Five Beginner Questions Answered, Pt. 2

2011 to 2013

Last time on the Beginner Questions series, we tackled some questions from the LBEB Facebook page, to better assist beginner lifters who may have questions on topics that the rest of us have now taken for granted. This week, we continue the series with five more questions, asked to us via our Facebook page.

1. For beginners, what are the key ideas that one should adhere to that can facilitate success?  As you know, there is a superfluous amount of information that can often be too much to follow for a beginner.  What 3-5 points will set an aspiring power lifter up for success?

I would have to say that the biggest favor a new lifter could do for themselves is to find a comprehensive strength program, any program really, and stick to that program with a religious fervor until you have finished it. The program should involve compound lifts, first and foremost, but should not shy away from accessory lifts.  Another piece of advice I like to give all inquiring minds is to not shy away from volume in your training. As a beginner, one of the most important cornerstones of your programming should be heavy, high volume. This will allow you to build up tendon, ligament, and joint strength, which take a lot more volume and time that muscle growth. Finally, I would recommend that a beginner lifter should invest in a quality pair of wrist wraps, a belt, knee sleeves or wraps (save the wraps until you are a bit stronger though), lifting straps, and of course, spandex. Anyone who tells you that training gear is a crutch is probably someone who isn’t very strong, and shouldn’t be listened to anyway. Do you want to have the biggest lifts you can have? Or, do you want to have the world record for biggest barefoot squat in the imaginary wheatgrass federation?

2. What’s the best way to train for car deadlifts if one doesn’t have access to a car? I’m also relatively short on strongman specific equipment at my crossfit box but I do have an LA Fitness membership… Got any tips??

I will let my buddy Kalle Beck tackle this one, via this helpful video:

Some have also found success training the car deadlift with a trap bar, but to simulate it correctly, you really need to focus on having the weight behind you, not just at the sides.

As far as Strongman training in a chain gym, that gets a bit trickier. A lot of the static lifts can be emulated somewhat with standard gym equipment, but really, to do Strongman, you need the implements. It would be worth finding a Strongman gym in your area that has the equipment (Like ours!) and visiting that gym once a week. It may be a pain in the ass, but your trophies will thank you later.

3. How do you warm up on competition day and what do you do between events? Strongman events are about 60 seconds and it can be a big weight before the next one where you cool down; however, i don’t want to be doing the event, 20 min cool down, 20 min warm up, next event ect. Or should I?

This is a great question, and something I struggled with for a little bit as well. First things first, I like my training to reflect how competition works. If I want to squat around 500 during training, I will only do about 5-8 TOTAL warmup reps to get to that weight, 2 reps at 135, 2 reps at 315, 2 reps at about 445, and them my working weight. I do it this way because, as you said, warmup areas and warmup equipment can be nearly nonexistent at some shows. By training my body this way, it allows me to get right into a heavy weight without needing a 30 minute dynamic warmup and 20 minutes of warmup reps. To train this way, however, you need to do a lot of stretching and mobility work outside of the gym, such as at your home.

A good warmup tool to bring to all shows is a medium-sized resistance band. You can easily warm up your shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms, and even the legs to an extent with a simple resistance band. If you own some 20lb dumbbells, put them in your car and take them to the competition with you. 

As a Strongman, it is important to be able to get under weight without taking lots of small weight jumps to get warm, so train how you compete. I still struggle under yokes with this method, however.

4. Do you think the more complex lifts can be self-taught (or at least, self-monitored)? I have to split my limited income between a healthy diet and affording my gym membership, so a personal trainer is a little out of my reach.

This is a tough one, and I am going to have to lean more to the NO side, for a couple of reasons. First off, there isn’t really a whole lot of self-teaching going on with lifting, most people at least see movements online or in a magazine first. The issue that can arise when one is an autodidact, is that there is no one to check your balances and tell you when you are doing something wrong. Much like the issues that arise when “scientific” articles are published without peer-review, there is no one to point out errors you can be making. The longer you do something incorrectly, the harder it is to fix down the road. Yes, personal training can be very expensive, but that is OK, because a lot of personal trainers aren’t really out there to get people strong, they are there mostly to help people work up a sweat, do some isolation movements, and then sayonara! Your money would be better spent on a dedicated lifting gym, which usually costs about as much as 3-4 personal training sessions for a month of unlimited training. 

5. For someone who wants to start filming their lifts, what do you think is the best angle to film from?

I personally have my clients film from a 1 0’clock or 5 o’clock angle, that allows me to see part of a side angle, as well as part of the front or back angle. If you film directly from the front, side, or back, you can miss out on things like bar path, squat depth, and especially when filming from the side, you miss the entire body because the plates block the shot!

I hope some of these answered have helped those that asked, and if there are any beginner questions you want me to answer next week, please email them all to

  • Kyle Smith

    On the next article how about something to the effect of “how sore is to sore” to get back in the gym? If your still having pain when you sit down for your morning glory should you take an extra day? Is this subjective?