10 Modified Strongman Protocols

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Snapshot of Takeaway Points

  • Modified Strongman Training is a fantastic tool for fat loss and calorie burning
  • Modified Strongman Training transfers strength to sports and athletic performance
  • Modified Strongman Training offers a fun, novel and alternative way to train


Modified strongman training (MST) has been around for a while now and is gaining popularity all the time. More and more you now see MST equipment at commercial gyms. At my gym in Southampton (Winning Health Solutions) we have been offering MST since 2009 so I have built a wealth of knowledge on how best to use it.

It is functional training at its best when applied correctly. It can relieve you from the monotony of your usual workouts. It’s fantastic for mimicking real life or sporting situations. If you want to create a calorie deficit and continue burning calories for days afterwards then the below protocols are for you.

Power & Capacity MST

The power and capacity protocol is a great all round workout. The A series is a contrast method to excite and activate your nervous system before heading into the work capacity elements of the session.

  • A1) Compound
  • A2) MST explosive
  • B1-B4) Medley
  • C) Finisher

Full example

  • A1) Trap Bar Deadlift: 5 x 3 reps, 31X0, 10s rest
  • A2) Overhead Medicine Ball Throw: 5 x 3 reps, X0X0, 180s rest
  • B1) Viking Push Press (Pronated): 5 x 6 reps, 12X2, 10s
  • B2) Farmers Walk (2” Handles): 5 x 20m, X0X0, 10s
  • B3) Tyre Flips: 5 x 4-6 flips, X0X0, 10s
  • B4) Backwards Sled Drag (Straps): 5 x 20m, 1010, 180s rest
  • C) Prowler Suicide

Complex MST

This session uses complexes with each series. A complex is a series of movements that flow one into the next. Complexes allow weak points to be worked on, an increase in time under tension and you can select a variety of repetition schemes.

  • A) Axle Complex: 5 sets of 5,4,3,2,1 reps
    • Deadlift| Power Clean| Military Press| Back Squat
  • B) Log Complex: 4 sets of 3 reps on each
    • Paused Power Clean| Paused Squat Clean| Paused Push Press
  • C) Prowler Complex: 3 sets of 20m each
    • Prowler Press| Prowler Backwards Squat Walk| Prowler Sprint (Poles)| Prowler Sprint (Low Handlebars)| Prowler Reverse Frog Drag
  • D) Sled Complexes: 3 sets of 20m each
    • Sled Row to Neck| Sled Power Walk| Sled Row to Waist| Forwards Sled Drag on Toes| Backwards Sled Drag on Toes

Core MST

100% of exercises selected are unilaterally loaded and/or focus on the musculature surround the core. For example:

  • A1) Sled Walking Lunge: 3 x 20m, 2010, 60s rest
  • A2) Unilateral Farmers Walk: 3 x 20m each, 1010, 60s rest
  • B1) Unilateral Sled Row to Neck: 3 x 10-12 each, 1010, 60s rest
  • B2) Uneven Farmers Walk: 3 x 20m each, 1010, 60s rest
  • C1) Sandbag Carry on Shoulder: 3 x 20m each, 1010, 45s rest
  • C2) Lateral Upright Sled Drag: 3 x 20m each, 1010, 45s rest
  • D1) Unilateral Backwards Sled Drag: 3 x 20m each, 1010, 30s rest
  • D2) Power Pohl Forwards Walk: 3 x 40m, 1010, 60s rest

Cluster MST

  • A) Cluster Training
  • B) Cluster Medley

Cluster training for 1-2 exercises on the a series gets the high threshold motor unit work done early and even makes you stronger for the upcoming circuit. The cluster medley circuit is brutal because it denotes you complete the 4 exercise circuit three times before you get a rest.

