Strongman Hafthor “The Mountain” Björnsson is putting in the grueling training hours ahead of the 2020 Arnold Classic, and he’s been giving his fans full access to his sessions via his YouTube channel. We’ve seen everything from his deadlift training (when he potentially lifted the most weight ever for reps) to super-focused squat sessions.
But he’s not only focused on the lower body. Björnsson also shared his latest upper body workout, which he took on alongside current reigning World’s Strongest Man, Martins Licis.
“The last weeks have been very heavy…I’ve been increasing the weights week by week,” Björnsson says. “This week we decided to do things a little bit lighter. I’m only gonna throw an 80 kilogram dumbbell for 2 reps each side, 3 sets.”
He gets to it, lifting a 47.5 kilogram (around 104 pound) dumbbell with his left arm for some overhead presses, then does the same on the right arm. After his reps, he and Licis talk about how they executes their training plans.
“I was telling him when I have a light week, I like to focus on technique. I like to make sure that everything is the same, so I just think about the movement a lot,” Björnsson says. “I take my time in each movement, each rep, each set. That’s where you actually get better on lighter days, that’s my opinion. We lift lighter and you’re able to find those small details for the big lifts.”
Licis adds that he’s also going lighter as well to prep for heavier lifts later in the week. “Sunday we’re gonna come back and I’m gonna try to get the heavier dumbbell up, so it’s all about positioning and speed today, making sure every repetition feels powerful and as fast as possible,” he says.
While you might not come close to lifting as heavy as these strongmen on your best day, you can still take a note from their carefully designed training plan. You don’t have to lift as heavy as possible every single day—you’ll set yourself up for poor performance and even greater risk of injury if you don’t mix in lighter, technique-focused days, too.
After the presses, Björnsson moves on to the bench to work on seated shoulder presses with a pair of 120 pound dumbbells, followed by close-grip lat pulldowns, 12 reps and 2 sets and 2 sets of 8 reps of a reclined chest presses using the same 120 pound dumbbells using slow, controlled reps, pausing at the bottom of the final rep.
“It’s very easy, which is nice,” Björnsson says. “It’s supposed to be easy, all according to plan.”
Björnsson wraps up his workout with some face pulls. Licis chimes in that he usually does the movement with dumbbells (which he says is “equally good”), and they discuss how clutch the movement can be for their shoulders.
“I think it helps especially with overhead pressing because you need the rear deltoid and the upper back to pull the shoulder blades back to pull the weight back,” Licis says. “It helps with that lockout. If your posterior, your backside’s weak and the weight’s going to go forward and down. So great for lockouts, great for shoulder health.”
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