barbell down in front of you at arm’s length, with an overhand shoulder-width grip. Without moving your arms, raise your shoulders as high as you can. Return to the starting position. Do four sets of eight repetitions.
Lie with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, anchored under a sturdy object, such as a sofa. Hold your hands behind your ears. Slowly lift your upper body, bringing your chest toward your knees. Lower back down slowly. Perform as many sets as needed to complete 100 reps.
DUMBBELL SINGLE-ARM ROW
Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left hand and left knee on a bench. Hold the weight with your arm just in front of your shoulder. Use your upper-back muscles to pull the dumbbell up and back towards your hip. Pause, then slowly lower the weight. Do four sets of six reps.
Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar, then slowly lower back down. Aim for 30 reps, completing as many sets as you can.
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length at your sides. Keeping your abs tight, bend to one side by lowering the weight slowly down your leg and toward your ankle. Reverse the move and repeat to the other side. Do four sets of eight to 10 reps.