Workout Routines

Strongman Tom Block's High-Intensity Workout

An explosion took Tom Block’s right eye and his Army Ranger career. But Strongman competitions keep him amped about life.

Tom Block
Courtesy of Tom Block

If you don’t think a tale of guerrilla warfare and its aftermath can leave you feeling uplifted, then you haven’t met Tom Block.

In the fall of 2013, the former Minnesota State University, Man­kato, wrestler was one happy Army Ranger on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan. Then everything changed. Leading his team into an enemy compound, Block encoun­tered a suicide bomber and was blasted 30 feet through the night sky. Riddled with shrapnel and bleeding profusely, he somehow survived.

“This whole getting­ blown­ up thing really cramped my style,” he wisecracks now. Though, at the time, it was no joke. More than a dozen surgeries couldn’t bring back his right eye, and, more devastatingly, Block’s Ranger days were over.

“I realized after a while that I was never gonna be the same ever again,” Block says. “I was shaken, and that’s a battle to this day.”

But the tough SOB—who now dons a prosthetic eye emblazoned with Captain America’s shield—soldiered on and is currently working a baddie­-busting Homeland Security gig (which he’s not at liberty to discuss in detail). Still, his drive these days comes from something else.

“What’s really kept me sane and finding a new focus in life,” the long­time gym rat reveals, “is Strongman.”

With the help of strength coach Matt Powell and his buddies at CJ Murphy’s Total Performance Sports gym outside Boston, Block has rocked three Strongman contests and qualified for the U.S. Strongman Nationals in Westchester, NY, at the end of June.

Turns out gathering with like­-minded folks to “lift heavy sh*t” is beneficial not only to a wounded soldier’s body but also to his morale. Block relishes the camaraderie, the training, and, above all else, the disci­pline required to hoist a 400­-pound stone or thousand­-pound yoke.

Now his dream is to build a gym that brings vets together and for “every­body to crush steel and steak on a Saturday.” The new dad also wants to win more contests and get invited to the Arnold Sports Festival.

In the meantime, he’s got a little advice for the rest of us: “If you want f*cking gains in the weight room, you’ve gotta have goals,” he says. “Gains need goals. Goals need gains. Oh, and watch Rocky movies!”

Block's Strongman Workout

Try this brutal training session that Block performs on most Saturdays.

  • Log Clean and Press: 5 sets of 5
  • Car Deadlift*: 5 sets of 5
  • Farmer's Carry: 5 sets of 100 feet
  • Husafell Carry: 5 sets of 100 feet
  • Stone or Keg Load: 5 sets of 5
  • Any 3 Ab Exercises**: 100 reps each

*Use 80% of your one-rep max. For the car deadlift, raise the back two wheels of a car that’s parked in a custom frame.

**Take as many sets as needed to complete 100 reps for each ab move.