  • A) Car/Frame Deadlift: 3 x 5 (1-1-1-1-1)
  • B1) Log Push Press (1 x power clean): 4-6 reps, 12X2
  • B2) Tyre Flips: 4-6
  • B3) Yoke: 20m
  • B4) Forwards Sled Drag (On toes): 20m


ESST stands for energy system strength training which could also be referred to as timed sets. You complete a pairing of exercises for 15 minutes, non-stop, back and forth. Then you get a 5 minute rest period before completing the same again for two more series

  • A1) Viking Push Press (Neutral, Narrow grip): 2 reps
  • A2) Sled Power Walk: 40m
  • B1) Sandbag Load over Yoke: 6 reps
  • B2) Prowler Sprint (Poles to high handlebars): 20m x 2
  • C1) Power Pohl Lateral Walk: 20m each
  • C2) Backwards Sled Drag (Dip belt): 20m

Muscle Round MST

Muscle rounds is a rest pause method whereby you complete 6 x 20 second/4 repetition efforts, with 10 seconds rest between each effort. That equals one set. 4 exercises are completed. Using rest pause allows for a higher intensity/average load to be used as opposed to using the same weight for 120 seconds continuously. For example:

  • A1) Log Power Clean & Push Press: 6 x 4 reps
  • A2) Sled Pull Through (Rounded Back): 6 x 4 reps
  • B1) Sled Squat & Row to Neck: 6 x 4 reps
  • B2) Keg Carry: 6 x 10m
  • Each series complete 3-4 sets of each

Incremental MST

This is a slow starter but gets extremely challenging by the last round. What you do is add a new exercise in every round until you have completed a maximum of 50 minutes work.

Round one: A1

Round two: A1 & A2

Round three: A1, A2 & A3


MST 10 Set Method

This session offers a huge volume of work with minimal rest making it extremely effective for anyone wanting to lose body fat. You choose 4 x exercises and complete 10 sets on each exercise with 15-30 seconds rest. For example:

  • A) Rope Battle (Jump & Slam): 10 x 20 reps, 30s rest
  • B) Log Power Clean: 10 x 4-6 reps, 30s rest
  • C) Yoke: 10 x 20m, 30s rest
  • D) Backwards Sled Drag (Straps): 10 x 20m, 30s rest

MST Contrast Method

This protocol is a great way of actualising strength gains made in the weight room and transferring them to a specific sporting activity. You start with a heavy compound lift and go straight into a strongman movement. You want the two movements to recruit the same musculature for optimal transfer and carryover.

  • A1) Heavy Compound lift
  • A2) Strongman movement

For example:

  • A1) Back Squat: 10 x 3 reps, 50X0, 10s rest
  • A2) Prowler Sprint (Poles): 10 x 20m, X0X0, 180s rest

MST Death Circuits

As outlined in my Death Circuits article, this full body workout makes your body work hard in many ways. The 4 major muscle groups movement patterns are chosen and super-setted with a corresponding strongman movement for that same muscle group.

  • A1) Quad compound movement
  • A2) Quad strongman movement
  • A3) Back compound movement
  • A4) Back strongman movement
  • B1) Hamstrings compound movement
  • B2) Hamstrings strongman movement
  • B3) Press compound movement
  • B4) Press strongman movement

Full example

  • A1) Safety Bar Back Squat: 3-4 x 6-8 reps, 4010, 10s rest
  • A2) Prowler Sprint (High Handlebars): 3-4 x 10m, X0X0, 60s rest
  • A3) Supinated Chin Up: 3-4 x 6-8 reps, 4010, 10s rest
  • A4) Standing Arm over Arm (Supinated): 3-4 x 10m, X0X0, 60s rest
  • B1) Romanian Deadlift (Snatch Grip): 3-4 x 6-8 reps, 4010, 10s rest
  • B2) Power Pohl Walk: 3-4 x 40m, 1010, 60s rest
  • B3) Flat Press (Biacromial): 3-4 x 6-8 reps, 4010, 10s rest
  • B4) Prowler Press (Poles): 3-4 x 10-12 reps, 60s rest


So there you have 10 Modified Strongman Training protocols to keep you entertained! Exercise selection can vary and you can trial many different variations so don’t feel you need to utilise the ones that have been selected by me. It’s amazing how creative you can get with the modified strongman training implements. It’s truly a fantastic way to work out.

Article written by: Tom Hibbert

Published on: 3/4/2019

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