What it is, what’s involved, and how you can start your Strongman journey.
We all have some idea of what Strongman is. Having seen competitions, most likely World’s Strongest Man, on TV when casually flipping through channels, our idea around what this sport entails comes from brief knowledge we have about it. But what Strongman truly is should not be overlooked. A test of sheer strength, maximum endurance, and the utmost will, these athletes train, mostly under the radar, to compete at the some of the world’s biggest events to hold the title of strongest man or woman.
While we all know names of notable strongmen like Hafthor Bjornsson, Brian Shaw, and Zydrunas Savickas, the sport of Strongman consists of a host of athletes at both the professional and amateur level all fighting to either make it pro or become the top in their field. If you are considering or have always wanted to try Strongman, knowing the basics and what it entails is important for you to start your journey.
While Strongman gains a lot of attention, Strongwoman competitions also exist and test the strength and athletic ability of hardworking strongwomen who should not be forgotten. Although still growing in popularity, Strongwomen competitions have appeared as great ways to continue to the build the sport’s growing community.
What Is Strongman?
Strongman is a strength sport that differs from your traditional lifts like in powerlifting. It is almost like an homage to the old days of strongmen and performers in the circus where they would test their strength and show-off for the crowd. While Strongman is like any other sport in terms of overall entertainment, these athletes are out to compete and earn the respective title for each competition.
Strongman events test your strength, but also aerobic capabilities (1) and events may see you perform a max deadlift or log press only to attack a stone carry with the next event. For these reasons, Strongman has become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to both strength and endurance, as well as sheer mental will.
Many events will vary in terms of exactly what the event is, but below are some staples that are traditionally seen in Strongman competitions. Each one unique in their ability to test an athlete, they serve to challenge strongmen and strongwomen in more ways than one.
As a classic Strongman event, the Atlas Stones often define a competition and are reserved for the end. This event requires athletes to lift five stone boulders each increasing in weight onto platforms that vary in height. A race format, the athlete who can get all five stones on top of each platform wins the event. As strongmen and strongwomen continue to get stronger, the amount of weight continues to increase.
The tire flip is a favorite of athletes and requires them to flip a heavy tire, the weight set depending on the competition. This event is usually for max amount of repetitions or the fastest time to cover a particular distance. The positioning to complete this event requires serious strength and determination and without proper form, this event can be very difficult.
A unique event to Strongman, this event requires athletes to get the log off the floor to an overhead position, fully locking out their arms. The difficulty comes with the log itself, as the grip required and the correct positioning come into question when trying to complete this event.
The circus dumbbell is used to determine maximum amount of weight lifted. Athletes lift an oversized dumbbell overhead using one arm. The difficulty comes with the various shapes and size of the dumbbell as well as the proper form to actually get the weight overhead. A great event, it tests an athlete’s balance and stability while also looking visually impressive.
This event requires athletes to test their overall strength and conditioning ability by standing inside the yoke, a piece of equipment with a bar on your shoulders consisting of four legs with weight carrying capabilities. Set to walk from a starting point to an end point with the fastest time, this event is a staple in Strongman competitions and is also fun to watch.
The stone carry is a very popular sport for Strongman competitions, and like the yoke, requires a high level of both strength and endurance. Athletes carry stones of a set weight for a set distance. With many variations, the core of this event is a staple for aspiring strongmen to learn. Given the awkward grip of the item, proper form is important to really maximize performance with this event.
Starting Your Strongman Journey
For those interested in starting a strongman journey, looking into proper training and a diet plan is more than important. Working the right muscles and also working to improve overall form for various events will pay off as you begin this unique sport (2). While many people think you can eat whatever to see huge gains, it is important to fill yourself with the right foods and nutrients to maximize muscle growth and keep yourself in top physical condition. Picking the right competition to start training for is also key in getting a plan together. Look into local competitions to start because they will not only provide you with great experience, but also help you progress onto bigger competitions.
Strongman is a unique sport and the respect it deserves is growing with more and more popularity. As a test of sheer strength, aerobic capacity, and serious determination, the sport is challenging and physically very taxing, but one that provides great personal benefits and growth. Working with a solid training plan and proper diet can get you ready to take on whatever event you set out to complete and learning from professionals and those in the sport can really help your overall growth as a strongman or strongwoman. Be a part of this growing community and see what benefits the sport of Strongman has in store for you.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Bennett, Scott (2008). “Using “Strongman” Exercises in Training”. (source)
- Woulfe, Colm; Harris, Nigel; Keogh, Justin; Wood, Matthew (2014). “The Physiology of Strongman Training”. (source)