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Anytime Strength Training: WHY You Need and How To Build It

Anytime Strength Training: WHY You Need It and How To Build It

Written by
April 21, 2015
Updated April 11, 2018

In life, sports, and competitions, STRENGTH is everything. Not just “strength-strength,” but “Anytime Strength.” Being strong when you’re fresh is one thing, but what about when you’re tired? How strong can YOU be in the fourth quarter, the last round, or the final period? How strong can you be when an unexpected overtime period hits and the game is on the line?

Onnit 24kg KettlebellOR, in a situation where your life or someone else’s life is in your hands? Will you be ready? We all think we’d be ready, but everything’s different when you’re fatigued. So how do you really prepare for this? How do you prepare yourself to be “Anytime Strong?”

To be STRONG “Anytime” means you have to train a bit against the grain. Yeah you might be able to handle 500+ lbs on a deadlift fresh, but what about after a 1 mile run, some 400’s, or a barrage of 40 yard sprints, heavy sled pushes, or after you’ve cranked out a few rounds of bodyweight movements?

TRUTH is, strength training has evolved. The goal now is to be bigger, stronger, faster, leaner, meaner, and with an engine that never quits… The ol’ 500 lbs Deadlift with a sub 5 minute mile? It’s happening. And what was once thought to be impossible is now POSSIBLE.

You can be both STRONG and HIGHLY Conditioned. It’s all about being, STRONG ANYTIME. And that’s the type of STRENGTH I’ll help you build. To kick things off, I want to address one of the major problems I see – which is in how most traditional strength training programs have you train strength only when you’re fresh.

This, of course, is what makes the most sense. After all, it’s written in all the research- based books and accredited publications out there. When you train at this % of your max for X amount of reps, you must rest for X long…For strength, you it’s typically rest anywhere from 3-5 minutes between sets when using loads heavier than 80% 1 rep max (1RM).

I’ll still follow that set up from time to time, especially with beginners, but when I’m training for “Anytime Strength”, I typically throw that “rule” out the window. Thing is, I know a lot of coaches that live and die by what’s laid out in the books and guess what, they’re NOT producing freaks.

While I agree with what most of the books out there say, I know that life isn’t always going to set things up for you on a silver platter. And while I do think it’s important to know the science behind how different types of training methods work, these are NOT the only “rules” we should be living by.

In other words, you gotta BREAK THE RULES every now and then. And to be totally honest, I’ve never trained an athlete or client of mine 100% “by the book”. I’ve always made some sort of modification or tweak to suit their needs in some way, shape, or form. Because again, the world we live in is very chaotic in nature, so to prepare people for the chaos without using “chaotic means” would be silly. But that’s just me.

Should You Program for Anytime Strength Training

Should You Program for Anytime Strength Training

In any case, before I get into some of my favorite “Anytime Strength” methods and set-ups, it’s important I explain WHO this type of training is for and who it’s NOT for. “Anytime Strength” is for:

  • All the Fitness athlete’s out there (Crossfitter, weekend warrior, gym junkie, any ex-athlete.)
  • The Combat athlete (MMA, wrestling.)
  • The Power-based Athlete (football, basketball, baseball, track, soccer, rugby.)
  • Strongman Competitors.
  • The Protect and Serve Athlete (all military, law-enforcement, firefighter type personnel.)
  • And anyone else that’s looking to transform themselves into a complete BEAST.

Who “Anytime Strength” might NOT be for:

  • Power lifters – usually the sole goal of a power lifter is for strength and nothing else – Anytime Strength would be good to have, but not essential.
  • Olympic Weight Lifter.
  • Bodybuilder.
  • Complete Beginners – Anytime Strength methods are advanced and are NOT meant for complete beginners.
  • Anyone not willing to “break the rules” and train against the grain or get outside of their comfort zone.

Anytime Strength Training Rules

Anytime Strength Training Rules

Anytime Strength Training Rule #1 – DON’T BE A DUMBA**

I talk a lot about “Going 110% H.A.M.” and training aggressive, but you still want to make sure you train SMART. It’s not about doing a bunch of crazy and intense stuff with no respect for form, technique, or progression.

If you’ve not yet become fairly skilled with your main core movements (squats, overhead press, deadlifts, etc.) then you’ll want to make sure you keep practicing those basic strength movements first.

Anytime Strength Training Rule #2 – Make Sure You’re “READY”

“Anytime Strength” is more of an ADVANCED style of set up that should ONLY be used by athletes who’ve built themselves up to the point at which they can handle heavier weights and still maintain good form and technique consistently.

Being consistent is what’s most important. Yeah you might be able to handle heavy weights when you’re fresh, but can you maintain form and technique when you’re heart is pounding through your chest?

Also, I can’t stress this enough -that if you’re not yet up to that level, hold off on adding in these “Anytime Strength” type routines into your training. OR at least make sure to slowly progress yourself into it (just like you would approach any other type of training in a SMART way.)

Anytime Strength Training Rule #3 – Get STRONG First

Your main focus before you start anything new and advanced is to obviously get yourself “strong” first. If you don’t have a strong base first, these “Anytime Strength” methods won’t do you much good other than possibly crushing you into the ground. But, how do you know if you’re “strong enough”??? Here are some loose base- line numbers to look at:

  • Back Squat – 1.25 x BW x 5
  • Front Squat – BW x 5
  • Deadlift – 1.5 x BW x 5
  • OH Press – .75 – 1 x BW x 5 (depending on your weight
  • Pull Ups – 5+ Strict
  • Push Ups – 25+ Strict
  • Bodyweight Squat – 30 Nonstop – Ass To Grass with solid form and technique

If you’re not yet up to these numbers, I’d work on your base-line strength before anything.

Building up a Better Level of Anytime Strength Training

Building up a Better Level of Anytime Strength Training

To start off, let me share some of the more BASIC and common methods I use. The first method is to add in “Every Minute On The Minute” (E.M.O.T.M.) strength intervals. With these, you’d start by throwing on 85-90% of your best back squat on the bar and hit it for 1 rep.

Instead of taking the traditional “strength training rest period” of 3-5 minutes, you’d rest only for the rest of the minute. You’d do this for “Every Minute on the Minute” for a short as 5 minutes up to 20 minutes. And you could also go with a lighter % of around 75-80% and hit higher reps of 4-6, but I’ll typically never go above 6 on these.

E.M.O.T.M.’s are perfect for building more strength while using incomplete rest periods. It’ll help you get used to that feeling of being a bit gassed and having to lift heavy. I can remember the first time I started doing this type of training how “easy” it felt at first, but as you get into the later rounds and start getting a bit fatigued, that’s when things get “REAL”.

Another personal favorite way to train “Anytime Strength” is to END your session off with your heavier strength lifting by basically flipping the traditional model of training. Here are a few examples of what I’ve been using with great success…

Give yourself 5 mins at the end of a session to build yourself up your HEAVIEST 1RM front squat, back squat, or deadlift. You’d stop if you reach technical failure (when your form becomes complete sh*t) or if you can’t go any heavier.

You can also use the E.M.O.T.M. method from above at the end of your sessions as well instead of at the beginning. Another option I like using is to blend a HEAVY strength movement in with a bodyweight movement. Some of my favorite combos are:

  • HEAVY Deadlifts + Push Ups
  • Front Squats + Recline Rows
  • HEAVY Strict Military Presses + Single Leg Squats / Pistols
    **When I say “HEAVY”, I mean your 3 rep max or heavier on the strength movements.

So you might hit 3 heavy deadlifts then immediately hit some push ups. Rest only 30 seconds then repeat. OR do it against the clock where you’d do 5 rounds of 3 deadlifts @ 85% 1RM and 20 push ups in the shortest amount of time possible.

A classic “Metcon” type set up that will push your strength and conditioning to the max. Now, with the basic “Anytime Strength” set ups laid out, let’s get a little bit more crazy 😉

The first is what I call, “Strength / Power” Gauntlets. These take the basic E.M.O.T.M. interval set up but increases the time. So something like Every 5 minutes (E5M) or Every 90 seconds (E90secs).

With these, you’ll do anywhere from 2-5 movements laid out in a circuit in which you’ll have the allotted amount of time to complete. The faster you get done, the more rest you’ll get, but it’s not always about getting done fast, rather it’s about sticking to a nice and easy pace.

Anytime Strength Training Workout

Anytime Strength Training Workout

Every 5 Mins x 20 Mins:

  • 1 Box Jump @ 45 inches
  • 3 Back Squats @ 405
  • 3 Legless Rope Climb @ 15 ft
  • 6 Kettlebell Power Clean and Press @ Double 70
  • 100 ft Sled Push and Pull @ 350 lbs

That right there gets “saucy” real fast. The first two rounds should feel OK, but then it should then become a challenge to get the work done.

The next method is somewhat of a “hybrid superset” that blends together a heavy strength and power movement. For these, you’ll use an E.M.O.T.M. interval clock, but alternate movements between every other minute.

So the first movement would be completed during the 1st minute, then the second movement would be completed on the next minute and so on until your allotted sets / time is up. Here’s a sinister example:

E.M.O.T.M. x 12 mins:

  • First Minute – 6 Deadlifts @ Heaviest you can handle for UNBROKEN reps
  • Second Minute – 6 Muscle Ups – try to keep these UNBROKEN if possible

Now, the final set up I want to share uses the classic “Metcon” set up but blend heavy strength and conditioning in together. There’s an infinite number of ways you can set this up. Here’s one I did the other day:

For 16 Minutes:

  • Row for Distance
    ***Every 4 Mins – Stop and Do 3 HEAVY Squat Clean and Jerks w/ either a barbell or double set of KB’s – these need to be HEAVY

OR, using more of a “grinder” type set up with more movements, this one would fit in nicely:

  • 400m Run
  • 50 Push Ups
  • 40 Kettlebell Swings
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 20 Front Squats @ 80% Of Your 1RM Front Squat – NO rack allowed
  • 10 Deadlift @ same weight above
  • 5 Muscle Ups

That right there is pure punishment (but what won’t kill you will only make you more UN-KILLABLE.) So, with the many different types of “Anytime Strength” methods laid out for you, let me give you an example of what a 3 week, progressive program might look like:

Anytime Strength Training Program

Anytime Strength Training Program

Day 1

A1: KB Clean and Press 5 x 5
***Rest only 45-60 secs between sets
***Increase weight used each week if possible

A2:Back Squat x 3 @ 85% E2M x 12 Mins
***Week 2 – 2 reps @ 90%
***Week 3 – 1 rep @ 95-100% – DO WORK!

A3: KB Front Rack Lunge 3 x 20 Unbroken Steps

A4: Ring Push Ups 3 x submax
***Increase weight and reps every week if possible

A5: Bodyweight Tabata – You choose the movement

Day 2 – Upper Based Day

A1: Barbell Hang Power Snatch x 2 E.M.O.T.M. x 6 Mins
***Increase weight used each week if possible

A2: E2M x 12 Mins
a) Strict Overhead Press x 5
b) Feet Elevated Recline Rows x submax
***Week 2 – Go to 4 reps on OH Press w/ HEAVIER weight
***Week 3 – Go to 3 reps on OH Press w/ HEAVIER weight

A3: 4 Rounds For Time Of:
a) DB Snatch x 10 (alternate arms each rep)
b) Sandbag Get Up x 3 / Side
***Beat your score each week – don’t dog it the first few weeks 😉

Day 3 – Power / Short “HIIT” Conditioning

A1: Broad Jumps 4 x 5

A2: 40 Yard Sprint E90secs x 15 Rounds Total
***Increase to 18 rounds
***Increase to 20 rounds

Day 4 – REST

20-30 Mins of Mobility / Soft Tissue work – get out and MOVE!

Day 5

A1: E.M.O.T.M. x 12 Mins
Odd – Squat Clean x 3 – Heaviest possible
Even – Push Press x 6 – Heaviest possible
***Week 2 – Squat Clean up to 4 reps / Push Press to 8 reps – same loads
***Week 3 – Squat Clean up to 5 reps / Push Press to 10 reps – same loads

A2: For Time AND Quality:
50 Strict Ring Dips
50 Strict Pull Ups
***Week 2 – Increase to 65 reps each
***Week 3 – Increase to 80 reps each
***Focus on SOLID form and technique – do NOT hit failure in any movement
***12-15 Minute Time Cap to Complete

A3: Front Squat x 3 – E2M x 12 Mins – same weight for ALL sets – go HEAVY
***Increase weight used each week

A4: If Time – 1 Mile Slow Run @ 75%
***Week 2 – Increase to 1.5 miles @ same pace
***Week 3 – Increase to 2 miles @ same pace

Day 6 – “FUBAR” Day

A1: Build To 1RM Barbell Snatch for the Day – 15 Mins
***Only give yourself 3 misses total

A2: Every 5 Mins x 30 Mins:
1 Snatch @ 90% of 1A)
5 Bar Muscle Ups
200m Run
10 Back Squats @ same weight of Snatch
5 Strict Deficit HSPU @ 6 inches

Day 7 – REST (and prep the mind and body to do it all again!)

20-30 mins soft tissue + mobility work

Anytime Strength Training Conclusion

So there you go! A different (and a bit psychotic) way of training strength so that you’re not only STRONG, but you’re STRONG ANYTIME.

There’s no doubt that this type of training will get you ready for just about ANYTHING as you never know when you might need to be strong… Could be when you’re super fatigued or fresh…

Who knows. The world is a crazy place so you need to be a bit crazier to be ready for whatever it might choose to throw your way. And if not for that, you’ll at least be one badass mofo 😉

Travis Stoetzel is a certified strength and conditioning coach who owns and operates The Forged Athlete Gym in Omaha NE. He uses a blend of unconventional training methods via sandbags, kettlebells, and bodyweight mixed with in traditional barbel and dumbell training to help improve athletic performance and physique enhancement. His clientele range from crazy weekend warriors, high school athletes, mma fighters, military personnel, all the way up to Olympic caliber wrestlers. You can find out more info about Travis and his aggressive strength methods at &
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